Article submitted by Brian S. Kiefat @ The Ready Center
For those of you just joining us, this is part 3 of a series in which we are discussing what we call “The 4 Basic Categories of Prepping.” The 4 Basic Categories are water, food, shelter, and security. These 4 essential requirements are what one should focus on when preparing for unplanned disasters or emergencies. In this article we will be covering the basics need of shelter.
Shelter – Let’s face it, if you’re reading this article on your computer, iPad, or mobile phone you probably already have your shelter needs covered. I get that. However, your version of shelter may not exactly match up with someone else’s version of shelter, and it may not exactly match up with what some people found themselves living in after Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina. Most of the shelters described in this article will more than likely not apply to you. Well, not today anyways. None the less, we will discuss them and hopefully all walk away a little bit more informed.
First of all, let’s get the most obvious one out of the way. The house, trailer, apartment, condo, or mansion that you just happen to live in, that’s your shelter. General rule of thumb – if it protects you from the elements, it’s a shelter. This is your first line of defense while enduring hardship. It is designed to keep you and your loved ones out of the elements, provide a place to store your food and supplies, as well as keep the bad guys out. The type and condition of your shelter also play a vital role in your morale as well. Don’t believe me? Imagine losing your house in one storm and then having to rummage through the destruction and rubble searching for pieces of what used to be your life. Or even worse, imagine enduring the storm and then having to live in one of the horribly infamous FEMA camps. No thank you! It is imperative to remember that the type and condition of your shelter plays a key role in your morale, and morale plays a key role in survival. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
This next type of shelter has been made famous time and time again by everything from the Cold War and the recent scare of terrorist attacks to the short-lived Discovery Channel television series Doomsday Bunkers. Our culture has very much so popularized the idea of the average American owning their very own slice of underground heaven; a buried bunker. And to be honest, there is no better shelter. Period. What other living quarters can protect you from nuclear blast, radiation, tornadoes, hurricanes, viral pandemics, oncoming armies, and the occasional visit from your in-laws…? I rest my case. Another added bonus is that due to these types of shelters being underground, they maintain a cool temperature year round which is also great for storing any type of perishable goods. The downside of these amazing structures is, of course, the price tag. Sadly, unless you’re willing to cough up hundreds of thousands of dollars, these are usually out of reach for most preppers. However, if you ever hit the lottery, put one of these bad boys on your shopping list. And get one for me as well.
A much more cost-friendly alternative to spending hundreds of thousands on an underground bunker is to purchase a shipping container. These are the huge metal boxes that are used for international trade. You can often see them on huge ships that are at port or on trains getting shuttled around the country. Surprisingly, they are incredibly durable, mildew and rust resistant, and very much so affordable for anyone who is taking emergency shelter seriously. The cost? Well I hear they are around $2500 for new one and $1500 for a used one, but I’ve never purchased on myself. Note that if you plan on leaving it above ground, they come ready to be used. On the other hand, if you plan on burying the container, that will incur additional costs unless you own your own excavating equipment. Again, this really is a great option if you 1) have the cash flow to make this purchase and 2) have enough property to place it on (or under). I guarantee you this, anyone who bunkers down into one of these buried shipping containers during a tornado or hurricane will be as safe as safe can be. (I’m not sure if it’s in-law proof. Someone keep me posted on this…)
The tried and true tent is a must have for any and every american. They are usually simple, rugged, and more often than not, fun. Having and using a tent is almost an American pastime. Whether you’re camping out in the rustic middle of nowhere or in the living room with the kids, there is something about it that makes a person slow down and appreciate the simpler things in life. And on top of all that, it’s good training. After the devastating 7.0 magnitude Haiti earthquakes back in 2010, a great number of people who formerly lived within the comforts of their own homes suddenly found themselves living in a simple tent. I most certainly hope that none of us will ever have to endure that type of hardship, but sometimes bad things happen to the best of us. I just happen to live in Alaska were only 2 days ago my house was rocked by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake. Let me tell you, I thought my roof was going to split wide open. If it would have split open and I found that all of the local hotels were booked, guess what me and my family would have done? You guessed it, threw up the family tent in the living room and cooked some smores on the fireplace. Would it have been weird for the family? No way. Because many times my family and I have trained for it by setting up the tent in the living room and gone “pretend camping” for fun with the kid. The same goes for outdoor camping as well. So why not get your family together and do some outdoor camping? You won’t regret it, and no one has to know it’s “training”.
This style of structure is the last resort when it comes to shelters. It’s the primitive wood shelter primarily built out of wood and foliage. It’s either for the serious camper or for those who REALLY need a place to live in a hurry. They can be fun to build and fun to live in (short-term), however nothing beats waking up in your own bed after a few nights in one of these. There are two really great things about this type of shelter. The first great thing is that a night or two in one of these really forces you to take a bite of the “humble sandwich” and realize how little you need and how much you take for granted. The second great thing about building your own custom lean-to shelter is the price. Yep, it’s as free as the air you’re breathing and last I checked, “free” is a good thing. Building this type of shelters can be a great bonding experience for the kids, the family, and even friends. The sense of accomplishment you feel after the last piece is in place is simply euphoric. And I have money that says a camera phone doesn’t come out and take a picture of it as well. Give it a try sometime, you’ll be surprised how much fun it can be.
When it comes to shelter, the punchline is this: maintain the shelter you live in and prepare yourself and your loved ones to live in another type of shelter if you have to. Let’s just pray it never comes to that. There is no substitute for training, so get to it and we’ll see you in part four of “Starting with the Basics”.
The Ready Center