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Friday, July 19, 2013

39 Fantastic Prepping Tips

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Gaye Levy

People often ask where my ideas and where my knowledge comes from. When that happens, I chuckle a bit to myself because just like the person asking, my knowledge comes from a variety of sources: first hand experience, books, online forums and of course, Backdoor Survival readers. So you see, it is not that I am smarter or more clever than everyone else but rather that I have taken my passion for preparedness and made it an active part of my life.

That leads me to the topic for today’s article. Following my own article on Five Minute Prepping Projects, I asked readers to submit their own tips – namely something that we all can do to prep that takes 10 minutes or less. There were some really good suggestions and so I thought I would share some of them here so that everyone can learn from them.


1. There are many times when trouble strikes and we have to deal with only what we have on our person and in our pockets. A BOB is a luxury that might not be with us when the unexpected comes along, so I like to make sure I have a minimum of things on me before I leave the house even for a trip to the grocery.

Here’s what I carry, you’ll have to adjust for your own needs:

1) A small pocket knife
2) A multi-tool
3) A cigarette lighter
4) A dozen Kleenex
5) Chapstick
6) A one quart Ziploc bag
7) A black sharpie
8) A small bottle of hand sanitizer
9) Wallet with emergency cash and id cards
10) Keys, with small flashlight on keychain
I can carry all of that in jeans or short pockets no problem, and its amazing how handy I find each of those items to be in day to day activities. In an emergency they could really make a difference.

2. The most important thing to have in a survival situation is water. The ten minute thing I did was to buy extensions for the gutter down spout. At the time I put them in I had a back yard above ground pool. Kids all gone now, pool gone, but I now have 10 55 gallon barrels.

3. Check your supplies and rotate them out as the expiration date comes due. Stock the foods you like, because if you don’t like a certain food, you won’t eat it.

4. I like to can water after using my canning jars in the winter. I then have good water if the electricity goes down and also if there is a drought in the summer, I will have water for canning.

5. My 10 minute prepping tip is to save all of your dryer lint in a zip food bag. Squeeze it down, roll it up and place it in your bug out kit.

6. My very first prepping project was getting a plastic tote box ready for myself for the vehicle.
I went by the list in the book “Survival Mom” so it is packed full with a little extra than a BOB. Then my very next priority was another box fixed up for my mother who is 86 years old. She still drives and either she or someone else will be able to help with this very good vehicle emergency box. Survival is a daily challenge in northern WI.

7. The every three month 10 minute prep activity I do religiously is rotate my prescription meds. I have two weeks in my purse, 3 days in my 72 hour kit, 3 days in my car kit, and 3 days in my comprehensive medical kit. If it takes you longer than ten minutes to do this, you need to practice knowing where all these items are stashed!

8. The 10 min DIY water distillery: Using two, one liter clear soda bottles. Put 1/4 inch holes in both caps, insert 1/4 inch clear tubing thru each cap and down into each bottle (about 5-7 feet of tubing). Secure each cap onto bottles. Fill one 3/4 with water you want to distill, bring tubing about 1/2 inch from top. place in sunlight. Bring the tubing to the bottom of other bottle and place it in shade.

As the sun heats up the water and the water goes into a gas, expanding and going into the bottle in shade, it cools down and turns back into water, filling the bottle in shade, with clear drinkable water. This can also be used to remove salt from saltwater. Place a black band of tape around the input bottle, making sure not to mix them up.

9. Rinse out used soda bottles and fill with water. Save them for when the water is turned off or long term storage.

10. Dip cotton balls in petroleum jelly and put in a baggie or small plastic container (recycle old pill bottles) for your bug out bag. These make great fire starters and they burn long and hot.

11. My 10 minute tip: pack a small ‘emergency’ kit for your purse/pocket that you carry every day. Items to include *could* be a small flashlight (some LED ones are very tiny & bright), a few bandages, a BIC-type lighter, pocket knife, safety pins, pencil/pen, small notebook/Post-It notepad, paperclip, a paracord ‘survival’ bracelet, printable pamphlet of survival ‘tips’ (several available on the internet). Visit your local Red Cross for preparedness tips for your area. Often they have TONS of FREE information specific to your location to help families prepare BEFORE a problem arises.

12. Take quick check of your food supply, once a storm catches you by surprise, it’s too late, and it only takes a few minutes to make a quick list of the basic canned goods that you need to replace, better safe than sorry!

13. We all probably think that our BOB has what we need in it and maybe it does. Take a quick look in it and see if there is some place to add a little easy redundancy, remembering that three is one and one is none. I took a Ziploc bag and put in it: a small candle, a pill vial with Vaseline in it, another pill vial stuffed with dryer lint, a disposable lighter and a magnifying glass. Easy to do and now I have several ways to start a fire in addition to the matches and the fire steel already in the bag without adding even a pound to the weight of the bag. I know there are a lot of other easy additions that can increase redundancy in all of our bags.

14. Never be without toilet paper. Put 4 rolls in 2 gallon Ziplocs and put 1 bag in each car, one in the garage, one under each sink in the house. That way, regardless of what disaster occurs – TP will be there.

15. Take ten minutes a day or even a week and learn how to use the things you have been accumulating for emergencies. This month I have been using the solar oven and rocket stove. Much easier to use the fifth time than the first.

16. Buy a large bottle of 5 to 10-percent iodine solution and transfer into those small, handy travel spray containers. Put one in each first aid kit in each bug-out bag. Besides being a disinfectant and medical treatment of cuts, a few drops per liter will purify water as well as keep thyroid function humming along in the absence of iodized salt.

17. Not a total of 10 minutes, but a great prep tip I have is to buy extra lumber, fasteners, nails, whenever you have a DIY project, and save the extra in your new “Mini-Lumberyard”!

18. Arrange to have a prepping partner call you randomly during the week and give you a surprise emergency drill of some kind. You have ten minutes to begin responding. Next week, return the favor.

19. Carry a small bottle of iodine and a small bottle of bleach with you in your bug out bag in the event you have to drink questionable water in your travels. Just add a bit to your canteen, shake it and let it be for a while and you are good to go. They have iodine pills but, take it from me being ex military; they taste bad but with this method it will do the job better and the water will not taste that bad.

20. Weigh your BOB. Put it on and carry it around the house. How long can you go without stopping? If it is too heavy which it is likely to be, here are a couple of things that you might consider doing: 1..Pack a half dozen of those freebie cloth satchels with handles in with the BOB. This way depending on how many people may be with you when you actually need to pack the BOB you can distribute the weight among everyone.

21. Make a list of the most important items to take with you if you are alone and safety pin that to the top of the BOB. In a real emergency you will not have time to think it through and you are likely to be too stressed to make the right choices. If alone, you must keep the weight down to a poundage that you can carry for long term.

22. I think my favorite quick prep is making a waterproof match container out of a mason jar. Glue a piece of sandpaper to the lid, fill the jar with stick matches, add a candle, tighten down the ring and there you have it. I’m sure the same could be done with a plastic jar if you’re worried about breakage but I like the decorative little mason jars spread around the house. I took the time to waterproof my matches but I don’t believe that’s necessary.

23. I take 10 minutes on Mondays to do a quick check of my food storage to make sure I add needed items to the grocery list. This keeps things pretty up-to-date for me.

24. Keep a running inventory of ammunition so you keep a good assortment on hand and track what you use. A little extra can be good for barter.

25. Most of us have items that use batteries. Flashlights, radios, etc. I have a laminated list of the items that I keep in my prep, with a section just for things that need to be rotated. Quarterly, I grab the rotation list and swap out old batteries for new. The batteries I take out of my prep kit are usually still good, so I put them into use in normal, everyday equipment. It takes almost no time, and makes sure I have good batteries everywhere I need them, not just my prep kit.

26. Every time I go to the grocery store, I add an extra $10 of items for my food storage.

27. Make a small fishing kit, cheap and easy. Take a small tin (preferably a round candy mint tin). Add fishing line, hooks, sinkers, small artificial bait and a couple of snubbers. (A snubber is a piece of surgical tubing with fishing line going down the center and clasps on each end to tie your fishing line to. You can pick this up at most any store that sells fishing gear).

If you need to use your fishing kit and do not have a breakdown or telescoping fishing pole you will probably be using a branch. A branch will not have the same flexibility as a fishing pole. Tie your fishing line to the end of your flexible branch (the length of line will be determined by your situation). Tie the other end to your snubber. On the other end of your snubber tie your leader (about 18″ to 24″ of fishing line) then tie on your hook. Add your sinker to the fishing line on the pole / branch side of the snubber about 12″ from the snubber. Add bait and you are set.

I have added the snubbers to my kit, because it acts like a shock absorber when you have a fish on the line. This has helped me to land the fish and not break off the hook or line due to not having the flexibility of a proper fishing pole.

28. I’ve been through two hurricanes here on the Gulf coast in recent years. Water, all you can reasonably store, is a must, along with some way to purify it if need be. I’ve carried a pocket knife for more years than I can remember, and in recent years I’ve started carrying a multi-tool. I always have a roll of toilet paper inside a zip-lock bag under the back seat of my truck. I also save dryer lint to use as tinder.

29. Gather up a few cans of veggies, fruits, and meats along with a jar of peanut butter. Store in your vehicle (under seat, in trunk) Throw in a “good” manual can opener or something strong enough to cut the lid in emergency. Can be eaten without heating or cooking.

30. Freeze and store milk in its container. I have been doing it for years with two pint semi-skimmed milk ones, full fat (cream) is not so good as the fat separates when defrosted. These have been handy already in extended power cuts as the freezer keeps cold, as does the fridge if you put a frozen one on the top shelf. It takes about twelve hours to defrost at 60F and the frozen milk lasts indefinitely in my experience, although I still rotate.

31. Get a caravan size chemical toilet and some Elsan Blue or Eco Green fluid as well for when there’s no sanitation or main water to flush the loo. This is one essential that is often overlooked.

32. You can fix up a go-bag a few moments at time by leaving it open in a place you will see it (I myself am an out-of-sight-out-of-mind person), say a corner of the kitchen, and dropping in the things you want to have at the ready. On laundry day, drop in clean socks and undies. On grocery day, buy a few easy to eat nibbles (that you like) – tuna in a pouch, nuts, dry fruit, plus a bottle of water and drop them in the bag. Make a list of other things you need to think about: first aid kit, flashlight, etc. As you go to the hardware store, purchase these things, drop them in the bag when you get home. This is your basic backpack which you can modify according to your needs (weather, for instance).

33. Place a pair of shoes, socks, work gloves, a whistle, and a light stick or flashlight with batteries under your bed for use during or after an emergency. Add to this a mobile phone to call for assistance, spare house and car keys in case you have to get out of the house from an upstairs window and need to get back inside to put out small fires safely with extinguishers you have placed at door exits. I also have a spare set of old clothes, shoes and a blanket packed in a suitcase in the caravan in the garden along with an emergency supply of bottled water and food in pull tab tins. A dry shed or outhouse would suffice for this no doubt.

34. Unless your home is 100% all electric, get a carbon monoxide alarm if you don’t already have one. And even then it’s not a bad idea as in an emergency you may want to use a propane device, and it’ll hopefully keep you from dying from the CO.

35. Stock up on calcium chloride ice melt. Get a 50# bag and fill the empty milk jugs with it. Keep one jug in each car.

36. Hurricane matches. Get a bunch. They aren’t cheap, but they’re the best.

37. GMRS/FRS radio. Regular CBs can become clogged with radio traffic. A good brand can also provide encryption so you can have private discussion with family. Depending on the make and model, it may come with frequencies that require a license. In emergencies I doubt the FCC will chase you down. And in regular times, I doubt they will chase you down if you’re not being obnoxious.

38. In addition to a flash drive, open a free “cloud” service account, many of which will give you 5-10 gigabytes of storage. An alternative to that would be to open up a new e-mail account, on Yahoo/Gmail/etc, and e-mail the documents to yourself. Unsure of what to make for a new username for an e-mail account? Take your first name + “documents” (i.e. “Bill Documents”), and use your last name as the password.

This way, if your house (and flash drive) are lost in a tornado/earthquake/fire/etc, you can still access those documents from, say, a public library computer.

39. Another tip along with freezing jugs with water to place in the freezer, is to fill a 2 liter bottle about 1/3 full. Freeze it upright, then lay it on its side. If you come home from vacation, and the water is frozen at the bottom (sideways) in the bottle then the power was off long enough that the food may have spoiled.


I have always maintained that Backdoor Survival readers are the most creative and resourceful folks on the internet when it comes to basic, common sense preparedness. No fear mongering types here – just ordinary folks doing their best to take care of themselves, their families and their comfort and safety, no matter what happens down the road.

I tip my hat to you.

Read other articles by Gaye Levy here. 

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye started Backdoor Survival to share her angst and concern about our deteriorating economy and its impact on ordinary, middle-class folks. She also wanted to become a prepper of the highest order and to share her knowledge as she learned it along the way. She considers her sharing of knowledge her way of giving back and as always, we at Activist Post are grateful for her contributions.

If you would like to read more from Gaye Levy, check out her blog at  You can also visit her Facebook page or sign up for updates by email by clicking on Backdoor Survival Updates.

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