Basic Survival Priorities

Starting to Cover Your Bases.


By: Ghost – August 13, 2014


I am often engaged in conversation about Survival or Preparedness by people who want to learn, but have no idea where to start.  I am often asked; “How much food should I stockpile?”, or “Is it best to just buy the most expensive ‘whatever’ and I’ll be okay?”. I help out by providing the best advice I can and passing on some resources to start them on their way.  My favorite is when I encounter someone who says something like “What you’re talking about is such a waste of time and money.  I live downtown, I’ve got all I need.”.  Those people always pop back into my mind when I’m comfortable while the rest of the city looks like this:

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Or this:

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How are you supposed to keep on living when you have no power, no access to running water, no stores to shop for food in, and no way to cook it even if you did?  That’s where having a few emergency preparations in place can make dealing with a potentially dangerous situation a lot more manageable.  In Winter 2013 I was exposed to the full force of the ice storms brought on by the Arctic Vortex at the time.

My family and I did just fine.  We had food, fuel, shelter, heat, light…everything we needed…except Internet and TV.  The kids grumbled, but less gaming was good for them for two days.  Some of our friends did not.  They spent Christmas in the cold and dark.  It was an affirming event for me:  I had prepared in advance and my family was okay.  I’d done well.  Any worry or fear I had previously had from the unknown were eased.


So, what should you start with?  Let’s discuss some of the building blocks of emergency preparedness and survival.


***DISCLAIMER:  This is an introductory guide, not the end-all, be-all of preparedness planning.  This should give you a foundation to build upon.  Everyone’s situations, geography, budget, abilities, climate and knowledge are vastly different.  Do what you can and aim to constantly learn, improve and grow.  We have all been beginners at some point, and we should all help one another become as self-sufficient as possible.  That way when disaster does strike, strength in numbers can prevail.  Thanks.***


1)  Recognize the Rule of Threes:  These are general guidelines:


*You can survive about 3 seconds without blood flow to the brain;

*You can survive about 3 minutes without air;

*You can survive about 3 hours without shelter (in extreme conditions);

*You can survive about 3 days without water, and;

*You can survive about 3 weeks without food.


This order of priority, within the context of your particular circumstances or environment should determine the priorities you set in beginning to establish some emergency preparations for yourself.  For most people, only minor preparations would be needed to get something basic in place.  If you live in an apartment or condo, you may have to modify your plan to fit your dwelling.  Before you even start to plan, think about what level or scale of disaster you want to prepare for.


*1 – Minor (Local area, up to a few days)

*2 – Minor (Regional, 4-15 days)

*3 – Major (National – 15-60 days)

*4 – Catastrophic (Global, 60+ days)


You can also do some research on the types of emergencies your area is more prone to (i.e. floods, storms, earthquakes, etc.).  You can ask your local fire department or local emergency management office for more details on this.


2)  Put Your Priorities in Order of Importance:  Which are your weakest points?

Go over the following categories and, with the above chart of the Rule of Threes in mind, categorize which priories should be in which order.


*Shelter  (Keeping you protected from the elements, security from animals/people)

*Fire  (Heat, cooking, psychological boost)

*Water  (Hydration, sanitation, cooking)

*Food  (For hunger, barter)

*Medical, Sanitation & First Aid (Dealing with medical issues and injuries when help is not available)

*Power, light and back-ups  (Extra batteries, light, generators, etc)

*Communications  (Receiving information and updates, communicating outwards)

*Security  (Protection from wildlife and hostile people)



3)  Make a Plan.  Make it Happen:  Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance!


*Establish your priorities.  (Taking into account all factors)

*Take stock of your available assets.  Create lists of what you have and what you need.

*Dedicate supplies or equipment in an easily accessible place to be staged for immediate use should it be needed.

*Practice, Evaluate, Assess, Modify.  Repeat until you’re familiar and confident.

*Practice builds skill and confidence.  Confidence and skill help control fear and stave off panic.  This
is of key importance.

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(An example of a home emergency preparedness kit, ready to be used.)


What You Should Have in Your Home Emergency Preparedness Kit

There are a few things that will help you out.  If you camp/hike then you should have a lot of things you can use.  Sleeping bags, stoves, flashlights, etc.  Also, many of the items you have around your home already will do double-duty in an emergency.  The one thing you should have, however, is some dedicated supplies for each member of your family or group to ensure everyone is adequately able to make it through the event.


  Wondering what?  Here is a list of some things I recommend you have in your kit:


  • A short, full-tang knife and/or multi-tool
  • Bottled Water (1 gallon – or 3.75 litres – per person, per day)
  • Method of water purification (tabs or filter)
  • Tools (for repairs, digging, clearing debris, snow, ice, run-off, branches, turning off gas, water)
  • Heavy-duty garbage bags (they double as a toilet bowl when paired with a 5-gal pail)
  • A few manual, hand appliances (coffee grinder, can opener, coffee maker)
  • Camp stove and fuel (or charcoal if you will use your bbq)
  • Flashlight for every member of your group (reliable w/ extra batteries if required)
  • Bottle of unscented bleach and some hand sanitizer.
  • Food & can opener (non-perishable, dried goods, energy bars, jerky, hard cheese, oatmeal, canned fish, meat and vegetables, soups, etc)
  • Back-up battery pack and solar panel for re-charge during daylight hours
  • Portable battery or wind-up powered radio (with plugs to charge cell phones)
  • Selected medications (Additional prescriptions, Advil, Tylenol, Gravol, Caffeine?)
  • Small stash of cash and change (including tokens or tickets for public transit)
  • Spare set of keys (for vehicle and house)
  • Spare charger or battery for your cell phone (ready to go in the bag at all times)
  • Sleeping bags or extra wool blankets  (for each member of your group)
  • Map (with primary, secondary and tertiary routes marked) and compass.
  • Pad of paper, black permanent marker, pen and pencil.
  • A lighter (simple, Bic), matches & several candles
  • Personal Care items (a few tampons/pads, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, travel toothbrush & toothpaste, etc.)
  • Non-electric games for morale.  Books, magazines, art supplies, etc.
  • Sturdy boots, work gloves and tools for keeping the area around your home clear from snow, ice, fallen branches, debris, etc..
  • First Aid Kit: (a few gauze pads, band-aids, nitrile gloves, CPR mask, Quik-Clot, N95 mask, EMT shears, extra ma
  • Weapon for home defense (baton, pepper spray, firearm – personal choice and only IF LEGAL! to do so.)

xi-pads for pressure dressings, )A dedicated container or place in your home to organize and dedicate to preparedness supplies.  These can and should be accessed for non-emergencies, just be

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sure to rotate and replenish your supplies so you don’t run out.  (Garbage pail, plastic tote, duffel bag, etc…)

I believe the list above is a solid foundation to build upon.  Be sure to regularly rotate the food and water in your Kit, check expiry dates on any medications, check batteries and refill consumables as necessary.  Change or add items as required, according to changing seasons or approaching weather.  Read, research and learn as much as you can.  If you haven’t yet, take a first aid course.  Being aware helps you to be prepared.

In closing, many people are afraid of what may happen.  Be prepared, be ready, be free from fear.  Get a kit, make a plan, stay informed, be prepared, don’t be afraid.


Be well,



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