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120+ Survival Tips That May One Day Save Your Life

When my assistant and I came up with the idea for this article, we didn’t exactly have a goal in mind BUT we knew what we wouldn’t be able to do, and that’s to gather all the survival and preparedness knowledge in a single post.

That’s just impossible and all its aspects is simply huge. So we had to settle for a less ambitious (yet still honorable) goal. To give you a huge collection of some of the most overlooked survival tips that would appeal to the novice as well as to the seasoned prepper.

Since this article will turn out to be pretty long, I’m gonna stop here and leave you with the tips…

General Survival Tips & Tricks

Don’t forget to prepare your pets and farm animals for all emergencies and SHTF scenarios: extreme heat, medical emergencies, bugging out and even your stockpiling efforts.

Don’t overload your bug-out bag with useless gear as it’s going to be a pain to carry it on your back for miles on end. Every ounce counts. Tricks like:

  • breaking off the handle of your toothbrush
  • making holes in some of the containers inside your BOB
  • using AAA batteries instead of AAs
  • carrying freeze-dried foods instead of canned food
  • replacing some of the gear with lighter alternatives (knives, cookware, emergency radio, multitool etc.)
  • and removing non-essential items…

…are going to shed off many pounds.

Think twice before throwing anything away. Pencils, paper, used car parts, rags – anything can be useful post-disaster.

Use the PACE methodology when planning for various survival scenarios. PACE stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency. The primary plan is the one you’re counting on, such as bugging in. Alternate is your secondary plan, such as bugging out to your BOL. The Contingency plan could be bugging out to the woods, while the emergency plan could be bugging out on a boat or crossing the border to Canada or Mexico.

Keep activity to a minimum in hot weather to reduce the need for water. This goes double when you’re in the wild, because you every bit of energy you can salvage to survive for as long as possible.

Put blankets on all your windows to avoid people seeing you have electricity post-collapse.

Keep in mind you and your family may not be at home when SHTF. This is why having a get home bag is important.

Not all survival advice you see on TV is good. Just because Bear Grylls tells you that “we need to cross this river”, that doesn’t mean you should. You shouldn’t try to face an obstacle head-on, it’s much safer and less energy consuming to go around it or find another way.

If possible, pack all your family’s bug-out bags in the same way. That way you’ll know where to quickly find something when you need it. (The U.S. Army uses this trick.)

If you’re taken prisoner and they’re trying to tie you in one way or another, contract your muscles as much as possible so the ties are, in fact, loose… allowing you to escape.

if possible, sleep with the air conditioner off. This way you’ll reduce the spread of smoke in the event of a fire.

To make your own DIY air conditioner, use a fan and some ice cubes, make a styrofoam ice chest air conditioner and more.

Stockpiling Tips

Avoid MREs (meals ready to eat). Although they came a long way, they’re still expensive, high in sodium and may cause constipation. Your first options should be canned food, beans, and rice. In addition, you can assemble your own MREs for a complete and balanced nutritional profile.

Find out what allergies each of your family members has before stockpiling, and avoid buying the foods that cause them. Best to stick with the foods you and your loved ones already eat.

Use coupons to save a great deal of money on your preps.

White rice has a greater shelf-life than brown, even though brown rice is considered healthier due to the fact that is less processed and has more nutrients.

Store wheat berries instead of flour. Wheat berries have a shelf life of 20 years, while flour only lasts for a few months.

The best way to store large quantities of water is in large 55-gallon barrels. Make sure they are food-grade and BPA free.

Unconventional places to hide your food and water include in fake air vents, inside trash cans, inside Pringle’s cans, in fake pipes, in PVC pipes buried underground, inside trees, inside barns, inside wells, in abandoned cars, inside pots and pans you don’t use, and in your garage. Ensure all the conditions previously mentioned to avoid food spoilage.

Use oxygen absorbers to improve the shelf life of your foods.

Don’t forget comfort foods.

Never approach your cache food locations until you’re sure you’re not being watched.

You should store at least 1.5 gallons of water/person/day. 1 gallon is not enough as you need water for cooking and personal hygiene.

Only store water in glass, plastic and stainless steel containers. Never use containers that used to hold milk or some other beverage!

Store more than one type of food in each plastic bucket. This way, when you’re bugging out in a hurry and you can only grab one bucket of food to take with you in your car, you’ll end up having a variety of foods instead of just one.

Bottled water is safe to stockpile and has unlimited shelf-life (until you open it). However, if you use one of those Zero Water or Brita filters to purify your water, keep in mind the water is only good for 24 hours. This is probably because it’s chlorine free, so bacteria is likely to form pretty quickly. Another option would be to stockpile tap water because it’s cheaper.

Store water in dry places, away from ground, sunlight, and solvents.

Frozen food is great as long as you have enough space in your refrigerator or freezer but it becomes a problem in a grid-down situation.

Don’t forget to stockpile things to help you open, cook, and consume your food: can openers, cooking pots, stoves, spoons, forks, etc.

Label all your food with what’s in it, the date it was canned, and the estimated expiration date. Color code it if you want to.

Well water has benign bacteria in it that will metabolize sulfate minerals once you store it. One way to inhibit them is to chlorinate your well water each year.

Use the first-in-first-out (FIFO) methodology to rotate your stockpile: the first can you put in is the first one you’re going to consume.

Home Defense Advice

Always keep your doors and windows locked, even when you’re home. Most burglaries happen because the thief sees an opportunity.

Don’t keep all your dogs outside at night. Keep one on the inside in case the burglars decide to poison or even steals the others.

Prune large trees that would allow a thief to climb in through one of your windows. This will also reduce the likelihood of a house fire.

Make sure your house number is clearly visible from the street to allow the police to quickly find it in times of emergency.

Get motion sensors for your porch and back yard that turn on and off at certain intervals. This will make it seem like someone’s at home and they’re better than the ones that just stay on all night.

Use double-cylinder deadbolts for your front door.

Don’t plant bushes near your doors and windows as they help burglars sneak in unseen.

Make sure your doors’ hinges are on the inside.

Replace basement windows with plexiglass or polycarbonate or install security bars.

Don’t put a sticker on your window that tells the burglar exactly which type of alarm system you have installed . This will only make it easier for him. Instead, put up a generic sticker that warns of the alarm but doesn’t say which one.

Replace hollow interior doors with solid ones, that are harder to break through.

Install a wide-angle peep hole that’s at eye-level when you kneel. This will make you a smaller target if the person on the other side has a gun.

Urban Survival Tips

Cooking and burning trash could easily attract unwanted attention post-collapse. Eat canned food and find alternate ways to get rid of garbage.

Get all the water you can. Fast. Water is going to be a huge problem when SHTF.

If you’re still stuck in a city when the store shelves are empty, lakes, ponds and other body of waters are the first places to look for food.

If right now you’re renting, try to move as close to your workplace as possible. This will make it easier for you to get home when SHTF.

A sillcock key is a handy hing to have, as it will allow you to open a variety of taps (since clean water may be a huge issue when surviving in the city).

Wilderness Survival Tips

Use the bottom of a ceramic mug or pot to sharpen a knife.

Partially freeze meat to make it easier to cut.

Have good tinder when starting a fire: straws, vaseline-soaked cotton balls, even a deck of cards, can make good tinder.

Fill plastic bags with leaves to create a mattress for you to sleep on.

Oil, grease, mud, and smoke are great pest repellents.

You can use nothing but paracord to make an improvized ladder. No wood.

Reptiles are not good at indicating water sources. Birds and insects are.

Use your reading glasses to start a fire.

If you Bic lighter runs out of fuel, it will still spark so you can use it to light your char cloth.

If your Bic lighter doesn’t spark anymore, make sure you salvage the flint to be used as a firestarter.

Tips for Bugging in or Out

In most cases, it’s better to bug-out, even if that means leaving your home and your valuables behind.

Think about and practice bugging out during the night. It may or may not be the best choice when disaster hits but it’s necessary to be ready and ok with the possibility.

Have a pair of hiking boots near your bug out bag. Never bug out in shoes or sneakers, you will get tired sooner and develop blisters.

Assemble a blackout box, an emergency kit full of items that will help you survive when the power goes out. Don’t forget to include mil-spec chemlights as they don’t pose any fire hazards and are EMP-proof.

Have as many bug out locations as possible. This way you’ll have more options when things go south. Even empty land can make a good BOL, a place to make camp for a few hours or days until you figure out what to do next.

Consider a recreational vehicle RV. It will allow you to take more things with you. It has its disadvantages, of course.

Fill a plastic bag with air and secure it with duct tape and use it to cross a river. If you happen to slip, it will keep you afloat.

Keep your guns hidden when on the move and trade them for your life if necessary.

Battle-harden your bug out bag. Protect the items inside by making them waterproof, shockproof and punctureproof.

Avoid wearing camouflage clothes, brightly colored clothes, and perfume.

Natural Disaster Tips

Never eat snow to hydrate. Melt it first, then filter it with a cloth.

The second you see a wildfire, you should start gathering water by all possible means.

Cars, galvanized trash cans and microwaves are not good Faraday cages. If your radio waves can get in, an EMP can get it. Wrap your electronics in alternating layers of conductive and non-conductive material (heavy-duty aluminum and bubble wrap or cardboard), then place them in a real cage such as this one.

Avoid low-lying areas, river valleys, and keep all your body parts covered when running from a volcanic eruption.

Tips to Deal With Man-Made Disasters

Don’t try to escape a riot by going against it. Going with it isn’t a solution either. The trick is to move with it but at an angle until you’ve reached the outside of the mob.

Don’t use walkie-talkies when facing a riot. You will only attract attention and be labeled as a prepper.

Never-ever leave a fire unattended. Never build a fire near trees or bushes. Basic but useful advice.

A continuous roar, whirling dust, and a low cloud or a torrential rain followed by complete calm, bright flashes near the ground, these are all signs of a tornado.

To anticipate where a tornado is heading, pick a point really close to it (preferably right in front of) and notice where it’s heading relative to it.

Be alert to and careful of flying debris caused by a tornado, it can kill you.

In case of a house fire, as you’re evacuating, close the door behind you to slow down the speed with which it spreads.

Never hide near a heavy refrigerator during a tornado, earthquake, or hurricane, it can fall on you and kill you.

Survival Medicine and First Aid Tips

Never store your meds in bathroom cabinets. Keep them away from moisture at all costs.

Never consume antibiotics past their expiration dates.

Stockpile sunscreens and moisturizer cream if you think you’re going to spend a lot of time in the sun when bugging out.

Honey can be applied on wounds because it acts as an antibacterial. So is lemon juice.

Tooth care is going to be HUGE post-collapse. Take care of your cavities and other issues, become religious about keeping your teeth clean. Stock up on toothbrush, floss, tooth paste and mouthwash.

Never touch or get too close someone who’s experiencing an electrical shock. The current can travel through air and will get to you to. Either stop the electricity source or use a wooden stick to push the person away from the current.

Keep your first-aid supplies in the outside pockets of your BOB for quick access.

Use belts to stop bleeding (as tourniquets).

Mix vinegar with water, then apply on sun-burnt skin to relieve pain.

SHTF Communications Tips

Keep a cell phone + extra batteries in your bug-out bag.

Use pre-paid cards to communicate.

HAM radios are great for communicating with people across the Globe but you may need a license to own one.

Mindset Tips

Whenever you find yourself having to do a large task, break it down into smaller ones and do them one by one.

Use the visualization technique to see yourself successfully achieving something.

The only way to master fear is to understand that it exists and admit that it’s something you can’t fully eradicate.

To deal with loneliness, find friends among even the smallest insects. Focus on easy, mindless tasks such as polishing your shoes.

Weapons and Ammo Tips

Careful with shotguns. They’re so powerful that the bullets travel through walls and kill your neighbors.

Always carry and know how to make from scratch alternative survival weapons such as boomerangs, bows, slings, spears, air guns, paintball guns, axes, machetes, swords, and bayonets.

Keep an inventory of your guns and ammo.

Tips for Building Shelters

Avoid making shelter in a ditch. While it will protect you from the wind, in case of a flood it will get inundated.

Thoroughly check out a cave before choosing it as shelter. Check for “residents”, falling ceiling and the possibility of it getting flooded.

Bunkers are, in most cases, less than ideal. The people outside can either wait until you run out of food and water or they can smoke you out if they discover where the ventilation system ends.

Self-Defense Tips

Always use the least amount of energy necessary to escape an attacker.

Whatever the attacker demands of you, say “no” and make it difficult for him to get it from you.

When you attack someone for self-defense, always aim for the eye, ears, throat, and cheeks. Other sensitive areas are the knees, shins and the groin.

A lot of everyday items can be used as “part-time weapons” such as your car keys, a coffee mug, a pencil, a stapler, a comb, a bandanna, a scarf, a large vase, and even a lollipop!

Keep a weapon near the door so you can use it when you answer the door and you find yourself face-to-face with someone who’s trying to rob you… or worse!

If you have pepper spray in your car, make sure it never gets exposed to temperatures of over 120 degrees to avoid leakage and explosion.

Don’t use pepper spray if your assailant is less than 2-3 feet away from you. It will affect you as well.

Everyday Carry Tips

Load your phone with information. From offline maps to articles and ebooks, you can have a wealth of survival knowledge at your fingertips.

Make sure you have some essential first aid items as part of your EDC, such as bandages moleskin and aspirin.

Homesteading and Gardening Hacks

Beer is a great fertilizer for your plants.

Make marigold spray to get rid of flies in your garden.

Ash is great not only to keep bugs away from your garden but also as a fertilizer if the pH of your soil is over 7.

Use extra salt to make cheese last longer.

You can use vinegar in a variety of ways in your garden: against weeds, fungus, pests and even some small animals. IN addition, you can use it to clean your gardening tools.

use baking soda to remove pantry odors.

Consider making your tractor an impenetrable bug out vehicle.

Mix sugar with baking soda to kill roaches.

Veggies such as carrots, horseradish, turnips, and cabbage can be left in the ground during winter, as long as you cover them with dry leaves or straw.

A great type of gardening for preppers is permaculture. The plants are all hidden under a thick layer of bush and trees, so no one will know there’s food just a few feet away from them.

Make part of your garden portable. What I mean is, try to keep some of your veggies (potatoes, tomatoes) in buckets or pots. In the event of bugging out, you can take them with you in your vehicle.

Drill some holes into a bottle to make a watering can. You can use a thick sowing needle that you heat up with a match, to make the piercing easier.

Oldies but goldies: use kitchen scraps such as egg shells, potato peels, coffee and even tea bags to make DIY compost and help your plants grow.

Other Tips

Baking soda + a little bit of water is a great replacement for toothpaste.

Use a mirror to check if someone’s breathing. Stick it under their nose and see if any fog forms.

You can burn asphalt to keep warm and even cook on it!

Put chalk in your toolbox to avoid your tools from rusting.

Use condoms to carry water.

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About Dan F. Sullivan

My dad was military. My grandfather was a cop. They served their country well. But I don’t like taking orders. I’m taking matters into my own hands so I’m not just preparing, I’m going to a friggin’ war to provide you the best of the best survival and preparedness content out there.

5 comments

  1. About not using antibiotics past their expiration dates, this is bad and outdated advice. There are numerous articles on the internet about this. Even tetracycline, which was once a problem, is no longer a problem.

    According to one reputable site, the Pentagon figured out that taxpayers were wasting tens of millions of dollars each year by discarding “outdated” antibiotics.

    The designations of expiration dates are always very conservative. In a dire survival situation, just use more. It could be the difference between life and death. antibiotics if they are way past their expiration dates.

  2. Some excellent tips here, and I agree with almost all of them. I do have to disagree with “in most cases, it’s better to bug out”. IMO, as well as every other article I’ve read about it, it’s safer to bug-in, and only bug out as a last resort.

    • Great article with useful tips. However, bugging in/out, I think it depends on the location. We live in the country, about 40 miles from the nearest big city, 10 miles from the closest store. With few neighbors, wooded areas, lake nearby, low crime rate, I feel much safer staying here (with my supplies) than if we lived in a city.

  3. Although most of this article, for most intelligent folk, is common sense… common sense is not always common!….Heed what you’ve just read and follow through with planning for the worst…one is none..Two is one!

  4. White and brown rice: the oil in the husk (brown in coloring of brown rice) will go rancid in about 8 months. By soaking it for a long period of time in water, the rancidity can be removed. This will also remove the vitamins and minerals in the husk, but you still have an edible product.

    Locks: by double cylinder I assume you mean a lock that requires a key to open it from inside or outside. The one brand that has never been picked is Medeco, or so say the lock picking web sites. There should be a straight bolt type lock and a drop bolt type lock. The drop bolt strongly resists prying the edge of the door or the frame or both open far enough to by-pass the deadbolt. One lock should be installed at hip/kick height, and the other at shoulder height

    Replace the dinky hinge screws with #12 or #14 screws on both the door and the frame. With a large screw driver and an adjustable wrench you can apply so much torque you can literally bow the frame. Don’t do this – just install 4” #12 screws every 6″ the whole length of both vertical sections.

    Next: Use a drill bit that is 1/3rd the diameter of the door hinge pins. Open the door so that when it closes the allen screws you are going to drill and tap the holes for you drill through the stationary part of the hinge and into the bolt will be inaccessible when the door is shut. First drill, being care to penetrate only 40% of the way into the hinge pin proper. then carefully tap the whole with a standard tp, and follow up with a bottoming hole tap, which will tap the entire hole right to the bottom. Do this with each hinge on all doors that provide egress or ingress. Do one door at a time and NUMBER the pins. Don’t mix pins from one with another. By driving the allen screws home with red Loctite. it is nearly impossible to drive the hinge pins out of the hinge. You may have to use a propane torch to warm them if you must remove the door. As you all know, allen head screws are very hard and strong, making it all but impossible to drive the hinge pin out of the hinge. If thieves or invaders do get in, they can generally only take what will fit through a window.

    Firearms: If you live in a complex, #6 birdshot should not penetrate the far side of the wall. Any shotgun slug, rifle bullet, or pistol bullet will. A good quality .22LR automatic pistol like the new Ruger (I’ve got one from their 200th US Anniversary edition in bull barrel configuration, and it is by far the most accurate handgun I have now), S&W .357 magnum 4″ or more barrel let’s you fire standard .38 Special, .38 Special +. .357 mag, and shot loads in either the .38 or .357 version. Buffalo Bore and Garret (one or the other-I forget which) make s a very powerful 180 grain load for the .357.

    Rifles- a good bolt action .22LR (Savage is remarkably accurate in all calibers, from the .22LR all the way to the .300 Weatherby Mag, generally shooting better than the “Big Boys”; A.308 or .30=06 bolt gun with a reasonably priced scope (about as much as the rifle cost itself is a standard rule of thumb for a scope), and Savage usually has a very good combo deal on .308’s. Cor-Bon and others make high performance sniper grade ammo in the ’06 and .308. All of these calibers are almost always available in even the smallest towns and remote sales points, and all have been proven performers for many years. A 12 gauge Remington 870 pump gun is absolutely the most proven shotgun, and not too expensive. A ,45ACP from Paraordnance 14 rounds in the wide body, 8 in the single stack or a single stack from Springfield Armory, with good ammo choices like PDX, Cor-Bon, Buffalo Bore or Garret, will serve for serious social purposes, should that unhappy necessity befall you.

    Rifles and handguns beyond .30 and .45 caliber, respectively, and I suppose (….sigh….) 9mm get to be more expensive, guns not as easy to find, and the big stuff like a .475 Linebaugh caliber pistol or a .458 Winchester are really expensive to shoot. If you live in Grizzly bear territory, they are justifiable. The fact is, though, there is nothing in the world that can’t be taken with a 220 grain .30-06 with bullet striking the RIGHT PLACE. Shot placement is crucial in all forms and types of shooting. W.D.M. Bell, a professional “white hunter at the early part of the last century) took over 1,000 elephants, most with a .275 Rigby and a 7x57Mauser.

    If you must have a large-bore rifle, take a good, hard look at the Marlin 1895 lever gun in .45-70: new guns. post 1975, I believe. Here again, Buffalo Bore and Garrett make some loads that have been used to take Cape Buffalo in Africa, penetrating the boss of the horns and exiting the rear end. NEVER use either in and old .4-570: they distinctly tell you right on the box which guns are safe. Older guns will give you a nasty bite and may well kill you. as pieces fly back to your head – they simply aren’t strong enough to handle anything but the standard low pressure loads by the big manufacturers. You have been warned.

    As to my own choices, I have .223 Bushmaster with a laser and light from Surefire, and a 1.5-6 Leupold illuminated scope on a quick detach ring and mount SPR from LaRue, a quick trigger reset unit, beta C-mag, and a PRS buttstock. With 100 rounds ready to go and a light, I think I’m set for most serious social problems. Food for at least 3 months, water needs replenishing, but generally in good shape. A tornado might come and whisk it all away, as we live on a seduced floor with no basement. That I dislike, but trust in God to watch over fools such as myself.

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