Keep Your Friends (and Enemies) Close
When life-threatening disasters take place, human nature gives way to its most primal instincts. Friendships, lifelong companionship, and civilized relations are quickly forgotten and replaced with a desperate need to survive. In times like these, expect anyone, including your friendly, church-going neighbor, or even your own family members, to turn on you out of desperation. Your best friend may not hesitate to steal food from your children in order to feed their own. Pleasantries are quickly trumped by the will to live, a powerful psychological force that drives human existence.
Friends, acquaintances, neighbors and family members typically have easy access to your home and may have knowledge of where you keep important items. They may be your BFF before the onset of a cataclysmic event, but once things take a turn for the worst, they’ll raid your stockpile before you get a chance to invite them in for tea and scones.
Hide valuables in plain sight, or in obvious places where a would-be thief would not think to look. Lock your preps away behind secure doors and take care not to reveal what you have to friends or family. You may even wish to disguise your hiding places. Decorative chests and wicker baskets may look ornamental to the undiscerning visitor,but they make nifty hiding spots for your preps.
Burglars will make swift entries and exits, searching for visible items to steal while you’re away. They may even attempt to break in while you’re at home. To protect your belongings from these sneaky intruders, make sure to hide your valuables in a place that is easily accessible to you, but hidden from the casual glance.
Looters move in packs, and will not hesitate to ransack your home, searching for anything of value that they can snatch and make off with. You’ll need tighter security to protect your stockpile from these bandits. Store your valuables in less accessible parts of your home that are well-hidden and difficult to locate.
There are a few easy ways to store bulk foodstuffs away from prying eyes.
1. Store them in Mylar bags placed inside five-gallon plastic buckets.
2. Build a sofa table from your storage buckets. Simply stack the buckets (or boxes, if you wish) along the length of the sofa and fit a plank of wood on top of the stack (remember to measure appropriately). Cover the wood surface with a colorful piece of fabric so that it completely covers the buckets, and voila! You have yourself new set of furniture that doubles as a clandestine storage unit. You can tell your friends you saw the idea on Pinterest. Nobody has to know that anything is in the buckets.
3. Make a coffee table. Stacking the buckets in a similar way to the sofa table, top the bucket arrangement with a sturdy slab of plywood and drape a tasteful tablecloth over the surface. Make sure that the buckets beneath are fully covered.
4. Raise your bed and store food underneath. Using cinder blocks, bricks or bed risers, give your bed some height and you instantly have a secure storage space for #10 cans of food.
5. Make use of your attic. Attics are dusty, cobwebbed places that your nosy friends and family aren’t likely to go snooping in. If you don’t mind the extra haul, it can make a safe place for hiding your stockpile. However, keep in mind that attics are not the most hospitable of places, due to extreme temperatures, moisture and pests. Heavy items are not suitable for rickety attic floors, so stick to lighter items like toilet paper and towels.
6. Maximize crawl spaces. While crawl spaces are not usually subject to high temperatures, moisture and humidly can be problematic. Like with attics, people aren’t likely to snoop around in cramped crawl spaces unless they have a reason to. Food items that are well-sealed in Mylar bags will do well here, while paper products like toilet paper will suffer in the damp.
7. Keep a diversion stash of food in clear sight. While this may seem contradictory, it is better to appease looters with small amounts and have them leave with it, than to surrender your entire stockpile.
8. Store small amounts of food around the house. Familiarize yourself with every nook and cranny your home has to offer. These make great hiding places for smaller food items. These can be stored beneath sofas, behind picture frames and mirrors, on the insides of cupboard doors and inside air grilles.
Burglar-Proof Your Home
1. Stay ahead of the game. Always make sure you’re one step ahead of potential thieves. Burglars usually rely on a combination of laziness and unimaginative hiding places to get away with your valuables. They assume you won’t lock your doors and windows while at home. Prove them wrong. They know that expensive jewelry is kept in that ornate trinket box. Hide it in something less ostentatious. While that new 70” HD television set is not exactly easy to hide, you can give burglars a nasty surprise by installing lockable television wall mounts. Let’s just hope the intruder doesn’t get mad enough to smash it out of spite!
2. Use diversion safes: Commercially-made diversion safes are a clever way to hide your stash. These chameleon-like devices blend in with your décor and make the ideal hiding places for jewelry, cash and more. You can find a multitude of diversion safes on Amazon. They come in all shapes and sizes, from books, clocks and lighters to shaving cream cans and batteries!
You can also make your own diversion safe. Make sure not to tell anyone about its existence, and remember to surround it with similar, non-suspicious items. Your hideout might be in a can of tomato sauce, stored in the pantry alongside other canned foods. Remember to move your real valuable safe out of your bedroom, as this is the first place thieves will expect to find it. Less obvious places like the laundry room, kids’ bedroom, garage or basement make better locations.
3. Hide things in pill bottles. Pill bottles also make neat hiding places. Take a large bottle of Tylenol or Ibuprofen and stow it away at the back of your medicine cabinet. Even the nosiest neighbor won’t suspect a thing.
If you’re into toiletry-inspired hiding places, you can store things in empty, rinsed-out shampoo bottles, too. Opaque or dark-colored containers are always best. Actual prescription medicines should not be kept in the bathroom, as this is too obvious a hiding place.
4. Make a book safe. Books will always be among the most discreet, dependable of household items. This makes them great disguises for hiding spots. The hollowed-out book safe is a fail-proof way of storing valuables and can be easily and inexpensively made at home using an old hardcover book. Just remember that this is an old trick, and your burglar may well know about it already. Alternatively, remove a piece of baseboard and cut a hole in the drywall behind it to create a compartment for your stash.
5. Tweak the furniture. Hiding things behind your headboard makes them hard to get to, while hollowed-out bed posts are ideal for smaller objects. In fact, any hollow receptacles, such as lamps, figurines, brass ornaments and old electronics make excellent hiding spots. Even washing machines and tumble dryers are viable spots, as most thieves will overlook these.
A filing cabinet is uninteresting enough to deter even the most thorough of criminals, especially if you label it ‘2011 Taxes’, or a similarly boring title. You can also try taping items underneath tables. It’s best to stash the item inside a Ziploc bag and then tape it. End tables, kitchen counters and coffee tables all do the trick. Even the underside of the cat litter box will work. The smell of the litter itself is enough of a burglar repellent!
6. Venture outdoors. The garden and backyard offers a myriad of hiding places. Simply look around your yard and you’ll see hundreds of potential spots in the form of birdhouses, dog kennels and pot plants. No self-respecting burglar would think about searching beneath the wilting pot plant, or inside your canine friend’s shabby old kennel.
7. Go high, go low: The gaps on top of your cabinets is prime real estate for hiding envelopes of cash and other small, flat items. Out of reach hiding places in children’s rooms are rarely considered by thieves, so take advantage of these, too.
Don’t dismiss those ‘dead’, spaces low to the ground: under the sink, inside kitchen and bathroom cabinets, beneath appliances, under staircases and in dusty corners. Remove a few panels and you’ll find that those leftover spaces might come in handy. Air vents make good low-lying spots, too. Vent grids are easy to remove with a screwdriver and can hold small sacks or boxes of items.
8. Chill out. Wrap your valuables in aluminum foil, enclosed in a plastic bag marked ‘Hamburgers’ and place it in the freezer. The same trick can be used with a bag of frozen peas or a box of fish fingers. If your freezer has an ice dispenser, the ice storage unit on the inside of the door makes a chilly but effective hiding place.
Step on the Gas
There are many innovative ways of using your car (better said, your bug out vehicle) as a repository of valuables.
Start by converting your gas tank into a secret compartment and installing a smaller tank to hold the fuel. Hollow out the parts under the hood by removing emission control devices and emptying these out. Fill them with your preps and seal them with a film of oil and dust for a cover-up.
The car’s ashtray is another compact place to hide small items. Create a false bottom from a sheet of metal and slide it underneath. Make sure that whatever you stow here can withstand heat. If you want to make it doubly convincing, sprinkle some ash and cigarette butts on top.
The visor serves as another neat place for hiding small things. Pick out the seam, remove the stuffing, replace it with your preps and resew. It’s small but fairly secure. Some car seats have exposed upholstery, or a panel covering the foam in the seat back. Unscrew this panel and slip items behind it for a fuss-free hiding place. Finally, take a look behind the glove compartment. There is often extra space in the cavity between the wiring and tubing.
Don’t’ forget to conceal sharp items around your backseat and your trunk. If someone were to tie you up and then use your own car to kidnap you, you could use that item to escape zip ties or whatever restraints are keeping you hostage.
Prepping is all about conserving your stash once you’ve put it all together. Make sure you’re familiar with all the great hiding places your property has to offer, and be wary of anyone who crosses your path. Even the friendliest neighbor may have an eye on your preps. Always keep an eye out for innovative ways to store things. How do you hide your valuables? What are your tried and tested strategies?