American Survival Guide’s mission is to provide you with the information you’ll need to survive any adverse situation, no matter how dire. From wilderness survival bushcraft skills to preparedness information for avoiding or surviving any disaster, American Survival Guide represents the next level of instruction and is committed to helping you understand and mitigate your risks and maximize your potential for success.
ASG provides you with additional practical information for developing skills you can use today and during the inevitable emergencies and survival situations you will face in the future. Our extensively researched material shows you step-by-step instructions and tips on a multitude of topics.
ASG breaks down your survival needs into six categories, or “Pillars”: Food, Water, Shelter, Security, Communications and Health. These are briefly summarized below. You will find them to be a great help for organizing and maintaining the inventory of your skills and supplies.
PILLAR 1: FOOD
One of the questions we hear most often is, How much food should I store? ASG suggests that as a rule of thumb, you keep about a 30-day supply of foods in a cool, dry, stable and secure environment. We can’t give you a definitive answer, but it’s a relatively simple process for you to determine your specific needs. And, as you build your plan, bear in mind that your choices might have an effect on requirements for water, cooking equipment and other concerns.
Start with a review of the foods each person in your group normally eats over a two- to four-week period. This will give you an idea of both the volume and menu preferences you need to consider for your food plan. Generally, an average man needs about 2,500 calories a day, and an average woman needs around 2,000 calories. Your actual needs could be higher, depending on the level of stress and physical exertion each person is subject to.
Then, you need to decide what type(s) of emergencies you want to prepare for—and there are plenty to choose from. Some common concerns are natural disasters, power failures, utility and fuel outages, electromagnetic pulses, civil strife, terrorist attacks (especially on food and water resources) and government collapse. Fortunately, there is a lot of commonality for food preparations for these concerns.
As you make your plan, note that shelf life varies greatly by food type and preservation method from around six months to 25 or more years. You’ll need to make some compromises among menu preferences, the preservation methods available for your preferences, storage space and cost. Also, get into the habit of dating each lot of food you add to your stores so you can rotate soon-to-expire food into your normal meal consumption before it expires.
PILLAR 2: WATER
Access to potable water is essential to your survival. While we’ve all heard that the rule of thumb for daily water needs is 1 gallon, be sure to include clean water in your stores for personal hygiene. Any water for drinking, brushing your teeth, cooking or even cleaning food utensils should be potable. You should also use clean water for cleaning any open wounds, your eyes, etc.
As you can see, this will exceed 1 gallon per person per day.
If you’re not sure about where your water will come from during an emergency, plan to store what you’ll need and, just to be safe, add a generous margin of safety. Ensure that your storage containers are approved for food-grade use, are clean and meet your needs for security, portability and access.
Whether your plan is to hunker down or bug out, invest in some filtration devices, and learn how to use and maintain them. In a worst-case scenario during which your water gets contaminated, processing it will be better than trying to replace it.
There are numerous ways to gather water in most locations inhabited by humans. Educate yourself on the ways that apply to your environment so you can replenish your supply, if needed.
PILLAR 3: SHELTER
This category’s options range from using your own home, other “permanent” structures, alternative manufactured structures (tents, RVs, dumpsters, etc.) or shelters constructed from locally available natural materials or debris. In some weather extremes, you might only have hours to create a shelter that will keep you and your group alive, so give this pillar the attention it deserves.
Be sure your plan includes at least one alternative to your primary shelter and also accounts for changes in weather and seasons. Because the emergency you’re planning for is probably not going to be on your calendar, you’ll need to be prepared for it to hit any day of the year.
If the situation is bad enough, security will be a concern. Consider how you can disguise your habitation from prying eyes—people who might be looking to supplement their supplies or who have more-nefarious intentions. How will you defend this location or evacuate from it on short notice?
“Shelter” also relates to your personal environment. How you dress will have a large impact on your ability to thrive in an emergency situation. Considerations such as weather and season are obvious, but how you dress can have an impact on your health, even in a moderate setting. Protection from excessive sun, wind and pests can be as important as having camouflage gear when you want to melt into the background or high-visibility options when you need to be rescued.
PILLAR 4: SECURITY
“Security” is the broadest category; it covers many areas and includes some of the more iconic gear that most people associate with prepping.
Anything you would need to ensure the physical safety and protection of your group is organized within this ASG pillar. While the types and selection of gear in every pillar are varied and prompt lots of conversation and debate, security is the area about which we hear the most passionate opinions and positions expressed. That’s appropriate, because this is the only section that concerns capabilities, planning, skills and equipment for dealing with specific violent attacks on you and/or your group.
The fact is, the more profound the emergency, the greater your need will be to secure your operational area, your stores and equipment, and the lives of those in your group. For many, this pillar requires a serious introspective journey that has to end with the willingness to take any measure to protect your life—or all your other preparations will have been a waste of time, effort and money.
Security includes the means to monitor your area day and night and to actively and passively defend yourself. From alarms, surveillance equipment and lighting devices to techniques for staying below the radar to edged and other weapons and firearms, there are many options to consider.
Consistent with other pillars, though, is the process of determining your needs, acquiring the gear, taking the training necessary to use it to its maximum efficiency and the plan to put them all together.
PILLAR 5: COMMUNICATIONS
There are many ways to pass information among people and groups. And because serious emergencies are likely to adversely impact your ability to communicate beyond shouting distance, this pillar covers how you can maintain contact with others in any scenario.
Whether you need to be rescued from a sinking boat or have to check in with contacts on the other side of the planet, there are options available that are discussed within the communications pillar. Remember that modern mobile phones have only been in wide use for less than three decades, and people were able to stay in touch for all of human history prior to their widespread adoption.
Not sure how you would stay in touch if your cell phone or TV suddenly went black? Fortunately, there are a number of short, medium and long-range options covered in this pillar that will support your emergency comms needs.
PILLAR 6: HEALTH
You might not have everything if you have your health but, in a survival scenario, it is a huge advantage and one you need to do everything in your power to protect and preserve.
First aid and trauma kits and a stash of vitamins are huge, but what will you do when they run out? What should you do if you’re concerned about exposure to “NBC” (nuclear, biological and chemical) warfare threats or come out on the losing end of a spat with a hornet nest?
Knowing the basic requirements for a personal or group first aid kit is a prerequisite before you decide whether to buy or build your own kits. If you have specific health or medical needs, you will need to put a plan in place immediately to address them, because a catastrophe could wipe out your ability to motor down to your favorite pharmacy when the need arises.
In many cases, there are natural alternatives to store-bought treatments and remedies, and you might learn that some are conveniently available to you right now.
It’s important to note that no single pillar is always the most important. Every survival challenge is unique, and your response to each must be adjusted according to the situation. Because the circumstance determines the greatest need, it behooves you to be prepared to address all serious threats in a prompt, decisive and competent manner.
Remember that there are certain inescapable realities—although the following approximate time frames are dependent upon a number of variables: You can’t go more than three minutes without air; three hours without shelter in extreme cold; three days without water; and three weeks without food.
This all might sound bleak, but the old adage about “an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure” holds true more than ever. Being prepared is the one thing you have complete control over.