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A Simple But Effective Survival Plan

Copyright June 2, 2010 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.


Two Person Camping Tent Your family's survival plan should meet both of the following minimum standards:
  1. There is a very small probability that any member of your family will be hurt or injured in any way.
  2. There is a very high probability that your plan will succeed.
One of the most difficult things to do when evaluating a survival plan is to be completely honest about the strengths and weaknesses of our plan. It is a natural human tendency to downplay any negatives and to focus exclusively on the positives. Although this may help to relieve some of our current anxiety about our family's future, this type of "tunnel vision" in not in the best interests of our family members. If we truly desire to create a reasonable survival plan then we need to be honest and we need to own up to any shortcomings in our plan and we need to try and think of ways to minimize those negative aspects.

Therefore, in my opinion, a reasonable survival plan for your family should include:
  1. Enough supplies to last at least fourteen days at your current location.
  2. Enough supplies to last at least six months at either your current location or at a more desirable location.
  3. The ability to provide additional water and food and clothing for at least twenty years.
  4. The desire to survive extremely difficult circumstances without compromising your humanity or your religious beliefs.
Let's examine each of the above four points one-at-a-time.

At Least Fourteen Days of Supplies

Your family should have the option to stay exactly where you are or to evacuate your home immediately. Your family should have the option to carefully evaluate the current situation and then make an intelligent decision about the best way to maximize your family's chances for long-term survival.

Let's consider two hypothetical situations: (1) a nuclear explosion, and (2) a fire.

  1. If a nuclear device was detonated a "safe distance" away from your location and the blast did not destroy or damage your neighborhood, then it probably will not be too long before radioactive fallout makes any type of travel extremely dangerous. After a nuclear explosion the prevailing wind patterns may shift suddenly and unexpectedly and you could easily find yourself surrounded by nuclear fallout. To venture outdoors in this situation would be stupid. A family's best chance for long-term survival would be to immediately build a small safe improvised shelter inside your current residence with as much weight (furniture, books, food, water, whatever) between you and the outside. Your family should then remain inside your improvised shelter for at least two weeks to give most of the radioactive particles a chance to gradually burn themselves out. If possible, you should remain inside your improvised shelter for even longer but that is a decision you would need to make based on the specific circumstances at that time.

  2. If a fire was headed your way and you knew the fire was going to reach and completely destroy your home in about one-hour, then you either abandon your home or you die. It this situation it should only take you a few minutes to put your bug-out-bags into your escape vehicle, along with several cases of food, and then you could head away from the danger zone.
If you had at least fourteen days of supplies in your home then you could quickly and easily implement either one of the above two strategies, depending on which strategy was your best option at the time the decision actually needed to be made.

At Least Six Months of Supplies

If you are suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into a situation that is completely different from today, then it would be highly desirable if you did not have to worry about your family starving to death for at least six months. This would give you time to more completely analyze the situation and determine what all your options are and which options have the best chance for long-term survival.

On the other hand, if your family has no food then you will be forced to search for food and this could expose you and your family to an overwhelming multitude of dangerous situations.

Therefore, which would you prefer:
  1. Having six months to carefully consider and develop a feasible long-term survival plan, or
  2. Having to immediately search everywhere for food along with 99% of the rest of the people in the world, and frequently getting caught in life-or-death fights over whatever food you might find.

The Ability to Be Self-Sustaining for at least Twenty Years

Your objective should be long-term survival and not just for fourteen days or for six months. Therefore before a hard times event occurs you should have thought about how you will replenish your supplies on an on-going basis.

This will require that you have the following minimum items in your possession before the hard times event begins:
    Rustic Cabin
  1. At least one good quality water filter element (about $45) that will process at least 10,000 gallons of water and remove harmful microorganisms and tiny radioactive nuclear particles. If you can afford it you should have three or four of these replacement water filter elements.
  2. A comprehensive first aid kit, a good first aid/medical reference book, and a reasonable supply of the over-the-counter medicines your family has used in the past.
  3. At least 5,000 paper matches (vacuum sealed in groups of eight match books or 160 matches per vacuum bag) and at least five new butane lighters.
  4. A reasonable assortment of heirloom vegetable seeds and the knowledge of how to plant and harvest those crops, and how to save the new seeds for the following year.
  5. At least one good quality gill net and at least 200 yards of extra fishing line so you can repair your net. This would allow you to easily harvest fresh fish for your family to eat.
  6. A reasonable assortment of snares and traps along with at least one good trapping manual. This would permit you to silently harvest wild game animals for their meat and their hides.
  7. At least one good semi-automatic hunting rifle (and scope) that will successfully terminate the largest wild game animal in your area and at least 1,000 rounds of ammunition for that rifle.
  8. At least one good semi-automatic handgun, and a good holster with a second magazine compartment permanently attached to the holster, and at least 1,000 rounds of ammunition for that handgun.
  9. At least one good 22LR semi-automatic rifle and at least 5,000 rounds of ammunition for that rifle.
  10. At least one good hunting knife for each member of your family.
  11. One good book on how to convert animals hides into buckskins so you can make your own clothes and moccasins with the passing years.
  12. One good book on how to preserve food for winter consumption (smoking, drying, root cellars, etc.).
  13. One good quality portable comprehensive tool kit that contains the most commonly used hand tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches, hammer, pliers, etc.
  14. One good quality wood saw with at least a ten-inch blade. A fifteen-inch blade would be even better.
  15. One good quality digging shovel (spade) with a pointed tip. The distance from the tip of the shovel to the end of its handle should be at least 54 inches long.
  16. At least four heavy-duty tarps (10 mil thick). The sizes of these tarps should be between 10 feet by 12 feet up to approximately 16 feet by 30 feet. You should also have several hundred feet of strong nylon or polypropylene twine and several hundred feet of 20 gauge wire.
  17. At least one solar battery charger, and one good flashlight, and one good battery operated portable shortwave radio, and several sets of replacement rechargeable batteries for your flashlight and radio. This will provide light and it will allow you to listen to the news on a regular basis.
  18. A good copy of the Holy Bible such as the English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible.
The above items are not very big and they could easily be packed into your escape vehicle and taken with you. If you had all the above items with you then you would have the knowledge and the necessary equipment to provide for your family for at least twenty years. This would take a lot of stress off you so you could focus your thoughts on other issues that might endanger your family's survival.

Your Personal Integrity and Morality

If a hard times event occurs unexpectedly, then at least 99% of the people in the world will not be prepared for it. These individuals will engage one another in a life-or-death struggle over the supplies that existed at the beginning of the hard times event. You do not need to be in competition with these individuals. The odds will be too great against you (99 to 1).

Most of these individuals would never have believed that they could kill someone over a few cans of food. However, after starvation gradually weakens their bodies and their morals, then killing will no longer be considered murder -- it will be considered absolutely necessary for ordinary day-to-day survival.

If you have reflected on this prior to the onset of a serious society changing hard times event, then hopefully you will have made the decision that you and your family are not going to participate in a fight over scarce resources. Hopefully you will have made some plans on where you could survive while the overwhelming majority of the world's population destroy one another.

If you make these plans now then you could retain your moral principles and your religious beliefs. If you don't make any plans now, then be prepared for a radical change in what you consider acceptable behavior after a serious hard times event begins.


At the current time the amount of really bad survival advice on the internet far exceeds the amount of good survival advice. I have seen this bad advice repeated again and again by a variety of different individuals on multiple internet forums and blogs. I am simply amazed at what the vast majority of people will accept on faith without first subjecting it to any type of in-depth critical analysis. Since they read the same bad advice again and again on different internet forums and since it is posted by individuals with the very best intentions, most people eventually accept the bad advice as being really good advice.

The problem is that the basic flaws in the bad advice won't become apparent until you actually put it into practice and then you will discover the obvious shortcomings that you should have had the wisdom to foresee if you had just taken the time to think about it ahead of time.

Therefore I strongly recommend that you carefully reflect on everything you read and that includes all the information I post on this website, including this article you are now reading. If you will just take the time to think things through to their logical conclusion you should be able to separate the really bad advice from the good advice and thereby help your family avoid a lot of potentially devastating heartbreaking events at some point in the future.

Hard times survival will be hard work. It will be hard work every day. There are several things you can do now to minimize the amount of future hard work but there is no "secret" that will eliminate the hard work. May I humbly suggest that you stop looking for some "secret" and instead accept the fact that if a hard times event occurs then you will need to work hard every day just to survive. If you can accept this basic truth then you will be far ahead of the vast majority of "survivalists" who think they have some "gadget" or "strategy" or "plan" that is going to make their life easier during the coming hard times.

May I also suggest that you stop adding more future work to your survival plan. Each new idea that you include in your future daily "adventure" will require more work each day and not less work. Too many new "survivalists" already have a survival plan that is far too complicated to be successful. And each day they add something new to their plan. The shear complexity of their survival plan currently exceeds the amount of work they can do each day. When they eventually try to put their plan into action they will discover this truth and they will wonder why they couldn't see this ahead of time. Please don't become one of those people whose survival plan is too complex to be successful on a practical level.

Footnote: An Example of Unnecessary Complexity

If you visit several different survival websites on a regular basis then the chances are extremely high that you have seen a "homemade laundry detergent" formula on one or more of those websites. Most of these formulas include Borax, which is a laundry detergent, plus two other items. The formula then explains how to mix these three ingredients together to make your own homemade laundry detergent.

Now stop and think about this formula from an honest perspective. Why would you want to buy three chemicals, one of which is a laundry detergent, to make your own homemade laundry detergent? Why not just buy regular laundry detergent that is ready to use right out of the box? Better still, why not follow the suggestion at several places on my website and just buy some bars of pure Ivory soap, and then use that Ivory soap for everything (bath soap, hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, and shampoo)? You can make liquid soap by shaving some of the soap off the bar of Ivory soap and then putting those shavings into some boiling water. After it cools you would then have pure liquid soap that may be used to wash your dishes, or your laundry, or your hair, or even a baby if your family is not allergic to Ivory soap.

Please don't make the hard times more difficult than they need to be. Think about what you read and then use common sense to make your own decision. Don't immediately accept something just because it appears on a really popular survival forum. This also applies to my website. Don't simply accept everything I write as being the best solution for your family. I know the information I share is the best option for my family because I have actually tried it and it works well for us. I have also tried a lot of other things that didn't work well but I don't mention them on my website.

Therefore, please use common sense and select the best overall strategies for your family's survival, which will probably also include some really good information you find elsewhere. However, before you reject one of my suggestions, please compare all your options in an honest manner as they specifically apply to your family's needs in your family's specific circumstances.


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Grandpappy's e-mail address is: RobertWayneAtkins@hotmail.com