How to Pick a Hunting Crossbow

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Hunting season is fast approaching, and it’s time to choose your weapon. If you’d rather get away from firearms but don’t have the strength or the skill to hunt with a compound bow, there’s a middle ground you can enjoy in the form of a crossbow. Here are some tips and tricks to help you choose a hunting crossbow that will serve you well for seasons to come.

Benefits of Crossbows vs. Longbows

If you’re thinking about bow-hunting, a longbow might be the first thing that comes to mind. The problem with longbows is that they require a high level of skill to hit your target every time. You have to be able to maintain perfect shooting form when you draw the bow, regardless of how tired or sore you are after a day of tracking game or hiding in a tree blind.

A crossbow, on the other hand, is simpler to use, even for beginners. If you can handle a .22 rifle, you can handle a crossbow.

Crossbows are also deadlier than longbows, at least when you’re looking at the speed the bolts or arrow can travel. A compound bow can shoot a 364-grain arrow at 289 feet per second. A crossbow, on the other hand, can fire a 400-grain bolt at 385 feet per second, with many topping 400 feet per second.

Choose the Highest Draw Weight You Can Manage

The higher the draw weight of a hunting crossbow, the faster and more accurately you can fire a bolt. Make sure you check your state regulations when it comes to crossbow hunting to determine the maximum draw weight you’re allowed to use. Depending on the state, you can expect to find crossbows that range from 75-125 pounds, while most hunting crossbows tend to top 150-175 pounds. You may find some with more than 200 pounds.

Try out different draw weights and choose the highest you can manage safely. The higher the draw weight, the faster your bolts will fly and the easier your crossbow will be to use.

Recurve or Compound Crossbows?

When you’re choosing a hunting crossbow, you’ve got two options — recurve or compound. Recurve crossbows are more traditional and don’t have any pulleys. They’re easier to maintain, but they’re harder to cock and louder when you fire them. The chances are high that if you miss your aim on the first shot, the sound of your recurve crossbow will scare away your game.

Compound crossbows are faster to load, quieter to fire and are easier to draw at a higher draw weight. Compound and recurve crossbows may have similar draw weight, but compounds will usually be smaller, lighter and easier to manage. The downside of a compound is that if something breaks or fails, you’ll need to take it to a specialist for repairs.

Choose the Best Bow in Your Budget

Ideally, you’ll want to choose the best bow that you can afford. You can get a decent hunting bow for $300-$1,000, or as a kit with arrows, a cocking device and a quiver for $1,500. Remember, as with most things, you get what you pay for. If you’re going to use this crossbow regularly for hunting or practice, invest in something that will serve you well for seasons to come.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best thing that you can do when choosing a hunting crossbow is to practice with it, both before you take it out into the field and while you’re out hunting. A crossbow will tend to be more accurate than a longbow and require less practice, making it perfect for beginners.

How to Stock Your Survival Bunker

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The end of the world has been a concern since the beginning of time. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a disease outbreak or a different type of apocalyptic event, your survival bunker can keep you safe in most SHTF scenarios. Of course, once you finish building your bunker, you’ll need to stock it with things to keep you and your loved ones safe.

So how can you differentiate between necessities and luxuries? Make sure you stock your survival bunker the right way by reading about these survival essentials. After you have your bunker stocked, you can think about adding a few more items for your own personal enjoyment.

1. Save Tons of Water

Everyone knows that hydration is key to healthy living. But that’s easy to forget about when you live with constant access to water. There’s no urgent need to drink it when it’s available because it’s always there.

When you’re living in your survival bunker, your water supply will quickly diminish. Unless you’ve managed to hook up your bunker to some kind of underground well or natural water source, it could disappear quickly.

The first thing you should do is stock up on water. Water bottles, pitchers and even filtration systems are high-priority items when stocking your bunker.

2. Store Nutritional Food

The next thing you should think about is food. You’ll obviously have to eat when you’re waiting out the storm, and you may not know when you’ll be able to leave the bunker to scavenge. That’s why you should read a survival food list and get non-perishable foods that cover every part of the food pyramid.

Some examples of these foods are:

  • Beans (dried or canned)
  • Grains
  • Flour
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Canned or dried meat
  • Powdered milk

It may be challenging to find your favorite foods on that list, but you should think simple, like stocking up on beef jerky. It comes in a variety of flavors and lasts a long time in its packaging, no refrigeration necessary.

Don’t forget to designate a place in your bunker to prepare the food. Even if you just need a surface to open a can of beans on, it’ll help you decide where your kitchen will be.

3. Prepare a First Aid Kit

You never know what could happen when you’re adjusting to your new lifestyle, so it’s a good idea to prepare a first aid kit. A basic kit will contain things like bandages, antibiotic cream, gauze and gauze tape.

You’ll also want to have medicine on hand. Over the counter medicine like acetaminophen, ibuprofen and allergy medicine are all smart to include. Just be sure to stay aware of their expiration date and replace them as needed every few years.

4. Consider the Temperature

Spending time underground will make you safer, but it will also make you colder. The ground has a tendency to trap the colder temperatures at night, holding onto them even through hot days. The deeper your bunker is, the colder you’ll be.

Consider this important detail when you stock your bunker. Store jackets, socks, blankets and even winter supplies like gloves and hats so you’re comfortable when you’re down there.

5. Fill Up Your Toolkit

What happens if your portable stove breaks or a handheld lantern falls apart? You’ll need a basic toolkit to handle situations like that, along with extra batteries. Keep both of these somewhere safe in your bunker. You may not use your toolkit during a natural disaster, but you’ll be glad you prepped it when you need to reassemble something that aids in your survival.

6. Designate a Document Bag

When you’re listing out items you’ll need to survive, your personal documents may not seem relevant. However, if the disaster destroys or damages your home, you would need the relevant paperwork to rebuild.

Keep important documents in an emergency document bag so you can grab it and go if you ever need to evacuate. The emergency document bag includes these items.

  • Photo IDs
  • Birth certificates
  • Insurance forms
  • Passports
  • Wills and titles

It’s always smart to have these with you to manage an unexpected situation. Sealing them in a waterproof bag or fireproof safe will keep them secure until you need them.

7. Create a Bedroom

Most bunkers end up being a safe place with one room, but you’ll still end up needing many of the same supplies you use every day. Create a makeshift bedroom by saving things like a bedspread, pillows and extra sheets and blankets. Double what you save if you’ll be in the bunker with a family member or friend.

8. Install a Bathroom

Every bunker has a space where you can go to the bathroom, like a two in one combined shower and toilet. Along with installing a compost toilet, you’ll need sanitary supplies like toilet paper, hand soap and shower supplies. You should also have a way to clean your bathroom area that isn’t so pungent that you need to air it out.

9. Arrange a Defense room

If you’re prepping your bunker for the end of the world, you’ll need a defense room. It’ll help you to hunt your own food after you get back above ground. There’s also the need for self-defense in case the people you came across outside your bunker were desperate or crazed.

To that end, think about what your abilities and skill sets are to determine which methods of defense are right for you. You may already have weapons in your home you could store in your bunker.

Just like it’d be unwise to enter your bunker without a means of self-defense, it would also be unwise to enter without any means of cleaning your guns. Remember to store things like a gun cleaning kit, depending on which weapons you’d bring along.

Think About Your Routine

If you feel like you’re still missing something, think about your routine. What do you use every day and how could you stock it in your bunker? Essentials like food, water and extra blankets are just a few of the things you’ll be grateful for if you ever need to go down there. Once you’ve stocked the important stuff, you can throw in fun things like board games and other inessential items to pass the time.

How to Clear a Section of Woods for Farming

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Farming on property you own can be a great decision because it’s sustainable and profitable, but it’s also a very involved project. Before you can begin, you need a plot of land to use — and that can mean clearing brush, trees and other items.

There are several ways to clear an area for farming and remove the vegetation there to allow you to plant new crops. The method you choose will be decided by how dense the current vegetation is, how much time you have and how much money you want to spend. We’ve compiled a list of the most popular methods, along with their pros and cons.

Cheap and Dirty

If the plot of land you’re trying to clear is not particularly large, you have access to cheap labor and there’s no rush involved, there’s no need to use heavy equipment. The chainsaw will be your weapon of choice, and you might be surprised at how quickly a few workers can knock down a small thicket. The more time-consuming tasks will be stacking and disposing of green waste and leveling the ground once the cutting is done.

For a DIY stump removal solution, use a brush grubber attached to your pickup truck.

Tractors Necessary

When trees exceed 5 inches in diameter, it might be time to bring out the big guns. In this scenario, you’ll still be able to fell trees using a chainsaw. However, if a bulldozer is available, it might do a better job of clearing out mature trees quickly. The leftover stumps won’t all be removable using a brush grubber, and a stump grinder will likely be necessary. Grinders can be rented for jobs such as this, and will make it easy to clear stumps from your new homesteading plot.

Bring in the Professionals

If you’ve got the money, teams of landscapers can be assigned to clear a plot for you in a very short time. They will bring a combination of heavy equipment, chainsaws and other hand tools. Because the service is being carried out professionally, you can expect to have a well-manicured flat plot of land available to you at the end of the project. Your wallet will be flatter too, so think carefully about how badly you need to employ this type of service.

Disposing of Green Waste

You must treat green waste responsibly when clearing land for a new homestead. While burning is a popular option and arguably the simplest way to eliminate things, it requires a permit in most areas and can damage your air quality. Consult your local authorities to learn how you can get a permit before you choose to burn your cleared green waste.

Many landfills have dedicated areas for green waste, and if you can gather all your removed brush in a trailer, you’ll have the option to dump it. Some facilities charge for this, so call ahead and learn what to expect before you get hosed on a dumping fee. Ultimately the waste has to go somewhere for you to begin farming the land, so it’s a necessary evil if burning or processing the wood isn’t an option.

You’re Cleared for Farming

Have you got some advice to share after a recent homesteading project? Are there methods we neglected to touch on here? If so, drop us a line in the comments below. Remember to always work safe and use the proper protective equipment when handling chainsaws, tractors and other items involved in the clearing process. Before you know it, your land will be ready for anything.

What to Do With Food That’s About to Expire

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Food is essential for our survival, providing us with the nutritional support necessary to sustain life.

Despite its clear importance, food tends to be neglected and treated with a blithe disregard for preservation from consumers who merely view it as an expendable resource.

While it can be challenging to eat all the food we purchase before the expiration date arrives, it’s on us to exercise proper storage care, responsible shopping practices and sensible food conservation. When prepped and stored correctly, the freshness of food can be maintained long past its shelf life. In fact, even without an attentive understanding of acceptable storage, expired foods may remain perfectly fine past their listed dates.

If certain foods are reasonable past their expiration dates, then what do these labels mean?

What Is an Expiration Date?

An expiration date denotes the final day that food should be eaten or used for guaranteed freshness, so consumers ingesting it should proceed at their own risk.

However, that doesn’t always mean that food has gone rotten by a particular date, given that various labels are more of a reflection on food quality than food safety. Some foods might be safe to consume nearly 18 months after their expiration date.

Even though expiration dates provide a solid indicator for when food should likely be thrown out, there’s typically a window of time after those dates until food goes bad and becomes unusable. By relying on your senses of sight and smell, you should tell if food has truly reached the point of needing tossed.

When stored correctly, the quality of certain foods can extend longer.

How to Preserve Food Through Proper Storage

As reported in a global initiative on food loss and waste reduction, roughly one-third of the food produced for human consumption in the world — nearly 2.9 trillion pounds — is lost or wasted every year.

However, Paul VanLandingham, EdD, a senior faculty member at the Center for Food and Beverage Management of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, claims that air-tight packaging can “double shelf life” for products, allowing food to be as “good as the day it was packaged.”

Packaging that can keep out light, oxygen and pests works best for food preservation. For example, unless compromised, canned food can retain its nutrients and safety for decades, allowing for safe consumption up to four years past its expiration date.

Mylar bags also serve as an ideal solution for storing various foods, with the longest lasting foods having low moisture and fat levels. Dried foods — such as beans and grains — last 20 to 30 years when correctly stored.

Proper storage could be particularly valuable in the event of an emergency, where having access to sustainable food may ultimately save your life.

Poorly stored food that goes past its expiration date, but still isn’t rotten, hosts a number of ways to utilize in an effort to minimize waste.

Edible Uses for Expired Food

  1. Bake with expired milk: If your carton of milk is starting to sour, it can be used for baking as a substitute for buttermilk in baked goods.
  2. Make bread crumbs or croutons from stale bread: Stale bread can be pulsed in your blender or food processor for homemade bread crumbs. It can also be sliced into cubes, sprinkled with seasonings and baked to produce croutons.
  3. Store wilted herbs and veggies for stock: Save wilted herbs and veggies by storing them in your freezer to make homemade vegetable broth later on.
  4. Toast stale snacks in the oven: Whether its cereal, crackers, chips or popcorn, snacks can be toasted in the oven on a baking sheet for a few minutes to freshen them up.

Additional Uses for Expired Food

  1. Exfoliate your skin with coffee ground or Greek yogurt: The lactic acid in Greek yogurt helps exfoliate dead skin cells. Two tablespoons of Greek yogurt with one tablespoon of honey creates a moisturizing cream you can apply as a face mask. Similarly, you can add coffee grounds to body or facial scrubs to nourish and tone your skin.
  2. Moisturize your hair with overly-ripe avocados: Apply smashed up avocados to wet or dry hair for an hour, at which point you can wash it out, leaving you with moisturized hair.
  3. Shine surfaces with mayonnaise: The oil content in mayonnaise can restore moisture and remove stains, allowing surfaces to glisten.
  4. Sprinkle eggshells around plants: Eggshells are rich in calcium and other minerals, making them great for your garden when crushed and sprinkled around your plants.

Practice Food Conservation

Even if food nears its expiration date or passes it, there may be alternate uses for it or ways to prolong its shelf life. Take steps to practice proper storage care, responsible shopping practices and sensible food conservation to make the most of your food.

How to Teach Your Kids About Survival

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Life in the 21st century is pretty cushy. For many families, survival training just isn’t a priority. Food comes wrapped in plastic, we have machines that make sure the temperature is always agreeable and when it rains, we just head on indoors and reach for the remote control to watch television.

With all of these luxuries in place, it can be easy to get lazy when it comes to basic survival skills. However, kids can still get a lot of value from learning a few important outdoor survival techniques. It’s a good way to put them in the mindset of caring for themselves, and it doesn’t hurt if they get a little fun out of trying new things they’ve only seen in Hollywood movies.

Cooking Their Own Meals

When you think about survival, this probably takes on the image of a squirrel roasting over a pile of sticks. Your kids don’t need to get that extreme just yet, but helping them take ownership of meal preparation when they get home from school is a great first step and a way to introduce the concept of self-reliance. Maybe it begins with making a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Later on, you can teach them to cook over a grill or on a camp stove in the wilderness.

Building Shelter

Creating shelter is one of those skills that you can learn when you’re young and carry with you for decades. Besides, what’s more fun for a child than finding just the right materials and creating an amazing fort? Basic shelters like a lean-to or an easy-to-set-up tent can make all the difference in a wilderness situation where inclement weather or getting lost leads to dangerous outcomes.

Of course, your child shouldn’t be subject to this type of situation until they are old and mature enough to set out on a wilderness adventure. However, practicing their skills will make them that much more proficient when the day comes. When your family goes on a hiking trip, take the time to get your kids involved in building shelter. Eventually, these things will become second-nature.

Finding Water

When you’re lost in the wilderness, lack of water is a much deadlier situation than lack of food. It only takes three days to die of thirst, so practice finding streams and small bodies of water with your children — both when they do and don’t have maps and GPS equipment. Just finding water isn’t enough, though. Make sure you teach your kids you’ve got to purify it to prevent illness from dangerous bacteria.

Your kids can learn to boil water if they’re old enough to use a basic camp stove. A gravity filter is another solution that provides great output in terms of the volume of clean water provided but doesn’t require much effort to use. Other methods include using purification tablets and learning to use an altimeter to derive whether a stream’s height makes it likely safe to drink from.

Making Fire

Of course, there are certain qualifiers for this lesson. Not every child is ready to jump into making fire, so let your kids grow into it. When they’re ready, it can be a fun and interesting exercise for the whole family. There are plenty of kits on the market that provide a flint knife anyone can learn to use fairly quickly. It’s not just a matter of making a spark, though — you have to understand how to correctly stack your logs and set tinder so that the fire will breathe and burn clean. Extra points if you can learn to build one in rain, wind or snow!

These are just the basics, but as we touched on earlier, practicing these basic skills will give kids a feeling of self-reliance and self-confidence they can find pride in. Teaching your kids about survival gives them both a great set of skills and fond memories of family time that will stick with them for years to come.

How to Heat Your House Without Electricity

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With the winter months behind us, you might be thinking more about your air conditioning bill than how to warm your home right now. If you’re living off the grid, however, keeping warm is a serious need in many parts of the world. The sun goes down and things get chilly.

Heating a living space has been a need since long before people had electric heat. In this article, we’ll explore several ways to sustainably heat a reasonable-sized living space using natural resources and no power.

Use a Wood Stove or Fireplace

This method is probably the go-to for most people, and for a good reason. Wood stoves were once a staple in nearly every home. These days, air quality laws have made it difficult for people to use wood-burning stoves in many places. However, in the wilderness, you would be wise to have one available and to take advantage of it when the mercury drops.

It’s entirely possible to heat a house built with proper insulation efficiently using a wood-burning stove. A quality fireplace or wood-burning stove not only adds a heating element, but it is also an aesthetic component in your home. Make sure you have an ample supply of dry firewood. Before winter arrives, it’s a good idea to stock up on an energy-dense wood like madrone, ash, maple or oak. Depending on your needs, you may want to select a hardwood that will burn longer, or a softwood that lights easier and burns hotter.

A High-Tech Take on Burning Wood

As an alternative to more traditional wood-burning methods, newer pellet-burning stoves can heat a space with a minimum of smoke and soot. Pellets provide consistent, even heat, and are available in hardwood or softwood varieties in 40-pound bags designed to provide one 24-hour day of heat. So you’ll not only enjoy an easy-to-use solution, but you’ll be able to calculate your heating costs with little effort.

Your Gas Stove or Oven

Have you ever cooked a meal and realized the temperature in your home increased five degrees? That’s because your stove or oven puts out a lot of heat, and if you have gas appliances, you can use these to heat your home without electricity. Of course, this is not the most efficient way to heat a large home, but in smaller spaces, it can be reasonably economical. Just make sure your insulation is well sorted out.

Speaking of Insulation

None of the methods here will do much if you have a home with no insulation and single-pane windows. None of the heat you produce will stay in the home without the help of some well-placed fiberglass insulation, weatherstripping and quality windows. If you know you have a specific part of the house that insulates well, you may want to declare that your warm room and focus your efforts on heating that space to maximize efficiency.

It’s not all that difficult to keep your home warm without electricity. Mostly, you’ve just got to be up to the task of chopping some firewood or hauling a few bags of pellets around. Maybe brush up on your flint-and-tinder skills before next winter, so you’re not reliant on those expensive firestarters. A quality hoodie doesn’t hurt either. Keep warm, friends!

How to Prep for Extreme Cold

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Climate change is altering our seasons. Summers are getting hotter, and winters are getting colder which means that we need to start preparing for extreme cold, especially if you live in a northern state. What do you need to do to make your home when, as Ned Stark so iconically stated, winter is coming?

Have Your Furnace Serviced

You’ll be relying on your furnace to keep you warm during the colder winter months, so the last thing you want is for it to break down when it’s below freezing.

Before temperatures start dropping, have your furnace inspected and if necessary serviced by a professional. A little bit of preventative maintenance can save you from freezing during the winter.

During the rest of the year, keep up with the essential furnace maintenance. Change out your filters, and check the visible portions of your furnace for any signs of problems that could take your heating unit offline when you need it the most.

Protect Your Pipes

The pipes that bring water into your home are probably the most vulnerable parts of your home when the temperature drops. Frozen pipes can crack, pouring icy water into your home and causing hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage.

Start by taking a close look at your exterior pipes and make sure that they’re all adequately insulated. Don’t forget to check the pipes in the unheated areas of your home, like garages and basements, which are just as vulnerable.

For exterior faucets and taps, remove any hoses and empty them before you store them for the season. Even if the valve is insulated, the tube is not and can freeze, causing damage.

Drop the Interior Temperature

When the mercury falls, it’s tempting to crank up the heat to stay warm, but this could lead to a furnace failure. Your furnace will have to work even harder to keep the interior warm, and it might not be able to keep up with the temperature changes. Drop the thermostat to 68 or below if you can handle the cold or don’t mind layering up to keep your furnace from burning out or driving up your electric or gas bill during the winter months.

Have a Backup Plan

Your furnace can only keep you warm while it has power or fuel, so if you run out of gas or the electricity fails you’ll need to have a backup plan to keep your house warm.

If you’ve got a fireplace, this can provide heat, but you need to make sure to have your chimney serviced before you need it. A clogged vent can be a fire hazard and can cause smoke to build up in your home.

Consider keeping a generator or two in your garage, and use those to power things like space heaters if the power goes out.

Of course, you also need to make sure you have plenty of warm clothes that you can layer up because if push comes to shove, that will be your best way to stay warm.

Stay Warm!

Once you’ve finished all your prep, all that you have left to do is sit back and enjoy the beautiful winter weather. Stay warm!

How to Use Trees for Survival

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Trees help you survive every day just by cleaning the air, but that’s not all they’re good for. With a little knowledge, they could also give you a lift in a survival situation.

You might know indigenous peoples relied on Earth’s arboreous inhabitants as sources of food and material long before you could enjoy a pair of nylon hiking trousers or a handy plastic-wrapped granola bar. Read on to discover exactly how you can take advantage of various trees while in the wilderness. You never know when you might need them.

Trees Provide Food

Even though you probably think of more commonly farmed plants as sources of food, trees also provide a number of products you’ve likely purchased at the grocery store. You can consume things like walnuts, pine nuts, syrup and —when processed correctly — several herbal and medicinal teas. Black walnuts, acorns, hickory nuts and pecans can all provide sustenance on the trail or in a survival situation.

You should be aware that specific tree nuts can be acidic, such as acorns. While they can be found throughout the American open space, you’ll need to rinse ground acorn meat in water to leach out the bitter tannin before consuming. Wild almonds contain cyanide and should be avoided unless you know how to prepare them for consumption. For a sweet treat, seek a mulberry tree and grab some juicy berries.

Tap Into Sap

In addition to the obvious nuts and berries, many trees are sources of sap that can be consumed or used for practical purposes. Maple sap, which you’ve probably eaten in the form of syrup, is easy to attain by boring a hole into the side of a tree. For easier access, insert a hollowed-out stick or length of tubing. Sap flows best on the south side of the tree, so see if you can orient yourself before making your tap.

Plant a Tree and Sustain Yourself

You probably won’t benefit from this if you find yourself lost in the woods, but if you’re the type of person who appreciates the ability to self-sustain, planting a tree is one of the best things you can do. It’s an easy job, and depending on the type of tree, it might just outlive you. You’ll be able to enjoy years of tree nuts, sap and other good things.

Many species of trees provide fibrous bark and branches that can be used to make basic tools and fabrics. The fallen leaves and bark can be used as compost and food for other plants. With a little work, you can even process raw bark into papyrus, a form of simple paper that has been in existence for thousands of years.

It’s no wonder people are so passionate about protecting our planet’s tree life. Trees are some of the plant world’s best and longest-lasting providers. Do some research and find out which types of trees grow in your area, and you might find a new survival partner.

How to Build a Bunker

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Nuclear holocaust may not be the threat today that it was 50 years ago, but a well-stocked shelter is still one of the best preparations you can take against any major disaster. The sturdy construction and simple nature of these structures make them useful for a multitude of disaster situations, and while initial investment is high, a finished bunker provides peace of mind with relatively little maintenance.

Purchasing a prefabricated bunker might mean compromising on features and quality, and having someone build you one can get expensive fast. Consider undertaking a DIY bunker project — you’ll have full control over the costs and amenities, and as construction projects go, bunkers are relatively easy to build.

Choose a Location and Layout

Your bunker is a living quarter just the same as your above-ground home. If you’re building close to your home, there’s a good chance you’ll have infrastructure such as electrical lines and plumbing to compete with for space. Make sure to survey the area and choose a spot to dig where you have a good knowledge of what you’ll encounter underground. Also, make sure you’re legally permitted to begin the project. You may need to check your city ordinances or complete paperwork before beginning.

Smaller bunkers will only accommodate a bare-bones layout. However, if you have enough space, you can incorporate multiple rooms. You should create a blueprint that details the floorplan of your proposed shelter as you begin to identify the bunker’s infrastructure needs. How will you plumb the structure, provide access and even install things like cable and internet?

Breaking Ground

Now you’re ready to begin digging! You’ll want to rent an earth mover for this job unless your project is on a multi-year plan. Most people choose concrete as their bunker-building material because of its strength, molecular stability and low cost. You can use poured material — however, this can pose some challenges in an underground setting.

Concrete blocks make an excellent building material for bunkers because you can purchase them in several shapes and sizes, allowing you to construct virtually any basic structure with them. They’re also available hollow or solid, allowing you to add strength to the structure’s load-bearing walls. You should consider adding multiple passages from your home to your shelter, because in an emergency, relying on a single point of entry and exit could make a difference for you and your family.

Finishing Your Bunker

It might feel cool and comfortable now, but your bunker will quickly become stuffy and unpleasant without a steady supply of fresh air. You can’t leave the door open all the time, so most shelters use an air pump to pull fresh air down into the bunker and provide continuous circulation. The size of your shelter and number of people it needs to accommodate will determine what size air pump to use.

In addition to air, you’ll need to add water and electricity lines, internet and essential radio communications equipment. Finally, be sure to stock food and water ahead of time. In a crisis, you won’t have time to run to Costco. Make sure to supply the shelter with nonperishable items and fresh water, as well as water purification equipment. Keep a log of expiration dates so you can refresh your stores before they spoil.

It’s no small project, but in terms of being prepared, nothing will deliver more value than a well-planned shelter. It’s an investment in something you might not use, but if it gives you peace of mind, it’s well worth the spend.

10 Must-Have Winter Survival Items

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We’re in for a strong El Niño winter this year, meaning lots of snow and lower temperatures across many of the states. While that’s no cause for panic, it is crucial that you stay prepared during this time of year. The following 10 items are at the top of the list for winter survival — keep them on-hand to stay safe and warm during a severe weather event.

1. Snow Shovels

Starting off the list is perhaps the most essential item for winter survival: shovels.

While anyone in an area that gets snow will almost certainly own a sturdy shovel, it is essential that you keep yours in good shape, especially during winter weather advisories. Also, be prepared with a backup shovel or two, just in case one of them breaks. Shovels are your most reliable way of excavating your house, keeping the driveway and steps free of snow and ice and creating an easy escape route during an emergency.

2. Car Blanket

Some of the worst winter emergencies can occur when you’re driving. It’s easy to hit a patch of black ice or catch your wheel on a snowdrift. Even if the incident isn’t too severe, there is always a chance you could be stranded far from help and need to hunker down in your car for a while. Keeping a warm blanket in your vehicle for these occasions is the best way to stay warm until help arrives.

3. Food

Getting to the store during a snow-in can be nigh impossible, especially if the plows haven’t arrived your street yet. Make sure you have a supply of canned or nonperishable food that doesn’t rely on electricity to eat. Trail mix, beef jerky and canned veggies and beans are all excellent options for this type of situation. Be careful to eat the perishable food in your fridge first, as there is a high probability you will lose electricity during a storm.

4. First Aid Kit

Accidents happen. When they do, and there’s no reasonable way to get down the road to the hospital or doctor’s office, you need to have the materials necessary to make it through in your own house.

Having an extensive first aid kit will help you in any medical emergency you may run into when you don’t have any assistance. Be sure to secure extra medicine for any of your family’s pre-existing conditions or allergies. You can’t prepare for everything, but stock up with the essential bandages, antibiotic creams, scissors and a needle and thread.

5. Rock Salt or Sand

Your second step to shoveling should always be laying down a layer of salt or sand to keep yourself safe when heading out the door in the morning. More than 800,000 people are hospitalized due to slipping and falling each year — and that gets a lot worse if there are no usable roads to the hospital.

6. Flashlights

Like shovels, most people have a flashlight somewhere in their house. However, many people don’t know where exactly that flashlight is, and — ironically — could have trouble finding it once the lights are out.

Always have multiple flashlights stowed around your place, and keep plenty of extra batteries on hand, as well. A long-lasting flashlight with a good grip is your best option, as it won’t slip out of your hand and get lost in the snow. The Flateye is an excellent choice, as it fits well in the hand and has an excellent LED light. I personally have one of these, and it’s like having a car headlight in the palm of your hand. Super powerful, but also lightweight and easy to hold.

7. Winter Boots

Again, almost everyone has them, and almost everyone can benefit from maintenance and extra pairs.

Most people don’t go through the process of waterproofing their boots, which is a huge mistake once it becomes necessary to walk long distances through the snow. The heat from your feet and the friction of walking will cause snow to stick and melt on your boots, inevitably soaking your feet if your boots aren’t proofed. Walking to get help for an emergency or going into town after you lost your car in a ditch or snowbank is a lot harder when your feet are wet and freezing.

8. Water

There’s plenty of water around you when it snows. However, unless you want to go through the process of boiling and decontaminating all that snow, it’s a much better option to have bottled water or to fill up your own bottle ahead of a storm. Pipes freeze, and losing your supply of fresh water can be a deadly inconvenience.

9. Books

Part of surviving a winter event is dealing with the boredom and cabin fever that inevitably comes after hours of being cooped up inside without electricity. Luckily, if you have plenty of candles and flashlights available, a book or two will last you through the worst of the event. Even people who aren’t big readers can peruse some magazines or other forms of old-fashioned entertainment. Board games are also a worthy investment.

10. Ice Scraper

Keeping your car in good working order is essential, especially if a real emergency arises. Make sure you have a sturdy ice scraper for removing the worst of the snow and ice from your windshield and door handles.

With another rough winter coming on strong, you’ll want to stay prepared for the worst mother nature can throw your way. Keep these 10 items in mind as you gather your supplies to ensure personal safety, warmth and comfort through the worst winter times.