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Excerpts from the Family Prepping Guide booklet on making your home better prepared

The Preppers House (v3) from the Family prepping guide booklet

As preppers we have a great need for our homes to be fitted out or uprated to help meet our enhanced needs.

Increased storage capacity across the board features highly in our plans as does extra water, food, fuel, clothing and equipment storage etc all are something we ideally need more of stored and cached. And just like our non-prepping neighbours we need as much energy efficiency, privacy and security as we can get from our homes.

Food, Clothing and Kit Storage

We need extra storage space that is preferably cool and dark to be able to store extra food supplies in for long periods of time without it spoiling. Ideally some of it should be concealed storage in places where the average person would not think to look.

I know of people who have fitted discrete hinged lids under the carpet on the stairways allowing them to hide extra food in the cavity under the stairs, people have kitchen units with false back panels fitted allow more concealed capacity. In houses with timber floors rather than concrete slabs some folks hide plastic tubs under the floorboards in the sub floor cavity. A false wall made from plasterboard in a garage gives an extra 1 foot deep storage space for one prepper I know, and false panelling in a bedroom provides extra storage for another.

At the very least we need extra larder space for our increased food stocks, very often this can be as simple as shelving units in the garage or utility room if you have them.

Some of us just keep extra food and kit in large plastic storage boxes under the bed and in the bottom of the wardrobes whilst others turn over the smallest bedroom into the prep store (the door that is always closed and locked when you get visitors)

Water

We will always need extra water storage capacity, for some more wealthy folks it could be a garden pond, swimming pool, Jacuzzi etc. But for most of us it used to be simply swapping out the 50 gallon cold water tank in the loft for a bigger tank or adding extra tanks linked in series to the original 50 gallon tank to give extra capacity (roof joist re-enforcement needed).

Others like me simply keep a good number of extra 20 or 30 litre polyethylene food grade water containers in the garage along with a high quality gravity fed water filter like a British Berkfield. (Remember a gallon of water weighs 10 pounds before you put loads of full containers in the roof spaces)

Some UK preppers store IBC 1000 liter containers in or around their properties to hold large amounts of water, they can be bought quite cheaply used from companies that recycle them, Only buy IBC’s that contained food stuffs not chemicals and clean them out thoroughly before use..

As well as extra emergency water storage systems you can reduce your reliance on the mains system by fitting rainwater catchment systems that capture the rain from your roof and direct it into large rainwater storage butts in your garden or yard.

Heating

A problem has arisen for preppers in the UK in the last 15 years with the introduction of the condensing combination boiler (furnace US) for the domestic supply of hot water and central heating. These very energy efficient devices have two massive drawbacks for preppers.

Firstly they dont use water storage tanks in the attic for their cold water feed, they are fed directly from the mains supply, and thus you lose the valuable cold water tank and expansion tank from your attic.

Secondly they dont use a gas pilot light for the boiler ignition system, they are now electrically ignited so if the power to your house goes off you lose power AND heating and hot water all at once.

Preppers with Combis need auxiliary methods of storing extra water, and alternative methods of heating the home and providing hot water with. Preppers can enhance their self-reliance by taking steps to further reduce their reliance on the mains utility system by fitting secondary or backup systems.

Heat

Emergency heating can be supplied by portable bottled gas heaters using propane or butane gas in 7 or 15 KG bottles ( or European equivalents), but a more long term investment you should consider if fitting a wood or multi fuel burning stove in the living room or kitchen (or both). Even many modern houses can now be retro fitted to house a wood burner with the advent of insulated flexible stove chimney pipes systems often made from double skinned stainless steel. A modern stove can be up to 80% efficient compared to 7 to 10 % efficiency for an open fire and a well sited stove can also double up as a cooker.

Buying a house with a chimney and fireplace is becoming ever more difficult as many modern homes no longer are built with them, so be aware of what you are getting when buying from plan.

Dont forget to plan for extra storage space to accommodate your firewood log pile ( you need at least 8 by 4 by 4 ft A CORD of wood) or bags of Coalite. If you are collecting your own firewood remember that it needs to be less than 18% ( 9% better) moisture content before being used, so a shed or outhouse may be needed to ensure it dries out thoroughly. Mine is shared out between the garage and conservatory!!), Either way your fuel supply needs to be dry and kept VERY secure.

Light

Short term emergency lighting can be provided by various means from candles, paraffin lanterns, light sticks etc, but more long term you really need to consider at the very least a solar system connected to a battery(s) that will provide you with a low powered 12 volt LED lighting system for essential areas. If space and other constraints allow you may be able to supplement the solar system with a micro wind turbine.

Footnote, Ensure your home / retreats windows are totally blacked out after dark during any crisis

Energy Saving

We must ensure we waste as little energy as possible in our preppers home even in normal times without staring Armageddon in the face. A fully insulated house is a must, walls and loft area fully insulated, under floor as well if possible. Well maintained and fitted double glazing or even triple glazing will help massively in keeping your home warm if the power goes off for any length of time. A double glazed or laminated wood / steel front and rear doors will enhance the houses insulation as well as provide improved security than an old style door fitted with a single old style door lock. The Scandinavian nations lead the way in energy efficient windows and homes.

Dont forget the very low energy requirements of LED Lightbulbs compared to Filament or flourescent tubes, a 6 watt LED bulb generates as much light as a 100watt filament bulb.

Privacy and Security

Ensuring our privacy and security during a crisis is vital, so its very important that we control approach and access to our homes and reduce light pollution that advertises our independence from the national grid power supplies. Blackout blinds and curtains (or window shutters) are an absolute must for every window and door to stop light escaping thus advertising your self-reliant position.

Multi point locking on doors and windows is a must even in normal times, but after a crisis develops you may wish to add self-adhesive laminating security film to your windows which makes gaining entry to your home via a broken window far more difficult and noisy for the intruder. It is also essential that you keep some pre-cut marine grade ½ plywood boarding to secure any windows that do get broken.

In recent years a new design of door called the COMPOSITE door has gained massive popularity in the UK, it is made of colour resistant / fire resistant polycarbonate, over wood and foam and metal core, it utilises over engineered hinges (often three or four) and much more robust multi point locking than used in UPVC doors. The door frame is of aluminium cored UPVC or Composite material and again is much more substantial than the older UPVC systems. The best versions are the government / home office APPROVED BY DESIGN types that have passed vigorous testing.

Some people have fitted security bars that pivot or swing over the doors to re-enforce the entry points. Apparently it is remarkably easy to kick in the bottom panel on most older UPVC doors made in the UK as they were designed this way to make access for firefighters easier. Equally the locks and hinges even on expensive double glazed doors do not stand up very well to police officers using a slide hammer to gain entry to execute a search warrant, so extra security devices, bars and hinges should be considered.

Note* Very often modern double glazed doors external frames are only secured to the building wall with a couple of mild steel screws in each side, this makes it very easy to simply bash the entire door and frame out with a sledgehammer, its well worth getting high tensile steel self-tapping bolts fitted which massively increase the doors security strength.

Intelligence Gathering

The preppers home in normal times as well as during a crisis needs to help you obtain vital intelligence on events going on in the outside world, you should consider fitting a new wide band high gain TV aerial to access analogue and digital TV stations (even foreign ones). If you have a satellite system then consider a satellite tracking system that allows you to access other satellite broadcasters. And of course last but never least an AM/FM/LW Radio aerial to greatly boost your reception of distant radio stations. Some people also have Citizens band / PMR and Amateur radio systems set up at home as an extra communications system. Try if possible to conceal as best you can any antenna you use.

And whilst it lasts a good fibre optic broadband internet service can be very handy in finding out what going on with relying on state controlled or politically biased mainstream media services.

House buying for preppers Amendments

In the older editions Retreat Survival booklet I refer in various chapters and sections to modifying your home or adding prepper specific requirements to your selection criteria, in this short article I thought I would just make a check list of desirable options if you are looking to move.

1. Rural or Suburban location away from major conurbations, city centers and industrial developments,

2. A south to south west facing position in order to get maximum natural light for food production and to drive a solar panel array (Northern Hemisphere).

3. Legally permitted to have double glazing, cavity wall insulation, PV panels fitted, conservatories built etc without have to get special planning permits passed because the building is listed or close to an SSSI or National Park

4. Large enough gardens to provide a reasonable percentage of your own food

5. Reasonable access to as many natural resources as possible EG woodland for firewood, healthy local water ways for fishing and obtaining water if necessary, access to open cast coal deposits, access to the coast etc one is good, any two is great, three and you are rocking.

6. A kitchen suitable for retro fitting with wood/coal/charcoal powered cookers and water heaters, preferably with a nice cool larder room or cellar.

7. Concealed or obscured veg gardens, garage and outhouses where stockpiles of timber, coal, fuel and B O Vehicles can be stored / loaded / unloaded without being viewed from the road outside.

8. Suitable out houses, lean-to’s and sheds away from the main house in good order for storing diesel, gas bottles, coal, timber etc safely.

9. Well above all known flood risks and far away from known land slip areas.

10. Not along any route, highway or track that may end up being an escape route from the city for refugees

11. A documented record of having a decent air flow most of the year that could drive a wind turbine for making electricity or lifting water from well / stream

12. Perhaps a passing stream that can be made to drop 2 meters at one spot to power an Archimedes screw hydro-electric unit.

13. Reasonable access to pasture and allotments for keeping food small breed food animals and extra growing space for crops

14. Multiple routes along various compass bearing that you can bug out along if necessary.

15. Local village has facilities of the type required by your family, IE small friendly school, local mechanics garage, blacksmiths forge, petrol station, hardware shop, extra garages for rental, sub post office, working train station etc

16. Neighbours who clearly are “into” growing their own crops and animals

17. Low reported crime figures

18. No annual or regular events that could expose you to risk such as living next door to a farm that holds 5 day Rock Concerts, No “travellers” regular stop off points etc.

19. Good radio signal reception not in a radio blind spot

20. Not near electricity pylons, gas pipe distribution pipes etc.

21. Being NOT too far away from a wind farm or PV farm COULD be beneficial in the long term as could being not to far from a workable open cast coal mine.

Add your own requirements to list list and good luck with your home buying plans.

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  • Comments (5)

    • 3

      I edited the title to hopefully make the point of the post clearer for other people. You’re welcome to edit it more.

    • 3

      Believe marine grade plywood refers to better quality of adhesive making the wood into plywood.  The purchased marine grade plywood must still be treated on surfaces with premium paint, plastic impregnated stain, or other finishing products for the maritime environment. It is the best selection, especially here.

      An old weathed antenna can serve like a submarine mast.  Besides the periscope, other stuff is also mounted on mast.  A house antenna can also hold a strobe light, rotating and fixed, a siren,  a fog horn,…

      Re 12; “…stream … made to drop 2 meters”; This is now a highly regulated and costly project in many areas of the upstart colonies. Had considered a water wheel.

      Re 15; I’m transmitting from a FORMER “local village”. Things change.  Until recently, those taking freqent trips to West Virginia were both figuratively and literally speaking “cabin hunting”.  The quest for decent places to live still present but on hold during pandemic restrictions.

    • 1

      Thanks for posting this, Bill.

      Point about firewood – My husband had his stored under his deck at a house he once lived in. He went out to grab some wood one day and saw some rats. He immediately cleaned up the pile, but as he was finishing (3 pieces to put back) the rats came right back toward it. He chose to dispose of his fire wood. I don’t know what the solution is to that one. People in my part of the world used to put their firewood inside buildings or basements through wood chutes.

      Perhaps someone knows what can be done to keep rats out of wood piles?

      • 2

        I keep my firewood in plastic wheely trash cans and large plastic weatherproof garden stores, no rats.

      • 1

        Great, thanks Bill – I will tell him.

        It might have been different on the West Coast for him as everyone I grew up with in this province, never had issues like that.

        Certainly, this will help.