Your Home Stash
Store you primary food and gear in a basic cache. These caches can be in a closet, basement, or other, relatively easy-to-access locations in or very near your home. They are normally protected by locks or other traditional security measures and some discretion on your part (you know — keeping your mouth shut). The basic stash should include all your survival necessities (covered in chapters three, four and five). Because these caches are accessible, you can rotate items in and out as necessary.
Basic caches can simply be food, water and other necessities on shelves, in boxes and bags, or in cupboards set aside just for emergency use. A lock on the door can keep family members from rifling supplies (when something needs batteries, for example) and nosy neighbors or guests from uncovering your preparedness stash. It should be set aside separately from daily use materials so that you do not draw down on it leaving a hole if you need it in an emergency, yet it should be accessible enough that you can rotate canned food, medical supplies, batteries, and other items with expiration dates.
On-site caches in basements or closets (for those areas where basements are as rare) are convenient, available in most emergencies, and facilitate adding new items and rotating out canned goods, water, and other perishables. Under your bed is the next best location. Avoid garages and attics that are not temperature controlled and get very hot and/or humid or may freeze.
An Off-site Cache
Off-site caches allow you to stash items near your home or your survival retreat, but hopefully are far enough away that they are not endangered by anything that affects your primary stash, be it a fire, a burglary, or an ex-spouse and his or her lawyer.
One good off-site cache location that is easy to access but relatively safe and private can be a commercial mini-storage unit. If you have limited space, a commercial mini-storage unit near your residence gives you more room for goods than you might have at home. In this manner, you could keep several months worth of food at home, and store a year’s worth or more in a rented storage unit. A single 5′ x 5′ storage locker (the smallest normally available) can easily hold a year’s supply of food for four. A 5′ x 10′ or 10′ x 10′ locker with a steel door can hold a huge amount of gear when piled high and jammed in tight. If you are storing food, a temperature controlled locker is recommended. While these facilities are usually more expensive, they often have a better clientele and better security.
The danger inherent in off-site storage is that you will not be able to protect your stash from marauders (should our system of law and order break down) or natural disasters, such as an earthquake or fire. You must also consider transportation concerns. How easy will it be to reach the 24 cases of MREs you have squirreled away in that storage unit 15 miles outside of town? If the disaster is of such a magnitude that you need them, can you get to them? Can you carry them back to your home?
If you are positioning your off-site cache near your retreat or safe house, then your mini-storage unit should ideally be relatively close to your intended route of travel, fenced yet accessible 24 hours a day, and allow you some privacy. For example, a unit that faces the main street will not do. You want one inside the complex that is difficult to observe from the outside.
Using a commercial storage unit requires subtlety and camouflage. You will be asking to be robbed if you move gun cases into your storage unit in plain site on a busy Saturday. Instead, buy a large cardboard wardrobe of the kind used by movers. Put your guns in the center of the wardrobe and pack the outside with old clothes you don’t wear much. Put the MREs in a white cardboard file box and label them “Tim’s Term Papers,” Mom’s Recipes” or something equally uninteresting. Store your ammo in old cardboard boxes and put a few layers of books or magazines on top. Thrown a few old pieces of furniture in and your storage unit will attract no unwanted attention and can withstand a cursory inspection.
Safe Deposit Boxes
A safe deposit box is a specialized form of off-site cache. It won’t hold much, but it is an excellent location for securely storing important documents and financial instruments. Imagine your house burnt to the ground, what important documents would you need? (Ask your insurance agent if you are not sure.) It is good common sense to start with copies of birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance paperwork, contracts, deeds, judgments, securities, bonds and other items you need rarely but do not want to lose. If you have purchased gold or silver as a hedge against inflation, store a portion of it in your safe deposit box as well. (You won’t be able to access it all in an emergency, but you probably won’t lose it all in an emergency either.) Dave also recommends storing some cash in the box, somewhere between several hundred and several thousand dollars. If you need the contents of your box, chances are, you will need some cash.
Finally, Captain Dave recommends storing a handgun and ammunition in your safe deposit box (althought his may not be legal in all areas). This serves several purposes: One, it gives you a firearm that cannot easily be confiscated by the police if you are accused of a crime or subjected to a protection from abuse order. Two, it gives you relatively easy access to a weapon if you cannot return home to get one. Three, if things are so bad that you need to empty out your safe deposit box, you could probably use a gun and some ammo. If not, then just leave it in there – it’s not doing any harm, and it may be appreciating in value.
If you work a good distance from your home, Dave recommends having a safe deposit box near your work. Your main stash is at home – if something happens to your home, hopefully the distant bank will be unaffected. This is the kind of redundancy that survivalists strive for. It will also make the box easier to get to a you can access it quickly and easily from work, say during your lunch hour.
If you like the safe deposit box idea and want the ultimate in redundancy be like the spy in the movies and have one in several cities. Do you frequently travel to New York on business? Have a box there. Is your parent’s home one of your retreat locations? Why not have a bank account and safe deposit box there? If you move, keep your old box in the old city – it is worth the $50 a year to have insurance, extra back up and redundancy.
Be aware that while your safe deposit box is generally a very secure form of storage, it can be accessed by the government or by court order. Also, in the event of a bank holiday (when the government closes banks to stop a run on them), you will not be able to access your safe deposit box. Should the government declare a state of emergency, banks could be shut down for days or weeks. So do not rely solely on your safe deposit box, and do not put anything in it that you cannot afford to go without.
Your Car Stash
You should keep basic survival supplies in your vehicle at all times. A few MREs, water bottles, a first aid kit, a shovel, a blanket, cell phone charger, and some jumper cables are the bare minimum. If you are in or frequently travel through a rural area, add a tarp, some rope, a hatchet, fire starter and tinder, water filter, and enough food to last at least three days. If you wear dress shoes to work, make sure a pair of work boots or hiking boots is in the vehicle with extra socks and other comfortable clothing and outerwear. Store seasonally appropriate clothing as well. Finally, if you normally carry a gun, be sure you have extra ammunition in your vehicle. Captain Dave keeps a fully loaded magazine and a box of extra ammo in his vehicle as well as extra ammo for several different guns.
The purpose of your vehicle stash is to allow you to survive for several days if you are stranded away from home. If you run off the road during a snow storm or other adverse event, your vehicle survival kit should allow you to keep alive while you await rescue. And finally, if you have to bug out in an emergency, your vehicle survival kit will supplement and enhance the items in your bug-out-bag, increasing the duration of your ability to remain self-sufficient.
Over the years, Captain Dave has used the following items from his personal vehicle survival kit the most:
- Jumper cables
- Tire repair kit
- Emergency air pump
- Athletic tape (from first aid kit)
- Bottled water
- Duct tape
- Spare socks
- Spare ammunition
People who want the flexibility of picking up and driving away empty handed on a moment’s notice should have a cache in a storage unit that is enroute to their destination. 150 miles away from home should be enough to allow you to escape whatever danger you are trying to get away from, yet attainable on a single tank of gas. (You can store more gas at the storage unit, but keep in mind that this will violate their rules. Gas also needs to be rotated to keep it fresh.)
Some mini storage locations allow you to park your RV there for a monthly or annual fee. An expensive but excellent tactic is to buy a used RV, ensure that the engine is in excellent condition but allow it to look shabby from the exterior. Stock it with all the necessities, fill the tank, outfit it with solar battery charger on the roof and you are ready. Park it in the storage unit and wait. Use it every few months to ensure it is running and to rotate your food supplies. When TSHTF, you drive out of dodge post haste, pull into the storage unit 150 miles down the road, and drive out a few minutes later in your fully provisioned RV with your small car towed behind it. You are now mobile and self contained. No need to go to the shelter, report to the government camp, or seek shelter. You are not a refugee — you are on vacation!
Spies and criminals often use “safe houses” when they are hiding out. We’re not suggesting you go to that extreme, but survivalists can use a second home or a retreat to stash all sorts of supplies. If you can afford a second home, have a real estate trust or an LLC (discuss which is best with an attorney as state laws vary) buy the home so that it is not in your name. This will not only make you more judgment proof, it gives you a high degree of privacy and anonymity.