Thursday, June 25, 2015

Debris Hut – From Basic to Advanced

Debris hut If you have been studying up on prepping and survival, I am sure you have come across the term “debris hut” by now. Debris huts come in all shapes, sizes, and styles depending on the particularities of the person building them.

When all is said and done the goal of the debris hut is to keep you warm and dry.

The debris you use is whatever material you can scrape up in your local environment. Grasses, leaves, pine needles, and general litter from the forest floor (including dirt and small rocks) can be used. It is best if you can gather long grasses to put a final layer on top to help shed water.

Basic Debris Hut

The debris hut at its most basic is simply a pile of whatever dry material you can scrounge up. The pile must be big enough for you to burrow inside and be insulated, not only from the weather but also from the ground beneath you.

Think about that really big pile of leaves you made as a kid. This is the idea. If you have readily available material, it will be one of the quickest shelters you can literally scrape together.

A Better Option

If you have the time, a more substantial debris hut can be constructed. A simple lean-to or small A-frame is constructed and covered with small sticks. Then the debris you gather is piled on top to form the (hopefully) waterproof cap. If it leaks add more material.

This is a really good option for stealth camping, since once you are done and the shelter has aged a bit, it will just look like a mound in the forest.

First Class Debris Hut

For a top of the line debris hut that you can actually live out of, think about an eastern longhouse, or a double lean-to design. You can make them as long as you need for your required space.

You can put them together with woven saplings or a more rigid framework of limbs. Once the framework is in place fill in the gaps with smaller sticks woven in, and then cover the shelter with a couple feet or more of debris.

You can continually add to this layer as you go about your daily living, and it will continue to get better and better.

If you are short on traditional shelter coverings such as evergreen boughs or tree bark, the debris hut makes a serviceable alternative.

Randy Augsburger writes form an old homestead that has been in his family since 1866

Monday, June 22, 2015

How to DIY your Home Security

If you're serious about preparing yourself and your family against unexpected disasters and emergencies, then you ought not to neglect the physical security of your residence. When there's a breakdown in the normal functioning of things, police and other authorities may be busy and unable to respond. You might therefore be on your own to deal with looters, burglars, and other people who are trying to take advantage of the situation.

By implementing a fully featured security system, you can deter potential criminals from interfering with your life because they might be put off if they realize that you're protected. Automatic exterior lights are a cost-effective way of letting passers-by know that you have your eye on them and that you're not leaving your safety up to chance. If you connect your lights to a motion sensor, you'll not only be able to turn them on instantly when someone suspicious arrives, but you'll also be notified of where a potential intruder is located.

In order to prevent unauthorized access, you should make sure that your doors and windows are secure. All locks should function properly, and there should be no gaps or imperfections in the frames. Glass doors and windows should be made of a shatterproof material (ones made by Pella have been well reviewed) so that nobody can gain entry to your home by breaking them. Fences and gates can act as obstacles and give you more time to deal with the situation if trouble should develop.

Commercial alarm systems allow you to enlist the aid of security professionals in the event of something untoward happening. Even in the event of a major catastrophe preventing help from arriving, a loud alarm going off may be all that's needed to send a criminal fleeing. If you're looking for a more inexpensive option than expertly installed equipment and a long-term service contract, then you may wish to consider a DIY setup. Most of the components for a homebrew alarm system can be sourced from your local home improvement retailer. Now that many smarthome devices are coming on the market, it's easier than ever before to customize and install your own personalized alarms and related equipment. You should check regularly to make sure all batteries are charged and the components are working as intended.

With a video surveillance system, you can proactively monitor the area around your residence instead of waiting for a trespasser to come to you. As always, the more information and time you have to prepare, the better your responses are likely to be. Be sure to maintain camera coverage in all directions – people with ill intentions may not necessarily waltz right up to your front door.

It's probably preferable to have a few ways of safeguarding your property that don't require technology in case you're confronted with a scenario wherein replacement parts or electricity is hard to come by. By using shrubs with thorns in strategic locations around the premises, you can make it painful for anyone to lurk around where they're not supposed to be. Traps set up around the grounds can also make things rough for any unauthorized individuals although you may be legally liable for any injuries that result. Finally, a guard dog can ward off intruders, alert you to anything you need to be aware of and help defend you and your family from any threats.

The greatest hazard to humans in this world is probably other humans, and this will most likely become even more true when there's an emergency or serious upheaval. By taking steps now in advance, you can prepare yourself for the worst. There are plenty of tools at your disposal, and an effective security solution depends upon the skillful and versatile employment of as many of them as possible, acting in concert to thwart perils to your well-being.

Elizabeth Eckhart is a freelance writer with an interest in energy conservation, living off the grid and the outdoors. You can link to her on Twitter at @elizeckhart

Monday, June 15, 2015

Essential Items and Supplies for Emergency Situations

In the world of multiplying natural and man-made disasters, you never know when and where you may face a crisis situation that calls for some trusty emergency supplies. At times when the going gets tough, a carefully compiled emergency kit may well save your or your companion’s life, so don’t put off your crisis supply stack assembly any longer – after all, it takes just a wrong turn on the road and not a full-scale apocalypse to land you in an off-grid place with no trace of civilization in sight.

A life-saving liquid supply: Water, and plenty of it

The most important point on your emergency kit list, a hefty H2O supply is more likely to save a human life in a lengthy emergency situation than anything else. It takes a human being up to three days to die of dehydration, so you’d definitely better stay on the safe than waterless side. The best way to store your emergency water supply is to pour H2O into strong portable jugs, place them in a cold place and keep the supplies growing by fresh additions whenever possible.

A safe place to crash: Emergency shelters and tents

One more vital point on the emergency gear list, prefabricated shelters will keep you and your companions safe from the elements and predators in case something goes wrong big time on your outdoor adventure. A stackable emergency shelter or a reinforced tent can help you get the much-needed safety spot and a decent shuteye in case of several days’ long crisis out in the wild. When choosing your portable home for an odd bout of ill fate, look for rugged, rubber-coated exteriors with mesh fabric entryways, portable/foldable designs and roomy, well-insulated interiors to get maximum security from unfavorable weather conditions, wild animals and other creepy crawlers that may decide to hang out with you without your consent.

Fuel for the body: Food supplies for crisis situations

Though a human being can survive up to three weeks without food, you should not risk starvation in case of an emergency. When compiling your crisis response kit, make sure you include lots of dried and canned food with a lengthy expiry date and undemanding storage specs temperature-wise. Dried fruit is particularly useful as it contains critical nutrients the body needs to stay functional in the face of raging elements or a natural disaster. When buying your crisis food supply, look for dried beans, rice, grains and similar non-perishable grubs to keep your belly full in periods of prolonged deprivation from regular diet.

Keep looking for help: Fuel supply in times of need

In case you get stuck in a middle of nowhere with your tank empty and not a living soul in sight, a spare fuel container onboard will probably be an invaluable asset. Even in regular conditions with no apocalyptic prospects on the horizon, a topped-up diesel tank will come in handy in case you run out of fuel with the local gas station temporarily out of order. In case of a flashing flood or fast-spreading forest fire, an extra gas container ready for a quick refill of your car fuel tank guarantees a speedy escape and salvation, so don’t forget to include it in your emergency kit.

Times of trial and injury: First aid kit and basic tools

Another must-have for an emergency scenario, a first aid kit with all the vital medical bits and pieces is an item you should always have at hand around the house, garage and car. Remember: a small cut infected with nasty bacteria can have a fatal outcome if left untreated, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Similarly, a basic tool kit like a Swiss army knife should stay within reach at all times when taking a leisurely walk at night, to say nothing of full-scale disasters when tools can stretch your survival time by weeks and even months.

John Stone is a DIY enthusiast and a regular contributor at SmoothDecorator who likes to put his ideas down to paper and share them with like-minded people. His fields of interest include home improvement, sustainability, new technologies, and pretty much all-things-DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys playing guitar and watching Formula 1.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Is Your Home Ready to Weather The Perfect Storm?

When it comes to buying a house in an area prone to heavy storms or hurricanes and tornadoes, buyers like to see that their future home is built to withstand the worst of these disasters. However, even if you have no intention of selling your existing home or buying a new one in the near future, consider some of these changes to make your home safer for you and your family.

Chaparral Supercell 2.JPG
"Chaparral Supercell 2" by Greg Lundeen - {{}} si c'est une photo personnelle, sinon le lien vers la page internet d'où elle vient. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


For places with wind speeds that exceed 110 miles per hour, the 2003 International Residential Code announced that those houses must meet certain standards to combat storms. One story houses are less likely to be impacted by high winds, and a hip roof is recommended over a gable roof. A moderately pitched roof slope is the best way to go.


The best protection against water incursion is a strong and steady roof. Even in areas with strong winds, water usually causes the most damage during a storm. Extending a fascia board to a 1 by 6 will make the water drip off the sides of the house even if winds try to push it towards the center of the roof. Wind-resistant asphalt shingles are the most expensive ($10,000 - $15,000), but they work the best for keeping water from leaking through.

Sealed Protection

It's not just the durability of your roof you have to be worried about during a storm. Special impact-resistant doors are your best bet for windblown obstacles, but at least make sure you have outwardly swinging doors; that way, it won't just be a simple lock holding your door closed against 100 mph winds. For anyone tired of putting up plywood and using hurricane shutters during a storm, a specialist from Storm Shield LLC recommends looking into impact windows. These windows are designed to hold when struck by debris, protecting the home from hurricane damage. Garage doors are typically built with weak materials, and upgrading them will cost about $200-300 more than your original door. To protect your windows, get storm shutters, or buy impact-resistant glass, which will splinter or shatter upon impact, but the pieces will stay together in the frame.


Buying storm-resistant materials and upgrades can be much more expensive than those that are not. However, consider how much you will have to pay in damages if you know you live in a place of high risk for a perfect storm. Even if your insurance covers the cost, your premium amounts will go up. The cheapest alternatives are special hurricane outdoor ties, out-swinging doors, reinforced garage doors, and storm shutters.

Is your home prepared for the perfect storm? Find out more information about your location's weather warnings and history, and take any necessary precautions to keep your home and family safe.

Emma is a freelance writer living in Boston. When she manages to tear herself away from the computer, she enjoys baking, rock climbing, and film noir.

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