Saturday, June 30, 2012

Small Building Construction, Part Five

Dear Preppers and Survivalists,

So far, the foundation has been laid, the floor was built, the walls have been roughed in, and the roof is kind'a on. Now, we are going to talk about siding.

There are many different kinds of siding, vinyl, cedar shingle, and ... to name a few. We decided on an engineered wood. It has a kind'a bead board look, on the front, and OSB on the back.

Now, I'm going crazy. We are putting up tyvek house wrap on this shed.

House wrap helps to weather-proof the walls by allowing water vapor to flow through the wall but keeps rain and wind out of the building.

Why did we do it?

Because we live in earthquake country. I wanted a small, well-built alternative shelter, just in case we lost the house to an earthquake.

Now, you will notice that I didn't use the tape DuPont recommends when overlapping the tyvek because I overlapped, a lot. Each corner is overlapped by about 16 inches. The top, that's uncovered in this picture, will have a 24 inch overlap.

If you're wondering why, I had to buy a 100 foot roll. I only needed about 50 feet.

A short 2X4, about two feet long,
for attaching sheathing and siding
Next, I finished the rest of the walls, by filling in the top of the walls with two triangles.


Before I did that, I had to add a small piece of 2X4 to act as an attachment point for the sheathing.

Now, you will notice I attached the 2X4 at the top by screwing through the plywood at the top of the trusses and the OSB wall sheathing.

You will also notice the seam for the two sheets of OSB wall sheathing meet at the small piece of plywood.

So, how did I mark the wood to fill in these two triangle? I used a little geometry.

First, I measured the bottom of the triangle opening, from the edge of the OSB to under the roof. Next, I measured from the bottom to the top of the roof kind'a along an imaginary line that follows the seam of the OSB.

Next, I cut the piece of wood into the triangle then measured (really a guesstimate) the part that I needed to cut off the triangle to allow it to fit.

Needless to say, I made a mistake. OSB is designed to have an inside and an outside side. One side is marked: "This Side Down" that side faces the inside of the building. The other side, unmarked, is the outside side.

As you can see from the above photo, one triangle is marked the other unmarked. I didn't realize I made a mistake until I took the photo.

Oh, well. Another part that is "less than perfect."

Once that was finished, I 'wrapped' that part of the building with tyvek. I cut a piece of about six feet wide, turned it on it's side, stapled the top, stapling as I moved along the roof, and cut the excess house wrap, once I finished stapling.

Once, the house wrap was finished; I cut the openings for the windows. I folded the cut pieces, so the top, sides, and bottom of the window's rough opening would be protected.

I didn't cut a small piece of tyvek to completely cover the bottom of the rough opening. I wasn't going that crazy.

Next, I started attaching the siding.

The siding, we choose, come in a four feet by eight feet sheet. Since our walls are seven feet high, and I wanted a 2 inch overhang to cover the outer part of the floor. I cut the siding down to 7 feet 2 inches.

My wife had to work late, so she couldn't help with the siding, so I had to hang it by myself.

I was able to do that by rigging some wood to hold the siding panel as I wrestled it into position. Once the siding was in position, I nailed it to the walls.

About that being 'in position.'

Because there are these long vertical lines in the siding, I had to insure the siding panel was hanging straight up and down (plumb). To do that, I held the siding up as I held a four-foot long level to the side of the panel then nailed it in place. Needless to say, it was a lot harder doing it then writing it.

At first, I only used four nails, one on each corner. Plus, I only hammered the nails in halfway. Doing this allowed my to remove the siding panel, if I screwed up. (The siding panel was crocked, didn't overlap properly, gap too small/large, additionally; it allowed me to correct any other problems)

Again, I checked, using a four-foot level, to make sure the siding was plumb.

The 'almost' Finished Siding
Starting from one corner, I want around the building nailing the siding in place, with four nails.

Once I checked the siding, again, to make sure it was straight, I went around the building nailing two nails in each siding 'slat' (It's the thin narrow strips; you see in the siding). One set of nails about 18 inches from the top and another set of nails 18 inches from the bottom of the siding.

Next, I cut the siding pieces for the very top just like I did for the sheathing, almost.

Notched Siding
This time, for the siding, I notched it so the siding fitted around the purlins. To attach these pieces of siding, I only nailed two nails at the top of each triangle.


I will be adding small metal strips called flashing between the top and bottom panels. The flashing should stop water from running down behind the siding, hopefully.

To add the flashing, I will place the metal flashing behind the top piece of siding and on the outside of the lower piece of siding. Next, I will finish nailing the top part of siding. This should allow the water to flow freely down the side of the siding panels without allowing water to run behind the siding.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Forth Half - Water

This is the forth half of the post on water. You will find links to other bloggers and websites about the subject for this week.


Everyday Prepper - Water Storage

Everyday Prepper - Water Purification

Wretha's Adventure Living 100% Off Grid - Pix of the Water System, Concrete Walls, ...


Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E. - How to Find Water and How to Make Water Safe to Drink

Emergency Treatment of Drinking Water at Point-of-Use

Oregon State University - Chlorine Disinfection

Scribd - Importance of Water in Survival Situations

WELL - Fact Sheets

Well - Household Water Treatment, Storage and Handling

Third Half - Water


This is the third half of the post on water

Primitive Methods of Finding Water
Some folks are planning to bugout. Depending on the threat, that might be a good or bad choice. Either way, you are going to have to have water.

Since water weighs 8.5 pounds (18 kilograms) a gallon, you can't carry all of your water for a multi-day trip, if you're walking, so you are going to have to find water on your journey.

Hopefully, you have preplanned routes, so you can get a map, ahead of time, for your route. These maps will show you ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers.

If they don't, you will have to find them then mark them on the map. Once you know where these water features are located, you will be able to use them as you travel.

More Later


How Stuff Works - How to Find Water in the Wild

Wikibooks - Outdoor Survival/Water

Second Half - Water

This is the second half of the blog about water. You will find videos/podcasts, instructions, and other information about the subject for this week.


Disaster Preparedness-Water Supply

Water in the Wilderness - Part 1

Discussion on Water Filters:

How to Build a Rain Barrel:

Rain Barrel-Three Minute Gardener


Make a Funnel out of a 2-liter Bottle:
Take a sharp knife and cut around the outside. Ta Da! You have a funnel to fill smaller containers from bigger containers.

Boiling Water with a Piece of Plastic:
First, you need to build a fire.

Next, place rocks that you can easily lift with a forked stick or two sticks into the fire. Make sure the rocks were collected from a place that does not hold water or is covered with water. The rocks will exploded if taken from a stream, river, pond or lake.

Let the rocks heat for awhile.

While the rocks are heating, dig a hole then line the hole with a piece of plastic. Next, fill the plastic-lined hole with water that has been allowed to settle.

Once the rocks have been heated; take the rocks out of the fire with the sticks. Be careful, the rocks are very Hot!

Place the rocks in the water, and step back real quick. Once the rumbling has stopped the water should be boiling hot.

Make sure the hot rocks do not touch the plastic sticking out of the water. It will melt the plastic. The reason the hot rock doesn't melt the plastic, below the waterline, is because the boiling water keeps the rock off the plastic until it has cooled.

Other Information:

Another Method of Making a Water Filter
Alpha Rubicon has an article on making a Home-Made Berkey Water Filter by Daire. It is a variation of the gravity filter; I talked about in Week Four-Water. The article can be viewed at

Daire's pictures are excellent. Notice the nuts to hold the filters tight while the filters are still laying on the bucket lids. One change I would make, would be to put two blocks of wood between the upper and lower buckets. I would do this because I don't want the nuts to have to hold 40 pounds of water.

Drinking plain water can become boring, especially for younger members of your family. To help them, and you, to drink enough water, you want to store some drink mixes like Kool-Aid, Crystal-Lite, Propel, Gatorade, and hot chocolate.

We are not coffee drinkers, so we don't store coffee even for barter. If you are, you might want to store some for youself and other coffee drinkers in the family.

Week Three - Water


Obtain 1, 2, or 3 liter plastic soda bottles from your friends and/or family. Rinse well inside and out with tap water, make sure you rinse the bottle cap too. Then fill with tap water. Put the cap back on the bottle then store in a dark place, like a closet or basement. You need six 2-liter bottles, for one person, for a three day supply.

Blog Post:

O.K., you did your homework and made a threat analysis. Now look at the list; you will notice most of the situations/problems will require the same basic supplies to survive.

The most important is breathing. I will be covering this subject in a couple of weeks, so I will be writing about the next most important, water.

Humans are made up of about 75% water. Start losing water and you begin to feel thirsty. If you lose more water, you feel lousy, run-down, irritable, etc. Lose enough and you die.

Depending on the weather, how hard you are working, and other conditions, you have about 3 to 5 days before you die from lack of water.

One way to prevent this untimely death is to store potable water. Potable water is just a fancy term for water that you can drink and put in a pot to cook with.

One way to store water is to throw money at the situation/problem. The way to do that is go to the local store and buy a few cases of bottled water.

Another way is go to a discount retailer or sporting goods store and buy water containers.

You will need at least one gallon of water for each person; each day you are planning to have supplies for an emergency. An example: One person preparing for a 3 day emergency needs at least 3 gallons of water.

Remember me writing about opinions. FEMA says you should have supplies for at least three days. Some people advocate having enough supplies for at least two-weeks. Me, I say to have 30 to 60 days of water for each person, but this amount depends on how much space and how much money/effort you are willing to spend.

A second method of storing water is to save your money and use recycled containers. The preferred containers are 1, 2, and/or 3 liter soda bottles. These bottles work great, easy to carry by almost everybody, rugged, and easy to obtain. Avoid using plastic milk jugs.

Don't believe me.

Take a water-filled milk jug and a filled 2-liter bottle, hold at head height, and drop. Make sure you do this outside on the concrete and backup real quick.

Another recycled container you can use is used 5-gallon buckets. Many different items come in these buckets like cake icing, berries, pickles, sauces, and other food items. You can get these buckets from school cafeterias, bakeries, or grocery stores.

Do Not, Don't, Never use buckets that have contained non-food items like asphalt, paint, and chemicals. The same goes for buckets that you don't know what has been in the container.

Another used container for water is the 55-gallon barrel. They come in a variety of colors. I try to stay with the blue, white or natural plastic colors.

No matter which type of container, new or used, you use; you will need to clean the container and treat the water.

To clean the bottle, bucket, or barrel just rinse with tap water using a garden hose and spray nozzle or your kitchen faucet. Insure all solids and residue are removed from the inside and outside of the container, don't forget to clean the lids.

Some people say to use a power washer for cleaning your containers.

I disagree!

Unless it is your brand new, never used, power washer, unknown chemicals such as soaps, waxes, or other cleaners have been used in the power washer.

Some used 55-gallon barrels have had soda drink syrup in them. Try as hard as I can; I can't initially remove the taste. I have found rinsing then filling the barrel with water and letting sit for a few weeks then emptying then rinsing and filling again helps.

Make sure you store your water supplies in a dark place or covered with a tarp, this prevents algae growth in the water.

To pretreat the water, I use unscented chlorine bleach. Clorox brand bleach with at least 5.25% sodium hypochlorite has been the standard for years, but Clorox changed the formula. I now use a different brand, but it still has at least 5.25% hypochlorite with no scents or soaps. You will have to read the label to find this information.


Using bleach, that is newly purchased, with at least 5.25% hypochlorite, to treat your water.

4 drops per liter/quart
An example: one 2-liter bottle gets 8 drops of bleach

1 teaspoon/5 mL per 5 gallons
An example: one 5 gallon bucket gets 1 teaspoon of bleach

1/4 of a cup/50 mL per 55 gallon barrel
An example: A 25 gallon barrel gets 1/8 of a cup of bleach

The above recommendations are used to pretreat the water for storage. Some people will tell you it is unnecessary to pretreat tap water. Remember the opinions.

Storage water should be rotated at least once a year. Rotating insures that you have a reasonably fresh supply of water. I like to do this in the summer. It is warm outside and there is extra chlorine in our municipal water supply (tap water).

The next step is to decide on what type of storage containers you are going to use. The #1 plastic, the recycle code found on the bottom of plastic containers, soda bottles are lightweight and anyone can carry one, even small children. 5-gallon jugs or buckets weight about 40 pounds/20 kilograms, and a 55-gallon barrel weights over 400 pounds/200 kilograms when full.

I have found placing 2-liter bottles in cardboard boxes is a great way of storing water. The boxes allow me to easily stack the bottles and protects the water from light.

Some of the 5-gallon water jugs you buy at the sporting goods store have little stacking ridges on the top and bottom of the jug to allow them to be stacked one on top of the other.

The 55-gallon barrels allow me to store a lot of water, but once you decide where they will be stored and are filled, you have to empty the barrel before you can move it again.

If you decide to store water in a 55-gallon barrel, you will need a way to remove the water, remember 400 ponds of water! If you decide to buy a pump for the barrel, there are a variety of them.

One pump, least expensive, is the siphon pump which is a piece of plastic hose with a small colored finger pump on top to start the siphon. There is a faucet pump; it looks like a faucet with a push down handle. This pump screws into one of the opening on top of the barrel. The last one I know about is the pitcher pump. The type you see next to the sink in older rural homes.

If you don't get a pump, you can siphon from the barrel using a length of garden hose. Cut a piece about 6-8 feet long. Place one end of the hose in the barrel and suck on the other end. When the water starts to flow, quickly move the end you were sucking on to the container on the floor. Make sure you put the running water in another clean container like a bucket. If you plan to do this, make sure you practice, and you have a dedicated piece of water hose for using to siphon water.

All of your storage water should be placed on pallets. Pallets allow air to circulate around you storage items. For water, the pallets also allow you to see if a container is leaking. I put a piece of cardboard with a layer of aluminum foil over the cardboard on the pallet before placing my bottles/barrels of water on the pallet. Just because.

Before I start writing about collecting water, I want to tell you about water bladders. Bladders are flexible containers that hold anywhere from 30 ounces to thousands of gallons. Some people know about water bladders because they use Camelbacks or Platypus bags. I have used bladders that held about 500 gallons.

Yes, just like barrels, you set the bladder in place and don't move it until the bladder is empty. I tell you this because you could put a bladder under your bed; additionally, there is a bladder that will fit into a bathtub. It is to be filled during the early stages of an emergency.

Another way to prevent dying from lack of water is to collect it. There are many ways to collect water, solar stills, plastic sheets catching rain, dedicated rain catchment systems, etc. I will write about a few of them. If you do a key-word search on the internet, You can find other unique ways of collecting water.

One method of collecting water is to collect water from sources within your home. These sources are your hot water heater, toilet tank, not the bowel, and the water pipes.

To collect water from your hot water heater, turn off the heating element (electric or gas) and your water at the main shut-off. Let the water cool; it can be hotter than 120F. Open the spigot and catch the water in a clean container.

To drain the water from your pipes, turn off the main water shut-off valve, then open a faucet at the highest point in the house. Find the lowest water spigot in the house and open, allowing the water to run into a clean bucket or other clean container.

If you have a water bed, to bad, the plastics used make the water non-potable. You will have to treat the water, but there is only one way I know of to treat this water. You will have to construct a water condenser/distiller.

The water bed's water is removed and the water is heated. The water evaporates leaving behind the chemicals as water vapor is produced. The water vapor condenses on a piece of glass, smooth metal, or plastic sheeting. The water runs down the collector and is collected in a clean bucket or other container. The set up is similar to a solar still.

Solar stills are a classic way of collecting water. You have probably seen it in most survival manuals. You dig a hole. Put a container to collect water in the bottom of the hole, then form a piece of plastic sheeting into an inverted cone that covers the hole. The sun shines and evaporated water collects on the plastic. The water very slowly runs down the plastic and drips into the cup.

The survival manual usually forgets to tell you to put a small stone in the bottom of the plastic to hold the plastic in a cone shape over the cup and a length of clean tubing, rated for potable water. The tubing sits in the cup and runs out of the solar still. This set up allows you to drink the collected water without disturbing the solar still.

Solar stills work, but you have to remember; you are looking to produce one gallon of water a day, just for you. I have heard it takes about 20 of these for one person.

The solar still can be supercharged by urinating into the hole, avoid peeing into the drinking cup, adding green plant material in the bottom of the hole, or putting non-potable (can't put in a pot to cook with or drink it, the opposite of potable) water in the hole before covering with the plastic.

If you supercharge the solar still insure the non-potable water or plants never touch the plastic. If it does, the water collected will be contaminated.

I can't urge you enough. Don't contaminate your clean equipment and potable water. One drop of non-potable/dirty water can cause severe medical problems.

A modified method is skipping the hole and just putting green plant material in a plastic bag. Set the bags in the sun and water will form on the plastic. If you use this method, make sure you use food-grade bags and avoid poisonous or harmful plants like Poison Ivy.

Another method of collecting water is from rain. The simplest method is putting out plastic sheeting just before a rain shower. The rain collects in the plastic and you put the collected rain in a container. If everything is clean, before you start, you don't have to treat the water, Maybe. Remember about opinions. I have used this method. I didn't get sick, but maybe you will.

So you should treat the water you drink. "Emergency Water Purification" in the links below has the accepted methods of treating collected water.

Lastly, you can purchase a water filter. Below are pages of evaluations on portable water filters. The best portable filter, in my opinion, is the Katadyn Pocket. It has problems, but it filters almost everything, for a price.

The best, once again in my opinion, base camp type filter is the Katadyn Drip Ceradyn. The Swiss designed it, manufactured it, and tested it. They planned to use the filter to help survive a nuclear war. Need I say more.

Second up is the British Berkefeld filter. It works on the same principle, but doesn't filter as well as the Katadyn filter, according to test results.

If you don't want to spend the money to buy a Ceradyn or a Berkefeld, you can jerry-rig a work around.

Buy two to four Katadyn Ceradyn filters, the British Berkefeld filters also work. Take three food grade buckets and three lids.
Cut out a hole in one lid so a bucket will fit a litle less than half way in the lid. Put the bucket through the hole then caulk, using food-grade silicon caulk, around the seam of where the bucket goes through the lid. Let dry. Label this set up, on the bucket, Untreated/Dirty water.

Next put the lid and bucket combination on a bucket. Label the bottom bucket Potable Water, Treated Water, or Clean Water.
Now here comes the hard part. Take the untreated/dirty water bucket and drill two to three hole in the bottom of the bucket. (Depending on how many filters you are going to use) The holes should be the same size as the treads on the filters.

Put a tight gasket, from a hardware store, on the treads of the filter then screw the filters into the holes of the bucket. Put another gasket on the treads sticking through the bottom of the bucket then a washer to compress the gasket and then add a nut to tighten everything up.

Test for leaks using potable water! If it leaks redo the washers and gaskets.

Label the third bucket Non-Potable/Dirty Water. The third bucket and lid are used to settle and/or transport collected water to the filter. The extra lid is used to cover the clean water bucket when filled with treated water.

To use, fill the third bucket (Non-Potable/Dirty Water bucket) with dirty water and let the water settle. Pour the settled water into the top bucket, don't let the junk in the bottom of the third bucket get out.

When you are pouring the water into the top bucket, make sure you don't overfill the top bucket, it may spill over contaminating the clean water bucket; additionally, fill the top bucket one-quarter to halfway full. This prevents the filtered water from touching the bottom of the top bucket.

Once the non-potable/dirty water goes throught the filters, the water is ready to drink. Some people say to put a few drops of bleach in the filtered water, just in case.

When the bottom bucket is full, remove the top bucket with the caulked lid and cover the bottom bucket with the lid for that bucket. Use a dipper or ladle to take water out of the potable water bucket.

When pouring water into a drinking container, such as a glass or canteen, don't let the water fall back into the water bucket because the water might get contaminated from a used glass or cup.

Make sure you read and download the rain water catchment manuals. After you do that, I'll ...

See you next week!



Fact Sheet: Water Storage Before Disaster Strikes:

New Information from the American Red Cross:

An Example of Some Water Bladders:

A Source for Water Tanks:

A Source for Buckets, Barrels, and Other Plastic Items:

Hawaii's Rain Catchment Manual:

Texas' Rainwater Harvesting Manual

Emergency Water Purification

Portable Water Filter Reviews

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Small Building Construction, Part Four

Dear Preppers and Survivalists,

Folks, I didn't get some of the photos posted before we left on our vacation, so you'll need to check back. : - (

There is a scientific/mathematical method of figuring how to calculate the slope of the roof. I don't know what it is, so I used a SWAG (Scientific Wild *ss Guess) method by building a template.

Making the Template
On oriented strand board (OSB), the manufacture places different colored lines. These lines allow you to figure where to cut and where to drive the nails when used as sheathing.

Me? I used the lines as a reference for making my template.

Since the small building is 8 feet wide, I laid a 2X4 on a sheet of OSB at an angle. Marked the 2X4 where it went over the edges, top and bottom.

Next, I cut the board.

Picture of rafter.

Needless to say, I bought extra 2X4s so I could make some mistakes while I worked on the rafter. Plus, it's a little more involved then that.

So let me explain with pictures

I Hate Books
Not really because they gave me many good ideas.

My wife brought me this book on building chicken coops from the library. The book had an idea for notching the rafters for the roof purlins.


This idea added extra work, but it looks 'clean' when finished.

Be Warned:
If you live in big snow country, you might want to use 2X6s as your rafters and attach the purlins to the top of the rafters. No notching.

Building the Trusses
There are different ways of building a roof. You can decide to use a ridge board supported at the ends then attach each rafter to the ridge board or build trusses. There might be other methods, but I only have used these two.

We decided to build trusses.

First, I took a sheet of plywood, laid it long ways on some saw horses, and screwed some scrap 2X4s to give me the correct distance to simulate the top of the walls.

Next, I placed each rafter's bird's mouth (seat cut) on the 2X4.

This picture shows the bird's mouth very far away from the 2X4. You need to make sure the rafter is tight against the 2X4.

Less than Perfect
Next, I take the other end of the rafters and put them together.

Needless to say, my rafters didn't turn out perfect. This is one spot where I went for "less than perfect.'

Of course, as I moved the rafter one end would be tight against the other 2X4, but the other end would get a little loose.

So, I was constantly checking to make sure everything was in place.

Next, I screwed a small piece of plywood (1 foot by 2 foot long) to one side of the two rafters, at the very top.

Flipped it over and screwed another piece of plywood to the other side of the rafters.

I used four screws per side.

Next, I cut the over hanging bits off with a circular saw.

Notice, I staggered the screws on each side of the rafters, so the screws wouldn't be holding the same spot on the 2X4 rafter.

Once all of the trusses were finished, I placed them on the walls.

Next, I attached each truss to the ceiling joists with four screws, two on each side.

Then, I cut each end of the ceiling joists at an angle, attached the end trusses to the OSB, and cut the OSB to match the angle of the trusses.

Next, I added the purlins. Since we wanted a one foot overhang on all for sides of the roof, I made sure the purlins stuck out 12 inches from the trusses. Latter on, I will add the rake; after we put the solid decking and metal roof on.

This picture, to the right, kind'a shows a detail of the purlins attached to the rafter in the notch and the notch I had to cut in the OSB to allow the bottom purlin to fit.

As of this writing, my wife and I have added two sheets of OSB, for solid decking, and a 12 feet by 16 foot tarp to act as a temporary roof.

What I Would Do Differently
First, I would find someone to teach me the calculation for finding slope for a roof

Second, I would only place two trusses up on the walls at a time. It was a little windy and the trusses kept moving. I would get hit in the head every once in a while. Ouch : - (

Third, I would have cut the ceiling joists (the angle for the trusses) on the ground before putting the joists on top the walls.

Lastly, I would have bought the metal roofing before I started the roof. Doing this would have allowed me to plan the final dimensions of the roof instead of waiting.

Camp-Rigby - Anatomy of a Roof


A & B Construction - Anatomy of a Roof
Note: This link has the colored picture.


Structure Magazine - The Case for an Engineer of Record for a Metal Building System
Note: For the illustration.

YouTube - Framing Roofs, Part 1


Carpentry: Pro-Framer - Basic Roof Framing Instructions

Friday, June 22, 2012

Forth Half - Shelter, Part Two

This is the forth half of the post on shelter. You will find links to other bloggers and websites about the subject for this week.

I just posted this and realized I made a big error. I should have been searching/posting about clothing. Please, accept my apologies


The Survivalist Blog - Mel Tappan was Wrong

The Survivalist Blog - Label: Trailer Homestead

Stealth Survival - Preppin' 101: Part 4, tents

Stealth Survival - Preppin' 101: Part 4, The Purpose of Shelter

Stealth Survival - Label: Temporary Shelter

Be A Survivor - Jayco Jay Series 1007 Pop-up Camper

Be A Survivor - Label: Shelter


Bill Qualls - Survival Shelters
You might want to check out Bill Qualls' other page.

Bill Qualls' Wilderness Survival Page

The Survival Center - Underground Shelters
To see the pictures better, open them in a new window.

Forth Half - Shelter

This is the forth half of the post on shelter. You will find links to other bloggers and websites about the subject for this week.


Virginia Preppers Network - Survival Retreat vs Neighborhood Survival

Secret Lives of Scientists - Zen and the Art of Shooting: Welcome to the Dollhouse

Be A Survivor - Importance of Neighbors

Stealth Survival - Security Landscaping - Part 1 - An Introduction


Wikipedia - Retreat (survivalism)

Cob Cottage Company - What is Cob?

Terra Dome - Earth Sheltered Buildings - Shipping Container Architecture
Thanks to Sh*t Hit The Fan blog for the above link

Joel Skousen - The Secure Home

Third Half - Shelter

This is the third half of the blog on shelter.

Being a Refugee
Most people will agree becoming a refugee is a very poor idea, but what happens when your home has been destroyed by fire, tornado, war, or another reason.

Where do you go? Who do you stay with?

Can you leave your home? Is it safe to move?

Can you stay on your property? Is it safe to stay?

How about a local hotel or motel? What about neighbors, family, or close friends?

Do they know you might show up? What happens if they were affected by the disaster?

How about out-of-state family and friends? Did you preposition some supplies such as shoes and clothing?

Can you even leave the state? What about your job?

Lastly, are there Red Cross or other shelters available?

In a large disaster, organized shelters may not be available for the first three days after a disaster. Are you able to hold on that long?

Many questions for you and your family to answer. Below are some of my family's answers, my wife and I came up with.

Routes To and From Home
Using PACE, we pre-identified four routes to and from our home. We identified hazards that needed to be avoided and anticipated hazards that might occur during a specific event like a earthquake, chemical spill, or traffic accident.

This hit home twice. Once when there was a fire in the area. The fire trucks blocked one of the routes keeping us from getting home. We had to pull out the local street maps to find a different way home.

There wasn't one. Yep, we didn't have a map.

Now, we keep a local street map, state maps from our state and surrounding states, and a national atlas in our cars.

Some people would say to buy new maps every time they come out. I have found; if we get new maps whenever we find free state maps and buy new local maps when the old maps get really outdated, we are adequately prepared.

We also drive our alternate routes, every once in awhile, to see what is going on in the area of the route. With this stimulus package, there may be a lot of roadwork, so make sure you check your routes to and from home.

The second time, we had trouble, was when we had severe local storms with some flooding. The flooding wrecked one culvert, closing the road. Temporarily, flooded another road, and trees were blown down closing another road.

We decided to stay home. If we had needed to leave, we could have walked out or used the chain saw to cut our way clear, with the neighbors' help.

Staying with Family or Friends
As an extended family, we have talked about having to evacuate. We have agreed to put up with each other for a few days in an emergency. I would suggest pre-position supplies such as clothing to decrease the need to pack or go back home to get things. I figure a footlocker, 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 2 feet tall, would hold enough clothes and shoes for a few days, without washing, for a family of four.

I have been using open-head steel drums as storage containers for extra blankets and extra clothing, after a mouse got into my house, for out-of-state friends that might show up with nothing but the clothes on their back.

I find almost new clothes at swap meets, garage sales, and relief society stores. I stock new underwear because most people will reject used panties or briefs. I also buy extra coats, hats, gloves, and sweaters in earth tones because of my threat analysis.

Make sure you check with expected guest for allergies to wool and ask the ladies to send you slightly used bras.

Staying in an Emergency Shelter
I have done some reading and had a little experience staying in a medium-sized camp with a group of people, so here are my opinions.

First, get your back up against a wall and find several escape routes out of the area. I say this because being up against a wall gives you one less route for trouble to approach. The several escape routes will allow you and your family to leave, quickly if needed.

Remember, fires happen at shelters, too.

You have probably heard about "Safety in Numbers," so form an impromptu group, if you need to. You can do this by getting like minded families to sleep together in the same area. This allows responsible teens and adults to watch each other's stuff and younger family members.

Safety in numbers also includes moving around and visiting others. Always move in groups of two and three, four at the maximum. Remember, children never go to the bathroom without an adult or older teen.

Women and men should also always travel together. Yes, for protection but also to give the guys a "softer" look. Which looks more threatening: Four guys walking together or two guys and two gals? Yes, you can imagine a particular skin color.

About that visiting, make an effort to talk to other people. You want to find out what they know about the situation. Confirm those rumors, too.

Third, understand that the staff at the shelter are people. Treat them with kindness and respect. Talk to them, make a connection with them, and if possible give them a hand. Also understand the shelter staff may have different priorities then you and your family have.

Lastly, find a happy medium between being too far from the bathrooms and too close to the bathrooms. They begin to smell after a few days. Oh, make sure to try and get your own roll of toilet paper.


Wikipedia - Safety in Numbers

Second Half - Shelter

This is the second half of the post about shelter. You will find videos/podcasts, instructions, and other information about the subject for this week.


Rigging a Tarp: Bushcraft

Debris Shelter:

BBC - Ray Mears World of Survival: Mongolian shelter


Other Information:

Travel Trailers
There are a group of people that suggest buying a small pop-up travel trailer as an alternative shelter. If disaster strikes, you and the family temporarily move out to the trailer. Supplies are pre-positioned in the trailer, so all you have to do is evacuate the house.

The pop-up trailer group mentions that the trailer can be parked by the house for storage, if the subdivision rules allow it. During an emergency, the family can stay in the trailer and discourage looters.

This might not work during the aftermath of a tornado, hurricane, or windstorm. The house and the trailer could both be wiped out, at the same time. Some people respond to this problem by renting a spot in a secure storage facility, but this adds additional costs to the solution.

These travel trailers can be simple or elaborate. The simple trailers have a pop-up roof, a small toilet, sink, stove and built in beds. The more elaborate travel trailers, some people call them 5th wheels, have showers, refrigerators, air conditioners, and other amenities not found in a smaller model.

Now notice, I did not call one cheaper then the other. There is a possibility to get one of these trailers for free. Check Craig's List and ask friends and relatives for contacts that might have one.

We had a family member buy an older Airstream travel trailer on E-bay and complete a total-gut and rehab. It was a project for people handy with tools.

There is another group of people that have converted school buses to travel homes. There are many sources/references on the internet, some free, some not. Once again another project for handy people or people who know handy people.

Having a travel home is more convenient then a trailer. No hooking up the trailer to the truck; everything is already in the bus, ready to go.

Junk Land
There is another group of survivalist that advocate buying a small piece of rural property, junk land they call it. The property is cheap enough and small enough to own with only one or two years of payments.

The idea it to put a travel trailer on the property, so you have a place to stay. Even in a severe economic crisis, you have a roof over your head. The best advocate for this method of dealing with the shelter issue is James Dakin at "Bison Survival Blog".

There are two blogger, that I know about, that are also living the travel trailer/low cost shelter life. They are Big Bear at "Bear Ridge Project" and M.D. Creekmore at "The Survivalist Blog."

Nuclear War Shelters
Be careful using the US government nuclear war shelter plans that you find on the internet. The designers under planned/engineered the ventilation systems.

Nuclear War Survival Skills and the steel tank shelter plans from Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine are the best, in my opinion, for the do-it-yourselfer.

Ki For You has a page showing all of the nuclear targets and a possible fallout pattern/concentration map for a large scale attack.

OK, enough nuclear war "WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!" stuff. Let me talk about tents.

There are many types of tents. The US military's 1940s era canvas pup tent is good if you have a nylon tarp to put over it to protect the tent during the rain. Remember, The US solider still uses it for a reason. It is inexpensive and lasts for decades in storage.

But wait until mosquito season. You will need a mosquito net to keep the bugs away.

You can also tie a poncho liner/blanket to the inside of the tent to create a tent liner. The middle of the poncho liner is tied to the tent poles (the six green wooden poles that get put together to make two longer poles) and the four corners are tied to the tent pegs (the nine orange or green metal stakes). Basically, you make a tent inside the canvas pup tent. This is a good idea in cold weather. You don't bump up against the cold canvas.

Another is to make four long poles, out of branches, to replace the two center poles. Two of the four poles are tied together creating an "A" frame. The top of the "A" is placed in the hole normally used of the tent poles. The other set of two long poles are centered in the other hole used for the tent poles. This opens up the inside of the pup tent for easier movement in the tent.

If you are going to stay in one place for a long time, you will need to put a can, rock, or other similar object under the bottom of the poles. This keeps the poles from sinking/digging into the ground and keeps the tent from sagging, too.

Remember, the canvas pup tent is a two man tent; only you, your spouse, and a small amount of gear will be able fit inside the tent. The majority of your gear will have to stay outside, so you will need another nylon tarp.

You hear them called Hex Tents, GP Mediums, GP Larges, or Command Posts, these are the large military canvas tents. They are big, some running close to a $1000, shipping not included. Army has pictures of some of the military tents available. Always check around for the cheapest price.

Cabela's, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro are a few places to find more modern tents. If you get a big tent, you will want cots.

Cots keep you off the ground. The most durable cot around is the US military nylon cot. If you are going to use it for any length of time in the winter, you will need a foam insulated sleeping pad.

Therm-a-rest, Cabela's store brand, a US military sleeping pad, a few sheets of cardboard/newspaper, or even some salvaged foam padding will provide insulation when the sleeping bags insulation becomes compressed giving you a cold back.

The cot trees are pretty cool. You can make your own out of tree branches or dole rods and 2X4s. The cot pockets work well, too.

Get your husband to sew up a few using some type of heavy cloth like denim. If you make them, you can customize to your likes. I use zip ties and double-sided velcro to hold them to the cot.

Native Shelters
Tipis, yurts, goahti, and kohte are a few of the names for these native shelters. These shelters are/were used by native people from many parts of the world. I have included some links for you to start your research.

Alternative Shelter
Straw bale homes and earthships are two of the alternative shelters I know about. You are going to have to do an internet search on straw bale houses. Go ahead and include earthships in you search, too.

Underground Homes
If you are planning to build an underground home, Davis Caves is the place to start. Don't forget to watch the You Tube on Ben and Toni's Earth Sheltered Home.


Bison Survival Blog

Bear Ridge Project

The Survivalist Blog


Ki for You - Yurt FAQ

Wikipedia - Tipi

Davis Caves

Ben and Toni's Earth Sheltered Home

Week Two -Shelter


Buy a small family-sized tent, a wool blanket for everyone in the family, and store these items in a place where they can be gotten to if the house collapses or is destroyed.

Blog Post:

Shelter protects us from the elements, but in emergency preparedness, shelter must provide protection from so much more.

Now take out your threat analysis list. Read through it. Anybody have hurricanes or tornadoes on their list? How about wind storms? Terrorism? Wildfire? Now, how do you protect yourself from these hazards?

You do research.

One place is FEMA, the United States of America's Federal Emergency Management Agency. It has many resources for learning about the various natural and technical disasters that will confront you. They even have suggestions on how to mitigate (reduce the effects) hazards such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and terrorism.

You are going to learn a lot from the FEMA site, so check them out. They even have a kids page.

But don't stop there because there is more to shelter then what FEMA has on its website.

Let me explain.

Suppose, you have to leave your home, or you are stranded in the wilds. If you are stranded, you might have to improvise a shelter. Do you have a tarp? How about some string? Read M4040's tarp shelter page for some how-to on tarp shelters.

If you don't have these items, you can build a dugout shelter or a debris shelter. Out in winter's cold, you might need to build a snow shelter. Outdoor Action has a "Guide to Snow Shelters." Another article about snow trenches can be found in the links section, also

If you need something more permanent, you could build a log cabin. Mother Earth News has an article about a $100 cabin. Watch out for inflation, the article was written in 1981.

I know, I know. We will never need these shelters because you don't go into the woods, but just in case, read the links. But what happens if you home is damaged.

You will need to keep a few blue tarps on hand to cover any holes in the roof. A few sheets of plywood with some double-headed nails to protect windows. A roll of clear plastic to cover broken windows also helps. Don't forget the hammer, staples, and the staple gun.

The craftsman stapler called the "Easy Fire" seems to be easier than the older model of staplers to use.

Having clear plastic also allows you to form a safe room from a chemical spill or attack. During Gulf War One, the Israelis showed us how to make a safe room for chemical attacks by using the highest room in our homes. The one with no exterior opening such as windows or doors. Don't forget skylights. For most people, this is a hallway bathroom.

If you plan to have a safe room from chemical attack, you can pre-cut the plastic sheeting to cover all of the openings in the room. Doors, windows, and heating vents. You don't have to cover the sink and bathtub faucets in the bathroom. Once you cut the plastic, all you need is duct tape to tape the plastic around the opening, and seal.

If you don't pre-cut the plastic sheeting, you will need scissors. A small supply of towels or rags to help seal under the door will also help to stop or slow down the chemicals from entering your chemical attack safe room.

If you shelter in a bathroom, you could use the water and the toilet during your brief stay. A radio for information and card games, coloring books, or other low-activity games to help keep the children occupied are also important.

If possible, pre-position all of these supplies in the room you will use as a safe room.

Remember those opinions, the CDC has a recommendation for using a master bedroom as your shelter in place for a chemical emergency. If you have some kids and a few pets, it sounds like a good idea. Plus, there is more air to breath.

RAND has a a report on some scenarios that might happen during a biological, chemical and radiological attack. Download the PDF. Save it. Read it. Think about the report then act.

With more countries building nuclear weapons and having the means to launch these weapons, the possibility of a nuclear attack increases. I'm talking about the "big one." The 10 to 100 nuclear weapons coming in from Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Israel, or someone else.

To hear some people talk, you would think you need to buy a $2,000,000 former ICBM site to survive a nuclear war. Nope, you don't even need to buy the $260,000 site.

You do need to get a copy of Nuclear War Survival Skills. The book is available for free as a PDF; additionally, you can view the book online.

Be warned, there is this effect from an exploding atomic bomb called electromagnetic pulse (EMP); it can fry computers and other electronics, so you might need to buy a hardcopy of the book from or the folks in the links.

If you have more money, and you don't want to move; you can buy a shelter. There are two types of nuclear war shelters, a blast shelter and a fallout shelter.

A blast shelter can be a fallout shelter, but a fallout shelter can't be a blast shelter. This has to do with the effects of a nuclear weapon. The fallout will travel farther than the blast. So, if you are in the blast radius, a fallout shelter will not protect you from over-pressurization effects.

If you understood that statement, cool. If you didn't, make sure you read Nuclear War Survival Skills.

There are three shelter builders that I know of, Radius Engineering, Safecastle, and Utah Shelter Systems. Radius produces fiberglass blast shelters. Safecastle builds square/rectangle steel blast shelters. Utah Shelter Systems builds round steel blast shelters. All three will be expensive.

An alternative is to build your own shelter. There are many plans on the internet. The website from Rad Shelters For You has a round up of the various nuclear war shelters.

A mini blast/fallout shelter can be manufactured locally if you are on a tight budget, and you want to prepare for a nuclear war. As you can see the topic of shelters is a long and varied one. You need to think about what you are going to do and practice those techniques you have decided to use.

So study the links, and I'll ...

See you next week!


FEMA - Hazards Index:

FEMA - For Kids:

Equipped To Survive - Tarp Shelters - An Introduction

M4040's - Tarp Shelter

M4040's - Survival Shelter Building Skills

Wild Wood Survival - Debris Hut

E-How - How to Build a Debris Hut

Outdoor Action - Guide to Snow Shelters

Survival Topics - Snow Trench Shelter

Build Your Own Log Cabin

Stormloader - Plainsman's Cabin

Mother Earth News - $100 Cabin:

CDC - Chemical Emergencies

RAND - Report MR1731

Former Missile bases for sale

Nuclear War Survival Skills - Free PDF:

Nuclear War Survival Skills - To Read Online

Nuclear War Survival Skills - To Buy

Radius Engineering International

Safe Castle

Utah Shelter Systems

Rad Shelters For You

Rad Shelter For You - Mini Blast/Fallout Shelter

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Small Building Construction, Part Three

Dear Preppers and Survivalists,

I figured I should talk about window headers, window sills, and cripples before going on to the roof.

Rough Openings
All windows have a 'rough opening.' This opening is the required opening that needs to be in the wall before the window is mounted in the wall. The rough opening measurements can be found written in the window's installation instructions.

Now, we are going to have eight windows, two on each wall for ventilation.. Two big windows require a ??X?? rough opening and the other windows require a 14 inch by ?? inch rough opening.

Rough Opening
for the
"Big" Window
In this picture, you can see the doubled 2X6s for the window header and the single 2X4 for the window sill. The short pieces of 2X4 studs are called cripples.

So, why do you need a header?

Remember, the top plate (the double 2X4s) acts as support for the roof. When you cut an opening in the wall that spans between studs, you have to replace that missing support. The header acts as that support.

Now, needless to say, the bigger the opening, the bigger the header.

I talked to some former carpenters at work and they said a doubled 2X6 would be fine for this short of a header. Plus, one remarked: "It's a chicken coop. If you really wanted, you could probably use double 2X4s as a header."

Now, if you were putting in a picture window in your home, you would need a much thicker header, maybe a 2X10 or 2X12, maybe even an engineered wooden header or a steel beam header for a really large window.

OK, back to building a small building.

Rough opening
for the
"Small" window
The small window's rough opening is 14 inches wide by ?? inches tall, so I don't need a big header because there is no need to support the roof, since none of the studs were cut.

Wow, what a sentence!

Needless to say, you want to know why I covered up the windows rough openings with the OSB sheathing.

It's a lot easier to cover up the opening, and cut it out later, than cut the sheathing then attach it to the 2X4 wall.

I almost forgot.

The cripples, those short pieces of 2X4 above the headers and below the window sills, act as a place to secure the sheathing to the wall. They basically 'fill in' for the studs that I removed for the window opening.

Just so you know, they're called cripples because they are 'broken' studs.

Making the Headers
Just like I said earlier, we used 2X6s as headers. Since they are going to support some of the weight of the roof, I doubled them.

When I was screwing the studs into the top plate and the sill, I placed one 2X6 between the studs and screwed it into the stud with six screws (three on each side) Next, I placed the other 2X6 even with the top edge of the stud and screwed it in with another six screws (again, three on each side)

The former carpenters said I could place a piece of plywood between the double 2X6s to fill in the gap.


I could nail the two 2X6s together and make sure the header is even with the inside edge of the stud.

I could do it the way I described.

Lastly, one of the guys said that I could also place a cripple between the header and the window sill for added, really added, support for the roof. As you can tell, I didn't do that.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Forth Half - Thinking

This is the forth half of the post on thinking. You will find links to other bloggers and websites about the subject for this week.


Stealth Survival - Survival Basics: The Disaster Book


McAlvany Intelligence Advisor - Disaster Preparedness: Principles of Self Sufficiency

Third Half - Thinking

This is the third half of the post on thinking.

I had never heard of it before, until I read a book by Gerry Schumacher (To Be a US Army Green Beret).

PACE is an acronym to help organize your thinking on your preparations.

Primary - What is the first way that you are going to solve a problem.

Alternate - What is the second way that you are going to solve the same problem

Contingency - The third way

Emergency - The very last way before you have to improvise a solution to your problem.

Let us look at an example.

Your problem, opening cans of food.

Primary - an electric can opener
Alternate - a manual can opener
Contingency - another manual can opener
Emergency - a P-51 can opener

Yes, I know an electric can open won't work in a power outage. That is why you have three other methods of opening canned food. It could be worse; you could have lost electricity and broken the manual can opener. Don't worry though, you still have the other manual can opener and the P-51. All of these methods have to fail before you start stressing about how to improvise a method to safely open your canned food.

The OODA Loop
I have heard of this decision-making process before. It helps you to focus on your problems/situations

Observe - make Observations about a problem

Orient - Orient yourself to the problem. What do you see as the problem/What information do you have about the problem

Decide - Decide what you are going to do about the problem

Act - Act on you decision

Then you go through the loop again until the problem is solved. There is an article at Wikipedia that explains the OODA Loop

I can use the OODA Loop to explain how this blog has evolved.

My problem/situation; I know I can't go it alone. I don't have time or money to be a doctor/nurse, welder/pipe fitter, farmer/rancher, and pull security 24/7/365.

Observe - no money, lack skills, people to join with, friends/family are starting to see the various situations happening and want to prepare. I am a doomer and a gloomer, this turns people off. Folks don't want to go over the basics, I think are necessary, in their survival-type blogs.

Orient - People don't have time because of 9 to 5 jobs to learn the basics of surviving a long-term emergency

Decide - I'll write a one entry per week for 16 weeks preparedness blog so people can take the time they need to learn about preparedness

Act - write the blog and get family/friends to read it.

Now I look at the results. I am unsatisfied, so ...

Observe - I have a lot of knowledge. The one entry per week for 16 weeks blog isn't working, for me. Low readership. Not enough people "taking the course"

Orient - I need to provide more information. Not advertising with others

Decide - I will ask some of the survival-type blogs for a plug, and I'll write more

Act - E-mail Ryan at Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest and James Dakin at Bison Survival Blog. Write an additional post for the week.

Again, I look at the results. I'm not satisfied, so I...

And the process continues until an acceptable outcome occurs. The OODA Loop can also be used in a tactical situation. I think this is the original idea behind the OODA Loop's development. It may help you to defeat your opponent, so read about the OODA Loop at the link.


Wikipedia - OODA Loop

Second Half - Thinking

This is the second half of the post about thinking. You will find videos/podcasts, instructions, and other information about the subject for this week.


Survival Podcast - What if Nothing Goes Wrong

Survival Podcast - Watch Out for Combined Threats

Today's Survival Show -


Getting Informed
FEMA has a book called "Are You Ready? It is a free book. You can download it for free or order a copy. FEMA even will send you multiple copies, for free, to give to your friends and family. Just call the FEMA publications warehouse at 1.800.480.2520 to order your copy/copies.

So, why did I tell you that?

Because the book has a section on identifying possible hazards you and your family might need to prepare for.


FEMA - Are you Ready?

FEMA - Are You Ready? Getting Informed

Other Information:

Remember last post when I wrote about people that have been getting prepared for a long time may not have the right answer. I am right, and I am wrong.

I am right because they aren't a single parent with two school-aged kids, live in Los Angeles, or stationed overseas with the military. In other words, they are not in your situation. But I am also wrong. These people have made mistakes, common mistakes, that you can avoid.

One of these mistakes is thinking guns are the answer. If you plan to take food from your neighbor, you are going to die.

I can say this with a reasonable amount of accuracy.

Do you know why? There is one gun for every man, women, and child in these United States of America. With 27 million adult Americans being veterans (trust me, they all know how to shoot. Some of them even know how to make War), you don't have a chance.

Still don't believe me.

Research about the Wild West. Everybody carried a gun, including preachers.

Don't forget posses.

Let government break down and people will step in. You screw with the neighbors; the other neighbors will step in, and they have guns. So should you.

Another mistake is thinking you can go this alone. You can't. There are too many skills and not enough life-time. That is the reason for waving to the neighbors. They may not prepare as much as you will, but you can tell them about the money you saved gardening this year. Then help them when they ask to borrow the tiller and learn about food storage.

Take the teenagers shooting and their moms and dads, too. Get them interested in guns and have your spouse talk to them about how better protected he/she feels with having a loaded gun in the house and the self defense course he/she just completed, so she/he can use it, too.

If you go hunting, take them along. Before you go, get the neighbors to buy some basic camping equipment. If not hunting then semi-primitive camping.

Suggest everybody, during Halloween, sit on the front porches to give out treats and watch over the neighborhood. If it works, then suggest having a neighborhood watch every other Friday night, next summer?

Don't preach, don't make jokes about it, use the soft sell.

And buy extra food for the neighbors, just in case.

Another common mistake, even made by the federal government, is the idea of "Surging." No, I am not talking about Iraq. I am talking about the concept of waiting to just before the emergency happens to do something about it.

We see this every time there is a winter storm, hurricane approaching or other "disaster." People rush to the grocery store to buy milk, eggs, and bread. Usually within 6 hours the store shelves are stripped bare of bread, eggs, and milk. It's called the "French Toast Phenomenon" by some preppers.

Surging doesn't work, except for the first few folks. Truthfully ask yourself, "Where am I, in line, during these past surges for basic supply?"

If you answered front, middle, or even the back, surging doesn't work for you. I say this because what happens when someone not in line wants the stuff someone in line has? If you're in line, how is your family being protected?

What do you do if there are no supplies for you? Some more things to think about, so I'll ...

See you next week!

Week One - Thinking

Quick Start:

Turn off your tv and other electronic devices then go for a walk, for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week, in and around your neighborhood.

No, you don't have to wave to your neighbors, yet, but if they wave, wave back.

Blog Post:

In emergency preparedness, there is a rule. The rule is called the "3 to 5 Rule of Dying." It goes something like this:

You will Die

3 to 5 seconds without Thinking

3 to 5 minutes without Breathing

3 to 5 hours without Shelter

3 to 5 days without Water

3 to 5 weeks without Food

"Thinking" is the first item on the list. It is the most important.
Don't believe me; browse through the Darwin Awards.

Some people have already survived/died in certain situations. Take Steve Irwin, an injury that was survivable killed him because he made the wrong choice. Others, such as Lise Bohannon, made decisions that saved their lives, and we can learn from all of these choices.

Now, there are many, many people expressing their opinions on how to prepare to survive. James M. Dakins, James W. Rawles, Ragnar Benson, Kurt Saxon, and Andrew Zarowny are just a few. They all have their opinions.

Because they have been getting ready longer then you, doesn't mean they are right. This includes me. You have to decide what is going to work for you.

With that said let us get started.

The first thing you want to do is to make a threat analysis. The "Threat Analysis FAQ" helps you focus on the situations that you are going to prepare for; it will also lead you through the process of discovering and documenting the threats to your continued survival.

Basically, you write down all the bad stuff that could happen to you.

To do this, you take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Next, write down every bad thing that could happen to you and your family on the left side. Some things you might write, in no particular order, are a house fire, laid-off, car accident, flood, nuclear war, hurricane, tornado, home invasion, windstorm, violent revolution, earthquake, sewer back-up, fired, sectarian violence... .

Don't get discouraged. Keep listing.

Once you're finished, on the right side of the line, you want to prioritize them, from greatest threat to the least likely to happen to you and your family. That's it for this week.

Before you go, let me tell you a story.

There was a young man and he wanted to go and seek his fortune. He asked his father what he should do.

The father said, "Son, every morning walk in the direction of the rising sun. At noon, eat your lunch and rest for an hour. Then get up and walk in the direction of the setting sun."

The next morning, his mother and father hugged him and bid him farewell. He did as his father had advised, walking all morning and stopping for lunch, even resting under a shady tree. After his rest, the son got up and followed the setting sun, arriving home just in time for dinner.

A little surprised, he was welcomed home by his family.

At the dinner table, he asked his father why he had given him such bad advice.

His dad replied, "Not everyone will give you good advice."

So work on your Threat Analysis, and I'll ...

See you next week!


Darwin Awards

Wikipedia - Steve Irwin
*scroll down the page to "Death"

Nova Online - Escape! Survivor Stories

Threat Analysis FAQ

FEMA - Learn About the Types of Disasters

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Small Building Construction, Part Two

Dear Preppers and Survivalists,

Building the Walls
The recently completed floor makes a great place to assemble the twelve feet long walls.

The Sill Plate
This is a picture of the wall that will have the double doors. The doors will be in the center of the wall.

Since the wall is 12 feet long, I had to add a four foot piece of 2X4 to an eight piece of 2X4 to get my twelve feet.

If you enlarge this picture and look at the bottom of the forth 2X4 from the left, you will notice the splice for the two pieces of 2X4.

The Top Plate
Now, the top of the wall (top plate) will have double 2X4s. These double 2X4s will support the roof.

I staggered the seams between the four foot and eight foot pieces of 2X4s. This increases the stability of the wall.

After I did that, I added headers for the door. The headers are made from double 2X6s. Just like the top plate, the headers will help support the roof.

Next, I 'squared' the walls, just like I did for the floor. I measure diagonally from corner to corner, remembering the measurement. Next, I measure diagonally from the other corner then pushing or softly kicking the corners make them the same distance.

After I squared the wall, I screwed oriented strand board (OSB) to the 2X4s as sheathing. I used 2 inch exterior deck screws to secure the sheathing.

Next I cut the sheathing to the proper length.

To do this, I made the saw blade just a little bit deeper then the sheathing then I very carefully, using the top plate as my guide, cut the OSB

If you want to, you can measure the sheathing, cut it to length then secure it to the 2X4 studs with nails or screws.

Figuring the Length of the 2X4 Studs
Ok. The walls for this small building are going to be 7 feet tall that means I am going to have to cut a bunch of 2X4s.

Since 2X4s are really 1 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches. I am going to have to figure how much I need to cut off each 2x4.


We added a sill plate which is one 2X4 (1 1/2 inches) and a top plate which is two 2X4s (3 inches) to the 2X4s; we used for the wall.


7 feet times 12 inches equals 84 inches long minus 4 1/2 inches gives us a length of 79 1/2 inches.

So, each 2X4 stud needs to be cut to 79 1/2 inches.

Needless to say, if your walls are going to be 8 feet tall, the home improvement stores will have 2X4s already cut to the proper length, for 8 foot walls.

8 feet times 12 equals 96 inches minus 4 1/2 inches equals 91 1/2 inch long 2X4s for 8 foot tall walls.

Back to Work
Once the first wall is complete, I built the second 12 foot long wall on top of the first wall. This second wall will have two windows.

Before I begin, I want you to notice the location of the tarp in this picture and the very first picture, at the top.

In the first picture, the top plate is next to the tarp.

In this picture, to the right, the second wall's sill plate is next to the tarp.

There is a very important reason for this.

Next, I add window headers.

Lastly, I added the wall sheathing. Just like the first wall, I 'squared' the wall, use OSB as sheathing, and 2 inch exterior deck screws to secure the sheathing.

Raising the Walls
There is a reason why we built the walls on the floor. They are heavy.


To raise the walls, you want to screw two short pieces of 2X4, using at least two screws, to the side of the floor, then pick up the wall. You'll want at least two more people to make the lifting easy.

You can probably lift the wall with two people, but why kill yourself.

In the picture above, this is the second wall. You can see the two pieces of scrap 2X4. They act as stops to prevent the wall from sliding off the floor when you pick it up.

Using your foot, maybe a sludge hammer, and a little brute force, you need to line up the wall on the edge of the floor.

Once everything is lined up, you are going to add two diagonal braces to keep the walls from falling over. Next, raise the next wall and add two more diagonal braces.


We ran out of daylight, so I added some top braces to add just a little bit of stability to the small building, just in case.

Remember me mentioning the tarp. Make sure you have the sill plate (single 2X4) on the bottom and the top plate (double 2X4) on the top.

The next day, we removed the top braces. Next, my wife held one wall as I removed its diagonal braces, and I plumbed (made sure the walls were straight up and down) that wall with a four foot level. Once, that wall was plumb, I screwed the braces back in and we did the other wall.

After plumbing the walls, I screwed two 3 inch exterior deck screws through the sill plate into the floor. This will prevent the wall from moving.

It would be great if the screws went into the joists. Also notice, the two screws are in the middle of the two 2X4 studs.

Now, remember.

If you want to use nails, use nails.

But, remember, too

Screws are a lot easier to take out, if you screw up. ; - )

Note: I might have a separate article on all the mistakes I made. We'll see.

Building the Other Walls
The short walls, on the ends, will be less than eight feet. There's a reason for this. The 12 foot long walls are  over 3 1/2 inches thick. Remember, 2X4s are 1 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches.

Instead of figuring the length of the short walls, I just took measurements with my tape measure.

After I took my measurement, I built the end wall in the grass.

Just like the first and second wall, I cut a bunch of 2X4s to the proper length (79 1/2 inches for a 7 foot wall).

I added headers and window sills for the two windows on each wall then carried the wall over to the building.

Just so you know, the end walls also have a top plate (double 2X4) and a sill plate (single 2X4)

Next, I placed the wall into proper position, and I screwed the end wall to the other wall.

If you look closely at this picture, you will notice the top plate is only a single 2X4.

There is a reason for this.

I notched the two 12 foot walls, so an eight foot long 2X4 could be added to the top of the end wall, stabilizing the building.

After both end walls have been added, I added the sheathing to the end walls.

I didn't cut the sheathing for the end walls.

As you can see, I used the complete 4 foot by 8 foot of the sheet of OSB; additionally, the OSB overlaps the sides of the first walls.

Just like all the other sheathing, we used 2 inch exterior grade screws.

The next step is the roof.

What I Would Do Differently
First, I would have built the smaller end walls on the building's floor. It was a pain getting them set-up properly. Plus, the end walls were just a hair bigger, this made it slightly difficult (I ended up taking one end wall down and re-cutting the sill plate), but remember just a little brute force.

Wikipedia - Wall Plate