How_to_shelter_in_Your_Own_Home__Wiseman.pdf  linked printable file with this section

Suggest you buy the book.

John " Lofty" Wiseman;

The SAS Survival Handbook;

ISBN 0 00 26531407, (unabridged)


pages 557 to 567  Home Front

You do not have to be miles away from civilization to be caught in a survival situation. Natural disaster, civil disturbance or military action could cut you off from all the usual services and food supplies. Until they can be re-established, you would be left to manage on your own resources and skills.

With no power supplies, central heating, hot water, lighting, air-conditioning and refrigeration would all cease. Battery radios and television would for a time give some news of the rest of the world, if the situation is not global, but post, telephone and newspapers would no longer be available. As mains water supplies ceased to function, so taps would run dry and toilets would become unusable.

In the countryside there would be natural resources to draw upon. In large cities shops would soon be emptied of food -- sold or looted -- and plants in parks and gardens would be rapidly stripped, once any private stocks had been exhausted. The population would have to make forays out into the countryside to survive, or abandon the town, if not in a siege situation. Suburban dwellers have more vegetable plots and open spaces to provide foodstuffs. They would be less dependent upon shops. Those away from major centers are more likely to have their own food stocks, because they cannot shop at will.

Most families have some food in store. It should be rationed and supplemented with whatever can be found.


Storing food is a good habit to get into, especially if you live in an isolated place, which can become completely cut-off. If you have a year's food supply in store, and add to it as you use it, you will not only be able to survive the worst but will be able to live at last year's prices. The stock does not have to be established in one go. Build it up gradually, taking advantage of special offers in supermarkets. Buy an extra tin or packet and put it by. Store your foods in a cool, dry, dark place and off the ground -- moisture and heat cause bacteria and molds. If stores are left on the floor insects and rodents will help themselves. Make sure that all containers are insect- and rodent-proof.


Rotate cans, so that the contents do not settle, and separate. Label each can or packet with a color-fast waterproof pen, noting contents and date of storage. Use in sequence -- the oldest first. Store methodically and if a label falls off, you should still have a good idea of the contents. Choice of foods will depend upon individual taste, but straightforward products (corned beef in preference to beef stew and dumplings) will keep better and can be used in a greater variety of ways. Wheat keeps better than flour -- it is less susceptible to moisture, light, insects and temperature change. Wheat found in the pyramids was found in good condition after thousands of years. However you must grind it to make flour, so invest in a small hand grinder.


Screw-top sweet jars are ideal for storage and plastic containers with tight-fitting lids can also be used. Do not over fill them so that they distort and the lid does not fit correctly. Use adhesive tape to seal the lids. Reseal after using some but remember that once opened the contents will begin to deteriorate.


Wheat /Indefinitely below 15 degrees Centigrade (65 degrees Fahrenheit) Milk powder /2 years

Honey /Indefinitely

Egg powder /2 years

Salt /Indefinitely if absolutely dry

Canned goods /3-5 years (replace regularly)

Oats /Indefinitely

Cooking oil /2 years (replace regularly)

**************** RATIONS

Complete rations are available with various menus either freeze-dried or dehydrated. They are lighter and less space-consuming than canned foods. Freeze-dried are best for both taste and texture and retain minerals which are lost in dehydration. Although both need water for reconstitution they can, in dire circumstances, be eaten as a dry munch.


Multi-vitamin tablets are also a good investment. The body can store up to a month's supply of most vitamins, then health will suffer if they are not replaced. In stress situations they are more rapidly used up. The B family (and minerals, calcium and zinc) are first to go. Vitamin tablets do not have unlimited shelf-life -- check manufacturer's instructions.


Dried fruit and nuts are nutritious and should also be included -- raisins, sultanas and currants all keep well. Nuts in their shells keep so long as they are dry. Packets of dried salted nuts such as peanuts, brazils and walnuts, are highly nutritious.

Potato powder is a great filler for hungry stomachs and can be prepared in several ways to make it palatable.

Brown rice has more nourishment than long-grain white rice which loses all its goodness when boiled.


The cooler the storage area, the better the stores will keep a cellar is ideal but there may be a problem with dampness so keep all the stores off the ground and inspect them regularly. If there is a skylight in the cellar, cover it. The store is best kept dark.

An attic is also convenient for storage -- the stores are not in the way of day-to-day activities. However, it may get very warm in summer and access may be difficult -- especially if a ladder is the only means of entry -- which may be awkward when trying to rotate bulky stores. The roof is also a vulnerable position in most kinds of disaster situations. In an area where hurricanes can be expected an attic is not a good choice. In territory liable to flooding a cellar would be equally at risk. Under stairs is another area that may offer some protection, though perhaps limited space. Advantage should be taken of wherever is most conveniently available to store not only food but also medical supplies, disinfectants, cleansing materials -- and water. If you divide your stores into more than one area, each with a variety of items, you should be well prepared.


Toothpaste and soap Disinfectant and bleach

Washing powder

General medical supplies Medicines: for dysentery, for stomach upsets, for allergies, general pain-killers,

Bandages and dressings


In a domestic situation there is likely to be shelter, unless it has been totally destroyed, or the area has become a danger zone and evacuation is imperative. Damage can be patched up to provide some protection from the elements and more permanent repairs undertaken as soon as possible.

Water supplies are always likely to be a problem -- for even during a flood drinking water is scarce. Fortunately there are likely to be some immediate reserves on the premises and, with warning of a crisis, these can be supplemented.

Fire for warmth is less of a problem, since there will be burnable materials in the house and surroundings. Infection may prove the greatest danger and strict hygiene and sanitary practices must be enforced.


Although a family of four can use a considerable amount of water each week, only a small percentage of this is for drinking -- a requirement of about 2 liters (4 pints) per day per person. If warned of a crisis, fill as many receptacles as possible, especially in a hot climate. A bath holds many gallons; increase its capacity by blocking the overflow. Use dustbins, buckets, pots -- even strong polythene bags if they are only half filled and securely tied off.

Store water in the dark. If light gets to it green algae will develop. Water is bulky and heavy. Do not store it in the attic or it may bring the ceiling down.

Even without advance warning there will be water in the storage tank, heating pipes, radiators, perhaps an aquarium, and the toilet cistern will hold another few gallons -- don't flush it. Outdoors you may have a swimming pool, water butts, or a pond -- even water from a car radiator can be utilized. Central heating water is usually treated with a de-oxygenizing agent and a car radiator probably contains anti-freeze, so water from these places is best kept for cleaning purposes. If it has to be used for drinking boil it, collect the steam in clean cloths and wring them out. Then re-boil. (Or, see Essentials.)

Boiled water tastes flat and distilled water has even less taste. It is easy to restore some of its sparkle by putting oxygen back into it: simply pour the water back and forth from one vessel to another. A small piece of wood charcoal placed in the vessel while it boils also helps taste.

************************* FILTERING AND STERILIZING

Filter and sterilize ALL water before using it for drinking. If circumstances make it impossible to boil water sterilize it with chemicals.

FILTERING: Allow water to stand in its container so that sediment settles at the bottom. Then siphon it into a filter made up of a nylon stocking (or other porous material) stuffed with layers of sand (bottom), charcoal and moss (top).

STERILIZING: Clear water: add 2 drops household bleach per liter (1 per pint) or 3 drops 2% tincture of iodine per liter (6 per pint)

Cloudy water: double the quantities of bleach or iodine

Large quantities: 1\2 teaspoonful bleach per liter (2 teaspoonsful per gallon)



Water in which food is to be cooked MUST be boiled for at least eight minutes, but water not boiled for as long can be used for heating cans of food provided it makes no contact with the foodstuff.

Stand the can in water, pierce a small hole in the top to avoid the risk of explosion and plug it with a twist of cloth so that water cannot enter the can. Alternatively, boil the water, remove it from the heat and place the un-pierced can in the water. This takes longer for the can to heat through.


0. Catch all available rainwater. Break off lower sections of down pipes and divert the flow into a container such as a dustbin. Even if rainwater is pure, guttering may contaminate it -so sterilize. 0. Supplement water receptacles with tarpaulins or plastic sheets supported on sticks. Rinse between showers to reduce tainting.

0. Dig a hole and line it with a plastic sheet or concrete for water storage. Cover it to prevent evaporation and debris falling in.

0. If the local water table is high you may be able to dig down to water -- there may even be a well on your property which could be reopened.

0. Solar and vegetation stills (see Essentials) are other ways of obtaining water.


Do not waste water washing clothes, other than underclothing. Never throw water away after use. Allow sediment to settle and it can be used again.

It is very important to wash the hands before preparing food, but the rest of the body can wait until it rains. The body produces natural oils and, as long as the pores are kept open, health will not be affected. You soon get used to the smell and social occasions are rare in a crisis situation. If showers are few and far between, use a damp cloth for a strip wash cloths left out on lawns or hushes over night may gather enough moisture for a wipe down without using up your water stores.

Injured persons must receive priority for bathing and all their dressings should be boiled regularly.


The warmth and comfort of a fire are great morale boosters, but its most important use will be for boiling water and preserving food. These must take priority in the use of fuel.

Blocked fireplaces should be opened up again and chimneys checked for obstructions. If they are not clear there is considerable risk of setting fire to the chimneys themselves and thus to the house.


Tie a holly bush or a similar shrub to a long rope and from the rooftop lower the rope down the chimney (a stone tied on the end will ensure it drops). Now pull down the holly bush and it will clear the chimney.


Where there are no fireplaces metal containers, metal dustbins lids and central heating radiators can all be used to light a fire on. In flats with concrete floors a fire could be lit directly on the floor. If you have a barbecue stand make good use of it.

Never leave a fire indoors unattended. Even one in a proper grate should be allowed to die down for the night, if no one is going to stay up to watch it. FUEL

Start with garden furniture, trees, shrubs, bean sticks, swings, ladders, tool handles. When these run out start on furnishings. Carpets, curtains and cushions will all burn. Cardboard, books and rolled up newspapers will also give off a surprising amount of heat. All kinds of vehicle fuel can also be burned as well as the conventional heating and lighting oils.

*************** WARNING Many modern fabrics and furnishings, especially PVC and foam-block furniture, produce poisonous gases when burned. If burning these items make a fireplace in the garden or, if forced to burn them in a flat, make the fire near an open window. Cover the face with a damp cloth when you need to go near the fire to tend to it and things being heated on it.

************************************* FOOD

0. Check on all the food in the house and ration it immediately.

0. Use the perishable foods first. Fatty foods are the first to deteriorate and canned foods the last.

0. Remember that, once electric power fails, the refrigerator and freezer cease to function -- though they may take some time to defrost, if you open their doors as seldom and briefly as possible.

0. Boil milk and it will keep longer.

0. Boil eggs or coat them in a layer of fat -- if you have izinglass (a traditional method of preserving fresh eggs) simply immerse them in it.

0. Cook meat, wrap it in cloth and bury it in the earth. Cook pork first (which has the highest fat content), then lamb, then beef (which is the best meat to preserve).

0. Once meat has been cooked and allowed to cool, do NOT reheat it or you may risk food-poisoning.

0. You can only cook so much at a time, so leave the rest in the refrigerator or freezer while they are still cool places.


The vegetables with four petals, including all the brassicas, from wallflowers to cabbages are edible. Hollyhocks, though not very tasty, are nutritious. Worms, slugs and snails are also edible. AVOID bulbs such as daffodils, tulips and aconites which are all poisonous.


Explore parks and open spaces for other vegetation and for hunting and trapping wildlife. Birdlife in cities -- especially pigeons and starlings, will often fill the plate, especially if you bait snares and nets. (See Traps and snares in Food.)


Beware of houseplants -- some of them are poisonous, especially the diefenbachia and philodendron -- though orchids are good to eat.

If food is short there will be none to spare for pets and you CANNOT afford to be squeamish. If the aquarium water has to be drunk don't waste the fish. In fact they'll probably be the easiest to eat even if you don't need the water. The cat is next in the pot. Once dressed it will be hard to distinguish from rabbit. Gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, budgerigars and parrots can all be added to the diet and, unless the dog is an exceptionally good hunter, it should go too.


For methods of smoking, salting and making pickles and chutneys see Food Preservation in Food.

When the fridge no longer functions remove the motor, cut a hole in the bottom, place it on some stones or bricks and with a fire beneath use it as a smoke-house.


The first priorities will be a sound roof over your head and a stable structure. Clear any debris and ensure that there is nothing which could still collapse or fall from above and cause injury. Use slates, tiles and bricks from other buildings to ensure that at least one building is sound.


Conserve resources by living in one room, choosing a ground floor room with a southern aspect (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere). Block all drafts and avoid opening the door unnecessarily. If there is a fire burning, make sure that there is adequate ventilation to avoid asphyxiation or carbon monoxide poisoning. Wear warm clothing to help conserve fuel. The more people in the room, the higher the temperature. Rest and keep physical exertion to a minimum. IN VERY


Use upstairs accommodation and spread out. Open windows on the downstairs windward side and open all windows on the lee side upstairs. Leave all the doors open and a cool breeze will blow through the house. Rest during the day and do any necessary work at night.


If the house proves beyond repair, or other pressures force you to evacuate, take essential items -- food, blankets, tools, medical supplies, containers for water and materials suitable for shelter construction -- if they are not likely to be available. Use a pram or a shopping trolley as transportation. Either find an empty house or building, or prepare to set up camp elsewhere.


Sanitation is very important during the aftermath of any disaster. Open sewers, contaminated water and the build up of rubbish all help to cause and spread disease. Germs carried by rats, fleas and other insects, rapidly multiply. All kinds of waste should be carefully disposed of and all the procedures described (see Hygiene in Camp craft) should be adapted to the doorstep situation.


Urine is sterile but if large amounts accumulate they smell and attract flies. Use the 'desert rose' urinal, of the kind described in Camp craft. Keep the tube covered. If not used directly, pour all collected urine down the tube.

Build a latrine (again see Camp craft), far enough from the house not to be smelt but near enough to be handy for 'emergencies' -- there will be many such emergencies in a survival situation. A box with a hole cut in the base can be used as a thunder box. After use, if there is water available, wash yourself rather than using toilet paper. Wash the hands thoroughly afterwards. Fit a lid to your thunder box, pile earth around the bottom and then you will contain the smells and keep out flies.

Move all muck with a shovel and avoid hand contact.


Animals pick up diseases which can be transmitted to humans. If you handle animals, make sure you have no breaks in the skin -- or wear gloves. Infection can enter through the smallest of cuts. Cook all meat thoroughly.


All biodegradable waste should be stacked in a corner of the garden and composted to enrich the soil. Compost heaps are also a great source of worms, which will add protein to your diet. However, there should not be much kitchen waste. Do NOT peel potatoes,-- much of their food value is in the skin. The outer leaves of cabbages which you once discarded, will be edible if you cut them up small.

Non-biodegradable waste -- cans and plastics that are not useful in some way -- should be burned, flattened and buried. This stops them attracting flies. In warm climates burn ALL waste. Put all the ashes in a pit.

********************** FOOD DISEASES

Salmonella and shigella are diseases transmitted through the oral-anal route, by contaminated hands.

Sores on hands can be a source of entry for staphylococcal food-poisoning with severe stomach pains, diarrhoea and dehydration.

Clostridium botulinum, is a frequently fatal bacillus, which can be produced when canning at home if the temperatures are not high enough - it grows only when oxygen is excluded. There is no reliable way of determining whether food is contaminated so TAKE GREAT CARE if you do your own preserving. A related bacillus causes tetanus.



Living in close-knit groups after a disaster increases the risk of passing on disease. Good personal hygiene -- as good as possible -- can reduce the threat. Isolation of patients with colds or fever is advisable.

Seal dressings and discharges in a polythene bag and burn immediately. Dispose of all feces and urine in the field latrine -- and regularly boil the container used for their disposal.


Wash with sand if there is no water available. Don't June 10, 2001bite your nails -- however stressful conditions may be -- or put the fingers to the mouth. Don't pick scabs or sores and keep them covered. Change underclothes regularly and wash them (but don't use drinking water to do so).



Strawberry roots contain a descaler to clean teeth.

Delphinium seeds can be crushed to treat head lice.

Birch bark can be distilled to produce a tar oil which soothes skin complaints. Lavender makes a decoction to clean the skin. See also Natural medicine.