Welcome to this week’s Survive The Coming Collapse newsletter, brought to you by Tim Larkin’s Target Focus Training–the empty hands combatives program that I’ve been using successfully since the mid-90s and the only system that I trust for both my 102 pound wife and my parents who are in their 70s. Tim’s got an incredible offer for my readers this week, and you can find out about it by going >here<.
Survival Diva here to discuss effective strategies to hide critical survival goods at home and survival caches for a time we might need them. Whether you live in the city or in the middle of nowhere on an off-grid homestead, there are no guarantees that you’ll be immune from looting. By setting a simple workable game plan in motion now, the outcome is more likely to go in your favor later if you ever do find yourself in a situation where looting is prevalent.
A critical mistake would be to pretend we’ll never be a victim of looting, yet I hear this fairly often from those who’ve moved off grid who tell themselves they will never experience the lawlessness urban areas may suffer.
The truth is, no matter where we live, there will be neighbors and those that will show up looking for a safe place to escape. With luck, they will be good people simply wanting to find a way to survive. It’s the people who have lost their moral compass, or never had one to begin with, that we should prepare for. That starts with doing what we can to secure our survival goods at home, and caching survival goods away from our immediate area should we need to flee, if only for a short duration.
(David’s note: two other important considerations for caching is that they will protect you before a disaster in the event of a random break-in, flooding, fire, tornado, or other potentially catastrophic events AND they’ll allow you to be more “transparent”, open, and inviting with guests in your house. The more you have cached, the less stuff that it’s possible for guests and visitors to see.)
Several months ago, I had a series of frustrating conversations with a friend who had convinced himself he had the perfect plan to avoid looters and lawlessness. Over the years, this friend had always been brutally honest with himself about his capabilities and his prepping strategy…except when it came to the bug out cabin he was planning to build. In hindsight, it become clear he was “stuck” on his idea that he’d been holding on to for years, and no amount of logic would open his eyes to the fact that this bug out solution was not going to let him hide in plain sight. After months of hearing about this Shangri-La, where he could live and survive unmolested and undetected without incorporating safety backups, I switched tactics, and that conversation is posted here—partially to show that humor can be found, even with a subject as serious as survival, and partially for you to examine if you’ve been guilty of doing something similar. If so, there’s good news. It’s never too late to kick safety measures into gear!
Now, getting back to my friend’s plan. He was going to build a bug out dwelling that would be carved into a hillside. The front of this hideaway was the only portion of his getaway that would be visible, but he planned to camouflage this with an overhang, allowing its location to “blend” with its surroundings. It would be far off grid, but would have a road leading to it. Automatically this meant he would have neighbors even if acres of land separated them, and in a crisis, it was likely these off-grid neighbors would have family members fleeing to the area, which meant more neighbors.
Upon the 20th or 30th phone conversation, hearing about this perfect place that would allow him to hide in plain sight, I cracked. It went like this:
Me: “Okay, let’s pretend you’ve built this perfect hideaway. Will you have any family members joining you, and if so, will there be children?”
His answer, “Well, there’ll be my daughter and two sons and their children.”
ME: “Will these children be put in permanent ‘time out’…where they’re never allowed outside?”
Him: “Of course they’ll be allowed outside! Do you see me as some sort of monster?!”
Me: “You don’t have to yell. Now, will you be growing a garden for when your food storage is gone?”
Him: “You know I have heirloom seed. Of course we’ll be growing a garden!” By now, he was getting a bit ‘testy’.
Me: “Are you still planning to build an outhouse?”
Him: “Where are you going with this?…of course we’ll have an outhouse. The septic could fail. There needs to be an outhouse for backup!” He’d moved from testy to belligerent.
Me: “Will you family be arriving on foot, or by vehicle?”
Him: “I have better things to do with my time, you know. Obviously, they’ll be driving. We’ve already discussed this!”
Me: “This won’t take much longer. And if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate it if you’d stopped yelling into the phone. Those chickens you talked about…are you still planning to build a chicken coop?”
Him: Frustrated sigh. “Yes, there’ll be chickens and a chicken coop. If we don’t have chickens, how in the heck will we have fresh eggs and meat?”
Me: “We’re just about done, and I don’t appreciate your tone, by the way. Now, do you still plan on having solar panels and running your generator once in a while?”
Him: “Now you’re being ridiculous! We’ve talked about all of this! Yes, I’ll have solar panels, and yes, every once in a while, I plan to run the generator so we can have a movie night.”
Me: “Then, any person with the intelligence of a bag of rocks is goanna know someone is living on your property and you don’t have a backup plan.
Kids make noise and if they’re allowed outside after being cooped up indoors, they’ll be out of control.
I can see them now; laughing and singing on the way to the outhouse—just you wait and see. And those cars everyone will hopefully be arriving in are going to announce to a looter that people have congregated at your location. Of course, you could set the cars on fire, throw clothes and sundries around to make it look like you’ve been burned out, I suppose. But what about the solar panels and that garden that won’t tend itself, and the outhouse that’ll still smell like new lumber. And what about the chickens and movie nights with the generator?
“If I were on a search and destroy mission, had recently had a frontal lobotomy, and starvation had taken the last bit of reason I possessed, I believe I’d still find it suspicious that whoever was tending to that garden, grabbing sunlight from solar panels, using the outhouse, keeping the chicken’s plump, and every once in a while firing up a generator for movie night just might be hiding a pretty good stash of survival goods, seeing’s how their home was stuck into a mountainside, ‘hidden’.
“You know I love you and your family more than color TV, but if you ever tell me again how you’re going to hide in plain sight, I WILL HANG UP ON YOU!”
The story I’ve related isn’t fiction. It happened only recently, and I am relieved to say after that long distance conversation…and a cooling off period, my friend called to tell me that after thinking it over, he had determined his plan was flawed. He is now making up for lost time, setting up safety measures and planning his survival caches for a day when he and his family members may have to flee, if only for a while.
We don’t need to panic over the possibility of looters; we just need to be prepared for them. When confronted by a looter, it comes down to a decision; whether to stand and defend, or leave until your home is safe to return to. If you decide to leave, it’s important to have a safe place already picked out to relocate to until you’re able to return. On the way to your safe place, having a cache or two available for retrieval along your escape route will be a lifeline. In fact, having more than one cache is ideal.
Protecting your supplies at home is just as important for long-term survival and the trick of keeping what you have requires thinking outside the box. A looter will usually take the path of least resistance, which means looking in all the obvious places where most of us hide our valuables: under the bed, in bookshelves, in the freezer, and behind paintings. Unlike today’s thief, a post-disaster looter might be comfortable taking their time while they nose through your things. Law enforcement numbers are likely to have dwindled while some stay at home to protect their loved ones, and communications may be down or jammed which would make calling for help impossible.
So keeping in mind a looter may not be in a hurry while they’re ransacking your home, have a look at some possible solutions to harden your home against looters and ideas on hiding a survival cache.
Conceal Your Stash
- A hide-a-bed with the mechanism and mattress removed offers space to build a wood box to hold survival goods.
- Boxes stacked willy-nilly marked with identifiers such as “2011 IRS INFO”, “Christmas Stuff”, “Brandon’s Old Toys”, “Brandon’s School Stuff”, or something along these lines is a workable decoy, especially if they’re stacked high and are cluttered. Think about the overwhelming frustration a looter would feel just looking at the work that lay ahead should they decide to route through those piles of boxes. The top boxes, the ones easiest to inspect, are the bait, filled with whatever’s marked on the outside of the box.
- Along these same lines scuffed and dented metal file cabinets probably won’t be perceived as a golden opportunity to a looter. But as already mentioned, they might take their time to open a few drawers—stack files and paperwork on top of what you’re hiding beneath!
- A laundry hamper with dirty clothes spread over the top of your supplies will probably be overlooked by a looter.
- A washer and dryer with clothes concealing what they’re hiding may also work.
- Vases topped off with artificial flowers or plants will hold smaller valuables, but keep in mind it wouldn’t take much for a looter to double-check. .
- Tennis shoes are a viable place to hide money and coins and other small valuables: Cut along the tongue of the tennis shoe and sew the valuable into place. You might also want to split apart the sole of shoes that have a hollowed-out heel and use this heel to hide valuables. This is similar to what people did when fleeing Hitler’s Germany when they sewed valuables into hemlines—which is another idea–the hemlines of clothing are a good hiding place to stash small valuables.
- The bills of baseball caps can likewise be utilized to hide small valuables by un-stitching around the bill, tucking the item inside, and then carefully re-sewing the bill.
- Outdoors, hollowed-out 4 X 4 fence posts will store valuables and food items—but food must be placed in rodent-proof containers. Make sure to protect non-food items in heavy Ziploc bags, and if need be, wrapped again in heavy mill plastic.
- Cinderblocks used for fencing or landscaping offer plenty of opportunity to hide things in. Just by stacking them (filled with your survival goods), and giving the impression they were placed there for a future landscaping project wouldn’t likely catch a looters attention.
- An outdoor garbage container is a hiding spot most looters aren’t likely to gravitate towards. Protect what you place in a garbage container with plastic or smaller plastic containers and make sure what’s on top is actual garbage. This strategy can work for indoors garbage containers as well.
- Hiding items in an automobile or a bicycle (including the tires and handlebars) could work, but only if a looter has no reason to steal them. An EMP may mean a looter wouldn’t be interested in a vehicle….but would probably be VERY interested in a bike! A broken down vehicle offers more possibilities; side panels, steering column, gas tank, and under the seats.
- Overhead areas of outdoor structures may make for a good hiding spot, especially if the structure were to have a false ceiling with room to stash things. The same goes for the floor area when the structure isn’t on a concrete pad.
- A hollow-core door can store flatter, thinner items like dry soup packages, dehydrated food, garden seed, and the like.
- Between the springs of a bed may work, but keep in mind robbers are known to look in mattresses and behind picture frames, behind books in bookshelves, and in freezers for the simple reason that’s where the average person hides their valuables.
- Most couches have a dead space beneath the seat cushion and the industrial cloth that is stapled in place at the bottom of the frame. If you’re handy, it’s possible to fit a piece of plywood there for storage. Just re-staple the industrial covering back in place so your hiding space won’t be obvious.
- A child’s play structure is another opportunity to hide things. Especially if they’ve been repurposed with false floors or ceilings. A child’s sand box is another good hiding spot.
- Lengths of PVC pipe buried in a garden or lawn makes a perfect combo to hide food or valuables.
- If you have a yard, burying food caches in water-tight buckets is something most of us have heard suggested on preparedness sites. Burying a bucket works only when the water table allows for it. Some use steel barrels or smaller steel drums to combat a low water table. If possible, find a location away from your immediate area for a second, or third, or fourth survival cache. This may require thinking outside the box, but if you must flee to safety, and the cached goods hidden on your property can’t be safely retrieved—at least until the looter tires of your place and leaves—you’ll have a backup. Some preppers rent a nearby storage unit. Just make sure to keep a copy of your rental agreement, so if you’re spotted scaling the fence during a power outage, you’ll have a legitimate reason to be there.
- Under a ground-level deck is another possible hiding place. A Survival cache packed in heavy plastic buckets or heavy mill plastic, or buried in PVC it will be there for you when you return.
- The space between the ceiling and cupboards in kitchens and bathrooms can be converted to storage space. Cover it with drywall or something decorative like breadboard, and you’ll have gained quite a bit of usable storage space. The same goes for the dead space under cabinets at floor level which is typically covered by baseboard trim.
- A false wall is not a new idea, but it’s worked to hide people and goods for centuries. Look around your home. If there’s room to build out a false wall, it will give you plenty of extra space that few looters would even think to look for.
- Your garage offers more possibilities. Something like an old coffee can hide smaller items. Just top them off with miscellaneous screws or nails. Old paint buckets are another possibility.
- Not ideal are bookshelves or the area behind closet shelving used to store linens, clothing, etc. because they are easy to access. But in a pinch, it’s better than not hiding critical survival goods at all. When you go outside the obvious hiding places and make a looter really work to uncover your survival goods, they are much less likely to be discovered.
- For those with farm animals or a dog, consider stashing items in feed barrels. A barrel marked “Chicken Feed” or “Dog Food”, and topped off with that feed to camouflage what’s inside will have a looter looking elsewhere.
- When hiding a cache of weapons or ammo, placing scrap metal over the site will thwart a looter armed with a metal detector. This also works for canned food. Any scrap metal like metal roofing, rebar, or old car parts will work.
- Consider dangling a carrot by keeping a few shelves of “give away” food in plain sight. The real stash can be hidden out of sight.
A few quick considerations:
Once you set a cache, LEAVE IT ALONE. Time is one of your best assets in hiding your caches.
If you are setting caches along a route that you plan to travel, make sure they’re easy to retrieve. If, on the other hand, you’re setting a worst-case-scenario cache, consider making it so that it will take an hour or more to retrieve. As a note, that means that it may very well take 2-6 TIMES as long to initially place the cache.
What are your favorite strategies for caching…both inside and out? What do you believe should be included in a survival cache? Have you found creative places to stash survival goods where a looter will never think to look? Please share your ideas by posting below!
Last weekend, America lost a hero, warrior, and all around great man, Chris Kyle. I wrote a brief article about him on Monday >HERE<
God bless and stay safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva