Family Survival Tips and Tricks

This guest post was written by Dan Chabert, a writer, traveler, and ultramarathon distance runner.

In the face of an emergency such as a natural disaster, rioting, or any other crisis situation, it is always essential that families make plans and preparations for such periods. The first thing you think about in emergency situation will be the safety of your family. This is why it is advisable to make prior arrangements in case of unforeseen circumstances.

In preparing for such situations, it is equally important for the planner to know the right survival supplies to get and to have the necessary survival skills – such as hunting – to be equipped with in order to outlive such periods. It is as a result of this that I’ve decided to come up with this article/guide to show you some survival tips and tricks that should come in handy during such times of crisis.

All members of the family need to be involved in the planning process so that everyone – not including babies anyway – should know what exactly that they are supposed to do in such cases. Many considerations should be taken into account while making such plans. The following should be done in preparation for, and potentially during such emergency situations:

  • Always include every family member in the planning process and ensure to explain everything to everyone as often as possible. You can teach young children things like memorizing their address, their full names, and their parents’ or guardians’ names etc; as this can be very useful in cases when they are separated from you.

  • Plan for one or more family meeting sites and ensure that every member of the family knows the place. This is done in case you cannot return to your home in the event of a crisis or disaster.
  • Teach your kids how to use emergency numbers like 911, and what they should say to the dispatcher in such cases.
  • Ensure you have an out-of-state contact person to call in case of an emergency, and make sure that your children know how to reach them.
  • If you are staying in your home in such emergency situations, you should turn off your utilities to prevent your home to prevent further damages especially when such services are restored. For instance, when electricity is restored in a flooded area, it creates the risk of an electric shock or possibly electrocution. Also make sure to specify a room in your home to be used in times of crisis/disaster. This room should serve as an emergency fort in such situations.
  • Ensure that every member of the family has proper identification. You can do this by gathering before such times, personal items such as their birth certificates, medical cards, etc. and putting them into a durable bag or container (to protect the items during such periods).
  • You should make plans for basic survival supplies such as food, clothing, water, and portable cooking gear and so on. You should plan for 3 days worth of food and water for each member of the family.
  • When selecting foods, choose those that are non-perishable and don’t need refrigeration. Choose foods that require little or no cooking and need little or no water for processing them.
  • Do not eat hot or salty foods in hot weather as they require you to drink extra water. You should eat warm foods in cold weather to help keep the body warm.
  • Ensure that you do not save small portions of food as they can attract animals and can spoil. You should buy portable cooking equipment such as light gas stoves that are not heavy to carry and can efficiently use propane gas.
  • For clothing, you should plan for cold weather by taking extra clothing to preserve heat.
  • When purchasing tents, you should go for mountaineering tents as they are the best because of their durability and ruggedness against the elements. You should consider the size of your family while purchasing the tent(s) so as to provide sufficient space for everyone.
  • When purchasing your survival equipment, you should buy items that are waterproof.
  • Try as much as possible to discuss who will be getting what. It is advisable to have a clear plan of what will be picked up, and who is responsible for picking it up. Who will get the baby? Who will purchase food supplies? Who will pick the kids up from school or the baby sitter? What are the order of doing things? Try as much as possible to sort things like this out early enough. When an emergency situation arises, rather than panicking, you already have a proposed plan to follow.
  • Plan where to meet – it is advisable to agree on a meeting point where everyone can converge. This can be simply meeting at a nearby lawn close to your home in case of fire disaster or meeting at the house of a relative miles away if you get separated. If your kids are at school, plan a place to pick them up. Think of all possible circumstances, make sure everyone understands the plan.

The following tips and tricks are also useful when your family is caught in the wild.

  • To stay cool in desert areas, you can take a piece of cloth and soak it in liquid; then tie the cloth around your head to reduce heat stroke.
  • You can keep yourself warm by using dry leaves, dry grass and newspapers (if available) under your clothes.
  • You can also get water from trees by doing this: wrap a plastic bag around leaves that are directly exposed to sunlight. When the sun heats the leaves in the bag, they evaporate water that is then trapped in the bag. Although this water might not be pure, it’s usually better than nothing.
  • You can also relieve bug bites by rubbing toothpaste on the bitten area.
  • Hand sanitizers can be used to strengthen fires as they are known to contain alcohol – which is flammable.
  • Through a combination of fresh pines and spruce, you can create thick signal fires. When creating these fires, it is advisable to start on elevated surfaces such as on hill tops, and ideally clearings, in order to prevent the fire from spreading and turning into a forest fire.
  • When you finish using foods that come with aluminum foil, make sure to keep the foil as it can  be very useful. You can use the bits to create makeshift container to hold food or water. They can also be used as a base for starting fires when the ground is damp or after a rainfall. See more food-related gear here.
  • While camping, it is advisable to blend your gear with the surrounding environment by using camouflage. This is done to reduce attention so as to prevent theft after a crisis/disaster period in case you have money or other valuables. You can blend your gear by covering your tent with an old, worn tarpaulin; also you shouldn’t select gear with conspicuous bright colors but instead those that blend with nature.
  • Another useful tip involves memorizing the map of your surrounding or having a map of your area at all times. You should also try to know the landmarks in your area as this can be a useful tool when you get lost.
  • To make a makeshift grill in an emergency situation, you can use metal rods or extra tent picks by laying them across two logs of wood over a fire.
  • Try not to use unclean water from a stream to wash cuts or wounds. This is because as clean as such water appears to be, it actually contains a lot of micro-organisms like bacteria; thus, making it unsafe for treating injuries.
  • Always carry a first aid kit. It should contain at least most of the following items: sterile dressings, sterile gloves, cleansing agent, antibiotic ointment, burn ointment, a thermometer, prescription and non-prescription medication such as aspirin and so on.
  • Additional items to take along include a small ax, dust masks, flashlight or lanterns – preferably solar powered ones, walkie-talkies for communication, etc.
  • Process your food away from your campsite so as not to attract animals to the camp.
  • You should always sleep on elevated grounds to reduce heat loss. You can stack up leaves or logs of wood to make a sort of padded bed.
  • Carry along with you water-purifying tablets as an alternative to boiling water.
  • You should have at the least 2 signal mirrors with you. One is used to reflect some of the incident sunlight onto the sky to catch the attention of rescuers (maybe rescue helicopter or airplane) on one side, while also reflecting sunlight onto the second mirror on the other side to signal probable rescuers on the opposite side.


Having at least some of these tips and tricks above at hand could be really invaluable to every family, especially in emergency situations as have been already mentioned. Although they are useful, the survival of a family during crisis or disaster periods does not solely depend upon them; the survival skills and even common sense are still essential if any family plans on outliving such periods.






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