I’ve been in a house that was on fire. I’ve had medical emergencies unfold around me. I’ve even had a man push a cocked revolver against the base of my skull and debate whether or not to pull the trigger. I’ve been blessed to survive these things and I’m here to tell you that financial collapse, zombies, and natural disasters aren’t the things you should worry about the most. We are all far more likely to face a kitchen fire, medical crisis, or robbery than a ghoul, a volcano, or monetary meltdown. Here’s how to prepare for some of the more realistic survival scenarios.


House Fires
There are many different things you can do to prevent a house fire, or at least keep one from claiming any lives. I’m can tell you from firsthand experience that smoke alarms save lives. I wouldn’t be here if not for the one that went off in the middle of the night so many years ago. Our fire started in the chimney, but cooking accidents and faulty heating systems are the common culprits of residential fires. You should keep a fire extinguisher in or near your kitchen, and it’s not a bad idea to keep one by the garage as well. Fire extinguishers have saved countless lives and properties, but they aren’t fool-proof devices. It pays to know how to properly operate a modern fire extinguisher before you need it, as well as which type you should buy based on the type of fire you are most likely to have to fight. Look on the label for these classifications:

Class A: Puts out fires involving paper, plastics, cloth, wood, and rubber.
Class B: Puts out fires involving grease, oil, gasoline, and oil-based paints.
Class C: Puts out fires involving electrical equipment.
Class K: Puts out fires involving animal or vegetable oils, or any other combustible cooking material.

Check the gauge on your extinguisher seasonally to make sure the pressure needle is in the “green,” and keep the extinguisher accessible. Finally, do some fire-escape drills with the family. Make sure everyone knows how to stop, drop, and roll and low-crawl out of the house. Be sure there is a way to escape second-floor bedrooms.


Medical emergencies

Acquiring first aid skills and keeping those skills sharp is a vital survival strategy. Carrying a good first aid kit is the second part of dealing with medical emergencies. Make sure you have items that can be used to control severe bleeding, and that you know how to use them properly. If you don’t know CPR, how to spot a heart attack, or how to stop bleeding, how do you expect to survive—or aid someone else’s survival in—such a crisis? Get some training and a med kit.


Home Defense

There are many ways for a person to defend his castle. You can take steps in “home hardening,” like installing tougher doors and locks, upgrading your windows and their locks, or even building a safe room. You could have a professional alarm system installed in your home (make sure they stick the alarm service yard cards around the front, sides, and back of the house). And if someone makes it through all of that in their criminal quest for gold and silver, I hope you have a way to deliver some lead and brass. Nothing says, “Get the hell out of my house!” like the sound of a shotgun shell being racked into the chamber—it transcends linguistic and cultural barriers. And it’s hard to beat the hallway clearing effect of a short-barreled shotgun spraying buckshot. Research your local regulations for barrel length and the number of rounds you may load. Obey your local gun laws and keep the weapon secured so that children cannot access it, but ensure that you can access it quickly in an emergency.

Are you honestly ready for these scenarios? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

(House fire photo via Wikimedia Commons)


To read more from Tim MacWelch, follow him on Twitter (@TimMacWelch) and purchase his survival manuals, including the latest: How to Survive Anything