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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Prepper: Here’s the Key to Urban Prepping That Most People Don’t Consider

Prepper: Here’s the Key to Urban Prepping That Most People Don’t Consider
The latest from the prepper/survivalist world.  Eagles must learn to adapt.
If you live in a rural or suburban area, you have a very distinct advantage over your fellow preppers who are living in densely populated cities. It’s not that you don’t have to worry about hordes of desperate, hungry violent people. It’s not that you’re more likely to live near a wilderness with fresh game, or that you have friendlier neighbors who you can rely on.

Although certainly those are all advantages, your biggest advantage is that you have more space. You have more room to grow your own food if you want. You have enough space to stock up on a wide variety of supplies. That allows you to hunker down, and wait for the chaos to pass.
That’s a bit more difficult for urban preppers. A family living in a tiny apartment can’t stock up on enough food to last for three months or more, much less any other essential supplies. Or they can, but only if they don’t mind losing their entire living room.
While it’s a good idea for every prepper to stock up on as many essential supplies as they can, that’s just not enough for most urban preppers. They require a slightly different strategy. Rather than trying to figure out how they can stock up and isolate themselves from everyone else, what will give the urban prepper the greatest chance at survival is figuring out how they can trade with everyone else.
If you stop and think about what makes cities and rural areas different, it makes sense. In rural areas, regardless of whether or not there’s a disaster at play, self-sufficiency is one of the most important virtues. In densely populated cities, cooperation is more important. That’s because your neighbors aren’t a mile down the road. They’re right up against you, all the time.
So if you’re a prepper in a city, you have to think more about what you can trade with your neighbors for. Rather than just focusing on filling your apartment with bins full of freeze-dried food, you need to also think about stocking up on stuff that you can trade away down the road when your limited supplies run out.
Preferably, these trade items should be small. And to give you the most bang for your buck, they should be items that are cheap now, but will be worth their weight in gold after a disaster. Consider the following:
  • Water filtration and disinfection supplies are usually very compact and affordable. Take for instance, the crystallized iodine that is found in Polar Pure. That tiny jar is capable of disinfecting 2000 quarts of water, and only costs $20 (but don’t stock up on it too quickly. Crystallized iodine is used to make meth so that might look suspicious). Alternatively you can stock up on pumps and especially filters. None of these items are particularly expensive now, but in a crisis, most people will give their right arm for them.
  • Reloading supplies. Specifically, you should buy up a wide variety of primers. Brass casings can be reused, lead can be scavenged, and gunpowder can be made just about anywhere. Primers are incredibly cheap and compact, but this is an item that you would be hard pressed (pun intended) to find during a prolonged collapse.
  • Over the counter drugs would also be a great idea. They’re cheap, small, and have a shelf life that’s a lot longer than what you see on the label. Same with most prescription drugs. Though you can’t stockpile them for obvious legal reasons, if you’re ever prescribed pain killers or antibiotics and have some pills left over after you recover, you should hold onto them.
  • Sewing kits are another really cheap and portable item. We live in a throwaway culture, and you’d be surprised by how many people don’t have this sort of thing lying around. But if society collapses, everyone will have to squeeze as much life out of their clothes as they possibly can.
  • And finally, consider building up a supply of supplements, especially multivitamins. There isn’t going to be as much food to go around, and the kind of food that’s available probably isn’t going to be nutritionally balanced. There will be a lot of diseases showing up in the population that are caused by poor nutrition. Unfortunately, you can’t stock up on too much of this because supplements have a limited shelf life. But boy, imagine what someone with scurvy will give you for a handful of vitamin C pills.

Beware of These Prepping Pitfalls

Beware of These Prepping PitfallsWhen it comes to preparedness, there are many pitfalls we need to be aware of, especially if we have been at this for a while. With prepping covering such a wide range of topics, it can be pretty easy to get overwhelmed and/or overspent.
spinning platesWhile there is no way to avoid every prepping pitfall, if we pay attention, and keep out head in the game, we can avoid most of these. I’ve probably said this a hundred time, but prepping isn’t brain surgery. It can however feel like spinning plates because there is just so much to do to become better prepared.

SPP196 Beware of These Prepping Pitfalls

This week in the Survivalist Prepper podcast Lisa and I talked about some of the areas of preparedness we need to pay more attention to, and some things to avoid.
Prepping can be hard enough without adding unnecessary headaches to the process.

Getting Too Wound Up

With all the cable news networks and thousands of websites, it can be hard to decipher between fact, fiction and opinion. It can be easier said than done sometimes, but we need to understand that there is only so much we can do. Yes, we do need to pay attention to all these disaster scenarios, but we can’t afford to let them paralyze us.

Fake News & Fear

With all these news channels and websites it can be hard to get the real story, and when you add in fear based marketing, it can seem impossible. Sometimes the truth is secondary to clicks and ratings. In this Prepper Website Podcast Todd talked about how this affects prepping websites also.

Gimmicks and Scams

I recently did a video about some of the gimmicks and scams we need to avoid. In that video I mentioned that some of these gimmicks can be interesting and useful (credit card knife), and some are just worthless (Everstrike match). We also need to be aware of outright scams. Like the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true…it probably is.

Going Into Debt

You might think that going out and buying all the preparedness supplies you need at once is a good idea…but it’s not. Maxing out your credit card(s) could lead to big problems down the line and leave you less prepared. If you create a prepping budget, and work within your means, you will find that in no time at all you will be more prepared than you thought possible.

Unbalanced Prepping

As we are building up our preparedness supplies we need to think about it as a time frame, not a list of supplies. Preparing for a week, then a month, then a year is better than getting food, then water, then bug out bags. If we have a years worth of food, but no water, we are not prepared at all.


If we go out and spend money on supplies that have a shelf life, we want to make sure it is still good when we need to use it. Doing inventory at least a couple times a year, and storing food we actually eat will help reduce the spoilage factor.

Taking Bad Advice

Regardless what we are doing we should never take one persons advice on something. Just because something works for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you. We all know that person that has the answer for everything right? The “know it all”. No one is more invested in your future than you. Make sure you are making decisions that you are comfortable with.


We hear about operational security all the time. If you are on the internet, there is very little you can do to hide from the alphabet agencies, but we can control what we share with others. This also includes people we talk to in person. Make sure you trust the person you are talking to, and even then stay cautious.

Supplies & No Knowledge

There are literally hundreds of “gotta have it” prepping supplies out there, but if we don’t know how to use them they are pointless. If you own a ferro rod, make sure you know how to use it. If you want to build a solar generator, make sure you know how it works before you buy the parts.

DIY Project Fails

DIY prepping projects are a great way to learn, and might even save you money, but this is not always the case. Take the Sun Oven for example. There are many DIY versions of this, but none will work as well as the actual Sun Oven. The positive side of these DIY projects is they will teach you about alternatives if you find yourself with nothing.

Back to the Basics

We need to make sure that before we move on the the “bigger and better” aspects of preparedness that we have a good foundation to build on. Last week we talked about how if we aren’t prepared for the smaller scale disaster scenarios we aren’t prepared at all. This also hold true for basic supplies like manual can openers, batteries, crank radios etc.

Second Guessing Yourself

To a lot of people prepping is seen as “extreme” or “unnecessary” which can cause us to second guess ourselves. On the same lines of not listening to the “know it all’s” we need to trust our gut on this. As I said earlier, no one have a bigger interest in your future than you do, so do what you feel is right.

Tin Foil Hat Time

This week in the show we talked about how fragile our power grid is. Even though our government and public service companies know it, they refuse to do anything about it. This PDF from CenterForSecurity goes through what the affects of an EMP or CME would be.

10 Steps To Be Ready For A Flood

PeteLinforth / Pixabay
Are there ways to stop your home from getting carried away from a flood, or to protect you and your loved ones? Yes, there are. Preparing for a natural flood is something every household needs to consider, especially in this era of weird weather. Here are ten things you’ll need to do.
Get flood insurance
Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding. You need separate flood insurance for that. Yes, it will cost extra money, but might be the only thing that can keep you afloat after a major flood. Disaster relief funds from the federal government are actually a loan you have to pay back, so don’t rely on those.
Build a flood kit
Any standard bug-out bag will work for a flood, but you should make sure you have two extra things. First, you need enough water for everyone in your family for at least three days. Second, a hand-crank radio will help you know where to go. Floods are unpredictable and you won’t know which roads will be out. Consider a paper map as well. Expect to be out of your home for 3-7 days. Floods longer than that are rare.
Know where your shelters are
If you know where the shelters are, you can head there immediately if you have to abandon your home. Talk with your local disaster planning officials to know where to go. By knowing in advance you can practice going there before the flood comes.
Store valuable or important items high
If you have a second floor, keep your important papers and precious items up there. They will have the greatest chance of surviving if you keep them above the flood waters. You should also have copies in your bug-out bag. You don’t want to be caught without identification and insurance paperwork.
Know the weather warnings
Floods use the same warnings as other weather patterns. A watch means you should be ready to flee if necessary. A warning means there is a flood and it’s time to either leave or shelter in place depending on your local situation. However, if there is a flash flood warning and you believe you are in the way, you must flee. Flash floods are the most deadly kind of flooding and can wash a house away in an instant.
Learn how to sandbag
If you’re going to use sandbags, here’s what you need to do. Fill them only two-thirds full of sand, fold the end over then place it with the open end down on the ground. Stack them like bricks. Place them in front of doors, foundation entrances, and garages. For one door, arrange the bags in a ring so you can open the door after the flood. Sandbags swell and get very heavy when wet. The time to put them out is when there is a flood watch.
Check your sump pump
If you have a basement, you need a sump pump. Check it monthly to make sure it works by pouring water down into the sump hole. Also, make sure it works on battery power.
Install a backflow preventer
Depending on the size of the flood and your town’s sewer system, water may try to back up through your pipes. By installing backflow preventers on your drain lines, you can stop this from happening. Consult with a plumber for proper installation.
Avoid touching flood water
You should do your best to avoid wading in flood water or driving through it. Your car is no protection when driving through flood water. In fact, many deaths from flooding happen because people try driving through it. Flood water also carries unknown contaminants as it flows. Avoid touching it as much as you can.
Know what to do after
Keep the number of a plumber, your gas company, and a water damage repair company in your area with your bugout bag in case you need them. Also, keep a camera so you can photograph any flood damage for your insurance company. Call them first after the flood for instructions.

35 Basic Ingredients You Need For Cooking From Scratch

One thing anyone can do to start homesteading no matter where they live is cooking from scratch. It can help you eat healthier, save money, and reduce your dependence on the grocery store. However, it can be hard to make homemade meals all the time, especially if you don’t know what to keep on hand.
If you keep these simple ingredients stocked in your pantry, you’ll be much better prepared to cook all kinds of wholesome, simple meals with ease. Note: I included links to some brands I’ve tried myself, but for most of these, there are plenty of other great options.

Main Dish Basics

1. Brown Rice – It’s a healthy, hearty, and a quick cooking base for so many meals.
2. Pearled Barley – Barley is often overlooked but it’s a tasty filling grain when you’re in the mood for something a little different.
3. Whole Wheat Pasta – Unless you make all your own pasta, it’s handy to have a few boxes around especially for busy evenings. Just add a jar of homemade tomato sauce and you have a delicious homemade meal!
4. Potatoes – Potatoes pair well with so many recipes and store well as long as they’re kept in a cool, dry, and dark place.
5. Onions – A diced, fried onion is a great way to start almost any meal plus they’re cheap and store well.
6. Garlic – Like onions, fresh garlic is a good way to add tons of flavor without a lot of money or effort.
7. Dry Beans – Black beans, pinto beans, great northern beans are all tasty, protein-filled options to stretch your grocery budget. Plus they keep in the pantry almost indefinitely.
8. Chickpeas – Like beans, they last nearly forever and are a great, cheap way to add protein. Make hummus or throw them in soup or curry dishes.

Baking Essentials

9. Whole Wheat Flour – An essential in any kitchen, whole wheat flour is so much more filling and nutritious than white. If you want the freshest, tastiest flour purchase a flour mill and wheat berries to grind your own on demand.
10. White Flour – While not as healthy as whole wheat white flour is still important for thickening things like gravy and for those good-for-the-soul type recipes like chocolate chip cookies.
11. Cornmeal – Often overlooked in northern kitchens, cornmeal can be used for more than just corn bread. It’s excellent for coating pans to keep things like pizza dough or rolls from getting soggy on the bottom.
12. White Sugar – It’s hard to forget sugar as it’s used constantly for baked goods and in tea and coffee, but it’s also an important ingredient in preserving foods like jam and bread and butter pickles.
13. Brown Sugar – Brown sugar is indispensable in many dessert recipes. It can also be made at home by combining white sugar and molasses.
14. Rolled Oats – Oats are used in many desserts and can be added to bread for a more textured, hearty product. They’re also perfect when a complicated, from-scratch breakfast is out of the picture.
15. Baking Soda – This is a leavening agent (it makes things rise) and is important to many baked goods.
16. Baking Powder – This is also a leavening agent. As with baking soda, quite a few baked goods can’t be made without it.
17. Yeast – If you want to cook from-scratch bread, bagels, or pizza dough, you’ll need to purchase yeast. It can be stored for quite awhile in the refrigerator.
18. Cocoa Powder – It’s important to have around when skipping the store-bought cake mixes and can be also used for homemade hot cocoa/chocolate milk mix.
19. Flaxseeds Meal – Flaxseeds are full of healthy fats and omega-3s and are great additions to baked goods like crackers and bread.
20. Applesauce – It’s so much more than just a snack. It can replace eggs in many baked goods when the hens refuse to lay or your have vegan company.
21. Vanilla Extract – It’s a little pricey but worth it for the best flavored pancakes and desserts. You can also make your own by soaking vanilla beans in vodka for several months.
22. Chocolate Chips – These cannot be forgotten, especially if you have kids.

Oils, Vinegars, & Seasonings

23. Olive Oil (or another vegetable oil) – Olive oil is perfect for sautéing veggies and making homemade dressings and sauces.
24. Coconut Oil (or other fat that’s solid at room temperature) – It has a long shelf life and is perfect for making pie crusts, granola bars, and seasoning cast iron pans.
25. Soy Sauce – Soy sauce adds a warm, savory flavor to more than just asian cuisine.
26. Salt & Pepper – Salt and pepper are key to making sure from scratch dishes aren’t too bland.
27. Kosher Salt – Kosher or pickling salt is essential to home-canning vegetables.

Commonly used spices

Whatever you love and use the most keep on hand. Some ideas include basil, oregano, dill, chili powder, curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
28. Boullion or Broth – A quick and cheap way to add tons of flavor.
29. White Vinegar – White vinegar is a basic ingredient in many pickle and dressing recipes. It also doubles as a natural cleaning product for kitchen surfaces.
30. Apple Cider Vinegar – Just like white vinegar, apple cider vinegar is used for pickles and dressing. It’s also good for boosting the immune system and is used in many herbal remedies.
31. Tahini – Tahini can be purchased or made at home using sesame seeds and olive oil. It doesn’t take much but it makes a huge difference in homemade hummus and stir fry.


32. Bread Crumbs – They’re excellent for thickening savory dishes and of course coating things to be fried or baked.
33. Nuts – Perfect for keeping hunger at bay while you’re busy in the kitchen or adding to baked goods for a more filling product. They’re also very good for your health.
34. Honey / Maple Syrup / Molasses – No matter which is your favorite a natural sweetener is a pantry essential, bringing more nutrients and minerals to the table than white sugar.
35. PB & Jam – Thrown together with some homemade bread it’s the ultimate from-scratch fast food and can help you stay on track when you feel like there just isn’t enough time.
All of these ingredients are easy to find, easy to store at home, and affordable even on a tight budget. If you keep your pantry stocked, cooking from scratch is doable for any family and is absolutely worth it.

My Family Preparedness Plan- Part 1, by R.S.

We live in an uncertain world. Riots have popped up in cities across the United States under the guise of righteous protests of elections or officer-involved shootings. Terrorists have taken to the streets in attacks both large and small. Hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes have wiped out entire cities. Our economy is under siege from within and without. Ebola, Zika, West Nile, and H1N1 have dominated headlines, though admittedly done little damage. The ability and precedent for grid failure are ever present. And finally, and maybe most nefariously, our very own government waits in the wings for any one of these events to transpire with devious plans already devised for containment of the populace through martial law.
Each of these scenarios presents unique challenges. While much is made of what to do in advance of any of these events (and rightly so), ultimate survival could depend on what you do in the minutes, hours, and days immediately following an event.
I originally wrote this guide for my family and close personal friends. Many of them have little understanding of the scenarios discussed. My hope was to bring some awareness to the issues in hope that, should an event transpire, they would have taken the necessary steps and know what to expect and what to do.
If anyone else can benefit from what is, admittedly, a beginner’s introduction to preparedness, so much the better!
  • EMP
  • Grid down
  • Natural disaster (flood, snow/ice storm, tornado)
  • Economic collapse
  • Terrorist attack
  • Martial Law
  • Pandemic
  • EMP


This is probably the worst-case scenario, so I’ll start here. An EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) can occur in two ways: a coronal mass ejection or nuclear blast.
First, EMPs can occur naturally when a coronal mass ejection (CME) erupts on the sun. These CMEs occur quite regularly; however, the intensity and direction vary. Some of them fire off away from earth. The vast majority are of a low enough intensity that we never notice them.
Significant CMEs do occur and can cause massive damage. In 1859, a CME hit Earth’s magnetosphere and induced one of the largest geomagnetic storms on record. Observed by astronomer Richard Carrington, this is known as the Carrington Event.
The auroras were so bright that it awoke gold miners in California who thought the sun was rising. The EMP was so powerful that it melted telegraph lines in places, while other telegraph operators were still able to send and receive messages, despite their power supplies being disconnected.
Less severe storms have occurred in 1921 and 1960 when widespread radio disruption was reported. The March 1989 geomagnetic storm knocked out power across large sections of Quebec. On July 23, 2012, a “Carrington-class” Solar Superstorm (solar flare, coronal mass ejection, solar EMP) was observed; its trajectory missed Earth in orbit. (Source: Wikipedia)
While previous incidents have caused little damage and appear as a footnote in history. A “Carrington-class” event in the present day would be catastrophic. Unlike life in 1859, nearly every aspect of modern society is reliant upon technology. EMPs, while not directly dangerous to humans, are specifically destructive to small-circuit technology. This is why only telegraphs were affected in the Carrington event.
An EMP can also be generated artificially by detonating a nuclear warhead in the atmosphere above Earth. This matter was the subject of a congressional inquiry a few years ago. Some well-respected members of the military and intelligence communities consider this one of the most likely types of major threat we face.
The height of the blast impacts the diameter of the blast zone and thus the area of impact. In this scenario, the farther from the epicenter the lesser the impact of the EMP. Depending on the placement and power of the device, vast swaths of the United States would be affected. Because the device is detonated in the atmosphere, there would be no radioactive fallout. But, as we have discussed, the long-term effects would be catastrophic. The congressional study concluded that a major EMP attack on the U.S. would result in 90% loss of life within one year of the event.
Tactically speaking, this is a better option for an attack that a traditional nuclear strike. First, it would kill more people over time. Second, without communication networks and basic infrastructure, it would be nearly impossible to determine the origin of the device and thus even know who attacked us.
Imagine a scenario where all communications and grid power simultaneously becomes unavailable. Most cars manufactured after 1980 would likely stop functioning. By extension, deliveries of all kinds would cease. Specifically, that includes fuel and food. Grocery stores stock a three-day supply of food. Even in a mild panic, stores would empty in a matter of hours. ATMs would cease to function, and banks would be closed. Cash would essentially cease to exist. Credit cards would not be able to be processed. You would be left with the physical cash in your possession.
All systems requiring electricity would be offline indefinitely as electric substations would have experienced massive hardware and software failures. The providers of the major parts for electric sub-stations are all overseas and take months to replace in the best of conditions.
Running water would stop running. Furnaces would stop working. Essentially, every minute of every day of life as you know it would be catastrophically affected. As I said, this really is the worst case scenario.
So, what do we do?
As with each of these scenarios, we need to break our preparation up into two categories: pre-event and post-event.
I’m going to focus on post-event for the purpose of this document, as it is designed to be an action plan and not a shopping list. It’s safe to say, the pre-event plan would be reasonably similar for each event. That would cover stocking food, water, self-defense items (guns and ammo), communications equipment, clothing, and other assorted gear.
Without a post-event plan, however, even the most well-stocked bunker could be of little significance if you can’t get to it!
While I don’t want to dwell on pre-event preps, there are a couple things that I want to call out specific to an EMP event: cash, coins, and cages.
Cash. If the power goes out, conventional wisdom suggests that while credit card payments won’t be accepted, many merchants would accept cash for a short time. The closer to the event, the more reasonable the prices. As people become more aware of what’s happening, prices will inflate as resources become scarce. Eventually, people will realize that cash has no value and will look for alternative methods of payment, like…
Coins. Many believe that trade will (d)evolve into precious metals as currency and barter. Obviously, by the time of an event, it will be too late to acquire gold and silver. While gold will hold its value, it will be difficult to segment out for smaller transactions. Having a stash of silver will be the most beneficial, in my opinion.
Cages. It is possible to make a Faraday cage. This is essentially a container that protects against the effects of an EMP. It is somewhat impractical to build a large cage and, realistically, only helpful for a few things. For example, putting a cell phone in there won’t do you much good as the cell networks would be down, but putting Ham radio equipment in would be helpful if others in your network did as well.
Now that you have a few things in order pre-event, here’s what I would suggest once the lights go out.

What to do:

  1. Get home. Your first priority should be getting home and making sure your family is home. You should always have a plan to get home. This should be fairly easy to plan from your normal places of visitation. You should think through how you’d get home on foot from work, church, et cetera. You should also have supplies in your car at all times that you’d need along the way. (For example, keep a pair of sturdy shoes or boots in your car, should you need to get home in the winter.)
  2. Get supplies. Using the cash you’ve stocked away, get to the closest stores and buy everything you can using the money you have. As discussed, prices will likely inflate quickly, and at this point you have to assume that resources are now finite. You’re looking for food that keeps, possibly water, depending on what you can transport. It would be best to develop a list so you don’t have to think about it at the time.
  3. Stay vigilant. Things will get bad. The good news is that if you’re paying attention, then you’re more prepared than 95% of the population to deal with the situation. Security will be increasingly important, so develop a plan that works for your location and given your resources.

Grid Down

This scenario is a slight twist on an EMP scenario. Many elements hold true; others do not.
A grid down scenario could come about in a couple of ways. The first and most likely is a cyber-attack. This has already happened in a number of places around the world in varying scale. Maybe the most notable was in Ukraine, where large areas of the country were affected. Malware has already been detected in a variety of grid systems across the U.S. and Canada. The nature of our aging infrastructure is such that a major attack would likely cause a cascading outage. As one system goes down and others try to help with the load, more systems would become overwhelmed and then go down.
The second scenario entails a physical attack on the grid in key locations. Targeting the actual infrastructure would have a similar crippling effect. It would take multiple coordinated attacks to cause widespread outages, but as we saw on 9/11, large scale attacks must be considered viable.
The possibility exists that a large scale attack could entail both cyber and physical attacks.
If we assume a successful attack, then we must consider partial to total grid failure. In this case, many of the failures from an EMP would still be present. Communication networks would fail, credit cards won’t work, ATMs won’t function, and banks won’t be open.
Some things will be notably different, however. Cars will continue to operate. Electronic devices will continue to work as long as they are charged. Generators would operate as long as they are fueled. As long as it is powered, any microprocessor will continue to function, which lends credence to having a backup power source, like solar.

20 Strategies and Tips for Creating a Rainwater Catchment System

Living in the desert has taught me not to take water for granted.  Unlike the Pacific Northwest, I am not footsteps away from streams, ponds, or a vast sea just waiting for me to collect and purify for personal use.
In a continuing effort to educate our readers on the finer aspects of self-sufficiency, I have invited Dan Chiras to share his best strategies and tips for creating a rain catchment system that works.

If Dan’s name sounds familiar, it is because he is the author of two Prepper Book Festival titles, Survive in Style: The Prepper’s Guide to Living Comfortably through Disasters and Power From the Sun: A Practical Guide to Solar Electricity.  Today he is here with specifics on collecting rainwater, regardless of where you live.

Let it Rain: Collecting Rainwater from Your Roof to Survive in Style

In a crisis, rainwater can become one of a prepper’s greatest allies. If you live in an area with as few as 30 inches (12 cm) of precipitation a year, you may be able to live entirely off water falling on the roof of your home. That is, you could collect enough water from precipitation to meet all of your needs for cooking, cleaning, bathing, flushing toilets, watering gardens, and supplying a few chickens and a goat or cow – if you use water efficiently. I’ve done it for many years.
In drier climates, you may not be able to live off rainwater, but you could capture enough water to irrigate a vegetable garden and fruit trees and perhaps supply a few animals that provide the food you’ll need to survive in style.
Rainwater catchment systems are about as simple as they come. All you’ll need is a roof, gutters and downspouts, several rain barrels or a large tank (cistern), and water filters and purifiers. Chances are you are already well on their way to having a successful rainwater catchment system.
If your house is equipped with gutters and downspouts and you’ve got a water filter like an MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter and water purification device like a SteriPen, all you’ll need to do is to add a few rain barrels or a cistern connected to several downspouts to start collecting rain water right now.
I lived off-grid for 14 years in Colorado in the Foothills of the Rockies and supplied all of my family’s water with a rainwater catchment system during that time, although we used water very efficiently. I was constantly amazed by the amount of water we were able to collect off our roof. You will, too.
This 2500 gallon plastic tank was installed to catch rainwater off our roof.

How Much Rainwater Can I Collect?

To estimate the amount of rainwater you can capture from a rooftop, simply multiply the square footage of your home by the amount of precipitation in inches by 0.55. (IF your home is two stories, divide the total square footage by the number of stories.)
A 2,000 square foot (190 square meter) home in the Midwest in an area that experiences 30 inches of annual precipitation could capture 33,000 gallons (125,000 liters) of water per year. That’s about 90 gallons (230 liters) of water per day.
In most conventional homes, that’s only enough water for one person. If used judiciously, however, that 90 gallons (230 liters) per day could meet all of your and your family’s needs. (Judiciously is another way of saying you will need to use water very efficiently.)

How to Create a Water Catchment System from Rainwater

Here are some tips to create a successful rainwater catchment system.
1.  Check with local authorities to be sure that rainwater catchment systems are legal in your state.
Some western states like Colorado prohibit rainwater collection, although I’ve known a few rebellious individuals who have installed them anyway, flying successfully under the radar. I can’t recommend that strategy, for legal reasons, but doubt anyone’s going to care if they’re capturing rainwater to survive. Even in “normal” times, illegal rainwater catchment is not a high-priority crime.
2.  Remember, you can collect rainwater off your home, but also off roofs of other buildings such as garages, carports, sheds, and chicken coops.
Doing so will greatly increase your supply of water.
3.  The cleaner the roof the better. Metal and tile roofs produce cleaner water than asphalt shingle roofs.
The cleaner the water, the less filtering and purification you’ll need to render the water drinkable. Bear in mind, however, if you’re going to simply use rainwater to irrigate gardens, fruit trees, and berry patches or supply a few chickens and a cow or goat, the water won’t need to be as clean up front.
4.   If your home is surrounded by deciduous trees, install leaf guards on your gutters.
At the very least, install a leaf screen on your downspout. Leaves clog up gutters, but more important, decaying leaves in gutters produce organic compounds that contaminate water supplies. They probably won’t kill you, but they may turn the water brown.
5.  For best results, install a roof washer.
This is a rather simple device that diverts a small amount of water initially flowing off a roof during a rainstorm away from your cistern or rain barrel. This, in turn, prevents dirt and bird droppings, if any, from contaminating your drinking water supply. (See the website I cited below to learn more about roof washers.)
6.  If you live in a warm climate, rain barrels and cisterns can be installed above ground.
Be sure to install tanks with opaque walls (not clear or translucent). If possible, install them in shady locations to keep the water cooler and protect the tank from UV radiation. Tanks with transparent or translucent walls allow sunlight to penetrate. Sunlight, in turn, supports algae that will contaminate your water.
7.  If you live in a colder climate and want to collect water from snow melting off your roof, be sure to bury your cistern below the frost line or place it indoors – for example, in a basement.
Only bury water tanks rated for underground burial.
8.  If you are planning on drinking water from your system, it’s a good idea to install a tank rated for potable water, although a high-quality filter that removes organic chemicals may be all you need.
If you are going to be using the water for cleaning, watering plants, and supplying animals, a clean plastic tank will generally suffice.
9. If you purchase used tanks, be sure they have never been used to store toxic chemicals such as herbicides or insecticides or natural oils like Vitamin E.
The latter are very difficult to clean initially.
10.  Rainwater can be emptied directly into open barrels from gutters cut off just above the rain barrel or can be filled by rainwater diverters that are installed in gutters.
It ain’t pretty but this simple two-tub system collects rainwater off one of our outbuildings to help water our cattle.
11.  Be sure to place a fine-mesh screen over open rain barrels to keep mosquitos and other critters out.
They’ll lay eggs in standing water. Mosquitos are also potential carriers of some microorganisms that result in fatal diseases such as malaria, in tropical and semitropical climates. They’re also known to spread the West Nile virus in temperate climates. Lest we forget, they’re also a nuisance for those who like to sit outdoors at night. A screened top will also prevent birds and mice from gaining access and drowning, then rotting, in your water supply.
12. Place rain barrels on cement blocks and install a spigot so you can easily remove water from the tank with a garden hose or bucket.
You definitely will want to install a spigot on your rain barrel.
13.  Remember, two or more rain barrels can be daisy chained (plumbed) together to increase the amount of water you collect.
14.  If you install an underground cistern or an aboveground barrel or tank, be sure to equip it with an overflow – a safe outlet that will carry excess water away from the tank should it top off in a rainstorm.
Be sure the drains at least six to 10 feet away from your foundation.
15.  If you draw water out of a cistern with an electric pump, be sure the inlet to the pump is six inches or so off the bottom of the tank so it won’t suck up any sediment.
16.  Drain rain barrels and cisterns every year or two and clean them to remove sediment or organic residues that may have collected on the bottom of the tank or organic matter such as algae attached to the walls.
17.  Purify water intended for human consumption – for example, water in which you cook food or water you drink.
Because rainwater collected off most roofs tends to be pretty clear (free of sediment or suspended solids), you may not need to filter it or it’ll require very little filtering. Do purify all potable water to eliminate potential parasites and microbes.
Additional Reading:  Survival Basics: Water and Water Storage
18. After you have set up your rainwater catchment system, have the water tested for a wide range of contaminants, especially if you live in or near a polluted city.
19.  Purchase filters and purifiers, then try them out.
Have the water tested again to determine how clean the water is.
20.  Start learning many ways to use water more efficiently.

Mykel Hawke "Preparedness: #1 Ranked Survivalist Speaks"