Do Not Overlook These Four Things during a Survival Situation or Disaster
1.) Swimming Pools
The National Swimming Pool Foundation estimates there are 10 million swimming pools in the United States today. Approximately six million are in-ground pools while four million are aboveground.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are 105 million households in the United States. This means then that 1 in 10 households have a swimming pool. The average in ground pool contains 20,000 gallons of water while the average aboveground pools holds 10,000 gallons. If you do the math, you will find this equates to billions of gallons of water available during a crisis (NSPF, 2013).
Use the free version of Google Earth to find pools in your neighborhood that could be a potential source of water during a crisis. Obviously, only utilize this resource if the pool owners have abandoned their property, or otherwise would not have an issue with you using their pools as a water source. You may want to consider putting one in yourself even if it is only a 200-dollar pool from Wal-Mart that you can put up and fill over a weekend.
Set it up and fill it up, and you have a water source with a filter built in that could be utilized if you have fresh sand and other filtration mediums such as charcoal and gravel. Any pool water would need to be filtered and purified before drinking or before using for bathing or laundry.
Public pools and fountains could be a source, but if the public water source were contaminated then the fountains and pools would likely be contaminated as well.
2.) Abandoned Vehicles or Even Ones Not Abandoned
Running or not vehicles contain a treasure trove of materials that could be used during a crisis. Wiring could become cordage, seats could become beds and bedding, and the material and padding covering the seats could be used for any number of things to help you survive. However, a vehicle with all of the glass still intact can also become an ad hoc greenhouse during cold months.
Of course, use the vehicle as a shelter if you do not currently have one. You can use it as a greenhouse in colder months to start seeds or help struggling seedlings get a start before transplanting in the ground if you expect the crisis is an extended one. You would need to use all resources available regardless of the time of year to begin developing your own food source during a major catastrophe.
Leave the seats in or take them out to convert a vehicle into a greenhouse. Five-gallon buckets of water painted black, with the lids on and left inside the vehicle can help to keep the now “greenhouse vehicle” above freezing at night.
The water in the black containers will absorb radiant heat during the daylight hours, and then once the temperature drops below that of the water in the buckets at night, the water will conduct its stored heat to the cooler air, thus warming the interior.
You will have to experiment with this method of heating to ensure you do not kill any plants overnight during the winter months. Putting a tarp or some type of cover over the vehicle can help contain the heat overnight as well. Depending on how the vehicle is positioned, you may have to move your plants as the sun moves, so they receive enough direct sunlight.
You do have to ensure that children do not have access to any vehicle especially during the summer months.
3.) Harvested Corn Fields
Large farming operations typically do not take the time to recover any corncobs from their fields after harvest. Corncobs however, can be harvested by you in a survival situation. They are an excellent fuel source and can be used to start wood and even coal fires.
In years past people would soak corncobs in kerosene and use them to ignite coal or wood fires in their wood or coal burning stoves. The corncobs can be used as a standalone fuel source as well. They seem to burn hotter than wood and a few could easily cook a meal in an outdoor setting.
You can also cut the dried cobs up and use for emergency pot and pan scrubbers. You can use the dried cobs for smoking meats as well. Some people that have experimented with corncobs say that ground up cobs will attract earthworms, which are vital for any garden, and of course, they are ideal for fishing bait.
Combines used to harvest cornfields will leave a tremendous amount of husks and stalks behind that can be used for fire tinder or even wrapping foods in to cook over hot coals. Husks can be used for bedding material as well. Fill one side of a tarp with the loosened husks, lay the other half over, and then tie off. The cornfields are also feeding grounds for deer and other animals, so while hunting for corncobs make sure you are also on the lookout for fresh meat.
4.) Metal Mailboxes
During a crisis, you may find any number of things lying around because of damage caused by a catastrophe. A metal mailbox is one of those things you may find, unhitched from its post along any roadway or street.
A metal mailbox can be used as a portable heater and as a small oven as well as to cook foods over heat or flame. Punch several holes in the bottom and along the sides, for air circulation and then scoop up some hot coals from a fire and place inside. To use as an oven push the hot coals to the back and place your wrapped foods near the front and close the door.
If the mailbox is painted or has a galvanized coating make sure to burn it off in a well ventilated fire first, so you won’t contaminate any food or breathe any toxic fumes.
Once you have hot coals inside, you can feed it small bits of any combustible such as wood chips, twigs, corn stalks and even charcoal. Corncobs as fuel would be ideal for this type of stove/heater. The concept while not precisely the same is still somewhat similar to that of a rocket stove.
You can upend the box, open the door, place a pot or pan over the opening, and/or find some wire or metal to use as a cooking grate. To use as a heater for other than in confined spaces punch several holes in the box so you can make a carrying handle using some wire.
NSPF. (2013). Retrieved 2014, from http://www.nspf.org/en/home.aspx