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A Maslow-Like Hierarchy of Survival, by I. M. Learning

Maslow’s Hierarchy details the steps a person needs to achieve to be able to function at a level of success.

Food and Water

The first step is ensuring a supply of food and water. Any newbie to prepping is at least aware of this in the basic sense. But how much food and how much water is necessary? Where do you put it? How do you keep the food usable and the water available and potable?

Twenty-Five Year Food Buckets

I started out, as I’m sure many new to prepping do, buying 25-year food buckets. I’m not saying that isn’t a good idea, but I began scrutinizing what was actually in those buckets. Not only does everything require some amount of water, but a lot of those buckets are full of powder to make drinks. So, I changed tactics and began just ordering the meat buckets. Unfortunately, I bought buckets that had two to three times as much rice as there was meat. Again, I began doing some research on canned foods and was surprised how many cans of meat and bags of rice I could buy for a fraction of the cost of one 25-year bucket.

Bagged Rice, Canned Meat and More for Fraction of Price of Survival Food Bucket

Instead, I bought bagged rice. Then, I placed each one in a thick vacuum bag and sealed them with my vacuum sealer. I did the same for bags of beans, cereal (which can be eaten without milk), and other dried goods. Canned meats with a minimum two-year expiration date were purchased. I can rotate those out and replace them up to the time buying food is no longer an option. The same principle was applied to canned fruit and vegetables. I acquired all of this for a fraction of the price of a survival food bucket. An added bonus is that canned foods do not require water for cooking. In fact, all canned fruit, vegetables, stews, et cetera can be eaten straight from the can, if necessary.

Vacuum-Sealed Packages of Heirloom Seeds

I also bought vacuum-sealed packages of heirloom seeds to keep a garden going. Not knowing if our dirt would be usable, due to possible radiation exposure, I have stockpiled several bags of potting soil. My current garden is set up in an enclosure that can be quickly transformed into a hot-house for winter growing.


For water, I trolled every prepping website I could find. Then, I put all their information to work for me.

Phase 1

Phase 1 involved me buying 33-gallon plastic garbage cans. I cleaned each one with Clorox, inside and out, and filled them from my water hose. Some have been secured inside a closed room, and some are staggered around the property and camouflaged.

Phase 2

Phase 2 took about six months to complete. During this time, I began buying cases of water and storing them throughout my house.

Phase 3

Phase 3 is ongoing, as every time I empty any plastic container, I clean it out and fill it with water. This includes milk containers, soda bottles, and any container that has a lid I can secure tightly. I have treated all but the purchased cases of water with bleach, as I found measurements for on the FDA website.

Phase 4

Phase 4 will be completed as needed and involves water collection. For water collection, I purchased two of those garden wagons. (They are those that some people load with fishing gear and take to the pier– the wagons with the big wheels.) Two of those 33-gallon plastic garbage cans can fit on each wagon. I can roll out wagon one and place it under a rain-spout location. There is a hole in the can that will be directly under the spout, about two inches from the top. I placed aquarium tubing in the hole and sealed it on both sides.

This tube then goes into a hole in the second can, about 2 inches from the bottom, also sealed on both sides. When the first can fills up, it will then begin filling the second can. That’s 66 gallons of water I can filter for drinking or cooking, use for the garden, use to wash clothes, or use to bathe in.

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The wagon is crucial as I discovered that I couldn’t budge a filled 33 gallon can. Once the cans are filled, I can simply pull the wagon into a secure area and have wagon number 2, with its two tube-connected 33-gallon cans ready to put into place during the next rain.

Shelter, Safety

The second rung of the Hierarchy is shelter. Most preppers already have a shelter or bug out plan. This second rung plays hand-in-hand with rung number 3– safety.

Solar Lights

Because I have a variety of solar lights, I have created black-out covers for all my windows. There is no need for anyone to know I have lights, if they don’t. I have also stock-piled a good reserve of the batteries my solar lights use, as those batteries don’t last forever. I have tested solar lights in the house and discovered they last between five and six hours. And, they can be placed in flower vases around a room to provide a good bit of light.

Weapons and Knowledge About What Works in Your Area

I won’t go into guns, knives, swords, et cetera, as there are a myriad number of prepper sites that already cover that information on weapons. Sometimes, safety is having knowledge about what works in your area, who your neighbors are, and how well prepared you are.

Medical Closet

So, in addition to food and water, I have slowly accumulated a well-stocked medical closet. My research clued me into fish antibiotics that are actually real amoxicillin and other real medicines. I took the amoxicillin when I had an infection, following the normal 10-day dosage. (I am not allergic to penicillin.) There were no side effects, and my infection cleared up.

I have also stocked the medical closet with a wide variety of vitamin supplements, nasal medications, medicinal teas, homeopathic herbs and oils, cough medicines, bandages of all types and sizes, suture kits, alcohol, gallons of hand sanitizer, hydrogen peroxide, cough drops, and a variety of things to treat the wide variety of ailments and injuries that could occur. I have also gathered up books on EMS training and military medical training. Read through these often to make sure you can respond if necessary.


The fourth rung on the hierarchy is self-esteem. This one is a little tougher, if you have not prepared yourself, your home, or your family for the impossibly possible. It is imperative that tough conversations take place with all family members. People who are prepared in a variety of ways, feel more confident taking on challenges because it isn’t the first time they’ve encountered the idea. Prepping is more than food and water; it is a mind-set, a self-assurance that we can handle whatever comes our way. More than one family member needs to know where things are and how to utilize all supplies that have been gathered.


The fifth and final rung is self-actualization. This could be translated into a more common phrase, such as “git er done” or “just do it”. Self-actualization means, I have prepared, my mind is clear, I have a plan, so let’s move forward.

My first phase of self-actualization was to realize I needed to put a binder together and use dividers to keep copies of all the information I was gathering. I have a section on making bread without yeast, a section on food and water preservation, a medical section, a gardening section, et cetera. The Internet won’t be there, so I need to be able to put my hands on all the information I might need without depending on Google. I printed out articles, diagrams, pictures, and any type of document that might benefit me in a survival scenario.

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All Four Lower Runs Must Be Achieved For Fifth Run To Become Reality

The premise of Maslow’s Hierarchy is that all of the four lower rungs must be achieved in order for the fifth rung to become a reality. We are living in a world where no less than four major players would like to take America out. How they may go about doing that is fodder for round-table discussions.

Shortening Window of Opportunity

The reality is that we have a shortening window of opportunity to secure food and water, some type of shelter and safety, and feel confident in what we’ve done to be ready, so we can handle whatever may come our way.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 77 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Round 77 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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