in: Outdoor/Survival, Podcast, Skills

• Last updated: September 30, 2021

Podcast #597: A Survival Expert’s Guide to Bugging-In

The coronavirus pandemic has forced tens of millions of people to stay home due to shelter-in-place orders and even lockdowns. While supplies of food, water, and other essentials have largely continued undisrupted, if one or more of these services were cut off, what would be the best way to prepare for that kind of emergency?

To answer this question, I talk to friend of AoM and survival expert, Creek Stewart. Creek has dedicated his life to mastering all things survival, spending thousands of hours in the field, authoring numerous articles and books, teaching courses to others, and hosting television shows for the Weather Channel like SOS: How to Survive.

Today, Creek and I talk about what we can learn from the current pandemic about how to shelter-in-place or bug-in, and how to be prepared if this crisis worsens in severity, or we’re one day hit with a more dire disaster. We dive into the different bug-in categories you need to consider, beginning with how much food and water you need for a long-term bug-in situation, and how to properly store it. Creek then talks about what you need to consider in terms of first aid and home defense in a bug-in scenario, and why you also need to think about how to keep yourself entertained.

If reading this in an email, click the title of the post to listen to the show.

Show Highlights

  • Is the pandemic bringing preparedness to mind for more people? 
  • What is “bugging in”? What could cause a bug-in scenario? 
  • How long should people prepare for being sheltered-in-place?
  • The 3 tiers of preparedness 
  • Which categories of survival should you be thinking most about? 
  • Storing water for long-term emergencies 
  • A 3-tiered food preparedness system 
  • The various lessons Creek has taken from his grandpa 
  • Why you need to learn how to actually cook your survival food 
  • First aid in a bug-in scenario 
  • The importance of simply remaining sane 
  • How to think about self-defense for bugging-in 
  • What listeners can do today in light of this pandemic and survival preparedness

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Creek

Creek’s website

Willow Haven Outdoor Survival Training

Creek on Instagram

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Read the Transcript

Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. The Coronavirus pandemic has forced tens of millions of people to stay home, due to shelter-in-place orders and even lockdowns. While supplies of food, water, and other essentials have largely continued, undisrupted for the most part, if one or more of these services were completely cut off, what would be the best way to prepare for that kind of emergency? To answer this question, I talked to a friend of a women’s survival expert Creek Stewart. Creek has dedicated his life to mastering all things survival, spending thousands of hours in the field authoring numerous articles and books and teaching courses to others, and hosting television shows for the weather channel like SOS, How to Survive. Today, Creek and I talk about what we can learn from the current pandemic about how to shelter-in-place or bug-in and how to be prepared if this crisis worsens in severity or one day hit with a more dire disaster. We dive into the different bugging categories you need to consider, beginning with how much food and water you need for long term bug-in situation and how to properly store it. Creek then talks about what you need to consider in terms of first aid and home defense in a bug-in scenario and why you also need to think about how to keep yourself entertained. Lots of practical and timely advice in this episode. After it’s over, check out our show notes at /bugin.

Alright, Creek Stewart, welcome back to the show.

Creek Stewart: Hey man, it’s good to be back. It’s great to be here with you.

Brett McKay: So it’s been a while. The last time we had you on the podcast is back in 2013. But if people who’ve been following The Art of Manliness for a long time, they know you. You’re the wilderness survival guy, the prepper guy. You’ve written some classics for AOM in the past. We’ve got the zombie apocalypse survival shotgun. We’ve got your camouflaging articles. Article on how to use a tampon in a survival situation. And I think a lot of people know your work you’ve done with the weather channel, with fat guys in the woods and things like that. And I wanted to bring you on, because, right now, we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and this is the thing that you’re helping people get ready for. I love in your emails, you always end with a motto, “It’s not if, but when.” So, I imagined before the pandemic, I think there’s plenty of people who thought of prepper-survival type people was being too paranoid. Do you think people are changing their tune now about this?

Creek Stewart: You know, this particular disaster, tragedy, pandemic, whatever you wanna call it, is super interesting. I’ve found over the years of studying survival stories and taking people into the woods and just studying these things and being really in this industry that, really, the catalyst for a change of mind or a change of behavior or habit, I found that it really comes from one of two things, either extreme suffering or extreme tragedy. And in this particular pandemic, in this particular scenario, there is definitely a tragic side to it. There are absolutely people whose health are affected, and there are people dying, and I don’t wanna be insensitive toward that at all, whatsoever, and I know that in the middle of all of these people are being laid off work, and the economy is changing and losing their jobs. So there is absolutely a tragic side to this. But the interesting part of this pandemic is that, in general, most people’s needs are being met.

They still have food and water and electricity and access to medical care and heat, and their furnace works, and their toilets work, and their showers work. And so, on that side of things, there’s not a lot of suffering happening. And so, I think while this is really bringing the idea of preparedness to mind, in the midst of this, and staying home, and being quarantined, I think that because there is not really what you would consider traditional disaster suffering. Because that isn’t happening in this particular scenario, I would guess that a lot of people will be very quick to forget about the quarantine and the Coronavirus a few weeks after this whole thing passes. And so, do I think that there’ll be a change of tune as far… I think for some people, but I think for a lot of people time really will take away the details and we’ll be back to square one when the next one happens. So, I hope that’s not the case. But my guess is that this will be a small hiccup for a lot of people, and I don’t know that it will be the wake-up call that I wish it would be.

Brett McKay: Humans we always forget, and that’s why we repeat history, oftentimes.

Creek Stewart: Yeah.

Brett McKay: So your focus with your work is a lot about prepping or surviving away from your primary residence, either surviving in the wild or bugging out to another location. Well, that’s another article you’ve written for us, how to build a Bug-Out Bag.

Creek Stewart: Yeah.

Brett McKay: But you’ve also written about what’s called “bugging-in,” which is appropriate with this quarantining and social distancing and shelter-in-place that’s been going on. For those who aren’t familiar with the idea, what is bugging-in?

Creek Stewart: Well, bugging-in is… I guess the best way to describe it is another phrase for the idea of sheltering in place. And sheltering in place, the concept, has been around for a really long time. And so with bugging-out, you’re leaving your primary place of residence for somewhere that’s more safe. It’s just not safe to stay at home, and so you have to leave in order to be safe. Well, bugging-in is the exact opposite. Either you’re staying in to be safe, or you have no option to leave or you’re basically forced at home. And so there are a lot of different things that could cause a bug-in scenario. Historically, they’ve been chemical-related, biological-related, radiological, even nuclear.

All of those are, I guess, they’re real common… Not common, but those would be kind of the classic reasons to bug-in. Some other ones that have happened in a little bit more recent history have been violence. Violence is often a reason for local governments to put out an ordinance to shelter in place. Like during the Boston Marathon, for example, the local police department encouraged sheltering-in-place because of the bombings. And in Los Angeles, in 2016, there was… I remember there was a sulfuric acid tanker that caught on fire, and so everyone within 15 miles or so of that tanker were required to shelter in place for safety. The most common, I would say though, is winter storm warnings, winter storms that cause people to have shelter in place or bug-in. But now we’re seeing, globally, this pandemic with the COVID-19 epidemic, something, certainly, that’s never happened in my lifetime.

Brett McKay: So whenever you’re consulting people on how to bug-in, in general, how long do you advise people to prepare to be hunkered down for?

Creek Stewart: Well, I base that on three tiers, and it’s a little bit different for everyone, and based upon everyone’s time, budget, and how serious they are. Two weeks is an absolute minimum, these days. It used to, was three days. I can remember, it was having three days worth of supplies on hand, almost kinda like a Bug-Out Bag. But these days it’s absolutely a minimum of two weeks to be able to bug-in and be completely independent of survival on all of your needs for two weeks. Myself, and what I would encourage other people to do is have a three-tiered plan. It starts with two weeks, which is pretty easy to accomplish for most people, even on a tight budget. And then a three-month plan, which is a little bit more complicated, but still fairly easy to accomplish for most people. And then, stretch it out a little bit further and have a one-year plan, which for most is gonna feel really extreme and may sound a little bit crazy. But for myself, I have a two-week, a three-month, and a one-year plan for complete independent survival for me and my family.

Brett McKay: Gotcha, and I think with this, it’s good to have all those different tiers because you never know what the situation is gonna be like. Right now, during this current pandemic, we had this immediate burst of people going out and just stockpiling stuff, so there’s nothing there.

Creek Stewart: Yeah.

Brett McKay: Or there’s still stuff there, but it’s not great. So in that situation, it’d be nice to have that two-week buffer then. But you never know if the supply chain for whatever reason doesn’t kick in the action like it should, that one month might come in handy then.

Creek Stewart: Yeah, absolutely. Every disaster is totally different. And one minor change in this particular one with the Coronavirus, if we just took out… If we took the Coronavirus, as it is right now, where people are quarantined at home and everybody is forced to stay at home and just for their own health and safety. But if you just take one thing… Right now, everything is accessible. Everyone has electric. Their furnaces are working. Their water’s running. They have access to food and medicine. They have Internet and cell phone service. But if you remove just one of those services, things become exponentially more complicated. I mean you take out electric, and we’re having a totally different conversation. [chuckle] You take out water, and this thing becomes so more dangerous and so more complicated. Just one of those services missing, and this is an entirely different conversation.

Brett McKay: So when you’re thinking about bugging-in, what are the categories for human survival that you should be thinking about when you bug-in? And is there anything in particular that you should think about when it comes to pandemics?

Creek Stewart: Well, that’s a really good question. When I think about survival and bugging-in, when I really sat down and started developing my own bug-in plan, I thought about my grandpa. I thought about, “Okay, when my grandpa was my age, what did he need?” And that was back when my grandpa was my age and younger, he needed water. He needed food. He needed a way to cook that food. He needed a way to stay warm in the winter. He needed personal hygiene items to a certain degree and some limited medication and first aid tools. And then he needed all the supplies and tools that related to any of those categories. For example, he needed a way to heat his home in the winter. Well, he needed a way to cut firewood and split firewood, and he needed a fireplace. And so, when it comes to bugging-in, it’s oftentimes really overworked and made to be more complicated than it needs to be because we live in a day and age when we forget that it wasn’t that long ago that times were a lot simpler, that there was no running water, there was no electric, there were no indoor bathrooms, and there was no Internet and all of that stuff. And when you really break it down, it’s water, food, a way to cook the food, a way to heat your home if you live in a cold environment, some first aid and personal hygiene items, and then the tools that go with any one of those categories.

Brett McKay: Gotcha. So let’s dig into some of these categories in more detail.

Creek Stewart: Yeah.

Brett McKay: So you mentioned water, and I think it’s interesting for the… I talked to you about this before we started recording. And for the past three weeks on Art of Manliness, a couple of years ago, I’m gonna say six years ago, I wrote this article on how to do long-term water storage. And then for the past three weeks, you could just see it in our analytics, the search traffic to that article has been going up. So, it’s a concern for people that somehow the water is gonna go away. But as you said, it’s interesting, this emergency that we’re dealing with, water’s still there, but again, it might not be there. And even, let’s say there’s another disaster of some sort, where your water’s shut off. Let’s talk about water supply. How much water do you think a person needs in their home to last that two weeks for example?

Creek Stewart: Well, the general rule of thumb is one gallon per day per person. That’s for not only drinking, but also personal hygiene and washing and bathing. And so one gallon per person per day indefinitely, for as long as whatever your plan is, is the amount of water that you’ll need. And you’re right about water. Water gets knocked offline all the time. Just in my home town last week, in the midst of this pandemic, there was a boil issue. In the home town that I grew up in, there was a boil warning, where because of some pumps went down or something like that, and it happens all the time. Not too long ago in Flint, Michigan, there were major water issues where there were boil warnings. And places like Southern California that don’t have their own independent water supply, it becomes a very fragile situation. And water is our most basic of human survival needs. I would say, outside of an immediate first aid threat, water is at the top.

Brett McKay: So okay, one gallon a day. Let’s say you want to store to two weeks worth or a month worth. How do you store? What are the best way to store water? Different options for that?

Creek Stewart: Yeah, so I’ll just take my three tier for example. Okay, my two-week, my three-month, and my one-year tiers. And I think describing how I do it will really help. So, my two-week tier, I have two weeks’ worth of bottled water on-hand at all times. And we move through… My family and I, we move through that on a regular basis. So, we’re always grabbing a water, bottled water. And so, we’re kind of moving through that two-week supply of bottled water at any given moment. And beyond two weeks, you start to get into a situation where, “Okay, I need to think about how do I store this water and how can I depend on it for up to a year.” Okay? Bottled water will easily last up to a year, except it’s just a little bit cumbersome to pack months’ worth of bottled water in your basement. Okay, so some of the best ways to store water, for let’s say up to a three-month time period are gonna be two ways.

Number one is those five-gallon kind of like the water cooler in an office. Those five-gallon water containers. Those are a little cumbersome, but having one of those dispensers in your kitchen and having five-gallon containers of those waters downstairs or in the basement or in the garage, those are a really good way to store a lot of water. 55-gallon drums, food-grade drums is what I use for my three-month water storage, which can last up to a year. There’s a company called Aquamira that makes a really good two-part mixture that you pour into that, that helps keep your water good for up to a year. And you can buy 55-gallon drums on Amazon. You can find them on food-grade drums. Probably the easiest place is on Amazon, but you can buy a pump, so that you can pump water right out of them. And I change out the water in my 55-gallon drums every year. It’s a little bit of a hassle, but I normally take one day a year and change out my drums and then refill those back up and put in a two-part water purification mixture in there, and I’m good for another year.

Storing water more than three months, one gallon per person per day becomes a little much. After that, you really need to start thinking about an independent water supply, and that could either be a rain harvesting system or obviously some type of a well. A really common way to store water that a lot of people use are recycled two-liter bottles. Not milk jugs because they tend to degrade and get a little weird over time, but two-liter bottles or other plastic bottles, like juice bottles. Those are really great ways to store water. And when you fill up a two-liter bottle or a juice jug or something like that, I always put in… When I used to store my water like that I would put in two drops of bleach of unscented bleach per liter when I would do the storage. And that’ll pretty much keep you up for a year.

Brett McKay: All right. So, you got water stored up. Now you need to think about food. What kind of food should you store for a long-term bug-in situation?

Creek Stewart: I’m gonna go back to my three-tier system again, and I think it’ll make a lot of sense. So for myself and my family, this is the same model that I would encourage anyone to consider and possibly adapt if so inclined. So for myself and my family, we… There’s a saying within the survival industry that America is nine meals away from anarchy. And what that means is that most people have nine meals worth of food in their home at any given moment, and after that things start getting a little crazy.

And so, for myself and my family we keep two weeks’ worth of food. We’re gonna go back to that two-week, three-month and one-year mark. So I keep two weeks’, three months’, and one year’s worth of food in our house for independent survival for me and my family at any given moment. The two-weeks category includes everything that we eat on a regular basis. Fresh vegetables, meat, frozen meats, frozen vegetables, canned goods, pastas, anything that’s either in a package or ready to cook, ready to open up, ready to prepare. So we keep anywhere between, I don’t know, one and two weeks’ worth of food, three meals a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two weeks. Beyond that from two weeks… And we’re constantly moving through that food and buying more groceries or canning more or hunting more. And so we’re constantly replenishing that two-week food supply, and we’re moving on a regular basis through that.

Beyond that, from our two-week to three-month window, I have moved to a freeze-dried food methodology. I used to use all kinds of hodge-podge, different food storage options. But up until my three-month mark, beyond two weeks, if I couldn’t get any more food, couldn’t hunt, couldn’t fish, couldn’t go to grocery store, couldn’t get canned goods, then I would depend on freeze-dried food. Now it’s a little bit more expensive, but it’s very simple. It lasts for 25 years. You can buy three months’ worth of this food. You can put it down… You can buy it gradually over time. You don’t have to buy it all at once. It is a little expensive, but you can put it down the basement or in somewhere that doesn’t have sunlight and that’s fairly cool ideally. And you’ll last 25 years with that stuff. And it’s literally, it’s freeze-dried, so you just add water, heat it up if it’s a heat up meal and you’re ready to go. And it’s really, really easy, and this stuff’s pretty good.

Now, beyond three months, freeze-dried food gets really expensive. You can buy one-year packages of freeze-dried food, but they’re in the thousands of dollars. And so beyond that, then we start talking about what my grandpa did. We’re back to my grandpa, right? We’re back to grains. We’re back to maybe producing some of your own foods hunting, fishing, chickens, backyard chickens, goats, things like that. As far as food storage goes, a lot of grains. Barley, corn, flour, rice, a lot of pastas, macaronis, noodles and spaghettis. It’s more of an ingredients list of food storage, a lot of beans and legumes and canned foods and spices and mixes and all of those things that you use to actually build and cook meals. And a lot of that stuff lasts a really long time. Like wheat and corn and rice and beans, if you package those things correctly, those things will easily last you 25 years.

Brett McKay: And so with this ingredient stuff, not only do you have to store the stuff but you also have to learn how to cook it in a way that’s palatable.

Creek Stewart: And that’s actually the really hard part. The storing the stuff is really simple. I buy my bulk goods in 50-pound bags, but then I repackage that into plastic food-grade, five-gallon buckets. So it’s really easy to storage, and you don’t have to worry about mice or anything like that. But the catch here is, all of a sudden you gotta know how to cook like your grandma. You gotta know how to make the biscuits and mix the wheat and make the… And make all the things. And so for a lot of people, including myself, that’s a real challenge. And so that’s a part of… That’s something that I’ve been working on personally over the years is once a week or so, really getting my hands messy in the kitchen a little bit and really understanding how to cook. Especially my generation or me, I’ll just take blame for it, I’m not a cook, and I don’t spend a lot of time cooking. But if you go this route with long-term food storage, you have to cook because you can’t just eat the beans.

Brett McKay: You mentioned a freeze-dried food. What about MREs? What’s your take on those?

Creek Stewart: MREs could easily be in that category that… MREs could be in either your three-week, your two-month… You’re two-week, you’re three-month or your one-year category. They’re very… They’re calorie-dense. They’ll last 25 years, a lot of them. And there’s open and eat, really great long-term meals. The only problem is like freeze-dried food, they’re expensive. Those run anywhere… I mean, the last time I checked, roughly eight bucks a pop.

Brett McKay: Alright. So you’re paying for convenience basically with that.

Creek Stewart: Yeah, yeah, definitely. But it’s a fantastic option.

Brett McKay: So you mentioned for water ideally, you have a gallon a day. Is there some sort of recommendation for how much food you need per person?

Creek Stewart: That’s a tough one. You could break… I’ve broken mine down, based upon testing with meals. I’ve got it into… I could give you my… Alright, let me see here. I have written down my, what I have per person in my household, and it’ll give you at least a rough idea, but these are… The way I’ve written these down are one-year numbers. And so this sounds a little crazy. Like for example, grains, which would include rice, wheat, any seeds for sprouting, oats and corn and barley and things like that. I keep 600 pounds per person per year on hand, and that’s just the grains. And then there’s all kinds of other categories. I keep 75 pounds of canned of dried milk on hand, per person and about 35 pounds of oil and fats like peanut butter and powdered margarine and cooking oil for cooking. And the numbers for one year sound a little crazy. But the way I would kind of back that down, is you have to… In order to plan for long-term food storage, you have to understand how to cook it. And the only way to understand how to cook it is to actually get in the kitchen and start playing around with these ingredients. And it’s only until you do that, that you’re gonna be able to multiply out, how much of these items, you’re gonna need.

There are a lot of rough estimates online. Like the LDS Church, they have some fantastic information about long-term food storage that I would recommend anyone read through. As a part of just the culture of that church for as long as they’ve been into existence, they have been in the business of long-term food storage. In fact, their warehouse, they have something called the storehouse, that’s a fantastic place to get long-term food storage grains. I buy a lot of mine at bulk markets like Gordon Food Services and even online on Amazon. But that LDS church, their storehouse, if there’s one in your area, there are some fantastic buys on long-term food storage like big bags of grain and rice and stuff like that.

Brett McKay: And the other thing you had to think about too with food storage at least or even with water sources, you gotta know where you’re gonna keep it. If you have a house with a big garage or basement, not a problem. But if you’re in an apartment, then you have to get creative or maybe you won’t be able to carry as much underneath your bed. That’s the place where a lot of people I know put their food storage, or they actually turn their food storage into the box brings of their bed. [chuckle]

Creek Stewart: Right? Yeah, no, absolutely. You’d be surprised at… A slew of five-gallon buckets could make… [chuckle] You could easily turn that into a coffee table or a bed frame, but there’s all kinds of creative ways. But you’re right, they can, especially water. And when you start storing up three months’ worth of water and food, it’s absolutely going to take up some space. It could seem for someone who’s just starting to think about… Maybe this Corona thing has got someone thinking like, “Listen, this just scared the holy bejesus out of me, and I wanna start keeping some food storage on hand from my family.” Don’t start at one year. You’ll never get done. That will become so overwhelming that you’ll just quit. I always say, for the person who’s just starting out, I always say, start with a Bug-Out Bag. That gets you three days’ worth of independent survival, and there’s always a place for a Bug-Out Bag.

And then there’s a fantastic article on your site about building a Bug-Out Bag. And then work your way up from that three days. You’ve got that, throw that in your closet, and now think about my two weeks. And you’d be surprised at how easy it is to get two weeks. And then once you’ve got two weeks, then you take it a step farther and you think about, “Okay, what is some food, and how do I store a little bit more water. Let’s get me to that one-month mark.” Okay, but once you get past two weeks, you wanna start thinking about food that’s gonna sit on the shelf for a year. Okay. So that’s either freeze-dried, that’s MREs, or that dried goods like I was just talking about wheat and rice and beans and then the ingredients to make meals with those things. So anything beyond two weeks, you wanna have a long-term shelf-life because you don’t wanna be dealing with that stuff. Ideally you want a shelf life that’s 25 years, and it is totally possible with those three categories of foods, to sit them on the shelf for 25 years. Freeze-dried foods, MREs like you mentioned, and dried goods. Those all last 25 years if stored properly.

And it’s really easy to get one month’s worth of food and water in storage over the course of just a few weeks. It’s incredibly easy to do on a very tight budget. This stuff is not… Now the freeze-dried is a little bit expensive, but when you get into dry goods, it is not expensive at all to get an incredible amount of food storage under your belt in dried goods.

Brett McKay: Awesome, so this is all really practical, actionable advice you just gave. So let’s talk about another item of category of human survival you gotta think about when you’re bugging-in, and that is first aid. So what sort of first aid items should people stock up on for a bug-in scenario.

Creek Stewart: If there was one category that I’m weak in, it’s probably first aid. That’s probably my weakest category of all. And so I always in my first aid preps, I always multiply out what I need. I know what I need for first aid in the outdoors because I know what those most common injuries are from experience. And so, when I think about first aid, I think about it a little bit differently than most. Most people would say, “I need a little first aid kit, and I need to beef up on Band-Aids and Neosporin and things like that.” Well, I’m of the mindset that that stuff is fine for first aid, but what you really need for first aid are the things to deal with real first aid emergencies. And those are not things that can be fixed with the Band-Aid and Neosporin and a little butterfly patch and a patch of gauze.

And so when I think about first aid, I think about, “What are the big things that can happen that can really that can really knock someone out.” And those things are major bleeding. And so, we need things to control major bleeding if someone gets cut or falls on something or something weird happens. And the four things that I would recommend to start off your bleeding control kit, if we’re gonna call it that, is a tourniquet. And I use a cat tourniquet, a combat application tourniquet.

I use a product, I pack a product in all of my first aid kits and my bug-in the kit called Celox Z-Fold Gauze, which is… It’s a wound packing. It helps your blood clot, and it’s kind of an anti-clotting agent, mixed in with that gauze. So you can pack it, and it’ll just seal up a wound pretty good. An Israeli compression bandage goes a long way, a handful of those. And then some ACE wrap so that you can really wrap that stuff up tight. An ACE wrap can be used for all kinds of things. But you definitely need a system in place for bleeding control because a Band-Aid and a little bit of gauze just ain’t gonna cut it.

Brett McKay: And I know on the bleeding control, I know ITS Tactical they sell some kits with like everything you need for that as well just.

Creek Stewart: Fantastic…

Brett McKay: It’s in the pouch, it has got a tourniquet and everything and the gauze. So yeah, that’s another place if you just want everything all in one place, ITS tactical has that stuff.

Creek Stewart: Yeah, and they’ll probably have everything that I’ve just mentioned in that kit and some other items as well. A company like ITS, they’re gonna put together a fantastic bleeding control kit, I’m sure.

Brett McKay: So what else besides bleeding control?

Creek Stewart: Okay, so then we’re moving to sprains and broken or fractured bones. That’s something that can really knock someone out, and so everyone should have a SAM Splint or four in their kit. A SAM Splint can literally be used to stabilize I think every single bone in the human body. You can cut it and you can splint a finger with it. You can use it to splint your leg and your arm, and you could stabilize your head and your neck. You can do all kinds of things with a SAM Splint. And so a couple of those on hand, and some ACE wrap bandage and you should be pretty good to go and some medical tape. You should be pretty good go to help stabilize any sprains or and broken bones at least temporarily ’cause that’s a category that absolutely happens. And so another one is burns. A lot of people don’t think about burns. But man, when you get a burn things can go downhill really quick if you don’t take care of it. And one of the products I like best for burns is a product called Water-Jel, Water J-E-L, and they come in individual packets. And it’s just an outstanding burn dressing, and it’s one that a lot of outdoor enthusiasts use. And it could just as easily be used inside.

Brett McKay: So another thing that people need to think about too, I think the Coronavirus pandemic has brought to light with supply chain is if you have any underlying health issues, like perhaps store up on medication as much as you can for medicines that you’re taking right now ’cause that might not… You might not have it when you need it.

Creek Stewart: Yeah. No, absolutely. If something happened, which absolutely could, that interrupted the supply chain for medicine or prevented people from being able to go to the pharmacy or something like that. I mean, we’re talking worst-case scenario. And so I think most doctors these days totally understand a very simple conversation like this. “Hey, Doc. I’m putting together an emergency kit in my house. I wanna be ready just in case that I can’t get my meds for up to three months. Can you help me get a back supply of medicine that I could keep on hand for a three-month supply?” And if your doctor isn’t willing to work with you to get that done, especially in this day and age, then I would say go find a different doctor. Because people who are medically dependent on medicine, you absolutely need to have a backup supply of that stuff on hand. And I think now, with Coronavirus having that conversation with your physician makes a lot more sense. You could say, “Listen, I just went through the scare of my life, and I was scared to death that I wasn’t gonna be able to get my medicine. And I know now that I need a back-up supply on hand. Can you help me? Can we put together a plan where I can at least put some back, just in case?”

Brett McKay: And besides stocking up on medicines and supplies for say, another part of this is getting the skills training. Because if you have all the stuff, but don’t know how to use it, then it’s pretty much worthless.

Creek Stewart: Absolutely. Being able to even put on a tourniquet, understanding… You can have all the tourniquets in the world, but if you don’t know how to use it properly, it’s never gonna work. I’d probably be more dangerous than not using one at all, but all of this stuff absolutely requires at least a little bit of training. The good news is, is that it’s not something that you need to spend full-time. This can become a really fun hobby, getting your preps ready for your family. There’s nothing more important that you could do for your family. A lot of people go to work every day to put food on the table for their families. It’s the same thing. You’re just prepping for your family or for yourself in a different way. It’s a different kind of life insurance policy. And these are fantastic things to do as a family to… To train as a family on the evenings and weekends, and it can be a lot of fun too.

Brett McKay: Well, and if you shelter-in-place you’ve got, you can’t go anywhere. So this is something to do.

Creek Stewart: Yeah, absolutely, and that’s an entirely category than a lot of people overlook is just remaining sane during a bug-in scenario ’cause there’s a lot of funny stuff going around like right now just online about people spending just an inordinate amount of time with their families all day long with their kids and going crazy. But there’s something to be said for that. Thinking about, “What if I literally couldn’t leave the house?” Right now, people can go out into their yards and go outside and take a walk and go to the grocery stores. But what if you were really cooped up in your house. There are actually situations that could call for that, that aren’t off the table in our future. What if you couldn’t leave your house? Can you keep yourselves entertained for a couple of weeks or for a week? And those things should be included in your list too, whether it’s board games or card games or backup power supplies to keep your tablets running. Whatever that is for you and your family, it should absolutely be considered.

Brett McKay: UNO could cause some fights though.

Creek Stewart: UNO, man, the best game of all time. I played UNO last week with my family.

Brett McKay: That’s great. We’ve been playing a lot of Apples to Apples. And then I just bought… Before this whole thing went down, I bought Exploding Kittens, which I heard a lot about. We haven’t played it yet. It’s a card game. We’ll see how it goes. But yeah, that’s another part is the psychological component that people often overlooked when it comes to survival stuff. That’s an important part of prepping and knowing how you’re gonna be mentally resilient during this time.

Creek Stewart: Yeah, absolutely and we live in a really unique day and age where you can hop on FaceTime… We were on FaceTime last night with my parents. What if that stuff wasn’t available? You couldn’t talk to anybody. You couldn’t have FaceTime with anybody. You couldn’t get on the phone. It’s all totally possible. It goes back to the beginning of this conversation that we’re having where if one of these other services that we really depend on gets knocked off grid, we’re having an entirely different conversation here, I mean, in general, on the scale of what could happen. This whole Coronavirus pandemic, there are some really incredible lessons to be learned with this as far as, “How can I be better prepared for something where one of these critical services is knocked offline?” And I think this is a really great time to pull out a journal and start writing some of this stuff down and thinking about, “What are the lessons that I’m learning right here and over the course of the next couple of weeks that I need to fix and put into place for the next event that not might happen, but absolutely will.” We will have other events like this and worse.

Brett McKay: So in another part in the article that you wrote about bugging-in as self-defense. Right now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, first responders are still there, police are still there. But there might be a situation where their hands are gonna be tied up. There’s not gonna be a police officers there to respond to you if you need help. So, what should people think about when it comes to self-defense in a bug-in situation?

Creek Stewart: Yeah, that’s a really great question. I have a lot of friends and family members, who are first responders, whether it’s police or paramedics or fire fighters. And they’ll be the first to tell you that all of their services are all planned and organized for a normal day. And when things get not normal, then they become understaffed and overwhelmed. And it’s just a part of every single disaster or pandemic, whatever you wanna call it, that happens, it is an issue. First responders are a little less responsive during times of chaos. And so one should always be prepared in a worst-case scenario to fortify and defend their home, whether that’s just simple barricade measures. One of the best door barricades that I’ve ever seen is, there are these little brackets that you can screw on the inside of your door up against your door jamb. And you can just drop a two-by-four into those brackets behind your door.

And I tell you what, with one of those in place, no one’s getting in your home unless they’re coming through a window. And if they’re getting into your home, they’re making a huge racket doing it. And it’s a really simple way. It’s such a simple… It’s like $2 brackets and a four-foot section of two-by-four, and it makes one of the most effective door barricades in the world. I hate even talking about stuff like this because it seems so ridiculous, but at the same time, it’s all stuff that’s totally possible. And then as far as home defense goes, the obvious home defense tool is gonna be firearms and before that firearms training. And so I’m a huge proponent of firearms that are used responsibly and firearms training. I’d say that if you’re not willing to invest time in firearms training, then I wouldn’t even bother investing in a firearm. But in a worst-case scenario, you’re not gonna find a better way to defend your home and your family than a firearm.

Brett McKay: As a Woodrow Call said in Lonesome Dove, “Better to have it and not needed than need it and not have it.”

Creek Stewart: Boy, that’s the story of my life, right there. If I didn’t choose the motto “It’s not if but when” I probably should have chosen that one.

Brett McKay: Well, okay. We’ve talked about a lot of great stuff: Water storage, food storage, first aid, getting the training you need, also considering your psychological welfare and well-being during a bug-in situation. What do you think people can start doing now in the current shelter-in-place and social distancing orders that we have right now to brace themselves for this current thing we’re dealing with, but also get them ready for the next one?

Creek Stewart: Well, I think the most important thing to do right now is to sit down and start taking some notes about what you’re observing about what’s happening right now because it’s gonna be really easy. This whole Corona thing is gonna… This thing is gonna end in a few weeks, and we’re gonna all try our quickest and best to get back to normal as quickly as humanly possible. Every single one of us. And when we get back to normal or whatever our new normal will be.

This whole thing is gonna be really easy to forget, and we’re gonna intentionally try to forget it. And because of that, I would highly encourage everyone… I emailed my own list, my own email list last week saying, “Listen. Right now is the time to take some notes and to really think about the lessons that we’re learning in the midst of this whole thing. What are my weaknesses? What are the things I’m lacking on in food? What am I struggling with right now, being stuck inside? And what do I need to fix? Really taking notes and starting a journal and putting, to start putting some things on paper that you can take action on when this whole thing blows over because it’s really… It’s only a matter of time before something on this scale or worse, and there are many, many things that could be worse than this, is going to happen. And the time to take care of that stuff, this is one of the biggest wake-up calls I’ve ever seen when it comes to disaster preparedness. I’ve never seen something like this as far as a wake-up call goes. In general, people, all of their needs are being met, and it’s a perfect opportunity to sit back and reflect on, “How well am I prepared if something worse happens?” And so, as far as action steps go, I would say the best thing to do right now is write down notes on things that you’re experiencing right now so that you can fix those moving, forward.

Brett McKay: Awesome. Well, Creek, where could people go to learn more about your work.

Creek Stewart: To learn more about me, the best place to go is my website. It’s at And if you’re just getting started with disaster preparedness and survival and you want a really great little step into that world, I’m running a free course right now that you can sign up for at my website. It’s a Build a Bug-Out Bag Challenge, and it’s a free 5-day course where I walk you through five days of free training to build your bug-out bag. And it’s entirely free. It’d be a perfect project to take on while you’re at home. And it’s not about spending money, it’s about gathering things around your house and putting them into a bag. So if you don’t have a bug-out bag, this would be a fantastic first step and it’s very manageable.

Brett McKay: Well, Creek, this has been a fantastic conversation. Thanks for your time. It’s been a pleasure.

Creek Stewart: Oh man, it’s always an honor and a pleasure for me, Brett. I appreciate you.

Brett McKay: My guest today was Creek Stewart. He’s a survival expert. That guy’s who written lots of books. You can find them all in Amazon, and you can check out more about his work at his website Also check in our show notes at You can find links to resources. We can delve deeper into this topic.

Well, that wraps up another edition at the AOM podcast. Check out our website at or you can find our podcast archives as well as thousands of articles we’ve written over the years. We’ve got a lot of articles about emergency preparation. Check that out. If you like to enjoy ad-free episodes of the AOM podcast, you could do so on Stitcher Premium. Head over to, sign up, use code MANLINESS at check-out either a free month trial. Once you’re signed up, download the Stitcher app on Android or iOS, and you can start enjoying ad-free episodes of the AOM podcast. And if you haven’t done so already, I’d appreciate if you take one minute to give us review on Apple Podcast or Stitcher. It helps out a lot. If you’ve done that already, thank you. Please consider sharing the show with a friend or family member, who you think will get something out of it. Shoot them a text. I’d really appreciate that. As always, thank you for the continue support. Until next time, this is Brett McKay, reminding you not only listen to the AOM podcast, but put what you’ve heard into action.


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