Of concern to many survivalists is long term storage of supplies in a safe
location protected from both accidental exposure and those aggressively
searching for your stash. For this reason, creating a cache (rhymes with stash)
of items you believe you will need in a survival situation is a good plan for
any serious survivalist.
For most survivalists, creating a cache of emergency goods is not much of a
challenge, as you will see below:
There are two types of caches:
These caches can be in a closet, basement, local storage company or other,
relatively easy-to-access location. They are normally protected by locks or
other traditional security measures and some discretion on your part (you know
– keeping your mouth shut.) The basic stash should include all your survival
items (covered in chapters three, four and five). Because these caches are
accessible, you can rotate items in and out as necessary.
Basic caches can simply be food, water and other necessities on shelves, in boxes and bags or in cupboards set aside just for that purpose. A lock on the door can keep family members from rifling supplies (when the portable stereo needs batteries, for example) and nosy neighbors or guests from uncovering your preparedness stash.
On-site caches in basements or closets (for those areas such as Florida, where basements are as rare as snowballs in April) are convenient, available in most emergencies and facilitate adding new items and rotating out canned goods, water and other perishables.
Off-site caches, as discussed briefly in Chapter Two, allows you to stash items near your survival retreat. Should you choose a commercial mini-storage unit near your residence, it gives you more room for goods than you might have at home. In this manner, you could keep two weeks worth of food at home, and store several months worth or more in a rented storage unit.
The danger inherent in off-site storage is that you will not be able to
protect your stash from marauders (should our system of law and order break
down) or natural disasters, such as an earthquake. You must also consider
transportation concerns. How easy will it be to reach the 20 cases of MREs you
have squirreled away in that storage unit 15 miles outside of town? If the
disaster is of such a magnitude that you need them, can you get to them?
Like buried treasure, these caches are protected from discovery by burial, creating secret compartments in walls and floors, etc. To preserve the secrecy,
you shouldn’t visit these caches more than annually, so there is little or no
opportunity for adding or removing items. This means items stored in hidden
cache must be suitable for long-term storage, possibly 10 or more years.
One of the key benefits of a hidden cache is that you can store items that may be – or may become – illegal to own. You may not wish to give up your fully automatic weapon or that high-capacity assault rifle, but future legislation may be such that you don’t want to be caught with it in your home. While Sarge does not advocate the breaking of laws, he is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and an individual’s right to own a gun, even one with a magazine capacity that exceeds most gun control advocates IQs.
Coincidentally guns and ammunition are one of the most popular items to be
stored in a hidden cache. And why not, when imported SKS rifles can be had for
not much more than $100? When specially prepared for long term storage (usually packed in cosmoline or grease) guns can and have been successfully stored for decades. Ammo should be packed in sealed surplus military ammo boxes or sealed in tins. A dab a sealant around the primer is a good idea for those who reload. You can further increase the seal of steel ammo cans by spray painting the sealed can with primer and or paint. If you use colors, these can serve to identify food, ammo and first aid supplies so when you dig them up, you can grab what you really need.
Other items for long-term storage include gold and silver. It is commonly
held that paper money will have little or no value after a cataclysmic disaster
(plague, revolution, nuclear event, etc.) but that silver and gold will always
have some value. Other items with a possible barter value, such as knives or
hand tools, may also be stored.
Evaluate your personal needs, cache location and long term survival plan to
determine what you need to store. Perhaps a good knife, hatchet, frying pan and tin cup are your choices. Maybe a box of fish hooks, lead sinkers and line is on your list. Use the information presented in this guide to develop your list, but
keep in mind that not everything is suitable for long-term storage.
CREATING YOUR CACHE
The ideal cache is one that is buried off the beaten path in a location you
can remember. There are a number of items sold today specifically for burial.
These include sonar buoy tubes and PVC pipes six or more inches in diameter. But it is also possible to build your own storage device our of plywood or other
lumber. The tubular design is intended to be buried in a vertical position, to
minimize the signature should someone with a metal detector try to locate it,
but manually digging a hole two feet in diameter and eight feet deep is easier
said than done.
There’s nothing wrong with a cube or rectangular box built out of 2x4s and
treated plywood. Of course, the box must be strong enough to keep the walls from collapsing, as well as supporting the weight of at least 18 inches of dirt on
top. Because a plywood box – even one lined with plastic – will not prevent
moisture from penetrating, items inside the box must be stored in sealed ammo
boxes, plastic buckets or other waterproof containers.
Once you have built your box or purchased your tube, assembled and packed
your items for long-term storage, you will need to transport everything to the
cache location. While you may be able to make most of the trip by car, you will
probably have to trek everything to the site on foot, perhaps under the guise of
a backpacking trip (if you are caching your material on public land). Of course,
if you have your own retreat, the entire process becomes much simpler. While
many would recommend digging your cache in the middle of night, if you pick a
secluded enough site, this may not be necessary. Clever camouflage or
misdirection can be used to allow you to bury your material without attracting
For long term, secret storage, caches should be buried in secluded areas, on
ground high enough to avoid flooding, in open areas where tree roots won’t be an immediate problem. If you are choosing to bury your goods near your retreat, pick an area where there are metal scrap or junk around that would hide a your stash from a metal detector or an area scan. They have radar and sonar that can identify buried minerals.
If you are using tubes or caches with limited capacity and need multiple
caches to accommodate all your goods, bury them in a geometrical pattern. If
your caches are buried in a line, 50 feet apart, or a square, finding one cache
will allow you to quickly locate the others.
FINDING YOUR CACHE
There’s nothing worse than realizing you can’t remember the exact location of
your cache, filled with more than $1,500 worth of supplies.
To prevent your cache becoming a brain twister for future archaeologists, you must not only pick your spots very carefully, but draw or mark a map of the location. While you should obviously memorize the location, storing partial directions in your home survival stash is not a bad idea. Unless you are hiding contraband, a complete map should be stored in your safe deposit box. This will allow your family or loved ones to benefit from your advanced planning (or at least recover your goods) should you meet an untimely demise.
While Sarge recommends marking a tree or bolder in the areas, painted
blazes on trees are likely to attract unwanted attention, and can fade over the
years. Carving a set of fictitious initials on a tree, however, will help you
confirm you are in the correct location without giving away the store.
To test your ability to find your cache, return to the site two years after
burying it and try to locate your loot. You don’t need to dig it up, just dig
enough to confirm you are in the correct spot.