We live in a world of creature comforts and conveniences that many of us take for granted. Many of us are so comfortable in our day to day routine we don’t even realize how dependent we are on those comforts and conveniences. But when SHTF, the world as we know it will quickly become unpredictable.
Many of those comforts and conveniences that we depend on could simply disappear without much warning. Your material possessions are also at risk. During a SHTF event, furniture, appliances, electronics, your vehicle, even your home can be damaged, stolen, even confiscated.
Of course, the first order of business during this type of event is to survive the immediate threat. Knowing how to avoid danger and defend yourself and your family will play a huge part in whether or not you survive the initial event.
The next order of business is to provide for your family’s basic needs such as food, water, medicine, etc. But in order for you and your family or group to survive long-term, it’s critical that you learn how to rebuild, repair, and repurpose post-SHTF.
In a post-SHTF situation, those who are able to survive won’t just be able to avoid danger or protect themselves from it, they will know how to gradually rebuild their life, with whatever materials that are available.
Repurposing is about more than just surviving, it’s about thriving in a post-SHTF world. When SHTF, material possessions, vehicles, and homes will be destroyed, confiscated or abandoned out of necessity.
You and your family may need to bug out and start life over in a completely new location. So how do you begin to rebuild your life by repairing and repurposing materials you have available to turn your new shelter into a home again?
Ways to Rebuild Post-SHTF
If you are prepared and have enough luck on your side to survive an initial SHTF event, at some point simply surviving won’t be enough. You will need to begin rebuilding your life.
In a post-SHTF situation, you will likely lose your job or main source of income. Even if you keep your job or have cash stashed, many stores will be shut down for an extended period if not indefinitely.
So you won’t be able to just run out and get materials for your home repair or home decor projects at the nearest Lowe’s or Hobby Lobby.
Whether you return from bugging out to find looters stole your possessions or burned half of your home or whether you end up in someone else’s abandoned home, knowing how to repurpose materials you have available will help you rebuild your home and a life for you and your family.
Prepare to Repair Post SHTF
No matter how prepared you are with the things you need, there will come a time when something will break.
Whether it’s your car, your solar power system, or your roof, you have to be prepared to make repairs post-SHTF. Think about the skills, tools, and materials you will need to repair your most critical resources post-SHTF.
You won’t be able to simply run to Home Depot or the local hardware store to get what you need. Part of being prepared to repair things post-SHTF is understanding how things work.
Technology has made many of us complacent in this area. We can simply push a button and the lights come on, the stove comes on, the car starts, or the heat comes on.
Getting a thorough understanding of electrical, mechanical, plumbing, heating, and other systems will go a long way toward helping you repair critical systems post-SHTF.
When it comes to a post-SHTF situation, it will also be a lot easier to do repairs if you have spare parts on hand.
Think about your critical systems and what parts might break, wear out, or otherwise stop working. Stockpile those spare parts now so in a post-SHTF situation, you can be ready to replace non-working parts and get systems working again.
It’s also important to remember that no matter how much you are able to stockpile, eventually you could be faced with a situation where you don’t have the exact part you need.
This is why having a thorough knowledge of how things work will be critical. If you know how that needed part is supposed to work within a system, you will be more likely to be able to find something similar to the correct part and repurpose it to work or if needed modify the system to operate without that broken part.
Of course in order to make repairs post-SHTF, you will need to have tools available. Again, technology has spoiled us because we have gotten used to having power.
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Power drills, screwdrivers, saws, etc. may not be practical in a post-SHTF situation. Prepare to make repairs post-SHTF by stockpiling manual tools you will need to do repairs. Manual tools to have on hand include:
- Hand saws
- Hand Drills and Bits
- Shop Vise
- Channel Locks
- Pipe Wrenches
- Nuts and Bolts
- Wire Strippers and Wire Cutters
- Tin Snips
- Chisels and Files
- Post Hole Digger
- Winching System
- Nails and Screws (wood and metal)
- Boards of various sizes
- Electrical Wire
- Sockets and Ratchets
- • see more recommended tools and gear here
In an “ideal” post-SHTF situation, you will have stockpiled all the tools you might need.
But, a SHTF event and its aftermath is unpredictable and you may simply not be able to stockpile all the tools you could need for every repair. Or you could be forced to leave them behind or give them up to looters to save the lives of your family.
So what do you do post-SHTF if you don’t have the right tool? Or how do you finish a repair if the tool you do need breaks mid-repair? Knowing how and what to repurpose from available materials can help you out here too.
In addition, these tools will help you fix things in your home today, without you having to pay specialized help. You can ask a friend to help or, if the chore is easy, you can watch a youtube tutorial.
Ways to Repurpose Post-SHTF
In a post-SHTF situation, you can’t just run to the local department store or hardware store to get what you need.
Whether or not you and your family thrive in a post-SHTF world may be dependent on whether you can scavenge for and recognize items with multiple uses.
Being able to scavenge for and repurpose items post-SHTF will enable you to save precious bartering supplies for items you cannot get on your own.
Plastic 2-liter bottles can be used to store water, to store dry foods such as corn, pasta, rice, etc. Cut plastic bottles at an angle to create a makeshift scoop for animal feed or bulk foods or even to make a broom if needed:
You can even use plastic bottles and an old quilted bedspread to make a stool:
There are dozens of ways to repurpose plastic, and plastic bottles in particular.
Use cardboard juice cartons to create a food storage rotation system or fill with dirt to create a mini-container garden that could be portable if needed:
Cardboard can also be used in the garden to enrich the soil in a process known as mulching. You can use it as a tinder to start a fire, and in many, many other ways.
Repurpose old satellite dishes with these 4 ideas. One of these will even let you cook without using any power other than that of the sun:
Mattress box springs can be dragged behind a working tractor to level ground, or used in the garden for veggies to vine on, in the barn to store things or to hang things to dry. Turn the mattress springs into candle holders, or combine the box spring with burlap and turn into an herb garden.
Aluminum cans will be plentiful after SHTF because most people won’t realize their value when it comes to repurposing.
Aluminum cans can be used to make a rocket stove, to link together in a chain, to create an early alert alarm around your property or campsite, and they can even be crushed flat and used to create a blade or patch a roof.
Glass jars and other containers with tight fitting lids to store dry goods or use for container gardening in a small space or an urban location.
Televisions, cameras, and electronics often have a lens or at least a reflecting surface that can be used to start a fire or as a signal mirror. You can also cut the cords off old or non working electronics and knot or braid together as a makeshift rope to tie down gear on the roof of your car:
Rubber car floor mats can be used for various things but if you find yourself stranded in winter weather without proper footwear, you can create “mukluks” to insulate your feet and protect them from frostbite.
Cut holes in the mats and thread the seatbelt strap through the holes and pull tight over your foot.
To provide additional insulation against cold, pull the covers from your car seats and/or the padded material from the trunk of your car and wrap around your foot first and then pull the rubber car mat up to pull it all together.
Fruit cores and peels can be used to make beer, wine, vinegar, or juice.
Meat trimmings or vegetable peelings you would normally toss can be dehydrated or frozen if power is still available. Use for flavor in soups or stews when your stockpile runs low on fresh produce or meat.
Feed trimmings to chickens when commercial chicken feed isn’t available. Use food scraps in a compost pile and then reuse the compost on your garden to produce better vegetables.
Broken eggshells can be used to boost your compost, or even to sprinkle around plants for natural pest control. Cleaned and crushed eggshells can be used to supplement chicken feed or used to give a calcium boost to the family diet:
Used tea bags and old coffee grounds can be added to a worm farm or compost pile. Plants who thrive in an acidic soil will thrive if you mix coffee grounds directly with garden soil.
Beef bones–make bone broth, dry and crush and use in the garden to add calcium and phosphorus
Bacon fat or other lard can be saved and reused to make fire starting material or candles.
Cardboard can be repurposed for a multitude of uses post-SHTF including for insulation between you and the ground in cooler temperatures and to help insulate a temporary shelter or to add insulation to your home to help block wind and hold heat inside the house.
In a pinch, you can also coat strips of cardboard with wax to use as fire starting materials.
Cardboard is also great to keep on hand for kids to use for entertainment. It can be used to make pretend forts, to color or paint on, or just as a small, cozy place to hide out and calm down when things are overwhelming.
Cars are an unexpected resource that can be repurposed for a variety of things post-SHTF. In the event of an EMP or any kind of shutdown that results in a fuel shortage, many vehicles will be abandoned by their owners as useless.
There are, however, many ways a car or its parts can be repurposed:
- Use abandoned cars to block access to your home, your street, or your neighborhood.
- An old car with the windows intact can become a greenhouse environment starting seeds.
- Fabric and cushioning from the seats of cars can be used for insulation.
- A rearview mirror can be used to signal for help.
- The casing around your side mirror as a container to carry water.
- Tires from abandoned cars can be removed and used to build walls around your home for protection or used to create raised beds in an area with clay or rocky soil.
Check out these hacks using inner tubes from bicycles can be used as a flotation devices for gear, to keep a raft afloat, or even to insulate around doors and windows:
Use an old bicycle to make a generator.
Old freezers or refrigerators can be reused as an airtight storage for grain, animal food, firearms and ammo, or even partially buried and turned into a root cellar.
Empty plastic cat litter buckets make great nesting boxes for chickens. Since their lids are tight fitting and stackable, they can also be used for dry storage of various items.
Plastic garbage or shopping bags can be cut into strips and braided to make a pretty sturdy rope. Store out of direct sunlight when not in use to prevent from degrading:
Lawn mower engines can be recycled for many different purposes with a little know-how including to possibly power a wheelchair, turn a power drill, or power a pulley system or cart.
Broken crayons can be ground or shredded and turned into candles:
Turn old clothing, especially denim, into rag rugs for your floors. You can also use old clothing that no longer fits anyone to further insulate the walls of your home.
An unused shopping cart can be modified into a rolling chair for a child or someone who has difficulty walking long distances.
There is certainly no guarantee of survival following a post-SHTF event. But if you are properly prepared and know how to rebuild, repair, and repurpose post-SHTF, you stand a much better chance than many others. Preparation and skills are the key.
Gain the skills you need to repurpose those materials that will be available so that you and your family can thrive in a post-SHTF world.
In addition, don’t forget that any piece of “junk” may be of use to you in a survival situation, so make a habit off not throwing even the littlest things away that you anticipate you could re-use.
updated 11/02/2020 by Dan F. Sullivan
A mother of four and grandmother of nine boys and one girl, Megan is living the lifestyle any prepper would want. Gardening, homesteading and constantly planning for emergencies big and small, she’s a beacon of knowledge in the prepping community.