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When starting their food storage people commonly ask: How much food do I need? There are a few considerations to make when deciding on quantity. Each food storage type has its own characteristics so included below are some things to keep in mind when determining how much to store.

Pantry/Canned Foods:

If you decide to include pantry/canned foods such as the grocery items that you consume regularly, calculating this can be fairly simple. First figure out how much you and your family go through in a typical week. Take that number and multiply it by the amount of time you would like to have food on hand and strive to obtain that amount. Thirty days is a good initial goal.

Taking advantage of grocery store sales is a great way to quickly build up this portion of your food storage. Remember: eat what you store and store what you eat. This means don’t buy foods that you don’t normally eat just because you see them on sale. By purchasing and preparing the foods you normally eat, rotating out the oldest items in your pantry first and then replacing these items regularly you ensure that this portion of your food storage is always fully stocked and up-to-date.

Bulk Items:

bulk-food-storage

Stocking up on foods you already eat is an easy way to increase your storage.

When it comes to bulk foods, remember that these storage items are excellent for extending meals that you make with your other storage foods or making meals from scratch. Adding rice, pasta or beans to any meal will stretch your food dollar regardless if the meal is canned, freeze-dried or a long-term storage food, Bulk foods are also great for having everyday essentials on hand such as salt, sugar and flour. For example, you will want to store sugar if you are used adding it to your daily coffee.

When determining how much to purchase consider your family’s typical serving sizes and then buy the items based on how many times a week you plan on needing them.  Having a surplus will never an issue because bulk foods can last a very long time if properly stored. Note that when purchasing bulk food items you may need to repackage them in order to extend their shelf life sufficiently for your needs.

MREs

If you plan to include MREs as part of your food storage, keep in mind their limited variety and high cost; they are best suited for short-term emergencies. MREs don’t require any cooking so put them in your go bags or evacuation packs. A case of MREs contains 12 meals. Each MRE contains 800-1200 calories so you only need about two per day. A smart goal would be to have one case of MREs per person; this will provide approximately 1 week of meals for each family member.

Dehydrated and Freeze Dried Foods

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Quick and easy option that doesn’t require cooking.

Dehydrated and freeze-dried meals are much lighter and can come in small packages for portability. These, too, could double as a bug out supply with the understanding that extra water would be needed for reconstitution.

While you can get individual food items that are either dehydrated or freeze dried, one advantage of these foods is that you can buy prepackaged meals and then all that you would need to make a tasty meal is hot water. These complete meals may not be as convenient to eat as MREs but they provide a much greater variety of meals from which to choose.

Unlike pantry food and MREs, calculating how much freeze-dried and/or dehydrated food you will need is not easy so we will guide you through it.

How much Long-Term Food is Enough?

When deciding how much freeze-dried and dehydrated foods to add to your emergency supply, the most important rule to remember is to go by calories not by serving size. Emergency food companies have different definitions for what constitutes a serving and emergency food kits are not one-size-fits-all even though they may be advertised that way. The first step is to figure out how many calories you and your family consume on a daily basis. Next multiply that by the number of days for which you want to be prepared. This becomes the minimum number of calories that you need to have in your food storage program.

Once you know how many calories your family requires you can figure out how much dehydrated and freeze-dried meals you need. Keep in mind that your daily caloric requirement changes based on what activities you are doing. For example, a hard work day cutting down trees and moving storm debris will require more calories than sitting around playing cards while waiting for a storm to pass. Its best to assume you will need more calories than less. In general teenage and adult males need 2800 calories per day, teenage and adult females require 2200 and children 13 and under use 1400. Infants require special food so plan and purchase food accordingly.

Once you have the total daily calories needed decide how many months’ worth of food you want. This is influenced by your personal comfort level. The longer period of time you can supply for the better but most people can’t afford to go out and buy a year’s worth of food without some prior planning and budgeting. The best recommendation is to start where you can. First build up a 2-week supply and then move to 30 days’ worth. Once you have that, work up to three months, then six and then a year. Build up your food storage supply as big as you need in order to feel safe and to be able to provide for your family in any disaster situation.

Watch out For Serving Size

Remember when choosing an emergency food supplier to look at the total calories in what they call a serving. Similar with our everyday food, a single serving is not enough calories to be considered a complete meal. Instead consider the total number of calories in the package. Going by our figures above an adult male needs about 2800 calories a day or 933 calories per meal.

Many people make the incorrect assumption that a serving size should contain enough calories for a complete meal. In truth, there are no standards for serving sizes; they are only suggested portions by the manufacturer.

Serving sizes are recommendations that also assume that you will also be eating other foods. Focus on the amount of calories in the whole package instead of the number of servings per package. Don’t expect an entrée meal to complete your calorie intake. Look into having snacks, drinks, fruits, vegetables, rice and other food items to help increase your daily calories. Having a variety of foods to eat creates normalcy in an emergency situation.

When starting their food storage people commonly ask: How much food do I need? There are a few considerations to make when deciding on quantity. Each food storage type has

 

There’s a little tool called a health wheel I learned about as a victim’s advocate forever ago. Another variant is called a wellness wheel. They’re not complete and total bunk since they can help keep our lives more balanced, but the real reason I bring them up is that as soon as I saw one, I immediately thought of the preparedness application. It’s not about the mental and emotional health. It’s about the balance. When wheels are balanced, we roll much more smoothly through life’s up and downs. Converting a wellness wheel to a preparedness wheel gives us an easy visual of where we’ve concentrated our efforts and if the rest of our preparedness needs and goals are in balance.

Anybody who’s dealt with a broken wagon wheel or a bent or flat bike, cart, or dolly tire can tell you how much harder they are to deal with. In preparedness, leaving one wedge of our wheel empty while another bulges can have serious implications – like watching crops and gardens we were counting on fail for lack of the pest control we usually buy, or having whole bedrooms of firearms and ammo but watching them disappear because we had a lack of smoke detectors and fire control mechanisms.

wellness-wheel

Health & Wellness or Happiness wheels can be found in many formats, but all were designed to help people self-assess the balance in their lives. The same can be applied to preparedness to ensure we aren’t overly concentrating on one aspect while ignoring another.

 

Working in stages isn’t a new concept. Tweaking a health or happiness wheel into a Preparedness Wheel just allows us to visualize our progress, increasing the chances that we truly are well prepared for the small stages, and haven’t wasted time, money and space for lack of focus on another area
prp-wheelPotential categories for our Preparedness Wheel include:

Some of them lend to being grouped together for easy comparison. Some have less direct impact on each other. Some things like basic tools might cross between categories and thus rate their own wedge. Whether we want to only track physical items or want to include training and skills development is just one of the ways we can tailor a wheel to our own uses.

preparednesswheel

We can tailor our wheel however we want – to include only supplies, or the skills we’ll need to use them. We can also create separate wheels for all phases of preparedness – like the skills we want to acquire – so we can visualize our progress.

 

One of the reasons we’d use a preparedness wheel instead of just a list is that it allows at-a-glance progress evaluation, like other pie charts. That means the items on it do need to be measurable. Those measures can take place in our heads, however, or on a list. If I wanted to include a wheel for my dairy produce use, I might start with an add-a-dollop yogurt or cheese, and my progression toward 100% might be harder, more difficult, longer-storing cheeses made from powders or homemade rennet.

Customize your preparedness wheel to the best fit for you

Modifications to this are endless. There are reams of variants of the health and wellness wheel it’s taken from – no reason our spinoff can’t be the same. Go wild.

Make your preparedness wheel four or six primary wedges if inclined, and have other wheels that represent each of those categories in more detail.

For example, I could call it food & water, security, health & hygiene, and interactions. Then I could have a wheel of however many wedges to represent things like: stored foods in days or weeks or by pound, livestock and their various produce, livestock feed, my garden and crop seeds, tools and equipment, my stored water, various water treatments, and the sustainability/backups for my water plan(s). I’d have another wedge to represent each of my other categories as well.

At some point, just making a checklist or Excel/Access doc for the nitty gritty is going to be easier, but you can use those to generate charts as well for visualization and balance in preparedness. For example, my goal is to have no more than 20% of my dry grains be represented by either wheat or corn. As I add various grains and potatoes to my “starches/calorie base” category, I can run a chart to see where I stand with each of my types to keep to those levels.

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We can use any number of wedges that we’re comfortable with to develop our own preparedness wheels.

 

Use a clock template to create twelve wedges quickly and easily. Instead of dividing each wedge into ten to create a percentage, make it twelve there, too, to represent a month of total needs in that category.

Dividing by weeks or months can be especially beneficial in keeping us balanced when it comes to food and the ability to prepare our foods. I will say it as often as I can: It does me no good to have 1-3-6-12-18-36 months of beans, grains, and pasta, 2 weeks of water, and 10K rounds of ammo (unless I also have a well or walkable-distance water source). I can just soak and use passive solar to turn a lot of grains and pastas into something consumable, but there are some things (kidney beans) that really do need to simmer, and if part of my plan is eating my hares or chooks or the abounding small game I’ve bet my survival on, I have to be able to cook them. A trash can of charcoal, a couple of five-pound fuel tanks, five gallons of lamp kerosene, and a shoebox of candles is not going to get me too far, especially if that’s also my heating and lighting fuels.

I also have to be able to have clean enough hands not to be giving myself diseases and having my hard-earned supplies running right through be, and to be able to treat myself should that misfortune occur.

The flip side of that, however, is to keep our wheel from overbalancing the other way, and some of that comes from honest self-assessment. Do I honestly have enough food that I need to cook to invest in timber axes and saws? Do I have enough water to merit diving that way?

Honest self-assessment is vital to how we assign priority even in the food and fuels example listed.

tools

If I have acres of woods for a family of four, firewood and the tools to collect it are a worthwhile investment.

If I have acres of woods for a family of four, firewood and the tools to collect it are a worthwhile investment. If I live in a suburb with condos on the other side of a 40-foot-deep stretch of woods, I might want to hold off on turning myself into Paul Bunyan and plan for more foods that don’t have to be cooked at all, because others are going to knock on my door or take my wood pile or tools. If I have my target 20 acres but it’s grass pasture and flat farm, with only tendrils of woods and thickets between me and the next and a few fruit and shade trees near each house, I might invest in propane, charcoal and salvage wood instead of planning to compete with the neighbors for those tendrils and trees.

The wheel lets us keep that balance between our food and cooking fuels, just like other aspects of preparedness.

Big Benefits for Beginners

Going the other way, especially for beginners, consider letting the progressive rings or tick marks represent days and make it 7-14. Then make another where the levels represent weeks. Take a relatively quiet day and set a weekly time to fill it in. Sometimes actually seeing the progress helps not only with balance, but with motivation. Beginners – especially those who feel locked in by jobs and living spaces – sometimes feel totally overwhelmed or even worse, inadequate or incapable of ever reaching the levels of the people they’re reading posts and comments from. There’s no reason for that and this version of a pie chart can help mitigate it by making sure that the comparison most at the forefront is against a reasonable goal.

Read More: Prepping 101 – A Step By Step Plan for How to get Started Prepping

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to strive for sustainability, the perfect homestead the perfect distance from the perfect small but accepting and tight-knit community in the perfect climate. However, no Olympian ever popped out of a womb ready to challenge for the gold. They wormed, they crawled, they toddled, they walked, they ran, and then they kept running and training until they were running their trials and winning on the national stage.

We work in increments, ideally in balanced increments, and eventually we get there.

When the Balance Gets Badly Off

Some things just aren’t going to work for a weekly or monthly wedge, which is where having our targets written down and using the percentage-based measure comes into play. The wheel is not intended to suggest that there should be a one-for-one stockpiling of aspirin, canned beans, candles, tarps, ammo, and bandages, and that’s where filling in a wheel with percentages can help. Even so, there are priorities that shift.

beans-bandaids

Beans, Bullets and BandAids….

I want my wheel to roll smoothly. I have this goal for a full companion animal and human dental and surgical suite, biohazard containment, and decon setup. Percentagewise, my goals might be in the neighborhood of $5-10K and nearly at zombie-ready at 60 percent. However, if 60 percent of, say, my food storage, is only 4 months … Would I be better served just to be able to handle standard first aid, sprains, a loose filling, stomach illnesses, everybody in the house to have a 10-day flu, and allergies, and applying the budget to becoming more financially resilient or bringing in the equipment/supplies to decrease my irrigation needs?

A lot of medical is like that, even beyond the fact that post-surgery dressing and bandage needs are enormous. Another common category that doesn’t always work out well purely by percentage is ammo and security.

Security is much like medical. There are some things we are each going to decide are far more important than the wife’s tampons for another month or a week of doggy chow. Other things … maybe not so much.

Firearms and ammo, however, we might assess a higher priority because we can’t manufacture them ourselves, and expect that they’ll disappear from stores way, way, way faster than plumbing connections for water barrels, chickens at the Human Society/ASPCA, baking soda, socks, or hammers and roofing paper.

Those are cases where we might be better served by assigning an outside priority rating. We’d like X amount of food, Y amount of water, and Z amount of other items before we increase our ammo stockpiles or pick up backup parts for something. We make note elsewhere, or we can assign a bare-minimum level to compare to the rest of our chart instead of our ultimate goal.

Exceptions to Balance

There are some exceptions to balance, as mentioned. Another exception is personal or family crises. These include things like injury, job loss, and big bills. They also include the loss of power or water during daily life.

Those are times when we could easily foresee grabbing some paper plates and a few small solar chargers so Moms can still have music while she makes dinner and phones can stay charged, and where we might have two weeks or three months of groceries without also planning to have enough water and fuels to cook, clean, and wash up before and after those meals.

Our goals for those aren’t quite as far reaching as a hurricane evac with four dogs, three kids and two horses where we’ve made arrangements to camp at a farm 150 miles inland, or any of the major events various preppers foresee. They might exist as a separate lists, since we’re not looking at being as utterly dependent on ourselves and our supplies as a big event. Since it doesn’t take as long to reach those goal (or involve as much memory of what we do and don’t have yet) there might not be as much benefit to a visual tool like the wheel.

  There’s a little tool called a health wheel I learned about as a victim’s advocate forever ago. Another variant is called a wellness wheel. They’re not complete and total bunk

While many want to avoid the pitfalls that come with Murphy’s Law, not many know the origin of the famed mid-20th century adage.

As the story goes, Capt. Edward A. Murphy prevented a potentially devastating mistake from happening at Edwards Air Force Base by a technician and muttered, “If there was a wrong way to do something, the technician in question would find a way to do it.” This utterance has evolved into the adage many of us know today: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” At the completion of the project, the project manager attributed its success to “avoiding Murphy’s Law.”

In a sense, all prepping and survival work is an attempt at avoiding Murphy’s Law, and to successfully circumvent the ever present threat of what can go wrong, you have to stay two steps ahead in planning.

When stocking your hideout bunker, anticipate every need that may arise in a state of emergency or natural disaster. Every good prepper knows you will need food, water and first-aid supplies, so let’s skip ahead to some of the supplies you may not have considered to help you counter Murphy’s Law. What you do now before an emergency happens to stock your bunker or even your home could help you survive.

Potassium Iodide Tablets

A rather frustrating aspect of prepping for a full-on disaster is that you really don’t know what type of disaster may be coming your way. In the event of nuclear fallout, it’s crucial to have a plan for surviving radioactivity. Explosions from a nuclear source generate massive amounts of radioactive iodine. In this scenario, potassium iodide tablets may be your only hope.

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The Secure Home – If you want to build your own bunker, this is a great resource.

Upon learning of the explosion, take one of these tablets immediately, as they can protect your thyroid from radioactive iodine, which causes cancer. Once radioactive iodine is airborne, you run the risk of inhaling or ingesting it. But if you consume the tablets before or immediately after exposure, your thyroid will be flooded with potassium iodide, thereby reducing the risk of your thyroid absorbing the toxic element.

The tablets are fairly in expensive and can be purchased over the counter at any drug store or online.

Five-Gallon Buckets

If the disaster at hand is not nuclear, there are still items for survival you may have overlooked. Sure, it’s gross to think about, but where exactly do you plan on going to the bathroom in a bunker? Chances are you won’t have any indoor plumbing, but all members of your survival party will eventually have to go “see a man about a horse.”

Five-gallon buckets have other uses for storage and transport, but no other purpose is of as much importance as substituting for a toilet. Be sure you also have trash bags on hand to line the bucket in order to minimize the mess when it comes time to empty the latrine.

You can find them at your local hardware store.

tirewall

Old tires have a lot of uses if you are creative.

Spare Tires

Not only are heavy-duty tires necessary to keep your wheels in motion, but they also have many applications within the bunker as well. Tires can easily be fashioned into tables and chairs, and can serve as an excellent material for barricading doors. If the stack of tires is thick enough, it can withstand or ricochet certain shells in the event of an attack. Stock up early from an online retailer like tirebuyer.com.

Don’t let Murphy’s Law take you by surprise. If anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, then be sure you have the supplies you need to deal with it. As another popular adage goes, “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”

While many want to avoid the pitfalls that come with Murphy’s Law, not many know the origin of the famed mid-20th century adage. As the story goes, Capt. Edward A. Murphy

One common misconception about emergency preparedness is that food storage quality doesn’t matter as long as you have some food stored that will last for a long time without spoiling. Having something stored is better than nothing but it is also crucial to fill your body with nourishing ingredients during an emergency. This will keep you satisfied and in top form. Eating lesser-quality foods can leave you susceptible to sickness and diminish your mental and physical health. You are storing food to protect your family against starvation but you also want to protect them from sickness and diseases caused by harmful ingredients. Do this by knowing what goes into the food that you buy.

Long-term emergency food storage is made to last a long time. Some companies in the industry cut corners and add a variety of artificial preservatives, dyes and flavors in order to lengthen the shelf life of their foods. If you are committing to protect your family be sure to make the best, healthiest choices possible. When selecting your food storage beware of artificial ingredients. Here are other red flags to consider as you look around.

Avoid Hydrolyzed Yeast Extract and Similar Flavorings

Spices2[1]

Fresh Ingredients are more flavorful

Hydrolyzed yeast extract is a controversial ingredient found in many packaged foods and is common in food storage items. It is primarily used as a flavor-enhancer and is created by breaking down yeast cells. The FDA classifies yeast extract as a natural ingredient but according to many health experts, yeast extract is a cheaper alternative to monosodium glutamate (MSG) and actually does contain some MSG.(1) Some health and consumer advocates say that labeling something as containing yeast extract is the way food companies avoid saying that a product contains MSG.(2)

MSG has many negative side effects. Consumption of MSG has been linked to a variety of scary conditions including headaches, numbness in the face and neck, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea, weakness, appetite control problems and other negative symptoms.(1)  Whether or not you have had a sensitivity to MSG in the past, it is best to avoid this ingredient in your storage food altogether.

For a good list of other additives that are linked to MSG check out the following article:

“Hidden Sources of MSG.” Truth in Labeling. Truth in Labeling Campaign

Consider GMO-Free Foods

When looking for emergency food it is equally important that the ingredients are free from genetically modified organisms or labeled GMO-free. The use of genetically modified foods is another controversial topic in the world of food and nutrition. It is best to avoid GMOs while the debate is still going on, particularly if this is a long-term purchase.

Genetically modified organisms are created by taking the genetic material of one organism and inserting it into the genetic code of another. This bold practice is becoming more and more widespread despite being widely acknowledged as a risky and understudied process. Many experts opposed to genetically modified foods argue that there has not been adequate testing on human subjects. Despite the increasing insertion of GMO ingredients into mainstream foods there are still too many unknowns about the health effects these human-engineered foods could have. Some health groups like the Center for Food Safety have gone so far as to claim that genetically modified foods can increase the likelihood of antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and even cancer.(3) Why put your family at risk with untested ingredients when you will have other worries to contend with in a survival situation?

Because the use of GMOs in manufactured foods is becoming such a widespread practice, very few emergency foods are free of GMO ingredients. However, there are a few companies that produce foods that are GMO-free. If this is an issue that is important to you, be certain that the emergency food is certified GMO-free. Some companies may claim to be free of genetically modified ingredients but without the certification have no proof.

Other Health Considerations

Other health considerations include checking amounts of cholesterol, trans fat and sodium in the food storage. Packaged foods often have high amounts of these three things and emergency foods are no exception. High-quality emergency food brands limit cholesterol, trans fat, and sodium amounts but you need to read the labels to be sure.

Make Sure Your Food Storage Ingredients Will Stand The Test Of Time

Emergency food should be able to last and still be healthful. As you look for the right emergency food be aware that some food storage companies haven’t done their research on ingredients that spoil versus those that keep. As a result they incorporate ingredients into their emergency food that go bad after a relatively short period of time. Canola oil, for example, will only last a year before it goes rancid, thus spoiling whatever food storage in which it is used. Novice food companies use canola oil in their granola to make the clusters stick together and uneducated food buyers end up with a worthless product after just a year.

Bottom line: it’s important to know what goes into your storage food. Take the time to do some research on the food you are buying; be sure it will contribute to the health and well-being of you and your family in a disaster.

Taste Matters

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Taste Matters

You have made your checklist, done the research and narrowed down your options; now it comes down to taste and appeal.

Emergency-preparedness gurus often publish lists of specific items you need to store for an emergency. One popular guideline suggests something like this: for a year’s worth of food storage each person needs 350 pounds of grain, 75 lbs of milk, 65 lbs of sugar, etc. These types of specific food guidelines can be a helpful starting point but one size does not fit all. That guideline is useless for people who have food sensitivities such as gluten or dairy intolerance. Review the first chapter of this guide and consider what is best for your family.

Regardless if you choose canned, bulk or long-term storage foods, the most important principal we stress is to store the food that your family eats the most. Having food routines that carry over from your life before will make the hard adjustments easier in a disaster situation. Buying things you don’t regularly eat just for added variety on the shelf may sound like a good idea. Unfortunately these will likely be the last foods you reach for and if not regularly rotated could be expired, possibly ending up not usable at all.

 

Do you remember going to dinner at a friend’s house as a kid? Even if it was a close friend everything about the dinner seemed foreign to you from the way they folded their napkins to the saltiness of their gravy. Even the smell of their cooking was  different from the dinnertime smells in your kitchen at home. Little differences like this mattered and affected your comfort level. Eating food from different cultures can sometimes put us in this situation, too. Routines, especially involving food, can be powerful in an emergency situation. Food affects the way we feel. If unfamiliar, food can make a scary situation that much worse.

Many food storage suppliers offer entrée options that are familiar favorites like macaroni and cheese, enchiladas and various soups. Look around at all available options and make selections based on what your family eats on a regular basis.

Store Food that Tastes Good

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Store Food that Tastes Good

At first glance taste might not seem like a very important factor when purchasing emergency food. It’s easy to justify buying food that you don’t normally eat and telling yourself, “It will be an emergency. Whether I like the food I’m eating or not will be the least of my worries.” However, making sure your food storage is appealing and tastes good to you and your family is more important than it initially seems. Having food that’s delicious and comforting, especially in an emergency situation, will bring peace of mind. Another good thing about having food storage you like is knowing that your family will eat it and it won’t go to waste.

If you have kids, buying good-tasting food is even more important. Kids are picky eaters. If it is hard to get your child to eat during a regular night at the dinner table, think of the desperation you will feel trying to get your child to eat in an emergency situation. This is not just about preferences, either. In emergency situations kids have a particularly hard time forcing themselves to eat, especially if the food is unfamiliar. On the other hand, if the food is something your child loves, it will really help.

Food that is familiar and tastes good has the power to make us feel relaxed, comfortable and cared for, even in stressful situations. Ideally, you would occasionally replace your regular meal with something from your storage food so that your family gets used to eating it.

Sample your Options

Since long-term food storage is made by others it is important to sample before buying. Never make a food storage purchase without first sampling one product from each of the companies you have narrowed down. Most food storage companies have small sample packs of their larger food kits available that are fairly inexpensive. Test a few and choose the ones that most suit your family’s tastes. This not only gives you an idea as to how the food will taste, but you will see what is involved in the preparation.

When ordering a sample ask the company if the food they are sending to you is the same as what is in the larger packages. Sometimes companies send out higher quality food in their sample packages to trick buyers into thinking that their food is better than it really is.

Variety is Optimal

When building your food supply, make sure to include a variety of all types of food storage. No one wants to be stuck eating canned beans for six months. Eating the same foods for a long period of time can also leave you deficient in the vitamins and minerals you normally get from a wider variety of foods..

Start collecting different entrée options and then add in “good” calorie side dishes for variety. You can also expand your food storage assortment by purchasing more canned goods, bulk items and other supplementing items. A wide food variety is enjoyable and will also provide options should you develop an intolerance to a particular food.

Dietary Needs

If you or a family member has special dietary needs, some food storage companies offer gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian options. You want to store food similar to what you regularly eat that has already been adapted to your needs.

Plan on Extra Water

When purchasing items for your storage plan consider your additional water needs. Unlike canned food, bulk foods need water for recipes and preparation; freeze-dried and dehydrated food also need water for reconstitution. We take for granted that every day we have water immediately on hand. Figuring out how much water you use every day and calculating how much you need to store for food preparation can become overwhelming. Water storage takes up a lot of space and is hard to accomplish. Your best option is to first store what you can. We recommend that you also invest in a quality water filter and locate an alternate water source.

Don’t Forget the Treats

The idea of storing a few luxury items that you are used to having and would not like to do without is commonly overlooked. These items might be coffee, chocolate or other specialty foods that are part of your routine. Having luxury items may seem trivial but a simple treat or comfort snack will be invaluable in a survival situation. Not only will it be good for morale, you could use it as a bartering tool should the situation come to that. Having treats stored for an emergency benefits everyone.

Pet Considerations

For people with pets it is a common practice to store several months’ worth of food at a time in case of emergency. Because dry pet food can go rancid relatively quickly it’s a good idea to continually rotate through your stock. Canned pet food can last as long as regular canned foods but is typically pricier than dry pet food.

Dry pet food is a good option and can be purchased in larger quantities. This pet food contains fats and oils and will spoil if not stored correctly. Dry food stored in large plastic, glass or metal bins can help protect the food against insects but exposure to light, air, humidity and heat speeds up the rate at which the food degrades. The fats and oils can stick to the bottom and sides of the container leaving a film that can become rancid over time. This further contaminates other bags of food added to it and could lead to a health risk for your animal.

It is best to wash and dry the container thoroughly prior to adding new food. You could also keep the dry food in its original packaging when placing it in one of these containers. Make sure to get the air out of the bag after each use and seal with a good lid. If these dry foods are unopened or stored well the shelf life can be up to one year. Always check the “best buy date” for your particular brand.  The recommended “use by” date for an open package is six weeks. If you repackage this food into food grade buckets and add oxygen absorbers you may increase this to up to 2 years, depending on the food. Further measures must be taken to avoid spoilage for longer storage.

Legacy Premium is proud to introduce the first healthy, well-balanced dog or cat food storage with a 10-year shelf life. Our pet food storage is stored in heavy-duty Mylar pouches complete with oxygen absorbers; pouches are stored in stack-able, waterproof and rodent-proof plastic buckets that are re-sealable and BPA-free.

Food storage can be a big purchase so take the time to figure out what foods you and your whole family will want to eat. An emergency is not the time to try new foods, nor is it the time to force your family to eat food they do not like. Food should be a comfort rather than a negative factor adding to the stress of a bad situation. Hopefully this is food insurance that you never have to use but if you do, you want it to be good, healthy food that is enjoyable to eat.

 

One common misconception about emergency preparedness is that food storage quality doesn’t matter as long as you have some food stored that will last for a long time without spoiling.

What are you afraid of? These are the words that I hear often from friends, strangers and the media. What was once normal has become “absurd” and self-reliance is now seen as “fringe” behavior that either needs to be legislated out of existence or shunned in public. In some cases prepping is a sign of radicalism that needs to be viewed as potentially deviant social behavior.

There are many reasons to prepare and the motivating factors behind each individual’s decision process change with the event or scenario you are preparing or “prepping” for. There are those who are planning for an EMP attack that would wipe out all or part of our electric grid, others for a global pandemic or a currency collapse. Some families are preparing for more organic threats like hurricanes or snow storms or even something as relatively normal as the loss of a job. Regardless of the reason, the logic behind preparing is sound. Maybe some of the scenarios to prepare for are a little far-fetched in terms of probability – but the main goal, to be prepared to take care of yourself and your family – is valid, logical and in this day and age rare. When did it become crazy to want to be able to protect and care for your family if something bad happens?

As I write this the world appears to be not so slowly trudging toward events that could dramatically affect our lives for generations. Our world economy is in shambles and the pieces are lying in a pile on the edge of a metaphorical cliff while the “experts” speak of recovery. Governments are seizing power and reducing liberties in the name of safety. Our health is in jeopardy with viruses, genetically modified food and resistant bacteria. How could anyone not be at least a little concerned with what the future holds or think from time to time about where we are headed? I believe that each person has a gut instinct or an awareness of what is happening around them. Some are more in tune with this awareness and others are choosing to block it out entirely.

For me, this awareness for lack of a better word started to become more prominent around 2008. There was no event that triggered any type of awakening but a lifetime (still relatively short) of seeing events in my life certainly influenced me. My personal history didn’t have anything catastrophic in it, but I was aware of tragedies – even just natural occurrences that ripped lives apart. I wasn’t concerned in the least about Y2K, but I did hold my breath just for a second at midnight on Jan 1, 2000. Earthquakes, Tornadoes and Hurricanes are easy to ignore if you don’t live in areas prone to that type of calamity but it does make you wonder. Ice storms and floods seem to cause similar havoc so you can understand in most cases the perspective of someone you know who has been affected by some type of event that disrupted their lives completely.

What if a hurricane Katrina type of event happened where I live? What if an ice storm cut power to our house for three weeks? What if I lost my job? What if there was a gas-shortage or a trucking strike and I couldn’t get food from the grocery store? What if my bank closed and all of my money was tied up and unavailable to me?

When I started to think about things in this way as the “What if?” type of scenario I looked around at my own personal situation and realized just how in trouble we would be if anything like this happened. We had no spare cash. Our food in the pantry would probably last a week if we were lucky and in the end it wouldn’t be the best meals we could think of. Spaghetti sauce and Black olives anyone? We didn’t have any backup power, no backup heat, and no stored water. We did have a gas fireplace, but what if the gas went out or the lines were broken? We routinely ran our tanks in the cars down to E and we didn’t have any money on hand not to mention our savings weren’t really that significant either. Loss of a job would quickly get us in a bind.

So I started doing research and beginning to list all of the things I would need to be completely prepared for whatever happened. I started reading blogs and books from one side of the spectrum to the other. From people who discussed growing a few tomato plants to full on bomb shelter plans with castles and moats (my own personal favorite). There is so much information and opinion out there to digest. Like others, I started to buy a little more food and water, obtain firearms and make plans for how to protect my family just in case something happened. We have come a long way since 2009 but we have a ton more that we need to do. Nobody can prepare for everything but covering as many of the bases as possible will help you out more than it hurts.

My hope for this blog is two-fold. I want to inform and inspire people to prepare for whatever you feel is most pertinent to your situation. I also want to help people learn from my mistakes and trials and learn from your stories as well. Every day we will be posting news, articles, reviews and advice on Prepping. I hope to be able to cover all of the topics with enough variety and a little humor so that finalprepper.com will become a resource you visit daily.  Thank you for visiting and I look forward to starting down this road with you.

What are you afraid of? These are the words that I hear often from friends, strangers and the media. What was once normal has become “absurd” and self-reliance is now

When you consider the events that preppers all over the world seem to prepare for, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, government collapse, economic collapse, rioting, hurricanes and on and on – if you are honest, you have to contemplate how you will act when faced with death. When whatever situations we are storing supplies for happen, inevitably in the worst disasters there will be death. There always is. In the most disastrous to us personally, it will be people we know and love.

I think all of us fear that possibility in the back of our minds and we deal with that in some ways by prepping. The more prepared we are, we figure, the less we have to worry about anyone we care for being adversely affected by disaster. That is the whole reason behind prepping, right? It is and while I can’t think of a better defense against bad things happening, still we all know they will. That is if we are being honest.

I say that again because I think some of us aren’t truly grasping the enormity of a situation that we would collectively call a SHTF. We have a pretty cavalier attitude about it sometimes and illustrate our plans to pick bad guys off at 300 yards before they can sneak through the woods to harm our women and children. We talk about repelling the worst of society and stocking away enough provisions to feed a platoon of highly skilled friends for years but are we just kidding ourselves and walling off discussion of something we all fear? Are we avoiding conversations that we may need to consider now that involve the very real prospect of death?

Giving up hope

I was prompted to write this article after listening to a podcast interview of the author Sheri Fink who has written a book entitled, Five Days at Memorial. In this book, she describes the events during hurricane Katrina that happened at Memorial Hospital.

To cut to the most compelling story, one which you may already know, many patients were found dead in Memorial Hospital immediately following Katrina and there were charges that they had all died from lethal doses of drugs. Mortuary workers eventually carried 45 corpses from Memorial, more than from any comparable-size hospital in the drowned city. I won’t ruin the podcast or the story for you. It’s tragic on many levels, but the point that stuck out to me was that for all intents, these people in this story only lasted 5 days after a SHTF event before someone gave up.

I am not debating the various sides to the story, that is something you can do if you like. What is incontrovertible is that this one hospital lost power and utilities really on the day after the hurricane passed through. Only 4 days really after that, decisions or circumstances led to the death of 45 patients. In an ecosystem ostensibly set up and more than capable of preserving life in normal circumstances, death still happened in only 5 days after a loss of power.

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Memorial Medical Center

How long will you last without power?

Some of you may be reading this and thinking that these patients were very sick and near death anyway. They couldn’t possibly survive without power running their various systems. The heat was intense (reports are over 100) and if a lethal combination of drugs was administered to them, that is merciful.

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Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

OK, so if that is your argument, place yourself in that same situation. The power has gone out for 5 days in the summer due to some force outside your control. Now add to that, your toilets are filling up with sewage and your mother who is nearly bed-ridden is feeling the effects of age and her ailments more so in the heat. Are you going to put her out of her misery? Would you wait another 5 days? A month? How long would you last?

These questions I am posing, I honestly don’t have the answers for myself, but it did start my wheels turning. At its most basic, in this story, for the people in this hospital, this was a power outage. Yes, it was more chaotic than that, but the water didn’t push them from their location. They were dry, not counting the sweating they must have been doing and still with all their training, despite the Hippocratic oath… people were dying after only 5 days. This was in a hospital. What will happen everywhere else with people who aren’t trained to preserve life?

What could I do any differently?

The story of what happened in Memorial hospital reinforced for me just how quickly our society will unravel in a true crisis. After only four days’ critical patients in hospitals died. You have to expect similar things in nursing homes, assisted care facilities and regular homes or apartments of senior citizens everywhere if they are dependent on medicine or power to survive. Now add people who are on prescription medication (at least 60% of Americans) or who are bed-ridden, confined to an electric wheel chair type of device. Sure some of these people can survive without medication, but many will not be able to. What will be the scale of death with a larger event that takes power out for months or years? How many people will die when the power goes out and all of the ability to refrigerate food is gone? What will happen when there is no more air conditioning and temperatures raise higher and higher without any relief? When the bodies start to pile up, what will you do?

Will you be looking at ending the suffering of your family? The people you have been entrusted with caring for? How long will you be able to last before you give up and say to yourself, I am making them more comfortable?

Stories like this prompt me to action in a couple of ways.

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Many dead were found in the chapel.

Refocus on prepping – Even if this is National Preparedness Month, hearing real life stories like this motivate me in a way that no stupid national declaration could ever do. These people were in a hospital so their lives to a great extent were in the hands of the medical practitioners, but you will likely not be in a hospital. Do you have supplies to last if the power goes out for 5 days? Do you have enough food and water for 30 days? Can you last longer than that? Have you ever experienced that much time without power?

Have redundant power sources – Additional backup power for me is a luxury, but for people who need this to survive, it’s a different story. I have several alternative sources of power from small solar panel systems to generators and power inverters. I have enough to get me by but not in sufficient amounts and not for long. Unless you have a significant source of solar power, in the worst disasters anything will eventually run out. Generators will run out of fuel no matter how much you store.

Consider medical issues – My family is all healthy but our extended family has a couple of people who require prescription medicine daily. Two are diabetic and I need to work with them on both acquiring more supplies just in case and to my previous point, making sure they have a way of keeping their insulin cool. Does your family have medical needs that you can handle if the power doesn’t come back on?

Remember what SHTF really means – SHTF isn’t really just some cool letters we strung together to sound hip. It is an idea that should conjure the worst scenarios in our mind. If we truly do live through a SHTF event, we can expect miserable conditions. This won’t be like the movies. People will die and tragedy will be in our faces, on our streets and impacting people we really know.

Plan to survive – Above all else, my motivation for prepping is that I plan to survive and I am taking as many people with me as I can. It is important to remember that well after I am forced out of the comfort of my office chair. When all hell breaks loose, that is when it matters and everything I have planned for up until this point will need to be put into action.

Don’t give up – I realize that at some point preserving life is no longer feasible or wise. I can’t say what I would have done in the case of the people in New Orleans for sure, but I do hope I would have been able to last longer than that. Suffering is never fun, but we were never promised a life without suffering. I will try to hold on as long as I can and do what is in my power to help others. That is all any of us can do.

When you consider the events that preppers all over the world seem to prepare for, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, government collapse, economic collapse, rioting, hurricanes and on and on –

It’s like a bad scene out of a disaster movie mixed with your worst nightmare. Some event forces you and your family to leave your home with only your bug out bags on the backs of you and your family. The good news is you are prepared and have set aside provisions and planned for the trip. You also have a destination 50 miles away at a relative’s house that is waiting for you with plenty of security and supplies. You expect the trip to take 3 days of walking back roads. Not ideal, but certainly doable.

The trip starts out normally enough but you were forced to travel in almost constant rain. At the end of day one everyone’s feet are sore, most have blisters and your younger children are starting to act like they can’t go on another mile.

Our bug out plans eventually come down to relying on our feet in a worst case disaster to carry us to safety. Sure we have options and my personal first option is staying in my home. When that fails me I have a bug out vehicle, but if that isn’t an option we strap packs to our backs and hit the trail. Injuries to your feet can incapacitate quickly so it is important to care for these modes of transport that would be crucial in a disaster scenario. One main issue with walking long distances is blisters. Another topic that is a little less discussed is trench foot.

What is trench foot?

Trench foot is caused when your feet are wet for long periods of time and as it advances, blisters can easily form in the skin that is first pruned and wrinkled. Left untreated these blisters can become infected, your skin begins to slough off. You can also experience swollen feet, cramping and numbness. Severe cases of trench foot can cause skin and muscle damage so this is something we want to get in front of quickly before it keeps someone from being able to walk.

Trench foot has been a problem as long as we have had feet and shoes, but it came to prominence in the trench warfare of WWI where soldiers would spend days with their feet covered in water and mud. While this likely won’t happen to your little survival group, minor effects of trench foot could cause issues and can be relatively easily prevented with some quick and simple tips.

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Severe trench foot can cause tissue and muscle loss. This man will never have to worry about clipping his toenails again.

How can you prevent trench foot?

The key to preventing trench foot is simple in theory. Keep your feet dry. The hard part is doing this as a habit and may be even more difficult if you are on the run or being pursued. Here are a few tips you can employ to help you.

  • Keep your feet dry and clean – Easier said than done. When you are hot, your feet sweat. When you have to cross water, your feet get wet or if you are forced to hike through rain, snow or wet grass. Assume your feet will get wet, but you can buy footwear and socks that help that condition. You can purchase waterproof boots and moisture wicking socks. When you stop, make sure you take your socks off and check your feet. If your socks are wet, allow your feet to dry Use foot powder if you have it and treat any blisters before they get worse.
  • Change your socks often – This simple act could do more good than almost anything else. Put on dry (a different pair) socks when you stop to take a break. You can hang the wet ones on your pack to dry out. Some people recommend two pairs, but I would say three are better so you can hopefully clean one pair too. Roll your socks inside out so you can keep up with what has been worn.
  • Let feet air out – Allow your feet to breathe and dry as long as possible especially if you are experiencing symptoms. Lying down will help with circulation. Again, if you are in a pursuit/combat situation, you don’t want to go to sleep with your shoes off, but for the rest of us, keeping your feet dry and healthy is easier than dealing with injury and infection. If the weather is very cold, you will have to adjust this, because you don’t want frostbite either.
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Early signs of possible trench foot if left untreated and the feet aren’t dried out.

What should you have in your bug out bag?

There are a few simple supplies you can have in your bug out bag that will help you prevent and treat trench foot if you are forced to bug out.

  • 3 pairs of wicking socks
  • Foot powder to remove moisture
  • Moleskin or blister block to address blisters before they get worse
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Good hiking boots or shoes that allow your feet to breathe should help them dry faster. Waterproof boots should keep them dryer. Either has benefits depending on the conditions. I prefer heavy-duty hiking boots that take a beating.

Part of planning to bug out has to extend to more than just the necessary contents of your bug out bag. There is the health and well-being of the people you are bugging out with too that should be considered. Proper foot care will keep people healthier and keep them moving longer.

It’s like a bad scene out of a disaster movie mixed with your worst nightmare. Some event forces you and your family to leave your home with only your bug

The sh*# has hit the fan and the power is out. Despite all warnings, you didn’t stock up on matches, lighters, or a flint. It’s getting cold outside, and you could really use a warm meal. What now? There are many ways to build a fire without matches or lighters, but in my opinion, the best way is to make a fire plough. While it does take some stamina, it is very effective.

One of my favorite survival movies is Cast Away in which Tom Hanks plays an everyday guy named Chuck Noland. In a very powerful scene, Chuck struggles for hours to make a fire using a bow drill. While that is a good way to build a fire, it is very difficult (as it is for Chuck in the movie). Finally he gives up on the drill and tries another method: the fire plough.
Follow these instructions and you’ll be warm and eating a bowl of hot soup in no time.

    1. Prepare some kindling. There are many things you can use such as tree bark, dead plants or grass, wood shavings, or just some shredded paper. The drier the better.
    2. Find a piece of soft wood. You might get it off a piece of furniture or from an abandoned building. As long as you can make a mark on it with your fingernail, it is soft enough. Make sure it’s no more than two feet long, no more than six inches wide, and no more than an inch thick.
    3. Find a very hard stick, about a foot long and a half an inch thick. With this one you shouldn’t be able to leave a mark on it with your fingernail, otherwise it is too soft.
    4. Kneel down over the soft wood. Rest one end of the hard stick on your thigh and the other end on the wood. It should slant either right or left (depending on whether you are right or left-handed) at about a 45-degree angle.
    5. Get a good grip on the stick and start rubbing it up and down the soft wood, making sure the keep the path straight as it forms a groove. The “ploughing” should be hard and fast. This is where your stamina comes into play. Ignore your burning muscles and keep at it!
    6. Soon a pile of wood shavings will form at the end of the wood. Eventually the wood will be hot enough to ignite the wood shavings into embers.
    7. Immediately place your kindling on the embers and gently blow on it until the kindling ignites.
    8. Triumphantly shout, “Fire!”

For a video of the same process you can view this below.

The sh*# has hit the fan and the power is out. Despite all warnings, you didn’t stock up on matches, lighters, or a flint. It’s getting cold outside, and you

Situational awareness is crucial to surviving and prevailing in a critical incident. Several years ago, I was still On The Job as a Detective with the Street Crimes unit. I was also a member of the Washington DC Fugitive task Force as a Special Deputy US Marshal. Needless to say, we were very busy.

One fall Sunday evening, I happened to be off duty and working on finishing the basement in our house. Out of drywall mud, I rounded up the family and headed to the hardware store for supplies, promising a stop at the pizza joint for a quick supper.

We arrived and I did my usual “cursory” check. I knew where the back door was, kitchen access, bathrooms…I had been there before, and the advance work was quickly done. After the kids got their food, we grabbed one of the last few tables, and I made a serious mistake. It was the first time I made this particular mistake, and it will never be made again.

Playoff baseball was on and I wanted to catch up on the game and scores, so I sat with my back at an angle to the front door, primarily facing the TV.

We were about 10 minutes into the meal when I heard my wife say “These guys look like they are up to no good”: and they weren’t. They were two brothers wanted for a murder, an armed robbery, aggravated malicious wounding and attempted murder (2 counts). They were suspects in several Northern Virginia home Invasions. How did I know this? I had been hunting them for over 6 months at the request of the Homicide Unit. I knew their full names, dates of birth, cars they drove by tag, make and color, where their dope runs were, family lived, all of it….and here I was, 2 jurisdictions from mine and they found me. They had another male friend and 2 females with them; I had a S&W 342 and a reload. They all acted hinky…perhaps not gonna rob the joint, but definitely up to no good.

Mistakes? Since becoming a cop and a lot more cognizant of my surroundings, I had never before sat where I couldn’t observe the main entry or exits whenever possible. This time I got lazy. Maybe also lucky.

Here are few points that I have leaned over the years to improve your overall awareness. You should try always to remain aware, thus increasing your probability of recognizing any possible “issues” that might come your way.

Know where all possible threats could come from.

Where the problems could arise. I have worked and read about the robberies that start in the kitchen. There is easy access, the doors are sometimes propped open and they can control the staff in the kitchen first. In some restaurants the office and safe are accessible from there. If they want to “up” the evenings take, or feel that there is a possibility to control the amount of patrons in the dining room, it may spill into your area. Many customers fail to keep the kitchen in mind as an escape should they or their family need to leave in an emergency.

mcdonalds-robbery

Sit where you can see the entry and exits.

I have been guilty of requesting a different table, or waiting for a better table if I don’t like the lay of the land.  I am also VERY guilty of telling friends or companions that they are not allowed to sit in the seat that I want…most all now know this and will surrender it without question (or just offer it preemptively).

Park in a well-lit area; choose your exits, surroundings and terrain.

I generally will back into a parking spot and will position the door I need to access first to the business or area I will be returning from.  What I mean is, I still open the door for my wife, the child safety seat is on the passenger side as well. This way if either are with me, I will park with the passenger side door facing the area we are returning from. That gets them in quickly and I can protect them until the doors close, and I only have to worry about me and the problems that arise as I return to the driver’s door. She can lock the doors and call for help from the relative safety of the vehicle if I end up educating someone. I know exactly where they are, and I can work on keeping the bad guy away from them.  It’s not a bad idea to let her have the keys at that point. She can lock and unlock with the fob, operate the vehicle if something happen to me, and I don’t have to worry about my hands being occupied should I need to clear my cover garment and get to work. Sure, if they are in my hand I can scratch an aggressor with them, but I am not a cat… I have a few other, better suited solutions on me to address that eventuality.

SEE what you are looking at

As I have mentioned before, you need to think “Is that something that I would do, is that normal?”  Hot weather, a couple of dudes in masks or heavy hoodies up walking towards you; quickly determine any rational reasons, if nothing comes to mind…. MOVE. Cross the street, step into a store, create distance.  Distance is a reactionary gap. If it becomes very apparent they are coming towards you and you perceive a physical altercation, not a deadly force situation, you need to make noise and get aggressive with them. Thugs and your mediocre/average criminal will prey on easy targets. If you get pissed off and yell and challenge them as you and your family remove yourself from the situation, they may back down or run. It does happen. I realize it may not be in your nature to yell and curse and someone, but consider the alternatives. Treat them like Park Rangers say to treat a bear, make yourself look bigger and make a lot of noise. (No need to yell “HEY BEAR…HEY BEAR”.. but get creative.)  That will draw attention to you, and them, as well as the situation and they don’t want attention. Do you carry a less lethal option? Pepper spray or another option?  Remember, you will have to justify the use of pepper spray if the subject is apprehended, of you use it without justification. The charge is “Assault with a Caustic Substance” here in Virginia. Your state may have its own legalese. Make sure you can articulate why you deployed it, much like if you have to use your firearm.

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Have a plan for your family

THIS IS IMPORTANT.  We had one prior to the Pizza Shop incident. Once I explained to the kids that we were done eating and mom was now taking them to get ice cream (there is not fussing about leaving a pizza shop after only 10 minutes when they are skipping directly to dessert) to the point that my 7 year old loudly proclaimed “Dad, do we get under the table now?!”  Our plan was me to walk them out to the vehicle, and then I called the local PD and coordinated with them after my family was safe. As a cop, and even now, my wife knows that at some point if there is a situation, we will rally at a designated place, and that may vary depending on location and time of day. Situation dictates, and you will have different plans for different possibilities you can quickly deploy. Talk ahead of time and prepare.

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Keep your head on a swivel

That is something you hear said often, and by a lot of folks. It stands true, but is not understood sometimes. One popular situation; getting gas is a very opportune and popular time for robberies and carjackings. The growing trend is entry into your vehicle from the passenger side as you watch your dollars tick away on the pump. This is becoming very popular.  Think about which pump you use. Can you see the storefront, the entrance and exits of the store and those of the parking lot? Keep your vehicle secure, even once you are standing next to it, remain aware and constantly looking for problems.

Keep your face out of your phone

Think about where and when you check messages, update status or any other mobile phone or tablet. Updating a Facebook status or seeing who Liked your last one is not as important as perceiving the fast approaching threat. I watch people all day walk into busy parking lots, bump into things and walk for dozens of yards without ever looking up. The same happens at a red light. Watch the next time you are driving, there will be people who stop, start looking at their phone and don’t look up until they realize everyone else is moving, or someone behind them honks. These folks are making themselves a prime target.  If you are not watching what is going on, you will never see your attacker coming, so you will not be able to repel an attack, defend yourself or even be able to offer a description if you are not knocked unconscious, or worse.  With the internet and all the social media in the palm of your hand, it is easy to get caught up in the information feeds. Choose where you work or play from your phone – educate your children to this end.

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These are a few suggestions that will help you avoid or repel an attack should you be targeted, be a better witness should it happen to someone else. There are other ways of remaining aware, and my way is A WAY, not THE WAY. Find a good system that works for you and go with it.

How did the earlier story end? I was able to get my family out and send them on their way. I met with the arriving units and gave them the location and description of the suspects, and then (since I was in plain clothes) was able to walk through the restaurant and let the other half of the arrest team in the back door to make sure they could not escape. The Violent Crimes Unit were advised that they were captured and were being transported. My pager went off shortly after that with dispatch advising they had been arrested and I needed to respond to the station, and the basement never got painted.

Train Smart, Train Often, Victory First

Situational awareness is crucial to surviving and prevailing in a critical incident. Several years ago, I was still On The Job as a Detective with the Street Crimes unit. I

 

When we think of rugged individualism, we might think of men like John Wayne in old-time Westerns or we might think of places like Fort Worth, Texas, where the idea of rugged individualism was a way of life for the cowboys who lived there. What has happened to the American psyche? Why has the idea of rugged individualism, a strong mind, and a noble character become unfashionable? Today our politicians whine about how bad things are because the very infrastructure of the country that built the first modern transcontinental railroads in the world is crumbling faster than we can raise the money to put it all together again.

Today, we seldom think of the fictional courage of John Wayne or the real life mental strength of the hardcore men who drove cattle in the state of Texas. John Wayne has faded into a parody of the cheesy plot lines of early Westerns and while Fort Worth is still called a cow-town by tourists and locals, it’s best known as a place where Hispanic and Latino youth habitually abuse illicit drugs. Here is how Greenhouse, an AAC facility, describes Fort Worth:

“The rate at which this demographic abuses illicit drugs is high, especially among youths — Fort Worth’s most at-risk demographic. Between 2008 and 2011, past-year rates of illicit drug use among Hispanic and Latino teens rose by 20 percent, with marijuana use alone rising by 25 percent and ecstasy use by 36 percent.”

What America needs to be great again is not more disingenuous promises of reform made from political platforms or more media spin about how certain nations, ethnic groups, or religious persuasions are out to get us. What it needs is mental strength, rugged individualism, backbone, and character.

The Importance of Mental Strength

How important is it to be mentally strong in the face of disaster? How should you as a prepper overcome the things that hold you back like addiction and mental illness? What does it take to build your character before you hit a crisis? These are questions we seldom ask ourselves. If there should be an economic meltdown tomorrow because the national debt is $19.3 trillion and European Banks are in deep trouble, it is a collective return to character building alone that will help us maintain morale in a crisis.

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When you are courageous, you realize that waiting will only make the situation worse, that now is the best time to take action, and that you are the best person to resolve the pressing calamity.

The 3Cs of Mental Toughness

Mental toughness can’t simply be defined as machismo, which is more an act than an actuality. It’s much more complex, perhaps a combination of courage, confidence, and commitment.

Courage – No one is born courageous. It’s not a gene some of us inherit and that others miss out on. Instead, it’s a learned behavior. Courage is taking proactive action despite shaking in our boots. Courage is the assumption of inner strength from facing the reality of difficult circumstances before you. It’s about reaching within even when the situation seems hopeless.

A well-known image of courage comes from Shakespeare’s King Henry V. When the young English king was addressing his small army of knights and archers to stand up against the overwhelming number of heavily armored, battle-seasoned French knights at the battle of Agincourt, he advised them to “Imitate the tiger: Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.”

When you are courageous, you don’t run and you don’t hide. Instead, you face the situation without panic because you believe you can do what needs to be done as soon as possible. When you are courageous, you realize that waiting will only make the situation worse, that now is the best time to take action, and that you are the best person to resolve the pressing calamity. Although you still feel fear, you don’t let it stop you. Instead, you use it to strengthen your resolve. You don’t crumble in the face of obstacles, but feel resolute in the face of a challenge.

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Building confidence doesn’t happen as a giant leap of faith in yourself, it happens in small steps.

Confidence – Confidence does not come naturally to us. Throughout our lives, we have been criticized far more often than encouraged. This is why confidence is more like a muscle than an innate tendency. We build confidence by taking small steps in the right direction. Small steps may seem trivial at the time you do them, but they will help you make incremental improvements. Small steps lead to small successes. These tiny victories build up, slowly creating a permanent change in your self-appraisal.

Building confidence doesn’t happen as a giant leap of faith in yourself, it happens in small steps. These small steps are tangible. These small steps are like each sure-footed ascent up a steep mountain. Each small step eradicates a chunk of self-doubt while each act of courage and commitment eradicates a piece of irrational trepidation. It’s wise to celebrate each step to lock it into your memory.

Commitment – Without commitment, nothing happens; with it, anything is possible. Enough said.

If America is to save itself from chaos, it has to stop listening to talking heads who merely express canned political agendas. Instead, it has to reach back into its deep past to a time when courage, confidence, and commitment were a way of life. You as leaders in your family and community will be forced to take action one day. To step out of your comfort zone and act. No one knows now the time, place or situation you will be faced with, but we are all pretty much assured that day is coming. Are you ready?

  When we think of rugged individualism, we might think of men like John Wayne in old-time Westerns or we might think of places like Fort Worth, Texas, where the idea

 

I am always being asked for my advice about what equipment should be taken on trips to out-of-the-way places. My initial response is to take as little as possible. The more you know, the less you need right? With the below items you should be able to operate for extended periods of time. The below items should fit into a medium size day sack that should be able to carried onto a plane.

Items like pocket knives etc. would need to go checked or found at location. This is a guide and not all these items will be required on all trips, do your threat assessments and plan all trips properly before you travel.

Operational Deployment Equipment List – Personal kit

Additional Considerations

  • Sources of food and water
  • Accommodation and electricity
  • Laundry service
  • Where can you change currency
  • Additional operational equipment

Emergency Vehicle Kit

  I am always being asked for my advice about what equipment should be taken on trips to out-of-the-way places. My initial response is to take as little as possible. The

 

How ready are you for your children’s life after a disaster? Are they going to have the food they need? Will they get bored? These are things I started asking myself when I became a father. Since then, I have always taken my children into account when I plan. In this article I’m going to mention some things I have done that may help you prepare for taking care of your children after SHTF.

Obviously, your child’s age will also determine a lot. If you are expecting a five-year old to go from preschool and video games to protecting the house and growing a garden then you are very mistaken. You have to understand that children of all ages will take time to adapt to change. If you’ve never taken your child camping or hiking, how do you expect them to hike twenty miles to your bug out location? Children also are likely to mimic the attitude of their parents. When the lights suddenly go out, do not let them see you panic. If they see you being brave then they are likely to at least act brave.

Your level of preparedness will determine a lot about how to prepare stuff for your children. I am going to base most of this off of my plans which are to bug in. However, I will offer some input on bugging out with kids. We plan on a three-month bug in. That is three solid months of not going outside. This obviously depends on planting seasons and the threats in our area. My boys like being active so this plan presents a multitude of problems. Here is a list of simple things I have gathered for a two and ten-year old to occupy their time.

  • A stack of coloring , word search, maze and other entertainment books.
  • Three boxes of crayons.
  • Two boxes of colored pencils.
  • A case of blank, white paper.
  • Several spiral notebooks.
  • At least ten different board games.
  • Playing cards and other card games.

disasterwithkids

This stuff is all that I have packed away in my supplies. My sons have other things to play with but I want them to also have brand new stuff to entertain them during our three months.

You can’t just rely on coloring and card games to entertain kids though. Kids will go crazy if they are expected to suddenly go from video games and TV shows to coloring books. I picked up an older pocket DVD player at a pawn shop. It works great on my rechargeable batteries and I have a solar-powered charger that I can charge my batteries with. We have headphones and splitter. This allows them both to quietly watch a movie when the power is off. Normally they don’t like the same movies but we always work it out. This way my sons can still enjoy some form of electronic entertainment, even if we have to bug out.

 What help can you expect from your children during a disaster? Honestly, not as much as you want. Yes, a couple of teenage hunters with strong backs would be great but that’s not what I have so that’s not how I’m prepping. My ten-year old can hike at a slow pace for a couple of hours but not my two-year old. I found a shopping cart at yard sale and snatched it up for less than twenty bucks. This is our mode of transportation, if we have to walk. It may not be comfortable but with a sleeping bag for a liner, it’s at least better than bare metal. We played with it a little and I can put both of them inside it, our packs clipped to the outside and a tarp over it all to keep them warm and dry. This is obviously our last resort for traveling. I may be strong but walking for eight hours, with a two-year old in my arms, is not an option I want to consider. I would be limited to two or three hours a day.

What about security?

I can not and would not expect my ten-year old to stand guard for any longer than it takes for me to use the bathroom or change a diaper. The only way I can think to provide security at night, while traveling, is to use traps. I have one of those tripwire traps that will trigger a shotgun shell. I plan on relying on this and some 550 cord with a couple bells attached. I fully realize that this is a poor nighttime defense but it’s my last resort for traveling with just my children. I’ll also be sleeping with my weapon in hand and our campsite will be hidden.

I just mentioned changing a diaper. That is something for a lot of people to think about. How many do you have? Do you have a single cloth diaper? I bought several inexpensive packs at Walmart. I tested them out on my son. They are a pain to clean. It took me a minute to figure out the right way to use them and my son kept playing with them but we finally got adjusted to them. The best part was that they didn’t make my son break out. Think about stuff like that.

Do you have feminine products for your daughter? Do you have enough formula for an extended disaster? What about over the counter baby medicine? I would have been almost as miserable as my son without his gas drops. Are your children diabetic? If so, have you looked online for how to make insulin? I saw an article a few months ago. It was complex looking. I would not want the first time I tried making it to be when my child is dying and the power is out. Print stuff like that out and practice it a few times. Your children should be the reason you prep.

Keep them happy, healthy and alive!

  How ready are you for your children’s life after a disaster? Are they going to have the food they need? Will they get bored? These are things I started asking