Home2016November

A critical prep that you have to plan for including in your bug out bag is water. When I first got into prepping, I had people saying that they would carry all of the water they needed in their bug out bags. If you figure 3 gallons (1 gallon per person per day), that would simply not be wise or possible for most people for very long. Then I started seeing people say they would pack 3 liters of water. That’s better, but 3 big plastic bottles is almost 7 pounds, not to mention you must have space for them. Not the end of the world, but not insignificant either.

One of the ideas I try to promote is to watch the weight on your bug out bags and not overload them. I recommend this for a lot of really simple reasons. If your Bug Out Bag is too heavy, it will hurt eventually. It might not hurt when you first take off walking, but it will eventually. In addition to rubbing you raw and potentially causing injury, you will be more off-balance and less able to quickly move. If you can’t move out of danger quickly enough, that bug out bag could get you killed. The better idea is to pack your bug out bag in a way that is as light as possible while still maintaining the essentials you need to survive for up to 72 hours. Don’t go minimalistic for the sake of making the scales proud, but you should look carefully at the overall weight.

Water, Food and ammo, possibly a tent are all great places to shed pounds from your bug out bag and today we are focusing on water. I have personally tried a few different water filtration methods and wanted to highlight the pluses and minuses for you today on Final Prepper as I see them. Hopefully this information you will make sure the bug out bag water filtration options you choose will work well for you if you ever need to use them.

In addition to being less heavy than simply carrying your water on you at all times, these bug out bag water filtration options will give you increased range and capabilities. Instead of being limited to only the water you are able to carry, it is easy to filter an extra liter or more from sources along your route. All the while, ensuring that the water you are drinking isn’t going to make you sick.

MSR MiniWorks EX Water Filter

This first filter I tested is one I have owned for years and up until recently used on my backpacking trips. The MSR MiniWorks EX is a great water filter that is activated by a manual pump. You simply connect the hose, stick that into the water and screw your Nalgene bottle or dromedary bag onto the bottom of the filter and start pumping. In just a few minutes the water from your  source will be pressed through the filtration system and with a little time, you will have a full bottle of clean water to drink. Filtering a standard Nalgene bottle like below probably took 3-4 minutes.

msrminiworksfilter

The MSR MiniWorks EX was my first backpacking water filtration. We loved it when we had to depend on it in the woods.

I would take these down to the river and fill up everyone’s water bottle as well as two 48 ounce bladders we had when we stopped. The bladders were to refill bottles and went toward coffee and reconstituting our freeze-dried food.

So, good and bad about this filter. First off, I like the fact that this is pretty simple to use and you don’t have to get down into the water to collect anything. The water tastes great and the pump has stood the test of time for the most part. I did have one pump stop working on my wife when we were on a backpacking trip. Fortunately, I had two filters so we had some redundancy built-in. Pumping does take you a little while and the pump isn’t the lightest or cheapest option. Once you return from your trip you need to clean the filter element, usually with a scrubbing pad to get the gunk off of it and let everything dry completely for a few days before you put it away.

MSR MiniWorks Features

  • Ceramic/carbon Marathon™ EX element effectively removes bacteria and protozoa including giardia and cryptosporidia
  • Also removes unpleasant tastes and odors caused by organic compounds, such as iodine, chlorine and pesticides
  • Filter can be cleaned over and over for maximum field life with no tools required
  • Bottom screws onto an MSR Dromedary® Bag or Nalgene® water bottle for easy operation (both sold separately)
  • Easy dis-assembly lets you troubleshoot and maintain the MSR MiniWorks EX filter in the field

Weight: 14.6 ounces

Cost: $84 on Amazon.com

I also found this excellent review of the MSR MiniWorks EX from Black Owl Outdoors for those who like to watch videos.

Sawyer Mini

When I first tried out the Sawyer Mini I thought this was the best invention in the world at least from the standpoint of water filtration options for preppers. The filter was extremely lightweight, compact and could filter hundreds of thousands of gallons. The Sawyer Mini could be used as a straw to drink from a water bottle like the life straw or from the included squeeze bag that comes with it.

The cost, low-weight and ability to filter so much water is an incredible advantage, but using either the squeeze bag or a standard water bottle has some drawbacks in my opinion. You are still only filtering on demand unless you squeeze the water into another container and that isn’t always the most practical. One of the reasons I don’t think the LifeStraw is the best option for me in all cases.

sawyerwaterfilter

You can use the included squeeze bag to collect water and the Sawyer will make it safe to drink.

Sawyer Mini Features

  • Hollow-fiber membrane offers a high flow rate; sip on the Mini like a straw and it filters the water while it’s on the way to your mouth
  • Filter will also fit the threads on the included Sawyer 16 fl. oz. reusable pouch that you can fill at a lake or stream and then use to squeeze water through the filter
  • 0.1-micron filter physically removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli; removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium
  • Filter will also fit the threads on most bottles of water that you buy at a grocery store; can also be used as an inline filter (adapters and hoses not included)

Weight: 2 ounces

Cost: $20 on Amazon.com

I also found this review for perspective from Preparedmind 101

Polar Pure – Crystal Iodine Water Treatment

The third option I tried is Polar Pure. Polar Pure is a Crystal Iodine water treatment, not a filter. The bottle holds actual iodine crystals you might be able to see in the photo below. The process is for you to fill the bottle with water and let this sit for 1 hour. At the end of an hour you have something like concentrated iodine brine that you can use make almost any water safe to drink. There are simple to follow instructions on the bottle and even a hand-dandy gauge to tell you how many capfuls of the solution your water will need to be safe. The number depends upon the temperature of the water.

polarpure

Polar Pure uses iodine crystals to disinfect water.

You pour the recommended capfuls into your 1 liter water bottle and let it stand for 20 minutes before drinking. When you are done, just fill the bottle up with water again and it will be ready for your next treatment in another hour. This relatively small bottle will last for up to 2,000 liters of water, although I don’t know who would count them. When the iodine crystals are gone, so is your ability to use this to make your water safe.

Iodine, unlike the micron water filters above can kill viruses. Giardia, mentioned above is caught by the water filters, but if you have something like hepatitis or polio in the water, the simple filtration method above won’t work. Now, the question becomes, do you have to worry about viruses in the water you are drinking or just organisms that can make you violently ill?

The Polar Pure bottle is one that I would carry with me as an extreme back up for highly questionable water. The science is good on making your water safe. Iodine has been used for a very long time, but the bottle is glass. You could be in trouble if this is all you have and it is broken. Additionally, iodine will make your water safe, but it won’t filter it out so if you pour yourself a big cup of slightly brown pond water and treat it with iodine, it will be perfectly safe for drinking – brown pond water. Filtering your water first through a handkerchief or something like coffee filters at a minimum would be better. Some people use Polar Pure plus another filter for the ultimate in safe water.

Weight: 5 ounces

Cost: $20 on Amazon.com

For those who want to see the polar pure in action, there is a good video from Provident-Living-Today.com

Platypus 2L GravityWorks Filter

The last item I tried out for my bug out bag water filtration decision process was a relatively new purchase. I had heard about the Platypus GravityWorks Filter system from one of the readers on Final Prepper when I was initially looking at the Sawyer answer to the same functionality. The Platypus was almost half the price so I decided to give this a try because it looked like the perfect solution to me.

platypusdirty

Keeping the bags separated is easy with clear labels.

The Platypus 2L GravityWorks Filter is a two bag system. You have one bag for water collection and it is very simply labeled “Dirty”. Your dirty water goes in here and it has a wide opening at the top which works very similar to a zip loc bag. This wide opening allowed me to collect 2 liters of water from the creek very quickly and easily. You can see my test water isn’t a crystal clear glacier spring so the bag’s label was very appropriate.

platypusbaghang

The Platypus Bag system has a simple attachment system to hang your bag of water to be treated up on a tree, bumper or anything higher than the clean bag. Gravity does all the hard work.

Another nice feature were the connectors. The Platypus GravityWorks has a quick connect so you can collect your dirty water and either pack it out for filtration later or carry it back to camp. The filter element snaps in and you are ready to filter.

platypusquickconnect

The Platypus filter element snaps into the reservoir quick connect and you are all set to filter water.

platypusgravityworks

This system is fast. I only filled up about 1 liter but it was filtered in less than 2 minutes.

Once the filter is snapped in, the water will flow almost immediately. The tube running from the filter has a stopper that you can use to quickly pinch off the flow while you hook up the clean bag. As long as the bag of dirty water is higher than the clean bag, the appropriately named GravityWorks filter will take care of all your heavy lifting while beautiful clean water flows into your empty bladder.

This system will hold 2 liters of water which I think gives you a lot of water for the average person. You can also just filter two liters, then collect two more liters of dirty water for later. You will be carrying four liters of water with you at all times. Two filtered and two that needs to be filtered.

Cleaning this system is as simple as lifting the clean water bag up over the dirty water bag and squeezing your clean water bag. You will see the dirty sediment flow back into the dirty bag and you know your filter is clean when that stops.

Platypus GravityWorks Filter Specs

  • Easy, Pump-free filtering
  • Fast! 1.5-liters per minute
  • Weighs as little as 7.2 oz. (203 g)
  • Ultra-Compact
  • Meets all EPA & NSF guidelines for the removal of Bacteria and Protozoa, including Giardia, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Salmonella and Cholera

Weight: 7 ounces

Cost: $79 on Amazon.com

And I found this review from Outdoor Gear Lab that shows the larger 4 Liter system.

So What is the best bug out water filtration system?

This question isn’t something I can answer with a definitive statement that will stand for all time or in all situations, but I will share some of my thoughts. My idea of bugging out involves living possibly for some time in forested terrain. I plan to be on the move and I don’t want to slow down more than I have to for rest. Water is crucial for life so I don’t want to have to go to more trouble than is prudent to acquire it. Additionally, if I am strapping a pack on my back and walking out the door, I have to plan for being on my own so to speak for potentially much longer than 72 hours.

I have considered both caplets like the Portable Aqua Water Filter tablets and I even own some of them, but they last for a finite amount of time. The standard bottles will give you I think 25 quarts of water. With a hike for three days in the summer, enough for food and your bottle will quickly be cleaned out. It will go faster if you are sharing.

platypuswaterfiltration

I had all of this clean, fresh tasting water in a little less than two minutes.

The LifeStraw product is one I just don’t think is practical. It is a great idea, don’t get me wrong, but I for one don’t want to be forced to stick my head in a puddle just to get a drink. I want to take giant gulps of water if I am thirsty and I want to be able to take water along with me. Sure you can fill up empty bottles and drink out of them with a LifeStraw, but I think there is a better option.

The MSR Filter pump has usually been a great filter, but because it is mechanical, I have had one give me troubles. I was able to repair it eventually, but that wasn’t a good sign. I should have back-ups anyway I know, but I would rather go with a more stable platform and the MSR is heavier than all of the other options I have tested.

What about boiling water? Sure you could do that, but you have to build a fire first and then boil your water, then let it cool down. Do you want to do all of that in the heat of summer? Even in winter, that fire might be nice, but to go through all that effort for drinking water seems like a fall back plan, not the first option.

Iodine crystals like Polar Pure seem to be the best option for killing viruses, but like I said, their bottle is glass. One slip out of your hands onto a rock will end your water filtration options for that bug out trip. Even if you don’t drop it, I prefer to drink water as soon as possible and wouldn’t want to remember to keep my iodine warm for effectiveness.  I think Polar Pure makes sense as a back up, but not the sole method of water filtration in a bug out scenario. For Backpacking trips Polar pure is a great idea. If you have the time to leisurely prepare your water, I think this is a good option.

The Sawyer as it is would probably be my second choice because of the weight and size. I would have to fill a large reservoir, something like the 48 ounce Naglene Bladders and rig up some way to squeeze filter a larger amount of water into my bottles. Not the best, but it is incredibly light and could get the job done.

What about items like the SteriPEN that use UV light to make water safe to drink? What about EMP? What if it breaks? What if you run out of batteries?

I think that for me the GravityWorks system from Platypus is the easiest and fastest way to collect water that will be clean and fresh tasting. With it’s fast flow rate, I can grab a 2 liter bag of water, hook up the filter and throw them both in my bag if needed and keep on going to a safe location. This seems to offer the most capacity with the fastest filtration time and easiest system to learn and remember. I can teach my kids how to use this in about 2 minutes which is about the same amount of time it takes to produce 2 liters of clean water.

That is my take on the best bug out water filtration options. What do you use?

A critical prep that you have to plan for including in your bug out bag is water. When I first got into prepping, I had people saying that they would

Even though there’s not much to it, I get more questions about how to store food than anything else. It’s something that anyone who is serious about getting food storage needs to think about because if you’re investing your time and money into food, you want to make sure you’re storing it properly!

Our society seems to be so concerned about supersizing everything these days, EXCEPT for food storage. While closets have been expanded to fit every handbag in America, the pantry has been shriveling away, and in some homes, it’s practically non-existent. This is one reason, among many, that I LOVE buckets! They have come to the rescue, and have allowed people the option to supersize their food storage, while at the same time using little space.

What Can You Store in Buckets?

storing

You can store pretty much anything that is dry and sits on the shelf (except your cat, my brother tried), but look below for more ideas. Make sure to stay away from foods with high oil or sugar content; those need to be vacuum-sealed in jars.

I store 5 different type foods in my buckets that you can see below (the ones with the ***). I reserve my buckets for foods I use frequently and need more of. One rule I have that helps me stay organized and rotate my food is that I store each type of food in only ONE type of container. For instance, if I decide to store my flour in buckets, I DON’T then go store it in #10 cans, flour bags, etc. By storing food in one type of container it helps keep things rotating well in my food storage system.

For food items that I use less of, I store mainly in #10 cans – like my beans, popcorn, hot chocolate, and freeze-dried foods.  But if you use a lot of those items in your home, you might want to go ahead and use buckets.

Anyways, hopefully, that made some sense, just figure out a system that works best for you!

How Much Do You Need?

Now the fun part! You get to pull out your calculator and give your brain a workout. You first need to figure out how much food you want, then you can figure out how many buckets you’ll need!

Most bulk food you find is in 25 or even sometimes 50-pound bags. So if you needed 100 lbs of oats, you would need 5 buckets & 4 (25lb) bags of oats. Here’s some of the best estimates I could find, so figure out your plan and good luck with the math!

FOOD ITEM

#10 CAN

5 GALLON BUCKET

*** Wheat
5 lbs 37 lbs – (12 buckets)
*** Oats
2.5 lbs 20 lbs – (6 buckets)
*** Rice
5.3 lbs 36 lbs – (4 buckets)
*** Sugar
5.7 lbs 35 lbs – (6 buckets)
*** Flour
4.5 lbs 33 lbs – (8 buckets)
Popcorn
5 lbs 37 lbs
Macaroni
3.1 lbs 21 lbs
Beans
5.6 lbs 35 lbs
Brown Sugar
4.5 lbs 33 lbs
Powdered Milk
3 lbs 29 lbs

Options for Storing Food in Buckets:

There are various ways you can store food into buckets, but I’ll talk briefly about the top 3 and let you choose.

1- Do Nothing

This method involves just that, you don’t do anything. You just put the food in the bucket and put the lid on (ok, maybe you do a little). If you’re rotating through your food on a regular basis (probably at least every 5 years), then you can maybe get away with doing this. You need to make sure the bucket and lid you use are sealed on properly to keep as much air, light, and bugs out. The bucket only provides one layer of protection against the elements, so it’s not the most trusted way of storing food, especially long-term.

2- Dry Ice

This way is similar to using oxygen absorbers, but instead, you are using dry ice. It’s a little cheaper and can kill off insect eggs at the same time, but it can be somewhat tricky. You want to make sure it’s done properly so you don’t have the opposite effect and leave a puddle of water at the bottom of your bucket instead. You only need about 1 ounce of dry ice per 1-gallon container, so if you’re up for some experimenting and playing with dry ice, feel free to give it a try. I just didn’t want to take a chance on all the food I had just invested in!

3- Mylar Bags w/ Oxygen Absorbers

This is the method I prefer and the one the pros use. Most companies you buy pre-packaged buckets of food do it this way. Plastic buckets alone are slightly porous and will still allow for air to transfer through them. Using Mylar bags with buckets cuts the oxygen down to almost nothing, helping to preserve your food for 25+ years.

For instructions, look below.

Storing Food in Buckets w/ Mylar Bags:

Gather your supplies. If you’re feeling extra energetic and want to hunt down leftover buckets from bakeries, restaurants, grocery stores, you can get them for FREE! I’m lazy, and I like them to all look exactly the same, so I got most my stuff from the links below and from Baytec Containers.

 

1- Get Your Supplies:

  • BUCKETS – You want food grade buckets.
  • MYLAR BAGS – 20″ x 30″ bag
  • OXYGEN ABSORBERS – 2000 cc for a 5-gallon bucket
  • SEALER – You can use a hand-held sealer, iron, or flat-iron.
  • GAMMA LIDS – I use these only on my 5 buckets in the pantry.
  • REGULAR LIDS – I use these lids on all my buckets, except in the pantry.
  • RUBBER MALLET – Used to beat the lid on the bucket.
  • BUCKET OPENER – Helps take the lid off when you’re ready.
  • BULK FOOD – To fill your buckets.

 2- Put Your Mylar Bag into the Bucket:

I prefer 5-gallon buckets, but you can use smaller containers if that’s too heavy, or if you don’t need as much food. If you’re extra buff you can impress us and get 6+ gallon containers, just don’t say I didn’t warn you! They can get extremely heavy, so 5 gallon is my max.

Once you have your bucket, get a mylar bag that fits the size container you are using and put it inside. Mylar bags gives an extra layer of protection that keeps the oxygen, light, humidity, and pests out. Anytime someone tells me they had a bug infestation in their food I ask if they used a mylar bag and the answer is always NO, so don’t disregard these bad boys. These bags combined with the bucket, make it nearly impossible for critters to get in.

buckets

3- Put Food Into the Mylar Bag:

You may want a helper for this part, preferably not one dripping in ice cream ???? I’ve never had one, but I’ve dreamt about how I would boss one around, especially as I’m pouring 50 lb bags of food into mylar bags while trying not to spill it all on the floor! Maybe one day…

Anyways, fill the bag up as full as you can, just make sure to leave room so you can put the lid on!

img_2

4- Add an Oxygen Absorber:

Do not add an oxygen absorber until you’re ready to seal! As soon as you open up a package of oxygen absorbers they start doing what they do best, absorbing oxygen. Make sure to have all your buckets ready to go with the mylar bags and food inside before you even think of opening the package up. As soon as they are opened, get ready to run around crazy throwing them into all your buckets. The goal is to have all your buckets sealed within about 10-20 minutes after opening the absorbers so they can have the maximum impact possible.

DO NOT USE OXYGEN ABSORBERS WITH SUGAR (unless you like eating bricks)

buckets21

*For a 5 gallon bucket use a 2000 cc oxygen absorber or you can use 5 of the 300 cc ones.

Size Container

 Oxygen Absorber Needed

Quart Jar or 32 oz container 100 cc
#10 can or 1-gallon container 300 cc
5 or 6 gallon bucket 1500cc – 2000cc

If you’re planning on using the leftover oxygen absorbers, you want to make sure you seal those back up ASAP. Often times I use the package they came in and re-seal it with my hand-held sealer, or you can repackage them in a vacuum-sealed bag, or store them in an appropriate sized canning jar with a tight-fitting lid. If possible, try to buy smaller packages of oxygen absorbers so they can be used all at once.

5- Seal the Mylar Bag

Once the bag is filled and the oxygen absorber is added, it’s time to seal the mylar bag. I went ahead and bought a hand-held sealer, which I love! Best birthday present I’ve bought myself so far.  You just go along the very top edge of the bag and melt the bag together to form an airtight seal. I leave a little opening at the end, squish as much air out as possible, and then finish sealing the corner.

img_18

You don’t have to wait until your birthday to buy yourself a hand-held sealer – a clothes iron, or even a flat-iron you use for your hair will do the trick. Just lay a board on top of the bucket, lay the bag on top, and iron away! You might want to cut a strip of the bag off to test beforehand to get the correct temperature setting, or if your impatient like I am, just go for it.

buckets3

Make sure your bag is completely sealed, you don’t want any air creeping in. If the temperature is too high it will destroy the strength of the bag, but if it’s too cool the seam will pull apart fairly easy.

img_1

The bag may seem monstrous for the bucket, but that’s good.  If you seal close to the top edge of the bag (above is an awful example), you can cut right below the seal when you open it and REUSE the bag! It can be reused over and over again, all you need to replace is the oxygen absorber.

6- Beat the Lid in Place

You can try to tap the lid in place, but until you lose control and start beating the crap out of it, the lid isn’t going anywhere. This is a great project to do after you’ve walked in on your boys while they’re painting themselves to look like Darth Vader and giving their room a Death Star makeover!

img_0

Gamma vs Regular Lids: Which Lid Should You Use?

GAMMA LIDS – These twist on lids allow for easy access to the contents of your bucket which is one reason I prefer to put these on the buckets I have in my pantry. I can quickly twist the lid off to get the food out and then twist it back on. Some people put these on all their buckets, but the main issue is they are more expensive! They usually run about $4-6 more than regular lids, which can add up fast when buying 30+ buckets!

REGULAR LIDS – I prefer these for most my buckets because they are cheaper, stack easy, and create a good seal. If you are needing to get into your bucket often though, definitely go with the gamma lid if possible.

7- Label Buckets

I spent 2 hours peeling labels off my sister’s buckets, because we had to refill them and they needed a new year. After that, I had a brilliant idea! Instead of always needing to put a whole new label on, why not just put the year on some easy to remove tape. Ingenious, I know!!!

Since I already did the math and figured out what I want in each of my buckets, I went ahead and printed labels with the food item for each bucket.  I don’t plan on changing the contents of the bucket so I went ahead and made sure to tape it on good! The year is changing every time it’s re-filled though, so I put the year on a separate piece of tape! Now I won’t ever be scraping tape and labels off buckets again! Maybe it doesn’t look as nice, but at least it won’t take me 2 hours to change the date!

buckets

8 – Store in a Cool/Dry/Dark Place ????

Just like everything else, you want to store your food in the coolest, driest, and darkest place you can find. This is sometimes where you have to be creative and maybe even consider storing some under the bed. When storing, you want to make sure they’re off the ground (so air can flow underneath), and I’m told you don’t want to stack them more than 3 high (they might crack). I like to be a rebel, so mine are stored right on the carpet, and I stack mine 4 high! The biggest concern is making sure they don’t topple over on anyone, especially the kiddos. So whether you decide to follow the rules, or be a rebel, just make sure to be careful!

Opening Your Buckets:

If the bucket lid is new, you’ll need to pull the plastic part off around the lid. Once that is off, use the bucket opener to pry the lid off. Remember to cut as little of the mylar bag as possible if you plan on reusing it. I then take the bag out and pour the food into the corresponding bucket in my pantry.

buckets4

Using Your Food:

I have 5 buckets in my pantry, which contain ONLY the food I’m currently using. With these buckets, instead of the regular lid, I use the twist-on lids known as Gamma Seal Lids. Mine are all boring white, but you can be fun and get different colors to help keep them organized, or to just add some excitement to your pantry.

img_1

Other Options:

Some other options with storing food is putting multiple smaller mylar bags into one bucket. I don’t necessarily promote this method, because there’s a lot of wasted space and it’s hard to rotate, but I’ve had many people mention they do it.

I prefer to put smaller mylar bags of food into crates or boxes that allow for more bags and are easier to rotate.  These smaller mylar bags can be purchased from places like the LDS Canneries and are a great option to use for storing smaller quantities of food like –  brown sugar, powdered sugar, spaghetti, etc.

bucket

Don’t let me squish your ideas or creativity, have fun and come up with your own ways to super-size your food storage! Just make sure you share your ideas with the rest of us!!!

Is there a method or way you like to store food long-term?

Even though there’s not much to it, I get more questions about how to store food than anything else. It’s something that anyone who is serious about getting food storage

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

mres

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.

kcnezkmcq

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

A Prepper Must-Have: Solar Spotlights

I hesitate to call these spotlights instead of just outdoor lighting, but they’re easier to search that way. I’m talking about any light options that can be set up by anyone who owns a screwdriver, no electrical connections needed, that runs off the sun and-or a spare battery, and that provides quality lighting when somebody walks inside its sensor range. The range of detection, amount of light, and hours of charge are going to vary by price and size, just like the amount of light it takes to charge them will vary by the quality of their solar panels.

These aren’t as inexpensive as some of the must-haves in preparedness like soap and rice. However, it’s not like I’m suggesting freeze-dried steaks or a .308 here, either. They’re not usually as small as a sheet or a set of bungee cords, but they also don’t need their own five-gallon buckets or trunks to store each backup. They don’t have quite the million and one uses of baking soda and they’re relatively stationary unlike headlamps.

Still, they’re readily affordable, fairly lightweight and small, and they can make a big, reliable difference for relatively small outlay – a difference that’s almost impossible to match with other products. That makes them a must-have in my book.

I’m pushing the solar aspect in this one case, because not everyone has a generator and even if we do, limiting the power draw during daily life and especially an emergency makes good sense.

Too, a light tied to even our personal grid is dependent on any of several single components to function. When one goes out, so do all the lights. With a set of independent solar-powered spotlights, we still have our security and safety lights.

I actually started down this road for three reasons. One: I hate power bills. Two: It’s really, really, really dark in the country compared to the ‘burbs. Three: The spaces on my parents’ property even to take the trash behind the garage is … mined. There are anthills, random rose bushes, baby trees, whatever Pops brought home from work last, dog and children’s toys, sometimes windblown fruit like apples, and routinely neighborhood animals and wildlife. No to mention record-setting web spinners and about 20 places for them to work.

Solar-powered motion-sensor lights help us dodge all of those. Plus, the kinds I picked are easy enough for even my non-techie, non-electrician mother and now-disabled father to install and maintain.

08-chicken

Unlike game cameras, a motion-sensor light lets us see what is upsetting dogs or livestock immediately, from our windows and porches, instead of looking the next day or requiring a wireless computer connection for real-time viewing, and are usually far less expensive.

I also like to have a fair chance of seeing what made the dogs go crazy, and my parents’ had a prowler at least three times a few years ago. To the rescue: motion activated lights, several sets that ranged from $30 to $60.

The peace of mind of knowing when it’s a loose cat and when it’s more is worth every penny to us. If there’s still a prowler, they’re staying way down at the road turn-off or way up past the dog lot now.

With motion-sensor lights, you can see what exactly is out there by the poultry or sheds or gardens and whether it’s nothing or an air gun versus an AR target, Moms can walk from her car to the house without hitting any puddles or icy patches, and you avoid getting annoyed at a bucket that doesn’t come when you call and can stalk right to a dog – or realize Stealthy Sam is standing two feet away looking at you waiting for the door to open.

img_0

There are lots of times, even in this perfect, fully powered country, that the motion-sensor lights have been valuable. A lot of those values will continue or cross over should there be a widespread disaster of some kind.

Increasing the Usefulness of your Lights

For a boost to the lights, consider covering with thin fabric or thinned paint in varying colors and shades to create not only illumination, but in some cases, to even alert to direction of travel. A full-on whitewash can be difficult to judge, even with a property lit up like a full moon.

Knowing that white means interior or corners, and knowing that red means something or someone circled a hen-house, hit the register between corner lights, or that something hit two sensors but not the adjacent 2-7, can help us decide what we most need and where our response should be focused.
94

These are just some examples of options available:

Solar motion-sensor spotlights can also be purchased as single units. There are all kinds, some less expensive and other, much more expansive sets.

Pre-plan by looking at the height they’ll likely be placed, the area they’re intended to cover, and whether they’re there to illuminate the ground on a path or inform us of what’s out there in the night. That will help us make the most economical decisions regarding sensor range, light size, and the amount of money we want to invest.

Downsides to Solar Lights

Okay, so besides the sun-cloud thing, motion-sensor lights have a big issue for preppers: light discipline.

It’s really dark out there in the world when there’s no light. It’s why the military still trains people to use lights under a poncho in the open. The $0.97 stakes from Walmart may seem pitiful now, but they’re plenty to catch an eye in real darkness depending on the elevation, altitude, and flora or built environment around them.

516uwx3vfjl

If light discipline is of importance during an emergency, a higher-grade model with wireless remote or tied to a household switch may be more appropriate than the automatic, less-expensive models.

The cheapest of the lights don’t have on-off switches. Until you start getting into relatively pricey systems you don’t have an indoor switch option for the solar motion-sensor versions. That means if you’re trying to stay dark, you have to take them down and you’re back to handheld lights or maybe turning them on as you go.

On the other hand, let’s look at the history of disasters for a minute.

Most of our grid-down situations are temporary, and tend to relate to a localized or regional storm or somebody who dug or hit a line (or pole) or a piece of equipment that fritzed. Rolling brown-outs are something that used to be of issue, and could become so again.

Most of our financial reversals are serious on an individual/family level, or a slow decline due to a dying industrial area. There are some like 2008 that strike a lot of people over a relatively short amount of time, and there are some that are similar to Greece, Venezuela, Argentina, or even the Great Depression here and abroad.

Certainly crime increases in many of those situations, but they’re not total anarchy.

Perhaps lights would make urban or suburban dwellers a target in a Ferguson or Baltimore, and little twerps would be inclined to bust them up. In most of those cases, however, rioters tend to generally stay in areas that they live in or around civic centers.  Only in L.A. so far have these things really spread significantly into other locations entirely, and a lot of those locations have been shopping areas and roadways in most recent riots. They haven’t started trashing the random ‘burbs so much.

And in all cases so far, nobody has thrown the light switch for the entire area to plunge it into darkness. Nobody has been hungry and assuming that a light means somebody’s there and has food.

So for most of our lives, just like the lives of our parents, our disasters are going to involve less blatant violence and less chance that motion-sensor lights really make us a target instead of the reverse: aiding our security and safety.

There are exceptions, and in those cases, maybe we do turn them off or take them inside. But they’re rare.

There is another downside besides the sun, and that would be: A battery-dependent anything depends on batteries. Batteries start with a terminal charge-discharge cycle, and tend to become less and less effective over time. Sometimes our cutesy solar lights run off common batteries of a type we can stockpile in a cool place, sometimes they have an unusual battery or specialty power pack.

mr-beam-wireless-motion-sensor-flood-light

Solar spotlights come with a variety of mounting options and some include long cords between the PV panels and lights. That allows us to place the light where we want it and still position the solar panel where it will collect the most energy.

Even if it’s the latter, and even if they’re lower-end, the wall-mounted solar lights tend to be pretty efficient boogers and LED lights tend to be pretty low-draw. There’s going to be a correlation to panel quality and size, light intensity and area coverage, alert zone size and accuracy, and the lifetime of the battery. Some pretty long-lived versions can be had for well under $100 easily, but those are aspects to consider as we gather information if we decide to buy them.

Solar lights also depend on that panel that’s sucking up light to power the device.

The best advice I can give is to buy the one with the best and most informative reviews, and make sure there’s a return policy that’s not going to cost half again as much to send it back. That way if an item feels a little bit cheap when it comes out of the box, we can put it right back in and try again. Doing so prevents regrets on day 32, 61, or 93 when we have that “I knew it” moment – right after a warranty or a replace-refund time period has elapsed and our receipt has gone … somewhere.

That kind of goes with anything, but especially with an item we’re buying so it’s safer and easier for us to maneuver around in darkness at our home or incorporating into our security systems.

Are Solar Lights Really Prepper Must-Haves?

In my world, yes. Being able to see at night, and further away than our porch lights, is huge for a ton of reasons.

61exsee0yl-_sl1001

Solar Light,URPOWER 8 LED Outdoor Solar Powerd,Wireless Waterproof Security Motion Sensor Light for Patio, Deck, Yard, Garden,Driveway,Outside Wall with 2 Modes Motion Activated Auto On/Off(4 Pack)

It makes my life safer from insects and tripping, prevents my dogs from tangling with an unseen raccoon, prevents us from having to go outside without knowing if the thing by the birds is animal or human, armed or a kid. It tells us if we’re in a “release the hounds” situation, a shotgun situation, or if we need to head out the side door and very quietly take one of the unlit paths that are worked in (because we’re freaks) because more trouble than it’s worth risking a life over is cutting through the gate chains, or one of the lights got shot out.

They’ll provide that service regardless of whether we’re home, the area has an outage, or the alarm is set.

And they’ll do some of it for less than $30-50 bucks, most for $50-100, and absolutely all for $100-200. The cost of sets is low enough for them to be holiday presents and still have something “fun” to ask for, or we could jump above the level that only requires a screwdriver and a thumb to install, and get a really nice system by setting back ten bucks a week or twenty bucks a month.

For some of us, that amount can be saved by skipping a couple of coffees or takeout, or changing or phone plans. Some of us have already cut the cord, but if we really want to become prepared and a $120 item isn’t even an annual option, it might be time to explore Prime, Hulu and Roku and ditch cable and the house phone (there are good free and low-cost VoIP house phone service out there – I use the Google one).

When something makes our life a whole lot easier in daily life, can prevent injury, and can help us keep our homes, gardens, pets and livestock safe, and can do it for <$100-150 bucks spent in $30-50 increments with an expanding system, I call that a must-have.

Teenagers sneaking in or out and those of us arranging for a surprise in predawn blackness may not agree. (Smile and encourage a sense of humor; life’s hard enough as it is.)

A Prepper Must-Have: Solar Spotlights I hesitate to call these spotlights instead of just outdoor lighting, but they’re easier to search that way. I’m talking about any light options that can

One of the first things that people tackle when beginning to prepare for emergencies is food storage, and rightfully so. But there’s a lot more to it than stacking buckets of wheat in the garage or stockpiling bottled water.

If you’re going to take the time and money to prepare for the unexpected, get informed about the do’s and don’ts of proper food storage. Here are 5 mistakes that preppers often make when starting to build their emergency food supply, and how to fix them.

Storing food you don’t like, or don’t know how to prepare

Many people will buy a bucket of wheat, throw it in the closet, and call it a day. But they don’t know how to turn that wheat into bread, or if they’ll even like it if they do. Make sure you store food that you eat on a regular basis. Try making a loaf of bread from some wheat one day (you’ll feel like a superhero, promise), and use those dry beans and rice in your everyday meals. That way, when the day comes and you need to survive off your food storage, it doesn’t flip your world upside down. In an emergency, eating food that you’re already used to is beneficial to your mental health. Don’t add to the stress of such a situation by suddenly having to prepare and eat food that is completely new to you.

rice-and-beans

Rice and beans are a prepper staple and a great option for emergency food storage, but make sure you have variety or family might balk.

And if you choose to buy pre-packaged emergency kits, many companies sell samples of the meals that are included, so you can give them a taste before you stock up. Use the same rule of thumb here too, and rotate a packaged dinner into your meal planning every couple of weeks, so you’re used to preparing and eating your food storage. Using these pantry staples will also cut down on your grocery bill, too, which is a great added bonus.

Storing food improperly

Are you stockpiling cans in the attic or out in shed? Almost any food that you plan on storing for longer than 6 months should be kept at stable temperatures and humidity levels, which makes both of those places poor options. A cool, dark place like a basement can work great, but be careful if your basement is damp or prone to flooding. The best location for your food storage is on the main level of your home, where the temperature and moisture levels are controlled. Also, try not to keep all your eggs in one basket – have several different locations where you can store food, in case one area becomes compromised.

moldy_food

Food would ideally be stored in a cool, dark place like a basement

Also make sure that your food storage is packaged in a way that deters pests and moisture. Buckets and #10 cans are great ways to store long-lasting food supplies. Food packaged in their original boxes or bags can work fine as long as they are rotated and used regularly – just keep an eye on those expiration dates and make sure your storage area isn’t accessible to mice or other pests.

Not having enough variety in your storage

lunch

Both for the sake of flavor as well as nutrition, make sure that you store a wide variety of food in your supply. Many novices stock up on carbohydrates like wheat and rice but forget to include other essentials. Make sure you’re covering all the necessary food groups – there are a lot of great ways to store protein, dairy, fruits, and vegetables as part of your storage staples. You can easily purchase freeze-dried fruits, vegetables, and even meat in #10 cans or buckets, and dry milk is a great way to make sure your dairy needs are met. Pre-packaged meals also offer an easy way to incorporate variety into your food storage.

Forgetting “the little things”

Things like salt, spices, oil, and condiments make food storage more enjoyable to eat, and baking ingredients such as baking powder, yeast, and eggs are essential to cooking even the most basic recipes from your supplies. Some of these things can be purchased in long-lasting forms, but a great way to make sure you have them on hand is to simply buy a little extra each time you shop. Next time you need a bottle of vegetable oil, just buy an extra and put it with your food storage. Little by little, you can build up a stockpile of these “little things”, and with proper rotation for freshness, you’ll always have a little extra of everything on hand.

Remember to store things like desserts and candy bars, too. When an emergency situation hits, sweet treats are a great way to keep life feeling as normal as possible, especially if you have children. You can buy a #10 can of something like brownie mix, or simply use the method above to always keep a few boxes of treats rotating through your regular storage.

Not rotating food or letting it go bad

grocery_clearance_center

If you use everyday foods in your storage, make sure to rotate them properly and use them before the expiration date.

Buying an extra can of soup and sticking on the shelf for a decade is not a wise food storage solution. If you use everyday foods in your storage, make sure to rotate them properly and use them before the expiration date. Rotating food storage simply means using the oldest item first, and putting the more recently purchased item at the back of the line. For longer term “store it and forget it” options, you can purchase meal packs contained in buckets that store for 20 years or more. We recommend using a combination of both practices for a well-rounded supply that will be both easy and safe to use in an emergency situation.

Food storage can seem intimidating at first, but if you’ve got a handle on each of these areas, you’re well on your way to having a great emergency food supply that will last and serve you well, regardless of what life throws at you. Having a supply of familiar and delicious food on hand will give you an immense feeling of relief and safety. You can start small, and begin today!

One of the first things that people tackle when beginning to prepare for emergencies is food storage, and rightfully so. But there’s a lot more to it than stacking buckets

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.

71yrb6nbtrl

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

flourish

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

good_spices

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

Many times on Final Prepper, we have articles that revolve in some capacity around the subject of firearms. If you can access firearms and aren’t morally or philosophically opposed to them, they are the single greatest defensive tool you can have on you in a bad situation. Naturally, they come second to a good smart brain, but as tools go, firearms are the best self-defense items that preppers can acquire in my opinion.

Now, that being said it is just my opinion and you all know what they say about opinions. To continue down that line, simply having a firearm is no guarantee you will use it or that it can’t be taken from you. Firearms are simple tools designed to kill people but they require training, discipline, wisdom and willpower to be effective in a self-defensive situation. They aren’t a magic wand that you can simply wave at a problem and make it disappear. Often their very use creates more problems for those who carry them.

There are others that will say (rightly so) that without ammo, or if parts malfunction, any firearm is just an expensive club. To that end they will advocate alternative self-defense strategies. Still others live in areas where firearms are illegal so I wanted to write today about some less than lethal self-defense items that can be employed by just about anyone who can’t or does not want to own a firearm. We showed some of the creative weapons made by the protesters in Ukraine but this list will be a little tamer than that.

Less than lethal

Before I get to the list, let me explain what I mean by less than lethal. The items below with just a few exceptions could all be used to kill someone if used too long, too often or too forcefully. You could say the same thing about a rock. I gave them the less than lethal category because unlike a firearm, the self-defense items below won’t likely penetrate skin, almost assuredly won’t go through a wall and kill someone else and can likely be purchased anywhere without the need for a background check or permit.

Additionally, these items may fall into groups that could be expanded upon logically. It is really just a thought-starter for those preppers out there looking for options. Some of these items could be used in an emergency or improvised if needed. The down side of most of these items in my opinion is that you have to be really close to your attacker to deploy them. That proximity brings greater risk of injury but we are talking about saving your life here. I don’t want my wife or children to get any closer than they have to.

Tazer

41jyfdz69pl

VIPERTEK VTS-989 – 88,000,000 V Heavy Duty Stun Gun – Rechargeable with LED Flashlight

The venerable tazer has been around for a while now and you can purchase one for less than $20. These use a small battery and a transformer to multiply the voltage of that battery. When pressed against someone’s skin, it delivers a high charge over stimulates the sensory and motor nerves. This results in strong involuntary muscle contractions and the victim is usually incapacitated for a brief time.

Tazers have been known to kill people but this is rare so I still believe this weapon qualifies as less than lethal. If you are ready with this in your hand, you can subdue an attacker and make your escape.

Pepper Spray/Bear Spray

pepperspray

SABRE Red Pepper Spray – Police Strength – Compact, Case & Quick Release Key Ring (Max Protection – 25 Shots, up to 5x More)

Pepper spray is concentrated chemical compound that irritates the eyes, causing tears, pain and temporary blindness. It is used by police officers in crowd control and against rapists by females all over the world. The effect of pepper spray doesn’t last long but it is serious enough to allow you to escape. Unlike the tazer, you can spray pepper spray usually up to 10 feet. Bear Spray has a longer range of about 30 feet and the containers hold more spray which is why it is a prepper staple.

Kubaton

61lnc1lwr0l

FURY Tactical SDK (Self Defense Keychain) with Pressure Tip

A kubaton is a short striking instrument that is designed to be held in your hand and deployed against sensitive or vulnerable areas on your attacker’s body. This requires some training before use, but you can get an idea of the use in the video below.

Many kubaton’s are designed to be a part of your key chain and ready to deploy quickly.

Self-defense cane

61ht3k-b59

Durable Self Defense Cane – Virtually Indestructible

We’ve all seen the comedy act where the little old lady is whacking the purse snatcher over the head with her cane as he is trying to wrestle her pocketbook from her grasp. They do make canes that are designed from Fiber filled nylon that are meant to be used as a striking weapon. Crack someone over the head with this and you will get their attention. They also make canes with a tazer built in!

Extendable Baton

baton

Expandable Solid Steel Baton

The expandable baton is a modern revision of the old police baton. Newer models are stored collapsed down and extend with a spring and a pretty good amount of force. Police officers carry these and they are basically a metal rod used to break windows or skulls.

Tire Thumper

tirethumper

RoadPro RPTT-1 Wooden Tire Thumper, 19-Inches,

Tire thumpers were designed by truckers to check the air pressure in tires. It is not a scientific measurement, but by listening to the sound the thumper makes and judging by the recoil felt in your hands you can get a good idea of roughly whether it needs a lot of air. The tire thumper itself is just a simple club and can be used to crack someone’s head under the right circumstances. Of course you could also break hands, arms, legs…

Baseball Bat

Or golf club, hockey stick, cricket bat, broom handle… Anything with some mass you can get your hands on and swing with all your might. Primarily for last ditch home defense, the baseball bat is certainly a formidable weapon but like most of these others will require some stealth. If you can sneak up on someone and disable them with a blow to the head they aren’t getting back up.

Fire Extinguisher

Why would you waste a good fire extinguisher on a bad guy? Because your life depended on it! A fire extinguisher puts out a big cloud of flame retardant that not only could temporarily blind someone but could also be very disorientating. Follow up by swinging the heavy cylinder at their head for the big finish.

Bug/Wasp Spray

We had a guest who wrote a post some time back about a weapon you may not have thought of. Bug Spray or more specifically wasp and hornet spray because it has a more targeted spray and further distance is one of those items that has made the rounds in prepper circles. To be honest, if I am down to wasp spray it is pretty serious, but in a desperate situation, I would give it a try.

So there are 9 less than lethal self defensive items you could use if the situation called for it. What ideas do you have for potential weapons?

Many times on Final Prepper, we have articles that revolve in some capacity around the subject of firearms. If you can access firearms and aren’t morally or philosophically opposed to

 

The “green” movement can cover a lot of our preparedness interests and purchasing habits, providing a degree of OpSec and cover for us. Conservationist and environmentalist are commonly bad words in some preparedness folds, but as a professional greenie myself (certified conservation landscape designer, landscape architect, permaculture designer, Critical Areas Act consultant, and ecosystem restoration management) I can tell you we’re not all that bad. You may find that it is wiser to couch your actions by going green instead of broadcasting you are a prepper.

And sometimes, preppers and greenies are already kind of walking in lock-step. We just don’t always realize it.

Two sides of the same coin

Think about Ducks Unlimited. There the nice people are, wandering around slapping mosquitoes, risking bashed thumbs, to help the pretty little wood ducks out by building them houses and nailing them to trees, replanting marshes.

All kinds of fairly liberal news organizations and viewers go “awwww, yay, look!”

Then half the Ducks Unlimited crew is out there come frost and low cloud cover, and this time they’re hauling long-barrel shotguns, salivating over the idea of roast duck and duck-fat potatoes.

They protect the environment. They work hard to save waterways, marshes, and the woods-water edges from development. They fight up and down to keep loggers away and make sure chemicals don’t get dumped. They lobby and garner support to prevent a performance stage that would increase human traffic and noise during nesting, breeding and duckling seasons. They get a motor boat restriction.

These are typically things we attribute to the “progressive”, “liberal”, “tree-hugger”, “left” of society. But the hunters, so usually on the “right” end of the social spectrum, are right there with them.

They reap the rewards of the habitat they’ve saved and created, not just for the wood ducks, but for all kinds of waterfowl, upland birds and small game. So do all the other critters near the water, and a lot of humans. If a prepper lives near those waterway edges, they benefit, too.

Both sides are in there, fighting essentially the same fight with the same positive results, although with a different motivation.

We can take advantage of the same kind of socially conscious “left” justifications, movements, interests and acceptance to hide or advance our preparedness.

greenhouse

How do tree-huggers and preppers line up?

In our bids to withstand a disaster of various magnitude, we buy into old and new technologies that limit the amount of fossil fuels we burn, turning instead to renewable resources.

We learn new and incredible ways to grow year-round, in all climates, using renewable systems that limit reliance on factory-produced chemicals and oil-burning equipment. In doing so, we contribute to saving the heirloom crops of our parents, grandparents and forbears.

We learn ways to have livestock work for us, feeding themselves as they produce a byproduct we can use. We let them be our tools instead of burning more fossil fuels, have them clearing brush, mowing and tilling or hunting down garden and crop pests, or protecting the small livestock from any predators that will fit in a pig’s mouth.

We refine and develop and apply more and more techniques for capturing rainwater, storing it, and directing it where we can use it, instead of letting be wasted and channeling it as fast as possible – with faster water carrying more sediment and chemicals – away from our homes and into our waterways.

Urban, ‘burbs, or rural living, condo to barren bug-out location, the things we invest in to go off-grid commonly result in consuming less chemicals, destroying fewer woods and forests, and polluting less air and water.

Likewise, when we stash or salvage something for a project, we can justify it from the less-waste, reduce-reuse-recycle perspectives of an environmentalist. (Soda bottle or discarded window collection, anyone?)

Our neighbors see gun cases and range bags because we practice to ensure clean, humane hunting (doesn’t matter what’s actually in them).

Gardening for the good of all

We install that rain catchment system and the mulch bed or edimentals (edible ornamentals – an actual bearing peach tree, edible flowers and unusual greens, beautiful amaranth, and colorful chard) or our woodland rain garden (of wild edibles). We limit the rainwater runoff from our roof, pollution from lawns, and limit our draw on the aquifers amid this growing national drought, and we provide pollinator forage in there with our landscaping or a little urban or suburban oasis for wildlife.

Yeah, we make food. Maybe you say so. Maybe you pretend your lavender, garlic chives, candle peppers, scarlet beans, and purple cutting lettuce are just more pretty plants. Maybe you point out that your new white willow will soak up some of that soggy spot in the lawn, but don’t mention that it’s a medicinal and rabbit feed out there with the lilies and container-grown cattails and the blueberries and aronia that are going to be stunning in autumn.

We learn the old ways of food preservation to take advantage of seasonal produce. We do so to limit our reliance on commercial products, but in doing so we also opt out of a culture of disposable food containers, and the mines and factories that produce those, the chemicals used in processing and growing the foods and containers, and the fossil fuel used in shipping a can of tomatoes fourteen times before we buy it and drive it home.

See, when we buy into self-sufficiency, we really do create a better world, regardless of our primary motivation.

That means we can go forward and “hide in plain sight” without telling any lies when we use an environmental justification for our interests and projects. We just need to apply those happy “green” catchphrases.

We might even convert one of our ultra-liberal neighbors who would have run screaming from the idea of “prepping”, because they’re introduced in baby steps that don’t challenge their norm and sense of security. That makes for a more resilient community, because it’s not all on our backs. We’re not alone.

children

Expanding our skills and knowledge resource pool

Being a greenie instead of a prepper, we no longer have to be super sneaky about how and where we learn our skills. We’re a “safe” kind of freak in the public’s eyes now. Without OpSec breathing down our necks, we open up the pool of people we can learn from.

We’re not limited to other preppers and survivalists, and the horror of arranging a meetup. We can just be hobbyists and practitioners because we’re interested in one thing – among other things.

We can now openly learn individual aspects from topic-specific practitioners. Hunting and reloading from hunters and trappers. Fishing from anglers. Livestock from those who have it. Canning from canners. Sewing from sewers. HAM and SSB CB from radio ops. Gardening from gardeners. Foraging from foragers. Bug-Out from through packers. Shooting from shooters.

And a real bonus is, unlike preppers, a lot of enthusiasts want you to come look at their babies and see what they do.

If we net ourselves a permaculturist or modern homesteader we looked up from a blog or met at a fruit stand or the farmer’s market, whoa, jackpot. We might get a whole load of knowledge about multiple fronts all in one sweet spot, OpSec still secure.

The truth but … maybe not the whole truth

You might not give a hoot about an island of plastic in the middle of the Pacific, starving polar bears, or the loss of forest in the Amazon. But these are unassailable facts. We can compare coverage maps, see them in video footage. This makes them “safe” – like the truth of fecal-oral disease risks following a flood.

You can use those facts and others in conjunction with your own activities when asked. Most people will draw their own conclusions when they’re sprinkled in there together.

Say we’re running around salvaging things to build a cold frame for greens, cabbage beetle and bird exclusion frames, maybe a vertical pallet garden and drip irrigation, maybe window lettuce towers, and somebody finally asks about it.

There’s a major drought in California and we pump water faster than aquifers and reservoirs refill. Chickens spend their lives packed into tiny cages that are barely big enough to lift their heads all the way. We want to grow our own broccoli and strawberries, and have some laying hens. We’re not buying it in one shot at Lowes; there’s an island of trash in the Pacific already, sheesh.

Ohhhh. You’re a … whatever it is.

“I’m not an extremist or PETA or anything like that, we’re still buying stuff from stores and all, but…” *Shrug.* “Every little bit, right?”

Huh. Yeah. Every little bit. Right. Okay.

Every word is true. Every statement is one of those fact-truths, not any type of twisted science. You may not actually care about the quality of life for a laying hen in Big Ag production, but you can still share the fact. They can draw their own conclusion.

You are, again, a “safe” kind of freak, the kind that hugs trees. Not the scary anti-government kind that was just on the TV. And if you really want to make them go away, try to convert them to your newfound interest, environmentalism. Many will start avoiding you.

Mission accomplished.

OpSec takes over our brains

We tend to want to learn new skills and complete projects because we’re motivated by the disasters we foresee. We learn OpSec early in preparedness, and we understand that it hamstrings us in some ways – like forming networks and groups. We just can’t seem to cut the cord, though.

We don’t want to become a target for thieves now. We don’t want somebody to know and remember us and become targets later. So we don’t talk about preparedness-related things. Good OpSec.

But sometimes we forget that other people do these things we do, too. A lot of them do the same or similar just because it suits them. This is their hobby or passion. Gardeners, scrapbookers, home births, shooters, radio types, model builders, homeschooling, scrap metal sculptors, hunters, knitters – it takes all kinds.

guns

Reenactors are a good example of a “group” who we can learn a fair bit from about off-grid living.

We also forget that we don’t always have to share our interest as being motivated by preparedness – or our newfound reason for going green. We forget that we can say “I’m interested in” or “I want to learn” because we are interested and want to learn. We forget that we can just shrug our shoulders when asked “why” and say, “I just am. It’s interesting.”

Reenactors are a good example of a “group” who we can learn a fair bit from about off-grid living. They just like to pretend to be from a time before electricity, the way some people like to paint and some people collect stamps.

Use that. Just be interested in something.

If we’re not comfortable with that, really feel like we have to have an explanation, there’s always the greenie option. We don’t even have to talk about self-sufficiency unless we hunt down a homesteader or permie. “Environmentally motivated” does the job.

The Safety Net of a Greenie

Hiding in plain sight doesn’t always work, but it can, when done right.

We’re in a major upswing where sustainability and environmentally friendly are things that are viewed as relatively common if not normal, and even laudable by a lot of society. “Environmentalist” covers a lot of our crazy projects, and can be used to explain away some of our activities.

You’re on your own coming up with a “green” explanation for that chest carrier and all the AR furniture with your spouse and in-laws, but there are regularly eco-friendly benefits to lot of our purchasing habits, if they’re done smart. Just try to stay away from the polarizing types like PETA and Whale Wars. Most of us greenies aren’t really like that. We “normal” eco-freaks tend to want to make them go away as much as we do the people who get twenty paper napkins at McDonald’s, use three, and throw the whole wad away. (Used napkins are recyclable and compostable, BTW.)

  The “green” movement can cover a lot of our preparedness interests and purchasing habits, providing a degree of OpSec and cover for us. Conservationist and environmentalist are commonly bad words

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.

memorial-medical-center

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.

fivedays

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.

pict

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 –