- How To’s
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You’ve heard it from your friends and family. Maybe you’ve said it yourself. It usually goes something this: “I know I should have emergency supplies in case [insert local, national or global catastrophe] happens again, but I just don’t have the [insert excuse] to do it.”
Sound familiar? It probably does, either first person or third person. We know we should prepare for emergency situations, but instead, we’re focussed on other issues such as:
Basically, life in the here and now takes your mind off what might happen in the future. The chance that something catastrophic could happen is not nearly as important as what you’re going to have to pick up for dinner tonight, or getting Robbie to ball practice on time. It’s easy to put it off until later – when everything slows down a bit.
Unfortunately, the things that can happen making you need those supplies don’t wait until you’re ready. They could happen now, tomorrow or next week.
This year alone, there have been disastrous hurricanes, cyclones, and earthquakes around the globe. Whether this is a natural, cyclical event or not, there is no doubt Mother Nature is a strong force that cannot be stopped, and in some cases, such as that of earthquakes, they do not give any warning.
Even using all of the technology available to us today, tornado and hurricane paths cannot be predicted 100% accurately. Winter storms forecast to result in six to eight inches of snow have dumped two and three times that much.
There are major fault lines within the United States that could literally break the country into pieces. The New Madrid Fault runs 150 miles through middle America. Between 1811 and 1812, this zone experienced some of the largest quakes in history. Even though they originated in the Mississippi Valley, the shock resonated in church bells in New York City and Boston. After one particularly large rupture in the fault, the mighty Mississippi River ran backward for several hours, devastating acres of forest and creating 2 temporary waterfalls. The quakes created the fifteen thousand-acre Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee. Fortunately, the Mississippi Valley was sparsely populated back then.
Today millions of people live in densely populated urban areas like St. Louis and Memphis, making this zone one of the biggest concerns for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
So, you don’t live near a fault line, or the coast, or the north. None of those things can hurt you…but they can. If you have had anything shipped during an event like the ones described above and you went to the shipper’s website to track your package, you might have seen something like:
Due to the impact of Super Storm Sam, we are experiencing delays in delivery. We appreciate your patience as we work through this situation.
Just because something happens across the country from you, doesn’t mean it has no effect on your life. In actuality, we are very dependent on shipments getting to stores on a regular basis so that our lives can move along at the pace we have grown accustomed to. What happens when they don’t?
Think about any grocery store in an area where a predicted event is broadcast. There is panic among people who don’t keep an emergency food supply in their homes. They go the store and buy up bread, water, everything they think they will need to get through the next few days or weeks. They flock by the thousands and create instant shortages. The reason it creates shortages is grocery stores only stock so much food at a time. That amount is enough to provide for the surrounding area for about 72 hours at normal purchase rates. Resupply is on a schedule, which bad weather, road conditions, or civil unrest could delay. When people buy more than they normally would, everything changes, for everyone.
Okay, so now you know why you should have food stores in your home. If you are not dependent on the local supply lines, you are better able to feed your family. So let’s tackle the common excuses of why people don’t have an emergency food supply one at a time.
Unless you take your lunch to work every day – EVERY day – and never stop on the way home for carryout, you can afford it.
For a family of four, that is fifty meals for less than thirty dollars.You can add seasonings like chicken bouillon or hot sauce, dried or canned meats for a change of pace, turn it into soups with water and any available vegetables, and you could literally feed your family for six weeks with what you have accumulated for less than fifty dollars.
You don’t have to buy it all at once. Buy five pounds of rice on one regular grocery run. Buy two pounds of beans on the next. Don’t like pintos? Buy whatever dried beans you and your family do like. It doesn’t matter. Dry beans and regular white rice have an incredibly long shelf life, years, without losing any nutritional value, and even past that would still provide a satisfying meal.
You CAN have an emergency food supply in your home at a rate you can afford.
If you are at the grocery store buying peanut butter because you are about to run out, buy two. You’re already at the store so you are expending no extra time buying the second jar. When you tap into the second one, immediately put it on your grocery list and buy two more. Peanut butter is another shelf-stable product that lasts years past its best by date and is high in protein. Store it upside down and it won’t even separate.
Anything your family consumes a lot of that does not need refrigeration is a candidate for long-term food storage. Canned goods should not be discounted because they have an expiration date. That date is put on the cans to protect manufacturers and suppliers from liability if the food goes bad. As long as the cans aren’t dented at the seam or rusted from exposure to moisture, they can be used for a long time.
There were many bunkers built in the 50’s and 60’s when Americans were afraid of a bomb being dropped on us by Russia. Canned goods stored in those cellars have been opened fifty years later, still viable, with very little nutritional value loss.
As you get your stores built up you can start adding an item to the list when you take one and are left with only one on your shelf. This process keeps extra food in your cupboards and you don’t even have to plan time to do it. When you get into the habit of adding something to your grocery list when you take the last or second to the last one, instead of when you run out, you will always have additional supplies to feed your family.
This one is one of the easiest to argue. Your home is full of “dead” space. Look in your closet. Your shoes are lined up on the floor. Your clothes are hanging above. There’s about two feet of space between the two. You could line the floor of the closet with cases of bottled water, canned goods, or boxes of pasta you bought from your local warehouse store and set your shoes on top of them. Don’t like the look of that? Lay a sheet on top of the food.
What’s under your bed besides dust bunnies? Plenty of room for food to be stored and possibly water if the height is right. How about under sinks? There’s probably a foot of dead space there. As long as you keep chemicals from coming into contact with food surfaces, it’s a perfect spot. Is there empty space under your headboard? If it’s an older version, there could be a good twenty square feet of storage back there. Is your pantry full, or are just the shelf surfaces full? Most pantry shelves are tall enough that food can be double, or triple stacked.
If you have space in your freezer, you can keep extra flour or cornmeal there. This also has the added effect of killing off any weevils that are probably in them. Also, the fuller your freezer is the more efficiently it runs. In the case of an extended power outage, the food will keep longer if the freezer is full and kept closed.
If you buy bottled water in gallon jugs, when they are empty fill them with tap water, leaving about an inch of space at the top and stick them in your freezer. They will help the freezer stay cold, and provide you with emergency water stores if needed.
Clean water is the most important item in an emergency situation and too many people rely on the ability to turn the faucet on and get water from it. If utilities are down, water will be among them. A case of water can be purchased for three dollars or less. If you’re already buying it, buy an extra one and put it back. Next week, buy another. If you buy a case of water every time you go to the store, you can build up a nice supply quickly and it can be stored at the bottom of every closet or under every bed in your home.
The supply chain could be disrupted by any number of things, natural or manmade, and at any time. If you can’t or shouldn’t leave your home for whatever reason, you should be able to feed your family from what you have there. Having a half-dozen cans of soup instead of one or two doesn’t make you a crazy conspiracy theorist. It makes you a person who could weather a storm of any kind.
Research. There are thousands of resources online and web pages with information on prepping, survival, and emergency preparedness. If you’re a reader, prepper fiction is a wealth of information wrapped up in entertaining and insightful stories.
As you build your stores, you can add things besides food, like a propane or butane stove (invaluable if the power is out), extra medicines and first aid supplies, feminine hygiene products (because doesn’t that always happen at the worst times?), paper products (never run out of toilet paper again!), and a host of other items.
Take some time to note the things you use on a daily basis. What would you do if you couldn’t get more toothpaste? Did you know you can make toothpaste with items you probably already have in your home? Could you start a fire without matches or a lighter? The ability to make fire is very important when it comes to cooking food or purifying water.
There’s no such thing as too much information. By finding out how to do things that don’t involve technology or electricity, and equipping your home with the necessary tools, you will be improving the chances of yourself and your loved ones surviving in a crisis situation.
Just a few extras here and there could mean the difference between health or illness, even living and dying. Surely that’s worth the time and money you’ll invest – and done correctly, you won’t even notice the spend on either of them.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR:
P.A. Glaspy is the author of the A Powerless World series of prepper fiction novels. She is a practicing prepper, though freely admits she has a long way to go to be self-sustaining. You can find out more about her on her website and Facebook. If you are interested in her work, you can view the complete list on Amazon.
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