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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Food Storage Safety - Dented Cans

A large portion of everyone’s budget goes towards the cost of food and throwing away food unnecessarily can be an expensive practice. This can lead to higher food costs you may not be able to afford. There are several common things that you should look for when checking a canned food item for potential problems if it has been damaged.
Always visually inspect your canned food items prior to opening and after they have been opened. This is a priority with any canned food item and should be a part of your food safety routine on a daily basis.
1.) If the can is bloated or bulging it is almost certainly going to be unsafe to consume. Cans become bloated when bacteria produces gases that will cause the can to expand outward.
2.) Check the top and bottom of the can. If the top or bottom of the can moves in any way or makes a “popping” sound this is an indicator that the can’s seal has been broken and air may have entered the can. If this is the case, the can should be discarded. If the can doesn’t make a “popping” sound or the top and bottom don’t move, then it is probably safe to consume even if it has been dented.
3.) Visually check for any rust on the can. Rust can weaken the can and affect its structural integrity. This may allow air to enter the can and possibly contaminate the contents.
4.) Check for any dents on the seams on the top, bottom or sides of the can. The seams are the weakest points of any can. It is best to avoid canned food items with any apparent damage to their seams.
5.) Pay close attention when opening a canned food item to make sure the contents don’t spray from the can. This is also a good indicator that the contents are contaminated and should be discarded immediately.
6.) Look for dents with sharp creases. Sharp or severe dents in a can will also weaken the structural integrity of a can and may allow contamination of the contents. Cans that have sharp or severe creases should also be avoided.
7.) Visually inspect the contents once your canned food item has been opened. If it looks or smells bad, it probably is bad and will most likely be unsafe for you to consume.
Got dents?
Staying above the water line!

Kerosene Lantern

Given today's technology a kerosene lantern seems a bit old-fashioned and out of place! However, a kerosene lantern with a 1-inch wick will burn approximately 45 hours per quart of kerosene, saving lots of natural resources and utilizing approximately one-fourth as much fuel as a gas lantern. Kerosene lanterns are an effective and fairly safe lighting source. There are now scented lamp oils which replace kerosene. This lamp oil is generally available in retail stores. Make sure the oil is approved for use in your lamp

**Caution: Lanterns consume good air and exhaust bad air, so use only when well ventilated.**

There is a difference in lighting quantity and quality, as the kerosene lantern is quite dim when compared to the two-mantle gas lantern. The light output of a kerosene lantern is comparable to a 40W-60W light bulb.

As a rule of thumb, the typical kerosene lantern burns approximately 1 ounce of fuel per hour. Burning at the rate of 5 hours each day, the following approximate amounts of kerosene would be used:

Kerosene Lantern Fuel Consumption:

  • Day 1/2 pint of fuel
  • Week 2 quarts of fuel
  • Month 2 gallons of fuel
  • Year 25 gallons of fuel

Republished with permission from: Making the Best of Basics. Chapter 17: Energy and Fuels Storage. By James Stevens. If this information was of value to you, please visit our sponsor.

Preparing to prepare...

There is no need for the novice prepper or "prepper family" to create the equivalent of a corporate disaster response plan; there will be time for that later on. While it is important for you to know the types of disasters that are most likely to affect you based on where and how you choose to live your daily life, prepping can quickly become a daunting task if you focus too much on the minute details rather than the totality of staving of adversity as you begin to prepare yourself and your family. Once the basics are covered, it is then expected that you will round out and expand on your basic preparedness to address the more advanced and in some cases long term needs that you will have to overcome.

Let's start with the obvious - In some scenarios, your survival of the initial disaster is not assured. Earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis and asteroid impacts to name but a few, will kill lots of people outright. There is no amount of preparation that will save you from the effects of a nuclear blast or a terrorist bomb that detonates next to your desk at work.

Preparing is what you do to mitigate the after effects of a disaster so that you can maintain your health and well being until you can recover and move beyond the adversity and disruption to your daily life.

To accomplish this goal in a relatively straight forward manner, it is important that the bulk of your advance preparations focus on the generalities of survival, regardless of the circumstances that brought about the need to survive. You would come to realize over time that many of the supplies and actions you need to keep going in the face of disaster are the same regardless of actual situation you encounter. To save you the time of coming to this conclusion on your own, below I list the aspects of survival that should be your predominate focus. If you take care of these, you will be in great shape to carry on when the world around you has fallen apart.

Disclaimer: There are always exceptions and additions to any list. Your personal situation, state of health and personal needs will dictate exactly what equipment, supplies and knowledge you will need. The list below is meant to be a general list of areas to focus on and is not to be considered all inclusive or mutually exclusive.

First Aid - After any disaster or accident, the first thing you need to be able to do is treat any injuries suffered by yourself or others around you. You need ample first aid supplies at home, in the car and at work.

Shelter - aka on going personal protection from the weather, sun, insects, dust, wind etc. You need to be able to stay warm and dry if you plan on surviving. Remember to take into account, the climate in your area. Shelter means different things in July and January for many people.

No Water - You need to consume at least 2.5 liters (minimum) everyday just for your body to be able to function. You need more to keep yourself clean and to cook. Having no safe water on hand to drink will limit your survival chances and affect your ability to help yourself. Store lots of drinkable water!

No Food - Everything you do after a disaster will be more difficult and take longer than it normally would. You will be burning more calories than you would sitting on the couch watching CNN. To preserve your ability to do work and stay healthy, you need to be able to eat. This is why you need to store food.

Money - We live in a consumer society. We are used to buying what we need to live. There is no reason to expect that everything you will need to procure after a disaster will be available to you for free. The bank wont be open so you will need to have some money available to purchase "things" from others.

Safety and Security - For every 50 people you put together in a group, there will be a few who have no compunction against doing you harm or taking what you have for themselves if given the opportunity. It is not unreasonable to assume that some stressed out desperate people will behave badly. You need to ensure that you have considered how you can protect your person, shelter, water and food from this often over looked threat.

Energy Sources/Utilities - It is safe to assume that in any disaster some or all of the public utilities you depend on to power your stove, furnace and lights may not be available for quite a while. You need a means of seeing in dark, cooking your food, safely disposing of human and food wastes.

Communication - You need a means of learning what is going on and gathering information on threats that exist that you may not be able to see. You need to know where to go and what to do. You need a radio to listen to messages from authorities. Because you are prepared, you may not need many or any relief supplies, but you need to know where these are being distributed if for no other reason than to avoid the throngs of unruly people who will congregate at these locations.

Restricted Travel - It may not be possible for you to travel within your town or between towns depending on the nature of the disaster or restrictions on movement imposed by the authorities. You need options that enable you to stay put under less than optional conditions. You should also consider providing yourself the option of leaving an area of perceived adversity if you have some advanced warning of events to come.

Advanced medicine or life support - Hospitals, medical clinics and doctors/nurses in general may well be overwhelmed by the needs of the many in the aftermath of a disaster. While no one can be expected to perform surgery on their loved ones, having the skills and supplies to suture open wounds, antibiotics for infections and rudimentary dental work is a great advantage. The next time you get your teeth cleaned, ask your dentist for the tools and compounds to apply temporary fillings and to treat cuts in the mouth and tongue.

Lost Records - You may need to prove who you are, that you own the land you are living on, that you have insurance in one form or other, that you are licensed to possess that rifle etc. You need to have copies of important paperwork in the event that the originals are no longer available.

Mental Health & Spirituality - Time will pass slowly without all of the modern distractions we have come to rely on (TV, computers, etc). Plan for those times when there isn't much to do. Keep yourself amused and the kids entertained. Playing cards, simple board games for the boring times (usually when it is dark but too early to go to bed). A Bible or equivalent scripture may be comforting to some.

When beginning the process of getting yourself and your family prepared for tough times, if you concentrate on the above areas of focus you can quickly and effectively increase your chances of survival and at the same time become independent of the need to rely on others in the short and long term. It is important that you begin to prepare right away. This post is an attempt to make it easier for you to begin this process. Please, do not procrastinate and assume that others will be willing or able to help you out. Your life is your responsibility.

[What have you done today to prepare?]

So you think you don't really need to be prepared?

We Canadians are a pretty hardy bunch all things considered. We endure crappy weather in all seasons, and insist on talking about the weather all the time. This winter in the Ottawa Valley is much akin to the summer we didn't have in 2009. Not much snow at all. My snow blower has been used twice and both times, a shovel would have been almost a quick and much more eco friendly.

This weekend, a serious snow dump is occurring across the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Many locations such as Washington DC where they usually do not see significant amounts of snow are getting buried. This is a perfect microcosm to examine how the local citizenry react to unexpected adversity when it is clear that govt. services will temporarily be unable to cope with the event. Remember, snow melts and in locations where lots of snow is not the norm, snow usually melts pretty quickly.

The following pictures illustrate how quickly a large retail grocery store can be stripped of almost everything in as little as one business day when the masses decide its time to gather supplies. As always, those who prepare regularly and store supplies for times of adversity were able to avoid all of the pandemonium and of course have everything they need readily at hand.

What do you think your chances are of getting the necessary supplies when you are competing with 95% of your neighbours for the limited stock on a shelf somewhere?

[Avoid the need to gather supplies at the last minute - it's safer and much less stressful]

4 powerful Traits of Survivors

There are some common personality traits that most survivors have in common. The following is a list of the 4 most common traits of people who have survived extraordinary situations.
1. Survivors stay Calm in the face of Danger.
A survivalist has the ability to stay calm in the face of whatever life may throw at him. It’s not that the survivor is without fear, instead he has the courage to face his fears. To be able to stay calm in the face of danger requires preparation & training. The more information you have the easier it is to stay calm during any survival situation.
2. Survivalists are Experts at Improvisation
Survivors can find a use for everything around them. They know how to pick gear with multiple purposes, and they know how to improvise when they find themselves without the needed tools or gear. Survivors  have the ability to make fire without matches, find water where there are no faucets, and find food where there are no stores.
3. Survivors are D.I.Y Experts
They are the ultimate tinkerers. In day to day life, the survivalist will find away to fix something that’s broken, before running off to Walmart to buy a new one. These skills are indispensable in an emergency situation.
4. Survivors are Great Leaders
They know how to make the tough decisions that will keep the people around them alive. During an emergency situation, while most are panicking and making stupid mistakes,  a survivalist  will stop, access the situation and then take action. They are the ultimate leaders!