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Monday, March 15, 2010

Close-up of tap water

Everything you need to know about water in one post

Here's an excellent article contributed by: Ranger Squirrel

Everything you need to know about water in one post

There is no more serious concern than water in survival and preparedness. You can improvise a lot of things, but it’s tough to improvise water. You either have it or you don’t have it. There are a lot of nifty tricks for finding water, but if you’re hunting down water, you’ve made some mistakes somewhere along the line. Let’s look at how you can make water part of your plans for bugging in and for bugging out.

Water Storage:
How much?
FEMA recommends 1 gallon per person per day of pre-bottled water for 72 hours. So for my family (4 kids, a large dog, my wife and myself) that would be 21 gallons for a 72 hours supply. I have some serious concerns with this recommendation.
  1. It doesn’t factor in a lack of climate control (what if it’s summer and the A/C is out).
  2. It doesn’t factor in cooking with dehydrated food (or cooking at all for that matter).
  3. It doesn’t factor in hygiene needs.
  4. It’s only 72 hours and, assuming I’m using 5 gallon containers (because I don’t have a large underground tank), I’d need a minimum of 4 containers. This will take up a bit of room.
Cody Lundin – survival and preparedness instructor extraordinaire, in his book When All Hell Breaks Loose – recommends a minimum of 1 gallon per person per day, expanding to as much as 3 gallons per person per day. He addresses the space issue by recommending large storage tanks (underground is best) combined with chemical sanitation. I think Cody is right on, but I don’t have the space at the moment for a large tank, even underground. With this guideline and a 500 gallon tank, my family would be good for more than two months.

How do I treat it?
If you’re going to store large quantities of water, it really needs to be treated or you will get mold/algea growing in it eventually. FEMA and Cody both recommend Chlorine bleach to disinfect large quantities of stored water, assuming it’s from a clean source to begin with.

FEMA, in all its wisdom at the site linked above, recommends treating non-chlorinated water with 2 drops of chlorine bleach. Oddly, they never discuss what size bottle they are referring to or what strength of bleach and the strengths do vary.
Cody Lundin, in the same book mentioned above, gives us a formula for mass storage. 1,000 gallons of water should be treated with 1/3 cup (or 2.5 oz) of household bleach containing a concentration of sodium hypochlorite of 5.25 or 6% (read the label).
And has the following to say about treating smaller amounts of water:
“To use chlorine for disinfecting clear and temperate water, add two to four drops of chlorine bleach per U.S. quart. Give the container a little shake and let it sit for thirty minutes. Slightly open the cap, dribble some disinfected water down the threads and smell the water. IT SHOULD SMELL LIKE CHLORINE. If it doesn’t, add another drop or two of bleach and let it sit for another thirty minutes. As stated above, chlorine is sensitive to the temperature of the water. For cold water, either add another drop or two of chlorine and/or let the water sit longer, two to three hours or more, in order for it to properly disinfect.” – Cody Lundin, When All Hell Breaks Loose.

For your reference, there are 4 quarts in a gallon.
So for a 1 gallon container, 8-16 drops of bleach; 5 gallons would be 40-80 drops (1/2 tsp – 1 tsp).

But – see my note below about chlorine bleach in filtration. While it will work fine for metropolitan sources and clean wells, it’s generally not a great method for questionable water.

How long can I store water?
This really depends on the water quality when you started and how well you treated the water. As a general rule for stored water, look at it and smell it. If it looks okay, you know it hasn’t been opened, and it was treated to begin with, it’s probably fine. If in doubt, run it through a filter before drinking (see discussion below).
Having said that, water can go “stale” or stagnant. Usually pouring it from one container into another several times before drinking will help a great deal with this problem.

A Supplement to Storage
My recommendation is to store enough water to allow you to find a consistent source of water. Whether that’s catching rain, or a trip to a spring, stream, or even a lake – have enough water on hand to allow you to get to that source. 72 hours is usually enough. Get to the source, replenish your supply, and repeat as needed.

Treating water from natural/questionable sources
When it comes to drinking water there are 5 major threats:
  1. Chemical - usually herbicides and fertilizers from nearby farms, occasionally plain old pollution.
  2. Giardia cysts - these are 6-10 microns in size
  3. Cryptosporidium cysts - these are 4-7 microns in size
  4. Other random bacteria - size varies widely, but can be as small as .2 microns (E.Coli, Salmonella, and Cholera)
  5. Viruses - size varies widely, but some are less than .1 micron (hepatitis A, rotovirus, polio).
In the United States there is a terminology difference between "filter" and "purifier." A water filter will remove Giardia and Cryptosporidium as well as some other harmful bacteria (depending on the pore size). A purifier will remove viruses as well. I'm not sure if this same terminology difference holds true outside the U.S. or not (i.e., it may be an industry defined term and not a government defined term).
There are 5 commonly used purification techniques:

Boiling - bring the water to a boil hold it there for some period of time. There is a lot of debate on this and people try to bring in altitude and many other factors. Here's the bottom line: 212 degrees fahrenheit/100 degrees Celsius, for 1 minute will kill of anything living in the water (bacteria, protozoa, viruses -- collectively called "critters"). Just be aware that water may reach a rolling boil at temps well below 212 Fahrenheit at high altitudes, so continuing to add heat and boiling for longer is advisable. Boiling WILL NOT eliminate most chemicals and may actually concentrate them further, it really depends on the boiling point of the chemical. In theory, if the chemical’s boiling point is lower than that of water, you will boil the chemical away after awhile. Just don’t count on it. As one article I read worded it - "if there are harmful chemicals in the water, boiling will just make them warm harmful chemicals." That said, boiling is probably the safest (as in most foolproof) method for removing "critters," but it does have a few significant disadvantages. 1) It takes time, effort, and materials you may not have; 2) If the water was dirty as well as contaminated, it will still be dirty after boiling; 3) the water will taste "flat" after boiling. This can be remedied by pouring it from one container into another; 4) as mentioned previously, it WILL NOT remove chemicals; and 5) if the water tastes bad before boiling, it will likely still taste bad afterwards.

Chemical Purification - the two most common methods used are iodine and chlorine dioxide. Both work well against viruses and bacteria, including giardia. Iodine WILL NOT work against cryptosporidium. Chlorine Dioxide will (though it takes 4 hours). Chlorine Dioxide and household bleach ARE NOT the same thing. Household bleach is sodium hypochlorite. Chlorine dioxide is...well...chlorine dioxide. The two are not interchangeable. In fact, cryptosporidium has been shown to survive a 24 hour immersion in 100% bleach and still be healthy enough to infect a human. Not so with chlorine dioxide. Moreover, using bleach to purify your water can be risky as different types of bleach contain different percentages of the purifying chemical. Downside to iodine: 1) funky taste, odor, and color in the water; 2) ineffective against cryptosporidium. Downside to Chlorine Dioxide: it takes 4 hours to work against cryptosporidium and 30 minutes to work against everything else. Downside to both: 1) performance is affected by water clarity and temperature; 2) they take a good deal of time to be effective. On the upside - Chlorine Dioxide is actually known to improve the taste of backcountry water. I can vouch for that firsthand. It makes it taste...clean, but not like bleach or other chemicals. I have no idea why this is true.

Filtration - Filters have the added benefit of removing "crap" from water. Dirt, sediment, and other things that affect water taste and clarity go away. I won't go into the difference between membrane and pore filters, but I will say that membrane filters are generally longer lasting and capable of more precise filtration at a smaller micron size, but unless they incorporate an activated carbon stage, they are ineffective against chemical contaminants. If you see a filter like those made by Sawyer that says "lifetime guarantee" or "no replacement filters," it's probably a membrane filter. Those can be backflushed and reused indefinitely as long as the membrane stays in tact. There are hand-sized filters of both pore and membrane type on the market ranging in filter size from 4 microns down to .2 microns and in price from $20 to well over $200 (and counterintuitively, micron rating doesn't determine the price). Generally, in a filter, you want to minimize pore size (smaller is better) and if chemical contaminants are a concern, you want an activated carbon component somewhere in the process.

I don’t own one (yet), but the the prepper/survivalist standard for bugging in seems to be Berkey filters. The info on their filters is here.

For bugging out, there are several options. Here are the ones I have experience with:
Aquamira Frontier Pro is a pore filter with pores that are more than 99% effective against giardia and cryptosporidium that are 4 microns in size or larger. Looking at the sizes I mentioned above, that means it will handle giardia and the vast majority of cryptosporidium, but not viruses and many bacteria will sail right on through. Careful water selection is key here. The product website says it does have a carbon filter stage as well (though they never use the keywords: activated carbon), so it should be at least somewhat effective against chemical contaminants. It needs to be replaced every 50 gallons (200L), but at $25 per unit, that's very doable. It takes up very little space, weighs 2 oz dry, it can function as a direct drinking straw, can be attached to a water bladder, and can be used in a gravity filter mode (though it IS slow). In short, it's versatile, affordable, and functional as long as you understand its limits, but the limits are serious. One other limit that I didn’t mention is that it’s very slow to use this system to do large amounts of water. Running a liter through it in gravity mode takes 7-15 minutes depending on water quality.

Katadyn Hiker Pro - at one time this was the single most popular model out there. It costs about $80, weighs about 11 oz and takes up about the same size in your pack as a 20 oz Nalgene bottle. It's a hand pump type filter, with a 200 gallon (750 L) capacity before needing to change the filter cartridge ($40 per replacement). It comes with attachments that allow you to use it in a number of ways, but gravity filter isn't one of them. It's a pore filter with a .3 micron pore size (that will the vast majority of critters, but not viruses or the smallest bacteria). It does have an activated carbon core, which should cover most chemical contaminant issues. The main downside is that it can be a pain to use. The pumping action is violent and tends to kick up sediment from the bottom in shallow water. Your filter then has to take out that sediment and that shortens your filter life. It's also really tiring to use the hand pump after a day of backpacking. A typical 4L basecamp setup is going to require constant pumping for 4-6 minutes with a fair amount of resistance (depending on how new the filter is).

Platypus Cleanstream Gravity Filter - I reviewed this HERE, so I won't cover it again. HERE is another review. This is .2 microns (covers all critters except viruses), and DOES NOT have an activated carbon stage in the filter (will not eliminate chemicals). Downside: doesn't eliminate chemicals or viruses. Upside: high flow rate (about a liter a minute), lightweight, easy to use (no pumping) and excellent filtration.

Ultraviolet - there are probably other systems out there, that do this, but the most well known is the Steri-pen. Tiny and costs about $90 before accessories. Basically, you put the "pen" (it's actually about the size of a large car key) into the water, push the button and hold for however long the manual says...I believe it's a minute, but don't quote me. The device is effective against critters, but not chemicals. This would be an AWESOME product for international travel, but when it comes to camping, I don't own it for one main reason: it requires electricity and that, to me, is just dumb. I am not going to depend on electricity or batteries for something as important as water when I'm 10-30 miles away from civilization. I'm not trusting my life to my memory if I can avoid it. The company, to their credit, tried to address this concern with a solar charger. It takes something like 20 hours of hardcore sunlight to get a full charge (the company calls that 3-5 days). Inadequate and unacceptable. Notably, I can no longer find this product for sale on the Steripen site, though it is available at several other places online. Another concern is that it only works properly if the water is clear. The company did address this concern well - they now have a prefilter that will attach to virtually any type of bottle or bladder. That cleans the water, then the steripen purifies it. One more downside: if the water tastes bad before purification, it will still taste bad afterward.

Mixed Oxidant - the MSR Miox is the shining example. $140 and tiny. Works very quickly. The process is a bit complicated, and here again, it requires electricity. Basically, chemicals are combined (in the unit) with salt and water in a very small dosage (exact amounts depend on the amount of water and the pH balance). That solution is then electrified and poured into the water you intend to drink. You shake it up and poof, the water is "pure." That's about all I know here. It's effective against critters but not chemicals, and I rule it out based on cost, the need for electricity, and the fact that the process is too complicated for me to trust myself when I'm tired and dehydrated.
So what's the best option? In my opinion, the dream system would be small, lightweight, gravity fed, less than 1 micron in filter size, electricity free, and effective against viruses, bacteria, cryptosporidium and giardia, and chemical contaminants. It would also be affordable.
The only way I've found to even come close to this is via a combination of filtration and chemical treatment. Specifically, filters and chlorine dioxide combined are an amazing choice. You eliminate the 4 hour wait time for the chlorine dioxide to kill off cryptosporidium because the filter takes care of the cryptosporidium for you. That means you only have a 30 minute wait time to kill off remaining bacteria and viruses. If you have a filter size of less than 1 micron, then you are down to a 15 minute wait to kill viruses. If you aren't in an area where viruses are a concern, you're down to zero wait (at this point, the chlorine dioxide tablets are just for flavor and aren't really doing anything in the way of purification until after 15 minutes).
If I'm near a farm or using a metropolitan water source, then I'm at risk from viruses, bacteria, and chemical contaminants. Therefore, I'm going to use my platypus gravity filter, chlorine dioxide tablets, and a katadyn carbon filter attachment in combination and choose my water from a clean, moving water source that I've scouted upstream for at least 100 yards (or ideally, find the source and take from that). This way, I'm safe from chemicals and critters both. I'm also going to give the water a full 30 minutes of wait time after treatment. Overkill? Maybe. Worth it? You tell me: cryptosporidium can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and headaches for 2-10 days straight. Giardia is similar but lasts for 2 to 6 weeks. Both can be fatal.
If I'm in a more pristine wilderness, I'm still going to choose my water source carefully as described above. I'll just drop the carbon filter attachment.
I do carry the Aquamira Frontier Pro in some situations - a dayhike, for example. I'm willing to make the micron trade-off for a hike when I'm only a few miles from civilization. I'll still bring and use chlorine dioxide.
There are "pre-combined" purification systems. Most incorporate a filter and chemical treatment in a squeeze bottle setup. These undoubtedly work, but I always see reviews that say they taste awful. Usually reviews of water purification systems that include "tastes awful" are attached to iodine based systems. One example with decent reviews, however, is the Katadyn Exstream XR. It's iodine based, but the reviewers are either kind or just don't mention the taste. Most of these precombined systems don't do anything against chemical contaminants, but they eliminate critters.

During a Tornado

Sighting a Funnel Cloud

If you see a funnel cloud nearby, take shelter immediately.

However, if you spot a tornado that is far away, help alert others to the hazard by reporting it to the newsroom of a local radio or TV station before taking shelter .

Use common sense and exercise caution: if you believe that you might be in danger, seek shelter immediately.

Take Shelter

Discuss with your family where the best tornado shelters are and how family members can protect themselves from flying and falling debris.

Reduce the risk of injury by planning, preparing, and practicing what you and your family will do if a tornado strikes. Flying debris causes most deaths and injuries during a tornado. Although there is no completely safe place during a tornado, some locations are much safer than others.

If You Are At Home

Pick a place in the home where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. One basic rule is AVOID WINDOWS. An exploding window can injure or kill.

The safest place in the home is the interior part of a basement. If there is no basement, go to an inside room, without windows, on the lowest floor. This could be a center hallway, bathroom, or closet.

For added protection, get under something sturdy such as a heavy table or workbench. If possible, cover your body with a blanket, sleeping bag, or mattress, and protect your head with anything available--even your hands.

Avoid taking shelter where there are heavy objects, such as pianos or refrigerators, on the area of floor that is directly above you. They could fall though the floor.

If You Are In a Mobile Home

DO NOT STAY IN A MOBILE HOME DURING A TORNADO. Mobile homes can turn over during strong winds. Even mobile homes with a tie-down system (hurricane tie-downs) cannot withstand the force of tornadic winds.

Plan ahead.

If you live in a mobile home, go to a nearby building, preferably one with a basement. If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in the nearest ditch, ravine, or culvert and shield your head with your hands.

If you live in a tornado-prone area, encourage your mobile home community to build a tornado shelter. Some States have laws that state you must have one on premises.

If You Are On the Road

DO NOT TRY TO OUTRUN A TORNADO IN YOUR CAR. If you see a tornado, stop your vehicle and get out. Do not get under your vehicle.

If Outdoors

If you are caught outside during a tornado and there is no adequate shelter immediately available--

  • Avoid areas with many trees.
  • Avoid vehicles.
  • Lie down flat in a gully, ditch, or low spot on the ground.
  • Protect your head with an object or with your arms.

If In a Long-Span Building

A long-span building, such as a shopping mall, theater, or gymnasium, is especially dangerous because the roof structure is usually supported solely by the outside walls. Most such buildings hit by tornadoes cannot withstand the enormous pressure. They simply collapse.

If you are in a long-span building during a tornado, stay away from windows. Get to the lowest level of the building--the basement if possible--and away from the windows.

If there is no time to get to a tornado shelter or to a lower level, try to get under a door frame or get up against something that will support or deflect falling debris. For instance, in a department store, get up against heavy shelving or counters. In a theater, get under the seats. Remember to protect your head.

If In Office Buildings, Schools, Hospitals, Churches, and Other Public Buildings

Extra care is required in offices, schools, hospitals, or any building where a large group of people is concentrated in a small area. The exterior walls of such buildings often have large windows.

If you are in any of these buildings--

  • Move away from windows and glass doorways.
  • Go to the innermost part of the building on the lowest possible floor.
  • Do not use elevators because the power may fail, leaving you trapped.
  • Protect your head and make yourself as small a target as possible by crouching down.

Shelter for People with Special Needs

Advance planning is especially important if you require assistance to reach shelter from an approaching storm

If you are in a wheelchair, get away from windows and go to an interior room of the house. If possible, seek shelter under a sturdy table or desk. Cover your head with anything available, even your hands.

If you are unable to move from a bed or a chair and assistance is not available, protect yourself from falling objects by covering up with blankets and pillows.

If you are outside and a tornado is approaching, get into a ditch or gully. If possible, lie flat and cover your head with your arms.

Storm Spotter Meetings are also a good idea for everyone. Call you local extension office, or Government offices or even check your local news to find a spotter meeting near you. Knowing the specifics will help you stay calm during a storm.

Marine of the United States Marine Corps runs ...

Guest Post: Ranger Squirrel - Two Often Overlooked Aspects of Prepping and Survival

By Ranger Squirrel - Ranger Squirrel's Ramblings

The prepper/survivalist community tends to repeat itself. We hear lots of talk about preps for food storage, fuel, water, knives, guns, wild edibles, hunting, fishing, trapping, shelter building, firemaking, water purification, bugging out, bugging in, and bugging sideways … okay I made that last one up. But there are two preps we hear mentioned only rarely.

#1 - Skills
The bottom line is that even the greatest piece of gear, the nicest rifle, coolest pack, niftiest widget or gadgetiest gadget is essentially useless without the skills to use it. Moreover, a lack of skill can destroy top-notch equipment faster than you can believe. A fine axe in the hands of an amateur for example, will quickly become a dull and chipped axe.

This concept first hit home for me several years ago when a friend and I struggled to get a fire lit for twenty minutes on our first backcountry outing. This despite having lighters, matches, and ferro rods and years of experience lighting fires in fireplaces. We lacked the skills to properly prepare tinder from wilderness materials, find dry wood, and build a fire lay. The skills you need depend on your environment, but there is a base set of skills that every prepper/survivalist should have. In the wilderness, these skills are known as Bushcraft and include things like firemaking, hunting, carving, shelter building and land navigation. In the preparedness world though, I haven’t come across a term, so I’ll just call it Prepcraft. Here are the skills that leap to mind in no particular order (feel free to add your own in the comments section) – and no, I don’t claim to have all of these.

Basic/common Plumbing Repairs
Basic Electrical Wiring
Basic Auto Repair
Basic Small Engine Repair
Basic Woodworking
Basic Welding
Cooking (over coals, fire, grill, and stove)
Canning (water bath and pressure)
Food Storage Principles
Water Purification
First Aid (conventional and herbal)

In addition, you should acquire and maintain a library of books filled with skills. Fiction is fun to read, but it will only rarely save your life.

#2 – Physical Fitness

When I had the opportunity to pal around with Green Deane one day last year, he was joking with me about a trip he made to a local outdoor sports store – something like Bass Pro Shop or Gander Mountain – it was the start of a big sale and he arrived before it opened. He commented about the other customers who were waiting, mostly hunters and fishermen who looked as if they hadn’t gotten up off of a couch in years. Meanwhile, Deane is a skinny, bookish looking sort of guy. The “couchdoorsmen” stood around smoking while he walked around the store and found several dozen wild edibles. They probably thought he was weird, but really, who is the true outdoorsman in this scenario?

It’s true that body fat has been referred to, correctly, as survival muscle. It’s easy for our body to burn and it gives us necessary calories in a low-food situation. It can and will keep us alive temporarily in dire circumstances. It’s also true that an excess of fat can keep you from catching food and is usually an indicator of poor health overall. Survival situations are hard on the whole body. Having all the best gear, preps, and all the skills in the world won’t help you live through a heart attack.

Being physically fit helps the body to use calories more efficiently, regulate body temperature, and stave off infection and illness. It also means you are physically able to do more.

The good news is that these two preps complement each other. If you have good skills and good physical fitness, you need less gear and can move further and faster (or get more done while staying put as the case may be). The other good news is that both of these things can be developed or acquired for free or at very low cost.

Public libraries, YouTube, and the internet can help you learn just about any skill you could ever need.

For physical fitness – forget the stupid gym. Pushups, crunches, squats, and jogging are free and good enough for this country’s soldiers, why not you?.

Ranger Squirrel

...that is all.
Toilet paper

What a 'regular' family needs.....Part II

Two of the most important things for the 'regular' family to do is to store food and water! You can live without electricity or gas or toilet paper, (though not comfortably, I might add!) but you absolutely cannot live without food and water! There will never be a time where you aren't going to eat, so why not stock up?

Look honestly at your cupboards and try to figure out how long you could feed your family on what is in them. Honestly. You can't get to the store and buy anything else.....how long will your family survive? A few days? I hope you've got at least that much! But in terms of security, more food is better than less food.

Let's discuss a few reasons to stock up on food and water. If there is any disruption in delivery services, your local grocery has only 3 days of food on the shelves. If there's a panic and folks rush to the stores, they have only a few hours worth of food on the shelves. In the event of inflation/hyperinflation, buying now to eat later allows you to eat at pre-inflation prices. If you know of others in need you are able to help them with your stored foods. Food on the shelves is like money in the bank--security. When there are food recalls and shortages because of tainted food (think spinach, tomatoes, peanut butter), drought (think California, a huge food producer), or weather problems (think frozen fruit in Florida), you won't have to worry if you prepared ahead and stocked your shelves.

But, how should you build up that store of food and how much do you need? Well, if you know me, you know that my first answer is GROW IT!! Growing your own food lets you control what and how much of a certain thing you'll eat. It allows you to grow chemical-free food. It connects you to your food in a way nothing else can. After you grow your own food, learn to can, freeze, or dehydrate it so your pantry starts filling up. That is the easiest, cheapest, healthiest way to build up your stores.

Start planning your meals and writing out a shopping list so that you're buying foods that you actually use. Cut out coupons and shop sales. If you have to buy rice, green beans, and dried apples this week, make sure to buy at least one more of everything, or buy the largest size that you can afford. Put those extra cans on the shelves. After a few months of shopping this way you'll have quite a storehouse of foods that you actually use. Watch your expiration dates and rotate foods accordingly. This is the easiest way to build your pantry outside of your garden. One can at a time. (Or 2 or 3 or 5 cans at a time if you can afford it.)

Stores like CVS and Walgreens have great rebate programs where you can get many supplies free or almost free. Always check your store's clearance aisle. Does your grocery sell dinged cans on the cheap? Buy them! Can you find mark-down produce? Buy it and freeze, can, or dehydrate it! Look for any way that you can build your food stores without killing your budget. I make it a point to try and purchase clearance prepackaged foods, sale foods, or to buy something to can/freeze/dehydrate every time I go to the store. I keep food preps at the top of my priority list. Like Shelly from Ohio Preppers says, prepping is really a job. The welfare of your family deserves that kind of attention.

How much do you need to store? Matt at Kentucky Preppers did a post on a $200 food storage kit for college students. It showed how easy it was to get a 3-month supply of food without a lot of money. Is your family bigger than that? Use this great food storage calculator from the LDS church to see how much food is recommended for a family of your size with kids at various ages. (It's a great tool!)

Well, this is quite long, so I think I will come back and do another post on water tomorrow. See you then?

Prep On!
Gen-IL Homesteader
Lightnings {{es|Tormenta el├ęctrica.

What a 'regular' family needs.....

Hi everyone! Recently someone asked me what a regular family needs to do to prepare. They don't want to become homesteaders, go off-grid, get animals, or prepare for TEOTWAWKI. They just want to be prepared for the occasional 'hiccup' that will happen when storms shut off the power or some natural disaster happens. You know, the temporary setback that is happening somewhere, anywhere in the world on any given day.

First off I'd say there are a few major bases that need to be covered. Those are
Waste Disposal
Bug Out Bag

Even though water and food are listed first--and probably the most important--we're going to talk about them in the next post. After that, we'll discuss the Bug-Out-Bag.

I believe in following 'The Rule of 3' which suggests that we think of at least 3 alternative ways to accomplish all of the things we do in our daily life. For instance, when the gas or electric is not working, cooking can be done on a grill, camp stove, open fire or solar oven. Make sure that you have enough gas, charcoal, or wood stored to operate your alternative system.

This family I mentioned saw their sister and parents without heat and electricity over Christmas. You know, as much as grandkids love opening presents, it's not much fun when the house is 37 degrees!! So, how are you going to heat your home in an emergency? A wood stove is the most desired method. If you can't commit to a wood stove, how about a stand-alone, kerosene heater. (That's what we have until we can figure out where to put a woodstove.) If you have a fireplace, you can at least try to heat the room that holds it, although fireplaces aren't usually the most efficient things to use.

Hopefully you've got lots of games and reading material in your home because if the power's out the tv and video games won't be working. (In other words, you kids might get bored!) But, it's hard to read in the dark. So, lighting!! Besides running a generator, which will only work if there is gasoline available, candles and oil lamps are your next best options. Stock up on them when you see them on sale. Practice using them by having 'no-lighting' night and see how everyone adjusts to it. (Hubby and I do this.) I read somewhere that you could also bring your outdoor solar lights in at night and stick them in an indoor pot filled with dirt or sand. I thought that was a great idea!

Speaking of generators, how will your sump pump run when the electric's out? We have a generator to run the sump pump and freezers when the power is out temporarily.

Ladies, your monthly visitor will still come during an emergency. Stock up on necessary items and consider The Diva Cup. (This option requires water to clean it.) What if someone is sick when the crisis happens? Stock up on necessary over-the-counter and prescription meds. Waste management? Not too many options here. Either buy a port-a-potty or dig a hole!! (Not very glamorous options!)

Lastly, protection. You know that when emergencies happen, some people react in bad ways. Be prepared to protect yourself and your family. If this is through a firearm, make sure you know how to operate it, and store the necessary ammo. If it's not a firearm, figure out what means that will be. The police are not there to protect you. They're there to restore order after the bad things have already happened. Don't depend on them for your protection.

Pay attention to everything you do during the day. Ask yourself, 'How would I accomplish this task if the normal method wasn't available'. Maybe try a weekend at home without electricity or gas. Find out where your 'weak spots' are. Then prepare for alternative means of doing what you do every day. (And tune in next time when we discuss food and water!)

Prep On!
Gen-IL Homesteader