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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guest Post: Firestorm Chapter 14a, by Christopher Young

Dora The Explora 

Flexing first her fingers, then her toes Dora let out a
soft groan and wondered yet again, if she had the strength
to make it to the safe haven offered by Chris so many
months ago. Still drowsy, her mind replayed the horrors
of the last few days. Dark men with turbans had come to the
diner. They spoke broken English, and had bad attitudes.
Ate big stacks of pancakes, no sausage or bacon. And they
scared the life out of her. Nothing she could identify, but
they were terrifying.

Dora had left the diner at midnight, when the diner closed.
Found that her car had two flat tires. Waitress made so
little money, there was never enough money to buy tires,
or maintain the car. And there was no one available to
help her. The phones were dead, and the other servers
lived only a couple houses away. She chatted with the
girls, and they suggested it was only a mile or two,
how about walk. Dora said yeah, she could probably do
that. One of the girls said "it would be just like
bugging out!". That tripped a memory. Bugging out.
Bug out bag.

Dora went back to the diner, and unlocked the front door.
Went to the closet with the coats, and found the knapsack
of stuff, where she had carelessly cast it aside. Chris
had given it to her for Christmas. Dora sadly remembered
how she had thought it such a stupid idea. Most customers
gave the waitress money, chocolates, or a couple beers for
Christmas. She read the 8 pages of instructions back at
Christmas time. Found them so absurd, and so paranoid. She
read them aloud to the other servers, "Oh this is great"
Dora exclaimed choking with laughter " Move at night and
sleep during the day" and "This guy is a real Rambo"
Laughter echoed off the walls. But, Chris and Dora were
having the last laugh, tonight.

Dora unzipped the backpack, and pulled out the crank up flash
light. She cranked it for several seconds, and then tried the
on button. It threw out enough light to walk safely. The long
walk home from the Diner took about an hour. As she rounded the
last curve, only to find the small farmhouse in ashes and her
beloved animals gone. The absolute panic when it sank in
that life would never be the same. She should have taken
Chris and his quiet insistence on the principles of living
a prepared life seriously. Should have had off site backups,
and everything else Chris had said.

Dora wasn't the only person having a hard time adjusting.
Jade and Madison had been fighting nearly full time, since
their parents had been killed. Martha was wise enough to know
it was just account of the stress. She knew they would calm
down after a day or two.

Just the opposite, Heather's crew had been first rate. The
kids knew each other from way back, and had been the best of
friends. Heather was getting worried. She hadn't heard from
Chris and Gomer, in a while. The phones had been dead.

Adjusting. Well, that's what Dora would have to do. She
sat down under a tree, and started to read the eight sheets
of printed material. Page two mentioned something called a
"space blanket" in case she got cold. After dark, New York
sure did get plenty cold. She pointed the flash light into
the bag again, and there was the space blanket. Opening the
package, it crinkled and wrinkled. Felt flimsy and junky.
But everything else Chris had said, had been true. She
wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and instantly
felt the warmth. Dora found an outdoor chair, behind the
house, and sat down to consider things. Sleep gently over
took her, and she slept the night.

With an exasperated sigh Dora scrambled out of the mylar
foil blanket, and stretched in the afternoon breeze.
The smouldering embers reminded her of what used to be
her home. She shook her head ruefully at the memory of
her less than enthusiastic response when Chris had
presented her with "Just a basic BOB" last Christmas.
Most regular customers gave their favorite waitress a
hefty tip for the holidays....

The big problem would be the inverted sleep schedule.
Dora realized she had to travel at night. With the new
daylight, she poked at the ashes of her house.
She found several items that she'd bought because they
looked so rustic. Out in the back yard was an old axe,
that looked neat. And a wood saw. Well, they would be
useful again.

Primitve pretty well described Sam's new farm. About the
time Dora was waking up from her sleep (no alarm clock
to wake her before she good and wanted to wake up). And
at that time Brenda was driving her carful of people to
the farm gates. Chris was right behind, in the Blazer.
Gomer was zoned out, brain sucked into the video game.

Dora carefully opened a box of water and shook in the
flavor powder, shook it up and took a sip as she read with
interest the eight pages of detailed instructions. She and
the other girls at the diner laughed over nearly a year
ago, "Thank you Chris, Thank you" she whispered as she
began to gather her few things into the now beloved "Just
a basic BOB". Unwrapping a piece of ER BAR Dora moved
to the edge of the pile of smouldering ashes, and looked
to see what she might save. Not much. She decided to head
back to the diner. See if anyone could help her fix the
car tires, and use the last of the gasoline to get to Chris's

But, that meant more walk. Dora walked about half an hour.
She went a couple feet into the woods and sat behind
a large tree muching as she carefully watched up and
down the asphalt two lane. Listening carefully as Chris
had written. Trying to be sure she was alone as she
rested, and prepared to continue her journey. Just a
bit farther, she thought to herself. Just got to make
it to Chris place, and I will be safe. Dora looked into
the BOB, and found a battery radio. Put the ear pieces
in, as she was out of sight.

What Dora had no way to know. Was that Chris was in Ohio at
this moment, listening to a truck radio. The radio announcer
out of Cleveland was more information this time. The Muslim
uprising is a coordinated global uprising after the fall of
Israel (during the multi-nation Arab terrorist and Iran
state attack) in a massive nuclear exchange-the Muslims
eventually declared victory. But Israel wipes out about
50-60 % percent of the Arab nations as well as
destroying Mecca and Medina; this final act ignites the
world Infatada. Indonesia is predominately Muslim and
other nations in North Africa and other African nations
are supplying Muslims. Dora was trying to get to an unoccupied

Make Your Own Gravity Fed Home Water Filtration System

Original Article

Note from Nick: Thanks to Cash for contributing this great article. I personally own the Royal Berkey system from Jeff “The Berkey Guy” at Directive 21 and think it is a great addition to any home from both a practical standpoint and aesthetic standpoint, however if you have been looking to make a quick little project and save some money this is a great way to make your own Berkey-Style water filter. Not to mention that home filtration is a basic prep I think everyone should have. If you end up getting the fitlers from Jeff over at Directive 21 please tell them that you are purchasing because of Save Our Skills and that would help to support the efforts of this website.

Thank you!
- Nick LaDieu

By Cash Olsen from KD5SSJ Solder Paste, Solder Tools and Solder Kits
I just made a water filtration system similar to the commercial units, cost about $100.
There is nothing real difficult, drills and hole saw. I have seen the details of a similar system, elsewhere. The major difference in my unit is that I used a Gamma lid in the top bucket for easy access to the filter elements and clean out of any silt and debris. The top bucket to bottom lid is carefully sealed with silicon caulk to make sure that no unfiltered water can dribble down the outside of the top bucket when being filled. The bottom bucket has a replacement spigot purchased for other water containers.
I purchased 4 sterasyl ceramic filter and installed two in this filter and will save two for future replacement. The filters are the same as used in the commercial units. Cost was $35 dollars each. So my total cost comes in right about $100. All the specifications of my bucket would also be the same as a commercial unit because the critical components are the same.
This was what my 5 gallon filter looks like.

This is the first bucket with the Gamma lid mounting ring attached. This should be done first because it must be driven on with a rubber mallet or hammer with wood to protect the ring from marring. This requires about 6 -7 sharp raps of the mallet around the ring with the lid removed.

This is the bucket with the Gamma lid in place. This should be removed for further assembly.
The next step is to mount a normal lid to the bottom of the bucket. This is rather critical. First apply a bead of silicon bathtub caulking around the inside recess of the lid so that when the bucket is set into it it will seal the bucket to the lid. Then apply another bead of silicon bathtub caulking around the bottom of the bucket just above the lid. This is important because you don’t want any contaminated water which might run down the side of the top bucket to be able to get into the lower bucket, that’s why it needs a very good water tight seal. Allow the silicon caulk to dry at least overnight, the instructions say that it is shower ready in 3 hours but this only means that the surface is skimmed over.

I measured 3″ from the center of the lid to the and marked two places, one on either side of the center. Use as small drill bit < 1/8″ (0.125″) and drill two pilot holes at each of the marked places. Drill as straight and perpendicular to the lid, as possible, through the lid and into the bottom of the bucket. Using the 1 1/2″ (1.50″) hole saw, picture 100_0117.JPG, enlarge the the whole in the bucket lid in both places. Using a 1/2″ (0.500″) drill bit drill two holes through the bottom of the bucket. The plastic lid and bucket are very easy to drill but be careful not to enlarge the 1/2″ hole size because this will only make it more difficult to seal the filter candle to the bucket in the next step.

From the top of the bucket mount the Sterasyl filters in the bucket. The rubber seal goes on the bottom of the filter and to the bottom of the bucket. Thread the wing nut onto the threads of the filter from the other side of the lid as shown in picture 100_0106 and tighten it good by hand. I used rubber gloves while installing the filter candles so as to avoid oils and other contaminants on the ceramic surface. There is a significant gap between the bottom of the top bucket and the lid, this is why it’s necessary to get a good seal and also the enlarged hole to give access to the wing nut.

shows the filter candles mounted in the top bucket. Picture 100_0112.JPG is a closer view of one candle mounted in the top bucket.

shows the bottom bucket with the drain cock, I have not yet mounted it at the time of this picture. Drill an appropriate hole for the grommet and mount it very near the bottom of the second (lower) bucket.

Shows the finished 5 gallon filter completed stack. I removed the locking ring and I have not yet determined if I want to seat the lid on the second bucket. I have found it to be very handy to be able to unstack the system and carry each bucket by it’s bail handle.
I purchased the buckets and lids (including Gamma lid) from BayTecContainers.com and I purchased the 4 x Doulton Super Sterasyl Ceramic Filter Candle 10″ @ $35.00 10 Long Mount W9121709 total including shipping was $141.99 from www.FiltersFast.com . I have a spare set of ceramic filters for replacement. I’m sure that there are other sources for all of the components.
Note from Nick: I talked with Cash and he agreed that Super Sterasyl Ceramic filters from Directive 21 was a better deal (saving about $10)
Follow the instructions with your filters candles for the initial use and restarting after prolonged lack of use.
Remove the Gamma lid to fill the top bucket and replace it loosely while the filtration is taking place. At the rate of 1 liter per hour (gravity feed) for each filter you should expect 5 gallons (18.9 liters) to take about 9 1/2 to 10 hours, or 10 gallons per day (two 5 gallon runs in 24 hours).
If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

Food Storage Hunt: Food Storage Made Easy

Original Article

Julie from Food Storage Made Easy is here today to share her food storage space.

Here are some tips that I have found have made my food storage more
organized, useful, and rotated. I find building and using your food
storage to be an ever changing thing, and I keep adapting as I learn
more. I have a food storage area in an unfinished part of my basement
(I know we're lucky to have basements). I also have a little cupboard
space upstairs I use for day to day cooking.

MY FOOD STORAGE AREA: I call this my food storage
area, because it's just against a wall in my basement. In my "dream"
home, I'll have a whole dedicated room, with all sorts of super cool
shelves and stuff, but for now this is like heaven compared to my
condo before. I have three areas along the wall. One is for long term
foods, the shelves are for three month supply, and I have an area for
water. Ok- ok, I have a fourth area - it's called a big fat pile of
non-food items, and appliances that are waiting for a new shelf area
I also keep some water and my 72 hour kits upstairs in case we had to
evacuate, or my whole basement got smooshed in a disaster. Oh and this
reminds me, I need to put up a blanket against that window to block
light from getting onto my long term food. I just moved everything
around and before this wasn't an issue. Light makes food go bad

storage room downstairs I try to keep like foods together on shelves.
That way I can quickly get stuff assessed and know where everything is
easily. I like to keep fats together, sugars together, condiments,
and all sorts of other logical (to me) groupings.

the ingredients I need for making bread on one shelf in one of my
cupboards. That way when it's bread making day, I just pull all the
things off that one shelf and I'm ready to go. Having to dig, and push
through other ingredients is something I have always hated about
baking, so this way I'm ready to go right away.

cans in my upstairs pantry. How is this Food Storage? Well you see by
keeping very, very few of my three month supply types of foods
upstairs, I am FORCED to go downstairs to get food out of my food
storage and use it. When I go grocery shopping, I come STRAIGHT home
and put my food in the basement. Then when I need food, I have to go
down there (send one of my cute little kids) to get it. I know it
sounds annoying, but if I don't do it this way, I'd end up using
everything I just barely bought first, and my food storage in the
basement would just collect dust.

encourage myself to use my long term food storage such as grains and
legumes is I keep smaller containers of them upstairs. I know this
contradicts my previous tip a little - but it's different- trust me. I
save containers from nuts I get at Costco and use them to store the
smaller quantities of my long term foods. This makes making pancakes,
or muffins and all that kind of stuff with whole grains a lot easier.
I also use my legumes a lot more in soups and chili's.

conveniently on a work table right next to the food storage is a pad
of paper for me to write down things I take out of my food storage so
I can replace them next time I'm shopping, or next time there is a
sale. My dear husband knows if he takes something off a shelf he BEST
be writing it down on that paper - or else ;)

HEY WAIT! How did this get in here. Ok fine- when I
go grocery shopping I DON'T immediately put the food in the basement.
I put it on the stairs DOWN to the basement and deal with it later.

For anyone feeling OVERWHELMED right now- here's a
look at what my food storage area looked like 3 years ago. THIS was my
before and after. Through a lot of time, dedication, and sacrifice (no
Disney trips for us) I have been able to build it up to a little less
sad than it was.

Thanks Julie! What an inspiration. With sacrifice and hard work, you can have a great food storage just like hers. Be sure to check out Food Storage Made Easy for more great tips and ideas.

Oxygen Absorbers

Oxygen absorbers come in a plastic bag. Each absorber packet has a special barrier to prevent it's contents from making contact with your food.

Within the last ten years the advent of oxygen absorbers has brought a revolution to the food storage industry. Their use has increased the storage life of foods and has made the job of putting away food for long term storage much simpler. There are two types of oxygen absorbers used for the storage of Food, "B" absorbers and "D" absorbers. The "B" absorbers require moisture from the food they are packed with to perform their action. A good example would be beef jerky or dehydrated fruit that hasn't been dried until it is brittle. The "D" absorbers contain their own moisture and are better suited for dry pack canning because there isn't enough moisture in correctly dried food to activate the "D" absorbers. The "B" absorbers will last a year after they are manufactured but the "D" absorbers only last 6 months. This is important for you to know so you won't buy a bunch of absorbers, pack them away for two years, and expect them to do their thing when you finally open them. The "B" absorbers also work much slower as they must first absorb moisture from the food they are packed in before they will absorb any oxygen. You can generally leave them out for 2 hours before they reach their advertised minimum absorbing capacity. Because the "D" absorbers have their own moisture built into them, they start absorbing oxygen immediately when opened and reach their advertised minimum much quicker, generally within 20 minutes.

Oxygen absorbers perform their action through a chemical reaction. They contain iron powder which reacts with the oxygen in the air causing the iron powder to rust. When all the iron powder has oxidized, the oxygen absorbers are "loaded" and the absorbing action stops. Remove the oxygen from an active absorber and the chemical reaction stops. Put them back in the air and the reaction starts again until the iron is gone.

Number of oxygen absorbers needed: We sell 500cc and 100cc absorbers. They will absorb 500+ cc or 100+ cc of oxygen. A #10 can holds 13 cups or very roughly 3300cc. Air is 21% oxygen. So that empty 3300cc #10 can actually has about 683cc of oxygen in it. If you take a full cup of beans it takes about 0.375 cups of water to bring the water level up to the top of the cup. I've found this to be true with most of the whole seeds I've measured including wheat and rice. This figure is important because it also tells you how much air is in the can when it is full of seeds - 37.5%. With a #10 can full of these products, you now have about 256cc of oxygen left in the can. If you are canning a powder you probably have less air than this but foods like macaroni would have more. Already you can see that one 750cc absorber should do the job nicely, in fact it's a bit of overkill. A 300cc absorber would also do the trick. We use one 500cc absorber in each of our #10 cans as we'd rather have a bit of overkill than a little oxygen left in the can should the absorber become loaded. Actually, on the cans, this is a lot of overkill as the absorbers we use now actually have more than twice as much oxygen absorbing capacity as what they are rated for.

A 6 gal bucket holds 22,740cc. Going through the above calculations, a full 6 gal bucket of grain or beans has about 1791cc oxygen left in the container at sea level. You will need four of our absorbers if you are packing up your food at lower elevations. Our facility is at 6,000 feet and at this altitude there is only an equivalent of 1484 cc of oxygen in the thinner air. Again, because of the oxygen absorber's significant under rating, we only use two 500cc absorbers in the buckets as they will absorb more than twice their rated capacity.

Oxygen absorbers are over rated to give you a fudge factor if you should leave them out in the air too long. Generally, you have about 20 minutes before they reach this advertised minimum. There are variables that determine how fast the oxygen absorbers work, so you shouldn't leave them out any longer than you absolutely have to. But why not get every bit of absorption you can out of them? May I suggest you leave only enough out in the air to take care of maybe 1 or 2 minutes of operation? See our Packaging Your Food Using Oxygen Absorbers page for lots of other useful information about the actual packing operation using buckets.

Original at: https://www.usaemergencysupply.com/information_center/packing_your_own_food_storage/oxygen_absorbers.htm

Food Storage Tags

Original Article

You may remember this previous post, Labeling Long-Term Storage, from back in 2009 where Stephanie shared her idea of making tags to help with locating, rotating and replacing her food storage.  Well, I've had two-year intentions of doing the same thing, but have never gotten around to it.  Just this past Christmas, my wonderful parents-in-law gave me a new fun laminator and I've been itching to use it for this project since then. 

I made my tags using a different color of cardstock for each food storage product that I keep in buckets.  Actually there isn't much rhyme or reason to the colors.  I just used the colors that I had on hand.  In the picture below, you might notice that the brighter colors are easier to see and read so I would recommend that you use bright colors instead of dull or dark colors. 

I figured out how many tags of each that I needed.  For example, I knew that I wanted to always keep four buckets of flour on hand, so I used my word processor to print four "flour" labels.  I repeated this process for each of the items I keep in buckets: wheat, sugar, powdered sugar, brown sugar, rice, oats, and beans.  I laminated my tags for durability, but this isn't necessary.  Then I hole punched the side and tied each onto the bucket handles with some white yarn.  I made more than 40 tags.  It took about two hours from start to finish (but most of that time was spent doing second and third runs through my laminator in order to fully seal the tags - I'm sure you could do it in a fraction of that time).  I love the result!  It is so easy to figure out what is in each bucket now.

Recently I ran out of flour.  So I ran down into my storage area, grabbed a bucket of flour (which was so easy to find because of the easy-to-see tags) and emptied the previously-stored flour into my upstairs bucket.  I actually left the tag on the empty bucket and let it remind me that I needed to buy some more flour to replace the now-empty bucket.  I could also untie the tag and slip it into my purse or tie it to a shelf as a reminder that I need to replace that flour.  When I refilled the bucket with flour, I flipped the tag over and wrote 2011 on the back with a black permanent marker so that I would know the age of the newly purchased flour.

Here are a few other ideas and tips that you could use for labeling your food storage:

*Use different colored ribbons for each different food (i.e red for red wheat; black for black beans; pink for pinto beans; tan for oatmeal; white for rice; etc.).
*Use a different colors of  ribbon/yarn to indicate the purchase date.
*Use different colors of permanent markers to differentiate between foods and/or dates.
*Wrapping ribbon and index cards would work just fine.
*Magnetic labels could be used with #10 cans or steel shelves.
*Instead of tying a ribbon to foil pouches or #10 cans (that don't have a handle like a bucket or a neck like the PETE bottles), just tie a tag to the shelves or adhere a label with a small piece of ribbon directly to the product.
*Label two sides and the top of each container for more visibility.
*Use cup-holder screws to hang labels (of items needing to be replaced).
*These tags would be a great idea for a cheap, but love-filled gift.

I would love to hear your ideas!