We all know our basic cost of living is increasing. Despite the increase and the knowledge, at some point, we are going to be stuck at home with no way to get to the grocery store. We just assume tomorrow will take care of itself, right?
What about when things get rough, whether it is after a natural disaster or some other unforeseen circumstance? Can you feed your family without running to the convenience store or the pizza parlor? If a giant light bulb has just went on and you want to know what you can do to prevent that tragic situation from happening, read on. I am going to help get you started on the road to a more prepared lifestyle. There is no time like the present to get started.
Let me clarify something first before you chalk this up to a person who is fretting over something that may never happen. There are plenty of reasons you would want to have a nice food storage on hand.
The greatest motto for any organization was trademarked by the Boy Scout, which is, 'Be Prepared.' I spent a combined total of 32 years in the Marine Corp & the Boy Scouts (BSA). My experience has taught me a thing or two about being prepared. Regardless of all the over-nighters I've been on, my education did not come over night. Correct principles of preparedness are discovered through long and uncomfortable situation and mistakes, and sometimes it's down right painful. The painful lessons usually came from my beloved Marine Corps. The sum of the experience can be restated as a quote from a former platoon sergeant,
"You may love the Marine Corps, but some time she won't love you back!"
In preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, you will discover that preparedness does not come in a "one size fits all" label. The perfect solution is defined with experience & balance to achieve your specific mission (goals, purpose).
The Bug Out Bag | 4-Key Points
Over the years, I have considered the best balance of critical points to cover. I've come up with 4 key points to the bug out bag. I put them in the order of importance to what I have found through my own experience and time in the field.
Bug Out Bag | Hydration
The three critical principles of hydration are collection, purification & storage. As your day and activities unfold, hydration will be one of the most important items to continually consider. An Infamous Marine-ism from an old Gunny of mine states,
"If you don't need to pee, you're wrong. Drink!"
Hydration is second only to personal safety while in the field or just being out and about. An adage of the Israeli Special Forces Instructors is to hydrate every three kilometers. A body in motion needs water, continually! Those headaches or migraines the morning after camping, hunting, or patrolling is from dehydration; especially if there is any consumption of other types of beverages that are enjoyed after the fermentation process.
Bug out Bag | Prepared to Survive
This is a broad sweeping point that could cover everything from an emergency Mylar blanket to a Bic lighter. Here is a list of the survival items I carry:
- 3 different methods for starting a fire, I also carry 2 types of catalyst for sustaining the fire
- Small Gerber hatchet
- Leather-man Tool
- Pair of leather palm, light weight, work gloves
- 'Head Light' hands free flash light
- 1/2 dozen instant hand warmers
- 550 cord, mil-spec
- duct tape, small roll
- military lensatic compass
- Sun screen
- Bug spray
- Jet Boil stove
- Freeze dried food packages
- Combat Application Tourniquet, called a CAT
Note: I may only keep some of the freeze dried food in the bag that I think I'll need, or just an emergency ration instead of meals for days. You can live with out food if you have to, but you CAN NOT live with out water for very long. Some of the meals I may remove for weight consideration, I substitute other items that I will cover in the last section I labeled Personal/Extra Stuff. I have learned that a water proofed bag, with water proofed gear inside, makes for a less miserable experience while in the field. So I have learned which store bought zip-lock plastic bags work best for water proofing your gear. About 90% of all my gear in my bag is water proofed to some extent. My lighters, extra socks, sun screen, and even my bug spray is a plastic baggy.
First aid equipment should always be water-proofed, and using ziplock baggies is inexpensive, light-weight & easy. If I go any where, first aid items are always with me:
- EMT Sheers (1)
- Ace Bandage (1-2)
- 2 in. Coban wrap, 2+yards in length
Gauze Wrap (5)
- individually packaged, then all in their own larger water proof bag
The items below are in their own large water proof bag, some items are grouped together in smaller baggies for ease of use and for organizational purposes. This is the ziplock bag I carry everywhere, it never leaves my Bag.
- Moleskin and Blister bandages
- Extra pair of boot laces
- Small bottle of Tylenol
- Medium mixed bottle of Ibuprofen, Naproxin, and Excedrin
- A couple tabs of Sudaphed
- Gold Bond body powder (travel size)
- Blistex lip balm
- Butterfly bandaged
- Super Glue (liquid bandage)
- Assorted Band-Aids (20)
- Alcohol wipes
- Eye drops
- 1/2" water proof adhesive tape
- Folding toothbrush (travel size)
- Tooth paste (travel size)
- 1" Coban wrap, 2+ yards
Bug Out Bag | Personal/Extra Comforts
These are items that I would consider optional, for reasons of weight or the dictation of the terrain. Situation and terain will usually dictate what you have, how much of it you have. Know that even though I have labeled this fourth and final point as extra gear, I usually roll with everything I have listed. It's rare that I'd omit anything from this list:
- Wet Wipes; I like the Huggies, 16 count, slim hard case, which also happens to be sold sealed in plastic (water proofed)
- Extra socks, water proofed in a plastic bag
- Note pad and/or 3X5 cards, plus writing utensils (gel pens don't freeze as easy, black sharpie markers are great for the field too)
- Bandanna and a wash-cloth, sealed in their own baggy together
- Long sleeve, Thermal type, under shirt for an extra DRY base layer if needed at night
- 2, short range, walkie-talkies; with weather reception capability
- Extra batteries, for head lamp and walkie-talkies, both take AAA batt (not a coincidence)
- 20' of 1" webbing
- 5' dog leash
- Appox. 8 carabiners (3 diff sizes and types)
- Pelican Case 1010 (this is my camera case, I use our old model digital camera when in the field, Iraq-tested & approved)
- 3-5 cans of Vienna Sausages (they are small and light weight, perfect poggie-bait)
- Boonie hat
- Empty and folded plastic Wal~Mart grocery bags, for trash or whatever (light-weight; no bulk)
- Black stretchy gloves (Wally World, 2 pair for $1.50. And they are in their own little plastic baggie for water proofing purposes)
Bug Out Bag | Avoiding Gear Bombs & Ensuring A Safe Return
I have been out and about in inclement weather. It was a crap shoot if I knew the weather was going to turn bad on me, but I always planned for the worst and hoped for the best. I always had a few essentials that turned the miserable, to tolerable. Sometimes I'd end up giving my gear to a junior Marine who had not yet learned how fickle Mother Nature could be.
Questions I plan around are below. Safety & returning home are always the end goal.
- What items will my family need?
- What items will I need?
- What is the Terrain?
- What types of immediate problems that may occur?
I believe in water proofing as much as possible. I've got a great system for individual water proofing items in baggies. I have also found that combining a lot of my small first aid items into a larger baggie, for organisational purposes. I don't want a gear bomb going off at the wrong time and have to find & collect my gear. Keep it simple, keep it organized. My last Marine-ism sums up this thought, and one of the great lessons I learned in the Corp - It comes from a Master Gunnery Sergeant,
"There is no reason to practice being uncomfortable and miserable, those opportunities present themselves often in the Corps, and at regular intervals."
I am grateful for the difficulties I have faced, they have taught me and I hope to pay it forward.
Semper Fi - Be Prepared. Out here.
Helping Others Help Themselves:
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Having a supply of fuel is very important for emergency situations and disaster preparedness alike. You never know when you might need emergency fuel for transport, heat, or cooking. With the importance of fuel comes the importance of fuel storage. Storing a surplus of fuel requires careful handling, planning, and an understanding of different kinds of fuel.
Different fuels have different shelf lives and necessitate different storage procedures. As a general rule, always color code and/or label containers with different fuels. Also, store fuel only in sturdy, durable containers with good seals. Here is a breakdown of some large scale fuel storage tips for different kinds of fuel.
Gasoline can be optimally stored for about two years. After this time petroleum tends to go ‘stale’ and may not be ideal for motors. There are, however, stabilizing agents you can buy and add to the gasoline to keep it better for longer. Always store gas in a durable, sealed, preferably red, container out of direct sunlight in a ventilated space.
Diesel fuel has a short shelf life--anywhere from 6-12 months. Because diesel fuel oxidizes after it leaves the refinery and sediments form that can clog motors, stabilizers should be added to the fuel to slow this process. Diesel should not be stored for more than two months, so use up the supply in a vehicle or generator then rotate your supply.
Propane should always be stored outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Place the propane tank upright on concrete away from any other flammable objects or liquids. Storing away from wet areas or places where large amounts of water won’t fall on the tank is also a good idea to prevent rust on the tank cylinder.
Kerosene doesn't evaporate as quickly as gasoline and can remain stable while being stored without any extra treatments. Because of this, kerosene is an easy and popular fuel to store. Make sure kerosene containers are well labeled and possibly stored in a different colored container than gasoline or other fuels. Kerosene has a shelf life of about 3 months and there is a risk of mold forming in the containers for longer storage, so rotate your kerosene.
While less popular in large scale fuel storage than propane or kerosene, butane has a variety of uses in heating and cooking. If you need to throw on a pack and take to the woods, butane can be your companion for cooking and starting fires. Store butane in a cool, dry place out of direct sun. The canisters have a high resistance to heat, but always keep them out of extreme temperatures for good measure.
Dry Fuel (Charcoal, Coal, & Wood)
The dry fuels are the easiest to store since they are not extremely volatile compounds like most liquid fuels. Most of the time having canisters, waterproof containers, and a dedicated area for the fuel is the best storage plan. Keep firewood away from the house and covered to prevent it getting wet if left out in the open. Both coal and charcoal should be kept dry and in some kind of container or bin. Make sure to keep these fuels separate from any flammable liquids.
by Ben Vaughn
[guest-author]Ben Vaughn is a contributing writer for Regency DKI Fire Restoration and writes on fuel storage tips, disaster cleanup, and disaster preparedness.[/guest-author]
For those who have spent most, if not all of their lives trapped in a decidedly more efficient, but no less primitive urban landscape, the idea of chopping down a large tree and turning the fallen timber into perfectly cut pieces of firewood was probably not something you had to confront. But perhaps you always had a void within yourself and the time has finally come to fill that hollow with a chainsaw and an axe.
There is a precise technique to properly chopping down a tree. This is hard work and can be dangerous if not done right. Depending on the size of the tree--width and height, this process can take mere minutes to many hours. You’ll first need a good pair of comfortable shoes, protective eye-wear, work gloves, and a good chainsaw. If the notion of felling a tree with an axe entered your mind, you should rid yourself of that idea rather quick after a couple swings against a well armored tree trunk. Buy or borrow a chainsaw!
Depending on the context in which you’re felling the tree, you will either have an experienced companion assisting you, or you will undoubtedly be prepared to dispatch the tree on your own accord with all the necessary equipment and a very specific reason. If neither of these are true, what are you even doing in the woods? Just get back in your car and drive home; you’re probably doing something illegal anyway.
Once you’re ready to initiate the first step in your Natty Bumppo wilderness fantasy, it’s important you follow a few critical points in assessing and making cuts in the tree. First, determine the direction of fall and make the first cut a third of a way into the tree, parallel to the ground on the side you want the tree to fall.
Next, make a 60 degree angle downward cut until you meet the first cut. This should take out a large triangle of wood from the tree. At this point you’ve made the face cut that will guide the tree as it falls. You can now move to the opposite side of the tree and set the blade parallel to the ground a couple of inches above the bottom of the face cut. Cut horizontally into the trunk until there is just a strip of uncut trunk. This should keep the tree from kickback as it falls. Finally, cut the strip until the tree begins to topple. Turn off the saw and retreat. Don’t look back until you are a safe distance away and hear the thud.
Perhaps the quintessential act of rustic manliness, chopping wood is an artful labor. This isn’t to say that the work is gender specific, but let’s face it, chopping wood just appears brutish. The trick one aspires to achieve chopping wood is working with the wood rather than against it. In general, properly cutting wood is as precision oriented as felling the tree beforehand. Fortunately, chopping wood is a simple and easy to hone technique, you will chop cleaner and faster with practice.
First, gather the need the tools. Good work gloves, a sturdy axe, and some splitting wedges to initially crack open the wood. Also, a short chopping block for resistance is needed to chop the wood into smaller pieces. This is also necessary to protect the blade of your axe from damage when it breaks through the wood.
Set the piece of wood on the block and stand back with feet apart and arms extended. Then line up the axe over the wood, raise it, and strike. This will take practice to get right and may require adjustment to determine the best parts of the wood to strike. Look for well-formed cracks to hit and let the weight of the axe do most of the work. This will usually cause the wood to easily come apart, but sometimes you may need to strike along the sides to avoid getting the axe struck in a thick log.
For the toughest pieces of wood, you can use the wedges to facilitate the splitting. Tap one of the wedges into the log and strike it in until the wood begins to split. You can also whittle away the log around the sides until the log is small enough to split down the center more easily. With practice, you can become a highly efficient wood-cutter. The best part is that you can take this skill anywhere. You’ll soon be the go-to firewood source. Just remember your flannel shirt and steel-toed boots!
By Ben Vaughn
[guest-author]Ben Vaughn writes for Skyline DKI storm damage cleanup and covers topics like disaster cleanup, restoration, and the merits of felling trees and chopping wood.[/guest-author]
Corn tortillas are a simple food to make using your food storage supplies. They’re cheap, they’re easy, and they are plentiful. They're also a main stay for those with a wheat or gluten intolerance!
Here are the basic proportions:
1 cup of masa harina (corn flour, but treated with lime and then ground)
¾ - 1 cup of water
The proportions are very nearly equal – you want to put in *just* enough water to make the dough moist, but not enough to make it tacky. The dough will begin to look smooth, rather than grainy. This is the point to stop adding water.
The next step is to divide the dough. For every cup of flour, you should end up with 8 balls of dough. It looks like this in succession:
When done, each dough ball should be approximately the size of a teaspoon.
The next step is to line your press with either plastic wrap or wax paper. If you choose not to, the dough will stick and be miserable to get off.
Take one dough ball and press. Spin the plastic wrap 180 degrees and press again. This will give you a flat tortilla with this press. Otherwise, they’re lopsided!
Carefully, peel your new tortilla off of the plastic and set on a plate or directly into the hot pan. Repeat for the rest of the dough.
Next, pull out your cast iron frying pan. Heat it up good and hot. Carefully, as to not rip your tortilla, pick up the one on the top and put it onto the hot pan. It will smoke a little as it cooks. Wait until the edges start to lift up, so it looks a little crown-like, and flip it.
When you flip it to the second side, you’re looking for the tortilla to stand up in the opposite direction, on its edges before you pull it off.
This takes some practice and you’ll probably burn a few before you get the timing right for your stove and your pan. This is ok – count it up to practice and set them aside for enchiladas!
When it’s done cooking, pull it off the pan and drop it on a waiting plate.
Mmm…the house smells SO good after you home-cook tortillas! Eat, drink and be merry, knowing you’ve got the best tortillas ever at your fingertips!