Monthly Archives: January 2015

Preparedness Essentials: Fire Starters

As part of your emergency preparedness plan, you will need to include fire starters.  To state the obvious, fires produce heat, light and a means to cook food.  All of those things are important in your emergency preparedness plan.

The first thing you should have on hand is a box of waterproof matches.  It’s possible to make your own by covering matches in paraffin and storing them in a watertight container.  I don’t bother to make my own, though.  I purchase them.  There is nothing special to know about using waterproof matches.  Simply strike them on the strike strip as you do for other matches.

You should also have a magnesium fire starter as a back-up.  This tool is made of a block of magnesium with a flint strip and a metal rod.  Use the metal rod to scrape magnesium shavings off onto your kindling.  Then strike the flint strip to make sparks, which will ignite the magnesium.

I recommend having both of these on hand in case you have an issue implementing one of them.  You will also be able to use the matches if you run out of flint in the magnesium fire starter, or use the magnesium fire starter if you run out of matches.

It’s also helpful to have fire starter nuggets on hand.  Nuggets are used instead of kindling as the first, small material that is set on fire when you are building a fire.  They can be used in fireplaces and stoves.  Although not essential for starting a fire, they sure make it easier.

As always, you should be sure that you know how to use your equipment before any emergency takes place.  Try the water proof matches a time or two, just to get familiar.  Using the magnesium fire starter actually takes some skill, so you should definitely practice using it until you can start a fire quickly and easily.

Keep these items in your bug-out bag so that you’ll have them with you when you grab your bag and go.

I can recommend the following products:

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Emergency Preparedness: Becoming Food Self-Sufficient

Vegetable gardenStoring food is a crucial part of your preparedness plan.  You need to think of two time horizons:  the first 72 hours and the long term.  Your bug-out bag should include enough food for three days.  Think of cans or pouches of tuna fish, peanut butter, nuts and dried fruits and other nutrient-dense, non-perishable food.  Most if not all of it should be ready to eat without need of cooking or heating.

Your long-term plan can include one or all of a few different approaches.

One option is MREs or meals ready to eat.  These are the same meals that the military provides to service men and women.  They are pre-packaged meals that are usually packaged with a built-in heating device that allows you to heat the meal without any fire or other equipment.  You can buy them by the box.  The advantage to them is that they provide full meals with a certain amount of variety.  It’s more expensive to buy them this way, but it’s also faster to provide for a few week’s worth of meals.  And the meals themselves require no preparation other than the self-heating mechanism.  They have a long shelf life, usually of five years or so. I can recommend Sure-Pak MRE Meal Case Packs With Flameless Ration Heater-Pack Of 12

Another option is to set a plan to collect food that you can store for an emergency.  Dried food can last indefinitely.  They also make good soups.  I stock up on dried beans, lentils and split peas.  I keep rice and pasta on hand.  I also make sure to have plenty of beef, chicken and vegetable stock, cans of diced tomatoes and cans of vegetables.  Don’t forget salt, pepper and some basic herbs and spices.  With those ingredients, you can make delicious, home-made soup exactly the way you want it.  I keep the fixings for home-made soup rather than buying cans of soup or stew because I like the variety and because I think you get less adulterated food that way.  Dried beans don’t contain chemicals, stabilizers, preservatives or large amounts of salt.

Of course, men and women don’t live by soup alone, so you’ll need to construct a plan to ensure that you have supplies to provide a full menu.

In my opinion, though, the best way to be self-sufficient in your food supply is to garden and preserve your harvest.  Start now.  Growing a garden takes time, so you don’t want to wait until the emergency is on your doorstep before you start growing your carrots.  A garden will give you organic, healthful, GMO-free fruits and vegetables for very little money.  The choice of fruits and vegetables is entirely up to you, so you can get the produce you love.  Gardening will also give you hours of peace and quiet as you work in it.

I will admit that preserving the harvest is a set of skills that I have not yet mastered.  Certainly it takes time, and some equipment.  But it is the road to self-sufficiency so I will be learning what I need to know and doing what I need to do.

Plan to become food self-sufficient.  It will see you through all manner of disasters, especially financial ones.

Are you food self-sufficient?  Share your experiences in the comments.

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Start With Water

WaterOf all the things you need to do to be prepared, start with water.

Water is crucial to your survival.  The first and most obvious reason is that you need it to drink.  Lack of water can kill you in three days.  If you have water, but not as much as your body needs, you may survive but are likely to experience symptoms of dehydration, which can include dizziness, confusion, weakness, heart palpitations and fainting.  You may be unable to sweat, which can cause you to become overheated, and you may have decreased urine output.  So water, and enough water, is necessary to keep you alive and well.

But you need water for more than drinking.  Think of everything you do with water over the course of a day.  You bathe with it.  You brush your teeth with it.  You flush the toilet with it and wash your hands with it afterward.  You need it to prepare food.  You need it to wash your dishes and your clothes.

I’ve read articles that suggest that you prep a gallon of water per day per person.  Considering everything you need water for, that doesn’t sound like much.  Of course, in an emergency situation, you would be careful about using water and you wouldn’t waste it.  Still, you could easily go through a gallon a day just using it for drinking, cooking and minimum personal hygiene.  But let’s start with one gallon per person per day and increase your stock when and if you can.

Water is heavy and hard to carry, so if you are facing an emergency that has you on the move, you may need to rely on uncertain water sources and use water purifiers or filters to make it safe. Out in nature, untreated water may contain pathogens that can cause intestinal distress or worse.  There are various ways of removing pathogens and all of them have drawbacks.

A rolling boil will kill most but not all pathogens in water.  Obviously, boiling water requires the equipment necessary to heat water to boiling.

Water purification tablets provide another means of making water safer.  These are tablets that dissolve in water.  They kill bacteria and viruses but don’t filter out particulate matter.  They usually leave the water with an unpleasant taste.

Handheld filters eliminate bacteria but not viruses.  They take out particulate matter and usually leave the water tasting pleasant.

Since water is crucial to your survival, it should be one of the items you take great care in planning.  Whether you are sheltering in place or bugging out, you should have a well thought-out plan for your water needs.

How have you provided for your need for water in your emergency preparedness plan?  Please leave a comment to let us know.

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