Food storage – dehydrated foods

Dehydrated foods have several good qualities. They are easy to store, just keep ’em dry for the most part. Most varieties rehydrate well. Usually, there is very little nutritional loss during the dehydration process. Some kinds can be eaten without rehydration, such as dried fruits. They are also light and easy to toss into a bug out bag.

However, as with anything else, you gotta take the good with the bad. Most kinds of dehydrated foods require water to prepare. Clean, potable water might very well be in short supply when you end up needing your dehydrated foods the most. Crunchy lasagna noodles with powdered sauce mix doesn’t taste all that great without the added water.

Many of the entree varieties need not only water but it must be hot. So not only do you need to have a supply of potable water but you’ll need a way to heat it for a length of time. Again, might not be all that feasible during the greatest need for the food.

They are relatively expensive. You could easily spend $50-100 on a case or two of meals, receiving enough food for a family of four to last a couple days. For that same price, I could buy enough fresh food to last a couple weeks or more and can or preserve it myself.

While many varieties taste pretty good, sometimes the texture is a bit off. This isn’t a big deal as, if you’re hungry enough you’ll eat it. But, it is something to keep in mind. If you are going to store dehydrated food, I highly recommend you try them out first and be sure you like them.

Suffice to say, before you drop a few hundred bucks or more on some cases of dehydrated food, do your homework first. I’m not saying they are a bad thing. I have several packages myself. But, know ahead of time what is required to prepare them and be sure you will want to eat the ones you buy.

How to Make a Lanyard

Guest Article – by Don Hebert

This article will show you how to take a length of cord and weave it into a much shorter length. In this example, I started with 8 feet of mini-blind cord (available on Amazon.com and other places) and the finished lanyard is 7 inches long. You can attach the lanyard to whatever you like using S-Biners or any clips, or even just by tying the ends of the cord to the item. If you need a length of cord for whatever reason, all you have to do is pull out the end of the cord from the lanyard and it will unravel as far as you need.

Step one: Screw 3 screws into an old wooden spool. The spool needs to have a hole large enough for the lanyard to pass through. I drilled out the center hole of this spool to 3/8”.

Step two: Tie a knot in the cord and place the cord over one of the screws and wrap the cord around the screws from the inside out.

Step three: Go around the screws a 2nd time in the same inside out manner.

Step four: Using a piece of wire, nail, hook, etc. (I used a yarn loom hook I bought at Wal-Mart for under a dollar) and take the bottom loop over the top loop and off of the screw, leaving the top loop on the screw. Do this for all 3 screws. Continue looping and hooking until either the lanyard is as long as you want or you run out of cord.

As you work, the lanyard will start coming out of the hole in the spool.

When you have either run out of cord or the lanyard is as long as you want it, take the cord loops off of the spool.

Take care at this point as if you pull the loose end from the top, it’ll unravel. Pass the S-Biner through all 3 of the loops and then take the loose end and weave it down inside the lanyard tucking the end inside. Do the same for the other loose end.

The finished lanyard, attached to my new Gerber Trendy knife.

The Death File

The mantra of preppers is the same as the Boy Scout slogan – Be Prepared. Prepare as much as you can for whatever life throws at you. Part of that mindset or lifestyle is, or should be, to prepare for your eventual passing. Every single one of us owes the universe a death, unfortunately.

In order to help your family during what will surely be a troubled time, put together a Death File. Simply put, this is a file where you’ve collated all important information in one easy to access place. Doing so will make it incredibly easier for your loved ones to carry on in your absence.

What should be in the Death File?

–Documents related to your last wishes. A copy of your will, power of attorney, medical instructions on life support, that sort of thing. If you have specific requests for funeral arrangements, include that as well.

–Contact list. If there are specific people you wish to be notified of your passing, for example friends you know primarily or only online, make a list of them and their contact information.

–Financial papers. All bank accounts, trusts, tax records, property ownership, investment accounts, basically anywhere you have funds stashed or in which you have financial interest. You don’t necessarily need to include statements from each of these accounts, just indicate where they can be found.

–Other important papers. Passports, military records, adoption paperwork. Again, just leave instructions on where this info can be found.

–Insurance policies. Include information on every insurance policy you have, including the agent’s name and contact information.

–Safe deposit boxes and/or cash stashes. If you have one or more places you regularly stash some cash, tell your family how to find them.

–Professional contacts. If you are the one in your family who takes care of most of the record keeping, be sure to include a list of those professionals you deal with regularly. Accountants, attorneys, financial advisors.

–Online accounts. This would include email addresses as well as any social networking sites. Give your family instructions on how to access these accounts if need be, as well as closing them as appropriate.

–Bill paying information. If you are the primary bill payer in your family, leave detailed instructions on all regularly paid bills such as mortgage, credit cards, utilities, and property tax. How you pay (online, mailed check, etc.) as well as where to find the statements should be included. Be sure to also include information on canceling credit accounts, even the ones you don’t use very often.

Nobody likes to think about their own passing or the passing of a loved one. But, this is something you should do NOW. Trust me, your family will thank you for it.

Food storage – Where to find space?

Setting aside enough food for a family of four to last just a few weeks takes up a fair amount of space, let alone planning for several months. Not everyone has a huge walk-in pantry to use either.

Basements are usually good places to start, as long as they are dry. Use a dehumidifier if need be to keep moisture out of the area. Build simple shelves from 2x4s to keep things off the floor and organized. Do NOT use the cheap pressed board bookcases you find at discount stores. The shelves will warp rather quickly under the weight of canned goods.

If you have staircases in your home, do you have access underneath them? There are many different plans available online for building various types of shelving to take advantage of this often unused space.

I’ve heard of some folks who built shelves inside their walls, using the space between the studs. This isn’t a bad idea, as long as you can easily access the food stored there so you can rotate it regularly.

Most beds have a fair amount of space under them, enough room for at least a few cases of canned goods.

Check your closets and see if there is enough space along the back of them to install some shallow shelves. For canned goods, they only need to be 5″-6″ deep.

For apartment dwellers, you probably have a small storage unit of some sort in the basement. You could box up your food storage items and label the boxes “Old Clothes” or something else innocuous. Go a step further and put a couple old shirts over the top of the food in the boxes.

Remember, store what you eat and eat what you store. Rotate, rotate, rotate. The food won’t do you much good if it goes rancid or is otherwise unfit for consumption when you most need it.

The bicycle as a bug out vehicle

There are a few distinct advantages to using a bicycle as a bug out vehicle.

They are infinitely more portable and lightweight than a car or truck. Thus, you can store them in a basement or storage locker without much effort.

You can find them very cheap, even free, if you look around. Rummage sales, Craigslist, Freecycle, even friends or neighbors are great sources for cheap or free bikes. Many police departments sell off bikes they recover but go unclaimed. You can easily get enough bikes for a family of five for less than say thirty bucks. Clean them up, spend a few bucks on new tubes, and you’re good to go.

A bike is much more maneuverable than a car or truck, able to fit through the smallest gaps on the roads as well as going down trails barely wide enough to walk on.

Bikes are free to operate, requiring no gas, electrics, or oil (beyond lubing the chain and such periodically). Thus, the bike is pretty much EMP proof.

However, this brings us to one of the big downsides–YOU are the engine. While most of us learned to ride a bike when we were young, if you’ve not been on one in many years, be prepared for a rude awakening. It takes some time to get conditioned to riding a bike again. Just like any other form of exercise, you need to condition yourself.

Bikes can carry a surprising amount of “stuff” in bags of various configurations. But, since you’ll be the one moving all that stuff using pedal power, every ounce is felt.

You might consider as well using a bike just as a means of transporting your gear–loading it up and pushing it instead of riding it. You can carry a lot more weight that way, but obviously you’ll be walking instead of riding, thus moving slower.

Give some thought to picking up a cheap bike as transportation insurance against EMP if nothing else. Don’t worry, you’ll quickly remember how to ride it. After all, it is like riding a bike, right?

Divorce, child custody, and emergency planning

While this doesn’t apply to me personally, there are lots of folks out there who share children with ex-spouses. Have you given thought as to how you’ll handle that situation during a crisis?

What will you do if there is a massive disaster and your kids are at your ex’s house at the time? Have you discussed this with your former other half?

What if the kids show up at your place with the ex in tow?

As I’ve been saying over and over on this blog, think about these things and make plans NOW.

What about the elderly or infirm?

Do you have family members living in assisted living facilities? Or perhaps loved ones at home who suffer from chronic health issues, such as multiple sclerosis?

If a bug out situation were to develop, do you have a way to transport them? If they aren’t at home with you, when will you get them? Will the facility release them into your care? Do you have the medical knowledge as well as supplies to care for them?

We all have heard the stories of what happened in hospitals after Hurricane Katrina. Do you have a plan in place to prevent your family member from becoming a victim of a “mercy killing?” Or, on the other hand, is that your plan?

It is a moral dilemma, that’s for sure. And one you should figure out and plan for now.

Dealing with the unprepared (Part 2)

Yesterday, I asked for input as to what you would do if family members or friends showed up at your door, asking for help after a major disaster. Several of the responses posted here and elsewhere indicate people would turn away those asking for assistance, telling them they should have prepared for themselves or citing a lack of supplies to provide for these extra people. Others said they would allow them in but put them to work to earn their keep.

How would you go about enforcing this? How do you either force them to leave or force them to work?

Would you point a gun at a family member, threatening to shoot if they don’t go away?

Would you just lock the door and potentially have to listen to them knocking and pleading for hours on end?

I’m not saying anyone is right or wrong. I’m just wondering how well thought out your plans are.

Dealing with the unprepared

You’ve talked until you were blue in the face, urging family and friends to put aside food and supplies “just in case.” You put up with the snide comments, the blank stares, the outright ridicule.

Then, the disaster you always feared comes to pass.

For at least the forseeable future, you are going to have rely on what you have stockpiled. No more trips to Sam’s Club or Home Depot. You are on your own.

What do you do when those friends and family members show up at your door, looking for help? Do you turn them away? Invite them in? Put them to work to earn their keep? Do you have enough “stuff” set aside to even make helping them a possibility?

This is something you should figure out now, rather than having to make the decision “on the fly.”

What are you prepping for?

People prep for different reasons. Some are concerned about being stranded during an ice storm or blizzard, halting travel for a few days to a few weeks. Others who live in hurricane prone areas are more worried about the effects of those disastrous storms. Some are thinking more long-term and looking at a potential economic collapse, pandemic, or all out world war.

I’ve always felt that if someone is prepared for the absolute worst case scenario, then they surely are prepared for any lesser emergency.

But, I’m curious so humor me here. What are YOU prepping for?