Author Topic: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria  (Read 249708 times)

Offline Victoria

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After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« on: January 22, 2011, 12:53:57 PM »
Here's a truism - when trucks stop, it's over.  That's the bottom line - doesn't matter why the trucks stop, our existence (unless you live on a farm with garden, animals, etc), depends on trucks.  Case in point:  Consider hurricane Ike.  I live 100 miles from Galveston where it came in.  Before it came in, took only two days to empty every grocery store and gas station in my town.  I wasn't in those grocery lines due to my always there preps - only needed to fill up cars with gas which we did days before the rush.  Went to out of the way Mexican grocery to get ice the day before the storm came in.  Identify small stores to buy last minute items - let the rest of the population hit the major stores. (I prep - husband goes along, then enjoys the results.)

Power was off five days.  No trucks of any kind could get to my town since there was no gas to be had to in my town or for many miles around - unless trucks can refuel, they aren't coming.  When gas finally came back after that five days, only then could food trucks begin to come back.  It was interesting that bread was the last food item to come back, a few days after food trucks started coming back.

Years ago when I began to prep, I developed a plan to have three ways to accomplish warming/cooking food, staying cool, staying warm, staying safe.  Consider warming/cooking food: if you only have one way and that doesn't work, you have no way.  If the second way works but you run out of fuel for that way, you've got the third way to keep going.  Redundancy in methods can save your life.

(I'm a psychotherapist/psychological examiner so evaluating human behavior is automatic with me) -  I think the hierarchy of needs/convenience is slightly different for women.  Consider urination - where would a man rather do that - outside in the grass - or off the porch into the grass.  Ask any man and that's generally what you'll find if he's telling the truth.  Where would a man rather cook - in a charcoal grill.  That's a poor choice - you need a steady flame for regular cooking, like a pot of coffee or a pot of beans.

About having running water when there is no running water:  Women want running water - right?  I'm assuming you have stored water.  All you need for running water, even warm/hot water, at your kitchen sink, your bathroom sink, in your tub for a shower, is inexpensive camp showers.  These are plastic bags with a shower head on the end of tube coming out of the bag, with a cut off switch.  The new ones even have a temperature gauge on the side of the bag - put it in the sun and when the gauge measures the amount of warm/hot water you want, you've got it.  Three of those takes care of the kitchen/bathroom/tub.  Our Texas sun means fast warm/hot water.  These bags also save water since you have control of it coming out of the bag.

Consider the saving of water in the bathroom with shower bag over sink and in tub: Brushing teeth: a bit of water on your toothbrush, turn off water, add toothpaste, brush your teeth, turn on water; a bit to rinse mouth, wash toothbrush and you're done.  Shower: Wet body with running water, turn off water; lather body, rinse with running water and you're done.  Washing hair is the same; wet hair, turn off water, apply shampoo and add bit more water then turn off water, scrub scalp, turn on water and rinse.

I'll start from the beginning and post as I complete a section.  If you have ideas, jump in and tell me.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 01:38:45 PM by Victoria »

Offline Victoria

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2011, 02:03:21 PM »
At the beginning, in 1998, I realized my existence depended on others and vowed to change that.

One morning, I got out of bed with pen and paper and recorded every single thing I did that day that depended on power.  After this research, would find a way to duplicate living with reasonable comfort when there was no power.   

This was winter so it would be cold in bedroom and house, needed heat.  In summer, needed cooling.

Then, the bathroom.  No power means no running water so no working potty, no water at sink, no water in tub.

Kitchen: needed ways to cook, more than one way, at least three to be able to keep cooking for months, years?  Yes, needed running water at sink.  Water, that's a biggie, gotta have it, at least 1 gallon per person per day, and 2 is better - a gallon of water weighs 8.34 gallons - how much of that can you carry?  Forget the fridge, it wouldn't work.  Food would have to be prepared and eaten in one or two meals, three at the most for food to remain safe.  That meant not cooking huge amounts.  Don't buy big cans of perishable food unless you can consume it all quickly if there's no fridge.  What kinds of food to store, how much?  Man, this was getting involved, and it was only the beginning.  But there are answers for all this.

Living room:  no TV, no radio, nothing.  Needed radio that would work without plugging in wall.  That meant batteries - but batteries die - then what?  There's an answer for that.

It's still cold or hot in the house - there's an answer for that.

Suppose someone gets hurt?  Need medical supplies and information.  I was an EMT at one time, so I had knowledge and some basic supplies, but didn't have all the supplies I needed and it wasn't put together in one place.  I had to get organized physically and mentally to think through this whole survival problem.  Once the emergency happened, couldn't run to the store to get what I needed.

Clothes:  Sure, I had clothes - were they the right kind - could they keep me warm or cool?

Coat:  how warm were my various coats?  Warm enough?

Shoes:  Sure, I had shoes - well, I was ahead here - had my Texas cowboy boots with flat heels and warm snow boots, plus two pair of good walking shoes. 

Well, I'd put this on hold until I washed some clothes.  Rats, how would I do that?

Try going through a day, every task you perform, and think "no power".  It will get your attention.  If there's no power, stores won't open, banks won't open, money can't be had, gas can't be had, those trucks that supply us won't come.  You are on your own.  Water is next.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2011, 02:10:01 PM »
I'm really enjoying this... please continue on, Victoria. I love your practical method of determining what you needed...

Offline mamabear

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2011, 02:33:17 PM »
I'm loving this too! I'm gonna take a leaf out of your book and get my notebook out and follow your process. I think it will be a real eye opener. I know that we sit and think about it and sometimes we have a couple of days without power, etc, but I think seeing it all written down will make all the difference. Please do keep your information coming. LVSChant is right. It is very practical and easy to understand.

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2011, 03:22:43 PM »
Good stuff, Victoria!

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2011, 04:05:11 PM »
Victoria, +1.  I am very much liking what you are doing here.  I think I can see where you are going with this and I am very much impressed.

If you are writing what I think you are writing, you will end up providing a wealth of good information and good insights.  Your contribution will stand to help a great many people is a very real way.

Offline Victoria

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2011, 04:31:53 PM »
This section is about water - but I failed to mention in my last post, TOILET PAPER!  LOTS OF TOILET PAPER!  (We'll get to sanitation later - got to stop those men urinating off the back porch.)

Okay, one needs at least a gallon a day of good water for drinking, cooking, decent amount for cleaning the body, but two gallons is better.  With a gallon weighing 8.34 gallons, if you have to walk to get water from somewhere else, think "Wheels".  Invest in a good size child's wagon - great conveyer of water.

I'll go from a short term problem to a longer one:  for immediate use in short term emergency, such as hurricane destroying purity of city water for several days, or city water goes off temporarily for whatever reason - I always have 25 gallons of Ozarka water stored under a small work table in my kitchen (actually those jugs are slightly less than a gallon).  A tablecloth on that table goes down to the floor, so the water is hidden and kept in the dark that way.  Light encourages growth in water so don't want that.  I use Ozarka because those jugs are thick food grade plastic, not going to break down and designed to store one on top of the other - can store a lot of water in a small space.  That water will stay good for years.

Storing your own good water.  I got Ozarka water mainly for those great long lasting stacking jugs. Once I would use the water out of those jugs, I can put more good water in them and know they will hold up.  You can store the good water you have now and be ready for an emergency.

Do not store water in milk jugs.  They're impossible to clean out (get the milk smell/taste out of them), plus they are thin and will break down fairly soon and you'll have water on the floor.  You can store your good water in any clean food grade plastic container and that includes those hard plastic bottles juice comes in - they are stronger than soft drink plastic bottles.  However, don't use grape juice bottles - tried that, can't get out the strong lingering grape smell/ taste; but if that's all you have, use the grape ones.  

For any food grade bottle that might have the lingering taste of whatever had been in it, use Crystal Light packaged flavoring to cover the offending taste.  Wait until we get to instant or powdered milk - can make that taste good.

For a longer term emergency:  At the time I started, there was a lake not many steps from my door.  I bought two Katadyn siphon type water filters.  By using the wagon, I could move water from the lake and have good water using the Katadyn.  Now, however, there is a better product to filter any type water, whether from a lake or a ditch - I have a Big Berkey - this is the best investment you can make for saving your life.  Pour the water in the top and good, safe water filters into the bottom.  Press the spigot and you've got good water.

Using a Berkey with dirty water:  First, have gobs and gobs of cheap large coffee filters and filter the dirty water through those filters into some type container, doesn't matter what, until you can't get it any cleaner.  This will extend the life of the Berkey filter - don't put any more dirt/crap in the Berkey than you have to - that makes sense.  You can go to a website that sells Berkeys to get info. on the different Berkeys.    

Where can you get water when you don't have any?  (First, be sure you have stored good water to last for as many days/weeks as you think necessary to start with.  Just add up the gallons one person would need for that amount of days and multiply by the number in your household.  Don't faint - it will be a lot.)  Of course there's water in your hot water heater you can drain and water in the top tank of your potty, but here's my outside sources of water to filter through the Berkey:

1.  Buy one or more 55 gal. size water barrels with removable tops.  Don't get the closed ones with only bung holes 'cause you can't clean them out.  I'm not talking about ready made rain barrels - I researched that to death and there is none that won't eventually fail due to having a spigot set into them.  You don't need expensive rain barrels that might fail.  You need a diverter set into a down spout of your house with a tube coming out so, when it rains, you turn the gizmo on the diverter and water goes into your water barrel.  You could have a water barrel under every downspout in the back of your house.  If you can't get them locally, and if you live in the more southeastern part of Texas, there's a place in Baytown, Texas where you can go get them or order them.  It's important to find your nearest place 'cause shipping is a bitch for these barrels.  If you keep one or more of these barrels full, you've got a lot of water and if you start using it, it will fill up the next time it rains - that's a renewable water source.

 2.  Buy several child's inflatable plastic pools - buy sizes that will fit in your outside space best - that could be very small to larger.  If a water emergency happens, put out your pools the next time it rains and capture that water.  That's more water for the Berkey and the Berkey takes out chemicals should any get in the water.

3.  Got a regular swimming pool in your backyard? - the Berkey will turn that water into good water.

4.  Got a swimming pool in your subdivision?  That water will make people sick should they drink it, but your Berkey will clean it up.  Take your child's wagon filled with empty water jugs to the pool - you'll have good water shortly after you get home.

5.  If you car works and you can get to a body of water, such as lake or stream, put wagon and jugs in car and head out.  The Berkey will be waiting for that water.

6.  Desperate for water?  We're down to the dirty water in a ditch.  Filter it over and over to get out dirt, then the Berkey will give you good water.

7.  There are ways to condense water from plants in your yard if it gets that desperate to save life.  You can find that info. if you put "condense water from plants" in search on the web.

Now we have clean water in our house 'cause we cleaned it or had it stored.  Put some of that water in your shower bags, sit them in the sun until the thermometer shows it's hot, and you've got good running hot water in your kitchen and bathroom!!

Running water makes a house work.  When you strip water out of the faucet, it upsets everyone - adults and children.  When we put it back, that's one bit of normalcy coming back.  That is the goal - get normalcy back and you can do it if I did it - I know, I'm 77, but screw that, okay?

We have water but no way to cook.  Cooking is next.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 08:35:10 AM by LvsChant »

Offline LJH

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2011, 08:04:01 PM »
Damn, Victoria! I'm sure glad you've joined us!  8)

Offline OKGranny

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2011, 11:40:23 PM »
Sounds a lot like what I did 20 years ago, I've still got the notebooks somewhere but there's much better equipment now. this is fun, keep writing please.

Offline Victoria

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2011, 12:08:01 AM »
As I go through these topics, I need you to think - use the given examples to develop more options for you in your own circumstances.  Don't think, "I can't do that", think, "Maybe I can't do it that way, but I could do it this way".  Free up your mind to roam around as we go along.

Cooking:

We're in the kitchen with running water 'cause we made running water.  Now, how do we cook on an electric stove when there's no power?  Or, if we have a gas stove, eventually, since power is out, that gas will stop.  Even if the stove uses propane from a huge tank outside, no truck will show up to refill it (no power means no gas station works so no trucks move).

At this point, don't ask your husband - he'll drag out the charcoal grill.  This is morning and we just got up - what we want here is coffee and maybe hot chocolate for the kids and hot oatmeal or eggs.  How about toast with those eggs?  How can we cook inside safely?  There is a way.  Now, sometimes, we have to spend money to prepare.  We need canned heat and two Sterno stoves.  Canned heat is used inside all the time - usually under chaffing dishes.  Sterno is one brand of canned heat but there are cheaper brands.  Sams did carry canned heat by other makers and it was cheaper - I found it years ago in the chaffing dish section.  You may also know other places that are cheaper for canned heat than Walmart or Academy type stores.  Buy boxes of it.  The Sterno stoves are usually under $10 and found in the camping section of Walmart or Academy.  If those stores are out, naturally you can find them on line.

Two Sterno stoves gives you two cooking surfaces.  Open a can of heat, put it in the stove, light it and you're ready to go with one cooking surface.  You need a cheap, thin smallish skillet and two thin, cheap smallish pots.  The thinner the bottom the better, so it heats faster.  There is a trick you should know - you don't need boiling water for most quick foods - not even for coffee if you don't use a coffee pot and I'm not talking about instant coffee (yuk).  The amount of heat it takes to heat water close to boiling is much less that staying with it until it actually boils.  So, let's cook breakfast.

Put enough water in a pot to make cups of instant hot chocolate if that's what you want.  Let the water heat to very hot but not boiling.  Pour it into the cups with the hot chocolate mix, stir, and there's hot chocolate.  If you have enough hot water in that pot or more heating over the other Sterno stove, use that for instant oatmeal - doesn't take boiling water for instant oatmeal.  I'll discuss food value later - think "vitamin pills" for now.

Now, for hot coffee, we make a detour to get the proper equipment for good coffee using minimum coffee/fuel.  On Amazon or some other place, buy "Melitta Ready Set Joe One Cup Coffee Maker" for less than $8.00 (includes the cup) or buy just the filter for the Ready Set Joe for less than $5.00.  Buy one plastic filter per person to drink coffee at the same time together.  Buy #2 coffee filters at any grocery store.  

We're almost there for great coffee, saving coffee and fuel.  Put the paper filter into the plastic filter and set it on top of cup.  Put in one tablespoon coffee, pour very hot (don't need boiling) water (heated in pot over the canned heat), in plastic filter and let coffee drip into cup.  The water has only passed through the coffee once - coffee hasn't  boiled in a percolator to make it bitter.  It's pure coffee taste, smooth and good.  Want a second cup?  Experiment (before emergency happens) by using the same coffee in the filter; if that's not strong enough for a second cup, use new paper filter and another tablespoon of coffee.  Adjust the amount of coffee to your taste.  This method makes the best coffee whether you like less or more coffee in your filter.  I use this filter now -  any time of day I want a good cup of coffee.

Now that your nerves feel better due to good coffee, put the thin bottomed skillet on the Sterno stove, put a thin coat of butter on both sides of a piece of bread, and toast both sides in the skillet.  Then, cook those eggs, anyway you like.  Doesn't take much heat to cook eggs.  Of course, you can always have cold cereal for breakfast and only use fuel for hot drinks/coffee.  

Now, it's time for lunch.  To save fuel, make this a cold meal unless the weather is freezing and you need to heat already cooked soup.  The best savior for a hot meal in an emergency is canned soup - buy canned soup with meat, not just veggies.  Canned soup gives you liquid for hydration, supplements your water, and gives you meat and veggies.  If you have crackers, eat them with the soup - that's energy from carbohydrates - buy whole wheat crackers.  

A cold lunch could be peanut butter and jelly; quick tuna salad (tuna, mayo, pickle relish, add a chopped apple for great crunchy flavor).  Any cold sandwiches you make now except after there's no refrigeration, forget deli sandwich meat.  Will go over other canned meats later in food section.

A method to cook more substantial meals:  No, it's still not the husband favored charcoal grill.  However, if you have defrosted big chunks of meat, such as steaks, brisket, hamburger, roasts, that you need to cook before it goes bad, let the husband cook his heart out on the charcoal grill.  Share with your neighbors if the meat must be cooked now and it's too much for your family.

You need an outdoor propane grill in order to have a steady flame for regular cooking.  Get the larger propane tanks, not the little bitty ones, and the more filled tanks the better.  Real story here:  my husband thinks the only good food outside is cooked on a charcoal grill - many husbands have this brain defect.  With my superior knowledge, I bought a portable Weber gas grill and set it on a sturdy red cart with enough room on either side of the grill for preparing food and the bottom of the cart is just right to hold two large propane tanks.  Talk about a husband's nose turned up, looking down on my grill purchase - the food wasn't going to taste like smoke from the charcoal.  Fine, that's what I wanted, a steady flame that cooked and didn't smell up regular food.  Now, along comes hurricane Ike and we have no power for five days.  Our dining room was under the roof of one of the decks with the lovely Weber grill heating our water for coffee and cooking our food.  Since it was outside, I wasn't allowed to cook as only a husband can cook outside. My job was to bring the food and plates, cups, utensils out and take it back inside after eating.  Before Ike, he would have given my grill away; after Ike, he wouldn't part with it. The moral of this story, is, husband's can learn, so don't give up if yours gives you any flack for wanting a propane grill if you don't have one.

If the weather is nice in the morning, you can stay in your PJs/housecoat and use your grill to make breakfast, however if you're an inside person in the morning, use the canned heat.  Hopefully, you have a cover/roof outside for your grill to be under.  You can make a substantial meal with this grill, have more than one pot/skillet on there at the same time.  Choose foods that cook quickly to save fuel - however, there is a way to cook dried beans quickly.  Will post that in food section.

So, now you've used all the propane and can't get more.  Think lots of wood and a place to burn it and cook.  Got a fireplace inside?  Got iron skillet/pots/Dutch oven?  No fireplace inside?  Now, there are outdoor fireplaces.  That's my latest addition, got one on my deck with metal legs set on stones and under those stones, a metal sheet so the metal legs don't burn my deck and so an ember doesn't fall out and burn it.  Research those carefully to make sure the one you choose is big enough and can burn wood instead of Duraflame logs only (those logs are fine if you can buy enough - wood is cheaper and you can find wood when stores are closed) and be sure to get a cover to protect it from rain so it won't rust.  Look at your immediate surroundings and farther out - can you find a source of wood around you even if you buy a lot?  Is there a place close enough for you to walk and bring back wood "from the wild" even if it is down the street or several streets over?  Use that child's wagon you bought to transport wood as well as water.  If you have a working car, that extends your area to find wood "in the wild".  You need a way to cut wood - check out husband's tools, surely he has a decent saw.  If not, get him one for birthday/anniversary/Christmas/no special day - just buy one.  Guys love tools so let him pick it out.

Now, the wood is gone, the propane is gone, the canned heat is gone, the husband's charcoal is gone.  Got jar candles?  Ever held you finger in a candle fire?  I thought not, after all, it's a fire.  Jerry rig your canned heat stoves to fit over jar candles to provide a surface for a pot.  Now you can heat food and cook.  The cheapest jar candles I found were at Walmart.  I've had bunches of them stored since 1998.

Do you have several ways to start a fire - light you canned heat, light your propane grill, light your wood, light your jar candles?  That's next - several ways to start fire, even cavemen knew a fire was a good thing.

A solar oven/cooker is another backup cooking method.  You can make one yourself, search "solar oven" on web or buy a ready made one - your choice.  On the web you will also find how long it takes to cook/bake food using sun and the results will surprise and delight you.

modified to add solar by request, LvsChant
« Last Edit: January 26, 2011, 11:19:39 AM by LvsChant »

Offline OKGranny

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2011, 01:10:18 AM »
Just a side note on the coffee. I have the Melitta 10 cup manual coffee maker and keep it warm on a teapot warmer that uses a tealight candle. I think it was $11.00 or $12.00 at Amazon for the coffee maker and I picked up a cheap teapot warmer on Ebay for around $5.00 I think it was. There is always a way to make coffee.

Offline Victoria

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2011, 08:32:18 AM »
OKGranny, thanks for responding and you are right on - tea pot warmers are very useful - not that many people know about these.  One will keep a teapot or coffepot warm.   I have several and did get one of them at Ebay.  Ebay is likely the cheapest place to find one or more.  Many tea company websites carry them.   A large bag of tealight candles can be bought at a craft or dollar store for something like $5. 

Offline mamabear

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2011, 08:40:49 AM »
OKGranny and Victoria, how do tea cozy's work in comparison to the tea pot warmers? Is it comparable or do the cozy's just not work as well?

Offline OKGranny

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2011, 10:39:52 AM »
I think if you had a cosy that was teflon lined or something they would do as well but the ones I like, *you know, cute fabric, quilted * don't keep the tea or coffee as warm as the teapot warmers esp for in the mornings when it takes me 20 minutes to get through the first cup cause I doze off between sips. Yeah I'm one of those people that has to get up 2-21/2 hours early to get to work on time. Not to mention I like to put my tea in my beloved Manhatten Cats teapot and with the warmer I can still enjoy looking at the teapot.

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2011, 12:15:17 PM »
This is great Victoria!  I'm so glad you have joined us.  Maybe I can get my husband to sit down and read what you have written, especially about the Berkley.  Your notes also give me pointers to work on,  since I've just begun prepping in the last several months.

Offline 4bull

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2011, 02:56:42 PM »
Great work , Victoria
    In the 70's we had a calf bucket ,the one for feeding that i plumbed on a shower head and value on .
thought we had it made. it didnt fit a limb but any board it worked.
 In the army i weilded a bolt on a glow plug and hooked it up to 24 volts for hot coffee in 30 seconds.
Thanks made me smile.
   Ive alwase kept a porta potty around , and lots of 5 gallon buckets.

Offline Victoria

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2011, 11:46:49 AM »
Peace of mind:  If you are just beginning to secure your existence should an emergency happen, you may be feeling anxious - so much to do and what to do first.  I suggest you first, calmly, evaluate what the most likely emergency might be for you and prepare for that first.  Example:  for me, it's the possibility of a hurricane and that's an every year possibility and it has happened to me numerous times and surely will happen again.  After that, tornados abound in Texas, so that's number two plus tornados are spawned by hurricanes all the time.  After that, the possibility power goes off for a reason other than weather (see example of that below).  After that, who knows what might happen - if you have read any survival books, non-fiction or fiction - you know there are numerous possibilities.  The bottom line is, evaluate your own situation and prioritize the dangers, then start preparing for those possibilities, one at a time. 

An example of my not being properly prepared when an unexpected emergency happened:  This happened when this whole area of a hundred miles or more, mostly north and south and lesser miles east and west, lost power and no one knew why.  It was hot Texas summer, and a few weeks before this happened, my husband had very bad surgery and he was too weak/sick to stay in a very hot house.  I had to get him out of the house to a cool place.  A neighbor said she talked to her sister who lived about 50 miles west and she had power.  We determined to go that direction. 

First, I had to gather what both of us needed to exist since I had no idea why power was off so didn't when it would come back; news from the power company was they didn't know why it went off and didn't know when it would come back (strange situation but it happened).  It was dark in the house - had to find a flashlight, go upstairs and gather clothes, personal supplies, all his necessary medicines and mine, go back downstairs, still using flashlight, grab a gallon jug of water, some kind of food to sustain us in the car since I didn't know how long it would take us to get out of the massive car jam of thousands of people trying to get out of the area and didn't know how far west we would have to go to find lodging once we got in an area with power. Yes, I was frantic inside the dark house trying to find vital items we needed (had to get husband in cool car as fast as possible).  I wasn't even sure where a flashlight was when the power went out.  It was pure luck we had a decent amount of cash and the car had just been filled.  Without power, gas stations couldn't pump gas and no ATM machine worked.  After we made our way west to power, we had to keep going more miles to find a vacancy in a hotel as others had gotten to that area before we did.

Look at all the mistakes I made - my husband's life was truly in jeopardy due to my lack of preparation to be able to leave the house quickly with what we needed and we would have been totally stuck in place if the car had needed gasoline.   I was prepared for staying in place for a hurricane right then but not for quickly leaving my house.  I vowed this would never happen to me again.

Don't let the above happen to you.  You can easily prepare now to leave your house quickly to go to a place of safety.  A simple way to do it, is, gather what's needed for a few days including a change of clothes, every necessary item you would need including water and already prepared food (food items such as those individual packets of tuna with condiments, granola type bars, cheese/cracker packets, etc.), plus a flashlight, pack it in a box and station that box close to the exit you use to get to your car.  Make sure you know where a flashlight is in your house and always keep it in that place with good batteries. 

After researching, I bought two Life Gear's Wings of Life survival backpacks.  Each is a three day survival pack with food, water and essential survival gear.  Won't list what's included in them because the list is extremely long; you can look them up on the web if you want to know.  There is also room to pack a change of clothes and other items you that are essential to you, such as personal medicines.  These two backpacks are in my most secure room fairly near my front door - the bathroom - that's the most secure room in my house in case of a tornado.  If the house falls down and we're still alive in the bathroom, we've got three days of everything we need in those backpacks - and if we need to leave the house quickly at any time, all we need to do is grab those bags and we're gone.  I did prepare another bag (on wheels), with more food and a way to warm it - think soup with meat/veggies and instant oatmeal (yep, the trusty canned heat and Sterno stove for heating/cooking) and other items (one being camping metal plates/cups/utensils, plus a Melitta plastic filter cone and paper filters to make coffee).  That bag is stationed not far from the bathroom to grab and roll out with us and the backpacks.

I sincerely hope you prepare to leave your house quickly so you never have to go through what we did.  Once you have done that, continue to prepare for an emergency when you stay in your house.  The majority of us aren't going to head to the woods to camp when there is an emergency and we don't have a retreat house in the woods to bug out to.  Staying in my house without power, with a low public profile, with enhanced house security and prepared to stay for a very long time, at least a year without having to buy anything and still being comfortable, was and is, my goal and you can do it, too. 

Next are several easy ways to start fire to light canned heat, propane grill, wood, candles, etc.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2011, 12:27:09 PM by Victoria »

Offline Victoria

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2011, 02:51:57 PM »
Ways to Start Fire

OK, maybe I've overdone it with ways to start fire but it's sure I won't be without a way to do it.  Make sure you have at least three ways to allow for failure of two ways.

1.  Strike anywhere matches:  when I began preparing, strike anywhere matches (meaning no need to strike match on box to get match to light) were in abundance in any grocery store.  Now, because whomever doesn't trust us with these matches, it's doubtful you will find them in grocery stores.  Go ahead and look for them and maybe you'll get lucky.  When I bought mine, had no idea they would go away in the future.  I bought a lot of boxes and sealed them in a really big round, metal Christmas can like popcorn comes in (to seal out moisture).  Now days, these metal cans are not as large as the one I used.  If you buy more than today's metal can holds, just buy another can of popcorn (this is not a diet thread so I don't care how much buttery popcorn you eat).  No matter what type matches you get, these metal cans are good, dry, storage cans.  You may use any type good container you want, but put the boxes in one to protect from moisture.

2.  Strike "only on the box" matches.  Because you and I can't be trusted with matches that strike anywhere and light, boxes now in stores require the box to light the match.  If your match box gets wet, the matches will not light and you're out of luck so it's most important these boxes of matches are kept in a dry place and still keep the box dry when you take a box out and use it, or your matches won't light.

3.  Coghlans waterproof matches - a 10 box pack, total 450 matches, can be had at Amazon for less than $5.00.  Yes, they will light even if they get wet.

4 and 5.  Now, we're getting into the real, for sure start a fire no matter what, fire starters.  I did a lot of research on these, and choose two kinds, one really cheap but surely works and one more expensive (which I like the best, naturally).
 
(4) The cheaper but still dependable one, is "Emergency Fire Starter" for less than $5.00 on Amazon.  It's a bar of magnesium with a striker included.  Shave a small amount of magnesium off the bar with the striker, into a small amount of fuel you collected - dry grass or leaves or paper.   Strike the magnesium bar with the striker and sparks will cause the magnesium bits to light and ignite your fuel. 

(5) Now, we have what I consider to be the "ultimate" if you don't have matches: The "Ultimate Survival Technologies Strikeforce Fire Starter".  It's more expensive, between $16 - $22 on Amazon.  It's the orange color that brings the $22 price.  It's bright orange, therefore easier to locate/spot than the dark colored one.  It sparks three times hotter than a standard match.  Is of special alloy flint bar and has steel striker that can be used thousands of times.  Inside a compartment is some "WetFire" tinder and it only takes a tiny bit of that to ignite and start your collected fuel, however, without the WetFire thingy,  the sparks by themselves will ignite any dry fuel you collect.

Do not let your children handle any of the matches or the bar fire starters - don't let your teen age children handle the bar starters inside the house or even outside unless you're with them and I'm totally serious about this.  As for husbands, see true story below:

True story:  If your husband has not had a bar fire starter before, make sure he doesn't test it out in the house as these are major bar fire starters, especially the "Ultimate" one.  So, we're watching TV - two survival type guys are in the wild and neither has anything to start a fire, so they discuss which difficult method they're going to use.  Husband, being cute??,  says, "I've got a fire starter!", picks up his just arrived new "Ultimate" orange bar starter off the coffee table, and runs the steel striker down the bar and a huge number of sparks covering a wide area (can you say lightning hot and big), shower off that bar downward.  Thank God, truly, there was nothing at the end of that bar for those many, mega hot sparks to hit - they would have burned whatever they hit.  It was truly spectacular to see the magnitude of those sparks.  Never again will either of those bars be struck in the house.

Fuel to start your major fuel burning:  There's the magnesium particles and the WetFire tender, but you've got in your house right now a great quick burning starter fuel and you've been throwing this free fuel away for years - it's laundry lint.  Start right now, get a gallon plastic bag, station it close to your dryer and deposit you dryer lint in that bag - in no time you've got lots of great starter fuel.  Another great starter fuel, is cotton balls with an amount of Vaseline inside the ball - doesn't take much Vaseline in there to start burning.  Make up as many of those as you want and remember where you put them.

Now, we have running water, ways to cook and ways to start our cooking fuel.  The big, massive? task of gathering food to last a long time is next, and we'll boil that down so it isn't so massive or hard to do.  As with everything else, there are several ways to do it. 

Offline Victoria

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2011, 05:08:22 PM »
Food storage and reasons to have it:

We now have water plus running water, ways to cook, ways to start fire, now we need food.

Food for short term power outage:  Why is it, when a hurricane is approaching or a severe freeze warning is issued, people run to the grocery and clean it out?  Because they only have from one to three day's food in their house.  They are no more than three days from starving.  One would think that might make an impression to keep more food in the house all the time, but it doesn't happen - every time a warning goes out, the same behavior.  Look at this another way;  stores use a "just in time" method of re-stocking.  If a food item is cleaned off the shelf, there's no more in the back of the store - no more will be on the shelf until a truck brings it there and if the truck can't get there, that shelf stays empty.  This fact alone should push you to keep more food in your house.  If you want to be scared into storing food, read, "Light's Out" by David Crawford - that will do it - superior book and scary as hell, set right here in Texas around San Antonio.

From experience, I can say the first food you will eat after power goes out, is food in your freezer as it defrosts.  Wow, that's a lot of food at one time that needs to be cooked and eaten.  If you know power is likely to go out due to an oncoming event, and have prepared with ice in a large cooler, you will be able to keep this food from spoiling for days as it defrosts. and can eat this "stash" until it's no longer safe.  You know which canned goods to get for several day's power outage - the usual tuna, Spam types, chili, fruit, etc., etc.  If you have room in freezer, put in a loaf or more, of bread.  I say this due to bread being the last food to come back after five days of loss of power.  I suppose it's because bread is a fresh item, has to be baked every day and those bakeries have to get up and running again.  So, freeze some if you have space.  Always assume you have no power, and keep five days of canned food and packaged food such as your cereal, etc., in your house  You can do that easily and you need to do it now.  If you can't live for five days right now without going to the grocery, fix that problem.  Put a post on this thread when you've done it and we'll all celebrate.

Longer term power outage and/or it isn't safe to go to a grocery store:  Why would it not be safe to go to the grocery?  Answer: public unrest resulting in riots, stealing, killing.  The majority of people are calm, rational, law abiding, civilized, all the time because they have water, food, shelter.  Take any one of those away, and life is threatened causing the thin veneer of civilized behavior to disappear.  Perhaps you think you wouldn't resort to rioting or stealing or worse - yes, you would after no more than two days without water and if you had water but no food, you would do it a several days later.  If something happened to shut down banks, loss of power or other reason (taken a look at our economy recently plus the cost of food?), and there was no money to be had or food cost so much people couldn't buy it, they would storm grocery stores and take what they needed to stay alive.  There's not enough law enforcement personnel to stop that behavior and you don't want to be in the middle of that.  Again, read, "Light's Out" to scare you into preparing.

Perhaps you say, FEMA loves me and will give me water, food, shelter.  Surely your TV works and you've seen long lines of  people waiting for hours for a FEMA bottle of water and a few MRE meals.  I beg you to forget government assistance to save your life - that is depending on someone else to save you and do you know one FEMA official who would make sure you survived over the 300+ million living in this country??  I don't want to be one of those millions - do you?  I might have been able to get a bit of special treatment when George Bush was president, but I'm not on Obama's Christmas card list (more likely on his "dirt" list, but I digress).  Staying alive is not a political issue - take a pledge to be responsible for the safety of your family and store water and food, okay?

How to choose and store food:

There are three major ways to accomplish this if you don't have a self sufficient veggie garden and can your own food and raise food providing animals.  I have gone over and over food storage for years and tried methods that worked and didn't work.  I've thrown out stored food because I screwed up one way or the other.  I've studied the shelf life of every canned food item known to mankind (well maybe not every canned item but it feels that way).   Here are three major ways to store food:

1.  Buy everything in regular grocery store or places like Sams/Costco (no fresh food included).  Re-package anything not in cans so it won't spoil for years (flour, cornmeal, rice, dried beans, etc.).  Buy it over time or mega amounts several times.
2.  Buy it all from a long term food storage company and you're done.
3.  A combination of 1 and 2.  That's what I did.

First, determine the amount of time for which you want to prepare.  If you're just beginning, the easiest method is to prepare for one month of sustainable food.  That one month will give you some security and stop those feelings of panic because you have nothing now.  It also gives you experience in making a plan.  You will screw up somewhere - too much of this and not enough of that - forgot to get this and that.  It's just easier to deal with one month.  Once that month is done, make a plan for another month; you'll likely adjust the first one month plan you made.  A notebook will help you keep your act together.

What is food anyway?  It's what you put in your mouth to give you power in order to breath, move, repair/build cells and resist disease, so foods are made of good chemicals our body uses.  Categories of these foods/chemicals and their state for long term storing, are:

Vegetables - canned, dehydrated, freeze dried
Legumes - beans, canned and dried
Meats - canned, jerky
Fruits - canned, dehydrated
Grains - flour including pasta, cornmeal, oats, rice - especially stored for long life
Nuts - canned, jars peanut butter, peanut butter powder
Eggs - powdered, plus egg substitute for recipes calling for eggs
Dairy - instant and powdered milk, butter powder, canned butter
Sugar in some form for quick energy and sweetening (regular sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, candy bars, granola bars, etc.). 
Sauces such as bottled/canned pasta sauce, salsa/picante, gravies, ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc.
Plus chemicals to make flour/cornmeal rise (baking powder, baking soda, plus yeast if you want to make regular bread presuming you have a working oven), iodized salt for iodine and taste appeal, plus seasonings for taste appeal,

Try this:  Assume there is no power but, due to your smarts and planning, you have water and a way to cook (but no oven).  Make a menu for one day, using no fresh food, choosing one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner and any snacks the family might eat in a day.  Record how much of each food you used.  Done that?  Now, make another day's menu and continue until you have 7 days of menus.  Try to vary your meals as much as possible.  Add up the amount of each food you used for that week.  Be sure to add in the amount of sugar, flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, seasonings, sauces you used.  You can take that week's menus and multiply the amounts by four and have a month's amount of food.  For good measure, add another week's worth. 

Discussion of each food category and how best to store it follows.

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2011, 06:53:30 PM »
I have been enjoying this thread, thanks.

Offline Victoria

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2011, 07:06:33 PM »
Thanks, jeeper, nice Jeep.  Preparing can seem like such a large task it never gets done and that creates anxiety and even a soggy depression, like, "I could never do all that so I'll give up."  If I can get just one person to take action, that will be one more or one more family, "saved". 

Offline GreyWolf

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2011, 07:24:43 PM »
What happens when ya run outa coffee? Ive heard about people who took dandilion green roots and dried them and ground them up and mixxed it with real coffee. Anyone know anything about this?

Offline Victoria

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2011, 07:37:52 PM »
Wolf, let's face it - running out of coffee would be a disaster of huge proportions.  I don't know about root foods - I'd probably poison myself.  For me, a year's worth of stored coffee is the minimum to prevent thoughts of suicide due to not having it, plus store some jars of instant coffee to start adding to real coffee to extend it, if it gets that bad. Coffee is the elixer of life to me.

Offline OKGranny

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2011, 08:44:23 PM »
Wolf, let's face it - running out of coffee would be a disaster of huge proportions.  I don't know about root foods - I'd probably poison myself.  For me, a year's worth of stored coffee is the minimum to prevent thoughts of suicide due to not having it, plus store some jars of instant coffee to start adding to real coffee to extend it, if it gets that bad. Coffee is the elixer of life to me.

Oh I so agree with that. I even have green coffee beans stored and have been teaching myself to roast them so they make a drinkable cup. I've tried the dandelion coffee and chicory and all I can say is Yuck. This is great fun Victoria. You've reminded me of some of the reasons I learned to prep in the first place and the personal SHTF moments in our lives that kept reinforcing that.

Offline Docwatmo

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2011, 08:51:46 PM »
Victoria, LOVE the thread, and a hearty Heck Yhaaa to the coffee.  I have a 1 gallon backup container sealed in the back and 2 jars of instant.  Even before I was a prepper I had coffee.  Sweet, nectar of the gods, coffee.

+1 for a great thread.

Doc

Offline Victoria

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2011, 09:08:29 PM »
Doc, I'm still trying to figure out this forum, think I now know what karma is, but how do those gold stars get there? 

It will take forever to read all the great threads on this forum, but think I should stick with this thread until my brain is drained - oh, I made a rhyme - brain is drained.

Offline TexDaddy

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2011, 09:12:51 PM »
...but how do those gold stars get there? ...
They are a function of your post count. You start out as a new member, then become a Prepper, then a Survivor, etc. Each new level adds to your stars.

Offline Docwatmo

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2011, 09:15:49 PM »
Don't worry about reading it all.  Take your time and absorb everything as you get to it.  The site is amazing, with some amazing people.  I've been on hear a little over a year and still have lots to learn and threads to read and re-read.  One bite at a time as they say.   ;D

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2011, 08:14:59 AM »
Glad you've joined us Victoria - +1 for some great posts! Blessings TBM

Offline LvsChant

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Re: After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria
« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2011, 08:30:53 AM »
I love your method of menu planning and gauging how much food to store based on your menus... I believe there is a similar method mentioned in the "Everything Under the Sun" resource... you can find it here:

http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=14130.0

I like the solar oven option for power free baking and cooking... Thanks for all the tips on prepping, Victoria.