April 24, 2014

Shelf Life of Comfort Foods

Shelf Life of Comfort Foods

We’ve all got foods that can help lift our spirits or give us comfort when we’re having a bad day. So to me it just makes sense to have some of them stocked for a time when things have taken a turn for the worse. I realize that different people will find comfort in different kinds of food, so I tried to think of as many types of foods that could be considered “comfort foods” (and drinks) that have a decent shelf life.

Because manufacturers use “best by”, “sell by” and expiration dates to generate more business, grocery items do not actually go bad when they reach their expiration dates. Companies don’t cater to prepper’s who buy for long term storage. They have not put any money into figuring out how long their product can be stored. Because of this, the guidelines below are just that and should be looked at as a general rule of thumb and not something hard and fast.

How and where items are stored play a very large part in how long they will remain good. Keep in mind the enemies of food storage; air, moisture, pests, light and heat. Food should be kept at or below 70 degrees. Warmer temps will degrade food quicker. Keep food in a dry place. If you store food in an area with water pipes, I suggest keeping food in paper or cardboard in plastic totes. Keep food out of sunlight. One other enemy of food storage, which is more of a danger to comfort foods; a sweet tooth. To keep the “Not Me Ghost” out of your stock of comfort foods, you could label them as something less enticing.

Many of these products are sold in paper or cardboard materials, which are not air tight and not ideal for long term storage. You would most likely be able to extend the shelf life if you repackage them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.

Beverages

Dry Drink Mixes         Two years
These would be items such as Kool Aid, Gatorade, Lemon Aid, Tang, hot cocoa and so on.

Alcohol         Many years to indefinite
In the apocalypse, one might really need a stiff drink at the end of the day. Alcohol lasts for a very long time. If left unopened, in a cool dark place, it could have an indefinite shelf life.

Tea         Two Years
Loose tea, instant or tea bags, tea will remain fresh for roughly two years. It would be safe to drink after that, but might not taste as good.

Coffee         It really depends
I’m only going to cover unopened coffee.

Ground Coffee         3-6 months past expiration date in the pantry, 1-2 years in the freezer.
Whole Coffee Beans         6-9 months past expiration date, 2-3 years in the freezer.
Instant Coffee         I have seen from 2-20 years given in the pantry and indefinite in the freezer
Green Coffee Beans These are not yet roasted, and since the bean hasn’t been cracked the shelf life is extended. Camping Survival carries green coffee beans stored in a #10 and claims that because they are devoid of oxygen, that they have a 20 year shelf life.

Pop/soda         It depends
Regular pop/soda will last for a very long time. Diet pop/soda goes bad not long after the expiration date.

Food

Baked Goods         It Depends
Many comfort foods are baked, so here are some common baking ingredients. Many of these can attract bugs. I recommend you store them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. This will keep them safe from all of the food storage enemies.

Whole Wheat Flour         Varies
Flour won’t keep long unless in the fridge or freezer. Shelf life in the fridge is 6-8 months and 1-2 years in the freezer.

All-Purpose Flour         Varies
All-purpose flour can be stored for 6-8 months in the pantry, 1 year in the fridge and 1-2 years in the freezer.

Wheat Berries         Very Long
Wheat berries are ground into flour. Because the husk has not been cracked, the storage life is greatly lengthened when stored in Mylar with oxygen absorbers.

Powdered Egg         5-10+
Powdered egg is often freeze dried and, like many freeze dried foods, the shelf life is very increased.

Powdered Milk         Depends
Powdered Milk will last a week or so once opened. If left sealed in the pantry 5-10 years is possible.

Cornstarch         Indefinite

Baking Soda         Indefinite

Sugar         Indefinite

Baking Powder         6-18 months
It is suggested to use it within 6-12 months after purchase. However, it may store for 18 months in a cool dry area.

Coco         1-2 years
Opened coco will last for a year or so, unopened 2 years.

Other types of foods

Nuts         1 Month to 2 years
The oil in nuts is what causes them to go rancid. Most nuts will be good for 2-9 months after the expiration date when stored in the pantry, 1 year if stored in the fridge and 2 years in the freezer.

Candy         It really depends
There are many types candy, so there is no set answer. If it contains nuts, it obviously has a shorter lifespan. If it is a gummy type of candy, it will probably harden, but should be safe for years. Hard candy has the longest shelf life. M&M’s will last 1-1.5 years due to the candy coating.

Chocolate         Months to years
Items that contain just chocolate, like chocolate chips, Hershey’s Kisses and candy bars only containing chocolate have a varying shelf life. The lighter the chocolate, the shorter that is. I found the following on the Hershey’s Product FAQ

Q. How should I store chocolate?

A. Solid chocolate products will maintain their quality if well wrapped and stored in a cool, dry place (55-60°F). While refrigerated chocolate is certainly safe to use, we don’t recommend it. Chocolate kept in the refrigerator may “sweat” when brought to room temperature and may not melt properly. Cocoa is considered a non-perishable item which should maintain quality if stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.

Chocolate may turn white. This is called “blooming”. The chocolate is still perfectly edible. Here is what Hershey’s has to say in the FAQ.

Q. My chocolate sometimes turns tan or white. What causes this?

A. Chocolate contains cocoa butter, a vegetable fat that is sensitive to heat and humidity. Temperatures above 75°F will cause chocolate to melt. The cocoa butter can rise to the surface and form a discoloration called “cocoa butter bloom.” Condensation on milk or semi-sweet chocolate may cause the sugar to dissolve and rise to the surface as “sugar bloom.” Chocolate that has “bloomed” is certainly safe to use, but flavor loss and texture changes may be noticed.

Powdered Jell-O         Nearly indefinite (Maybe)
Most of the info I could find is from sites that are not taking into consideration storing long term. But I believe as long as you’re storing the varieties that have sugar instead of artificial sweeteners, these should store for a very long time.

Powdered Pudding         Nearly indefinite (Maybe)
Most of the info I could find is from sites that are not considering storing long term. But I believe, as long as you’re storing the varieties that have sugar instead of artificial sweeteners, these should store for a very long time.

Honey         Indefinite
Honey can harden, but will turn to liquid when heated, and will last forever.

Various Syrups         Indefinitely
Maple Syrup and molasses can last a very, very long time and often do not require refrigeration.

Jams, Jelly         Depends
If they contain natural sugar, they will last a very long time. Just throw them if you see mold develop. If they have imitation sugars they need to be refrigerated. It’s probably not safe to consume them long after the expiration date, or if left unrefrigerated for an extended time.

Peanut Butter         Depends
Many sources I found say that because of the oil in the peanuts, peanut butter is only good for 2-3 months if opened, and 6 months past the expiration date if unopened. However, when the oils go rancid they taste bad, so if it looks ok, and tastes ok, it very well could be safe to eat. The nutritional value of it, of course, is going to degrade over time.

Nutella         Depends
The sources I have found say 3-4 weeks past the expiration. This is purely my speculating, but because Nutella also has nuts in it, it should be in the same boat as peanut butter. I, however, do not know if peanuts and hazelnuts have the same shelf life.

Dried Fruit         Depends
Dehydrated or otherwise dried fruit have a shelf life of roughly 6-12 months in the pantry, 1-2 years in the fridge and indefinitely in the freezer.

Freeze Dried Deserts         Very long time
Many freeze dried foods boast of a 20+ year shelf life. These often fall into the same time frame.

Dry Soup Mixes         Hard to Say
I have seen some sites claim 1-2 years past the expiration dates. Others say they’ll last almost indefinitely. My guess would be at least five years or so.

Pancake Mix         Depends
Pancake mix contains flour, so go by the same timespan as flour.

Soup Mixes         Depends
This is another area where the companies want you to eat the soup, not store it for a rainy day. The times they give are a year or two. However, the ingredients are often either dehydrated or freeze dried and they are stored in air tight containers. My guess would be that they would store for many years.

Jiffy Mixes         years
Jiffy says “For best results, we recommend using all “JIFFY” mixes by the “Best If Used by” date. Beyond this date, dependent upon local weather and storage conditions, the quality of the end product may be affected.” I would think, if kept in optimal conditions, they will store for 1-2 years. Many of them will contain flour, so go by the same timespan as flour.

Popcorn         Depends
Microwave popcorn or popcorn that has been flavored is probably as advertised. Popcorn that is just popcorn seed, like wheat, because the hull hasn’t been broken, will store indefinitely. It can be popped, or ground and used as cornmeal. Once ground into cornmeal, the shelf life is greatly decreased.

If you have an item that you would like to add, a correction or a comment, please post it in the comments section.
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City Survivalists

Today’s post was guest written by Lee Flynn
 

As history has repeatedly shown, disaster can strike at any moment and without warning. Whether the event is natural or man-made, it carries the potential to stir chaos. Many people feel that, for survival purposes, there’s no better place to be than a rural area. However, it’s not a feasible option for everyone. For one reason or another, a huge portion of the country’s citizens are stuck in densely-populated urban areas. Although this is one of the worst places you can be during an catastrophe, there are things you can do to protect yourself, your home and your family.

 

Stockpile Ammunition

The most dangerous aspect of living in the city during a crisis is people. When disaster strikes, there is no shortage of people who are willing and eager to take everything you have for themselves. This is why firearms are called “the great equalizer”. Even if someone is bigger and stronger than you, if you have a gun, those features are meaningless. However, you need ammunition to make it work. In the city, you’re going to need lots of it. It’s a good idea to keep an 9mm ammo box full of the appropriate rounds tucked away someplace safe and discreet.

Unfortunately, many states have imposed regulations that limit the types and quantities of ammunition you can purchase. That said, gun shows are still largely immune to these regulations, so consider attending ones in your area whenever possible. Plus, it presents an opportunity to learn new information and make some wonderful friends and allies.

 

Store Food

Of course, in any SHTF situation, you’re going to need a reliable source of food. Let’s face it, your local grocery store isn’t going to be receiving new stock, and venturing out into a lawless war zone isn’t something to make a habit of. Fortunately, it’s easy to stockpile a large supply of food storage even in a relatively small space. Stock up on things that keep well, such as dehydrated foods and canned goods. Keep them in a cool, dark and dry location, and preferably inside of tightly-sealed and pest-resistant food storage containers. Military MREs are another good option, and you can usually find them in bulk at military surplus shops.

 

Collect Medical Supplies

In a disaster, the likelihood of receiving emergency medical care is nil. Even in this situation, it’s important that you’re able to take care of yourself and your loved ones, so medical supplies are critical. Ideally, your stock should contain things like antibiotics, painkillers, a stitching kit, surgical tweezers, antiseptics, syringes, gauze, bandages, medical tape and anti-anaphylactics. Most of these things can be legally purchased by anyone from medical supply warehouses or pharmacies. Like with your food supply, keep these items in a cool, dark, dry and secure location.

 

Gather Essential Tools

There’s nothing like an emergency to remind you of the usefulness of certain tools. Indeed, many of them can even save your life. Some important tools to have on hand include a multi-tool or Swiss army knife, duct tape, rope, saws, screwdrivers, wrenches, a hammer, a hunting knife, files and flashlights. Any number of these objects can help you get out of a difficult situation and help keep important equipment operable.

 

Fuel and Batteries

In some bizarre twist of Murphy’s Law, it seems that large-scale emergencies nearly always come with a loss of electrical power that lasts for an indeterminate amount of time. This sort of event is more than just an inconvenience. More often than not, it’s the cause of civil upheaval. No electricity means no light, communications, water or heat. That’s why the person who can generate power has the advantage. It’s strongly recommended to maintain a store of batteries for radios and flashlights, and fuel for your generator, vehicle or gas-powered tools.

 

Hold Onto Your Valuables

The loss of electricity typical of serious emergencies also cuts off access to your bank account. Unfortunately, currency is still important in these situations, so it’s recommended to hold onto anything valuable you might have. Gold and silver coins, fine jewelry, gemstones and cash should be hidden away in case of such events. These can represent considerable purchasing and bargaining power later on.

 
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Has the Threat of an EMP Increased?

Has the Threat of an EMP Increased

As I mentioned in The Difference Between an EMP and a Solar Flare, I believe that the threat of a conventional nuclear or an EMP strike on American soil has increased. I, of course, am talking about Iran’s claims that they will be sending their naval fleet to a position off the coast of the United States. Before I go any further, let me be clear, I do not believe Iran’s Navy poses any threat by a traditional naval attack. That being said, I do believe, as I stated, that the chance of a nuclear strike has increased.

If you’re not familiar with the news item, FOX News covered it in this article called Iran sending warships close to US borders. On a side note, multiple sources for this story have pulled their articles. Here is another article from the Washington Examiner that states: Expert: Iran ships a dry run for later nuclear/EMP attack; humiliate Obama.

To help explain why I believe that the threat of an EMP or traditional nuclear attack has increased, I’ll use the following metaphor; You are the captain of a very successful bowling team, winning several tournaments across the state. Many other teams have your team in their sites. Some teams talk trash, but for the most part everyone has a good clean time, except for Joe Dirtbag from the next town over. Joe’s team never finishes very high in any of the tournaments, which makes him and the Dirt-Balls hate you even more.

Joe has made some threats about how he is going to “kick your butt”, “Wipe you from the map” and on and on. Because Joe’s team practices at a different bowling alley and because there is no way his team could even come close to beating your team, even if you gave them a three frame lead, you dismiss Joe and laugh off his threats, until Joe starts posting on social media that he is going to come to your house and shoot you and your family. You don’t know if Joe is serious or if he even owns a gun.

Now, if you are prudent, I believe you live your life normally while keeping an eye out for Joe. You should maintain this vigilance until enough time has passed where you feel sure Joe isn’t showing up. However, if Joe shows up at your spouse’s work, your kid’s school or across the street, you would be a fool not to think the threat has increased.
 

But Is Iran a Threat?

Iran puffing up and making wild claims is nothing new. In fact, here is an article from the Times of Israel with the headline Iran: We’re ready for ‘decisive battle’ with Israel, US Let me clarify. If Iran doesn’t show up on our shores, obviously the threat hasn’t increased. They’ve made some pretty silly claims over the years, so them being a no-show is a high possibility. However, if they do start to patrol just outside of our borders in international waters (most countries agree that this is 3 miles from the coast), then yes, I believe the threat has increased.

I have written a few times on how Iran doesn’t have the missile technology to launch a strike of any kind from its borders to attack ours. But if they were to place a nuclear payload on one of their current missiles and hide it on a cargo container ship, they could launch an attack from international waters outside of American soil. I am not the first to think of this. You might recall that Steve from AlertsUSA said in a Q/A session from March of 2013:

“Chris:

While many countries such as North Korea or Iran, don’t have the missile capability to launch a nuke from their country to land on the continental USA, (I know North Korea either has gotten the technology or is close to having it). Would it be possible for them to hide a missile on a ship carrying shipping containers, and launch an EMP style attack from a hundred miles from our shores?

AlertsUSA:

“In addition to that written above, this is most certainly a possibility. The USGOV certainly appears to be bolstering East Coast surveillance and defenses against some type of threat.

Consider the following:

In January, it was announced that the U.S. defense department would be closing down a balloon surveillance program being run on the U.S. / Mexico border known as TARS, or the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS), which was an aerostat-borne surveillance program used to support counter-narcotic operations, mostly in southern border regions. Four TARS are deployed in Texas, two in Arizona and one in New Mexico, Florida, Louisiana and Puerto Rico.

In news released this February, a system similar to TARS known as JLENS, or the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System will soon be deployed around Washington DC. This begs the question: Why would such a surveillance system need to be “tested” around our the National Capital Region, already one of the most heavily monitored and defended areas in the country?”

 
Closing

While Iran obviously cannot stand toe-to-toe with the military might of the United States, they don’t need to in order to bring the USA to its knees. Look at how much Al-Qaeda was able to accomplish with just three planes.

I’m no chicken-little, claiming the sky is falling, but when someone makes claims that they want to destroy you and then show up at your front door, it is prudent to start acting like they believe they can and that they want to try.

 
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The Difference Between an EMP and a Solar Flare

The Difference Between an EMP and a Solar Flare

EMP and solar flares are often spoken of as if they are the same thing. While the end result is similar in that we’re left in the dark, they are actually different threats. Why does it matter? Well, for one, there are actions that can be taken to help protect against a solar flare. Later this week, I’ll be discussing EMP as a clear and present danger to the United States.
 

Electro Magnetic Pulse

Congress commissioned a group to study the threat of EMP in 2001 and has since re-commissioned it. You can read the EMP Commission Report for full details, but here is one section that described EMP well, located on page 9.

“The electromagnetic pulse generated by a high altitude nuclear explosion is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences. The increasingly pervasive use of electronics of all forms represents the greatest source of vulnerability to attack by EMP. Electronics are used to control, communicate, compute, store, manage, and implement nearly every aspect of United States (U.S.) civilian systems. When a nuclear explosion occurs at high altitude, the EMP signal it produces will cover the wide geographic region within the line of sight of the detonation.”

To be clear, the threat of EMP is totally manmade. An EMP is only caused by a nuclear explosion in the ionosphere and will impact the area within its line of sight. A faraday cage could be used to shield and protect against the effects of an EMP. There are arguments over how effective it would be and how it needs to be made. Personally, I believe that a faraday cage could be an effective method but I also believe it would need to be grounded.

 

Space Weather; Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejection

A very quick and simplistic explanation is that these are two different ways that the sun emits energy. A large eruption produces a flash, called a solar flare. A coronal mass ejection is an eruption of plasma into a large ball of energy. For more in depth information on these topics and on space weather, you can visit this NASA page on Solar Storm and Space Weather – Frequently Asked Questions.

Here is a short video that describes these topics much better than I could.

 

What Does This Mean for Earth?

The earth has seen solar flares for millennia. For example, there was a very large solar flare in 1859 that disrupted telegraph service, causing the lines to catch fire in some places. There was a blackout in Quebec in 1989 attributed to a solar storm, leaving 6 million people without power.

For a better understanding of this, here are two podcasts from Off the Grid Radio. There are transcripts of these podcasts for those who would prefer to read.
This Off The Grid Radio; Episode 10; (Transcript) is an Interview with John Kappenman, President of Storm Analysis Consultants. John Kappenman is someone who has studied space weather and has testified before Congress on the danger it poses. Mr. Kappenman discusses how solar weather is a very real threat to the grid, mainly to the large transformers.

He explains that:

“event that is almost incomprehensible because we don’t have a lot of relevant experience with it on today’s infrastructure. The severity of the storm that we’re talking about here, we think has a capacity to create widespread massive damage to the power grid especially large high voltage transformers that could cause maybe a 4 to 10 year sort of damage to the power grid and inability to restore that power grid intact over a very long period of time.”

The reason it could take 4-10 years to recover is, as Mr. Kappenman goes on to explain, that the United States currently relies on manufacturers overseas who produce these transmitters. And that:

“Also huge devices on the order of 270 tons each, so they cannot be airlifted. They have to be delivered by slow boat and enormous land logistics problems to locate them to the sites where there need to be replaced.”

The host, Bill, asks:

“So another question that people asks us constantly is does this have the potential to produce its own EMP and fry any electronics. Could a storm be one that’s 10, 20, 30 times more powerful than some of the lightweight stuff we’ve seen? Can that create an EMP and mess electronics in your home up even if you’re not connected to the grid?”

Mr. Kappenman responds:

“Well, I’d say that’s highly unlikely but I have to also caution that we don’t know the full extremes of what mother nature can do either. We certainly have been made aware of the ever more sensitive microelectronics can be impacted by radiation dosages that are also coming in during these severe space weather events and we know that systems like GPS may not function at times during severe space weather events as well. So there is some uncertainties out there that probably haven’t been fully understood and revealed yet.”

The end result is essentially the same. We’re without electricity. In Off the Grid Radio: Episode 31; (Transcript), Mr. Kappenmen is back and explains more of the problem with the grid and transmitters. He also goes into what society would look like if the power just ceased flowing.

Mr. Kappenman explains how our leaders could have done something and chose not to.

“In the last Congress, in I think May or June of last year, the House of Representatives did unanimously approve a bill called the Grid Bill, House Resolution 5026. This bill would have set in motion efforts to harden the power grid and make it more resilient against these sorts of threats that exist in today’s power grid. It would also deal with the cyber security threat, electromagnetic pulse threat and severe space weather, geomagnetic and solar storm threat that we’re talking about. The Senate was not able to act on that bill in the last Congress. As a result, it did not become law, it did not pass. I’m uncertain how the new Congress will view this and what measures they will take. I think some form of this bill will be re-introduced in Congress and further evaluation will be done in formulating a bill that hopefully would get the quick approval of both the House and the Senate.”

To my knowledge, the federal government has still not acted. In fact, some states and cities have begun to take action on their own.

You can sign up to receive Solar Flare alerts here from Flare Alert.

Later this week, I’ll cover how the threat of a nuclear or EMP attack has just increased.

 
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Dental Preparedness

Dental Preparedness

I don’t like the dentist. I know, I know, most people don’t! But I dislike the sadist…err dentist so much that the thought of writing this article has given me the heebie-jeebies for some time. However, a recent dental problem resulting in a toothache spurred me to write this.
 

Prevention

Brush, floss, yada, yada, yada. All kidding aside, this is absolutely one area where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This being a preparedness related article, here are some tips to help you be prepared for a future where going to the dentist isn’t an option.

Toothpaste has a 1-2 year shelf life, so we could effectively keep a year’s supply on hand, rotating and restocking as it is used. Toothbrushes obviously don’t have an expiration date, but should be rotated every few months. Dental floss is another item that has no expiration date, nor do the dental flossers. Dental floss is an item I put in each BOB. It can be used for floss, cordage, snares and anything else lightweight rope could be used for.

Baking soda is an item with an infinite shelf life that can be used as toothpaste. Simply put some in a smallish container, add water and stir into a paste…mmm tasty (sarcasm). Hydrogen peroxide is an item that, according to the ADA (American Dental Association), is used in many commercial tooth whiteners.
 
Dental Pain When the Stuff Hits the Fan

To me there is no pain like a toothache. It can make me miserable like almost nothing else! We’re lucky to live in a time where we get care fairly quickly to help us if we have dental pain. Imagine having to use an ice skate to remove your own tooth (a reference to the move Castaway)! Seriously, what would you do if, for some reason, you had a toothache and couldn’t get to the dentist? Here are some suggestions.

There are several over the counter numbing agents one could use and I personally think they are a must have.
 

Natural Tooth Ache Remedies

Here are three links that I think are worth sharing, all containing natural remedies. Because what works well for one person, might not for another, I think it is wise to have a few of these on hand. Many of the ingredients listed in these two articles can be used for other purposes as well.

20+ Toothache Remedies For Pain Relief

12 Home Remedies for Toothaches

 
Worst Case

What if the problem is worse than a tooth ache and you can’t get to the dentist? There are a few things that you can do now to prepare for this. The Hesperian Foundation offers a book called Where there is No Dentist. You can download a free PDF copy or purchase a book for $17.00. Amazon has used copies a little cheaper, but I think supporting the Hesperian Foundation is worth the extra dollar or two.

This book is fantastic! Like all Hesperian books, it is meant to educate villagers in third world countries with no formal education or training. Topics range from learning and teaching about teeth and gums, treating and diagnosing different dental problems like toothaches, loose teeth, cavities, cementing fillings and removal of teeth (without an ice skate). It has illustrations on almost every page to help explain the different topics.

There are a few supplies that you could stock now that could be of great use in a dental emergency. From Duluth Trading Company: Duluth Trading Company Dr. Click’s Kit: Dental Tools with 101 Uses. As the title suggests, this kit has many other uses besides dental tools, one being a great lock picking set. One of the Prepared Christian sponsors, Camping Survival, carries Dr. Stahl’s Emergency Dental Kit. as well.
 

Final Thoughts

Sure, we should be brushing and flossing now, but like I said at the beginning, to me there is no pain like a toothache. Dental preparedness requires some forethought and preparations to make sure we can take care of dental emergencies should they ever occur when we cannot get to a dentist.

 
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Prepper Pete Prepares

Prepper Pete Prepares

The Beautiful Mrs. Ray helped me by reviewing Prepper Pete Prepares. I love the idea of a children’s book to help explain preparedness to kids.
 
Review of Prepper Pete Prepares

The author, Kermit Jones, Jr., created this book to help explain preparedness to his young daughters. In my mind, that he is a father of daughters lends itself to his credibility. He knows the hearts and minds of his own children and knows what will and will not scare them.

The book represents an “ant man” who decides he wants to be prepared from an early age. It discusses reasons and ways to prepare without getting into the great detail that can sometimes alarm children. The illustrations are fun and depict a family setting that is calm and collected, even though there are emergency situations going on around them, because they are prepared!

Trudee’s Take: I would recommend this book for parents with young children. I would, however, recommend reading it to them until they’re a little older. Some of the content may require further explanation, as children are such sponges with information and are, in general, extremely curious about things. There are pictures of guns in the book, for instance, and to mitigate fear or misunderstanding, this would be a perfect opportunity to explain your personal stance on guns, whether you’re for them or against them.

All in all, this is great children’s book that provides parents a non-threatening way to explain what they do to help keep their family safe without creating fear. In my opinion, an empowered child is a safe child, and giving them knowledge empowers them!

 
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Potable Water Preparedness

Potable Water Preparedness

Having fresh drinking water is something I think most people take for granted. But if the faucets quit running, or the water coming out of them is unsafe, we would quickly find ourselves in trouble! The rule of threes tells us that the average human can go three days without water. But that doesn’t say how bad you’ll be feeling after just one day without water. It doesn’t say that if the temps are hotter you could very well have less than three days to live without water.

The rule of threes also doesn’t say how people will act when they realize they can’t depend on the tap to give them safe drinking water. Over the last few years I have read of multiple water main breaks, or accidental spills that polluted various cities’ water supplies. In many of these cases I have read of fist fights breaking out; people fighting over a case of water bottles. As I’ll point out below, when it comes to water, there is no silver bullet that will take care of all of your water needs.
 

Water Filters and Purifiers

I firmly believe everyone should own a water purifier as a part of their preps. However, this is not a silver bullet that will fix all of your water problems. You may remember hearing about the the chemical leak in West Virginia that left 300,000 people without drinkable water. A company had a tank containing a compound called 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol that leaked into a local river. As it turns out, this compound is too small to be filtered out by even the best water filters.

One other thing to keep in mind about purifying water is that many means of purifying only take care of bacteria and viruses. Boiling, for example, will kill all bacteria and viruses by the time the water begins to boil but will not remove any of the chemicals that were in that water. The same can be said for UV purifiers, Iodine and water purification tablets.
 

Water Storage

There is a rule of thumb about water storage that says to store one gallon of water per person per day for drinking. My problem with this rule is that I drink that much per day now, and I am not exerting myself like I might be when the stuff begins to fly. The temps where I live are also much cooler than they will be in a few months. I have also heard people say to store two gallons, using the second gallon for cooking and cleaning. I think this number is actually safer, but now you need to increase the amount of storage needed.

I have seen some water storage systems that use multiple 55 gallon food grade drums to store water. While this is a great idea, it requires a good amount of space to house the drums, not to mention the cost of the barrels.
 

I Own a Well

Owning a well takes care of some of the water problems, but not all of them. The pumps are electricity driven, so if the grid goes down, or your pump breaks down, you have water, but no way to get to it. You could switch to a solar powered pump and have a spare, but I have no idea if this is cost effective.
 

Water Procurement

What I mean by “water procurement” is the ability to find water nearby (within walking distance) that you could bring home to purify. I can think of five places nearby where I could get water, but I live in the land of 10,000 (actually closer to 20,000) lakes, not to mention rivers, streams, ponds and so on, so I realize I have it easier than some of you in this regard.

Here are a few places that are not natural bodies of water that I keep in mind for procuring water. Nearby swimming pools; yes they have chlorine but that will off-gas in a matter of days. Depending on where you live, hot water heaters also hold 30-40 gallons (some more). I had two rain barrels going last year. Within minutes of a moderate rainfall, they were both full. The water was filthy, so it would definitely need to be filtered.
 

Putting it All Together

We don’t know what might happen to threaten our supply of drinking water, so there is no single silver bullet solution. What is the answer to this problem? Redundancy! I think it is wise to consider all of the above and incorporate them into your preparations. Have some water stored to get you through small emergencies, but also know multiple locations near you where you can procure more water, be they natural or man-made. Have a means to purify that water!

 
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How to Protect Your Emergency Supplies From Moisture

Todays article was written by Lee Flynn

How to Protect Your Emergency Supplies From Moisture

Heat and moisture are the two worst enemies of long term emergency supply storage. These two things go hand-in-hand when keeping your supplies viable. From tools to food, you must keep things cool and dry in storage so that when the time comes to use them, you don’t open your emergency kit and find rust and ruin.

Storing Your Tools and Weapons

We’ve all heard the Oliver Cromwell quote, “Keep your faith in God, but keep your powder dry.” In other words, expect the best, but be prepared for the worst. Guns and ammunition must be kept in a cool, dry place, preferably air-conditioned. The same goes for tools. Rusty, dull tools are useless, so keep them stored properly, sharpened and cleaned so they will be ready to go if the time comes.

Camping Gear Storage

Keep your tents and camping gear in vermin-proof containers so they aren’t destroyed while not in use. Rats will chew through thick plastic, so a metal container is best. Inside the metal container, keep your gear in waterproof, airtight bags so they aren’t damaged by the elements. Use and trade out any propane canisters and fire extinguishers from time to time.

Food Storage

All long-term food storage should be raised no less than six inches above the floor to prevent damage from flooding. The best place to store emergency food is in an air-conditioned area. Don’t store food next to pipes or exterior walls. Moisture is your biggest enemy in food storage, so air-tight, waterproof bags are essential.

The best way to bag food is in mylar bags with a sealer. Bag sealing systems aren’t expensive and can be bought at most major retailers and online. When you are sealing the bags, you must first remove all the oxygen. The most convenient way to accomplish this is with oxygen-absorbing packs. The dry-ice method is good for removing oxygen from larger containers.

An effective way to keep moisture out of your food is with silica, but be careful, because you don’t want your food to be contaminated by a broken silica pack and become inedible. Once your food is bagged, put it into a bucket or other container with a sealing lid to keep out other contaminants. Although food stored like this can last for years, it’s best to rotate your food supply out by using and replacing items to keep it as fresh as possible. There are hermetically sealed larger containers of survival food available that are good for ten years, but normal canned food is easier to rotate out on a regular basis.

Storing emergency supplies properly is the key to effective preparation. Keeping the moisture out is essential for long-term gear and food storage. Rotating your supplies by using and replacing them on a regular basis ensures that if there is a moisture breach in some storage, it is discovered and dealt with. Learn and practice proper food storage techniques to ensure your supplies are air-tight and dry when you need them.

Surviving in the Land of Cubicles

Surviving in the Land of Cubicles

As I mentioned in a recent article, I found a new job and have headed back to the land of cubicles! For those of you who’re unfamiliar with this place, I will give you a brief explanation of this land so you can appreciate the preparations those of us in the Land of Cubicles must undertake. (Yes, some of this article is written tongue in cheek)

 
What is the Land of Cubicles?

This is a place to which many travel to make a living. It can be a land of many dangers that one must be prepared for! It can be a hostile land, filled with obstacles that hinder your progress in achieving the goals set for you in making the living you set out to gain. It can be a germ-infested place, sometimes only second to the public education system. Quite often, those who venture into the Land of Cubicles are stripped of any means of self-defense. The Land of Cubicles has also been known to have a draining effect on those who enter it; draining the energy, happiness and life out of those who enter, replacing them with frustration and gloom.

Like I said, some of this is presented entirely tongue in cheek, but all of those things are real. Below are some ways I prepare for the Land of Cubicles.

 
Obstacles

We all have various obstacles that can make life in the Land of Cubicles challenging. Finding ways to mitigate them is important. I drive further than I care to, and when the weather is even slightly poor, it can take hours to get to or from the Land of Cubicles. To minimize the frustration of traffic, I listen to podcasts or dictate notes for ideas on articles. Another obstacle for me noise. I think people forget that cubicles are not a soundproof box. To overcome this obstacle, at times I will listen to music. Yes, it’s still noise, but it drowns out the personal conversations that I really don’t want to hear.
 
Sick-Ville

Many companies have started to tell their employees that if they’re sick, to stay home. Not everyone listens, so making sure one washes their hands often, as well as having some hand sanitizer available, is a good idea. I had a coworker once who kept a can of Lysol at his desk. Anytime anyone coughed near him, he let it fly!

 
Weapons Free Zones

Here is something to consider; if you take away domestic violence, the vast majority of violence happens at someone’s place of employment. If you go to a mall, there are shoppers there, but the clerks and cashiers work there. If you go to a school, there are students there, but the teachers and administration work there. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Most companies are weapons free zones. For liability reasons, I can understand why. I just started at my current company and I have no idea if the person I am replacing was fired and left angrily. There is also always a chance that a past or present employee can become disgruntled or that domestic violence could break out at work by an angry spouse who came to visit. Because of this, I have made a point of knowing multiple ways out of the building. I have also made note of things I can use as impromptu weapons, like scissors, fire extinguishers and others.
 
Soul Draining

Ok, maybe “soul draining” is a little overboard, but spending too much time locked away in a cubicle is not healthy. To make the time in the Land of Cubicles bearable, I listen to music, and actually take lunch breaks. I don’t just eat while I am working. Some people personalize their work space, by bringing in photos from home. This really isn’t my thing, not because I am not proud of my wife and family. Heck if it wasn’t for Trudee I probably wouldn’t have anything on the walls at home either. The point is, do what it takes to make your time in the Land of Cubicles bearable. I normally eat at home or bring in my lunch, but one thing I have done is treat myself with breakfast or lunch out on Friday’s to celebrate having made it through another week!
 

EDC

I usually keep a good sized car kit in the car, just in case I need to make my way home with it, or if I had to stay put at work for an extended time due to an emergency. I do, however, keep some special preps for use inside the building. Here are some items I keep with me that I use more frequently than the kit that stays with the car.

• Lip Balm
• Smalls bills
• Spare change
• Hand sanitizer
• Water bottle
• Swiss Army Knife
• Over-the-counter meds
• Small first aid kit
• Eye drops
• Reading material
• Music and headphones

Do you spend time in the Land of Cubicles? If so, what do you do to survive there?

 
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Preparedness Foundations

Preparedness Foundations

This review was written by my beautiful wife Trudee.

Preparedness Foundations

In helping Chris out, I thumbed through a book that was sent to him.

This is a “Participant Workbook”, designed to go along with a class on preparedness that you might see held in your own church! Of course, since Chris and I have briefly been a part of our preparedness class at church, this really piqued my curiosity!

I have to admit, I wish we’d have come up with this! It’s EXCELLENT! The authors, Clayton Whitson and Jonathan Coussens have done a beautiful job compiling a lot of information with useful check lists without overwhelming the reader. This book is 76 pages! That’s it! It’s colorful and very well-written in non-threatening terms!

There are sections of “homework” that are designed to help get class participants thinking and moving on preparedness. The contents and chapters are easy to get back to if you find yourself wondering about a specific topic you covered in class. There are colorful pictures and great explanations of them!

Trudee’s Take:

I find myself wishing I could sit through this class with these instructors, and I’ve been prepping for a few years now! This book is fantastic! I don’t know where they’re holding classes but, given half a chance, I’d be there in a heartbeat!

P.S. I checked out their website. A husband and wife team?! No way! What are the odds?!?! The book can be purchased in PDF format here, be forewarned, it is on the pricey side.

 
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