The FDA is making significant changes to nutritional label laws that are rolling out over 2017 to 2018. Because some manufacturers have changed early and others haven’t, in some cases we couldn’t be as apples-to-apples in our data analysis as we’d like, particularly around vitamins and minerals. So we did some backdoor math by judging the amount of fruits and vegetables in each meal.
If there was anything my freeze-dried food experiment taught me, it was how lucky I was to be able to walk down the street and buy a sandwich whenever I wanted to—but also how far I was from being self-reliant in the more quotidian sense. If freeze-dried meals are becoming increasingly popular in America, then maybe it’s because many of us realize that if something really bad happened, we wouldn’t know the first thing about surviving for a week on the ingredients lying around in our pantry. But as we continue to be bombarded by headlines foreshadowing epic floods, economic collapse, and nuclear escalation, there’s nothing wrong with finding a little peace of mind in a bag of dehydrated Chicken A La King.
If the fire is around you and you can’t escape, you don’t have many options, says Shane Hobel of the Mountain Scout Survival School. If there’s a pool or a pond nearby, jump in and try to wait it out there. Otherwise, if you have time, dig a trench that’s two to three feet deep and long enough for you to lie in. Soak a blanket in water, wrap it around yourself, and lie down in the trench. It’s risky, but at least you’ll have a chance.
Dry survival rations. Sold under several brands, including Datrex, ER Bar, S.O.S., Grizzly, and more. Biscuit-like, less sugary and with a more agreeable taste than energy bars - somewhat reminiscent of shortbread. In my book, S.O.S. and Datrex taste best. Very inexpensive (~550 kcal per dollar) and should last 5-10 years when stored in a cool place. A tolerable choice for short- to medium-term nutrition in an emergency. Easy to pack, giving you ~2,200 kcal per pound.
Either way, when done with the list, be sure to re-read the response plans you drafted earlier on and cross-reference them with this spreadsheet. Iterate until you're happy with both, then print out the docs and place them somewhere intuitive. In a stressful situation, you will be able to quickly review the printouts to confirm that you are not missing anything.
High-sugar energy bars. Grocery store brands have limited shelf life, but several prepper-targeted, Mylar-packed varieties can last 5-10 years. Such products are inexpensive (~300 kcal per dollar), convenient, and energy-dense (~2,000 kcal per pound). On the flip side, they are probably pretty nauseating as your primary food. Imagine living solely off Jelly Bellies for a week.
In some parts of the world, mosquitoes, flies, and other biting insects are major vectors for extremely serious diseases, such as malaria, African sleeping sickness, dengue fever, or lymphatic filariasis. The same is not a grave concern in more temperate climates; although malaria used to be a problem in some of the southern states, it has been eradicated by 1951. Today, some of the most serious incidents in the US and in Europe are the occassional cases of Lyme borreliosis or the West Nile virus.
To get it right, make a list of all your emergency gear, along with expiration dates where applicable. Next, go through the list marking all the "stays home" stuff - the supplies that are impractical to haul around or not particularly essential when evacuating. Make sure that all the tactical gear - such as flashlights, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, and self-defense weapons - are in a logical and easily reached place. For the remaining "stay home" items, just find an unobtrusive location, stow them away, and write the spot down in your spreadsheet.
In an end of the world situation, we won’t have to worry about too much salt or too much sugar. Our main concerns will be keeping warm, getting potable water and enough to eat. A steady diet of tuna fish, canned meats, pasta, bean and rice will quickly get old. You will be happy to have the sugary canned fruit which will add very necessary calories to your diet and provide energy. The high salt which is dangerous now will provide necessary salts when you have otherwise run out of salt for cooking. In addition, most of the prepared foods are prepared to appeal to our taste buds. Food companies spend big money on making “convenience”
Religion, however, has everything to do with survivalism—there are things about your faith that affect the way you live, Fletch says, offering me an example. “Today, a great deal [on the menu] was the special you had,” he says. “Every one of the specials had pork in it. Well, depending on your belief system and where you’re coming from, Dan, you could’ve made several decisions about me.” He’s right; I could’ve thought he assumed the breakfast was on me, so he ordered the most expensive dish on the menu. And those assumptions, he says, can break up a group. “If 99 percent of the people in your group don’t eat pork, and you bring in some person eating a ham sandwich next to you, that’s going to cause some conflict.”
Most preppers don’t actually have bunkers; hardened shelters are expensive and complicated to build. The original silo of Hall’s complex was built by the Army Corps of Engineers to withstand a nuclear strike. The interior can support a total of seventy-five people. It has enough food and fuel for five years off the grid; by raising tilapia in fish tanks, and hydroponic vegetables under grow lamps, with renewable power, it could function indefinitely, Hall said. In a crisis, his SWAT-team-style trucks (“the Pit-Bull VX, armored up to fifty-calibre”) will pick up any owner within four hundred miles. Residents with private planes can land in Salina, about thirty miles away. In his view, the Army Corps did the hardest work by choosing the location. “They looked at height above sea level, the seismology of an area, how close it is to large population centers,” he said.
After 15 minutes, I was startled to discover that the cereal had puffed up into a Kashi-like multitude of grains, flecked with tiny pieces of apple, complete with green peel, that looked just-chopped. It didn’t taste as good as it appeared: Eyeballing a fourth of the bag had resulted in a poor distribution of seasoning, yielding a flavor I can only describe as water laced with traces of cinnamon and sugar, though subsequent attempts tasted better.
The next obvious step, but one that causes people a fair amount of headache, is actually finding coupons. Although it may seem hard and it will require a little bit of work, there are countless ways for you to do this. First, the classic way is to clip them from the weekly paper. Coupons usually appear in inserts in the Sunday edition of the newspaper. In order to amass enough to really make a difference, most couponing preppers will order at least a few copies of various Sunday papers. This gives you quantity and diversity of coupons. If you are looking to save money, you also can find extra copies of newspapers in dumpsters and at grocery stores. Just go in late on a Sunday night and ask for whatever they have left over from that day. Many stores will give them to you for free, or for a reduced rate.
It pays to be prepared for nasty spills or sanitation emergencies. In addition to some of the tools discussed in earlier chapters, a good starting point is a large box of 13 gallon trash bags ($10-$30), another box of thick, 42 gallon contractor bags ($30), a set of disposable vinyl gloves ($4) plus a pair of tough PVC or nitrile ones ($11), some rubbing alcohol ($6), and a bottle of regular laundry bleach ($3). Rubbing alcohol is an excellent solvent and a rapid-evaporating disinfectant; bleach is a potent, long-lasting biocide and a great odor neutralizer. Oh - as noted earlier, an absorbent sock-style barrier may be useful for containing particularly nasty spills, too.
You’ll obviously need to tailor your survival kit to the number of people who will depend upon it. If you are going out for a solo camping trip, you won’t need as many supplies as if you are heading out with an 8-person team. The number of people depending on the kit won’t affect some of the items in the kit, but it will affect others. For example, you’ll only need one fire starter, no matter how many people are in your party. By contrast, you’ll obviously need to adjust how many space blankets are included with the kit, depending on the size of the group.
Everyone in California is waiting for "The Big One," an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 or greater that will destroy infrastructure and cause mass panic. Yet when I moved to the Bay Area from the East Coast, I discovered that since most of the people I knew were making do with small apartments and ever-increasing rent, having supplies on hand for a natural disaster required a space premium that many couldn't afford. I began to put together an earthquake kit that would not only serve my household (which over the years fluctuated from one to three other people) but also my neighborhood, if needed. Even with all that work, I didn't consider myself a prepper, just someone who heeded the Red Cross's warnings.
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