Food prep gear. As discussed in section 4.3, one of the best ways to cook food or to sterilize drinking water on the go is to have several portable propane tanks, a miniature stove ($13), and a lightweight covered pot ($28). Some plastic dinnerware ($13) can be a nice touch. Make sure that the stove fits your propane tanks; you may need a Lindal valve adapter ($20) if not.
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.
In trying times, people always come together and find strength in local communities. Even if you don't expect it, you will almost certainly be able to count on the kindness of strangers. But your odds can be greatly improved by getting to know your neighbors ahead of the time, by cultivating trust and mutual respect, and by getting a sense of each others' toolkits and skills. In a grim situation, being on good terms with a doctor or a veterinarian can quite literally save your life. And heck, some rural communities in the US even maintain communal stashes of emergency supplies!
Chances are that you have these foods in your kitchen right now, and you already intersperse them into your menus on a daily basis. I like to have at least – at least – a one month’s supply of these first layer foods. Having a supply that will see your family through at least a month means that a short-term emergency will hardly be noticeable to your family and that they’ll experience very little difference in the way they normally eat.
Folks without a car are at a marked disadvantage, but should still try to put together a 72-hour "bug out bag" - and ideally, keep it somewhere within a walking or biking distance of their home (say, at work or at a friend's place). It's best to keep it light; some cash, 2-4 quarts of water, a 3,600 kcal emergency ration, and a raincoat will be almost certainly more useful than a gun and a collection of throwing knives.
Rice. This is an old standby. It can form the base of many tasty and nutritious meals. Be aware that although it requires no processing, it does require quite a bit of water to cook. It is most economical to buy rice in 40 lb bags and repackage it into buckets yourself, a 5 gallon bucket will hold a 40lb bag. For a bit more you can find rice sold pre-sealed in buckets from a number of sources.
Ask a hardcore prepper for advice on this matter, and they will probably tell you to start practicing hand-to-hand combat, get a knife, or carry a gun. But in reality, we need a more nuanced and proportional approach to threats, and one that emphasizes avoidance and de-escalation, rather than the ability to resolve each and every conflict with a single well-placed shot. Sure, a self-defense weapon can save your butt in some life-or-death situations, but these are comparatively rare; such a tool won't deter a pickpocketer, won't stop a burglar from ransacking your place while you are at work, and won't prevent a hacker from emptying your bank account while you're busy watching the reruns of Gilmore Girls.
My family fashioned an outdoor kitchen under a shed in our backyard with a simple gas stove that we got free, along with a laundry sink, through Craigslist. We have a propane tank from a gas grill connected to the stove and a connection for a water hose for the sink. We even found an old kitchen cabinet for storage and counter space. Throughout the summer, I use our outdoor kitchen for canning parties, picnics and cookouts. This outdoor kitchen is a nice alternative to the heat canning creates in my house. Additionally, I feel secure in knowing I’ll be able to use this kitchen to preserve some of the food from my freezer rather than lose it all during a long-term power outage.
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.
When living in squalor conditions and running short on supplies, even seemingly prosaic medical conditions can become life-threatening. For example, in less developed countries, otherwise non-lethal diarrheal diseases cause almost 2.5 million deaths every year. The reason is simple: without proper care, the disease makes it easy for the victims to get terminally dehydrated or succumb to severe electrolyte imbalance.
Scott owns a nice bit of property in the county, over thirty acres, mostly wooded, on which he does some of his own hunting. He had an underground shelter installed somewhere on his land about 8 years ago, a choice that was precipitated by the economic downturn that coincided with Obama’s first term in office. It’s a rather large eight-person, three month shelter, that only his and Josh’s family know about. Even though it was a large investment for him, Scott believes a nuclear or biological threat is less likely that something more along the lines of an EMP strike or total economic collapse. Because of that, much of the shelter acts as secure storage space for a cache of items that would prove valuable in such a scenario: medicine, ammunition, shelf-stable food and common toiletries that will rapidly become luxury items in a post-apocalyptic world. Scott doesn’t think precious metals or cash will be much use if there is no economy to use them in.
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