Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Emergency Preparedness Week - Back To Basics Series - Water & Food

Here again, we have two possibilities to consider...bugging in or bugging out.  Your water & food preps will vary greatly depending on your choice.  Keep in mind that you may plan to bug in for almost everything, but there are any number of factors that may force you to leave.  Therefore, I would suggest prepping for both scenarios.  Let's take a look at water...the BASIC, and I repeat, BASIC requirements are 4 litres per day, per person.  This will cover drinking, cooking & washing on a very minimal basis.  Don't plan on taking a daily bubble bath with this amount of storage, you will be looking more at a sponge bath here and there instead.  There are two types of water you may wish to keep on hand, drinking water and what is known as grey water.  Drinking water will be used for consumption, cooking and hand washing.  This must be of the best quality and kept free of contamination.  Bottled water is a great option for this, but as you could imagine, this could get quite costly for large quantities.  Take for example a family of four prepping for 1 week.  4 litres x 4 people x 7 days gives you 112 litres.  At about a buck for a 4 litre bottle, that adds up to  $28.00.  Here is another option, see if you can get a local grocery store to sell you the empty water containers used for water coolers.   The deposit on them is $10.00 and they hold 18 - 20 litres.  These can be filled from the tap and stores in a cool, dark place.  Water will not store like this forever, in fact if exposed to light, algae may start to form or off tastes can appear.  An easy problem to solve though with regularly discarding the water, washing & disinfecting the bottles with soap & bleach, then refilling them for storage.  Many people with the space to do so, will fill 208 litre barrels.  This will require a pump to remove the water for use and also makes moving it in case of evacuation impossible.  Also, remember to keep some water in 500ml bottles that are easy to pack up and leave with as well as help you ration properly if need be.  Grey water is something many of us don't think about, but if your water supply is cut off, how will you flush those toilets or wash dishes?  A great source of grey water is a rain barrel.  Usually found in the 200 litre size complete with a faucet near the bottom, one has only to divert rain water from the roof into the barrel.  If properly filtered & treated, this could be used for drinking, but there are risks involved if the water is not properly prepared.  The best combination would probably be a rain barrel for grey water, larger containers in the 20litre range for drinking storage, and 4 litre & 500ml litre sizes for bugging out.  If you are lucky enough to have warning of an impending emergency situation, fill your bathtub, buckets or even empty soda bottles with water right away.  Now, there are plenty of filters out there costing hundreds of dollars, plans for solar stills, and what have you, but for the purpose of this series, let's keep things simple...remember....Back To Basics.

Now for a look at food, again, the two different scenarios apply.  For bugging in, things will be quite simple.  Keep in mind to store what you eat and eat what you store.  A week's worth of NON PERISHABLE food shouls always be on hand.  Again, government sites will tell you 3 days, but to me, that is simply not enough.  Canned food from the supermarket is by far the easiest to store.  For proteins, keep in mind that beans and nut butters are good substitutes for tuna and spam.  If you have kids, or even if you like it yourself, Beefaroni and other pasta meals are easy to prepare and are affordable.  Keep your food groups in mind.  Stock up on veggies & fruit, quick cooking rice and noodles, meats & substitutes and dairy.  For milk, the best options are dry milk powder (remember to consider extra water storage) and shelf stable milk in UHT cartons (commonly sold under the Grand Pre label).  Spices will be an important factor to consider as many storage foods will need a little something extra to help increase taste.  Remember to have some cooking oil, shortning or lard handy too.  For a basic emergency supply, you won't need to have buckets full of rice, dry beans, or wheat berries in the garage.  Simply keeping you pantry stocked up should do the trick.  For a bug out situation, you will want to consider two factors in your food preps...weight & bulk.  Space will be a factor to consider if you need to pack a bug out bag with supplies and weight will be important especially if  you have to go on foot.  Prepackaged dehydrated food will help, but remember your water supply as well, as these foods must be rehydrated before eating.  Consider foods that will give you higher energy and help you feel full such as nuts or high calorie energy bars.  When considering  your food storage, try to keep your cooking options mind...more will be posted on these options in a later post.  Just remember, you don't have to get everything set all at once.  Just buying a little extra with each grocery order will quickly build up your supplies.

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