Gaye Levy, Contributor
You may be familiar with the saying “behind the eight ball”. This idiom implies that you are in a tough, difficult or losing position from which it is unlikely to escape.
Now surely that is not someplace that any of us wants to be, and for that reason alone we find justification to prepare. Prepare for what?
Who knows. It might be a major disaster, it might be a personal health or financial crisis, it might be a terrorist attack or it might be the collapse of civilized society as we know it. Whatever the reason, the need to prepare is ingrained in us from the time we reach young adulthood. After all, the very first insurance policy we purchased was our way of saying “I am going to be prepared”.
These days, we cannot count on traditional insurance to keep us safe, to keep us fed, and to keep us sheltered from the storms that are brewing in our world. Instead, it is my belief that we must self-insure by storing away supplies and learning skills that will get us by when going is not so good.
Last September, I laid out a calendar of prepping, 12 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time. Each month since then, I have outlined a reasonable number of tass to accomplish during the monthly period, and today is no exception. In Getting Prepared Month #8 we continue to fine tune by adding a few more items to our food storage and by putting together a simple, transportable kit that we can keep in our cars.
Are you ready to get started? Let’s start to work on month #8.
MONTH 8 SUPPLIES & GEAR:
- Box of crackers or graham crackers – 1 per person
- Dry cereal or oatmeal – 1 weeks worth per person
- 1 box of large, heavy-duty garbage bags
Did you know that crackers were a staple of fallout shelter rations during the Cold War era? The Shelter Management Textbook published by the Office of Civil Defense included the following table:
This table is from the OCD publication SM-16.1 “Shelter Management Textbook” Date July 1967. Table VIII.
1. Crackers or biscuits/from 5 gal can – 6
2. Crackers or biscuits/from 2.5 gal can – 4
3. Wafers/from 5 gal can – 1.5
4. Crackers or biscuits/from 5 gal can – 4
5. Crackers or biscuits/from 2.5 gal can – 3
6. Wafers/from 5 gal can – 1
These days it is difficult to wrap our mind around sustaining oneself on crackers alone, especially since there are so many other readily available, storable foods, and yet as evidenced by the popularity of the Mountain House Pilot bread or Pilot Crackers, these remain a staple in the survival pantry.
Add Some Rib-Sticking Goodness
The second food item we will add this month is cereal with oatmeal, recommended for its superior nutrition and fiber content. Although normally I would recommend getting old-fashioned oats, for short-term emergency purposes, I suggest instant or quick oatmeal instead since it cooks quickly, using just a bit of water and very little cooking fuel. Of course a box of those instant oatmeal packets can be expensive so try this trick for making your own instant oatmeal:
Put a batch of oatmeal (use either Old-Fashioned or Quick) in a blender or food processor, pulse a few times (don’t turn it into powder), and you are good to go. Package it up with some raisins and perhaps a bit of brown sugar and you have instant oatmeal at a fraction of the cost.
To prepare your homemade instant oatmeal, add very hot or boiling water, stir then let sit fir a minute then eat. Yummy.
The Practically Indestructible Garbage Bag
We are also going add a large box of heavy-duty garbage bags to our emergency supplies. The uses for these bags are limitless, but what comes to mind first is using these large bags as a poncho or emergency shelter propped up by sticks or debris.
A heavy duty garbage bag — and I am referring to those large 42 gallon bags not the smaller, lighter weight kitchen bags — also can serve as an emergency toilet. If you are sheltering at home and the sewer system in not functional, merely line your toilet or even a bucket with a heavy duty bag and you are good to go. (Of course it might be good to have some kitty litter to throw in the sack after going potty.)
- Set Up as a Rain Catcher
- Use as a Poncho
- Waterproof Shoes by Covering with Bag and Tying Around the Ankle
- Emergency Shelter (with multiples)
- Fill with Leaves and Climb In for Emergency Sleeping Bag (or sleep on top to use as mattress – keeping the cold ground from sucking the heat out of you)
- Store Food In
- Use as a Sling
- Use as a Swimming Suit so You Keep Clothing Dry (how stylish)
- Store Garbage (duh)
- Store Toilet Paper and other Paper Supplies to Keep Dry
- Use as a Windbreaker
- Use as a Sun Jacket
- Cut a Strip with Two Slits for Your Eyes and Tie Around Your Face Like Zorro for Make-Shift Sunglasses (it worked for the Inuits, it’ll work for you)
- Use as Compression Bandage
- Fill with Water for Storage (short term)
- Use as Tent Floor/Ground Cloth
- Tape Edges of Bag to the Edges of Your Window Frame to Blackout Windows (must be heavy duty to shield light)
- Use as a Backpack
- Use to Create Shade from Sun
- Use as Porta-Sink
- Use to Wash Clothes In
- Mix Ingredients for Cooking In It
- Seal Off Room with Multiple Bags and Tape to Quarantine an Ill Person
- Turn Off Water and Line Toilets with Bags (or line 5 gallon buckets)
- Store Newspaper for Future Use as Fire Starter (keeping it dry)
- Use for Concealment by Wearing Over Clothes at Night (black garbage bags)
- Cover Wounds with Gauze and Wrap with Strips of Garbage Bag
- Fill with Water, Tie to a Tree Branch and Poke Small Holes into the Bottom – You’ve Got an Emergency Shower
- Use as Disposable Gloves for Cleaning
- Use as a Tourniquet
- Wrap Around Cloth Gloves to Make Waterproof
- Fill with Water, Place in a Ditch then Add Hot Stones to Sterilize Water for Drinking (stones need to be hot enough to boil the water)
- Great Bartering Item
- Use them as Sterile Surface to Prepare Food
- Use as Emergency Signal
- Fill with Cold Water and Use as Cold Compress for Injuries (same can be said with hot water)
- Use as Ties for Splints
- While Wearing Socks, Step Into Two Layers of Bags to Use as Shoes
- Use as Diapers (line with toilet paper)
- Stuff Inside Your Clothing for Insulation
MONTH 8 TASKS:
- Make a small preparedness kit for your car. Include food, water, blanket, a small first aid kit, a list of important phone numbers and other useful items
- Secure water heaters to wall studs (if not already done)
As you can see, my kit includes the following items:
I put them all in an inexpensive pencil box that I purchased at the office supply store. I then added the kit plus a few bottles of water to an inexpensive backpack. As simple as this may seem, I have already had to use everything except the blankets – and that is just recently. Since then, I have added some Ibuprofen and a packet of Survival Husband’s daily medications to the kit.
As with all of our survival and preparedness kits, nothing is static and as needs change or expand, you should change or expand the kit as well. And if you kit is hidden away in the back corner of your closet? Well shame on you! Emergencies happen everyday and since you are prepared, you should take advantage of your preps!
Protect the Water in Your Water Heater – Secure the Tank
Fresh water after a disaster may be as close as your water heater — provided, of course, it remains standing upright. You can protect this valuable resource by securing your water heater to the wall studs. This will not only protect the water in your water heater, but will also prevent the water heater from tipping over and ripping out gas or electrical lines and causing a flood, gas leak or fire.
Note: Securing water heaters in this manner is now a part of the building code in many areas of the country – especially in quake zones.
The easiest way to secure you hot water heater is with a commercially available strapping kit. You can also gather the strapping supplies yourself, using heavy-gage metal straps and 3-inch lag screws.
However you do it, keep in mind the following:
- Use two heavy-gauge metal straps, top and bottom
- To prevent the tank from tipping backwards, there should be very little space between it and the wall. If there is more than 1 or 2 inches, attach a wooden block to the wall with long lag screws.
- Wrap the heavy-gauge metal strapping 1-1/2 times around the tank. Start by placing the strapping at the back of the tank. Bring it to the front and then take it back to the wall.
- Secure this strapping to the wall studs or the wood block using several 1/4-inch x 3-inch or longer lag screws with oversized washers.
- If you are securing it directly into concrete, use 1/4-inch expansion bolts in place of the screws.
The State of Washington has a downloadable flyer showing you how to do this. Print it out and you will be all set to go – just do it. And while you are at it, this would be a good time to add a water heater blanket to your setup.
The Final Word
Although there are a tremendous number of resources available to the public that encourage disaster and emergency preparation, the vast majority do nothing. Call it inertia or call it procrastination. Whatever the reason, the vast majority of people are not preparing because they are relying on emergency responders to help them.
Well you know what? If there were a major disaster in your area, you may be waiting a long time. Yes, FEMA and the other alphabet agencies have gotten better since Katrina, but until there is another catastrophe of that magnitude, you will never know whether you will be “saved” or left to your own resources for three days, a week or longer.
I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer to do as much as I can in advance to take care of myself and my loved ones.
Read other articles by Gaye Levy here.
Other articles in this series:
Month 1: Supplies, Gear and Tasks to Get You Started
Month 2: First Aid, Personal Hygiene and Home Safety
Month 3: Special Foods, Fire Drills and Home Safety
Month 4: Prescription Medicine, Cash, and Things to Keep Us Warm
Month 5: Sanitation Supplies and Establishing a Community of Like-Minded Folks
Month 6: Fitness, Energy Bars and Face Masks
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye Levy, the