Gaye Levy, Contributor
The term “at the twelfth hour” is often used to describe something or someone that is late. But for us, in month 12 of prepping, nothing could be further from the truth. More to the point, if you have been following along the Backdoor Survival series on Getting Prepared: 12 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time, you have taken major steps toward becoming self-sufficient if a natural disaster or other crisis should strike in your neighborhood.
As we enter in to our twelfth month of prepping, we are going to take a look back at two of our critical areas of sustenance, food and water. And if you are just getting started? Well, let’s chat for a moment about why we are taking this staged approach to getting prepared.
Listening to the main stream media, FEMA, our government and even the ads from your local hardware and warehouse stores, you will see that “preparedness” has become the buzz word of the month. Not that being prepared is a bad thing, not at all. What is alarming is what appears to be the overwhelming pressure to do it all now, to spend a ton of money and buy a bunch of stuff now, without consideration for what you need, how much and why.
For many, the pressure is so great that there is a tendency to do nothing. And therein lies the problem. Doing nothing – if you really care about taking care of yourself – should not be an option. On the other hand, for many, excess cash to spend on preps is hard to come by these days.
It has been my hope that in these twelve months, you have been able to take reasonable care to acquire what you need at a pace you can afford and also, that you have acquired skills that will carry you forward for a long time to come. This has not happened all at once but rather at a reasonable and sustainable pace.
For those of you that are just getting started, don’t get discouraged. It is never too late to start. And with that, let us jump right in to Month #12.
SUPPLIES & GEAR:
- Expand your food supply
- Purchase some comfort food or condiments
- Heavy work gloves
Most months I have been quite specific in specifying food to add to your emergency food supply. This month – now that you are more experienced – I want you to look over what you have and think about how you should best add to and expand upon what you already have.
There are three ways you can go:
- Pick out those items that you want more of as a practical matter (beans, rice, canned goods)
- Purchase comfort foods such as candies and cookies
- Purchase a variety of condiments or add-in’s
Condiments can make all of the difference
My favorite addition to the emergency food supply is a variety of condiments and what I like to call add-in’s or enhancers. These are spices, sauces and other items that are added to basic foodstuffs to enhance and change their flavor. The reasons I like these are many, but most notably, they are inexpensive, a little goes a long way and they add infinite variety to otherwise boring meals made from survival staples such as beans, rice, oatmeal and pasta.
My favorites? In no particular order (and I will limit this list to 10 items) are:
- Chicken, beef or vegetable bouillon
- Canned salsa
- Canned pasta sauce
- Tabasco or other hot sauce
- Chili powder
- Salt and pepper
- Honey or other sweetener
- Soy Sauce
- Dried chopped or powdered onion
Your list may differ but at least these choices will give you some ideas for coming up with your own list. And say, while you are at it, think about cooking with these items now so you learn how to use them in a survival or post-disaster situation.
Protecting your hands is important too
The other purchase this month is some heavy duty work gloves. Following a disaster you will likely need to clear debris and rubble and perhaps chop some wood for the fireplace our outdoor stove. If you hurt your hands with cuts, scrapes or burns, you will have no one to fix them up for you so it is best to have some gloves on hand.
Recommendations? An inexpensive option that simply works is welding gloves. They are durable and thick and designed to put up with heat and abuse. Other options are leather garden gloves that you can frequently find on sale and of course, standard work glove from that hardware store. I have not checked this out myself, but apparently Harbor Freight has leather work gloves at dirt cheap prices.
Before moving on to Month 12 tasks, I want to remind you that you will need work gloves in various sizes to fit the hands of all of your family members. This is something that a lot of people overlook when purchasing multi-packs. It might make more sense to purchase work gloves individually in a variety of sizes. Just saying.
MONTH 12 TASKS:
- Check your water supply and rotate if necessary
- Check over your stored food and rotate if necessary
Depending on how you stored your water, you may need to rotate the old and replace with the new. This is especially true if you stored water in plastic jugs bottles you prepared yourself. Of course if you have a 55-gallon water barrel and the proper chemical additives, you are okay for five years of more but for a lot of people, stored water consists of well-cleaned juice jugs or soda bottles with a few drops of bleach added. These jugs should be dumped, rinsed and filled anew.
And just so you know, just because I have a 55-gallon water barrel does not mean that I do not have some of those do-it-yourself jugs as well. Some are filling up dead space in my freezer while others are stored in a cool area under my house. Like you, this month I will rotate these jugs and start the process all over again. For those of you just getting started, I have written an article on do-it-yourself water storage which you can go back to if you need some guidance with your water storage: A water freak: How to store water for emergency short term use.
As with stored water, there are some food items that for one reason or another, should be used now and replaced with fresh stock. For example, let us say that due to your particular storage situation, the temperature in your food storage area is on the warm side – say 70 degrees F or more – or is an area where the temperature fluctuates. For maximum shelf life, food needs to be stored in a cool dark place at an even temperature. Now as a practical matter, that sometimes is impossible, especially if you store items in a garage or within the confines of an apartment.
Do not stress about this too much. Instead, look things over and if you feel some of the less protected items need to be used now and replaced with fresh, do so. Just remember to mark the dates on newly purchased items so a year from now, you can do the same. And if you are lucky enough to have stored your food in a cool, dry area? Think about adding to your stash as suggested in the supplies and gear section above.
The Final Word
You might be asking yourself what comes next. Is there a month 13, 14, 15 and beyond? Good question and of course, the answer is yes. During this first 12 months we have covered the basics and should be well prepared to make it through a week or two following a disaster.
Here are Backdoor Survival we plan to take a few months off from our “One Month at a Time” series then start up again in January with month 13. In the meantime, between now and then go back and review the monthly calendar and fill in any gaps you may have in your gear and supplies. Add to your survival library and acquire some new skills that will help you survive when things go bad.
If there is some advice to pass on it is this:
Do not give in to fear and paranoia. Take your time, do your research and make well thought out and educated decisions as you make you way down the road to preparedness.
Read other articles by Gaye Levy here.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye Levy, the SurvivalWoman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable, self-reliant and stylish lifestyle through emergency preparation and disaster planning through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. SurvivalWoman speaks her mind and delivers her message with optimism and grace, regardless of mayhem swirling around us.