Food & Water Storage Conditions

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What conditions should I store my food and water storage prepper supplies in?

Good question!  You must first understand that light destroys nutrients and shelf-life.  Oxygen also causes nutrient decay and increases risk of food-borne illness due to bacterial growth. Reducing oxygen levels in your food with Oxygen Absorbers is the best way to maintain food quality and shelf life.  Temperature plays a role as well, too hot and nutrients and proteins will be damaged, too cold and product quality and taste will suffer.  Pests can eat up your food storage and spread disease.  Moisture can cause bacterial and mold growth as well as rust to form on metal cans or canning lids.

So what conditions do I need?

Someplace COOL (around 6oF is perfect)

Someplace DARK (no natural or artificial light shining on your food storage)

Someplace DRY (no moisture to cause rust or bacterial or mold growth)

Someplace PEST FREE (no bugs or rodents to destroy and contaminate your food and water)

Storage Conditions

There are six conditions to be aware of when storing food for emergency preparedness food storage, or outdoor recreation.  The foods being referred to in this post are shelf-stable freeze-dried, dehydrated, dried commodities.  Optimal storage conditions can also be applied to wet pack:  retort, MRE’s, canned goods, and other specialty longer term wet pack foods.

  • Temperature– This is the primary factor affecting the storage life of foods.  The cooler the better. 40 degrees-50 degrees would be great. Room temperature (65 degrees-72 degrees) or below is generally fine.  Avoid above 90 degrees for extended periods of time. The longer food is exposed to very high temperatures the shorter the edible life and the faster the degeneration of nutritional value.  Note:  There are some “foods” available for emergency preparedness that are known as “emergency food or ration bars.”  These products are generally referred to as “life raft bars” because they were originally designed for life rafts and can withstand high heat for extended periods of time.  They primarily consist of white sugar and white flour, and were not meant to be the sole source of nutrition for a long period of time.
  • Moisture– The lower the better.  Moisture can deteriorate food value rapidly and create conditions that promote the growth of harmful organisms.  The moisture level contained in foods varies depending on the type of product it is.  Have foods in moisture barrier containers (metal, glass) in high humidity areas. Note:  Mylar bags or plastic buckets are not a long term (over 3 years) moisture or oxygen barrier. The moisture and gas transmission rates through these materials vary depending upon the specifications of the manufacturers.  Plastic absorbs gases, moisture, and odors.  Note 2:  Be careful where you store dry foods in cans.  Very cold flooring or any condition where there is a dramatic temperature differential may cause a build up of condensation inside the container.
  • Oxygen – A high oxygen environment causes oxidation, which leads to discoloration, flavor loss, odors, rancidity and the breakdown of nutritional value in foods. It also allows insects to feed on dried food reserves. Without oxygen, insects cannot live, nor can aerobic (oxygen dependent) organisms. Whole grain and beans have natural oxygen barriers and can store for long periods of time in low humidity and if free from infestation. All other processed grains, vegetables, fruits, etc. must be in a very reduced (2% or less) oxygen environment for long term storage.  Note:  Mylar bags or plastic buckets are not a long term (over 3 years) moisture or oxygen barrier. The moisture and gas transmission rates through these materials vary depending upon the specifications of the manufacturers.  Plastic absorbs gases, moisture, and odors.  The best long term storage containers are glass and metal.
  • Infestation – Examples include rodents, insects in all their stages of growth, mold, microorganisms, and any other creatures that get hungry – large or small.  The proper packaging and storage conditions are required to control infestation and not allow critters to both get into the food, or have the necessary environment for them to flourish if they are sealed into a container – such as in the form of eggs or spores.
  • Handling – Rough handling can not only damage the food itself, but it can also adversely effect and compromise the integrity of the container in which the food is stored.  Glass of course can break; any pouched item can develop pin holes, tears, or cracks.  The seams on buckets and cans can be tweaked, twisted, or damaged to allow oxygen to enter the container.
  • Light – Food should not be stored in direct sunlight.  Both for the potential of high temperature, and its affect on food value.  Sunlight directly on stored foods can destroy nutritional value and hasten the degeneration of food quality, taste, and appearance.  Foods packed in light barrier containers do not pose a problem with the affects of light.

 

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Life of Stored Food

LIFE OF STORED FOOD

This is a generalized table of how long food will last if properly stored (no light, no heat, no oxygen, no bugs, etc) and kept at 60F or lower (but not freezing).

FREEZE DRY FOODS (NITROGEN BACKFLUSHED & SEALED)- 25 TO 30 YEARS

MYLAR BAGS (MRES, CAMPING POUCHES, METALLIZED BAGS)- 5 TO 7 YEARS

DEHYDRATED FOODS (SEALED, BUT NOT NITROGEN BACKFLUSHED)- 3 TO 5 YEARS

CANNING (STOREBOUGHT OR HOME CANNED)- 3 TO 5 YEARS, (possibly longer if stored properly)

SMOKED CURED- SEVERAL MONTHS

FROZEN- 1 YEAR FROZEN (BEFORE FREEZER-BURN SETS IN), FEW DAYS THAWED & REFRIGERATED

RAW FOOD- 7 TO 10 DAYS IF REFRIGERATED, LESS THAN 4 HOURS AT ROOM TEMP

Prepping at the Dollar Store

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Think prepping has to be expensive?  Think you have to buy only from a dedicated prepping & survival store?  Think again.  You can get several prepping items at your local dollar store, whether that be Dollar General, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, or any other knock-off dollar store!

Here is a list of items I like to look for at dollar stores that I can add to my prep buckets and bug out bags.

FIRE:

  •  Matches
  • Lighters
  • lighter fluid
  • sterno cans
  • tea light candles
  • candles
  • lamp oil (at some stores)
  • charcoal briquettes

FIRST AID & MEDICINE:

  • First aid kits
  • band aid & gauze
  • bandage tape
  • tylenol
  • ibprofen
  • antacids
  • cold & flu medicine
  • allergy medicine
  • cough drops
  • aspirin
  • anti-histimines
  • anti-itch cream
  • burn cream
  • bug spray
  • sunscreen
  • aloe gel
  • vitamins
  • antibiotic ointment
  • rubbing alcohol
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • anti-diarrhea medicine
  • children’s medicines
  • miniture versions of a lot of common OTC medicines that you can put in your BOB

HYGIENE:

  • hairbrush & comb
  • shampoo, conditioner, soap
  • hand sanitizer
  • tooth brush, toothpaste, dental floss, mouth wash antiseptic
  • dental repair kits (at some locations)
  • toilet paper
  • paper towels
  • baby wipes or hand wipes
  • baby powder & diapers
  • jock itch/athlete’s foot spray
  • deodarant
  • feminine menses pads (can double as a first aid item to control bleeding of wounds)

LIGHTS:

  • candles
  • flashlights & batteries
  • glow sticks

FOOD:

  • obviously a ton of canned and boxed foods (canned meats, canned fruits, canned veggies, mac n cheese, pasta, and more)
  • baking supplies like flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, lard, oil
  • rice, dried beans, oatmeal, grits, cream of wheat, cereal
  • sauces and condiments
  • storage containers to store food in that are air tight and pest proof

WATER:

  • water jugs
  • water bottles
  • bottled water
  • juice boxes or pouches
  • drink mixes like gatorade and kool-aid and crystal light
  • bleach for purification
  • iodine for purification and wound cleansing

CLOTHING:

  • shirts
  • pants
  • underwear
  • shoes
  • socks
  • jackets (some locations)
  • hats
  • gloves

HOUSEHOLD ITEMS:

  • cleaning chemicals
  • bleach
  • soap for washing dishes and clothes
  • rags
  • towels
  • blankets
  • pillows and pillowcases
  • auto fluids like oil and starter fluid
  • basic hand tools like hammers, screw drivers, and pliers

BABY ITEMS:

  • formula
  • bottles and bibs
  • pacifers
  • toys
  • clothes
  • diapers
  • wipes
  • baby powder
  • baby medications

GAMES & TOYS:

  • board games
  • cards
  • toys for all ages
  • great to kill boredom and keep kids entertained

COMFORT ITEMS:

  • besides games & toys,  candy
  • chocolate
  • dried fruit
  • nuts
  • trail mix
  • craft supplies
  • activity supplies like coloring books and crayons/markers and stickers

Any and all of these items are great to store as a prepper, whether that be in your home, your Bug out location, cabin, RV, or if you just want some smaller and cheaper items for your bug out bag or auto kit.  Check the dollar stores first for items before spending beaucoup money at a big box store or online.  These items are just as good as name brand items and are wayyyy cheaper!  You can also stock up on these items to have as Barter Items for when SHTF!  Great way to have an alternate currency so-to-speak for SHTF. Saving money is always a good thing and the kids will even have fun helping you stock up on prepper supplies at the dollar store!  Start saving while prepping!

Tips for Economic Collapse

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ECONOMIC COLLAPSE SURVIVAL TIPS

  • REDUCE YOUR DEBT: Reducing ones debt to as close to zero as possible is essential. That may involve selling off some of your real estate investment, moving to a smaller home, refinancing your home mortgage to a 15-year loan, and eliminating your credit cards. Stop paying interest. Pay with cash whenever possible instead of charging it.

  • Do not be dependent on the government for your well-being. Try and be as independent and self reliant as possible for your income.

  • Take control of your own finances. Read many alternate sources of information. Do your homework. Be careful to understand what is going on. Avoid states of denial. Become as independent as possible.

  • Make yourself save as much as you can. Most people live above their means. Learn to live below your means. If you save a minimum of 10% per month, you can grow your wealth very safely. Some can save 20%-25%.

  • Diversify your investments; include investing in Swiss money instruments, gold, different currencies. Or ditch investments all together. Purchase tangible gold, silver, precious stones, ammunition, food and supplies.

  • Avoid weak financial institutions. Get out of harm’s way. Many banks, brokerage house, S& Ls and insurance companies are tottering on the brink of disaster or close to it in the event of a market downturn. And in spite of the perception to the contrary, there is no substantive insurance safety net under these institutions. Remember the Great Depression? Banks collapsed and people went broke overnight. Banks cannot be trusted.

  • Avoid popular investment markets. There are few goof opportunities for conservative investors. Stocks are overvalued. If you own stocks have stops in place. Corporate bonds are vulnerable and will drop as U.S. interest rates rise. Be very selective in investment real estate. Commodities are out of favor and at bargain prices. All things are cyclical and go from being undervalued to overvalued.

  • Find investment safe havens. The three best and most conservative investments to put your money into over the next few years are gold and silver, and lead (ammunition). Don’t announce to the world what you are doing; keep a low profile. Keep your mouth shut so others won’t be tempted to raid your supplies.

  • Legally bulletproof your business and personal matters. America is the most litigious country in the world, with 700,000 lawyers and 187 million new civil lawsuits per year. Every doctor, professional business person or business owner has a nightmare about being sued into ruin.

  • Change your mind set about the news, about investments and about your financial security. To survive the coming hard times, you must change the way you do things, the way you think, and the way you save your money. You must read between the lines in today’s news report .and plan for the future.

  • Purchase a least a one-year food supply and have a large water source. Own tangible assets or commodities that can be bartered or traded.

  • Buy real estate in a small town or rural community that can serve as a retreat or place of refuge. Cities may become unsafe once economic collapse happens. Robberies, muggings, rapes, and murders will rise.

  • Buy gold and silver coins for barter, tender, and security. Shop at your local pawn shops. Look into BitCoin and other alternative currencies. Look into bartering and trade.  Purchase Iraqi Dinar (new, not Saddam Hussein Dinar). 

Follow your Emergency Scenario Preparedness Plan and use the above situations as guides during an Economic Collapse

 

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Pandemic Survival- Influenza, Ebola, & other contagious diseases

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Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic (This also applies for Ebola)

The emerging threats of the H1N1 Mexican Swine Flu and the still-present Asian Avian Flu Virus (AAV H5N1) brings into sharp focus the vulnerability of modern, highly mobile and technological societies to viral or bacterial infectious diseases. The last major flu outbreak, (H2N2 in 1957, which killed 69,800 people in the United States) took five months to reach the United States. With the advent of global jet travel, it is now likely that highly virulent disease strains will be transmitted to population centers around the world in a matter of just a few days. This is what happened with H1N1.

In this article, I will describe how you can protect yourself and your family from the next great pandemic. Although the likelihood of H1N1 mutating into a more virulent strain is relatively low, the potential impact if this were to occur would be devastating. The current strain of the virus has a low lethality rate for humans. But even if H1N1 turns out to be a “non-event”, in the next few decades there is a very high likelihood that some other disease will emerge and suddenly make a pandemic breakout. The odds are against us, because influenzas have tendency toward antigenic shift. Because influenzas are viral and are spread by casual person to person contact, the majority of the world’s population will be exposed in just a few weeks or months. Even today, more than 30,000 Americans die each year from flu complications–mostly the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Here are the key things that you need to do to protect yourself and your family, and to help restore order during a pandemic:

A.) If appropriate, Raise Your Immune Resistance. (Only for non-cytokine storm variety flues–see the following discussion)

B.) Be Ready to Fight the Illness

C.) Avoid Exposure.

D.) Stockpile Key Logistics.

E.) Be Prepared to Dispense Charity From a Safe Distance (if you so choose to do so)

 

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Raise Your ImmuneResistance

There are two philosophies to fighting off influenza viruses. The first and mostly prevalent is to raise the body’s immune response. The other is to maintain normal immune response to prevent a collapse caused by over-response–a “cytokine storm“. Unless you are immuno-suppressed, do not raise your immune resistance for influenza where cytokine storm has been reported to be causing a significant number of deaths.

To raise your immune resistance to disease it is important that you stop smoking. If you are a smoker you have already realized that you are much more susceptible to respiratory infections. Smokers are at high risk to develop complications. Get plenty of exercise, eat healthy foods, drink only in moderation, get plenty of sleep, and use top quality vitamin supplements (from a company such as  eVitamins.) If you are overweight, you need to alter your diet get down to within five pounds of normal body weight. You need to change your diet for two important reasons: First, unhealthy foods weaken your immune system. Cut out refined sugar. Avoid candy, snack foods, soft drinks, and any processed foods with preservatives, artificial sweeteners, or MSG. Avoid store-bought meat, which is often tainted by the hormones and antibiotics used in commercial livestock feeds. Wild game or home-raised livestock is much healthier! Lastly, pray. Why? Anxiety is a form of stress that weakens the immune system, and prayer is a proven way to relieve anxiety and stress. And more importantly, as a Christian I believe that it is crucial to pray for God’s guidance, providence, and protection.

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Be Ready to Fight the Illness

There are some symptoms that distinguish between colds and flues: Flues typically cause fever, chills, achy feeling (malaise), headaches, and extreme fatigue. Cold symptoms are usually restricted to the upper respiratory tract while flu symptoms tend to involve the entire body.

Influenzas tend to kill most of their victims in two ways: dehydration and lung congestion. Even the Avian flu, which is respiratory usually starts with stomach flu symptoms. Stomach flues usually induce diarrhea which rapidly dehydrates the victim. To fight this, you need to stock up on both anti-diarrhea medicines (such as Imodium AD–an anti-spasmodic) and electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte. (The latter is available in bulk though large chain “warehouse” stores.) The various sports type drinks (such as Gatorade) can be used as oral rehydration solutions (ORSs) too. However, I prefer to dilute them about 50% with water, they have a lot of glucose in them which will exacerbate diarrhea symptoms.

If commercial ORSs are not available, I have read that you can make an emergency solution as follows:
• 1/2 teaspoon of salt
• 2 tablespoons honey, sugar, or rice powder
• 1/4 teaspoon potassium chloride (table salt substitute)
• 1/2 teaspoon trisodium citrate (can be replaced by baking soda)
• 1 quart of clean water

Imodium is a trade name for Loperamide. It can be purchased generically for relatively little cost, at such places as warehouse stores. The generic (house brands) are just fine. Stock up on Acetominophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Motrin) as well – for treating fevers. These two antipyretics can be taken together or on an alternating 4 hour schedule (take each every 4 hours but split them, for example at 8 AM take acetaminophen, at 10 AM take ibuprofen, etc. This makes it easier to monitor the patient and get them to drink fluids, if they’re up every 2 hours they will have to drink some fluids). Either have a traditional glass thermometer for each person, or a digital thermometer with lots of disposable sleeves. The thermometers are a couple of bucks at most drug stores. The sleeves are a buck or so per hundred. Don’t cross-contaminate your patients.

Note: There is a difference of opinion on in medical circles about suppressing a fever with an non-seasonal influenza. It all depends on the particular strain. Before using aspirin (for adults) or Acetaminophen (for children and adults), check the literature on the current flu strain. If there are widespread reports of “cytokine storm” reactions by patients, then suppressing a fever might be a good thing.

Statistically, the largest group that were killed by the 1918 flu were 16 to 25 years old–those with the strongest immune systems. Those patients often died because their bodies fought the virus too vigorously, in a cytokine storm. Aspirin can help suppress the response that leads to a cytokine over-reaction. Again, there is still considerable debate in medical literature over the issue of fever suppression versus the risk of cytokine over-reaction in treating influenzas.

Because influenzas are viral rather than bacterial, most antibiotic drugs (antibacterial) are useless in combating them. If you suspect that you are coming down with influenza get bed rest! Too many people ignore their symptoms because “that project at work just has to get done.” Not only do they risk their own health, but they infect their co-workers! Liquids help ease congestion and loosen phlegm and are of course crucial to rehydration. Just a fever alone can double your body’s dehydration rate.

Respiratory flues such as the Swine Flu and Asian Avian Flu kill mainly via congestion. Buy a steam-type vaporizer. Stock up on expectorants containing guaifenesin as the main ingredient.

You will need to watch carefully for any symptoms of pneumonia develop. These include: difficulty or painful breathing, a grunting sound when breathing (quite distinct from the wheezing of bronchitis or the “barking” of croup), extremely rapid breathing, flaring nostrils with each breath, or coughing up rust-colored phlegm. Pneumonia can be a deadly complication of the flu and is the main cause of flu-related death. It is important to note that pneumonia is typically a co-infection that can be either viral or bacterial. In case of a bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics are crucial for saving lives. If it is viral, there is not much that can be done. While antibiotics can clear infection they cannot remove secretions. The patient must cough them all the way back up the respiratory tract. Do not use cough suppressants–anything with active ingredients like dextromethorphan or diphenhydramine. A “productive” (wet) cough that produces phlegm is a good thing! This is where you may need expectorants. One that works well is Robitussin (the original type of Robitussin without any capital letters after the name). These are also available as generics, and quite cheap, so stock up. You should also read up on postural drainage and percussion techniques for chest secretion clearance–for instances when your patient cannot or will not cough effectively.

Avoid Exposure

Aside from being actually coughed or sneezed upon by an infected person, the most common way to catch the flu is by touching something which has been coughed on or sneezed upon by an infected person. For instance, the person that used the shopping cart before you had the flu. They covered their mouth with their hand when they coughed then used that very hand to push the cart around the store. Now your hands are touching the same place. Without thinking while shopping, you rub your eye or nose and you have introduced the virus to your most vulnerable point of infection. When you are out in public do not touch your eyes or nose. Wash your hands frequently to remove any germs you have picked up. Teach your children this as well.

Even though the chances of a full scale “nation busting” pandemic are small, the possibility definitely exists. A full scale pandemic that starts taking lives on a grand scale may quite reasonably cause you to take some extreme measures to protect the lives of your family members. You can cut your chances of infection by more than half if you prepare to live in isolation (a strict “self quarantine”) for an extended period of time. You need to be prepared to avoid all contact with other people during the worst of the pandemic. The self quarantine period might last as much as three years, as successive waves of influenza sweep through the country. Think this through, folks. What would you need to do to successfully quarantine your family? Grab a clipboard and start making some prioritized lists.

History has shown that infectious diseases do their worst in urbanized regions So if you can afford to, make plans to move to a lightly populated region, soon. Where? I recommend moving west of the Missouri River (because of the west’s much lighter population density) to a rural, agricultural region. When looking for a retreat locale, look outside of city limits and away from major highways that will serve as “lines of drift” for urban refugees. You are looking for a property that could serve as a self-sufficient farm–something over five acres, and preferably closer to 40 acres. In the event of a “worst case” pandemic situation, there is the possibility that power grid could go down. Even if your farm has well water, you may be out of luck. A home with gravity fed spring water is ideal, but uncommon. So you will either need to be able to pump well water by hand–only practical with shallow wells–or be prepared to treat water that you’ll draw from open sources: rivers, creeks, lakes, or ponds.

Plan to live at your retreat year-round. In the event of a full scale pandemic, the police and military will probably be ordered to enforce draconian quarantines of cities, counties, or perhaps entire states or regions. Having a well-stocked retreat is useless if you can’t get to it. Live there, and become accustomed to getting by self-sufficiently. Plant a big vegetable garden, using non-hybrid seeds. Raise small livestock that can forage on your own pasture. Get your digestive system accustomed to consumption of your bulk storage foods. Home school your kids. Develop a “hunker down” lifestyle with minimal trips to town. Each trip to town will constitute another opportunity for infection.

To make self-quarantine effective, it is essential that you are prepared to live in isolation for many months, and possibly years, to avoid contact and subsequent risk of infection. This can be practical for anyone that is retired or self-employed in an occupation that does not require regular face to face contact with clients or customers. (For example home-based mail order, self-publishing, recruiting, medical/legal transcription, or telecommuting.) But for anyone else it may mean having to quit your job and live off of your savings. So it is essential that you get out of debt and start building your savings, ASAP. If you can possibly change jobs to something that will allow isolation or semi-isolation, do so as soon as possible. For most of us in the middle class, this may mean “doubling up” with another family to share resources.

To protect yourself (at least marginally) from infected spittle, wear wrap-around goggles and buy or fabricate surgical style masks, in quantity. Note that even an N100 gas mask filter will not stop an airborne virus, since the viruses are too small. But at least a cloth mask will give you some protection from virus-laden spittle. Once the pandemic breaks out in your region, you won’t look out of place wearing these, even on a trip to the post office. Stock up on disposable gloves. Note that some individuals are allergic to latex. So do some extended wear tests before you buy gloves in quantity. Wear gloves whenever away from your retreat, and wash your hands frequently, regardless. Keep your hands away from your nose and eyes at all times. Stock up on soap and bottles of disinfecting hand sanitizer.

 

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Stockpile Key Logistics

To make long term self quarantine effective you will need to buy a large quantity of long term storage food from a trustworthy vendor. It is also important to lay in extra food to dispense in charity–both to your neighbors and to any relatives that might end up on your doorstep at the 11th hour.

Stockpile fuel–firewood, home heating oil, or propane, plus fuel for your backup generator, vehicles and/or tractor. For liquid fuels, buy the largest tanks that you can afford to buy and fill, and that are allowable under your local fire code. If you heat with wood or coal, determine how many cords or pounds of coal you buy each winter and then triple that amount.

Build a sturdy gate to your driveway and get in the habit of keeping it closed and locked. It may sound far-fetched, but in the event or a “worst case” you may have to repel looters by force of arms. Buy plenty of ammo, zero your guns, and practice regularly. Hurricane Katrina showed how fragile our society is and how quickly law and order can break down in an emergency. Plan accordingly.

With the consent of your doctor and his prescription, you should stock up at least moderately on antibiotics such as penicillin and Ciprofloxacin (“cipro”) to fight co-infections. But they should only be used if it is abundantly clear that a co-infection has set in. (Again, watch for pneumonia symptoms.)

There are a few drugs that have been clinically proven to be useful in lessening the symptoms of viral influenzas, and shortening the duration of illness. These include Relenza (Zanamivir), Tamiflu (Oseltamivir phosphate), and Sambucol. These drugs are used immediately after the onset of flu symptoms. Of the three, Sambucol–a non-prescription tincture of black elderberry– is probably the best. I predict shortages of these drugs in coming months, so stock up while they are still readily available!

I’m not a big believer in Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) or the other neuraminidase inhibitors. It’s only demonstrated effect is to make the course of the flu slightly less long (on the order of 1-2 days less), but it has a critical requirement: IT MUST BE TAKEN within the first day or two of feeling ill. Most people (myself included) will just feel a little ‘off’ those first couple of days, or try to work through it. Tamiflu in this situation is pretty useless. Also, if someone is going to use it, they MUST have it on hand before they get sick: Getting the first symptoms, then deciding to call your physician and getting an appointment to get the prescription the week after next isn’t going to help. Finally, it’s pretty expensive (a standard 5 day adult dose is around $100 plus the physician’s appointment). It’s also going to be in short supply as people start trying to get it (similar to Cipro following the anthrax attacks and scares). BTW, Mom’s old standby for respiratory infections (chicken soup) is as effective as oseltamivir. I doubt that it would be a good choice for an avian or swine flu pandemic, though.

So, what should people do? In addition to the suggestions you’ve offered, I have a few more: If the pandemic strikes, and you can’t avoid going out among people, wear disposable gloves (they don’t have to be surgical or sterile). You don’t know who last touched that … whatever (door knob, elevator button, public phone, etc). Carry and use several pair, and learn how to take them off without touching the outsides (ask a medically trained individual to show you). Human beings touch surfaces over 1,000 times a day and then touch their face, mouth, and nose over 300 times a day! We do all this subconsciously and don’t realize that we are self-contaminating creatures! Think about this- we touch: cell phones, public phones, doorknobs, shopping carts, elevator buttons, each other, dining tables and chairs, etc. The list is endless! And everything carries germs!


ALWAYS PUT TOLIET PAPER DOWN ON THE TOLIET SEAT IN PUBLIC RESTROOMS!! You can very easily pick up viruses and bacteria that we normally classify as “sexual transmitted diseases”, but medical research shows that these viruses and bacteria can live on a toilet seat for up to a week or more, just waiting for you to plop your bare bottom down on the seat and become its new host! I have seen folks who NEVER had an STD in their life (and did not live a life that would increase their risks of getting an STD), but managed to pick up an STD off a public toilet seat…it’s not an urban myth…do you want to trust that minimum-wage flunky at Wal-Mart to properly sterilize and clean those public toilets? I don’t! So always put toilet paper down as a barrier method between your skin and private parts and the infected toilet seat. Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes! If your hands become contaminated (and you should always assume your hands are contaminated after being in a public place), don’t transfer the virus or bacteria to mucous membranes (nose, mouth, ears, eyes, private parts, open/uncovered wounds or scratches). Wash your hands often (and also, BEFORE and AFTER using public restrooms, then don’t touch the door knob on the way out – use an extra paper towel). Hand sanitizer gels are OK but plain soap and water is fine too. If nothing else is available, a ‘dry wash’ (vigorously rubbing your hands as though you were soaping them up) is surprisingly effective in removing the outer dead layer of skin cells that harbor virus particles or bacteria. It won’t get rid of every single one (nothing will) but it’s a matter of odds – the fewer, the better.
Teach everyone (especially the dear little germ transport mechanisms we call children) to cough into their elbow or armpit – NOT to cover their face with their hands (and then what?) or use a tissue (and then what?). And to wash their hands afterwards. This minimizes spread of disease to others and reduced the risk of them re-contaminating themselves.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, and I don’t give medical advice. I have taken medical classes and EMT training, but I am not a board-licensed medical physician. Mention of any medical device, treatment, drug, or food supplement is for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor before undertaking any treatment or the use of any drug, food supplement, or medical device. We are not responsible for the use or misuse of any product mentioned.

Why We Prep

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Some people prep because they are worried about an EMP attack, or martial law, or a Super Volcano erupting.

We prep because we have been through a majority of natural disasters ourselves and with the current state of the country, we feel that Economic Collapse is inevitable.  Sometimes I think that natural disasters are attracted to me…or maybe I am just always in the wrong place at the wrong time…..or maybe because I am prepared, they don’t seem as big a deal as they do to other people.

While my mother was pregnant with me in Spokane, Washington (and my father was stationed in South Korea with the Air Force on a TDY), Mt. St. Helens erupted. My poor mother was well over 300 miles away when the volcano blew its stack, but ash rained down on Spokane and the entire state of Washington. Airplanes were grounded, traffic impeded, water ways blocked, and deadly life-choking ash clogged the air. Everyone had to wear masks on the faces to prevent ash inhalation. My mother had to lock the dogs inside the garage to keep them from going crazy (they obviously knew something was VERY wrong, and proceed to claw the hell out of my mother’s Pontiac). Clean up was extensive and recovery took awhile. Years later (obviously after being born), we visited the Mt. St. Helens National Park and saw the still-active and smoke-spewing volcano. Now, geologists and vulcanologists are tracking the volcano’s growth and expect her to blow again in the near future.

I remember living in the Upper Pennisula of Michigan as a small child and snow piling up to the roof line after one blizzard! Us kids thought it was great because we could climb up the mountain of snow and walk on the roof of our 2-story house- our parents, not so much. It caused not only damage to the house and roof, but completely shut down the power and the nearby town.  It was a good thing we had a wood-burning fireplace and food & water stocked up.  The next summer, a lightening strike caused a wildfire to break out and nearly engulf KI Sawyer AFB (which we were stationed at with the Air Force at the time).  I remember my father coming and going, smelling of heavy wildfire smoke on his clothing, as he and the rest of the military personnel battled the wildfire to protect the base.  It wasn’t until I was older, after speaking to my father about it, did I find out just how close the wildfire had come to the base  and how we all almost perished (the wildfire had spread so quickly, completely surrounding the base, that air evacuation was the only option- no one was going to drive out of that area through the wildfire.) Thankfully, God made american soldiers/military personnel resilient, tough, determined people who would never give up!  The military got the fire put out, saving the base and many, many lives.

When I was a little older, we moved to California with the Air Force, only to experience the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, the 1994 Northridge and the 1996 earthquakes that left not only Los Angeles, but the entire San Joaquin Valley in disarray. There was looting and rioting abound and a slow recovery.  On top of these two major seismic events, California was in the middle of a 7-year drought that brought wildfires, crop loss, and rolling brown-outs to the area. (Brown-outs are usually intentionally done by the local and state authorities by reducing the electrical load to prevent a Blackout or complete loss of electricity. Brown-outs are known for their dimming effect as the electrical load “sags”). Because of the extreme drought, food prices were elevated; electricity and water were rationed.  If you want to know what a state-mandated water ration is like, especially long-term, all you have to do to experience this is to tell your family they can only run water for 15 minutes total per day. You get to decide whether everyone is taking a quick 3 minute shower today or whether you are washing clothes and filling water jugs that day, because you can’t do both! And forget about watering your lawn or garden, it didn’t happen!  The vast canal network in California it uses to maintain the irrigation for its year-round crop production was strictly monitored and smaller farms went bust because they could not afford the elevated water prices…only the corporate farms could.

I’ve been through a variety of tornadoes in Oklahoma, Ohio & Tennessee. Those are always fun- trying to guess whether your town is going to be hit or missed by Mother Nature and all her fury (can you hear my sarcasm out there?).  Tornadoes, while scary (yes, they do sound like a freight train barreling down on you), in some ways have an up-side (compared to other natural disasters)- tornadoes are usually over pretty quickly (even if damage clean-up takes awhile), while other natural disasters can last hours or days.

While I was in the middle of earning my college degree at the University of Tennessee, 9/11 happened.  Now, for those of you who don’t know where UT in Knoxville is located, it is only about 20 minutes west of Oak Ridge, TN.  What’s in Oak Ridge, TN you ask?  How about Site Y12. A little history for you- Site Y12 is where the government enriched uranium to manufactured the first atom bombs that were tested (Manhattan Project) out in the Nevada desert before atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan during World War II.  After WWII, Oak Ridge continues to be the only national security complex in our nation that manufactures atom/hydrogen bombs (my Nuclear Chemistry professor worked there when not giving lectures at UT).  Yep, the ONLY place where we make “the bomb”.   Back to my story- 9/11 happened.  The Twin Towers had just been hit and the country was freaking out.  Two other planes were still in the air (the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania had not been hit yet).  So imagine being less than 20 minutes from a crapload of nuclear bombs in a nuclear facility!  Talk about complete lock-down!  Our college campus went nuts! Classes were cancelled, professors went home, students who lived locally abandoned ship to return to their homes and families, and the rest of us who were out-of-staters (students who were from another state, attending college in Tennessee) were making plans to bug out.  After the Pentagon was hit, everyone assumed that Oak Ridge was high on the list of possible targets for the terrorists.  The freeways quickly became clogged with traffic.  All airplanes were grounded, so the airport was on shut-down.  My younger brother and I were quickly plotting out on a map, back roads over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we would go!  My grandparents were on the other side of the state, roughly a 6 hour drive from UT.  It took a lot of time, planning, patience, and map reading to get us to Memphis from Knoxville, without using the freeways, but we managed to do it.

Fast Forward:  A couple years before I met my husband, he endured Hurricane Floyd in coastal North Carolina. He lost his home, his SUV, furniture, everything. He filed his FEMA claim and you know what the government said the worth of all his lost property was?  $900. They sent him a check for $900 that was supposed to replace his house, his vehicle, and everything he lost in his home. Lesson learned?  Don’t rely on the government to bail you out or help you in any way. They are not your friends. And don’t count on your home owner’s insurance to pay for everything either. They have so many loop-holes to get out of paying for damages caused by storms and flooding, you wouldn’t believe it.

About 4 months into our wedded bliss in our small apartment, living the coastal beach life in North Carolina, Hurricane Isabel hit us. Everyone knew it was coming, thanks to the National Weather Service and the Coast Guard.  We were already preppers, but went down to the local Walmart to get a few extra supplies.  When we got there, it was a madhouse. We got to see exactly what civilization decays into at the very threat of impending doom. The shelves were completely bare, the camping aisle look like a tornado had hit it, and there were people fighting each other over the last can of beanie weanies. It was insane. People were running around in a panic like chickens with their heads cut off. The gas pumps had already shut down with a long line of customers waiting because no more gas deliveries were being made (due to the hurricane coming). If you hadn’t left town the day before, you were stuck there. We didn’t evacuate the area because we didn’t want to be one of the thousands who would be stuck on Hwy 70 out of town in a traffic jam. We managed to get a couple more canned goods, another water storage container, and a couple of Sterno cans. But that was it. Less than 48 hours till the hurricane was going to hit the coastline and Walmart was bare of supplies other than freezer goods (which no one would buy because they knew the hurricane would knock out the power).  Then Isabel hit with full force of a Cat 5 hurricane.

We lost power, had roof and structural damage and flooding. Our tiny town was damn near wiped off the map by the hurricane, but the news only portrayed the damaged caused to the shipyards in Norfolk, VA. They completely ignored the damage to the Carolinas. FEMA never showed up and certainly did not send anyone a check for hurricane damages.  Both our places of employment were completely shut down due to damage and flooding. Unfortuntely, when a storm shuts down business, you don’t get to collect unemployment, because you haven’t been fired and your work is not seasonal. You are just screwed on your paycheck until the business repairs damages and puts people back to work, or worse, goes out of business completely because repairs are too costly.   Thank God we had some money at home (banks and ATMS didn’t work- no power) and food and water stored. We would have been in a far worse boat if we had not been preppers. We even managed to give some of our prep supplies to our friends and neighbors who had not been smart enough to stock up before the hurricane hit.

Years later, we found ourselves living in Michigan (my second TOD to the Wolverine state!) and a bad thunderstorm with high winds came off of Lake Michigan and hit our little town, knocking power out for 3 days.  I was 5 months pregnant at the time with our son, and feeling like a beached whale in the hot humidity. (No power means no air conditioning!)  The hubby hooked up our gas-powered generator (running off our stored gas supply) and we were the only people in town to have lights and a cold, running refrigerator!  Well, almost the only people in town- the casino down the street that had its own back-up generators was happily taking gambler’s money and feeding a massive crowd at the buffet.  We kept the air conditioning off to save on electrical load (which made my bloated preggers body miserable), but we had lights and we happily ate a dinner I cooked in our home while everyone else was trying to find someplace that was open to purchase a meal (the grocery store was closed, everyone’s power was out, and no restaurants were open, save for the casino).  Being prepared has really paid off in our lifetime.

So what have we learned from all the natural disaster we have endured?  To continue to Prep and to always be Prepared!  Prepping has saved our lives more than once and has even helped us through periods of unemployment!  It has also exposed us to survival scenarios and how people react under pressure.  Prepping can save your life too if you start now!  You can learn from us, we teach Prepper and Survival classes to the general public for reasonable fees.  Just visit our website to find out more info.  www.schoolofselfreliance.wix.com/schoolofselfreliance

http://wn.com/hurricane_isabel__high_winds

-Sarah

Preferred Reading Material

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There are TONS of material out there for Preppers & Survivalists, especially on the internet.  While it can put you in a head-spin with how much the Prepper & Survivalist movement has grown with websites, stores, YouTube, Facebook, books, magazines, blogs, articles, etc, we have a basic beginner list for you to obtain.  These reference materials will give you a VERY good start into prepping and survival without overwhelming you. We will post new material as we come across it and review it.

Building a Survival Library can be as simple as keeping a few books on hand with some website links bookmarked in your favorite browser, to printing off material you like and keeping it reference binders for easy access.  When starting out, try to obtain a few books as you can. Once you have some extra money, try to print off any material you would want/need and keep in a 3-ring binder just encase the power goes out and you cannot access the internet.

PREFERRED READING MATERIAL, WEBSITES, AND BOOKS TO OBTAIN:

Most of these can be found on Amazon.com used for a very good price, you can also search for free PDF versions online

BOOKS:

– US ARMY MANUAL- BASIC COMBAT SKILLS OF A SOLDIER

-US ARMY MANUAL- SPECIAL FORCES FIELD OPERATIONS MANUAL

-US ARMY FIELD SURGEON MANUAL

-US ARMY MANUAL- SPECIAL FORCES MEDICAL HANDBOOK

-US ARMY MANUAL- SPECIAL FORCES URBAN OPERATIONS AND PACIFICATION

-US MARINE CORPS TECHNICAL MANUAL M16/RIFLE 5.56mm M16 A2 MANUAL  (good for AR-15)

-DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY OPERATORS MANUAL AK-47

-BALL BLUE BOOK OF HOME PRESERVING AND CANNING

-The Farmer’s Wife Canning & Preserving Cookbook by Lela Narqi

-Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving- US Dept of Agriculture

-The Beginner’s Guide to Dutch Oven Cooking by Marla Rawlings

-The Complete Book of Dutch Oven Cooking by J. Wayne Fears

-Homesteading: A Back to Basics Guide to Growing Your Own Food, Canning, Keeping Chickens, Generating Your Own Energy, Crafting, Herbal Medicine, and More (Back to Basics Guides)

-Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition

-The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! by Carleen Madigan

-When There Is No Doctor: Preventive and Emergency Healthcare in Uncertain Times (Process Self-reliance Series) by Gerard S. Doyle

-Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient when the Unexpected Happens by Kathy Harrison

-The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling by Daniel D. Chiras

-The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery

-Self-Sufficiency: A Complete Guide to Baking, Carpentry, Crafts, Organic Gardening, Preserving Your Harvest, Raising Animals, and More!

-Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth

-How To Bury Your Goods: The Complete Manual of Long Term Underground Storage by Eddie The Wire

-Urban Survival Guide: Learn The Secrets Of Urban Survival To Keep You Alive After Man-Made Disasters, Natural Disasters, and Breakdowns In Civil Order by David Morris

-Living off the Grid: A Simple Guide to Creating and Maintaining a Self-reliant Supply of Energy, Water, Shelter and More by David Black

-The Urban Homestead (Expanded & Revised Edition): Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (Process Self-reliance Series) by Kelly Coyne

WEBSITES:

Products for sale & Survival/Prepper Classes:    http://www.citadeltactical.com

Homesteading/ Self-Reliance:

http://www.creativehomesteading.com/

http://www.grit.com/

http://www.offthegridnews.com/

http://www.beginningbeekeeping.com/index.html

http://www.midwesternresearch.com/home-meat-processing.htm

http://www.seedsavers.org/

http://www.canningpantry.com

http://www.freshpreserving.com/

http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/index.html

http://www.survivalistseeds.com