Food And Water
The basics of survival depend on many factors. Some factors are beyond our control, but there are factors that are very much under our control and how we handle these factors may mean the difference between life or death. Water, shelter and food, are all important for our survival.
Water is the number one priority. The human body needs water to keep cool in summer, but also to keep warm in winter. Without water our body becomes dehydrated. In the early stages of dehydration, there are no obvious symptoms. After a while, dizziness, headaches, cramping, irritability, weakness, confusion, and many other symptoms can occur. In a SHTF situation, even one of these symptoms could mean the difference between life or death.
Regardless of how many you are providing water for, the required minimum is one gallon per person per day. For example, a family of four would require 28 gallons of water each and every week for mere existence. Obviously, more water would be needed for bathing, toilet flushing, pets, etc. Another factor for water relates to your food storage program. If you're storing many dehydrated or freeze dried foods that require rehydration, extra water will have to be included.
Though it doesn't seem like a major problem to go buy 7 gallons of water for one person, multiply that times your family members, and multiply that by a month or two. It becomes readily apparent that a longer term solution to meeting water needs has to be considered.
There are many ways to obtain water, but most of them will have to include disinfecting. Chlorine and iodine tablets can be purchased and kept on hand. Regular household bleach (unscented) that is 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite can be used by mixing 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) in a gallon of water, mixing thoroughly and letting stand for 30 min. This won't kill parasitic critters in the water, but will disinfect it.
Boiling water will kill harmful bacteria and parasites. One minute at a rolling boil should kill bacteria, but some say 10 minutes is better.
There are many water purifiers on the market that don't require electricity. Each one uses different methods of purifying. Some are portable, some are countertop; some use electricity, some use gravity. Research will provide you with the best unit for your particular situation and budget.
Containers to hold the water should be obtained before the need arises. Any food grade plastic or glass will work. For toilets, bathing, and pets, a large plastic or metal trash can works well as does a bathtub. (Watch children and small pets so you don't have a drowning to compound your problems)
In an emergency situation, if you need water and are desperate, remember often unthought-of of sources: The holding tank of the toilet, the hot water heater, and good ol' rain. Though snow can be melted and used, it will be a surprise to most people the great quantity of snow required for a small amount of water.
It's important to give some thought to your water situation now, before the need arises. Faced with the choice of preparing now, or creeping around on the lawn with a bandanna, soaking up dew from the grass to squeeze into my glass, I'd rather prepare now.
What's all this about food storage? How does one go about it? Where does one begin? How can I store food when I can barely make it week to week now? And even if I did store food, how would I know what to store?
Back in our Grandparents day, storing food was a way of life, not a lifestyle choice. Their very survival depended upon their resourcefulness and willingness to do whatever it took to get food in the pantry. And the food they put in the pantry wasn't the Government recommended 3 days to 2 weeks. It was at least a year. From crop to crop. And beyond. Being frugal wasn't called Voluntary Simplicity. It was called survival.
Survival meant canning was done when the vegetables and meat were ready to can. It didn't matter if it was a hundred degrees and you had to fire up the wood stove. It didn't matter if you had to beat off bees, snakes, mosquitoes, and an occasional bear to get those berries. If you wanted jellies and jam for winter to accompany those hot biscuits, or to make that Sunday pie, you picked berries when they were ripe.
Meat provisions for winter didn't mean going to the grocery store. It meant killing an animal, gutting it, cleaning it, cutting it, and smoking, canning, preserving in brine, salting, drying, or burying in lard. And when the days work was done, there was no pizza delivery.
When you think back on our Grandparents and Great Grandparents, it puts the questions in perspective. We've been spoiled. We have a Just In Time delivery system. Grocery stores stock what they will sell in a certain amount of time. The average grocery store supply would last 3 days under normal circumstances if there were no deliveries. Our system is fragile at best, and possibly very dangerous to the person relying on this just in time delivery of our favorite snacks, frozen food, pastries, fresh meat, veggies, fruit, and milk.
There are many reasons that our supply system could be disrupted. Extended power outages, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, snowstorms, terrorist attacks, food shortages, and numerous others. Some have counted and continue to count on the Government to rescue us if/when things get bad. Many were shocked at how long it took for Katrina victims to be "rescued." More were shocked when the Government publicly announced that each person should take action to prepare for an emergency. It was an eye opener.
So now, we ponder the questions. What to do, and how to begin? There are as many food storage programs and methods as there are people using them. Some store the basics. Wheat, honey or sugar, oil, powdered or canned milk, yeast, and salt. Others add beans and rice. Some purchase a years supply of company selected MRE's or dehydrated, or freeze dried foods. Some purchase additional items each week at the grocery. Some store for a few days, others store for a month or more, others for a year or more, and to some, it's a lifetime commitment of being as self reliant as possible.
It's important to analyze your situation, your goals, and your commitment before deciding on which method or combination of methods, you decide to use. We're not accustomed to sacrificing short term luxuries for long term goals. A trip to Cancun, a wide screen t.v., or an expensive dinner out with friends provides a lot more satisfaction in the short term, than a 50lb. bucket of beans, rice or wheat. The average person, willing to make sacrifices and possibly learn a few new skills, will be able to have the reward of a stocked pantry and the security that comes with it.
The trip to Cancun will create memories, but it won't fill your stomach, and the amount that would have been spent on the trip would fill your pantry or basement with years worth of food. Likewise, the wide screen t.v. Even the cost of an expensive dinner out could provide buckets of wheat, some corn meal, beans, oil and salt that could feed a family for a long while.
Are you a fast food junkie, or a domestic diva? Is your family accustomed to wholesome meals, or drive thru delights? Are you interested only in survival and staying alive, or eating well, and having snacks and treats? Do you have a grain mill, or can you get one? Do you know how to cook beans or bake bread, or are you willing to learn? Do you have cookbooks, equipment, and instructions, or can you get them?
All of these issue will influence your food storage plan and how to accomplish your goals. If money is an issue, it will be a deciding factor. Could you sacrifice a restaurant or fast food meal to buy a bag of beans, some corn meal, some salt and oil? If you eat out regularly, could you start cooking at home?
If you decide to make the choices required to realize your goal, the day will come when you realize you are saving money. You're going to wonder why you wondered how you could afford it. You'll be asking yourself how you were able to afford to NOT do it. When you find your grocery bill is limited to only the items on sale because your full pantry doesn't dictate you have to buy anything not on sale, you'll be glad for the choices you made. As you progress, you'll find yourself learning more new and useful skills.
When disaster strikes, you'll be proud to know that you aren't standing in line, waiting for a Government handout, or for a rescue that may or may not happen. Instead of being a part of the problem, you'll be a part of the solution. And someday, you may even decide you want to go a little beyond storage for immediate family. You might picture your grandma, baking her biscuits at the wood stove, putting a few extra on, just in case someone drops in. The pride you have from being able to provide for your own family and possibly help someone else, will make those short term sacrifices well worth it, for the goal you've reached.
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