Let Your Lifestyle Prepare You for Disaster

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When purchasing gear for hunting, fishing and camping, consider if it is something you can use to bug out or hunker down.  If you can pack it in on a camping trip or float it on your yak, you can probably use it as part of your emergency plan.

Our camping gear is part of our evacuation plan.  It’s not like there will be hotels and apartments just waiting for us when we get home.   We will be able to use our tent as an alternate shelter should a hurricane blow away our home.   The camp kitchen will serve us well.  Taking it with us when we have to evacuate ensures its availability when we come home.  As soon as we can get on the property, we will immediately set up camp on the spot that used to be the garage and set about the property clean up.

Being accustomed to using the outdoor gear, we won’t be fumbling around and having unexpected results when cooking on the camp stove.  We will not be looking at our property and wondering where we will sleep that night.  We won’t be crammed into some shelter with 300,000 other people.  We will have temporary shelter until something more suitable can be arranged.

In the past, whenever I thought about hurricanes I only concerned myself with the process of evacuation and being prepared.  No one ever talked about the homecoming after a hurricane.  We all just “hoped” our house would be still standing even if every other house in the neighborhood was gone.  Since we began taking our lifestyle to our emergency plan, I am no longer worried about the “after hurricane” days.  It’s amazing what having a plan, and maybe even a “plan B” will do to ease your mind.

Canned, Frozen or Freeze-dried?

Growing up on a farm, it was routine to raise, freeze and can our own foods.  When I was about 9 years old, we moved to Addie Granger’s place.  It was a glorious farmstead that was owned by a very old widow lady.  Immediately my brother and I began to explore the old house.  In the basement we found her store of home canned tomatoes.   The best guess is that those jars had been there for five or so years.  All the jars looked good.  Not one seal was broken.  There was no discoloration of product.  The tomatoes looked good, enticing even.  We expected our mother to use them.  We were kids.  What did we know?

As it would happen, we decided to make gun powder out of the coal.  (We were pretending to be some kind of pioneer.)  My little sister was grinding the coal with one of the jars.  It shattered!  Imagine that!  Instantly the room filled with the stench of rotted tomatoes.  It didn’t take long and the stench reached the upstairs and my mother came running down the stairs to make my brother clean up the mess.    He put a clothes pin on his nose to help him avoid vomiting.  This experience has effected the way I look at prepping.

As with everything else, being prepared is a matter of lifestyle and planning rather than falling off the deep end in some frantic spending frenzy in the new niche markets that prey on the emotions of preppers.  My heart aches when I see families canning and dehydrating more food stores than they can use in a reasonable amount of time because I know their efforts are going to be wasted when the foods go bad.

Just because a jar looks good does not mean that it is good.  “They” say not all bacteria cause visible deterioration of products in jars.  Add to that the additional hours and energy home canning takes up, I’m not sure it’s worth it when I can buy reasonably priced commercially canned products for less money.   The same considerations apply to the alternatives to canning,  dehydrating and freezing.

Freezing home produce is a good alternative if you believe you will not have an issue with electricity during an event.  Sub-zero freezers can keep food safe indefinitely.  The trick is to properly package it to prevent freezer burn.  Remember the woolly mammoth the scientists ate?

Dehydrating foods can keep foods safe for a long period as well.  The same conditions apply here as canning.  How well the product is processed is of vital importance.   Commercially dried foods have a much cleaner environment than home dehydration methods, certainly better than dehydrators used outdoors.  That is not to say the home environment is dirty.  Commercial processors have a liability responsibility and take every measure to reduce the possibility of contamination by molds and other nasty things that like to fly in the air.  If done properly at home, the foods can last some months, but should be used by the next season.

For this reason, I process foods to use within the year.  I do not can or dehydrate products for a prepared lifestyle.  Canning, freezing and dehydrating are all great choices for a food supply that will be used within the recommended amount of time.  I do not consider those part of our long term prepared plan.

Commercially prepared freeze-dried foods will keep up to 25 years, so say the producers.  I believe them.  For that reason, it seems more reasonable to purchase freeze-dried foods for long term planning.  Many foods available in the grocery store are freeze-dried and reasonably priced.  These items will be stocked up before purchasing the expensive “prepper” freeze-dried meal packs.  If an event should happen, the grocery store items will be used before the freeze-dried meal packs.  Let’s hope we don’t ever have to break out the meal packs and camping gear.

Living or Prepping?

Everywhere you look there are people using all forms of media to tell us how to manage our finances so that in the end we have some magic number of dollars in some investment fund set away for our retirement.  This is just another form of preparedness that has earned the respect of society.  The disaster they prepare for?  Old age.  Yep.  Those years when you are promised to either live out happy last days or need vast dollar amounts for the diseases of old age.  Either way, we are encouraged from the beginning to plan and prepare for the latter years of our lives.

Now, with modern communications and a glut of programming opportunities, we are bombarded with encouragement to be prepared for just about any calamity that might afflict our country.  Even the government has a web site dedicated to being prepared for what might happen.  Doomsday preppers spend the better part of their lives, and the lives of their children, preparing for the event of their choice.  Like a religion, they encourage others to join them.

How  is  preparing for old age different from doomsday preparedness?  It’s only different because of what resource is being stockpiled and where it is being stored.  Doomsday preppers shun the banking system because, in their world view, money will be useless.  Old age preppers, if you will, put their extra resources in banks.  Doomsday preppers plan to utilize their resources for their own use and for barter.   Old age preppers will use their resources for the same thing.  The unsettling thing about both groups is that many of them are living for the future and forfeit life now.

The unsaid premise is for which event should a person prepare?  For the average income households, by preparing for disaster there may not be enough resources to prepare for old age.  The converse is true as well.  Clearly, to prepare for both would be extremely difficult for most households and absolutely impossible for many people.  This forces families to make stressful decisions based on available information and their opinion of what is most likely to happen.

Really?  Is that how people should live?  Constantly worrying about “what if”? We say emphatically, “No!”.  People should adopt a lifestyle which allows for them to be reasonably prepared for an unexpected emergency.   There will be more on reasonable preparedness in another post, but for now, consider how you live and if your lifestyle will allow you to continue your life as uninterrupted as possible in a disastrous situation.

Packing Camping Gear

When David and I plan to go camping it seems as if we are bringing everything but the kitchen sink.    Finally we have decided to get containers dedicated for camping only.  In this way we can keep all our camping gear in those containers and simply load them up when it is time to go.

Since we will be taking our Native Watercraft boats where ever we might camp, we will have plenty of room for everything we need.  Not having to pack it every time we go will make it that much more joyous.  Throw the containers in and go.

One container will be dedicated to things that we don’t plan on using but will bring “just in case”.  The first aid kit will be on the top in that container.  Maybe some flares or some other emergency stuff you never want to use.

No more will I have to pack all this stuff into boxes and squeeze them into the back of the car.  All we need to do remember to restock everything when we get back before putting those handy containers back on the shelves.