You may be familiar with the saying “behind the eight balls”. 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 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.
Each month in 12 Months of Prepping, One Month at a Time, I have outlined a reasonable number of tasks to accomplish during the monthly period and today is no exception. In Month Eight, we continue to fine tune by adding a few more items to our food storage plus we put together a simple, transportable kit that we can keep in our cars.
12 Months of Prepping: Month Eight
Going Back to the Survival Mindset
First, however, I want to go back and review the need to have that all important survival mindset. Because your attitude is so important, I have written about the survival mindset many times. Here is what I said in Month One:
The survival mindset is a frame of mind whereby daily life is focused on the pursuit of independence and self-reliance. This focus is done in a non-obtrusive way to the determent of no one and the betterment of everyone. It is a lifestyle and a commitment to preparedness and to courage, to optimism and to family values. Ultimately, it is the will to live and to survive with the knowledge that you have done the very best you can to protect yourself and your family from danger and the woes that come from living in complicated and uncertain times.
What I have just described is also the Backdoor Survival mindset. And while I would like to think that it is the very best description out there, I am not arrogant enough to think that what works for me will work for everyone. But – and you know how I like to do this – whether you are an experienced prepper or a newbie that is just beginning to get your toes wet, you need to think about your own personal Survival Mindset and move to a survival place that meets your own needs.
Okay, now that you are in the right frame of mind, let’s get going with Month Eight in Twelve Months of Prepping.
Twelve Months of Prepping: Month Eight
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
This month we are going to go easy on the budget and add some inexpensive foods that can be used as either meals, snacks or fillers for both adults and children. We are adding a box of crackers (your choice, classic saltines or graham crackers) for each person in your household. These will provide carbohydrates, calories and in the case of graham crackers, a bit of sweetness during times of distress.
From the Red Cross Book “Emergency Mass Feeding”
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 gals can – 6
2. Crackers or biscuits/from 2.5 gals can – 4
3. Wafers/from 5 gals can – 1.5
4. Crackers or biscuits/from 5 gals can – 4
5. Crackers or biscuits/from 2.5 gals can – 3
6. Wafers/from 5 gals 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 available and yet, as evidenced by the popularity of the Mountain House Pilot bread or Pilot Crackers, these remain a staple in the preparedness 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 for a minute then eat. Yummy.
The Practically Indestructible Garbage Bag
We are also going to 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, meaning those large 42-gallon bags, can also serve as an emergency toilet. If you are sheltering at home and the sewer system is not functional, merely line your toilet or even a bucket with a heavy duty bag and you are good to go.
It also might be good to have some kitty litter available to throw in the sack after going potty. The job of the kitty litter is to reduce odor and make waste disposal and cleanup easier.
Need more justification? Here are some creative ways you can use garbage bags during an emergency. Just make sure that if you are going to use garbage bags around food, they should be food grade.
Waterproof Shoe Covering
Emergency Sleeping Bag
Emergency Mattress (filling with leaves or clothing)
Packaged Food Storage
Use as a Sling
Use as a Swim Suit so You Keep Clothing Dry
Store Toilet Paper and other Paper Goods to Keep Dry
Make-Shift Sunglasses (cut holes for eyes)
Short-term Water Storage
Mixing bowl for cooking
Room isolation (Seal Room with Multiple Bags & Duct Tape)
Potty: Turn Off Water and Line Toilets or 5 gallon buckets
Store Newspaper or biomass for Future Use as Fire Starter
Use for Concealment by Wearing Over Clothes at Night (black garbage bags)
Cover Wounds with Gauze and Wrap with Strips of Garbage Bag
Emergency Shower – Fill with Water, Tie to a Tree Branch and Poke Holes in the Bottom
Disposable Gloves for Cleaning
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)
Sterile Surface for Food Preparation
Compress filled with Cold Water for Injuries
Use as Ties for Splints
Diapers (line with toilet paper)
Insulation for Clothing (stuffed inside jackets)
MONTH 8 TASKS:
- Make a preparedness kit for your car. Include food, water, blankets, 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)
In addition to an industrial sized, bug out bag, I have made up mini-preparedness kits for our vehicles. In the kits are items that I can get to quickly and easily without disturbing the content of my big kahuna pack. My mini-kits include the following items but keep in mind that the content of your kit may vary depending on your needs and whether there are infants or children in your family.
- Mylar blankets, or
- Heavy Duty Emergency Blanket
- LED Flashlight
- Tactical Knife
- Chemical light stick
- Waterproof matches and tinder (cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly)
- Protein and fiber bars
- Lavender essential oil
- Bottled water
- LifeStraw, Sawyer, or another method to filter drinking water
- Duct tape
As simple as this list may seem, I have already had to use everything except the LifeStraw and light stick. You can get some additional ideas for putting together a mini-kit in the article 8 Essential Items: The Perfect Portable Survival 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 your kit is hidden away in the back corner of your closet? Well, shame on you! Emergencies happen every day and since you are prepared, you should take advantage of your preps!
Protect the Water in Your Water Heater – Secure the Tank
Freshwater 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 your hot water heater is with a commercially available strapping kit. You can also gather the strapping supplies yourself, using heavy-gauge 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 on prepping a water heater showing you how to do this. Print it out and you will be all set to go; all you need to do is 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 preparedness, the vast majority of people 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 for a long time. It is folly to rely on FEMA or even the Red Cross to come to rescue you and even then, who wants to spend time at Camp FEMA? I would much prefer to be able to rely on my own resources for three days, a week, a month, or longer.
Just remember that in 12 Months of Prepping, we are covering just the basics. Over time, you will need to add to your food, water, and gear and most importantly, your skills and knowledge base. That being said, we all had to start somewhere and even I, from time to time, forget the basics.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Putting together a mini-car kit is easy. Here are some selections to get you started along with some of the other items in Month 8 of Prepping.
Water Heater Strapping Kit: This water heater strap kit contains four straps for restraining the top and bottom of the water heater. Lag bolts are pre-installed and held with paper keepers to prevent dropping behind the tank. The straps adjust easily to fit the water heater.
Water Heater Blanket: In colder climates, a water heater blanket can save you oodles. Standby heat loss is reduced by 25%–45% resulting in about 4%–9% in water heating costs (depending on your climate). Do the math and see if this is worth it.
Cyalume SnapLight Chemical Light Sticks: Read all about light sticks in the article 10 Reasons to Add Glow Sticks to Your Survival Kit.
Grabber Outdoors Original Space Brand All Weather Blanket: I was interested in a re-usable emergency blanket so I purchased one of these based upon the excellent reviews. This space blanket is definitely “heavy duty” compared to the cheapies (not that they don’t have their place. A Backdoor Survival reader passed on this tip:
We place one of these blankets silver side up on our mattress underneath the fitted sheet or mattress cover. It reflects body heat like you wouldn’t believe, instead of the heat being absorbed into the mattress.
Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets: These come in compressed packets small enough to fit in a pocket or wallet. You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultralight personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2 oz. making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.
UltraFire Mini Cree LED Flashlight: FAVORITE! Here we go with another flashlight. It is super mini sized, bright and waterproof. Plus, it uses a single, standard AA sized battery.
Tac Force TF-705BK Tactical Assisted Opening Folding Knife 4.5-Inch Closed The reviews raved about this knife so I bought one, used it, and can recommend it. See The Inexpensive Tac-Force Speedster Outdoor Knife.