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One of the challenges we face is finding time to do it all. Not only do we have families and jobs to attend to, but also the never ending list of household chores. There is always something that needs to be done, right?
When faced with too much to do in too little time, it is easy to turn our thoughts away from preparedness and instead to take whatever smidgen of time is left to enjoy our hobbies or even to catch a bit of extra sleep. The need for sleep notwithstanding, I want to remind you that many hobbies can be part of your preparedness journey.
Hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, camping, sport shooting, and gardening are just a few examples of hobbies that play a role in preparedness. Becoming proficient at these hobbies develops all sorts of skills that will be handy if the power grid go down for an extended period or, heaven forbid, there is a major disruption in the food chain. It could happen, you know.
But there is more to it than that. Pursuing recreational hobbies will get you outdoors and away from the lure of electronic gizmos, the internet, television, and other distractions. They will get you moving and will elevate your overall level of fitness. I don’t need to tell you this because you should already know it: a healthy and fit body will help you sustain the physical and emotional toll of a crisis or major disruptive event/
One more thing. This might also be a good time to learn about gardening so that you can teach yourself the basics of working the soil and planting seeds. Do this even if all you can manage is a single pot of lettuce or salad greens.
No space? No problem. Do what you can and if the time comes when gardening is important, you can lend a helping hand to others in your community who will likely barter your labor for some of the bounty. Just remember to start small and expect some mistakes and failures along the way. The results with be worth it.
With that introduction, let us get started on Month Six of 12 Months of Prepping: One Month At a Time.
MONTH 6 SUPPLIES & GEAR
- Energy or protein bars – 1 or more per person
- 6 rolls of paper towels
- N95 or N100 face masks – 1 per person
There are two things we all need when our personal lives go upside down and that is instant gratification and instant energy. Whereas a candy bar may be the old-school treat of choice, you are far better served by consuming a high quality, high fiber, protein or energy bar. My personal favorites are Kashi bars but there are lots of other great choices available.
Whatever you choose, avoid bars with partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and an ingredient list that looks like a chemical factory. Things to look for are real fruit, nuts, and sweeteners such a honey. Shoot for 6 to 8 grams of protein and at least 4 grams of fiber and you will know you have a quality bar that can substitute for a portable and transportable meal or snack. Pick up at least one per person, more if you can afford it.
A few months back we added personal items(such as TP) to our kit. This month we add some paper towels as well. Normally I am not a big fan of paper towels since they are wasteful and can be expensive when used constantly. I actually know some people that go through a roll of paper towels every other day. Craziness!
Instead of paper towels, I use cloth and more specifically, my beloved microfiber cloths that I call “magic rags”. But in an emergency situation, the luxury of washing facilities may not be available and paper towels can serve many useful purposes. In addition to general cleanup, they can be used as paper napkins or placemats while eating in less than sanitary conditions, as filters to remove sediment before purifying water, as a coffee filter, as a make-shift gauze bandage and more.
As much as I hate the wastefulness, this month add a half dozen rolls of paper towels to your kit.
Face Masks – An Important Part of Your Preps
The last item to be added to your kit this month 6 are face masks. These are also called “respirators”.
You will find that most preparedness pros will recommend N95 masks. These masks are readily available at a reasonable cost and can be used in a variety of situations. They are good to have because they will protect you from spreading your own germs (and disease) as well as from inhaling contaminated and harmful air, vapors, dusts, fumes and gases.
The ‘N95’ designation means the mask/respirator blocks at least 95% of very small test particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of generic face masks. However, even a properly fitted N95 respirator does not completely eliminate the risk of illness or death.
N95 masks are relatively inexpensive but for much greater protection, N100 masks are better. The N100s filters at least 99.97% of airborne particles versus 95% for the N95s. Furthermore, most are far more adjustable for a good fit and come in a variety of sizes.
The entire matter of using masks for protection from foul, dirty or contaminated air is beyond the scope of this article and while this is not medical advice, it only makes good sense to provide a layer of protection between your lungs and harmful or disease ridden air particles. If you are interested in learning more, read Surgical Masks for the Survival Kit.
MONTH 6 TASKS:
- Check on your stored water supply (from month 1). If you have water you bottle yourself, replace it with a fresh supply.
- Wear glasses? Add a pair of eyeglasses or inexpensive readers to your emergency kit.
- Find out about your workplace disaster plans and the disaster plans at your children’s schools
Remember the water we stored away in Month One? Depending on your storage method, you may need to rotate your supply and replenish it with freshly bottled water. I say this because many us save money by storing water in well cleaned and sanitized plastic bottles or other re-purposed containers. And make no mistake, this is a perfectly acceptable way to store water as long as you set up a rotation program. You did mark the date on those containers with a Sharpie or other marker, correct?
If you have stored commercially bottled water, you are okay for now and can wait another six months or even longer if the bottles have been stored in a cool, dark area. And note: water does not go bad per se. It can, however become contaminated if not properly sanitized and sealed from the get go.
Reminder: When setting aside water for emergency storage purposes, use 3 to 5 drops of fresh, unscented bleach per quart or liter of stored water. The bleach you use should be no older than one year. If it is older than that, replace. Note that it is still perfectly usable to whiten your clothes in the laundry so all is not a loss.
Would you like another hint? Consider storing filled bottles of water in unused freezer space. A freezer runs more efficiently when full, plus, the frozen water will help keep the goods frozen for a longer period in the event of a power outage.
Look Ma, I Can See!
Have you even broken or misplaced your eyeglasses? If you have, you know what it is like to be unable to see. Imagine there has been a disaster in your area and you need to evacuate quickly. You grab the kids, the pets, your bug-out-bag and first aid kit. Then your glasses fall off and break.
If you already have some extra eyeglasses, even older ones that are not quite “perfect”, now is the time to add them to your kit. If you can get by with just reading glasses, pick up a pair for each family member. You can get them for as little as $3 or $4 a pair (try Ebay or even Amazon). I know from experience that when your glasses are broken or not to be found, that a $4 pair of cheap readers becomes priceless.
Knowledge is Free
The final task this month is to do some planning. If you work outside the home, ask you employer about their disaster readiness plan. Learn about the emergency exits in your building and go there! Don’t trust your life on a diagram that you look at once then file away. Follow the path to escape. Better yet, find two or three alternate routes as well.
By the way, this is also a good strategy to follow when traveling and staying at a hotel. The first thing you should do upon entering the room is locate a diagram showing the emergency escape route. This is typically found on the back of the door. In the event of a fire or other disaster, knowing how to find the emergency exit may save your life!
What if there is no plan? Suggest to your manager or HR department that they take some basic steps to ensure the safety of their employees in a disaster and if necessary, volunteer to help them set up such a plan.
Contact your children’s school or day care center and become familiar with their disaster response policies. Be sure to establish a backup plan so that someone is available to pick up and/or care for the kiddos in the event you are unable to do so. A good idea would be to have the backup person check on them, regardless, just to be sure.
You can find more information on this important topic in the article 12 Preparedness Tips for Families with Children.
The Final Word
Your prepping duties this month will not take a lot of time or money but that does not diminish their importance. Like a well tuned orchestra, each string, each reed, and each brass horn adds to the symphony, making it better as each component is added to the mix. And so it is with each task you complete and each skill you learn as you progress along the monthly path of self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
The final take away for this month is that in addition to the items listed, go outside and embrace some fresh air. Do something for the fun of it and “just because”. Take some time to smell the roses and make every day a great day.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: The following items have been hand selected to help you accomplish goals in month six.
3M N95 Particulate & Respirator Mask: This is an inexpensive mask that can be used in a variety of emergency situations. They come in a box of 20 and are NIOSH-certified. The molded cone design is fluid and splash resistant and will greatly reduces your exposure to airborne particles.
Moldex 2730 N100 Respirator Mask: Do not confuse P100 masks with the N100s. N100 is what you want since the P100’s are used to filter particulate only and not gasses and vapors.
Classic Reading Glasses Three-pair Value-Pac: Three pairs for 8 bucks. You won’t win any beauty contests with these but at least you will be able to read. Or check out these which are slightly more fashionable Extra Pair Value Eyes Plastic Frames 6 Pack.
Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Markers, 12 Black Markers: Wow! A dozen Sharpies for $6.00 is a steal. My guess is that this deal will not last for long. You should not have to pay for than $10 tops for a dozen Sharpies.
Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets make questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink. Easy to use and the water is ready to drink in 30 minutes. One 50 tablet bottle treats 25 quarts of water.
Kashi Chewy Granola Bars, Cherry Dark Chocolate: I am addicted to these. These bars contain a combination of protein and fiber and a blend of nutrients including calcium, folic acid, iron and vitamin E. Each bar is 130 calories with 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Less than $1 per bar and immensely satisfying.
Grow Your Own Groceries: Growing 100% of your food is a lofty goal so I recommend you go slowly, start small, and learn to grow food. Any food – even a lettuce patch will do, I paid $69 for this DVD set when it first came out. Right now, it is being offered at $27.75 to Backdoor Survival readers. Tons of useful information – not only about gardening but about rabbits, chickens, water conservation and more.
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