stocking up for emergencies

miscindyJanuary 31, 2009

Do you stock up on supplies? How much do you try to have on hand? After reading about those poor people with no water and electricity due to the ice storm, I realize that could be me. I've decided to purchase 1 gallon of water each week and also stock up on toilet paper. I'm also thinking I'll start to collect more first aid supples and extra flashlight and batteris. I generally have a good supply of food on hand in the kitchen and basement. I'm not doing the year's supply of flour, sugar, wheat, etc . . . but we could certainly eat for a month out of our food on hand.

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Here's a discussion on Emergency Preparedness from the Organizing Forum.

I think it's important to have some easy foods that take little or no preparation and don't have to refrigerated or cooked to be eaten. Even in an ice storm, you can't count on that food in your refrigerator or freezer to stay cold for very long if you lose electricity. During our last storm, the ice melted and temperatures warmed up during the day. People didn't have electricity for four days or so and they lost several hundred dollars worth of groceries in refrigerators and freezers. I was baking bread in the bread maker when the power went out. I didn't have a usable oven to bake it in so I lost it. I was able to light my gas stove and use the burners for normal cooking. My neighbors down the street are all electric. It was cold sandwiches for them.

We've been through three ice storms with power outages. We now have a generator and a wood stove in addition to an ever growing collection of camping supplies. For the storm that blew through this week, we made sure we had dry wood, matches, charcoal and lighter fluid for the grill, and gasoline for the generator. I also charged my cell phone because last year, we lost our main phone for several hours. We were also having problems with our cable so we watched dvds instead.

Here is a link that might be useful: Emergency Preparedness - Organizing Forum

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 10:28PM
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If you have a freezer, if the weather stays reasonably cool, food should last for a minimum of two days. As long as residual ice remains in an item, it's O.K.

It is, of course, essential to not open the door!

Several years ago an ice storm covered a wide area of southern Ontario in late winter/early spring.

I borrowed a small generator and took it down into the power-free area. In one home, freezer in back porch, had covered with coats, etc. after the outage and when we hooked up it was slightly over two days later. When we opened the lid, there were some blueberries lying naked in a plate ... with ice crystals on them.

If you have a freezer, if you don't want to risk losing all of the food in it, you need a generator.

Correction - you need access to one, with time enough to do enough generating per day to meet your needs, throughout the period of a power outage.

If you check in your neighbourhood, or among friends who live close by, you may find that one or two own a generator now, that they might consider sharing in case of emergency. Then the issue would become at what time(s)/ duration they might be willing to make it available ... and of what kind of arrangement could be made for compensation to the owner, related to a possible basic one-time retainer, and/or annual fee to cover repairs, etc., and what fee, if they felt the need, per usage. Perhaps the needs of several more users could be so accomodated with that/those generator(s), as well.

Lacking current local generator owners being willing to make them available to others, if, e.g. slightly less than a couple of hours of generating time, twice per day, would meet your needs, how about buying a possibly slightly higher quality one (for longer-lasting dependable service) or one with somewhat higher capacity, to service a wider variety of needs at the same time, together with four or five neighbours, so that you could haul it house to house to generate power at each house for most of a couple of hours, twice a day - slight reduction due to travel time? The guys could arrange the amount and seqence of service, carry the generator from place to place, etc. quite easily, I think, as quite likely several of them would not be going to work during the iced-up period.

When I was generating, several people asked me to please hook up their furnace. Most furnaces have a direct line to the entry box, and I was unwilling to hook up the generator to that line, even though the switch were turned off ... for, if someone should happen to push the breaker to turn it on, it would feed power back into the line to the house, then through the transformer, making it high voltage ... which could injure, more likely kill a lineman, working on what he understood to be a dead line.

Check your local building code, as it appears that some require a direct link from the box with the breaker to the furnace. Some feel that they should allow a plug-in-and-twist connector in the line, to allow full de-coupling from the power line in case the residents want to use a generator when the power may be off in future.

If that's true in your municipality, perhaps you and others might feel it worthwhile to invest some effort to encourage the ones making the rules to so amend their bylaws.

Have a fine, ice-free weekend, if that is your choice.

Good wishes for the weekend.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 1:40AM
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I have three categories of food in storage:

1. 72-hour emergency kit (portable)
2. home pantry (6-months to 1-year of general-use foods)
3. emergency storage (mostly in #10 cans of freeze-dried or dried/powdered - includes fruit, vegetables, meats, cheese. Powdered: milk, butter, peanut butter, whole eggs.

Some foods overlap #2 and #3, such as whole grains/seeds/beans, which I store hundreds of pounds and use all the time. We normally use a whey-based milk substitute (powdered - Morning Moo's).

As well as emergency water storage, portable water, and portable toilet with chemicals. When the electricity is off in a city, the water and sewerage can also be closed down.

--In the 72-hour kit, we have food that doesn't require heating or refrigeration - so we don't have to open that refrigerator or freezer until absolutely necessary. Most of the food is in single-servings and it covers all the basic food groups.

Meat/fish, meat spreads, cheese, vegetable juice, fruit and fruit juice, breads/crackers, nuts, granola/granola bars, cocoa mix, high-energy snacks, individual coffee creamers (Coffeemate or Half and Half creamers - can be used in hot drinks or on cereal), instant oatmeal, instant soup...

I can make tortillas by hand, as the simplest form of bread that covers a multitude of uses, should you need an emergency bread source without using a lot of cooking energy.

LOTS of baby wipes for personal hygiene. You can use less water if you have baby wipes. Another option is waterless hand cleaner. Don't allow used water to sit more than a few hours. It grows bacteria really quickly, so use it for flushing stools.

--We also have a Mr. Heater Buddy Heater, which can safely be used indoors for emergency heat (runs on small propane tanks), as well as propane camp stove and propane bbq grill. After the ice storm we had last year, we had a gas fireplace installed as supplemental heat - one that doesn't require electricity. Have a working Carbon Monoxide Detector as well as working smoke detectors. Keep the Carbon Monoxide detector on the floor since that gas goes low.

I avoid open flames in an emergency situation. Open flames consume lots of oxygen and are dangerous to use around curious kids and pets. If you use open flames (candles, lamps, lanterns) be sure to have a window open a bit for oxygen exchange. Candles put off lots of soot, so avoid using them if someone has a breathing condition. I have LOTS of wind-up flashlights and several wind-up radios, which can also be used to recharge our cell phones. As well as a good stock of batteries and a solar-powered battery recharger. Tap lights are located in all rooms and closets so they can remain in each room. In a pinch, you can bring solar lights inside at night and recharge the lights during the day.

If you use your bbq grill outside (ONLY) for cooking and heating water, don't cook large cuts of meat - cut them up into small portions before cooking. In super-cold weather, grills don't get up to maximum heating temperatures and you chance not getting food cooked to safe temperatures. It also takes less time to cook small portions than large. Safe cold storage for food must be 40F and colder.

Heat water once and fill every Thermos and other thermal containers with the hot water. It can be used throughout the day for making instant hot drinks and instant soup, and at the end of the day feels WONDERFUL for washing your body, without having to waste energy heating small amounts of water several times throughout the day.

We also filled hot water bottles for warming beds at the end of the day. Hand and body heaters (Hotties is one brand) used by hunters are great for warming beds, as well as hands and bodies, if you don't have supplemental heat.
WATER STORAGE - Ours is in 3- and 5-gallon water bottles made with the hard plastic (you can get these anywhere that sells water by-the-gallon - including Wal-Mart). Water in gallon plastic jugs aren't good for long-term water storage because the plastic jugs quickly degrade and can leak. Don't use old gallon milk jugs. You can't always remove the milk fat completely. In fact, fat bonds with the plastic and you'll end up with rancid fat in your water. They would be fine for temporary storage, but not long-term.

If you know there's an ice storm approaching, fill your bath tubs with water to use for flushing and washing.

What DOES work great for water storage are plastic 2-litre pop/soda bottles. Clean properly and add the proper amount of bleach to each bottle before storing (1/8 t. per gallon). You can use tap water for storage. Purified water through reverse osmosis or distilled water is not necessary for storage. We have several hundred gallons of water in storage on racks that hold three 5-gallon water bottles. I'd also suggest using 3-gallon bottles because they are easier to handle than 5-gallon. Our hot water tank is also considered a "storage unit" for water.

Keep stored water out of direct sunlight. Algae will quickly grow in it if it's in light and hasn't been treated with bleach. I rotate my stored water out every 6 months (but no longer than 1-year) and refill the containers and add bleach to them. Don't store food or water in direct contact with concrete or near any kinds of chemicals.

I also have several non-electric cooking methods on hand. Cooking with charcoal in a Cobb portable bbq grill is an excellent choice for the conservative use of charcoal and maximum cooking methods. I also have two Solar Ovens that can be used as long as there is sunlight, no matter how cold the temperature gets. Dutch Oven cooking is another method that is efficient with charcoal. As well as propane camp stoves and a camp oven. Propane bbq grills are also great.

You need some method of heating whereby you can boil drinking water if necessary.

I take my tuna cans and make an emergency suplemental cooking source from them in the form of "buddy burner" and can cook with them on a #10 can. I also have some sterno and sterno stoves.

I even have a portable clothes washer I got from Lehman's -

The worst part of washing clothing by hand (in a bucket with a toilet plunger will also work well) is wringing them out by hand. I have a "fancy" mop bucket on wheels that has a mop wringer on it that will wring out the clothing. I have drying racks and clothes line in the basement that can be used for drying clothing.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 11:32AM
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grainlady, is that stockpile for an "Emergency" or Armageddon?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 4:06PM
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Lots of good tips here. It's good to know what others are doing--though I know most are doing nothing! Thanks for the link to the emergency preparedness thread.

Back after 9/11 I had a stock of duct tape, plastic sheeting, radio, water cereal, poptarts, and diapers in a large deep bathroom closet. We've moved since then (5 years ago) and I'm just starting to think "preparedness" again. I'm thinking I'll take an extra suitcase and use that as a go bag.

Our newest car a Saturn Outlook has a wonderful feature that would be handy in a power outage situation--a 110 plug! When the car's running/driving you can plug any household item in! I'm thinking of the hotpot I had in college for heating soup, mac n cheese, coffee etc . . . Even if we're on the road evacuating and places are closed, we can still have a way to heat water and food. Gonna have to find that old hotpot!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 4:12PM
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I'm constantly amazed how few people have a pantry, not in the form of a closet, but meaning a small supply of food in the house. I'm in Minnesota so there can easily be snowstorms on occasion that could bind people in. Granted, snow removal is far better these days but other things happen. When the car has to go into the shop for a few days to give one example. I can't see why anyone would not have at least a few cans of soup, some crackers, peanut butter, etc on hand. I have no worrys if I'm stuck at home for a few days. I won't starve. And when the power was out here for a week or so a couple years ago I survived nicely on sandwiches. That wasn't a big deal. I used my vehicle to charge my laptop so I had internet access via dialup. Of course those with broadband and no battery backup wouldn't have use of their modem. I also had phone service since I keep a couple non-battery phones around and connected. I charged my cellphone in my vehicle too. I have a propane campstove so having an electric stove isn't a crisis if I had to cook something. I always stock up on batteries when they're free after rebate, even if I have a bunch. I used up all of my D cells on my TV during the power outage but I watched TV. Now with the digital changeover, the old battery tv will be of no use in this situation nor will the radios that receive the tv broadcasts. I got a few of those crank flashlights and I'm impressed. Gonna get a crank radio also.

miscindy, check your owner's manual for the power availability of that outlet. It's not the same as a house outlet on a 15 am fuse! And check the items you plan to use on it to be sure you don't exceed the power rating. I have an inverter in my vehicle which is a good item for people to consider, just be careful of the power rating of it. Mine is 400w so I can run some things on it. I use a fan or two in there during the hot summer days since the a/c doesn't work. Tried to plug my compressor into it the one day and it wouldn't work. Oh well. Still handy for the computer, the fan and other chargers.

Also people should think of SPECIAL needs. For instance diabetics might need to keep their insulin refrigerated so be prepared with a small cooler that you can get some ice or ice packs into. It's one of those important things. Each person's needs are different and size of family makes a difference on how much.

Overstocking isn't good. So you need to find the happy medium.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 7:09PM
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I primarily follow a food and water storage method endorsed by the LDS Church. There's lots of information available for those who are interested. The food bargains in storage are also worth more than we're earning from interest on our savings account these days....(LOL)

I'd say we are ready for most emergencies, not Armageddon. We are a one-income family - how nice would food in storage be during a lay-off, medical emergency, or a natural or man-made disaster? Or to share with our adult children and their family if THEY encountered a lay-off or other downturn. We've also been able to share our bounty with others who are less fortunate. Sharing - an interesting concept...especially when the place hubby works just layed-off 10% of the work force and are considering another 10% this week.

The manufacturing company hubby works for was hit by a tornado last spring. Luckily, it wasn't completely swept away and was only closed down for a short period of time, but if it had been completely destroyed, our food in storage would have helped to get us through an adjustment period while we sought new employment.

During the last ice storm we were comfortable in our home and able to have hot food, hot water for showering (used a 5-gallon camp shower), during a long power outage. Ask how well the neighbors got along? Once the peanut butter and bread were gone, they risked treacherous road conditions to get to mommy's.

Consider what would have happened if there would have been a trucker's strike last year during the peak of the fuel crisis (which WAS a threat) and there could have been an interruption or delay in food delivery to local stores. Most stores only carry 3-days worth of food - most people have enough food for a week, if that. I know several people who go to the grocery store each day and never keep food in the house. Our neighbors go out to eat for nearly every meal.

BTW - I've accomplished the food storage plan on a $50/week budget.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 7:49AM
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Being in northern Minnesota, snow would be the greatest probability. And since that is handled quite efficiently I might be cooped up for a major snow event for maybe 24 hours.

Although I would "never say never" and do believe in a certain degree of preparedness, I don't have a bunker mentality and don't stock more than can reasonably be used, consumed, burned, turned into other things, etc. before spoiling or completely taking over every square inch of my kitchen, medicine cabinets, basement, cold cellar closet cum pantry, garage... How much fuel do you need to stockpile to run a generator for any length of time?

Flashlights with a supply of fresh batteries, a big carton of matches, dry firewood and kindling, a manual can opener in case the power goes out, a big bag of charcoal for the grill to use out on the patio so there'd be no carbon monoxide deaths all seem reasonable.

And the most important of all - an emergency stash of cash. I tend to keep $1500 and a credit card in a drawer just in case the Sheraton started looking like a good idea.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 1:54PM
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I think you rock! :) My DH and I have started to follow the LDS method as well, and although we're not as well prepared as you are, we are will continue to work on it.

We lost power last September from Ike, and then we just lost it again this past week as a result of an ice storm, and we were fine.

(And I've just recently lost my job, so having a stockpile of canned food has been a blessing.)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 5:22PM
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We followed a modified LDS plan (my sister is LDS) for twenty plus years. While not sharing my sister's religious beliefs I have great respect for LDS preparedness & self-sufficiency. Five years ago we moved to a home without basement storage so we've reduced our commodity storage significantly & I no longer grind grains/beans.

We still could eat for at least six months (limited diet but life sustaining) & have replacements for basic necessities. Our children are raised & able to care for themselves & their children so our needs are much less today than 10 years ago. In fact, two of our children now include caring for DH & I in their storage programs. It's nice to have grown self-supporting kids! :)

As part of our "Armageddon" plan, we also keep 1/4 bags of junk silver, small demonination gold coins, and larger sizes like 100-oz. Englehard silver bars & Maple Leafs. Those are like Cheney...kept in a secure, off-site location. :) I don't expect to ever need those coins but it feels sorta comforting to know they are there. They are not considered part of our savings. They are thought of like storing...water, for example. Some of the coins have numismatic value...our thinking was that if they're just going to sit there for 50-60 years...we might as well have a possible benefit from appreciation. lol As example, some of the gold coins are St. Gaudens.

We live in a Class-A coastal flood area. In event of storm surge sheltering in place is not possible. The police would likely remove us...and/or it would be stupid to stay. We are surrounded by water within 200' on 3-sides & at only 7' elevation. So, we keep 3-day "bug out" bags in both cars. Because they are subject to extreme heat/cold we rotate them frequently. We also have 10-day "bug out" bags in the house. Those used to be smaller (24 hour & 3-day, respectively) but since Katrina & now Ike we've beefed them up.

An important part of our emergency preparation is a "plan" that we rehearse every six months. It's structured on basically the same plan DH uses at work. Our "plan" assumes no available outside communication so it's important for every family member to know exactly what to do & where to go.

Medications are our biggest preparation challenge. Our DS is Type I diabetic, our oldest daughter has asthma (minor but occassionally requires an inhaler), & I take controlled substances not eligible for the "By Mail" 90-day programs. Oh, that reminds me...both DS & I have thyroid problems so we have those thyroid pills in our storage programs. The state gives them to us for free.

Maintaining some level of a storage program is very cost efficient. I purchased little food last summer when prices jumped...didn't need to. Then, when fall arrived & the crops came in, combined with lowered fuel costs, I restocked. I purchase things like DH's dress white shirts for work, socks, etc. a dozen at a time on sale. Same for me. We've always got backup unopened sneakers, boots, jeans, gloves, hats, etc. I buy commodities almost always on sale. New England is a notoriously expensive part of the country so a half off sale on DH's shirts really helps. It also saves money because it eliminates impulse buying almost totally. We're infrequently in the stores...less opportunity to buy stuff we don't need.

The most important thing for emergencies though, IMO, is having sufficient cash savings. After basics like a flashlight/batteries & a blanket cash is more important, IMO, than a food storage program.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 10:30AM
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We maintain about 4 weeks of food, primarily for convenience and taking advantage of buying in bulk/sales, etc. Energy for heating and cooking is probably at risk, although I've never lost gas service. In general, we live in a resource rich area with small population so not alot of short term concerns.

Our "Armageddon" plan is primarily an ammunition stockpile and map of local hoarders.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 12:13PM
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I stockpile some my friends and relatives in case of "armageddon"

Samuel Adams
Bud Weiser
Jim Beam
Johnny Walker
Jack Daniels
dear Ole Grand Dad

and my gardener Jose Cuervo

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 12:26PM
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Part of the storage game that we need to remember is to rotate our stock: date it and use the oldest stuff first.

It's important for us to remember, especially if we have well-stocked freezers, to have access to a generator that we can use sufficiently to keep the freezer cold.

A good idea to check around the community to find folks with them on hand now, and who might be willing to let us use one for a couple of hours a day.

If can't find any, a good idea to buy a small generator ... and could reduce the cost if four or five folks buy one together. Usually in such serious emergency, at least a couple of folks would be available to haul it from house to house for a few hours service each.

Though many building codes require furnace to be connected directly to service box, it would be well to have a plug along that route so can disconnect and plug in to a cable coming from the generator.

Hi Chris 8796,

I don't think that I'm about to let you know my address.

Fewer guns up here - less to worry about in that department, at least.

Not much value in having supplies on hand if you've developed a recently-acquired additional hole in the head!

ole joyful

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 8:37PM
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I had to post to tell everyone thank you. I read this thread yesterday and learned something and had a good laugh. I needed a good laugh yesterday (re:teenagers). Then my water shut off for no apparent reason. DH quickly fixed prob (loose wire on pump), but it was enough of a reminder to make me put these lessons to action. Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 9:52AM
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I have a fairly well stocked larder and could feed my family for a few months at least. Also fuel for the campstove and campstove located in a convenient spot where it can be found. Lots of working flashlights - keep one in each bedroom in a handy spot and check batteries frequently. Have a supply of bottled water on hand. Can one ever be too prepared? I think not.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 11:45AM
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I'll post the link to one of the other forums it might have a few ideas you've missed I wish we could get our own forum on this topic

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 1:44PM
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We live in a tiny house with 5 people so storage is always a hot potato for us.

One thing I always have alot on hand is oatmeal - both the steel cut & rolled oats. I've heard stories of people during the Great Depression living on this for weeks on end. It's filling and nutrituous and has a reasonable shelf life.

I am always amazed at what you can do without when you have to. In the past we have been without a working car for a couple of months and have had to walk or take public transportation with a portable shopping cart to the grocery store, all other tasks banking, drugstore, appointments the same thing.

Last winter we were also without a working fridge - for over a month we utilized snow in packed containers to keep things fresh in the busted fridge. Some items were kept outside in a locked (because of rats & squirrels) rubbermaid shelving unit on the patio. The dryer also busted at the same time and for six months we hung all of our laundry out to dry until we had enough money to buy an electric motor from the parts store and fix it ourselves.

I'm sorry to say I think we will be seeing more of this. We've always been fairly creative with doing without but then we've lived our whole lives like this.

What about the people who have never experienced the school of hard knocks before - I worry & pray more for them. Someone posted elsewhere about this recession being a great equalizer.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 2:39PM
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Thanks grainlady for sharing that link with us. I'm going to share it with my friends over on AOL Be prepared board
I saved the file to my hard drive and when I get time I'll print it out too. if no electricity no files haha. I try to print out and keep in a notebook things I think I'll need "someday"

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 10:16PM
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I could feed our family for probably a year. We follow a modified LDS plan and rotate stock accordingly. We live within walking distance to a river so I dont store much water. We have a supply of the usual first aid items plus a well stocked cabinet of TP, batteries, emergency radio and such. We keep $2000.00 in emergency cash in the safe in small bills plus we have gold, silver and even some copper bullion stashed in a secure location within walking distance.

We have all the camping equipment and supplies that go with it. Our propane fire place works without electricity as well as a wall heater in the mud room. We dont have a generator but we get our electricity from up river and are not tied to the national grid plus the guys that know how to make it work live in our small town and say they can keep it going as long as we have water in the river and we always have water in the river.

DH collects guns, old and new, so we are well armed and know how to use them. We have enough ammunition plus reloading supplies to last years.

I do keep a well stocked bar you never want to run short on the necessities. My neighbor owns the local brewery so beer would be available until they run out of the makings. The fish hatchery up river could probably feed the town for months. Wild life is plentiful all around us so if I end up having to cook a raccoon I probably could. I would probably get shot if I tried to shoot the wild turkeys at the golf course and would have to really be hungry to kill the deer that travel down our creek every day.

We have a family plan that everyone knows and we have rehearsed it. We have out of state contact phone numbers on speed dial on our cell phones. During the Northridge earthquake the only way we knew that our DD and family was OK was by calling out of state and having that person call her and get back to us. After that our son in law change all his company phones to Nextel that has the 2 way radio feature and gave one to everyone in the family and its surprising how quick you can get in touch with everyone with them.

We are as prepared as well as I think we can be for just about anything that may happen and I hope we never have to find out if we did it right.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 2:14AM
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Newspaper logs

I've seen many ways to do this over the years

This was in Heloise's column yesterday of all places

Tuna and cat food cans are best for this get your stack of newspapers and stack them alternating the folds and then slide a can over to the middle of the roll . Soak outside with water and let dry completely. burn it like a log and then take out the cans with tongs (hot!)

of course we know not to use the shiny papers

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 9:48PM
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wow do I feel unprepared. I recently started thinking seriously about getting started on this. My DH works at our local state univ. He is on a committee that discusses the eventual pandemic, bird flu. It sounds as if life as we know it will forever be changed. The univ will probably become a morgue! So I have bought a freezer, still in the box. I read you should have two weeks worth of water, what is that? We could probably get by two weeks with the food I have now. I could stand to lose 25 lbs anyway. Its amazing how your mind goes off on things you should get. Like one person mentioned guns. I feel the same way, I am a democrat and would never have thought about actually owning a gun before. But if we are the only ones around with food and water we will need to protect ourselves. We don't know whats going to happen. I also read how the cost of irrogation (sp) has increased in CA this year, the blogger suggested to grow your own!! It will be bad

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 11:31PM
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Minimum water requirement is a gallon per person per day. Even if the economy does somehow stabilize, it's good sense to have some extra supplies handy in case of emergency (job loss, power outage, storm).

Have your garden planned yet?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 8:22AM
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