Tag Archives: go-kit

Adventures of a Pork Rind

Yesterday as we were house cleaning, I found a treasure trove of old bottles of sunscreen. At first I felt annoyed because have you bought any sunscreen lately? Highway robbery! Anyway, my second thought was, “hey, do we have sunscreen in the go-bag?” Upon investigation, I found that I had a small travel-type tube in the go bag. Trust me, there are way too many people in our family for that to be enough.

My mental image is one of those apocalyptic moments where my family has been forced to leave the shelter of our home and attempt to move out over great distances on foot. If you aren’t ready to go down the apocalyptic path just yet, then instead picture your family standing in an enormous line outside an emergency shelter hoping to score a few beds for the duration or standing in a mammoth line outside to obtain FEMA assistance. If you and your loved ones are out there for any of these reasons without sunscreen and you aren’t blessed with the natural ability to tan, then you’re cooking, and the last thing you need at that moment is a sunburn. Somehow I figure baking yourselves into proverbial pork rinds will seem ridiculous afterwards when all you needed to do was pack some sunscreen.

Your next question is, “Does sunscreen expire?”.  Unfortunately, yes but I think the shelf life is reasonable. According to the Mayo clinic:

“Sunscreens are designed to remain stable and at original strength for up to three years.”

Later in the article, they note that extreme temperatures, over long periods of time can speed up this process of degradation. But as I’ve mentioned before, your go-kit should be located within your home in an easily accessible place, not in your sweltering garage.

I would also like to recommend a small tube of sunscreen for your work go-kits. If you ever find yourself having to walk over great distances to get home from work due to a regional event that might clog roads to the point of abandoning cars or if you are for some reason unable to retrieve your vehicle from work and forced to walk homewards, you will want some sunscreen. I would also recommend sunscreen for your car go-kits. However, you will need to rotate this iteration after every summer because of the heat/storage issue. A simple and cost-effective suggestion would be to take this summer’s leftover sunscreen and use that bottle for your car and just make that a tradition. At the end of each summer season, at least one unfinished container replaces the old bottle in the car go-kit. This will put you on a schedule and keep you from putting a brand new bottle in the car just to have to toss it next season.

Don’t make your apocalyptic event an adventure in becoming a pork rind. Embrace the almighty SPF! Get some sunscreen stashed away for a sunny, emergency day.

Your skin without sunscreen 🙂

Nature’s Safe Deposit Box

I think we all see the rationale behind the use of a safe deposit box. However, I think most preppers find a fundamental flaw in the thought of safe deposit box usage during a catastrophic event. I certainly don’t expect a run on banks to result in easy access to go pick up the contents of my safe deposit box. I certainly believe that there are circumstances that could result in difficulty obtaining access to my safe deposit boxes.

Do you have anything that you don’t want to store in your home? Anything that you don’t want in your go-kit? Do you have a remote site you are planning to relocate to in the event of something catastrophic? If so, are there things you would like to preposition there? If that site is so far that frequent visits aren’t possible, or if it is uninhabited, then just dropping off your very expensive prepper supplies isn’t something that makes you comfortable.

Would you ever consider burying anything? Ever consider God’s good earth as nature’s safe deposit box? Some people have gone this route. It is an option. Actually, there are lots of options regarding products designed just for burying your prepper treasure. In support of full transparency, I have not tried this tactic…but I sure am thinking about it. A quick interweb search will throw lots of different products your way. Try searching “emergency burial canisters”.

My concerns would include the following:

  • moisture – are they waterproof? even if they are, consider adding some silica packs
  • prying neighbors etc. – can you reasonably get them buried without everyone on the block noticing? (Hopefully you are blessed with a parcel of land all you own, then this is not a concern for you…and I’m jealous! 🙂 ) But if you do have neighbors, you can’t just bury your prepper stuff right in plain view.
  • treasure mapping – because, seriously…how would you feel burying your most precious prepper treasure and then later having no idea where the heck you put it?

So what do you think? Will you consider burying any of your prepper parcels? Have you tried any type of product designed to facilitate nature’s safe deposit box? Have any other ideas, concerns, or suggestions? Or…shall we go digging?

Fuzzy Wuzzy – And Other Creature Comforts

We talk a lot about having what you need for emergency preparedness. Have you ever given any consideration to what you want? I realize before I even get going that lots of folks will either not agree with this post or think that it is largely unuseful; however, I’m gonna have to disagree.

I, as is evident from previous posts, think its imperative to be sure that you have prepared by stocking up on those things that you absolutely need to survive. But I also think that once you have a good piece of those things addressed, you should stop to ask yourself if there are any creature comforts that you might also want to include. This may seem ridiculous, but let’s consider the psychology of the situation. If you have had to flee your home to take refuge in a shelter, or if you are wondering on foot for miles a day in search of a new “home”, if you are in the middle of an event so catastrophic that you are actually surviving off of your preparedness supplies, then you are quite frankly in the thick of it. You’re world has been changed, maybe temporarily, maybe forever.

If you are like me, seriously opposed to change, this is not going to be a cake walk for you emotionally just because you have a heap load of preparedness supplies and are actually going to live…for a while at least :-).  This is going to be gut wrenching and seriously difficult to even process. So, what can you do to try to make your survival supplies actually help with all this emotional junk? I teach this kind of stuff regarding how to handle children and preparedness, but I think we as adults need to think about ourselves a little too. Consider some of life’s more trivial creature comforts that help you be the person you are. I’m looking for the cheap, simple, small stuff. These are things that won’t break the bank to buy and hold in reserve or break your back to haul around in your go-kit. Some examples from my perspective would be:

  • Razors: Dear God, please let me be able to continue to shave! No chic wants to rock the fuzzy wuzzy legs!
  • Pictures: A favorite family photo of a good memory (vacation, birthday, etc.)
  • Excedrin: Because let’s face it, Tylenol is not going to do the trick for my stress headache in the event of catastrophic emergencies.
  • Favorite magazine or book: Something to take your mind off of the reality you find yourself in.
  • Toothpicks: Maybe its your worst nightmare to have something stuck in your teeth.
  •  Deck of cards: Some form of entertainment.
  • Favorite candy: Do you need chocolate to survive life in general?

I could go on and on. Me personally, I’d be hard pressed to choose between the razor and the excedrin. I need to be headache free…but I’d like to continue to be a girly girl on some level :-). My husband would most likely go for the magazine. My boys would appreciate a stuffed animal or an action figure. For some folks these things would seem ridiculous, if that’s the case, then I simply haven’t hit on “your thing”. But think it over, you must have something. This would be something that would remind you of your old routine, it would be something that however simple would make you feel better, even a little. It would be a piece of your old life, before the event. I could be the difference in a transition into true survival life and just slamming into it full force.

Ever seen the movie Stand By Me? Remember when the boys were talking late into the night over the fire and the question was asked “what if you could only have one food for the rest of your life?” The answer came back, “That’s easy, cherry flavored Pez. No question about it.” (Trailer with that line in it below 🙂 Happens a minute and 15 seconds in.)

I love that scene. I love that he knew, without thinking what it would be that could keep him happy forever. Can’t say that I’d have gone with cherry, but hey to each his own.

I’d like for everyone to consider that type of simplicity with this question. “What’s the one (simple, compact, and cheap) creature comfort you would pack?” Maybe it will seem simple or ridiculous to someone else, but this item will be just for you.

Mmm…I Don’t Wanna Talk About That…

If you are thinking of really embracing the prepper mentality then you will eventually begin to consider l-o-n-g term survival needs. This would be catastrophic, life changing, world may never be the same type scenarios. When you begin to plan for this level of survival, you will open up a whole new can of worms for preparedness topics. These are things that you would not really consider for your go-kits or even your traditional shelter in place kits. So on this Friday eve when we are all a little more laid back in anticipation of a Friday :-), l’m going to mention a few things that under normal circumstances we wouldn’t want to actually discuss. But trust me…under apcalyptic rules, you would want to have some of these items.

So here goes…please consider whether or not you would really like to get pregnant during these circumstances. Not that we as a race would never want to procreate again, but don’t you think you might want to be a little choosy on this one? Shortly after a catastrophic event, you would have a serious decline in medical care and nutritional options. Both of these areas would make it a less than ideal circumstance to create a new life. So, have an alternate form of birth control. Ladies, Walgreen’s won’t be hitting your automatic refill on those pills. Men, might rather wear a condom during such a period of time. Just consider it. (If you are, shall we say “unable” to procreate for whatever reason, then congratulations, do your thing 🙂  and move on to the next section.)

Next, should you choose to disregard the first point, would you like to be able to care for your new baby? Because lets face it, with no TV, nine to five job, or other form of alternative entertainment your lovin numbers are going to skyrocket. And your baby shower will not consist of a baby registry from your local Babies R Us. No ma’am, you are getting canned pears and used teddy bears. If nature nor scalpel have taken your procreation options yet, you might want to have just a few of the really vital baby care items. Consider purchasing even a basic set of cloth diapers and the coordinating needed supplies. Also think of things such as bottles and nipples. If this seems unrealistic given your lack of desire to reproduce…I suggest you re-read the previous paragraph.

Lastly  for today, (we may revisit this type of topic later), LADIES…without your local Walgreens, your birth control pills are not the only things you aren’t getting. Unless you are able to pray yourself straight into menopause, you’re going to need feminine hygiene products. And, men, don’t freak out and skip this part because if your wife is not a prepper and therefore not going to do her own planning, I guess you better. As much as you don’t like this topic on a sunny day, catch your lady without her supplies and it will be pretty impossible to ignore. Also, ladies (and men) even if you are cycle exempt, if you have daughters (of any age) this will at some point be applicable to them as well. So moving on, you need to purchase a basic stock of washable sanitary pads. Yes, you can get those. (Wrap up your freak out, it is what it is.) I realize you could easily just buy a boat load of the traditional supplies, but again tonight we are talking absolute catastrophic event. You cannot reasonably tell me how many pads/tampons you would need for an undetermined amount of time. Do you really think Tampax, Kotex, or Always are going to be one of the first products to return to production and achieve supply chain success? Me neither, so stock up now on what seems unreasonable, but would in fact be invaluable.

There I”ve done it. I talked about sex and periods all at once. Do with it what you will. 😉

What’s Cookin?

Because we purchased freeze-dried meals as a part of our preparedness planning, we had to decide how we were going to boil the water without electricity. Sure lighting a good old camp fire would work but building it up to the point where our pot would be usable although do-able, is not ideal. I decided to look into the camp stove option. I was thinking that I would have to purchase something bulky and heavy. Not so! (I am going to go ahead and put in a plug for REI because quite frankly their sales people cannot be beat. They know everything about everything. They are true wizards. They have consistently given me amazing customer service.) So I go in for what I think will be the traditional Coleman camping stove, I came out with the Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System.

I love it. It is pricey to be sure. I won’t sugar coat that. It ran me just under $100.00. However, I think the reason why it seems so expensive is because of its size. You would expect to pay that much for a large camp stove, not something as small as this. It is only 4″x7″ and it weighs just under 1 lb. (without fuel).  Essentially the system is an integrated cooking cup and burner all in one. There is even a measuring cup that comes attached to the bottom that serves as a dual use protector for the igniter system when not in use. The burner portion detaches and stores inside the cup when not in use. The cup capacity for this model (there are other models available from Jetboil) is two cups. Another positive feature is the push button ignition to light your fuel. (Canister fuel sold separately.) The cooking cup actually clips to the burner when assembled which in combination with the included tripod helps to stabilize the unit to prevent it from turning over. And as if all that wasn’t enough, it comes wrapped in an insulated neoprene cover that has a color-change window to indicate when the contents are hot. The system will boil two cups of water in two minutes.

I have found this system easy to use, understand,  light (the first time, it may take some effort, but after that, no worries) and clean. It is lightweight and compact for an easy fit into our go-kit. Most of all, for our plans (freeze-dried and dehydrated foods that need boiling water) this a fast and effective product. It is also useful for water purification (see previous post “Water, water everywhere, but which drop can you drink”).

Lastly, if you need to cook in something larger than the cup, or if you have already purchased a portable cooking pot for your go-kit (as we had), there is an optional accessory that allows the system to support cooking pots as well. We bought this too and have been equally pleased.

I’m sure there are other wonderful products out there, but this was the best choice for our family and I have been pleased with its test performances. I highly recommend this for your go-kit or even shelter in place kit. No matter what brand you consider, be sure to think of alternative ways to cooking in an emergency beyond the basic campfire.

Jetboil Flash

Oh Yeah?…Prove It.

Imagine that three days ago a hurricane (or tornado depending on your location) came through and destroyed your home. Let’s say that you had time to grab your go-kit and get out of dodge. You have been at your local shelter for three days with your entire family. You are now standing in line waiting to speak to a FEMA representative about applying for emergency assistance. While you wait in line, you are also on hold with your insurance company once again trying to figure out why it is taking so long to file your claim. Imagine the types of documentation these two entities are going to request from you. Don’t you imagine they will want to see your driver’s license? What about your homeowner’s insurance policy?

Preppers call these vital records. These are the records it takes to run your life. Some of them you access almost daily (credit cards, driver’s license) and some you may not even keep track of (insurance policies, deeds). Either way, it takes a certain amount of documentation to be you and to live in your world. These are your personal vital records. Here are a few more examples:

  • social security card
  • passport
  • credit card account information
  • medical records (as applicable for emergent care)
  • medical insurance cards
  • bank account information
  • flood insurance documents (NOT included with homeowner’s policy)

These are just a few examples. What constitutes adequate vital records will vary from person to person. But it is vital that everyone consider what they will need to have on hand in their go-kit. There could be times following a widespread disaster that having these records will make the difference in you receiving emergency assistance (financial, medical, etc) right away as opposed to after significant delays. And let’s be honest some things are just hard to get again on a good day! Ever tried to get a replacement social security card or a driver’s license in a new state? Hope you brought your first-born and have picked out which kidney you will donate!

Take some time to create a list of your vital records. Then go about the process of obtaining duplicates where possible or copies if necessary. For instance, you can get a duplicate of your credit cards from most companies. However, you aren’t going to get another driver’s license. For things like that, a photo copy is much better than nothing. Keep in mind that this needs to be done for each member of the family for whom you are building your go-kit. Don’t forget to capture your spouse’s or children’s records as well.

Now for storage. I recommend that for your go-kits you either purchase a waterproof box ($5.00 at Wal-mart) or triple pack these in ziplock baggies if you are on a budget. For shelter in place kits, I recommend that you budget for a fireproof/waterproof safe for your home. Another option for go-kits or shelter in place kits as far as storage, is a thumb drive. You can certainly have paper copies; however, in today’s world don’t forget to embrace technology where you can. If you have a way of scanning and storing images on a thumb drive, that may be a great alternative. (Also consider keeping them safe from water and fire!)

Now, things change right? Your driver’s license expires, you change insurance companies, or you receive a new medical diagnosis. It is important that you keep your vital records updated. It would, of course, be ideal if you made the updates as they occur. However, let’s be realistic, sometimes the here and now gets in the way of what should be. So I recommend annual reviews of your vital records at a minimum. I personally do this every time I rotate out my winter/summer clothes. This is my reminder that “things change” and it has become part of my routine. (If you are so fortunate as to have enough closet space not to have this chore every season change, then get creative…what’s something you do annually or semi-annually?) It is also vital that you make changes to every iteration of vital records. If you maintain a waterproof copy in your go-kit and a fireproof copy in a safe with your shelter in place things, then you will need to update both. Also be sure to remember you family’s emergency contact cards (discussed in yesterday’s post). These are definitely vital records and they contain information that often changes.

Vital records are a key component of your emergency preparedness planning. They are also one of the least expensive to obtain and maintain. This makes them a perfect starting place in beginning your emergency preparedness kits. Out of all the things you may hope to one day purchase for preparedness, you can get these for little to no cost, which leaves little to no excuse. 

As always, send forth questions, concerns.

You Wanna Do What?!

Today I was thinking about some of the discussions I’ve had following my preparedness presentations. Then it hit me…I’ve been asked more times than I can count, “How do I convince my spouse that this is worthwhile?” or “How do I get my wife on board?”. (Ladies, forgive me but truth be told while I’ve had the question from a woman or two, it is most often asked by men.) You can rephrase this question any sort of manner and I’ve heard it, but the message is always the same. For those of us who become preppers, when we announce to our “other halves” that we not only want to devote time and storage space, but actually money to this cause…well, we are met with a resounding, “Are you crazy?!” 

This goes past our spouses as well. Let’s be honest, if this is real to you, then you are worried about more than just your immediate family. It’s quite honestly no different than religion from a motivational perspective. If you are a Christian (and I”m sure other religions as well, but I can only speak for myself), then you don’t just worry about your spouse’s salvation, but that of anyone that you love and care about.  Well, we also care about their safety and well-being here on earth…so we want them to prepare.

So how do we convince our spouses (who we must share financial decisions etc. with) and those that we love to follow the prepper’s creed? How do to transfer our concern and resulting motivation to them? My husband just asked me what I was writing about today. When I told him, he laughed and responded, “Oh, like exhibit A?” He of course being exhibit A, who had to be convinced and motivated from scratch. He’s not from my neck of the woods and the notion of preparedness, off-the-grid, compound/commune type plans were  not a part of his mindset when we met. So…how did I manage to bring him into the fold?

For the non-believer the first thing to accomplish is getting them to understand that you are not (only 🙂 ) preparing for total and complete destruction or Armageddon. Yes, there are those of us that do consider that as well, but you don’t want to make that your first point when pitching this idea to your average nay-sayer. It is important to get them to realize that preparedness is for things as simple as a severe snow storm where you cannot leave your home for days. There are dozens of scenarios just surrounding weather and natural tragedies that can occur. Any of these occasions could rob you of your “normal” infrastructure dependent lifestyle. I believe this is the most important message to convey. They need to understand that tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and the like do happen. They are at risk. Emergency preparedness is pertinent to us all. Don’t forget to pull out all the stops. If you are trying to convince a Mama who currently has little ones at home…use it. Quite frankly my personal preparedness skyrocketed once I had little ones. My motherly instinct won’t allow me to watch my children suffer or starve all because I didn’t have my priorities straight.

Now consider social media and publications. Take some time and search the interweb for other preparedness sites. Point out that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) actually has an entire website devoted to motivating our nation to prepare. Ease them in, don’t show them the scary over the top stuff (just yet). Also consider the CDC, FDA, American Red Cross, etc. Lastly, there are some excellent books available on survival, both fiction and non-fiction. The non-fiction are really prevalent. If your spouse or loved one is a reader, and they have been warmed up by the preceding methods, then maybe a trip to the books store (online works but let’s be honest, holding them in your hand drives the point home) would make it more real. These books exist because preppers are out there. We are sharing and growing all the time! As for fiction two of my favorites are One Second After and Patriots.  There are both excellent for information and inspiration, and they are just good reads. I’d really recommend starting them off with One Second After first and then send them on to Patriots.

Most importantly, be prepared to start small. Don’t overwhelm them with far out craziness from the get go. If this is not their thing, they need to ease into the water. Don’t shove them into the deep end and expect them to respond well. This is a different way of thinking and the evolution of becoming a prepper most likely happen overnight. Start by encouraging a home go-kit with the basics (extra clothes, first aid kit, vital records). By doing this, you get them used to preparing but you aren’t asking for a lot of money up front. After that activity is complete and you receive that buy-in, you can work slowly up to stockpiling food. Take it slowly, and let them know that this is realistic and that its important to you. It is borne out of love and concern for your family. Appeal to their inner need to provide for themselves and their loved ones.

Good luck! If you get stuck with a particularly hard nut-to crack, leave a comment and we can talk about individual strategies for your circumstances.