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Essential Emergency Kit Information & Advice

By Denis Korn                                                                                                    Franklin quote

This post – Essential Emergency Kit Information & Advice – is a valuable companion to the previous post Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning – Including Vehicle Preparedness – Latest Update.  You are encouraged to share this post and its vital information with family, friends, business associates, church and temple congregations and other members of any organizations to which you belong.  May this post help you in your serious preparedness planning.

Here are the crucial questions to answer when assembling your emergency kit/grab-and-go/bug-out bag – which is vital if you must leave your home or business quickly.

  • If an evacuation has been declared, a severe weather event is imminent or a significant disaster has occurred, how will I know?
  • If I have to evacuate, will I be in a cozy government evacuation center with food, water, blankets and a bed, or will I be on my own in the elements, a crude shelter or a friend’s/relatives house?
  • If specific government, church, community and friend’s sheltering options are not available, where do I go? How far? How do I get there?
  • What conditions can I expect to encounter – best scenario – worst scenario?
  • What are the weather conditions I am likely to encounter? What is the season?
  • Will I be alone, or are others depending on me? Family – children – elderly – pets?
  • Am I dependent on others? Who?       Why? Do I expect the government to take care of me?
  • What kind of support is likely to be available?
  • How long should I prepare for?
  • What if there is nothing left when I return?
  • Are my essentials, heirlooms, personal treasures, irreplaceable photographs, documents and financial assets secure if I leave with only my grab-and-go bag?
  • Do I have a reliable communication plan to contact family, friends and business associates at a moment’s notice?
  • What is the potential severity of the emergency I might experience?
  • Will I have transportation, or will I be on foot?
  • Do I have enough money on hand to pay for possible shelter, food or supplies if I am suddenly evacuated and away from home or business?
  • Am I truly prepared for the unexpected, a procrastinator or am I in denial?

To have a truly adequate emergency kit/grab-and-go/bug-out bag the above questions must be answered. Your personal preparedness bag contents will vary depending on numerous factors such as time, number of persons, locations involved, mobility, support available, season, comfort level desired and the degree of peace of mind you want.

Here is a list of the bare essentials for every kit. Each category will have multiple options depending on how you answer the above crucial questions. Cheap, inadequate and poorly made provisions don’t belong in a quality kit. Prepare your kit as if your and your family’s life and comfort depended on it – because it does!

  1. Water/bottled/filter/containers
  2. Food – ready-to-eat – freeze dried shelf stable/food preparation
  3. Medical – medical kit with instructions/prescriptions/glasses/essential medications/sunscreen/dental medic/foot care/safety pins/dust mask/gas mask
  4. Special Needs/food/medical/children/elderly/disabled/pets
  5. Tools – multi-tool/knife/wire/duct tape/rope/paracord/gloves/small axe/repair tools/super glue/aluminum foil/ /manual can opener (often on multi-tool)/bungee cords/foldable or wire saw
  6. Communication – radio/hand crank – solar – battery/two-way radios/cell phone
  7. Fire Starter/lighter/matches/tinder
  8. Signaling & Orienting – whistle/signal mirror/compass/maps
  9. Lighting – Hand crank – solar – battery/headlamp/flashlight/lantern/candles
  10. Power & Energy – batteries – regular and rechargeable/solar charger & power-pack for batteries & cell phone
  11. Shelter – tarp/tent – tube or larger/plastic sheeting/insect protection
  12. Emergency Blankets/sleeping bags – emergency or larger or bivy sack
  13. Personal Hygiene/sanitary supplies/disinfectant
  14. Plastic Bags
  15. Personal Security – weapon & ammo if appropriate/pepper spray/bear repellant/mace or other options
  16. Appropriate Clothing and Footwear – protection from the elements/warmth/heat packs – hand and body warmers
  17. Identification and Essential Documents/Bible/compact survival handbook
  18. Spare Keys
  19. Phone Numbers and Addresses – friends, relatives, and emergency organizations/agencies
  20. Instructions on meeting and/or communicating with family and/or friends during or after an emergency
  21. Cash/credit cards
  22. Pen/markers/paper
  23. Configured Compact Emergency Kit with Essential Items
  24. Carry Bag – Backpack – Duffel Bag (very durable and if you anticipate carrying your bag any distance shoulder straps should be available with your carry bag or duffel)

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Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning – Including Vehicle Preparedness – Latest Update

By Denis Korn                                                                                                                    emergency_preparedness1

NOTE:  The demand for the information given in this list has been significant – so I am posting it again with additional comments and items.  I have decided to keep adding comments under selected items on a continuing basis – so you may want to periodically check back at this post for new comments.  There are listed both convenient and essential items required for proper preparedness & adventure.  Only you know your unique situations and anticipated scenarios – prepare accordingly.

Many of the items listed in this checklist are available at our product website PrepareDirect.  We will be adding new items and categories continually so please visit us.

 

This exceptionally comprehensive essential checklist for emergency preparedness should be a crucial assist in your emergency, survival and outdoor adventure planning – study it carefully! It is one of the most (if not the most) comprehensive lists available – thankfully copied by many.

For most people planning for emergencies is similar to planning for a camping trip or any other outdoor adventure where the normal conveniences of home are not available. The biggest difference is determining whether to plan for being away from home or in your own residence – or perhaps both. The equipment to include in your emergency kit or camping supplies list will be very comparable. Differences and variations will generally depend upon the severity and length of time you anticipate for your emergency scenario. Long term emergencies and outdoor explorations will require, in addition to this list, more extensive planning and provisioning.

Important questions to answer as you do your planning: 

  • Are the equipment and supplies necessary to fulfill your needs going to be based on how cheap they are, or on the quality, value, and reliability of the product?
  • What are the repercussions or benefits from the choices that are made?
  • Who is affected?
  • What chances are you willing to take with inferior and inadequate provisions?
  • What will the climate be during the emergency or adventure – weather and political?
  • What is the probable availability of essential goods and services at the location where you are or where you are going for your adventure or during your anticipated emergency?

Although this list is an authoritative and comprehensive compilation of crucial supplies for emergency preparedness and outdoor adventure, these suggestions focus on basic necessities, and are not intended to be an exhaustive and detailed list of all choices, as each person or group has their own special requirements and needs. While there are numerous options to choose from in each category, use this guideline of essentials to ensure you have evaluated all the possibilities given the scenarios and circumstances for which you are preparing and provisioning, whether for preparedness planning or outdoor adventuring.

Your comfort, enjoyment and life may depend upon it!

Be clear about the time factors, persons involved, and situations that you anticipate will occur in an emergency or an outdoor experience. Knowing this information is crucial to stocking the appropriate items in the appropriate quantities. Many of these items will be essential for bartering if supplies are exhausted and the emergency you are preparing for is long term.

Proper provisioning is about safety, health, protection, comfort, and peace of mind – for not only you, but also your family and friends.

Items with an asterisk * are recommended for a “ready-to-go bag” or “bug out bag.” This is an easily accessible bag you keep near by to grab when you only have a moments notice to evacuate. Items with a double asterisk ** indicates items for your bag whose quantity will depend on the length of your anticipated emergency scenario. You may require more than one quick-grab-bag depending on your specific needs.

As a complement to this checklist I highly recommend answering the questions in: The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning article.

THE LIST

 

  1. Carrier for Provisions

If you anticipate having to relocate, have your transportable supplies in one or two easily accessible carriers, especially if you must leave in a hurry.

  • *Backpack
  • *Large duffel/canvass bag with duel shoulder straps in case it has to be carried for some distance
  • Lightweight suitcase
  • Wheeled device
  1. Water

An obvious necessity for everyone. Know what water sources are available to you during an emergency, or in the outdoors. Plan accordingly and don’t hold back preparing for this essential category. Don’t go cheap!

  • *Gravity/hand pump water purifier/filter/extra cartridges/straw filters
  • *Bottle purifier/filter
  • *Purification tablets – Chlorine Dioxide/iodine
  • *Separate containers for dirty and treated water
  • Multiple containers depending upon situation
  • WaterBricks water container
  • Camelback & bladder type containers
  • **Specially packaged water (5+ years storage life), Aqua Blox
  • **Bottled water (2 years storage life) – can be filtered or treated if older
  • Solar or stove top distillers
  • Survival Still portable distiller
  • Desalinators for salt water
  • Reverse osmosis purifiers
  • UV purifiers
  • Additives – colloidal silver/bio-active silver hydrosol/stabilized oxygen
  • Chlorine (5.25 % sodium hypochlorite, non-scented only with no additives – 6 drops per gallon)
  • Manual pump if near a well
  • Water gathering supplies – plastic tarps/containers/instructions
  • Water stored in your own containers – large and small
  1. Food

Numerous options are available. This category must be accessed carefully depending upon the length of time of the emergency or outing, and severity of circumstances you anticipate might occur. Remember, certain foods will require more water and fuel to prepare – is this appropriate to your anticipated situation? Would you store foods for an emergency that you would not normally want to eat? Foods should be shelf stable and easy to prepare. Consider nutrient dense foods not empty calorie foods. When considering whole grains, seeds, legumes and beans don’t forget sprouting.

NOTE: Many newer food companies are promoting their pouched foods to have a 25 year plus shelf life – beware! Many of these food companies market their foods as “survival” foods – they are just that – eaten to survive only – their quality, packaging and shelf stability is questionable. Would you store foods for an emergency that you would not normally want to eat?

  • **Bars/energy bars/trail mix/food tablets
  • **Other eat-as-is simple and nutritional compact/dense foods
  • **Freeze-dried/dehydrated from established companies in pouches, cans or bulk – numerous varieties available
  • Canned – wet pack
  • **Retort wet-pack pouches/trays/self-heating meals
  • **MRE’s (Meals-Ready-To-Eat) – military specs (These military designed rations were developed for troops to be eaten for no longer than one month at a time – they are not appropriate for exclusive long term consumption)
  • Boxed – eat as is/mixes/individual items
  • Baking soda (numerous uses)
  • Non-perishable basics
  • Powdered milk/cheese/whey/vegetables/fruits
  • Wild foods/foraging – get a good illustrated guide
  • Bulk commodities – Rice (brown rice has a short – 6 months – shelf life), grains, seeds, honey, beans (smaller grains and beans are good for sprouting and cook quicker with less water)
  • Bulk freeze-dried, dehydrated, air dried, instant, just-add-water, powders – fruits, vegetables, beans, pasta, oats
  • **Ready-to-eat comfort and nutritional foods
  • Garden seeds if appropriate – longer term scenarios – heirloom/organic (You will find many who promote storing garden seeds. You must research the shelf life, storage conditions and germination viability of the different varieties you are storing – they vary considerably.       Garden seeds alone are inadequate without tools, gardening knowledge, the ability to remain in place and of course water. In the long term emergency situation where survival depends on growing your own food, significant planning is vital.)
  • Supplements – vitamins/minerals/powdered green drinks/energy formulations
  • **Concentrated energy powders/bars/tablets
  • Condiments/seasoning blends/salt/coffee/tea/bullion/sweeteners (as natural as possible such as stevia and coconut sugar)
  • Gravy – dry mix or canned (can be added to bland foods for flavor)
  • Cooking oil (olive oil in a steel container has a decent shelf life – avoid hydrogenated oils containing trans-fat)
  • **Special needs foods – Those with food intolerance’s/nursing mothers/children/medical conditions
  • Baby foods
  • Red wine
  • Freeze-dried meats
  • Tuna fish in oil/sardines – high protein and long shelf life
  • **Cooking/heating required for the foods you have in your grab-and-go bag?
  1. Food Preparation

If you must relocate and plan on cooking or heating water, consider lighter weight and efficient equipment.

  • **Stove – camping/alternative/very portable/Kelly Kettle
  • **Pots and pans – stainless steel/cast iron/non-stick – avoid aluminum
  • **Utensils
  • Pressure cooker
  • **Cookware kit
  • Grills
  • **Fuel – propane canisters/butane canisters/white gas/alcohol/wood/solid fuel cubes/charcoal/kerosene/lighter fluid
  • *Water/food bottle
  • *Hand operated can opener/opener on knife or multi-tool/P38 (for all of us military folks)
  • 5 or 6 gallon plastic buckets
  • FoodBricks
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Chlorine bleach – non scented
  • *Plastic bags/containers
  • Cheese cloth
  • Thermos for “prepare in container” whole and cracked cereals (Add about a 1:1 ratio of boiling water and cereal –       mix in dried fruit, nuts and sweetener if desired – close container tight – let sit a few hours or overnight.)
  • Knife sharpener
  • “Package-you-own” equipment and supplies
  • Solar oven with cookware/GoSun Solar Stove/All American Sun Oven (both units will also purify water)
  • Manual grain mills/grinders/juicers/mixers/beaters
  • Sprouting equipment – portable and/or stationary/sprouting jars
  • Canning equipment if appropriate
  • Twist-ties
  • Corkscrew/bottle opener
  • Paper plates/bowls/cups/towels/coffee filters – has multiple filtering uses
  • Small storage containers
  1. Fire Starter – Matches

Be prepared for any situation and the possible need to start a fire, especially if weather conditions are severe.

  • *Flint/magnesium starters
  • **Waterproof tinder/very fine steel wool/products designed to start fires in adverse conditions
  • **Windproof high quality lighters/disposable Bic type lighters
  • **Matches in a waterproof container/storm proof matches
  • Magnifying glass
  1. Medical

When your health and survival during a medical emergency is at stake, you don’t want to rely on cheap or inadequate medical supplies. This is an important category to thoughtfully evaluate. Don’t forget medications or products needed for those with special medical conditions.

  • *Quality kit with adequate components for a multitude of emergencies
  • *Accessories – dental emergencies/suture kit/snake bite kit – instructions/tweezers/safety razor blades/cotton balls/scissors/safety pins/tick removal
  • Syrup of Ipecac (to induce vomiting if poisoned)
  • *Essential prescription medications/allergy medications/birth control
  • *First Aid manual
  • *Insect repellant (non DEET recommended)
  • *Sunscreen/lip balm
  • *Eyeglasses/sunglasses/contacts/repair kit/
  • *Copies of prescriptions
  • *Foot care/moleskin/blister pads
  • Aspirin/Tylenol/ibuprofen/other over the counter drugs for minor issues/antibiotics
  • Homeopathic remedies
  • Colloidal Silver – internal/external – gel
  • Herbal kits/aloe vera
  • Dust masks/gas masks
  • Potassium Iodate (Iodate is recommended over Iodide)
  • Isopropyl alcohol/rubbing alcohol
  • Anti-itch salve
  • Medications for head lice
  • Ear plugs (it could get noisy at night)
  • Quik Clot (stops bleeding)
  • Baking soda/hydrogen peroxide
  • Tourniquet
  • Thermometer
  • Latex gloves/Nitrile – latex free gloves
  1. Personal Hygiene – Sanitary Supplies  

Depending on individual circumstances and your location, it is vital to prevent any problems that might arise from unsanitary conditions. Take precautions to ensure a disease free environment. The length of an emergency and living/camping conditions require different approaches to personal hygiene.

  • **Personal hygiene items – soap/toothbrush/toothpaste/shampoo/deodorant/hair brush/comb/dental floss
  • **Feminine hygiene
  • **Treated towelettes/waterless wipes
  • **Sanitary toilet provisions – portable toilet/powered chlorinates or lime/disposable urinals – solid waste bags
  • *Plastic bags
  • Latex gloves
  • **Toilet Paper
  • Towels
  • Solar shower
  • All purpose soap/cleaning agents
  • *Anti-bacterial sanitizer
  • Kleenex
  • Nail clippers
  • Lime/disinfectant/bleach
  • Cloth diapers (multiple uses)
  1. Clothing

For warmth, comfort, and protection from insects and the elements.

  • *Proper and adequate clothing for the appropriate season and location
  • *Appropriate shoes/boots/snow shoes/extra laces
  • *Rain gear/poncho/rubberized boots
  • *Cold weather gear – layered clothing/thermal underwear
  • *Hat/gloves/bandana
  • Extra stuff sacks
  • Insect head net
  • Belts – regular/military type with small pouches
  1. Shelter – Warmth

For protection from insects and the elements, warmth, sleeping, comfort, privacy.

  • *Tarps
  • Plastic sheeting/large plastic trash bags
  • *Tent – *tube/*lightweight/regular
  • Shelter building material
  • Nylon patch repair kit/seam sealer
  • *Sleeping bag – *emergency/*lightweight/*bivy bag (small individual size tent/bag)/compact lightweight/regular down bag
  • Sleeping pad/cot/air mattress
  • Hammock
  • *Emergency blankets
  • Regular blankets
  • Sheets
  • Hand/body warmers
  • Insect netting
  • Extra stakes/rope/bungee cords
  • Umbrella

  10. Communication

It is essential to be kept informed during an emergency with friends, family, and appropriate governmental agencies and emergency organizations. When in an outdoor environment, unsettled weather considerations necessitate weather alert radios. Avoid a sense of isolation during serious emergencies.

  • *Radios – hand cranked/solar/batteries
  • Two-way radios
  • Short wave/CB (citizens band)/GMRS (general mobile radio service)/FRS (family radio service)/VHF (very high frequency) radios
  • Ham radio for radio amateurs – need license to transmit and/or radio with Ham frequencies for listening
  • Radios with NOAA (government agency) weather channels (7) and weather alerts if necessary in your area
  • *Cell phones/smart phones/charger
  • Satellite phones
  • *Whistle
  • *Signaling devices/flares/mirror
  • *Notebook/pen – regular & space pen that will write in any weather and position/markers/waterproof paper
  • PLB (personal locator beacon)
  • Small TV – battery/solar operated
  • Telephone not requiring external power
  • Morse code chart

11. Lighting

This is an essential category to address when anticipating any situation where you may be in darkness. Not only for a sense of security and comfort, but to be able to see clearly and act accordingly if emergencies happen in the dark.

  • *Flashlight – hand cranked/solar/batteries/LED and regular bulbs
  • *Lantern (*small or large size) – hand cranked/solar/batteries/propane/mantel/ candle/LED and regular bulbs
  • Oil lamps – kerosene/clear lamp oil/wicks
  • Strobe light
  • *Head Lamp
  • **Extra batteries/power source
  • **Candles
  • Extra mantels/extra propane canisters
  • Light sticks

12. Tools – Instruments – Accessories

Numerous unforeseen situations or just routine conditions occur during an emergency or during an outdoor adventure. Be prepared and secure with the proper quality tool.

  • *Knife/knives/knife maintenance/sharpener
  • *Multi-tool/Swiss Army knife
  • *Navigation/compass/GPS
  • Repair tools – hammer/screwdrivers/pliers/wire cutters/nails/screws/nuts & bolts/crowbar/spikes/pulley
  • Repair Kits
  • *Axe (*small or large)/saw (*hand controlled chain or special outdoor)/hacksaw/wood splitting/wedges
  • *Rope/wire/bungee cords/straps/paracord/heavy cordage
  • *JB Weld/super adhesive/superglue/epoxy
  • Goo remover
  • Lubricating oil/WD-40
  • Chain
  • Padlocks
  • *Work gloves
  • Shovel/multi-purpose folding shovel
  • Garden tools if appropriate
  • Fishing/hunting/trapping gear/Ronco Pocket Fisherman/snare wire
  • *Duct tape/Hurricane tape/nylon repair tape/patches
  • *Plastic bags/trash bags/plastic sheeting
  • *Aluminum foil
  • *Sewing and repair supplies
  • Velcro
  • Safety goggles
  • Weather condition instruments/thermometer
  • Watch – regular/multi-featured
  • Binoculars
  • Stuff bags for organizing
  • Scissors
  • Rubber bands
  • Small broom/rake
  • Buckets
  • Files
  • Clothes pins
  • Dust/gas masks
  • *Siphoning tube/hose
  • Hand pump
  • *Auto/bicycle/boat emergency items (keep in vehicle)
  • Can of red spray paint to indicate emergency information
  • Shut-off tool for gas/water supply
  • Tool for braking auto glass and cutting seat belts/webbing
  • Fuel – gasoline/diesel/kerosene/propane
  • Fuel stabilizer
  • Fire extinguisher

         13. Emergency Instructions – Guidance – Support – Back up – Personal Documents

Important and accurate information can not only be helpful it can be life saving. Researching reliable and trustworthy information sources is a vital component to preparedness and outdoor survival planning. Establishing family communication and reunion plans is also essential for security and peace of mind. Certain documents should always be available.

  • Books/*Bible/novels
  • Morale builders – personal items that help children and adults cope in stressful situations
  • *Medical information
  • *Emergency/survival information
  • *Manuals appropriate for equipment you have
  • *Maps
  • *Pen/magic marker/paper/chalk
  • *Compass
  • Edible wild foods publications/field guides
  • *Essential personal documents – photo ID/will/insurance/stocks/bonds/birth certificates/DD214/bank account & credit card numbers/family records/personal property inventory for insurance/deeds/pink slips/passports/ Social Security cards/check books/credit and debit cards/irreplaceable photographs and certificates – IN WATERPROOF CONTAINER
  • *Phone numbers and addresses of friends, relatives, and emergency organizations/agencies
  • *Spare keys
  • *Instructions on meeting and/or communicating with family and/or friends during or after an emergency
  • Duel language dictionary if appropriate
  • Solar calculator
  • Back-up computer discs/flash drives
  • Laptop/iPad/tablets/PDA’s/mp3-4 players
  • *Entertainment – music/instruments/cards/games

14. Power – Energy

A reliable power supply can be crucial in an emergency or for various outdoor recreational activities. Many valuable communication, radio, entertainment and lighting devices require power. Currently there are a number of dependable portable solar (large and small), storage, and hand operated units available to power your electronic devices.

  • *For power – a small portable solar charger for electronics and rechargeable batteries
  • For lighting
  • For radios
  • For electronic devices
  • For communication
  • *Hand cranked radios and lanterns with USB charger & power cords
  • Solar/storage/hand cranked power devices – fuel free portable power/small power packs
  • Solar panels
  • Generator – gas/propane/back up fuel
  • Appropriate linking cables
  • *Batteries of all sizes – alkaline/rechargeable
  • *Battery charger – wall/car/solar
  • Deep cycle battery
  • Inverter

15. Cash

It is impossible to know for certain what circumstances might exist during a serious emergency and for what duration normal financial activities will be disrupted. Access to electronic funds or use of credit cards may not be possible. Cash or barter may be the only means of paying for goods or services.

  • *Cash in smaller denomination bills
  • Gold/silver coins
  • Smaller items for barter
  • Credit/debit cards

16. Personal Security

Each individual must decide the extent to which they will provide protection for themselves and their families from physical harm by others or wild animals. Don’t forget fire safety.

  • Weapons/ammunition/gun cleaning supplies/bow hunting supplies – If you have firearms make sure all those who might use them are properly trained
  • Tazer
  • Mace
  • Pepper Spray
  • Bear repellant
  • Sling shot
  • Clubs/bats
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Large dog

17. Personal Security

This category must not be overlooked if you, other family members, or friends have specials needs and require individual attention.

  • **Personal items specifically required by special needs individuals
  • **Medical items and prescriptions – consider having an adequate supply on hand in the event of a unforeseen and prolonged emergency
  • **Special foods or other items for children/elderly/disabled/nursing mothers
  • *Children’s items for comfort and a sense of security – blankets/dolls/toys/diapers/pacifiers
  • **Pet needs

18. Transportation Support

An often overlooked category, specific transportation support must be assessed especially for longer duration emergencies or for outdoor activities where the transportation devices are critical. Evaluate these options, determine which ones you will utilize, determine what you will need to ensure safety, comfort, repair potential, and adequacy to handle the transportation of your provisions.

  • Motor Vehicle – car/truck/van/RV/motorcycle/extra gas/repair and emergency equipment/trailer
  • Boat – motorized/sail/canoe/kayak/paddle/inflatable/folding
  • Scooter
  • Bicycle – regular/folding – repair parts/tire pump – special towing cart
  • Horse
  • By foot
  • Wagon/garden cart/wheel barrow – for manual needs

Emergency Preparedness Items for Automobiles – Trucks – Vans – RV’s

These items are especially important for long trips, family outings, new younger drivers, inclement weather, remote areas and at night.

  • Spare tire
  • Jack with tire iron and supporting tools
  • Device to break window and cut seat belts from the inside in an emergency
  • Tire inflation device – portable power and/or aerosol can inflator/other tire repair materials
  • JB Weld/super adhesive
  • Jumper cables
  • Portable power unit for jump starting and backup power
  • Tow cables/rope
  • Chains/cables/bungee cords for tightening
  • Crowbar
  • Reflectors/flares
  • Hidden spare key
  • Extra oil
  • Extra gas/funnel if appropriate
  • Siphon hose
  • Extra fan belts/bulbs/hoses/additives/sealers/hard to get parts/repair kit
  • Window scraper
  • Important phone numbers/documents/insurance information
  • GPS device if appropriate
  • Empty gas can

Additional critical items from the above Essential Checklist to carry in your vehicle:

  • Tarps
  • Blankets/emergency sleeping bag
  • First Aid kit
  • Baby supplies
  • Food and water/water purification/containers if appropriate
  • Maps
  • Pen/magic marker/paper
  • Personal documents and photo ID/registration/insurance
  • Gloves
  • Duct tape
  • Rope/wire
  • Repair tools
  • Plastic bags large and small
  • Cell phone/smart phone/charger
  • Emergency radio/hand crank radio
  • Emergency lighting
  • Rope/wire/bungees
  • Small solar/12 volt power packs for small electronics
  • Cash/credit card
  • Extra clothing in harsh and/or wet weather/hat
  • Hand/body warmers
  • Rain gear/rubber boots/poncho
  • Knife/multi-tool
  • Whistle
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Shovel
  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Matches/fire starter
  • Extra batteries
  • Personal protection devices or items as appropriate/pepper spray                                                                                                                                      
  • Refer to the Essential Checklist for other items relevant to your vehicles specific needs.

Reproduction of this important Checklist for other media is granted if Denis Korn and Learn To Prepare is appropriately credited

Barriers to Critical Thinking & The 7 Essential Questions for Reflection

By Denis Korn                          

I am sharing once again what has been one of the most read of all my posts – Barriers to Critical Thinking.  It continues to be even more timely given the issues that we face as a country and as a civilization today.  I last posted this article in May of last year and I continually receive comments on how relevant and important it is for not only students, but for adults.

This is a blog site that primarily focuses on the process of emergency preparedness planning, and it is essential that one develops an effective foundation and skill set for critical evaluation and assessment of facts and circumstances that lead to actions that are effectual, appropriate and beneficial.   My philosophical background can’t help but guide me to the two core aspects of the critical thinking process: freedom and choice.

Between stimulus and response, there is a space.

In that space lies our freedom and our power to chose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our happiness.

                           Viktor Frankl, MD, PhD 1905 – 1997  Psychologist, Philosopher, Author and Survivor of 4 Nazi Concentration Camps

As an expanded Cherokee Proverb states so well:  

There Is A Battle Of Two Wolves Inside Us All

One is evil.  It is anger, envy, jealousy, greed, sorrow, regret, self-pity, guilt, false pride, resentment, lies, inferiority, elitist superiority and ego.

The other is good.  It is joy, peace, serenity, generosity, compassion, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, faith and truth.

The one who wins?  The one you feed.

What we cultivate and nurture will determine our result and experience.  This applies to building a preparedness program and to all aspects of our encounter with life and our perception of reality.  Do we choose freedom and being responsible for our choices and the rewards that follow, or are we going to thoughtlessly and recklessly react without engaging in a critical thinking process?

As an observer of the current events in our society, it is blatantly obvious that those in positions of leadership and influence – government, commerce, media and education – are suffering from “serious delusion and self-interest syndrome.”  The polarization, manipulation and deterioration of our society is so insidious and pervasive that I continue to pray and yearn for our citizens, educators and leaders to embrace and embody the skills of critical thinking, truthful evaluation, selflessness and discernment.  The lying and deception being imposed upon the people by the government, media and the self-serving has reached epidemic proportions – so many folks are reacting not thinking – fear, selfishness and confusion has robed our populace of the basic fundamentals of thoughtful reasoning.

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.”

– H. L. Mencken

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”  — George Orwell

Has decades of incompetent, agenda driven and indoctrinating education finally taken its toll on common sense and judicious thinking?

The following list of the barriers to critical thinking, common sense and rational judgment is overwhelming and intimidating to many – so in your quest to be a skilled thinker you are encouraged to overcome obstacles that will appear in your path.  Be dedicated, competent and persistent – and be willing to help others to be successful and effective thinkers.

Here are the Seven Essential Questions that must be reflected upon and honestly answered to begin the process of developing critical thinking skills:

  1. What is the truth?  Can you differentiate the difference between truth and opinion? (hint: truth is discovered – it is what is — opinion is created by people – it is opinion that is relative not truth)
  2. Who do you trust? Why?
  3. From where do you obtain the information that forms your worldview?  Why?
  4. Can you discern the truth from the lie – the real from the false?  How do you discern? – Try logic, reason, reliable intuition, common sense, anecdotal evidence, nonjudgmental observation and selfless reflection.
  5. Can you recognize “what really is” from what you believe “ought to be.” – It has been said that strife and discord in life arise from the struggle between “what is” and “what ought to be.”  What do you do when you discover this conflict? 
  6. Can you formulate conclusions and judgments based upon the ability to access, evaluate and determine the relevancy and reliability of facts and evidence.
  7. Which barriers are the most prevalent in your critical thinking process, and which ones do you experience most prevalent in others.

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June 2011

I have decided to post this article on the barriers to critical thinking, which I use in teaching, as the 3rd in a series of posts dealing with the psychological, emotional and spiritual components of emergency and disaster preparedness planning.

Normalcy Bias – Why People are attached to Inaction

The Emotional and Spiritual Components of Preparedness

As I have stated before, there is more to preparing for emergencies than the physical “stuff” you surround yourself with.  Evaluating, understanding and acknowledging all aspects of the planning process is essential for a proper and complete preparedness program.

This article, which I wrote, was an important part of the college course I taught on Critical Thinking – a class I believe to be an  important part of a college experience.  I have not changed it for this post – this is what the students read, reflected upon and discussed in class.  Most struggle with its implications and accuracy.  It not only applies to preparedness planning – but to all aspects of human deliberation.

BARRIERS TO CRITICAL THINKING – from my college course on Critical Thinking

Your responsibility as a critical thinker is to be aware of the barriers, acknowledge the challenges they present, and overcome them to the best of your ability.

“If critical thinking is so important, why is it that uncritical thinking is so common?  Why is it that so many people – including many highly educated and intelligent people – find critical thinking so difficult?”[1] And I [Denis] might add – impossible!

Discovering the answers to these questions is crucial to the understanding of what is required to be a true critical thinker, and the reasons you will encounter from those who resist embodying critical thinking skills are often quite complex, and can be both subtle and blatant.  The following list of barriers to critical thinking will help guide you to recognizing the challenges that await you and was compiled from Critical Thinking: A Student’s Introduction, our text Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking, and personal observation.

  • pride
  • greed
  • egocentrism (self-centered thinking)
  • sociocentrism or ethnocentrism (group/society/cultural-centered thinking)
  • an over-reliance on feelings
  • self-deception
  • the erroneous belief of personal infallible intuition
  • unconscious reaction
  • reacting in self defense – fear of personal attack – believing one’s ideas and beliefs are an extension of one’s self and must be defended at all costs
  • fear of change or an unwillingness to change
  • a pathological inability to evaluate, recognize, or accept an idea or point of view that differs from one’s own
  • a less than honorable agenda
  • lack of relevant background information or ignorance
  • inappropriate bias
  • prejudice
  • unwarranted assumptions
  • overpowering or addictive emotions
  • fear of being wrong or face-saving
  • selective perception and selective memory
  • peer pressure
  • conformism (mindless conformity)
  • indoctrination initiated by uncritical thinkers with malicious and selfish intent
  • provincialism (restricted and unsophisticated thinking)
  • narrow-mindedness or close-mindedness
  • lack of discernment
  • distrust in reason
  • relativism (relativistic thinking)
  • absolutism (there are no exceptions)
  • stereotyping
  • scapegoating (blaming others)
  • denial
  • wishful thinking
  • short-term thinking
  • political correctness
  • superstition
  • being influenced by drugs
  • excessive anger, hate, or bitterness
  • disturbing one’s comfort
  • lack of personal honesty
  • apathy
  • poor reading and comprehension skills
  • poor or dysfunctional communication skills
  • excessive addiction
  • a mental disorder
  • cognitive dissonance (psychological conflict resulting from incompatible beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously)
  • lack of humility
  • the effects of radiation and man-made atmospheric chemicals
  • debilitating fear and uncertainty
  • reliance on main stream television, newspapers and other media for information
  • the effects of television and electronic media on memory, cognition and brain function

In general – the older one becomes the more well-established and rooted these barriers are in the thought process, and the harder it is to overcome them – they become part of you like a scar.  It is suggested to triumph over them as soon as possible.

Questions for reflection:

 

– What is the purpose and value in gaining critical thinking skills?  – Is it really necessary?

– What are the rewards?  – What are the challenges?

– Am I willing to do what it takes?  – How important is it for me?  – Can I do it?

– Do I realize that demonstrating, sharing, and embodying wisdom and discernment requires exemplifying critical thinking skills and overcoming its barriers?  –  Are all these barriers overwhelming?

– Do I realize this is a life long process?  – What is the difference between intelligence and wisdom?

– What are the steps required for developing critical thinking skills?

– How do I communicate with others who are not critical thinkers and have embodied these barriers to such an extent that they are unwilling to engage in a meaningful dialogue or acknowledge any responsibility in the communication breakdown?  – Or do I bother at all?

– How am I to react or respond when I experience a lack of critical thinking in the media, among friends and family, at the work place, and in my academic courses and studies?

While many think developing critical thinking skills are for the beginning philosophy student, they are in fact vital for everyone.  Recognizing and overcoming the barriers to critical thinking listed above is essential in creating and maintaining genuine, honest, and nurturing relationships – developing leadership skills for both family and vocational choices – fulfilling the goals and missions of businesses and organizations – and discovering and achieving purpose and fulfillment in all aspects of one’s life.  Many of the barriers to critical thinking are barriers to joyfulness, selflessness, and contentment.

Do not be discouraged by the enormity of the task of reflecting upon, acknowledging, and overcoming these barriers.  Have confidence that you will recognize the hold these barriers have on your thought process, and I encourage you to be committed to achieving the obtainable rewards awaiting you when you have accomplished the goal of prevailing over these barriers one by one.

A common denominator of these barriers is that the individual has no control over their effects.  They are held captive by defective responses and impressions.   One “reacts” to a situation, idea, or challenge, whereas the critical thinker “chooses” the process of thoughtful evaluation – embracing – and embodiment.  The critical thinker has the freedom to rightly assess circumstances and concepts, and the result is to arrive at an appropriate and insightful conclusion and reasonable outcome.

Evaluating and embracing an idea, information, knowledge, guideline, doctrine or theology is a mental exercise and is the just the beginning of the process – embodiment is the goal and requires diligent and persistent action for true fulfillment and success.

In the pursuit of the embodiment of critical thinking skills always be mindful of the value and necessity of honesty, wisdom, discernment, and the need to distinguish the truth from the lie.  We live in an unprecedented time of media, institutional, educational, and political self-interest that will not hesitate to use any means possible to achieve its objectives including deceptive indoctrination techniques, propaganda, deceitfulness, fallacious argumentation, and fraud.

Life is like riding a bicycle.

To keep your balance you must keep moving.

Albert Einstein, in a letter to his son Eduard, February 5, 1930

The Problem of Egocentric Thinking[2]

Egocentric thinking results from the unfortunate fact that humans do not naturally consider the rights and needs of others.  We do not naturally appreciate the point of view of others nor the limitations in our own point of view.  We become explicitly aware or our egocentric thinking only if trained to do so.  We do not naturally recognize our egocentric assumptions, the egocentric way we use information, the egocentric way we interpret data, the source of our egocentric concepts and ideas, the implications of our egocentric thought.  We do not naturally recognize our self-serving perspective.

As humans we live with the unrealistic but confident sense that we have fundamentally figured out the way things actually are, and that we have done this objectively.  We naturally believe in our intuitive perceptions – however inaccurate [Denis – I personally believe that intuitive perceptions are vital to critical thinking – providing one possesses the required discernment skills].  Instead of using intellectual standards in thinking, we often use self-centered psychological standards to determine what to believe and what to reject.  Here are the most commonly used psychological standards in human thinking.

“IT’S TRUE BECAUSE I BELIEVE IT.”  Innate egocentrism: I assume that what I believe is true even though I have never questioned the basis for many of my beliefs.

“IT’S TRUE BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IT.”  Innate sociocentrism: I assume that the dominant beliefs of the groups to which I belong are true even though I have never questioned the basis for those beliefs.

“IT’S TRUE BECAUSE I WANT TO BELIEVE IT.”  Innate wish fulfillment: I belief in whatever puts me (or the groups to which I belong) in a positive light.  I believe what “feels good,” what does not require me to change my thinking in any significant way, what does not require me to admit I have been wrong.

“IT’S TRUE BECAUSE I HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED IT.”  Innate self-validation: I have a strong desire to maintain beliefs I have long held, even though I have not seriously considered the extent to which those beliefs are justified by the evidence.

“IT’S TRUE BECAUSE IT IS IN MY SELFISH INTEREST TO BELIEVE IT.”  Innate selfishness: I believe whatever justifies my getting more power, money, or personal advantage even though those beliefs are not grounded in sound reasoning or evidence.


[1] Gregory Bassham, Critical Thinking: A Student’s Introduction, 3rded., (New York, McGraw-Hill, 2008), p. 11

[2] Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools, Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder

Vital Preparedness Planning Questions

By Denis Korn

What Road Will You Choose to Take?

For those who have read many of my other posts you will discover that I very often use questions to stimulate and motivate reflection and action.  In the preparedness process there are two distinct elements or phases – the research, evaluation, discussion, planning, discerning phase – and the action, building, provisioning, doing phase.  As I have stated before many preparedness planners put the cart before the horse.  They act before they critically think, assess and reflect.  This often creates a situation where provisions and physical preparations are inadequate and ineffectual when a real emergency or disaster occurs.

Focused and effective questions not only lead to the creation of a solid foundation from which to build a successful preparedness program, these questions can be the guidance required for a continuing dialogue and navigating a beneficial preparedness process.  One of the most important articles I have written that elucidate the value of the questioning process is The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning.  I encourage every serious preparedness planner to earnestly answer the questions in that article.

The following vital questions offer insight into a broader perspective of one’s preparedness viewpoint.  Some of these questions are new and some come from other posts that I have written.  They present an excellent starting point or continuing compass guiding the preparedness process.  They are not only valuable for individual consideration, but also an excellent basis for group discussion, workshops, presentations, family conversation, community awareness or stimulating the skeptical into action and responsibility.

VITAL PREPAREDNESS PLANNING QUESTIONS – To be answered individually or in a discussion group

  • Who do you trust?  Why?
  • Who do you rely on and where do you get the information and expertise from that determines your personal, spiritual, cultural, and political worldview?
  • Why do you think you should be prepared for the unexpected? – Or should you not?
  • Do you believe the government, local – state – national, will provide for you or rescue you during an emergency? – Do you really trust the government and others to take care of you during an emergency?
  • If the head-of-household, or you, are away from home – is your family prepared to cope and survive during an emergency? – Who will train and educate them?
  • An eminent emergency is announced – What do you do? – Are you prepared?
  • The grid just went down – Now what do you do?
  • A disaster has just occurred – What do you do? – Where do you go? – Do you stay or leave?
  • Have you prepared a list of provisions to always have on hand?  How many of those items do you have? – What condition are they in? – Are you willing to be responsible enough to take action and stock up? – What about a written preparedness plan? – What are the most important provisions you should always have on hand? – Can you take them with you if you have to evacuate?
  • What is your excuse for doing nothing and not taking any action to prepare for the unforeseen?
  • Can you go camping in your house for a week?  Are you willing to give it a try – before an emergency?
  • Who can help you develop an effective emergency preparedness plan? – Will you involve the whole family?
  • From 1 to 10 – 10 being the highest – What is your level of security?
  • When you plan for the unexpected – do you critically think and evaluate – or do you mindlessly and unconsciously react to whatever you hear or read?
  • What is your #1 emergency scenario?  #2 – #3 – Are you prepared for it?
  • Are you convinced that disasters will never happen to you?
  • Your wife’s – husband’s – daughter’s – son’s car breaks down on a remote country road (or anywhere for that matter) – its night – winter – deserted – Are they prepared to cope? – Do they have the necessary provisions?
  • Who is relying on you for guidance, reassurance and security during an emergency? – Are you up to the responsibility?
  • What triggering event must occur to motivate you to take preparedness seriously?
  • Are you spiritually and emotionally prepared to endure during a disaster?
  • When you research, evaluate, and explore during your preparedness planning process, can you discern the difference between reliable and dependable, and erroneous and untrustworthy information? – Where will you go and who will you seek out for truthful knowledge and trustworthy guidance?
  • What are the absolutely critical factors you feel you must address when developing your preparedness plan?
  • What would cause grocery shelves to be emptied?
  • What common and crucial items would be the first to disappear and become unavailable during an emergency?
  • Are you able to be honest with yourself when you answer these questions?

The Gift of Encouragement

By Denis Korn

We live in stressful and transformative times!

My Be Encouraged post first appeared at the end of 2011 and I have received many encouraging comments about its value in these troubling times.  I especially wanted to re-post this updated version.  It is not meant to be an article about preparedness or outdoor adventure – it is here to be a brief rest from the apprehension of daily life and the anguish of the times.

I felt a personal calling to write and share this prayer of encouragement as a gift to those needing some uplifting words during distressing events and the constant perpetration by media and government of crisis, fear and hysteria.

It is difficult to stay positive, feel secure and be joyful when the world around us appears to be dissolving and transforming, and so many people – especially “leadership” – are egocentric and delusional. 

We all need encouragement to help us cope.

 

  • Be encouraged: to find tranquility, serenity, courage and contentment amid the uncertainty, anxiety and confusion of the times.
  • Be encouraged: to trust GOD to replace fear and worry with peace and hope.
  • Be encouraged: to avoid those who rob you of your passion.
  • Be encouraged: to seek the company and counsel of those who encourage, understand and support you.
  • Be encouraged: to seek the wisdom to be able to discern the truth from the lie.
  • Be encouraged: to discover someone you can truly trust.
  • Be encouraged: to focus your mind and heart on that which edifies, inspires and transforms.
  • Be encouraged: to let go of the notion that you can do “it” all yourself.
  • Be encouraged: to cast off the chains that bind you to discontentment.
  • Be encouraged: to love one another in thought, heart and deed.
  • Be encouraged: to be selfless not selfish.
  • Be encouraged: to be honest with yourself – and others.
  • Be encouraged: to set aside a few moments each day to quiet your mind, open the eyes of your heart, meditate in silence and be thankful to GOD for the blessings that you have been given.
  • Be encouraged: to deflect the negativity, fear and hatred that is thrust upon you daily.
  • Be encouraged: to experience aliveness as much as possible.
  • Be encouraged: to discern the beneficial actions you are called upon to pursue during these troubled times.
  • Be encouraged: to be courageous while you walk among the weak and disheartened.
  • Be encouraged: to continually search for and discover meaning in all circumstances.
  • Be encouraged: to embody forgiveness.
  • Be encouraged: to realize and exemplify your GOD given purpose in life.
  • Be encouraged: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – think about (meditate on) these things … Phil 4:8
  • Be encouraged: to pray to GOD with thanksgiving – believe and have faith – let go – follow GOD’s guidance and instruction with patience and perseverance.
  • Be encouraged: to encourage others!

 

Blessings to those who are encouraged by these words

Why Are So Many Christians Being Called To Prepare?

By Denis Korn

The time is appropriate to share an article written prior to Y2K.  The title was the original title – Today it could be expanded to ask: Why Are So Many People of Diverse Communities Being Called to Prepare? While this was written 13 years ago to a Christian audience, it is as applicable today to any church, group, organization, web forum or family, as it was to Christians when I wrote it right before Y2K.

Most scenarios are the same, the issues surrounding preparedness are the same and the events and potential events are real and impending.  I foresaw then that it wasn’t just about Y2K, but any unforeseen occurrence – and I knew then that Y2K was just a wake up call for more serious potential events yet to come years into the future – that future is with us now.

What follows is the original article except for current comments in brackets [ ]:

I have been aware of the desire of large numbers of born-again Christians to be spiritually and physically prepared for emergency situations, especially catastrophic ones, for 24 years now [39 years as of 2014] – and the numbers are growing as we reach the new millennium.  Is this some kind of “millennium madness,” as some would suggest, or is something else happening?

It is my observation that basically 4 things are occurring:

First, many Christians are realizing that individual churches should provide for the most vulnerable and those in need, especially in time of emergency.  They feel it is the churches’ responsibility to take a leadership role in promoting contingency planning education and action for its members.  There is ample historical precedent for this perspective.

They feel that much time, effort and money is spent on spiritual issues and teaching activities (which is of course primary and essential), missions, and new facilities, but not enough on basic physical essentials such as food and daily necessities.  There is a desire to make sure that church members, or anyone seeking the help of the church, such as the elderly, widows, disabled, single parents and the poor, are secure with the essentials during times of adversity and disaster – especially when primary sources of supplies may not be available.

Second, there is an overwhelming sense of impending trials and tribulations – whether it is the last days, Godly rebuke or some intense period of transition or wake up call to The Church and the world.

Potential problems can be triggered by a number of possible events: Y2K, war – and the rumors of war, scientific experimentation gone wrong, terrorism, earthquakes and other natural disasters, famine, pestilence, economic and technical instability, political upheaval, martial law, The New World Order – and the list goes on. [This short list was written in 1999 – except for the uncertainties of Y2K it appears the same scenarios are still with us, and with even more intensity and probability.] Any one event, let alone multiple events all at once can cause a dramatic and profound change in our society and our lifestyle.

It is self-evident that most of our population today in America is not prepared for nor accustomed to serious hardships.  We have become comfortable and dependent rather than self-reliant and responsible.  The availability of goods and services are dependant on so many interrelated factors, that a breakdown in just one area can have a significant impact on our daily life and the ability to provide for those depending upon us.

The Word instructs Christians to be wise, prudent and responsible and provide for their families.  While spiritual trust in God is first and foremost, many are realizing the need for physical preparation is also essential in preparedness planning.  There is a spiritual awakening and discernment of the realities and vulnerability of the times in which we live.  Many are interpreting Biblical teaching as a call to action.

A classic example is the Old Testament account of Joseph [Gen 41: 34-36, 48-49] who stored provisions in the abundant times for the time of famine and great need.  [When you continue reading in Genesis 47: 13-26 what occurred during the famine to the citizens of that time and the consequences of relying entirely upon the government is sobering – although they did not starve – you will be shaken by the implications of the loss of freedoms and the total dependency upon the government that are possible today.]  Are we so naïve or arrogant as to believe that it could not happen in our country in our time?

Third, Christians feel a need to create community and associate with like-minded Christians who share a common perspective on the times and what actions to take.  I am both amazed and dismayed at the polarization that is occurring in the church over the issue of Y2K and preparedness in general.  [During Y2K this was also the case among many secular groups. With today’s current events and concerns, the same polarization is occurring in and out of The Church.]

Within churches and within families, people are branding those who are planning for emergencies – especially Y2K – as “wackos,” “nuts,” “extremists,” “suckers,” “stupid,” and those who supply emergency provisions as “opportunists,” “money hungry,” and “snake oil salesman.”  The often harsh judgment on those preparing and supplying makes me wonder what is really going on here, and what are the greater implications of the whole matter.  What can be wrong with rational Christians – or anyone for that matter – wanting to be prepared for any number of potential emergency scenarios?

Many Christians feel a “coming together and fellowship” with others who have prayed earnestly, studied the Bible, felt called and have concluded that being prepared is the action to take.  There is mutual support, a deepening bond and a sense of security and peace of mind.  There is the opportunity to contribute in the time of need, and the acknowledgement from one’s brothers and sisters that what you are doing is okay…and even proper.

Fourth, many Christians have informed themselves and evaluated the facts, read books, gone to conferences, watched videos, talked to friends, gone to church presentations, asked lots of questions, attended community meetings, been on the internet and concluded that Y2K and other potential problems have a real possibility of occurring.  It can be as simple and logical as assessing the potential risks and taking appropriate action, compatible with one’s personal situation.

We can hope there are no problems or consequences and carry on, or we can study the vast amount of knowledgeable information from true experts and form educated opinions.  We can weigh the reliability of news sources and use our common sense and rational judgment to come to reasonable conclusions.  [While we are fortunate that nothing serious developed from Y2K and that the technical issues were addressed and resolved, it was very clear to many experts at the beginning of the fixing process that there was a real potential for a serious impact on the very interdependent network of delivering vital goods and services.]

This article was not written to convince anyone to run out and start planning.  It was written to share and comment on what I have observed and feel is happening as it relates to preparing Christians.  It remains, however, that a key question must be asked: What chance are you willing to take that any emergency or disaster will be so insignificant in your life that no action is required on your part?

I personally encourage everyone to pray, learn what the Word has to say to you personally about preparedness planning, and conscientiously study the events of the day, the times and the facts relating to Y2K and other potential emergency scenarios.  Consider not only January 1, 2000, but the months and years to come.

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Relevant Scripture:

These Scriptures very slightly among the different translations, however the core meaning is relevant to being prepared, being watchful, being responsible, sharing, service and trusting in the Lord.

  • Genesis 41: 29-31, 34-36, 48-49, 53-57
  • Consequences of Genesis 41 – Gen 47: 13-26
  • Proverbs 22:3; 6:6-8; 3:5-6; 16:9
  • Ecclesiastes 8:6-7
  • 1 Timothy 5:8
  • Luke 21: 34-36
  • Isaiah 62:6; 32:6
  • Jeremiah 6:17-19; 17:7-8
  • Philippians 4: 6-8; 2: 3-4
  • Ephesians 6:10-18; 5:15-17
  • Matthew 24; 25: 1-4, 6-9, 13; 7:24-25
  • Hosea 4:6a
  • Acts 2: 44-47
  • James 2: 14-17

What Are The Most Important Elements of Preparedness?

By Denis Korn

There is an extraordinary fixation in our current culture with all the trappings of physical survival – given the perception of imminent collapse, chaos and oppression.  The degree of hysteria and response to this phenomena is unprecedented in the 39 years I have been in the preparedness industry, and I will soon post an article with my take on what is happening.  I am not a prophet – just an experienced observer of the times and peoples reaction to the radical shifts taking place in our society.  The events that will unfold in the very near future may be catastrophic as many believe or just extremely uncomfortable – we shall soon find out.

The heightened sensitivity to the uncertainty of these times has obviously motivated many to a preparedness/survival mindset.  While so many folks writing articles and blogs are focusing on the myriad of aspects of physical readiness, and a boatload of preparedness/survival websites and advertisers are intensely promoting all the stuff required to survive, I feel the most important elements of preparedness/survival are often overlooked.  This brings our attention to the spiritual and emotional components of preparedness.

In a previous post I talked about Normalcy Bias – the mental state by which people cling to perceptions that are familiar and comfortable – and because of this state they can be in denial of the reality of the circumstances around them.  In some situations and contexts Normalcy Bias may be appropriate; however, in planning for emergencies denying the truth can be disastrous and often deadly.

After acknowledging that there are mental states and attitudes (see Attitude is a Decision) that are necessary to properly plan for emergencies and catastrophes, I want to address the emotional and spiritual aspects of emergency and disaster planning.  Most of the information, guidelines, lists and resources for preparedness focus exclusively on the physical “stuff” required to be adequately prepared for an emergency.  While this is obviously important, it is only one component in the preparedness process when looked at from a holistic perspective.

What is emotion? The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary gives us this definition:

2 a : the affective aspect of consciousness  : FEELING  b : a state of feeling  c : a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.

This is very pertinent as you engage in planning for emergencies.  The relevant point here is that the preparedness planner experiences a conscious mental reaction experienced as a strong feeling that is accompanied by a behavioral change.  While this appears rather self-evident, it must be pointed out that the emergency planner must be aware of their feelings and behavior and its impact on the decisions made on the physical component of the process.

What are the effects of one’s emotional condition and the correctness of their actions? I have talked with many folks about this issue and have seen and heard of the unfortunate results of decisions made that were a result of not being conscience of the influence of their emotional state.  Understanding the power of one’s emotions and acting responsibly can have a positive impact on taking correct action – losing control of one’s emotions and behavior can be destructive.

As I have discussed so often while teaching Critical Thinking in the college classroom, people habituallyreact to a challenging situation rather than critically evaluate and reflect appropriately.  The quality and effectiveness of their decisions is often significantly compromised.  Essential attributes in the preparedness planning process are DISCERNMENT AND INFORMED JUDGMENT!

What is the spiritual component? The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary gives us this definition of spiritual:

1 : of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit  : INCORPOREAL  [spiritual needs]   2 a : of or relating to sacred matters  [spiritual songs]  b : ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal  [spiritual authority]  [lords spiritual]   3 : concerned with religious values  4 : related or joined in spirit  [our spiritual home]  [his spiritual heir]   5 a : of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena  b : of, relating to, or involving spiritualism  : SPIRITUALISTIC

For many the spiritual factor is the most important facet of preparedness and the point from which one begins the preparedness process.  One’s spiritual faith and belief forms the foundation for action.  Reliance on God in the decision making process is primary – trust in God’s guidance in making one’s decisions is fundamental and essential.

I believe the spiritual component encompasses the following aspects:

  • The ultimate outcome of the emergency scenario is in God’s hands
  • In a mysterious way God directs the process
  • We often focus our most important priorities in the wrong direction
  • The purpose of the disaster or catastrophe is of a spiritual nature
  • The difficulties and suffering in a disaster affords one the opportunity to choose to come closer to and rely upon God
  • One’s faith and trust in God is tested, and gives one a chance to assess their relationship with the Divine
  • We are not to rely on our own understanding
  • We are not to cling to the notion that our material possessions are the most important factors in our lives
  • The importance of earnest prayer is profoundly evident
  • Catastrophic events are a result of spiritual warfare of which we have no control
  • We are to love, support, assist, provide for, console, teach and inspire our family, neighbors, friends and strangers during the most trying of times
  • We are being required to ask – and answer: What are the fundamental truths I must learn, and who do I  truly trust during trials and tribulation?
  • Why are you being called to prepare and for what purpose?

To believe that being prepared is just a matter of having all the right provisions safely stored away is, in my opinion, overlooking the most important factors in survival, resiliency and effective preparedness.  We must not get caught up in the perverting media frenzy of perpetuating fear and anxiety to such an extent that clear thinking is obliterated.  Successful preparedness – and daily living for that matter – is a balance of physical, emotional and spiritual elements.

Beginning & Improving Preparedness Planning – Another Look

By Denis Korn

For the finest in preparedness products you are encouraged to visit PrepareDirect.

It is time once again to evaluate one of the Foundational Articles.  I have presented here a simple and concise guide to the preparedness process.  Your are encouraged to treat this information seriously – your life may depend upon it!  You are also invited to read other articles and posts that go into detail regarding various facets of preparedness.

If you are a newcomer to preparedness planning or have been engaged for some time, the information and suggestions contained in this article will certainly help you begin or add to your experience of confidence and peace of mind, and assist you with practical steps you can take.

The first step in the preparedness planning process is the acknowledgment that you have made a wise and sound decision and have chosen to take responsibility for you and your family, and to be prepared in the event of unforeseen circumstances.  Be encouraged to continue this process with diligence, motivation, and discernment.

It is my intention in this article to present a guideline that can be followed which will lead you on an important journey to being prepared in the event of any number of potentially unexpected events.  This process is basically undertaken in three phases – each one of which will take as much time as you wish to devote, and the degree of urgency you are experiencing.

  1. First, there is an initial assessment necessary to determine the direction you are heading.
  2. Second, there is further evaluation, research, and planning required to develop a firm foundation for the third phase, and to develop the clarity required for appropriate and accurate decision making.
  3. Third, there is taking action and assembling the appropriate provisions and critical information you have determined are necessary for your security and peace of mind.  This phase is ongoing as you continue to evaluate, research, and build up your supplies and information.

The initial assessment

This consists of 6 basic questions that you are encouraged to answer that will lead you along the matrix to your destination:

  1. What is your attitude concerning emergency preparedness?
  2. What are the circumstances or scenarios and their severity you have determined may exist that will require you to rely upon your preparedness supplies?
  3. What is the length of time you will be affected during these scenarios that you will be required to rely on your preparedness supplies?
  4. For whom and how many are you preparing?
  5. Where will you be?
  6. How serious are you and how much time, effort, and money are you willing to devote to research, planning, and action, and with what help?

Elaborating on these 6 questions

Attitude – Are you positive, fearful, confused?  A proper attitude during the preparedness planning process is essential and it is made more effective by exercising competent critical thinking and discernment skills. Reacting from fear or confusion can be an obstacle to efficient planning.

Scenarios – At the end of this article is a list of potential scenarios and circumstances that will help you answer this question.  The events range from mild to catastrophic, and fall generally into 3 categories: acts of God that tend to be local or regional; man-made that tend to be national; and momentous earth changes that tend to be national or worldwide.

Time – Your time frames can be as little as 3 days, which provide only a brief period of inconvenience, or as much as 1 year or more (I know of groups preparing for 7 years), that require a significant change of attitude and lifestyle.  Also, at the end of this article, is a listing of various time frames and comments.

Who – Suggestions include, an individual, family, friends, neighborhood, organization, company, club, or church or temple.

Where – How you answer the “Who” question will effect the answer to this question.  In addition consider whether a vacation/retreat location is applicable and whether there are multiple potential locations to take into account.  Also, if you need to be mobile, what transportation options are available or required?

Seriousness – This question requires your honesty not just wishful thinking.  Your level of commitment is important to the planning process, especially when it comes down to a financial commitment.  Also, be honest about what you really know about emergency preparedness planning.  Don’t be afraid to do serious research and seek true expect opinion and perspective.  Initial or additional knowledge is extremely important – and it might save your health or life.

After you finish this initial assessment, I strongly suggest that you refer to and continue to answer the more detailed questions in the article titled The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning. This will move you into the second phase of the planning process, and assist you in evaluation and research.  The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning is an expansion of the 6 initial questions, and offers more focused and detailed questions to help guide you along.

Another important article, with specific tips and vital information on food and water, and with some similar questions to other articles, is The Essential Emergency Planning Guide for Food and Water. Here is an excerpt from that article from the Where to Start section.

    • Clearly answer the key questions given in the next “Important Issues” section.
    • Determine a realistic response for your unique economic and personal situation. Be careful to avoid reacting to and with the actions of others without first determining if these actions are appropriate for you. Don’t get caught up in a “feeding frenzy” of buying.
    • Create an appropriate step by step plan of action on paper- sooner rather than later.
    • Continue to educate yourself using the vast resources of reliable information. Note: There are those with limited experience and knowledge who have suddenly appeared in the marketplace to take advantage of the situation. Buyer beware!
    • Assemble a library, data files, and Internet bookmarks; subscribe to related magazines, get tapes.
    • Go to conferences, workshops, and church meetings and talk to responsible leaders who have researched the issues you are concerned about.
    • Make a list of items you will need during your anticipated emergency situation. Prioritize it. Determine what you have on hand, and begin to fill your list.
    • Create lists for differing locations, such as home, car, RV, or work.
    • Prepare an area where you live to store your supplies.
    • Make daily life in an emergency situation real to yourself and your family- Turn off your electricity, gas, water and phone for 3 days, and don’t count on any local stores or services. Don’t wait for a sunny, warm day to try this- emergencies can happen in the winter!
    • Think quality- as if your comfort and life depended on it! You must discern between economy and reliability. All too often the cheapest is the least dependable; especially in an emergency situation, and even more so if the emergency is long term.

As you reflect upon and answer the questions in phase 1 and 2, you may choose to wait until you feel confident about the next phase – action – or you may begin (or perhaps you have already began) to gather your supplies.

Summary of Action Steps

  • Answer the 6 questions in the initial assessment.
  • Answer all the questions in The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning.
  • Write down – on paper – the answer to as many of these questions as you feel are necessary to formulate a written preparedness plan.
  • Write down and complete any lists, inventories, important points, insights you have received, or anything else suggested or inferred in the articles that will help in your preparedness planning.
  • Distribute and discuss your easily understood and complete preparedness plan to your family, company, or group.
  • Discuss and request feedback about your plans and supplies with others, as you feel appropriate – friends, experts, suppliers.
  • Continue doing research and evaluation.
  • Create an appropriate place to store supplies.
  • Add to, or begin accumulating and organizing, your provisions.
  • Experiment with the items you have.  Know how to use them – or in the case of food – know how to prepare them and what they taste like (especially if they are unfamiliar).  Emergencies are not the time for surprises.
  • Pray – if you are a religious or spiritually committed individual or family this would be the most important action to continually practice.

Additional tips to consider in the preparedness planning process

Many folks are reluctant to plan ahead, or they assume that the government or others will take care of them, or they are just too busy, or they just don’t think it is necessary.  As an option to doing nothing or to enhance some other level of preparedness planning you have chosen, consider the following:

As you reflect on the scenarios that you presume might occur, think about the concept of a “triggering event.”  Ask yourself, what are the triggering events that will motivate me to immediate action?  What triggering event will launch the imminent arrival of the scenario I have presumed might occur?  If you have created a list of triggering events, you will be on the look out for possible immediate action.  While it is always desirable to plan ahead and have provisions in place, it is better to react at the last minute than not at all.  Obviously some scenarios may offer some prior indications, such as hurricanes, storms, or economic/political issues; while others can occur without warning (see the list of scenarios).  You are responsible – you must choose to act or not.

After you have evaluated the questions and points in this article, a helpful point of view may be the idea of an “extended pantry program,” or what might be considered as a building and expansion of your normal food usage and supplies. Start with a program that is compatible with your needs, assumptions, circumstances, and finances. You may want to start small and keep building.

Scenarios

Scenario Scenario Scenario
Acts of God Man Made Earth Changes
Local – Regional National National/Worldwide
Earthquake Government regulation/control Catastrophic Weather
Flood Martial Law Asteroid/Comet
Fire Food Shortages Pole Shift
Hurricane Societal Breakdown Solar Flare – CME
Storm/Ice/Snow Civil Disobedience/Riots Tribulation/Religious
Tornado Medical Emergency Severe Earth Changes
Drought Economic Emergency/Collapse
Power Outage Major Accident
Mud Slide Terrorism Attack
Tsunami Biological/Chemical/Radiological Attack
EMP – Electrical Magnetic Pulse Attack
PERSONAL ISSUES Bombing
Job Loss War
Illness Cyber Attack – No internet
Emergencies
Financial LossTime Frames

3 Days to 2 Weeks

Minor to moderate inconvenience and disruption of the daily routine.  Basic supplies in the first 3 days would be valuable for comfort but not essential.  An adequate amount of basic supplies after 3 days are important.

3 Weeks to 2 Months

The inconvenience is very noticeable and the routine disruption can be significant.  Supplies required are usually on hand, and stockpiling some supplies will be very important.

3 Months to 6 Months

Preparedness planning is very important and a serious disruption to the daily routine is inevitable.  Mobility and location to wait out the emergency is important in your planning.  Proper supplies will be critical.  Medical and other special needs must be planned for in advance.

6 Months to 1 Year

Unless you are very prepared and are committed to self-reliance, in this time frame your lifestyle will definitely be impacted.  Serious attention to your preparedness planning is required.  The questions covered in the foundational articles must be answered and a realistic plan created.  Action and provisions are essential.  You will be dealing with serious issues during this time period, and you must be prepared.

1 Year or More

Scenarios actualized in this time frame are the most serious and catastrophic, and will require a serious commitment to lifestyle changes.  You will be dealing with national and worldwide calamity.  The extent of the impact on everyone’s life can not be over emphasized.  Significant and detailed planning is required, and even with this an emergency situation of this duration will be wrought with uncertainty.  This will be a time for community togetherness, sharing, and mutual support.  Skills not normally possessed by folks will be required.  Gardening and other self-reliant skills will be essential.  Books, tools, and other valuable resources will be vital.

7 Things Every Reputable Food Reserve Company Needs to Tell You!

By Denis Korn

You must trust the company that provides you with the food you and your family will require during an emergency

I first wrote this article in 2012 and it is just as relevant today – if not more so – than it was then.  I continue to be angered and saddened at the ignorance and deception that is still rampant in the preparedness industry.  In the last few years many hundreds of websites, blogs, webinars and food companies have appeared on the scene, and while many are legitimate and sincere, there are too many shysters and instant experts.  So many of these folks are simply badly informed and just continue to pass along misinformation and are too lazy to due serious research, or they simply don’t care what information they put out as long is it sells their products.

Please do your due diligence and carefully evaluate the sources you choose – your comfort, health and survival are at stake!  You are also encouraged to read the Foundational Articles – linked  in the right column – for more detailed information.

 

ARTICLE FOLLOWS:

I have written a number of articles dealing with trust, honesty, reflections, guidelines, questions to ask and recommendations concerning the purchasing of food reserve products.  While the food you rely upon in an emergency is vital and life sustaining, unfortunately few preppers and planers do the valuable research they should for this essential category of provisions.  This post is written to help educate and inform the serious preparedness planner.

Because I have personally witnessed, heard and read so many conflicting, misleading and outright deceptive claims and information regarding foods for long term storage, I am writing this – the first of two – concise and to-the-point articles.  While many food reserve companies are educated and reliable, many are intentionally or unintentionally ignorant and deceitful.

You are highly encouraged to take this post seriously and require that the food reserve companies you buy from know what they are doing, and they need to answer these questions honestly and to the best of their ability.  If they can’t – then buyer beware!  In my opinion – there is something immoral, appalling and disgraceful about companies who take advantage of people who may not be adequately informed and are vulnerable to misleading promotion.  Unfortunately many people are more motivated by fear and mindlessly react, then carefully evaluate the facts and make informed decisions.

Spending thousands of dollars on deceptive advertising, being all over the internet with Google ads, getting high profile talk show hosts and websites to hawk your foods, creating shelf life figures out of thin air, telling folks how nutritious the foods are when they are filled with questionable ingredients, packaging foods in pouches and in a manner that does not assure a long shelf life, and tricking people into thinking they are getting an adequate quantity of foods during an emergency by creating arbitrary “servings” – does not guarantee you are buying value, quality or an adequate supply of vital foods!  The high cost of advertising, endorsements and commissions has to come from somewhere, and all too often it comes from the value of the food products themselves while compromising quality and quantity.

1. If the company promotes their food reserve assortments by number of servings, you need more information to determine what you are really buying and whether the quantities are adequate.

A common marketing tactic used by many food companies today is to promote a given number of servings in an assortment, and sometimes to even state that an assortment is good for a given period of time with a given number of servings.  In the preparedness market place today, where people may have to depend on daily food rations for their nourishment, only knowing the number of servings in an assortment is close to meaningless and the information insignificant .  Why?  Because a “serving” quantity and quality can be anything the company wants it to be.  You need more information.

2. What are the calories in each serving – the ingredient source of those calories (white sugar, non-nutritive calories or quality calories) – and what method, or source of information, was used to determine the calories in their products?

The standard for comparing one reserve food product with another has traditionally been to compare the number of calories of similar products or meals.  This is done by comparing the calories by either: knowing the stated calories and the weight in a given serving of a product; or the number of calories of a food product in a comparable sized pouch or container.  This enables comparisons of similar items from different companies – comparing apples with apples.  Even the government on their mandated nutritional information requires the calories be listed – and the source of those calories.

3. How many calories does the company recommend one should consume per day, and how many of their servings will it take to achieve this number?

Now you can do the math and compare the real cost and value of one companies products to another.  What is the true cost per quality calorie?  What is the cost for supplying the proper number of calories for the time period in your emergency scenario?  Don’t forget it is the quality of the calories that is critical.

Here is the important issue: The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for the average adult person is 2,000 calories a day (reputable companies generally allow 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day in formulating their assortments).  There are companies who promote a 500 to 1000 calorie per day allowance!

4. If a company uses names for their meals that sound like they contain real meat or are similar sounding to meat recipes – is it real meat, soy or gluten?

This is a common deception among many companies who either do not have the legal authority to pack real meat products because they do not have USDA inspected facilities, or they try to make their products as cheaply as possible.

5. When a company claims a shelf life of between 20 and 30 years, how was this determined?

I know of only two companies who have been in business longer than 20 years with long term food reserve products who can verify shelf life, use the proper packaging technologies and have their own testing facilities.  In the 39 years I have been in the preparedness industry, I have never heard of any established major manufacturer of dry food products ever recommending storing foods in any type of pouch over 7 years.  This includes all the established companies packing pouch foods for the outdoor recreational industry.

6. What experience does the companies customers have eating their foods exclusively for extended periods of time?

If a company is selling you foods that you may have to rely upon for weeks, months or possibly years, how did they determine that their foods have the necessary nutritional value to sustain a person for an extended length of time?  This includes children and adults.

7. How does the foods taste and are they formulated to digest properly if consumed for a lengthy period of time?

Many of today’s preparedness food companies are primarily marketing companies that don’t emphasize quality and nutrition.  Their foods must be made cheaply to support the margins required for their extensive marketing budget, commissions and dealer costs.  Study the ingredient declarations – often very difficult to find if not unavailable on many websites – for artificial flavor enhancers, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, fillers and white sugar.  Are there any reliable independent testimonials about the foods you are considering for a preparedness investment?  How long has the company been in the food reserve business?  As happened after Y2K, how likely is the company to go out of business if there is a dip in demand?

NOTE: MRE’S (meals-ready-to-eat – military rations) were formulated by the military for combat soldiers to be eaten for no longer than one month at a time.  They are high fat and high sodium and some people could have digestion issues if eaten over too long a period.

A Critical Evaluation of Foods for Emergency Preparedness

By Denis Korn                                                                                                                                                                    

This month marks 39 years that I have been involved in various aspects of the emergency food industry.  I have researched, sold, developed and manufactured foods for outdoor recreation and emergency preparedness.  With emerging national and global concerns and a list of potential catastrophic scenarios unlike I have witnessed all these years, disaster and emergency preparedness has become a necessity for a large and growing portion of our population.  The popularity and availability of information and products via the internet has been both a blessing and curse to those seeking knowledge and provisions for their preparedness planning.

This post focuses on food, and as I have indicated in other articles, a dilemma arises – Who can you trust?  How accurate and truthful is information and advice regarding foods for emergency preparedness?

The purpose of this post is to encourage you to ask and answer relevant questions, use common sense and to question the reliability and advice of what you hear and read about foods for preparedness.  Besides new material, I will reference and present information from a variety of previous posts.

What stimulated me to revisit this subject was a blog I recently read that gave a recommended list of foods they thought was needed to be prepared for a long term emergency – it was for a one year period.  This information was a rehash of outdated recommendations and had little relevancy to the realities of food preparation, dietary needs and food preferences in 2014.  This is not the 1800’s.  Do you need 400 pounds of wheat – 150 pounds of beans – many pounds of milk powder, sugar, flour, etc. – per person?  Are you going to spend much of your one year baking and boiling?  Do you have the resources to prepare these core ingredients – water, fuel and time?  Bulk commodities can be valuable in certain food reserve planning, however over reliance on these foods can be detrimental.

I have always been an advocate of a diversity of foods for emergencies because of the numerous set of circumstances that can arise.  Below are listed the pros and cons of a variety of options.  We just don’t know with certainty what the scenario will be, or the duration and resources available during an emergency.  Finances play an important part in our planning and the cheapest is often not the best nor the appropriate choice.  Determining the foods to store requires serious evaluation and critical and informed thinking – do not be misled by slick advertising, instant experts, endorsements by celebrities and talk show hosts, exaggerated shelf life and taste claims, inadequate serving sizes and foods that once you have read the ingredient declaration you would normally never eat.

While there are many legitimate and quality emergency food companies and true experts, many others are content to profit from foods that – to put it frankly – are truly “survival foods” – foods that might prevent starvation, but are mediocre, have an inadequate caloric value, filed with questionable ingredients, unfamiliar, rely on sugar and other fillers, and might actually cause nutritional problems if consumed for long periods of time.

At the end of this post I have inserted an article that is very critical of wheat consumption – a substantial portion of many food reserves.  Is is meant to acquaint you with a perspective that can have a significant impact on your health and well-being.  This is a hot topic currently in the Natural Foods industry, and one which is very controversial.  I encourage you to read the entire article and do serious research on your own to determine your outlook and course of action.

Here are some important questions to answer when considering what foods to store for emergencies or serious disasters:

  • Do you know how to prepare the foods you are considering?
  • Where and under what conditions will you store them?
  • If you are going to pack your own bulk foods, do you know the proper methods and have the proper packaging?
  • Are you properly informed as to shelf life issues?
  • Do your foods contain a proper balance of nutrition?
  • Can you properly digest the foods you are considering if they differ from you normal diet?
  • If you store grains, beans and seeds do you know how to sprout them for additional essential nutrition?
  • Do you have the proper equipment to utilize and prepare your stored foods?
  • Have you stored the required foods to handle the scenarios you have considered will potentially occur?
  • Do you have a adequate quantity to feed yourself, family, friends and anyone else who be relying on you?
  • Do you or others have medical issues or a food intolerance to consider?
  • Will you be storing supplements?
  • Will you have access to the water you will need to prepare your stored foods?
  • Can you grow foods if necessary?
  • If you have to be mobile, are the foods you are considering easily transportable?
  • How trustworthy is the manufacturer or source of the the foods you are considering?
  • Do you plan to incorporate your food reserves into your normal diet?
  • Will you be like many who say, “I hope I never have to eat these foods for any extended length of time.”?

You are highly encouraged to read the entire text of these important posts:

A Comprehensive Primer on Long Term Food Storage

WARNING: Extreme Caution is Required Before Buying Emergency Foods

 

The following excerpts are from The Comprehensive Primer and other posts.

FOOD OPTIONS:

Freeze-dried

This is a specific technology that refers to foods which have been frozen and dried at low temperatures in a vacuum chamber.  Moisture is removed by a process known as sublimation.  The term “freeze-dried” is often used to designate a dried food product that requires no cooking.  Some meal blends will contain a variety of no cook freeze-dried, dehydrated and other drying technologies.

Unfortunately, there are currently unethical preparedness food “marketing” companies that claim to provide “freeze-dried” foods, however their foods either need to be cooked and/or contain little or no freeze dried foods at all.  Buyer Beware – read ingredient declarations and preparation instructions.

  • Advantages:
    • Foods retain the highest nutritional value, taste, texture and appearance.
    • Foods do not “shrivel up”, therefore retaining their original shape.
    • Foods reconstitute easily in hot or cold water- can be eaten dry if necessary- no cooking required in preparation.
    • The only method used to dry meat products for long term shelf life.
    • The chosen method of drying by the military, pharmaceutical companies, supplement manufacturers, and those concerned with nutrition and flavor.
    • The lowest moisture content obtainable- resulting in long shelf stability.
    • Excellent for fruits, vegetables, and meats – no waste.
    • Very lightweight.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Energy intensive- requires special equipment.
    • Higher cost.
    • Limited number of processors.
  • Note: There are many newer technologies which can dry specialized foods such as grains, beans, pastas and some vegetables and still retain taste, nutrition and “no cooking required” reconstitution- at a low cost.

Dehydrated

This is a general designation for all foods that have had water removed. It includes a number of different products and dehydrating techniques. Methods of drying include:

    • Air drying
    • Spray drying
    • Drum drying
    • Belt drying
  • Most commonly “dehydrated” refers to: vegetables, fruits, spices, and beans.
  • Spray dried items include- milk powder, dairy and cheese powders, fruit powders, vegetable powders, egg powders, and oil powders.
  • Most “dehydrated” vegetables and fruits are dried at high temperatures for short periods of time.
  • Advantages:
    • Reduced weight
    • Long shelf life
    • Lower cost
    • No waste- compact
    • Easy to use- large variety
    • Many suppliers
  • Disadvantages:
    • Many products like corn, peas, and green beans have to be cooked to reconstitute, resulting in increased time and loss of nutritional value.
    • High temperature drying of some items reduces nutritional value and taste.
    • Texture of some products is altered from original.

MRE/Retort/Self-Heating

The items in this category are wet packed in foil or plastic “flexible” packaging. MRE is a military term that stands for “Meals Ready to Eat” and was designed as combat rations for the military. Retort (available in many grocery stores and catalog companies) refers to the heating process, which give these products a longer shelf life. Self-heating meals are packaged entrees that contain everything necessary to have a hot meal anywhere. The individual flameless heaters were developed for the military.

    • MRE’s are complete meals- entrees, side dish, dessert, drink, and condiments- all in one large pouch.
    • All items in this category require no refrigeration and have a shelf life of 18 months to 2 years. MRE’s can last 3- 6 years if stored in cooler temperatures.
    • MRE’s were designed by the military to be eaten for no longer than one month at a time. Extended reliance on MRE’s exclusively could cause digestion issues.
    • Items are excellent for immediate use and easy preparation of familiar foods.
    • MRE’s can contain artificial additives
    • Pouch is susceptible to puncturing.

Commodities

This category includes dozens of varieties of grains, beans, legumes and seeds, and can be utilized in numerous forms such as; whole, cracked, flaked, instant, flour, pasta and sprouted.

  • Advantages:
    • Very economical- little cost for significant nutritional value.
    • Easily obtainable.
    • Stores well for long periods of time.
    • Versatility of preparation options and diversity of uses – many can be sprouted.
    • Historically relied upon during emergencies.
    • Reproducible – grow new crops.
    • If prepared and utilized properly, can fulfill total nutritional needs for some time.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Can require large quantities of fuel and water to prepare.
    • Requires significant preparation time to utilize all the diverse benefits.
    • Susceptible to infestation if not properly stored.
    • Requires preparation knowledge. Most people do not know how to prepare basic commodities.
    • If not prepared properly or suddenly introduced into the diet in quantity, grains and beans can cause significant digestive problems.
    • Heavy- Not easily transported if you need to be mobile.
    • Many people have allergic reactions to foods in this category.
    • If you rely on only grains and beans for nourishment for an extended length of time, you may have problems digesting these foods; especially if you don’t normally incorporate them into your diet. Preparation diversity is critical.
  • It is essential that those who choose to rely on commodities know how to properly prepare and use them. It is important to obtain good cookbooks and product information before you buy. Do not count on only a few grains and beans- diversity is very important.
  • Tips:
    • Smaller grains (such as millet, amaranth, quinoa, and teff) and smaller beans and legumes (such as aduki, lentils, split peas, mung, and small whites) will require less time, fuel and water to prepare.
    • Combine like sized grains and beans when cooking for a complete protein meal.
    • Pressure cookers and pre-soaking of most beans will significantly reduce the cooking time of grains and beans.
    • Newly “rediscovered” ancient grain varieties such as amaranth, quinoa, kamut, teff and spelt, are highly recommended because of their superior nutritional value, unique taste and preparation convenience – available at natural food stores.
    • To reduce cooking times for whole grains, try adding a handful to a thermos, or similar insulated container, add boiling water and let sit all day or overnight. (Use at a ratio of one part grain to one +/- part water by volume). Add dried fruit, nuts, sweetener etc. and enjoy a no cook hot cereal.
  • Uses for wheat:
    • Whole grain, cracked, flaked- cook for a hot cereal or side dish.
    • Flour- baking, pancakes, sauces.
    • Sprouting- eat raw or add to bread.
    • Soaked wheat- soak cleaned wheat in pure water 1-2 days. Drink water and eat wheat.
    • Gluten for protein source- rinse flour many times to produce gluten product. Cook in recipe.
    • Wheat grass juice- grow wheat in shallow trays with soil, cut at 6″-10″, juice wheat grass, mix small amount with fruit or vegetable juice.
    • Diastatic malt- ground and powdered dried wheat sprouts, a natural sweetener.

Grocery shelf

This is the category people are most familiar with and the one most will start with when beginning a storage program.

    • Store products you are familiar with.
    • Shelf life varies. If possible contact manufacturer. Generally canned items will last 1-3 years, glass jars 6 months- 2 years, boxes and packages 6 months- 1 year.
    • Buy extra each time you shop.
    • Buy case quantities.
    • Rotate supplies.
    • This category contains items that will complement and supplement other food reserve programs.

Comfort foods

During emergencies it is important to have foods available which are special treats and personally satisfying. These include:

    • Fruit drinks- sodas (all natural of course)
    • Candy- crackers- chips- cookies (also all natural)
    • Chocolate- drinks and bars
    • Popcorn
    • Puddings- cake and muffin mixes
    • Dried fruit and nut mixes
    • Teas- herb teas- coffee
    • Meat Jerky’s

Sprouting

It is not only a good idea to eat fresh sprouts normally; it is an essential during any prolonged emergency where fresh vegetables are not available. Sprouts are live, highly nutritious foods that contain essential elements for healthy living. They contain enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and much more. In an emergency it can be your only source for important nutrients. They are easy to grow and cost very little for so much value. You can sprout grains, beans, seeds and nuts.

    • Get a good book on sprouting.
    • If possible, use only non-sprayed, pesticide free seeds – preferably organically grown.
    • Sprouting equipment is easily assembled with household items such as glass jars, screening, cheesecloth, or you can buy a number of different sprouting kits.
    • Sprouts are usually eaten raw, and some sprouts can be lightly cooked like beans or used in baking like wheat and rye.

Supplements

Very important in emergency situations when a nutritional diet may not be available.

Many products have 2 to 3 year shelf life.

    • See your natural food store for details.
    • Many products can prevent health problems and illness naturally.
    • Whole food green concentrates are highly recommended. Also, multi-vitamins, green products, B-complex, vitamin C, seaweeds and immune system strengtheners.

Other types and Sources of Foods Available in Emergency Planning

1) FORAGING/WILD EDIBLE PLANTS

  • There is an abundance of free, fresh and nutritious foods available in all areas and in all seasons.
    • Obtain books about wild foods in you area.
    • Go to nature classes and herb walks that identify edibles in your area.
    • Contact the local agricultural department in you area.
    • Take classes given at local colleges

2) FISHING/HUNTING/CLAMMING

  • Identify good local fishing spots both inland and ocean.
  • Have quality-fishing equipment available and know how to use it.
  • Many insects are edible; know those in your area.
  • If you approve of hunting, have equipment and supplies handy for a diversity of trapping methods for small and large game.

3) GARDENING

  • It is always a good idea to know basic gardening techniques. If you have a long term planning strategy, gardening is a must for a continuing supply of fresh and nutritional foods.
    • Identify the best foods for your local growing zone.
    • Consider building a green house.
    • Learn how to compost.
    • Use non-hybrid- open pollinated seeds. You can then harvest seeds for the next season.
    • Learn how to save seeds properly. Store seeds in as cool and dry a location as possible.
    • In an emergency situation emphasize “whole plant varieties”. These are plant varieties that can be eaten whole at any point in the growing process. Examples include:

– Carrots – Cauliflower
– Beets – Chard
– Lettuce – Dandelion
– Cabbage – Kale
– Broccoli – Celery
– Radishes – Herbs
– Spinach
– Save seeds of wild edibles.

    • Using shallow trays with a thin layer of rich soil, learn how to grow wheat and barley grass for juice (highly nutritious!), and unhulled sunflower and buckwheat for fresh salad greens.

4) SMALL ANIMAL LIVESTOCK

  • Focus on low cost and low maintenance animals; such as chickens, rabbits and goats.

5) HOME CANNING/DRYING

  • With an abundance of fresh foods always available, canning and drying your own is very cost effective.
    • Obtain books and literature on canning and drying.
    • Take classes and talk to experienced individuals.
    • Get the proper equipment or learn how to build you own.
    • Know how to properly store canned and dried foods.
    • Canning supplies can be scarce in an emergency. Stock up on jars and lids.

 

WHEAT ARTICLE FOLLOWS:

The government and the media tell you to eat MORE wheat… they call it phrases like “wholesome and healthy”.  But more and more scientists, nutritionists, and researchers are finding very troubling health issues related to wheat components that most people are eating in almost every meal.

I saw this article below the other day at TheAlternativeDaily, a leading online alternative health publisher, and wanted to share it with you:

Is Modern Wheat Making You Fat and Sick?
by TheAlternativeDaily.com

Our hunter gatherer ancestors collected all they could from the ground for food including insects, berries, nuts, etc. In their gathering, they found that the animals were eating grass, and they became curious. They broke it down and somehow incorporated wild wheat into their diet. This grass was called Einkorn and had only 14 chromosomes.

Plants can mate with each other and combine chromosomes. At some point in time, the wild grass Einkorn mated with another type of wild grass and the offspring Emmer ended up with 28 chromosomes – this is the wheat that is mentioned in the Bible. However, this is not the wheat of today, that is for sure.

In the Middle Ages bread was a staple and very common food. Emmer mated with another grass which contributed more chromosomes to result in Spelt, Triticum landraces with 42 chromosomes.

In 1960, when the threat of world population explosion was imminent, there was an investment made in agricultural research where lots of money and time were devoted to new ways to increase wheat yield. At this time, different strains of wheat were crossed over and over again to select certain characteristics and to introduce unique genes.

The resulting wheat yielded up to 10 times more per acre. When this wheat was introduced to many third world countries, famine was greatly reduced within one year. Dr. Norman Borlaug received the Nobel Peace prize for his work creating this high yield strain of wheat.

Because this wheat is so prolific, it has taken over almost all of the world’s wheat supply. There are also about a million acres of what is known as Clearfield Wheat being grown in the Pacific Northwest. It is a semi dwarf strain of wheat that has had its seed and embryos exposed to a chemical, sodium azide, which is an industrial toxin.

The makers of Clearfield wheat claim that their wheat is a result of “enhanced, traditional plant breeding techniques,” making a distinction between genetically modified wheat. However, although no gene splicing techniques were used, many other methods were, such as the purposeful induction of mutations using chemicals, high dose x-ray and radiation techniques to induce mutations coupled with cross breeding. These methods might be far worse than genetic modification, according to Dr. William Davis, author of the book, Wheat Belly.

The government says eat more wheat – what is up with that?

The government tells us that we need to eat more grain, which generally means more wheat.  In the food pyramid, we are advised to eat 60% of calories from grains like wheat. The new food plate design also tells us to get at least 1/4 of our calories from wheat. Here is why we need to stop listening to what our government is telling us about the food pyramid:

Modern Wheat is a Serious Appetite Stimulant

It is estimated that up to 10% of the population has a sensitivity to the protein in wheat known as gluten (some estimate it may be higher, closer to 30%). However, the other 90% of people who consume wheat really should not be eating it either. Here are a few reasons why:

Gluten is a two part protein that is comprised of gliadin plus glutenin. Glutenin has a unique elasticity that gives us the ability to stretch our pizza or bread dough or even spin it over our heads, if we are inclined to do so. Gliadin, the other part of the gluten protein, was heavily studied in the 1970′s by psychiatrists who found that if they took all of the wheat out of the diet of their patients with schizophrenia, they improved markedly.

When they put the wheat back, they found that the condition worsened. So the question asked was what was in bread that led schizophrenics to hallucinate? It was traced back to the gliadin protein which, when ingested, enters the brain and binds to opiate receptors where it stimulates appetite.

In addition, gliadin, acting like an opiate in the brain, has other disastrous effects. For example, people with ADHD become hypersensitive and have behavioral outbursts, people with schizophrenia have major hallucinations, people who are bipolar become increasingly manic and those with eating disorders, such as binge eating, will develop food obsessions.

By 1985, everything at the supermarket with wheat in it came from the prolific semi-dwarf strain or a spinoff. Interestingly enough, if you compare what happened to America’s weight prior to and after 1985 it is evident that there was an obesity explosion that is still happening today shortly after the “new” wheat was introduced.

A huge increase in the number of diabetics also followed. Although cause and effect cannot be proven scientifically – it seems evident that we have all been fed an appetite stimulant.

Modern Wheat Destroys Blood Sugar

Two slices of whole wheat bread raise blood sugar higher than 6 teaspoons of table sugar. How does this happen when whole wheat is considered a complex carbohydrate that we are encouraged to eat more of? The complex carbohydrate of wheat is called Amylopectin A, which is highly sensitive to amylase, which we have in our stomach and mouth. This makes it very easy to digest and raises blood sugar rapidly — even more rapidly and to a higher extent than pure table sugar. Wheat for breakfast, wheat for lunch and wheat for snacks results in visceral fat that encircles the intestines, heart, liver and kidneys. Repetitive high blood sugar over and over results in what Dr. Davis calls a “wheat belly.”

Modern Wheat Causes Inflammation

When bacteria or a virus enters the body our immune system responds in many ways. Plants do not have the same type of immune system, but they have lectins which are proteins that are toxic to mold, fungi and insects. Some lectins are benign to humans like the lectin found in spinach while some are very toxic. The lectin in wheat (Wheat Germ Agglutinin) is a four part complex molecule.

When this lectin is isolated and given to rats in very small amounts, it destroys the small intestine. Average Americans consume about 10-20 mg of the wheat lectin in a day, that’s enough to do significant damage.

When we consume wheat the gliadin protein unlocks the normal intestinal barrier and allows foreign substances entry into the bloodstream – substances such as wheat lectin. This is why people who eat wheat have autoimmune and inflammatory distress such as joint inflammation, bowel inflammation, acid reflux, inflammation of the brain, inflammation of the airways etc. In fact, there is not one system that escapes the inflammatory assault of wheat.

What Happens When We Remove Wheat From Our Diet?

First of all, taking wheat out of the diet is not as easy as might think – it is in a lot of foods – even ones we would not associate with having wheat. For example, wheat is in Twizzlers, Campbells Tomato Soup, taco seasoning, frozen dinners, cereals, salad dressings, granola bars and a lot more. Why is there wheat in so many products?

In 1960, we could find wheat only in things where we would expect to find wheat – breads, pastas, pancake mix, etc. Today is an entirely different story – wheat is in all kinds of foods where we would not expect to find it.

Is it possible that food manufacturers know a little something about wheat as an appetite stimulant (on top of the fact that is it heavily subsidized by our government and therefore artificially inexpensive)?

Impact of a Wheat-Free Diet

Dr. Davis tells us that taking wheat out of the diet will result in the following:

  •     Improved weight loss
  •     Reduced appetite
  •     Lowered blood sugar
  •     Reduced joint pain
  •     Reduced inflammation
  •     Improvement in cognitive function
  •     Reduced anxiety
  •     Reduced food obsessions
  •     Reduced blood pressure
  •     Reduced triglycerides
  •     Increased energy
  •     Improved sleep

What About Gluten-Free?

Although going gluten free is a good thing because you avoid problems with gluten and gliadin, wheat germ agglutinin and amylopectin A, gluten-free foods contain other potentially harmful ingredients, mainly potato starch, rice starch, tapioca starch and corn starch. These are the only foods that raise blood sugar almost just as high as the amylopectin A found in wheat.

Warning: If you choose to be gluten free, avoid the commercial gluten free products, at least until you educate yourself on the differences between the various gluten free products on the market.

What Can I Eat?

Eat real, single ingredient non-grain foods as much as possible. You can focus most of your diet on nuts, healthy fats, organic fruits/vegetables, grass-fed beef, organic chicken and turkey, wild caught salmon, cheese, organic eggs, coconuts, avocados, seeds, olive and hemp oils as well as a variety of other foods that are in their natural state. The more processed and refined a food is, the more likely it contains wheat and other byproducts of the refinement process that are just too dangerous to your health.

-The Alternative Daily

 

The #1 Preparedness Question!

By Denis Korn                                                                                                                                             

My last post listed the top 6 questions of preparedness planning.  The #1 question is such an important question to answer when engaging in research, evaluation and planning that I felt it necessary to examine it more carefully.  It is the first question in my 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning, listed under 12 Foundational Articles for Preparedness Planning (as you can see I like the number 12).

Before I proceed with this topic I want to share some insights on the current state of fears and concerns I hear people discussing.

It is no secret that the societal, financial and moral issues of our time are reeking havoc on the lives of most Americans. While at each election, the parties proclaim their election to be the most important of the era, what we currently are experiencing is that this statement is finally true.  Not that the outcome will necessarily change the fundamental problems underlying our society and its governance, but that the results will indicate how really difficult true transformation will be.  I am very passionate about my concerns for our country and the future for my children and grandchildren.  I have never seen such blatant in-your-face displays of revolt, rage and lying by those who are ignorant, self-serving and delusional (a strong word yet in my opinion accurate).

Our leadership, corporate ethics, cultural morality and attitude towards truth, human compassion and right action has been so corrupted and dishonored that it will take a Divine act to significantly transform us and set us on the right path.  Earnest prayer is essential!  Over the course of the next few months we will see how difficult it will be during the times that lie ahead, and as it relates to this blog site – how can we be prepared?

I talk with many small business owners and what we see today is very similar to the circumstances surrounding the 1980 election between Jimmy Carter, incumbent and Ronald Reagan, challenger.  The business climate was terrible (I was in the outdoor recreation and preparedness industry as a business owner at that time), and whatever one’s political viewpoint, the perception of a pro-business and competent President was critical in turning the decline around.  This is not a political blog, so I will not dwell on the politics. However, I can not turn my back on the obvious – too much is at stake.

The perception of the capability and aptitude of our leadership to instigate real change will have a dramatic effect on the course of events in the short term.  For the long term, the fundamentals must be transformed.

Let me be frank, I am a small business owner who has owned various businesses for 42 years, and if we don’t elect leadership who will instill confidence and trust and initiate real reform for We The People during these darkest and polarizing of days – we’re screwed!

 

Here is the entire question #1 of the 12 Crucial Questions:

 

What are the circumstances or scenarios you have determined may exist that will require you to rely upon your preparedness supplies?

This is not only the most important and first question to answer, it is often the question most overlooked, or not considered critically enough.  While many people find it difficult to honestly assess potential uncomfortable and “fearful” possibilities, wasting time and resources on inadequate and ineffectual provisions can be detrimental to your health or possibly your life.  Don’t be caught up in slick advertisements, fraudulent claims or irrelevant personality endorsements.  I have seen them all – do your due diligence!

•  What will be the severity and impact of those circumstances on your life?

Now starts the process of being specific and increasingly focused.  Honesty is essential – this is no time for wishful thinking and denial.

•  Given your potential scenarios, how thoroughly have you researched the available options for food, water, medical, shelter, hygiene, and other categories of critical supplies?

An actual physical list is vital in answering this question.  Here you will begin to determine specific provisions you will need.  You will have a broader perspective of available items required for your scenarios.

•  Are you prepared for emergencies during all seasons of the year?

Depending on where you live, temperatures, rain, snow and other weather conditions can vary significantly.  Cold weather preparedness is especially important.  The anticipated duration of your scenario might require preparing for multiple seasons and conditions.

•  Is your family more susceptible to certain emergencies?

Depending on where you live or where you might need to relocate will determine unique potential issues.  Possible hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, storms, tornadoes, fire, riots, loss of electricity, lack of water, lack of essential medications are just some events that might affect your preparedness planning

•  How would your scenarios impact you or your family’s daily routine?  Work or livelihood?

If you scenarios are relatively minor and isolated, then of course there will be a minimum of inconvenience.  If however, your scenarios are more impactful, severe, regional or nationwide and of longer duration, then you are looking at a significant disruption in routine and possibly a substantial lifestyle change.

•  How will you protect yourself and family against those who might do you harm?

Many folks don’t welcome the notion that a significant emergency or disaster will create a dangerous environment with animals, gangs or groups of ill-intentioned people who can inflict injury.  Where you live will determine the degree of concern.  Those who are responsible for their own welfare and the protection of their family will need to reflect on this question with seriousness.  Protection devices are numerous and diverse, consider the appropriate response for your anticipated scenarios.

My Top 6 Crucial Questions for Effective Preparedness Planning

By Denis Korn

Proper preparedness ensures effective resiliency

I am continually asked by serious preppers, preparedness planners and managers, whether beginners or experienced, “What are the most important things I need to know in getting started or improving the preparedness process?”  One of the most important articles I have written concerning this issue is The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning.

As many of you know, my approach to education is asking the right questions.  That’s why these 12 Crucial Questions are so vital.  When you study the 12 questions, you will discover that each question should be answered at the appropriate stage of your planning process.  There is a lot of information to assimilate, reflect upon, prioritize and act upon.

All of the 12 questions are essential, and they are not listed in any order of significance (except for the first 2), however when I am asked to pick the top ones here are my choices.

  1. What are the circumstances or scenarios you have determined may exist that will require you to rely upon your preparedness supplies? What will be the severity and impact of those circumstances on your life? (This is not only the most important and first question to answer, it is often the question most overlooked, or not considered critically enough). Given your potential scenarios, how thoroughly have you researched the available options for food, water, medical, shelter, hygiene, and other categories of critical supplies? Are you prepared for emergencies during all seasons of the year? Is your family more susceptible to certain emergencies? How would your scenarios impact you or your family’s daily routine? Work or livelihood? How will you protect yourself and family against those who might do you harm?
  2. How long will your emergency scenario last, and what is the duration of time for which you will be preparing? This is another critical question, and while it is difficult to envision the difficult details that might occur, the adequacy of your preparedness planning and supplies is directly tied to honestly answering this question. Needless to say, the longer the duration of the emergency the more effect it will have on multiple aspects of one’s daily routine and lifestyle, and the need to be focused on the diversity of situations that will surround you.
  3. In your expected emergency scenarios will you be stationary and remain where you are, or is it possible you will have to be mobile and relocate? This could include different responses depending on your predictions of the duration and severity of the emergency. Are you aware of all the implications and planning required depending upon your answer to this question? This is another one those very difficult questions to fully comprehend, because not only can there be many perspectives to consider, being prepared to be mobile and leave an established residence or homestead requires a whole different set of planning points. If you had to evacuate or relocate right now, where would you go? With prior planning where would you prefer to go?
  4. What are the special needs of yourself, family, or others you care for that might arise during the scenarios you find likely? This especially includes medical issues, nutritional requirements, and physical and emotional limitations. What psychological, social, medical, or unique factors could potentially arise from a long-term (6 months or more) catastrophic event? Also consider your personal, family, work, and community needs for timely communication during an emergency. Are any pets involved in your planning? Have you had a family, company, or group meeting to directly and honestly discuss what actions are to be implemented during an emergency of the type you determined might occur? For many individuals and families the religious or spiritual factor in preparedness planning and implementation – especially during a serious or catastrophic event – is the most important. If this applies to you, make sure all family members and friends are in prayer.
  5. Do you have a list of essential or at least important supplies you believe will be necessary to have on hand during your estimated emergency? Is it prioritized? Do you have a list of the essential categories your supplies fall under? What do you have on hand now?
  6. What means of communication do you have available to you during an emergency and with whom do you need to communicate? This includes both two-way communication with others, including family, friends and associates, and one-way communication from radio stations, emergency broadcasts, or individuals via short wave. Do you have a cell phone? Will towers be functioning? Land lines? Internet? Hand held walkie-talkies? Short wave radios? Citizens band radios? Emergency radios with two-way communication capability? During a serious emergency accurate information and updates are essential for survival.

Related posts and articles:

Beginning and Improving Preparedness Planning

Checklist of Essentials for Emergency & Outdoor Adventure Planning – Including Vehicle Preparedness – Updated & Expanded

What is Your Triggering Event?

HONESTY – The Cornerstone of Effective & Truthful Preparedness Planning


A Comprehensive Primer on Long Term Food Storage

By Denis Korn

The language of food storage – defining and clarifying terms, product options and related information.

I am frequently asked, especially by newer preparedness planners, for a concise overview of food storage basics.  I am thankful for many new readers that have found this blog in the last few months, and I feel that this information is so important that I am posting it again as we approach critical times.  Last year and this August I posted this comprehensive article that covers numerous aspects of long term food reserve planning.  It is directed towards the serious planner who requires information that summarizes the key points of the food storage process.

With so many preparedness websites and blogs and so many instant experts it becomes increasing difficult to know who to trust and what to believe.  This is by no means an easy task.  I t takes serious research and asking the right questions – and expecting accurate answers – discerning the truth is challenging and daunting.  I know this is difficult because I not only receive numerous phone calls for help, I personally have seen and heard distortions, inaccurate information and blatant deception.

For 38 years I have been intimately involved in the preparedness, outdoor recreation and natural foods industries – as a retailer, wholesaler, manufacturer, educator and consultant.  You are invited to read the any of the articles at this blog that relates to your interests and be serious about answering the many questions posed and researching what I have conveyed.  I hope you will trust my experiences and insights.

Cook versus No-cook

A primary decision needs to be made, as it relates to the specific long term food provisions that you want to procure. Do you want foods that require cooking or do you want foods that require no cooking – or perhaps some of both?

Cooking required food reserves are simply foods that need to be cooked – boiled, fried or baked – in order to be eaten.  Examples include: traditional grains and beans, pasta, bread – egg – pancake mixes and some soup and stew mixes.

No-cook food reserves are foods that can be eaten as-is, or after hot or cold water is added to the foods, and being reconstituted for a short time, are then eaten.  Examples include: freeze-dried and some dehydrated ingredients, meals and mixes, granola, supplements, fruits and powdered drinks.

Cook

Advantages:

  • Readily available
  • Low cost
  • Familiar to those currently cooking from scratch
  • Basic unprocessed foods

Disadvantages:

  • Requires a significant supply of water and energy (heat source – gas – electricity – wood –etc.) – both of which may be in short supply during emergency conditions especially in vulnerable locations
  • Requires time to prepare – could be a significant disadvantage during the chaos of an emergency
  • May be difficult to prepare if one lacks cooking and recipe creation skills
  • Heavy

No-Cook

Advantages:

  • Small amount of water required to reconstitute ingredients and meals
  • In emergency situations, freeze-dried foods can be eaten as-is
  • Pre-blended meals are familiar and nutritious if manufactured by reputable companies
  • Minimum time to prepare – could be a significant advantage during the chaos of an emergency
  • Easy to use

Disadvantages:

  • Higher cost for food preparation technologies utilized
  • Food ingredients are processed to some degree

 

Pouch versus Can

These can be commercially available dried food products packed in pouches and cans, or empty pouches and cans for do-it-yourself packing.  Pouches referred to in this section are ones that have a good quality metal foil barrier with an adequate thickness as one of the components in the layering of the pouch (3 or more layers required).  Metalized, transparent or plastic only pouches are not suitable for long term storage of food.  Cans are rigid wall metal cans with the proper seal.

Pouches

Advantages:

  • Convenience of smaller units of product for storage
  • Empty pouches are readily available online for do-it-yourself
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • A good variety of meals and ingredients are available from established and reputable manufacturers

Disadvantages:

  • Very susceptible to puncturing and pin holing (rough handling, squeezing, bending and forcing a pouch into a container may create very small holes in the pouch).  This compromises the integrity of the seams and pouch material resulting in the loss of an oxygen free atmosphere.
  • No protection from animal destruction or penetration
  • Must have quality materials used in pouch construction – difficult to ensure if buying empty
  • Many commercial pouched foods are low quality and use questionable materials – must do research
  • If do-it-yourself, pouch must be sealed properly
  • Must be stored properly or there is a risk of damage

Cans

Advantages:

  • The most reliable for long term food storage
  • Properly sealed cans with oxygen absorbers, can create an oxygen and moisture free atmosphere for a very long period of time
  • Rugged construction – can not be penetrated by animals (except maybe a hungry and aggressive bear)
  • Easy to store and handle

Disadvantages:

  • Increased cost for dried foods commercially packed in cans for long term reserves
  • Not practical for most of the do-it-yourself packers – cans and sealing equipment are not easily obtained – when they are available they can be more costly than pouches and to be cost effective empty cans need to be purchased in large quantities

NOTE:  If protected from potential breakage, properly sealed glass canning jars – quart to 1/2 gallon – with an added oxygen absorber, can be an excellent container for smaller quantity dried foods.  Glass and metal are the only materials available with a zero gas transmission rate – required for long term storage.

Calories versus Servings

A common marketing tactic used by many food companies today is to promote a given number of servings in an assortment, and sometimes to even state that an assortment is good for a given period of time with a given number of servings.  In the preparedness market place today, where people may have to depend on daily food rations for their nourishment, only knowing the number of servings in an assortment is close to meaningless and the information insignificant .  Why?  Because a “serving” quantity and quality can be anything the company wants it to be.  You need more information.

The standard for comparing one reserve food product with another has traditionally been to compare the number of calories of similar products or meals.  This is done by comparing the calories by either: knowing the stated calories and the weight in a given serving of a product; or the number of calories of a food product in a comparable sized pouch or container.  This enables comparisons of similar items from different companies – comparing apples with apples.  Even the government on their mandated nutritional information requires the calories be listed – and the source of those calories.

How many calories does the company recommend one should consume per day, and how many of their servings will it take to achieve this number?

Now you can do the math and compare the real cost and value of one companies products to another.  What is the cost per quality calorie?  What is the cost for supplying the proper number of calories for the time period in your emergency scenario?  Don’t forget it is the quality of the calories that is critical.

Here is the important issue:  The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for the average adult person is 2,000 calories a day (reputable companies generally allow 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day in formulating their assortments).  There are companies who promote a 500 to 1000 calorie per day allowance!

Long-Term

Generally long-term refers to a time period of three – four years or longer.  Many seek food products with that will last up to 30 years.  In the real world there are few situations where one would rely on 30 year old food, however with the application of the proper technology and storage conditions it is possible to still consume 30 year old food.  Boxed, wet pack, frozen, high moisture foods and canned grocery items are not considered long-term for purposes of this primer.

Shelf Life/Shelf-Stability

This term refers to the viable and reasonable life that can be expected of a food product in storage.  During this time the food product must still have significant nutritional value and be palatable and acceptable.

The 7 factors that effect shelf life and stability are:  temperature – moisture – oxygen – infestation – handling – light – time

Food Storage

Simply stated, food storage refers to food provisions that one stores for a long term.  These food products usually have a long shelf life and can be relied upon during times of need or emergency.  There is a diversity of different foods in various forms that can be utilized for a proper food storage program.

Do-it-Yourself Packing

This can be cost effective, customized, fun to do, involve friends and groups, localized and creative.  Before you start packing your foods, be clear about what it is you want to store and for how long.  Are the foods appropriate for your plans?  Do you know how to prepare them?  Do you have an adequate quantity?  Do you have all the equipment necessary to prepare your foods?  What is the nutritional quality?

Nitrogen/oxygen free atmosphere

Basically there are 2 reasons for wanting to store food in an oxygen free environment – eliminate the possibility for infestation from insects and microorganisms, and control oxidation, which leads to the rancidity of fats and oils, foul taste, off color, and nutritional deterioration.  The lower the oxygen levels – the more effective in preserving the integrity of the foods stored.

Some foods are more susceptible to oxidation deterioration than others.  It is important to know how susceptible the foods you are storing are to oxidation, because as you will see the type of container you store your foods in may at some point no longer be an adequate oxygen barrier.

Crucial Questions

The serious and conscientious preparedness planner is encouraged to carefully and honestly answer these 12 crucial questions.  These questions apply not only to long-term food storage planning, but also all preparedness planning.

  1. What are the circumstances or scenarios you have determined may exist that will require you to rely upon your preparedness supplies?
  2. How long will your emergency scenario last, and what is the duration of time for which you will be preparing?
  3. What preparedness knowledge do you personally have that is important in providing specific information and instructions needed during the emergency or emergencies for which you are preparing?
  4. During an emergency what facilities, stores, resources, supplies, and assistance is available in your area apart from family and friends?
  5. Are you dependent upon someone or something else to get you through and supply your needs during the emergency scenarios you presume will occur?
  6. How many people are you planning to provide with emergency provisions?
  7. Do you have a list of essential or at least important supplies you believe will be necessary to have on hand during your estimated emergency?
  8. Do you have an understanding of the financial implications of your projected emergency scenarios?
  9. What are the special needs of yourself, family, or others you care for that might arise during the scenarios you find likely?
  10. In your expected emergency scenarios will you be stationary and remain where you are, or is it possible you will have to be mobile and relocate?
  11. What means of communication do you have available to you during an emergency and with whom do you need to communicate?
  12. In your expected emergency scenarios what transportation options will be necessary and available?

Preparedness/Disaster Planning

The first step in the preparedness planning process is the acknowledgment that you have made a wise and sound decision and have chosen to take responsibility for you and your family, and to be prepared in the event of unforeseen circumstances.  Be encouraged to continue this process with diligence, motivation, and discernment.

This process is basically undertaken in three phases – each one of which will take as much time as you wish to devote, and the degree of urgency you are experiencing.

  1. First, there is an initial assessment necessary to determine the direction you are heading.
  2. Second, there is further evaluation, research, and planning required to develop a firm foundation for the third phase, and to develop the clarity required for appropriate and accurate decision making.
  3. Third, there is taking action and assembling the appropriate provisions and critical information you have determined are necessary for your security and peace of mind.  This phase is ongoing as you continue to evaluate, research, and build up your supplies and information.

The initial assessment

This consists of 6 basic questions that you are encouraged to answer that will lead you along the matrix to your destination:

  1. What is your attitude concerning emergency preparedness?
  2. What are the circumstances or scenarios and their severity you have determined may exist that will require you to rely upon your preparedness supplies?
  3. What is the length of time you will be affected during these scenarios that you will be required to rely on your preparedness supplies?
  4. For whom and how many are you preparing?
  5. Where will you be?
  6. How serious are you and how much time, effort, and money are you willing to devote to research, planning, and action, and with what help?

Disaster Scenarios

We live in a time of unprecedented options and potential scenarios that could create challenging and disruptive circumstances.  What is required is serious evaluation of current events for taking effective action.  The delivery of essential goods and services is so interdependent on a multitude of diverse factors, that a breakdown in any one area can have severe consequences on our daily life.  Here are some potential scenarios for your consideration:

Acts of God – Man made disasters – Earth Changes – Earthquakes – Government Regulation/Control – Catastrophic Weather – Flood – Martial Law – Asteroid/Comet – Fire – Food Shortages – Pole Shift – Hurricanes –  Societal Breakdown – Solar Flare/CME – Storm/Ice/Snow – Civil Disobedience/Riots – Tribulation/Religious – Tornado – Medical Emergency – Severe Earth Changes – Drought – Economic Emergency/Collapse – Power Outage – Major Accident – Mud Slides – Terrorism Attack – Tsunami – Biological/Chemical/Radiological Attack – EMP  (Electrical Magnetic Pulse) Attack – Personal Issues – Bombing – Job Loss – War – Illness – Cyber Attack – No Internet – Unforeseen Emergencies – Financial Loss – Famine/Food Shortages – Grid Breakdown/No Electricity

Trusting Suppliers – Food & Supplies

Preparedness planning is a prudent and wise action to take.  This search for provisions however, can create a dilemma – Who do you trust?  Remember, you and your family are relying on preparedness products, especially food and water options, to sustain you during critical times.  Some situations can be so catastrophic as to have life or death consequences.  It is this very real potential scenario that compels me personally to take the process of emergency planning very seriously.

Numerous preparedness dealers and websites have recently appeared on the scene, and many are claiming the virtues of their products and are hoping to take advantage of current demands.  I have been in this industry for a long time, and I have seen numerous companies come and go as political, economic, or prophetic issues dominate the news.  With the advent of the internet, it has become even more difficult to assess the reliability of online companies.

Many companies are conscientious and dependable – as a previous manufacturer of food reserve products I have had business relationships with a number of these companies over the years.  Unfortunately many are very questionable.  I have examined their products, their data, and the accuracy of their information – it ranges from inadequate, to unclear, to erroneous.

USDA Inspection

To package meat products legally, shelf-stable food manufacturing establishments must be federally inspected to comply with the strictest USDA standards for truthfulness in labeling, ingredient conformity, wholesomeness, and cleanliness.

Storage Conditions

NOTE:  The six conditions listed are chosen because these are factors in which we have the control to optimize for the longest reliable shelf life.  TIME is the one factor that we can not control – and it does have a significant effect on the shelf life of various foods.  Nutritional value is lost with many foods over time.  To know with certainty the viable nutritional value of all food reserve items at any given time after a lengthy period of storage – is at best complex or most likely mere conjecture and guesswork.  What we can do is to apply proper planning procedures – do your research with trusted resources, rotate and consume your storage foods, and be realistic about how long you will really need the foods you choose to store.

  • Temperature- This is the primary factor affecting the storage life of foods.  The cooler the better. 40 degrees-50 degrees would be great. Room temperature (65 degrees-72 degrees) or below is generally fine.  Avoid above 90 degrees for extended periods of time. The longer food is exposed to very high temperatures the shorter the edible life and the faster the degeneration of nutritional value.  Note:  There are some “foods” available for emergency preparedness that are known as “emergency food or ration bars.”  These products are generally referred to as “life raft bars” because they were originally designed for life rafts and can withstand high heat for extended periods of time.  They primarily consist of white sugar and white flour, and were not meant to be the sole source of nutrition for a long period of time.
  • Moisture- The lower the better.  Moisture can deteriorate food value rapidly and create conditions that promote the growth of harmful organisms.  The moisture level contained in foods varies depending on the type of product it is.  Have foods in moisture barrier containers (metal, glass) in high humidity areas. Note:  Mylar bags or plastic buckets are not a long term (over 3 years) moisture or oxygen barrier. The moisture and gas transmission rates through these materials vary depending upon the specifications of the manufacturers.  Plastic absorbs gases, moisture, and odors.  Note:  Be careful where you store dry foods in cans.  Very cold flooring or any condition where there is a dramatic temperature differential may cause a build up of condensation inside the container.
  • Oxygen – A high oxygen environment causes oxidation, which leads to discoloration, flavor loss, odors, rancidity and the breakdown of nutritional value in foods. It also allows insects to feed on dried food reserves. Without oxygen, insects cannot live, nor can aerobic (oxygen dependent) organisms. Whole grain and beans have natural oxygen barriers and can store for long periods of time in low humidity and if free from infestation. All other processed grains, vegetables, fruits, etc. must be in a very reduced (2% or less) oxygen environment for long term storage.  Note:  Mylar bags or plastic buckets are not a long term (over 3 years) moisture or oxygen barrier. The moisture and gas transmission rates through these materials vary depending upon the specifications of the manufacturers.  Plastic absorbs gases, moisture, and odors.  The best long term storage containers are glass and metal.
  • Infestation – Examples include rodents, insects in all their stages of growth, mold, microorganisms, and any other creatures that get hungry – large or small.  The proper packaging and storage conditions are required to control infestation and not allow critters to both get into the food, or have the necessary environment for them to flourish if they are sealed into a container – such as in the form of eggs or spores.
  • Handling – Rough handling can not only damage the food itself, but it can also adversely effect and compromise the integrity of the container in which the food is stored.  Glass of course can break; any pouched item can develop pin holes, tears, or cracks.  The seams on buckets and cans can be tweaked, twisted, or damaged to allow oxygen to enter the container.
  • Light – Food should not be stored in direct sunlight.  Both for the potential of high temperature, and its affect on food value.  Sunlight directly on stored foods can destroy nutritional value and hasten the degeneration of food quality, taste, and appearance.  Foods packed in light barrier containers do not pose a problem with the affects of light.

PRODUCT OPTIONS

Freeze-dried

This is a specific technology that refers to foods which have been frozen and dried at low temperatures in a vacuum chamber.  Moisture is removed by a process known as sublimation.  The term “freeze-dried” is often used to designate a dried food product that requires no cooking.  Some meal blends will contain a variety of no cook freeze-dried, dehydrated and other drying technologies.

Unfortunately, there are currently unethical preparedness food “marketing” companies that claim to provide “freeze-dried” foods, however their foods either need to be cooked and/or contain little or no freeze dried foods at all.  Buyer Beware – read ingredient declarations and preparation instructions.

  • Advantages:
    • Foods retain the highest nutritional value, taste, texture and appearance.
    • Foods do not “shrivel up”, therefore retaining their original shape.
    • Foods reconstitute easily in hot or cold water- can be eaten dry if necessary- no cooking required in preparation.
    • The only method used to dry meat products for long term shelf life.
    • The chosen method of drying by the military, pharmaceutical companies, supplement manufacturers, and those concerned with nutrition and flavor.
    • The lowest moisture content obtainable- resulting in long shelf stability.
    • Excellent for fruits, vegetables, and meats.
    • Very lightweight.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Energy intensive- requires special equipment.
    • Higher cost.
    • Limited number of processors.
  • Note: There are many newer technologies which can dry specialized foods such as grains, beans, pastas and some vegetables and still retain taste, nutrition and “no cooking required” reconstitution- at a low cost.

Dehydrated

This is a general designation for all foods that have had water removed. It includes a number of different products and dehydrating techniques. Methods of drying include:

    • Air drying
    • Spray drying
    • Drum drying
    • Belt drying
  • Most commonly “dehydrated” refers to: vegetables, fruits, spices, and beans.
  • Spray dried items include- milk powder, dairy and cheese powders, fruit powders, vegetable powders, egg powders, and oil powders.
  • Most “dehydrated” vegetables and fruits are dried at high temperatures for short periods of time.
  • Advantages:
    • Reduced weight
    • Long shelf life
    • Lower cost
    • No waste- compact
    • Easy to use- large variety
    • Many suppliers
  • Disadvantages:
    • Many products like corn, peas, and green beans have to be cooked to reconstitute, resulting in increased time and loss of nutritional value.
    • High temperature drying of some items reduces nutritional value and taste.
    • Texture of some products is altered from original.

MRE/Retort/Self-Heating

The items in this category are wet packed in foil or plastic “flexible” packaging. MRE is a military term that stands for “Meals Ready to Eat” and was designed as combat rations for the military. Retort (available in many grocery stores and catalog companies) refers to the heating process, which give these products a longer shelf life. Self-heating meals are packaged entrees that contain everything necessary to have a hot meal anywhere. The individual flameless heaters were developed for the military.

    • MRE’s are complete meals- entrees, side dish, dessert, drink, and condiments- all in one large pouch.
    • All items in this category require no refrigeration and have a shelf life of 18 months to 2 years. MRE’s can last 3- 6 years if stored in cooler temperatures.
    • MRE’s were designed by the military to be eaten for no longer than one month at a time. Extended reliance on MRE’s exclusively could cause digestion issues.
    • Items are excellent for immediate use and easy preparation of familiar foods.

Commodities

This category includes dozens of varieties of grains, beans, legumes and seeds, and can be utilized in numerous forms such as; whole, cracked, flaked, instant, flour, pasta and sprouted.

  • Advantages:
    • Very economical- little cost for significant nutritional value.
    • Easily obtainable.
    • Stores well for long periods of time.
    • Versatility of preparation options and diversity of uses – many can be sprouted.
    • Historically relied upon during emergencies.
    • Reproducible – grow new crops.
    • If prepared and utilized properly, can fulfill total nutritional needs for some time.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Can require large quantities of fuel and water to prepare.
    • Requires significant preparation time to utilize all the diverse benefits.
    • Susceptible to infestation if not properly stored.
    • Requires preparation knowledge. Most people do not know how to prepare basic commodities.
    • If not prepared properly or suddenly introduced into the diet in quantity, grains and beans can cause significant digestive problems.
    • Heavy- Not easily transported if you need to be mobile.
    • Many people have allergic reactions to foods in this category.
    • If you rely on only grains and beans for nourishment for an extended length of time, you may have problems digesting these foods; especially if you don’t normally incorporate them into your diet. Preparation diversity is critical.
  • It is essential that those who choose to rely on commodities know how to properly prepare and use them. It is important to obtain good cookbooks and product information before you buy. Do not count on only a few grains and beans- diversity is very important.
  • Tips:
    • Smaller grains (such as millet, amaranth, quinoa, and teff) and smaller beans and legumes (such as aduki, lentils, split peas, mung, and small whites) will require less time, fuel and water to prepare.
    • Combine like sized grains and beans when cooking for a complete protein meal.
    • Pressure cookers and pre-soaking of most beans will significantly reduce the cooking time of grains and beans.
    • Newly “rediscovered” ancient grain varieties such as amaranth, quinoa, kamut, teff and spelt, are highly recommended because of their superior nutritional value, unique taste and preparation convenience – available at natural food stores.
    • To reduce cooking times for whole grains, try adding a handful to a thermos, or similar insulated container, add boiling water and let sit all day or overnight. (Use at a ratio of one part grain to one +/- part water by volume). Add dried fruit, nuts, sweetener etc. and enjoy a no cook hot cereal.
  • Uses for wheat:
    • Whole grain, cracked, flaked- cook for a hot cereal or side dish.
    • Flour- baking, pancakes, sauces.
    • Sprouting- eat raw or add to bread.
    • Soaked wheat- soak cleaned wheat in pure water 1-2 days. Drink water and eat wheat.
    • Gluten for protein source- rinse flour many times to produce gluten product. Cook in recipe.
    • Wheat grass juice- grow wheat in shallow trays with soil, cut at 6″-10″, juice wheat grass, mix small amount with fruit or vegetable juice.
    • Diastatic malt- ground and powdered dried wheat sprouts, a natural sweetener.

Grocery shelf

This is the category people are most familiar with and the one most will start with when beginning a storage program.

    • Store products you are familiar with.
    • Shelf life varies. If possible contact manufacturer. Generally canned items will last 1-3 years, glass jars 6 months- 2 years, boxes and packages 6 months- 1 year.
    • Buy extra each time you shop.
    • Buy case quantities.
    • Rotate supplies.
    • This category contains items that will complement and supplement other food reserve programs.

Comfort foods

During emergencies it is important to have foods available which are special treats and personally satisfying. These include:

    • Fruit drinks- sodas (all natural of course)
    • Candy- crackers- chips- cookies (also all natural)
    • Chocolate- drinks and bars
    • Popcorn
    • Puddings- cake and muffin mixes
    • Dried fruit and nut mixes
    • Teas- herb teas- coffee
    • Meat Jerky’s

Sprouting

It is not only a good idea to eat fresh sprouts normally; it is an essential during any prolonged emergency where fresh vegetables are not available. Sprouts are live, highly nutritious foods that contain essential elements for healthy living. They contain enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and much more. In an emergency it can be your only source for important nutrients. They are easy to grow and cost very little for so much value. You can sprout grains, beans, seeds and nuts.

    • Get a good book on sprouting.
    • If possible, use only non-sprayed, pesticide free seeds – preferably organically grown.
    • Sprouting equipment is easily assembled with household items such as glass jars, screening, cheesecloth, or you can buy a number of different sprouting kits.
    • Sprouts are usually eaten raw, and some sprouts can be lightly cooked like beans or used in baking like wheat and rye.

Supplements

Very important in emergency situations when a nutritional diet may not be available.

Many products have 2 to 3 year shelf life.

    • See your natural food store for details.
    • Many products can prevent health problems and illness naturally.
    • Whole food green concentrates are highly recommended. Also, multi-vitamins, green products, B-complex, vitamin C, seaweeds and immune system strengtheners.

Home Canning/Drying

With an abundance of fresh foods always available, canning and drying your own is very cost effective.

    • Obtain books and literature on canning and drying.
    • Take classes and talk to experienced individuals.
    • Get the proper equipment or learn how to build you own.
    • Know how to properly store canned and dried foods.
    • Canning supplies can be scarce in an emergency. Stock up on jars and lids.

Gardening

If the scenarios you anticipate to occur indicate a disruption of normal food supplies for a long period of time, then you will want to consider planting and maintaining a garden.  Obtain quality, non-hybrid, organic if possible, fresh garden seeds.  Get good gardening books and equipment.  Learn how to properly store seeds for next seasons planting.

  • It is always a good idea to know basic gardening techniques. If you have a long term planning strategy, gardening is a must for a continuing supply of fresh and nutritional foods.
    • Identify the best foods for your local growing zone.
    • Consider building a green house.
    • Learn how to compost.
    • Use non-hybrid- open pollinated seeds. You can then harvest seeds for the next season.
    • Learn how to save seeds properly. Store seeds in as cool and dry a location as possible.
    • In an emergency situation emphasize “whole plant varieties”. These are plant varieties that can be eaten whole at any point in the growing process. Examples include:

– Carrots – Cauliflower
– Beets – Chard
– Lettuce – Dandelion
– Cabbage – Kale
– Broccoli – Celery
– Radishes – Herbs
– Spinach
– Save seeds of wild edibles.

    • Using shallow trays with a thin layer of rich soil, learn how to grow wheat and barley grass for juice (highly nutritious!), and unhulled sunflower and buckwheat for fresh salad greens

Appliances/Equipment- Food Preparation

  • Cooking pots/utensils
  • Solar oven
  • Alternative stoves- grills- grates
  • Fuel- gas/diesel/propane/wood/charcoal/fuel oil/kerosene/shelf stable additive for gas or diesel
  • Generator
  • Sprouting jar/rack
  • Mill/grinder
  • Wheat grass juicer
  • Canning equipment/supplies
  • Pressure cooker
  • Books
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Food containers- plastic/glass/plastic bags/foil
  • Package your own- equipment/supplies
  • Water-purifiers/filters/additives/distillers/containers
  • Camping equipment
  • Non electric can opener

Water

  • Clean water of course is essential for survival. While it is possible to go for weeks without food, after 3 days survival is at great risk without water. Make absolutely sure you answer the following questions.

o How much water do you have available to you in an emergency?

o Will you have enough to clean foods you have stored?

o Will you have enough to cook foods that require lengthy boiling (beans, grains, pasta)?

o What quantities will you need to reconstitute “no cooking required” freeze-dried and dehydrated foods?

o Will you want to wash pots and utensils?

o Do you know how to obtain, store and/or purify water?

o Will you have enough water for sprouting and/or gardening?

  • Plan on at least 1/2 gallon a day per person to survive. One gallon a day per person is considered minimum for drinking, basic food preparation, and basic hygiene. Two gallons for basic bathing, laundry, and cleaning.

Water Sources – Storage – Treatment

Sources:

  • Natural
    • Ponds, lakes, streams, springs, rivers, ocean (use desalinators or distillers only)
    • Know all local locations before an emergency and check quality.
  • Wells
    • Have non-electric collection options available – hand pumps, special buckets, and solar pumps.
  • Bottled , commercial
    • one to two year shelf life – Rotate.
  • Around the house
    • Pools, spas, waterbeds, hot water heater, toilet tank, hoses, pipes – purify before drinking.
  • Collection ideas
    • Snow, rainwater, dew.
  • Survival techniques
    • Plants, underground sources, moisture collection, solar still – get a good survival manual.

Storage:

  • Specially packaged purified water
    • Water in small foil pouches or fruit juice like boxes – 5-year shelf life.
  • Large containers
    • Food grade plastic, concrete, water bladders, cisterns – above or below ground.
  • Small containers
    • Food grade plastic – new is best, numerous types available (If previously filled with food or beverage, used containers can impact tastes and odors), glass. Never use container that held chemicals or cleaners.

Treatment:

  • Devices
    • Portable hand operated purifiers- when rated as a “purifier” the device will kill viruses and filter bacteria and protozoa. Limited types available.
    • Portable hand operated filters- will filter out most bacteria and protozoa. Many types available.
    • Drip filters- counter top transportable units that filter water slowly by gravity.
    • Bottle purifiers- Easy to use, just fill and drink from bottle.
    • Pen like devices- Insert in a glass of water. Utilizes ultra-violet light as a purifier.
    • Desalinators- manual and electric. Removes salt from seawater.
    • Distillers- electric and non-electric available. Steam distills and purifies any contaminated and salt water.
    • Kitchen units- usually requires water pressure and uses carbon filter element. Some units can be modified to manual use.
    • Boiling- kills viruses and bacteria after 10 minutes (add one minute for every 1000 feet above sea level). May not however kill cysts such as Giardia.
  • Additives
    • Liquid chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite – only ingredient) – 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) per gallon of clean water, double for cloudy water. For 5 gallons-1/2 teaspoon for clean water, 1 teaspoon for cloudy water.
    • Iodine (2%)- 12 drops per gallon for clean water, double for cloudy water. Has distinctive odor and taste. Not for pregnant or nursing women or those with thyroid problems.
    • Purification tablets- Iodine or Chlorine- Follow instructions on package. Some brands may not kill Giardia.
    • Stabilized oxygen- A relatively new method of purification. Many swear by it, do your research.
    • Katadyn Micropur (Chlorine Dioxide)- Effective against all microorganisms. Meets EPA purification guidelines.
    • Colloidal Silver- New and becoming more widely available. Worth investigating. Reported to eliminate numerous harmful elements.

Water Storage Tips

  • Store water in a cool, dry, and dark location.
  • Store away from odors, waste products, and petroleum based products (if using plastics – plastic containers can absorb odors).
  • Periodically check containers (6-12 months) and add additional additives if necessary.
  • Rotate containers if possible with new water.
  • Don’t use metal containers for long term storage.
  • Use water filters on water stored for long periods of time.

Fuel

  • How much and what kind of fuel is available in your local area?
  • If you want hot meals, boiling water or hot water for clean up you must have a fuel source. If the foods you store require cooking to make them digestible (grains, beans, etc.) you must have fuel to boil water. Sources include:

o Wood, pellets, pine cones, plants.

o Paper, trash, cardboard, cloth.

o Propane, butane-bulk and in small canisters.

o Natural gas.

o Heating oil.

o Kerosene, gasoline, diesel.

o Candles, paraffin, fuel gel.

o Coal, charcoal.

o Rice hulls, corn cobs.

o Electricity.

o The sun- solar ovens, cookers.

Crucial Questions & Essential Information About Grab-and-Go Bags & Vehicle Preparedness – Revisited

By Denis Korn                                                                                                                                                 

It was a year ago that I posted this article, and as we once again approach winter and the possibility of severe weather you are encouraged to be serious and take action regarding the information and questions in this article!

To properly assemble an effective grab-and-go bag you must basically determine one or all of three possible destinations you are headed towards by foot, vehicle or horse: THE WOODS OR OUTDOORS – A SHELTER, HOTEL OR STRUCTURE – A RESIDENCE

 

October 2012:  As I write this post there are severe warnings concerning the weather conditions on the East Coast.  This “Frankenstorm” is considered to be catastrophic.  If this doesn’t motivate the population to seriously evaluate being prepared and taking effective action – What will it take?  Must we wait for an even greater disaster?

In light of the enormity of any pending disaster, I offer my suggestions on creating an emergency kit/grab-and-go bag and list once again items necessary for a vehicle preparedness kit.

When assembling your emergency kit/grab-and-go bag here are the crucial questions to answer if you must leave your home or business quickly:

  • If an evacuation has been declared, a severe weather event is imminent or a significant disaster has occurred, how will I know?
  • If I have to evacuate, will I be in a cozy government evacuation center with food, water, blankets and a bed, or will I be on my own in the elements, a crude shelter or a friend’s/relative’s house?
  • If specific government, church, community and friend’s sheltering options are not available, where do I go?  How far?  How do I get there?
  • What conditions can I expect to encounter – best scenario – worst scenario?
  • What are the weather conditions I am likely to encounter?  What is the season?
  • Will I be alone, or are others depending on me?  Family – children – elderly – pets?
  • Am I dependent on others?  Who?  Why?  Do I expect the government to take care of me?
  • What kind of support is likely to be available?
  • How long should I prepare for?
  • What if there is nothing left when I return?
  • Are my essentials, heirlooms, personal treasures, irreplaceable photographs, documents and financial assets secure if I leave with only my grab-and-go bag?
  • Do I have a reliable communication plan to contact family, friends and business associates at a moments notice?
  • What is the potential severity of the emergency I might experience?
  • Will I have transportation, or will I be on foot?
  • Do I have enough money on hand to pay for possible shelter, food or supplies if I am suddenly evacuated and away from home or business?
  • Am I truly prepared for the unexpected, a procrastinator or am I in denial?  Be honest!

To have a truly adequate emergency kit the above questions must be answered.  Your personal preparedness bag/kit contents will vary depending on numerous factors such as time, number of persons, locations involved, support available, season, comfort level desired and the degree of peace of mind you want.

Here is a list of the basic essentials for every kit.  Each category will have multiple options depending on how you answer the above crucial questions.

  1. Water/bottled/filter/containers
  2. Food/food preparation
  3. Medical Kit (quality)/prescriptions/glasses/essential medications/dental medic/safety pins
  4. Special Needs/medical/children/elderly/pets
  5. Tools/multi-tool/knife/wire/duct tape/rope/gloves/small axe/repair tools/super glue/aluminum foil/manual can opener (often on multi-tool)/bungee cords
  6. Communication/radio – hand crank – solar – battery/cell phone
  7. Fire Starter/lighter
  8. Signaling & Orienting/whistle/signal mirror/strobe light/compass/maps
  9. Lighting/Hand crank – solar – battery
  10. Batteries – Regular & Rechargeable/solar charger & power-pack for batteries & cell phone
  11. Shelter/tarp/tent – tube or larger/plastic sheeting
  12. Emergency Blankets/sleeping bags – emergency or larger or bivy
  13. Personal Hygiene/sanitary supplies/disinfectant
  14. Plastic Bags
  15. Personal Security/pepper spray/bear repellant/mace or other options
  16. Appropriate Clothing and Footwear
  17. Identification and Essential Documents/Bible/compact survival handbook
  18. Spare Keys
  19. Phone Numbers and Addresses/ friends, relatives, and emergency organizations/agencies
  20. Instructions on meeting and/or communicating with family and/or friends during or after an emergency
  21. Cash/credit cards
  22. Pen and Paper
  23. Pre-configured compact emergency kit with basic essentials
  24. Carry Bag – Backpack – Duffel Bag (very durable and if you anticipate carrying your bag any distance shoulder straps should be available with your carry bag or duffel)

For a very detailed list go to: Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness

For further crucial questions that apply to preparedness in general go to: The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning

With winter approaching it is especially vital to be prepared while in your vehicle.  When you consider all the potential problems that might arise, not being equipped and ready for the unexpected can potentially lead to serious injury and worse.

I live in area that receives significant storms, snow and cold –  and contains many back roads which can be especially hazardous, and year round everyone who lives nearby may not be respectful to others particularly women.  When my 3 daughters and wife were driving, I always had emergency supplies in the vehicle they were driving.  The consequences of not being responsible and prepared in the event of an emergency while driving, are too difficult to consider.  Please, teach your children to change a tire, check vital fluids, escape if under water, signal for help, survive in a storm and any other essential information they need.

Here are suggestions for your vehicle emergency kit from my article: Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness Items for Automobiles – Trucks – Vans – RV’s

These items are especially important for long trips, family outings, new younger drivers, inclement weather, remote areas and at night. 

AS A FATHER OF 3 DAUGHTERS AND 3 GRANDDAUGHTERS, I  HIGHLY ENCOURAGE FATHERS AND MOTHERS TO ENSURE YOUR CHILDREN ARE SECURE AND PREPARED THIS WINTER WHEN THEY ARE DRIVING!

 

  • Cell phone/smart phone/charger
  • Spare tire
  • Jack with tire iron and supporting tools
  • Tire inflation device – portable power and/or aerosol can inflator (for use only in an emergency as it will void the warrantee)
  • JB Weld/super adhesive
  • Jumper cables
  • Portable power unit for jump starting
  • Chains/cables/bungee cords for tightening
  • Crowbar
  • Reflectors/flares
  • Hidden spare key
  • Device to break window and cut seat-belts from the inside in an emergency
  • Extra oil
  • Extra gas/funnel if appropriate
  • Siphon hose
  • Extra fan belts/bulbs/hoses/additives/sealers/hard to get parts
  • Window scraper
  • Important phone numbers/documents/insurance information
  • GPS device if appropriate

Additional critical items from the Essential Checklist to carry in your vehicle:

  • Tarps
  • Blankets/emergency sleeping bag
  • First Aid kit
  • Baby supplies
  • Food and water/water purification/containers if appropriate
  • Maps
  • Personal documents and photo ID
  • Gloves
  • Duct tape
  • Rope/wire
  • Repair tools
  • Plastic bags large and small
  • Emergency radio/hank crank radio
  • Emergency lighting
  • Rope/wire/bungees
  • Small solar/12 volt power packs for small electronics
  • Cash/credit card
  • Extra clothing in harsh and/or wet weather/hat
  • Hand/body warmers
  • Rain gear/rubber boots
  • Knife/multi-tool
  • Whistle
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Shovel
  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Matches/fire starter
  • Extra Batteries
  • Personal protection devices or items as appropriate/pepper spray

Check the “Essential Checklist” for other items relevant to your needs.

WARNING: Extreme Caution is Required Before Buying Emergency Foods

By Denis Korn

Who Do You Trust!

I need to again alert all those reading this article to be alert, cautious and on your guard when buying so-called long term pouched emergency foods!  Tell your family, friends and associates about this post.  I have written extensively about the deception and misinformation being delivered by businesses that call themselves emergency and/or survival food companies.  I have 38 years in the natural foods, emergency preparedness and outdoor recreation industries – I know deceitfulness when I see it.

This post is the result of another me-too, mediocre, Utah based (they are in other states also) so-called emergency pouch food company contacting me today to sell their food.  While I know there are legitimate honorable food companies in our industry, I am disgusted with those who are fooling customers into thinking they are purchasing foods of value.  You have probably realized by now that I am very concerned and troubled by what is happening in our important niche market of emergency foods.

Why? – because some day families may have to depend on their emergency food supplies for prolonged subsistence – the last thing they need are surprises, problems and significant disappointment.

Here once again are the key problems these untrustworthy companies exhibit:

  • The food is of poor quality and would be difficult for the whole family to digest and rely upon for extended periods of time – a complete nutritional balance with adequate caloric value is questionable.
  • Serving sizes and the length of time complete assortments claim to provide food for is in most cases blatantly false and deceptive.
  • Many recipes include ingredients that are marginal, low-grade, filled with flavor enhancers, artificial items and of cheap quality.
  • Preparation can be deceptive – requiring larger quantities of water and long cooking times to reconstitute.
  • Web sites are the result of the marketing department and statements referring to the foods offered are often false, misleading, erroneous and filled with exaggeration – As I have said many times most of the emergency pouch food business are marketing companies, not food companies.  I am always amused when I visit these sites and see all kinds of icons and phony awards they have fabricated.
  • Having celebrity endorsements and significant advertising budgets does not at all ensure the value of the foods offered – in fact in all the cases I have seen and heard – it ensures an inferior product.
  • Calling foods “freeze-dried” when there are no freeze-dried ingredients in any blends and cooking is required – just because freeze-dried foods have a better reputation – is dishonest and misleading – as is naming entrees with meat items in the title when there is no meat only soy and poor tasting flavoring.
  • 25 year shelf life in inadequate quality “mylar”pouches – a marketing fabrication with no verifiable evidence!

I have included here a post I wrote recently titled 7 Things Every Reputable Food Reserve Company Needs to Tell You.  It deals with these same issues and offers a complimentary perspective.  At the end are links to other appropriate articles.

7 Things Every Reputable Food Reserve Company Needs to Tell You

I have written a number of articles dealing with trust, honesty, reflections, guidelines, questions to ask and recommendations concerning the purchasing of food reserve products.  While the food you rely upon in an emergency is vital and life sustaining, unfortunately few preppers and planers do the valuable research they should for this essential category of provisions.  This post is written to help educate and inform the serious preparedness planner.

Because I have personally witnessed, heard and read so many conflicting, misleading and outright deceptive claims and information regarding foods for long term storage, I am writing this – the first of two – concise and to-the-point articles.  While many food reserve companies are educated and reliable, many are intentionally or unintentionally ignorant and deceitful.

You are highly encouraged to take this post seriously and require that the food reserve companies you buy from know what they are doing, and they need to answer these questions honestly and to the best of their ability.  If they can’t – then buyer beware!  In my opinion – there is something immoral, appalling and disgraceful about companies who take advantage of people who may not be adequately informed and are vulnerable to misleading promotion.  Unfortunately many people are more motivated by fear and mindlessly react, then carefully evaluate the facts and make informed decisions.

Spending thousands of dollars on deceptive advertising, being all over the internet with Google ads, getting high profile talk show hosts and websites to hawk your foods, creating shelf life figures out of thin air, telling folks how nutritious the foods are when they are filled with questionable ingredients, packaging foods in pouches and in a manner that does not assure a long shelf life, and tricking people into thinking they are getting an adequate quantity of foods during an emergency by creating arbitrary “servings” – does not guarantee you are buying value, quality or an adequate supply of vital foods!  The high cost of advertising, endorsements and commissions has to come from somewhere, and all too often it comes from the value of the food products themselves while compromising quality and quantity.

1. If the company promotes their food reserve assortments by number of servings, how many calories are contained in what they designate as a serving?

A common marketing tactic used by many food companies today is to promote a given number of servings in an assortment, and sometimes to even state that an assortment is good for a given period of time with a given number of servings.  In the preparedness market place today, where people may have to depend on daily food rations for their nourishment, only knowing the number of servings in an assortment is close to meaningless and the information insignificant .  Why?  Because a “serving” quantity and quality can be anything the company wants it to be.  You need more information.

2. What are the calories in each serving – the ingredient source of those calories (white sugar, non-nutritive calories or quality calories) – and what method, or source of information, was used to determine the calories in their products?

The standard for comparing one reserve food product with another has traditionally been to compare the number of calories of similar products or meals.  This is done by comparing the calories by either: knowing the stated calories and the weight in a given serving of a product; or the number of calories of a food product in a comparable sized pouch or container.  This enables comparisons of similar items from different companies – comparing apples with apples.  Even the government on their mandated nutritional information requires the calories be listed – and the source of those calories.

3. How many calories does the company recommend one should consume per day, and how many of their servings will it take to achieve this number?

Now you can do the math and compare the real cost and value of one companies products to another.  What is the cost per quality calorie?  What is the cost for supplying the proper number of calories for the time period in your emergency scenario?  Don’t forget it is the quality of the calories that is critical.

Here is the important issue: The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for the average adult person is 2,000 calories a day (reputable companies generally allow 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day in formulating their assortments).  There are companies who promote a 500 to 1000 calorie per day allowance!

4. If a company uses names for their meals that sound like they contain real meat or are similar sounding to meat recipes – is it real meat, soy or gluten?

This is a common deception among many companies who either do not have the legal authority to pack real meat products because they do not have USDA inspected facilities, or they try to make their products as cheaply as possible.

5. When a company claims a shelf life of between 20 and 30 years, how was this determined?

I know of only two companies who have been in business longer than 20 years with long term food reserve products who can verify shelf life, use the proper packaging technologies and have their own testing facilities.  In the 37 years I have been in the preparedness industry, I have never heard of any established major manufacturer of dry food products ever recommending storing foods in any type of pouch over 7 years.  This includes all the established companies packing pouch foods for the outdoor recreational industry.

6. What experience do your customers have eating your foods exclusively for extended periods of time?

If a company is selling you foods that you may have to rely upon for weeks, months or possibly years, how did they determine that their foods have the necessary nutritional value to sustain a person for an extended length of time?  This includes children and adults.

7. How does the foods taste and are they formulated to digest properly if consumed for a lengthy period of time?

Many of today’s preparedness food companies are primarily marketing companies that don’t emphasize quality and nutrition.  Their foods must be made cheaply to support the margins required for their extensive marketing budget, commissions and dealer costs.  Study the ingredient declarations – often very difficult to find if not unavailable on many websites – for artificial flavor enhancers, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, fillers and white sugar.  Are there any reliable independent testimonials about the foods you are considering for a preparedness investment?  How long has the company been in the food reserve business?

NOTE: MRE’S (meals-ready-to-eat – military rations) were formulated by the military to be eaten for no longer than one month.

Purchasing Food Reserves – The Essential Questions

Who Do You Trust?

Long Term Food Storage – A Comprehensive Primer

Fraud Exposed Regarding Preparedness Food Company Wise Foods by Oregon Freeze Dry

Is the Entire Family Secure and Responsible in an Emergency?

By Denis Korn

Is your entire family prepared for emergencies at all times?

Recent  events has bought us catastrophic circumstances that have had devastating and lasting effects on thousands of people around the world.  I pray that you take this advice seriously.

Recent conversations have motivated me to post once again this important article.

I am reminded of a presentation I made some years back to a large gathering of preparedness professionals.  This convention consisted of folks who came from all over the country and of course this meant that they would be gone from their families for a few days.  Bear in mind that at my presentation there were a couple hundred people whose responsibilities included preparedness planning and education for very large companies, organizations, and governmental agencies.

At the beginning of my talk I asked the group how many felt completely confident that in their absence their families were prepared do deal with unforeseen emergencies or disasters – especially significant ones.  Only a few raised their hands!  Since most of these participants were the head of their households, what does it tell you about fulfilling one’s responsibility to protect and keep the family secure in difficult times?

Fortunately over the years the professional emergency management community has become more dedicated to personally embodying what they are responsible for in government and business.  What about the average household?

It appears that most head of households have some notion that their presence is security enough for the family.  This is a dangerous assumption.  The sensible attitude is to insure that all family members – adults – the elderly – teenagers – and young children, know what to do, how to respond, where to go, who to contact, and where the information and supplies are located.  Instructions should be in writing and the entire family should participate in drills and practices.  Family members – immediate and extended – should know their part during an emergency under all scenarios and given any combination of family members physically present – or absent.

Do your children know what to do and how to act if a serious emergency occurs and they are not at home?  How will your communicate with them or those in their keeping?  What if they are at school – what plans does the school have to communicate with parents or guardians? What will the school provide for students?  Do you have contingency plans for communication and provisioning for your spouse – adult children – younger children away from home at camp, etc.?

Between Learn To Prepare and numerous internet websites, there is an abundance of valuable information for the whole family.  Study this information as if your life depended on it – in a significant emergency it does!

So I ask all of you reading this post:  In your absence is you family adequately educated and prepared to properly respond and survive during a serious emergency situation?

Suggested articles to consider:

Beginning and Improving Preparedness Planning

The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning

What is your Emergency Planning Triggering Event?

Checklist of Essentials for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness – Updated & Expanded

Crucial Questions & Essential Information About Grab-and-Go Bags & Vehicle Preparedness

What is Required to REALLY be Prepared?

10 Foundational Elements of Preparedness Planning and Resiliency

Long Term Food Storage – A Comprehensive Primer

By Denis Korn

The language of food storage – defining and clarifying terms, product options and related information.

As the awareness and motivation to store food provisions for extended periods of time grows with every alarming headline, I have been asked to once again post one of the important 12 Foundational Articles.  This is valuable basic overview of long term food storage issues.

With so many preparedness websites and blogs and so many instant experts it becomes increasing difficult to know who to trust and what to believe.  This is by no means an easy task.  I t takes serious research and asking the right questions – and expecting accurate answers – discerning the truth is challenging and daunting.  I know this is difficult because I not only receive numerous phone calls for help, I personally have seen and heard distortions, inaccurate information and blatant deception.

For 38 years I have been intimately involved in the preparedness, outdoor recreation and natural foods industries – as a retailer, wholesaler, manufacturer, educator and consultant.  You are invited to read the articles at this blog and be serious about answering the many questions posed and researching what I have conveyed.  I hope you will trust my experiences and insights.

 

Cook versus No-cook

A primary decision needs to be made, as it relates to the specific long term food provisions that you want to procure. Do you want foods that require cooking or do you want foods that require no cooking – or perhaps some of both?

Cooking required food reserves are simply foods that need to be cooked – boiled, fried or baked – in order to be eaten.  Examples include: traditional grains and beans, pasta, bread – egg – pancake mixes and some soup and stew mixes.

No-cook food reserves are foods that can be eaten as-is, or after hot or cold water is added to the foods, and being reconstituted for a short time, are then eaten.  Examples include: freeze-dried and some dehydrated ingredients, meals and mixes, granola, supplements, fruits and powdered drinks.

Cook

Advantages:

  • Readily available
  • Low cost
  • Familiar to those currently cooking from scratch
  • Basic unprocessed foods

Disadvantages:

  • Requires a significant supply of water and energy (heat source – gas – electricity – wood –etc.) – both of which may be in short supply during emergency conditions especially in vulnerable locations
  • Requires time to prepare
  • May be difficult to prepare if one lacks cooking and recipe creation skills
  • Heavy

No-Cook

Advantages:

  • Small amount of water required to reconstitute ingredients and meals
  • In emergency situations, freeze-dried foods can be eaten as-is
  • Pre-blended meals are familiar and nutritious if manufactured by reputable companies
  • Minimum time to prepare
  • Easy to use

Disadvantages:

  • Higher cost for food preparation technologies utilized
  • Food ingredients are processed to some degree

 

Pouch versus Can

These can be commercially available dried food products packed in pouches and cans, or empty pouches and cans for do-it-yourself packing.  Pouches referred to in this section are ones that have a good quality metal foil barrier with an adequate thickness as one of the components in the layering of the pouch (3 or more layers required).  Metalized, transparent or plastic only pouches are not suitable for long term storage of food.  Cans are rigid wall metal cans with the proper seal.

Pouches

Advantages:

  • Convenience of smaller units of product for storage
  • Empty pouches are readily available online for do-it-yourself
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • A good variety of meals and ingredients are available from established and reputable manufacturers

Disadvantages:

  • Very susceptible to puncturing and pin holing (rough handling, squeezing, bending and forcing a pouch into a container may create very small holes in the pouch).  This compromises the integrity of the seams and pouch material resulting in the loss of an oxygen free atmosphere.
  • No protection from animal destruction or penetration
  • Must have quality materials used in pouch construction – difficult to ensure if buying empty
  • Many commercial pouched foods are low quality and use questionable materials – must do research
  • If do-it-yourself pouch must be sealed properly
  • Must be stored properly or there is a risk of damage

Cans

Advantages:

  • The most reliable for long term food storage
  • Properly sealed cans with oxygen absorbers, can create an oxygen and moisture free atmosphere for a very long period of time
  • Rugged construction – can not be penetrated by animals (except maybe a hungry and aggressive bear)
  • Easy to store and handle

Disadvantages:

  • Increased cost for dried foods commercially packed in cans for long term reserves
  • Not practical for most of the do-it-yourself packers – cans and sealing equipment are not easily obtained – when they are available they can be more costly than pouches and to be cost effective empty cans need to be purchased in large quantities

Calories versus Servings

A common marketing tactic used by many food companies today is to promote a given number of servings in an assortment, and sometimes to even state that an assortment is good for a given period of time with a given number of servings.  In the preparedness market place today, where people may have to depend on daily food rations for their nourishment, only knowing the number of servings in an assortment is close to meaningless and the information insignificant .  Why?  Because a “serving” quantity and quality can be anything the company wants it to be.  You need more information.

The standard for comparing one reserve food product with another has traditionally been to compare the number of calories of similar products or meals.  This is done by comparing the calories by either: knowing the stated calories and the weight in a given serving of a product; or the number of calories of a food product in a comparable sized pouch or container.  This enables comparisons of similar items from different companies – comparing apples with apples.  Even the government on their mandated nutritional information requires the calories be listed – and the source of those calories.

How many calories does the company recommend one should consume per day, and how many of their servings will it take to achieve this number?

Now you can do the math and compare the real cost and value of one companies products to another.  What is the cost per quality calorie?  What is the cost for supplying the proper number of calories for the time period in your emergency scenario?  Don’t forget it is the quality of the calories that is critical.

Here is the important issue:  The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for the average adult person is 2,000 calories a day (reputable companies generally allow 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day in formulating their assortments).  There are companies who promote a 500 to 1000 calorie per day allowance!

Long-Term

Generally long-term refers to a time period of three – four years or longer.  Many seek food products with that will last up to 30 years.  In the real world there are few situations where one would rely on 30 year old food, however with the application of the proper technology and storage conditions it is possible to still consume 30 year old food.  Boxed, wet pack, frozen, high moisture foods and canned grocery items are not considered long-term for purposes of this primer.

Shelf Life/Shelf-Stability

This term refers to the viable and reasonable life that can be expected of a food product in storage.  During this time the food product must still have significant nutritional value and be palatable and acceptable.

The 7 factors that effect shelf life and stability are:  temperature – moisture – oxygen – infestation – handling – light – time

Food Storage

Simply stated, food storage refers to food provisions that one stores for a long term.  These food products usually have a long shelf life and can be relied upon during times of need or emergency.  There is a diversity of different foods in various forms that can be utilized for a proper food storage program.

Do-it-Yourself Packing

This can be cost effective, customized, fun to do, involve friends and groups, localized and creative.  Before you start packing your foods, be clear about what it is you want to store and for how long.  Are the foods appropriate for your plans?  Do you know how to prepare them?  Do you have an adequate quantity?  Do you have all the equipment necessary to prepare your foods?  What is the nutritional quality?

Nitrogen/oxygen free atmosphere

Basically there are 2 reasons for wanting to store food in an oxygen free environment – eliminate the possibility for infestation from insects and microorganisms, and control oxidation, which leads to the rancidity of fats and oils, foul taste, off color, and nutritional deterioration.  The lower the oxygen levels – the more effective in preserving the integrity of the foods stored.

Some foods are more susceptible to oxidation deterioration than others.  It is important to know how susceptible the foods you are storing are to oxidation, because as you will see the type of container you store your foods in may at some point no longer be an adequate oxygen barrier.

Crucial Questions

The serious and conscientious preparedness planner is encouraged to carefully and honestly answer these 12 crucial questions.  These questions apply not only to long-term food storage planning, but also all preparedness planning.

  1. What are the circumstances or scenarios you have determined may exist that will require you to rely upon your preparedness supplies?
  2. How long will your emergency scenario last, and what is the duration of time for which you will be preparing?
  3. What preparedness knowledge do you personally have that is important in providing specific information and instructions needed during the emergency or emergencies for which you are preparing?
  4. During an emergency what facilities, stores, resources, supplies, and assistance is available in your area apart from family and friends?
  5. Are you dependent upon someone or something else to get you through and supply your needs during the emergency scenarios you presume will occur?
  6. How many people are you planning to provide with emergency provisions?
  7. Do you have a list of essential or at least important supplies you believe will be necessary to have on hand during your estimated emergency?
  8. Do you have an understanding of the financial implications of your projected emergency scenarios?
  9. What are the special needs of yourself, family, or others you care for that might arise during the scenarios you find likely?
  10. In your expected emergency scenarios will you be stationary and remain where you are, or is it possible you will have to be mobile and relocate?
  11. What means of communication do you have available to you during an emergency and with whom do you need to communicate?
  12. In your expected emergency scenarios what transportation options will be necessary and available?

Preparedness/Disaster Planning

The first step in the preparedness planning process is the acknowledgment that you have made a wise and sound decision and have chosen to take responsibility for you and your family, and to be prepared in the event of unforeseen circumstances.  Be encouraged to continue this process with diligence, motivation, and discernment.

This process is basically undertaken in three phases – each one of which will take as much time as you wish to devote, and the degree of urgency you are experiencing.

  1. First, there is an initial assessment necessary to determine the direction you are heading.
  2. Second, there is further evaluation, research, and planning required to develop a firm foundation for the third phase, and to develop the clarity required for appropriate and accurate decision making.
  3. Third, there is taking action and assembling the appropriate provisions and critical information you have determined are necessary for your security and peace of mind.  This phase is ongoing as you continue to evaluate, research, and build up your supplies and information.

The initial assessment

This consists of 6 basic questions that you are encouraged to answer that will lead you along the matrix to your destination:

  1. What is your attitude concerning emergency preparedness?
  2. What are the circumstances or scenarios and their severity you have determined may exist that will require you to rely upon your preparedness supplies?
  3. What is the length of time you will be affected during these scenarios that you will be required to rely on your preparedness supplies?
  4. For whom and how many are you preparing?
  5. Where will you be?
  6. How serious are you and how much time, effort, and money are you willing to devote to research, planning, and action, and with what help?

Disaster Scenarios

We live in a time of unprecedented options and potential scenarios that could create challenging and disruptive circumstances.  What is required is serious evaluation of current events for taking effective action.  The delivery of essential goods and services is so interdependent on a multitude of diverse factors, that a breakdown in any one area can have severe consequences on our daily life.  Here are some potential scenarios for your consideration:

Acts of God – Man made disasters – Earth Changes – Earthquakes – Government Regulation/Control – Catastrophic Weather – Flood – Martial Law – Asteroid/Comet – Fire – Food Shortages – Pole Shift – Hurricanes –  Societal Breakdown – Solar Flare/CME – Storm/Ice/Snow – Civil Disobedience/Riots – Tribulation/Religious – Tornado – Medical Emergency – Severe Earth Changes – Drought – Economic Emergency/Collapse – Power Outage – Major Accident – Mud Slides – Terrorism Attack – Tsunami – Biological/Chemical/Radiological Attack – EMP  (Electrical Magnetic Pulse) Attack – Personal Issues – Bombing – Job Loss – War – Illness – Cyber Attack – No Internet – Unforeseen Emergencies – Financial Loss – Famine/Food Shortages – Grid Breakdown/No Electricity

Trusting Suppliers – Food & Supplies

Preparedness planning is a prudent and wise action to take.  This search for provisions however, can create a dilemma – Who do you trust?  Remember, you and your family are relying on preparedness products, especially food and water options, to sustain you during critical times.  Some situations can be so catastrophic as to have life or death consequences.  It is this very real potential scenario that compels me personally to take the process of emergency planning very seriously.

Numerous preparedness dealers and websites have recently appeared on the scene, and many are claiming the virtues of their products and are hoping to take advantage of current demands.  I have been in this industry for a long time, and I have seen numerous companies come and go as political, economic, or prophetic issues dominate the news.  With the advent of the internet, it has become even more difficult to assess the reliability of online companies.

Many companies are conscientious and dependable – as a previous manufacturer of food reserve products I have had business relationships with a number of these companies over the years.  Unfortunately many are very questionable.  I have examined their products, their data, and the accuracy of their information – it ranges from inadequate, to unclear, to erroneous.

USDA Inspection

To package meat products legally, shelf-stable food manufacturing establishments must be federally inspected to comply with the strictest USDA standards for truthfulness in labeling, ingredient conformity, wholesomeness, and cleanliness.

Storage Conditions

NOTE:  The six conditions listed are chosen because these are factors in which we have the control to optimize for the longest reliable shelf life.  TIME is the one factor that we can not control – and it does have a significant effect on the shelf life of various foods.  Nutritional value is lost with many foods over time.  To know with certainty the viable nutritional value of all food reserve items at any given time after a lengthy period of storage – is at best complex or most likely mere conjecture and guesswork.  What we can do is to apply proper planning procedures – do your research with trusted resources, rotate and consume your storage foods, and be realistic about how long you will really need the foods you choose to store.

  • Temperature- This is the primary factor affecting the storage life of foods.  The cooler the better. 40 degrees-50 degrees would be great. Room temperature (65 degrees-72 degrees) or below is generally fine.  Avoid above 90 degrees for extended periods of time. The longer food is exposed to very high temperatures the shorter the edible life and the faster the degeneration of nutritional value.  Note:  There are some “foods” available for emergency preparedness that are known as “emergency food or ration bars.”  These products are generally referred to as “life raft bars” because they were originally designed for life rafts and can withstand high heat for extended periods of time.  They primarily consist of white sugar and white flour, and were not meant to be the sole source of nutrition for a long period of time.
  • Moisture- The lower the better.  Moisture can deteriorate food value rapidly and create conditions that promote the growth of harmful organisms.  The moisture level contained in foods varies depending on the type of product it is.  Have foods in moisture barrier containers (metal, glass) in high humidity areas. Note:  Mylar bags or plastic buckets are not a long term (over 3 years) moisture or oxygen barrier. The moisture and gas transmission rates through these materials vary depending upon the specifications of the manufacturers.  Plastic absorbs gases, moisture, and odors.  Note:  Be careful where you store dry foods in cans.  Very cold flooring or any condition where there is a dramatic temperature differential may cause a build up of condensation inside the container.
  • Oxygen – A high oxygen environment causes oxidation, which leads to discoloration, flavor loss, odors, rancidity and the breakdown of nutritional value in foods. It also allows insects to feed on dried food reserves. Without oxygen, insects cannot live, nor can aerobic (oxygen dependent) organisms. Whole grain and beans have natural oxygen barriers and can store for long periods of time in low humidity and if free from infestation. All other processed grains, vegetables, fruits, etc. must be in a very reduced (2% or less) oxygen environment for long term storage.  Note:  Mylar bags or plastic buckets are not a long term (over 3 years) moisture or oxygen barrier. The moisture and gas transmission rates through these materials vary depending upon the specifications of the manufacturers.  Plastic absorbs gases, moisture, and odors.  The best long term storage containers are glass and metal.
  • Infestation – Examples include rodents, insects in all their stages of growth, mold, microorganisms, and any other creatures that get hungry – large or small.  The proper packaging and storage conditions are required to control infestation and not allow critters to both get into the food, or have the necessary environment for them to flourish if they are sealed into a container – such as in the form of eggs or spores.
  • Handling – Rough handling can not only damage the food itself, but it can also adversely effect and compromise the integrity of the container in which the food is stored.  Glass of course can break; any pouched item can develop pin holes, tears, or cracks.  The seams on buckets and cans can be tweaked, twisted, or damaged to allow oxygen to enter the container.
  • Light – Food should not be stored in direct sunlight.  Both for the potential of high temperature, and its affect on food value.  Sunlight directly on stored foods can destroy nutritional value and hasten the degeneration of food quality, taste, and appearance.  Foods packed in light barrier containers do not pose a problem with the affects of light.

PRODUCT OPTIONS

Freeze-dried

This is a specific technology that refers to foods which have been frozen and dried at low temperatures in a vacuum chamber.  Moisture is removed by a process known as sublimation.  The term “freeze-dried” is often used to designate a dried food product that requires no cooking.  Some meal blends will contain a variety of no cook freeze-dried, dehydrated and other drying technologies.

Unfortunately, there are currently unethical preparedness food “marketing” companies that claim to provide “freeze-dried” foods, however their foods either need to be cooked and/or contain little or no freeze dried foods at all.  Buyer Beware – read ingredient declarations and preparation instructions.

  • Advantages:
    • Foods retain the highest nutritional value, taste, texture and appearance.
    • Foods do not “shrivel up”, therefore retaining their original shape.
    • Foods reconstitute easily in hot or cold water- can be eaten dry if necessary- no cooking required in preparation.
    • The only method used to dry meat products for long term shelf life.
    • The chosen method of drying by the military, pharmaceutical companies, supplement manufacturers, and those concerned with nutrition and flavor.
    • The lowest moisture content obtainable- resulting in long shelf stability.
    • Excellent for fruits, vegetables, and meats.
    • Very lightweight.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Energy intensive- requires special equipment.
    • Higher cost.
    • Limited number of processors.
  • Note: There are many newer technologies which can dry specialized foods such as grains, beans, pastas and some vegetables and still retain taste, nutrition and “no cooking required” reconstitution- at a low cost.

Dehydrated

This is a general designation for all foods that have had water removed. It includes a number of different products and dehydrating techniques. Methods of drying include:

    • Air drying
    • Spray drying
    • Drum drying
    • Belt drying
  • Most commonly “dehydrated” refers to: vegetables, fruits, spices, and beans.
  • Spray dried items include- milk powder, dairy and cheese powders, fruit powders, vegetable powders, egg powders, and oil powders.
  • Most “dehydrated” vegetables and fruits are dried at high temperatures for short periods of time.
  • Advantages:
    • Reduced weight
    • Long shelf life
    • Lower cost
    • No waste- compact
    • Easy to use- large variety
    • Many suppliers
  • Disadvantages:
    • Many products like corn, peas, and green beans have to be cooked to reconstitute, resulting in increased time and loss of nutritional value.
    • High temperature drying of some items reduces nutritional value and taste.
    • Texture of some products is altered from original.

MRE/Retort/Self-Heating

The items in this category are wet packed in foil or plastic “flexible” packaging. MRE is a military term that stands for “Meals Ready to Eat” and was designed as combat rations for the military. Retort (available in many grocery stores and catalog companies) refers to the heating process, which give these products a longer shelf life. Self-heating meals are packaged entrees that contain everything necessary to have a hot meal anywhere. The individual flameless heaters were developed for the military.

    • MRE’s are complete meals- entrees, side dish, dessert, drink, and condiments- all in one large pouch.
    • All items in this category require no refrigeration and have a shelf life of 18 months to 2 years. MRE’s can last 3- 6 years if stored in cooler temperatures.
    • MRE’s were designed by the military to be eaten for no longer than one month at a time. Extended reliance on MRE’s exclusively could cause digestion issues.
    • Items are excellent for immediate use and easy preparation of familiar foods.

Commodities

This category includes dozens of varieties of grains, beans, legumes and seeds, and can be utilized in numerous forms such as; whole, cracked, flaked, instant, flour, pasta and sprouted.

  • Advantages:
    • Very economical- little cost for significant nutritional value.
    • Easily obtainable.
    • Stores well for long periods of time.
    • Versatility of preparation options and diversity of uses – many can be sprouted.
    • Historically relied upon during emergencies.
    • Reproducible – grow new crops.
    • If prepared and utilized properly, can fulfill total nutritional needs for some time.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Can require large quantities of fuel and water to prepare.
    • Requires significant preparation time to utilize all the diverse benefits.
    • Susceptible to infestation if not properly stored.
    • Requires preparation knowledge. Most people do not know how to prepare basic commodities.
    • If not prepared properly or suddenly introduced into the diet in quantity, grains and beans can cause significant digestive problems.
    • Heavy- Not easily transported if you need to be mobile.
    • Many people have allergic reactions to foods in this category.
    • If you rely on only grains and beans for nourishment for an extended length of time, you may have problems digesting these foods; especially if you don’t normally incorporate them into your diet. Preparation diversity is critical.
  • It is essential that those who choose to rely on commodities know how to properly prepare and use them. It is important to obtain good cookbooks and product information before you buy. Do not count on only a few grains and beans- diversity is very important.
  • Tips:
    • Smaller grains (such as millet, amaranth, quinoa, and teff) and smaller beans and legumes (such as aduki, lentils, split peas, mung, and small whites) will require less time, fuel and water to prepare.
    • Combine like sized grains and beans when cooking for a complete protein meal.
    • Pressure cookers and pre-soaking of most beans will significantly reduce the cooking time of grains and beans.
    • Newly “rediscovered” ancient grain varieties such as amaranth, quinoa, kamut, teff and spelt, are highly recommended because of their superior nutritional value, unique taste and preparation convenience – available at natural food stores.
    • To reduce cooking times for whole grains, try adding a handful to a thermos, or similar insulated container, add boiling water and let sit all day or overnight. (Use at a ratio of one part grain to one +/- part water by volume). Add dried fruit, nuts, sweetener etc. and enjoy a no cook hot cereal.
  • Uses for wheat:
    • Whole grain, cracked, flaked- cook for a hot cereal or side dish.
    • Flour- baking, pancakes, sauces.
    • Sprouting- eat raw or add to bread.
    • Soaked wheat- soak cleaned wheat in pure water 1-2 days. Drink water and eat wheat.
    • Gluten for protein source- rinse flour many times to produce gluten product. Cook in recipe.
    • Wheat grass juice- grow wheat in shallow trays with soil, cut at 6″-10″, juice wheat grass, mix small amount with fruit or vegetable juice.
    • Diastatic malt- ground and powdered dried wheat sprouts, a natural sweetener.

Grocery shelf

This is the category people are most familiar with and the one most will start with when beginning a storage program.

    • Store products you are familiar with.
    • Shelf life varies. If possible contact manufacturer. Generally canned items will last 1-3 years, glass jars 6 months- 2 years, boxes and packages 6 months- 1 year.
    • Buy extra each time you shop.
    • Buy case quantities.
    • Rotate supplies.
    • This category contains items that will complement and supplement other food reserve programs.

Comfort foods

During emergencies it is important to have foods available which are special treats and personally satisfying. These include:

    • Fruit drinks- sodas (all natural of course)
    • Candy- crackers- chips- cookies (also all natural)
    • Chocolate- drinks and bars
    • Popcorn
    • Puddings- cake and muffin mixes
    • Dried fruit and nut mixes
    • Teas- herb teas- coffee
    • Meat Jerky’s

Sprouting

It is not only a good idea to eat fresh sprouts normally; it is an essential during any prolonged emergency where fresh vegetables are not available. Sprouts are live, highly nutritious foods that contain essential elements for healthy living. They contain enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and much more. In an emergency it can be your only source for important nutrients. They are easy to grow and cost very little for so much value. You can sprout grains, beans, seeds and nuts.

    • Get a good book on sprouting.
    • If possible, use only non-sprayed, pesticide free seeds – preferably organically grown.
    • Sprouting equipment is easily assembled with household items such as glass jars, screening, cheesecloth, or you can buy a number of different sprouting kits.
    • Sprouts are usually eaten raw, and some sprouts can be lightly cooked like beans or used in baking like wheat and rye.

Supplements

Very important in emergency situations when a nutritional diet may not be available.

Many products have 2 to 3 year shelf life.

    • See your natural food store for details.
    • Many products can prevent health problems and illness naturally.
    • Whole food green concentrates are highly recommended. Also, multi-vitamins, green products, B-complex, vitamin C, seaweeds and immune system strengtheners.

Home Canning/Drying

With an abundance of fresh foods always available, canning and drying your own is very cost effective.

    • Obtain books and literature on canning and drying.
    • Take classes and talk to experienced individuals.
    • Get the proper equipment or learn how to build you own.
    • Know how to properly store canned and dried foods.
    • Canning supplies can be scarce in an emergency. Stock up on jars and lids.

Gardening

If the scenarios you anticipate to occur indicate a disruption of normal food supplies for a long period of time, then you will want to consider planting and maintaining a garden.  Obtain quality, non-hybrid, heirloom, organic if possible, fresh garden seeds.  Get good gardening books and equipment.  Learn how to properly store seeds for next seasons planting.

  • It is always a good idea to know basic gardening techniques. If you have a long term planning strategy, gardening is a must for a continuing supply of fresh and nutritional foods.
    • Identify the best foods for your local growing zone.
    • Consider building a green house.
    • Learn how to compost.
    • Use non-hybrid- open pollinated seeds. You can then harvest seeds for the next season.
    • Learn how to save seeds properly. Store seeds in as cool and dry a location as possible.
    • In an emergency situation emphasize “whole plant varieties”. These are plant varieties that can be eaten whole at any point in the growing process. Examples include:

– Carrots – Cauliflower
– Beets – Chard
– Lettuce – Dandelion
– Cabbage – Kale
– Broccoli – Celery
– Radishes – Herbs
– Spinach
– Save seeds of wild edibles.

    • Using shallow trays with a thin layer of rich soil, learn how to grow wheat and barley grass for juice (highly nutritious!), and unhulled sunflower and buckwheat for fresh salad greens

Appliances/Equipment- Food Preparation

  • Cooking pots/utensils
  • Solar oven
  • Alternative stoves- grills- grates
  • Fuel- gas/diesel/propane/wood/charcoal/fuel oil/kerosene/shelf stable additive for gas or diesel
  • Generator
  • Sprouting jar/rack
  • Mill/grinder
  • Wheat grass juicer
  • Canning equipment/supplies
  • Pressure cooker
  • Books
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Food containers- plastic/glass/plastic bags/foil
  • Package your own- equipment/supplies
  • Water-purifiers/filters/additives/distillers/containers
  • Camping equipment
  • Non electric can opener

Water

  • Clean water of course is essential for survival. While it is possible to go for weeks without food, after 3 days survival is at great risk without water. Make absolutely sure you answer the following questions.

o How much water do you have available to you in an emergency?

o Will you have enough to clean foods you have stored?

o Will you have enough to cook foods that require lengthy boiling (beans, grains, pasta)?

o What quantities will you need to reconstitute “no cooking required” freeze-dried and dehydrated foods?

o Will you want to wash pots and utensils?

o Do you know how to obtain, store and/or purify water?

o Will you have enough water for sprouting and/or gardening?

  • Plan on at least 1/2 gallon a day per person to survive. One gallon a day per person is considered minimum for drinking, basic food preparation, and basic hygiene. Two gallons for basic bathing, laundry, and cleaning.

Water Sources – Storage – Treatment

Sources:

  • Natural
    • Ponds, lakes, streams, springs, rivers, ocean (use desalinators or distillers only)
    • Know all local locations before an emergency and check quality.
  • Wells
    • Have non-electric collection options available – hand pumps, special buckets, and solar pumps.
  • Bottled , commercial
    • one to two year shelf life – Rotate.
  • Around the house
    • Pools, spas, waterbeds, hot water heater, toilet tank, hoses, pipes – purify before drinking.
  • Collection ideas
    • Snow, rainwater, dew.
  • Survival techniques
    • Plants, underground sources, moisture collection, solar still – get a good survival manual.

Storage:

  • Specially packaged purified water
    • Water in small foil pouches or fruit juice like boxes – 5-year shelf life.
  • Large containers
    • Food grade plastic, concrete, water bladders, cisterns – above or below ground.
  • Small containers
    • Food grade plastic – new is best, numerous types available (If previously filled with food or beverage, used containers can impact tastes and odors), glass. Never use container that held chemicals or cleaners.

Treatment:

  • Devices
    • Portable hand operated purifiers- when rated as a “purifier” the device will kill viruses and filter bacteria and protozoa. Limited types available.
    • Portable hand operated filters- will filter out most bacteria and protozoa. Many types available.
    • Drip filters- counter top transportable units that filter water slowly by gravity.
    • Bottle purifiers- Easy to use, just fill and drink from bottle.
    • Pen like devices- Insert in a glass of water. Utilizes ultra-violet light as a purifier.
    • Desalinators- manual and electric. Removes salt from seawater.
    • Distillers- electric and non-electric available. Steam distills and purifies any contaminated and salt water.
    • Kitchen units- usually requires water pressure and uses carbon filter element. Some units can be modified to manual use.
    • Boiling- kills viruses and bacteria after 10 minutes (add one minute for every 1000 feet above sea level). May not however kill cysts such as Giardia.
  • Additives
    • Liquid chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite – only ingredient) – 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) per gallon of clean water, double for cloudy water. For 5 gallons-1/2 teaspoon for clean water, 1 teaspoon for cloudy water.
    • Iodine (2%)- 12 drops per gallon for clean water, double for cloudy water. Has distinctive odor and taste. Not for pregnant or nursing women or those with thyroid problems.
    • Purification tablets- Iodine or Chlorine- Follow instructions on package. Some brands may not kill Giardia.
    • Stabilized oxygen- A relatively new method of purification. Many swear by it, do your research.
    • Katadyn Micropur (Chlorine Dioxide)- Effective against all microorganisms. Meets EPA purification guidelines.
    • Colloidal Silver- New and becoming more widely available. Worth investigating. Reported to eliminate numerous harmful elements.

Water Storage Tips

  • Store water in a cool, dry, and dark location.
  • Store away from odors, waste products, and petroleum based products (if using plastics – plastic containers can absorb odors).
  • Periodically check containers (6-12 months) and add additional additives if necessary.
  • Rotate containers if possible with new water.
  • Don’t use metal containers for long term storage.
  • Use water filters on water stored for long periods of time.

Fuel

  • How much and what kind of fuel is available in your local area?
  • If you want hot meals, boiling water or hot water for clean up you must have a fuel source. If the foods you store require cooking to make them digestible (grains, beans, etc.) you must have fuel to boil water. Sources include:

o Wood, pellets, pine cones, plants.

o Paper, trash, cardboard, cloth.

o Propane, butane-bulk and in small canisters.

o Natural gas.

o Heating oil.

o Kerosene, gasoline, diesel.

o Candles, paraffin, fuel gel.

o Coal, charcoal.

o Rice hulls, corn cobs.

o Electricity.

o The sun- solar ovens, cookers.

A Triggering Event – What could it Possibly Be?

By Denis Korn

        These times require being alert and awake!           
“The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.”  ~ John Curran

As more and more bizarre and disturbing worldwide incidents unfold before our eyes, the focus on a triggering event that will shake the complacent and apathetic into action becomes profoundly real!

As you reflect on the scenarios that you presume might – or might not – occur, think about the concept of a “triggering event.”  Ask yourself, “What are the triggering events that will motivate me to immediate action?” “What triggering event will launch the imminent arrival of the scenario I have presumed might occur or thought wouldn’t occur?” If you have created a list of triggering events, you will be on the look out for possible immediate action. – Share your insights with those who will listen, family, friends and co-workers.

Being able to discern reality from fantasy –  hopeful thinking from critical thinking – prudent planning from no planning – wise counsel from foolish counsel – the truth from the lie – a slick sales pitch from the facts – can be the difference between distress and peace of mind or even life and death during an unforeseen emergency.

You don’t have to believe in catastrophic events to be prepared.  Being prepared for the unexpected is simply a good idea.  Whatever your perspective, being aware of world events during these critical times and the their potential effect upon you and your family and friends is the responsible attitude to embrace.

It is time to be specific!  Whether an emergency can be short term and have only a minimal disruption in your daily routine, or catastrophic requiring a significant change in life style, apathy and ignorance will not be bliss.  While I’m not a prophet or psychic, I do have the discernment skills to realize that we live in very precarious and uncertain times.  Between acts of God or geophysical events and man-made devastating incidents, there are so many potential scenarios that could come to pass, that being continually vigilant is essential.

Based on the potential scenarios listed at the bottom of this post, here are some of my specific triggering events:

  • Declaration of an imminent weather event
  • A pattern of major and/or catastrophic weather events
  • Significant indication of, or actual occurrence of, a major physical event or multiple events
  • Prolonged drought leading to possible food and water shortages
  • Potential loss of job, income or bank accounts due to government or corporate actions
  • Serious personal illness
  • Substantial instability in national and global financial markets
  • The elimination of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency
  • Bank holiday’s
  • An indication of a major financial restructuring
  • Economic collapse
  • Shortages of critical foods, medications and provisions
  • Curious and strange activity of government officials, corporate executives and the very wealthy
  • Social unrest and civil disobedience leading to severe government and police action
  • Indications martial law will be declared
  • The suspension of the 1st and/or 2nd amendments – freedom of speech, religion, assembly, etc. and the right to bear arms
  • Strict control over the internet
  • Major cyber attack
  • Suspension of elections
  • Terrorist attack, act of war or preparation for war
  • Disruption of oil supplies
  • National medical or biological emergency – real or contrived
  • Activation of emergency presidential powers that will control everyone’s normal activities
  • An extraordinary governmental or media deception
  • Severe solar activity that could lead to CME’s (Coronal Mass Ejection) and major disruption of the electrical and communication grid
  • A profound and extraordinary religious, spiritual or cosmological event
  • Signs of an imminent pole shift or major geophysical event
  • An announcement by the government – widespread or to a confidential group – to relocate, leave coastal areas and to seek secure surroundings

 

Be encouraged – I hope none of these events or circumstances ever happen – And if they do God help us – as we help ourselves, our loved ones and our neighbors!

 

 

Be Prepared to Be Prepared

Has anything occurred in your life or in the life of family, friends or community that would have been mitigated or eased if one was prepared ahead of time?

January 2012 post:  As timely today as it was then

2012 has arrived and with it a growing number of people believe serious physical, political and economic events could be occurring worldwide, it is once again essential to direct your attention to what I have identified as a “triggering event.”

Simply put, if you are still hesitating to prepare for emergencies or disasters, I urge you to identify and assign significance to a triggering  event that will finally motivate you to provide for yourself and family during a significant emergency.

I have written on this subject before – it is even more timely today than it was then.  Folks that have followed my posts know that I do not subscribe to the doom-and-gloom end-of-the world mindset.  One’s proper attitude regarding disaster planning is essential in maintaining the environment for critical thinking and effective results.  You are not only what you eat – you are what you think and what you focus your attention on.

Many folks are reluctant to plan ahead, or they assume that the government or others will take care of them, or they are just too busy, or they just don’t think it is necessary.  As an option to doing nothing or to enhance some other method of emergency preparedness planning you have chosen, consider the following.   As you reflect on the scenarios that you presume might – or might not – occur, think about the concept of a “triggering event.”  Ask yourself, “What are the triggering events that will motivate me to immediate action?” “What triggering event will launch the imminent arrival of the scenario I have presumed might occur or thought wouldn’t occur?” If you have created a list of triggering events, you will be on the look out for possible immediate action.  This is especially important if you have considered scenarios that will have a long term impact on the supply of goods and services that are required to sustain your basic needs.

If there are items that are essential to your well-being such as medical products, devices, children’s products, or special nutritional foods, then being alert to a potential disruption of vital needs is crucial. While it is always desirable to plan ahead and have provisions in place, it is better to react at the last minute than not at all.  Know exactly what you need, how much will be adequate, where you have to go to supply your needs, how you will get there, and how you will pay for your supplies.  Obviously some scenarios may offer some prior indications, such as hurricanes, storms, or economic/political issues; while others can occur without warning.  You are responsible – you must choose to act or not – unfortunately non action can have severe consequences for yourself and your family!

If you have been hesitant to act or even reflect about preparedness planning you are encouraged to seriously consider this post.

Scenarios

Acts of God Man Made Earth Changes
Local – Regional National National/Worldwide
Earthquake Government regulation/control Catastrophic Weather
Flood Martial Law Asteroid/Comet
Fire Food Shortages Pole Shift
Hurricane Societal Breakdown Solar Flare – CME
Storm/Ice/Snow Civil Disobedience/Riots Tribulation/Religious
Tornado Medical Emergency Severe Earth Changes
Drought Economic Emergency/Collapse
Power Outage Major Accident
Mud Slide Terrorism Attack
Tsunami Biological/Chemical/Radiological Attack
EMP – Electrical Magnetic Pulse Attack
PERSONAL ISSUES Bombing
Job Loss War
Illness Cyber Attack – No internet
Emergencies
Financial Loss

Time Frames

3 Days to 2 Weeks

Minor to moderate inconvenience and disruption of the daily routine.  Basic supplies in the first 3 days would be valuable for comfort but not essential.  An adequate amount of basic supplies after 3 days are important.

3 Weeks to 2 Months

The inconvenience is very noticeable and the routine disruption can be significant.  Supplies required are usually on hand, and stockpiling some supplies will be very important.

3 Months to 6 Months

Preparedness planning is very important and a serious disruption to the daily routine is inevitable.  Mobility and location to wait out the emergency is important in your planning.  Proper supplies will be critical.  Medical and other special needs must be planned for in advance.

6 Months to 1 Year

Unless you are very prepared and are committed to self-reliance, in this time frame your lifestyle will definitely be impacted.  Serious attention to your preparedness planning is required.  The questions covered in the foundational articles must be answered and a realistic plan created.  Action and provisions are essential.  You will be dealing with serious issues during this time period, and you must be prepared.

1 Year or More

Scenarios actualized in this time frame are this most serious and catastrophic, and will require a serious commitment to lifestyle changes.  You will be dealing with national and worldwide calamity.  The extent of the impact on everyone’s life can not be over emphasized.  Significant and detailed planning is required, and even with this an emergency situation of this duration will be wrought with uncertainty.  This will be a time for community togetherness, sharing, and mutual support.  Skills not normally possessed by folks will be required.  Gardening and other self-reliant skills will be essential.  Books, tools, and other valuable resources will be vital.

 

 

 

 

 

Very insightful article from last year.  It doesn’t appear much has changed on a national level – yet.

 

Americans Are Indifferent Toward Disasters, Survey Says

BY: | June 25, 2012

How many communication methods is your agency using to alert the public about emergencies? Probably not enough, according to a recently released survey.

Although 2011 was widely reported as having a record number of emergencies, Americans remain complacent when it comes to disasters and less than one-half of people surveyed said they would take action based on a severe weather warning. Federal Signal’s 2012 Public Safety Survey painted a grim picture of Americans’ readiness and their knowledge of emergency alert systems in their communities.

Despite the investments made by emergency management and public safety agencies in alerting and notification systems, a majority of respondents (71 percent) said they were unsure if their area has such a system.

“I think really what it points to is a need for continued communication and education by emergency managers and other public safety officials with their citizenry about the ways in which they can be warned,” said John Von Thaden, vice president and general manager at Federal Signal, a provider of alerting and notification systems. He added that the numerous communication platforms that are available make the task of getting the message to the public more difficult.

“Some people still want to receive them on their television and some people expect a phone call and others a text message, and others are looking for more traditional outdoor warning sirens depending on the area in which they live and the kind of events that may occur,” Von Thaden said.

According to the 2012 survey, communication from a local alert notification system would motivate the most people to prepare (36.2 percent) followed by a radio/TV public service announcement (30.6 percent); community warning siren (20.9 percent); communication from friends and/or family members (7.7 percent); reading news online (2.6 percent); and for some, no notifications would have an impact (1.9 percent).

To ensure that messages reach as many people as possible, Von Thaden recommended using a layered approach. Utilizing outdoor and indoor warning systems, telephone and text-based notifications, cable TV and local radio and TV stations as well as social media platforms will spread the message through numerous communication channels. Another reason why it’s important to use more than one communications channel is because people are going to validate the information they receive before acting on it. The survey found that 28 percent of respondents said they would like to see an alert or notification confirmed on a secondary system. “Which we certainly saw in many events like Joplin [Mo.] where people ignored the first warning and were looking for confirmation of the warning before they took any steps to protect themselves,” Von Thaden said.

Another surprising finding was people’s “indifference,” as Von Thaden called it, toward disasters. The survey found that one-third of people would require actually seeing property damage or injury in order to care strongly about public safety awareness.

“I think it certainly plays to these human factors that people often think that danger or adversity is going to happen to someone else,” he said. “And so those of us in emergency management and caring for public safety need to help people understand the importance of preparation — the fact that they too could find themselves in harm’s way.”

Educating citizens about ongoing preparedness and public safety efforts is key — a majority of survey respondents (58 percent) felt that ensuring sufficient public safety and communications planning for events was the responsibility of state and regional officials. Highlighting exercise and emergency planning and preparedness activities through numerous communications channels will help spread the word about local initiatives and educate more people about what’s being done in their community.

Other significant findings from the survey include:

  • 33.8 percent of Americans rated their level of public safety awareness and preparedness as very low, followed by somewhat high (25.9 percent), somewhat low (21.9 percent), not sure (10.3 percent) and very high (8.1 percent);
  • 56.6 percent of respondents did not know when sirens in their area are tested;
  • 34.3 percent said reading about or hearing statistics about the likelihood of a severe community event would make them care strongly about public safety awareness in general; and
  • 43 percent felt that the economy has had a negative impact on the level of public safety investment in their community.

The online survey included 2,059 adults and was conducted by Zogby International.

 

This article was printed from: http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Americans-Indifferent-Toward-Disasters-Survey.html

Facts & Myths About Do-It-Yourself Long Term Dry Food Packing

By Denis Korn

Do-it-yourself packing

This updated article that was written earlier and linked at various places on this blog, has created a great deal of interest.  It has become even more important as the economy has stimulated preparedness planners to be as cost effective as possible and pack-their-own.  Another reason for revisiting this article is to clarify some of the misinformation that has has appeared on other blogs, forums and You Tube.  As I have stated in numerous posts on this blog – Who do you trust?  Why?  I encourage all serious preppers to do their homework and research for themselves the accuracy of what so often is circulated on the internet as factual or reliable.

In my 40 years of preparedness consulting, manufacturing and marketing I have never seen so many instant experts with inaccurate information, and so many marginal websites selling questionable products – especially food!

I once again invite my readers to contact me directly if you have any questions or comments.

FOOD STORAGE PACKING

The purpose of this article is to present specific details and recommendations for packing your own shelf stable foods for food storage, including what works and what doesn’t in creating an oxygen free atmosphere for long term food storage, and the common misconceptions of how to do your own packing will be covered.  While there are many different types of dried foods that can be stored for extended periods of time, most folks are interested in how best to store grain, bean, vegetable, and fruit products.

Some material will be repeated in this article that has been covered in previous articles concerning the use of oxygen absorbers, storage conditions, and 30 year shelf life claims.  While I could write a book on every specific detail of every packing option and all the technical specifications of all available packing containers, it is not the purpose of this article.  I will cover important highlights, facts, insights, and information gained from over 38 years in the preparedness and outdoor recreation industry.  It is important to keep in mind that I have not only been a retailer of preparedness and outdoor foods, I have been a manufacturer, developer of hundreds of recipes, packaging and product  innovator, and researcher of shelf stable foods.

Some of the material presented here will contradict and challenge information available on the web or in some do-it-yourself circles.  Many people assume preparedness information to be accurate without careful consideration of the expertise of the source or the validity of the facts.  I encourage you to research on your own any of the information presented in this article – or in any article for that matter – and to use basic critical thinking skills to evaluate the evidence and data you are offered.  A little common sense goes a long way in assessing many of the claims being made about shelf life and do-it-yourself issues.  I talk about the issue of trust and reliability in my articles: Who do you Trust?, The Research and Evaluation Process, and Purchasing Food Reserves – The Essential Questions.

Basics

Before you start packing your foods, be clear about what it is you want to store and for how long.  Are the foods appropriate for your plans?  If you need to rely exclusively on your stored foods, will your digestive system be able to properly process and assimilate what could be very different foods than you normally eat?  Do you know how to prepare them?  Do you have an adequate quantity?  Do you have all the equipment necessary to prepare your foods?  What is the nutritional quality?  Do you know how to sprout the whole grains, beans and seeds that you have stored for additional essential nutrition?  I suggest you study the key foundational information in my article Beginning and Improving Preparedness Planning.

This is an article dealing with dry food products with a low to very low moisture content – depending upon the item usually between 2 and about 10 %.  Products can include grains, beans, seeds, dehydrated or freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, seasonings, and powders and flours.

Grains and beans can be whole or processed into numerous forms.  Keep in mind that when a whole grain or bean is processed it can compromise the integrity of a natural barrier, expose any oils, and begin a process of oxidation or rancidity leading to a shortened shelf life.  Some processed bean products, such as TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) have been defatted to insure a longer shelf life, and some grains have naturally lower oil content.  Because of the position of the germ in rice, brown rice is not appropriate for long term storage.  Also, because white flour has no wheat germ, it will last significantly longer than whole wheat flour.  Research the products you are storing to determine both the moisture and oil content.

What are the goals and expectations for your food preparedness planning?  What are you hoping to accomplish and for whom and how many?  How realistic are your plans?  How long do you want your stored foods to be palatable – edible – nutritious – agreeable?  Are you caught up with the fixation for a 25-30 year shelf life?  Do you really want to rely on 25 year old food?  Be honest.  I once again refer you to another very helpful article in assisting you in preparedness planning: The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning.

Why oxygen free?

At the end of this article I have included information on the 6 critical conditions for storing food.  In this section we explore the need for an oxygen free atmosphere when storing food for long periods.  Basically there are 2 reasons for wanting to store food in an oxygen free environment: First – eliminate the possibility for infestation from insects and microorganisms, and second, control oxidation, which leads to the rancidity of fats and oils, foul taste, off color, and nutritional deterioration.  The lower the oxygen levels – the more effective in preserving the integrity of the foods stored.  Some foods are more susceptible to oxidation deterioration than others.  It is important to know how susceptible the foods you are storing are to oxidation, because as you will see the type of container you store your foods in may at some point no longer be an adequate oxygen barrier.

Research by Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company, the inventors of oxygen absorbers and manufacturer of the Ageless® brand absorber, indicates that in an oxygen free atmosphere (their absorbers can reduce the residual oxygen level in the proper container to 0.1% or less) all adults, larvae, pupae, and eggs of the most prevalent dry food insects are killed within 14 days.

If oxidation and elimination of all stages in an insect’s development by eliminating available oxygen is not an issue, there are other methods that can be utilized with varying effectiveness in controlling insect infestation.  Options include:

  • Exposure to freezing temperatures for an adequate length of time (this may kill adults and larvae but not all eggs)
  • Using bay leaves and other aromatic herbs to inhibit insect reproduction
  • Using food grade diatomaceous earth to kill adults (the microscopic very sharp texture of the particles pierce the bodies of the insects and they dehydrate and die).  In this case the live adult must come into contact with the diatomaceous earth.  Some folks put the material on the bottom of a container hoping the insects will go there, while others coat all the contents of a container with a fine layer of material and wash it off when it is time to consume the food.

Methods of reducing residual oxygen levels when you pack your own

Utilize an oxygen absorber – properly (see the article Using and About Oxygen Absorbers)

Pro:

  • Very effective in reducing residual oxygen levels – in my opinion it is the most effective technology available today.
  • Relatively inexpensive and easy to use if done properly.
  • Harmless components – iron oxide.
  • Easily obtainable.

Con:

  • This product was developed for use by professional food companies who understand how to properly use and store it.  There are important guidelines which must be followed for the absorber to work properly and not lose its effectiveness.  The do-it-yourself person will defeat the purpose of using this technology if the guidelines and instructions are not properly followed.  It is imperative that the absorber user obtain all necessary information from a qualified supplier on its correct use. (Using and About Oxygen Absorbers)
  • The absorber user needs to do their homework and make sure the correct sized absorber is being utilized for both the size of the container and food product packed.

Insert a wand into a pouch, can, bucket, or jar and attempt to replace the atmosphere by squirting it with nitrogen (the most commonly used inert gas)

Pro:

  • Fairly easy to do
  • Relatively inexpensive

Con:

  • Without the proper testing equipment there is no way for the pack your own person to know the residual oxygen levels of their containers.  If the levels are too high, you have defeated the purpose for which you intended.  How much nitrogen to use and the length of time to insert it into the container are both speculation and assumption.  Do you want to rely on guess work?
  • When removing the wand and sealing the container some amount of oxygen will be introduced into the container, which will affect the atmosphere in the container.
  • To achieve the desired effect of a very low residual oxygen level this method has many weaknesses.  (NOTE: Before the days of the oxygen absorber, companies such as mine used elaborate equipment designed to draw a vacuum and nitrogen flush in a chamber.  The goal was a residual oxygen level of 2% or lower, because this was the military specification for long term storage of foods in a #10 size metal can.  Even with the proper equipment reaching these residual levels required experience, testing, and effective methodology.  Can “wanding” by hand achieve these levels?)

The dry ice method – There was a time (and there may still be) when folks would put dry ice at the bottom of a container, leave the lid slightly ajar, wait for the ice to evaporate, and then seal the lid.  This method has so many problems that I won’t bother to give it pros and cons.  It is not recommended.

Use a home model vacuum sealer with either a plastic pouch or available attachment to put over a jar

Pro:

  • Equipment is easily accessible.
  • Can be effective for short term storage.
  • Easy to use.

Con:

  • Equipment and extra pouches can be costly.
  • The vacuum pulled (measured in inches of mercury) may be helpful for short term use, however is neither strong enough nor effective for a long term storage requirement.  The pouches and jar seams are not designed to hold a vacuum for extended periods (longer than 1-2 years).  Used primarily for extending the life of foods when stored in a refrigerator or freezer.

Go to a cannery –  You can do your own canning of your own product in #10 metal cans.  Some canneries will sell you bulk foods.

Pro:

  • Very effective method for long term food storage – metal cans are the best containers.
  • Depending on the cannery, costs can be low for using the equipment.
  • You can easily insert an oxygen absorber into the cans for maximum shelf life.

Con:

  • While metal cans are the most effective containers, they can be costly and difficult to obtain in smaller quantities.
  • Canneries are not readily available to most folks – most are sponsored by members of the Mormon Church, check on usage and membership requirements, hours of operation, and costs at each cannery.
  • You’ll need the proper vehicle to transport bulk foods and cans.

Use a manually operated or electric, smaller, model open top can seam sealer

Pro:

  • Very effective method for long term food storage – metal cans are the best containers.
  • You have significant flexibility as to when to use the sealer, and with whom it is to be shared.
  • You can easily insert an oxygen absorber into the cans for maximum shelf life.
  • They are easy to use once you get the hang of it.  (I have one myself)
  • Can be cost effective if used by a club or group.

Con:

  • They can be expensive.
  • You must do your homework and determine the best manufacturer and model.
  • You must make sure you are operating them correctly and that the seams are being sealed properly.
  • You need access to a supply of cans.

Containers

Of all the issues relating to packing your own shelf stable foods, the most effective container to use can be the most confusing and misrepresented.  As stated in the beginning of this article be clear about what you are storing, how much, and for how long.

Plastic buckets (HDPE – high density polyethylene) – 5 and 6 gallon round and square sizes with handles are very popular for packing grains, beans, and other commodities in bulk.

Pro:

  • A convenient container to store larger quantities of dry foods – stores and stacks well, is compact, and can be carried easily.
  • Inexpensive new and can be obtained used from a number of sources.
  • A thick walled (90 mil) container with the proper gasket can be used effectively to control the atmosphere within for up to 2 to 3 years.
  • Can be used in conjunction with foil pouches for convenience of storage.
  • Insects don’t easily penetrate the thick walls.
  • Can withstand some rough handling.
  • Because insects at all stages are destroyed within about 14 days, the short term effectiveness of using an oxygen absorber to create an oxygen free environment is useful.

Con:

  • HDPE is a permeable (porous – albeit microscopic) material and gas transmission rates (the length of time gases such as oxygen will travel through a given material) indicate that it will take 1 or 3 years for the atmosphere within the bucket to match the atmosphere outside (our normal atmosphere is normally about 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen with a very small amount of other gases such as carbon dioxide).  This means that if you started with an oxygen free or low level to begin with, that over time the oxygen level in the bucket will continue to increase until it reaches parity or equality with the normal atmosphere.
  • If you want the atmosphere to remain constant inside your container, or be oxygen free for extended periods of time, HDPE plastic buckets are not appropriate – check with the manufacturers (as I have done) and find out their specifications and recommendations for your needs and the specific container you want to use.
  • The ability to maintain whatever atmosphere you desire within the container will depend not only on the quality of the HDPE walls, but also the integrity of the gasket seal.
  • HDPE will absorb odors and they will eventually permeate into the contents of the bucket.  Direct packed foods will also absorb the odor.  Do not store plastic buckets in areas that have a strong smell. (NOTE: Foil pouches within a bucket will prolong the odor absorption)
  • Rodents and other animals can easily break into plastic buckets.
  • Not recommended for long term storage (3+ years) of directly packed foods.

Pouches – There are literally thousands of possible combinations of materials and sizes available to create a pouch that will contain food.  Normally a food manufacturer or packer goes to a company that specializes in manufacturing pouches and gives the company their specifications and requirements for the specific foods to be packed.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  It is common these days among those who sell empty pouches for food storage, or food already in pouches, to use the term “Mylar pouch.”  This is very misleading.  By itself the term can mean anything and it tells you nothing of importance so that you can make the appropriate decisions on what pouch to use.  The “Mylar” brand is the registered trademark name of a PET polyester film manufactured by DuPont Teijin Films.  They produce hundreds of variations of this polyester resin material.  It is a component used in the production of many variations of packaging material.  It can be clear or opaque such as in wrappers for food bars or Mylar balloons – that look “metalized” yet contain no foil.  Mylar by itself is not an appropriate material for long term pouched food.  Ask you supplier what they mean when they say “Mylar.”

For those reading this article the requirements needed are to pack dry foods for the long term.  If you buy stock pouches from a distributor you need to tell them what you plan to put in it and what your expectations are for the long term.  You should insist on knowing the specifications (especially the gas and vapor transmission rates) of the pouch and whether they suit your needs.

If you want a pouch that gives you the longest possible shelf life for your foods, you will need a laminated pouch consisting of multiple components and layers.  As far as pouches are concerned, one of those layers must be thick foil (NOTE: All plastics are gas and vapor permeable – some rates are very high – meaning that gases transmit through them very quickly – and some plastics both individually and in combination have slower rates).  Only quality foil is a non-permeable gas and moisture barrier – that is foil without microscopic holes – called pin holes)

Ask the distributor the specifications of the pouch, the different components used – not only for barrier properties but also for durability, the transmission rates if not foil, if foil its thickness, and the reliability and reputation of the manufacturer.

Pro:

  • The variety of available sizes offers flexibility in choices of quantities to store.
  • Costs are reasonable.
  • Can be effective as a short term oxygen free container.
  • Small pouches of food can be very useful for bartering and distributing among those in need during in an emergency.

Con:

  • Not recommended for very long term packaging of products for an oxygen free environment.  Shelf life of pouched foods is recommended for 3 to 10 years depending on type of food product, storage conditions, handling, and composition packaging materials.
  • Excessive or rough handling, loss of seal integrity, and pressure of sharp edges on the pouch from the products within can create “pin holes” (microscopic holes in the pouch material) that eventually will cause gases to be transmitted through the pouch (NOTE: I am concerned when I see and hear some folks instructing people to cram and squeeze foil pouches into plastic buckets).
  • Rodents and other creatures can easily penetrate pouch material.

Metal cans – For food storage purposes #10 size (about 7/8 gal) and #2 ½ size (about 7/8 qt) are the most popular used with the proper can sealers.  It is possible, if you keep searching, to find 5 gallon square metal cans with a large pressure lid on the top side.  These are ideal for bulk food storage, although they may be hard to find (NOTE: I sold these cans packed with foods at AlpineAire Foods about 20 years ago).  You also may want to consider clean or new metal garbage cans as a means to store smaller size foil pouched foods.

Pro:

  • Ideal for long term food storage.  The atmosphere within the cans, with the proper sealing, can remain oxygen free indefinitely.
  • Metal is non-permeable for gas and vapor – a zero transmission rate.
  • Difficult for rodents or animals to penetrate.
  • Can withstand some rough handling.

Con:

  • Costs can be higher than other materials.
  • Extra attention must be given to proper sealing.
  • Some metal containers may be difficult to obtain.
  • Some cans may rust if exposed to moisture.

Glass

Pro:

  • Excellent for long term food storage.  The atmosphere within the jars, with the proper sealing, can remain oxygen free indefinitely.
  • Glass is non-permeable for gas and vapor – a zero transmission rate.
  • Difficult for rodents or animals to penetrate.
  • Easily obtainable and relatively inexpensive.

Con:

  • Very fragile – must be stored and handled with care.
  • Practical only in smaller size containers.

Personal recommendations and tips for long term pack your own food storage

First choice – if possible store foods in metal cans with the proper size oxygen absorber

Second choice

  • Pack foods in a heavy duty foil laminate pouch with the proper size oxygen absorber.  I prefer using a variety of smaller size pouches rather than one large pouch.
  • If you seal the pouch with an iron – as opposed to a commercial impulse sealer – make sure you know the proper method to use.  If your seal isn’t adequate you are wasting your time and money using an absorber.
  • Place the foil pouches carefully – to avoid “pin holes” and seam damage, into another larger plastic or metal container (NOTE: Sturdy cardboard boxes will do if infestation from insects, rodents, and other animals is of no concern).  This will facilitate handing and storage.
  • When you use the proper size oxygen absorber in a foil pouch it will create a slight vacuum and the pouch will tighten up somewhat (Remember you are not creating a complete vacuum that would produce a brick hard pack, you are only removing about 21% of the air volume – it will be absorbed by the iron oxide in the oxygen absorber sachet).
  • Periodically – especially in the first two weeks – check on the pouch to make sure it still looks tightened up.  If at some point it looks normal, then the integrity of the pouch has been compromised and the atmosphere in the pouch has equalized with the outside atmosphere.

I see no point in putting additional oxygen absorbers into the plastic bucket or container in which the foil pouch is placed.

Third Choice

  • If you have a smaller quantity of dry goods to store and you can protect or store foods safely – use glass jars.  Either half gallon size Ball canning jars or one gallon size jars – both need lids with a small rubber seal on the lid to create an air tight container.
  • Drop an appropriate size oxygen absorber in the jar then seal it tight.
  • Store away from light.

Tips

  • I do not recommend using the nitrogen “wand” method of atmosphere replacement in pouches, plastic, or metal containers if you want to create a truly oxygen free environment.  NOTE: Beware of commercial food companies selling pouched food products that claim a 25 year shelf life because they “nitrogen flush” their pouches.
  • The oxygen absorber properly used is the best method for creating an oxygen free environment.
  • Certain foods packed for long term storage may not need an oxygen free atmosphere.  I have covered the reasons for creating this type of environment earlier, and your specific needs may focus only on containers and storage conditions.
  • I do not recommend storing commodities in their original paper or cloth sacks or boxes for the long term – unless you possess a very secure and unique storage facility.  The important issue here is infestation and environmental influences such as heat, moisture, and other airborne contaminants.
  • Periodically inspect your food reserves for any sign of infestation or contamination.
  • Read my article on Using and About Oxygen Absorbers.

Storage Conditions

There are six conditions to be aware of when storing food for emergency preparedness food storage, or outdoor recreation.  The foods being referred to in this post are shelf-stable freeze-dried, dehydrated, dried commodities.  Optimal storage conditions can also be applied to wet pack:  retort, MRE’s, canned goods, and other specialty longer term wet pack foods.

NOTE:  The six conditions listed are chosen because these are factors in which we have the control to optimize for the longest reliable shelf life.  TIME is the one factor that we can not control – and it does have a significant effect on the shelf life of various foods.  Nutritional value is lost with many foods over time.  To know with certainty the viable nutritional value of all food reserve items at any given time after a lengthy period of storage – is at best complex or most likely mere conjecture and guesswork.  What we can do is to apply proper planning procedures – do your research with trusted resources, rotate and consume your storage foods, and be realistic about how long you will really need the foods you choose to store.

  • Temperature- This is the primary factor affecting the storage life of foods.  The cooler the better. 40 degrees-50 degrees would be great. Room temperature (65 degrees-72 degrees) or below is generally fine.  Avoid above 90 degrees for extended periods of time. The longer food is exposed to very high temperatures the shorter the edible life and the faster the degeneration of nutritional value.  Note:  There are some “foods” available for emergency preparedness that are known as “emergency food or ration bars.”  These products are generally referred to as “life raft bars” because they were originally designed for life rafts and can withstand high heat for extended periods of time.  They primarily consist of white sugar and white flour, and were not meant to be the sole source of nutrition for a long period of time.
  • Moisture- The lower the better.  Moisture can deteriorate food value rapidly and create conditions that promote the growth of harmful organisms.  The moisture level contained in foods varies depending on the type of product it is.  Have foods in moisture barrier containers (metal, glass) in high humidity areas. NOTE:  “Mylar” bags or plastic buckets are not a long term (over 3 years for buckets and 10 +/- years for bags) moisture or oxygen barrier. The moisture and gas transmission rates through these materials vary depending upon the specifications of the manufacturers.  Plastic absorbs gases, moisture, and odors.  NOTE:  Be careful where you store dry foods in cans.  Very cold flooring or any condition where there is a dramatic temperature differential may cause a build up of condensation inside the container.
  • Oxygen – A high oxygen environment causes oxidation, which leads to discoloration, flavor loss, odors, rancidity and the breakdown of nutritional value in foods. It also allows insects to feed on dried food reserves. Without oxygen, insects cannot live, nor can aerobic (oxygen dependent) organisms. Whole grain and beans have natural oxygen barriers and can store for long periods of time in low humidity and if free from infestation. All other processed grains, vegetables, fruits, etc. must be in a very reduced (2% or less) oxygen environment for long term storage.  NOTE:  Mylar bags or plastic buckets are not a long term moisture or oxygen barrier. The moisture and gas transmission rates through these materials vary depending upon the specifications of the manufacturers.  Plastic absorbs gases, moisture, and odors.  The best long term storage containers are glass and metal.
  • Infestation – Examples include rodents, insects in all their stages of growth, mold, microorganisms, and any other creatures that get hungry – large or small.  The proper packaging and storage conditions are required to control infestation and not allow critters to both get into the food, or have the necessary environment for them to flourish if they are sealed into a container – such as in the form of eggs or spores.
  • Handling – Rough handling can not only damage the food itself, but it can also adversely effect and compromise the integrity of the container in which the food is stored.  Glass of course can break; any pouched item can develop pin holes, tears, or cracks.  The seams on buckets and cans can be tweaked, twisted, or damaged to allow oxygen to enter the container.
  • Light – Food should not be stored in direct sunlight.  Both for the potential of high temperature, and its affect on food value.  Sunlight directly on stored foods can destroy nutritional value and hasten the degeneration of food quality, taste, and appearance.  Foods packed in light barrier containers do not pose a problem with the affects of light.

WHEATGRASS – Prevent Illness and Improve Health

By Denis Korn                                                                                                                            

With so many people storing wheat for emergency preparedness it is important to incorporate wheatgrass juice as one of the options for utilizing one’s stored wheat.  If it becomes necessary to subsist on shelf stable commodities, a fresh source of enzymes, vitamins and minerals will be essential for health.  I strongly suggest that you get one or more of the recommended books at the end of this article, which will give you all the details you need to grow, consume and be educated on the use of wheatgrass juice.

For some wheatgrass appears as a substance for livestock – for many a life saving miracle elixir.  Its juice is food, medicine and an overall tonic for various ailments.  Wheatgrass is the young green stalk of the wheat plant that is grown from the hard red wheat berry and is loaded with high concentrations of chlorophyll, active enzymes, vitamins, trace minerals and other nutrients which feed your cells and help rid them of toxins.  It’s also rich in protein, containing all the essential amino acids as well as many others. Wheatgrass is perfect for dieters, athletes, people requiring extra energy, people who want to be healthy and anyone who suffers from illness and disease.  It is in practice a universally recommended food for a myriad of health conditions – as a preventive and to promote healing.  Wheatgrass is a superior detoxification agent.

By drinking fresh wheatgrass juice people have reported to have more energy, better skin, stronger teeth, less gray and stronger hair, better digestion, stronger immune systems, and it can neutralize strep infections, heal wounds, hasten skin grafting, cure chronic sinusitis, overcome chronic inner-ear inflammation and infections, reduce varicose veins and many other positive outcomes and results both minor and major.  Chlorophyll (found in wheatgrass) rebuilds the bloodstream and studies of various animals have shown chlorophyll to be free of any toxic reaction. The red cell count was returned to normal with four to five days of the administration of chlorophyll, even in those animals that were known to be extremely anemic or low in red cell count.  This has been shown to be true for humans as well.  Renowned nutritionist Dr. Bernard Jensen, says that it only takes minutes to digest wheatgrass juice and it uses up very little body energy.  It is high in oxygen like all green plants that contain chlorophyll and the brain and all body tissues function at an optimal level in a highly oxygenated environment.

For recommended wheatgrass juicers both manual and electric CLICK HERE for PrepareDirect

BENEFITS:

  • Science has proven that chlorophyll arrests growth and development of unfriendly bacteria.
  • By drinking wheatgrass digestion is improved.
  • Wheatgrass juice benefits the skin as it acts as a cleanser and astringent.
  • Chlorophyll in wheatgrass also helps to purify the liver.
  • A small amount of wheatgrass juice in the diet prevents tooth decay, and drinking wheatgrass juice helps in eliminating body odors.
  • Wheatgrass juice held in the mouth for 5 minutes will eliminate toothaches and poisons from gums.
  • Wheatgrass has a high amino acid content which promotes cell regeneration and the potent source of enzymes maintains youthfulness.
  • Wheatgrass juice can remove heavy metals from the body and is great for blood disorders of all kinds.
  • Depending on your unique needs, wheatgrass can also be used topically to treat various skin conditions.
  • Wheatgrass benefits the body as a whole. It is a body cleanser, rebuilder, and neutralizer of toxins.
  • Wheatgrass lessens the effects of radiation. One enzyme found in wheatgrass, SOD, lessens the effects of radiation and acts as an anti-inflammatory compound that may prevent cellular damage following heart attacks or exposure to irritants.

MORE BENEFITS FROM ANN WIGMORE – The woman who introduced wheatgrass juice to America over 58 years ago:

  • Wheatgrass is a powerful detoxifier, and liver and blood protector. The enzymes and amino acids found in wheatgrass can protect us from carcinogens like no other food or medicine. It strengthens our cells, detoxifies the liver and bloodstream, and chemically neutralizes environmental pollutants.
  • Wheatgrass restores alkalinity to the blood. The juice’s abundance of alkaline minerals helps reduce over-acidity in the blood. It can be used to relieve many internal pains, and has been used successfully to treat peptic ulcers ulcerative, colitis, constipation, diarrhea, and other complaints of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Wheatgrass stimulates the thyroid gland, correcting obesity, indigestion, and a host of other complaints.
  • Wheatgrass offers the benefits of a liquid oxygen transfusion since the juice contains liquid oxygen. Oxygen is vital to many body processes: it stimulates digestion (the oxidation of food), promotes clearer thinking (the brain utilizes 25% of the body’s oxygen supply), and protects the blood against anaerobic bacteria. Cancer cells cannot exist in the presence of oxygen.
  • Wheatgrass is a beauty treatment that slows down the aging process when the juice is consumed.  Wheatgrass will cleanse your blood and help rejuvenate aging cells, slowing the aging process way down, making you feel more alive right away. It will help tighten loose and sagging skin.
  • Wheatgrass restores fertility and promotes youthfulness.
  • Wheatgrass has been known to increase the red blood cell count and lowers blood pressure. It will cleanse the blood, organs and gastrointestinal tract of debris. Wheatgrass also stimulates metabolism and the body’s enzyme systems by enriching the blood. It also aids in reducing blood pressure by dilating the blood pathways throughout the body.

Many people have stored large quantities of wheat in anticipation of consuming it in the form of cereal or in baking and don’t realize the other significant uses for this versatile grain.  If someone has a gluten intolerance then what is to be done with the wheat?  Wheatgrass juice of course! The issue of eating fresh foods and a balance of vital nutrients is essential for health and wellness, and especially in the event of a prolonged emergency when one’s food reserves are being utilized. Maintaining proper nutrition is critical.  Wheatgrass juice is the perfect solution and a key component of one’s health during a disaster and in resiliency planning.  It can be grown indoors in soil placed in trays or in special soil free growers.  Not all juicers will effectively extract the juice from the wheatgrass, specially designed manual and electric juicers are available which juice the wheatgrass efficiently.

TIPS:

  • I recommend using only organically grown wheat berries – varieties include hard red winter, hard spring, Kamut and Einkorn.
  • Drink your wheatgrass juice within 4 to 6 minutes after juicing to get the maximum benefit from the live enzymes.
  • Consume only the juice from wheatgrass – not the whole plant.
  • The taste can be strong and unfamiliar – it is an acquired taste.  I highly recommend that you start drinking a small amount – ¼ to ½ ounce – mixed with a smoothie, vegetable or fruit juice and build up to 1 to 2 ounces.  Start slowly – each person reacts differently to the introduction of such a potent tonic.  Once your body adapts you may even want to drink it “straight.”  Remember it is a detoxifier.
  • 1 ounce of wheatgrass juice is equivalent to 2 ½ pounds of green vegetables.
  • A quality juicer is vital

 

As a note to this article, I first promoted the use of wheatgrass in 1976 when I owned New Seed Natural Whole Foods in San Diego California – Ann Wigmore had her Hippocrates Health Institute nearby.  I sold the juice in my juice bar and offered flats of wheatgrass to a very pioneering and grateful clientele.  I have had many true believers share with me personally their experience and the significant value of wheatgrass juice – it works.

References:

The Wheatgrass Book by Ann Wigmore -Recommended

Wheatgrass: Natures Finest Medicine by Steve Meyerowitz – Recommended

Benefits of Wheatgrass Juice – What, How, and Why! by Ross Bridgeford

Why Wheatgrass is a Great Source of Nutrients by Kerris Samson

The Benefits of Wheatgrass by Morgan Hamilton