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The Essential 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 41 years I have been in the preparedness industry.  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.  It is my belief that the most essential and foundational elements of preparedness are attitude, critical thinking, knowledge, trust in God, appropriate emotion and spiritual awareness.

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.

In the 7 years of posting articles on this site, one of the most popular posts has been Barriers to Critical Thinking & The 7 Essential Questions for Reflection.  While I believe that developing critical thinking skills is essential in all aspects of our life, it is especially important when you are evaluating and determining sources and provisions for emergency and disaster preparedness.  Your comfort, health and survival depend on appropriate, sensible and accurate decisions.  The correct and proper decision making process relies on essential critical thinking skills.  Knowledge and discernment competency are vital to the emergency preparedness process.

What is Critical Thinking?

“Critical thinking is the careful, deliberate determination of whether we should accept, reject, or suspend judgment about a claim – and of the degree of confidence with which we accept or reject it.  The ability to think critically is vitally important; in fact, our lives depend on it.  The way we conduct our lives depends on what we believe to be true – on what claims we accept.  The more carefully we evaluate a claim and the more fully we separate issues that are relevant to it from those that are not, the more critical is our thinking.”

“We do not do our critical thinking in a vacuum, of course.  When we are confronted with a claim, usually we already have a certain amount of information relevant to the topic, and we can generally figure out where to find more if we need it.  Having both the desire and the ability to bring such information to bear on our decisions is part of the critical-thinking process.  Critical thinking involves a lot of skills, including the abilities to listen and read carefully, to evaluate arguments, to look for and find hidden assumptions, and to trace consequences of a claim.” (From Critical Thinking, Sixth Edition – Brooke Noel Moore, PhD & Richard Parker, PhD)

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 effective 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 habitually react 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

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.

So why is Self-Reliance idolatry?

It is the worship of the “stuff” of self-reliance and the worship of “self” as the primary focus of the actions taken. We have placed our stuff and ourselves as the object of primary worship and reliance. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the ultimate reliance is on God. While we have a duty to be prepared, we are commanded not to idolize and exalt our provisions and personal position in the preparedness process above absolute reliance on God. During a serious disaster when emotions are intense and fear rules one’s reactions, it is a challenge to rely on a higher power for the supreme guidance and insight on the actions to take.  It is not only a challenge, it is a necessity to rely on the greatest ally you can have – Divine guidance.  Where does your faith reside – in the Divine or in the human condition?

While I recommend and encourage taking effective physical action to provide the essential provisions, I have been explicit in my teachings that one’s attitude is essential in overcoming and surviving a serious catastrophe. This requires embodying the attitude of God-Reliance first – follow His instructions, assurance and power before we rely only on our self.  Self-reliance without God-reliance is what I refer to as “The Idolatry of Self-Reliance.”

I am well aware of the difficulty and struggle involved in understanding, expressing and putting into action the balance between reliance on God and reliance on ourselves – both are essential! This requires prayer, serious reflection, critical thinking and common sense – as does all aspects of effective emergency planning.

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

By Denis Korn

 

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!  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 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 Planet X
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 Water Source Contamination
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 may or may not be 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.

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Sensible Preparedness Planning

By Denis Korn

THE MODERN DAY CAVE!

THE MODERN DAY CAVE!

WE ARE A NATION OF CAVE DWELLERS!

As I assess the current state of our society, which is overflowing with delusion, deception and insanity, and as I read and hear so much material related to emergency/disaster/apocalyptic preparedness that is also filled with chaos and confusion, I am constantly reminded of a segment of the Critical Thinking class I taught at our local college.  Many of you at some point in your education have been introduced and studied Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.  This is in my opinion one of the finest – if not the best – allegory, metaphor or parable ever written in western philosophy, that is a brilliant and timeless illustration of the perverse and distorted reality confronting our civilization today – and throughout history.

If you are not familiar with this legendary allegory or would like a refresher with some additional insights, welcome to this article.  It is not my intent to offer a detailed analysis of this masterful work, only to stimulate you to do further research and reflection on its profound message.

I believe we have a choice as to how we perceive and discern the reality and authenticity of the world that surrounds us.  This has significant implications not only for determining the physical actions we take, but also for our attitudes and spiritual understanding.  If you have read other posts I have written, you know that I believe the foundation of any preparedness planning action and experience is one’s attitude, and the importance of an appropriate and life-enhancing mindset.  Also, as Plato points out, the greater truth – should you choose to discover it – is what I would call a spiritual or Divine validity.

If historians or philosophers were asked to name the greatest philosopher of all times, most if not just about all would name Plato.  His impact on western culture and thinking is so all pervasive that it is difficult to find individuals or schools of thought that have significantly contributed to our culture that have not been substantially influenced by Plato.  May you join the club!

How does this post relate to the preparedness process?  

Know where you stand.  I hope that we can all function from a position of clear thinking, honest research and evaluation, reality, and appropriate action.  I encourage sensible preparedness planning, not an approach of mindless reaction, fear and an unreliable decision making process leading to wasteful and ineffective provisions .

PLATO’S ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE

This allegory is perhaps the most widely recognized feature of his entire written corpus or body of work.  Commentary on this document is extensive and far-reaching, and Plato’s grasp of the human condition and psyche is remarkably comprehensive.

The description of the cave is given to us in Book VII of the Republic (514a – 521b).  The opening sentence of the allegory invites us to compare the state of things in and above the cave to our natural condition as far as education and ignorance are concerned.  The cave is a complete symbolic system that is essentially political, yet is descriptive of the general human condition.  The “real” world to the masses of mankind is the cave, where the reality of life is but the shadows on the cave wall.

In the Republic Plato describes his version of the ideal society.  The role of education and the function of the philosopher within this society are defined in an elaborate metaphor, the Allegory of the Cave.  We are to imagine a group of people who live, as it were, chained to the ground in an underground cave in such a way that they can see only shadows of reality projected onto the inner wall of the cave by firelight behind them as objects are moved around by those in “control” who know that this is the only reality known to the “prisoners” and it’s what determines their worldview.  The prisoners must sit still and look forward and cannot turn around (representative of the normal and unfortunate state of mankind with respect to education and knowledge and is the only reality).

Since they have been accustomed to seeing nothing but shadows all their lives, they have no way of comprehending the real world outside the cave.  It is therefore the task of the philosopher who is already free from the chains of misconception and sees the truth of the cave process, to liberate the others and educate them in such a way as to set them free from the imprisonment of their falsely indoctrinated senses.  The freed one in the process of being unchained and seeing the truth of the cave and experiencing the journey to the reality of the light outside and the source of this reality, undergoes a profound conversion and transformation leading to understanding and knowledge.  The responsibility of returning to the cave to liberate his fellow prisoners is a painful and dangerous process.

SOME THEMES FROM THE ALLEGORY FOR REFLECTION

  • How education or lack thereof affects our nature.
  • The prison and the prisoners within.
  • Know thyself.
  • What is reality?
  • Can you discern the truth from the lie?  How?  Why?
  • No context to discern new reality as the philosopher grows and ascends – it is painful and lonely.
  • The ascent to the truth is not easy – one fights it the whole way – he wants to go back to the comfortable, familiar and secure.
  • There is an ultimate “cause” that allows you to “see” the truth.
  • Those left behind will not want to tolerate a new radical explanation of truth and reality – they are so attached to their worldview that they will eliminate a person who challenges their reality rather than change.
  • The value of wisdom and critical thinking.
  • The essential value of true education from birth in the contemplation of real things.
  • Men lacking education experience in truth cannot adequately preside over a city or nation.
  • The philosopher governs the city – he must go down into the cave to govern and teach after being educated in the light above.
  • Once you have experienced the good – truth – reality, the philosopher has a responsibility and duty to lead the society and others to the light for the good of all.
  • The Truth can be frightening and painful yet liberating and joyful.
  • We have an innate ability and desire to gain the truth.
  • Plato goes from “being all about you” to sharing, educating and directing one’s wisdom for the benefit of others.  This is true wisdom and selflessness.
  • Knowledge and truth – see it with your own eyes and heart and discern it with your own mind.
  • How does the seemingly impossible or extremely difficult task of leading others to discover the truth or the “real” equate with the difficulty of creating a society of critical thinkers?

IN CONCLUSION

You are encouraged to obtain a copy of the Allegory by getting Plato’s Republic, or finding it on the internet.  This is a transformational masterful work.  The issues of ignorance, depravity and delusion that plague our society today have been with us for thousands of years.  Plato is describing the fictions of today from the perspective of a society of the distant past – it has always amazed and disheartened me how little has changed over time.  Let us focus on being liberated from the chains of our own cave so that we may help our families, neighbors and community reach the light that is above the darkness.  We can accomplish this by setting an example – in the way we live, think and speak.  One person cannot make another see, he can only provide the stimulation that helps the other see for himself. 

Are we being manipulated by the Wizard!

Are we being manipulated by the Wizard!

 

30 Essential Food Reserve Questions for Yourself and Your Sources

By Denis Korn

Peace of Mind through honestly answering the relevant questions!

Peace of Mind through honestly answering the relevant questions!

 

As I continue to evaluate the websites of many current providers of shelf stable emergency foods, I am once again motivated to stimulate the due diligence and research I feel that is necessary for my readers so they may be adequately prepared.  I have updated and combined these food reserve questions from two previous posts regarding this issue, and 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 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.

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.

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.

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 2016.  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. 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.

The first part of this article deals with questions for suppliers, the second part lists food reserve questions that are of value to your personal planning.

For 41 years now I have personally witnessed, heard and read many conflicting, misleading and outright deceptive claims and information regarding foods for long term storage, and while many food reserve companies are honest and reliable, many are intentionally or unintentionally ignorant and deceitful.

You are highly encouraged to take the following questions 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, hyperbole and exaggeration, being all over the internet with 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.

As I am sure you can tell, I am very disappointed and concerned with the state of the “truth in advertising” regarding such an important facet of the preparedness planning process.  The food you eat is life sustaining – and I believe preparedness food companies have an obligation to be honest and provide quality, nutritious foods.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 USDA inspected companies (disclaimer – one of those companies, AlpineAire Foods, is a company I founded in 1979) who have been in business longer than 30 years with a diverse selection of blended meals and individual items for long term food reserve products who can verify shelf life, use the proper packaging technologies and have their own testing facilities.  In the 41 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?  What about ingredient quality?

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.  Unfortunately, many deceptive companies and stating their meals are “freeze-dried”, however upon reading the ingredients declaration, there are none.  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.

8. What about preparation?

Those of us in the camping/backpacking industry used the expression “just add water” to indicate that to reconstitute your pouched meal just add hot water, let sit and in 10-15 minutes your meal is ready – no cooking required.  Many of the current pouch food companies use the same expression “just add water,” however what is really means is add water and boil/simmer for 15 to 30 minutes.

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

  1. Do you know how to prepare the foods you are considering?
  2. Are the foods you are considering compatible with the scenarios and time frames you believe will occur?
  3. When you invest and purchase your food reserves, will it be – or has it been – an emotional reaction stimulated by fear advertising and paid celebrity/talk-show host endorsements, or will it be motivated by a critical thinking and evaluation process?
  4. Where and under what conditions will you store them?
  5. If you are going to pack your own bulk foods, do you know the proper methods and have the proper packaging?
  6. Are you properly informed as to shelf life issues?
  7. Do your foods contain a proper balance of nutrition?
  8. Can you properly digest the foods you are considering if they differ from you normal diet?
  9. If you store grains, beans and seeds do you know how to sprout them for additional essential nutrition?
  10. Do you have the proper equipment and appliances to utilize and prepare your stored foods?
  11. Have you stored the required foods to handle the scenarios you have considered will potentially occur?
  12. Do you have a adequate quantity to feed yourself, family, friends and anyone else who be relying on you?
  13. Do you or others have medical issues, special requirements or a food intolerance to consider?
  14. Will you be storing supplements?
  15. Have you considered comfort foods?
  16. Will you have access to the water you will need to prepare your stored foods?
  17. Can you grow foods if necessary?
  18. Will you be relying on any frozen food?  What if the electricity goes out?
  19. If you have to be mobile, are the foods you are considering easily transportable?
  20. How trustworthy is the manufacturer or source of the the foods you are considering?
  21. Do you plan to incorporate your food reserves into your normal diet?
  22. Will you be like many who say, “I hope I never have to eat these foods for any extended length of time.”?

Critical Thinking is Not Conducted in a Vacuum

By Denis Korn

Seriously reflect on this post!

Seriously reflect on this post!

I consider this to be one of the most important posts I have made, because of the seriousness condition of the current state of our nation.  This will be a significant year in defining the direction of our society and the foundations created for our children and grandchildren.  Before we examine the issues relating to the title of this article, I would like to share an observation that makes the importance of the critical thinking process even more crucial as each day unfolds.

I believe that the polarization and the schism of our society is complete.  The indoctrination, manipulation and dumbing down of the population is an intentional process that began decades ago by those who do not have the best intentions for our country.  The signs of this acute and agonizing polarization and discord are everywhere and in your face – politics, education, media, radical and apocalyptic Islam, health, race relations, philosophy/ideology, military, immigration, constitutional rights, sexual/gender behavior, finance and in many other facets of our culture.  This not a time of simple disagreements, opinions and perspectives.  It is the blatant manifestation of what is referred to in Ephesians 6:10-12 as spiritual warfare.  The dark side has control of the major sources of communication, education and political influence and is fighting for the soul of our nation.

First stated in the Gospels by Jesus himself and later during a critical time in our nation’s history by Abraham Lincoln (see the comments at the end of this article regarding his House Divided speech)  – “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24,25)  This is why it is essential that the discerning and thinking remnant in our land be vigilant and active in combating the evil in our midst.

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Attitude – Critical Thinking – Knowledge – Trust – are the most essential attributes of the preparedness planning process – and are required for acting appropriately in the times confronting us today!

In the 6 years of posting articles on this site, one of the most popular posts has been Barriers to Critical Thinking & The 7 Essential Questions for Reflection.  While I believe that developing critical thinking skills is essential in all aspects of our life, it is especially important when you are evaluating and determining sources and provisions for emergency and disaster preparedness.  Your comfort, health and survival depend on appropriate, sensible and accurate decisions.  The correct and proper decision making process relies on essential critical thinking skills.  Knowledge and discernment competency are vital to the emergency preparedness process.

Because of the importance of applying critical thinking, especially during these times of great confusion, uncertainty and deception, I am offering some observations that I hope will help in motivating you to look closely at the critical thinking process.  There are numerous books and resources available to help you in developing critical thinking skills.  The purpose of this article is to offer some helpful insights into the critical thing process that will hopefully motivate you to seek further understanding.

It is obvious that those with political and economic power do not want a thinking and accessing population.  The deception and manipulation of facts and events have reached epic proportions.  All sectors of daily life have been compromised to achieve a massive dumbing down and indoctrination of the masses – media, government, schools, science, academia and entertainment.  The urgency and importance to our society, families and nation for an informed, thinking, rational and discerning populace is vital if we are to remain a sovereign people living in freedom and opportunity.  The future of this country and our children depends on the outcome of events that will unfold as the year progresses.

What is Critical Thinking?

“Critical thinking is the careful, deliberate determination of whether we should accept, reject, or suspend judgment about a claim – and of the degree of confidence with which we accept or reject it.  The ability to think critically is vitally important; in fact, our lives depend on it.  The way we conduct our lives depends on what we believe to be true – on what claims we accept  The more carefully we evaluate a claim and the more fully we separate issues that are relevant to it from those that are not, the more critical is our thinking.”

“We do not do our critical thinking in a vacuum, of course.  When we are confronted with a claim, usually we already have a certain amount of information relevant to the topic, and we can generally figure out where to find more if we need it.  Having both the desire and the ability to bring such information to bear on our decisions is part of the critical-thinking process.  Critical thinking involves a lot of skills, including the abilities to listen and read carefully, to evaluate arguments, to look for and find hidden assumptions, and to trace consequences of a claim.” (From Critical Thinking, Sixth Edition – Brooke Noel Moore, PhD & Richard Parker, PhD)

The Result

A well cultivated critical thinker:

  • raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
  • gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively;
  • comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
  • thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
  • communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems. (From Critical Thinking – Concepts & Tools, Seventh Edition – Richard Paul, PhD & Linda Elder, PhD)

It is important to realize that everyone resides at a different level in the process of developing critical thinking skills.  Be encouraged to continue to pursue your thinking skills development, and to put into practice what your have learned.

Here are some thoughts from a paper I wrote titled “Critical Thinking is not Conducted in a Vacuum” that I distributed to the Critical Thinking class I taught at our local college a few years back.  I know it might be a bit “academic,” however I feel it offers some valuable food for thought.

Vital components:

  • Critical thinking skills are developed and refined by: habits, discernment, learning tools, knowledge, practice, principles, motivation, and an effective educational process.
  • The foundation for thinking is based upon: personal core beliefs, perceptions, presuppositions, and one’s worldview.
  • Critical thinking takes place in a philosophical, societal, and cultural context and is basically oriented from two standpoints:

~ Practical and pragmatic – essential for daily life situations centered around personal – social – political – religious circumstances.

~ Theoretical and academic – consisting of inquiry into the theological (the study of religious faith and God’s relation to the world), metaphysical (of or relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses), cosmological (the nature of the universe), ontological (the nature and relations of being), and epistemological (the nature and grounds of knowledge).

The entire study of, and search for truth (that which is – not an opinion) begins with one’s personal worldview – it is not an exact science, it is not something you can expect to pick up after a few class assignments, memorize, and reiterate on a multiple choice exam (which you know a do not give) – it is a process, an attitude, a relationship, an adventure, and a journey of discovery – it is filled with twists and turns, exaltation and distress – the rewards regardless of the obstacles, uncertainty, and confusion are as Socrates would say, “the way we ought to live.”

To discover truth and the Truth is an innate human need for many, if not most, of us.  It will validate and strengthen worldviews that are proper, and change worldviews that are flawed – if we don’t let the barriers to critical thinking get the better of us.  This process is also an essential component of the development of critical thinking skills.  Each one of us are responsible for discerning the variances and nuances in the identification of truth.

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Here are the comments regarding Abraham Lincoln’s speech.  They come from www.abrahamlincolnonline.org.  Abraham Lincoln’s insights then have profound implications for our nations current struggles.  I pray it is not too late for our country!

Lecturn in Representatives Hall, Old State Capitol, Springfield, Illinois
Representatives Hall Lecturn
© Abraham Lincoln Online

House Divided Speech

Springfield, Illinois
June 16, 1858

On June 16, 1858 more than 1,000 delegates met in the Springfield, Illinois, statehouse for the Republican State Convention. At 5:00 p.m. they chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the U.S. Senate, running against Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. At 8:00 p.m. Lincoln delivered this address to his Republican colleagues in the Hall of Representatives. The title reflects part of the speech’s introduction, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” a concept familiar to Lincoln’s audience as a statement by Jesus recorded in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke).

Even Lincoln’s friends regarded the speech as too radical for the occasion. His law partner, William H. Herndon, considered Lincoln as morally courageous but politically incorrect. Lincoln read the speech to him before delivering it, referring to the “house divided” language this way: “The proposition is indisputably true … and I will deliver it as written. I want to use some universally known figure, expressed in simple language as universally known, that it may strike home to the minds of men in order to rouse them to the peril of the times.” (Emphasis mine. The peril is of today as it was then – can our nation accept a true spiritual and perceptive leader today as it did in Lincoln’s day?)

The speech created many repercussions, giving Lincoln’s political opponent fresh ammunition. Herndon remarked, “when I saw Senator Douglas making such headway against Mr. Lincoln’s house divided speech I was nettled & irritable, and said to Mr. Lincoln one day this — ‘Mr. Lincoln — why in the world do you not say to Mr. Douglas, when he is making capitol out of your speech, — ‘Douglas why whine and complain to me because of that speech. I am not the author of it. God is. Go and whine and complain to Him for its revelation, and utterance.’ Mr. Lincoln looked at me one short quizzical moment, and replied ‘I can’t.'”

Reflecting on it several years later, Herndon said the speech did awaken the people, and despite Lincoln’s defeat, he thought the speech made him President. “Through logic inductively seen,” he said, “Lincoln as a statesman, and political philosopher, announced an eternal truth — not only as broad as America, but covers the world.”

Another colleague, Leonard Swett, said the speech defeated Lincoln in the Senate campaign. In 1866 he wrote to Herndon complaining, “Nothing could have been more unfortunate or inappropriate; it was saying first the wrong thing, yet he saw it was an abstract truth, but standing by the speech would ultimately find him in the right place.”

 

My Top 7 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?”  Effective preparedness planning is essential to ensure you are properly equipped to function during an emergency.  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. What attitude are you willing to embody and express during the uncertainty and stress of the emergency scenarios you have determined may exist?  An appropriate attitude is essential to survival and effective functioning during a serious emergency or disaster. Your emotional and spiritual viewpoint is the foundational component of any emergency circumstance. The longer the emergency the greater degree of stress, which will affect your well-being. Do you believe it is essential for you and your family to incorporate the proper emotional and spiritual attitude in your preparedness planning? Do you have a biblical worldview regarding trials and tribulations?  Who do you ultimately rely on for comfort, strength and hope?  Where is your faith?
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. 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

Encouragement – Essential For Endurance

By Denis Korn

As we enter the holiday season of 2016 I want to once again offer some observations and most of all encouragement to all those who have been led to this article.  I am updating some points I made last year at this time and of course my holiday gift is the gift of encouragement at the end of this post.  I truly feel that encouragement is essential for endurance.  The endurance required to bear the burdens of these times.

The year of 2016 will be an important year for me in initiating and fulfilling goals and projects that I believe will be crucial given the current state of cultural, economic and political decay prevalent in contemporary society.  This post will offer reflections, plans and end with an updated encouragement I post when I feel it will be of value.  To help you gain some perspective on my background as I comment on the things I observe, I begin with a little history.

A little history

41 years ago I launched my retail Natural Foods store selling “natural whole foods” in bulk that included, among other unique food items, numerous basic commodities, in- house stone ground flours, herbs, my own recipes of just-add-water dried food meals and food reserves in #10 (7/8 gal) cans.  This was the inauguration of what was to become my life calling – which I continue today under the auspices of PrepareDirect – our product website, and Learn To Prepare – my information only blog.  In 1979 this humble beginning was to transform and become AlpineAire Foods, a major player and manufacturing innovator in the outdoor recreation and long term food reserves industry.

6 years ago in January of 2010 I began Learn To Prepare.  My intention was to share my many years experience and insights as a retailer, innovative developer and manufacturer with those serious people needing help beginning and improving their preparedness experience.  The blog is an evolving endeavor to focus on preparedness fundamentals with an emphasis on food related issues.  I have been fortunate in the past 41 years to have not only have created many different preparedness products, but also to have read thousands of articles, talked to hundreds of industry professionals, made hundreds of presentations and studied a variety of related materials.  Learn To Prepare is also unique in that I incorporate my graduate studies and college teaching experience in Philosophy into my articles to provide what I believe to be a critical perspective on a proper preparedness attitude in conjunction with action.

Key Concerns Enveloping the Current Preparedness and Survivalist Environment and Mindset

From the time I began providing preparedness products until very recently – ten years or so – the majority of interest was – to use a general term – family preparedness.  Average folks concerned for themselves and family with the issues of the day, and with relatively easy to comprehend options and priorities.  There has always been a survivalist element to disaster preparedness, however not to the extent we see today.  Why? And what are some of the factors that have created a noticeable polarizing preparedness marketplace and atmosphere?  Is this polarization motivating or discouraging our friends and family to be prepared for the fulfillment of numerous potential and impactful scenarios?

When I refer to a “survivalist” here is the meaning for me from Merriam – Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary:

survivalist: a person who advocates or practices survivalism; esp : one who has prepared to survive in the anarchy of an anticipated breakdown of society.

survivalism: an attitude, policy, or practice based on the primacy of survival as a value.

It can be said that everyone is a survivalist because we all want to survive – it is an innate instinct.  This is not however how the concept is applied in today’s media.  The emphasis is on the second part of the definition – one who has prepared to survive in the anarchy of an anticipated breakdown of society.  Here is the root of the polarization.  This emphasis and fixation on the breakdown of our society with all its negative implications, has created a type of revulsion and resistance to properly evaluate and access the whole idea of emergency preparedness and survival during catastrophes and disasters – natural or man-made.  Many of us can not be inundated with nonstop doom and gloom and preached to by those absolutely convinced that the world as we know it will be destroyed, and not finally say enough already.  Add to the constant barrage of end of days hysteria, all the suggestions and appeals to action that any normal person would find extreme, infeasible or impossible.

I want to be clear – I am not a psychic nor privy to underground information. I have however read and listened to thousands of opinions and judgments on our current state of affairs.  And yes, many of the difficult scenarios presented – natural and man-made – will probably come to pass, and yes, we need to be prepared, and yes, we are in for some challenging times, and yes, there are differing perceptions on potential scenarios.  So what are some of the issues and problems surrounding the survivalist, prepper and disaster planner?

  • We are overwhelmed by those who are exploiting the concerns of the times with fear, greed and conspicuous deception!
  • So many deceitful and ignorant businesses and spokespersons are making it difficult for legitimate companies to succeed.
  • An inability for many – including professionals and consumers – to discern the truth from the deceptive hype.  So much information being put forward by so-called industry authorities and government agencies is simply incorrect.
  • Educating and empowering consumers to have trust and confidence in their sources for reliable information is not taken seriously by so many ill-informed and inexperienced instant preparedness experts.
  • A lack of critical thinking and communication skills from survivalist spokespersons.
  • A lack of trustworthy leadership.
  • A self-serving and corrupt media that promotes survivalist programming for profit that creates fear, confusion and anxiety.
  • The internet – that has been both a blessing and curse.  There is so much preparedness/survivalist information that is unreliable and inaccurate – and valuable and dependable – that many a sincere truth seeking individual finds it difficult or impossible to discern truth from fiction.
  • The media, television programming and our educational system is agenda driven (and not an agenda for the best interests of our citizens and Republic), and with a constant barrage of negativity, distortions and out right fabrication, it becomes increasingly challenging to discern the truth and maintain an encouraging attitude.
  • The problem once again is manipulation through fear.

The questions I ask those with the survivalist mindset – or anyone for that mater:

  • There are real and significant challenges ahead – Is there a more effective and empowering way to communicate preparedness and survival concerns to everyone without fixating on the fear, terror and greed factor?
  • Have you realistically and critically evaluated the advice being given by so many for actions to take during a serious emergency?
  • Are you aware that the methods being utilized by numerous advertisers, talk show hosts, blog writers and others to stimulate action focuses on mindless reaction rather than critical evaluation?

I want to acknowledge the many sincerely conscientious and committed individuals, businesses and news sources who are devoted to providing truthful information and reliable products.  I especially want to give my appreciation to committed Christian experts who realize the big preparedness picture and who offer prayer with their encouragement and advice.  I encourage all readers of this article to seek and discover these faithful individuals, organizations and companies.  I have written other articles available at Learn To Prepare – see the lists on the right column – that focus on the appropriate questions to ask yourself and others that will help in the preparedness planning process.

What’s Coming From Learn To Prepare

You will also notice a deepening emphasis on the spiritual and emotional attitudes and perspectives required regarding preparedness and survival.  For me the proper attitude and one’s spiritual/religious faith is essential, and forms the foundation for any effective and successful preparedness program.  Given the issues covered above regarding fear, and the emphasis on the accumulation of stuff and information (nothing wrong with stuff and information – if coupled with proper attitude and spiritual faith), I find a lack of encouragement that focuses on the most important aspects of the preparedness process – the aspects that provide true Peace of Mind.

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.  2016 will be a year of significant challenges – may you be encouraged to endure with sustaining faith and hope!

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 degenerating 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: not to give up on loved ones who are in denial of the truth of the times and ridicule you for your faith and commitment to being prepared for the unforeseen.
  • Be encouraged: to embody the right attitude that will carry you through all the trials and tribulations of your life.
  • 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 resist the temptations of the evil one.
  • Be encouraged: to encourage others!

Blessings to those who are encouraged by these words

God is our refuge and strength.

A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,

Even though the earth be removed,

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though its waters roar and be troubled,

Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

Psalm 46: 1-3

Food Storage Packing – Do-it-yourself Facts & Myths

By Denis Korn

Know the facts about do-it-yourself packing!

By popular demand I am posting this updated article first written 5 years ago and still timely and important, especially as more and more folks are packing their own to save money and create a diverse selection of food reserves.  This information is always available under Food Storage Packing – Do-it-yourself Articles available on the home page in the right column.

The purpose of this article is to present specific details and recommendations for food storage packing of 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 and bean 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 25-30 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 40 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.  I also was the first to use and introduce oxygen absorbers for packing outdoor recreational foods and food reserves in 1990-91, now an industry standard and essential to reduce residual oxygen levels and help extend the shelf life of dried 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?  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?  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?  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 a very reduced oxygen atmosphere when storing food for long periods.  Basically there are 2 reasons for wanting to store food in an oxygen free environment – (1) eliminate the possibility for infestation from insects and microorganisms, and (2) control oxidation, which leads to the rancidity of fats and oils, foul taste, off color, and nutritional deterioration. NOTE:  Freezing foods do not effectively kill microscopic insect eggs.  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 very informative 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 effectively 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 or top 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 plastic pouches and jar seams are not designed to hold a vacuum for extended periods (longer than 1-2 years).
  • Most units do not produce enough heat to seal thicker foil laminated pouches (some people call these pouches by the misnomer of “Mylar”) that are a more effective packaging option.

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

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 1 to 5 years.
  • Can be used in conjunction with foil pouches for convenience of storage.
  • You can use multiple foil pouches stored in the bucket for convenience of use.
  • 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 to 5 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 and lid, 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 (5+ years) of directly packed foods, unless a low residual oxygen level is not needed.

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 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.  NOTE: Most pouches used by today’s food storage companies have what is know as ‘pin holing’ – because of the lower quality and thickness of the pouch, especially the foil layer.  These are extremely small holes that will eventually transmit oxygen through them.  While these pouches can be still be effective for some years, to claim a 25 year shelf life is misleading and deceptive.  Also, keep in mind none of these companies claiming a 25 year pouch shelf life have been in business more than a few years.  The 25 year claim is a marketing trick.  It is interesting that many of these companies promote their foods as “survival” foods – that is to say their foods are better than starving, and after 25 years that’s the best you can hope for. 

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 very low oxygen level 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 of 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 25 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.
  • 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:  Foil pouches (Mylar bags) or plastic buckets are not a long term (over 3-10 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:  Foil pouches (Mylar bags) or plastic buckets are not a long term (over 3-10 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.

12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning

By Denis Korn                                                12-questions

Of the 15 Foundational Articles on the right hand column of this blog, I believe this to be the primary foundational article required for effective and thorough preparedness planning. 

It is featured this month for those who may not be familiar with these essential questions, or who need to be reminded of the substance and basis of effective preparedness planning.

These 12 crucial questions of preparedness planning are a result of an ongoing expansion and modification of questions given in The Essential Emergency Planning Guide for Food and Water.  They apply to any preparedness planning scenario you believe to be appropriate.  Answer them carefully – your safety, health (emotional and physical), peace of mind, and comfort depend on it.

Preparedness planning is fundamentally built on two principles – (1) developing a philosophical or personal worldview while evaluating and assessing the current state of affairs – (2) then developing a specific plan of action based upon your reflective conclusions, needs, and the physical conditions that you anticipate can occur.

Thank you for having made a wise and sound decision to take responsibility for you and your family to be prepared in the event of unforeseen circumstances.  A proper attitude during the preparedness planning process is essential, and it is made more effective by exercising competent critical thinking skills. Reacting from a position of fear or confusion can be an obstacle to efficient planning.  Please remember, when it comes to seeking reliable information and essential provisions for nourishment, health, and safety – ask: Who do you trust? and Why?

As you evaluate your answers to the following crucial questions and the circumstances for which you are preparing, there is another underlying issue to consider when considering provisions – cost verses quality.  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?  Answer these questions carefully – your safety, health (emotional and physical), peace of mind and comfort depend on it.

Food issues and questions are of special importance to me personally – since I have been providing, developing, and promoting quality food reserves for over 40 years.  When purchasing food provisions, especially pre-configured assortments, it is essential to know exactly the quantity of food you are getting for the price you are paying.  “X” amount of servings, or “X month’s supply” doesn’t give you the accurate information you need for proper planning.  You need to know the answer to these questions: What is the basis for the manufacturer’s claims?  What is the nutritional value, quantity, and quality of food and the caloric value of each serving?  “X” months gives me how many calories per day, and of what quality and nutritional value are the foods?  Beware of companies claiming “freeze-dried” with little to no freeze-dried ingredients used in meal formulations.  The most obvious RED FLAG are claims of a 25 year shelf life for foods packed in pouches.  This is a suspicious marketing deception and companies advertising these excessive shelf life pouched foods are to be considered highly questionable.

It always has been and always will be the policy of Learn To Prepare and PrepareDirect to provide products, information, perspectives, insights, and recommendations for action with an attitude of helpfulness and respect for an individual’s choice based on evaluation and thoughtful judgment.  Be conscientious and diligent in your planning, and demand truthfulness and accuracy from your suppliers.  You evaluate – you choose – you own your decisions.  If you need help, contact us at PrepareDirect/Learn To Prepare.

The Questions

  1. 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).  What will be the severity and impact of those circumstances on your life?  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?  The grid is essential to most homes and businesses – if it is down, how long could you function?  What would society look like without the grid, and a prolonged cessation of the availability of vital goods and services?  Do you have back up power?
  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. What attitude are you willing to embody and express during the uncertainty and stress of the emergency scenarios you have determined may exist?  An appropriate attitude is essential to survival and effective functioning during a serious emergency or disaster. Your emotional and spiritual viewpoint is the foundational component of any emergency circumstance. The longer the emergency the greater degree of stress, which will affect your well-being. Do you believe it is essential for you and your family to incorporate the proper emotional and spiritual attitude in your preparedness planning? Do you have a biblical worldview regarding trials and tribulations?  Who do you ultimately rely on for comfort, strength and hope?  Where is your faith?
  4. 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? How about the knowledge of family or friends?  What informational resources and references – books and other tangible items – do you personally have or have access to?
  5. During an emergency what facilities, stores, resources, supplies, and assistance is available in your area apart from family and friends? This includes not only information and education, but also essentials such as food, water, shelter, energy, communication, and medical supplies.  What utilities in your area are vulnerable to disruption or elimination?  What will you do to compensate for the loss of electricity, water, gas, or phone service?
  6. Are you dependent upon someone or something else to get you through and supply your needs during the emergency scenarios you presume will occur? Are your neighbors or friends stocking up on enough supplies for you also?  Do you honestly believe some level of government will be there to assist and resolve the situation?  Do you have a community support network available?  What skills and knowledge do you possess that you can contribute?  How many people are you planning to provide with emergency provisions? Extended family?  Friends?  Church members?  Community?
  7. Do you have a list of essential 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?  Are you actively storing provisions?  If not – why not?
  8. Do you have an understanding of the financial implications of your projected emergency scenarios? This includes the costs of preparation, other financial obligations that might occur during and after the emergency, and understanding the choices needing to be made to adequately be prepared.  For most folks it will be necessary to honestly assess the personal and family financial priorities in the preparedness process.  Do you keep enough cash or items for barter on hand for unforeseen emergencies?  Do you have back up hard copies of essential financial documents?
  9. 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.
  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? 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?  Do you have a bug-out or grab-and-go bag/device?  Do you think you need one?  If you do have one, is it adequately supplied with essential provisions?  Do you know how to use the items it contains?  If you have to carry it – can you?
  11. 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?  Satellite phone?  Short wave radios?  Citizens band radios?  Emergency and/or ham radios with two-way communication capability?  During a serious emergency accurate information and updates are essential for survival.  What if an EMP (electro-magnetic-pulse) from a solar flare or nuclear device renders all unprotected electronics useless?  How will this effect communication equipment you are relying upon?
  12. In your expected emergency scenarios what transportation options will be necessary and available? Needing to be mobile requires serious planning and so does remaining in place if your anticipated scenario lasts for a long duration and you need to travel within your area.  What vehicles are available?  What fuels do they need to operate?  What do you have on hand?  If you must relocate, how much space and weight is needed to transport your supplies?  Do you have a bicycle?  Small solar or gas scooter?  Adequate foot gear?  A horse?  What if the emergency is in the winter – a harsh winter?  What if an EMP (electro-magnetic-pulse) from a solar flare or nuclear device renders all unprotected electronics useless?  How will this effect vehicles you are relying upon?

Proper preparedness planning requires a serious commitment – your life or health and the life and health of your family may depend upon it!

Critical Questions and Essential Information About Bug-Out-Bags and Vehicle Preparedness

By Denis Korn                                                                                                    Franklin quote

This post – Critical Questions and Essential Information About Bug-Out-Bags and Vehicle Preparedness – is a valuable companion to the 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.  Celebrate Peace of Mind!

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 basic 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/filters/purifiers/tablets/containers
  2. Food – ready-to-eat/bars/trail mix/freeze dried/shelf stable/food preparation equipment
  3. Medical – quality 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/cable ties/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 – fire starter/lighter/matches/tinder/flint starter/magnifying glass
  8. Signaling & Orienting – whistle/signal mirror/compass/maps/GPS device
  9. Lighting – Hand crank – solar – battery/headlamp/flashlight/lantern/candles/lightsticks
  10. Power & Energy – batteries – regular and rechargeable/power-pack for batteries & cell phone recharged by solar and/or hand crank/solar and/or hand crank that charges devices directly
  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/ties
  15. Personal Security – weapon & ammo if appropriate/pepper spray/bear repellant/mace or other options
  16. Appropriate Clothing and Footwear – protection from the elements/apparel for warmth/heat packs – hand and body warmers
  17. Identification and Essential Documents – Bible/compact survival handbook/personal ID/insurance and other key documents/entertainment
  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. Carrying Device – carry bag/backpack/suitcase/sturdy container/Food & Supply Brick™/duffel Bag (very durable and if you anticipate carrying your bag any distance shoulder straps should be available with your carry bag or duffel)

If time permits, take irreplaceable items such as heirlooms, heirloom jewelry, photographs, military/marriage/birth/deed records, computers, tablets, and personal contact information and documents not included in your grab-and-go device.

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.

Determine whether or not you want to purify water for viruses.  Not all water filters are designed for this purpose – look for water purifiers that specifically state that they will kill viruses.

Food
Numerous options are available. This category must be accessed carefully and the quality and quantity of foods chosen should be appropriate to the anticipated length of time of the emergency or outing, and severity of circumstances you anticipate might occur.  For shorter term scenarios foods in most situations should be nutritious and ready-to-eat; however you might want to consider some foods requiring only the addition of cold or hot water.  If you do need hot water you must plan for the appropriate means and equipment to heat your water.  Options listed have a longer shelf life and are suitably packaged for kits or backpacks.

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.  If your pre-assembled kit doesn’t include one, make sure you get a good book on medical emergencies.

Shelter/warmth
Protection from the elements and insects is essential, especially in a harsh climate.

Tools
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.

Communication/Signaling
It is important to keep 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.  If you get lost or are separated from your group signaling can be crucial.  Since electronic items are included in this category, you may want to consider a small solar power device.

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 occur in the dark.

Personal protection
For some this may not be an essential basic category.  Each individual must decide the extent to which they will or will not provide protection for themselves and their families from physical harm by others or wild animals.

This article provides a very basic list of suggested items we believe are essential for emergency preparedness and outdoor recreation; especially if space, weight, and mobility are important.  For an expanded list of suggestions read our article: Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness

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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.

Long Term Food Storage – A Comprehensive Primer

By Denis Korn                                                                     foodheart

 

The language of long term 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 15 Foundational Articles.  This is valuable basic overview of long term food storage issues.

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 article: A Comprehensive Primer on Long Term Food Storage is so important that I am posting it again as we approach critical times.  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.  It 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 over 40 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 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
  • Beware of so called “long term” pouch food companies that use the marking line of “just-add-water” and “freeze-dried” meals.  Many companies use these terms to give the impression that their foods are easy to prepare and have freeze-dried ingredients which have a positive reputation.  Read the labels carefully!  Many companies market their meals as “freeze-dried” yet they contain no freeze-dried ingredients!  Also, you must cook these meals in order to prepare them.

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
  • If properly sealed with an oxygen absorber and stored properly, shelf can be 5 to 10+ years

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
  • Beware of companies marketing their pouches as 20 – 25 – 30 year shelf life – this is a scam

Cans

Advantages:

  • The most reliable for long term food storage – 10 to 25+ years
  • 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.  Sugar is not quality calories!

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?  Are the containers you are using effective for long term storage?

Nitrogen/oxygen free atmosphere

Basically there are 2 reasons for wanting to store food in an oxygen free environment – (1) eliminate the possibility for infestation and contamination from insects and microorganisms, and (2) 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.  Lower oxygen levels are directly related to shelf life.

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 attitude are you willing to embody and express during the uncertainty and stress of the emergency scenarios you have determined may exist?
  4. 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?
  5. During an emergency what facilities, stores, resources, supplies, and assistance is available in your area apart from family and friends?
  6. Are you dependent upon someone or something else to get you through and supply your needs during the emergency scenarios you presume will occur?
  7. Do you have a list of essential 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?

Evaluate the entire list at 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning

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.  It is hard to believe that businesses promoting products and information essential for survival in an emergency can be fraudulent and dishonorable, however there are companies who prey on fear and greed and are not principled nor respectable.

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 5 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 5 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.
    • The Benefits of Freeze-Drying – From a Major Processor’s Site

      • Retains original characteristics of the product, including:
        • color
        • form
        • size
        • taste
        • texture
        • nutrients
      • Reconstitutes to original state when placed in water
      • Shelf stable at room temperature – cold storage not required
      • The weight of the freeze-dried products is reduced by 70 to 90 percent, with no change in volume
      • The product is light weight and easy to handle
      • Shipping costs are reduced because of the light weight and lack of refrigeration
      • Low water activity virtually eliminates microbiological concerns
      • Offers highest quality in a dry product compared to other drying methods
      • Virtually any type of food or ingredient, whether solid or liquid, can be freeze-dried
  • 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.  Most are great for sprouting
    • 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 or cracked 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 (rejuvelac – a cultured sprouted wheat drink) – 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 or outdoors in the ground, 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 1-4 years, glass jars 6 months- 2 years, boxes and packages 6 months- 1 year.  Many folks believe quality canned foods stored in cooler conditions will last years beyond ‘best used by’ dates.
    • Buy extra each time you shop.
    • Buy case quantities.
    • Rotate supplies.
    • This category contains items that will complement and supplement other food reserve programs.
    • Mark date purchased on container

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 nutritionally dense 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, multivitamins, 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 – this is critical – for next seasons planting.  Different seeds have varying viability and germination rates over time.

  • 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
  • Portable stoves that use twigs, pine cones and small wood pieces
  • 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 aseptic fruit juice like boxes – 5-year shelf life.
    • Blue Can canned water – packed in specially lined aluminum cans with at least a 50 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.
    • WaterBrick water storage containers in 3.5 and 1.6 gallon size containers are highly recommended.

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/gravity filters and purifiers – 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.
    • Survival Still Non-Electric water distiller is highly recommended.
    • 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) – 6-8 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.
  • Water preservatives in liquid form are available.
  • 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.

Vigilance, Transformation and Triggering Events

By Denis Korn       vigilance3

The political, social, judicial and international events of the last few days are, in my opinion, unprecedented in my lifetime as to the long term implications for our country, society and culture.  And the implications are not for the betterment of our nation and civilization.  The future is now going to bring significant challenges, struggles, pain, and uncertainty – add to this the possibility of tyranny, suppression and persecution; with some commentators saying its the end of America as we know it, others saying it is the beginning of the end.  I hope it is the catalyst for a major upward shift in awareness, positive transformation and nonviolent revolution.

I am not going to get into detail concerning each event and their historic consequences, however for those reading this article in the future, including my children and grandchildren, this is a glimpse into these transformative times and suggestions on actions to take.  Here is a brief list of some of current significant rulings and events that are truly changing the course of our country and civilization.

  • Gay marriage is now the national law of the land – nullifying 6,000 years of accepted religious and cultural norms and blatantly contradicting the Bible.
  • Obamacare continues to be approved by the Supreme Court – the specific words of the act, or any law or act for that matter, do not mean what they state, words are relative and intention is presumed.
  • ID can not be required by any state for the purpose of voting – the flood gates are opened for illegal and fraudulent voting across the whole country.
  • The push for allowing illegal immigration and highly questionable immigration from Islamic countries is in full force by politicians and special interest groups and corporations – this will change the face and culture of our country forever.
  • The President, who has demonstrated his loathing and aversion for our country, now has “Fast Track” authority to determine and implement trade agreements without congressional oversight – our national sovereignty has been given away to a globalist control agenda.
  • In my state, the California legislature and Governor have instigated mandatory vaccinations for school children with no exemptions for religious or personal beliefs – parental rights are gone and we have forced injections of poisonous chemicals and compounds.
  • Special interest groups, organizations, banks, mainstream media, mainstream universities and corporations now control and dictate the course of human events – we the people have been neutered – politicians and educational leaders have been bought off and logic, reason, common sense are just obstacles to the agenda of societal control – we live in an era of persistent and all-encompassing lying, deception and manipulation of the population.
  • The Global Warming hysteria being forced upon an ignorant population will go down in history as one of the greatest deceptions and frauds ever promoted by the same politicians, groups and organizations mentioned above – opposition science and educated skeptics have been demonized, harassed and not allowed to present facts that contradict the Global Warming agenda.
  • There is religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, especially in the Middle-east, and growing in this country, against Christians and Jews – intolerance, especially by left-wing groups, colleges and individuals, is extraordinary and pervasive.
  • ISIS the ultra-radical and evil Islamic group in Syria and Iraq continues to grow, conquer, kill and persecute in the name of an Islamic caliphate – radical Islam worldwide is exerting a more and more irrational and immoral influence and attempting to initiate Sharia law – the President, media and the delusional among us have embraced this madness.
  • The President and the current administration is doing all they can during so called negotiations with Iran, to capitulate, appease and allow the Iranians to have nukes.
  • National and worldwide financial institutions and systems are on the brick of collapse and great transition – this will impact all of us in a very significant way – beware of global financial control in the hands of the few.
  • Events involving police using force has polarized different racial factions in our country, with riots, violent protests, race baiting agitators and agenda driven media creating a charged racial climate that could lead to continuing violence and division – paid operatives have been sent to selected cities to create an atmosphere of hatred and rebellion.
  • The President and many left-wing groups would like nothing more than to eliminate and abolish the second amendment and confiscate everyone’s weapons – every shooting incident sparks irrational justifications for assaulting the constitution – every totalitarian regime in modern history has made disarming the population an essential act.
  • Operation “Jade Helm 15” – an unprecedented military “training exercise” – is being conducted from July to September in the Southwest billed as a domestic urban terrorist training drill.  Enormous amounts of equipment have been sent to the region in what appears as a significant event.  It’s true purpose?

I realize the realities of our times can be depressing, frightening and incomprehensible.  It seems as if we are living in a government controls all science fiction movie about the Brave New World and 1984 future.  Here are two suggestions to evaluate and consider.

First, let these times move us to the security of spiritual faith and not reaction due to fear.  Pray, be encouraged and act effectively.  These times are an opportunity to earnestly assess where our trust truly abides, and an opportunity to develop the proper attitude and a God-Reliance.

Second, be vigilant and continually aware of the negativity, manipulation, indoctrination and deception being presented by the government and the media.  This vigilance should stimulate a fitting lifestyle and worldview and a call to action to create an appropriate preparedness plan.

It is also essential to be very cognizant and mindful of attempting a dialog with those who have been conditioned and indoctrinated into believing a deceitful, fallacious and counterfeit worldview.  Reason, logic, facts and the truth are ineffectual, irrelevant and counterproductive to the delusional and agenda driven ideologue.  I know these are strong words and I also believe these are serious times.  When a person’s innate instinct of self-preservation attaches to one’s ideology and opinion, then truth, common sense and reality are futile.

No wonder so many describe these times as a “zombie apocalypse.”  I pray for a great awakening for our country and the whole world!

This introduction leads me to emphasize and re-post once again, especially for those who have hesitated to carefully consider the need to develop a preparedness program, the idea of triggering events and actions that should be taken.  Awareness of triggering events is useful for everyone at all stages of their preparedness process.  Given the list of current events above, any number of scenarios are possible.  We live in turbulent and volatile times, and while we hope for best, we must be prepared for the worst.  I hope this post Vigilance, Transformation and Triggering Events has stimulated discussion and serious evaluation.

The important question for today is:  How many triggering events have just occurred in the last few weeks?

vigilance4

   vigilance6~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here are the previous articles from 2013 and 2012

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 – No grid
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 – No electrical grid
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.

The Idolatry of Self-Reliance

By Denis Korn                                                                   God reliance c-s-lewis-quote

While the title of this article The Idolatry of Self-Reliance may seem counter-intuitive and paradoxical, since I am in an educator for emergency and disaster preparedness and survival, I am confident that by the time you finish reading you will understand what I am professing. You are encouraged to read the entire article. As an introduction, I believe it is important to know a little about my background and perspective so you’ll understand the basis for my insights.

  • 50 years ago – in 1965 – I began my military service in the Army. I was a combat arms Artillery officer. I spent my first year of service in intensive training.
  • My first introduction to prophesy, religious beliefs, esoteric opinion, logic and critical thinking was in 1969 while majoring in philosophy at San Diego State.
  • In 1975 was the beginning of my involvement with emergency preparedness and the development of these skills, both personally and as a retail business.
  • I have a Master’s Degree and the rather academic title of my thesis is Christian Eschatology, Premillennialism and Apocalypticism in Contemporary American Culture that was written in 2004.
  • I have taught Critical Thinking and Ethics at our local college.
  • I have 3 children and 7 grandchildren.
  • I was raised Jewish, had a Bar Mitzvah at 13 and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1984 – this means I am a Messianic Jew, who has studied the old and new Testaments carefully and with reverence.
  • I feel spiritually lead to be engaged during these transformative and volatile times in the process of educating, encouraging and motivating all who are serious and responsive to be prepared for the potential scenarios of these unstable periods. I feel a personal – for my family, and a social – for our community, responsibility to share my 40 years’ experience and educate all who are receptive.

I presented this brief outline so you will better understand where I am coming from when I discuss this critical subject. As important as I believe this issue is, I don’t see the topic of reliance and attitude presented quite like you will discover in this article.

Let me be clear about the importance of being prepared in an emergency. I completely support and encourage everyone to be ready and prepared in the event of a disaster, emergency, catastrophe, or any situation that threatens one’s safety and security to survive with the least amount of trauma and injury possible. We must take responsibility for ourselves and loved ones to be a leader and provider during troubling events. We cannot presume that the government, agencies or others will be available during emergencies, and it might be the government itself that causes the very disaster we may experience. I have written many articles on this blog that emphasizes these points.

So why is Self-Reliance idolatry?

It is the worship of the “stuff” of self-reliance and the worship of “self” as the primary focus of the actions taken. We have placed our stuff and ourselves as the object of primary worship and reliance. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the ultimate reliance is on God. While we have a duty to be prepared, we are commanded not to idolize and exalt our provisions and personal position in the preparedness process above absolute reliance on God. During a serious disaster when emotions are intense and fear rules one’s reactions, it is a challenge to rely on a higher power for the supreme guidance and insight on the actions to take.  It is not only a challenge, it is a necessity to rely on the greatest ally you can have – Divine guidance.  Where does your faith reside – in the Divine or in the human condition?

While I recommend and encourage taking effective physical action to provide the essential provisions, I have been explicit in my teachings that one’s attitude is essential in overcoming and surviving a serious catastrophe. This requires embodying the attitude of God-Reliance first – follow His instructions, assurance and power before we rely only on our self.  Self-reliance without God-reliance is what I refer to as “The Idolatry of Self-Reliance.”

I am well aware of the difficulty and struggle involved in understanding, expressing and putting into action the balance between reliance on God and reliance on ourselves – both are essential! This requires prayer, serious reflection, critical thinking and common sense – as does all aspects of effective emergency planning.

Our whole upbringing in our current society and culture has conditioned us to what is known as “ego-centrism.” When our worldview is always filtered through our own self-centered interests, conditioning and survival, then for many letting go and trusting unseen Divinity becomes incomprehensible. For those who have a committed spiritual or religious worldview it is still difficult to truly recognize and realize the vise grip that our ego-centric thinking has on our perceptions, evaluations and actions. Here is the first paragraph of a quote from, Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools, Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder, that I included in my article Barriers to Critical Thinking:

The Problem of Egocentric Thinking

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.

Reflections on Contemporary Preparedness Issues

When I first became involved in the preparedness industry my focus was directed in what we called “family preparedness.” The scenarios basically involved natural disasters, personal emergencies or perhaps financial events. Those drawn to preparedness were primarily main stream individuals and families. Many had a religious foundation from which to draw. With the advent of the internet, 9/11, the need for sensationalist media reporting and movies, terrorism, fear, government agendas, the zombie apocalypse, talk of revolution and dozens of horrific and catastrophic potential scenarios, the preparedness industry and the “prepper” community has morphed into a different animal.

The preparedness environment is now polarized between family/household and survivalist, with both groups aware of the serious issues of the day, and the survivalist reaction much more radical, passionate, militaristic and fear based – the survivalist community has plenty of probable scenarios from which to choose. I make no right or wrong judgment regarding this situation, I am just sharing what I observe. It is for my readers to evaluate.

Also consider that the cable and main stream news programs and certain internet news sites need ratings and/or are part of an insidious government agenda to keep crisis and fear constantly on your mind for some possible future shenanigans.  Which programs, sites and their celebrity status hosts are sincerely sharing important factual information, suggestions and encouragement, and which are part of the deception and insidious agenda?  How many news and product websites do you think that are promoting the fear-provoking aspects of preparedness and emphasize the doomsday scenarios are primarily driven by the profit motive?  Oh the necessity for critical thinking and discernment skills!

There are now hundreds probably thousands of preparedness/survival websites, blogs and newsletters. Virtually every conservative talk show host promotes survival foods and products. Most talk show hosts have no idea what they are promoting and are justifying themselves for the advertising dollars, doomsday TV shows make big advertising money by instilling fear and mindless buying, and most of the websites and blogs are run by instant experts with little or no knowledge and experience with the information and products they sell. Of course there are many legitimate product and information sources – how can a customer or researcher discern the truth from the deception?

The preparedness/survival atmosphere of fear, chaos, anarchy and confusion is unprecedented in my 40 years in this marketplace. Because of the total lack of government, media, big corporations and educational leadership, the self-serving delusions and the insanity of those in control, there is plenty of evidence to support the serious problems facing our society. As I examine various websites I am disturbed by the excessive emphasis and focus on military, hard core survival, end of the world as we know it, suffering, potential death, preparing for bondage, war, pandemics and the list goes on and on. Of course virtually all of this sites emphasize the “stuff” you need to survive and the extreme practices you should master to fend off the enemy. This stuff is sometimes valuable and appropriate, however – be it food or other supplies – much of the stuff is junk, cheap and ineffective. I ask again – how can a customer or researcher discern the truth from the deception?

I have viewed and evaluated thousands of articles, videos and presentations in the last 40 years – I am not naïve about the serious potential scenarios that may very well come to pass – and be advised I am not a psychic or do I channel some spirit from the other side. All of the predictions, concerns and theories about what may soon occur could very well happen, and maybe you will need some of the stuff that appears radical and maybe you should prepare for a dramatically altered lifestyle and mindless zombies coming after you.

For those with discernment skills, a desire for the truth, an accurate perception of reality and an attitude of true Godly reliance for guidance, the coming times will place you in a position of leadership and service. My concern however, is with the effects on our population of a constant barrage of negative, fearful, mindless nonsense – from media, “progressive” colleges, government and special interest groups. These people are our neighbors, family, those who we all have to come into contact with daily and those who vote.

My advice and counsel to all that read this post, and why I presented the material I did, relates directly to the title of this article. If severe and life-threatening events do occur, where will your ultimate trust and reliance rest?

So What Do I Think is Happening and Going to Happen?

  • The underlying reasons for many events of our time cannot be understood by reason and logic, because what we are engaged in is “spiritual” warfare.  And spiritual warfare requires spiritual/Biblical solutions and responses.  Read Ephesians 6 in the New Testament.
  • We live in an unprecedented time of lying, deception and self-serving by those who are in positions of authority and control.
  • The domestic and global condition of negativity, confusion, evil, delusion cannot continue without serious implications and the creation of a world of great repression, suffering and loss of freedom. For those of our population who have been programmed and indoctrinated and unfortunately are delusional, no degree of reason, common sense, facts or intelligence will change their worldview and perception of current events.
  • We have entered a time of great transition. This is my assessment and that of many diverse spiritual, religious, Native American, intuitives, prophets, interpreters of ancient prophesy and others – and I as they, believe good will triumph over evil, however we must first go through a very difficult and challenging period of incomprehensible trials, adversity and tribulation.  The length of this transition is to be determined – keep tuned in.  I do not believe what is referred to as “The Rapture” will occur at this point in history – it’s for the future.
  • We have the choice to find meaning and purpose, positively contribute and encourage others during these times by adopting an attitude of faith, hope and love in the midst of darkness and uncertainty.

From Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl was a doctor, teacher and philosopher who lost his entire family, and was the survivor of four Nazi concentration camps.

Will to Meaning: Our inherent capacity to continually search for meaning under all circumstances.

Self-Transcendence and the Will to Meaning: I can see beyond the misery of the situation to the potential for discovering a meaning behind it, and thus turn an apparently meaningless suffering into a genuine human achievement. I am convinced that, in the final analysis, there is no situation that does not contain within it the seed of a meaning.

God-Reliance

God is our refuge and strength,

A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,

Even though the earth be removed,

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though its waters roar and be troubled,

Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

Psalm 46:1-3 NKJV

 

God-Is-My-Reliance-on-the-Path-of-Tribulation-Almighty-God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essentials for Bug-Out Bags and Vehicles

By Denis Korn                                                                                                                                                 

To properly assemble an effective bug-out or grab-and-go bag you must basically determine one or all of three possible destinations you are headed towards by foot, bicycle, vehicle or horse:  (1) THE WOODS OR OUTDOORS (2) A SHELTER, HOTEL OR STRUCTURE (3) A RESIDENCE.

Disasters and emergencies can occur at any time – at home, work, vacation, at play or while in a vehicle.  This article, Essentials for Bug-Out Bags and Vehicles, offers my suggestions on creating an effective emergency kit/grab-and-go bag and it also lists items necessary for a vehicle preparedness kit.

When assembling your emergency kit/grab-and-go bag these 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?
  • What are the special needs – medical, dietary, emotional or otherwise – of those dependent on the supplies provided?
  • 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/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 basic 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/filters/purifiers/tablets/containers
  2. Food – ready-to-eat/bars/trail mix/freeze dried/shelf stable/food preparation equipment
  3. Medical – quality 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/cable ties/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 – fire starter/lighter/matches/tinder/flint starter/magnifying glass
  8. Signaling & Orienting – whistle/signal mirror/compass/maps/GPS device
  9. Lighting – Hand crank – solar – battery/headlamp/flashlight/lantern/candles/light-sticks
  10. Power & Energy – batteries – regular and rechargeable/power-pack for batteries & cell phone recharged by solar and/or hand crank/solar and/or hand crank that charges devices directly
  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/ties
  15. Personal Security – weapon & ammo if appropriate/pepper spray/bear repellant/mace or other options
  16. Appropriate Clothing and Footwear – protection from the elements/apparel for warmth/heat packs – hand and body warmers
  17. Identification and Essential Documents – Bible/compact survival handbook/personal ID/insurance and other key documents/entertainment items
  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. Carrying Device – carry bag/backpack/suitcase/sturdy container/Food & Supply Brick™/duffel Bag (very durable and if you anticipate carrying your bag any distance shoulder straps should be available with your carry bag or duffel)

If time permits, take irreplaceable items such as heirlooms, heirloom jewelry, photographs, military/marriage/birth/deed records, computers, tablets, and personal contact information and documents not included in your grab-and-go device.

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

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.  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 – ESPECIALLY IN WINTER – WHEN THEY ARE DRIVING!

  • 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
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • 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
  • Material to gain traction if stuck in snow or ice – cat liter/sand/wood shavings/old rug

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
  • 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.

 

 

Vital Preparedness Planning Questions

By Denis Korn                                                                            why

If you have read many of the articles I have posted on this site, you will know that I am a fan of Socrates and his method of teaching and dialog, where utilizing and formulating effective questions guide a student through the process of discovery, embodiment and hopefully action.  Here are a series of questions – some taken from previous articles – and some that are new for this post.  They represent a wide spectrum of questions that will help those who honestly and earnestly respond and reflect on the answers determine their position in the emergency preparedness process.

I encourage those reading these vital preparedness planning questions to use them for personal reflection, family planning, business resiliency, small group discussion, lecturing and sharing with serious preparedness planners.

To be answered individually or in a discussion group and for grabbing attention and stimulating interest – for yourself and others.

  • What is the #1 question to answer before you start the preparedness process?
  • What are the 3 most important questions you must answer before you start emergency preparedness planning?
  • The most important factor in surviving a disaster is …
  • What are the 10 essential provisions to always have on hand during an emergency?
  • The first 3 things to do when an emergency occurs (is announced) are …
  • What are the 3 absolutely critical factors that will determine how and if you will survive a disaster?
  • What are the 3 absolutely critical factors that you should know about to effectively function during a disaster?
  • What are 5 things to tell your children during a disaster?
  • The 5 most important foods to have on hand during an emergency are …- The 10…?
  • What are the top 5 reasons you should prepare for emergencies?
  • What 10 things must your family know if you are away from home during an emergency?
  • What are the 10 most important questions to answer when developing or improving an emergency preparedness plan?
  • 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? – Where will you go for reliable information during a serious emergency?
  • Do you possess the critical thinking skills, common sense, reasoning competency and discernment aptitude to effectively research and evaluate the information presented to you, and those presenting it? –   How necessary are these skills?
  • Do you have a Biblical or religious perspective relating to current events and your responsibility if an emergency occurs?
  • 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?
  • Are you willing to prepare a list of triggering events that would finally motivate you into action? – What triggering event must occur to motivate you to take preparedness seriously?
  • 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 current level of security and preparedness?
  • 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 – a deserted area – 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?
  • 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?
  • What are the potential emergency scenarios for 2015 and beyond?
  • From 1 to 10 – 10 being the highest – What is your belief that a major disaster requiring an effective preparedness plan – either man-made or an Act of God, will occur this year? – 2 years? – 5 years?
  • What are the most impacting government actions that could occur that will require reliance on emergency preparedness provisions?

socrates2

10 Foundational Elements of Emergency Preparedness Planning

By Denis Korn

These 10 Foundational Elements of Emergency Preparedness Planning – AND RESILIENCY – and the suggested links are in my opinion an essential component to beginning, improving and solidifying an effective, successful and beneficial preparedness and disaster survival plan.  You are encouraged to conscientiously evaluate and embrace the information given and the guidance provided by the questions contained in the linked articles.

The wise and foolish builders

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like the foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

MATT 7:24 – 27 (NIV)                                                                                                                                 

1 – Attitude

The importance of a proper and confident attitude is essential and key to not only planning for an emergency, but also surviving an emergency.  The right attitude is the cornerstone and foundation of the preparedness process.  The 3 aspects of an appropriate attitude include: the pragmatic and realistic; the emotions and thoughts: the religious and spiritual.

An appropriate attitude is essential not only to survival, but also to effective functioning during a serious emergency. Your emotional and spiritual viewpoint are the sustaining components of enduring any emergency circumstance. The longer the emergency the greater degree of stress and anxiety, which will affect your health and well-being.

How serious are you?  Do you believe it is essential for you and your family to incorporate the proper emotional and spiritual attitude in your preparedness planning?  Who do you ultimately rely on for comfort, strength and hope? Where is your faith?

Without a thoughtful, reasoned, sincere and discerning attitude regarding potential emergencies with potentially devastating circumstances, conditions and outcomes, or the possible detrimental effects on family, friends, groups and community – this article or any presentation or investigation into preparedness planning and resiliency is an exercise in futility.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

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

“Frankl’s wisdom here is worth emphasizing: it is a question of the attitude one takes toward life’s challenges and opportunities, both large and small.  A positive attitude enables a person to endure suffering and disappointment as well as enhance enjoyment and satisfaction.  A negative attitude intensifies pain and deepens disappointments…”     William Winslade in the Afterword to Man’s Search for Meaning (2006 printing)

READ: Your Attitude is Your Decision – Own it!

2 – Critical Thinking and Discernment

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 are essential in creating and maintaining genuine, honest, and nurturing relationships and making effective and appropriate decisions.

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.

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.

READ: Barriers to Critical Thinking

3 – Overcoming the Normalcy Bias – The attachment to inaction

The normalcy bias refers to a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects.  Denial is the operative state of mind. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of the government to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made by many in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred to them then it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

The normalcy bias often results in unnecessary deaths in disaster situations. The lack of preparation for disasters often leads to inadequate shelter, supplies, and evacuation plans. Even when all these things are in place, individuals with a normalcy bias often refuse to leave their homes. The normalcy bias also causes people to drastically underestimate the effects of the disaster. Therefore, they think that everything will be all right, while information from the radio, television, or neighbors gives them reason to believe there is a risk. This creates a cognitive dissonance that they then must work to eliminate. Some manage to eliminate it by refusing to believe new warnings coming in and refusing to evacuate (maintaining the normalcy bias), while others eliminate the dissonance by escaping the perceived danger.

READ: Normalcy Bias – Why People are Attached to Inaction

4 – Scenarios

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? The grid is essential to most homes and businesses – if it is down, how long could you function? What would society look like without the grid, and a prolonged cessation of the availability of vital goods and services? Do you have back up power?

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.

READ: Beginning and Improving Preparedness Planning

The #1 Preparedness Question – What’s Your Scenario? (Why?)

5 – Knowledge and Skills

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?

How about the knowledge of family or friends?  What informational resources and references – books and other tangible items – do you personally have or have access to?  How confident are you that you have the necessary knowledge and skills to be responsible and effective for yourself and family during an emergency?

The realization that you have the appropriate knowledge and have adequately prepared for unforeseen emergencies is an essential factor in discovering and embodying peace of mind.

READ: The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning

6 – Preparation and Action

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 unexpected 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.

READ: Beginning and Improving Preparedness Planning

7 – Supplies

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 being 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 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?  What is the probable availability of essential goods and services where you are going for your adventure or during your anticipated emergency?

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.  Don’t forget the special needs – medical, food or otherwise – of you or your family.

Do you have a list of essential 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?

During an emergency what facilities, stores, resources, supplies, and assistance is available in your area apart from family and friends?

This includes not only information and education, but also essentials such as food, water, shelter, energy, communication, and medical supplies.  What utilities in your area are vulnerable to disruption or elimination?  What will you do to compensate for the loss of electricity, water, gas, or phone service?

READ: Checklist of Essentials for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness

The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning

8 – Considering Others

Many conscientious preparedness planners are realizing that individuals, groups and churches should provide for the most vulnerable and those in need, especially in time of emergency.  They feel it is the groups’, churches’ or an individual’s responsibility to take a leadership role in promoting contingency planning education and action for its members or others.  There is ample historical precedent for this perspective.

As far as churches are concerned, some 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.

Family and neighbors often do not take responsibility to provide for themselves during emergencies.  Considering others while one engages in the preparedness process is a very personal and important factor to consider.  Whether it is provisions, education or a desire to teach and motivate, all planners need to contemplate whether or not they will address the essential needs of others.

READ: Why Are So Many Christians Being Called to Prepare?

9 – Communication

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? Satellite phone? Short wave radios? Citizens band radios? Emergency radios and/or ham radios with two-way communication capability? During a serious emergency accurate information and updates are essential for survival. What if an EMP (electro-magnetic-pulse) from a solar flare or nuclear device renders all unprotected electronics useless? How will this affect the equipment you are relying upon?

READ: The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning

10 – Networking

Are you dependent upon someone or something else to get you through and supply your needs during the emergency scenarios you presume will occur?

Are your neighbors or friends stocking up on enough supplies for you also?  Do you honestly believe some level of government will be there to assist and resolve the situation?  Do you have a community support network available?  What skills and knowledge do you possess that you can contribute?

During a serious and/or prolonged emergency it will be vital to have available to you and your family the support and expertise of others in your neighborhood and community.  Everyone has a skill that they can share during challenging times.  The sooner you discover those who are compassionate and sympathetic enough to network with others, the better it will be if an emergency occurs.

READ: The 12 Crucial Questions of Preparedness Planning

Shelf Life Considerations for Preparedness Foods

black bartBy Denis Korn           60102_Forever Young Mac & Cheese_MD_RGB

When I consult with preparedness planners about the various food options for long term storage, the foremost question is, “What is the shelf life?”  Shelf life considerations for preparedness foods is an essential factor in effective preparedness and survival provisioning.

HISTORY

When I began in the natural foods/outdoor recreation/preparedness industry in the mid 70’s, shelf life concerns of dried food products was confined to the military, backpackers and the few folks who were preparing for the unforeseen and the impending tribulations.  For the average person, who needs foods that will be palatable 10 – 20 – 30 years in the future?  Packaging for longer shelf life dried foods was limited 40 years ago, and there were few companies at that time in the industry.  Pouch foods for backpackers and campers had at best a few years shelf life.  The companies that packed in #10 cans usually didn’t do anything effectively to ensure long shelf, which meant reducing residual oxygen levels.  It was hit and miss depending on the specific food that was being canned.  There were two exceptions that I knew of at the time – Arrowhead Mills in Texas and Oregon Freeze Dry in Oregon.  Both companies would have the cans in a vacuum chamber and introduce nitrogen to displace oxygen.  This is what my company at that time – AlpineAire Foods – did in the late 80’s with our can products called Gourmet Reserves.

In about 1990/91 things changed dramatically for effective shelf live packaging.  I was introduced to Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America and their Ageless Oxygen Absorber.  We had our cans and pouches tested by them and the results were extraordinary.  Where military specs required a 2% residual oxygen level, the Ageless Absorber could reduce the levels to 0.1% or less!  This significantly increased shelf life by reducing oxidation of foods.  I was the first person in the industry to embrace this technology, and my company immediately began using these absorbers in our cans and pouches – and the rest is history.  Currently it is an industry standard to use oxygen absorbers in foil pouches and #10 cans of dried foods.  Companies that are still only using nitrogen flushing to reduce residual oxygen are utilizing an ineffective method and outdated technology.

WHY OXYGEN FREE?

Basically there are 2 reasons for wanting to store food in an oxygen free environment – (1) eliminate the possibility for infestation and spoilage from insects and microorganisms, and (2) 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.  Freezing a product – grains, beans, cereals, etc. – will not kill all microscopic eggs.

While oxidation has a distinct effect on most foods, there are some dried foods that are not as susceptible.  Whole grains and beans being the most obvious, however there are some dried vegetables and processed cereals that seem to have an inherent long shelf life.  That is why when opening containers of very old dried foods, some are spoiled and others may still be edible.  It is still recommended that all long term storage foods be packed in a very low residual oxygen atmosphere.

BOGUS CLAIMS

I need to once again alert all those reading this article to be discerning, cautious and on your guard when buying so-called long term pouched emergency foods!  I have written extensively about the deception and misinformation being delivered by businesses that call themselves emergency and/or survival food companies.  I have over 40 years in the natural foods, emergency preparedness and outdoor recreation industries – I know deceitfulness when I see it.

The #1 red flag that indicates a deceptive claim and is used by the newer and untrustworthy companies is the fabricated 20 – 25 – 30 year shelf life claim of pouched foods in plastic buckets.  None of the reputable, long established companies of dried food products packed in foil pouches make these outrageous shelf life claims.  It is interesting that some of these companies are now adding in small print the term “up to” on their packing and literature.  I suppose if you stored your foods in Arctic conditions it might last that long, however most people do not store foods for 20-25-30 years in ideal conditions, and when you evaluate the packaging material and process, they are also less than adequate or ideal for these very extended shelf life claims.  Also keep in mind that these companies are so new that there is NO anecdotal evidence of their misleading claims.

MATERIALS

The material in which a dried food product is packed is essential in insuring an optimal shelf life.

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 1 to 3+ years.
  • Can be used in conjunction with foil pouches for convenience of storage.
  • You can use multiple foil pouches stored in the bucket for convenience of use.
  • 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 to 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 if left unattended for extended periods.
  • Not recommended for long term storage (3+ years) of directly packed oxidation susceptible foods, although should be OK for whole grains and beans.

Pouches – There are literally hundreds 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 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 beneficial gas and moisture barrier – that is foil without microscopic 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 water 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.
  • Metal containers may be difficult to obtain.
  • Sealing equipment can be costly
  • Some non enameled 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 water 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.

ABOUT GAS TRANSMISSION RATES FOR POUCHES

A gas transmission rate is the rate that atmospheric gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and water vapor will penetrate a pouch.  Most pouches referred to as “mylar” have three layers known as PAL pouches.  Plastic – usually a type of polyester film known as mylar® – Aluminum – a foil layer that should be at least .35 mil – Laminate – polyethylene the material that seals the the pouch.  All “mylar” pouches have transmission rates depending on the thickness and composition of the layers, and there are hundreds of different pouch sizes and compositions.

Basically a transmission rate is designated as the volume of gas (or weight in grams of water vapor) in cubic centimeters per a given area transmitted in a period of time.  When looking at a typical good quality “mylar” pouch spec the O2 transmission rate is: 0.0006/cc/100 sq. in. in 24 hours.  This means that 6 ten thousand’s of a cubic centimeter will transmit through a single side of a 10″ x 10″ pouch in one day.  This is pouch material in an ideal condition and not the seams.  While the transmission rates are slow in a quality pouch, over time the residual oxygen levels increase.  Rough handling, poor seam sealing, puncturing from foods within and the side seams themselves can also cause additional “pin-holing” and leakage that will effect transmission rates.

Try this experiment yourself at home:  Take an empty “mylar” pouch that is new or one from the pouched foods you are storing – have a small and powerful flashlight and insert it into the pouch – move it around the inner surface and seams.  You will see light coming through at the seams, and depending on the thickness of the foil and pin-holing, you will see dots of light.  These are the visible (there are still invisible and microscopic) areas in which gas transmission will occur.

The reason I have included this section in this article is to give some basis to appropriate shelf life claims.  If shelf life is equated with very low residual oxygen levels – (and hopefully proper storage conditions) – then claims of a very long shelf life of pouched dried food products is compromised by ever increasing levels of oxygen over time within the pouch itself.  Beware of long shelf life claims of pouched foods.

STORAGE CONDITIONS

There are six conditions (plus Time) 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.

 

Reflections, Goals and Encouragement for 2015

By Denis Korn

The year of 2015 will be an important year for me in initiating and fulfilling goals and projects that I believe will be crucial given the current state of cultural, economic and political decay prevalent in contemporary society.  This post will offer reflections, plans and end with an updated encouragement I post when I feel it will be of value.  To help you gain some perspective on my background as I comment on the things I observe, I begin with a little history.

A little history

January 2015 is a landmark year for me.  40 years ago I launched my retail Natural Foods store selling “natural whole foods” in bulk that included, among other unique food items, numerous basic commodities, in- house stone ground flours, herbs, my own recipes of just-add-water dried food meals and food reserves in #10 (7/8 gal) cans.  This was the inauguration of what was to become my life calling – which I continue today under the auspices of PrepareDirect – our product website, and Learn To Prepare – my information only blog.  In 1979 this humble beginning was to transform and become AlpineAire Foods, a major player and manufacturing innovator in the outdoor recreation and long term food reserves industry.

5 years ago in January of 2010 I began Learn To Prepare.  My intention was to share my many years experience and insights as a retailer, innovative developer and manufacturer with those serious people needing help beginning and improving their preparedness experience.  The blog is an evolving endeavor to focus on preparedness fundamentals with an emphasis on food related issues.  I have been fortunate is the past 40 years to have not only have created many different preparedness products, but also to have read thousands of articles, talked to hundreds of industry professionals, made hundreds of presentations and studied a variety of related materials.  Learn To Prepare is also unique in that I incorporate my graduate studies and college teaching experience in Philosophy into my articles to provide what I believe to be a critical perspective on a proper preparedness attitude in conjunction with action.

Key Concerns Enveloping the Current Preparedness and Survivalist Environment and Mindset

From the time I began providing preparedness products until very recently – ten years or so – the majority of interest was – to use a general term – family preparedness.  Average folks concerned for themselves and family with the issues of the day, and with relatively easy to comprehend options and priorities.  There has always been a survivalist element to disaster preparedness, however not to the extent we see today.  Why? And what are some of the factors that have created a noticeable polarizing preparedness marketplace and atmosphere?  Is this polarization motivating or discouraging our friends and family to be prepared for the fulfillment of numerous potential and impactful scenarios?

When I refer to a “survivalist” here is the meaning for me from Merriam – Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary:

survivalist: a person who advocates or practices survivalism; esp : one who has prepared to survive in the anarchy of an anticipated breakdown of society.

survivalism: an attitude, policy, or practice based on the primacy of survival as a value.

It can be said that everyone is a survivalist because we all want to survive – it is an innate instinct.  This is not however how the concept is applied in today’s media.  The emphasis is on the second part of the definition – one who has prepared to survive in the anarchy of an anticipated breakdown of society.  Here is the root of the polarization.  This emphasis and fixation on the breakdown of our society with all its negative implications, has created a type of revulsion and resistance to properly evaluate and access the whole idea of emergency preparedness and survival during catastrophes and disasters – natural or man-made.  Many of us can not be inundated with nonstop doom and gloom and preached to by those absolutely convinced that the world as we know it will be destroyed, and not finally say enough already.  Add to the constant barrage of end of days hysteria, all the suggestions and appeals to action that any normal person would find extreme, infeasible or impossible.

I want to be clear – I am not a psychic nor privy to underground information. I have however read and listened to thousands of opinions and judgments on our current state of affairs.  And yes, many of the difficult scenarios presented – natural and man-made – will probably come to pass, and yes, we need to be prepared, and yes, we are in for some challenging times, and yes, there are differing perceptions on potential scenarios.  So what are some of the issues and problems surrounding the survivalist, prepper and disaster planner?

  • Those who are exploiting the concerns of the times with fear, greed and conspicuous deception!
  • So many deceitful and ignorant businesses and spokespersons are making it difficult for legitimate companies to succeed.
  • An inability for many – including professionals and consumers – to discern the truth from the deceptive hype.  So much information being put forward by so-called industry authorities is simply incorrect.
  • Educating and empowering consumers to have trust and confidence in their sources for reliable information is not taken seriously by so many ill-informed and inexperienced instant preparedness experts.
  • A lack of critical thinking and communication skills from survivalist spokespersons.
  • A lack of trustworthy leadership.
  • A self-serving and corrupt media that promotes survivalist programming for profit that creates fear, confusion and anxiety.
  • The internet – that has been both a blessing and curse.  There is so much preparedness/survivalist information that is unreliable and inaccurate – and valuable and dependable – that many a sincere truth seeking individual finds it difficult or impossible to discern truth from fiction.
  • The problem once again is manipulation through fear.

The questions I ask those with the survivalist mindset – or anyone for that mater:

  • There are real and significant challenges ahead – Is there a more effective and empowering way to communicate preparedness and survival concerns to everyone without fixating on the fear and greed factor?
  • Have you realistically and critically evaluated the advice being given by so many for actions to take during a serious emergency?
  • Are you aware that the methods being utilized by numerous advertisers, talk show hosts, blog writers and others to stimulate action focuses on mindless reaction rather than critical evaluation?

I want to acknowledge the many sincerely conscientious and committed individuals, businesses and news sources who are devoted to providing truthful information and reliable products.  I especially want to give my appreciation to committed Christian experts who realize the big preparedness picture and offer prayer with their encouragement and advice.  I encourage all readers of this article to seek and discover these faithful individuals, organizations and companies.  I have written other articles available at Learn To Prepare – see the lists on the right column – that focus on the appropriate questions to ask yourself and others that will help in the preparedness planning process.

What’s Coming From Learn To Prepare

I feel personally called to spend more time this year focusing on education and information sharing.  I receive numerous calls from people who want trustworthy advice and guidance.  I hope to create a series of videos on specific topics that will be a visual help in the planning process.  I will also be updating and adding to my Foundational Articles list, Personal Favorites list and Recommended Books list.  These articles truly form the foundation of information available at Learn To Prepare.  It has not been my desire to add numerous posts every month – one maybe two at most.

You will also notice a deepening emphasis on the spiritual and emotional attitudes and perspectives required regarding preparedness and survival.  For me the proper attitude and one’s spiritual/religious faith is essential, and forms the foundation for any effective and successful preparedness program.  Given the issues covered above regarding fear, and the emphasis on the accumulation of stuff and information (nothing wrong with stuff and information – if coupled with proper attitude and spiritual faith), I find a lack of encouragement that focuses on the most important aspects of the preparedness process – the aspects that provide true Peace of Mind.

 

 

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.  2015 will be a year of significant challenges – may you be encouraged to endure with sustaining hope!

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 degenerating 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: not to give up on loved ones who are in denial of the truth of the times and ridicule you for your faith and commitment to being prepared for the unforeseen.
  • Be encouraged: to embody the right attitude that will carry you through all the trials and tribulations of your life.
  • 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

Unique Gift Ideas From PrepareDirect

By Denis Korn

During these uncertain times giving the gift of Peace of Mind this holiday season – or any time – is a noble action.  Here are suggestions from our product site PrepareDirect for your consideration.

All of these recommendations and unique gift ideas are personal favorites and are highly endorsed.

SURVIVAL CUBE – A PrepareDirect exclusive   CLICK HERE  Survival Cube

This collection of vital supplies for emergency and survival preparedness provides a valuable foundation for the necessities required during any emergency. Being properly prepared for the unforeseen delivers real peace of mind. Prepare your kits and provisions for the security and well-being required for you and your family during an emergency.  The contents of this assortment have proven reliability in the field, and are provided by established and trustworthy manufacturers.

All American Sun Oven Prepared Family Christmas Combo
w/Dehydrating & Preparedness Accessory Package and Cloudy Day Cube Stove Kit
  CLICK HERE christmas2014promo2

The new All American SUN OVEN® w/Dehydrating & Preparedness Accessory Package has retained the best qualities of the original Global Sun Oven and added many more user friendly features to create America’s most efficient hassle free solar appliance. Everything you need for cooking, dehydrating, roasting and water purification!  Includes:

  • The All American Sun Oven® Solar Cooker
  • Cloudy Day Cube Stove w/2 Fuel Disks (multi-fuel options)
  • Multi-Level Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set (set of 3 racks w/1 roll parchment paper)
  • Two Easy Stack Pots w/interchangeable enamel and glass lids
  • Two Loaf Pans
  • Multi-Fuel Water Pasteurizing Indicator (WAPI)
  • A totally new computer CD with over 600 SUN OVEN®recipes, solar cooking tips, FAQs, operating instructions, and a video series on how to best use a SUN OVEN® and emergency preparedness tips
  • Includes shipping to the continental US

 

Survival Still Non-Electric Portable Water Distiller Plus Top & Bottom Pot   CLICK HERE steelspout

The Survival Still never needs filters. It’s designed and made in the USA with heavy duty stainless steel and it has no moving parts to break down, which means that if you take care of it, it should last you a very long time. It’s small and compact and is designed to be used in conjunction with standard size pots that you have in your home. The Survival Still is the ultimate emergency drinking water system available today.  This package comes with: A stainless steel Dutch Oven bottom 5 quart pot AND glass lid; A stainless steel 12 quart top Stock Pot AND a stainless steel lid.  Permanently supplies high-purity, sterile drinking water.
• Extremely effective against all types of contaminants.
• Kills and removes bacteria, viruses and parasites.
• Is a permanent solution for purifying sea water.
• Does not need filters, maintenance, infrastructure or a supply chain.
• Distillation is recommended by FEMA and the Red Cross!

FoodBrick Food & Supplies 3.5 Gallon Container   CLICK HERE FoodBrick_10_Pack_9_23_2014_2

FoodBrick Stackable Green Food Storage Container: 3.5 Gallons container holds up to 27 Pounds (264 Adult Servings) of Dry Foods. Made of rugged, high density polyethylene (HDPE). These unique food containers, unlike any other, can hold food and other life essentials while adding value by cross stacking up to 4 feet for maximum efficient storage.  Emergency food shortage is often contained in bulky and awkward storage devices, not ideal for emergency situations.  You need to be able to access your survival food storage quickly, and you need to be able to take it with you if the need arises to move to a safer location. It also must keep your food supply clean; you don’t want the safety of your food compromised. For those looking for an ideal emergency food storage solution, the FoodBrick line of storage containers that are easy to transport and safely store your emergency food supply for years.

C. Crane Observer Wind-up Radio with Solar Panel   CLICK HERE  cc-solar-observer

The Observer is a simple, affordable and compact radio with enhanced reception and audio performance. For emergency use it can be powered in four different ways and can charge many different USB type devices such as cell phones.  The CC Solar Observer is a C. Crane-designed, wind-up and solar emergency radio with AM/FM and Weather Band. They made sure that it has good AM reception and an LED flashlight that is built into the end of the radio. In case you’re wondering, along with good AM reception, you also get FM and the Weather band — which comes in really handy if you’re using the radio during a power failure. The CC Observer has a built-in 2-inch speaker, or you can plug in your headphones for private listening.

Use coupon code FREESHIP at checkout for free shipping

Berkey “Go Berkey Kit” – Gravity Water Purifier – Sport Purifier Bottle – Carrying Case   CLICK HERE                                  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The all new Go Berkey® Kit is the designed for backpacking, hiking, camping, college students, emergency preparedness, world travel (business or vacation), on your desk at work or hundreds of other activities. The generic Sport Berkey® portable water purifier bottle is perfect for when you are out on the trail and the Go Berkey® system works great for passive purification back at the campsite, lodge, etc. The Generic Sport Berkey® portable water purifier bottle can also be used to prime the Black Berkey® Purification Element when water pressure isn’t available. Constructed of highly polished AISI 304 stainless steel the Go Berkey® Kit comes complete with one Black Berkey® Purification Element, one Sport Berkey® portable water purifier bottle and a vinyl carry case This system has a storage capacity of about 1 quart (.95 liters) and when in use it stands 14” in height with a diameter of 4”. The upper chamber nests within the lower chamber for transport and stands only 10” in height. Weighing a mere 2.4 pounds the Go Berkey® Kit is lightweight, easily transportable and perfect for active people on the go.

Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight    CLICK HERE torch250

The most reliable emergency LED light for any situation.  Boasting a powerful, 4,400mAh lithium battery, 250 total lumen output, a 1.5A USB port to charge your gear, as well as a built-in solar panel and hand crank, this multi-function flashlight is the only piece of gear you’ll need in an emergency. Red light for emergencies, and USB port to charge your phone.  There are 3 ways to charge the Torch 250 Flashlight:

The Sun
The Torch 250 Flashlight can be charged by the solar panel located on the back of the light. Or by connecting a compatible solar panel such as the Nomad 7 in about 7-14 hours.

USB
The Torch 250 Flashlight can also be charged by being plugged into a USB power source in about 7 hours.

Hand Crank
The Torch 250 Flashlight can be charged using the hand crank. 1 minute of cranking can generate about 2 minutes of light.

Use coupon code FREESHIP at checkout for free shipping

Goal Zero Lighthouse 250 Lantern   CLICK HERE  lighthouse-250standing

Light up any situation with 250 lumens of bright LED light, or use the dimmable, DuaLite™ Directional Lighting feature to extend runtime. Recharge from USB, external solar panel or the included hand crank. The Lighthouse 250 includes a built-in USB port to power small handheld devices to keep you connected to the ones who matter most. The Lighthouse 250 Lantern & USB Power Hub is the only lantern you will need.

Use coupon code FREESHIP at checkout for free shipping

LifeStraw Family 1.0 Water Filter and Purifier   CLICK HERE  lifestrawfamily-web-optimized

LifeStraw Family, the award-winning and internationally recognized water filter & purifier, is now available in North America. LifeStraw Family is a point-of-use microbiological water purifier capable of removing viruses, bacteria and protozoa (parasites) to protect against waterborne diseases. It filters up to 18,000 liters of water, enough to supply clean drinking water for a family of five for up to three years.
LifeStraw Family is a large volume water purifier providing up to 4750 gallons or 18000 liters of water, enough to supply a family of five with clean drinking water for up to three years. It’s useful to have at home to purify contaminated tap water in the event of boil water advisories or emergency situations. In a worst-case scenario, you can rely on the LifeStraw Family to purify water from any freshwater source near your home.

Use coupon code FREESHIP at checkout for free shipping

GoSun Sport ProPack – Solar Stove & Accessories   CLICK HERE  propack

GoSun Sport solar cooker is the world’s most practical and efficient solar oven on the market today. GoSun’s parabolic, tubular design works effectively in retaining 80-90% of all sunlight that is caught in its footprint. Cook a meal in less than 20 minutes, using no fuel – only sun.
The GoSun Sport Pro Pack includes everything you get with the GoSun Sport and more! Package includes one GoSun Sport solar cooker (includes cooking tray and cleaning scrubby), plus Padded Carrying Case, an extra Cooking Tray and Serving Spoon/Fork.  The standard package includes a durable borosilicate, evacuated glass tube cooking chamber, two foldable parabolic reflectors that protect the tube like a clamshell, a stainless steel cooking tray with handle for getting food in and out, a rugged cleaning scrubby (attaches to the end of the tray, to double as cleaning tool), and a carrying handle that unfolds to become a set of support legs, which can be used to adjust the tube to face the sun in any position along two axis’.

Goal Zero Lighting Bundle w/Nomad 7 Solar Panel  CLICK HERE   torch250nomad7-new           lighthouse-250standing                                   

A very useful and dependable combination of Goal Zero’s newest hand cranked lights the Torch 250, Lighthouse 250 and a foldable Nomad 7 Solar Panel. 

Get the most reliable emergency LED light for any situation with the Torch 250 Flashlight. Built-in USB charging cable, solar panel and hand crank for bright light anywhere. Red light for emergencies, and USB port to charge your phone.  Boasting a powerful, 4,400mAh lithium battery, 250 total lumen output, a 1.5A USB port to charge your gear, as well as a built-in solar panel and hand crank, this multi-function flashlight is the only piece of gear you’ll need in an emergency.

Light up any situation with 250 lumens of bright LED light, or use the dimmable, DuaLite Directional Lighting feature to extend runtime. Recharge from USB, external solar panel or the included hand crank. The Lighthouse 250 includes a built-in USB port to power small handheld devices to keep you connected to the ones who matter most. The Lighthouse 250 Lantern & USB Power Hub is the only lantern you will need.

The Nomad 7 delivers an ultra-compact yet powerful solar panel that enables you to charge your handheld devices directly from its USB and 12 Volt DC charging ports.

Sampler Pack – AlpineAire Foods Mixed Entrees Case of 12  CLICK HERE       sampler12

An exclusive PrepareDirect offering of a select sampler pack of 12 delicious AlpineAire Foods in convenient foil pouches. Use this selection for sampling some of the nutritious products included in the canned longer term food systems, and/or for discovering the great taste of popular AlpineAire delights.

Use coupon code FREESHIP at checkout for free shipping

  1. Forever Young Mac & Cheese, 7 oz
  2. Leonardo da Fettuccine, 5.5 oz
  3. Mountain Chili, 6 oz
  4. Sante Fe Black Beans & Rice (2), 6.5 oz
  5. Black Bart Chili w/ Beans, 6 oz
  6. Creamy Beef & Noodles w/Mushrooms, 5.5 oz
  7. Southwestern Style Masa w/Beef, 6 oz
  8. Chicken Gumbo, 5.5 oz
  9. Pineapple Orange Chicken, 7 oz
  10. Mesquite BBQ Seasoned Chicken w/Beans & Rice, 7 oz
  11. Pepper Beef w/Rice, 6 oz
  12. Wild Thyme Turkey, 6 oz

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.  Celebrate Peace of Mind!

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 basic 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/filters/purifiers/tablets/containers
  2. Food – ready-to-eat/bars/trail mix/freeze dried/shelf stable/food preparation equipment
  3. Medical – quality 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/cable ties/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 – fire starter/lighter/matches/tinder/flint starter/magnifying glass
  8. Signaling & Orienting – whistle/signal mirror/compass/maps/GPS device
  9. Lighting – Hand crank – solar – battery/headlamp/flashlight/lantern/candles/lightsticks
  10. Power & Energy – batteries – regular and rechargeable/power-pack for batteries & cell phone recharged by solar and/or hand crank/solar and/or hand crank that charges devices directly
  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/ties
  15. Personal Security – weapon & ammo if appropriate/pepper spray/bear repellant/mace or other options
  16. Appropriate Clothing and Footwear – protection from the elements/apparel for warmth/heat packs – hand and body warmers
  17. Identification and Essential Documents – Bible/compact survival handbook/personal ID/insurance and other key documents/entertainment
  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. Carrying Device – carry bag/backpack/suitcase/sturdy container/Food & Supply Brick™/duffel Bag (very durable and if you anticipate carrying your bag any distance shoulder straps should be available with your carry bag or duffel)

If time permits, take irreplaceable items such as heirlooms, heirloom jewelry, photographs, military/marriage/birth/deed records, computers, tablets, and personal contact information and documents not included in your grab-and-go device.

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.

Determine whether or not you want to purify water for viruses.  Not all water filters are designed for this purpose – look for water purifiers that specifically state that they will kill viruses.

Food
Numerous options are available. This category must be accessed carefully and the quality and quantity of foods chosen should be appropriate to the anticipated length of time of the emergency or outing, and severity of circumstances you anticipate might occur.  For shorter term scenarios foods in most situations should be nutritious and ready-to-eat; however you might want to consider some foods requiring only the addition of cold or hot water.  If you do need hot water you must plan for the appropriate means and equipment to heat your water.  Options listed have a longer shelf life and are suitably packaged for kits or backpacks.

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.  If your pre-assembled kit doesn’t include one, make sure you get a good book on medical emergencies.

Shelter/warmth
Protection from the elements and insects is essential, especially in a harsh climate.

Tools
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.

Communication/Signaling
It is important to keep 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.  If you get lost or are separated from your group signaling can be crucial.  Since electronic items are included in this category, you may want to consider a small solar power device.

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 occur in the dark.

Personal protection
For some this may not be an essential basic category.  Each individual must decide the extent to which they will or will not provide protection for themselves and their families from physical harm by others or wild animals.

This article provides a very basic list of suggested items we believe are essential for emergency preparedness and outdoor recreation; especially if space, weight, and mobility are important.  For an expanded list of suggestions read our article: Essential Checklist for Emergency Preparedness & Outdoor Adventure Planning Including Vehicle Preparedness

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