The Survival Mom » Preparedness 101 http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Wed, 29 Jul 2015 20:15:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Living Off the Grid, (or Close to it) Urban Style http://thesurvivalmom.com/urban-living-off-grid/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/urban-living-off-grid/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 07:47:52 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23529 Admit it, you have been thinking about it. Off the grid living. Late at night, at the end of a long day, you have pictured your life off grid. Images of Little House on the Prairie come to mind. Maybe you ponder becoming a long bearded man living in the mountains, content to be a […]

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urban living off grid

Admit it, you have been thinking about it. Off the grid living.

Late at night, at the end of a long day, you have pictured your life off grid. Images of Little House on the Prairie come to mind. Maybe you ponder becoming a long bearded man living in the mountains, content to be a hermit.

You are not alone in your thoughts, as more people are choosing an off grid lifestyle. Some are able to escape the noisy concrete city and move to quiet acreage in the Midwest or another idyllic country setting. However, for many, like me, work and family obligations make that impossible, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to live as off the grid as possible.

Living off grid is defined as being self-sufficient of municipal utilities, such as water, natural gas, electricity, sewer and trash services. Choosing to live an urban off grid life is possible and does have many advantages.

One advantage is knowing that you and your family can be prepared and will be able to survive quite well when a disaster happens. Many have been able to save money on their utilities and purchases. Others have found peace and confidence in their new learned skills along their path to grid-less-ness, but do not conjure up a romanticized version of happily churning your own butter and building an outhouse. Off-grid living, whether urban, suburban, or rural, isn’t the easiest choice you’ll ever make!

Urban living off-grid

The type of home in which you are living determines, in large part, the extent to which you can go grid-free. If you are in a home with a yard, it is easier to become more self-sufficient. Apartment life can accommodate a degree of off-grid living, just in a smaller scale.

An advantage for both types of homes is that everything you normally need in the course of a day or week is close to home. Walking or biking around town provides great exercise and saves money on gas, vehicle maintenance and insurance. Bikes can be inexpensive and easy to repair. A wagon or cart can be added to the back.

Public transportation, like the bus system, can be very economical. Try the various methods of transportation your city offers and know what works best for you. Look into monthly passes, if used regularly, it may save you money. Pay attention to where you go and its location. Combine trips, shop in your local neighborhood and learn of new activities in your community for your family. Libraries, parks, swimming pools, local colleges and recreation centers offer free or low cost entertainment and activities. All of these options will allow you to not be reliant on your gasoline/diesel powered vehicles and the supply of fuel into your community. It will also help you to save money.

Being independent of all utilities may not be possible, but minimizing usage and creating your own electricity can be. Solar panels are one alternative and can be installed on various types of homes. Be aware that an entire house solar system will be tied to the grid and will be vulnerable to the effects of an EMP, should that ever occur.

Another way to save money and energy is to minimizing your electricity usage. Some easy suggestions are:

• Unplugging everything that isn’t currently being used. This will help you realize what you rely on the most and then find ways of coping without that appliance, electronic, or whatever.
• Turning off lights. Try to go for 48 hours without using any lamps or electric lights of any kind. This will help you figure out what kind of lighting you would need in a grid-down emergency.
• Throwing on an extra layer of clothing on in the winter
Hand washing clothes
• Hanging clothes on a clothes line
• Insulating your attic
• Wash dishes by hand
• Close unused air vents
• Swap regular bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs

Going off-grid with your water and food supply

We need to use water for cooking, cleaning and washing, we just need to be wise about our water usage. Whether your water comes from a well or the city, less is better. Try some of these simple methods to reduce your dependence and cost of water:

• Short showers, maybe shower at the gym. A 5-minute shower can save you up to 1,000 gallons per month.
• Have a 5 gallon bucket in the shower to hold any water that is running while you find the right temperature for your shower. Use this water for plants or flushing the toilet.
• Keep a clean dishpan in the kitchen sink. It will hold the running water you use when washing hands and rinsing veggies.
• Use this water for your garden or washing dishes
• Install water saving shower heads, faucets and toilets
• Use a rain barrel system to collect water for your garden

Begin to minimize your dependence on grocery stores by growing your own food as much as possible. Start small with just 1 vegetable and 1 herb. If the plants don’t seem to be thriving, try using more or less water, a fertilizer (consult a nursery), but be sure to make notes. Growing food to any large extent is extremely difficult and can take years to master.

Apartment balconies can hold pots for vegetables and you can build vertical growing systems. In a home, you can plant in flowerbeds, allot a spot in your yard for a garden or add containers for additional space. Learn how to vertical garden and utilize the fence and exterior walls of your home. If you do not have the space to garden, consider community gardens. The are a low cost option and give you an opportunity to know your neighbors. Another option is to arrange with a neighbor that, in exchange for the use of their backyard for your garden, you’ll give them a percentage of the harvest and cover the cost of water, fertilizer, seeds, mulch, and the like.

Choosing to become more self sufficient and rely less on the grid can be an overwhelming thought. It is a lifestyle choice, a commitment to use less, save money and prepare. Take these suggestion and implement them into your life one by one. You will find more money in your budget to stock up on food and other emergency supplies for your family as you implement urban living off-grid. Maybe this will increase your savings so you can get that acreage in your favorite rural countryside.

*Check with city and county codes before going partial or off grid.

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Food Storage Can Sizes: When to go big, when to go small http://thesurvivalmom.com/food-storage-can-sizes-when-to-go-big-when-to-go-small/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/food-storage-can-sizes-when-to-go-big-when-to-go-small/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 21:20:59 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23916 I’ll never forget the very first time I placed an order of food from a food storage company. It was with Walton Feed and, although their products are very good quality, their order form made me dizzy. A friend helped me through the order process and for many years afterward, I figured that the big […]

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food storage can sizesI’ll never forget the very first time I placed an order of food from a food storage company. It was with Walton Feed and, although their products are very good quality, their order form made me dizzy. A friend helped me through the order process and for many years afterward, I figured that the big #10 cans were the way to go. The bigger, the better, right?

My pantry is currently stocked with mostly #10 cans.  If my family’s survival depends on this food, I’ll be glad I went for the biggest containers possible.

That’s what I used to think.

Now, 7 years later, I’m rethinking that strategy. It all started when a perfectly good #10 can of freeze-dried grapes became virtually inedible due to a small level of humidity one Phoenix summer. The grapes became sticky, a little gooey, and clumped together. It was hard to eat them and I ended up throwing most of them away. That can of grapes was a #10 can, and my young kids just couldn’t eat that many freeze-dried grapes and weren’t all that crazy about them to begin with.

Food storage can sizes can be confusing

Food storage companies sell most of their freeze dried and dehydrated foods in 2 different size cans. Cans labeled #10 are the really big cans you might see at Costco or Sams Club, holding foods like nacho cheese sauce. They hold about a gallon of food each and in many, many homes are the building blocks, so to speak, of a family’s food storage. The smaller #2.5 can holds about 1/4 that amount.

In almost every case, if you are stocking up just for yourself or maybe one other person, you may want to buy more of the #2.5 cans, but that depends on the individual food. For smaller households or for people who eat smaller amounts, these cans each hold enough of any given food to last several days or weeks, and you’ll likely consume the contents before they’re negatively affected by heat, humidity, oxygen, light, or pests. They’re also easier to transport and their smaller size means they can fit into nooks and crannies — space that would otherwise be wasted. 


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Recently I reviewed the sites of a couple of food storage companies and developed a sort of checklist I’ve followed to determine which size of can is the best choice for my family. Three of the biggest companies, Thrive Life, Augason Farms, and Emergency Essentials all carry similar products. Here are my recommendations for what you should buy in a #2.5 size can or a #10 can.

My suggestions for #2.5 cans

NOTE: Virtually all baking ingredients should be purchased in smaller amounts, except for sugar and flour — if you normally use those 2 ingredients frequently.

  • Baking powder. Your can of grocery store baking powder has lasted for how many months? Don’t bother buying this in a #10 can.
  • Baking soda. If you use baking soda just for baking, this size is fine. If you use it in household cleaners or in other ways, I recommend either a #10 can size or the much bigger 5 or 13.5 pounds bags available at Costco, Sam’s Club, or on Amazon. That’s what I’ve purchased, along with a handful of #2.5 cans to use for baking.
  • Beef and chicken bouillon. Humidity can affect this in a big way and unless you’re making meals in a jar that call for bouillon, for most households, the smaller can size is best.
  • Butter powder. A little goes a long way and this product produces a flavorful spread but it can’t be melted
  • Cheese blend. This is a powder, similar to what you would find in a package of store-bought macaroni and cheese. Not everyone likes it, but it’s a handy ingredient for making cheesey things. A smaller can will last for quite a while.
  • Hot chocolate mixes. Most people just don’t go through this very quickly. A small can will do very nicely.
  • Iodized salt
  • Freeze-dried cheese, if you’re stocking up for just 2 or 3 people.
  • Freeze-dried parmesan cheese. How long has that green can of Parmesan cheese lasted in your house? Probably a very long time! Therefore, if you buy this version, plan on buying the smaller can.
  • Freeze-dried meat and chicken, if you will be preparing meals for just 1-2 people.
  • Juice mixes. I’m not a big fan of these and my family never drinks juice, but if yours does, look for varieties that offer a nice dose of Vitamin C, in particular.
  • Shortening powder, unless you make biscuits frequently
  • Specialized grains, such as millet and amaranth
  • TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) – If you choose to stock up on this, a little goes a long way. I use 1/3 cup, for example, in soups.
  • Yeast or Instant Dry Yeast. This tends to not store very well, long-term. You’re better off with smaller packages. If you very rarely need yeast, you might just want to buy an occasional jar of it at the grocery store so less is wasted if the yeast becomes too old to be effective. Always proof yeast that is more than a few months old.
  • Yogurt bites. These are very sensitive to humidity. Get the smaller cans and enjoy them while they’re crunchy. They are a great addition to homemade trail mixes.

Produce

  • Most fruits, especially if you live in a humid climate. Humidity causes the sugar in fruit to become sticky and the pieces clump together.
  • Vegetables that you don’t use very often or that only a few family members like.
  • Vegetables that are cut into very small pieces — a little will go a long way. Examples: celery, onions, peas, chopped carrots. Even a #2.5 can of dehydrated onions will last practically forever.
  • Vegetables and fruit that you really love but are very expensive in their freeze-dried or dehydrated versions. Examples: cherries, raspberries, mangoes.

NOTE: Definitely consider buying varieties of freeze-dried and dehydrated vegetables and fruit that you cannot grow yourself, for whatever reason, and/or tend to be pricey. Blackberries, raspberries, cherries are all some of my favorites, but I’ve chosen to stock up on their freeze dried versions because they usually are more expensive in the grocery stores. I’ve purchased fewer freeze dried blueberries because I live in Texas blueberry country and can easily buy them in large quantities and can them for later.

My suggestions for #10 cans

  • Bakery mixes. Some companies offer cookie, cornbread, bread, biscuit, muffin and brownie mixes. Before ordering these, take a look to see how much is required for one batch of a recipe. One sugar cookie mix recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups of the mix! Just 4 or 5 batches, and that can is ready to recycle. You’re better off stocking up on the individual ingredients to make your favorite desserts, but some people really like the convenient mixes.
  • Beans. Beans have a very long shelf life, even when the can is opened.
  • Fruit varieties that you know you’ll use frequently. Apple slices, for example, if your family loves apples and you use them in lots of recipes.
  • Freeze-dried cheese. Most recipes will call for at least 2-3 cups of rehydrated cheese (think enchiladas or a lasagna). If these are recipes you want to continue making, the larger cans will be best.
  • Grains. Virtually all grains, from wheat to pasta to oats and rice, are fine in the larger cans. If you use grains at all, they are probably a staple of your family’s diet and you’ll have no problem using up the contents in a #10 can as these foods store very well, long term.
  • Just-add-hot-water meals. You’ll most likely use a few cups of these meal mixes at a time.
  • Most freeze-dried meat and chicken. Some brands say that opened cans of their freeze-dried meats are only good for 30 days or so, while other companies estimate a few months. Honeyville says to use their freeze-dried meat within 30 days once opened and within a week if it’s not refrigerated. Thrive Life’s meat and chicken have longer shelf lives once open. If you have Honeyville meats, then smaller can sizes might be a better choice, unless you normally feed a large family and can easily use up a #10 can within 30 days.
  • Some vegetables. For the most frequently used veggies, you might want to opt for the larger can size. Do you cook a lot of meat and potatoes? Then #10 cans of potatoes in all their varieties is probably your best choice. One caveat is for those living in a very humid climate. In that case you may want to buy the smaller 2.5 size cans because humidity will affect freeze dried and dehydrated vegetables.

Is Food Storage new to you? Check out my list of food storage articles for newbies here!

As always, always, your mileage may vary! One of my prepper pet peeves is the occasional complaint by some of my readers who don’t stop to think for themselves when they read different types of survival advice: “You say to stock up on peanut butter, but we’re allergic to peanut butter.” “Why should I buy mangoes when we hate mangoes?” All food storage absolutely must be customized to your household’s preferences, allergies, food sensitivities, storage space available, finances, and even the level of motivation.

In survival and preparedness, as in every other area of life, you must make the decisions that suit your family and your circumstances best! Use my suggestions here as guidelines but do consider:

  • What will my family actually eat?
  • What ingredients do I normally use in the course of a month?
  • Are there any allergies or food sensitivities that I need to keep in mind?
  • In a worst case scenario, who else might I need to feed? (If you think there will be loved ones showing up at the door, stock up on a lot of meal stretchers. These extend just about any recipe and are calorie dense.)
  • What is my monthly budget for extra food storage?
  • Where will I store all this extra stuffNever store food in an attic, garage, outbuilding, or any place that isn’t, at the very least, well insulated. Ideally, food should be stored in the 70-75 degree range.
  • What are my priorities when it comes to food storage? Just the basics, beans, wheat, rice, and salt? Making sure my loved ones continue to enjoy the same familiar and comforting recipes no matter what happens?

When the #10 can is just too, too big

Sooner or later you’ll be faced with the dilemma of what to do with the contents of an opened #10 can when you know, full well, that you aren’t going to polish it off any time soon. The food doesn’t have to go to waste, and shouldn’t. You can easily repackage it.

Most of the foods I’ve listed here can easily be repackaged in canning jars of the size you prefer. You’ll need a selection of jars, canning lids, a vacuum sealer, and a jar sealer attachment. This is a very, very simple process, and I’ve used it to package in jars everything from salt to biscuit mix to quinoa.

You can also use the vacuum sealer and vacuum sealer bags. That’s a nice option because the individual bags can be stored in larger bins and buckets.

In this video, I demonstrate how to use a vacuum sealer and jar sealer attachment to store small amounts of food in canning jars.

 

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21 Ways to Use a DeLorme Atlas to Plan Emergency Evacuations http://thesurvivalmom.com/delorme-atlas-plan-emergency-evacuations/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/delorme-atlas-plan-emergency-evacuations/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 14:08:38 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23101 Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s  house is not a bad evacuation plan at all as long as you have a working vehicle and enough gas to reach your destination. However, not all evacuation routes are that simple, and sometimes you need a detailed map to plan primary, secondary, and even tertiary […]

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DeLorme Atlas evacuation routesOver the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s  house is not a bad evacuation plan at all as long as you have a working vehicle and enough gas to reach your destination. However, not all evacuation routes are that simple, and sometimes you need a detailed map to plan primary, secondary, and even tertiary routes in times of trouble.

Humans are creatures of habit and many of us could probably drive to work, school, the grocery store, or our favorite restaurant with our eyes closed. But in an emergency, a natural disaster, for example, could we get home or to another safe location from those places and how many different routes could we use?

The problem with any passageway, be it a dirt road, city street, or interstate highway, is that they can easily become impassable for a variety of reasons:

  • Flooding
  • Large scale traffic jams
  • Rock or mud slide
  • Multi-vehicle accident — even an accident involving a single vehicle can easily stop traffic
  • Street damage due to an earthquake
  • Riots or violent crime
  • Wildfires
  • Blizzards
  • Roadblocks — by law enforcement or other authorities or by 2-legged predators

Evacuation routes can be planned well in advance, traversed multiple times to help with familiarity, and shared with family members. It’s vital to have multiple, planned routes, marked on a map, because the odds favor one or more of those routes becoming impassable.

Those routes should head in different directions: north, south, east, and west. If you’re at home and learn of a wildfire just a couple of miles to the east and your only planned evacuation route heads in that direction, you’re in trouble! Also, the routes should be prioritized with Route A being the preferred route for familiarity, best direct route, ease of travel, access to gas stations, banks, grocery stores, etc. Route B, Route C, and so on should be marked on the map and be included on occasional practice runs, but those routes will be less preferable for any number of reasons: rough roads, a longer route, fewer amenities along the way, etc.

Use the DeLorme Atlas for evacuation route planning

One of the best resources I’ve found for this type of planning is my DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer. These very large atlases can be found in bookstores and online and there’s one atlas per state in most cases. I bought mine on Amazon.

The DeLorme maps are extremely detailed and as I browsed through mine, I came across a multitude of helpful features. Here are some from my list, along with my notes for their potential usefulness:

1. Hundreds of back roads, marked as thin, red lines, are included in the DeLorme Atlas. These little known routes might help you get from Point A to Point B, if other routes are blocked.

2. Different types of roads are marked, which is helpful in determining the type of vehicle(s) used for bugging out. Be sure to check out each route in person to determine whether or not your vehicle will be able to handle road conditions.

3. Reservoirs are clearly marked, allowing you to plan a route that takes advantage of this water source or avoid a possible flooding area.

4. Airports of all sizes are indicated. If flying away from the danger zone is an option, you can look for multiple routes to get to the airport. At smaller airports you might be able to find a pilot for hire.

5. You can easily avoid bridges as your make your plans. Bridges can be washed out or become choke points in a mass evacuation.

6. Because this particular map is so very detailed, it allows you to plan multiple routes with a pretty good idea of what you can expect to find along the way.

7. You’ll find railroads marked on the DeLorme maps. If you’re evacuating on foot, it could be handy to follow these routes, since you know they’ll lead to populated areas, and you’ll know ahead of time which areas those are so you can either avoid them or not.

8. Military sites are indicated. In a dire emergency, you could head there for help.

9. Along highways, rest areas are marked. At the very least, you’ll find water and toilets at these, but, depending on the location and circumstances, they aren’t always a safe place to stop.

10. The DeLorme maps include charts showing what types of wildlife are in the area for fishing and hunting. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be successful in your fishing and hunting endeavors, but at least you’ll know which animals to look for.

11. A very important feature are the hiking trails that are indicated. There are certainly more trails to be found, but having these already marked is a big help if you must evacuate on foot.

12. Campgrounds are also a feature of the map. If you have absolutely nowhere else to go, you can head for those. If you have a head start on the majority of evacuating people, you might find a prime spot at a well-equipped campground. Otherwise, you can head for a lesser known campground at a state park.

13. The DeLorme atlases are huge, which is a big help for seeing all the details. You can always tear out the pages you really need, laminate them, and keep them in an emergency kit. Keep the rest of the book handy, though, because you never know when you’ll need to expand your planned evacuation route further than you originally planned.

14. Canal and dam systems are marked, making it easier to find water sources.

15. Lakes, even small ones, can be found on the DeLorme maps. If you know how to fish, be sure to include basic fishing gear in your emergency kits or just always have them packed in your vehicle. Planning on drinking lake water? Be sure to have a really good water purifier/filter, such as the Sawyer Point Zero Two Water Purifier.

16. The DeLorme maps provide topographical information, so you have an idea of the elevation of your location and route. During a rainy season or hurricane, this can help you avoid areas that are likely to flood.

17. You’ll also find information about the type of terrain in different areas. At a glance, you’ll be able to locate wetlands, sandy areas, forests, and the like. All helpful to know when planning your route and where you’ll stop overnight, if necessary. If you’re planning to walk, this information can help you plan ahead for the right type of footwear, gear, and shelter, as well as some of the basic survival skills you’ll need for a particular type of terrain.

18. There is a separate DeLorme atlas for every state. If you think your route(s) may take you into neighboring states, get those atlases as well. Since they are mapped by the same company, the map markings will be consistent from state to state.

19. Where lakes and rivers are marked, you’ll also find boat ramps marked. This could be handy if evacuating by water is part of your plan. Also, where there are boat ramps there are also small businesses that sell food, water, and boating related gear.

20. State and national land is indicated on each map. If you really want to get away from it all, you could head to those areas.

21. Detailed maps such as the DeLorme atlases are great for kids learning how to use a real, paper map. Teach them how to use a map key, compass rose (N, S, E, W), and have them help you plan different routes for evacuations, vacations, or trips to Grandma’s house. Our kids are already too reliant on electronics and map reading skills could save a life someday.

DeLorme Atlas plan evacuation routes

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Volunteer Work: A Super-Smart Prepper Strategy http://thesurvivalmom.com/volunteer-work-super-smart-prepper-strategy/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/volunteer-work-super-smart-prepper-strategy/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 16:33:55 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22963 When we think of preparing for emergencies, conventional wisdom tells us to stockpile food and water, know how to shut off our home utilities, and have a family plan. I can watch videos on the Internet and read books to learn preparedness skills. I have a plan and supplies to take my pets with me […]

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learn prepper skills through volunteer workWhen we think of preparing for emergencies, conventional wisdom tells us to stockpile food and water, know how to shut off our home utilities, and have a family plan. I can watch videos on the Internet and read books to learn preparedness skills. I have a plan and supplies to take my pets with me if I have to evacuate. So is that it? Am I done?

I would argue that there is a way to take your preparedness to the next level by becoming a volunteer. You can learn prepper skills through volunteer work.

My advice on volunteering is mostly selfish as someone who has worked in the emergency response field for many years. I’m suggesting a fair exchange of your valuable personal time for knowledge, skills, and abilities that will increase your level of emergency preparedness and provide much needed help for the multitude of emergency agencies that exist. You would be surprised how much you can learn, how many like-minded people you can meet, and how your confidence can swell with focused, goal-oriented volunteer service.

In many ways, volunteers are in a better position to define their experience with their organization than if they were an employee. In many cases, the employer-employee relationship is coercive, with the money exchanged held over the employee’s head. The special status of the volunteer, sacrificing their time for no reimbursement, can open opportunities that are generally only available to paid staff.

I’ll make the case for learning prepper skills through volunteer work

I first volunteered in high school, through my school’s Key Club. I represented our school in a wheelchair-a-thon for a local charity; people pledged an amount for each lap I could complete around the ¼ mile school track. I surprised myself and others when I was able to push my wheelchair a full 5 miles that day…and I gained the perspective of the limitations of being confined to a wheelchair.

Over the years, other volunteer stints included:

  • Time as a police Explorer Scout, where I learned law enforcement culture, leading to a future job as a city cop
  • Volunteer firefighter, where I learned fire suppression and rescue skills, and gained lifelong friends
  • Disaster Medical Assistance Team member, leading to disaster deployments across the country and a chance to develop leadership skills
  • Currently a member of Team Rubicon where I just spent a weekend learning chainsaw skills and hanging out with patriots.

My investment in these opportunities was the effort spent looking for a good volunteer opportunity, my time, and attention.

Step 1: Road map to success

A first step is making an honest assessment of what you need to learn, as a prepper. Let’s say your weakness is in communications. You never even had a CB radio. Most communities have an Amateur Radio group associated with a police or fire department to provide communications support in emergencies. These groups are known by different acronyms like RACES or ARES, but all provide valuable opportunities to learn about radio communications and an inside view of their hosting agency, in exchange for a few hours of your time here and there.

If you’re going to learn prepper skills through volunteer work, you must first identify what it is you need to learn.

Want to increase your cooking skills on a shoestring budget? Volunteer for a soup kitchen. Don’t know the difference between a ball peen hammer and a cat’s paw? Habitat for Humanity will get you squared away. Building a house piece by piece will give you an extraordinary range of skills. And no outfit will teach you flexibility and give you more front-line experience with victims better than the American Red Cross. Their Disaster Action Teams help people every day in communities across the country. In addition, most communities have a “Volunteer Center” that helps steer prospective volunteers to appropriate volunteer groups that need help.

Jim Acosta

Step 2: Focus and Commit

You won’t achieve your goals and meet your needs if you approach volunteering in a half-assed manner. Volunteer-based groups go through hundreds of prospects before finding a person that can follow directions, take whatever entry-level training they require, and show up to meetings and events as expected. Believe me, once you are assessed to be a reliable volunteer that can follow rules and directions, opportunities will open up. Every group has an “old guard” that carries the institutional knowledge of the group, and if approached respectfully they love to pass on their knowledge no matter what the subject.

The training or opportunity that is your primary interest may not be immediately available. While you wait, make it a point to show up for as many events or work details as you can. Remember that volunteer organizations know that 80% of the needed work is done by 20% of their people. So be one of the 20% and they will invest in you.

Step 3: Assess your contribution vs. your gain

Volunteer as long as it meets your needs. There may come a time when you feel that it is no longer a good match for you…that’s OK! End your service to the group gracefully and move on, the need for good volunteers always exceeds the number available. On the other hand, if you have organizational or leadership skills, work your way up within a group; your opportunities to learn skills and access training will naturally increase.

Jim Acosta

Complete the Circle: Pass on your experience

This is both a suggestion and a challenge: as a volunteer, there are always new volunteers joining your group who need basic information and mentoring. If you are motivated to share information and skills with them, your skill level will increase as well. On the other hand, if that’s not your cup of tea you still need to pass the knowledge you gain as a volunteer to family and friends, increasing their knowledge, skills, and abilities. You invested the time and effort; make sure you can take advantage of what you learned in return.

learn prepper skills through volunteer work

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Conserving Resources in a Survival Situation http://thesurvivalmom.com/%ef%bb%bfconserving-survival-resources/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/%ef%bb%bfconserving-survival-resources/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 13:50:13 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22988 Whether we’re talking about being lost in the woods or recovering from a tornado that hit your neighborhood, you’ll most likely be dealing with very limited resources in those scenarios and, as a result, you need to be smart about how you use them. Conserving survival resources takes some planning and learning multiple, alternative skills. Gear, supplies, tools, […]

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conserving survival resourcesWhether we’re talking about being lost in the woods or recovering from a tornado that hit your neighborhood, you’ll most likely be dealing with very limited resources in those scenarios and, as a result, you need to be smart about how you use them. Conserving survival resources takes some planning and learning multiple, alternative skills.

Gear, supplies, tools, food, water, and even physical energy should all be conserved.

Let’s take a look at a wilderness survival situation as an example. Being a prepper, you (hopefully) have a small kit with you any time you hit the trail. The kit, of course, contains a variety of different ready-to-light tinders, such as WetFire Cubes or tinder tabs. The smart move, though, when you go to make your fire is to use natural sources of tinder if they can be easily found. Cattail fluff, seed pods, and dry grass should be used first, before tapping into your store-bought tinders. Using these types of tinder conserves your commercial tinder for when you might really need it. While hopefully it will only be a single night out in the field, one never knows what the future might hold.

Another resource to conserve are your tools. You’ll probably have to process firewood, but rather than use your knife to chop through long pieces, wedge the wood between two trees and break it using a levering action. Or, don’t worry about breaking it all and just feed it into the fire a little at a time as it burns down. Every time you use your knife, axe, or hatchet, you are going to dull the edge, even if just a little bit. Limit your uses of the blade to when you truly need to cut something.

Your survival kit, or Bug Out Bag, probably contains items useful for constructing an emergency shelter, but before you haul those out, look for naturally occurring options for emergency shelter, such as a downed tree that forms a natural lean-to. The less work you need to do and the fewer supplies you use, the better off you’ll be. Obviously, common sense plays a role in survival. Don’t bed down in a cave unless you’re certain you’re the only thing in it.

Energy is resource, too, of course. When it comes to food gathering, you should never expend more energy than you will receive from the food you obtain. For example, it makes very little sense to burn calories by going on a lengthy track, stalk, and hunt if you aren’t certain to harvest the animal. A far better option is to concentrate on acquiring food through more passive means, such as fishing and trapping, as well as harvesting wild edibles.

If you’re truly lost, staying put is a much better option than rambling around for hours on end. Searchers will have more luck if you’re not a moving target, plus you won’t get tired and make stupid mistakes.

Get into the habit of conserving your resources on a regular basis. Doing so now will make it second nature to you when it truly counts.

conserving survival resources

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When am I done prepping? http://thesurvivalmom.com/how-to-be-prepper/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/how-to-be-prepper/#respond Tue, 12 May 2015 15:01:26 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22986 When am I done prepping? When can I relax and say, “I’ve done all I can do. I’m fully prepared,”? This is a question that pops up from time to time. The simple and easiest answer is, well, you’re never done! Now, before I lose a bunch of you because of that answer, give me a […]

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how to be a prepper

When am I done prepping? When can I relax and say, “I’ve done all I can do. I’m fully prepared,”?

This is a question that pops up from time to time. The simple and easiest answer is, well, you’re never done! Now, before I lose a bunch of you because of that answer, give me a minute to explain.

In our society, we tend to be rather focused on finish lines. We want to set a concrete, observable goal, reach that goal, and move on. This has been the focus in the business world for ages, of course.
Measurable goals are the key to success. Same goes for sports. Who wants to watch a game that may
never have a clearly defined winner?

How to be a prepper and when am I finished prepping?

Because of this goal-oriented, ingrained, we struggle with the thought of engaging in an activity that has no real end. This is why I try to stress to folks that prepping isn’t a hobby but a lifestyle. As you become more and more involved with disaster and emergency planning, it will overflow into many areas of your life, perhaps even without you realizing it. You’ll find you make decisions on what to buy and where to shop differently. Instead of looking for an amazing deal on Dolce and Gabbana skirt, you’re hunting down the best price on a food dehydrator. Vacations aren’t always centered on fine food and dancing but getting outside and seeing Mother Nature in all her splendor, learning some fun wilderness and camping skills, and even checking out possible evacuation routes.

All of that isn’t meant to say that you can’t set and achieve prepping goals. Far from it, actually. When
someone is just starting out, I often suggest they set a food storage goal of one week. That’s very doable for many people and not only helps to get them prepared but reaching that goal gives a sense of
accomplishment. At that point, extend the goal to two weeks, then a month. Keep moving forward in
incremental steps. That’s what prepping is all about.

At the same time, though, you’re going to be rotating through your food storage, always using the oldest
items first and then replacing them with new. While food storage involves setting concrete goals, it is a
constant process. See what I mean about never being truly done prepping?

Skills need to be learned, then practiced regularly to maintain proficiency. Some of them will be used
daily, such as scratch cooking, while others only intermittently. But, as with your food storage, supplies
and gear utilized in the practice of some of these skills will need to be replaced as they are used up.

Many types of gear set aside for emergencies will need to be maintained regularly. Bug out bags need to
be unpacked, inspected, and repacked at least a few times a year if not more often. Gardens need to be
planted, weeded, watered, and eventually harvested. Learning how to be a prepper and then continuing in that lifestyle keeps you busy and always learning.

A new lifestyle brings with it a new perspective on life. Don’t worry about meeting a concrete goal. Just
try to do one thing each and every day that moves you forward. If you can do that, you’re headed in the
right direction, even if you can’t see a finish line.

Just getting started prepping?  Here are some resources for you:

And, this video created by The Survival Mom, Lisa Bedford, “How To Be a Prepper”:

 

how to be a prepper

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2 Types of Emergency Evacuations: Urgent & Planned http://thesurvivalmom.com/2-types-of-emergency-evacuation-plans/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/2-types-of-emergency-evacuation-plans/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 07:00:04 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=23068 Reasons to evacuate generally fall into 2 camps: Urgent Evacuations and Planned Evacuations. You should be ready for these 2 types of emergency evacuations. Before you begin packing that emergency kit, you need to first consider why you might need to evacuate. If you have specific scenarios in mind, and then one of them suddenly becomes […]

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emergency evacuation plansReasons to evacuate generally fall into 2 camps: Urgent Evacuations and Planned Evacuations. You should be ready for these 2 types of emergency evacuations.

Before you begin packing that emergency kit, you need to first consider why you might need to evacuate. If you have specific scenarios in mind, and then one of them suddenly becomes a reality, there’s a good chance that your brain won’t lapse into normalcy bias, causing you to waste precious minutes or hours.

Planning for the Urgent Evacuation

An Urgent Evacuation is one in which you have zero time to think; you can only react. If you’ve considered this scenario, have planned for it, and have a routine that you’ve rehearsed, your brain will most likely revert to those memories and your actions will become automatic.

The smell of smoke and realization that your home is on fire is not the time to inform the kids how to get out of the house, run around scooping up family heirlooms, cash, and vital documents, and then yell at everyone to meet you in the front yard! Fire spreads too quickly to allow for any of that.

Instead, planning for this particular Urgent Evacuation is simple. Take time to stash valuables in a fireproof safe, train the kids and other family members to get out of the house ASAP, and have a pre-planned meeting place. Make sure that each room has an exit point that can be accessed by everyone, even if that means keeping a step stool or a sturdy chair in the room. My daughter’s bedroom has one window whose bottom ledge is a good 4 1/2 feet from the floor. In her case, she’ll need to stand on something to get out.

What other Urgent Evacuations might you need to plan for? Tornado warning? Natural gas leak? Wildfires or a chemical spill? All of these events will require you to get out of the house as quickly as you can. A few others are:

  • Avalanche
  • Earthquake
  • Explosion nearby
  • Landslide
  • Floods
  • Nuclear event
  • Riots
  • Terrorist attack
  • Tornadoes
  • Tsunami

Here are a few tips to help you plan and prepare for Urgent Evacuations:

1. Have a packed supply bag for your pets, complete with food, bedding, and food/water bowls. If your pet will be transported in a crate, place all supplies in the crate. Everything will be in one place when you need it.

2. Create a “Last Minute Bag” with things like prescription medications, cash, small valuables. Here’s a complete list to help you with this task.

3. Store emergency kits in an easy to access location, such as by the backdoor. They can also be stored in the trunk of your car, along with a case or water.

4. Be in the habit of having your vehicle ready with at least half tank of gas and emergency supplies.

5. Have some sort of signal for the family members, so they know it’s “Get serious!’ time. Kids, in particular, have a way of tuning out their parents, so establish a code that sends the message of, “Urgent! This is not a drill!”

6. Practice this evacuation drill and keep track of how much time it takes to get everyone out of the house. Emphasize that getting people out is far more important than any belonging, or even a pet.

7. Have written lists of what must be grabbed. Prioritize so that no one is searching for something that isn’t strictly necessary.

With Urgent Evacuations, the longer you wait, the more likely you are to endanger yourself and your loved ones. It also increase the chance that you’ll run into major traffic issues as panicked people also try to get away from harm.

The Planned Evacuation

Not every emergency is one that requires great haste. In many cases, you have several hours or day in which to make your plans and put final pieces in place. A Planned Evacuation requires a different mindset — one that emphasizes checking and double-checking and keeping a constant eye on developing news.

The Planned Evacuation is one of prepare and wait-and-see.

For example, a hurricane is a scary natural disaster that can bring with it an enormous amount of damage, but thanks to modern meteorology, we can track these storms. We know, with a fair degree or accuracy, when and where they will make landfall.

These scenarios allow us to time think, review our plans, and get to safety, beating the crowds as well as the expected disaster. Examples of these are:

  • Earthquake — If your home isn’t too damaged, you may want to plan to evacuate, just in case.
  • Epidemic or pandemic
  • Rising floodwaters
  • “Storm of the Century” — Blizzard or otherwise, you may want to get out to avoid the worst.
  • Volcanic eruption — Usually these give some warning before erupting.
  • Wildfires in the area

Along with the tips for Urgent Evacuations, here are a few to help you plan for a more leisurely escape:

1. Make a date on your calendar to review and refresh all emergency kits every 6 months.

2. Have at least 2 different ways to get information, in case of a power outage or if telephone/cell phone lines aren’t working. A shortwave radio and ham radio are both good choices.

3. If you have a smartphone, install phone apps that provide alerts for inclement weather, tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Red Cross makes several, and they are all excellent.

4. If you have larger animals, contact at least 2 locations that could provide temporary shelter as part of your emergency evacuation plans.

5. Give careful consideration how your home can best be protected while you’re gone. You have time to board up windows, drain pipes, etc.

6. Get phone numbers from neighbors, so you can keep in touch and update each other with news. This will be especially important if you do evacuate and want to know how your home and neighborhood are faring.

7. During the school year, contact your child’s teacher and ask for a list of their assignments for the coming week or two.

8. Make sure your vehicle is filled with gas and is ready to go. Pack it with any supplies or gear that you won’t be needing, just in case you decide to leave.

Prep for one, prep for both

The good news about both these types of emergency evacuation plans is that preparation for one is preparation for both. The major difference between the two, other than the actual event, is your mindset. You must be the one to make the call to get out now or wait to see how things unfold. Ultimately, it will be your call. It’s better to err on the side of a quick evacuation if there’s a chance the event could escalate. By then, you might be trapped and unable to get out.

Know which events are most likely in your area and begin planning and preparing.

emergency evacuation plans

 

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May Skill of the Month: Refine Your Evacuation Plans http://thesurvivalmom.com/how-to-make-evacuation-plans/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/how-to-make-evacuation-plans/#respond Fri, 01 May 2015 15:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22761 I’ll never forget the night we had to evacuate our home in mere moments. Some very strong chemicals had been used in a home renovation project and threatened to overwhelm us. My husband became dangerously lightheaded, our kids were quite young, and we knew we had to get out of the house ASAP. At that […]

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Make evacuation plans

I’ll never forget the night we had to evacuate our home in mere moments. Some very strong chemicals had been used in a home renovation project and threatened to overwhelm us. My husband became dangerously lightheaded, our kids were quite young, and we knew we had to get out of the house ASAP.

At that time, I didn’t have any type of emergency kits packed and it hadn’t occurred to me to make evacuation plans.

On a second occasion, I had literally 5 minutes to get out. At that time, and I’ll never forget it, I was wearing old, faded yoga pants, a black t-shirt covered with cat hair, and was barefoot. My kids were as ill-prepared as I to leave our house and we all laughed at our appearances, but this time, I had a pair of shoes in the car, along with a well-stocked vehicle emergency kit, a very detailed road atlas, and cash in my purse. We were prepared to evacuate quickly and, just as importantly, ready to be away from home for hours or even days.

Make evacuation plans today!

A good evacuation plan consists of 6 parts:

1. Tracking up to date, accurate information

2. Pre-packed emergency kits

3. Multiple, planned routes

4. Transportation, equipped with emergency supplies

5. Rehearsals

6. A mindset quick to adapt to new information, accept it, and react appropriately

The problem with evacuations is that most of them happen suddenly and without any warning. In a moment, your house is on fire or the ground is shaking or tornado sirens are blaring. You have, literally, moments to respond and your response, whatever it is, could make the difference between life and death for you and your family.

That’s how important it is to have your evacuation ducks in a row.

To get you started, here are a few articles from this blog as well as others I’ve found online that are particularly helpful. Be watching later this month to learn the difference between Urgent and Planned evacuations, the best map resource you can buy, and checklists for your emergency kits.

Use these checklists to help make evacuation plans

My book, Survival Mom, contains an entire chapter to help you get ready for evacuations. Click here to learn more.

make evacuation plans

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Normalcy Bias: It’s All in Your Head http://thesurvivalmom.com/normalcy-bias/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/normalcy-bias/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 16:30:49 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=5811 Human bodies don’t normally fly through the air, and I didn’t expect a real life lesson in normalcy bias, but last year that’s exactly what I witnessed while waiting for a red light to turn green. I was sitting in my Tahoe at an intersection not far from home when I heard the loud rumble […]

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normalcy biasHuman bodies don’t normally fly through the air, and I didn’t expect a real life lesson in normalcy bias, but last year that’s exactly what I witnessed while waiting for a red light to turn green.

I was sitting in my Tahoe at an intersection not far from home when I heard the loud rumble of a truck engine. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when a green pick-up veered around me, raced into the intersection and plowed into a white sedan. While my mind was registering this violent accident, I saw a scarecrow fly through the air. I took a few deep breaths, tried to remember the details of how the accident happened and waited to give my eyewitness account to the police who appeared on the scene within minutes.

My mind re-played the scene, always with that scarecrow flying out of the truck and into the adjacent field. It wasn’t until a half hour later, when I saw EMTs trying to revive a young man did I realize that what I had actually seen was his body at the moment it was ejected from the front seat. Even now, when I remember the accident, I don’t see a human. Instead, the image of a scarecrow is imprinted in my brain because humans don’t fly through the air!

Normalcy Bias defined

This is an example of Normalcy Bias, a survival mechanism our brains are equipped with that can place us in grave danger when we’re faced with something traumatic. Simply put, it causes our brains to insist that all is okay. Everything will return to normal. For most of us who have never faced true peril, Normalcy Bias tells us that nothing bad will ever happen. “This is America!,” some people insist when I tell them about the possibility of a deeper Depression or hyperinflation. Incredibly, the most obvious warning signs are ignored.

This explains why so many Jews continued living in Germany, even after they were forced to wear identifying yellow stars and discriminatory laws were passed against Jewish people. Life had been so good for so long that, surely, things would get better. Jews who could have easily afforded to move out of the country stayed, and perished.

Oncoming hurricanes and similar disasters elicit similar reactions. We simply expect life to go on as it always has, and our brains are wired to accept that and nothing else. A driver attempts to cross a flooded river. Thousands of New Orleans residents faced with Hurricane Katrina refuse to leave the city, and city officials don’t even make an attempt to evacuate them. One survivor from 9/11 tells of going blind as she saw dozens of human bodies hitting the ground outside the Twin Towers. Our brains can accommodate billions of bits of information each day, but apparently, there are some things too terrible to comprehend.

Those of us who believe in preparedness, whether beginners or veterans, know the frustration of trying to convince loved ones that the future is not at all secure, but the Normalcy Bias isn’t something we can debate. It’s not based on logic or rational thought. It’s the brain, doing its best to help its human owner deal with terrifying events and possibilities, as well as with escalating situations whose logical, final outcomes can’t be accepted.

Here’s another example from the TSA

If you had told me that American citizens would meekly line up to walk through powerful x-ray machines that would strip them bare before low-level TSA employees, I would have said, “Never!” If you had told me that, as an option, they would stand with arms raised while their crotches were groped and would allow their pre-schoolers to be similarly molested, I would have laughed. Yet, that is exactly what happened, and not only do Americans meekly put up with this but they defend it.

The water is heating up and most of the frogs are oblivious.

“Life will get back to normal.”

“There’s nothing wrong with this!”

Each week brings another repressive ruling, and still, most American citizens insist there is no reason for concern.  New legislators will make everything right again. This is just temporary.

Whatever comes next will, again, be excused and accepted. Darn that Normalcy Bias!

Eleven Tips for Banishing Normalcy Bias

Here’s the bottom line. As Survival Moms, we don’t have the luxury of looking at a catastrophe before us and saying over and over again, “I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe this.” If our kids can’t rely on us when all hell is breaking loose, then who can they depend on? Law enforcement and first responders are quickly overwhelmed, and your family is hardly at the top of their list. Normalcy Bias can place those we love most in grave danger.

I think a conversation about overcoming Normalcy Bias will be important and valuable in the Comment section following this article, but here are eleven ways we can begin to condition our minds to accept the unacceptable.

  1. Be willing to go through the painful process of acknowledging the uncertainty of our future. I compare it with the Kubler-Ross grief process:
    • Denial (Normalcy Bias rearing its ugly head!),
    • Anger — at politicians, circumstances, family members),
    • Bargaining (“If I can just buy enough precious metals, we’ll be okay.”),
    • Depression (Our children aren’t facing the same, sunny future that we did, America is changing before our eyes)
    • Acceptance (I can’t do everything, but I can be proactive and do what I can.)
  2. Face facts, don’t hide from them. Confront financial difficulties, acknowledge your limits. Only when you face reality can you prepare for it.
  3. Trust your instincts. Headlines change on a dime. Take in a much bigger picture than a single, optimistic headline or the words of a politician seeking re-election. Trust your own five senses and what your gut is telling you.
  4. Start where you are with what you have.
  5. Fight feeling overwhelmed with lists and organization. Focus on what  you will do today, this week, this month. Little by little it will all come together.
  6. Reach out to others. Start your own Survival Mom meet-up group. Spend time on preparedness and survival forums, as long as they don’t feed your fears. If there was ever a time for people to come together, this is it.
  7. It’s better to over-prepare than to be under-prepared. Normalcy Bias assures us that everything will be okay. A few extra bottles of water is all you really need. Those ten cans of tuna will be plenty! Go ahead and stock up more than you think you’ll need to. Make plans for scenarios that may be a bit far out but still within the realm of possibility.
  8. Make plans. Have an evacuation plan, and prepare for it. Have a hunker-down plan, and prepare for it. Decide ahead of time how you will face the most likely crises and communicate those plans with those who need-to-know. Write down your plans! Panic and stress have a way of erasing the logical parts of our brains!
  9. Be ready to act quickly and decisively. It’s better to take action too soon than too late.
  10. Take time off.  Forget you ever  heard of the word, ‘preparedness’. Go shopping and blow a few bucks on something completely unnecessary. Go out to lunch. Play with the kids. Spend an hour on the phone gossiping with your best friend. Give yourself a mental break! Your family needs you to be strong.  You need to take care of yourself, body, soul, and spirit.
  11. Get physically fit. There is a huge connection between physical and mental fitness. Start with some sort of exercise and start today.

Normalcy Bias, although deeply ingrained in the human brain, doesn’t have to control our futures or place us in harm’s way. The first step in being prepared is becoming educated. Knowing about this bias, what it can do, and how it can be controlled will help you become a Survival Mom in every sense of the word!

normalcy bias

This article was slightly updated on April 28, 2015.

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How Many Off-Grid Cooking Methods Do You Have? http://thesurvivalmom.com/off-grid-cooking-methods/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/off-grid-cooking-methods/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 15:10:34 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22416 When you buy, or otherwise acquire, preparedness supplies, do you practice with them or are you a prep hoarder? I think I’ve been guilty of both, especially with off-grid cooking methods. Maybe you know what I mean. Preppers are notorious for wanting every new survival gadget that comes out. We’ve got no less than 10 […]

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off grid cooking methods

When you buy, or otherwise acquire, preparedness supplies, do you practice with them or are you a prep hoarder? I think I’ve been guilty of both, especially with off-grid cooking methods.

Maybe you know what I mean. Preppers are notorious for wanting every new survival gadget that comes out. We’ve got no less than 10 ways to cook that aren’t tied to the power grid, yet when another new off-grid cooker comes out, we simply must have it to add to the stash in the storage room.

And there they sit, safe for when we need them, gathering dust and maybe spiders,

Do you ever try them out when they come in the mail or do we add them, still in the package, to the ‘cooking shelf’ in our bug-out trailer?

I can say that I have used each of my off-grid cooking methods several times. Some had a learning curve that I’ve mastered and with others, I’m still climbing that curve. Some are easier to clean and store than others.  Fuels differ, conditions they can be used in differ, set-up,  clean-up and storage instructions are not the same, but we need to learn how they work.

In a major crisis, when emotions are high and everything and everyone is confused is not the time to try and figure out how to put that HERC stove together!

My family’s off-grid cooking methods

For my family, my list of methods looks like this:

First of all, how many different cooking methods do you have for when the power goes out? You really do need at least 2 of them, making sure those 2 do not rely on the same type of fuel. Are you familiar with how to use all of the different methods you have? Are your children? What if you, THE MASTER OF ALL THINGS PREP in your home are not around or are injured or ill? Who is going to do the cooking then?

Spring and Summer are a GREAT time to get out the different tools/toys you have for cooking meals off-grid and practice, practice, practice.

Pick one night per week and make it an adventure. Have a cook-out in the back yard.  Learn all about that method and gather some recipes to try it out.

I know of a woman who wanted to learn how to use her Dutch oven, so she committed to cooking something in it every day for a YEAR.  She blogged about the experience and shared what she learned online.  I dare say that she is now a Dutch oven expert.  I think she’s also super tired of using her Dutch oven because she hasn’t updated her blog in a while, but her adventure is documented for the world to learn from.  You can read about it and get some great new dutch oven recipe ideas for yourself, be warned though, you might not surface for days.  Toni’s Dutch Oven adventure. 

Do you have any/all of the methods I listed? I’d love to hear about your favorite off-grid cooking methods.

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