Saturday, April 17, 2010

Emergency Kit for Disabled and “Over-The-Hill Folks”

After spending the day cleaning the garage and working on the garden and picnic tables, my memory has been reaffirmed.  My back is shot. 
Several of the vertebrae in my back have degenerative arthritis and the damage has reached the point that I couldn't possibly carry more the 20lbs (if that) on my back for any length of time now.  Unfortunately, my wife suffers from the same affliction. 
So what do we do about Bug-Out-Bags / 96-hour kits, water, etc.? 
A few years ago, I purchased new rolling bags for our kits.  Granted, they can be carried on your back like a backpack, but really aren't suited to that task.  They do however, work extremely well if we put the weight on the wheels and tow them behind us.
Hopefully, if the earthquake faults in near us let loose with huge trembler's, levels our house and creates a 20 ft deep depression in our orchard behind the house, we will still be able to tug them behind us to the park by the church to meet up with the rest of the neighborhood family.  
That scenario isn't going to happen ... If our conditions are that bad, the neighbors homes will all be on the ground too and the church will have been leveled long before our homes.   We'll probably all end up camping in our back yards, even though the 'Big One' will probably arrive at 2:00 a.m. on January 15th and it is -10F outside...
The wheels on our bags will get us that far if we can get them the 10ft from their storage closet to the back door.
The real use for the wheels would occur if we were forced to abandon our property for some reason and be mandated to gather in some 'safe' gathering location or building.  Assuming we can get through the bottleneck Interstate corridor in our area, odds are that our new safe shelter won't have drive up 'drop offs'.  We'd be lucky to park within a mile of the shelter if the whole Wasatch Front population was on the move too.   Wheels will save our 'day' in this scenario. 
The weight of our kits and water is far more than we can manage on our backs.  I don't care who you are ...  If you have a family, especially a young family, are seeing more gray in your hair than the color you had when you left high school or even if you have grown kids to help, the weight of all your stuff is going to be a huge limiting factor.
Some folks would be able to bug out to locations where they can obtain and treat their water with relative ease and may not take as large a supply with them as do the folks in more urban areas.  Good for them.  But even folks in that fortunate circumstance still have to contend with weight and the age and physical condition of the folks who will be carrying their emergency kits.
Two years ago, I was asked to visit the class of younger men in our church and teach a lesson on Emergency Preparedness.  I threw a couple of packs on the backs of the two youngest, brawniest fellows in the group with 10 liters of water in the bladder, two bottles on the sides and the food, minimal clothing, a super light sleeping bag and tarp and the other 'stuff' we put in light packs. 
Moving the group to the gym, I asked the two gentlemen to slowly circle the outside walls while I talked for the next 30 minutes. 
You know the results.  Neither of these basketball, softball and tennis players made it to the finish line  These to scout leaders were in trouble.  They hike in the mountains with their scouts every summer, so what was the problem now?  They don't carry 3-gallons of water with them when they go on their summer hikes.  The 25+ pounds associated with it and was a killer in addition to the rest of the weight in the packs.
Ten minutes after the first two started, I loaded up another brawny father with water and a pack for himself and water for his three little kids.  He struggled, he groaned, and to save face, he stayed walking a lot longer than anyone expected, but by the time the first two had thrown in the towel, he was approaching his own personal 'wall' and soon gave up.
Water and weight.  If we ever have to actually bug out with our families and actually have to carry our water with us, we all have a problem ahead.
How are you addressing this issue? 
The answer in our family and our children's family has been to carry a light pack on our backs and put the weight each of us needs in rolling bags.  Even our 3-year old grandsons have amazing abilities allowing them to tow their bags along for lengthy periods of time.
What is your solution to this very real problem?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Is That A Mummy In Our Food Storage?

We married a few years ago.  Well, I guess few is a bit of a misnomer.  Let’s say it was closer to 40 years ago than to 50 years ago.

We’ve always been concerned about being prepared for difficult situations from loss of income to a failure in the food chain for any reason.   So, as young married folks we started our food storage regimen. 

Our plan was to have our shelves full of cans and bags of foods that we normally eat but were purchased when stores sales came around.  We slowly added freeze dried #10 cans of basics from time to time by applying our federal and state tax returns to their purchase.

The stuff on the shelves was rotated and eaten as a normal course of living and even ‘saved our bacon’ from time to time when the need to pay for a doctor and hospital expenses associated with a new baby or the subsequent broken arms and orthodontic expenses that are part of the lives of young folks.

The freeze dried foods were supposed to be good for “30-years” or so said the still attached advertisements on the labels.  How the company knew this is beyond me now, since they had only been in business for 5 years when we purchased their products, but the number stuck in our minds and it was easy to leave the cans in their original boxes that were safely tucked in the back under other ‘stuff’.

Flash forward 40 years.

The cans still look as clean and sharp as they did on they day we received them.  They’ve moved from home to home and have been stored in bedroom closets, crawl spaces, basement storage rooms and as support for kids beds.  They’ve admirably occupied the space they were given all of this time and filled the role that we’ve assigned to them in our minds.

Feeling adventurous, I donned my pith helmet, headlamp and a work shirt before beginning the ‘dig’ to exhume these ancient treasures.  My ‘Raiders’ fedora remained hung on the wall.  I own this museum..

The ‘stuff’ on top of them must have gained weight over the years according to my back.  Calories quickly  evaporated during the debris removal process to get to the treasure.  It was easy to date the materials as I moved them based on the evolution of my hand writing that was exhibited on the boxes.  Drafting to engineering to management tilt and inflections surfaced.  Actually, it was in the reverse order based on time but this old explorer took that into account before asking for carbon dating.

Treasure!  The Sam–Andy cases were exposed to light for the first time in a long time just like the statues found under the sea at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt.

How did the products look when the cans were opened?  They were originally nitrogen packed and as far as I could tell, the nitrogen was still in place.  The grains, pasta and beans looked like any that you’d buy today.  The powered milk was solid and will make great foundations for new porch posts.

How did they taste?  Fine.  Did they have any nutritional value after all of this time?  I don’t know.  They were filling when consumed.  We didn’t loose any weight after eating them (for any reason) but we weren’t trying to live on them exclusively either, so the long term effects of eating them exclusively was lost.

The 40-year-old toilet paper was a mixed bag.  The ‘hard’ kind was as good as the day it was purchased.  The ‘soft’ kind had air slagged and will only be good as fluff used to to start fires.

Someone with the knowledge and skills will have to tell us if the old Sam-Andy food still had nutrition but because of the food types, it was still readily recognizable in its original form. 

I can’t say the peaches from an errant jar found in the dig can make the same claim.  I’m not even sure the old Kerr bottle is as clear as it once was.  Maybe the blue color comes from being cold --- not old? 

Moral.  Store food.  Use it.  Rotate it.   Build up some cushion in your food bank to bridge rough spots in the road ahead while you can.  Don’t be trapped on a financial or availability hole looking up hungry and wondering how to get out and how to feed your family.


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