One Step at a Time: Gander Mountain’s Contribution to My 72 Hours

Preparedness BackpackMonday was Memorial Day and I was lucky to the have the day off of work. As is typical on the widely acknowledged first day of summer we did some yard work, attended a cook-out with some of our good friends, and enjoyed being together as a family.

My wife and I did our best to teach our sons about Memorial Day and how it is a holiday that is much more than just fun. It is an additional opportunity to honor the brave men and women who have fought and died to make and protect this great nation.

Because the oldest is only six  (and the other three are four, two, and nine months) we are not sure how much of what we taught them actually sunk in but we tried. And we will keep trying every year. We feel it is extremely important to remember those that went before us and gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy the liberties we do today.

In addition to the normal Memorial Day traditions and goings-on, we took a trip to a really cool store. I had not been there before but had wanted to go for some time: Gander Mountain.

The kids and I loved it! And my wife did a good job enjoying us enjoy it. So many awesome manly things. The boys wanted to buy everything. Tents, sleeping bags, kayaks, guns, knives, you name it. It was pretty cool.

Our visit to Gander Mountain wasn’t just for fun though. We went with a purpose. We needed to buy a few things for our mini-72 hour kits (one for the car and one for my office).

We weren’t able to pick up everything we needed (for example, we ran over to Sam’s Club to buy some granola bars and candy bars) but we picked up quite a bit. We purchased compasses, tarps, some ponchos, a couple of neat emergency blankets, and a flashlight.

We are planning on going to Walmart to pick up the last few things we need for the two kits. We’ll get a couple of cheap backpacks, water purification tablets, a couple of whistles, and a few other little odds and ends to complete our kits. We plan to do that this coming week (I’ve been out of town at a conference for my work this week so the kits were put on hold).

I’m excited because when these kits are done we’ll get to move on to the next thing and we will be one step closer to being prepared.

Speaking of being prepared, since our trip to Gander Mountain my boys keep asking when we are going to get some kayaks. I’ll have to figure out which preparedness step kayaks fit into.

Preparedness Step 2: Survive Today


My family has a family communication plan. Preparedness step 1: locate your loved ones…CHECK!

So we’ve found each other. Great. And it really is great. But now what? Now we need to start surviving. How long do we need to survive? Well, at least today. And probably tomorrow. And, well, preferably every day after tomorrow too. But preparedness step two, survive today, will get us through today so that is the one we will focus on next. Once today is taken care of we can worry about tomorrow.

In the next series of posts I will discuss the basic elements required to survive today. We will talk about 72 hour kits, meeting short term food and water needs, shelter, and equipment and tools that are like gold in a natural disaster/weather type emergency.

I will have a couple of videos for you, a planning tool/checklist, several other resources where you can go into additional detail and learn more, and my personal examples of what I have done and am doing to prepare to survive today.

Today, however, we will start the discussion with water.

We should have on hand at least a gallon of water a day for drinking and hygiene, according to FEMA. We also, however, should make sure that this is a sufficient amount for our situation. In especially hot and humid climates, like Arizona or Florida, you may need to plan on more than a gallon of water a day. But for most people most of the time a gallon a day per person is a good rule of thumb.

If you suffered an emergency right now (well, as soon as you finish reading this), what would you do for water? Let’s say that you immediately hop in the car and head to the store, assuming it is open, and buy a couple of cases of bottled water because everyone else had the same idea and that is all that is left. Now you have about six gallons of water. There are four people living in your home so you have a day and a half of water.

Next, you get all of the water in your house together that you can. Melt the ice cubes in your freezer (I bet you didn’t think of that!). Drain the water from the pipes in your home. To do this, shut off the main water line into your home (in disaster situations often the public water system becomes contaminated and by shutting off the water to your home you prevent the contamination from entering, which is why one day I hope to own a home with its own well).

Then open the faucet that is the highest in your home. Go to the lowest and turn it on and all of the water in the pipes will flow out. Make sure you have a couple of buckets or some container to hold the water. The last thing you want is for the good water in your pipes to be lost to the sewer.

Another place to look is the water heater. Water heaters typically hold anywhere from 40 to 60 gallons. That will take care of your drinking needs for quite a while.

There you go, even if you were not prepared you can now survive today and a couple more days…at least as far as water is concerned.

Ideally, however, you would not need to run to the store as soon as the power went out and fight for the last case of water. Go and buy a couple of cases of water now.  Three or four will last most families a few days.

You can also store water in your own bottles ahead of time. If you would like to do this, provides some guidelines for storing water. I also found valuable this review on’s guidelines. I think you will too.

Food Storage Recipes

Food Storage RecipesYour 5 Free Food Storage Recipes

Five killer recipes to get your food storage cookbook started.

To download, right click on the link below and choose “save as” or “save target”.

Please note that the text file is in a PDF format, so you will need Adobe PDF Reader to view it and print it. You can get the reader for free at

Thank you, and enjoy!

The First Thing You Need to Know About Your First Garden

I will be frank. Your garden will probably fail…at least to meet your expectations. The first year anyway.

The first year I had a garden I expected a humble crop: a few dozen cucumbers, a few ears of corn, a couple of watermelons, a few bowls of string peas, and two or three dozen good sized carrots.

What did I get? A few ears of corn that ended up being unpalatable because I waited too long to pick them. About a hundred carrots, none of which were longer than one inch or had a greater than a 1/4 inch circumference. Three cucumbers. Zero watermelons (the plants did not even grow). And maybe twenty string peas.

I was pretty disappointed, especially after all of the efforts I put into rototilling the ground, planting the seeds, carefully watering and weeding, chasing away the deer and rabbits, and fighting to keep my kids from running through it.

But I’m not one to give up too easily. I promise each year will get better until you become a food growing master (I still can’t get my strawberries to grow through).

Let me share with you the first thing that I learned that first year. Make sure to till the ground. The ground is naturally just too hard for food-bearing plants to thrive in so you need to break it up and make it soft. With soft soil, plants will not spoil. That was a bad rhyme, sorry.

I tried to do it by hand that first year. I grabbed a spade shovel and a hoe and went to town. In about twenty minutes I was exhausted and had completed the first pass over a square foot of my garden area. I would have to do it four or five more times to begin to get the soil soft enough and broken up enough to give my plants a fighting chance.

So I rented a rototiller. I figured the ground was not very hard so I would rent the cheapest rototiller the rental place had. When I went to pick it up the guy working there asked me if I knew how to use the tiller. I confessed that I did not and requested a demonstration. Next, he began to pepper me with questions about my garden plot. I distinctly remember him asking if it had been tilled before because of his reaction when I told him that it had not.

He looked me in the eye and said “You’re renting the wrong tiller. You’re going to kill yourself if you try to use this one. Here, this is the one that you need.” It was a MONSTER!

This other tiller had its own trailer it was so big. My garden spot was only like twelve feet by fifteen feet, there was no way I needed a tiller THAT big!

After a lengthy discussion he finally convinced me, I paid twice what I had originally planned to, and hauled it home for the weekend.

I never did thank that man in the rental store that day but I should. He saved my back and my weekend. When I turned the beast on (that’s what I call the big tillers; their official name is “rear tine tillers”) it dug into the dirt like there was no tomorrow. Dirt went flying. After six or seven passes, a little less than an hour, the dirt was looking like it does in the movies: black and rich. The perfect place for my little plants.

So, this is my advice to you. Rent a rear tine tiller the first time you plant a garden to prepare the soil. Typically you can rent them for less than $100 a day and it will make quick work (at least quicker than a shovel and hoe) of preparing the ground. After that first year, you can rent the smaller front tine tillers and they’ll do fine. But that first year, that first time, go with the beast. I promise you will be glad you did.

Operational Preparedness Planning

Operational planning is an important part of any preparedness plan. Once you have laid out the basics of your plan, the general outline, we call it the strategic part of your plan, and then thought through some more of the specifics in the tactical part of your plan, it is time to focus on making your life more live-able if and when the need arises to put your plans into action.

The operational part of your plan deals with “creature comforts” that simplify your life and make the situation seem more like “normal”. Things like a can opener, toilet paper, and something to read.

These little things we normally take for granted but when disasters and emergencies strike and they are not available their lack makes the situation even more frustrating. But having them gives the situation more normalcy and helps us cope with everything else.

To help with this, because these operational things are taken for granted, I have put together a list for you of 75 “creature comfort” items. Choose the items from this list that are pertinent to your situation. Remember, the list does not have everything you could want but will get you started in the right direction.

  1. Toilet paper
  2. Floss
  3. Deodorant
  4. Toothpaste
  5. Toothbrush
  6. Feminine hygiene products
  7. Shampoo
  8. Conditioner
  9. Soap
  10. Loofah
  11. Hand soap
  12. Dish soap
  13. Wash cloth
  14. Can opener
  15. Hand sanitizer
  16. Fingernail clippers
  17. Books to read
  18. Coloring books (for you and the children)
  19. Crayons
  20. Writing Utensils (pens and pencils)
  21. Comb/hair brush
  22. A few toys for the children
  23. Games, maybe a deck of cards or something
  24. Razor (for a woman’s legs)
  25. Razor (for a man’s face)
  26. Shaving cream (for both)
  27. Tweezers
  28. Chapstick
  29. Needle and thread
  30. Slippers
  31. A wristwatch
  32. Puzzles
  33. Kleenex
  34. Indoor/Outdoor thermometer
  35. Makeup
  36. Toothpicks
  37. Face wash
  38. Cotton swabs (Q-tips)
  39. Hair bands and elastics
  40. Lotion
  41. Pillows
  42. Timer (for cooking, etc.)
  43. Salt and pepper shakers
  44. CD player
  45. CD’s
  46. Fingernail polish
  47. Fingernail polish remover
  48. Nail file
  49. Laundry detergent
  50. Dryer sheets/fabric softener
  51. Scented candle
  52. Stapler
  53. Scissors
  54. Tape
  55. Bobby pins
  56. Safety pins
  57. Paper clips
  58. Notepad
  59. Journal/diary
  60. Cheese grater
  61. Chewing gum
  62. Trash bags
  63. Whisk
  64. Spatula
  65. Ladle
  66. Pair of work gloves
  67. Pair of latex gloves
  68. A few pieces of jewelry
  69. Basic sporting equipment (tennis racquet and balls, soccer ball, baseball glove, and ball)
  70. Apron
  71. Mouthwash
  72. Cutting board
  73. Petroleum jelly (Vasoline)
  74. Ziploc bags
  75. Twist Ties