20 May

How many hours? 72, of course

Last March we went and visited my parents. Even though they live in San Antonio, Texas we chose to drive there. It is simply too expensive to fly our entire family these days (there are six of us). We had a lovely visit with them and really enjoyed getting to know San Antonio better. It is a truly beautiful city with a rich history (the Alamo is neat but the Missions of San Antonio are way better).

As we were packing up our minivan for the trip home my dad asked me to bring back the Christmas present he had put together for us and for my sister and her husband (they live near our home). When he brought out two large, black duffel bags I remembered what our Christmas presents were (and had to completely rethink my packing strategy): 72 hour kits.

I am sorry to say that it took me forever to open up the 72 hour kit that he gave us and go through it but when I did I was pleasantly surprised at the great job that he did. The kit had almost everything.

It had a basic first aid kit.

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And some miscellaneous survival gear like a whistle, rope, matches, and bug repellent.
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Toilet paper is always handy not only for when nature calls but you can use it to start fires too. Duct tape, a poncho, hand warmers, and solar blankets were some other great things to have that I would not have thought of.
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Baby wipes are a necessity for my family because we have two children in diapers. Also, they are great for cleaning and would help us keep the little ones from getting too dirty. More solar blankets, some glow sticks (which would not only give us light but keep the kids entertained!), and a couple more whistles. Why more than one whistle? There are six people in my family and each group should have one (myself and the kids I am with, my wife and the kids she’s with, and our older sons) in case we get split up or need to split up.2014-05-08 21.42.21

The gloves made sense to me to protect my hands. The tarp too because we could use it as shelter. The duffle bag was a stretch but after some thought I can see why it would be helpful to be able to split the kit up and make it easier to carry. The safety vest, however, I’m still not sure about. Maybe because it is bright and would be easy for rescuers to see?
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Meals-ready-to-eat (MRE’s) are good too. There weren’t enough for the whole family to have each have three square meals but there was enough to get us through a 72 hour ordeal. We may add some later but for now it would tide us over.2014-05-08 21.45.44

There is more in the kit but these are pictures of some of the highlights. I have put together a list of everything (Google Doc) that we have in our main 72 hour kit. It is specific to our family but gives you a starting point. Download a copy and delete the things that you do not need and add things that you do. Because our family is not on any medications at present you will notice that there are not any listed. You may need to add them in your case.

I have to say thank you to my Dad (and Mom) for giving us this great gift. If you are looking for a gift to give someone you love consider giving them a good 72 hour kit. It is a gift that may save their life.

By the way, all of the things in the 72 hour kit that my parents gave us can be purchased at Amazon.com. If you found this or other information on this site helpful please consider purchasing through this link. If you do, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. And you will receive my gratitude.

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05 May

My Three Biggest Challenges with Storing Food: You’ll Relate to #3

corn-60106_1920For years my wife and I have been planning to acquire some food storage. We have a 72 hour kit and probably enough food in the house for a week, maybe a little bit longer, but any longer and we would be eating the dandelions in the front yard. And I am not a big fan of dandelion salads.

When we were first married we obtained a list from a friend that was supposed to be a guide map to putting together our food storage. We are shooting for a year’s supply of food and this little plan told us exactly how to do that. The coolest thing to us, being newlyweds and poor, was that it could be done on $5 a week.

After a few weeks we had several pounds of honey, about thirty cans of tomato soup, twenty pounds of sugar, and a bunch of uncooked pasta. There were a few other little things too but this was the bulk of it.

We paused one evening as we surveyed our budding supply of food and I asked Cami, “do you like tomato soup?” “Nope. Do you?” “No, I don’t” I said.

Then we started laughing. Here we had a couple dozen cans of tomato soup and neither of us even liked it. We reviewed the list and saw that in the coming week we were to purchase 50 pounds of wheat. Wheat? What do you do with wheat? Where do you even buy it? We couldn’t recall ever seeing it as Walmart.

It was then that we stopped putting together our food storage. Of all things we were foiled by wheat.

Shortly thereafter I realized that I had three problems with the way everyone else seemed to be telling me how to put together a long term supply of food.

  1. Money. I don’t want to spend a gazillion dollars on food I may never eat.
  2. Too complex It shouldn’t be so complicated. I don’t know what kinds of wheat are out there, where to buy good wheat, or what to do with it.
  3. Can I eat it. Again, what do I do with wheat? Or why buy tomato soup? How do I make food with ingredients I don’t normally use and what do I make?

Putting together a long term supply of food is pretty simple. Just buy a bunch of Twinkies, they last forever. But the problem that I keep running into is what to do with it. The lists that I get from friends and find online are designed for other people and other families, not for mine. And I don’t have the time to spend on figuring out what foods to store and which foods we eat and how to cook things we’ll eat with the food we store. It’s too complicated.

This is why I recommend that you start small. First, prepare to survive today. Put together your 72 hour kit and several additional days of food and water. It can be almost anything really. Any food is better than no food. However, high energy foods are especially good in an emergency because we often are required to burn a lot of energy to stay alive.

After you have your week’s supply put together start working on a month. Look at the menus you have put together for your family for the last few weeks and their accompanying shopping lists. Identify which foods you eat regularly (in the Cooper family it is spaghetti) and buy enough to make that meal six or eight times. You know everyone will eat it and usually those are the simple and cheap meals as well.

With three or four of those meals picked out go to the store and buy what you need to make each meal seven or eight times. Bring that food home then use it when you would have made the meal anyway. When you use something put it on the list to purchase more. This is a natural way to rotate your stored food.

Putting together a short term food supply is literally that easy. For a few dollars and the time it takes to go on one shopping trip you have a month’s supply of food and a built in rotation system. Not too shabby.

Building a longer term supply does get a little bit more complicated but let’s not worry about that until your one month supply is put together.

As always, please ask me your questions by leaving a comment, finding me on Facebook, or sending me a tweet. I want to help.

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09 Apr

Insurance in the Aftermath: 5 Tips to Make Dealing with Your Insurance Company Easier

As I walked around the house holding my cell phone in front of me describing what I saw and stating about how much it was worth my wife got home. She came through the front door and stopped. I kept going but out of the corner of my eye I saw one of the most consternated looks on her face that I have ever witnessed. It was clear that she thought I had lost my mind. Read More

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06 Apr

Financial Preparedness: Not All Emergencies Have to be Disasters

Have you ever heard of Murphy’s Law? Let me quickly explain in case you haven’t. Murphy’s Law postulates that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Or how about “when it rains it pours”? When things start to go bad they continue to go bad. Read More

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04 Apr

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

Forest Camping - TentThere is this song from 1981 by The Clash: Should I Stay or Should I Go.  Even though the song is now more than thirty years old (older than me!), it always comes to my mind as I watch newscasters reporting on disasters occurring around the world. Read More

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26 Mar

5 Awesome Videos on How to Purify Water in an Emergency

In an emergency situation it is not uncommon to lose ready access to water that is safe to drink. Read More

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