Editor’s note: I want to welcome Cheryl L (my mom) to the site with her first article! Enjoy!
No matter what you are prepping for, at some point in time food preparation must enter into your preps. I am always trying to find ways to cook using a minimum amount of time, energy, effort, and fuel. So I plan my preps accordingly.
I prefer to keep my life simple and that includes getting everything done in the morning and taking it easy after all the work is done. This is one of the reasons that I decided to purchase a thermal cooker.
Another reason I thought a thermal cooker would be a wonderful idea is for the ease of cooking a meal whether on a regular stove, a rocket stove, an open campfire, or in any emergency situation. We live in tornado territory and I can take a thermal cooker down into the shelter along with the already stored dehydrated meals and water, etc. so that I can prepare them for my family if the need arises. Be it a rabbit dinner or emergency food storage, I feel secure in having the means to take care of them.
I looked and researched on the internet, reading about several different thermal cookers. After some study I finally settled on the Saratoga Jack 7L thermal cooker.
I went with the Saratoga because it received a lot of positive feedback on Amazon, and because it comes with two heavy-duty pans that nestle together for cooking, (cook two separate pots at once) a lid, a cook book and of course the vacuüm cooker.
The Saratoga Jack thermal cooker is simple to use. You follow your regular recipes, bring the temperature to a rolling boil for a few minutes, and then seal the pot in the cooker. And depending on the recipe your food is ready and waiting for you in the evening when you are ready to sit down to dinner.
Hopefully, as a prepper, you will have some food set back and stocked in case of a disaster. You will have water stored, as well as a few purification methods. You might have a weapon or two stored, and some extra ammunition. (Click the links to find out about water storage, weapons for SHTF, and storing ammo long-term). You might have extra gear and supplies on hand. But could there be items out there you haven’t thought about stockpiling for a long-term, grid down scenario?
In this article, I want to cover some items that you might not realize you should have plenty of in case of a long-term disaster, and some reasons why it might be a good idea.
So let’s jump in.
Being clean (or at least feeling clean) is a great boost to morale during a SHTF situation. And during a grid down scenario, you might not have enough water (or fuel to heat the water) for a hot shower. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself clean. So having some extra hygiene items is probably a good idea.
Things like toothpaste and shampoo have a shelf life of about 2 years from the date of manufacture once they are opened. (They can last around 3 years if unopened.) Things like soap, mouthwash, and deodorant have a 3 year or so shelf life.
Keep in mind that the shelf life listed is for items stored at room temperature. Things like temperature extremes and direct sun light can degrade these products much more quickly.
If you cure your store-bought bars of soap (by removing the wrappers and letting them sit in the air for about 6 weeks) they will harden and last much longer.
When it comes to preparedness gear, the most important gear is that which you have on you at the time of the emergency. A life jacket on the boat is of no use to you if you are drowning in the ocean. And because emergencies are never planned and usually not expected, you will most likely not have a lot of gear on you when disaster first strikes.
This is why the Every Day Carry gear (EDC) that so many preppers talk about is a popular discussion. In reality, your EDC can be your first line of defense against unforeseen problems and emergencies.
Before we jump into this topic, I want to give you a word of caution. A mistake I see some preppers make is that they try and include way too much in their EDC. Those preppers think “The End Of The World As We Know It” (TEOTWAWKI) when trying to create an EDC kit. I want to tell them, “Well isn’t that what your Bug Out Bag or Get Home Bag (GHB) is for?”
For myself, I look at what I carry in my EDC different than what I have in my Go Bag. The Go bag is designed to help sustain me over a period of time for true SHTF scenarios. My EDC is there for temporary solutions to emergencies both big and small.
I don’t need my GHB for a temporary power outage. I don’t need it when I drop something between my car seats at night, or if the credit card machines at the gas station are not working. Instead, I have some small, simple tools that I have on me at all times for situations like these.
In a large scale SHTF scenario, my EDC could help to get me to my GHB, which I would then use to help get me home. Hence my EDC is not designed for long term problems or emergencies.
I am a firm believer in having a self-defense type weapon as a part of your EDC. (Every Day Carry). And I also advocate carrying that weapon concealed. While I carry a Glock 23 with a Streamlight Tactlite on duty, off duty I prefer something that is much easier to conceal. I carry a Sig Sauer P238.
The P238 comes with its own carry/conceal holster, a nice touch by Sig. But it rode too high on my waist for my liking. And it did not feel like it was completely secure.
So when the good folks at Osborn Holster offered to make me a carry/conceal leather holster for my Sig, and make it large enough to also carry a spare magazine, I said “Hell Yeah!”
For those of you who are not familiar with Osborn Holsters, they have been in the market for the past 3 to 4 years. They specialize in making custom holsters for almost any style of pistol. Osborn holsters are made right here in the USA, headquartered in Texas.
I ordered the IWB (Inside Waist Band) Tact rig for my Sig, and was surprised when it arrived less than a week later. I order firearm parts all the time. Many times it takes a week just to process the order and then ship the parts. So to have my holster fabricated and sent to me in that amount of time left me pleasantly surprised.
The first thing I noticed when I took it out of the package was how durable, yet flexible the leather was. I also noticed that the holes for the magazine attachments and the kydex had been reinforced with eyelets, which should help with the holster’s durability. I’m a big fan of buying products that are durable and long lasting. So I give bonus points for things like that.
The P238 fit securely in the Kydex molding. It was a bit snug, and took some effort to pull out. But the holster uses screws with rubber spacers to attach it to the leather. This means that the amount of retention can be adjusted. So between adjusting the screws, and normal use (break in period), the tight retention should not be an issue.
I see the question all the time, “I’m new to prepping and am looking for tips on getting started.” Enviably, that is answered by others with tips on creating bug out bags, storing food and water, purchasing firearms, etc. And while those are certainly very important, many times I see simple, everyday tasks that get overlooked.
And these tasks are not hard. They are easy. Easy enough that everyone should do them. These tips will help you not just in a disaster setting, but also in everyday life.
Always keep your phone charged.
In my 8 Lessons Learned from Disaster article, I mentioned an officer whose battery died while working in Moore, Oklahoma after a tornado, and was unable to communicate with anyone.
Imagine if you are caught in a quickly developing emergency, and your primary source of up to the minute information is dying because your battery is not charged. Not smart!
Having knowledge about what is going on around you is vital to your ability to survive a disaster. Being able to communicate is equally important. With today’s technology, a smart phone allows you to do both.
When a tornado recently hit my area, I used my cell phone to live stream the weather, and to text my family to keep them apprised of the situation. During that storm, my phone battery had plenty of life in it should I have had to make a speedy exit. I stayed up to the minute with news and information during the entire storm.
If you are like me, you probably have people in your life that you love and care for who are not “prepared”. Either they do not believe in it, or they simply don’t do it. But for a multitude of reasons, you cannot simply write them out of your life. It might be a spouse, or a sister, or an adult child. So in some ways, maybe you are like me and prep for them “on the side”.
I have a girlfriend who seemingly understands the importance of being prepared for an emergency or disaster, but just cannot put it into practice. (I’m teaching her…so that’s a start.)
I decided, over the past year or two, that she and her son would be a part of my plans should we have a disaster, big or small. I began helping her become more prepared. In some ways, I started prepping for her.
When we sometimes go grocery shopping together, I have her buy a few extra cans of food, and a gallon of water. At the moment she has a 2-3 day supply of food and water. She also has an incredibly warm Teton sleeping bag. I gave her a hand cranked flashlight. As I mentioned in a previous article, for a beginner that’s a good start.
But I knew a good start wasn’t enough. If she was to be a part of my “long term” plans, I knew that I would have to help keep her going.
Began with a Plan
To start off with, the girlfriend and I sat down for a few minutes. We came up with a plan should she find herself in an emergency situation. If the situation was bad enough that calling 911 would be pointless, I told her the plan was simple, she and her son were to come to my house. (We also discussed a few different routes to take.) I have more than enough supplies to take care of her and her son, so if she could drive, she was not to worry about packing food or water.
I told her to grab warm, rugged clothing/blankets for her and her son. I have enough of everything else. But petite women’s’ clothing or clothing for a small child I do not have.