Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Power Outages and Food Timeframes

Things you can do now: 
  • If you have any chronically empty space in your freezer, then make some blocks of ice. It will improve your efficiency of your freezer and you'll have ice for your cooler.
  • Make sure you have (and know how to use) an alternative cooking appliance. A propane grill or camp stove are my two favorites. I cannot emphasize enough the dangers of toxic gases or risk of fire. KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY USE AND MAINTAIN YOUR EQUIPMENT.
  • Purchase a food thermometer and calibrate it.
  • Know your Danger Zones for bacteria ( 42 degrees F to 140 degrees F ).

Hour 0:
  • Call your energy provider and report the power outage. It gives you a timeline for the expected grid-down situation.
  • Stay out of your freezer and refrigerator if at all possible.
  • Access situation: security, safety, health, etc...
Hour 4:
  • If you have a generator, now is the time to run it and cool your refrigerator and freezer. Reset the stop watch to zero and repeat every four hours. Stay on this step as long as you are able.
  • Otherwise continue...
  • The USDA considers this time to be when the refrigerator is no longer within the safe zone. If it is cold outside (under 42 degrees) then move your products outside or into a cooler. If it is hot outside, then put as many critical items into a cooler with the ice from the freezer. 
  • Eat as much as possible of the thawed foods, better to eat it than throw it away.
Hour 7:
  • Time to eat. Now is the time to cook any raw products. Invite neighbors over for a BBQ or potluck. Discuss helping one another.
Hour 8:
  • Any items that have been within the Danger Zone for bacteria for FOUR hours or more are now considered unsafe for public restaurant sales. These items should be discarded. Do not place your family or self at risk to save a few dollars.
  • Some people are at higher risk for developing foodborne illness. These include pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborns, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
    If you — or someone you care for — are in one of these at-risk groups, it's important to pay extra attention to handling food safely. For more on those most at risk, visit www.fsis.usda.gov.
Hour 12:
  • The freezer should still ( on average ) be okay and under 42 degrees.
  • If a cooler is being used, then check to make sure ice is still in it. Sometimes shaking the cooler and listening is a good indicator. Still prevent unnecessary openings.
Hour 16:
  •  If a cooler is being used, then check to make sure ice is still in it. Continue to prevent any unnecessary openings.
Hour 24:
  • On average, the freezer is now approaching the Danger Zone for bacterial growth.
  • Ideally, you'll have another cooler for meat products because you don't want to cross contaminate any of your other food. Start at Hour 4 with the freezer items.
  • Again, consider cooking the previously frozen items and eating them. Waste not, Want not.
Day 2:
  • Hopefully, you still have some ice or able to acquire some.
  • Some foods will be edible for a day at room temperature such as eggs and hard cheeses.
  • Here is a link to one of the best sites for bacterial growth requirements. Bacteria Needs for Growth.
Day 3:
  • Assess all of your previously refrigerated foods. An old kitchen motto says, "When in doubt, throw it out."
  • At this point you will be starting to get into your pantry supply.
  • Minimize leftovers so that you don't have to worry about food poisoning.
  • Feed any appropriate scraps to your pets to reduce waste.
  • Sanitation is even more important now. Paper plates were a good investment now.
  • Increase security concerns, if applicable. 
  • Most grocery stores only carry three days supply.
  • Statically speaking, neighbors have started to run out of food.
Week 2 and beyond:
  • Depending on the situation, start accessing if a garden would be necessary and take appropriate actions. Hunting skills/Raising Farm Animals also are starting to look even more appealing.
  • Continue using pantry items and fill gaps with the long term preparation food items. That is why you bought them.
Eventually: 
  • Your stored food will run out and you will have to forage, hunt, and farm. Start learning these skills now.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Water Plan: Part II

How much water can be purified with a gallon of Clorox bleach?  Avoid using bleaches that contain perfumes, dyes and other additives. A bottle of 121 ounce Clorox will cost about $3.50 at China-mart. Thanks Clorox, we get 7 full ounces less for the size that looks like a gallon!

First we need to look at how to purify water with bleach (source). It takes 20 drops (1/4 teaspoon) for a gallon of untreated water, and 60 minutes.


Next, there are .945 gallons in the 121 ounce bottle. Plug that number into this converter, and you get 71,554 drops of bleach in 121 ounces. Let's just round down to 71,500 for an easier conversion for gallon amounts.

Divide 71,500 by 20 drops (amount for 1 gallon untreated water) and we can treat  3575 gallons.

For the price of $3.50, we can treat over 3500 gallons of water (10 gallons for a penny) and have sparkling whites.

Keep Right On Prepping - K

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Roku and YouTube

We haven't had cable in several years, and the only thing that we've missed is the bill. Roku has added the YouTube channel a few months ago. So, in addition to NetFlix (<$10/month), and YouTube we have more than enough entertainment for the family.



For you Wolfman...

No commercials + shorter viewing time + more money in our pocket  = winning combination





The other entertainment project on my list is to install the digital antenna and converter for over-the-air broadcasting.


Keep Right On Prepping - K


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Water Plan : Part I

I'll be running a series on our water plan, and what we have been doing as a suburban family preparing for the future. While water is always toted as the number one priority for any preparedness exercise, it is often an over looked item. We are guilty of having the knowledge to prepare, but haven't fully acted on it. Granted, we are better prepared than most people.



Here is our current situation:

5 - seven gallon containers that are sitting in the garage since our move to the new house. They need to be taken under the house and filled with a water hose, and a drop or two of bleach added for the year long storage. I'll need to buy another container since the Dr. is another family  member to our household. We usually have about 4 to 7 cases of water on hand at all times. Each case has two and a half gallons each, or about a half day supply for our family. Each person needs one gallon of water per day. This is rationing level. This doesn't include water to flush the toilet or take a bath.

We have two hot water tanks. One is 80 gallons, and the other is 20 or 25 gallons. Best case scenario is that only the power goes out, and I'm able to cut the water supply at the curb to preserve the drinkable water. Five humans and one dog equals six people. 100 gallons divided by six equals a little over 16 days drinking supply. If it really get to critical level, the dog will get drinking water from the creek.

We have located one open water source that is within easy walking distance. We have about 2 gallons of bleach on hand, so we can purify the water that way. This source would quickly become non-drinkable in a prolonged situation from pollution and sewage.

Our other option is rain water collection. We have a large pool that can be used to collect water from the downspouts. This is probably my preferred method since chemical or sewage runoff is very unlikely. More research will have to be done on this topic. The water can be purified with either bleach or boiling. The record for Arkansas without rain is 39 days. (Source) Any rain collection system should account for the longest days without rain versus storage capacity. I can not stress this last sentence enough. We have tarps that can be used to funnel water into several five gallon buckets (we currently have 8) to expand our storage capacity even further. Of course, a serious SHTF event would necessitate this drastic action.

I do have a white gas camp stove that can be pressed into water purification duty, and have about 4-5 gallons of fuel which should last quite a while.  I'll have to calculate burn time at a later date, or buy another gallon.

Water storage is very unsexy in the preparedness world, but the most critical.  Toledo residents that had a water plan could have assisted neighbors (if they had enough to spare) and had an easier time. 

Questions: Do you have a water plan? Any other ways to acquire or store water that I hadn't mentioned? What things can you do today to improve your situation?