Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Food Storage/Emergency Preparedness Helpful Hints

Example of shelving and storage area.
You all know I'm a preparer. I am however not a doomsday-er! I am not fanatical about it and you will not see me on an episode of Doomsday Preppers. I do believe that one should be as prepared as one can be. I do believe that being prepared for emergencies dispels fear. I am a member of the LDS church and our prophets have always counseled us to be prepared and be as self reliant as possible. This is not a hoarding thing, but a be as prepared as you can thing so you can care for yourself, your family and others in times of need. And I can tell you it doesn't take a big natural disaster or zombie Apocalypse  for this type of preparation to come in handy. When my husband was laid off from his job last year with no notice, this food storage made us feel less anxious because at least we knew we had enough food and our kids would not go hungry! So today I am posting a few things that I have learned in my journey to food storage/emergency  preparedness. I have been "preparing" for about 6 or 7 years now and I am not done, but I inch closer all the time! I am also not an expert on the subject of preparedness, but this is my own experience in "getting prepared". Here's my food storage helpful hints:

  • Store what you eat! Yes, it's great to have wheat, rice, oats, flours, sugars, beans and such, but what if your family is not used to eating these kinds of things? Not a good idea to introduce a new diet in an emergency! Your family will find comfort in the usual. That doesn't mean you shouldn't store the mentioned items above, but try to keep it as close to "normal" as you can. Keeping in mind how long your "usual" foods will store, there is nothing worse than wasted food because you stored it too long. Using and replacing is best on these kinds of foods.
  • Learn to use your food storage raw materials on a regular basis so your family gets used to them and they become "normal". I got a using food storage recipe cookbook some years ago and I regularly make something out of it so I get used to making things from scratch, my family gets used to the foods and it helps to rotate the storage.
Bottled tomatoes.
  • If you grow a garden learn to bottle, can, freeze or dry your extra produce. This can be one of the most cost effective ways to build a storage. Gardens always seem to produce more than you can eat fresh so learn to preserve the harvest.
Some of the harvest to be preserved.

  • Have your supply stored in different ways. It's like diversifying your financial portfolio, and not keeping all your eggs in one basket. For instance if your entire food store was in freezers and we lost power for a prolonged period and you lost all your storage that would be sad. Have some frozen, some canned, some bottled, dried etc. Keeping in mind in an earthquake glass bottles may not be the best thing to have your food stored in. (Also if you have a large amount of your supply in the freezer having a generator with fuel to keep it all frozen is a necessity!)
  • One thing I do to help me use the dry beans I have an ample supply of is: Once a year, at the end of canning season I bottle the dry beans, this makes them already cooked and sealed just like a can of beans you buy at the store. Say that you wanted to make Chili, but you didn't want to soak the beans overnight, cook them and make Chili. This allows you to just open the bottle and dump them in! They have already been soaked and cooked, just warm and they are ready to eat. I incorporate beans a lot in my meals by having them readily available. For instance, I put them in with my meat for tacos or burritos, giving them extra protein, fiber and nutrition. I use them in various soups and chili's. I find that having them ready for use makes me more likely to use them! It takes some time one day to bottle them, but saves time all the other days. 
Example of beans ready for use, bottled using dried food storage beans!
  • Rotate your storage! Yes, some things store for a very long time when packed properly but it is good to use it up and replace frequently too.
  • Label your storage containers clearly including dates, what's inside and if you rotate make sure to update when you re-stock and if you put something different in.
Example of labeling.

See the concrete behind? Keep buckets from touching.

  • Always buy buckets that have reusable lids, I rotate/use my storage items frequently so when I went to Costco to buy big bags of flour and sugar to replace my storage and fill the empty buckets, some of the bucket lids would not seal back down again and some would. So when you make a bucket purchase make sure the lids can be used again! I am trying the gamma lid on the bucket that I am using (not sealed) because the top can be more easily removed (since on sugar and flour I use more frequently I keep them in buckets with easy to remove lids) The lid has two parts, the ring part snaps tight down onto the bucket and then the lid screws down tight onto the ring. I think it will be more convenient!
  • Keep your food storage area cool and dry. I keep a bucket of DampRid Moisture Absorber on one of the food storage shelves to absorb excess moisture in the air.
DampRid to collect excess moisture in the air, particularly important when storing excess amounts of honey as honey will collect moisture too!

  • Watch for sales on items you rotate or use most so you can stock up when the price is right. (Case lot sales are also helpful)
  • Organize, Organize, Organize! If you can't see it or find it, you can't use it!! Shelves are oh so helpful. 
  • FYI: I want to have enough water stored and thought using old milk jugs to store them was a good idea. Let me tell you however that they don't last forever, they begin to leak after a few years, I learned this one the hard way. I have better luck with juice bottles that are a heavier plastic. 
  • This sounds like a no-brain er, Have a manual can opener! (I actually just realized I didn't have one), it would be very hard to open all those cans with an electric can opener if we have no power! So that was my last purchase, $1.50, didn't take much $ to solve this problem!
  • In your preparation ask yourself these questions:
  • How will I stay warm if we have no electricity for a prolonged period of time?
  • How will I cook food if we have no electricity for a prolonged period of time?
  • How will we see in the dark if we have no electricity for a prolonged period of time? (if you have flashlights, do you have batteries?)
  • How much water do you have stored if your water supply is disrupted for a prolonged period of time?
  • If you have to evacuate your home do you have emergency kits ready to go so you can just grab and go if necessary? Do you have all your important documents organized in a portable container?
  • Do have fire extinguishers readily available? In a disaster situation the authorities may be overwhelmed and you may have to fight your own fires.
  • Do you know where and how to turn off your power and gas and water to your home? Do these shut off processes require special tools or wrenches? If so, keep them stored right at the site so you aren't trying to find the right tools in an emergency!
  • (This one's kinda grody to think about but...) How will you use the restroom if your normal waste system is disrupted? (I know you can just dig a hole and go outside if you really had to, but I just recently bought a toilet seat/cover that fits on a 5 gallon bucket, it was less than ten dollars and at least gives you a seat! You can line the bucket with garbage bags and dispose of the bags as needed. The bag thing also sounds kind of gross so we may dig a hole and remove the bottom of the bucket also. At least we have a seat, it's easier for children to go if they have a seat! Also got some enzymes that break down this type of sewage material, also cheap. Not a pleasant topic but when ya gotta go, ya gotta go!)
This is the toilet seat I got, it attaches to a 5 gallon bucket.
  • Do you have foods that are easily/quick to prepare as fuels may need to be conserved and if you have foods that take a long time to prepare and not enough fuel to support this type of cooking.(I'm not a big fan of canned soups, but in times like this they are nice because all they have to do is be warmed up and they are ready to go. But this is where rotation/use comes in, they won't store forever!)
  • If you have pets do you have a plan for them? Keep in mind most disaster shelters won't allow pets. If you need to evacuate or if you are home do you have enough food and water to support Fido or Trigger for a prolonged period of time? 
  • Have a bartering item, for instance I have bee hives and a large supply of honey. I could use this product to barter with others who have other items that I need. (Fuels, cured firewood already cut and dry, cooking oils, honey, milk products if you have a cow, eggs if you have chickens etc.) 
  • Have money set aside in small bills, if the power goes out ATM's will be no good! And you don't want to be stuck with 20's if the price is $1-5 and no one has change!
  • What is your family plan? For instance what if your family is separated at the time of a natural disaster, what is your plan? Where will you go? Do the rest of the members of the family know the plan? I recommend having a place to meet whether that be home or somewhere else, have a person (preferably out of state that everyone in your family will call in an emergency to report that they are OK, the local phone lines may be out. Know your plan so you don't have to use the phone, to keep the lines open for emergency personnel. 
  • Teach your children, involve them in the process, they will find it fun and it will help them to not be afraid. My kids saw part of the movie that our state made about preparing for earthquakes, at first they seemed a little frightened by it. (I know it was made to get people into action.) I just explained to them that if we prepare and know what to do in times of emergency that it will help us to not be as afraid. They took it very well and loved all they got to do to help. My littlest girl got to use the hammer to seal down the bucket lids, which she loved! We had a mock earthquake drill and they loved that. They will remember what to do if you show them, have practice drills and remind them often what they should do in a fire, earthquake, storm etc. 
This is just a post to get you thinking about being prepared for emergencies. If Storm Sandy in NYC should have taught us anything, it should be that we need to try to be prepared! This is not meant to scare or depress, it has been written in a spirit of optimism with a goal of trying to add a little here and there to be more prepared for life's challenges. This is in no way a complete list of things you should have or do to be prepared! Please feel free to comment on what you have learned in your journey towards preparedness.

No comments:

Post a Comment