Friday, April 23, 2010

Start Your Home Storage Program

There is a high probability that sometime in the future you will face a situation in which the grocery stores are not able to supply you with food or other goods. It might be due to a natural disaster like extreme weather, an economic collapse, war, or some kind of manmade crisis such as a transportation strike or highways that are closed. Even just the rumor of something dreadful can empty grocery shelves in mere hours — are you old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis, when stores were almost instantly emptied by folks suddenly inspired to stock up.

Well, it's going to happen again. More than once. Might happen in your neighborhood. But the good news is that you don't have to participate in the food shortage if you will start preparing now.

I'm not proposing that you go out and spend thousands of dollars to buy a ready-made emergency supply of stuff that has been sealed in #10 cans and "guaranteed" to last for 30 years on your shelf. Some folks might see the benefit to having Godzilla-sized containers of stuff that has been dehydrated, freeze-dried, or otherwise treated with everlasting preservatives. It can make one feel secure to have shelves bulging with those cans. But have you ever actually eaten any of it? If you can answer "yes" then I say good for you. But most people have no clue what to do with those types of rations.

I'm not saying that nobody should have some freeze-dried stuff on the shelves. You can go that route if you want to, but that's not what I'm recommending here. The plan I'm promoting as a way for you to get started  is simple, cheap, and you can start today. You don't have to take out a loan or eviscerate the vacation fund to finance a survival plan. Just go at it a little at a time, consistently, and with a purpose in mind.

So here's the plan in excruciatingly simple terms:
  • First comes the planning stage. For 1 week, make a note of everything your family eats. As you're preparing each meal, list the canned items used, in all their varieties — soups, canned fruits, vegetables, stews, chili, whatever. Also make a note of the pasta you normally eat. Now you have the framework on which to build your emergency food supply. 
  • Each can or jar or package that is purchased and put on the storage shelf must be marked with the date of purchase. As you buy more, mark the date and move the newest stuff to the back, so the oldest items are always closest to the front of the pack. 
  • Our goal is to gradually build a 3-month supply of food that is already part of your normal diet. Do this by purchasing a few extra items each week, working from the list you made, and put those extras away on a storage shelf. Before long, you'll have a 1-week supply of food set aside. Be sure to build the food storage around all the varieties you normally eat. This way, your family won't have any trouble having to adapt to a new kind of diet when an emergency happens. 
  • Now that you have a secure 1-week supply, continue in the same fashion until you have a 1-month supply. Then eventually work toward a solid 3-month supply. Do this over the course of the next 12 months, and the process will be almost invisible to the budget. 
  • Here's the key — rotate this food into your normal day-to-day food preparation routine. Use the oldest cans or jars or packages of food first, and then replace it with a fresh item the next time you go to the store. This way, your 3-month supply is always full and always fresh. 
Food is only part of the equation. Water is even more critical to survival. Store drinking water in sturdy, leak-proof, unbreakable containers. In our home, we have most of our potable water supply stored in 1-gallon plastic containers. We also have some 5-gallon plastic containers on hand, but these are harder to heft. Water weighs about 8.4 lbs per gallon, so a full 5-gallon container weighs more than 42 lbs. The 5-gallon units are viewed as bulk storage from which we can refill the 1-gallon containers. Also on the property, we have a few 50-gallon containers full of water that we can easily access if the need arises. 
  • Calculate your own needs, based on the consumption rate of 1 gallon per person per day. That doesn't count flushing toilets, washing dishes, or personal hygiene. Figure a gallon per day per person solely for drinking and cooking. 
  • Store water in a cool, dark place that is away from exposure to heat sources and direct sunlight. 
This plan will help you obtain your 3-month emergency food and water storage without damage to your budget and without having to introduce unfamiliar foods to your family. It is the simplest and least painful way to become prepared to handle an emergency in which the normal food supply is disabled. 

While you're at it, stock up on toilet paper, toothpaste and other such items that you like to use on a day-to-day basis. Before long, you'll be able to rest easy, knowing that you are not dependent on the stores to keep you going. And, if you've a mind to, you will be prepared to share with others who are in need. Better yet, teach them how to set up their own personal emergency supply. 

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