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In the wake of natural and man-made disasters like Katrina and 9/11, many folks are just beginning to think about emergency preparedness. This site has always been about wilderness preparedness, but I get a lot of questions about home kits, car kits and "bug-out bags". I won't get too in depth on this subject, as there's a lot of good sites out there that cover it in depth. I'll just cover a few basics that I try to follow.
First, you should really think about rigging an
emergency closet in your home (if you havenít already done so). One of the best
things you can have is a stash of canned soups or stews along with some big bags
or buckets of dried rice, dried beans, dried peas, pasta and the like. These
dried staple foods are VERY cheap and last a LONG time when properly stored. My
local grocery store sells a 20 pound sack of dry rice for about $8. Peas and
beans are a bit more, but also very cheap.
One cup of dry rice and 3 cups of water make 4 cups of reconstituted rice. Thatís almost 2 pounds rice. Itís about the same ratio with the beans and peas. You donít even need to cook any of it. Just let it sit overnight with the right amount of water, and the dried goods will take on the water and reconstitute themselves. The rice provides carbs for energy, the peas provide a lot of vitamins and minerals and the beans are a good source of protein. As such, one cup of rice, a half cup of peas, a half cup of beans and about 5 or 6 cups of water will make a huge meal... enough for a family of 5 or 6 people.
Remember that much of the world lives on rice and beans with a few vegetables thrown into the pot. Meat is a luxury that you can do without if necessary. Pouring a can of soup or stew over the rice, bean and pea combo will add flavor... and presto... youíve got a large meal for a big family. If you want to be able to add some flavor without the soup or stew, a big canister full of beef or chicken bouillon cubes is a great addition to the emergency closet.
If you were to spend a hundred dollars (or less) to stock a small emergency pantry with dried staples, canned goods, flashlights, batteries, a radio, etc... your family could live for several months if the worst were to happen. I donít have a dedicated closet per se... I just keep plenty of canned food and dry goods in my cabinets. I rotate my stocks as I use them (new stuff in the back and the older stuff in front).
Another thing I've done is rinsed out and kept a bunch of 2 liter soda bottles. I have a good sized bin full of them in my basement. If a big storm is on the way, I fill them up with water. This is a very basic precaution that would have helped a LOT of Katrina victims. They were shocked when contaminated water (and finally no water) came out of the faucet. Many of these people had no clue about preparedness, and kept only enough food for a day or two. Some folks think theyíre well stocked, but have mainly perishable foods in their home. As soon as the electricity goes out, their food supply quickly becomes useless.
The little soda-can based camp stoves I wrote about on THIS PAGE are also great items to keep in an emergency pantry. A couple big bottles of rubbing alcohol will fuel them for a LONG time!
PS - If you're a caffeine junkie like me, you may want to consider adding some big cannisters of coffee to your emergency staple stocks!
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