• How Emergency Food Storage Can See You Through Unemployment

    unemploymentWhen we think of building an emergency food supply, people most often think about the headline-making natural disasters that send whole communities into turmoil. Floods, fires, earthquakes, storms—these are all tragic events that can put families on the street in an instant, without food, water or shelter. These are certainly prevalent catastrophes that should motivate us to prepare, to plan, and to develop habits and lifestyles to defend ourselves and our families against the unexpected.

    But there are other disrupting calamities that often hit closer to home. They don’t make the news, but they are no less devastating than the tragic stories that do. They are the type that hit Richard and Marie.

    In 2009, Richard was at the top of his career. Working in the same industry for 25 years, and for a single company for most of that time, he'd progressed through the rungs of his profession and made a comfortable living. His wife Marie worked part-time at a local school, and he supported the three children he still had living at home.

    Canned FoodDuring those 25 years, Richard diligently paid down his mortgage. He and Marie bought cars for cash and saved a large portion of their paychecks every month. They also kept a garden, and every fall Marie spent weeks canning beans and beets, peaches and pears, and anything else she got her hands on. Their children don't remember ever buying canned food, Marie was such a prolific preserver.

    And then something unexpected happened. In the spring of that year, a company buy-out left Richard suddenly unemployed.

    Between a hefty severance package, temporary unemployment benefits, and an impressive resume, Richard wasn't overly worried. However, a job search that was meant to last weeks stretched into months, and then into years. For three years, Richard, Marie, and their three children lived on Marie's scant income.

    Throughout those difficult years, Richard and Marie's family experienced several major events that strained their already strained expenses. Richard went back to school to earn a Master's degree. A grand-baby joined the household. A grown child passed away. It’s worth noting, though, during that time, no one in the family cashed in a single food stamp. No one so much as ate a free lunch at school. And no one went hungry.

    Ground WheatRichard and Marie are living illustrations of the importance of food storage. Besides Marie's endless shelves of canned produce, the rice, beans, and other food they stored lowered their grocery bills to such a degree that they could continue to pay other bills while their income was nil. Marie ground wheat to make bread and used powdered milk to cook. They relied on oatmeal for breakfast instead of cold cereal. And the homemade jams and pickles made meals feel less like rations and more like normal fare.

    Richard and his family probably thought--along with most of us--that their food storage was primarily to serve as relief during a natural disaster. But when their most severe disaster came, without any help from Mother Nature, they were glad they'd spent those earlier years preparing.

    Family Dinner Unemployment shouldn't mean not eating well.

    So, are you ready? If not, check out these helpful articles on food storage, and get inspired!

    Posted In: Budgeting, Emergency Cooking, Food Storage, Preserving Tagged With: plan ahead, unemployment, emergency food storage, crisis

  • What Does Star Wars Teach Us About Drought?

    With less than 1% of surface water and an average humidity level of 5.4%, Tatooine was a very hostile place to live...

    Star Wars Tatooine Tatooine

    Compared to Tatooine (the desert planet made famous in Star Wars), California ain’t half bad. With an average humidity level of 53% during the day and 4.8% of water covering the entire state, California would feel stiflingly humid for the locals of Tatooine. And that 4.8% area of water is just for the state of California, compared to less than 1% of the entire planet of Tatooine. Yes, compared to Tatooine, California is quite the wetland.

    But if California is fearing a water shortage, how does a place like Tatooine – with even less water – survive? Water was obviously hard to come by on that Outer Rim planet, but with great drought came great innovation.

    Moisture farms made it possible for life on Tatooine. On these farms, moisture farmers would harvest water from the atmosphere. In order to do this, moisture vaporators were used. Moisture vaporators are essentially tall, refrigerated pipes, and when hot, moist air came in contact with these pipes, the humidity would condense onto the pipes, turning into water, and would be collected into underground water storage containers for future use.

    Basically, this is their version of a rain barrel.

    Vaporator (ABC) ABC

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have something like that? Believe it or not, this type of moisture vaporator actually does exist, and it’s even in our galaxy, rather than one far, far away. Invented by Terry LeBleu from Texas, his machine pulls in water from the air and turns it into pure drinking water. People need about one gallon of water per day to live comfortably. This includes water from drinking as well as sanitation. Properly maintained, one moisture vaporator on Tatooine can sustain up to three people. LeBleu’s version does even better:

     

    “Depending on humidity, the machine can make between five to seven gallons of pure water in one day. All you have to do is plug it in, and one gallon costs only 4 cents in electrical charges.”

     

    This right here proves that Star Wars is real (but let’s be honest, we really didn’t need proof since we all know it’s real anyway).

    But what about California? They don’t have moisture farms (although maybe they should start looking into those), but there are some things people there can do during a drought to help preserve water. The following are a few steps to take to prepare for a drought and help preserve water during one (this goes for all areas, not just California).

     

    1. Store Water

    Just like moisture farmers, we should have ways of storing our own water. Water reserves, water barrels, jugs, cans, and pouches…there are many ways to store water, each with its own benefit. Water reserves and barrels are large and hold a lot of water, but they take up more room. Jugs, cans, and pouches are smaller, so they can fit better in smaller areas, but they hold less water. The point is to have some sort of water storage, so if water does run out for a bit, you’ll have some on hand until help can arrive.

     

    1. Stop Leaks

    You may not think a leaky faucet is a big deal, but did you know that if your faucet is dripping one drop per second, you’ll be wasting 2,700 gallons every year? The people (and aliens) of Mos Eisley do not approve of such waste. Stop those leaks!

     

    1. Don’t Water Your Lawn So Much

    You don’t necessarily have to spray paint your lawn green to keep it looking nice (although it is a tactic some Californians are reverting to), but do try to cut back on how much water you use to green up your grass. Your lawn only needs to be watered once every 5 days in the summertime, so maybe it’s time to put the sprinkler away those days in between. And, in the winter, your lawn only needs a watering every 10 to 14 days. A bonus is if you get a good rain, your grass is good for up to two weeks! Don’t overdo it. You don’t see Jabba the Hutt using water excessively, and he only cares for himself!

     

    1. Recycle

    Don’t waste water if you can find another use for it. Excess shower water, for example, can be used to water your plants. Find ways to capture excess water and use it for other things you’d normally use water for.

     

     

    Star Wars may take place in a galaxy far, far away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from their drought-ridden planets. Tatooine is in a constant state of drought, and always has been. California is now in their 4th year of drought, but if it keeps up the way it is, Tatooine may have a new rival when it comes to arid wastelands. But before California turns into a genuine dust bowl, there are some steps to take to reduce water usage and prepare for even harsher conditions. During times of drought, water is the most valuable resource you have. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.

     

    For more information on drought, including articles and essential gear and products, visit beprepared.com/drought.

     

    Additional Reading:

    When the Well Runs Dry: http://beprepared.com/blog/17715/well-runs-dry/

    Don't Doubt the Drought: http://beprepared.com/blog/17819/dont-doubt-drought/

    Posted In: Planning, Water Storage Tagged With: moisture vaporator, Tatooine, Star Wars, California, drought, water storage

  • City of Tents - Living After the Nepal Earthquake

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    TweetSaturday saw a major earthquake in Nepal. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake has left a death toll of over 4,000. Entire towns have been flattened. With multiple aftershocks still shaking the area, along with landslide in the steep mountain, thousands are still anxious about their safety.

    On the first night following the Nepal earthquake, thousands of people were left on the street without shelter. IN the days since, tent cities are starting to take shape, springing up all over the region, providing at least some form of shelter for those without—shelter that may have to last for weeks, even months. And with aftershocks still rolling, people are staying outdoors in tents to avoid the danger of another collapse. BBC News reported on the scene at Kathmandu:

     

    Tent City Associated Press

    “Vast tent cities have sprung up in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, for those displaced or afraid to return to their homes as strong aftershocks continued. Thousands spent Sunday night - their second night - outside.”

     

    As we’ve seen in Kathmandu, tents are the go-to for those in the affected areas. And with such wide-spread devastation, how long will they have to remain in these tent cities? Which begs the question, if an earthquake struck your area, would you be prepared with shelter for you and your family?

    Just over a week ago, we at Emergency Essentials participated in The Great Utah Shakeout – an event designed to help people prepare for an earthquake. We set up a shakeout camp which consisted of a variety of tents—from tiny two-man pop-ups, to our premium Barebones cabin tents, to our 450 sq. ft Geo Shelter dome tent, all outfitted with the gear that will help people survive comfortably following a large quake. Those who stopped by our camp enjoyed strolling about our little camp (even though 6 inches of snow was on the ground in the morning hours, followed by 40 MPH winds in the afternoon…an appropriate touch Mother Nature provided to help us illustrate survival in trying conditions). I’ll tell you what, I was definitely grateful we had those tents set up, because it was a chilly day.

    The Barebones tent not only demonstrated the ability withstand all types of conditions, including heavy snowfall and strong winds, but was outfitted with cots, a desk, and even a wood burning stove. The Barebones Safari Outfitter Tent can comfortably house up to four people, and through several seasons if necessary. Take a look!

    Barebones

    Barebones Pano

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    If I were in Kathmandu and forced to find a place to live for an indefinite amount of time, this would be right at the top of my list. And, with some alternate energy sources like a Goal Zero Yeti 1250 or some solar panels to provide light and power, this would definitely take some of the pain out of the disaster.

    The Nepal earthquake shows us how important shelter can be. Fortunately they’ve had some nice nights, but earthquakes don’t always wait for good weather, as our weather on ShakeOut day demonstrated.

    So, are you prepared with shelter? We hope so. But if not, check out our Barebones tents so when disaster does strike, you’ll have the shelter you need to protect you and your family.

     

    Barebones Outfitter Safari Tent: http://beprepared.com/barebones-safari-outfitter-tent.html

    Barebones Little Bighorn Tent: http://beprepared.com/barebones-little-bighorn-tent.html

    Shake Out Camp Blog Post: http://beprepared.com/blog/17966/shakeout-camp-surviving-well/

    Posted In: Uncategorized

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