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  • Water Filter Essentials

    Being able to create good, clean water wherever you are will not only wet your whistle, but also save your life.

    Filtered Water

    Water storage is very important in being prepared for the unexpected, but what if you’re far away from your water storage? Perhaps you’re out hiking. Well let me tell you, toting around a 30 gallon water barrel just isn’t going to work if that’s the case. Or maybe your living arrangements don’t allow for extensive water storage. There are many scenarios in which you might need something more. Fortunately, there are plenty of handy, portable water filters on the market that you can invest in.

    With so many water filters out there, how are you supposed to know which one is best for you? Fear not, faithful readers! I have just completed my official emergency preparedness expert Katadyn Water Filter Training, and now I’m here to pass along all my hard-earned secrets. Ready? Here we go!

    Old man and the Sea in a SkiffFirst of all, let’s talk about the why. We can find water almost anywhere. Unfortunately, very little of this water is drinkable. As the Ancient Mariner once said, bemoaning his fate as he was stuck out at sea,

    Water, water, everywhere,

    nor any drop to drink.

    That’s exactly how it can be. So much water, but most of it so very undrinkable. What makes water unsuitable for human consumption? Well, let’s just say there are plenty of nasties in the water, and it would be best for us if we didn’t invite them into our bodies. There are three main kinds of water hazards we should avoid:

    • Protozoan cysts (0.5 microns)
    • Bacteria (2-15 microns)
    • Viruses (0.018 microns)

    These bad boys can make a person sick. Fortunately, the Katadyn filters are designed to keep them out of your water. All of the filters will work great against the protozoan cysts and bacteria, since those little guys are big enough to be stopped by the filters. Viruses, however, are a wee bit too small for filters to be effective.

    Normally you won’t have to worry about viruses, as those only show up near where human activity takes place. For example, a stream, creek, or lake or something off the beaten path where people don’t generally venture forth, will be quite free of viruses. Rivers and lakes near civilization could be a problem, however. Also flood water. Don’t drink flood water.

    Lake with blue skies No people? No problem (for filters, at least)!

    Viruses can be eliminated with a tablet (the Katadyn guy prefers the Micropur purification tablets). Just drop a tablet in the water and let it go to work. It’s one tablet per liter of water. If the water is clear, you only have to wait 30 minutes before the water is good to go. If it’s dirty water, however, your wait could be up to 4 hours. But again, in the wild or away from humans, you won’t need tablets. The filters will be just fine.

    Now, I’d like to take a moment and talk about two of the filters that were demonstrated. One is a simple, reliable and totally portable personal filter. The other is great for filtering larger volumes of water for a camp, or a family in an emergency.

    Hiker ProThe #1 selling filter on the market is the Hiker Pro. There aren’t many moving parts, so it’s reliability rating is very high. It’s super light (11 oz.), so hiking with it is a breeze! It has a carbon core which also helps to improve the taste of the water. Another nifty bit with this filter is the quick release valve and bottle adapter. With this, you can quickly disconnect your hose from the filter and connect it to your bottle. It’s an easy transition, and a great way to quickly fill your water bottle. Speaking of speed, it pumps about a liter a minute. Not bad, if you’re far from a sink or faucet.

    The second filter is the Base Camp Pro, and it is ridiculously cool. For one thing, it’s crazy fast (as in 2 liters a minute), and uses Base Campgravity to do all the work. Just hang it up in a tree (or have your kid hold it and call it a workout) with its extra-large strap and watch the water flow! It holds 10 liters of water, and is guaranteed not to clog with debris and other contaminants. The coolest thing about this (for me, anyway) is that you can turn the Base Camp into a shower with the handy dandy shower adapter. Say goodbye to nasty, showerless camping trips!

    I won’t talk about every filter we saw, since we already have a great article identifying all the filters and purifiers we carry. Instead, I’ll politely send you to check that out by clicking here.

    If you’re looking for a filter for hiking, home, or just-in-case, Katadyn has some great options for all situations, so you won’t have to worry about getting caught (ahem) in the rain.

    What’s your favorite filter? What do you look for in a filter? Let us (and your fellow preppers) know in the comments!

    Posted In: Insight, Uncategorized, Water Storage Tagged With: purification, water filter

  • Why Emergency Food Storage?

    When winter hits, some animals have to scrounge and forage for food. Squirrels don’t. They store-up, so when food becomes scarce, they have an ample supply on hand. And they aren’t the only creatures that prepare for hard times. Wildcats, moles, and foxes (to name a few) are also ready for cold, cruel winter. It’s part of their nature. They know tough times are coming and they make sure to plan ahead.

    Be more squirrely. Get to work building your own emergency food supply.

    So why don’t we, as humans, stockpile food? I mean, most of us are a lot smarter than squirrels. Perhaps we just can’t believe that trying times are on their way? Maybe, since we might not live in Tornado Alley, or along the San Andreas Fault, or on the Southern Atlantic Coast, we can’t comprehend why we would ever be left without a way to get food. At the same time, common sense tells us hardships, set-backs, job losses, illnesses, accidents as well as natural disasters eventually strike us all – often with little or no warning.

    So, why don’t we prepare?

    I think it’s time we get squirrely (or foxy or moley…). I’m talking about food storage here. Like money in the bank, or a food insurance policy, building emergency food storage is a just plain smart...at least as smart as a squirrel.

    Now, I’m not talking about putting up the “I’m-only-eating-this-is-because-there’s-nothing-else-to-eat” kind of food. Oh no. More than just bulk wheat and oats, I’m talking about fun, fast, easy, and delicious long-term food storage that give you lots of choices when it comes to “what’s for dinner?” in an emergency.

    So what are your options? There are tons of choices when it comes to emergency food supplies and long-term storage. Let me show you what I mean.

     

    Meats, Fruits, Vegetables, Dairy, Grains & Legumes, Whole Meals, and Desserts

    This ain’t your grandma’s closet full of bulk food supplies. Today, there are all kinds of food options to choose from. All major food groups (and a few minor ones, like dessert) are packaged for decades of storage. Not only do they maintain their nutritional value, they will taste as great in 25 years as they would next week. Let’s talk for a moment about the benefits each food group offers, shall we?

    Meat: Meat is a great way to get your protein. Today’s freeze-dried meats will rehydrate to virtually the same freshly cooked state it was before it was canned. Eat it as a main course with a favorite sauce, or add it to your favorite salads, stir-fries, tacos, and casseroles. I’ve been known to pop chicken chunks or turkey sausage right into my mouth, right out of the can. It’s a kinda fun and funky sorta experience as that dried meat rehydrates in your mouth. It’s also way delicious. These meats are prepared and packaged to last up to 25 years (try keeping any other meat that long! Actually, on second thought, don’t try that. Just…don’t).

    Fruits: There’s not a fruit I know of that hasn’t made it’s way through a freeze-dryer and into a can, and each one as delicious as the next. Just as meat is a great source of protein, fruit is a fantastic way to get your vitamins. Freeze-dried and dehydrated fruits are also great in salads, desserts, or even (brace yourself) straight from the can! Let me tell you, pop some freeze-dried mandarin sections into your mouth and, well, it’s like candy! Really good candy that is 100% good for you. My friend’s mom likes to pop freeze-dried grapes into her mouth, then quickly follow them with a bite of a freeze-dried lime slice. “It’s a Lime Ricky party in your mouth,” she says. Seriously though, I have it on good authority that this stuff is all they eat in heaven. I’m sure of it. Every time I see a can of Freeze-dried fruit, I try to find a way to make it mine…or at least pilfer some of its contents.

    Vegetables: Low in fat and high in nutrients, easy to store and prepare, vegetables are a brilliant food to store. They’re also super quick to rehydrate, which makes them a great addition to your recipes, snacks, and sides. Like their fruity counterparts, freeze-dried vegetables have rich flavor, making them another great snack straight from the can.

    Dairy: Dairy includes all those products derived from milk, of course, though I also include eggs because when I was a kid the milkman also delivered eggs with the milk (although, I don’t include bacon or popsicles in dairy, which he also delivered. Oh well...where was I?) Dairy! In addition to powdered milk (in all its flavors), it’s easy to store cheese (which actually melts like fresh), sour cream, butter, and (you guessed it) eggs (whole and scrambled). Dairy products provide protein, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Few foods are as versatile as dairy products—perfect for pouring over cereal, baking and cooking, or even just drinking by itself—or as an essential for keeping your body healthy and strong.

    Grains and Legumes: While grandma would store 500 pounds of wheat in the cellar and call it good, today’s common culinary tastes and skills could do no more with a cup of wheat as a sack of rocks. While in able hands, raw dried grains and legumes stored in bulk are a potent and useful source of carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and iron, these nutrients are now found in several other easy-to-store and quick-to-prepare varieties. Peanut butter powder, pasta, freeze-dried frijoles, and Emergency Essentials’ famous Mac & Cheese are a sampling of the dozens of prepared grains and legumes that make any meal complete.

    Full MealWhole Meals: Sometimes…you just don’t want to cook, and that’s OK. Especially now, since you can get pre-cooked, complete meals that are freeze-dried and last up to 25 years. Many of these types of meals are fully prepared before they are freeze-dried, so you’re getting an actual meal – with real texture – that tastes great. Just add boiling water, let sit for a bit, then eat. It’s a quick, easy, and delicious way to feed your entire family. Gone are the days of stocking up with only wheat, bottled sauces, and canned meat to make a meal. Now are the days of fantastic home-cooked meals that only take a few minutes! If you were ever hesitant about storing food before, this should allay all fear. Full freeze-dried meals really are as quick and delicious as I’m letting on.

    Desserts: Alright, let’s be honest. This is the one you really wanted to know about, am I right? These desserts are so easy to make. From cake and brownie mixes to puddings and ice cream (yes, ice cream!), these just-add-water desserts are absolutely delectable. Personally, I love dessert (chocolate cake….Mmmmm….), and so when I can’t run to the store to get the required ingredients, I’m definitely going to want a mix or two (or three) on hand for when the cravings hit. That is, if I am out of my all-time favorite…Freeze-dried Ice Cream Sandwiches. Seriously…if they sold these at 7-11 I would never get out of the parking lot.

    As you can see, there are a lot of different options regarding food. If you want something, chances are you’ll be able to find it. Having an emergency food storage doesn’t mean storing food you’ll never use. On the contrary, your emergency food storage will be something you’ll actually enjoy eating. There’s no use suffering when your life is already hard, but you still need to do your part and get the food before the dire need arises.

     


    Cans, Buckets, Pouches, Superpails

    Lastly, let’s discuss briefly the various ways in which you can store your food.

    StrawberriesCans: Cans are a great option for storing food. You can get basically anything in a can, from grains to legumes and from meats to fruits and vegetables. They come in large #10 cans, as well as smaller, two serving cans. They’re easy to store, especially if you don’t have a lot of room for large pails and buckets.

    Pouches: Pouches are packaged for individual meals. They can fit nicely into a bug-out bag or in the trunk with your car emergency kit. They are also very popular among outdoor enthusiasts. The two serving pouches will serve one hungry hiker with a hot, delicious home-style meals while hunting or camping. And don’t worry about leftovers… you’ll never have any with these.

    Buckets: Buckets are the home to lots of pouches. Inside each bucket are an assortment of different meal pouches, or a large quantity of your favorite ones. Buckets are easy to store, as they stack well on each other. This lets you maximize your floor space in your storage area.

    Superpails 02Superpails: Superpails are large, 6 gallon pails (not to be confused with buckets). Superpails come lined with metallized bags, which help block out the light, keeping the food fresh longer. Superpails hold about the equivalent of eight #10 cans, and are great for buying in bulk. Just like the buckets, the Superpails are built for stacking, leaving you with optimized storage space.

    So there you have it. Lots of different options for starting your food storage. So go ahead…start squirrelling away an emergency food supply. Take it slowly, month by month, or go all out and get a large load all at once. Either way, let’s get smart and follow the example of our bushy-tailed prepper friend, and be ready when tough times come.

    Squirrel Hoard

    What’s your preferred method of storing food? Do you prefer bulk grains and food, or individual or pouches? Let us know!

    Posted In: Emergency Cooking, Food Storage, Insight Tagged With: what to get, food storage

  • A New Innovative Energy Solution

    I don’t know about you, but my public school science fair participation usually involved something growing in a Styrofoam cup and only loosely scientific hand-drawn charts. Precisely none of my entries looked like Cynthia Lam’s, who may have just solved a whole handful of problems with her portable photocatalytic electricity generator and water purification unit.

    Cynthia's photocatalytic generator and purifier

    Her what?

    Apparently, the high school student from Melbourne, Australia, is pretty close to perfecting a portable technology that would produce energy while cleaning water. Not only that, but the by-product is non-polluting and the cost is low. And the implications for developing countries, as well as the rest of the world, are not lost on the ambitious teenager:

    “[N]ot only is there a lack of resources in third-world countries, but also the whole world is facing energy crisis and water pollution. My objective is to find an eco-friendly and economical approach to solve both issues.”

    And that she did. According to her, all you need is titania and light. Basically (if this can even be called basic), water is purified and sterilized through light (through a process called photocatalysis), which then produces hydrogen through water-splitting, which in turn generates electricity. Like I said – basic. Now, I’m not sure which is more impressive: the innovative and life-changing properties of this device, or the fact that it was developed by a high school student! Let’s be honest, when I was in high school, the only reactions I was concerned about was how my friends would like my new clothes.

    While emerging technologies like this invention could radically change the quality of life in poverty-stricken areas without access to clean water and power, Cynthia’s point is crucial: there is potential in her little gadget for even more universal benefit.

    As you know, we’re big fans of alternative technologies around here. Anything that decreases our dependence, even a little bit, on the famously vulnerable national grid is a plus in our book. Remember, it doesn’t take a major national disaster to interrupt utilities service. I’m thinking of two instances in the last year where my family lost access to power and water for multiple days, as a result of a very local storm and some septic hiccups. With a photocatalytic electricity generator and water purification unit (say that ten times fast!), I could have spared myself a freezer full of melted ice cream and funky smelling tap water.

    Cynthia’s device isn’t ready yet. And although we have no doubt that we’ll be seeing her name and her machine again soon, there are loads of other products on the market that take advantage of unconventional means to produce power, purify water, and generally make life bearable in the event of an emergency. Here are just a handful of those unconventional means and ways you can harness them in your own preparations.

     

    Solar – We’ve written about this (with embarrassing enthusiasm) before. We love the idea of using the sun’s limitless and available power to do everything from cook, to see in the dark, to heat our shower water. And if you think that solar equipment is too bulky or expensive to be useful for personal prep, you obviously haven’t checked out our range of solar products.

     

    UV – While it still requires a power source, the idea of purifying water with ultraviolet light kind of blows our mind. No changeable filter, no iodine or bleach, no jerry-rigged collection contraption in your backyard. We’re big fans of these small and light SteriPEN purifiers.

     

    Hand crank – While kids like Cynthia are changing the world with their amazing technology, the oldest and most reliable power source in the world is still human muscles. And by getting back to basics, you can ensure that you’re always able to do what you need to do, regardless of the wattage coming through your outlets. Check out everything you can do with this selection of (wo)man-powered tech.

     

    What alternative power possibilities have you particularly pumped? Tell us about them!

    Posted In: First Aid and Sanitation, Insight Tagged With: innovation, alternate energy, water purification

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