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  • Investing in Food Storage

    Money on the mindHappy Tax Day, everybody! Whether you’re frantically finishing up some complicated math before you file at the last minute, or relaxing while you wait for that refund check to roll in, April 15th is a day when money is on our mind. How much have we made? How much have we saved? What have we done with what we have, and how can we get more?

     

    I especially love checking on my interest and investments at this point in the year and watching those baby percentage points grow up. However, there’s one important investment that doesn’t show up on my 1040. That’s my food storage.

     

    Never thought about food storage as an investment? Let me offer two points that may change your mind. And who knows? It might even inspire you to invest that tax return.

     

    1. Investing in food storage Investing in food storage brings peace of mind

      Security. For many of us, the purpose of a financial investment is some sort of protection against an unpredictable or unexpectedly lean future. We invest in insurance in case something happens to our home or our car, or in our retirement knowing we won’t have a regular paycheck after a certain point. Food storage works along the same lines. Any number of unforeseen events could interrupt our ability to purchase food for a time, and comestibles previously purchased and stored for future use protects and preserves normalcy during those interruptions.

     

    And if you’re waiting for something big, like an earthquake or tornado, to knock out power lines and close grocery stores, think again. A few years ago, CNN reported that somewhere close to 50 million Americans experienced “low food security” in 2011 as a result of layoffs, unemployment, and underemployment.

     

    1. Appreciation of the DollarAppreciation. The hope with any investment is that your return will be greater than your initial buy. So, how does that work with food storage? It’s not like you buy three bags of rice and in five years you magically have four bags. And besides, food—unlike gold or real estate—eventually goes bad. Isn’t that depreciation?

     

    Nope! Here’s how Stanford economist Russ Roberts explained it to an NPR reporter:

     

    "Inflation is low these days, running at a 1.7 percent annual rate. Still, it outpaces the return on a savings account. Roberts says if inflation starts rising, to say, 5 percent, the argument for bulk buying becomes more powerful. 'Do you have an investment now that pays 5 percent? The answer is: not easily,' he says.

    "He explains that a mutual fund might achieve a 5 percent return — but that's only if the stock market is doing well. Savings accounts and money market funds don't pay anything close to that. 'So it's certainly true that cash, if you can spare it to convert your cash into real goods whose price is rising, [buying in bulk] is not a bad idea,' Roberts says."

     

    In other words, because of inevitable inflation, you will get more food for the same amount today than you will in the future. Buy those three bags of rice now for $15, because that same $15 will only buy one or two bags down the road. Make sense?

     

    Not only does food go up in value, but assuming you store it properly and rotate it regularly, it’s also a low- to no-risk prospect; the only way you’re going to lose that investment is if your teenagers raid it frequently.

     

    So, in the spirit of smart investments, check out our monthly sales and food storage specials. And tell us what you’re doing with your tax return this year!

    Posted In: Budgeting, Insight, Planning Tagged With: tax, emergency food storage, financial preparedness

  • What Winnie the Pooh Teaches Us About Flash Floods

    When I was young, I would constantly watch Winnie the Pooh. On one particular show, the 100 Acre Woods received a downpour of rain. What followed was probably the worst flash flood the good folks of the 100 Acre Wood had ever experienced. The lyrics that accompany the images of the flood still haunt me to this day:

    Winnie the Pooh

     

    “The rain rain rain came down down down

    in rushing riving riv’lets,

    ‘Till the river crept out of its bed

    and crept right into Piglet’s!”

     

     

    Poor Piglet. The flood came in so fast he was carried out of his home stranded on a floating chair!

    Can you imagine being caught in a flood like that? I always laughed as Piglet was washed down stream (because I’m heartless like that), but in reality, flash floods happen anytime, anywhere. For Pooh and Piglet, they were caught unawares, still asleep, as the water came rushing into their home.

    For me? Well, I was at home, too, just about to leave for the football game.

    Flash flood to a house This is pretty much what it felt like.

    Although I’m not a huge football fan (rugby all the way!), I was excited we were playing a good, competitive team. The whole city was abuzz with excitement, so I thought I’d join them in their revelry. My will to venture out was dampened, however, when I opened the front door to head out to the game on my bicycle. Oh bother. I stood there, slack-jawed, astounded at how hard the rain was falling. After a brief pause I shut the door. There was no way I was biking in that weather. No matter…the football game was delayed two hours because of the downpour.

    Unfortunately, I lived in a first-floor apartment and, like poor piglet’s, the riv’lets rose fast around us. They seeped in through the walls and lower windows, and formed a small lake outside the front door. It was a mess. Lucky for us, our apartment sat on top of a hill, so it could have been a lot worse.

    For everyone living downhill, it was a lot worse. The streets turned into rivers and lakes, and basements and cars were flooded. There were a bunch of college students who made the best of things, pulling each other behind high-lifted Jeeps on wakeboards through flooded parking lots (if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!).

    In the couple of years since my football-day flood, I have come to realize that such downpours and the torrents that follow are a more than once in a lifetime experience for millions. For example, did you know that in one 15-year instance, Texans weathered some 4,722 flash floods? That’s pretty close to one flash flood every day. Luckily Texas is kind of a big state, so most of these deluges were scattered far and wide. I emphasize most; several Texas communities are “flood-prone.” If they experience what I did more than once, I think I would pack-up and move before the next flood came.

    Flooded Kashmir - CTV News CTV News

    In many regions of the world, such destruction is almost commonplace. Just last week, three days of heavy rain caused massive flooding in the Kashmir Valley of Pakistan and India. This was just six months after a previous huge flood which killed over 600 people. Once again, thousands are homeless as homes were washed away. Landslides took out roads, and highways were blocked for miles. Fortunately, officials say the situation is under control. For now.

    How might it have been different for Pooh and Piglet if they had known they were at risk? Maybe Piglet wouldn’t have been caught sleeping. Maybe Pooh would have been able to save more of his precious honey pots. How would my roommates and I have defended ourselves from the rising waters had we an understanding of what was happening around us. How do folks from Odessa, Texas to Odisha, India ride-out storm after storm, year after year.

    Although flash floods can happen without much warning, knowing the areas and causes can help you prepare yourselves (and your home).

     

    Know the Signs

    Flash floods tend to occur in dry, low-lying areas. This includes areas near rivers, dry lake beds, and basins. But even if you live in a higher area, you can still be affected. Roads, parking lots, curbs and gutters, they all collect and channel water, sometimes into first-floor hilltop apartments (remember, I was living on a hill and still got flooded).

    flooded football pitch. canon 5D Saturated soil

    The condition of the surrounding soil can be an indicator if your areas will flood or not. If you live in a very dry area that doesn’t receive much rainfall, the ground becomes as hard and impenetrable as concrete. When it does rain hard, the ground has trouble soaking it up, leaving it to gather and flow to the areas of least resistance – which for some reason almost always means your house. On the other end of the spectrum, if your soil has been receiving a lot of moisture, it can be already saturated, leaving no room for any more water to soak in. Once the soil is saturated, watch out for flooding!

    So how can you prepare for a flash flood? Well, as the good men of G.I. Joe say, “Knowing is half the battle.” Be aware of the risks involved in the area you live in. Do you live in a dry climate? Are you near a river, or at the bottom of a hill? If you know your risks, you will be better able to prepare when the rains come down and the floods come up.

    But enough about me! How have you prepared for flash flooding? Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow preppers? Let us know in the comments!

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Insight, Planning Tagged With: know the signs, Flash flood

  • 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

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