Archive for the ‘Emergency preparedness’ Category

Back in July I wrote an article about the need to  know how to prepare coffee off the grid. https://apartmentprepper.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/nothing-beats-the-smell-of-coffee-in-the-morning/

We finally saved up enough to buy the rest of the materials/equipment to accomplish this such as:  campfire popcorn popper (or small covered skillet), green coffee beans, manual grinder and french press. I will tell you exactly the steps I did and the result.

How to Roast Green Coffee Beans

  1. Since I am trying to have a backup plan in the event of an emergency and we are off-grid, I used our propane camp stove.  Warning: I do not recommend using a camp stove in your kitchen:  this would be unsafe and can cause carbon monoxide build-up.  Camp stoves should be used outside.  Also, I read from various articles that roasting green coffee beans may cause a lot of smoke.  Our apartment has a very sensitive fire alarm which gets set off very quickly, so we did this outside,  so the fire alarm does not go off.  We don’t want a visit from the fire department from having the fire alarm go off while we are roasting our beans!  If you are roasting on a stove indoors, turn on the exhaust fan or open a window to make sure your area is well-ventilated.
  2. Assemble all your materials in advance:  green coffee beans (I used Kona coffee), campfire popcorn popper, measuring cup, colander (optional)
  3. To start small,  I measured about a quarter of cup of green coffee beans.
  4. Turn on the fire to low setting.  Preheat the popper on low flame.
  5. Pour the green coffee beans into the skillet/popper, cover and shake.
  6. I held the popper steady for five seconds then started moving it around.
  7. Keep the popper moving around and start listening for a popping sound.
  8. Check under the lid and look at the beans.  They started to turn brown after about 5 to 7 minutes.
  9. The popping is not constant like popcorn, but happens every few seconds as the beans crack.  This  is about the time the beans start to smoke a bit.
  10. After about 10 minutes, I checked again and it looked like the beans were brown so I turned off the fire.
  11. You will notice some bits of chaff:  pour into a wire colander or just blow on the beans and the bits  fly off.  Now you are ready to grind the beans.

These photos show the difference between the green beans and the roasted beans.  The smell is also quite different: the green beans do not smell like coffee at all, they have a pungent, plantlike smell, while the roasted ones indeed smell like the strong coffee smell we all know.  The aroma does linger long after you have finished roasting them.

Grinding the Beans

  1. I used the Danesco Manual Coffee Grinder.  Adjust the grinder for maximum coarseness, if you will be using a french press.  To do this, take off the handle and adjust the cog wheel up and tighten it back up.
  2. The grinder does not have any cushioning under the bottom, so you will need to stabilize it on the counter by placing a towel or pad underneath.
  3. Remove the cork stopper from under the grinding mechanism. 
  4. Pour the beans and start grinding.  Hold the grinder stable with the left hand and grind with your right hand (vice versa if you are left-handed).

I have to say this was the hardest part!  It took a bit of muscle power to continuously grind the beans and hold it down.  All in all, it took about seven minutes to grind the quarter cup of beans.

Brewing with the French Press

  1. I used the Bodum Shatterproof (AKA plastic) 8 cup French Press Coffeemaker.  Eight cups sound like a lot of coffee, but actually, the “cup” is actually a 4-ounce cup, not an 8-ounce mug that most of us are used to.
  2. The quarter cup of whole beans made about 2 level scoops (measuring scoop came with the french press) of ground coffee.  The rule of thumb is to use one scoop per cup of coffee.
  3. Boil water in a separate pan.  I boiled about 2.5 cups of water.  Turn off fire once the water boils.  Because this is a plastic press, the instructions indicate the water must be hot but not boiling.  I would think a glass french press would work with boiling water.
  4. Remove the cover/plunger of the french press.
  5. Pour the ground coffee into the bottom of the press.
  6. Pour the hot water.
  7. Slowly insert the cover/plunger.   Turn the lid so the opening/pour spout is sealed and away from you.  and press the water/coffee gently until plunger cannot go any further.   Do not apply too much pressure or this may cause the water to splatter up.
  8. Once the coffee is pressed, it is ready to drink!

I have to say this was a fine cup of coffee.  It seemed like a lot of work for two cups, but it was worth it.  The result was a very fresh tasting, strong cup of coffee.  Roasting the green coffee beans was not hard at all;  I can roast a larger batch next time.  My husband and I both like the coffee and will be using the french press on weekends.  I am happy we are able to roast and brew coffee off the grid!  In addition, with the price of coffee going up, it is cheaper to buy green coffee beans and roast it yourself than buying it roasted.  Even if we never need to make coffee off the grid, I now know I can save money on my daily brew.

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Is it just me or is anyone else feeling an urgency to prepare lately?

This past week my husband and I were noticing none of the financial news sounded good.  Today’s report featured a record number of people are raiding their 401k pension plans due to unemployment, foreclosure or just to get by.   I know the country’s financial picture has not been good for a while, but this week seemed worse than before.  Unemployment continues to be high, foreclosures and bankruptcies are also at historic highs and none of the fixes seem to work.  Adding to the unsavory mix is the threat of the double dip recession, with even more jobs being lost, possible inflation, deflation OR both–enough to keep you up at night worrying about the family’s future.  I confessed I was starting to get that insecure feeling that we need to “step up” our emergency supplies.

Then I read Survival Mom’s post, “Prepare Now Like There’s No Time to Waste” http://thesurvivalmom.com/2010/08/16/prepare-like-theres-no-time-to-waste/ and FerFal’s “There Will Be Poor…Don’t Be One of Them”  http://ferfal.blogspot.com/ and I felt like these articles were echoing the conversation we just had about increasing our efforts to prepare.

To allow us to buy more emergency supplies, we need to free up additional cash from the already stretched budget so we are taking the following steps this week:

  1. Re-evaluating each budget expense to determine if we can lower the expenses further.

During my break at work, I called the cable/internet company and spoke to the representative about needing to lower my bill.  We went over each charge and I was honest and  told her we really needed to cut back but that I would go home, think about it and discuss with my husband.  I did not intend to cancel the service but the rep said, “I can give you $20 off for 6 months to retain your account, would you accept that?”  I asked her, what’s the catch, she said nothing was needed from me.   I was really surprised and pleased with this offer so I took it.   I told her we may still lower the services if we decide to, but she still gave me the discount anyway.  We will also try choosing a lower plan with the cell phone company.  We are locked in for another year and do not intend to cancel, but it doesn’t hurt to ask how we can lower our bill.  We also eliminated a couple of magazine and online subscriptions.

2.    Cutting back on eating out.

Being working parents, there are occasional nights when things get busy and we end up eating out.  Now we will cook several meals in advance during the weekend to have enough to cover week nights.

3.     Clearing up clutter and selling off unused items.

We hope to sell off books, computer games etc. and add to the emergency fund.

4.     Reviewed our 401k statements and moved the funds to “safer” types of investments such as money market funds.  The interest rate in the safer funds is minimal, but I can sleep at night knowing the value will not sink any further.  This is not investment advise, please evaluate your own situations or talk to a trusted financial advisor before making any changes.

5.    Avoiding waste in electricity, water and food consumption.  We unplug “vampire” appliances such as TV, DVD players etc that continue to use power even when turned off.  This should lower our bills and free up more cash for the emergency fund.

Our local paper today reported on the increasing number of homeless children in Houston.   Many of these families lost their homes to foreclosure, stayed with family and friends for a while until they ran out of places of stay.  It breaks my heart to hear about children having to suffer like this and hope to continue or increase our donations.

I’d like to be optimistic by saying “Things will be better soon.”   But saying it will not make it so.  It is my hope that we all prepare now rather than regret doing nothing should things take a turn for the worse.

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Living in an apartment in the middle of a big city, there is always a chance a situation will arise that will require us to bug out in a hurry.  We need to be able to bug out of our home at a moment’s notice, just in case we ever need to leave.  I will address what situation might cause us to leave in another post; for now, I am just focusing on the bug out bag.

I have read enough survival and emergency websites to know you would need some basic items in your bug out bag to last you until you reach your destination.  Being new at this, I started reading up on all the essentials and found it can be quite overwhelming.

Depending on the situation,bugging out may entail a lot of walking, carrying the pack and maybe camping out.  I have limited camping experience, and have never gone backpacking in my life.

To get more information about what to pack, my husband and I decided to check out a class called Backpacking 101, offered for free at our local REI store.  Surprisingly, the class was packed full of families, couples and Boy Scout troops.   We figured an experienced backpacker would be knowledgeable about the best items to consider bringing with you.  If you are an experienced backpacker then you likely will know all this, but what I learned was all good information for a beginner like me.  Naturally the real purpose of our attending the class was to learn tips that we can apply to packing our bug out bag.

When considering the contents of your bug out bag, you will need to consider the five survival necessities as follows:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Fire
  • Shelter
  • Security

Once these basic needs are covered, you will also want additional items to stay comfortable in a difficult situation.


The backpack should be of good quality, sturdy and as lightweight as possible.  It should also fit comfortably to your size and body type.  A good backpack will have a hip belt so most of weight sits on your hip and not your shoulders.  It should have also have enough space, and reasonably priced.   To avoid back strain, a rule of thumb is, a person should carry a pack weighing no more than 30% of his or her weight.

Security Guy has a good article about choosing your bug out bag, aptly titled “Bug Out Bag” at http://www.securitywhip.com/


Depending on the weather, you would want to dress appropriately and in layers if possible.  You may start out walking in the cool morning air, but will eventually get hot as the day progresses.  You will want to remove layers as you go.

Wool socks or synthetic fiber socks are better than cotton, as cotton retains moisture and will take a long time to dry if you sweat or get wet.

Synthetic fibers like fleece are good, as they draw moisture away from the skin.


Hiking shoes are the best kind of shoes for walking long distances, and you will want to “break them in” before you have to bug out.

It is a good idea to carry moleskin pads which are self sticking cotton flannel pads to place over sensitive areas before blisters can develop.

I now understand you must take care of your feet, as they could potentially be your only transportation.

Map and compass

Even if you have a GPS device, it is a good idea to keep a map and compass as backup, as there are certain areas where a GPS will not work well, such as valleys, or in bad weather.

First Aid

Personalize your first aid kit according to your needs.  I personally would want pain reliever, acid and diarrhea medicine, antibiotic cream for burns and insect bites, allergy medicine, wound care materials, etc.   I could write a whole separate article just on first aid supplies, so I will save this for another entry.


You would want the tent to be as lightweight as possible.   If it is too bulky or heavy for one person, you can split and pieces among your group to spread out the weight, as long as you stay together.  You would want a ground sheet inside your tent to keep water away from you.

Sleeping Bag

The sleeping bag should be lightweight and versatile for various types of weather, and go down to around 20 degrees if possible.  Down is good and comfortable, but it must not get wet; while synthetic fill bags are not as comfy, but will dry well if  the sleeping bag gets wet.

Water Purifier

There are many water bottles that will purify water; I also wrote a previous article https://apartmentprepper.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/insuring-against-3-days-without-water/ on water purification techniques.  I may also considering getting a Steri-pen which can purify with UV light, but you would still need to filter out pebbles and impurities with a cloth or bandanna before using.


Dehydrated or freeze-dried food is highly recommended; as all you need to do is add hot water to the pack and you are done.  I bought a few samples for the family to try out, and I will publish our review at another post.

Cooking and Eating Utensils

The lighter the better, since you have to carry these things as well.  I will need to investigate the aluminum and titanium choices.

Stove and  Firestarting materials

A means of cooking your food and boiling water are necessities.  We have multiple ways to start a fire and keep it going and I plan to experiment on various methods as soon as I gather up the materials.  We saw the Jet Boil canister which runs on butane, which looked very light and compact, but for now, we have our propane camp stove, which does weigh a lot more, but will do in an emergency.

Toilet Paper

The Charmin camping toilet paper would be nice and compact, but in an emergency, there are other choices.  I covered this subject in another article:  Not for the Squeamish:  Toilet Paper Substitutes https://apartmentprepper.wordpress.com/?s=Toilet+paper


You will need to be able to protect yourself in a bug out situation.  Guns, crossbows, slingshot, pepper spray–there is a variety of options and will vary according to your personal choice.


We recently assembled our grab and go binder, containing important personal documents, as described in this article https://apartmentprepper.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/the-grab-and-go-binder/.

Pocketknife and Other Tools

We already carry a pocketknife in the car, but need one for the bug out bag.  Other good tools include camp shovel,  ax, saw, pick, machete, etc.  There is so much detail and choices, whole posts can be written on each one. Since we are covering the basics, I won’t go into much detail.


Depending on the emergency situation, your cell phone/ solar charger, crank radio will help you stay connected.

Other useful items that will make life bearable:

  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, and wide-brimmed hat are all useful sun protection.
  • Multi-towel – this is a nifty little towel that takes the place of several bath towels and will dry quickly.  It is not absolutely necessary but nice to have if the budget allows.
  • Headlamp – Easier than a flashlight, as you can keep your hands free to do other chores while in the dark.
  • Insect repellant – this is a must have here in Texas, with all the large bugs and mosquitoes.  The brands with the most Deet are very effective, but must be used sparingly, as they are also corrosive and may be harmful.  There are also natural alternatives such as lemon-eucalyptus herbal formulas, but may not be as effective as Deet.
  • Soap, toothbrush, and other toiletries such as deodorant are not life saving, but advisable for personal hygiene and morale.
  • Rain gear such as jackets and ponchos; backpack cover since most backpacks are not waterproof
  • Rope
  • Plastic bags
  • Deck of cards for entertainment

I know this list does not cover absolutely everything needed to bug out; this is only a basic starter list.  I also did not include individual situation items such as baby items if there is a baby in the family, pet items if you have pets with you, etc.   A concern that occurred to me as I was making this list is, this could get expensive and we don’t have all the funds to buy all this stuff.  But I realize you have to start somewhere and we can assemble these items slowly as we have the funds.  I will also check close-out sales and scour garage sales or Craigslist for used quality items.  Building a bug out bag is very personal and the contents will vary greatly according to each person’s needs.  As apartment preppers, we would have to balance needs versus space and budget constraints while making our choices.

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I had read that prices of wheat products may be rising soon, as Russia is halting wheat exports due to the drought and wildfires.  See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38594106/ns/business-eye_on_the_economy/ for more details.

According to news reports, Russia will start their ban August 15th and it will last until the end of the year.  Russia is the world’s biggest wheat exporter so the ban is bound to cause a price increase in bread, pasta and other wheat products.  The good news is the price spikes will not be as high as they were in 2008, but this could still have an impact on our wallets.

I was thinking I should stock up while prices are still reasonable, so I am buying a couple extra bags of flour and a few extra boxes of pasta, crackers and other long-lasting wheat products.   I am not hoarding  outrageous amounts — we don’t have unlimited pantry space, but I am making room for these items to last at least until the end of the year when prices (hopefully) would stabilize.  Part of having the prepper mindset is paying attention to what’s going on in the news and around us.  Even if the price increases don’t affect us,  these are items I would use anyway so they will not go to waste.

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Now is a good time to shop for emergency supplies at a discount.

Back to School Sales

While shopping for school supplies, stock up on glue, duct tape, binders for your grab and go binder and informational binder, notebooks and paper for emergency lists.

Late summer sales at discount stores and sporting goods stores

A lot of camping supplies are on sale, since stores are clearing out stock before the summer ends.  We  went shopping at Academy Sporting Goods, and found they were also having a good sale on backpacks.  Their selection of backpacks was better than the ones I found at Target or Wal-Mart.  A lot of tents and sleeping bags were marked down, along with various camping items such as compass, camp shovels, camp stoves, etc.  These items can supplement the bug out bag nicely.


Grocery stores are also having clearance sales at 50% off or more.  These items are not advertised and do not appear on the shelves.   They are usually found at an out-of-the-way shelf in the corner of the store.  I checked the clearance shelves and found a lot of good first aid supplies:

-antibiotic cream



-burn cream



In addition, I found great discounts on cooking oil, salad dressings and other condiments.   When buying clearance items:

  • Examine items closely-make sure they have nothing wrong with them, such as lids that have been tampered or opened boxes
  • Check expiration dates
  • Consider whether item is something you would normally use or is needed for emergency supplies
  • Watch the price scanner at the check-out to make sure the items are priced correctly

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I started watching the new show Man Woman Wild on Discovery Channel.  The show features a couple:  the man, Mykel Hawke is a trained survivalist who used to be in the Special Forces and his wife, Ruth who is a TV journalist.  At each episode, they are featured in a remote part of the world, where they survive for a few days with minimal tools.  Normally they carry a knife and they try to scavenge items they find around them.  The second episode showed them in Botswana, in the African bush.  They had a couple of water bottles, and a broken down jeep.  They discussed the best way to survive in their situation would be to stay put and wait for help, rather than wander around and possibly get attacked by predators.  They then scavenge what they can use from the broken down jeep and take care of the basic necessities such as water, food, fire, shelter and security.   They do have a camera crew that follows them as they search for water, hunt for food etc.  They describe their survival techniques along the way, such as boiling water for 10 minutes to make it safe to drink, they collect sage branches that they added to the fire to keep insects away and their decision to stay together for protection from predators.

I think the show has a good premise, following a husband and wife team as they try to survive in wild places.  Because of his survival experience, Mykel provides most of the knowledge, but Ruth does show a lot of courage in dealing with the hardships of surviving in the wild.  They seem to react as most normal couples would, with some disagreements and bickering along the way.   This is the first survival show that I have seen that has a female involved, and it is fascinating to me as I can relate to some of her reactions.  There was a scene in the show where they found a freshly killed antelope and she had to slice off the leg for food while her husband stood guard.    She had to do it quickly before the lion who killed it came back, and she did seem very pressured during the ordeal.   I know that situation would stress me out!  She  had some trouble getting the knife to cut properly at first, but in spite of the difficulty, she succeeds in cutting off the leg.  Later in the show, they cook the meat over the fire, and save some of it tied to a tree.  Unfortunately, some hyenas make off with the meat in the middle of the night, forcing them to hunt for more food the next day.

This show makes me think how I myself would react in such a predicament.   Here are some thoughts on what I have seen so far:

–  The couple is able to succeed to a large extent due to the husband’s survival expertise; without this knowledge, they would be in big trouble.  Therefore, it is best to learn basic survival before you actually need it.

–  You may be forced to deal with unpleasantness, such as snakes, insects, predators, so you might as well expect it.  Being mentally prepared is important factor to survival.

–  Survival activities such as hunting for food, searching for water or wood for the fire etc. are strenuous activities so you need to be in shape.  I try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily but this seems like nothing compared to walking for miles collecting wood and dragging it back to make a fire.

–  When in survival mode, it helps to “think outside the box” so you can figure out uses for things than they were originally intended for.  They used parts of the jeep such as a drip pan to collect and boil water.  I hope we can be just as resourceful if faced with a survival situation.  I should have paid attention to those Macgyver episodes and absorbed some ideas!

–  Teamwork is essential in any survival situation.  In spite of some minor disagreements and arguing, the couple manages to work together and succeed in difficult situations.

The show illustrates that surviving in the wild without any of the conveniences we take for granted seems like hard work but it is doable with enough patience and determination and a whole lot of cooperation.

So far I like the show and will continue to see it.

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The green coffee shipment from MREDepot mentioned in my last post https://apartmentprepper.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/nothing-beats-the-smell-of-coffee-in-the-morning/arrived and I now have to find space for 12 #10 cans.  The camp roaster for the beans arrived as well.  The boxes have been sitting in our dining area for a couple of days.  Now I have to find room to store them while waiting to buy the coffee grinder and French press when the budget allows.

As our emergency supplies increase, the storage space required keeps increasing as well.

I posted about space challenges in my June 1st post, “Finding Room for Supplies” https://apartmentprepper.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/finding-room-for-supplies/ I thought we were set with free space for a while, but I spoke too soon.  The small pantry is already full to capacity, including the space-saving shelves that we had installed below the pantry.   What’s an apartment prepper to do?  Get creative!  Every available space is now getting scrutinized.

Here is how we are adding space:

  • Build two horizontal shelves in the laundry room above the washer/dryer.   Checked the apartment lease and adding shelving is allowed, as long as we remove it and leave the wall in the same condition when we move out.
  • Also added a narrow vertical shelf in the corner of the laundry area.
  • Store items inside empty spaces in larger items.  For example, empty suitcases can be used to survival supplies.  Large pots can also be used for storage.
  • Items that can be flattened, such as tent, sleeping bags etc.  can be stored under beds.
  • Added shelves in the garage.

One last thing, keep track of all your hiding places by making a master list of where everything is stored.  This way, if you have to rush out of the house in an emergency, you can gather everything up as quickly as possible.

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During Hurricane Ike we had an extended period without electricity.   I had no access to my morning cup of coffee and I was miserable.

That first morning without electricity, I ransacked the pantry and found some old instant coffee left over from a hotel stay.  (Yes, I admit it, I take home those little hotel coffee packets and shampoos that come with the room.)    I boiled water in the camp stove, mixed the instant coffee, instant creamer and sugar and drank it.  It tasted terrible, but I got my caffeine fix.   This may not seem to be a big deal for people who do not need their caffeine in the morning, but it can be tough for us caffeine addicts.  This means a major headache that lasts the rest of the day.  I decided that next time we have an emergency I am making sure I have my coffee supplies.

Someone might say, why not just give up coffee?  I have considered that, and have cut back on my coffee consumption since then.  I used to drink around four cups of coffee a day, and have gradually cut down.  Now I am down to two cups.  My husband who is a tea drinker, says I would have to learn to give it up, but I am not prepared to do so right now.  Tea is okay, but it is not what I crave.  I know people who like caffeine pills such as No Doz, but those make me jittery, and popping pills is not appealing to me.   A big reason I have not given it up is I like my morning ritual of starting my day with a good cup of java.   I need a little jumpstart to my mornings and the fresh smell is unbeatable.

If there is another emergency, I want to make sure I can brew my cup of coffee even without electricity.

I started to research about long term coffee storage and brewing without old Mr. Coffee.

The first thing I found out is I would need whole green, unroasted coffee beans.  The roasted coffee beans you normally found in the store do not have a long shelf life.  Once it is ground, the shelf life is even shorter and the flavor degrades a couple of weeks after opening.  Keeping coffee in the refrigerator to increase shelf life is a myth-the refrigerator is the worst place.  Freezing does extend shelf life but once you take it out, it is not a good idea to store it back in the freezer as the instability will also degrade the beans.  Once opened, you will need to store in a cool, dry place like the pantry, and use as soon as possible.  To maximize flavor, grind the beans right before using.

I am partial to Kona coffee and was going to order the green coffee beans from a distributor but it was too expensive.   After researching suppliers, I decided to purchase Costa Rican green coffee beans from MREDepot http://www.mredepot.com/servlet/StoreFront.  They are packed in cans with oxygen absorbers and can last up to 20 years.

The next thing needed is a way to roast the beans.  I read that an ordinary popcorn popper would work, but for our purposes, it must work well over a camp fire or propane stove.  I ended up ordering a camp popcorn popper,  from Wisemen Trading http://www.wisementrading.com/outdoorcooking/popcorn.htm.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know and I will test it.

Even if no emergency happens, I will save money on coffee beans, since buying green coffee beans is cheaper than roasted.   An added bonus of having coffee in your emergency supplies is caffeine staves off hunger and helps make you feel more alert when you need to be at your peak.  Coffee is also a good barter item should the need arise.

Next, I will be researching about hand crank grinders that are light weight and sturdy.    I will post on my progress.

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Today we checked our emergency equipment to make sure they will work when we need them.

Emergency lighting

We gathered all the battery-powered flashlights and tap lights from all the rooms and tested them to make sure they work.  Found that several of the batteries had drained and replaced them.  We had bought a crank flashlight a while ago; cranked it a while and found that it works well.


We had bought a hand crank radio and retested it to make sure it functions–it works.  Checked the other battery powered radios in the house that we hadn’t used since since Hurricane Ike and found that the batteries need replacing.

Battery chargers

Plugged in the battery chargers with rechargeable batteries and found they are working well.  We would like to buy a solar battery charger, so we added it to the “To buy” list.


My husband’s and my compass worked fine, but found my son’s compass had a crack in it, so now we need a new compass for him.

Camp stove and propane

We had not used the camp stove in a while, so we dug it up, reassembled it and hooked it up with a portable propane tank.  It works just fine.  Checked the other propane cylinders and found some that did not work at all.  These were brand new from Lowes, so they now need to be returned.


My husband made sure all the guns were cleaned and oiled, also checked the ammunition supply to make sure there is no corrosion or moisture.   Once every two months, he test fires them in a firing range.  Also, he makes sure no ammunition is left in the magazines as this reduces the tension of the spring.  There was a temporary ammo shortage in our area earlier this year so we are low on .380 bullets.  Now is the time to replenish the supply since stocks have been restored.

Checking the equipment today was an eye-opening exercise for me.   A disaster situation would be the wrong time to find out your equipment doesn’t work or you are low on something essential like batteries.  Buying supplies is not enough, they need to be maintained as well.

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One of the challenges of building up food storage is just getting started and taking action. Just thinking about collecting all that food can scare someone into putting it off. It is easy to come up with excuses, like:
“It cost too much money.”
“We don’t have storage space.”
“It too much time,” OR
“What if nothing happens?”
Unfortunately, there is no denying the need to get started storing up some food, if only for practical reasons such as possible unemployment, not having to run to the market for common ingredients, and short-term emergencies such as a hurricane or a bout with the flu.

I think the easiest way to get started is to start buying multiples of things that family likes to eat. Canned food seems to be a painless way to start: just buy an extra can of a few items such as canned corn, canned peaches or tuna each time you shop. Also buy extra breakfast items such as oatmeal, or cereal to get started.  Before you know it, you have a week’s worth of food. Later, as space and budget allow, other forms of emergency supplies can be added such as MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and dehydrated food. Just remember to only buy foods that the family will eat to avoid waste. Examine the expiration dates while at the store, and reach in the shelves to find the packages with the latest expiration dates. Rotate the items and use the ones whose expiration dates are approaching.  Once you have a week’s worth of food, then move up to two weeks, then a month, then go from there.

Mark over at Everydaysurvivalguy came up with a good system for building up a year’s worth of emergency supplies, including food storage.   Follow the link on my blog roll.  The series is called “Must Have Preps for the New or Less Committed.”

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