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PASAP – Prep As Soon As Possible

10 May

Guess what? I’m still alive! This week took a turn for the busy and I’ve been seriously neglecting the blog, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. On that note, this post goes out to all of you who may experience similar time crunches!

Is “slow and steady” just not your style? Here’s a quick and dirty guide to getting essentials stored in your home – FAST. This one-shot list will stock your home with the essential food, water, and supplies to help you weather a short-term emergency. This list is best suited to a hunker-down situation, in which you don’t plan on evacuating.*

I really don’t recommend this approach, but sometimes a situation calls for fast action.  I also don’t recommend waiting to start preparing until RIGHT before an emergency (the hurricane hits in two hours! GO!), so keep that in mind when making your plans.

As with every post on this site, I make no guarantees…your results may vary!  Personally, I could survive for a long time on the food and water that this shopping expedition would bring in, but I don’t eat a lot. I also don’t have a large family to feed. Adapt to suit your needs.

Go to the grocery store and buy:

  • 4 big jars of peanut butter
  • 3 huge canisters of rolled oats
  • 4 5-lb bags of flour
  • 2 5-lb bags of sugar
  • A canister of salt
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • 40 cans of soup (not condensed) – the heartier the better
  • 30+gallons of water
  • 20 lbs of dried beans – your choice (pintos are cheap)
  • 20 lbs of rice (white – longer shelf life, brown – more nutritious)
  • 20 cans of tuna (or chicken or salmon)
  • A big canister of Tang drink mix
  • Two big boxes of powdered milk
  • The largest bottle of cooking oil you can find
  • 30 cans of vegetables – assorted
  • 20 cans of fruit – assorted
  • A big bag of raisins or other dried fruit
  • As much chocolate as you can stuff in your cart 🙂
  • Hard candies

Now go to a walmart, sporting goods store, or the like. Purchase the following:

  • Flashlight
  • Radio (preferably hand-crank and/or solar)
  • Manual can opener
  • Water storage drums – fill these AS SOON AS you get home.  Buy enough drums to have 30-60 gallons of water on hand, in addition to what you bought at the grocery store.
  • Bleach, try for about a gallon (it has many uses)
  • Multivitamin – 90 count at least
  • Matches, lighters
  • Steel wool, if you can find it quickly, and a 9-volt battery
  • Spare batteries of all sizes (for trade if nothing else)
  • Biggest first aid kid you can find
  • Medications: cold, pain relievers, the like
  • Biggest package of feminine products you can find (again, you can always trade these for more supplies)
  • Toilet paper
  • Duct tape

If you have time, also pick up a propane stove, as many extra propane tanks as you can afford, and some sleeping bags/extra blankets.

What else would you put on this list, if you were shopping for your family?


*That being said, NEVER hesitate to evacuate your home if local officials make an evacuation order. This is why survival packs or grab-and-go bags come in so handy – I’ll talk about them in a future post. 

Exercise Five: Drink Up!

1 May

Small water bottles are great for hiding in tight spaces.

Let’s say you’re like me. You live in a small apartment with stuffed closets, stuffed cupboards, and no balcony…your storage space is a minimum…and you just found out that you’re supposed to be storing a gallon of water per day per person living with you. Ahh!

When I first started stockpiling water, I had no idea where to put it.  Have you heard the quote “necessity is the mother of invention?” It’s true! If you’re committed to storing water for survival, you WILL find places to put it.

With this in mind, here’s a plan for how you can get started with your water storage:

Decide how much water you want to store.

  • Since you’re new at this, set a goal for yourself: have three day’s worth of water stored by the end of this week.
  • Every time you meet a goal, set a new one. Try for a week’s worth of water, then a month, and so on.

Figure out what type of containers you will use to store your water. I like to diversify my storage as much as possible, so feel free to use several of these methods:

  • If you drink soda, you can clean, dry, and refill the empty 2-liter bottles. I describe how to do this in my previous post.
  • If you don’t drink soda (like me), you can buy containers that are meant specifically for water storage. I buy mine from Shelf Reliance because they’re reasonably priced and the company gives a portion of its profits to charity. You can fill these empty drums with tap water.
  • When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to buy gallons of water from the grocery store, or buy cases of bottled water. The benefit to these small bottles is that you can remove them from their cases and individually store them in very small spaces.

Treat your water before you fill your tanks.

  • Add one drop of bleach per cup of water after you fill your plastic storage containers. This will kill any microorganisms and keep your water safe while it’s being stored.  Water never expires, but microbial growth can make it unsafe to drink.  Don’t add bleach to water stored in metal containers, and never add scented bleach.
  • Don’t worry about this step if you’re buying commercially-sealed water. It’s safer to leave it unopened.

Figure out where you want to store your water .

  • One of my favorite ways to store water is in the freezer. It guarantees that microbes won’t grow, plus your freezer will be more efficient if it’s full. Lower power bills are always a good thing! This works best with 2-liter bottles and commercially-purchased water bottles. When filling your 2-liter bottles, leave a little head space to allow for expansion in the freezer — don’t fill them to overflowing as you normally would.
  • If you have a lot of bottles that are the same size, try this: Remove everything from the bottom of your closet. Line up the bottles in rows on the floor until you can’t fit any more in your closet, then lie a sturdy, flat piece of wood or plastic on top of the water bottles. Return your belongings to the closet, placing them on top of this “new floor.” You can fit a LOT of water into your apartment by making better use of your vertical storage space.
  • You can put your bed on risers and store water bottles or WaterBricks underneath. We’ll revisit this idea when we talk about food storage. You can use a bedskirt to attractively hide the extra space.
  • Fill a 30-gallon drum with water and cover it with a tablecloth. Instant endtable! I have one of these in my entryway and no one ever guesses that they’re walking past a month’s worth of water.
  • DO NOT store your water bottles anywhere that is exposed to sunlight….microbes and algae will flourish inside your containers. Ick!

In addition to your water storage, you need to have a few methods of purifying water, filtering water, and transporting water in case you need to evacuate. Remember, you may end up needing to leave your apartment, in which case you’ll need enough water to get you to your next shelter.  It’s most important to have your water storage first, then move on to collecting these extra supplies.

Chlorine or iodine tablets are popular ways of purifying water, but bleach works if that’s all you have on hand. Remember, multipurpose prepping supplies are your friends in small places! Keep a bottle of bleach handy, and use 16 drops per gallon of water to kill harmful bacteria. If you can, boil your water before adding purification tablets or bleach. Always let your water stand for at least 30 minutes after adding chemicals, and always follow the directions on the tablet packages.

As for water filters, you can buy commercial water filters in various ranges of price and portability. I like to have one large filter in my apartment and a smaller filter in my evacuation bag. A filter that attaches directly to your water bottle is good too. However, when you’re starting out, simply keeping coffee filters handy is a good, cheap way to remove large particles from your water. You can then use boiling and bleach to kill the bacteria.

Ways of transporting water also vary. Some backpacks come with water bladders that can be refilled, but I always worry about crushing the bladder between my back and my supplies.  I keep a variety of collapsible water containers handy, as well as a few rigid water bottles. In a pinch, you can take one of your 2-liter water bottles with you, so don’t worry too much about portable containers until you have a good start on your other preps. Remember, keep it simple at first! No need to get overwhelmed.

A few general tips:

  • To clean empty bottles, fill with water and put in a few drops of bleach. Let sit for 30 minutes and then empty and fill as usual.
  • DO NOT store your water on concrete floors without some sort of covering, such as plywood. Chemicals will leach from the concrete into the water and make it unsafe to drink.
  • DO NOT store your water in empty milk bottles! Harmful bacteria from the milk can leach out of the plastic and into the water.
  • Label your water storage very clearly with the words “DRINKING WATER.” Your thinking may be confused in an emergency and you don’t want to have to second-guess where things are stored.
  • Although it’s not essential, it’s not a bad idea to rotate your water every 6 months or so. This protects against microorganism growth.
  • When you remove your water from the containers, it may taste a little funny. This doesn’t mean the water has gone bad, it’s just flat. In other words, there’s not enough oxygen in the water and the taste has been affected. Restore the oxygen levels by pouring the water from one sterile container to another, and repeating several times.
  • Your gallon of water per day includes water for hygiene. If an emergency strikes but the city’s water is still flowing, quickly fill your bathtub with tap water. You can use this water to flush toilets, wash dishes, and clean your hands. Bathtub liners ensure that chemicals and detergents from the tub surfaces don’t leach into the water, but aren’t necessary if you only plan to flush toilets with the water.

Alright people! This was a long post but you’ll feel SO prepared after you start storing water. Remember, start small: aim for three days worth of stored water and you’ll have enough to survive most power outages and short-term local emergencies. Email me with questions!

Do you have any water stored yet? Where do you keep your water? 

Skeletons in the Closet

23 Apr
Food storage

Orderly shelves makes it easier to find things in an emergency, especially if you're in a hurry or the power is out. (photo credit: Stuart Miles)

If you live in an apartment, chances are good that you don’t have any skeletons in your closet because there’s no room for them! I’m lucky enough to live in a unit with four (FOUR!!) closets, but I still managed to stuff them to the brim with clothes, linens, books, you name it…which means that when I started storing food and water, I had no clue where to stash my new acquisitions. If you’ve been prepping for a while and your stockpile is taking over, here are some more ideas:

  • Fill a 30-gallon drum with water, put a small square of plywood on top, and cover it with a tablecloth. Instant endtable! I’ve done this, and no one has ever noticed that it’s not a real table 🙂
  • Hang a long curtain along one side of your living room, and put shelving units – stocked with food – behind the curtain. You won’t notice the small reduction in space, and your room will still look attractive.
  • Put your bed on risers, and buy or make an extra-long bedskirt. You’ll have more storage space underneath, and I think that tall beds look awesome. Two birds…one stone.
  • Buy an ottoman (or two) with a removable top. These can be cheaply bought almost anywhere, especially in the fall when college students are returning to school. I got mine at Target for less than twenty bucks.
  • Use a vacuum-storage system for your clothes that aren’t in season. Your bulky coats and sweaters will stay protected from pests, and you’ll save a TON of space in your closets.

More ideas to come! I know that apartment prepping is hard….hang in there!

P.S. I got my 30-gallon water drum and shelving units from Shelf Reliance. They’re great!

How do you make the most of your small living quarters?