Be Prepared for a Man-Made or Natural Emergency

SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS

BE EFFICIENT

You may not be able to just run to the store to get more of anything, so let everything you have serve as many purposes at once as possible.

When you cook on a barbecue, which takes a lot of charcoal, put all of the meal items on so you don't use two sources of fuel for one meal. There is a way to cook anything on a barbecue. You can even put a can of beans on the grill as is.

Before the coals are hot enough to cook on, you could be getting a large pan or two of water warm enough for bathing. And, you can boil water after your meal is done cooking since the coals stay hot for a long time.

Large juice cans are great for safely storing ashes from the fireplace or barbecue. Any empty can would be a safe receptacle for the used matches. An empty milk carton is much safer for disposal of broken glass than a plastic bag.

Burn your candles inside empty tuna cans. The can will catch all the wax drips. You can light the candle before putting it into the can, tip the candle so the top is over the can, and use the melted wax to hold even the tallest candle steady. After using a can as a candle holder over and over, you will can turn the melted wax in the can into a new candle by adding a wick. Or, you can pop cooled wax out of the can and use it as a firestarter for the fireplace, along with clean trash paper.

Put some sort of container underneath the tap of a cooler to catch any dripping water. Have a dishpan underneath when rinsing shampoo from your hair to catch the rinse water. All of this water can be used to flush your toilet. Water from boiling food can be used to water your vegetable garden, after it has cooled, if you didn't put much salt in the water. Try a touch of oil instead of salt for boiling spaghetti. If you have ears of corn instead of canned corn, adding sugar to the water instead of salt not only keeps the water usable for plants but also makes the corn taste really nice. Not many of us will have ears of corn, and, if you do, you may want to save on water and cook the corn on the grill instead. Simply wrap it in foil and turn it often during cooking.

Used water or any liquid can be used to flush the house toilet, even if the water supply is off. You just need to pour in enough at one time - half a bucket full or a large bowl full.

Use disposable aluminum cooking pans so you don't have to waste water washing them. Or, line your cooking pans with aluminum foil so you won't have to use precious water to wash them. If you do get food cooked onto a pan, add a little water to the pan, then boil the water to unstick the food.

Lots of paper napkins will only be used to wipe crumbs from your face or hands. Paper goods like this can be put into a separate container and used to start your campfire later. Some paper plates will also burn nicely, but those with a waxy or plastic covering should not be burned. Burning all the safe and relatively clean paper items will also save on trash bags later.

Fry up bacon in a pan, then cook your eggs in the bacon grease. This makes the eggs look dirty but very tasty, and you are left with one less pan to wash. Boil eggs in the same pot when you cook pasta or potatoes, but wash the eggs first.

Get inventive, put on your thinking caps, and try to imagine some second use for everything.

DOUBLE UP

When the weather is really cold, one of your best sources of heat is each other. With two or three people giving off heat, you each stay two or three times warmer.

In Alaska, a three-dog night means you need the warmth of three dogs around you to keep warm enough to survive. All kinds of bodies can keep each other warm.

EFFICIENCY IN ADVANCE

These troublesome times call for keeping on our toes, being prepared in advance, and keeping up with our chores. If a disaster struck tomorrow, how many dirty clothes in hampers or dishes in the sink would you be caught with? What kind of condition is your camping stove in right now up in the rafters of the garage? It is most likely pretty dirty, but are you even sure it still works? Do you have a need for batteries so seldom that you often times find they've expired when you get around to needing them? Now is the time to check and/or replace them. Now is the time to be sure all your clothes (and bath towels, washcloths, dish towels, etc.) are clean, and keep up with the washing. Now is the time to be sure your emergency supplies are in working order.

You may not be able to keep your car's gas tank full at all times, but this is not the time to get too close to empty. And, you should have extra gasoline stored in a safe container in a safe place.

If you have not done so yet, you now need to start replacing any items that you use (toothpaste, batteries, baked beans, etc.) as soon as possible after you use one. Don't wait until the bottle of shampoo is almost gone before you buy more. If you think you will need 20 cans of corn during a disaster, get 21 now and replace each one the same day (or day after) that you use one. That way you should always have 20 cans of corn on hand. If you like to shop less often, then start with 25 now and replace the missing cans once a week. To rotate your supplies, use the oldest one first so you are left with the freshest items. Put the newest items in the back of the cupboard and use the front ones first. Or, stock new items on the left side of a shelf and first use the ones on the right side.

And, now is certainly not the time to say you can't afford to stock up. Can you afford not to? Sell something, have a garage sale, or borrow the money. If you don't have enough money to buy a barbecue or a camp stove, and you have no where to make a campfire, then at least stock up on peanut butter and crackers. If you can't afford to go out and buy bottled water, ask all your neighbors to save some empty two-liter bottles for you so you can make your own bottled water. If you can't even afford the luxury of candles or flashlights and batteries, you'll probably survive. But, you can't survive long without food and water.

NEXT: Survival Essentials - Sanitation, Waste
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