Food storage sounds like a simple concept, but as I think the last 2 weeks have shown, it can be complicated in practice. If you’ve ever gone camping (or picnicking, or done anything that involved preparing food/eating inconveniently far away from a kitchen with running water/electricity/natural gas), you know what I mean when I say that everyone has forgotten to pack some vital little something that no one else remembers until you are 40 miles into The Boonies. While this is annoying, frustrating, and can make for some lively changes in your relationship status, if it happens in an emergency situation it can win you a Darwin Award. As evidence of how eminently forgettable the following super frickin’ important things can be, please note that I forgot to write about them for the last 14 days. Yeah.
In addition to the actual liquid, this includes the whole category of water-related stuff like appropriate water containers, hoses/siphons to get the liquid OUT of your containers, and filters (if you think you’d like to be able to refill your containers from a questionable source post-emergency). I don’t care if you have reliable access to safe drinking water up to and including your own on-property-spring-and-filtration-plant, the fact remains that sh*t happens. Water mains burst, municipal sources become contaminated, and plumbing breaks; if you are foolish enough to believe that nothing could ever happen to interrupt your access to fresh water, well, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.
Though the bulk of any pantry should be food stuffs (I am still a Fat Girl), a normal person can survive 3 weeks or more with no food at all, so long as they have plenty of water (which means, by extrapolation, I’m good until ::frantic calculator tapping:: January 27, 2029). With 3,000 bushels of wheat and no water, it’s Game Over in 3 days. Makes you thirsty, amiright?
Luckily, over the last decade our nation has become obsessed with bottled water and its many derivatives. Sure, you can store a year’s supply of water in FDA-Approved 55gal drums – but I don’t, and I’ll tell you why. A 55gal drum of water weighs in excess of 458.7lbs. Which means if something happens and I need to get outta Dodge, there is no way I can take some water with me. But a 3gal water jug weighs only 25lbs – I can lift that (and put it in my car and GTFO). Plus they are available in cube-shaped jugs.
With cubes, you can store 50% more jugs of water in the same space than you can with round jugs. And look, they have built in handles AND feet so you can stack them if you want to. Via HardKnoxLife.com, IndustrialContainer.com, and Greif.com.
Since I don’t store my water in unwieldy drums, I don’t have to mess with hoses or siphons. But, I do like the idea of being able to refill my jugs sans local-water-store, so I keep an Lifeguard® 7gal Water Container/Filter handy, too.
HEAVY DUTY CAN OPENER
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Trust me, you do NOT want to be surrounded by hundreds of cans you can’t open simply because you have nothing but an electric opener. Also, if you have anything stored in #10 cans, you’ll need a heavy-duty opener for them – the dinky ones they sell at the dollar store will NOT work (lesson learned).
I have had this opener for just over 9 years. I have an electric opener…in the cupboard. That I never use. Believe me or not, this hand crank opener is easier and faster to use than my electric one.
GAS GRILL/CAMP STOVE/HIKING BURNER/FIRE IN A CAN
If your power/gas goes out, how else will you heat up enough water to warm (and in some cases, properly rehydrate) your food storage? Which method you use is going to depend a lot on the amount of space/moola you have available and your level of comfort using said piece of equipment. In ascending order of portability, we have propane gas grills, camp stoves, hiker’s or backpacker’s burner, and your various forms of Fire in a Can (aka, chafing fuel, charcoal, briquettes, etc…though I suppose charcoal, et al, technically comes in bags, but whatever).
Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire! Don’t be afraid to store more than one type – I’ve got a gas grill and several different kinds of Fire in a Can. Via IggyBiggyRentals.com, Coleman.com, LiteKamper.com, and EmergencyEssentials.com
LIDS/BAG CLIPS/AIR-TIGHT STORAGE
Again, one of those things that’s really kinda critical, yet rarely gets thought of in advance. While freeze-dried or dehydrated food doesn’t need refrigeration after it’s opened, any unused portions do need to be kept away from light and air as much as possible. UV light breaks down the vitamins in food, and air (even desert air) carries moisture that, over time, can partially rehydrate your food just enough to allow it to rot/spoil. Luckily, with just a tiny bit of planning and a smidgen of space, you can avoid that kind of disappointment.
Whatever you do, be sure to have an effective oxygen absorber in the sealed container too. If you think your absorber might be played out, expose it to air for 5 minutes and then touch it. If it feels warm/hot, then it’s still good to use. If it’s not, then you need to replace it. Via EmergencyEssentials.com
Fixing food shouldn’t be too difficult during the day, but in winter the sun can set as early as 4:30pm. Do yourself a favor and invest in a couple of different light sources, just in case. And put them someplace you can easily and safely find them in the dark – is it just me, or does the power always go out after dark? I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a power-outage on a bright, sunny day.
These are capable of providing a lot of light. We have both battery-operated and hand-crank ones – because you’ll always have right-sized, fully-charged batteries until you need them. Technically, this is a LED flashlight/lantern combo, and cows can kick it over all they want without burning Chicago to the ground. Via Coleman.com
Headlamps are great for freeing up both hands. All of our 72-hour emergency kits (aka, Bug-Out Bags) contain one of these guys. A single set of AAA batteries lasts almost 200 hours and is perfect for making Zombie Apocalypse Cookies at midnight. Via EmergencyEssentials.com
If you plan on using a glow stick as a useable light source, I recommend red since it will preserve your night vision the best – there’s a reason why photo-developing-darkroom lights are that color. If you plan on using your glow stick to make you more visible to others, go with white or blue. When using non-red sticks, try to keep them out of your line-of-sight so you don’t blind yourself. Also, be aware that white is always the shortest-lived of the glow sticks, due to its high-energy output.