Sorry for missing the Wednesday & Friday posts this week, you guys. No excuses – except for that whole 'growing a baby' thing. ::wink::
I did use the extra time, though, to poll a selection of my regular readers to find out if there was any burning Fat Girl information that I had so far neglected, and a surprising (to me) recurring theme was, “Fat Girl, what’s on your bug out list? In your bug-out bags? Planned for your car?”
I've always been preparedness-minded, having grown up in earthquake country. I find a lot of comfort in preparing the best I can for stuff that could conceivably happen; once I'm prepped, I feel justified in no longer worrying about something that I ultimately can't control. Until he met me, Fat Hubby never thought at all about preparedness - preparing for a post-crisis situation never really occured to him. Needless to say, he's learned a lot from me in the time we've been together.
Fat Hubby and I have spent a lot of time talking about preparedness plans, and it's important that you do so with your household. If 'IT' happens while you're all apart - work, school, sporting event, whatever - where is your rally point? And where's your back-up rally point, in case fires/building damage/emergency crews won't let you get to your initial rally point? Fat Hubby and I have the following rally points: our home, a friend's home on the outskirts of town, then about every 50 miles between here and his parents' place. We also have one-of-a-kind markers we can use to show the other that we've already been there (but more on that later).
Just as your rally points should be scaled so that everyone knows where to meet up whether the disaster is as small as a power-outage or as big as a nuclear blast, your bug-out kits and plans should likewise be scalable:
- The kind of emergency you'll have to deal with most often is something that makes you leave town with very little notice (like an earthquake, a tornado, or a large-scale power outage), but you'll be able to come home within 3 days (hence the name '72-hour kit').
- Less frequently, you'll get a little more notice (like a hurricane), but might not be able to come home for a week or two. In these situations, your best bet is to have ready-to-go add-ons for your basic 72-hr kits. Have you been paying attention, dear reader, to the previous pantry posts? That information all comes in handy here, too.
- Maybe once in a lifetime, you'll have to deal with an emergency that gives you a little bit more notice (like a zombie infestation spreading out of LA, or Canadian military marching across the border), but you probably won't be coming home for a long while - if ever. Again, you'll be best served by knowing in advance what parts of your household are both easily transportable and most useful.
Based on my interest in preparedness, I've spent a really long time researching and perfecting the emergency plans for our household (honestly, I'll never be 'done', so don't let that stop you from starting). I utilized lists from several different sources (the Red Cross, the Armed Forces, FEMA, etc.) to build my own fluid Master-list for our needs. When we started building our family's packs, we realized that it was far less expensive to buy basic kits from someone like EmergencyEssentials.com (not a paid plug, by the way – I just love these guys) and then to add our own stuff, rather than to build our kits totally from scratch. We seriously saved 70-80% over what we would have spent otherwise, although I did wait until the kits I wanted went on sale, so that helped.
I’m going to preface the rest of this post by saying that the following is NOT gospel, even though it’s long. Remember - just because it appears in my (or Fat Hubby’s) bag doesn’t mean it needs to be in yours. At most, use the following as guides to put together your own bug-out bag(s) and other emergency plans.
Fat Girl’s Kit – the 3-Day Lite
The kit itself runs ~$30 on sale and includes the following in a standard-sized bright-red backpack:
- 3600-calorie SOLAS-rated food bar (SOLAS stands for ‘Sustainability Of Life At Sea’ and means that the nutrients provided are balanced and approved by the Coast Guard for limited-drinkable-water situations, like being adrift in a lifeboat. Or running around in a desert, which is what really matters to me.)
- 3 hard candies (Don’t laugh. If you’ve never been in an honest emergency situation, you have no idea how comforting a little normal thing like candy can be. And that’s not just my inner fatness speaking, it’s a proven fact even with skinny folk. Plus, sucking on hard candy stimulates saliva production, which helps quench your thirst without using up water – another desert bonus. Lastly, sugar is a beast of an energy provider, and when you’re fleeing or whatever, you use up a lot more energy than usual.)
- 3x 16.9 oz bottles of water
- 3x Hotties hand & body warmers (This is a 4”x5” pad soaked with non-toxic chemicals that react to oxygen and heat up and stay hot for 8-14 hrs. You just make a little tear in the foil baggie and within a minute you’ve got a nice piping-hot packet to stuff in your mittens or jacket or sleeping bag. What? It gets chilly in the desert at night!)
- Poncho (The crappy one-step-up-from-a-Hefty-trash-bag kind. But it’ll keep the rain off, and fits my ample girth.)
- Metalized emergency sleeping bag (Basically, a really big ‘space blanket’ with a sticky strip on one side and the bottom so you can peel off the paper and fold it into a sleeping bag shape. Not great, but better than nothing, you know? Also, super good when used as a liner inside a summer-weight sleeping bag to boost its cold-weather usability.)
- 32 Strike-Anywhere matches (A must, since I always lose/sneeze on/otherwise render useless the special striking area necessary for your average match. I have literally lit one of these guys off the sole of my tennis shoe. If you have a thicker beard than me, you might even manage to use your chin, like that guy in the old Black Angus commercials.)
- 5-in-1 Survival Whistle (includes a whistle, signal mirror, luminescent-dial compass, waterproof matchbox, and a flint fire starter)
- Lightstick (12 hr, yellow – which makes it not-so-great for preserving your night vision, but it does provide brighter light. Also, because it’s brighter, it’s more likely to last barely 12 hrs.)
- LED flashlight with batteries (Packaged separately – never store the batteries inside the device they’re meant to power. If even one explodes, the acid could corrode the contacts, meaning the whole device is ruined.)
- 20-item first aid kit (Mostly band aids, Neosporin, and anti-friction blister pads. I think there might be a crappy pair of plastic tweezers in there, too.)
- Tissue Pack (Like I said, I’m a girl, so since I need TP even to pee, I switched this for the full roll of the stuff that came in Fat Hubby’s kit)
- Multi-function Knife (includes 2” blade, Philips & Flathead screwdrivers, reamer punch, nail file/cleaner, sewing eye, 2” double-cut saw [though I personally find these useless], bottle/can opener, corkscrew [for those post-apocalyptic bottles of wine], and a fish scaler/hook remover)
To the items above, I have added the following to my kit:
- 35 wallet-sized pics of Fat Hubby (to show/leave at certain locations to facilitate reunion if we end up separated)
- 50 yard Spool of Distinct Ribbon (A very ugly patterned ribbon I picked up in a sale bin. It’s bright yellow/purple/orange/white camo with silver sparkles. We plan to tie bows of this stuff around poles along our path if we get separated, so we’ll know if the other has been there already.)
- Road Maps
- 100-hr emergency candle (basically, an updated and much safer version of the ancient oil lamp)
- Magnesium fire starter
- Ever-lite waterproof/leakproof butane lighter (Yes, I am obsessed with being able to make a fire. This is in addition to the 3 different rub-two-sticks-together fire starting methods I know. There’s a reason fire-making was such an important evolutionary step to take. If you’ve got fire, you can not only keep yourself warm, cook your food, and scare away predators, you have light, long-distance signaling/communications [yes, smoke signals are a real thing], the ability to sterilize metal things, forge softer metals, fire-harden wood tools into stronger/sharper/more durable versions of themselves, and the ability to preserve furs/skins/leathers/food – did someone say jerky? Wherever I go, I’m bringing a slew of fire-knowledge with me, that’s for sure.)
- Starter seeds in a zip-top bag (Wherever possible, I chose drought-resistant, early-yielding, continuous-harvesting varieties with the broadest range of optimal growing zones: non-gardener translation – I made sure the seeds I got are as bullet-proof for beginners as possible, that they start producing food in the shortest amount of time after planting, that instead of fruiting once and then dying off I can harvest from them 2-3 times a week through the whole growing season, and that the seeds can grow in just about any region of the US.)
- Zucchini - Eaten with the dark green skin on, they provide a lot of the same nutrients as other more delicate leafy greens, plus the leaves/stalks/blossoms are edible, and the fruit are moist and watery, which is great for a desert-dwelling people.
- Small Sugar Pumpkin - The size of a large cantaloupe, these guys are high in beta carotene and store really well for the winter with practically no prep. Cut them off the plant with about 5” of stem left and stick them in a cool, dry, dark place. They’re great for pies or roasting or other potato-type applications.
- English Pea - One of the earliest-yielding plants, the peas can be eaten raw or cooked, are easy to can/jar if you’ve got the resources to do so, or to split and sun-dry for longer storage. The more you harvest, the more peas the bush will produce, and the pods can be fed to any animals you have around, even dogs.
- Carrots - Again, everything from the root to the leaves are edible, and are packed full of nutrients. They store great right in the ground they grew in – you don’t have to harvest them until you want to eat them – or you can harvest them and stick them in a bucket of dry, clean sand in that dark, dry, cool place next to your pumpkins.
- Stringless bush beans - You know I wouldn’t leave out green beans! Like peas, the more you harvest the more beans the bush will produce, and being stringless makes them easier to prepare for either immediate consumption or long term storage.
- Cucumber - Another dark green succulent that yields early and often, so is good not only for nutrition but as a supplementary water source as well. This isn’t necessarily pretty, but if drinkable water is limited, waste water (like from dishes or bathing, and, um, other bodily-produced liquids) can be poured onto the ground near the plants, which will soak up the water and leave the other not-water stuff behind. It might not sound appealing, but it doesn't change the taste of the veggie, and it's a great way to use water you can't consume otherwise.
- Swiss Chard - I chose the Fordhook Giant because it’s huge and very difficult to kill. It has been known to keep growing right through the winter in places as cold as Vermont with little more than some plastic sheeting framed around it to keep off the snow and help magnify the sun’s rays. Raw, the leaves mimic butter lettuce or spinach, and tossed into soups it often stands in for kale or spinach (again). The stalks are reminiscent of a slightly sweeter asparagus, either raw or cooked. The leaves/stalks are HUGE, and the more you harvest, the more you continue to get.
- Sweet Corn - Not to be mistaken for flint or dent corn (which is dried and ground into cornmeal), sweet corn is the corn-on-the-cob/creamed-corn type. The type I chose is made by Burpee, called 'Early & Often Hybrid'. It's a continuous-harvest variety, which I’ve never seen before in sweet corn. Normally, when the ears are ripe you gotta harvest the crap outta it, then eat corn on the cob until you’re sick of it and then you can/cream-and-can the rest. This kind, however, has ears that ripen continuously, meaning – yep – the more you eat/store, the more food the plant makes, all season long.
- An unpackaged handful of wheat berries - I don’t pack a whole lot, because wheat is a really fickle plant; it takes a lot of work to get it to grow, is pretty unforgiving to n00bs, and only grows in certain areas of the country. So, when we get wherever we’re going, I’ll scatter the handful I’ve brought on the off-chance that it happens to be someplace conducive to wheat-growing, but I’m pretty much counting on identifying local, wild-growing grains like wild rices/oats/quinoa and harvesting/planting/babying that local flora over 3-5 seasons into a stable, sustainable grain base.
Notice I didn’t include any herbs. Wonder why? Because the ones that grow best wherever you are ::dah tuh dah:: grow wild wherever you happen to be. Seriously. Have you ever wondered why certain herbs and spices tend to ‘traditionally’ pair well with certain meats/vegetables? Yeah, they were all foods that grew in the same area, and so got paired together. I’m not saying that Italian basil would be gross on Colorado venison, I’m saying that if there is such a thing as Colorado basil, it’ll probably be even better than Italian basil on that same hunk-o-deer. If you’re worried about accidentally eating something poisonous, grab a knowledgable local person and/or book and learn to identify what you’re looking at.
Fat Hubby’s Kit – the Roadwise
The kit itself runs ~$37 on sale and includes the following in a standard-sized bright-red backpack (I bolded the items that are different from my kit, for ease):
- 3600-cal SOLAS-rated food bar
- 3 hard candies
- 6x 8 oz Aquablox (basically, juice boxes of water – complete with the little bendy straw and everything)
- 3x Hotties hand & body warmers
- Metalized emergency sleeping bag
- 32 Strike-Anywhere matches
- 5-in-1 Survival Whistle
- Lightstick (12 hr, red – which makes it great for preserving your night vision, but doesn’t provide a bright light. Also, because it’s red, which is a low-energy light, it’s more likely to last more than 12 hrs.)
- LED headlamp with batteries (Packaged separately, remember why?)
- 20-item first aid kit
- Roll of Toilet Paper (Like I said, I’m a girl, so since I need TP even to pee, I switched this for the puny little tissue-pack that came in my kit.)
- Multi-function Tool (includes pliers, wire cutter/stripper/crimper, large & small knife, bottle/can opener, fish scaler, hook remover, ruler, file, small/medium/large flathead screwdrivers, and Philips’ head screwdriver)
- Roll of Duct Tape (a must for any Zombie Apocalypse)
To the items above, I have added the following to Fat Hubby’s kit:
- 35 wallet-sized pics of me
- 50 yard Spool of Distinct Ribbon (yep, the same ugly ribbon pattern)
- Road Maps
- 100-hr emergency candle
- 2 cartons of cigarettes (Fat Hubby’s a smoker, but also great for bartering)
- 5 standard lighters
- 25 storm-proof matches (These are waterproof matches on steroids. They are fat and both wind & water proof.)
- Hank-cranked & solar-powered AM/FM radio/USB charger for cell phones and whatnot
These are just our basic 72-hour kits, and as such they are really only meant for ‘you have 6 seconds to get out of the house’, temporary-type situations. If we have a few extra seconds, though, we’ll head to get stuff…
From the Safe (and into our kits):
- Zip-top bag of passports, car titles/registrations, birth certificates, and other important papers
- Our guns and 2 extra boxes of ammo for each
- All the Cash!
And if we’ve got even a couple more seconds, we’ll head to get stuff…
From the Kitchen (and into our kits):
- Fat Hubby’s insulin pens from the fridge
- The Good Knives (Chef's and Carving)
- One of each kind of potato (Every eye that sprouts can be cut off and planted, so even one small potato can provide more than 12 plants. Works for sweet potatoes, too.)
- The water jug off the dispenser (even though we’ll spill some)
- All the Zip-top bags and aluminum foil
Zip-top bags weigh next to nothing, don’t have to be kept in their box so they can slide into any available nook and cranny, and are practically air/water-tight, meaning you can even use them as water-holders/air-puffed pillows in a pinch. Aluminum foil folded into packets allows you to cook just about anything on/in a fire without having to carry around pots & pans. Via Troll.me
Once we’ve gathered all the above, we'll quickly assess the reasons for our bugging-out. If it's due to some disaster that means we either (a) won't be coming back to Vegas for a while, or (b) won't be back at all, AND we have at least 11 more minutes (yes, we’ve done timed drills, though the dogs don’t like them), then we'll rush to get the following…
Into the Car:
- 1 large water bowl for the dogs (No leashes or other crap. The dogs will have to eat what we eat/scrounge for themselves, and if they choose to wander away from us, we wish them the best of luck in all their future endeavors.)
- Camping Kit (which includes tent, hibachi, propane burner, hachet, saw, tarps, stakes, charcoal, utensils, sleeping bags, inflatable mattresses, and 5x 50 yrd bights of nylon rope)
- 5 gallon pail of wheat berries and the flour mill (check back next week for more on wheat berries)
- 5 gallon pail of rice
- Zee Medical Cabinet (A leftover from our old office. Meant to be mounted to a wall, we’ve never gotten around to mounting it in our house, so it’s basically a 24”x18”x6” latching metal cabinet literally stuffed with every sort of first aid item imaginable, and currently just chillin' on the floor in one of our closets.)
- 3 smallest ice chests (why 3 small instead of 1 big? Firstly, 3 small chests are easier to Tetris into tight spaces, but more importantly, every time you open a chest, you cause the stuff inside to melt faster. Ergo, rather than exposing everything in your chest to heat every time you open it to get something, you are only exposing the 1/3 that happens to be in the chest you opened. If you stick a bunch of frozen-solid-meat into an ice chest and then don’t open it, 4 days later it will still be frozen solid – I’ve done it. Hooray for thermal inertia.)
- All the meat possible from the big freezer into the chests (and stuff any crannies with whatever fits, even if it’s Hot Pockets)
- All the water jugs
- All the #10 cans of dehydrated/freeze-dried foods
- All the flashlights
- All the propane tanks/gas cans
- All the undies, socks, belts, jeans, sweatshirts, jackets, blankets, sheets, towels, & curtains (and, if room, as many bolts of fabric as will fit in the car. Again, not only useful, but worth their weight in gold when it comes to barter. Bet you were wondering when we’d get around to clothing. Yeah, pretty much dead last. In our climate, it’s the easiest to do without and fairly easy to replace, even without a sewing machine.)
And lastly, if we have the time, we will get the following…
On Our Way Out of Town:
- Siphon all the gas out of our now-ditching-them cars and into the Denali/gas cans
- More gas at gas station into Denali/gas cans
- Empty the bank accounts
And then, ladies and gentlemen, we'll wend our way to wherever we think we’ll be able to find fresh water, where the summer sun won't peel the skin from an unprotected body in less than 4 minutes, where family may be meeting us, wherever is least likely to be populated with Zombies.