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Dont just plan for survival and emergency preparedness – practice it

Some people may already be putting away supplies for a rainy day, so to speak. Many people plan for emergencies or a survival situation and stockpile food, blankets, ammo, water and other supplies, but never practice using any of them. What good is it to go out and buy a brand new shiny $1,600 assault rifle, but never even use it. Or, more simply, what about the day to day actions of just preparing meals and keeping yourself clean when the power goes out.


When people loose their power, many loose the ability to cook, clean or even flush the toilet. Electricity powers our heat, fresh water supply, sewage disposal and even the stove in many homes. Any conventional household heater requires electricity to blow the hot air through the house. With a power outage, even the thermostat and electronic controls will not work. Therefore no heat.


Fresh, hot running water is normally heated by electricity or gas. And when the power goes out, so do the electronic controls for your hot water heater. Not to mention that the fresh water fails completely.


How, for example, do you flush the toilet with no running water? Have you practiced it? It takes lots of water to run a common household toilet.


Unless you have propane or natural gas, even the stove will not work without power.


I spent the night in my off grid camper last night just to see how it would be. My propane lines leak, so no stove. The solar panels are not yet properly set up, so very little light or electricity. I have my new (antique) wood stove hooked up, so there was some heat. But I do not yet have enough power to run the fan constantly. And the wood stove needs a bit of work to stop all the air flowing into the cracks so it will burn longer at night. Right now it only burns for about 1.5 hours untended. If I put more wood in, I get a violent hot fire that will still burn out in 1.5 hours.


So, anyway, I had it a comfy 70 degrees in the camper last night while using a laptop hooked up to a cell phone for internet use. (Hey – survival doesnt mean no comfort). I heated up my dinner on top of the wood stove in a pot. Just a prepackaged meal, sort of like an MRE, but I found some very cheaply. I also heated up some water on top of the stove for washing. But I discovered a problem. My sink drain plug will not stop water flow. That means no filling up the sink to wash. I will need to find a wash basin to use for the future. I could buy a new drain plug, but they do not last long anyway. And in a survival situation, you want long term solutions. The grocery stores will not be open for your convenience anymore.


So, there are a couple things that need to be practiced and planned for in an emergency or survival situation. Just think of all the modern conveniences we are used to. A lot of people run the water faucet constantly. Rinsing off the toothbrush, rinsing off the dishes, washing your hands and the list goes on. Take away this convenience and you will need to find alternate solutions – now, rather than waiting until you need it and the stores are closed.

I use a french press to make my coffee. It is cheap, has nothing on it to wear out and no disposable filters to waste your money on. But, the thing is horrible to clean with no running water. Need to find a solution to that one. I also have a nice single cup coffee brewer with a reusable filter. That too is a mess to clean up. I am so used to going to the sink and rinsing it under a constant stream of water.


If you will be using a wood stove for heat and cooking, remember that you need flat bottom pots and pans. If they have a rim around the bottom of them, they are useless. The whole bottom of the pan needs to come in contact with the hot plate of the wood stove in order to cook well. Cast iron works better for wood stove cooking. Right now, in the beginning of the winter season, the stuff is sold cheaply all over. Get good, solid made in the US quality stuff to last a lifetime. A lot of discount and closeout stores carry cast iron cookware cheaply as well. I got a huge cast iron wok and a nice, large dutch oven one time for only $6 each. Watch garage sales and flea markets as well. You can get them for a dollar or so.


Cast iron cookware has it benefits and drawbacks for off grid living. A huge benefit is that it is non stick if handled properly. Never wash it with soap. After it is treated with vegetable oil, it will be naturally non stick. But you need to wash it under hot running water. That is hard to do in the field. One solution is to just put it back on top of the wood stove with some water in it until it gets very hot. Scrub it with a rag and dump it out. Rinse it with more hot water and you are done. The other problem is that at home I use paper towels to clean my cast iron and toss them when finished. In the field, you will soon run out of paper towels. Rags and hand towels get very greasy, very fast when cleaning cast iron. It is a sticky mess after a few times. You need to keep them clean with lots of soap and water or toss them.


Practice camping without the electricity some time and you may discover that your survival plan needs a few additions and changes. I did.

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Troy Reid


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