Composting in your Garden – How to Start

Making your own compost is a practical way to reduce the volume of rubbish going to landfill and at the same time benefiting your garden. Composting is quick and easy to make and if made correctly, it does not smell unpleasant.

 

Step by Step Guide to Composting:

Converter:

A compost converter is an ideal way to make compost. Converters not only keep your composting neat and tidy, they also provide the ideal environment for composting to take place.

Composting requires heat and oxygen for the first stage (where microorganisms break down the organic material). The plastic container retains heat and speeds up the process. Placing the converter in full or partial sun will help but avoid excessive heat which can dry out the contents.

The converter should be placed directly onto soil or grass to allow beneficial insects and worms to enter. If you have to place your converter onto a hard surface, first put a layer of compost down.

Collecting for Composting:

Collecting waste at home will depend on how often you plan on a trip to the composter. If you can empty your waste into the composter after every meal then all you need is any small collecting tub – a small plastic bucket is ideal. If you only want to empty your waste every day or so then a small plastic swing-top bin is ideal. Make sure that your collecting receptacle has a lid otherwise fruit flies will quickly invade your kitchen. If you really want to collect in style, why not treat yourself to a purpose designed stainless steel collecting pail with an odour eliminating filter in the lid.

Open composter:

Traditionally, a compost heap was used to make compost. Although a plastic converter will make the process neater and quicker, an open compost heap is useful for large quantities of organic waste such as grass cuttings and other garden waste. Whilst it is possible to simply pile the waste in a corner of the garden an enclosed area will keep things tidy and also maintain the mass of the heap necessary to produce the required heat to begin the composting process. A simple mesh enclosure will also allow oxygen to enter.

All that is required is few wooden stakes and a roll of galvanised wire mesh. For a more sturdy structure you could use an ready-made open fence panel. All you need is two fence panels, approximately 6 feet long by 3 feet high. A roll of galvanised wire netting (at least 12 feet long) and 3 tree stakes.

Use one panel for the front of the enclosure and cut another in half to form one of the sides. Tack the mesh to the back of the panel then nail tree stakes to the ends of the panels with the pointed ends protruding about 18 inches from the bottom. Cut the top of the stake level with the top of the panel. Using a mallet, hammer the stakes into the ground to form the enclosure. Leaving one end open allows easy access for turning the heap and removing compost. It also makes it easy to extend the enclosure using additional panels if required.

DO COMPOST THESE:

Uncooked vegetable peelings & fruit
Hedge trimmings
Grass clippings (limited amount)
Leaves
Paper
Tea bags and coffee grounds
Vegetarian animal bedding (e.g. rabbits)

DON’T COMPOST THESE:

Meat/bones
Fish
Cooked food
Dairy products
Cat litter

Successful composting needs the right mix of conditions, which are determined by where you site your composter and what you put in it. Firstly, site your composter preferably on bare soil or at least on grass.

You need to get the right ratio of carbon to nitrogen. This is determined by the mix of ‘greens’ and ‘browns’. ‘Greens’ are fruit and vegetable scraps, grass cuttings (not too much). ‘Browns’ are dried flowers, cardboard etc. Try to keep an equal mix of greens and browns. You need a reasonable amount of material in order to generate the heat necessary for composting process. Chopping up larger items also helps.

Make sure the contents of your composter is moist (not wet). Add water if it starts to dry out.

The composting process needs oxygen to work. Occasionally turn the contents with a garden fork, or better still an aerator, and add more scrunched up paper.

Depending on the conditions, it will take between 6 months and 2 years for your compost to be ready to use. When it is ready it will resemble commercial compost – dark, with an earthy smell.

If your school is composting, the volume will mount up quickly, especially if your school has ‘Healthy School’ status (an award recognising the number of children who bring healthy food to school amongst other things). As a result ‘Healthy Schools’, they have a high volume of organic waste each day that can be composted.

You could even consider asking parents who don’t make their own compost to bring in their fruit and veg waste.

Schools can place colourful plastic collecting buckets by each of the waste bins on the playgrounds and in the dinner hall to collect compostable waste. Anything from around 15L to about 45L is ideal.

Children will be designated as ‘compost monitors’ to collect the bins at the end of lunch time and transfer the contents to the main composter at the end of the final break.

Make sure that the collecting buckets or tubs had small holes drilled in the bottoms to prevent rain water from filling them up and making them too heavy to carry. Two-handled designed are better as they allow two children to share the load.

Being able to sustain a self sufficient life always pays off in emergency planning and composting in your garden is a great step to take for your self sufficient lifestyle.

Emergency Planning – Where to Start?

As I talk with my friends, family, and clients, it is rather amazing to hear how many people are truly not prepared for an emergency. They haven’t thought about how to reach loved ones in an emergency. They haven’t thought about where to assemble when evacuated. They haven’t stored even a minimal amount of food and water. They don’t have a disaster kit. Many don’t have a basic first aid kit.

Before you shake your head and mutter, “Wow!” under your breath, how prepared are you?

What specifically would you do if a wildfire threatened your home?

Do you have a climate specific emergency kit in your car?

Is it accessible to you if the trunk or rear hatch wouldn’t open?

We can all benefit from a little more effort toward our emergency planning

I’ve been thinking about why. It’s the apathy. We all like to put emergencies out of our head – that will never happen to me. We are busy, and the emergency isn’t urgent, so planning gets put aside in favor of having clean laundry for school and work tomorrow. That makes me say “Wow.”

I’m no preparedness perfectionist. We could still use a little work on our plan, but we have food and water put away. We have winter survival gear in the car. We have a communications plan. Every day, I learn a little more about how I can secure my family against an emergency or disaster. I make tweaks regularly.

So, let’s say you haven’t started. Emergency planning is a daunting task. It’s crucial that you do it well, and that makes it a scary thing to do.

The good news? It’s simple.

Pick a topic and spend a weekend or a couple evenings a week to flesh out your plan. Say, your communications plan. There’s a worksheet here that covers key phone numbers and details. Take a little time with your cell phone and write down these numbers. Then, write them on the wallet card version (adult version, child version). There. It took maybe an hour, and now you have a good start on your plan.

One must first decide what is to be prepared for…

The first thing a survivalist should do is decide what is being prepared for, and to decide what can be prepared for in such an event, and what can not be.  Most people have limited resources, so prioritisation of efforts should be decided early on to prevent waste.  Its best to re-evaluate this list on a regular basis, as the world is constantly changing.

Start with the basics. Grab a notebook and pen and start an inventory.

Walk through the entire house and spend some time in each room thinking about all the tasks that are performed there. Write down all the tasks that are performed, and generally how often (Daily, weekly, monthly, rarely). Make sure to include tasks that all family members perform, not just the ones involved in making a list.

After all the tasks are written down, go through the rooms again, and write down all the items that are used doing these tasks, especially but not limited to the consumables. Make sure even the lesser rooms like closets, bathrooms, laundry rooms and garages are included.

Next decide which of the tasks are essential, needs, and wants. Essentials tasks are those that are necessary for life to continue: Eating, drinking, going the bathroom, etc. Needs are those that would be necessary for health and safety: Bathing, washing dishes, etc. Wants are things other than Essentials and Needs.

Next spend some time thinking about what all was written down, and as life continues over the following weeks, go back and make additions or changes to the list as necessary.

Use this inventory to help understand what items around the home are critical and what consumables are most important.

There’s a lot of other checklists, too. Finish them one by one and before you know it, you’ll have a great plan!

P.S. You can start putting together your bug out bag using our “what should be in a bug out bag” checklist. You know you want to! Even if you just scan through the article and spend some time thinking about it, you’re way ahead of the game!

Tips for Prepper Food Storage

Before you can work too hard on building your prepper food storage list, you have to know what you need. It can seem daunting to plan for a year’s worth of food in one sitting. I’d like to outline a prepper food storage strategy you can use for determining the amount and type of food you should consider for your long term storage. This approach is a little different from others out there. It works better for the way my brain is wired. I hope you find it useful.

Simple Steps to Figuring out What to Store:

  1. Start by finding twenty one dinner meals that your family enjoys. These could be simple or complex, large or small. Most home cooks have a library of about that many meals that they regularly cook. Create a spreadsheet that you can use to track your twenty one meals and the major ingredients. On the first sheet, fill in your favourite meals and all the ingredients you need to make them. Don’t forget seasonings and garnishes. You can decide to delete those items later if you want, but for now, include all the ingredients. If twenty one is too challenging, then fill in as many as you can.
  2. The next step is to transfer all the ingredients to the second sheet. You will probably have some duplication of items on this sheet. It’s up to you if you want to combine them or not. Some find it easier to keep track if the items all remain separate.
  3. Step three is to inventory your pantry, freezer, and other food storage locations. See what you have. Use the third sheet to itemise your prepper food storage. You may prefer to organise by ingredient type (meat, dairy, grains, etc.) or by storage location (pantry, freezer, basement, etc). Use what makes sense to you. Make a note of expiration dates. Use the items that expire first so you don’t waste money.
  4. Step four is to make a shopping list of items you need to get for your prepper food storage. Keep this list handy and shop sales or in bulk to fill out your storage needs. You don’t need to purchase everything at once. Keep it simple and smart. Buy a little extra at the store and take advantage of weekly sales.
  5. Step five is to then take this food storage plan and modify for lunches, dinners, and snacks. You’ll use the same strategy as for dinners. It may be faster to complete this planning because you already have your inventory complete.

Don’t forget to keep this spreadsheet up to date! As you use items, deduct them from your quantity on hand. As you purchase items, update the new quantity. I keep my spreadsheet online at Google spreadsheets so I can access from my phone or tablet when I’m on the go. Plus, I can update my inventory from the basement storage without having to try and remember to do it later.

Well, having planned your prepper food needs – the actual storage part isn’t rocket science really, but there are certain techniques and ways of going about doing it if you are prepping for an emergency.

Just buying food with the intent of storing it away for a rainy day just won’t suffice!

Tips on how to to safeguard your prepper food storage from spoilage & wasted money:

A friend of mine used to run a small online sports memorabilia store. Those familiar with sports memorabilia know that you have to have in place certain safeguard’s to protect your investment.

Otherwise you risk losing that investment to air, insects/rodents, light, moisture/humidity, temperature or any combination of the five.

You probably look for the best deal. You’ll probably have a room to show off your investments. You probably have them organised according to player or team. I would venture to say that you know every single piece that you own (or at least a list of items written down somewhere).

Prepper food storage is no exception. You should treat it with the same care, respect, and upkeep as your memorabilia. I have made a list of 5 tips to make your food storage investment worth its weight in gold. You will be proud of it. You won’t display it publicly, but it will have its own room. You will have it organised and properly rotated. These are some of the basic foundations for making and maintaining successful food storage.

Food Storage Room

You have to have a place to store your food! I am not talking about a pantry. This is a great start, but if you are to get a years supply of food, you will need something a lot bigger. Living in an apartment is a bit harder, I would know! You usually aren’t allowed to start taking down walls and adding to the apartment. I am single and had a pantry that was big enough to store about 3 months worth of food (which I had). I started moving my other food items to my closet as a starting point. You can always find room for your prepper food storage.

How big should my room be? Well, that all depends on your plan. In general, 17 cubic feet is needed for one person for a year supply of food storage. That could increase depending on your food storage plans. The 17 cubic feet per person is a great starting point and all that I am going to mention for this post.

  1. Organize Your Prepper Food Storage

    Organizing your food storage and having prepper food storage containers will better allow you to find what you have and how much of it you have. There are many companies that sell can rotation systems to organize your food. You can buy prefabricated shelves and put them together! This video has some great tips on deals about food storage:

    I have built a food storage room and shelves from scratch. You can go this route if you want to have a customized food storage room. We haven’t added a can rotation system yet, but it is worth doing. Whether you build your shelves or buy them, make sure that you secure them to the wall or floor. In an earthquake you could loose and or damage all of your food. Plus, the added time to have to reorganize it again!

  2. Proper Rotation

    Rotation can be considered part of organization. When you have your food storage properly organized, it makes it easier for rotation. I worked in grocery for over 10 years and have learned the value of rotation. You can loose so much of your hard earned money to improper rotation. One way to help minimize this is by using a rotation system of some kind. It isn’t necessary, but does make it more efficient and less time consuming.

    You can build your own system or buy one, the choice is yours. If you don’t put in some kind of rotation system, you will have to make a considerable effort to make sure that each item is getting rotated like it should be. Rotation will literally save you thousands of dollars on wasted product, and keep your investment and investment. You can read more about survival hygiene here.

  3. Buying Bulk Food

    You get more for your money when buying a 25 pound bag of beans vs. a 1lb bag of beans. This is common knowledge and shouldn’t be anything new to you. But you will still see people buy 10-1lb bags of beans and put it in their food storage! This isn’t being productive or financial sound with your hard earned money. The investment is a little higher for bulk food, but you get a whole lot for the money. Here are some items to try and see if you can buy in bulk at your local Costco or Sam’s club:

    Black Beans, Pinto Beans, White Rice, Brown Rice, Granulated Sugar, Hard White Wheat, Hard Red Wheat, Flour, Pancake Mixes, Instant Potatoes, Non-fat Powdered Milk, Oats,…

  4. Inventory Your Food Storage

    Creating an inventory of what you have better prepares you for what you need to buy. You could end up with 200 lbs of beans and only 20 lbs of wheat. In a crisis situation, that isn’t going to be too fun having to eat beans everyday! Not to mention that you aren’t getting your correct daily nutritional amounts.

As I mentioned above the best method that I like to use to keep my food storage inventoried is through Google spreadsheets. This method allows you to track how much stuff you have, what you are low on, what you need to buy and not buy, what you have too much of, etc. You don’t have to use a computer, but you should have some sort of inventory program set up. You should also include a Check In/Check Out sheet in your food storage room to help you keep track of what is being brought in and taken out.

I know some of these tips may seem like a lot of work, or maybe even unnecessary. But implementing them and making them a part of your daily life will put you on the right track to becoming an expert at food storage and better prepared individual.

Hope you figured out some easy-to-follow guidelines for prepper food storage. For digging deeper into “on the move” food needs and inventory, you can take a look at “what should be in a bug out bag” here!

Bug Out Backpack for Women – Everything but the Kitchen Sink!

Everything but the Kitchen Sink?
or a well planned Bug Out Backpack for Women!

Let me begin by saying that the confusion set in at this point. All the YouTube videos and blogs seemed to be talking about this “bug out backpack for women” and what should be in it, and what you can do with it, and where you should stash it, and how much it should weigh, and what color it should be, and…well, you get the picture.

Once I was able to determine WHAT it was and a general idea of the purpose for one, I was even more confused. To add to the problem, more tips were given wherein we were instructed to ALWAYS HAVE CERTAIN ITEMS ON OUR PERSON…AT ALL TIMES, carried in our “cargo pockets” or our “day vest”. (huh?) I don’t have cargo pockets…I carry a PURSE!

So, back to the “B.O.B.” (aka Bug Out Backpack). It seems that an essential part of our survival plan must include one. (Are you serious? I thought prepping meant planting a garden.) Definition: Bug Out Bag. – a suitable bag/backpack/bucket that contains a minimal amount of food, water, clothing, and other essentials with which one person can survive for at least 72 hours. The thought here is that when “The Event” happens, and you have to flee/leave your home/office/school etc., you should be able to reach your Bug Out Location/Destination (aka B.O.L.) within a 72 hour time-frame.

Let’s stop right here. You see, men don’t think like women. Am I right? Their idea of essentials is a knife and a tarp, with a little duct tape and a para-cord bracelet thrown in for good measure. It would appear that with these few items, one could easily build a SHELTER in the woods. Throw in a little lint from your pocket and a mirror and, voila! FIRE! Add some sand and grass and a little charcoal from your fire and, you guessed it…CLEAN WATER! And I’m sure all of this absolutely works…for THEM. But it’s a known fact that women are notorious for bringing MORE than they usually need.

Needless to say, all of this information produced a “brain overload” for me. The problem was I wanted to pack too much stuff! However, after several days passed and with much prayer, I was finally able to wrap my female head around it by using this more familiar analogy. (Maybe this will help you, too.)

Pretend you are flying to your vacation destination; you pack your main suitcases with everything you need for the trip (NOT everything you own). These are checked at the airport with the assurance that they will arrive at the same destination at the same time you do. But just in case, you pack a “Carry-on” bag with enough items to get you through in case the luggage you checked gets LOST or you get stranded at the airport during a hurricane or ice storm.

Your bug out backpack would contain a few clothes, toiletries, medicines, some snacks, etc. This is the female equivalent of the 72 hour Bug Out Kit. Using this same analogy, the absolute essential items that must be carried on your person at all times are, you guessed it…in your PURSE or waist/day pack. (make up, hair brush, cough drops, passport, money, etc.) TA-DAAA! Make sense?

Now that we understand the reasoning behind the Bug out backpack and the waist-pack (which is the reasonable equivalent to the cargo pockets/day vest), we can begin to focus on what to put in them.

Let me begin by saying that there are as many lists available as there are preppers/survivalists. (My gratitude goes out to the amazing “guy” preppers who thought of all this stuff.)

Since no two lists were identical, I looked for the “common denominators” found in most of the bug out bag lists and grouped them together. Then I eliminated items that were “out of reach” for the average woman. Finally I “tweaked” the list until I understood the purpose for the item.

I will be posting the “ingredients” to our Bug Out Backpack list so you can get started. Some of the stuff I had around the house, and some of it I was able to buy at the local dollar stores and Walmart. The main thing to focus on Ladies is…THIS IS DO-ABLE!

bug out backpack for women

Wow, I have never been very good at packing – let alone packing a bug out backpack!  I have a tendency to bring way more stuff than I need, you know…just in case.  Multiply that by the number of people for whom I am packing…and you get the picture.  So when faced with the predicament of packing for an unknown situation, of indeterminate duration, (sounds like a song, smile) the pressure is ON!

What to bring????  As I mentioned, I have spent a great deal of time researching the  infamous “Bug Out Backpacks for Women” or “Get Home Bag” (aka G.H.B.) depending on which direction you’re going.  Finally I was able to wrap my female brain around it by putting myself into a real life situation.  I live in a small rural community 35 miles from the nearest Walmart, hence, my grown daughter and I spend a great deal of time THERE…in the city…35 miles from home.  Usually we are dressed for the CITY, not for hiking/camping.  (She frequently wears beautiful high heeled boots, or flip flops depending on the season of the year, and I dress similarly, except for the high heels.)

Picture this…we are in the city and “IT” happens!  Oh no, we will have to walk home…in high heeled boots and without a jacket (since the car is heated).  Think!  First of all, I can’t walk 35 miles without stopping to rest/sleep.  No way.  So we would need some kind of shelter, and something to keep us warm.  (I insist she adhere to the “no man left behind” motto). We need water, food, a fire, flashlights, etc.  And unless we have a bug out bag, or in this case a get home back in the car, we are in big trouble.

Therefore, in response to this scenario, I have put together a survival backpack kit list containing the following items. Believe it or not, it all fits!  woo-who…

  1. Shelter:  I actually put this up to see if it works.  It does.  You have to crawl in, but if it’s raining or you’re cold, who cares.  Tie one end of the para-cord/rope to a tree or “something”, and the other end to a tree or “something”.  Then drape the tarp over the line and set rocks or logs/sticks along the edges.  Don’t poke holes in the tarp if you can avoid it.  Then spread out the plastic drop cloth inside your tent, and crawl in.  (Awww…kinda reminds you of all those tents you made for your little one betweem the dining room chairs.)An 8×10 blue tarp from Walmart (approx. $5) or similar
    About 50′ of para-cord sold wound on a piece of cardboard for about $3, or some rope
    Package of clear plastic sheeting (sold as a drop cloth in paint dept.) (approx. $2)Tip: Take the tarp out of the package and roll it up as small as possible.  If it won’t fit inside your back pack, use carabiner hooks or bungee cords to attach it to the outside.
  2. Warmth/Fire:  Since you will be carrying this back pack, it needs to be as light as possible.  A blanket is fairly heavy, but they make a “space blanket” that reflects body heat.  It’s not soft and cuddly but it will keep you warm, and it weighs almost nothing.Space Blanket  (You can buy one at Academy or Walmart for about $3, and it is folded into something the size of a playing card.)
    Bic Lighters (have two and be sure they’re Bic; the cheap ones don’t light)
    Waterproof matches
    Cotton Balls coated in Petroleum Jelly – each one can be lit with a lighter or match, and will burn for about 4-5 minutes to get your fire started.  Get the cheap petroleum jelly at Dollar Tree for $1 and cover the cotton balls with it using a spoon.  Put 5 or 6 in a small zip lock baggie inside your backpack.
    The lint from your dryer screen will light very easily.  Put it in a zip lock and stick inside your back pack.Tip:  Be sure to place your fire so the smoke and sparks won’t come inside your tent.  A pile of rocks immediately behind your fire will help reflect the heat towards you.  (Of course we live in rice country and there are no rocks to be found round here.)  Start your fire with kindling (cotton balls or dryer lint) then little bitty twigs, then little bit bigger sticks, etc. setting them into a tee-pee shape so air can get through.  Clear off the leaves and stuff from immediately around the fire so it won’t spread.  (I know I’m stating the obvious, but who knows…?)
  3. Water:  Even when it’s cold, your body needs water to survive.Small bottles are easier to carry.  Bring as many as you can stuff into your backpack, but remember that water is heavy.  At least 4-6 for each person, which isn’t enough, but may have to do.
    Water purification tablets
    Coffee filters (put several in a zip lock – use to filter water before using tablets)
  4. Food:  This is a no-brainer for those of us who live in Hurricane-prone areas, because we know it’s way easier if you don’t have to cook anything.  Go for pouches over cans if possible, since they weigh less.  Remember that salty food makes you thirsty.Vienna Sausage
    Peanut Butter/Crackers
    Energy Bars
    Tuna in pouches
    Dried fruit
    Trail Mixes
    Dried cereal (crunches) in zip locks
    Gum (helps keep your mouth moist)
    Hard Candy (Jolly Rancher’s melt so be advised)
    Pork and beans and small manual CAN OPENER
    Jerky
    Fruit Roll ups
  5. Clothing:   It’s obvious this is dependent upon the season of year and climate, but think “layers”, that way if you get hot or cold you can add or remove layers as needed.Comfortable Shoes meant for walking

Socks (2 pairs in case one gets wet)

Long pants

Long and short sleeved shirts

Under garments

Jacket/Hoodie

Gloves

Hat (stocking or sun)

Tee shirt

Flip flops for use in the tent or while your others are drying

etc.

Tip:  Don’t worry about what you will look like or if it will “match”.  The operative words here are comfortable and functional.  Pockets are an added blessing.  Also, most Preppers agree it’s best to not stand out from the crowd, so don’t do all “Camo” and put black paint on your face (smile). Remember, the object is either to “get out of Dodge”, or “get home” so blend in.

First Aid:  A medical emergency is even more pressing than the need for shelter.  Quality first aid kits are available online and in stores everywhere. You can also buy individual components from dollar stores and, you guessed it…Walmart.  Start with the basics and add as you go.

Prescription medicines (have at least 3 days of each one stashed in your pack)

Band-aids

Gauze and tape

Anti-bacterial cream

Ibuprofen/Tylenol

Tweezers/needle

Calamine lotion

Tums

Anti-diarrheal

Lip balm

Benadryl

etc.

Toiletries:  We’re talking bare necessities here, so think small and light ladies.

Wet wipes (small travel size)

Toilet paper (remove cardboard tube and mash flat; place in zip lock)

Hand sanitizer

Toothpaste/toothbrush (travel size)

Hair brush/scrunchies/hair clips

Feminine products (enough for 72 hours)

Sunscreen

Insect repellent

Contact solution/case (if applicable)

Deodorant (travel size) (optional, but nice to have)

Special Needs:  If you have a baby or young child  please plan on bringing items that are unique to them.  Children will benefit from a small toy (doll, car, etc.)  Babies will need formula, diapers, etc.

A pet will need food, a bowl and extra water, a leash, etc.

Miscellaneous:

Flashlight and batteries

Glow stick/LED headlamp (from Academy or Walmart really cheap)

Battery or hand crank emergency radio with extra batteries

Map showing streets and side roads in your town and neighboring areas (in case the major roads are blocked with traffic, or you want to go another way)

Compass

Paper and a pen

Large Leaf/Trash Bags (can be used to sit on, or to cover your backpack if raining, or as a poncho)

Walmart sacks (good to put dirty/wet clothes in)

Knife or multi-purpose tool (if you don’t have one, put a sharp kitchen knife in your pack until you can get one)

Heavy duty aluminum foil (multiple uses – a bowl, signalling, etc.  Tear off a sheet about 18″ square and fold in half again and again until it’s about 2′ square or so.)

A deck of playing cards (FEMA recommends this after Katrina)

etc.

Optional:  I know you’ll think of other things that will be of help, but don’t overload yourself to the point where you can’t carry your pack.

Small stove with fuel tablets (they have one at Academy for about $7)

Mess Kit (Academy or Walmart for about $7) (pan, dish, lid)

Spoon/spork

Cup/mug

Fishing line/hooks (you never know, and they are small and don’t weigh anything)

Current pictures of all your loved ones for identification purposes.  Place in zip lock baggie so they don’t get wet.

CASH $20 or so in ones and fives.

Tips:  If you bring a stove, be sure to add some Ramen Noodles, hot chocolate, tea bags, instant coffee, cup of noodles, etc. and a little extra water.  Also, salt and pepper, soy sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce, jams, etc. that you get from fast food places are ideal.  Put them in a zip lock baggie, and stash them in your backpack.  You can put all your first aid stuff together in a zip lock, and all of your toiletries, etc.  Keep things organized. Just remember to keep the stuff you will use the most in the easiest place to get to.

In closing, I know I haven’t made a complete list, and there are things you will need that I haven’t thought of.  Everything is highly individualized, but I would love to hear your comments.  I’m adding a list of blogs and websites that have been a source of information to me.  I encourage you to visit them and research for yourself.  If you can afford to buy the kits, that’s wonderful.  But if not, you can put one together relatively inexpensively.  In either case, hopefully I have given you food for thought.

The main thing, however, is this…GET STARTED!  PACK YOUR BUG OUT BAG!  Look around your house and start with what you already have.  Then make a list of things you will need and start putting it all together. If you don’t have a backpack yet, use a duffle bag, or a 5 gallon bucket, or put it all in a tote or a box, but get it together.  PLEASE DON’T WAIT.

Homework Assignment:

Look around your home for a gym bag/backpack/stuff sack, etc…one for each person, including your children, and one for your family pet (they gotta’ eat, too). The thinking here is that If you don’t have to buy the required number of bags, you can spend your money on what goes IN the bags instead. You can switch out to better “bags” at a later date if desired. Right now the important thing is to HAVE A READY BUG OUT BAG.

Wanna dive into more bug out stuff? Here is another very detailed “should have bug out bag list” I put together.

What should be in a bug out bag?

Don’t pack your Bug Out Bag. Yet!

Your “bug out bag” preparations are the last you should set up, after every day, getting home, and staying home. So, since you are reading this post, please bear in mind that you really should be pretty far down the road on the first two and a half plans and kits before you start seriously tangling with “Bug Out” prep.

Plan Before Kit

The other cart-horse thing to keep in mind is that, for each of the three and a half preps, you need to plan first and assemble a kit second. Before building a “bug out bag”, you need to plan where and how you intend to bug out. If you live out in the country already, you may well be planning to bug out to the wilderness. If that is the case, your preparations will be fundamentally different from mine. If you live in a heavily urbanised area – just a couple of miles away from a big city – Starting from here, it would take serious effort to get to a patch of wilderness, and much more effort to avoid the millions of other people in this area that may have the same idea.

Since this thread will be looking at a family’s bug out plan (make sure to take a look at my survival hygiene post for family as well) and kit, remember that this is an urbanite’s look at things. We will be figuring on running away to another building somewhere, not to the woods. There may be some time spent camping out in the open, but that will be the exception, not the standard.

That being said, the needs you will have to satisfy with a bug out plan/kit are the same regardless of the situation; the difference will be in how you go about meeting those needs.

Kit Before Bag

I highly recommend that you assemble the stuff you want in your kit before you select a bag or other container to hold the kit. If you buy a backpack or other bag first, you will find yourself selecting items based on whether or not they fit in the bag. It would be much better to run through your list of needs, select items that will meet those needs, set them aside somewhere, and then get yourself a bag that fits them.

Many Names, Many Purposes

Bug out Kit.
Get Home Bag.
Get of of Dodge Kit.

Bug out Bags have many names, and can serve many purposes. The key element is it contains key supplies that can be carried somewhat easily that will enable someone to reach pre-positioned supplies over the first 24-72 hours after a disaster. For the suburban survivalist, these pre-positioned supplies will be at either home, a remote storage location or at a remote country site.
Often these items are assembled in a backpack.

General recommendations found on the internet are that all items be in one bag. However there are some advantages to having kits divided up into multiple bags. One such possibility is having a “Primary Bag” that is stored in the back of the car, and then a second bag containing items needed for an NBC enviroment. This solves two problems:

  1. If there is an NBC event, having all NBC gear in one location will speed up the ability to access the equipment faster,
  2. In an event where NBC is not a factor nor expected to be a factor, it leaves a easy way to shed weight for food-based travel.

So Consider either:

Single Bug Out Bag System, or
Dual Bug Out Bag System with a Primary Bag & NBC Bag

What you should have  in a “Single Bag” Primary Bug Out Bag?

(weighs approximately 17 Pounds)

Military Goretex Jacket
Two T-Shirts
Two Pairs of Underware & Two Paris of Socks
Two 20oz bottles of water
Ten Dollar roll of quarters
Silver Liberty Half Dollars (16)
Silver Dimes (10)
Bar of soap in ziplock bag
1oz Off! (100% DEET) in ziplock bag
Hand Sanitizing Wipe (Set of 12)
Three lighters
15-Days of Potassium Iodite / Iodate
Set of Single Edge Razor Blades (Approx 25)
Ear Plugs
Mini LED Flash Light (AAA)
Small LED Flash Light (AA)
Gerber Multi-Tool
42″ Mini Umbrella
Canadian Gas Mask
M-95 Filter (New & Sealed)
Israeli Filter

What you should have  in a “Dual Bag” Primary Bug Out Bag?

(weighs approximately 22 Pounds)

In addition to this bag, there should be a carry bag that contains all the NBC equipment needed.

Assembled in a Backpack:
Pair of Khaki Shorts
Pair of Blue Jean Shorts
Details Map Book of your area
Hand Towel & =Wash Cloth
Underware (3 Pairs)
Socks (3 Pairs)
Good T-Shirt
42″ Mini Umbrella
Binoculars 16×32
Liter Water Bottle (2 Bottles)
Jack Links Ground Beef 10.6 oz (2 Packages)
FM 21-11 First Aid for Soldiers
PVC Rainsuit (2 Piece w/ hood)
Basic Toiletry Bag
250ml Listerine (never opened), in a Ziplock
4oz Gold Bond Foot Powder, in a Ziplock
Bar of soap in container
Cotton Swabs (30)
Tootbrush in travel carrier
Tootbrush un-openedw
1oz Hand Sanitizer, in a Ziplock
Triple Antibiotic ointment
Blistex Lip Medex
Dental scraper
Razors (3)
Small LED Flash light (AA)
Small LED Flash light (AAA)
Mini LED Flash light (AAA)
Lensatic Compass
Ten Dollar roll of quarters
Silver Liberty Half Dollars (16)
Silver Dimes (10)
Set of various fishing hooks & weights
Set of Single Edge Razor Blades (Approx 25)
Box cutter that uses Single Edge Razor Blades
Emergency Poncho
15-Days of Potassium Iodite / Iodate
Cheap China-Trash folding knife w/ 3″ blade
Good folding knife w/ 3″ blade
Bar of soap in zip lock bag
Travel size mouth wash (sealed) in zip lock bag
1oz Iodine Tincture (sealed) in zip lock bag
1/2 oz eye drops (sealed) in zip lock bag
Emergency drinking water tablets
Bottle of Vitamin C
Bottle of Garlic pills
Travel size hand lotion in zip lock bag
Tube of Orajel in zip lock bag
Set of plenty of band-aides
Folding letherman type tool
watch and/or stop watch
Four lighters
Eight AA Batteries
Four AAA Batteries
Small Brush
Hand Sanitizing Wipe (Set of 12)
Hair Ties (Package of 20)
Good fingernail Clipper
Backup fingernail Clipper
Toenail Clipper
Tweezers
Cuticle Sissors
Fingernail file
Ear Plugs

What you should have  in a “Bug Car Tub”?

Keep a box or plastic tote with some critical spare parts in the trunk of each car. All items should be emergency items specific to the car.

Set of Spark Plugs (new and gapped)
PCV Valve
Set of fuses
Set of light bulbs (parking & break)
Set of head lights
Air Filter
Fix-a-Flat
Belt Dressing
Slick 50 Grease (Tub)
Radiator Sealer
Bottle of Oil Fuel Stabilizer
Small bottle of water
Zip Strips (Several sizes)
Duct Tape

Survival Hygiene and Emergency Toilet Paper

When it comes to emergency preparedness and survival hygiene, two of the foremost crucial subjects are:

  • how one can take a bath to stay clean with scarce resources,
  • most feasible way of having a stock of emergency toilet paper for difficult times.

Let’s start with a field bath. Different schools of thought indicate when someone should take a field bath for survival hygiene. Most, however, believe that it should be before retiring at night or shortly after waking.

If water rationing allows, do both morning and evening baths. Here is how:

How to take a “Field Bath” for Survival Hygiene?

Use a wash cloth and a small amount of water to wipe and clean off (in this order):

  1. the face,
  2. neck,
  3. chest,
  4. back,
  5. arms,
  6. legs,
  7. hands,
  8. underarms,
  9. feet,
  10. arm pits,
  11. privates (some lists put privates before pits).

Re-wet and wring out the cloth often during the process.

Special considerations are needed if there are any fungal issues (you do not want to take a foot fungus and transplant it to your personal private area). Wait until your body has dried off before putting on any garments. Using two separate clothes may also be advisable.

Wash the face and then the hands at least one extra time during the day. Always wash the hands before eating a meal, and after a bathroom break. Preventing disease will be a much higher priority after most teotwawki situations, and taking the small amount of water to wash the hands may be the deciding factor towards life or death for many individuals.

If in hot and dry areas (or days), not bathing properly will lead to severe itching problems sometimes referred to as ‘prickly heat’. As the body sweats water, salt, and toxins leave the body. In dry heat, the water evaporates quickly leaving the salt (and toxins) on the surface of the skin.

If the body is dirty, or these salt crystals are allowed to build up, they will eventually begin to form / be lodged in the follicles of the skin. They will irritate the sensitive skin, causing severe itching and sometimes a rash. The only way to cure this problem is by ‘dissolving’ those crystals with water by washing often, but it takes several times and several days.

Other conditions that can occur without proper washing are ringworm, fungal infections, boils (trapped bacterial infections under the skin), infected hair follicles, and chaffing.

Clothing Hygiene for the Survivalist

When going to bed, wear a night shirt, nothing underneath. This allows your body and skin to dry and breath. It also allows the clothes worn the day prior to air out and dry.

Clothes that are dirty or oily from wear for several days will hold moisture and will eventually grow mold, fungus, and/or bacteria. It is important that they be dried to prevent the dangerous growth (and odor). In hot environments, it is not uncommon to sweat while you sleep. If possible this should be minimised as much as possible (by clothing choice, bedding material, and bed location) for survival hygiene.

However, sometimes it will be impossible. Although your body will be able to breath, it still needs to dry. In these environments, some time should be spent (during the warmer parts of the day), wearing nothing but an improvised skirt (think kilt) or a summer dress for women. The most important three parts of the body that need to dry out are the arm pits, private area, and the feet.

If in a more humid environment, leaving clothes out over night may only seem to have them be more damp by morning. In those environments, alternate outer clothes every other day, and on the set that is not being worn, hand out in the direct hot sun light for several hours (during the warmer months), and if there is little heat outdoors and you have a heat source such as fire, hang them to dry near the fire (but monitor them to ensure they do not catch fire).

Before moving onto emergency toilet paper storage – I highly recommend the following video about survival hygiene for camping and wilderness, quite few good tips in this one…

Emergency Toilet Paper Storage Plans

Emergency toilet paper will be one of the first ‘luxury’ items that the mass public will run of out in many of the teotwawki scenarios. It is not easily produced yourself and it is very bulky to transport. In normal society norms, this item is considered more of a need than a luxury, and that will probably be the case into the first part of most teotwawki scenarios.

How much toilet paper do you need?

Conventional wisdom is that the average amount needed will be two single rolls per person per week. There are many attributes that may increase or decrease the amount needed. For example, typically women use more toilet paper than men during a week. Individuals that have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or that have chronic diarrheas will use quite a bit. Even those with healthy bowels will likely experience diarrheas or related problems much more often due to the changes in diet, disease, and stress that will occur in most teotwawki scenarios.

All these issues will modify the amounts of toilet paper that a household will use. First, figure out how many rolls of toilet paper your household is going through in a month during normal times. If you average two rolls per person per week, and you have a household of three people, that means that you would use about six rolls per week, or about 24 single rolls per month.

Consider this a minimum for use: 8 Single Rolls per person per month.

From personal experience, with only two people in a household, both having bowel issues for an extended period of time, the typical amount of toilet paper used was a double roll every day (which is a single roll per person per day). For a household of three people, that would be 21 single rolls per week, or 84 single rolls per month for three people.

Consider this a maximum for use: 28 – 30 Single Rolls per person per month.

Thus, the average person will need somewhere between 8 and 30 rolls of toilet paper per month. This is a wide range, and makes it obvious that the amount needed will range greatly depending on the situation. It is therefore important for each family to figure out exactly how much they use per person during normal times. Then to plan for the unexpected (disease, diarrhrea, stress) by increasing that amount, and come up with an estimated amount your household would need.

It is also important to consider other uses of toilet paper. If you purchase some of the softer brands of toilet paper, it can be as good or better than facial tissue for dealing with allergies, colds, and flus. There will also be times where things will need to be cleaned up with something disposable, and the standard item would be paper towels. However, toilet paper shall be used instead of paper towels (although it is not nearly as effective). Consider these features in your household estimate.

How much toilet paper should you store?

Maybe six months worth, one years worth, two years worth? It really depends on how long you think things might be disrupted. For the sake of estimating, the following calculations will assume 24 single rolls per person per month for a period of two years. Which is 576 rolls per person!

That is a scary number, especially if you have a big family. How on earth could you even store that much toilet paper? Here are some ideas on how to do that:

In a 18 Gallon / 68 Litter plastic storage container, you can store 35 double rolls (equal to about 70 single rolls). Which, if you store 9 tubs per person, you would have 630 single rolls per person stored. These tubs store easily, and do not take up much space as they can be stacked easily.

 

    • One of the nice features of toilet paper is that it does not have a short life span. How long it can be stored is more about how well moisture and sunlight is avoided. Storing it for 4 to 6 years would be very likely. Also it is not effected by heat (other than fire), like food and water is effected. Therefore if you have a house, they can easily be stored in the attic.

 

    • It is important to help to protect your investment in toilet paper from moisture. On a generally less humid day, take a plastic trash bag and line the inside of the plastic tub. (We use clear trash bags so that we could see through them without opening them, however standard black ones would work as well).

 

    • Line the plastic tub the same way that you would if it was a trash can.

 

    • For our purposes we use the 12 pack of double rolls of Charmin Ultra. (Remember that if you have a septic tank, that you only stock up on brands that are septic safe. Although in most teotwawki scenarios flushing them into the septic would not be advised, if you use your toilet paper in normal times you want to use those brands that you would normally use. So stock up on what you use, and if what you use is not reasonable for teotwawki scenarios, consider switching to a brand that is reasonable.

 

    • You can place the toilet paper in the tub in one of two ways, either laying down or standing up. If you need to “squash” the toilet paper some to fit more in the future, it is easier to align them laying down. We were able to fit 35 double rolls of the Charmin Ultra into the tub with some space to spare (and probably could have fit another 12 rolls if we had wanted to squash them).

 

    • There are multiple reasons to use the trash bag liner in the plastic tote. The first, is that it helps to protect the toilet paper from moisture, dust, and some critters. But more importantly there are other uses for the plastic tub / tote, such as storing water in some teotwawki scenarios.

 

    • If the tote is stored in the attic, and the totes are needed very quickly someone could go into the attic, empty the contents with only a few seconds each and throw the tote to someone else outside of the attic. And most importantly, instead of just dumping out the toilet paper into the attic into itchy insulation or dust that has gathered over the years, the toilet paper will still be protected by the trash bag until they can be repositioned later.

 

Another part of the puzzle is to keep sufficient quantities on hand in the bathrooms so that you do not have to deplete your stash while sustaining survival hygiene.

Have a full 12 pack of double rolls (equal to 24 single rolls) in each bathroom (maybe under the sink). If you have the space in your bathroom, may be even have more. This will help with several things. Odds are that anyone you have over and that is comfortable enough to use your bathroom (or snoopy enough to look through your cabinets), likely knows that you are making preparations.

If you run out while friends are over, you don’t want to go into the attic to get resupplied. “Gee what else is up there?” they might ask. Instead if they ask about your huge supply of 20 or so rolls under the sink, you can laugh and dismiss it as your “emergency stock, and they will never be the wiser. After all, who would keep several hundred rolls of toilet paper in their attic?

Another benefit,  if you are so kind as to help your neighbours, or dispense charity and it happens that they find out that you have this huge amount of toilet paper (20-30 rolls) under the sink, your generosity of 5-10 rolls (heck that is almost 33% of what they think you have) will be much more favourably looked upon than if you were to give your neighbour 50 rolls out of your attic stock and keep the other 500 rolls for yourself. Even though you give them so much more, the impression that you are hoarding so much for yourself will lead to resentment. Before teotwawki scenarios come about, give much thought to the charity issue, as it can be a very double edged sword, and is too complex to cover in this article.

It might be asked, how am I supposed to afford to purchase 500, 1000, or even 2000 rolls of toilet paper? I barely make enough to live on. The answer to that is the same way that you make all your other preparations: A little at a time is better than none at all, better to get started right away.

In other words, you purchase toilet paper from the store probably monthly or maybe even more often already. If you can afford it at the time, double your purchase, and put away 1/2 of the purchase. If you can not, buy what you normally would, and put away several of the toilet paper rolls for emergency, even maybe 1/2 of the rolls you purchased.

It will take some time to build up a good stock of emergency toilet paper, but you will have some, and some is better than none! Survival hygiene takes effort to achieve in difficult times, remember – it is never too late to start prepping.