Don’t re-invent the Wheel

my family survival Don’t re invent the Wheel

This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest  by D Clark

Don’t re-invent the Wheel

Our family was always getting ready for this or that, so I have been a “prepper” since I was a kid. Back then we didn’t have a name for it, we just got “ready for winter”, and put food away and made due for emergencies and the inevitable loss of electrical power in March from an ice storm. We had kerosene lamps instead of 12 volt stuff, but the rest is about the same.

Every day I read Prepper lists of things you must have, need to get, should already have, etc., etc. It can be very overwhelming, especially if you are just starting out and don’t have a ton of money to invest.

But what if you already have 50% of the things on the list, and are just overlooking them? The popular saying is, “think outside the box”. But I say, LOOK IN THE BOX FIRST. See what you already have that can make due and work with just some minor changes, to build from there.

Here are a few ideas to get you in the right direction. Now start thinking CHEAP, with minor add-on’s to things you already own or have access to.

Document backup to thumb drive and cloud services.

OK, you’ve scanned, or taken iPHONE pictures of all of your family photos, and important documents but you need a 16 Gig thumb drive to hold all that info. That’s $20 you don’t have However. . . you do remember a few blank DVD’s sitting on the TV recorder. Four DVD’s equals a 16 Gig thumb drive and costs less than $1. (25 DVD’s for about $5 at Whatever-Mart) Make 2 sets. Put the info on there, seal in paper, wrap with duct tape, and go bury it in the yard, trunk of the car, or throw it in the shed. The other set goes to a trusted friend or relative that lives AT LEAST 10 miles away from you. I would also use a free “cloud service” like DropBox or Evernote to name a couple. They are free, easy to use, no strings attached, and can be accessed
from any computer that can go online. You should keep a local copy on DVD, AND a cloud copy.

A Generator.

Yep, you’d love to have a couple, but you live in a very small place with storage issues, or don’t have the $100 – $500 plus that you would need to buy a nice one. How about buying one of those little “inverters” that they sell at Whatever-Mart, that plugs into your car cigarette lighter. Ta-Dah!!, you have a generator. It won’t run the fridge, but it WILL charge your cell phone, laptop, iPAD, or whatever. Don’t have a car but DO have small lawn tractor? So get an inverter with battery clips and use it on the tractor. Better yet, if you have the cash, go the extra step and buy one of those “instant car jump battery packs”. Get one that has a cigarette lighter spot, and you have your own TRUE backup power supply. It will run a laptop for a couple of days easily, and charge a cell phone forever! When it runs down just plug it into the car and recharge.

12 volt is your friend.

Next time you are in Whatever-Mart, check out the automotive, boating, or camping sections. You’ll be amazed at all the stuff they have for “preppers”. For instance, they have 40 watt -12 volt Light Bulbs that screw into the socket of your regular living room lamp! Just cut the 110 volt plug off the end of the cord on the lamp, buy a cigarette lighter plug for about a $1 in the boating section of Whatever-Mart and wire onto the end of your lamp cord. Anyone can do this with a knife and a screwdriver. You can even mix up the wires. Now screw in the 40 watt – 12 volt light
bulb. You have just made a 12 volt lighting system that will run off your “car jumping battery pack”. With a 12 volt line splitter, you can now run your laptop and have a nice light at night. You can find those 12 volt line splitters in the automotive section for a couple of bucks or so.

Showers.

OK, speaking of the camping dept, have you ever checked out the “solar showers”? It’s a 5 gal thick black plastic bag with a cheap shower head on it. They work great, and are usually about $10.
Fill with water, place in the sun for a few hours, and then hang right in your existing shower stall for a “normal” shower. You can even heat up water and pour into it
if the sun is not out that day. Bonus: stand in a tote to shower, and use the shower water to flush the toilet.

Speaking of showers, let’s talk soap. Don’t even bother with those articles about making soap. It is A DRAG. I’ve made soap from scratch, including making the lye from campfire potash and boiling down the fat, it’s not easy. Instead, look on the bottom shelf in the grocery store in the soap aisle and buy one of those Multi-bar bags of your favorite soap when they are on sale. Now, take each bar OUT OF THE WRAPPER, and put on a high and dry shelf to dry out for a year or more. The longer the soap dries, the harder it becomes, and the longer it will last.

B.O.B. Bug out Bag, or Get home Bag.

Every list says you MUST have one. Don’t even worry about it. Just get a paper bag, or small box, and as you are doing other projects watch for small items to put into the box, just like you would if you were collecting change in a jar. A Bic lighter here, a pack of matches there. A 1” candle stub for easy light and fire starter. Here’s an old metal coffee cup, oh. . . there’s that free sample of instant coffee you got in the mail last month. . . First aid kit is: an alcohol napkin from Taco Bell, a couple of Band-Aids, an Aspirin sample. . . Before you know it, you’ll have gathered most of what you actually need. THEN, when there’s a bunch of stuff in the box, start planning with what you have. A few of those really big plastic garbage bags work wonders. You can use them as rain-gear, insulation, a tent, etc. Maybe you have an old laptop computer bag from that H-P that died last year? PERFECT for a B.O.B. What about one of those cloth “shopping bags”
from Whatever-Mart that you got with a coupon for free? PERFECT place to start. You get the idea.

One year’s worth of food.

No way. But you probably already have a couple of weeks worth, right? Pick up an extra box of Oatmeal next time you are out, or a couple of pouches of instant potatoes. A bag of
frozen corn to dehydrate. Just one, maybe 2 items each week. They are cheap, and last a very long time. These, and a few items, along with what you already have on hand will easily get you through a couple of weeks. Now try to work your way up to a month with sales, coupons, and free samples. No need to invest a lot of money, just keep your eyes and ears open for deals. Take your time, be patient, and it will build slowly but surely. Check the ½ off cart. Instant Oatmeal that “expired” last month, is still good for a long time. Use that “special purchase” at the front of your daily use line, and save the other cereal that will expire in 2 years or so.

Pre-“64” silver.

Hmmm. Nice dream, but not a chance, can’t afford that . . . or is there a way? Have you checked out the junk drawer or the jewelry box lately? What about that ring you used to wear but no longer do, or that “Egyptian Ankh” that Aunt Jen gave you for graduation but you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. However . . . is it silver? Hmmm. Take that “junk” silver to a pawn shop and trade it for pre”64”.

Water Storage, almost free.

I never take back my 2 liter soda bottles for the deposit. I simply rinse them out, and then fill with tap water. It’s really easy to store 20 or 30 under the kitchen & bathroom sink. They are very strong and won’t break like 1 gallon milk jugs do. Figure 2 per person, per day, and 1 for the dogs to drink. Don’t drink Soda? Offer to purchase the 2 liter returnable’s from your neighbor or co-worker for the deposit. It saves them time on returning bottles, and all you need to do is rinse them out with mild bleach water before using.

Clorox

Speaking of water, switch your laundry Bleach habit from Mountain Fresh, Spring flower, etc bleach to good ole regular unscented
Clorox. Not the cheap Dollar Store bleach for this one, it’s been watered down. Then, IF you need to do water purification, you have the right stuff on hand. OH, and don’t bother stocking up on 5 bottles of bleach. Nobody seems to mention this in the prepper lists, but Bleach goes BAD after just 3-4 short months. It does no good stocking up on something that won’t help you out. Just keep one unopened fresh gallon for laundry usage, and the open one you are using, and you’ll always have plenty on hand for water purification. (I store a small bag of “pool shock” from the local hardware store, Calcium hypochlorite to make my own bleach. Lasts for years in a dry state until needed for an emergency)

Bug Out Location.

That’s easy. Do you have a friend that lives a few miles away? Set up a “safety swap” with them. Store some of your supplies at their house in a tote or a few boxes, and they get to store an equal amount of stuff at your place. You then agree that if a Fire, Flood, Tornado, etc., happens that you will move in with them, or they with you, for a few weeks until better arrangements can be made. That way you don’t have to even worry about WHERE to go, it’s already decided ahead of time. Keep “off season” clothing at the friend’s location. That way, ½ of your clothes will be safe in case of fire etc. A long sleeve flannel shirt in the summer is better than NO shirt to wear. At the very least, store off season clothing in the garage or shed, instead of your closet. Divide and conquer for security, emergencies, and disasters!

Dehydrated Food.

This works GREAT, and is much cheaper than buying “Mountain House”, etc. First, buy Frozen Vegetables and Fruit ON SALE at your local supermarket. Buy as many extra bags that will fit in your freezer until you are ready to use. The reason you are buying frozen is because ALL THE WORK IS DONE, you just have to dry it out. It’s already been blanched, cubed, etc. Now for the dehydrator. I have one of those cheap reflective “space” blankets, survival blanket things and open it up on the hood of my car on a really hot, sunny day. Tape down the edges.

Next, I get out my drying “shelves”. This would be an odd collection of Tupperware type colanders, strainers, filters, anything with vents in it, type of kitchen utensil. Even the dish drying rack works for me with some coffee filters. These I place on the silver blanket which is on the hood of the car. Next, pick a frozen bag of veggies, and evenly distribute them about the various “shelves”. One layer deep!

After a couple hours or so, check to see if the product is dry. Roll the veggies around. If dry to the touch, move on to step 2. Place the corn, etc into a paper grocery or McDonalds bag and place in a really hot spot for another day or so where it will continue to dehydrate. I use the front seat of the car with the windows rolled up, but a plastic tote in the sun with the lid on would work well too. Every so often, shake the bag to make sure veggies are not sticking together. Corn should feel like uncooked “popcorn” at the finish point, they are done. Carrots and peppers won’t even look like food, but it is JUST fine.

Store into any airtight container such as an empty peanut butter jar or instant coffee jar or mason jar. I get about 5 “bags” of corn into an 8 oz Folger’s Instant coffee plastic jar. Store in dark/dry place just like any other “Mountain House” item. Potato cubes, and “Obrien potatoes” rehydrate really well for breakfast hash browns. I’ve found that Green Beans and Carrots work best in soups, but corn can be served up as a side dish. Just rehydrate for an hour or so before use. Because it smells SO BAD, I would recommend that you purchase dehydrated onions, or you’ll NEVER get the smell out of your car, lol. Dehydrated bananas turn dark brown unless you painstakingly dip each slice in lemon juice. Since I live in Michigan, and don’t have banana trees here, the ones I made cost as much or more to make as to purchase already done.

Remember that no matter how well prepared you are, you won’t be prepared for everything. A tornado came through our town 5 yrs ago, knocking out power and causing all kinds of damage. I was ready! I could handle anything! I. . . had forgotten to refill the propane tanks so I couldn’t cook on the grill !!! argh!! So, I dug out the old rusty charcoal grill, wire brushed it up a bit, and cooked with wood that I scrounged from around the yard. I was still better off than my neighbor who had nothing to cook on, and came over for a neighborhood family cookout. Thinking to “make do” with what I already had on hand, the situation was turned from a disaster to a fun time with the neighbors.

Remember, think INSIDE the box first. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Use your brain, and use what you have FIRST. Then, purchase just the small items that you need to put finishing touches on your project. You will get by just fine is you plan ahead, and keep moving slowly forward.

This is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest where you could win:

First Prize) Winner will receive a Stealth Body Armor Level II vest courtesy of SafeGuard ARMOR™ LLC and a $150 gift certificate for Wolf Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner.com   A total prize value of over $600.

Second Prize) Winner will receive a Wise Essentials Kit courtesy of LPC Survival and an EcoZoom’s Versa Stove courtesy of EcoZoom stoves.. A value of over $300.

Third Prize) Winner will receive copies of both of my books “31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness” and “Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution”  and a Katadyn Siphon Water Filter courtesy of Mayflower Trading Company.  A total prize value of $107.

Contest ends on June 5 2012.

Comments

  1. JP in MT says:

    D Clark:
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As I have been going through our “collection” of stuff that hasn’t seen daylight in 16 years, we go through it with a “prepper’s eye”. What is usable and what is not. We drink a lot of filtered and bottled water, and one of the brands comes in a very nice, reusable bottle. So I keep 3-4 trash bags full of empties. I also keep all of the caps; figuring that because there are so many bottles out there that in a SHTF situation, I may find other bottles but no lids.

  2. TomFish says:

    Good stuff….Thanks!

    Only one thought, though….I don’t know if I’d use plastics/tupperware in the sun. They probably won’t melt, but they are full of chemicals that could leach into your food.

  3. Great article.

    I’d just like to clarify something about the bleach. The active ingredient is sodium hypochlorite, as I work in water treatment I am intimately familiar with the chemistry behind bleach (we use this for chlorination of potable water).

    You mentioned the dollar store watered down stuff. Funny thing, the more watered down it is, the longer it will last without degrading. For example, the stuff we use for water treatment is 12% sodium hypochlorite and the degradation curves are pretty steep. The good stuff you buy from the store is 5.25% and the degradation curves are still fairly steep. However, at 1% – 2%, the degradation curves are almost flat, meaning it doesn’t degrade at all, as long as you store it away from sunlight.

    If you do decide to cut your bleach for longer term storage, make sure you use distilled or reverse osmosis water to prevent reactions with the dissolved minerals in regular water.

    And if you think 1% is weak, think again. Regular municipal water is 1 part per million sodium hypochlorite or less. 1% is 10,000 parts per million, which will treat 10,o00 liters of water!

    • Mike,
      I see both Sodium and Calcium Hypochlorite mentioned in different articles on treating small batches of water in the home environment. As an engineer I have some chemistry background but nothing specific in this area and don’t see an issue with either from a cursory look. Is one of them better than the other, does the Calcium version represent any health risk, or is the Sodium version perhaps less expensive, making it better for large scale municipal operations. Perhaps you can enlighten us and remove some of the confusion I personally have on the subject. I do know that in my area, calcium (in the form of lime) is an issue with many well based water sources.
      Thanks, OP

      • OhioPrepper

        Both sodium and calcium hypochlorite do the same job – dissociate in water for form free available chlorine which is HOCL and OCL- (where more HOCL is formed in acidic water and more OCL- is formed in higher ph’s). HOCL is a much more powerful disinfectant than OCL-. This is why many water plants practice pH control. However, most water sources are around pH 7 or thereabouts which is fine.

        I personally like working with sodium hypochlorite. Calcium hypochlorite is a solid. It contains 60% chlorine which is WAY more than sodium hypochlorite. The problem with this is twofold. 1) if you spill acid on it, you’ll get a very energetic reaction that produces chlorine gas and you do NOT want to be around when that happens. This can be caused with plain old coca cola for example. 2) exposed to sparks calcium hypochlorite, especially if it’s a powder, can ignite or even explode.

        The reason that most large systems use sodium hypochlorite, besides the reactivness of calcium, is that in order to properly meter and dose a chemical into water it needs to be in solution form. With calcium you have to dissolve it before you can measure it out, with sodium it’s already in liquid form.

        I hope this answers your question?

        • ace riley says:

          Thanks for the chemistry lesson. I will stick with the bleach, seems to be more simple and less hazardous.

        • Kelekona says:

          Hey Mike and OhioPrepper,

          do either of you have ideas on how much I could dilute http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/star-san.html?gclid=CO3Rm9n_468CFQlN4Aodtl-gbQ

          Supposedly it is safe to drink at the dilution you use for sanitizing bottles, but I wonder how little can be used just to make the water safe. I’m sure that drinking too much of that disinfectant could irritate the stomach and destroy gut bacteria.

          • Kelekona,
            Hopefully Mike will jump in here, but I don’t think this would work well at all for disinfecting water. As an acid it would kill bacteria and yeast on the inside surface of the container, that might contaminate and be harmful to the brewing process; however, the brewing process itself involves boiling the water and ingredients (generally call the worth). Fermented beers have been used for millennia, because of water borne pathogens. The early brewers didn’t understand that the boiling was what killed off the bacteria that cause the diseases, but the end product was safe to drink and helped people forget their sometimes bleak existences.

            • Kelekona says:

              Ohio prepper, About boiling the beer:

              I actually watched a documentary where they made a batch of beer with water taken from a filthy duck pond. I assume they added the step of running the water through a coffee filter, or maybe the large gunk settled out.

              There’s no reason to bleach if you’re going to boil it, is there?

            • Kelekona,
              You’re correct, there os no reason to bleach if you’re boiling. My point had to do with your link to the acid used to sanitize brewing equipment. That acid was meant to kill off bacteria or wild yeast on the surface of the container that could otherwise spoil the brew, and my point was that the acid would most likely not be useful for making water potable.

        • Mike,
          It does indeed. Thanks. Now I just have to find sources for the sodium version, since most all of the pool shock is calcium based.
          I knew that mixing an acid with chlorine based chemicals could produce raw chlorine gas, but had always thought of it in terms of cleaning supplies with rather large strengths of HCl, but did not recognize that even the mix of acids in Coca Cola could cause the reaction. These are more good things to know.
          For the moment I may keep the calcium version around, but will be even more cautious with its handling and use.

  4. My only comment is about the 12volt lites. There has been available for years a regular trouble light from the auto stores or even Wally World has them at times that is the regular yellow trouble light with a 12 volt rough service bulb and alligator clips on the wire ends. Have had one for many many years now and must advise you to use only rough service bulbs whether you are using 110volt or 12volt as any sharp blow or quick movement will ruin the bulb filament while it is hot.

  5. Mary in GA says:

    Great, well thought out article. I like the practicality of it. My favorite prepper items have always been the free ones! Refilling 2 liter soda bottles with water and keeping free fast food condiments in large metal coffee cans.

  6. Very good! Down to earth, sensible advice.

  7. D Clark,
    Looking in the box first is a great idea especially when you think out of the box on what to do with the items you find. You bring up some good “out of the box” ideas for the things you find in your box. When someone starts prepping, the first two things that they should do is make their threat matrix, and inventory their “stuff”. Even those of us who have been prepping forever need to do that inventory and de-cluttering now and then. A few weeks ago my DW was sorting through some clutter, and found a new in box/ 6 Quart Presto pressure canner, that had been received several years ago as a Christmas gift. Upon seeing it, we remembered getting it, but it had otherwise been tucked in a corner (of that box) and forgotten.

    I didn’t know that Michigan still had a deposit on bottles. Haven’t had to deal with that here in a decade or more, so we just recycle them when they get old or we have too many.

    Your process of drying the soap is one if those things I grew up doing. Seems there were always bars of soap sitting on window sills, and tucked away in the back of cupboards. I can however attest that the process does indeed make the soap last longer when you start using it, and every little bit helps.

  8. FarmerKin says:

    D Clark,

    I LOVED this article. A lot of practical ideas in a variety of areas to help get the creative juices flowing. This piece brought back a memory from just before my Grandpa had passed away. My Aunt told all the family members that if there was anything at the farm that we wanted, to go ahead and get it before she started trying to find a buyer. We needed to get the money to pay for the care he was receiving at the time. There were a few things I wanted … a hay hook and his favorite ice cream bowl … childhood memories from when I would help him do things, like bale hay and make ice cream. Anyway, while I was there, I came across a hoe that he had made from an old door hinge and a broom handle. I thought that was ingenious … but I may be a little biased. I brought that hoe home with me to rimind me to look at things in a deeper way, and to think about how they can be repurposed.

    Wonderful article! Great job!

    • Bam Bam says:

      Farmer Kin,

      Great story about your grandfather’s hoe. I like that kind of thinking. I wish I was better at it.

  9. i liked this article. down to earth stuff and i feel better just knowing i dont have to run out and buy all the “best” expensive stuff to prep. good job.

  10. ace riley says:

    thanks- simple, cost effective solutions covering most of the bases.

  11. george says:

    I NEVER turn down free stuff and when I started prepping and put together my BOB and GHB the only thing I purchased were stainless steel water bottles. I had everything else due to all the free samples I had picked up, got over the internet etc . All I had to do was repackage some in ziploc bags or put in food saver bags. By the way take the core out of a roll of TP and put in a food saver bag and it will get down to about the size of two packs of playing cards. Never have had to wipe with leaves and do not EVER want to.!!

  12. Im going to start looking in the box. This really hit home for me. I have things all over the place.

  13. Great article! Thanks so much!

  14. Concrete Termite says:

    This is a great article. When I started a few short months ago, the first thing I did was go through all of my camping gear. I have been camping since I was young and have alot of gear. I only had to buy a few things for my BoB. I also get a lot of extra building materials from my work, so I try to build things instead of buying them. 2×4’s, sheet metal, plywood, and angle iron all come in handy at times.

  15. Cold Warrior says:

    Well done! I learned some things and had others brought back to mind. Nice work.

  16. Soggy Prepper says:

    Good article. Reminded me to, “Keep it simple stupid”.
    Not everything has to be so hard or expensive.

  17. MountainSurvivor says:

    d. clark, I’m sorry but I have to say something about your thinking about using “pool shock” for anything other than what it was designed for which are SWIMMING POOLS. If you would do a little research, you’d find that it should not be ingested by any living thing as it is dangerous and deadly as it is nothing close to bleach as bleach is made, basically, from a salt substance, not things which are not for living being’s consumption. You can do what you want, but if you play around with the toxic matter, then you will have only yourself to blame when you experience all sorts of miserable symptoms. With or without hospitals on hand, once the damage is done, there may be nothing that anyone can do for you but to either watch you suffer or give you a lethal injection of drugs.

    • MountainSurvivor,
      Bleach is generally made from Sodium Hypochlorite and pool shock is made from Calcium Hypochlorite. Both are related salts. Please look at the series of posts above between Mike and myself on the subject.
      In either case you need to follow directions for the strength of the mixture being used, since ingesting either substance in high strength would be dangerous and damaging.

  18. Waterboy says:

    Great information. I will look around my home with an eye toward what we already have.

  19. Great article. I have looked in the box and know I have other stuff not found in my initial look. Soooo, back in the box I go.

  20. charlie (NC) says:

    I live in hurricane country. When storms are approaching I often take a 12 volt car or marine deep cycle battery out of a vehicle or my boat or my tractor. I put it in the house and hook a battery charger to it. I let it charge as long as the power grid is up. When the power eventually goes out I have a hot battery with anywhere from 600 to 1000 Amp hours of charge. I hook my scanner and my VHF marine radio (also removed from my boat) to the battery and I have emergency information and communication with boats, marine base stations at marinas and with the Coast Guard. I also have contact with others in the commuity who are using Marine VHF radios as well. I can also charge cell phones, run 12 volt lamps and with a small inverter I have I can run small 120 volt appliances for a short while. When the wind is blowing 80+ mph and it’s raining so hard you can’t see outside, having some sort of communication with the world is a big comfort if nothing else.

    Those that are not familiar with Marine VHF should check them out.
    They are FM radios with fairly high power output. With the right antenna and properly adjusted they can talk 20 miles or more at times and reliably for 5 miles or so all the time. They are supposed to be used only for marine transmission but there are channels on them that are designated for “working” and if you know what channels to use, you can communicate with friends without interfereing with normal marine communications. The Coast Guard and FCC have pretty much stopped trying to closely enforce their use similar to what they did with CB years ago so long as you stay clear of the coast guard working channels and channels used by bridges and commercial vessels.
    I don’t advocate mis use of VHF but in an emergency no one would argue with you for using it. After tshtf it won’t matter anyway.

    • Many 2-meter ham radios can be easily modified to xmit outside the 144-148MHz ham band too. Some overseas sellers ship them already modified, Ebay is full of them. We have handhelds and mobiles that work on marine, murs, business band, 2-meter ham – anything between 136-172MHz. Some have voice inversion scrambling, paging, automatic ranging, and weather alert features. Can also be used as a VHF scanner, if your local police/emergency services haven’t moved to a digital trunking system yet. I’m with you though Charlie, VHF radio for 2-way and a dedicated scanner for information/intel.

      • In order to find the modifications to the Amateur radio equipment, do a search for MARS or CAP modifications. Some of the modifications require soldering or desoldering, but some are as easy as cutting an obvious wire, or holding certain buttons while cycling power.

      • charlie (NC) says:

        Red I have a dual bander 2 meter/75 cm handheld but it has problems. I intend to buy an Asian version as soon as I can. I also intend to buy a export version of a 10 / 12 meter rig.
        The export versions will also operate on 11 meter which is CB band and they are available in 50 and 100 watt versions without having to add amplifiers.

  21. Great article !
    interesting thing about the soap . I would like to pass on this about flash drives that may save folks a lot of grief at an inopportune time , Flas drives can take a crap on you ! and your ( or any comp or device ) may no longer be able to detect it or may be able to detect it but not open your files . The best way to prevent this from happening is to partition your flash drive , the partition can be very small , but that small partition will prevent data loss , it also creates a backdoor for the IT guys to retrieve your files should this happen . without that , its gone forever :(
    Also empty cat litter plastic containers are great for water storage .

    • IMPORTANT !
      DO NOT partition a flash drive that has your files already on it ! it will erase everything ! only partition new empty flash drives .

    • banaras says:

      The empty plastic cat litter containers aren’t made of food grade plastic……

    • With the current price of USB Flash based Thumb drives it’s just as easy to have multiples. I’m seeing prices $20/32GB, $11/16GB, $6/8GB, and $4.50/4GB. Rather than play with multiple partitions on a drive, I find it easier to purchase multiple drives.

      • yes you can do that but they do fail without warning , partitioning prevents data loss . I wont take a chance anymore , partitioning takes no effort to do . At least in OSX it doesn’t .

  22. Excellent article, thank you.

  23. Thanks for the article. Lots of great new ideas. I have been storing water in 2-liter soda bottles too. I also store rice, oatmeal, barley, powdered milk, and elbow macaroni.

    I will be raiding the garage tomorrow! Limited funds makes a creative prepper. I will also be checking out Wal-Mart.

  24. Excellent article with plenty of common cents. I have an additional thought on keeping important documents and photos on the cheap. I send them to myself as attachments to emails. I have one of the online free accounts and can access it anywhere. Might not work in a total grid out situation but for short emergencies or when out of town it comes in very handy.

  25. Suburban Housewife says:

    Interesting and timely article for me. It has slowly been dawning on me that I have been a prepper for most of my life too – I just didn’t know it. Always being ready for a tornado, or ice storm.

    I like your idea of dehydrating frozen food – I can see where that would be very convenient for certain foods. Never would have thought of that.

    And you have also heightened my awareness of the need to (re)learn and understand electrical and battery stuff. Watts, amps, volts, its’ all hazy and jumbled in a long lost educational fog. Guess I’ll get to work on that…

  26. Kelekona says:

    Ah yes, I imagine many people want to run out and get a whole bunch of fancy gear the moment they get the possible apocalypse running through their brain.

    If you’re not afraid of stupid, http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/ is partially filled with examples of making do with what was on hand. The quality is better if you go into the early archives, but it’s still MacGyver deep into a 12-pack of cheap beer. I think it’s maybe 5% good ideas at best.

  27. great info, time saving and definitely cheaper imo

  28. Carmel Valley Linda says:

    Gratitude for this thought provoking and inspiring essay. You’ve added a few things to my to do list including a new use for the space blanket. I’m going to try that in the greenhouse.

  29. SurvivorDan says:

    Good stuff full of no-nonsense common-sense advice. For the beginner prepper and the more experienced this is a valuable article. I am forwarding this to some former members of my little prepping group who couldn’t get started on what they saw as a daunting task. I did offer them similar advice but you nailed it.

    “Remember, think INSIDE the box first. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Use your brain, and use what you have FIRST. Then, purchase just the small items that you need to put finishing touches on your project. ”

    Well done D Clark.

  30. D Clark says:

    Thank you all for the positive feedback!
    I am humbled by your gracious comments.

    Keep on Preppin’