Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Water Filter Standards for Emergency Water Use

In the last post, I referred to being able to purify water from natural sources in case you are stuck in a remote place or are in an emergency situation.

If you are looking at water filters that will clean your water to prevent illness, here are the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) industry standards that a "wilderness" filter should meet:

Protozoan Cysts: ≥99.9% removal

Bacteria: ≥99.9999% removal

Virus: ≥99.99% removal

Please note that I am not a water expert, but I am summarizing from many articles I consider reliable and the above standards are accepted nationally. You should be aware that the symbols in the list above mean "greater or equal to" --- and if a filter manufacturer waffles on their numbers, beware!  Phrases like "up to" a certain level are not the same as "equal to or greater than."

You must also pay attention to how many "nines" are shown for each type of contaminant as they are necessary for the size of the particles being filtered out.

When the characters in the third and final novel in the Obliterated series settle in a permanent location, establishing a year-round water supply is the first priority on their list. They use a variety of ways to filter and purify their water. See the book on Amazon.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Mobile Lifestyles & Preparedness: Rvers and Van-Dwellers

If you live a mobile lifestyle, space is limited even in the largest Class A RV. If you are a van-dweller or pull a 14-foot travel trailer, you have extremely limited space for everyday essentials.

So how can you be prepared for both short-term and long-term emergency situations?

Because you live in your RV, van or trailer  – whether for a two-week vacation or full-time – you already have the advantage of shelter, bedding, communications (cell phone and emergency radio), clothing, one or more methods of cooking, and some quantity of food and water.

You also likely have on hand more and possibly better essential items that would go in a home emergency “bug-out” bag:
  • knives
  • matches, lighters and other fire starters
  • pots and pans
  • water containers
  • can opener
  • first aid kit
  • lighting (hopefully including a headlamp)
  • emergency radio with hand-crank for power
  • leather work gloves
  • insect repellent
  • sewing kit
  • copies of your most important documents
  • area and regional maps
  • pen and pencil

What if you become stranded through an act of nature, a mechanical failure, or a major calamity in the vicinity? Do you have emergency supplies to sustain yourself? The two primary needs beyond keeping yourself safe from temperature extremes are water and food. Your mobile dwelling won’t have a large pantry or root cellar for stockpiling supplies, so what can you do?

One answer is to have a dedicated emergency food stash such as a “bucket” that holds a 30-day supply of dried foods. These can be a good deal more expensive than regular food, may be full of excess sodium and empty “survival” calories, and have a shortened shelf life because of the likelihood of hotter storage temps than are recommended. Yet, these may be right for you if you shop carefully.

Another solution can be to keep extra stock on hand of foods you eat anyway that are excellent “emergency food” selections. If a jar of peanut butter will last you through three or four weeks of intermittent use, then keeping an extra two or three jars for emergency nutrition needed on a daily basis won’t be too much of a hassle. Write the date you buy each jar on the lid or label so you can use up the “oldest” each time you need to open a new one.

You won’t want to live on peanut butter alone, so look at other foods you normally use that you can rotate in the same way. Oatmeal is a hearty comfort food that uses few resources to prepare. Stir in a flavorful glop of peanut butter, and you’ll up the protein of each serving.

Freeze dried or dehydrated fruit can be a welcome snack anytime. Buy extra packets to build your emergency food supply and rotate them into your normal usage. Dried fruit chips dipped in peanut butter or dropped into hot oatmeal? Both good variations. More and more places (including Target) carry Mylar pouches of crispy lentils and green pea pods (check expiration dates for longevity) and freeze-dried veggies.

Canned soups, meats, fruits and veggies in rotation may take up more space, but if you’re buying what you usually eat, you’ll always be able to keep your supply fresh. There are usually nooks and crannies where a few cans will fit; just remember where your backup stashes are located!

What can you do to be prepared for a temporary emergency that might keep you isolated for more days than your emergency water and food supply will last?

For water, the answer is to be capable of sterilizing water from natural sources around you using one or more methods such as: filters that clean to NSF specs, boiled or pasteurized water, iodine drops or tablets, chlorine bleach, and even clear plastic bottles that can be set in the sun to irradiate clear but questionable water. If you are boondocking in the desert, this is a much greater challenge. Desert survivalists recommend always having about three feet of pencil-thick, flexible tubing so you can reach into small puddles that might form in rock cracks and crevices after a rain. Know the nearest sources of water anytime you camp in extremely dry country.

To extend your food supplies in a severe emergency, have resources to obtain food in your surroundings. An edible plant identification book can provide a fun hobby in normal times and be a life-saving resource in disasters.* To obtain other foods, you can keep fishing equipment, wire for snares and/or weapons for taking game. Of course, all of these require proper knowledge. At the least, keep a couple of common-sense survival books in your dwelling.

If you truly believe that a major catastrophe or societal collapse is coming, then you probably should be prepping in a secured location or always be within a gas tank’s drive of your retreat.

What if you need to hike out to get help or get to a better location? See a future post for tips on making the trek with the essentials you’ll need.

* Know the procedures for “testing” wild edibles even if you are sure you have the right plant.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Making Apple Cider Vinegar in a Post-Apocalyptic World

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has dozens of uses beyond making a salad tasty. And, because its production requires no modern conveniences, knowing how to make it is a great survival skill.

Now, I will make a confession:  In my last novel, Obliterated 3: Beyond Survival, I have the characters talk about apple and pecan orchards in their region. There is a glut of apples, of course, because most of the world’s population has been… you guessed it…obliterated. I had meant to have a discussion between some characters about how they could use those excess apples to make gallons of ACV. Then the discussion was to go on about some of the uses in a post-apocalyptic world. Well, I totally missed that note card and the vinegar discussion didn’t make it into the book.

So, I am putting the basic information here along with links to a couple of sites that do a good job of showing you how to make it yourself.

Benefits and Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV is a disinfectant (with a high enough acidity), a deodorizer, a cleaner and grease cutter, a skin and hair tonic and, some say, an energy booster.

[Disclaimer:  I am reporting information I have read for years, but I do not claim to be able to verify all uses though I have successfully tried most. Because ACV is acidic, it may cause throat irritation in some people or it may interfere/interact with some medications (check with your doctor before trying the internal uses).

ACV is a people- and pet-friendly cleaner that absorbs odors and has antibacterial properties. Mix half water/half ACV for general cleaning such as windows and hard surfaces. If you want to use a spray bottle, you might want to filter the solution so that fine fiber in the ACV does not clog the spray mechanism.

Dabbing a solution on your armpits will act as a deodorant to kill smelly bacteria. And it is an astringent for the face and other skin if one is needed. A more gentle mixture can be used in a bath to help alleviate sunburn sting.

Taken internally, a little splash in water (about a teaspoon per cup of water) may help constipation, bloating and (some claim) even food poisoning. Sipping it may help fight sore throats and sinus problems by stopping bacteria growth.

Because ACV contains potassium, it may act as an energy booster in water and even thin some mucus.

Making it with raw honey or sugar:

Countertip simple: