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.

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