Friday, April 29, 2011


With all the storms happening around the U.S. in the past few weeks and more in upcoming weeks, I though it appropriate to use this week’s blog to go over building or buying a ‘bug out bag’.

A ‘bug out bag’, or BOB, is a bag full of emergency gear, tools and food and water that will help you and yours survive a little easier in an emergency situation. The goal of your BOB is two-fold: One; you can grab it and be out the door in no time flat with all you need to keep going. Two; you can grab it and get to an inner room or lower floor with all you need to keep going.

If you’ve heard of these before, you’ll notice that you’re always told three days or 72 hours is what you should be prepared for. While it is true that you should prepare for a minimum of three days, you really should prepare for a week at least. The hardest part of this is the water you should have with you – one gallon per person, per day for drinking, cooking and washing. At about eight pounds per gallon, it adds up quickly.

Let’s start off by going over what one person will need. From there you can multiply by how many people you need to care for. Now, since I already brought up water, let’s begin there. Water for one person for eight days works out to be 1 x 8 x 8 = 64 pounds. There is a nice way around this however. Water for one person for three days plus water treatment for two weeks works out to be (1 x 3 x 8) + 1 = 25 pounds.

Water treatment can be whichever way you choose to purify your water for the following two weeks, from chemicals to filters. This really shouldn’t weigh much more than a pound unless you are using a large size filtration unit.

Now for food. Ultimately you should figure out how many calories you go through on a normal day and multiply this times the number of days you want to be prepared for. I know that most people don’t really count calories, so we’ll go with an easier route. You need a minimum of breakfast, lunch and dinner for a full week, plus one day. There are a number of ways of doing this, but I’m going to give you my suggestion.
1. One three day emergency food ration bar or three one day bars
2. Three to six packages of noodles with seasonings
3. Three to six cans of soup
4. Three to six cans of chili or meat product
5. Add a couple handfuls or a zip lock bag full of candy or snacks.

Now you already have 6 to 9 days worth of food. Don’t forget to rotate it out and replace it with fresh supplies. This should be done at least every two months when you change out your clothing too.

First aid is next up. Easiest way to take care of this is to buy a kit. Spend at least ten bucks. Buy one of these for every two people you have. If you don’t want to buy a premade kit, you should have the following: a few assorted size and shape band aids (three of each size), some gauze pads (three inch square), some triple anti-biotic ointment, an assortment of pain killers (six each: aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, Excedrin type mix), a couple of antacid tablets, a few popsicle sticks, first aid tape or duct tape and a small bottle of hand sanitizer.

Do not forget to add a few extra of any prescribed medications. They will be next to impossible to get during an emergency situation. It’s also not a bad idea to grab a few assorted pairs of those dollar reading glasses.

Now we come to a group of items I like to keep in one category called warmth. I mean, clothing, blankets, tarps, tents and flame (which is also included in cooking). Here’s an important thing to remember. Wool. Personally, I’m sad that I’m allergic to it. Wool will hold heat when it gets wet whereas cotton will not. Your clothing should be changed out at least every two months, when you rotate out your food, based on the prevailing weather patterns. Also, keep a few towels with your clothing. Blankets, tarps and tents should be, at the very least, flame retardant.

As for the shelter aspect of the above, I have a small 4 man three season tent that I can grab along with my BOB. You should always have some type of item that can be used as a temporary roof or wall if need be, for shelter, warmth or even just privacy. You’ll want to include some strong twine or rope as well, to hold up these items. We’ll get to flame in the cooking bit.

Cooking is the next stop on our bug out bag building tour. This can be fairly simple or not, it’s entirely up to you. The minimum you need is a coffee can size can (or two, #10 cans), a wire coat hanger, some tinder, some fuel and flame. These items can make you a nice little cooking unit. Beyond this, there are very many different type stoves you can purchase from multi-fuel to candle cookers. Flame is important for cooking and for warmth so you should have at least three sources of flame. Matches, butane lighter, Zippo style lighter, flint and steel and magnesium striker are all good ways to start a fire.

Add to all this, a source of light like a wind up flashlight, candles, small hurricane lamps or similar and a portable hand powered weather radio with NOAA capabilities and you will be all ready to go when the time comes. Throw it all together in a duffel bag or backpack and keep it where you can get to it fast.

There are a few last things I need to mention. One; I would hope that you would include a small container of instant coffee, even if you are not a coffee drinker. You will come across someone who is desperate for coffee. Two; Cash, at least $100 (more if at all possible, up to $1000) in small bills and change. Three; Have copies of all your important documents in a water proof container. This includes IDs, deeds, leases, titles, wills, birth certificates, social security cards, bank statements and a list of emergency contacts with at least one of which being out of state. Four; Please, please, please, don’t forget to pack a can opener.

Maybe you’ve noticed me adding an eight day. I firmly believe that it is our duty to help others once helping ourselves. This eight day practice can allow you to help at least one more person or it can be a buffer in case more days are needed. If you are not forced to be active, you can realistically ration your food and water up to twice the length of time it is meant for, though you will feel it’s effects.

Or you can just buy an almost complete kit and add your medications and clothing to it. Click here ( for a good ‘two person, three day’ kit that works well as a ‘one person, six day’ kit.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Radiation: What It Can Do To You and What You Can Do To It

When Alpha, Beta or Gamma radiation particles touch organic materials like your skin, damage will most likely be done. Radiation is measured in units called roentgen equivalent in man, or rem. These units represent the amount of radiation it takes to do specific amounts of damage to human tissue. Radiation can cause burns, cancers, and death.

25 rems can cause some noticeable (by doctors) changes in blood. Higher doses near 100 rems typically have no harmful effects right away. It is when doses get above 100 rems that you will notice the first signs of radiation sickness. These signs include, but are not limited to headache, nausea, and vomiting, and doctors will notice some loss of white blood cells. Higher doses will also cause fever and diarrhea.

If the doses is 300 rems or more, it can cause hair loss and quite significant internal damage, including damage to nerve cells and the cells that line the digestive tract. White blood cells are the body's main defense against infection and the severe loss of these will make radiation victims highly susceptible to disease. It also reduces the production of blood platelets, which aid blood clotting, so victims of radiation sickness are also vulnerable to hemorrhaging. At least half of all people exposed to 450 rems will die. Doses of 800 rems or more are always fatal.

There is no effective treatment or cure, so death, in the cases of 450 rems and higher, will occur within two to fourteen days. If you do survive, you can see the appearance of such diseases as leukemia, lung cancer, thyroid cancer, breast cancer and cancers of other organs.

Remember, however, that radiation surrounds us every day. It can be found in just about everything from bananas to cell phones and from microwaves to sunshine. You are exposed to about 0.35 rem or ninety-four chest x-rays of radiation each year.

Now that I’ve made you sufficiently paranoid, there are many ways that you can protect yourself naturally. I have covered some of these in my previous blog entitled “Natural Alternatives”.

According to Resource Naturopathy, the following can help you reduce your body’s build-up of radiation from natural sources and from the very slight rise caused by the recent events in Japan.

Instead of taking potassium iodide, you can consume foods that are rich in chlorophyll and minerals that can prevent radiation from damaging your thyroid because they contain iodine. Examples of these foods include chlorella, seaweeds, kelp, algae, spirulina, and kombu.

You can eat lots of orange and dark green veggies, like sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, carrots, kale, collards, chard, and spinach. These can protect you from radiation-induced cancers.

You can ‘eat the rainbow’ and add antioxidants of every color to your diet. Cherries, Blueberries, Sweet Potatoes, and Pomegranates (to name just a few) can help your body flush out toxins and free radicals. You should also take vitamins C, D and E, which will help assist antioxidant processes.

Taking alpha lipolic acid supplements can protect your cells from damage.

Drink 8 glasses of filtered water to flush out your system.

Detoxify and cleanse your liver.

Miso broth is the classic food used to prevent radiation damage. You can double your protection by adding a quarter-ounce (or about 7 grams) of dried kelp seaweed to your soup. Studies have shown that seaweed was able to neutralize radioactive isotopes in the human body.

Lastly, you can (and should) use visualization and envision yourself and all your cells protected from damage and disease free.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Alternative Uses For Everyday Items

Since one of the things we are very interested in is re-purposing items, I thought it would be a good idea to go over alternate uses for everyday items that cannot logically be re-purposed.

First thing is newspaper. Take one page and wrap up a tomato to help it ripen, then use it in one of the following ways. My mother used to line the bottom of our veggie drawer in the fridge with it. This helps to keep down the moisture and keep the drawer deodorized. As for deodorizing, rumple up a piece and put it in a storage container overnight to get rid of nasty smells. As for drying, rumple up a piece and put it in a wet shoe to help it dry faster (this also helps a little with the deodorization as well). Now that you have used that poor piece of newspaper as much as you can, there’s one more thing you can do with it. Cover a patch of lawn with four layers of newspaper, top that with a four-inch layer of mulch and wet it down. When spring comes along, till it over and the bed will be perfect for planting whatever you need, like more tomatoes to wrap in the newspaper you saved all winter.

Coffee filters, as the name might imply, make excellent filters. They won’t purify your drinking water but they can be used to filter cork pieces out of your wine or, surprisingly enough, coffee grinds from your percolated coffee. They make a great sauce splash cover in the microwave or a ‘hand guard’ for popsicles. You can use them as spacers between your ‘fancy dishes’ or even as ‘disposable’ dishes themselves. Last but not least, once you’ve used them they (and the coffee grounds) can be added to your mulch pile.

Maxi pads can be used to soak up just about anything when in need of a sponge-like object. They should be included in every emergency first aid kit to be used for large wound coverage and to soak up blood from said wound. Also, in emergency situations, they can be used as insoles to alleviate tired feet.

Another excellent product to have on hand is olive oil. It makes a great substitute for shaving cream (for both guys and gals) if you run out. For the gals, a tiny bit under your eyes will help remove eye makeup, just make sure you rinse with a clean washcloth, coffee filter or maxi pad. You can rub a thin layer on your skin after a shower to help moisturize. It can also be used as a substitute for silicon spray to alleviate squeakiness.

When it comes right down to it, use your imagination. It starts with using a washer or dryer box for a fort and ends with my ashes being used to make soap.

Check out these useful sites:
RealSimple and WackyUses