Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Lady Survivors

After years of prepping and still going - by Victoria

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Victoria, +1.  I am very much liking what you are doing here.  I think I can see where you are going with this and I am very much impressed.

If you are writing what I think you are writing, you will end up providing a wealth of good information and good insights.  Your contribution will stand to help a great many people is a very real way.

This section is about water - but I failed to mention in my last post, TOILET PAPER!  LOTS OF TOILET PAPER!  (We'll get to sanitation later - got to stop those men urinating off the back porch.)

Okay, one needs at least a gallon a day of good water for drinking, cooking, decent amount for cleaning the body, but two gallons is better.  With a gallon weighing 8.34 gallons, if you have to walk to get water from somewhere else, think "Wheels".  Invest in a good size child's wagon - great conveyer of water.

I'll go from a short term problem to a longer one:  for immediate use in short term emergency, such as hurricane destroying purity of city water for several days, or city water goes off temporarily for whatever reason - I always have 25 gallons of Ozarka water stored under a small work table in my kitchen (actually those jugs are slightly less than a gallon).  A tablecloth on that table goes down to the floor, so the water is hidden and kept in the dark that way.  Light encourages growth in water so don't want that.  I use Ozarka because those jugs are thick food grade plastic, not going to break down and designed to store one on top of the other - can store a lot of water in a small space.  That water will stay good for years.

Storing your own good water.  I got Ozarka water mainly for those great long lasting stacking jugs. Once I would use the water out of those jugs, I can put more good water in them and know they will hold up.  You can store the good water you have now and be ready for an emergency.

Do not store water in milk jugs.  They're impossible to clean out (get the milk smell/taste out of them), plus they are thin and will break down fairly soon and you'll have water on the floor.  You can store your good water in any clean food grade plastic container and that includes those hard plastic bottles juice comes in - they are stronger than soft drink plastic bottles.  However, don't use grape juice bottles - tried that, can't get out the strong lingering grape smell/ taste; but if that's all you have, use the grape ones.  

For any food grade bottle that might have the lingering taste of whatever had been in it, use Crystal Light packaged flavoring to cover the offending taste.  Wait until we get to instant or powdered milk - can make that taste good.

For a longer term emergency:  At the time I started, there was a lake not many steps from my door.  I bought two Katadyn siphon type water filters.  By using the wagon, I could move water from the lake and have good water using the Katadyn.  Now, however, there is a better product to filter any type water, whether from a lake or a ditch - I have a Big Berkey - this is the best investment you can make for saving your life.  Pour the water in the top and good, safe water filters into the bottom.  Press the spigot and you've got good water.

Using a Berkey with dirty water:  First, have gobs and gobs of cheap large coffee filters and filter the dirty water through those filters into some type container, doesn't matter what, until you can't get it any cleaner.  This will extend the life of the Berkey filter - don't put any more dirt/crap in the Berkey than you have to - that makes sense.  You can go to a website that sells Berkeys to get info. on the different Berkeys.    

Where can you get water when you don't have any?  (First, be sure you have stored good water to last for as many days/weeks as you think necessary to start with.  Just add up the gallons one person would need for that amount of days and multiply by the number in your household.  Don't faint - it will be a lot.)  Of course there's water in your hot water heater you can drain and water in the top tank of your potty, but here's my outside sources of water to filter through the Berkey:

1.  Buy one or more 55 gal. size water barrels with removable tops.  Don't get the closed ones with only bung holes 'cause you can't clean them out.  I'm not talking about ready made rain barrels - I researched that to death and there is none that won't eventually fail due to having a spigot set into them.  You don't need expensive rain barrels that might fail.  You need a diverter set into a down spout of your house with a tube coming out so, when it rains, you turn the gizmo on the diverter and water goes into your water barrel.  You could have a water barrel under every downspout in the back of your house.  If you can't get them locally, and if you live in the more southeastern part of Texas, there's a place in Baytown, Texas where you can go get them or order them.  It's important to find your nearest place 'cause shipping is a bitch for these barrels.  If you keep one or more of these barrels full, you've got a lot of water and if you start using it, it will fill up the next time it rains - that's a renewable water source.

 2.  Buy several child's inflatable plastic pools - buy sizes that will fit in your outside space best - that could be very small to larger.  If a water emergency happens, put out your pools the next time it rains and capture that water.  That's more water for the Berkey and the Berkey takes out chemicals should any get in the water.

3.  Got a regular swimming pool in your backyard? - the Berkey will turn that water into good water.

4.  Got a swimming pool in your subdivision?  That water will make people sick should they drink it, but your Berkey will clean it up.  Take your child's wagon filled with empty water jugs to the pool - you'll have good water shortly after you get home.

5.  If you car works and you can get to a body of water, such as lake or stream, put wagon and jugs in car and head out.  The Berkey will be waiting for that water.

6.  Desperate for water?  We're down to the dirty water in a ditch.  Filter it over and over to get out dirt, then the Berkey will give you good water.

7.  There are ways to condense water from plants in your yard if it gets that desperate to save life.  You can find that info. if you put "condense water from plants" in search on the web.

Now we have clean water in our house 'cause we cleaned it or had it stored.  Put some of that water in your shower bags, sit them in the sun until the thermometer shows it's hot, and you've got good running hot water in your kitchen and bathroom!!

Running water makes a house work.  When you strip water out of the faucet, it upsets everyone - adults and children.  When we put it back, that's one bit of normalcy coming back.  That is the goal - get normalcy back and you can do it if I did it - I know, I'm 77, but screw that, okay?

We have water but no way to cook.  Cooking is next.

Damn, Victoria! I'm sure glad you've joined us!  8)

Sounds a lot like what I did 20 years ago, I've still got the notebooks somewhere but there's much better equipment now. this is fun, keep writing please.

As I go through these topics, I need you to think - use the given examples to develop more options for you in your own circumstances.  Don't think, "I can't do that", think, "Maybe I can't do it that way, but I could do it this way".  Free up your mind to roam around as we go along.


We're in the kitchen with running water 'cause we made running water.  Now, how do we cook on an electric stove when there's no power?  Or, if we have a gas stove, eventually, since power is out, that gas will stop.  Even if the stove uses propane from a huge tank outside, no truck will show up to refill it (no power means no gas station works so no trucks move).

At this point, don't ask your husband - he'll drag out the charcoal grill.  This is morning and we just got up - what we want here is coffee and maybe hot chocolate for the kids and hot oatmeal or eggs.  How about toast with those eggs?  How can we cook inside safely?  There is a way.  Now, sometimes, we have to spend money to prepare.  We need canned heat and two Sterno stoves.  Canned heat is used inside all the time - usually under chaffing dishes.  Sterno is one brand of canned heat but there are cheaper brands.  Sams did carry canned heat by other makers and it was cheaper - I found it years ago in the chaffing dish section.  You may also know other places that are cheaper for canned heat than Walmart or Academy type stores.  Buy boxes of it.  The Sterno stoves are usually under $10 and found in the camping section of Walmart or Academy.  If those stores are out, naturally you can find them on line.

Two Sterno stoves gives you two cooking surfaces.  Open a can of heat, put it in the stove, light it and you're ready to go with one cooking surface.  You need a cheap, thin smallish skillet and two thin, cheap smallish pots.  The thinner the bottom the better, so it heats faster.  There is a trick you should know - you don't need boiling water for most quick foods - not even for coffee if you don't use a coffee pot and I'm not talking about instant coffee (yuk).  The amount of heat it takes to heat water close to boiling is much less that staying with it until it actually boils.  So, let's cook breakfast.

Put enough water in a pot to make cups of instant hot chocolate if that's what you want.  Let the water heat to very hot but not boiling.  Pour it into the cups with the hot chocolate mix, stir, and there's hot chocolate.  If you have enough hot water in that pot or more heating over the other Sterno stove, use that for instant oatmeal - doesn't take boiling water for instant oatmeal.  I'll discuss food value later - think "vitamin pills" for now.

Now, for hot coffee, we make a detour to get the proper equipment for good coffee using minimum coffee/fuel.  On Amazon or some other place, buy "Melitta Ready Set Joe One Cup Coffee Maker" for less than $8.00 (includes the cup) or buy just the filter for the Ready Set Joe for less than $5.00.  Buy one plastic filter per person to drink coffee at the same time together.  Buy #2 coffee filters at any grocery store.  

We're almost there for great coffee, saving coffee and fuel.  Put the paper filter into the plastic filter and set it on top of cup.  Put in one tablespoon coffee, pour very hot (don't need boiling) water (heated in pot over the canned heat), in plastic filter and let coffee drip into cup.  The water has only passed through the coffee once - coffee hasn't  boiled in a percolator to make it bitter.  It's pure coffee taste, smooth and good.  Want a second cup?  Experiment (before emergency happens) by using the same coffee in the filter; if that's not strong enough for a second cup, use new paper filter and another tablespoon of coffee.  Adjust the amount of coffee to your taste.  This method makes the best coffee whether you like less or more coffee in your filter.  I use this filter now -  any time of day I want a good cup of coffee.

Now that your nerves feel better due to good coffee, put the thin bottomed skillet on the Sterno stove, put a thin coat of butter on both sides of a piece of bread, and toast both sides in the skillet.  Then, cook those eggs, anyway you like.  Doesn't take much heat to cook eggs.  Of course, you can always have cold cereal for breakfast and only use fuel for hot drinks/coffee.  

Now, it's time for lunch.  To save fuel, make this a cold meal unless the weather is freezing and you need to heat already cooked soup.  The best savior for a hot meal in an emergency is canned soup - buy canned soup with meat, not just veggies.  Canned soup gives you liquid for hydration, supplements your water, and gives you meat and veggies.  If you have crackers, eat them with the soup - that's energy from carbohydrates - buy whole wheat crackers.  

A cold lunch could be peanut butter and jelly; quick tuna salad (tuna, mayo, pickle relish, add a chopped apple for great crunchy flavor).  Any cold sandwiches you make now except after there's no refrigeration, forget deli sandwich meat.  Will go over other canned meats later in food section.

A method to cook more substantial meals:  No, it's still not the husband favored charcoal grill.  However, if you have defrosted big chunks of meat, such as steaks, brisket, hamburger, roasts, that you need to cook before it goes bad, let the husband cook his heart out on the charcoal grill.  Share with your neighbors if the meat must be cooked now and it's too much for your family.

You need an outdoor propane grill in order to have a steady flame for regular cooking.  Get the larger propane tanks, not the little bitty ones, and the more filled tanks the better.  Real story here:  my husband thinks the only good food outside is cooked on a charcoal grill - many husbands have this brain defect.  With my superior knowledge, I bought a portable Weber gas grill and set it on a sturdy red cart with enough room on either side of the grill for preparing food and the bottom of the cart is just right to hold two large propane tanks.  Talk about a husband's nose turned up, looking down on my grill purchase - the food wasn't going to taste like smoke from the charcoal.  Fine, that's what I wanted, a steady flame that cooked and didn't smell up regular food.  Now, along comes hurricane Ike and we have no power for five days.  Our dining room was under the roof of one of the decks with the lovely Weber grill heating our water for coffee and cooking our food.  Since it was outside, I wasn't allowed to cook as only a husband can cook outside. My job was to bring the food and plates, cups, utensils out and take it back inside after eating.  Before Ike, he would have given my grill away; after Ike, he wouldn't part with it. The moral of this story, is, husband's can learn, so don't give up if yours gives you any flack for wanting a propane grill if you don't have one.

If the weather is nice in the morning, you can stay in your PJs/housecoat and use your grill to make breakfast, however if you're an inside person in the morning, use the canned heat.  Hopefully, you have a cover/roof outside for your grill to be under.  You can make a substantial meal with this grill, have more than one pot/skillet on there at the same time.  Choose foods that cook quickly to save fuel - however, there is a way to cook dried beans quickly.  Will post that in food section.

So, now you've used all the propane and can't get more.  Think lots of wood and a place to burn it and cook.  Got a fireplace inside?  Got iron skillet/pots/Dutch oven?  No fireplace inside?  Now, there are outdoor fireplaces.  That's my latest addition, got one on my deck with metal legs set on stones and under those stones, a metal sheet so the metal legs don't burn my deck and so an ember doesn't fall out and burn it.  Research those carefully to make sure the one you choose is big enough and can burn wood instead of Duraflame logs only (those logs are fine if you can buy enough - wood is cheaper and you can find wood when stores are closed) and be sure to get a cover to protect it from rain so it won't rust.  Look at your immediate surroundings and farther out - can you find a source of wood around you even if you buy a lot?  Is there a place close enough for you to walk and bring back wood "from the wild" even if it is down the street or several streets over?  Use that child's wagon you bought to transport wood as well as water.  If you have a working car, that extends your area to find wood "in the wild".  You need a way to cut wood - check out husband's tools, surely he has a decent saw.  If not, get him one for birthday/anniversary/Christmas/no special day - just buy one.  Guys love tools so let him pick it out.

Now, the wood is gone, the propane is gone, the canned heat is gone, the husband's charcoal is gone.  Got jar candles?  Ever held you finger in a candle fire?  I thought not, after all, it's a fire.  Jerry rig your canned heat stoves to fit over jar candles to provide a surface for a pot.  Now you can heat food and cook.  The cheapest jar candles I found were at Walmart.  I've had bunches of them stored since 1998.

Do you have several ways to start a fire - light you canned heat, light your propane grill, light your wood, light your jar candles?  That's next - several ways to start fire, even cavemen knew a fire was a good thing.

A solar oven/cooker is another backup cooking method.  You can make one yourself, search "solar oven" on web or buy a ready made one - your choice.  On the web you will also find how long it takes to cook/bake food using sun and the results will surprise and delight you.

modified to add solar by request, LvsChant


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