What’s More Important – Calories, Meals, Servings, or Serving Size?

The quick answer is “yes” to all of them – it’s important to consider calories, meals, servings, and serving size when planning your food storage.  The longer answer is, some are more important than others.  Unfortunately, there are food storage companies that will be less than forthcoming with some of this data because it may shed some negative light on the products they are selling.

I remember years ago trying to deal with a real problem in the industry – the definition of a “year’s supply”.  That term was used and thrown about as if it was a universal description of a definitive combination of food items that would feed an adult or a family for one year.  As one would compare meal plans from a variety of companies, one would quickly discover that the term “year’s supply” could mean just about anything.

There were meal plans that were predominately whole grains, providing around 800 calories per day and yet were titled a “year’s supply”.  And then there were others who offered meal plans with extremely small serving sizes, yet they were allowed to call it a “year’s supply” as well.  One company’s representative shared with me his concern how there was no real quantifiable measuring formula in that day to make it easy to determine what a year’s supply really should be and how any given company should be compared to that standard.  He said it got so extreme that one could almost take an apple and cut it up into 365 small pieces and call it a year’s supply of apples.

You see, one unique characteristic of this industry is that most people treat the acquisition of their emergency food storage as they did the writing of a term paper when they were in school.  It was something that was easy to procrastinate, often dreaded and with what seemed great sacrifice finally accomplished.  Then, after the paper was turned in, they never wanted to think about it again.  They had checked it off their list and they were off to more enjoyable uses of their time and resources.

In other words, most people who purchase food storage simply store it away and really don’t want to think about it again, feeling as if they have accomplished this important task and can now check it off their list.  Very little thought is given to what life would be like if they really had to live off their food storage.  If fact, that’s the last thing most people ever want – to actually use their food storage.  As a result, far too little due diligence is performed in analyzing and comparing different meal plans and how their lives might be affected if they had to live off them.  Thus the need to discuss the fundamentals – calories, meals, servings and serving sizes.

Let’s start with calories.  If one could choose just one of these categories to compare all food storage plans out there, my vote would be to compare calories.  You see, of all these categories, calorie count is the only real definer of total food value.  In other words, how much energy will this food give me when I consume it?  How full will it fill my energy tank?  If there aren’t enough calories in the meal plan, regardless of the number of meals, servings or serving sizes, you simply won’t have the energy your body needs to function, you’ll lose weight and could eventually starve.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of meal plans provided by companies today range around 1,100 calories per person per day with some as low as 750.  This would be a great weight loss plan for many of us but in times of stress, it’s simply not enough food value to keep us healthy and provide the energy we’ll need during those difficult times.

With several companies, it may require a fair amount of searching and math to determine the true daily calorie count.  When that’s the case on any given companies’ website, that’s usually an indication of the numbers being low and the company not wanting to make it easy to see the real facts.  These companies will usually promote the number of meals or servings instead.  With such companies, a typical entrée will provide between 250 and 300 calories so if you are receiving three entrées per day, you’re talking about only 750 to 900 calories per day.

To see a real-life example of how critical calories are, Google the “Minnesota Starvation Experiment” or go to: http://www.refinery29.com/minnesota-starvation-experiment

It showed how a diet of just 1,570 calories per day had a devastating effect on the 36 men in the study.  Calories do make a difference but to be fair, the source of the calories is equally important.  Just take it to the extreme and I’m sure you’ll agree.  If all one consumed was 3,000 calories per day of white sugar, I think we’d all agree those calories were empty calories and it wouldn’t take long for our bodies to shut down. This is where meals and servings help round out the balanced approach.

Let’s talk next about meals.  A meal is usually defined in the industry as a single serving of an entrée – breakfast, lunch or dinner.  This is unfortunate because seldom have I, or would I venture to say most people, consider one serving of an entrée as a meal.  For me, that’s more like an appetizer – something to whet my appetite and get me ready for the real main course.  But no, that’s the sum total of the meal.

Meals can be an important factor if there are a wide variety of entrees.  I remember being on a 100-mile backpacking trip in the Wind River mountain range of Wyoming and all I took for breakfast was a bunch of pouches of instant oatmeal.  By the end of that week-long trip, I was so sick of that oatmeal that I never wanted to even see a pouch of instant oatmeal again for as long as I lived.  I never knew I could become so disgusted with a single food item in such a short period of time.  I promise variety is an essential part of a balanced plan.

Now, let’s discuss servings.  This category is somewhat similar to the discussion we had earlier about the definition of a year’s supply.  This category, if looked at independent from the others, could be very deceiving because there is no standard as to the size of servings.  Remember the apple cut into 365 pieces?  Well, that could be considered 365 servings.

Now, this leads naturally to the subject of serving sizes.  If a company touts that they provide serving sizes that are larger than other companies, that’s great IF that also translates into a higher overall calorie count with a good variety of entrees.  You see, it would be possible to provide larger servings of low-calorie filler foods which would not increase the total calorie count.

So here’s the conclusion – you should look for a food storage plan that provides 2,000+ calories per person per day (my personal storage provides 3,500 calories per person per day).  These calories should come from a good variety of entrees as well as fruits, vegetables, grains, rice, beverages and deserts (gotta have those comfort foods!).  If these categories are properly addressed, the number of servings and serving sizes become a moot issue – you will be getting the nutrition and food value you need to not just survive, but thrive.

Is Looting Part of Your Food Storage Plan?

On the surface, that question may seem ludicrous.  Of course we would never intentionally plan on looting to feed our families, but unintentionally, is it a possibility?

I came across an article from the Associated Press titled “Venezuelans ‘Loot to Eat’ Amid Economic Tailspin”.  The country is facing not only severe economic challenges but as a result devastating food shortages.  At the country’s biggest port in Puerto Cabello, people are swarming corn-carrying trucks and filling up sacks with the grain while the drivers are held at gunpoint.

The article went on to report that even though the truck driver was afraid for his life, he sympathizes with his impoverished countrymen, who are becoming desperate amid Venezuela’s widespread food shortages and sky-high inflation.

“They have to loot to eat,” he said.

“Sporadic looting, food riots and protests driven by the hungry poor have surged in Venezuela, a country that’s no stranger to unrest”, the article continues. “These protests are coming from people of the lower classes who simply cannot get enough to eat,” said David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America.

I’ll never forget an experience I had many years ago while selling food storage by giving in-home presentations.  I had made an appointment with a family in a rural area of a small community and was hopeful I would be able to help them prepare by selling them a year’s supply of long-term food storage.  Part of my presentation focused around how much a typical family would spend on a monthly basis for food and as a result, show how economical our food storage plan was.

This was a family of eight, two adults and six kids so I was assuming they spent $500 to $800 per month on food (keep in mind, this was more than 25 years ago and the cost would be much greater today).  As my presentation proceeded, I asked the father how much they spent on a monthly basis at the grocery store.  When he answered, I thought I misheard him so I asked him to repeat his answer.  He replied that they spent about $50 per month.  I was shocked!  Even though they lived in a rural area, I didn’t see any garden or method of raising their own food so I was quite mystified by his answer.

I followed up by asking how on earth it was is possible to feed a family of eight on only $50 per month.  He replied by saying they didn’t shop in the front of the store, they shopped in the back.  Still confused, I asked him to clarify what he meant.  He hesitated for a moment and then said, “You wouldn’t believe how much food grocery stores throw away.”  It then all became clear.  He and his family were dumpster diving in the back of the grocery store to secure enough food to feed their family.  It became very obvious that they had very little money and were willing to do whatever it took to feed their family.  Needless to say, I did not make the sale but I did learn a lot as to the measures individuals would take to keep from going without.

I learned another valuable lesson about how the lack of food can totally change your behavior back in August of 2005 when I was caught in hurricane Katrina.  Here is an excerpt from my journal.

“Monday morning, August 29th, we woke up early and immediately turned on the TV to get the latest on Katrina. It was really pretty scary. Katrina had developed into a category 5 hurricane and was just beginning to pound New Orleans – right where we had just escaped from just a day and a half earlier.”

“There was a light rain outside but what really caught our eye was the way the clouds were moving. I have never seen clouds like that before. They were swirling around so fast, twisting sometimes in smaller circles inside of larger ones and coming closer to the ground than I had expected.”

“My son and I were still determined to take care of business and planned on attending a real estate auction that morning. On our way to the courthouse, we felt impressed to fill our tank – just in case. We still didn’t think we would be affected much by Katrina. We assumed it would die out or go off in another direction.”

“We hadn’t been at the courthouse more than an hour when they told us to evacuate, that the hurricane was headed right for us. I feel kind of stupid saying this now, but we were really kind of excited. We thought this was going to be just a fun adventure.”

“Having never experienced a hurricane before, we were anxious to see what it would be like. I remember laughing as we ran to our car because it was raining so hard, it seriously felt like buckets of warm water were being poured on us.”

“We drove back to our hotel and turned on the TV. We were told that an area wide curfew would go into effect at noon. I looked at my watch and realized we had only about 30 minutes before the curfew and we had no food, water or supplies of any kind.”

“We decided to try and find a place to buy some food and water before it was too late. As soon as we left the hotel, all the power went out in the entire area. All the stores were closed. We could not find a single place to purchase anything.”

“As we were returning to our hotel, I noticed a gas station with several cars parked out front. It looked like there were people inside the little mini mart and I could see that the door was open. We immediately pulled in and I ran inside to find several people buying up everything they could. They had to have cash since the power was off.  I was immediately struck with the negative, dark side of not being prepared. I wasn’t the least bit concerned about anyone else but me and mine. The thought of sharing with others was the last thing on my mind. It’s terrible to say but I was ready to even get physical if necessary to get what we needed.”

“They had one of those little food bars with potato logs and fried chicken, etc. I bought everything I could (there wasn’t much left) along with several bottles of water and Gatorade. I luckily had enough cash in my pocket to cover the cost.”

“After I paid for the food we headed back to the hotel and rationed out the food, not knowing how long it would be before we could get more.”

There was much, much more that my son and I learned during those challenging several days as we tried to escape the devastating effects of Katrina.  But the most important lesson I learned was the psychological and emotional effect of not being prepared and trying to figure out where your next meal would come from.

You see, at home I am very well prepared to weather just about any storm, but being thousands of miles away from home on a business trip with zero preps, it was a real eye opener.  Maybe one of the most concerning parts of it all was knowing that if things got bad enough, one would lie, cheat, steal and maybe even worse to keep their loved ones from starving.  As a result of that experience, I recommitted to doing all that I can so that the day would never come where I would need to “loot to eat.”

Source:  http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/venezuelans-loot-eat-amid-economic-tailspin-52697367

A Sense of Fear and Urgency About Preparing

I took a call from a woman this morning who felt she had put off preparing for far too long and had a foreboding feeling that if she didn’t do something right away, it may be too late.  She felt like the perfect storm of potential catastrophic events was quickly forming and it wouldn’t be long before she would need to rely on her food storage.  Indeed, these are feelings and emotions that an ever increasing number of people are experiencing and I hear these concerns from individuals across the country almost every day.

Fear can indeed be a great motivator but it can also be emotionally very taxing.  If an initial burst of fear is required to move us forward in properly preparing, then one might consider it a good thing.  But sitting in a rocking chair on your porch with a shotgun across your lap as you wait for the end to come is NOT a good use of that initial fear and concern.  By committing to steady, regular activities focused around properly preparing for the future, the day will come sooner than you think where you will experience a peace of mind knowing that if something happened and you were not able to go to the grocery store for an extended period of time, your family would be provided for.

It is my personal belief that this fear, or sense of sudden urgency, is a very natural outgrowth of the awakening to our awful situation.  As we come to more fully understand the true nature of the world we live in, and how fragile it actually is, the urge to prepare grows strong and hot.  As we first begin to see our unpreparedness, we are overcome with our vulnerability and may panic in our attempts to get ready as quickly as possible.  Consider the story of “The Farm Hand Who Could Sleep When the Wind Blew”.

There once was a farmer looking for a young man to help out at the farm. There were several young men who interviewed for the job and as far as the farmer could tell, they were about equally well qualified. He then asked each of them one final question, “Tell me,” he would say, “why should I hire you above the others?”

Of all of the applicants and their replies, there was one that was really different. One young man said, “Because I can sleep when the wind blows.” At first, the farmer thought it was just strange. The more he thought, the more he was intrigued and mystified by the response. So he figured, well I will give this young man a chance, and hired him.

Weeks went by and the farmer was pretty happy with the young man’s work. He still wondered sometimes what the young man had meant by his strange reply, but he never got around to asking about it. Then one night the farmer was awakened in the middle of the night with a phone call from a neighbor. “There’s a big storm coming in with lots of wind, maybe a tornado. Better get ready for it.” was the quick message.

Indeed as the farmer went to the door and looked out, he found that the wind was strong and rising, and rain had started. He quickly ran and tried to awaken the young man to help him get everything ready for the blow. Try as he might, the young man couldn’t be stirred. Muttering to himself about what a stupid thing he had done in hiring a lazy boy who wouldn’t wake up when he really needed him, the farmer went out to the farm.

He went out to tie down the hay but discovered that the hay was already tied down securely. Next, he went to the barn and the corrals. Everywhere he looked, everything had already been prepared. After a time of just wandering around the farm, learning that there was nothing that needed to be done at the last minute, because it had all been done (prepared) before, the farmer returned to his house, but instead of muttering, he actually found himself singing praises of this young man. He had realized, to his great joy, that the reason the young man could sleep when the wind blew was because before he went to bed each and every night he had already prepared for the very worst.

And so the farmer followed the example of the young man since everything was already prepared, he undressed and was soon fast asleep, with a huge smile of peace on his face. This young man had nothing to fear and was not stricken with panic at the onset of the storm because he was fully prepared. He had put forth the necessary time and effort to secure everything well in advance so he could rest the night through with little concern for the howling winds outside.

This story reminds me of how I felt years ago when a small earthquake hit our community in the middle of the night.  It was 1:30 AM on a Monday morning when I was awakened by the house shaking and the sound of dishes rattling in the kitchen.  The earthquake registered only 3.5 on the Richter Scale but the epicenter was fairly close to my house so it definitely got my attention.  I remember jumping out of bed and looking out the window to see what was going on.  There was a creepy sound and the wind was howling, perfect had it been Halloween but not too comforting that night.  After things calmed down and I got back in bed, this great peace of mind came over me.  You see, I was very well prepared with food storage and all the accompanying preparedness items and I knew that if that earthquake had been the big one, I was prepared and even though it would be a very scary event, my family would not go without.  That peace of mind is priceless!

For those who are feeling overwhelmed with the task of becoming prepared, or for those who are concerned that they simply cannot accomplish the tasks laid out before them to become prepared for the events to come, please remember that this new day is a gift, giving you at least one more day to take some form of action to move you and your loved ones closer to being prepared.

No matter what our level of preparedness, fear, and panic are not necessary if we are striving to put procrastination behind us and are wise in the use of our time and resources, for we have this promise from the Lord, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”.

To take this a step further, it saddens me that there are so many who struggle to enjoy their lives after having “awakened” to the need to quickly prepare. When the events of the last days seem closer than we imagined, it’s difficult not to become preoccupied with the future. While it will become easier to “not fear” for ourselves as we become more prepared, we can still feel saddened for our loved ones who are not prepared. Such emotional preoccupation can quickly become overwhelming if we’re not careful. I encourage each and every one of us to prepare like the world will end tomorrow, but plan and live our lives as though the time is yet far away. If we can successfully find the balance between these two activities, we will each find comfort and peace in the days to come, regardless of what happens around us.

What Is a #10 Can?

You’ll notice that most of our freeze-dried and dehydrated food is stored in #10 cans.  But what exactly is a #10 can?

#10 cans are large cans with the dimensions of 6.25″ x 7″. To put that in perspective, they are about the size of large coffee cans. The #10 classification refers to its size. All cans are named according to size. For instance, fruit/soup cans are #2 cans.  You can fit the contents of about 5 #2 cans inside 1 #10 can.

Volume vs. Weight
Due to the density variations of foods, the weight of the contents held in the can is different according to what the food is. For instance, a #10 can full of freeze-dried strawberries weighs about 7 oz. while the same volume of a can of freeze-dried ground beef weighs almost 2 pounds. Also, servings per container will be different, due to varied serving sized of foods.

Benefits of #10 Cans
A #10 can is perfect for your food storage because it seals in the nutrition of your food while preventing bacterial growth. The sealing process prevents air and moisture from entering the can.

Opening #10 Cans
You can open a #10 can with a handheld can opener. Once opened, if you use the plastic lid and store your food in a cool, dry, dark place, your freeze-dried food will stay good for 6-12 months. In other words, you do NOT have to use the food immediately.


What Is TVP?

Protein is the most expensive part of your food storage.  At the same time, it’s an important addition to keep you and your family healthy. While true freeze-dried meat is the best base for your protein storage, some people use TVP to supplement their protein.

What is TVP?
TVP is Textured Vegetable Protein.  It’s made from soy flour after the soybean oil is extracted.  It’s a protein substitute that is high in fiber and natural protein. It easily absorbs flavor and retains the flavor with cooking.

Benefits of TVP
TVP is something that you’ve probably had many times throughout your life. Schools and fast food restaurants use it to supplement meat. You’ve probably had it in tacos, hamburgers, sloppy joes, and casseroles.  Whether you use it alone or you use it to extend meat, it’s a great product to have on hand. Benefits include:
Affordability –  Soy protein is significantly less expensive than meat.
Flavor– It can be flavored with meat juices or another seasoning to taste just like meat.
Ease – While TVP needs to be cooked, it doesn’t need to reach a safe temperature, so it’s easy to use in an emergency.
Meat Substitute–  TVP is perfect for those on a kosher or vegetarian diet.

Drawbacks of TVP
TVP is not meat at all. Alone, you can definitely tell the difference between the two.  Other drawbacks include:
Lower Protein – While TVP has naturally occurring protein, it has less than half of its meat counterpart. It is actually not a complete protein, lacking two essential amino acids; cysteine, and methionine.
Higher Sodium– Because TVP needs to be flavored, it generally has a high sodium content.
Soy– TVP is soy protein. If you are on a soy restricted diet, you will not want to use TVP to supplement your protein storage.

Everything You Need to Know About Shelf Life

When you buy long-term food storage, you want to be confident that you are getting products that will last for a long time. How do you know how long your food is good? Here are some tips to remember when storing food.

Shelf Life
Shelf life refers to how long an unopened package of food is safe and retains its nutrients.  Dehydrated foods generally have a shorter shelf life than freeze-dried foods. Freeze-dried foods, if stored in the right environment, can be stored safely for up to 30 years UNOPENED.

Ideal Storage 
Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods should be stored in a cool, dry, dark environment. The ideal storage temperature is 50 degrees F.  A basement storage room away from moisture and windows perfect. Since homes are not usually built with food storage in mind, look for closets, under beds and other areas that do not butt up against the edge of a house.  Warmer, lighter environments can reduce the shelf life of food storage.
Avoid great temperature variations. Storing at a constant temperature is ideal for shelf life.

Bulging/Sucked In/Damaged Cans
Safe food generally is in cans that are perfectly intact. If you see cans that are bulging or sucked in, the safety of the food is compromised and should be thrown away immediately.
Damaged/dented cans can let air into them through microholes. Once a can has been dented, it should be treated as an already-opened can.

Open Cans
Once a can of freeze-dried food is open, the food is safe to eat for 6-12 months. Since most cans contain up to 40 servings of food, it’s unlikely that you’ll eat it in one sitting.   Store in a cool, dark, dry place with the lid on tightly for best results. You may like to keep opened cans in the refrigerator, but it isn’t necessary.


Freeze-Dried vs. Dehydrate Food

If you’re new to the food storage game, you might be wondering why so many emergency prepping companies choose to freeze-dry instead of dehydration for many products. Looking at the process for both preservation methods will help you understand the benefits and drawbacks to both.

The Process
Dehydration-  Dehydrating food is a relatively easy process that can be done from home.  Dehydrators simply circulate hot, dry air across the food removing much of the water (usually between 90-95%) Dehydrating is ideal for grains and legumes.  
Freeze-Dry-   Freeze-drying is a more complicated process. In systems that have only recently become available to households, foods are placed on sheets in chambers where they are frozen to -40 degrees F.  At this point the freeze-dryer creates a vacuum around the food and then warms it. As it’s warmed the ice turns to vapor and evaporates.  Freeze-drying removes up to 99% of water. Freeze-drying is ideal for meats, fruits, and vegetables.  Most freeze-drying is done commercially, but recently at-home freeze-dryers have become available.

Shelf Life
Moisture causes food to decompose and grow bacteria. The less moisture in your food storage, the better.
Dehydration – Grains and legumes are ideal to dehydrate because of their low moisture content. However, meats, fruits, and vegetables will retain up to 5% of their naturally high moisture, making it less than ideal for long-term storage (but great for short-term preservation).
Freeze-Dry– Because freeze-drying takes 98-99% of moisture out of meats, fruits, and vegetables, it is the ideal long-term storage option.

Dehydration – The dehydration process can break down several key vitamins and minerals.
Freeze-Dry – The freeze-drying process actually is conducive to retaining all vitamins and minerals except for Vitamin C.

Dehydration – Rehydrating dehydrated food typically requires boiled water, which can be time-consuming.  However, some foods (jerky, fruit leather, etc.) do not need reconstitution. (Note- Meats should be precooked before dehydrating.)
Freeze-Dry – Rehydrating freeze-dried food only requires water, hot or cold. Like dehydration, freeze-dried meats should be precooked.  However, fruits and vegetables can be freeze-dried fresh. Once water is added, it just takes a few minutes for the food to be reconstituted.

Typically, because of the easier process, dehydrated food costs less than freeze-dried food.  However, don’t compare pound per pound because freeze-dried food is significantly lighter than dehydrated due to the water content.

Both foods will retain the original taste. Freeze-dried foods will be softer and airier, simply because there isn’t any moisture in the food.



Emergency Sanitation and Hygiene

You have your food and water storage, but have you considered how important sanitation and hygiene will be in the event of an emergency? Improper hygiene can cause an infectious disease outbreak, escalating emergency situations. Here are some tips for creating your family’s sanitation/hygiene plan.

Bathroom Activity
Take a few days to see how many times your family uses the toilet in one day. See how many diapers are used. Note how quickly you go through bar or gel soap.  This information will determine the supplies you need to keep on hand.  Items you’ll need to help you with bathroom sanitation:

  • Portable toilet- A portable potty lid fits over a bucket.
  • Potty bags – Sealable, double layer bags with bio-gel can help keep your family clean. These bags can be thrown away at an approved facility (not in normal trash cans).
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Soaps
  • Toilet paper/wipes
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers/wipes
  • Disposable gloves

It’s a good idea to designate some of your water storage for bathing and hygiene. Whether you want to use a separate container or calculate your water needs with the storage you already have, remember that water for hygiene is an important item to have on hand. Here are some items to keep for bathing storage:

  • Cleansing cloths- Whether or not you have a baby in your home, baby wipes are great to have on hand for fast, waterless baths.
  • Dry shampoo- This can extend the time between showers
  • Body wash/body soap
  • Razors
  • Shampoo/Conditioner, etc.
  • Lotion to prevent cracked skin

You will want to have a good amount of cleaning supplies on hand. A disinfected house will help prevent the spread of disease. Important items to keep on hand:

  • Water purification tablets/water preserver
  • Bleach – While bleach is not recommended for water purification due to conflicting dilution information, it can be used if another water purification is not available.
  • Disinfecting spray- Disinfecting spray is an important thing to keep on hand to spray on door handles and other high traffic areas. This can help stop the spread of most germs.

First Aid
Part of good hygiene is a thorough first aid plan. Besides a complete first aid kit, anti-diarrhea medicine and cold/cough medicines are important for preventing the spread of family disease. Also, a set of dust/particulate respirator masks can help keep the rest of the family disease free when an outbreak happens.

Be ready to hand wash clothes, dish rags, etc. If your washing machine is out of commission or uses too much water, a wash basin will be a great asset. Keep liquid or powder detergent on hand so you can hand wash without having to break open small pods. Also, if you have space, you might want to store a drying rack.

Prepare Your Family For an Emergency

Unthinkable emergencies can happen at any time to anybody. These can already be high-stress situations. However, if you have a family with small children, it can be even more stressful. There are, however, ways to prepare now to minimize the stress later.  Here are a few ideas to help your family be better prepared for an emergency.

Create and practice specific plans
Your family needs to have plans for every possible emergency. Recognize possible emergencies for your area and adjust accordingly.

  • Fire evacuation- Have your kids help you create an evacuation plan complete with different routes and meeting places. If they help create it, they will be more likely to remember the plan.
  • Earthquakes- Show your kids how to be safe in an earthquake. Teach them to get underneath a sturdy piece of furniture and make themselves into a small ball, protecting their necks with their hands.
  • Tornadoes- Children need to know where the shelters are in school and at home so they know exactly where to go.

Emergency Packs

Each child should have an emergency pack next to his/her bed to grab and go. That pack does not need to be a heavy, complete pack. Have some food and water, a change of clothes, a flashlight, 2-way walkie/talkie radios, and small toys in that pack. Parents’ packs can be more inclusive.
Also, for emergencies while your child is at school, designate a pocket in your child’s backpack for emergency items. Insert a water pouch, a few granola bars, emergency blanket, and a picture of your family with a little note on the back.

Teach Through Recreation

Family camping trips are not only fun, but they can help teach your children important survival skills. Teach your children fire-starting techniques,  how to build emergency shelters, which plants are edible, etc. These activities don’t need to be in the name of emergency preparedness. If you make them fun, your children will learn important skills without even knowing it.




What Should Your Bug-Out Bag Have?

Bug-out bag, 72-hour kit, emergency pack. Whatever you want to call it, you shouldn’t ignore the importance of having one.  While you’d like to fit your whole emergency storage in it, you’re limited to space and weight.  Here’s a step-by-step process to help you build the perfect 72-hour kit. Items are listed in order of importance in each category.

Food & Water
The first component of a good 72-hour kit is sustenance. You’ll need food and water to stay alive.
Water- Pouched water or water bottles for 3 days. You need to pack a minimum of 40 ounces of water. If there is room in your pack when you finish packing,  add as much as will fit.
Food- There are 3 basic sources of food that would work in a 72-hour kit. Any of these would work, but they each have different pros and cons.

  • Calorie bars- Emergency Ration Bars are single bars that are packed with 2400-3600 calories. You eat these over the course of the 3 days.
    Pros: Easy, calorie-packed, filling, fills less space.
    Cons: Short shelf life (1-5 years), nutrient lacking, no variety in taste or nutrition.
  • MREs-  Meals Ready to Eat are essentially meals in an airtight bag that can be heated and eaten no matter where you are.
    Pros: Easy, self-heating, nutrient-rich
    Cons: Short shelf life (1-5 years)
  • Freeze-Dried- Freeze-dried food is food that has been flash frozen and dehydrated.
    Pros: Lightweight, nutrient-rich, easy, long shelf-life (up to 30 years), great variety
    Cons: Some items need rehydrating (not all freeze-dried food needs rehydrating to consume.)

Warmth & Shelter
Once the basics of food and water are taken care of, you’re going to want to move on to the need for warmth and shelter. (Or cooling)

  • Emergency blankets- Mylar space blankets are compact. They reflect radiant body heat, keeping you warm. You might want to try an emergency sleeping bag to trap heat even better.
  • Hand warmers- These warmers can be used for up to 7 hours to keep you warm
  • Cooling cloths- Cooling neckcloths can help keep your core body temperature down if you are stranded in the heat.
  • Ponchos- Staying dry will be important to keep your heat in. Pack a couple ponchos.
  • Tube tent – As far as priorities go, the tube tent is important, but not at the top of the list for your bug-out bag.  However, it could be very helpful if you are in a situation where you don’t have shelter. If you have room in your bag, it’s a great asset.
  • Matches/Firestarter


  • Flashlight- A flashlight is a very important item in your 72-hour kit. If you can get a combined radio/flashlight, that will cover communication needs, as well. Also, to avoid having to store batteries, a hand-crank flashlight with a cell phone charger is a good idea.
  • Light Sticks

First Aid 
A basic first aid kit is essential in a good emergency pack. Essentials include:

  • Bandages
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Gauze pads
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Cleansing wipes
  • Burn cream
  • First aid tape
  • Tweezers
  • Particulate respirator mask


  • Multipurpose pocket knife
  • Paracord
  • Carabiner
  • Collapsible water storage pouch


  • Toilet paper roll
  • Soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Diapers/Wipes for babies
  • Tissues
  • Wet wipes for general hygiene

Make sure you have a sturdy backpack to carry what you need. For families with small children, it might be a good idea to add small toys, playing cards, candy, etc.