Posts Tagged ‘prepping’

Making other plans, Part 1

September 17, 2013

In my September 13, 2013 entry, I talked a little about how we were back to square one with our preparations. In this series, we’ll begin to address what that looks like and how we’re dealing with it… or trying to…

Making other plans, Part 1

Previously, we had been preparing with the goal of maintaining two adults with a conventional sort of assortment of food and a butt load of water. Now, we’re preparing with the goal of maintaining three adults – and two of those adults have a diabetes diagnosis. This may not seem like a big deal, but both of those diabetics control their blood sugar through exercise and carbohydrate restriction. The other could eat whatever was on the table, but wouldn’t be harmed by the carb cutback. When you look at most prepping  and survival websites, you’re going to see all this advice on buying and storing grains, and what to do with grains, grinding grains, and baking breads in your solar oven, great desert ideas and 1001 ways to cook oatmeal and all that.

Not so much with that for us. Not anymore. We could maybe get away with a little of that for a short term survival situation, but it wouldn’t be long before the carbohydrate load was causing my diabetic housemates to suffer mood swings (just what you need during an emergency), headaches, and the other health effects you get when a diabetic’s blood sugar gets out of hand: they’ll catch every cold that’s going around; they’ll become susceptible to urinary tract infections; and the list goes on. NONE of that is what you want to be facing when you’re in a situation where everyone needs to be functioning as close to 100% as possible.

So, how do you prepare when you have to get 2,000 – 3,000 calories a day, but fewer than 100 carbs? That’s a damned good question. One which we’ve been working on for nearly two years.

First, the good news

The good news is that neither diabetic requires insulin. Unlike many other diabetic households, we’re not faced with the daunting task of procuring and storing insulin. We do, however, have to worry about getting enough of the right kinds of calories while not slowly killing the diabetics with carb overload.

Some folks might poo-poo this carb restriction approach, but it is the only thing which has worked for the two diabetic adults in our house. It has allowed them to stay off insulin, cut back to the most minimal doses of their glucophagic medication (now it’s a PRN instead of an everyday med), caused weight loss, lowered their triglycerides, and lowered their blood pressure. Writing as the non-diabetic in the household, here’s what it did for me: 145 points off my triglycerides in 8 months and I lost 40 pounds. Dropping the weight also dropped my resting heart rate and gave me the energy to do more stuff: like exercise – or just get my chores done. So, laugh all you want, the carb restriction has done great things for us… now the question became: how do we prep?

minnesota public radio waterMore Water. No, really, MORE water.

When you’re cutting carbs, you’re naturally consuming more protein and more fat to get your calories. The reason this matters for your preps is that these foods require more water for your body to process them. It takes more water from your body to break down the proteins and fats, and more water to transport away the waste products of their metabolism.

We drink a lot of water anyway – about an ounce per two pounds of body weight per person per day at minimum. Usually more. An ounce of water per pound of body weight is not unusual for us – and we’ll go more than that if we’re working hard, or if it’s really hot, or both. This is what everybody needs minimally anyway. But if you’re low-carbing it, adequate water intake is essential for proper kidney and liver function. Seriously essential: no one wants to deal with liver damage or kidney failure — especially during a crisis.

So, adequate water. What’s adequate water? Again, our rule of thumb is a minimum of two ounces per pound of body weight per person per day. For example: let’s say you weigh 150 pounds. You’d need a minimum of 75 ounces of water a day, every day. If you were working hard chopping wood in winter, or fixing fence in the sun, you’d need a minimum of 150 ounces – one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. You might even need more if you tend to sweat profusely. And, if you low-carb it like we do, you’ll need to be much closer to that one ounce per pound mark.

I weigh 140 pounds. My water bottle I use at the office holds 26 ounces (what a weird number, right?). I drink at least 3 of them every day – 78 ounces of water. That gets me my minimum number every day. When I’m outdoors working, like I was last weekend, I drink far more than that. Last weekend, when I was outside both days, I drank 6 liters on Saturday (that’s 203 ounces of water) and 4 liters on Sunday (135 ounces). I was wrung out from the heat, but even on Monday my urine was clear and copious.

Cody Lundin, one of my prepping/survival idols, recommends stockpiling 3 gallons of water person per day. For him, this includes the water you use for hygienic purposes. If you’re adding extra water to compensate for processing the proteins and fats, this would certainly be your minimum number – and it should probably be even higher.

Now that you have a better idea of how much water you need every day, how much water you need to store is a matter of multiplying your daily gallons by how many days you want to be prepared. Let’s say I’m stockpiling 4 gallons water per day per person in my household. That’s 12 gallons. If we’re prepping for a week (really y’all, 72 hours is a joke… FEMA tells you in disaster training to prepare for a minimum of two weeks — that 72-hour thing is only for the most minor emergencies)… 12 gallons x 7 days is 84 gallons. Two weeks: 168 gallons (about 712 liters of water – that’s 60 cases of those little water bottles). A month: 336 gallons. That’s a lot of water. A whole lot of water.

I’m not going to go into how best to store water. That’s far too individualized and many other authors cover the subject more than adequately. What I want you to take away from this entry today is this: if you have special dietary and/or medical considerations, you don’t get to prep like everybody else.

I’ll be honest. We don’t have enough water put away. Not yet. We have numerous cases of “those little water bottles” that we buy when they go on sale. But we don’t have enough. As a household, we’re currently discussing how we want to handle the expense and logistics of storing more water. We’re debating various options: opening our well (our property has a sealed well on it), buying a storage tank, putting in rain barrels, etc. And we’ll keep you posted as the planning and implementation goes along.

Here’s what I want you to take away from this: if you have a medical condition like diabetes, celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, etc. you are not going to be able to prepare like everyone else. You might want to say “Oh, just forget my diagnosis,” but you can’t. Your survival during a crisis situation depends on being even more conscious of your diagnosis before all hell busts loose. The good news about this is that when you feel you’re finally squared away with your preps, your diagnosis is going to be one less thing you have to worry about.

So, that’s it for Part 1 of Making Other Plans. In Part 2 we’ll talk a little more about water and start to dig into the issue of food and how we’re handling it.

As always, thanks for reading. We’re stronger together.


References & Recommended Reading

When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes, Cody Lundin, 2007, Gibbs Smith Press.

Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life, Nora Gedgaudas, 2001, Healing Arts

Image courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio


Long time gone…

September 13, 2013
Street sign in Albuquerque - photo credit long since lost. My Apologies to the photographer.

Street sign in Albuquerque – photo credit long since lost. My Apologies to the photographer.

So, yeah… it’s been nearly two years since I sat down to blog. This is unfortunate, because a lot that deserves honest attention has happened in that time: the blossoming of the latest wave of zombie popularity (which is fun stuff and has tremendous application for folks who want to be prepared), the unwinding of hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, the escalation of tensions elsewhere in the Middle East, new viruses, new technologies, the NSA surveillance debacle, the drone program, the bombing at the Boston Marathon, the madness of the world economy, the re-emergence of Fukashima, and on… and on… and on…

And through it all, I’ve been silent. Not intentionally, but it’s that old saw: life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.  In the nearly two years I’ve been away from the keyboard, we’ve been dealing with career changes, and with health and family issues that just seemed more pressing than getting another blog entry out.

Ironically, it’s those same health and family issues that have brought me back to  the laptop after the long silence.  Because of a changing family dynamic and serious health issues, we’ve been confronted with the fact that our preparations are no longer viable. We have been forced to change the way we think about being prepared, change the how we plan and prepare, change the things we decide to store.

The last two years have taken us essentially back to square one. But in that, we feel that there is much to be learned. So, as always, we’ll take you right along with us.  We’ll look at how we prepared before and how we do it differently now. We’ll look at what we’ve learned and what still needs work. We’ll be honest about our victories — and about our epic failures. Because you deserve to know — and because you could be faced with a similar issue, out of the blue, just like we were.

So, expect more blog entries, more articles, more book reviews (our favorite authors are still hard at work). Expect more honesty and personal experience.  Pull up a chair next to the fire (you do know how to get a fire going, don’t you?), and make yourself comfy. Let’s get this show on  the road again.

I look forward to sitting with y’all soon.


Book Review: Scott B. Williams’ Bug Out Vehicles

December 13, 2011

Scott B. Williams has done it again. Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters is the latest in a line of books designed to help you save your hide (and your family) should disaster (or mayhem) strike. Unlike other survival authors who may claim to have all the answers, Williams may actually have them: understand your needs and situation; think for yourself; plan and prepare ahead of time; the world doesn’t have to end for you to be forced to face a nasty scenario and make tough decisions; the more homework you do now, the less stressful it will be later.

Bug Out Vehicles is not a book that will tell you to “do this” or don’t do that.” Instead, Williams walks readers through the thought processes of true preparedness. He wants readers to learn how to think about survival situations, develop skills ahead of time, and get things in order before it’s too late to do anything but panic. Unlike other survival books that seem bent on getting people ready for an influx of zombies or invading aliens, Williams’ books offer sound, common-sense advice on being ready to deal with real world situations: like evacuating ahead of a hurricane or wildfire, for example. The S*** doesn’t have to hit the fan for Williams’ books to be useful.

Williams’ series of books is like a course in preparedness thinking. In Bug Out, he introduced readers to the idea of bugging out, getting them to think in terms of leaving as opposed to trying to stick it out when things go bad. In Getting Out Alive, he introduces the concept of thinking through scenarios ahead of time, in order to think through how you might react in similar situations and what you might do about it. In Bug Out Vehicles, he’s on to the next step, “So, how are you going to get there?”

Bug Out Vehicles begins with the premise “So, you’re leaving for ________ [your bug out shelter, another state, an area not impacted by the disaster, etc.]. Have you given much thought to how you’ll get there?” Along the way Williams covers various sorts of bug out vehicles and runs through lists of pros and cons for each one under various circumstances — what works in an orderly, low-key evacuation for a family of four, might be deadly for a single individual trying to get the hell out of an urban area in the midst of violent civil unrest. And he provides “don’t forget this” checklists for each type of vehicle he discusses.

Williams, to his credit, offers ideas and starting points for many modes of transportation (from human-powered, to internal combustion, to hay powered) and for every income level. The ability to escape in order to survive should not be limited to those with an unlimited budget. Being able to get out, Williams’ says, doesn’t depend on going out and buying a new vehicle. And he makes a compelling case for why your four-door family sedan (as unattractive as you may think it is) may not be such a bad bug out vehicle after all. He offers suggestions for modifications and accommodations for every mode of transport. Again, always with the implied questions, “What if ________?” and “Have you thought about ________?” Williams, if nothing else, wants his readers to get their minds right about being prepared.

Would I recommend Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters? You bet. For most of us, transportation is an afterthought at best. All too often, we take for granted that we’ll hop in ours cars and SUVs and take off. Williams give his reader plenty of food for thought, and readers should be biting.