Poorly handled logistics can doom any operation or project incredibly fast. So how do we avoid letting that happen to us in a “post-incident” scenario? The three B’s: beans, bullets, and Band-Aids. These are the key components that make up the backbone of recovery. It’s also essential we learn to properly select, store, and safeguard them. Lets start in order this week with ‘beans,’ which will represent all foodstuffs to sustain you until life returns to normal.
There will be a huge urge for some people to just blurt out, “All I need are MREs (Meal Ready to Eat),” but it’s not that cut and dry. I will say MREs can be a large component of a prepping food plan, but like any good plan, your food plan should have layers of various types of food. Besides, as those of us who have deployed for months on end and eaten nothing but MREs will tell you, they are terrible after a while. Trust me, you will go to the ends of the earth for certain foods like a cookies or a cheeseburger following a steady diet of MREs. In fact, I once almost had a fistfight over a single package of chocolate-covered pretzels that was sent to me in a care package while deployed.
I do use MREs in my prepping, but I do it differently than most. First, I acquire a case of MREs from one of several online sources such as amazon.com or thereadystore.com. You may also have some luck if you check local surplus stores and Craigslist ads. Second, I open the case and ensure all 12 packages are there, are not ripped or discolored, and determine what meals I have. Third, I acquire a food-safe five-gallon bucket with a re-sealable Gamma Seal Lid (Note: Amazon has them in different colors so you can organize your buckets).
I do this for several reasons. Cardboard, when wet, rips and drops its contents on the ground for all to see. Should flooding occur, five-gallon buckets with air in them float, the contents stay dry, and they come with handles for easy transport. Now, let’s see how it should look .
You will need two buckets for 12 MREs and other associated items that we will cover shortly. Arrange the MREs in the buckets to allow a space in the middle, as shown below, left. This cavity is where you will stack a few rolls of preferred toilet paper inside a new trash bag. Because it goes without saying that you will need dry toilet paper, and you will have trash.
Nothing will dampen the morale of a group like not having dry, soft toilet paper. I can promise you that not all toilet paper is the same, and in a post-disaster situation, rough toilet paper can lead to chafing and sores, which then presents a very smelly problem with potentially serious health risks. Take care of your ass; it’s the only one you have. Besides, in a post-disaster situation, you will be sitting on it a lot more than you thought.
You can really toss whatever you want into the buckets before placing three MREs across the top and sealing them up. Since the Gamma Seal lids screw on, if you forget something, there will be no busting of your knuckles when you need to add or subtract items from your stash. There are plenty of civilian-brand MREs and camping-type meals that come in easy-to-carry buckets or packages. I also use these, though they are much smaller portions and less dense in calories than the government-issued MREs. They do taste better, though.
Wise Foods and Mountain House are some of the top makers and are widely available. All you really have to do is walk around a large outdoor recreation store and get some ideas. I recommend reading the label for contents to see if it requires water to be made. Also note the serving size that the package contains; some packages are similar sizes, but can feed more than one person. I also can’t stress enough to try some before you commit to buying larger quantities.
An unexpected source of prepper foods that I learned about from a friend were the food stores run by the Church of Latter-day Saints or Mormons. The LDS church runs food stores all over the world where you can buy large 120 oz. cans (#10 cans) of anything from oats, rice, beans, spaghetti, even apple slices. I am not a Mormon, but my friend, who is, informed me they would sell to anyone. I have called and confirmed this with the local LDS church and food distribution center. The nice thing is, you can mail order them as well, or pick them up locally if a food center is near you.
Remember what I said long ago about learning new tips, tricks, and adapting being the keys to survival? This may be one of those instances where you have to adapt and look outside of what your normal sphere of influence is. I honestly had never thought of the LDS church as a source for supplies or information. However, they have great assets that are available. Some of them are free, like information, and some cost money, like the food. In the toolbox mentality, remember that everything can be a source of knowledge or support.
As you can see from the Wise Food bucket above, it clearly has a 25-year shelf life marked on the front. You can also see that it says, “Just add boiling water,” and that there are 60 meals crammed into a five-gallon bucket. This clearly means the meals are on the smaller size. When I break the seal on this, I plan on using them for smaller meals or as snacks to supplement normal nutrition. My other plan for these smaller meals is if any children or people with smaller nutritional needs are present, these will be perfect for them.
Snacks or 1/2 meals, as I call them, should also not be overlooked. Part of a multifaceted meal plan should contain these. Anything from apples to nuts to hard candies can give your mind a break. Snacks sometimes are the thing that can lift a mood a little bit or stave off frustration. A problem with snacks can be a relatively short shelf life. I have found that Datrex 3600 “life raft bars” are good to also toss in a MRE bucket. They aren’t big on taste, but they contain 18 small, 200-calorie pieces, each in a vacuum-sealed package. The five-year shelf life on the Datrex Blue Ration is remarkable for something with so many calories. I carry two in my bug-out bag for purely nutritional needs.
We have now covered a small part of long-term food storage, but remember, things with a shorter shelf life should be eaten first. Refrigerated and frozen foods will quickly spoil. Also don’t forget a stock of canned goods to break up the food monotony that will surely happen.
We will assume that, for our scenario, you will have some sort of legally owned firearm available. I’d like to point out before going any further that this isn’t the movies. I hate having to repeat it, but it’s that important for people to remember. Let’s not go into firearm selection at this point in time, we will cover that later. But if your idea of prepping is Mad Max meets Black Hawk Down, then you are going to end up facing the business-end of a bullet. That is just bad news for all involved. It’s not an anti-gun statement, or saying you won’t need ammunition, it’s just the likely end to anarchist-type behavior.
With any weapon, you need cleaning gear and lubricant. I recommend and use Fireclean. That said, something is better than nothing when it comes to lubricant and cleaning. If you have a brand you love and use, just have some on hand. Ammunition prices in the past few years have skyrocketed, but that shouldn’t make you stop shooting or storing some for a future event.
It’s not hard to develop a cache of ammunition, and it doesn’t have to impact your wallet as much as you may think. I use the tried-and-true method of “buy one or two extra” boxes when I go to the store. This allows you to spread the cost out over a longer period while also letting you rotate older ammo out of your cache. Some people will tell you ammo goes bad after a while, but I have shot WW2 vintage ammo out of my M1 Carbine and it worked just fine.
There are things that, in my opinion, are irrelevant in a prepping or disaster scenario, and arguing over what type of ammo is better than another is a huge one. Is steel core worse for your gun than copper-jacketed bullets? Are 55-grain bullets superior to 62 grain? These are only a couple of arguments we hear, and honestly we can argue until we’re out of breath. I have yet to meet someone who would rather be out of ammo than to shoot a brand they don’t like.
Storage of ammo is much more important than type of ammo. Fouled or damaged rounds pose a greater risk of malfunction in any weapon. When it comes to storage, I personally like the tried-and-true metal military ammo cans. They have been around longer than I have been alive, they can be dropped, kicked, or slid across the floor and still keep ammo safe.
I also favor factory cans, like those pictured, when available.
So, how much ammo is adequate? I get asked that a lot, but it varies from person to person and situation to situation. Here, we are dealing with a “bug-in” or “Alamo” scenario, so it’s very different than a “bug-out” scenario. Also, I tend to practice often, so I like to have an ample supply on hand to prevent having to run to the store all the time and pray it’s in stock.
As a general rule, I have 1000 rounds per caliber, except shotgun and hunting-rifle calibers. Some call it excessive, but everyone has their own “comfort level.” If you are using a magazine-fired weapon, be it pistol or rifle, be sure the magazines are clean and serviceable. That means the springs are good and the magazines are free from deep dents and bends that will hinder its operation. A non-functioning magazine is just a paperweight and can get you killed when, god forbid, you ever have to use a weapon in a self-defense scenario.
Realistic training and prepping goes hand-in-hand with realistic medical supplies. If you don’t have the skills to perform a tracheotomy, then you shouldn’t be preparing for one. A well-stocked first-aid kit is an insurance policy for you and all that will be relying on you in this time of need.
Remember the acronym K.I.S.S.—KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. Most of your medical needs after a disaster event will revolve around dehydration, scrapes, bruises, cuts, broken bones, things that are caused from debris or environmental issues. Less injuries will occur from marauding bands of warlords than from the wasteland. Items I recommend stocking in a larger “home-style” medical kit should include packages of Band-Aids, medical tape, plenty of gauze, triangular bandages, an over-the-counter painkiller like Tylenol, anti-burn gel, and a topical cream to fight skin irritation such as Hydrocortizone.
This is a basic list and you will undoubtedly add to it. We will be covering the “home” vs “carry” medical kit very soon, but I wanted to at least touch on the idea of first aid to get everyone planning and thinking. Next week, we tackle threat assessment and basic building-damage assessment. Stay tuned, like us on Facebook, and share us on Twitter. Pass the word.