First Time At The Shooting Range: What To Expect

There are a lot of things we swore we would never do before we actually became parents. Give in and buy the kids a candy bar at the store, let them play tic-tac-toe with the sugar packets in a restaurant, exclusively breastfeed for an entire year, let them sleep sneak in our beds, own a gun. Did you have to go back and make sure you read that last one right? I would have. I hesitated when I wrote it. However, my job as a mother is to protect my children against anything, and this maternal instinct is stronger than any previous agenda I may have had before I knew what dangers would face my family in today’s world. I have started to hate turning on the news. I can only see so many heart-wrenching stories of school shootings and kidnappings before I feel an overwhelming anxiety every time I kiss my children goodbye. I walk through my son’s school hallways and notice that one of the teachers has covered all of the windows, another keeps her door locked, there are security procedures put in place. In the deepest part of my heart where my biggest fears live, I feel the worry of what if this isn’t enough. Even at the school family movie night I had a fleeting thought that this would be the perfect opportunity for someone with a vindictive mind, and there would be nothing I could do to stop him or her. These thoughts leave me feeling scared, paranoid, and worst of all…helpless.

My First Time at the Shooting Range

what to expect your first time at the shooting rangeOne of the local shooting ranges periodically has a ladies night. Not your typical of a night out with the girls for sure, but I was willing to give it a try. It sounded like a great way to face one of my fears (the gun itself…and what it can do), and see if I was even able to hold-much less shoot-something I was starting to think might protect my family one day.

I was extremely nervous as I drove to the range. The thoughts flying through my head ranged from “this is the beginning of taking control over my fear, this is becoming the only way I can protect my family” to “I can’t believe I am doing this, I shouldn’t be doing this, I never thought that I would do this, this goes against everything I said I would be and do and teach as a mother”. To say I was conflicted is an understatement. To make matters worse, I was early. I hate being early. Not early in bringing the kids to a school or a family function or anything, but early to a get-together. That night I was meeting a friend, and I told her I would be there at 5:30. I glanced at the clock and noticed I was about ten minutes early. I figured I would just sit in my car and play games or dink around on Facebook or whatever, but when I looked up there were three women looking right at me. My windshield faced the huge window of the location. Feeling silly, I got out of my car and slowly walked to the front door, texting my friend on the way in.I stood there fidgeting, trying to look like I knew what I was doing but really having no clue. I kept checking my phone and pretending to look at the surroundings but I felt leftout. I hate ladies nights. My friend texted back that she had just left, and I should sign us in. Not sure what else to do, I headed to the counter.

“So what are you shooting today?” the gentleman asked me.

I replied with a simple “ummmmmm, yes? Can you tell it is my first time?”

He chuckled and said “well, what is your goal in being here?”

Without a hesitation I responded “to protect my kids”. No question, no uncertainty, that was it.

And without a hesitation he responded, “then you want a 9mm.” He handed me three bags of ammunition without asking if I wanted the maximum or not, ran my card, and handed me my receipt.

Feeling slightly more confident, I grabbed my ear and eye gear and walked back to the front. I then glanced at the television and stared at the headline “Dorner shootout: ‘Hundreds of rounds’ fired during gun battle”. I looked down at the nowmenacing-looking bullets in my hand and shuddered. Trying to avoid the television, I walked toward the pink mace and called my husband to pass the time. I finally worked up the courage to walk to the gun display…more effective than the mace and certainly more intimidating. Finally my friend arrived and we chatted until we could get a spot on the range. We talked about what we would do if someone broke in our houses. We talked about why it is important to be familiar with guns in general, the benefits of having and knowing your own gun as well as a gun that may be dropped in chaos. We talked about gun safety around children. We talked about a lot of things I have never thought of before. We finally got our turn and she was confident as she walked to the counter and loaded her gun. I think I may have looked like a deer in headlights. The super sweet guy came over to help us, and she told him I needed a 9mm. I just used my womanly smile and probably looked goofy. Apparently I just assumed the bullets magically loaded themselves. The guy came back over when it became quite obvious that I had no idea what I was doing. My friend said she would load it for me, he said I couldn’t be a cheater and he would show me how (though I am apparently still a cheater because she has a fun little thing that helped me load it!). While he helped me, I kept getting dinged in the head and on my arms by my friend’s shell casings. Something you don’t think about if you don’t typically shoot I guess.

Gun loaded and ready, she showed me what to do with the thing. I put my body in the typical CSI stance and couldn’t decide what to do with my eyes. Do I close one? Look through both? What the heck was I looking for anyway? I was patiently told that if a stranger was in my house in the middle of the night I would probably be using both eyes to try to get a clear view. Duh.

She patiently told me how to load the gun, how to release the magazine, how to do the cool little move where you load the chamber and how NOT to point it at anything but the range and how to check to make sure there weren’t any leftover when I was done. I am even more confident now when I tell my son guns are not toys, and I don’t even really like imaginary ones. Those things deserve some respect for the damage they could do, and how easily they can do it.

I have only been shooting once before in my life. When my dad took me after the Chuck E. Cheese Shooting. He didn’t want me to be afraid to use a gun if I needed to defend myself. He wanted me to know what I was supposed to do with it if I found one. I guess some of his teachings stuck with me. I feel a little proud to say it didn’t take a whole lot of direction for me to get the hang of things, and the biggest direction dealt with how to load/handle the gun. Turns out I am not too bad. Turns out, once she told me what to do, I am a quick learner. Turns out my blogging mommy-buddy is a bad mamba jamba, and by learning from her, I am pretty bad mamba jamba, too! And now (because I don’t own a gun) I do know that if someone has one against me or others and we somehow get it away from them, I know what to do with it. Or kind of. It is like swimming. You know how to jump in, but you don’t really know how to swim without some more practice.

While taking turns, I noticed a few things. The women you “think” you are going to see at a gun range, aren’t really who you see. I saw senior citizens, teenagers, hot twentysomethings, moms, and even a cop’s wife. I also noticed that the older lady next to us kept getting nervous and when she did so she turned towards us, and her gun followed along with her. Yeah….kinda scary.

After we left, my friend and I got some appetizers and a drink, and I finally got to ask some honest questions from someone I know is very educated on the subject. I was surprised by my lack of knowledge. I was surprised to find out some things that disturbed me. I was surprised to find out some things were even more different than I expected.

Since I am not one hundred percent solid on my stance and am still in the education phase of things, I am not really in a position to say what I firmly believe. And either way, what I believe shouldn’t really have an impact on what you want to do. Education and thoughtful discussions are a good way to gather more information to make your own informed decision, yes. But I fully believe that this is a situation in which YOU must make your own decision. Don’t let anyone’s opinions make it for you. If you let anyone else make this decision for you that is your first mistake. Because if you don’t really want it you won’t respect it or learn how to properly use it, and if you want one and don’t get it you may have that regret one day.

My biggest fear of all is my children. God forbid an accident would ever happen. I know there are safeguards against this, but still accidents can happen. I used to think I would never EVER consider having one. My husband used to try to change my mind, then finally gave up. I still may not be, but at least we are having an open conversation about it. When we first talked about it, we hadn’t yet experienced Sandy Hook, the Aurora Theater shooting, and so many break-in and rape news stories we can’t even count. When we first talked, I didn’t have children I would die to protect. When we first talked, I didn’t understand. I didn’t try to listen. And I wasn’t in immediate jeopardy of having someone else make my decision for me. Yet, some of the feelings I had then I still have now.

So, for now, I am going to keep educating myself. I am going to keep learning what to do with something as powerful as a gun. I am going to learn how to respect it, how to use it for good and not evil, and ultimately I will make a decision that is good for MY family.

I stepped out of my comfort zone and took a risk. I opened my eyes and my ears to a very controversial and very important topic. I educated myself on just one of many ways to protect my children. And even more important, I ignored the fear of judgment that sat in my stomach when I thought about writing this. A fear that I didn’t even realize I would have. Everyone is so heated, opinions are more than viewpoints now. Opposing opinions are breaking up friendships and families, turning allies into adversaries, and creating a fear like I have never seen. I have done nothing to be ashamed of. All I did was learn more about something I knew little about, take the first steps in learning how to protect myself and my family, and taking a risk outside of my comfort zone. I empowered myself just a little bit. And that is worth writing about.

*Our guest author today is Vicki Little. Vicki is a wife and mom to two adorable kids that are the center of her world. You can read more from Vicki on her blog, Living In Moments, where her motto is “Life can change in an instant, stop on a dime, or take your breath away. Don’t miss a moment…

How To Disinfect Water With Pool Shock

Bleach is a common item in a preppers stockpile. While bleach has many important uses in an emergency situation, it has drawbacks: it expires quickly and it takes up a lot of space.

According to the Clorox website, the shelf life of regular Clorox Bleach (do not buy scented or splash-less or anything else for prepping) is:

The active ingredient in liquid bleach, sodium hypochlorite, is very sensitive to high heat and freezing, but under normal home storage conditions, it should still perform well for nine to twelve months. So if your storage conditions were either of these, then you will have irreversibly created salt and water.

Next question is intended use. The active does decline over time and to meet our EPA disinfecting requirements, you are probably on-the-edge; so I might add a little more than the 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach per gallon of water for any disinfecting projects. For general cleaning, you should be fine since a little liquid bleach goes a long way.

Even with this drawback, I believe that storing bleach is an important part of emergency planning. You just have to constantly be vigilant about rotating through it. Some of the reasons to stock bleach include:

Pool shock, or Calcium Hypochlorite granules, is a better solution for long term storage of bleach and portability. You can use the granules to disinfect larger amounts of water, like the emergency water in your rain barrel. Calcium Hypochlorite stores for years without losing is effectiveness. A 1 lb bag that you can buy in most pool stores can disinfect 10,000 gallons of water and typically costs $7-$12 depending on the percentage of calcium hypochlorite in the mixure. The pool shock that you can buy in places like Walmart and Target typically have 52% percent calcium hypochlorite, you can get bags with 68% calcium hypochlorite sometimes, or if you live by a Leslie’s Pool Supply you can find 99% bags called Chlor-brite and/or order the Nava brand from our Amazon affiliate link.

*Reminder: According to the EPA boiling is the surest method to make water safe to drink and kill disease-causing microorganisms like Giardia lambliaand Cryptosporidium, which are frequently found in rivers and lakes. But boiling isn’t always possible so in those instances you are going to want to know how to chemically disinfect water.

disinfect water with pool shock

How To Disinfect Water With Pool Shock

Using calcium hypochlorite granules is a 2 step process. First you make the stock chlorine and then you mix it in the drinking water. Think of it as first making a bottle of bleach and then using that in the water.

Add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately ¼ ounce) for each two gallons of water, or 5 milliliters (approximately 7 grams) per 7.5 liters of water.

The mixture will produce a stock chlorine solution of approximately 500 milligrams per liter, since the calcium hypochlorite has available chlorine equal to 70 percent of its weight.

To disinfect water, add the chlorine solution in the ratio of one part of chlorine solution to each 100 parts of water to be treated. This is roughly equal to adding 1 pint (16 ounces) of stock chlorine to each 12.5 gallons of water or (approximately ½ liter to 50 liters of water) to be disinfected.

To remove any objectionable chlorine odor, aerate the disinfected water by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another. -directions from water.epa.gov

One issue that arises when storing pool shock is that fumes do build up. You need to respect that this is a powerful chemical and you will need to be careful when opening it. Make sure whichever method you choose for storing this, you have it clearly labeled that there can be dangerous fumes upon opening it. 

Some suggestions for storing your pool shock. Leave the 1lb bags in their original packaging:

  • Vacuum seal the package with your food saver. This would probably be the best way to place it in a bug out bag.
  • Place in mason jar and vacuum seal the lid.
  • Place in 3 or 5 lb plastic food buckets (like the kind you would store rice or beans) but store the pool shock by itself.
  • Place in a clamp down glass jar with rubber ring.

No matter how you store calcium hypochlorite you should vent it at least once a year wearing protective gear and please, please, please remember to label it as though your children would come across it. And of course, keep it out of reach of children in the first place.

Mandatory Evacuation: Are You Ready?

Mandatory evacuations can happen at any time. Those of us that live in high fire danger areas have seen whole communities destroyed summer after summer. For most of them, they had more than 10 minutes to prepare. But what if it’s 2 am and a fireman knocks at your door?  Are you prepared to evacuate your family in 10 mins or less? Take 5 mins and see what that experience looks like for these 2 families that are obviously well prepared that this is about to happen

With as well prepared as they were for this drill there are many important things they forgot. How can you tell if your family is ready?

mandatory evacuation

Hold Your Own Mandatory Evacuation Drill:

  • Set a timer for 10 mins
  • All members of the family must physically participate. No “mental drills” allowed
  • Don’t forget to include the pets
  • Pack the car as if you are headed out to a Red Cross Shelter.

How did you do?

Compare what you brought to this fabulous Emergency Evacuation Checklist.

Some things to think about:

  • Be more prepared by getting photos and important papers stored on flashdrives or into a cloud service.
  • Store pet crates with a small amount of food sealed up, an extra leash (the ones you get at the vet are great for extras), a collapsible bowl and a large water bottle for each. Neither of these families crated their dogs which may be a problem in a shelter situation.
  • Have toiletry bags always ready to go. The one woman looking for toothpaste was funny.
  • Add an emergency roadtrip kit to your car.

 

11 Things To Do Before a Winter Storm

Winter Storms are in full swing all over the country. If you are not quite prepared, here are 11 things to do before a winter storm to keep your family safe.

11 Things To Do Before a Winter Storm

  1. Gas up your cars. Its a  good idea to own a quality hand pump gas siphon in case you need to transfer gas to a different tank or put it in a generator.
  2. If you have a gas powered generator, make sure you have plenty of gas stored in safety cans to keep it running for at least 7 days. Gas genenerator owners should turn on their generator and make sure that it is in good working order. It’s not uncommon for them to get all gunked up. Do you have spare parts for it if you need to fix it during the storm? No matter how your generator is powered, its a good idea to have much more fuel than you think you would need!
  3. Go to the store and make sure you stock up on any of the fresh items you may need to top off. You hopefully have plenty of freezer meals as a backup and also a 3 month supply of meals if you needed to draw from your stockpile if you can’t make it to the store or they have run out of supplies.
  4. Bring in any outdoor furniture that could fly around or you don’t want to be sitting under piles of snow.
  5. Check on your elderly or disabled friends and neighbors. See how you can help them prepare or offer them a safe place at your house if it is needed.
  6. Check the batteries in your emergency weather radio, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace as necessary.
  7. Plan extra treats for animals that are used to being outside. Bring them inside and make sure you have plenty of supplies for them.
  8. Make sure you have all family members home before the authorities put travel restrictions in place. Double check that no one is in a vehicle without winter survival kit.
  9. Make sure you have wrapped all outside or vulnerable pipes from freezing. Commercial products that you can find at home stores is best for this but in a pinch layers of newspaper or rags are better than nothing. Know what to do if a pipe freezes during the storm.
  10. Get your snow removal plan in place. Double check the snowblower. Make sure you have an ample amount of oil and gas for it. Spray shovels down with Pam cooking spray to make the snow slide off easier. Line boots, gloves, and jackets up ready to put on before shoveling begins. Make sure your shovelers have something to cover their mouths with to protect their lungs.
  11. Plan ways to heat your home if the power goes out.
  • Plan a smaller area in your home that would be easy to close off to keep warmth concentrated in one area.
  • Firewood for a wood fireplace.
  • Heavy blankets to cover windows for insulation.
  • Camp Stove with an amply supply of fuel.
  • Portable gas heater and a place to make sure it is well vented. Make sure to keep it at least 3 feet away from furniture or anything flammable.
  • Sleeping bags and warm winter wear.

IMPORTANT BONUS TIP (I can’t believe I left this off)! Make sure you have refilled all necessary prescriptions and that the elderly or disabled people you check on have as well! Read through the list of important Over-the-Counter medications you should have on hand!

Winter storms can be a nuisance but for a well-prepped home they can be a time of family bonding and relaxation. Make some cocoa, read a new book or play a new family game and enjoy knowing that all of the time you have spent prepping will help your family make it safely through most winter weather!

What advice do you have to share with beginning preppers for things to do before a winter storm? Please leave advice in the comments!

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Paper Plates For Emergencies: Super Bowl Sales

Super Bowl Sunday is here and that means, before you sit down for the big game, let’s put some thought into how this American tradition can further your preps! If you have been a regular reader here for awhile you know that I LOVE holidays because each one brings its own chance to prep on a budget! To be honest, the Super Bowl isn’t a huge opportunity to prep but there is at least one thing you don’t want to miss out on: paper plates for emergencies, plastic cups and plastic utensils!

Paper Plates For Emergencies

paper plates for emergencies

Paper plates, plastic cups and plastic utensils will be invaluable in an emergency situation. If the water is off, paper removes the need to waste water on washing making things much more sanitary. If the garbage is not getting picked up it makes it easy to burn your waste materials. For this reason, you want to stock the cheap, plain white, uncoated plates. They are the easiest to burn.   If you include paper products in your prepping, you need to make sure that you have a way to safely burn them like an outdoor fire pit or wood stove. Don’t burn anything plastic coated in your barbeque or outdoor fire pit. It will leave a reside that is impossible to get off! Plastic cups and utensils are not clean to burn but can be reused many times before being thrown away. You can wipe the utensils easily with an antiseptic wipe.

Other Prepping Items to Pick Up During Super Bowl Sunday Sales:

  • Hotdogs-these are easy to cook in an emergency using little resources. Combine them with a can of beans and you have the old campfire Beanie Weanie tradition which is packed with protein.
  • Canned chili
  • Canned nuts
  • Propane (price is really coming down in my area)
  • Charcoal

 What are you finding out there to help build your preps during the Super Bowl season?

 

Creating A Support System for Personal Emergencies and Disasters

Sadly, many of my friends are going through their own personal emergencies and disasters: loss of a job, death in the family and even a good friend starting breast cancer treatments as a single mom. Thankfully, I feel blessed to be a part of each of their support system as I know they would do the same for me if the situations were reversed. Each personal disaster that I see my friends go through brings me back to the heart of what this site is about: preparing for the unexpected. Too often “preppers” are painted with a Doomsday brush. But really, the majority of us that prep are more trying to be ready for those unexpected bumps in the road that involve your own family.

How to create support system for personal emergencies

This post is about creating  and sustaining your own personal support system. I am blessed to have a group of friends who would be at my door in seconds with meals for my family, rides for my kids, or a mop to help me clean. I know. I have seen them do all of that for members of our group. Many churches organize groups like this as “relief societies”, mine is an informal network of friends. It doesn’t matter how you find your group. The point is you need to either make one or get involved in one.

Sit down today and walk through your average day in your head. Now, imagine, you had to have an emergency surgery and couldn’t be there. Make a list of all the possible things you could need help with and who could be there to fill in for you. If you are relying on a spouse, remember, they are going to need help helping you!

  • Who is going to get the kids up, dressed and feed them breakfast in the morning? Can your spouse take a few days off? Do you have vacation time or sick time set aside for that? Or extra money put away to cover the time off? Could one of your parents help? Are the kids old enough to do it themselves if that just meant pouring cereal (have some extra on hand?). Have you taught your kids how to make themselves very simple meals like scrambled eggs?
  • How will they get to school? Do you have a back up like a carpool group? Or a neighbor? If they ride a bus do you know your neighbors well enough to look after your kids at the stop? If you homeschool do you have independent lessons they can be working on? Or learning activities like puzzles or a fun computer game that they can do until you are better?
  • Who will cook dinner? Do you have a nice stack of take out menus around? Do you have freezer dinners (hint: I am posting some great recipes for this weeks Sunday Skills)? What about your support group?
  • What about your pets? Do you have enough extra food around for them? A neighborhood kid who could walk them and clean up after the dog in the yard?
  • Do you have someone who could take over your role at work? PTA? Church? Really wherever people count on you…do you have a backup?

The above questions are meant to get you started thinking about who you could count on for back up for a short time. But what happens if your emergency is a bit longer? I have a friend with 5 kids who broke her leg in multiple places this year. Her recovery process is likely to be 6 months. What if you needed help for that long?

How to Create or Find a Support System

The old saying “To Have a Friend Means You Must First Be A Friend” comes to mind. Have you volunteered to bring dinners, give rides, or otherwise help a friend in need? Do you check on your elderly neighbors regularly? Offer to take them to the store or pick up things for them? Same thing for the mom with a new baby! Creating an attitude of community caring in your life will go a long way when its your turn to need help. If you belong to a church, talk to them about spearheading a committee for this. How about just talking to your friends and creating a circle of people that want to give and get this type of support? For the friend with a broken leg, we used the service Take Them A Meal to plan out who could help with dinner. My friends used a simple spreadsheet in google docs when I needed help this summer. It’s not hard. It’s about being there. And about understanding that no matter how prepared we are, everyone needs help now and then. Make a support network part of your prepping plans!

Prepping With Potatoes

Potatoes are cheap, store well, and are easy to find thus making them a great friend of preppers. Recently 10# bags of potatoes have been on sale for $1.99 in my area leading me to search for many ways that prepping with potatoes can be done. Here is how I have been using these sales to further increase my food stores.

Prepping With Potatoes – Dehydrating and Freezing

For both dehydrating potatoes and freezing potatoes you want to par boil them first. That means you want to boil them until they are soft but still firm. You need to be able to grate them into hash browns for dehydrating so you do not want to boil them until they are too soft. See what I did here?

Dehydrating pototoes-step one, boiling Big mistake. I should not have cut them. This was my first time dehydrating potatoes for hash browns so I followed the advice on one of my favorite sites, Dehydrate2Store. The next time I do this I will peel them first with my apple peeler and leave them whole and hope that makes it easier for me. Cutting them in half allowed them to boil too softly which made grating them a bigger chore than it should have been.

I used half of this batch to dehydrate shredded potatoes into hash browns. I had mixed some yellow potatoes in which the 10# bag of russets because I had a few sitting around that I did not want to go bad. I store these in vacuum sealed jars. I don’t like the bags or mylar for these because they are pokey. These are considered a long term food storage option if packed in mylar with oxygen absorbers, estimated to last 20 plus years.

dehydrating hash brown potatoesI experimented with half of the batch doing what Nasreen of RamblingStump.com suggested on our facebook page (you are friends with us there, right?). Nas shared that she typically stores her potato bumper crop by:

I like to scrub them, dice them up and shake them with paprika onion powder salt & oil. Then I freeze them to make homefries with later. I haven’t had an issue with browning while freezing. The oil is just me being lazy. Then they can go straight into the pan & cook without having to do anything else.

I did this as a trial so I skipped the foodsaver bags but here is how mine looked. If it turns out well after tomorrows breakfast I will make a new batch and freeze them in foodsaver bags.

prepping with potatoes: homemade home fries

Prepping With Potatoes-Storing and Growing

I was telling Tammy about this post and she reminded me that she had a great post on how to store potatoes through the winter on Parker’s blog. Click over to see how she uses cedar shavings to keep them fresh.  I have also seen some great ideas on building root cellars on Pinterest that I will share next week.

I often take gardening classes in the winter and a few years ago one of the skills I learned was how to grow potatoes in garbage cans. Potatoes are one of the easiest plants to grow and you can use a standard garbage can or 5 gallon bucket. Ideally you want to start with organic ‘potato seeds’ which is really just cut potatoes revealing the eye’s to start the plants. In a non ideal situation though, any potato you have can be cut into “seeds”. They take roughly 140 days to produce plants but one eye can be quite prolific. It would be best to always have 1-2 (or more) containers going in rotation.

prepping with potatoes: growing potatoes in containers

If you are unfamiliar with growing your own potatoes, this is a great video to get you started. Remember, growing food takes practice. You can’t expect to become a master gardener in one season and with the cost of food going up like crazy it makes sense to start growing as much of your own food as possible! This is one you can do in a small amount of space with a big impact.

Prepping on a Budget: Group Co-ops

One of the tips you’ll hear the most when trying to save money on food is to buy in bulk.  As a rule purchasing in bulk is a good strategy for prepping on a budget, but you need to be careful and compare  per ounce prices.   You can beef up your savings when prepping on a budget by putting together  group co-ops.

How to use Group Co-ops when Prepping on a Budget

Now when I mention group co-ops people think of already existing group co-ops like Azure Standard or something along those lines.  I’ve ran many a co-op in my time, and truth be known, co-ops come in all shapes and sizes.

Bulk Nuts Vacuum sealed with a Food Saver

Recently a friend of mine contacted a local nut company and asked how big of an order was required to get their discount price.  A discount price is often not as low as a wholesale/resale price because a company requires a wholesale business number to sell at that price.  But a discount price is much lower than a sale price and makes it worth the time to co-ordinate orders with a group of other like minded people.

You can run group co-ops for all sorts of things from food to tangibles like grain grinders, water purifiers, etc.  It’s not hard.  Just give a company a call, ask if they would be willing to participate in your co-op.  Many grocery stores are willing to order in larger quantities of items for discount prices.

Where to find Group Co-Op Opportunities when Prepping on a Budget

Azure Standard

Walton Feed

Emergency Essentials

Local suppliers of fruits, veggies, nuts, etc.

Local health food stores.

Local grocery stores.

The worst that can happen is for someone to tell you no.  Big deal.  Scratch them off your list and move on to the next name.

Bulk Purchased Pumpkin Seeds Vacuum Sealed with a Food Saver

Back to our local nut co-op.  I purchased about 50 pounds of different kinds of nuts and seeds.  All at about a 30-40% discount.   It was awesome.  And easy.  And totally worth the time to bag up all those orders.

How to Store Nuts When Prepping on a Budget

I used to pour them in Mason jars and then stick ’em in my freezer.  But that didn’t leave a lot of room for great stock up deals on meat and the like.

vacuum sealing nuts in a Mason jar with my Food Saver

Using my Food Saver to vacuum seal nuts in  Mason jars allows the nuts to last without having to take up precious freezer space.  I have almonds I purchased and vacuumed sealed two years ago that are still fresh!   Just make sure the tops stay sealed.  If one top comes unsealed, simply vacuum seal it again.  No biggie.

I totally heart my Food Saver.

Hey, maybe that’s a group co-op somebody should check into and see if Food Saver will give discounted prices for group orders.

Anyone else prepping on a budget and using group co-ops to increase their purchasing power?  I’d love to hear about your experiences!

 

 

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Write Your Representatives | Today’s Sunday Skill

Being politically active and letting your voice be heard is an important part of preparedness. Following the news and subscribing to political grassroots organizations serves not only as an early warning system for civil, financial or political unrest but as an opportunity to have your voice matter. Believe it or not, our governmental officials ARE listening to what we have to say. If nothing more, your letters, calls and emails count in a tally on the pulse of how their constituents feel on any particular matter. It takes just a few minutes to write your representatives and let your voice be heard. 

Write your representatives - NRA banner

Voters that would not like to see any further restrictions placed on the Second Amendment can click the above banner to use the NRA website to easily contact multiple members of the government. By simply typing in my zip code I was able to get the contact information for both the President & Congress PLUS the Governor & State Legislators. I like that you can use the NRA form to email on any subjects, not just gun control issues. It’s very handy.  Next week I will probably use the form to let share my views on increasing urban homesteading freedoms. Another way to find the contact information to write your representatives is to the Directory of Representatives and write each individually.

How To Write Your Representatives:

  • Obtain their contact information as discussed above.
  • Be clear and concise about the subject you are addressing. Use specific titles or numbers of bills involved if possible.
  • State what action you would like them to take while representing you.
  • Explain how or why the action is important to you.
  • Be respectful and polite.
  • Refer to yourself as a “constituent” and clearly identify yourself and give your full contact information for credibility.

I hope that you use today’s Sunday Skill to let your voice be heard. We are coming upon such pivotal times in our political landscape and it is important to not only be paying attention to the conversations but participating in them. In addition, I suggest involving your kids in helping you create letters and help them understand the importance in standing up for what your family believes in on the larger political playing field.

Happy Sunday!

Emergency Drinking Water Storage

Emergency drinking water storage.  It’s one of the most important first steps to take in being prepared.  If there is a topic I get the most questions about, water storage would rank in the top 10.   Let me see if I can answer some of the frequently asked questions about about emergency drinking water storage.

What is the best type of container to store water in?

When prepping on a budget, using the humble 2 liter soda bottle or juice bottle is a good option.  Easy to store, basically free, and good for 72 hour bug out bags.  The flip side includes the necessity of rotating your 2 liter bottles every 6 months to a year and concerns of residual bacteria if you don’t clean out your bottles well enough.  I have stored water this way with absolutely no issues before, but I do rotate them frequently, and give them a very weak bleach wash before using.

Another option is buying bottles of water from the grocery store.  Great tasting, easy to rotate (still need to be rotating every 6 to 12 months) and easy to store.  You need to be careful about where you store them as they can freeze and leach chemicals from the plastic into the water in hot weather. We did the math for you a while back to help you figure out how much emergency water your family needs if you are just getting started.

Emergency Drinking Water Storage Options

emergency drinking water storage- commercially available

Emergency drinking water storage options with a 5-10 year storage life include purchasing water in pouches, boxes and cans.  You usually don’t have the issue of water freezing in these containers.  The down side is the price.  I purchased a few cases of canned water to have on hand for my medically fragile child with special needs in case of an emergency and I needed a sure source of water for him.

 

government issue mre can of emergency drinking water

 

A cheaper alternative is to purchase the 5 gallon water jugs  that are available in camping sections, and in my area, grocery stores.  We’ve boiled our water, added it to the jugs and stored them in our basement.  If you purchase a decent quality of jug, cracking shouldn’t be an issue.   Once filled these jugs are HEAVY and aren’t something you can stack or move around easily.  There are siphons you can purchase to make getting your water out easier.   You can find 5 gallon water jugs in stackable versions too.  (waterbricks)

There are larger versions of plastic water jugs for your emergency drinking water storage…….all the way up to several hundred gallons of water per container. I have found the best place to find these are on Craigslist.  You’ll need to use water additives to keep water in these jugs fresh.  You don’t need to worry about your water freezing in these containers, and many often store these containers in shed and garages.

Another preference for clean water  is to purchase a second hot water heater and have it side by side with your first hot water heater, with water going from one heater to the other and then to your faucet.  Depending on the size of your hot water heater, you’ll be assured of a fresh source of H2O in an emergency.  Just remember to strap those babies down if you live in earthquake land and know how to drain your water heaters!

Emergency Essentials sells water kits where you fill a mylar bag with water, place that into a cardboard box, and then stack the boxes.  I’ve tried these.  A 25 gallon kit costs the better part of $40.00 and for me simply wasn’t secure enough to trust such an incredibly valuable resource such as my stored water.  I would rather put my money towards a good quality, food safe, plastic container. However, if you are concerned about plastic leaching into you water supply, this may be a good choice.

I’m sure there are other water storage options I have covered.  I’d love it if you would share how YOU store your water for your family in an emergency.