These days, 90% of us live in metro areas. Because of the nature of the urban lifestyle, that means that more of us than ever before are unprepared for natural and political emergencies. Years ago, when most people lived a rural lifestyle, they tended to be more self-reliant and prepared for those events that now cause major disruptions. My grandparents, for example, stored food in the Fall of every year, and never became completely dependent on electrical and other utilities.
By contrast, today most metro-dwellers have no garden, no backup water supply, little or no food stored, and if the power goes out, no way to salvage the food in their freezer. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and as we launch Survival Tips on WND TV, we’re going to show you how to become more self-reliant without disrupting real life. We’re going to focus on “prep” that is easily doable by urbanites.
We’re not going to obsess about the apocalypse. Prepping for the apocalypse requires taking steps that are frankly objectionable to most people, for good reason; things like selling the house, uprooting the family, and moving into a bunker somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, where there are few economic, social, and cultural opportunities. If this is what you think prepping entails, chances are you’ll never prep for anything.
That’s why we recommend prepping for likely events. Things like power outages due to storms and earthquakes, or from mismanagement by the powers that be. Basically, if you hear it with any regularity in the news, that’s what you need to prepare for.
First Steps of Emergency Prep
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have enough food and water to last through those disruptive events that are likely to happen where you live. If you live on the Gulf Coast, you’d definitely consider hurricanes to be a threat. If you live in the Northern Tier and the Plains, blizzards and ice storms are common. Then there’s Tornado Alley, seismic threats, flood zones…. you get the idea. Identify the threats in your area and figure out how long you’ll need to eat out of your pantry.
Just by way of a very general recommendation, I suggest two weeks of food and water. The Federal government recommends three days, and I guess that’s better than nothing, but I think it’s pitifully inadequate. A cursory inspection of almost anyone’s pantry shows that they already have enough food, water, and soft drinks to get them through three days, and most people figure “meh, I’m all set.” A three-day recommendation spurs no one to act. Read the news and you’ll see that several times a year, something happens somewhere in this country that cuts the power for longer than three days.
A two-week supply of food and water does a number of things for you:
- Of course, it keeps you fed and hydrated for the two weeks.
- It relieves stress during the disruption. With only three days of food, from Day 1 you’re staring in the face at dwindling supplies and already having to scramble for a solution to the problem of Day 4!
- It gives you time to plan an exit. Now, the smart play is to already have a contingency plan, but if you don’t, two weeks of planning is better than three days.
How to Assemble A Two-Week Supply of Food and Water
Short and Sweet:
- 10 lbs of rice and 10 lbs of dry pinto beans per person
- 14 gallons of drinking water per person. This is in addition to the water you’ll need for cooking (see below).
Now the details:
Food. By all means, override my recommendation if you prefer something else, but I suggest dry beans and rice. You already have stuff in the pantry for variety, and you can always add variety later, but we’re talking about just getting it done now. You want easy? You want cheap? You want a no-brainer solution? Get enough beans and rice for two weeks.
Why dry beans? It’s just so easy. Grab some bags at the grocery along with your weekly list. Done. Sure, you have to cook them, so that has to be planned for. You can eat canned beans even if you can’t cook. Well, get that too if you want.
For almost any healthy, normally active adult, 2000 Calories a day will keep you going. If you’re extremely active in cold weather, you’ll eat 6000 Calories or more. If that’s you, go for it, but for most people, 2000 a day will be adequate prep.
My research shows that 1 lb of dry pinto beans supplies a little under 1600 Calories, and 1 lb of rice supplies a little more than 1600. To get about 2000 Calories a day for 14 days half from rice and half from beans, you need 9 lbs of rice and 9 lbs beans. Just round it up to 10 lbs each for convenience. Get 10 lbs of pinto beans and 10 lbs of rice, and you’ll have 32,000 calories, enough to feed one person for two weeks and have some left over. Then multiply by the number of people in the household. It’s that simple.
Here’s a chart with nutrition information for several types of beans: Nutrition Info for Dry Beans
Fun Food Trivia:
- Calorie with a capital “C” refers to a “food calorie,” which is actually 1000 calories. One calorie is the amount of energy required to raise one gram of water by one degree Celsius, so one food calorie is actually enough energy to raise one kilogram of water one degree Celsius.
- Think about it. When you eat 2000 Calories a day, that’s enough energy to raise the temperature of two metric tons of water by one degree Celsius!
Water. You need 1 gallon of drinking water per person per day. In later episodes we’ll drill deeper into water storage methods, but for now just make sure you have 14 gallons of water per person in the household. Save your old plastic or glass milk and juice jugs. (Plastic resists breakage). Buy 5-gallon water jugs in the sports section of most major retail stores. One 55 gallon water barrel will supply a family of four. Buy cases of bottled water.
You have options — just git’er done.
Water for Cooking
But how do you cook all those dry beans and rice? Keep in mind that your water supply doesn’t have to pass as strict a quality check — since you’re boiling it to cook, it can come from a pond, river, or wheel barrow, unless it’s chemically contaminated. But a little mud and bugs won’t hurt.
Water uptake of rice is about 2 times the volume. Water uptake for pinto beans is about 3 times the volume. I’ve done the conversion for you, and it works like this:
- 10 lbs rice — 2.5 gallons of water to cook
- 10 lbs pinto beans — 3 gallons and 3 quarts to cook. Just round up to 4 gallons to easily calculate your storage needs
You’ll need to store these additional quantities of water, or identify a backup water supply that might not be good enough to drink straight, but still be good enough to cook with.