As many of you know I’ve advocated for people to have the LifeStraw in their 72 Hour Bags for a long time. They are incredible products because they are so light weight and effective in removing dangerous materials from water you find in the field. There has always been a problem with the original model however.
With the original model unless you have a vessel to carry water there really isn’t a way of storing water for later use. This was originally designed as a device for people in Africa to allow them to have access to clean water. In an area where people die from water born illness all the time there is a huge need for people to carry a device which can filter water and they have access to watering holes quite often. But in an area such as the South West you will need to forage for water and collect what you find when you find it because you may not find more when you need it.
I use a hydration bladder in my backpack when I hike with a purification filter in line with the hose leading to the mouthpiece. It’s a pretty good setup because you can carry a large amount of water, some bladders can carry up to 3 liters of water, but I still struggle with this application because there are two problems with using a hydration bladder. One is where to put it. Backpacks are designed to carry the bladder close to your back vertically along your spine close to your shoulder blades. But when the bladder is full and in the sleeve it is designed to fit in it severely depletes the cargo capacity of your pack. When pack manufacturers calculate the liter capacity of the pack they include that area, so with every cubic inch of water you carry, you loose that much cargo capacity. The other issue with a hydration bladder is that when it is in that sleeve and you are under way a person becomes less willing to stop, unpack a portion of the backpack, pull it out and refill it. In areas where there is abundant water this isn’t so much a problem because when you run dry you can fill it immediately. But here in the South West when you see water you need to take advantage of it, even when you’re hot, tired and probably a little dehydrated from the get go. I have been in situations where either I or my hiking buddy hasn’t filled up when they should have and we’ve suffered for it.
Below is the next evolution to the LifeStraw. I call it the LifeStraw 2.0, not it’s real name just what I’m affectionately calling it. I think this bridges the gap between the two worlds. It’s lightweight at 7.8 oz and carries 22 fl oz. At barely over half a liter I’m waiting for LifeStraw to come out with a bottle which has a larger volume. However, with so many water bottles on the market these days I bet you could find a bottle with the same thread pattern which has a larger capacity. If you were to find a bottle allowing you to switch the top it would allow you to either carry one bottle with a larger capacity or have two bottles and one filter which could be moved from one bottle to the other. In a pinch you could always have a cheap Gatorade bottle with a large mouth to collect water and then pour it into the LifeStraw bottle. I’ve always been a fan of the Gatorade bottle because they are repurposed, lightweight and hold a pretty good quantity of liquid.
In any event at roughly $35 this bottle is a great deal. Here are the specs:
- Hollow-fiber filter membrane offers a high flow rate; sip on the straw and it filters the water while it’s on the way to your mouth
- 0.2-micron filter physically removes 99.9999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli; removes 99.9% of all protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium
- Detachable filter is effective for cleaning up to 264 gallons before needing replacement; bottle can be used indefinitely
- BPA-free Tritan® plastic bottle is lightweight and durable; leakproof lid and durable, flexible mouthpiece detaches for easy cleaning
- 22 fl. oz. LifeStraw Go Filter Bottle includes a carabiner for easy carrying
When actually packing for my 72 Hour Bag I look for prepackaged foods with a long shelf life. I’ve written about MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), Camping foods, bars and other assorted goodies which can last a long time in the back of your vehicle even in the heat of Southern California. That is to say even the bet long term foods need to be rotated because the’ll eventually go bad. But we should also look for foods to store at home in the event of an earthquake.
The advantages to storing foods at home is they don’t need to have some of the long term food storage characteristics like what we’d throw in the trunk of our car. We know at home they can be stored in a cool dry place; some can even be stored in a freezer in the garage. If the electricity goes out and as long as they stay dry they’ll still be good. In this case we can look to other types of foods which are much cheaper, far less processed and much more healthy. The downside is they may take a little longer to prepare but if you don’t have to go to work, what else are you going to do?
One of the problems most people face when trying to wrap their head around just what to buy and how to plan is where to start. Even after conducting some research about disaster preparedness your eyes may start to wiggle. It’s hard to just come up with a list and take the first step of actually buying items which will be useful.
The following is from a PDF I found. It gives you a step by step about what to buy to prepare for an emergency. Here goes:
1. Head to the nearest Wal-Mart, Kmart, Costco or whatever and pick-up 20 lbs. of white or brown rice and 20 lbs. of pinto beans. White rice has a better storage life while brown rice has more nutritional benefits – your choice.
2. While you’re there grab 5 lbs. mixed beans, 5 lbs. of white sugar, 5 lbs. of iodized salt, one gallon of olive oil (can be frozen to extend shelf-life), 5 lbs. oats, 10 lbs. each of white or wheat flour and cornmeal.
3. Now head over to the canned foods and pick-up 20 cans of canned fruits and 20 cans of canned vegetables. Be sure to buy only those brands and contents you normally eat and nothing exotic. No need to shock the senses.
4. Now over to the canned meats. Pick-up 20 cans of various meats, salmon, stews, spam and tuna. Again buy only those brands with contents you normally eat and nothing exotic.
5. Okay. Now to the to the peanut butter shelf and toss two 40-ounce jars in the cart. The listed shelf life is just over two years and each jar has over 6,000 calories. Peanut butter is an excellent instant survival food.
6. Over to the powdered drink mix – go on I’ll wait…Okay, pick up two 72 Ounce Tang Orange drink canisters (provides 100% of the US RDA vitamin C requirement per 8 oz. glass). Also grab six 19-Ounce Containers of Kool-Aid Drink Mix. If you use Iodine tablets to purify your water, you’re going to want some thing to flavor your water.
7. Off to the vitamin and supplement aisle, pick up 400 tablets “one a day” multivitamin and mineral supplements. I buy this brand at the local Wal-Mart – comes in 200 count bottle for $8 each.
8. Now to the department we all love – sporting goods. Go to the camping aisle and pick up 4 five gallon water containers. Fill with tap water as soon as you get back home. I recommend getting at least a 55 gallon drum and treating the water with an additive which will keep the water good for 5 years.
9. Head to Home Depot or Smart and Final and buy 5 gallon Food Grade buckets with lids. When you get home use these to store the food you’ve bought. Secure the lids with duct tape around the edges to keep it air tight.
10. Get the largest size jar of honey you can get, a 1lb or as big as a 40lb bucket are available. In the modern times we live in we’ve all become addicted to sweets and honey has NO expiration date so it’ll be good 100 years from now.
11. And lastly pick up the best LED flashlight you can afford, extra batteries and bulb. Also grab two boxes of wooden matches and several multi-purpose lighters. Don’t forget to date, use and rotate – remember first in first out.
Get started! What would you add to the list?
Okay so there you go. It’s a jumping off point, as you gain more knowledge you’ll buy more supplies and begin to finesse what you put into your inventory.
As a follow up to a post I did two weeks ago I wanted to go over some points of purifying water. There are things to remember about water in a survival situation.
1. Allow people to drink according to their needs.
Many people need even more than the average of one gallon per day. The individual amount needed depends on age, physical activity, physical condition and time of year.
2. Never ration drinking water unless ordered to do so by authorities.
Drink the amount you need today and try to find more for tomorrow. Under no circumstances should a person drink less than one quart (four cups) of water each day. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool. There have been people found dead from dehydration with water still in their canteens.
3. Drink water that you know is not contaminated first.
If necessary, suspicious water, such as cloudy water from regular faucets or water from streams or ponds, can be used after it has been treated. If water treatment is not possible, put off drinking suspicious water as long as possible, but do not become dehydrated.
4. Do not drink carbonated beverages instead of drinking water.
Carbonated beverages do not meet drinking-water requirements. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol dehydrate the body, which increases the need for drinking water.
5. Turn off the main water valves.
I’ve written about this in my past posts on water. You will need to protect the water sources already in your home from contamination if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines or if local officials advise you of a problem. To close the incoming water source, locate the incoming valve and turn it to the closed position. Be sure you and your family members know how to perform this important procedure. There may be more than one valve. There is one near the sidewalk or edge of your property and probably one at your structure neat the water pressure regulator. Have the know how and the tools required to work the type of valve you have.
There are many ways to purify water but no one method is really perfect. They all have their flaws and drawbacks, but the following are tried and true.
Boiling is the safest method of treating water. In a large pot or kettle, bring water to a rolling boil for one full minute, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking.
Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This also will improve the taste of stored water.
While boiling and chlorination will kill most microbes in water, distillation will remove microbes (germs) that resist these methods, as well as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals. Distillation involves boiling water and then collection of only the vapor that condenses. The condensed vapor will not include salt or most other impurities. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water.
Tie a cup to the handle on the pot’s lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.
You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners. Because the potency of bleach diminishes with time, use bleach from a newly opened or unopened bottle. On the bottle write the following ratios:
Add 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn’t, then repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source of water.
Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25 or 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used.