Hungry Mouths Consume A LOT!

hungry-mouthsI was helping my mother-in-law the other day bring up some canned food from her food storage so she could make spaghetti for various friends that needed a bit of help. Cooking meals for other people is, in fact, something my in-laws do quite a bit in part because they enjoy doing so as well as being one of their ways of doing charitable work.

Anyway, by then time I was done I had brought up a dozen 28-ounce cans of spaghetti sauce. This was almost an entire row of cans from her Harvest food storage racks! And the sad part is that it was for a single meal. Granted, there were at least a handful of families that benefited but I couldn’t help but ponder “what if we had to feed these people three meals a day, every day?” Obviously, our food storage wouldn’t last long at all.

For those that have seen the recent Hobbit movie I found myself cringing when the Dwarves showed up to the Hobbit’s house unexpectedly and ate him out of house-and-home the whole time thinking “yup, that’s exactly what happens!”

While I’m not worried about feeding people I don’t even know, close family and friends would be people that are very likely to show up TEOTWAWKI+1 with their hands out and mouths open. And, while I’ve written about this topic in the past it’s always been from a standpoint of a moral obligation to do so, not purely from a logistical “can I do it?” standpoint.

You see, the “can I do it” standpoint has little to do with whether I should be helping people that otherwise could do so but choose not to; Rather, it’s simply asking whether I, according to my expectations of the disaster, can feed people who need help… in this case, most likely family and friends?

I would say that in all but the most devastating of scenarios I could do so. Should I? Well, I’ve often heard people comment on forums and other blogs that they would have no problem shutting the door on anyone that didn’t show up with a U-Haul of food and equipment. To me, that’s just not being either realistic or a good human being.

After all, I would think I would have a hard time willfully surviving if all of my family and friends had perished. Maybe a honest-to-goodness civilization-altering scenario would change my mind, I don’t know.

Back to the point of the post, I was shocked at how much food had disappeared from my mother-in-laws food storage for one simple meal. If this was food saved for just my family, for example, we could have had enough for several dinners (maybe a week’s worth) rather than just one meal. Multiply this scenario out over a few weeks and what you thought was enough to last your family for months was quickly depleted.

So, we’re back to square one: do I or don’t I share my preps? Honestly, I flip-flop almost every time I think about the topic. It’s a tough call either way. I truly hope you make the right one.

A Simple Prep Saved The Day Today (I’m So Proud of Myself!)

I thought I would quickly mention that even the smallest of prepping acts can pay off. I’m referring to the fact that my wife locked her keys in the car while at her office (about a 45 minute drive one way) which would have required me to either drive down there to unlock the car or pay someone to do so… can you say “bye bye $100 or a few hours of my time?”

Fortunately, I’m such a wonderful husband that I had the foresight to include a spare key in her day planner for just such an occasion. Of course, if she had locked her day planner in the car as well then it wasn’t so much of a great plan… will have to fix that too… argh!

Taking Your Preps to the Next Level With the P.A.C.E. Concept

A while ago I read this article from Survivalttp.com that got me to thinking about how robust my emergency preparedness plans really are. And, after a short deliberation, I concluded that they really are not as robust as they can be. Granted, we’re better off than most American families, but not yet good enough in some areas and perhaps woefully inadequate in others.

The P.A.C.E. acronym stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingent, and Emergency. I think it has origins in the military–maybe special forces–but I’m not sure about that. Regardless, I feel it’s a great way to look at your emergency preparation plans. The idea is simply this (definitions taken from Survivalttp article):

  • Primary – The normal or expected method or means used to achieve the objective
  • Alternate – A fully satisfactory means or method of achieving the objective
  • Contingent– A workable means or method of achieving the objective
  • Emergency – A brute force means or method of achieving the objective

As preppers, we understand the need for a backup plan. For example, if the power goes out we pick up a flashlight and set out lanterns. If the heat goes out we start up the wood stove or propane space heater. If the stores are out of food we’re eating from food storage. Certainly, the list can go on. But, even as preppers, perhaps we don’t take this quite far enough.

Let’s look at a simple example: adequate area lighting when the power goes out. I would suspect your primary means of area lighting will be lanterns of some sort, be they battery-operated, liquid-fueled, or propane. If those go out or fail then your last resort is probably candles, right? That’s my plan, anyway. While there are other forms of light that I keep around, suchas flashlights and patio solar lights, that I can use if need be, the very specific need is adequate area lighting… not just any form of lighting that I might have.

If I apply the P.A.C.E. concept to area lighting, for example, I’m really only fulfilling two of the four requirements and, honestly, probably the contingent and emergency aspects. I’ve never really fulfilled the primary or alternate aspects at all.

The question, therefore, is: what other options do we have? Well, for starters, a small solar setup with DC lighting might be a good start and if I worked it properly could be my primary means of indoor area lighting. As I already have a basic solar setup I could easily connect a set of RV lights or string lights to illuminate a room, I just need to buy them. There are other DC lighting options that I could explore so long as I have a basic renewable power source.

What about an alternate option? I’m not so sure about this one. If I were desperate I could consider my current supplies (lanterns and candles) as alternate and contingent aspects and then I could throw in something like a hand-crank light or cyalume light sticks as emergency options, but I consider this as “cheating” a bit. I really need to come up with a better alternate option and I don’t honestly have one.

That’s just one example. Here’s another: fire in a bug out situation, an area I actually feel like I have covered well. The original article gave their own suggestions, but I might consider the following:

  • Primary – butane/bic lighter
  • Alternate – waterproof matches
  • Contingent – magnesium/ferrous rod
  • Emergency – fresnel lens

The concept sounds easy enough to follow, right?

Well, think about all of the aspects that emergency preparedness entails:

  • shelter
  • water (storage, procurement, treatment)
  • food (storage, procurement, cooking)
  • personal safety/security
  • area heating/cooling
  • area/tactial lighting
  • communications (receiving information and among group)
  • home security/defense
  • personal defense (weapons, martial arts, etc)
  • hygiene
  • sanitation
  • first aid
  • chronic medical concerns
  • alternative health options
  • entertainment
  • financials
  • and more

…now, multiply this by what may be covered for when you’re at home, in the car, on foot, at work, and the P.A.C.E. concept can seem overwhelming! No doubt I’m not even close to being as prepared as I thought I was. 😉

But, to be thorough we need to think this way. We need to take our preps to the next level and the P.A.C.E. concept can help get us there. So, the next time you consider your preparations, decide exactly how and where said preps fit into your P.A.C.E. system and what other preps you have (or need) will fill the rest of the plan. Heck, make a list and write it down. That’s probably the easiest way to decide where any holes might be.

EDIT: I’ve created a one page worksheet [PDF File] you can use to get started with this concept. It’s easy to create your own too and rename the categories as you see fit. Right-click on the link to download it.