If you have an old fashioned oil lamp, the kind that doesn’t use kerosene or petroleum-based lamp oil, then you’re in luck! You can stock up on two preps in one bottle, saving space and money. So what is this miracal prepper item? Vegetable oil! Vegetable oil works great as a fuel, is needed for cooking and frying, and also provides your body with essential fats and oils. Even used frying oil burns without odor and without smudging. Instead of throwing away your used frying oil, save it for your oil lamps!
If you don’t have a true oil lamp you can make one from materials around your house. It only takes about 15 minutes and cost nothing.
For a “lamp” you could use nearly any small glass or metal container, old tuna cans work great for this! Just bend down the lid, lay your wick in, fill ‘er up and you’re done! For a wick you can use a string from an old mop, an shoelace, a tightly rolled up piece of paper, a porous stick, a strip of cotton underwear, jute string, or even burlap. Just experiment to see what works.
If your container needs a wick-holder (some won’t, like a tuna can with the lid bent down) improvise a piece of wire wound around a nail. Its job is to hold the wick up out of the oil. You’ll need to find a way to make it easily adjustable — as the wick burns down, you need to keep feeding a little more, and ideally there would be a way to do this without putting out the light. You can hold the coil with a pair of pliers and push the wick up with a toothpick.
The only down side is vegetable oil won’t work in a kerosene or petro-based lantern. In my expierence the oil would burn for a few minutes, but then the wick would burn down and smolder with thick black smoke. What’s going on is the oil is too thick to draw up these wicks fast enough to keep feeding the flame. They are made for thinner, more fluid oils.
Even a small improvised oil lamp burns at least an hour before the wick needs to be adjusted again. I made mine from unused items sitting around the house, all you have to do is put on your thinking cap and go scavaging. I always threw out my used frying oil but not any more! It’s good to know that we can have some light if we run out of candles and kerosene.
As I write this Hurricane Irene is blasting up the east coast on a path that you don’t see too often. People who have never experienced a hurricane are going to be hit and most of them have no idea what to do. If you are in the path of Irene or any hurricane for that matter here are a few things you should know.
If you live on the coast board up your house with plywood and go inland. Don’t even think about riding it out. Do not go to a FEMA camp unless you have no other choice. You will be much better off if you can stay with a relative or rent a hotel that is out of the storms path. Don’t plan on coming back for 2-3 days (longer if your house is damaged). Make sure you have important papers such as your home owners insurance policy. Take as much ready-to-eat food and water that you can carry and having a Garrity Power 3 LED Crank Flashlight can be helpful. If you are not staying with a relative your biggest prep item during a hurricane is money. You will need enough to eat out for several day, to pay for a hotel and to put gas in your vehicle. $400-$500 should be enough unless your home is damaged and you cannot return for several weeks. In such a case most home owners insurance policies will reimburse you for all of your expences but this can take months and you need the money now.
If you live farther inland and plan to stay then make sure your house is secure and get your supplies ready. Plan to be without power, food and water for up to two weeks. You will need at least 2 gallons of water per person per day. If you live in a house your hot water heater will have about 40 gallons of water in it. Hook a short hose to the bottom drain and put the water in containers. The rest of your water you can store in 5 gallon buckets or plastic 55 gallon drums.
You’ll need a way to cook and have a fire. This can be done outside on the ground or in a charcoal or gas grill. Just remeber to store enough gas or charcoal to last at least two weeks and a lighter or box of matches. After your water sits for a few days remember to bring it to a gentle boil in a pot with a lid before drinking. This will kill any harmful bacteria and freshen the taste of the water. For emergencies I like to keep a 12″ Portable Grill handy at all times. It beats cooking on the ground any day and it can be fueled with charcoal, sticks, pine cones, or whatever you can find. You can also buy prepared food bars such as Datrex 3600 Emergency Food Bars. These are great becuase you don’t have to cook them and they are super portable. Each food bar has a self life of 5 years and provides enough calories for 3 days.
Next on the list is food. Look for easy to prepare foods that make very little mess. You’ll need at least 2 weeks worth as your local grocery store will probably be closed or the roads blocked off. Some good foods to stock up on are Ramen soup, rice, beans, canned tuna, mac and cheese, and canned pasta. These are all cheap, plentiful, and nutritious. If you hate all these foods that’s fine. Don’t buy what you won’t eat no matter how cheap it is. Just look for foods that can be dumped in a pot and heated and don’t plan any five course meals. try to provide 3 square means a day with at least 400-500 calories each meal.
You’re also going to need a Garrity Power 3 LED Crank Light and a 12 LED Hand Crank And Solar Powered Lantern. The American Red Cross Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio is also worth it’s weight in gold (don’t even think about waiting it out without one!). Don’t forget your cell phone either. Chances are you will still be able to call your family and let them know you are ok and the Red Cross radio also comes with a cell phone charger to keep it all juiced up. Also make sure you stock up on a few 3″ pillar candles. You’ll need 1-2 for each room you use the most (living room, bathroom, kitchen, bedroom). A 3″ pillar candle will burn for days before going out.
Last but not least is a Adventure Medical First Aid Kit. Never underestimate nature or the situation you are in. Having a simple first aid kit can save your life or maybe even your neighbors. Just like the emergency radio, don’t plan on bugging in without a first aid kit.
You have to keep your wits about you in situations like there. Your best bet is usually to get out of the path of the storm but if you’ve made up your mind that you’re going to stay then be prepared. There’s simply no excuse for not being prepared for a hurricane. Make sure you beat the crowds to the store as food, water and emergency supplies sell out quickly. Stay away from doors and windows and make a “base camp” in the interior of your home. With a little bit of preparedness you can make yoursel much safer.
When most people get into survival and prepping they are excited. Usually they are smart enough to identify a threat to their family…be it a hurricane, solar storm, or a severe twinky shortage. But they are so overloaded with information that they just don’t know where to start. EDC, BOB, INCH, GHB…..with so many kits all requiring different levels of equipment it’s easy to see why most people just don’t know where to start.
In my quest to make you more prepared I’ve created yet another kit, but this one has a much different purpose. It’s not to get you to or from somewhere, it’s to get you started preparing! I call it the Basic 24. It provides everything you need for a small scale 24 hour event. Most small scale events that do not require evacuation last less than 24 hours. “But it’s only 24 hours. I’ll be fine!” you say. Maybe so but this kit will (1. make you much more comfortable during the event and (2. provide a foundation of prepping that you can easily expand.
So what’s in the Basic 24?
In most events that last less than 24 hours you will be in your home. The exception would be a hurricane or flash floods. In such cases simply take your Basic 24 kit with you when you bug out and adjust as necessary.
1. Water – 1 gallon of water per person. If you live in an apartment or have an instant hot water heater then the easiest thing to do is buy 1 gallon jugs of purified water. If you have a hot water heater then all you need is a small section of hose and a few containers (2-liter bottles, milk jugs, 5 gallon buckets, etc.). Your average hot water heater will have 40 gallons of potable water in it. Simply shut off the valves, flip your breaker, and hook a hose up to the bottom drain. Just remember that the water will be hot for several hours so you will need to let it cool some before using.
2. Food – 3 easy to make meals per person. You’re going to be at home, but you may not have power. You can probably eat what’s in your fridge and on your shelves and be just fine. If you want to make sure you have enough ready to eat food on hand make a point to buy a few cans of tuna or pasta. Just make sure you buy things that don’t need alot of preparing or cooking and that you already eat now. Don’t forget the manual can opener! Your goal here is to provide yourself with a full belly and about 2,000 calories.
3. Lighter – 1 bic style disposable lighter. There’s just something about fire that soothes a man’s soul. You’re going to need some way to make fire and nothing beats a disposable lighter.
4. Candles – 3 pillar candles. You’re going to want light at night, it’s just human nature. Chances are your power will be out and having a few candles on hand will let you add light to any room when you need it. Forget about tea light candles, they are cheap as dirt but they only last about an hour whereas a 3″ pillar candle will last for several days. Get enough so that you can light up a couple of rooms at a time.
5. Flashlight – 1 led flashlight. Make sure you get a flashlight with LED bulbs. They use a tiny amount of your precious battery power and they won’t break like a regular bulb. Stanley makes an excellent flashlight that I just love called the Stanley Tripod LED Flashlight. It’s cheap, practical, and works great. I use mine all the time and I have never changed the dollar store batteries I first put in it over 3 years ago. It’s really amazing. Just, no matter what flashlight you get make sure you keep extra batteries on hand.
6. Small Charcoal Grill – 1 small grill with lighter fluid and charcoals. This is an iffy for some people. You have to decide if the weight and space is worth it. If you’re staying put inside a city then it will mean more to you than if you’re bugging out in the woods. There are also other ways to heat your food, charcoal being just one of them, but it can mean the different between eating cold chef boyardee out of a can or having a nice warm meal in your belly if you live in an apartment with a patio. In most events worthy enough to break out your Basic 24 kit the power will be off and you’ll want some way to warm food or boil unclean water. Remember to keep a small bag of charcoals and lighter fluid on hand but small sticks, pine cones, and twigs work just as well. Personally I like to keep a 12″ Portable Grill handy, but you can also get the grill, charcoal, and lighter fluid pre-packaged in one easy to store grill called the Blue Rhino Insta-Light Disposable Charcoal BBQ Grill. Either way those pork-n-beans will taste a whole lot better on a grill. Just make sure you use it outside and don’t attempt to heat you house with it.
7. Hand Crank Emergency Radio – When something happens the last thing you want is to be completly cut off from the outside world. There’s no worse feeling in the world than being suddenly cut off and left alone, in fact it can demoralize you so bad you can lose all hope of living in long term survival situations. Your emergency radio is your life line to the outside and should be treated as such. It’s one of the few items I recommend splurging a bit on in your Basic 24 kit. A good radio will last years without a bit of trouble and will be the backbone to your more advanced bug out bag. The American Red Cross Self-Powered Weather Radio is a great emergency radio/flashlight/cell phone charger that can be powered by hand crank, batteries, or even solar power. It will keep you and your family safe for years to come.
8. Cell Phone – your cell phone. This is also another important means of communication. While a Emergency radio will let you hear NOAA and other important emergency messages, your cell phone will keep you connected to your family and friends. Just make sure you keep it charged or get a solar cell phone charged just in case. The American Red Cross Self-Powered Weather Radio includes a cell phone charger.
9. Basic First Aid Kit – 1 basic first aid kit. You’re looking for a little bit more than band-aids, but less than a full field kit. You probably won’t need to apply a splint or tourniquet a missing limb but you should be prepared for bites, burns, stings, and general cuts and pains. This is an emergency you’re preparing for, so don’t throw your life so willing to the side just to save a couple of bucks. Buy a kit or it may be the last thing you ever wished you did. You can grab a good kit for just $18 and some change if you get the Outdoor First Aid 205-Piece Kit. It has all the basic essentials to see you through most any small emergency and it even comes with instructions.
10. Extra Blanket/Hand Fan – This one is your call. If it’s the middle of July, then grab a small foldable hand fan. I always hate sitting on the couch sweating like a pig when the power is out and a small hand fan is all it takes to make you a bit more comfortable. Now if you’re in the middle of December it’s a different story. A house without a heater or fireplace can get very cold at night, do not underestimate it! A wool or emergency space blanket can keep you warm all night long. You probably already have a few extra blankets lying around your house so take a moment and put them with your emergency supplies.
There you go, a simple easy to follow preparedness plan that will get you on the right track. The Basic 24 can give you 24 hours of peace and comfort in an otherwise SHTF world. These 10 items will make sure you still feel your best mentally and physically during an emergency plus they are the foundation for a bigger bug out bag in the future. You can also expand your Basic 24 by 48 or even 72 hours by simply adding more food and water.