Preparing for a major disaster is a big task with a lot of moving parts. Preppers can often find themselves stuck in the details worried about which kind of survival knife is the best and which freeze dried food tastes better. While important at the margin – the most important part of Prepping is food and water.
At the end of the day, food and water are 90%+ of what will keep you and your family alive and well so it’s critical to ensure you have a solid foundation before getting hung up in other details.
Food and Water are Critical to Your Prepping
Food and water are absolutely essential to have on hand when an emergency strikes. These are supplies that you simply can’t get easily or safely in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. In many areas, grocery stores routinely run out of food and bottled water ahead of storms. So, you can just imagine what the situation will be like during a true emergency.
Of course, going without food and water is hardly an option. Your body can only last a few days without water before it succumbs to dehydration. While you can last longer without food, going hungry leaves you far less able to deal with all of the other demands of staying safe during a disaster, like ensuring you have shelter and defense.
All of your other emergency plans can go up in flames if you don’t have adequate food and water supplies. For example, you can no longer plan to bug in for more than a few days because you need to move to get more supplies. If you need to bug out, you have to adjust your itinerary to find food and water along your route. In all likelihood, that will force you into making some unpleasant decisions that compromise your security.
Thankfully, prepping food and water is also the least complicated part of your emergency preparedness plan. Let’s take a look at how you can stockpile food and water and ensure you have access to your supplies no matter what happens.
As a Prepper, you should keep a minimum of two weeks’ worth of food supplies on hand at all times. A 30-day supply is even better. You can figure out exactly how much you need by counting up the total number of calories you and your family members eat in a week and doubling or quadrupling that number. When in doubt, stock more food than you think you need – it’s better to have extra than to end up rationing or running out.
The trick to storing food effectively is that you need food that won’t go bad. Since you don’t know when a catastrophe will strike, your food reserves need to be edible years into the future. Many Preppers rely heavily on canned food because it’s readily available at the store. But, freeze-drying your own food can be more cost-effective for establishing a food stockpile for your entire family. Plus, freeze-dried food can last up to 30 years, while most canned items expire after just five years.
While it might be tempting to focus on just the necessities in your food stockpile, it’s a good idea to leave yourself some goodies in there as well. Chances are, you’ll need a morale boost to help get you through an extended bug in. Honey powder is nice to keep in your stockpile as a sweetener since it has a 30-year shelf life. You can even make cookies with it if you’ve stashed away flour and shortening.
Storing Water and Filtration
The rule of thumb for stockpiling water is that you need to have at least one gallon per person per day. Your water supply should last at least as long as your food supply, so 30 gallons per person is a good place to start. Stockpiling more water certainly doesn’t hurt. Keep in mind that if you stockpile freeze-dried food, that will use up some of your water supply.
Unfortunately, water doesn’t last as long as food in your emergency stockpile – you’ll want to replace your water supply at least once per year to be safe. Thankfully, this is cheap to do, especially if you opt for a dedicated water container that you can fill from the tap. If you can’t remember to replace your water supplies on an annual basis, just set a calendar reminder to help keep you on track.
If you can’t store 30 days of water (which is understandable for a large family), you’ll want to make sure that you have tools or chemicals on hand to filter additional water as needed. This ensures that you won’t run out of water, even if you have to collect rainwater, water from a creek, or depend on a questionable water supply from your pipes. If you have to bug out and leave supplies behind, though, there are a couple different ways to make an emergency water filter to augment your water stockpile with natural sources.
Maintaining Your Food and Water Supplies
Ensuring that you have adequate food and water supplies is a big step towards preparing for any disaster. But, to ensure that your supplies are there when you need them to be, it’s important to maintain your stockpile.
Simply rotating your water once every year is the first step here. It forces you to go look at your supplies and make sure that a mouse or other intruder hasn’t broken into them. If you have canned foods, check the expiration dates so you can change out your stockpile as needed. For food that you’ve freeze-dried at home, it’s a good idea to open up a packet every couple years to make sure that the food is holding up as it should.
You’ll also want to consider how you’ll take your food with you if you need to bug out. It might not be possible to fit 30 days’ worth of food and water in your car, so you’ll want to have a portion of your supplies packed in large containers that you can grab quickly. Don’t forget to include a can opener and water filter in your container, since you’ll definitely want those with you.
Where you store your food and water also matters. Light can degrade packaging materials and water storage containers over enough years, while heat and humidity speed up the growth of bacteria. A cool, dry, dark basement is the ideal location for your stockpile. If humidity is a consistent issue, consider adding silica gel to the room that your food sits in or even plugging in a dehumidifier.
Finally, keeping your food and water stockpile safe means keeping them a secret. Your family should know that they’re there, obviously, but don’t tell your neighbors or anyone else who might come looking for your supplies as a way to make up for their own lack of preparedness.
Food and Water are the Key Component of Prepping
Establishing and maintaining a stockpile of food and water is absolutely essential to preparing for any emergency. Long-term food and water stores are fairly inexpensive and don’t require much more maintenance than refilling water containers once per year. Even if you were to do nothing else to prepare, just having food and water on hand will dramatically boost your prospects for survival.