A DIY disaster kit. A twelve part series to make your own kit.

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by DKR, Feb 27, 2017.

  1. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Introduction and Overview:
    Before I lace this Copyrighted material into my World of the Chernyi book set, I'm posting this series here to ask for feedback and suggestions to improve what is a more than a draft, but still not quite finished. I am seeking your suggestions (and brickbats) on this 12 part series.

    A DIY Disaster Kit
    Table of Contents

    (note - this link set does not work on the site, please scroll down to read the section desired.)
    1 Water
    2. Shelter and protection from environmental elements
    3. Fire and light
    4. Nutrition (food & cooking)
    5. First aid and medical
    6. Hygiene
    7. Communication and signaling
    8. Tools and repairs
    9. Safety and defense
    10. Travel and navigation
    11. Morale and mental health
    12. Important documents (passports, insurance, license, etc)
    Capstone Project - A way to carry all of your 'stuff' that is both inexpensive and low key.

    Foreword -
    I've written a series of post-apocalyptic books called the World of Chërnyi. In that series, the protagonists are faced with issues and solve them, not because they are super-human, but because they have some training and use their smarts. I mention a variety of items used by these characters, from a Svea or Trangia stove to tarp shelters.

    I've written this Appendix as a companion to the series for people who would like to be better prepared for a disaster - hopefully after reading the stories in these books.

    Despite what many see on the television or in catalogs, your needs to live in a post disaster environment are few and fairly simple. These needs can be covered for a lot less than the "Professional" pre-pack disaster kits sold on-line for hundreds of dollars. I'm not going to pretend this Appendix is the be-all, end-all for disaster kitting. The sheer diversity of climate types across the world's landscape makes a one-size-fits-all document impossible. This series simply looks to provide enough information, in one place, that will allow you to plan and assemble a short-term disaster kit, on the cheap, specific to where you live.

    The focus of this series is on a kit that can safely sit in a closet ready for use if needed. This is why I have focused on a low cost kit. You will need to pull the kit and swap out the food at least yearly, twice yearly would be better. I'll list a couple of options on that part as well.

    I've tried to write this series in simple, easy to understand English, using a Question and Answer format as part of the information. This layout should permit you to quickly find a topic. Once you find a topic, you then can read a question and answer section that should give you more detail. Photos and images are placed separately at the end, away from each chapter's text to make your reading a bit easier.

    The capstone project for this series is for you to assemble a solid kit with the things needed for you to live for three to four days, not just survive. Using items you likely have around the house already will save a lot, both money and time. There are a couple of items I will suggest for purchase, but in many cases, I'll also identify one or more nearly free alternatives.

    You can safely store this kit in your closet to grab& go when needed, just as you might a fire extinguisher. But like that fire extinguisher, practice makes it and you, more effective. Fire extinguishers should receive annual maintenance, so this kit should be pulled out and checked at least yearly. The food will most certainly need to be exchanged yearly.

    Once you have assembled your kit, you should then use your kit. Use it on a simple overnight campout or two so that you understand how to use the items in the kit before it becomes necessary. Even camping out in your back yard will give you much of that experience.

    Good luck! You've just taken the first step on the journey to be better prepared to deal with situations that may force you out of your primary residence.

    The daily news shows or tells of stories filled with disasters of all kinds: floods, wildfires, massive snowstorms. Sometimes even more frightening are the disasters made by man: train derailments, chemical spills, factory fires, riots and the like.

    These stories can be frightening, what if you lose power for days or even weeks? What if you have to flee your home? What will you do? Where will you go? Many people are so overwhelmed just with just the thought of planning for a disaster that they give up before starting. Don't give up just yet.

    As a Certified Disaster Recovery Planner, I've spent years advising major corporations on how to prepare for and recover from a disaster. I've also written more than a few Response, Recovery and Restoration Plan sets. In those same years, I've found that this aspect of life is something that most of us have either overlooked or frankly, ignored for our own home life. Being prepared need not be expensive or complicated.

    This Appendix was initially a series of twelve condensed guest posts for a fellow author's blog, each covering a specific area. All of that information and more, is in this document. These steps are relevant whether you are forced to leave your home or are able to stay in your home to shelter in place.

    You need at least two liters per person per day, minimum, just to survive. If you are traveling or working, plan for a gallon per person, per day. This Chapter covers gathering, storage, purification and suggestions for transport of drinking water. I discuss the difference between water filters and purifiers, and why that matters. More than one type of filter is described.

    Shelter and protection.
    An inexpensive tarp and some cordage will go a long way to keep you out of the weather. I show you how to make the most of simple materials to provide shelter from the elements. Clothing is discussed as part of an overall 'shelter system'.

    Fire and light
    If outdoors, you may need a source of heat to avoid hypothermia, cook food and provide light to perform tasks after dark. I discuss a variety of inexpensive stoves, and show you how to make a pair of stoves that burn a common commercial product. I'll walk you through some choices in flashlights, lanterns, and candle lanterns. The last part of this chapter discuses the advantage and disadvantages of a campfire.

    Nutrition (food & cooking)
    This Chapter focuses on putting together your own meal, ready to eat (MRE). Using commonly available long shelf life commercial products, you can make your own tasty and easy to cook or heat to eat meals. I discuss several common problems with home-made MREs and tell you how to avoid the problems. Finally, since you should store what you eat - and eat what you store, I know you'll find eating these meals no problem.

    First aid and medical
    As a former licensed EMT and having worked in the Air Force as a military medic, the focus here is on the training you have. I outline a basic First Aid Kit (FAK) and why this is important. I describe an advanced FAK, one that is layered. I've made some lists to help you gather the supplies you might need or to buy that are appropriate and inexpensive. The types of injury you can treat with the FAK are discussed as are some issues related to Over the Counter medicines. While you can make a very nice FAK for less than a commercial offering, training is one area where you are advised to obtain a commercial offering. I list sources for hands-on training and give you sources on the 'Web for follow on and self-training.

    Hygiene and clothing
    More men were lost in the Civil War to poor sanitation than were ever killed in battle; this is true for the Boer war as well. I cover basic field sanitation, describe ways to wash your clothes in a disaster situation and list ways to bath while in less than ideal conditions. Being clean isn't about smelling bad, it is a health issue. Bears can poop in the woods, but you'll need a sanitary solution for your waste. I describe and illustrate methods for safe disposal of human waste.

    Communication and signaling
    Communication is more than a cell phone. In this Chapter, I cover communications planning, alternate means of communication. I'll cover commonly available communication equipment. Specifically, MURS, GRMS, CB, FRS and Ham radio are discussed at length. I even discuss crystal radios for fun and battery free listening.

    Tools and repairs
    In this Chapter, I discuss the common, lightweight tools you should have on hand for use in a disaster. The classic saw of "A stitch in time saves nine" is more correct than not. I describe a small but comprehensive sewing kit and a larger tool for use in repairing large tarps, backpacks and the like.

    Safety and defense
    This Chapter is a brief discussion of safety issues faced by those displaced in a disaster. I list ways to protect yourself and family members, your valuables and offer suggestions on ways to avoid problems before they impact you. A brief discussion covers the pros and cons of carrying a firearm. Since laws vary so wildly, I cannot offer specifics for your area.

    Travel and navigation
    If you can't tell the players without a program, you'll find travel far more difficult without a map. I'll discuss common map products, then provide a listing of where and how to obtain free or low cost map products for your use. I also cover compasses, and point you to free, on-line training sources for the use of your compass. While a GPS receiver is nice, it does have some real-world drawbacks, I discuss those drawbacks.

    Morale and mental health
    If you have children, you already know dealing with a bored child is almost as bad as dealing with a bored adult. I discuss some low cost and light weight items to carry that can make a difference in the inevitable down time faced when away from home and familiar surroundings.

    Important documents (passports, insurance, license, etc)
    It's a fact of life that we all have a paper trail following us through our life. If your home is damaged, or destroyed, having the right papers can make a major difference in how rapidly your life can be restored. I discuss the documents you should have with you, and what other measures you can take to safeguard important documents such as birth certificates, DD-214s from military service, marriage certificates, and insurance papers.

    The capstone project for the series is to build a take away 'bag' with the essentials for four days for one person using all of the information covered in the series. In this case, the bag will be a Yukon ruck, made from your tarp and holding the items you need should you leave your home. The capstone project assumes you have motorized transport.

    Remember - Being prepared doesn't mean you have to break the bank.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
    Alanaana, Zimmy, Mindy Sue and 8 others like this.
  2. GrayGhost

    GrayGhost Monkey+++

    Looking forward to more...good reading!
  3. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Chapter One

    "Without the taste of water, cool water. Old Dan and I with throats burned dry. And souls that cry for water. Cool, clear, water." Sons of the Pioneers.

    A person can live without water for about three days, after that, you face a slow and painful death. Not just any water will do, it must be clean and free of pathogenic organisms to be of use to humans. As I noted in the overview, bad water has killed more people than all the wars in modern times.

    How much water do you need each day?
    You need at least two liters of clean water per person per day, minimum, just to stay alive. If you are traveling or working, plan on at least one gallon per person, per day. For working in hot or hot and humid weather, plan on at least five gallons per person, per day.

    Where do I find water? What are good sources for water? Is some water too dangerous to use?
    I'll cover this in two parts - urban water sources and water sources you might find in areas away from the city.

    What is urban water?
    Urban surface water is generally not safe to drink without serious and technically complex treatment. By this, I mean streams flowing through developed areas, lakes, ponds or other water catchments. Fountain basins for example, that may be found in or near urban areas are not a good source of water. These sources of water normally contain a wild variety of contaminants. These contaminates range from animal fecal matter and human sewage to heavy metals, petroleum products or pesticides. For this reason, most 'public' sources of surface water are not safe for consumption. Even boiled, they are too problematic to consider due to the wide range of contaminants.

    Are there any urban surface water sources that I could use?
    Some surface water may be used, but only with treatment. Privately owned swimming pools, that you know have been well maintained and have no external contamination sources, such as runoff from adjoining land, may be safe to drink after minimal treatment.

    Rainwater collected from rooftops may not be suitable for use owing to contamination from the roofing materials, debris or other contaminates present on the rooftop. However, rainwater collected using known clean surfaces, like your tarp and then stored in clean containers is an excellent source of drinking water.

    Water collected from hot water tanks, the toilet tank or other internal building water storage areas may be safe to drink with minimal treatment.

    Please note that unless you are certain the water is from a potable source, do not consume the water without treatment.

    Even if you are outside of developed or urban areas, surface water is still likely contaminated, but these contaminates are normally within your ability to treat with the simple resources available to you in a disaster. Animal or human waste is still a concern, as are pesticides, but are usually in low enough concentrations to allow treatment with commonly available methods.

    Running springs, where you can find the source, and steams fed by springs are two good sources of water. Many springs on public land have been safety tested; these are normally posted by the agency or person who performed the test.

    Clear, free running streams generally make a good water source, as do small ponds fed by running streams. Again, unless you know the source to be tested and deemed potable by a reputable health authority, treat the water before you consume it!

    Any well water, urban or rural, should be treated unless you know of recent testing showing the water to be potable.

    Brackish water, salt water and water with high levels of alkaline as is often found in the Southwest U.S. requires specialized water treatment systems to render the water safe to consume. These reverse osmosis systems are beyond the scope of this series.

    Can you safely gather water? Yes, for example, in one of my other books, "Tales of the Chërnyi", the character Steven Stone gathers water by putting his empty water bottles under the edge of his shelter tarp, capturing the rain runoff for ready to drink water. You can do the same.

    Okay, I've found a source and gathered the water. How do I store the water? What makes a good storage container?
    Storage of treated and untreated water must be separate. It does you no good to put treated water into a container that's held untreated water, so marking your containers is strongly suggested. Use a P for potable and a D for dirty, for example. Another possibility is clear and colored soda bottles. Use clear bottles for potable, colored for water that has not been treated. You get the idea, make it simple for yourself

    A good container has a wide mouth, a good, leak-proof cap and is of a size that is easy to handle, depending on your location. By this I mean that a one quart container is easier to carry in your backpack, where a five gallon bucket or purpose built container is a good choice for a fixed location where you or your family may decide to stay. Remember, at eight pounds to the gallon, any container over one gallon is going to be difficult to carry for any distance.

    How can I treat water to make it safe to drink?
    Water treatment and purification can use one of several methods. These treatments are broadly defined as:
    Chemical treatment. This method uses chlorine dioxide, unscented bleach (sodium hypochlorite), iodine, or calcium hypochlorite to make water potable. While there are other chemicals, they are normally limited to professional applications.

    Heat. Pasteurization of water using heat to boil the water is a simple and well known process.

    Filtering in conjunction with chemical use or purifying with an advanced filter system offers a good choice as well.

    Before I go further, I have a couple of important notes.
    Iodine - The Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science, University of Arizona, tested iodine treatment for efficacy in water contaminated with Cryptosporidium oocysts. They found that just 10% were inactivated after a 20-minute exposure to iodine used according to manufacturer's instructions. Even after 240 minutes of exposure to iodine only 66-81% oocysts were inactivated. These data strongly suggest that iodine disinfection is not effective in inactivating Cryptosporidium oocysts in water. Because this organism is common in all surface waters, it is recommended that another method of treatment be used before ingestion. Iodine is effective against viruses common to surface water.

    Commercial bleach - Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) 5+% or 6% by volume, like you buy in the grocery store, degrades fairly quickly into salty water. Use only new or nearly new bleach to treat water! DO NOT store drinking water in bleach bottles.

    How do I use chlorine dioxide tablets?
    Always follow package directions!

    These tablets are a shelf-life item. Check expirations dates twice yearly and follow vendor recommendations for time of treatment, usually a minimum of four (4) hours before consumption. Usually the product is used as one tablet per liter of water, more if water is very cold or cloudy (turbid). One brand of this product, Chlor-floc, contains a floccant to remove via settling, silt and other debris in turbid water.

    It's worth repeating - Following label directions is vial for correct treatment.

    How do I safely use unscented bleach (sodium hypochlorite)?
    For products with 4% to 6% of chlorine by volume, the EPA recommends treating water by putting the water in a clean container and adding 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach for every gallon of water.

    Stir as you add the bleach and then let the water stand for at least 30 minutes. If after 30 minutes, the water does not have a residual smell of bleach, repeat the dosage of 8 drops per gallon and let it sit for another 15 minutes. If no smell is present, discard the water.

    For smaller containers, use 4 drops per 2 liter soda bottle or 2 drops for a 1 liter bottle, but only if the water is clear.

    How do I use my iodine tablets?
    First, was the container holding the tablets sealed and within the expiration date? If not, discard the tablets.

    If the bottle is open and was opened more than three months ago, discard the tablets.

    If the bottle is sealed and within the expiration period, follow label directions for use. As noted above, iodine is not completely effective on certain protozoa. Iodine used in conjunction with an appropriate filter can render the water safe to drink. See the filter section for a discussion of filter pore size.
    Iodine is no longer sold in the EU for water treatment, pure iodine crystals have been banned in the U.S. Polar Pure is now sold, in single bottle orders only. See the web for current sources.

    What is calcium hypochlorite?
    Calcium hypochlorite is a dry chemical sold for pool water treatment. It can be found in most 'big box stores' and stores that sell pool supplies. One brand is HTH.

    Read the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) BEFORE you purchase or store this dry chemical.

    Calcium hypochlorite is a strong oxidizer, it will cause corrosion of metal. It is an "energetic reactor" which is to say, mixing with any number of materials will cause a reaction, usually violent. It will also burn if the storage container is set alight.

    While the material is, by its very nature, quite dangerous it does offer some benefits. First, it offers a longer shelf life than other common water treatment chemicals. Second, simply put, is density. For the same storage space, it will treat more water per volume than other choices. Last, for what it does, the price is reasonable.

    How do I use calcium hypochlorite to make waster safe to drink?
    The US EPA guidelines are --(About the Office of Water | About EPA | US EPA

    Add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately ¼ ounce) for each two gallons of water, or 5 milliliters (approximately 7 grams) per 7.5 liters of water.

    This mixture will produce a stock chlorine solution of approximately 500 milligrams per liter, since the calcium hypochlorite has available chlorine equal to 70 percent of its weight. This is the SOURCE solution you will use to treat your water.

    To disinfect water, add the chlorine solution in the ratio of one part of chlorine solution to each 100 parts of water to be treated.

    This is roughly equal to adding 1 pint (16 ounces) of stock chlorine to each 12.5 gallons of water or (approximately ½ liter to 50 liters of water) to be disinfected. To remove any objectionable chlorine odor, aerate the disinfected water by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another.

    If you choose to store and use this chemical, please obtain accurate measurement devices.

    The World Health Organization thinks you are smart enough to HTH. See http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_...ies/fs2_19.pdf - large file with diagrams and complex mathematical formula. This is a 5 page, printable document.

    About now you are saying - AAarrrgggghhh! Math!

    I just checked in the kitchen - I have a standard 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon. I have a 1/4 and a 1/2 and a full teaspoon and a full tablespoon. No 1/3 anything - maybe the wife threw those away. I also don't have to guess at what a "heaping" is worth.

    I have a standard (Ekco) 1/4 cup measuring cup.

    So - one (1) scoop (a rounded, not smoothed 1/4 teaspoon) of HTH into one gallon of water, stir. I then add 1/4 cup of this stock chlorine solution into one gallon of water I want to treat. This gives a ratio of 1:64 using 78% HTH.

    Stupid simple, just what I want.... **Standard US measuring products and stated in standard US measurements (teaspoon, cup and gallon)**
    Brilliant as they say in the UK - no liters, milliliters or ratios. Most importantly, no math.
    I small dry measurement device, 1 liquid measurement device. and a pair of gallon containers. All done.

    1/4 to one and 1/4 to one.
    Easy peasy.
    As a retired military guy I can really appreciate the simplicity of - add one scoop of this powder to one gallon of water to make treatment solution.
    Then add one scoop of the treatment solution to one gallon of untreated water....

    Okay, I'll just boil my water, how long do I need to boil it?
    Bringing water to a boil (large bubbles roiling from bottom of container) and holding that boil for at least one minute, then allowing the water to cool is one method to ensure the water is safe to drink. Boiling kills both protozoa, like Giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium (Phylum Apicomplexa) as well as viruses that pose a heath risk.
    Boiling DOES NOT remove other contaminates, such as pesticides, hydrocarbons or antifreeze. Ensure your source is free of these types of contaminates before treatment by boiling.

    I want to buy a filter, which one is the best? How can I tell what product is a filter and what device is a purifier?
    There are many filters on the market. Generally, the price varies on how fine or small a contaminant the product will filter from the water. This is called pore size - generally, the smaller the pore size, the more expensive the product.

    First, let's look at the difference between a backpacking water filter and a backpacking water purifier. Then I'll explain why you might opt for buying one over another. I say backpacking due to size differences in other filter systems.

    Putting it in the simplest terms, a water filter removes protozoa and parasites, perhaps even some bacteria, but it does not remove viruses. This ability to filter is, again, a function of the filter pore size. It's that "micron" thing you see in the ads. These filters must be used with chemical treatment to provide safe water.

    A water purifier eliminates all of these biological contaminates, plus viruses. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency has set standards that require water purifiers to eliminate a percentage of all viruses. IF the device is a purifier, it will commonly be registered with the EPA.

    Chemical contaminants are another story and there is no easy or sure way to remove them. Carbon block filters do a good job of reducing rather than removing chemicals from the water, but cleaning up the horror of urban water is not gong to be done by a simple, handheld 'filter'. As with many things in life, you get what you pay for - a cheap filter will provide water that may not be safe to drink.

    Let's spend a bit more time on this. Advertisements spend a lot of time on the whole 'log' thing - so what does it mean?
    There are two different EPA classification standards for water treatment devices.
    The first classification is for a water filter, meeting this standard requires a water treatment device to demonstrate removal of at least 99.99% of pathogenic agents / bacteria. This is known in the water filter industry as a log 4 reduction.

    The most common pathogenic organism cited in filtering ads?
    - E-Coli
    - Giardia
    - Cryptosporidium
    A filter does nothing about viruses in the water.

    The second classification is a water purifier. To meet this standard, a water treatment device must remove at least 99.9999% of pathogenic bacteria (log 6 reduction). In addition the water purifier must be capable of reducing viruses by at least 99.999% (log 5 reduction).

    Given that viruses are generally measured in fractions of a micron, that's quite a feat.

    We are talking very small here -
    -viruses (0.01 microns);
    -bacteria (0.1 micron) and
    -protozoa (1 micron).
    Most purifiers use an internal carbon block filter with iodine or silver embedded in some kind of matrix. Others actually have pore sizes on the 0.1 to 0.02 micron range. Expect to pay more for these higher quality products.

    Someone told me I need to pre-filter my water. Why is that?
    Pre-filtering is a good idea. If your water is turbid (cloudy or muddy), you really should pre-filter. You can run your water through a bandana, a coffee filter or even your old socks to remove the mud, leaves, plant matter, bugs and debris often found in even running water. Silt and mud in the water requires additional chemical treatment and the suspended matter will quickly clog a good quality filter. So, taking the time to pre-filter your water will yield best results and extend the service life of your filter/purifier.

    Mud and silt may also be removed through floccation; that is - adding a chemical that causes the material to clump and sink to the bottom of the container.

    I hear I can use the sun to purify my water - is that true?"
    Yes, you can use the sun. Called SODIS for SOlar water DISinfection. Simply place your non-turbid water in clear PET bottles out in the full sun for at least 6 hours. The solar UV radiation and heat will kill pathogenic agents in the water. This is best done in the southern tier U.S. - where the sun's UV rays are not as attenuated by the atmosphere, clouds or a low radiation angle.

    What about the UV light pens - are they any good?
    There are several products that generate UV light to purify clear water. I don't recommend them solely because of the need for batteries.

    How do I best transport my water?
    Water weighs eight pounds per gallon. Any clean container may be used, but give consideration to weight and ease of handling. I usually recommend the common one or two liter soda bottle as it is both very inexpensive and rugged. There are carriers made to transport the bottles that may be obtained for the asking. Old style military canteens, sport drink bottles and iced tea bottles are all examples of good storage containers. Gallon, two and a half or five gallon water containers found in the grocery store make poor containers as they quickly become brittle and may leak at the seams. Purpose built containers, like the WaterCube boxed water or the Reliance brand Cube containers are good examples of the many products on the market today.

    Capstone project items -
    Containers for up to four gallons of water (One gallon if you have access to water)
    Water treatment tablets
    Filtering system, both pre-filter and primary filter.

    Expense items:
    24 Chlorine dioxide tablets ~ $10.00
    Soda bottles $0.00
    1 gallon ZippLock storage bag $0.20 (x 2) (For carrying water)
    Bandana and coffee filters $0.00 I'll call these found items)

    Possible commercial filter option -
    Sawyer Squeeze - filters out down to 0.1 microns. Water will still need treatment for possible virus contamination. Attaches to common 20mm bottle - most soda and water bottles have a 20mm neck.

    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
  4. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Good value....keep it coming with quality as consistent as the intro and "water" segments.

    Edit: my struck out comments go beyond the parameters of DKR's portable 3 Day kit.
    Keep your series going, DKR! (y)

    Water is an essential commodity for other necessary survival activities such as food and crop raising and self sufficient manufacturing. The quantities outlined in post#3 are minimums for personal survival. Cooking, hygiene, medical treatment, laundry, and other household will require much more than those minimums...factor in household critters like faithful guard dogs, milking goats and chickens etc and the need for water becomes significant, requiring storage and reticulation consideration. Maybe going beyond the simple needs of a portable kit, but worth thinking about, one step further.

    Don't get me started on fire protection, and that moat that @Tully Mars keeps on talking about. ;) ; and supplying water needs becomes a major project, requiring effort, resources and treasure.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
    GrayGhost and Tully Mars like this.
  5. GrayGhost

    GrayGhost Monkey+++

    Outside of a couple of typos, job well done, @DKR!

    Nice layout, easy to read and follow, well explained, and very comprehensive.
    john316 and chelloveck like this.
  6. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Excellent! I think I would put these in a Kindle format for quick access via a linked index to be used as reference. Some things one simply forgets because you don't use or do them on a regular basis like treating water with Bleach.
    chelloveck likes this.
  7. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    When complete and published, we can put the series in "resources" here if you might like.
    DKR and chelloveck like this.
  8. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    This series will be put into mobi format. My pla is to park the series as an 'Annex' to my WoC series of books.
    A real value added non-fiction to add some real life to what is a fantasy series. Hopefully, folks will get the message to prepare to be able to take care of themselves....
  9. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Chapter Two

    Shelter and Environmental protection

    "Singing in the rain, I'm just signing in the rain" Fred Astair

    Just like the popular song, rainy days and Mondays always get me down. Well, Mondays, those I can live through, but too much time spent in the rain could kill you. Shelter is the next most important item on your list, right after water, because it really is a cold, cruel world and unprotected exposure to the elements can and will kill you.

    I think everyone reading this understands that there is a range of temperatures, narrow as it is, within which you can easily function. Go outside of that narrow range of temperature and you are now uncomfortable. Deviate further and fairly soon you are dead. That deviation can be hot or cold - either extreme can do you in.

    Your body temperature can change through four main external processes. These processes are radiation, convection, conduction and evaporation.

    Radiation can be described as the heat felt from the sun or the heat from a campfire, both are forms of infrared radiation. Your body radiates heat all of the time as well.

    Convection is the loss of heat from the movement of air or water across your body or the exposed parts of your body.

    Conduction is the loss of heat from physical contact with a material or object that is colder or warmer than your body.

    Finally, evaporation is heat loss from moisture changing state (water to vapor), resulting in a heat loss.

    Let's begin with heat, or rather, too much of it. You can be heated by direct exposure or by indirect exposure. To avoid direct exposure, you would seek shade. In some areas of the world; you'll have to make your own shade. Indirect exposure is the heat received by radiation from other objects, say from nearby rocks that have been exposed to the sun, or from a hot wind blowing directly on you. Failure to react to excessive heat can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke and hyperthermia - all of which are emergent conditions leading to death.

    Your body naturally reacts to excessive heat by sweating. The sweat evaporating will remove heat from your body. Fan yourself, and convection will help cool you. Take a dunk in a cool stream of water and again, convection removes the excess heat. Sit on a nice cool, moss covered rock and conduction will pull the heat from your body. A shade shelter can provide protection from direct radiation and from a hot wind to reduce heating from convection.

    Cold will kill as fast as the heat. Hypothermia, once commonly called exposure, is where the body can no longer maintain a livable internal core temperature, and death soon follows. A shelter will reduce exposure to wind, rain and snow to help you maintain your core body temperature.

    So what is shelter - really?
    I like to think of 'shelter' as a series of shells or layers, that I can add or remove based on the conditions at the time. These shells should be easy to add or remove, wick moisture away from your body and provide insulation between the environment and your body.

    Base layers:
    I found (brand) cotton long johns on sale, should I buy some?
    I generally do not recommend cotton long underwear except in a limited number of specific situations, such for wear under Nomex fire-proof clothing. Polypropylene (Polypro) based clothing offers many advantages. Polypro is generally moisture wicking, fast drying, lightweight and so on.
    NOTE - If you work in a hazardous environment, check with your safety people on restrictions for both nylon or polypro garments.

    I found some (polyester-lycra fabric) brand long johns, should I buy some?
    If the garment fits, by all means. But you are really looking at underwear, rather than classic 'long johns' or insulating garments. Many of these undergarments offer moisture wicking and odor control, so represent a good base layer for your 'shelter'

    I was at the store and saw polypro long johns, some were fuzzy inside, the others looked like they had lines or ridges - what's up with that?
    Both types allow a layer of air to be trapped against your skin. This air space is heated, and so you feel 'warmer'. Both styles work well, so cost or fit should be bigger factors than style.

    My fiend told me that a long sleeve shirt is cooler than a short sleeve shirt, how can that be?
    Your friend may just be right. A loose fitting, long sleeve shirt will protect you from direct solar radiation and can feel cooler. You'll also benefit from reduced exposure to UV rays, which can burn and in the long term, have been blamed for certain skin cancers.

    Outer layer:
    Outer clothing is the next layer in your shelter. This next layer is shirt and trousers, then coat, hat and gloves. For a disaster kit, you'll want heavy duty clothing that is easy to clean and can stand extended wear. Location will drive what materials the clothes are constructed of. That is, light weight in light colors for warm weather, heavy wool or treated canvas for cold weather. Used 'work' clothing obtained from a local thrift store will allow you to purchase clothes inexpensively enough to leave the garments in your disaster kit.

    You can take a lesson from the 'homeless' who live outside all day, nearly everyday. They will often wear two sets of trousers, multiple shirts and often more than one hat. There are many reasons that different people have for this 'fashion', but the idea of having multiple layers shouldn't be lost on you. When it gets cold at night another pair of pants, or even nylon shell pants can make a real difference. Another is a regular shirt and pants covered by overalls or bib overalls. This combination is much warmer and provides some protection should you need to perform tasks that could tear your primary outer layer.

    I leave a set of oversized Carhart brand overalls and an oversized lined jacket in my car all the time. If forced to change a tire in bad weather, I'll have a way to cover my street clothes and the outfit will keep me much warmer.

    This does raise the question of just how much in the way of clothing should you keep in your disaster kit. Since this document has a focus on a four day kit, the real answer is - none, or nearly so. A complete change of clothing takes up space, bulks up your carry package and adds weight. On the other hand, standing around at night in rain soaked clothing can kill you.

    My compromise is a single set of underclothes, a set polypro long johns, and a set of nylon pants and jacket. In mild weather the nylon outfit should be enough to wear as you dry your things. In colder weather, the long johns worn under the nylon shells should be fine for most use. If you get soaked in extreme cold weather, it's problematic that you would be able to change into a dry set of clothes before hypothermia sets in. The polypro outfit will be your sleeping outfit in any case, this to maximize the warmth of your sleeping arrangements.

    One last thought on the outer layer. The clothing you select should be rugged, heavy duty you might say. If you work in a suit, a dress or light weight clothing, you might want to consider having a complete change of clothing that stays at your work location. If a disaster event occurs, you can change before you leave, the few extra minutes spent will likely be paid back many times over. Don't forget a pair of good quality walking shoes or boots and an extra pair of good quality wool socks for your change-into outfit.

    I just found (brand name) of overalls on sale at the thrift store, should I but a set?
    You should first do a bit of research on the price of new heavy duty clothing. You may be surprised at how well they hold their value. A set of brand name 12 oz cotton duck overalls can cost 75 dollars or more, here in Alaska. Used, but serviceable overalls of the same brand may sell used for 50 dollars or more. In some cases, you may be better served by purchase of new items, rather than used. You should at least know the price of new before you hit the second hand/thrift stores.

    I took a recent (2/2013) trip to Tucson and while there, hit several used clothing stores. I was able to purchase four sets of heavy duty pants for $10.00 - total. Two pair were as new, store tags still attached. It pays to shop around.

    My goodness, I found a used Filson jacket and they wanted...a lot!
    Some garments are legendary. Filson is one of those, along with Pendleton and few others. These are clearly a case of actually getting what you pay for. You may find a bargain in a used clothes / thrift store, but I doubt it. On the other hand, I have seen Filson jackets worn daily by the grandson of the original purchaser.

    Are these Army surplus wool shirts any good?
    The surplus 'OG' wool shirts and so-called field pants, if true US surplus - are rugged garments. If they fit, or are even a bit loose, and the price is right, they represent a solid value for outerwear. Regular fatigue uniforms (OD, ACU and MARPAT) are both expensive and may not wear as well as clothing sold for industrial workers. In these, price should be the deciding factor. Please note - military 'style' does not equal true military surplus quality.

    What should I watch out for in used clothing?
    Before you purchase any used clothing, inspect it completely. Are all the buttons and zippers whole and functional? Are repairs needed? If there are tears or rips, you can mend the garment yourself, but the price should reflect the lower value found in clothing in need of repair. Carefully check all the pockets, turning them inside out. Check seams and hems, again, carefully. Finally, check for fit. Used garments rarely are the size they are tagged at; if a fitting room is available, use it. At a good price point, used clothing can make a good addition to your disaster kit.

    Protective layer:
    A protective layer includes ponchos, rain suits and heavy jackets like parkas or anoraks. I have some fairly strong ideas of what works in the field. Why? My opinions are based on experience.

    Before entering the military, I worked my college summers with a Geoexploration field crew in the Western US. In the military, I've worked in the field out from the remote Nevada desert to the wilds of Alaska, both winter and summer. Finally, I now live full time in Alaska.

    Let me begin with fit. A proper rain suit will have a long jacket and bib type overalls, with the jacket extending down to the level of your fingertips when they are fully extended. The jacket should be vented, with a two-way zipper if possible. The jacket should have a hood - with visor, if possible, and a drawstring at the waist and hem for when the wind comes up. If you are going to spend real time working or even walking in the rain, you owe yourself a quality rain suit.

    A poncho should have a hood and extend to at least your knees. A set of lightweight nylon gaiters covering your shoes or boots and extending all the way to the knee will go a long way to keeping you happy in the wet. One common problem with a poncho is that the wind can make it difficult to stay dry, so include a length of cord or a belt to secure the poncho at your waist on a blustery day.

    A parka or cold weather jacket should be part of your outfit. Leave it in your vehicle if you don't care to wear it inside. The parka should fit such that the bottom hem is the length of your extended fingertips, or slightly longer. In other words, it should cover your backside. The parka should, at a minimum, have a waist level drawstring to keep the wind out of your core area. If the garment also has a hem level drawstring, that's even better. I prefer a parka with both 'hand pockets', and larger cargo patch pockets. I leave several hand warmer packets in both sets of pockets year around. You never know when you'll cold hands after all.

    A friend told me that cloth parkas were worthless. Is he right?
    I've worn military and commercial parkas made from both cloth and nylon. The USAF issues both types; I've used both while active duty. While out in the field, if I'm going to be around a campfire, I wear a cloth shelled parka. On the other hand, my anorak is coated nylon, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The main thing I worry over is damage in the field and ease of repair. Cloth is less likely to burn, and I find that sewing cloth is easier.

    Well then, when would I want a nylon parka?
    That's a very good question. A nylon shelled parka is normally lighter in weight than a cloth one and a nylon parka usually does better in a wet environment, where cloth does not. Both, if well made, seem about equal.

    I walked around the Cape Lisburne Long Range RADAR site one winter in 30+ knot winds and temps reputed to be nearly -50F. I was properly layered, with my outer layer being a set comprised of a cloth parka and so-called fat boy pants. I wore the issue arctic mittens, to protect my hands. I still have all my body parts, though I do have a better appreciation for what Scott must have gone through at the South Pole.

    I can wear sandals in the desert, what is the best boot for cold weather?"
    I would suggest boots or shoes are a better choice for desert wear. Sandals are fine for hot weather casual wear in town, but are a very bad choice away from the city or roadway. Sandals are always a bad choice in a disaster where debris or other items can injure your feet.

    The type of cold weather boots you choose is dependant on the location. For cold and wet weather, a pair of good overshoes and your normal boots with wool socks may be just the thing. Another choice is the so-called Caribou pacs. A felt lined half-boot with a rubber bottom and leather upper. I love mine and with a new set of liners, it like getting a new boot for very little money.

    In extreme cold weather and in a dry area, you can wear so-called Bunny Boots or Mukluks. A Bunny boot, or as it's known by the military, "Boot, Extreme Cold Weather, Vapor Barrier" - is sometimes called a VB boot. Basically a rubber boot within a rubber boot, with felt insulation between the inner and outer shells, they have a valve at the ankle to allow for pressure differences.

    These VB boots must be worn correctly or their use can lead to Trench Foot, a permanent partial disabling condition. If wearing VB boots you must change your socks at least every four hours, and dry your feet completely at each change of socks.

    Mukluks are usually found as a cloth or nylon shell covering thick wool booties, with one or more wool pads for extra insulation for the bottom of your feet. The sole is a rubber-like compound with an aggressive tread patter. They are a dry-climate garment only! They offer no real support, so are not very fun if you have to walk any distance with a load. If you decide to purchase surplus mukluks, treat the shell with an appropriate water-proofing compound. Canadian surplus mukluks are built very differently than the US version. Mukluks will keep your feet warm well below zero F. I have worn mine in colder weather but I have modified them with calf length urethane liners in addition to the felt pads and booties.

    A good set of 'snow machine' boots will work well but are normally difficult to walk in for any distance, something to consider for any boot.

    What about hats and gloves?
    I strongly suggest you have a hat with built in ear flaps, as you ears are very easy to freeze and horribly painful once thawed. A good wool knit hat over a 'baseball' style hat will work well, the bill working to keep rain/snow out of your face.

    Full face head coverings, a baklava or knit hat with a separate face covering are essential for extreme cold weather.

    Fleece material is as warm as wool when dry, but once it becomes damp, ceases to provide real insulation / protection. A thin knit polypropylene cap covered by a second wool cap can provide an opportunity to dry one should the inner polypro garment get soaked in sweat. I wear a poly under and wool over baklava set in very cold weather.

    Gloves are a personal preference. I carry several kinds, wool liners for use with leather work gloves, something I recommend. I also carry some light neoprene gloves. If you will be in a wet environment, PVC coated gloves with wool liners provide both warmth and protection.

    You should have one pair of gloves for 'work' like cutting wood, working with rope, moving a hot pot from the campfire - made of heavy leather, these are primarily for protection. A second set for warmth can fit in a pocket with no difficultly. I use wool liners as my secondary set. These gloves are inexpensive, lightweight and warm.

    Now we've discussed a shell around your person, what is the next layer? In this case, I'll cover use of a tarp. The Capstone project uses a 8x10 blue poly tarp, and recently, my local big box store had a pair of the 6x9 blue tarps on sale for five dollars. The tarp used to photograph the capstone project is 8 x 10 feet. Since this tome is aimed at an individual kit, you may chose that size best suits your needs. The smallest usable tarp is the 6 x 8 foot model.

    How can I best pitch a tarp?
    That depends on your location, the weather and a host of other specific issues beyond this document. If it helps, I gave my eight year old granddaughter and her younger brother a few large nails, for tent pegs, and a blue tarp. Each had a walking stick to use if they wanted, and a tree was nearby if that was desired for use.

    In less than twenty minutes, they each had a workable shelter set up; both used their 'walking sticks' to hold up the shelter. My assistance was limited to tying the knots in the string used to hold up their shelters. Check the tarp sidebar for images.

    What do I need to pitch my tarp?
    A popular type of cordage is known as '550 cord'. Also called 'paracord' or 'shroud line' all refer to a nylon cordage used to connect parachute canopies to a harness. This cordage may be purchased in bulk. It is handy to work with, but ordinary mason's line (nylon) is more than strong enough to do the job and it comes in colored rolls. Another inexpensive option is the white polypropylene so-called "tomato twine" - a roll of 6,500 feet sells for under 35 dollars. At 350 pounds breaking strength, I find this twine has worked well for me over the years and at very low cost.

    Pegs to secure the edge of your tarp may be made locally, or you can purchase a few large nails and leave them in the Yukon ruck you will be building.

    Are these blue traps safe?"
    These tarps are flammable. DO NOT cook directly under a tarp with an open campfire - the sparks could ignite the fabric.

    Are these tarps waterproof?
    Nothing foldable is truly "waterproof". Shelter is just really shades of water resistant. If you rub the inside of a tarp, water may leak through. This leaking happens with several materials, including canvas and other common tent materials. I have found that vinyl coated tarps are heavy duty, weather well, but are expensive and heavy. Since the focus here is on low-cost, I've used the common blue poly tarp, since it will be used as the 'backpack' as well.

    What else can I use besides the blue tarp?
    Let your imagination go! The idea behind the blue tarp is that is low-cost, already has grommet protected tie points, and is almost universally available in North America.

    Nylon shower curtains, painter's drop cloths, even old sheets can be treated to repel water. There are several things you must consider as you make your choice.
    -Is the material flammable?
    -Is the material durable?
    -Does the material have a place to attach a cord or line?
    -Is the material suitable for my location?

    Some people I know carry large squares of Visqueen, a type of heavy plastic. Transparent, is can provide a workable 'side' to a shelter and lets in the light as a bonus. Sheets of Tyvek is also a popular material to use as a tarp shelter. I normally carry a square of 8 mil black 'construction' plastic sheeting for a ground cloth.

    How about one of those military surplus 'pup' tents? I've seen them on line for eight dollars... Are they any good?
    Yes, you have. You'll need two of the "shelter half" units to make a tent. Ensure they are free of holes and have the pole set that should come with the unit.

    Are they any good? In looking, I see where a complete 'double ended' system, (both halves) poles and pegs may be had for under 30 dollars. A complete shelter (two halves, poles and pegs) weighs in at just about six pounds. A 10 x 12 foot poly tarp weighs in 2 pounds, 10 oz.

    I have three shelter halves, they are fun for the grandkids to play in, and can be rigged as a Baker style tent, but for this project, I would recommend against them - just too limiting.

    I see where two military ponchos can be used for a shelter, is that a good choice?
    Certainly, the military designed the poncho to do just that. But, let me ask you a question, if you are wearing your poncho because it is raining, how do you set up a shelter?

    I won't kid you, for years, in the desert I carried a poncho and poncho liner as a sort of sleeping bag where weight was at a premium. I also froze my backside off. I could grab a catnap if I was lucky. The poncho liner was barely better than lying out without any cover, just barely better. Nowadays, the Military Sleep System provides more options than I had at the time. But these, even surplus, are very pricy. This brings up the question -

    What will I use for a sleeping bag?
    For this kit, a surplus 100% wool blanket is used as a sleeping cover. A used, five+ pound, quality, military surplus blanket will go for about 20 to 40 dollars for the 100% wool items.

    This is one of the expensive items for the kit. It is money well spent. Wool will retain the ability to keep you warm, even if damp. Wool will not burn if a spark from your campfire lands on the blanket. If you live where it is very cold at night, then a second layer (a square of polypropylene material) can be added. I've purchased the polypro material for this second layer at a local fabric shop for under eight dollars. Polypro or Fleece blankets can often be found at bargain prices, these, coupled with a wool blanket are hard to beat.

    If you live in a warmer climate, say, Southern Arizona - a fleece sleeping bag 'liner' can be had at the local box store for under 20 dollars. They are a nice item as normally they have a zipper and a small stuff sack to carry the liner.

    For this project, I am using a 5.4 pound, surplus 100% wool blanket with a poly throw. Remember, I discussed earlier about having a set of polypro long johns to wear to bed as well. With your knit hat and gloves, a set of dry socks, you should be set in temperatures to freezing and maybe a bit lower.

    A wool blanket is all I need?
    I'll have you add two so-called drum liners or contractor trash bags plus a windshield reflector. (see sidebar). The trash bags are heavy weight plastic and may be used as is, or split for more protected area, serving as your ground cover. The windshield protector is made of the reflective bubble type insulation. Found in rolls at your local building supply store, the brand I've most often found is "Reflextix" brand insulation. It looks for all the world just like foil coated bubble wrap. These windshield protectors can be found at garage sales (I got mine for 25c), your local big box store or on line - look around.

    You are kidding, right? Trash bags and a windshield reflector?
    I'm not kidding. I'm going for cheap here.

    I've slept in a cardboard box, with the reflective insulation and a military ground roll under me. Wearing my polypro long johns, heavy socks and wool beenie, I slept under a single wool blanket in zero degree weather. Slept pretty well, as a matter of fact. I wouldn't recommend this for folks without a lot of experience, but it is do-able. I have a stub on this at the end of the book.

    The key for comfort, or at least to be able to sleep is to have as much or more insulation under you as on top. Place the trash bags first, filled with duff (leaves and dry grass) if possible, then the windshield reflector, you on top of that stack, with the blanket on top of you. Even if you use a sleeping bag, the insulation under your bag is as important, if not more important, than what is on top of you. It's that whole conduction vs convection thing we covered at the start.

    Other items, like ribbed cardboard, will work as ground insulation.

    This is another reason to try out your kit, before there is a need, even if you just camp out in your back yard.

    I have covered the various layers, or shells used to surround you for protection from the environment. I mentioned leaving heavy duty clothing at work in case of a disaster event while you are working. I specifically called for a hat and gloves to go with an extra pair of warm wool socks for your kit. Finally, I covered tarps as a good way to provide shelter for your blanket 'sleeping bag' and plastic bag ground cover.

    Items seen in Capstone project images -
    Tarp, blue, 8 x 10
    Blanket, 100% wool *5.5 pound surplus blanket)
    Long John, polypro, 1 set
    Nylon wind suit - 1 set
    Ground cover - trash bags and windshield sunscreen
    (Not seen - cap, gloves, wool socks)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Ground cover on the cheap >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> This tarp is big enough for an adult!

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Ground cover stowed >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>wool blanket with polypro panel

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Clothing (drawers) inside of blanket >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>polypro layer

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    partly wrapped up >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> chow kit, this is covered much more a bit later
    Yukon ruck disaster kit rolled up and ready for the closet.

    Expense items:
    Blue tarp Varies on location - about $10.00
    Polypro long johns, available as surplus $5.00
    Blanket, 100% wool. Varies by location, call it $25.00 to $40.00
    Ground cover, varies, call it at $2.00
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
    Dunerunner, Ganado and chelloveck like this.
  10. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    std shower curtain under a USgi poncho
    Carry that Yukon ruck on a cheap $2 GROJ sale luggage cart. The doggie straps from an LC-2 ALICE frame fit like they were made for it. Find the box. Ignore it and think Outside of it.....
    Dunerunner and chelloveck like this.
  11. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Chapter Three

    Fire and Light
    "Come on, Baby, light my fire" The Doors

    If outdoors, you will need a source of heat to avoid hypothermia, cook food and provide light to perform any work after dark. Here, I'll discuss a variety of inexpensive stoves, and show you how to make a pair of stoves that burn a common commercial product. I walk you through different choices in flashlights, lanterns, and candle lanterns. The last part of this chapter is a discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of a campfire.

    One need only look at the poor souls wandering the streets of their ruined cities after a natural calamity for motivation to have a small kit ready at hand to provide some basics. After all, a public shelter may not be available for some time. Cooking food and boiling water quickly becomes a primary consideration after a disaster.

    I want to discuss stoves first. While it is possible to build a campfire, which I discuss last, a stove provides many advantages. A small stove is easy to light, provides controlled heat, works in nearly any weather condition and most can be shut off when you are done cooking or boiling your water. A stove suitable for you kit should be small, lightweight, produce enough heat to boil water in a reasonable amount of time and use commonly available fuel. The fuel must be safe to store for up to a year in the kit.

    For this DIY kit, I will first recommend a Sterno brand folding stove. It folds flat, will easily support a large pot and is easy to light and snuff. Because it burns gelled alcohol, may be used safely indoors with minimal care taken for ventilation. One large (7 oz) can of fuel is rated by the vendor to burn for two hours. The small can (2.6 oz) burns for 45 minutes. At ten minutes to boil two cups of water indoors, you should be able to produce (about) 24 cups of hot water before the first can is used up.

    The shelf life of this canned fuel is phenomenal. Years ago, a friend gave me a can of Sterno fuel dated 1947 - I've burned it several times since to demonstrate that properly stored, the shelf life of this product is outstanding.

    Another good choice for cooking is a Trangia brand alcohol stove (burner). Heat output is the same or slightly hotter than the Sterno brand product. The Trangia burner may be used with the Sterno stove as shown above. Trangia sells engineered cook kits incorporating the burner, but these can be costly to buy as a system.

    Alcohol burners are safe to use indoors with proper ventilation, the only caution I have is that alcohol burns with an almost invisible blue flame. A fuel spill is a concern, the alcohol may still be burning, yet the flame unseen. If any fuel is spilled, absent an ignition source, it will evaporate quickly and leave no residue or offensive order. Fuel may be obtained at the local gas station in the form of the yellow bottle of HEET brand fuel antifreeze. Alcohol sold as a paint thinner is also a good stove fuel.

    There are numerous camping stoves that are compact and provide excellent heat. I would suggest that other than so-called canister (propane/Butane) stoves, none are really suitable for safe indoor use. The cost of the fuel canisters is also a consideration.

    Another strike against these compact camping stoves is their stability, or lack thereof. You must be quite careful to avoid tipping over your cooking pot.

    Storage of volatile petroleum fuels like gasoline or kerosene is another major drawback - for this kit.

    Having said that, larger or full sized 'camping' stoves, propane fired, may be a good item for use at home in the event of a loss of utilities. The venerable Coleman brand stove may be had as a propane appliance or an adapter is available to convert a Coleman brand gasoline stove to propane use. The adapter may be sourced from more than one vendor less than twenty dollars! Proper ventilation must always be a consideration when using these larger stoves indoors.

    Tin can stove
    Don't want to spend money on a stove that will sit in a kit unused? Okay, a Sterno folding stove does sell for 5 to 9 US dollars, the fuel, about four US dollars for a large can. Any food can of a diameter large enough to hold the fuel container may be pressed into service as a pot holder for your fuel. (See photo at end of document)

    The holes in the sides were made with a common can opener, the cooking cup is held by two short sections of coat hanger wire. The holes for the wires were made with a small drill bit.

    The only critical measurement is to ensure the top of the fuel can is 32mm to 38mm (1.25 to 1.5 inches) from the top edge of your pot support. DO NOT use gasoline or kerosene in this or any alcohol stove. This stove can be used with regular pots by setting the fuel can on top of the support wires.

    What about these so-called soda pop can stoves? Are they any good?
    There are a large number of plans to make an alcohol burner out of soda or beer cans. They work, but are fragile. The Trangia brand burner, made from brass, is very rugged, time proven design. You get to chose, it's your money.

    Can I use isopropyl alcohol in one of these stoves?
    It's also called 'rubbing' alcohol. If the alcohol is 91% - yes. If the alcohol is marked at less than that, usually 70%, then no, it is not really suitable for use in an alcohol burner. Please note that the even the 91% alcohol will smoke and leave residue on the cook pot.

    How do I put out the flame on my Sterno fuel?
    Simply place the lid back on the can, loosely, and the flame will extinguish. Once the can of fuel cools, press the lid firmly in place.

    On a Trangia burner, the so-called simmer ring is used to snuff the stove.

    What other kinds of fuel can I use with my alcohol setup?
    There are other brands of 'chafing dish' fuel, read the labels carefully. All are alcohol based. Other alcohol sources, like yellow bottle HEET fuel-line antifreeze burn cleanly as well. Remember, extra ventilation is needed for any indoor use. NEVER use anything other than alcohol in an alcohol burner.

    Campfires -
    I'll be honest; I'm not a fan of an open fire for use in a disaster situation. They're a potential source of out of control fires, burns and can produce noxious smoke. Cooking over an open fire is a skill, so if you plan to go this route, some prior practice is strongly suggested.

    An open fire will produce both heat and light. And smoke, lots of smoke. A campfire requires an open space, with nothing flammable overhead for safety, and a significant source of fuel. People living in an urban area will be hard pressed to find a viable source of dry fuel to maintain an open fire for any length of time. Bad weather, such as rain and/or high winds also impact on your ability to keep any fire going.

    IF you live in an area where fuel is plentiful, by all means, plan on using an open fire for your cooking needs. You'll need more than a few strike-anywhere matches for this, especially if your wood is wet. For those in urban areas, remember that some treated wood products will outgas poisonous fumes when burned, so do all of your cooking outdoors, unless your indoor stove is properly vented.

    Light in a grid-down situation can be provided by flashlights, lanterns, and candle lanterns.

    For short term situations and small size, it's hard to beat the common flashlight. With the newer LED 'bulbs', battery life can be excellent. For your DIY kit, any number of low cost LED flashlights are available, so many that I won't make a specific recommendation. If you already own a MagLight brand flash, retro fitting for LED 'bulbs' is simple, using a drop in replacement. Check the flashlight section of your local Big Box store. I converted my smaller "AA" battery MagLight for just a few dollars.

    A headlamp, ("AA" and LED) as part of your kit will allow you to keep your hands free as you perform a variety of tasks. Again, there are so many low cost lights on the market, I'll just say, consider adding a headlamp to your kit.

    The only lanterns that I am aware of on the market for possible inclusion in this kit are candle lanterns and a single kerosene insert made for a specific brand of candle lantern. I purchased and have used an older miniature kerosene lantern (also called a canoil) and found it lacking. The kerosene insert has more than a few bad reviews, so I've mentioned these in passing with a recommendation to take a pass on these products. Fuel storage is problematic if nothing else.

    Candle lanterns, such as the UCO candle lantern have been around a long time. Well built, they enjoy a following with replacement candles readily available on line. I have used these for years and within the limitations of a candle lantern, they provide a usable light, burning for about eight or nine hours for a single, full size candle. UCO also makes a lantern which uses the popular tea candles. Either would make a good secondary light source for your DIY kit. Since these lanterns keep the candle inside an enclosed space, they are much safer than a candle sitting out on a plate.

    Just remember the storage conditions; heat is not kind to candles.

    Items for Capstone project -
    Sterno stove and two large cans of fuel
    Small pot, spoon and a table setting
    Several ZipLock bags to use as eating vessels

    Expense items:
    Stove under $10.00
    2 cans of Sterno fuel under $10.00
    Cookpot $0.00 (use what you have)
    ZippLock 1 Qt bags $0.20 (x 10)
    LED flashlight and 1 set spare batteries $7 to 10 dollars, depending on brand.
    If you use a Trangia burner, substitute 2 bottles of HEET (Yellow bottle) for the Sterno canned fuel - cost is about $8.00

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Tin can stove - small Sterno on bottom, tin cup on top.

    Folding Sterno stove with military Trangia burner.

    Close up of modified Esbit Stove - the spokes and side plates allow use of nearly any pot or cup

    Swede stainless steel cook kit with Trangia burner. You know you want one. I have Bund utensil set plus a soup spoon. The soup can top is a snuffer for the alcohol stove. The fuel bottle sitting in the cup hold ~3 oz.
    Pretty slick.

    Comments on the last two posts now welcome.
    Dunerunner and chelloveck like this.
  12. john316

    john316 Monkey+++

    i tried to find something wrong..sorry i could not...........
    tried to find a point that needed to be added............not much
    you might make a point of DRINKING swimming pool water as a LAST RESORT
    chelloveck and DKR like this.
  13. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Chapter Four
    Nutrition -- Food & cooking)

    This segment focuses on putting together your own meals - ready to eat or otherwise. Using commonly available long shelf life commercial products, you can make your own tasty and easy to cook or heat to eat meals. I discuss several common problems with home-made MREs and show you how to avoid some of those problems. Finally, you should store what you eat and eat what you store.

    I'm going to focus on the kit storing about four days worth of food for one individual. You should be able to eat most the items without cooking. The items should have a good shelf life, more than 6 months for storing in the kit and be relatively low cost. I'll talk a bit about stoves again, just because you can eat something cold, doesn't mean you should eat a cold meal.

    Food for your kit must:
    · Require no refrigeration,
    · Be easy to make and
    · Simple to clean up.
    The food should also provide real calories. In a disaster you'll need anywhere from 2K to 5K calories per day, depending on the weather. Minimal water use is also something you should factor in as well. Too many commercial '72 hour' kits offer nasty 'dry' food that requires cooking and is very low in calories - as in starvation level low calories.

    Other kits provide lifeboat rations and a few pouches of water. You're not on a lifeboat.

    Remember, even if you eat nothing, you will still need at least two liters of water, per person, per day.

    Let's look at some possible choices for your kit food. I'll stick with brands that can be had even here in Alaska, so you should have no problem finding them where you live as well.

    Clif Bars - 230 Calories, 30 calories from fat in a single serving bar.
    Oatmeal (so-called quick oatmeal, not instant!) 150 Calories per 1/2 cup serving (4 days is only 2 full cups)
    Breakfast bar, Quaker Apple crisp - 130 calories, 23 from fat. Single bar
    Breakfast bar, Kashi, Chewy granola, 140 calories, 45 from fat. Single bar
    (These run from 90 to 150 calories based on size, brand and so on.)

    Nido, dry milk. 160 calories per 8 oz serving, 60 from fat.
    This is four tablespoons of dry product.
    CoffeeMate dry creamer 15 calories per packet (1 tbsp) shows 1 g of fat
    Sugar, per packet 15 calories

    Instant potatoes - (Baby Reds) 4 oz pouch - 110 calories (no serving size listed, I'm assuming per oz as it is a carbohydrate)

    Minute rice - 250 Calories per 1/2 cup serving per the producer's website
    Note - other sources show 150-185 calories per single cup serving of this 'rice'.

    Note - With Minute Rice brand rice - 1 cup dry is a 1 cup serving. For unprocessed rice, it is 1/2 cup rice = 1 cup cooked. Unprocessed rice must be cooked to be eaten.

    Peanut butter (JIff to go) 250 calories, 150 from fat. per 1.5 oz serving

    SPAM (classic, slice in bag) 250 calories per 3 oz serving. (Other choices are tuna in the larger bag, chicken breast in the pouch, and dry salami. See below)

    Trail mix (Planters, 6 oz) 150 calories, 80 from fat per 6 oz bag

    Lipton Soup (dry) Chicken noodle. 60 calories per packet - makes one cup

    Sun Maid raisins 1.5 oz (28g) box 90 calories

    StarKist light tuna in water (Pouch, 2.6 oz) 80 calories, 5 calories from fat.

    Bumble Bee chicken breast (pouch, 4 oz) about 150 calories

    Sailor Boy Pilot bread - 100 calories per cracker

    Snickers bar, 250 calories, 110 from fat

    Hormel roast beef and gravy (12 oz can) ? The product label lists servings as "varies' then shows 130 calorie per serving. Lean roast beef is about 46 calories per oz. Call it 500 calories per 12 oz can.

    Tasty Bite, Madras Lentils, 150 calories per serving, 50 calories from fat. Sold in retort pouches, two servings to a 10 oz. pouch. Outstanding over rice or noodles. This company also offer noodles and rice in retort pouches.

    Fruit, Diced peaches (Dole) 70 calories per 4 oz serving.

    Chili, Campbells, 2 cup microwave serving - 220 calories, 50 from fat.

    Soup, Campbells, Sirloin burger w/vegies, 2 cup microwave serving - 120 calories, 20 from fat

    Soup, Campbells, tomato, 2 cup microwave service - 160 calories, 45 from fat

    A Mountain House Beef Stroganoff (2 serving pouch) gives you 500 calories for 4.6 oz.

    A single MRE gives (about) 1250 calories and each one weighs in at between 0.8 pounds and 1.8 pounds (depends of menu item and packer) stripping out the internal packing will shave off some weight. The cost of a single MRE is around 8 US dollars as of the time of writing. Current MRE menus offer 24 meal choices. Eat some at home before you decide which ones would go into your kit.

    Hormel Dinty Moore Beef stew, DAK premium canned had (16 oz), Corned beef & corned beef hash, and other canned meats may be more to your taste - this is an exercise in counting calories and trying for some balance in your food choices.

    In any item you choose to put in your kit, watch out for things like sodium content, most 'backpacking' foods are very high in sodium. Sodium is important if you are in a hot climate and sweat a lot. If you have high blood pressure or are on a low-sodium diet, check the labels before you buy for your kit.

    You've listed soup and stews, how do I cook these?
    To reduce clean up, wet items can be both heated in a water bath and served in a Ziplock sandwich bag used as a liner. This bag can then be can be held by a bowl or a cardboard ring. Doing this will reduce your clean up tasks. Parboiled rice and oatmeal only need hot water, stews and other canned food may be (carefully) heated in the opened can using a water bath, the water being saved for washing up after your meal.

    What kind of meals can we make from these basic ingredients?
    How about a big hot breakfast of 1 cup of oatmeal (300calories ), 1.5 oz of raisins (90 calories) a couple of CoffeeMates in leiu of milk (30 calories) or milk (80 calories) and a packet of sugar (15)" You end up with 470 calories and a pretty filling start to your day. *Requires hot water to be palatable for most people.
    *Optional items, Swiss Miss hot coca mix or freeze dried coffee.

    You could try a pair of breakfast bars (280 calories), and a full 8 oz glass of milk (160 calories). 440 calories and no cooking needed.

    For a lunch? As most folks are habituated to a noonday meal, even if not necessary, why not try a lunch of 6 oz of trail mix (150) + 1 Clif bar (230) consumed thru the day, these will give 380 calories and will keep you going. No cooking required.
    *Optional items would be Crystal Delight or other low-cal drink.

    Dinner of SPAM slice, diced (250 calories) in a soup mix (60 ) over 1 cup of Minute rice (500) gives you a full dinner of 820 calories + drink. A 'desert' of a candy bar will add 250 more calories. So, 1070 calories for the day.
    "This requires cooking, making a "One Pot meal".

    A Cambells microwave Chili (220 calories) over one cup of rice (500 calories) gives you 720 calories, add in a candy bar and you get 970 calories.

    These meals are short of the 2000 calories/day we should have, so keep total calories in mind when planning your menu.

    Even the roast beef and gravy over 4 oz of potatoes would still leave you a bit short of 2000 calories. You could add a Jif peanut butter packet on a couple of Sailor Boy crackers at mid-day, which would give you an additional 450 calories - meeting the 2K goal per day.

    Taking a few minutes to plan now and making a list of items to pick up as part of your regular shopping cycle will help keep costs under control. Since you may or may not know what your group enjoys eating, ask the others in your group before you buy. These are suggestions to follow when planning your disaster kit food menu choices.

    Why no MREs? Those are good enough for the Army!
    You are correct. Each MRE retails for about 8 dollars, or about 25 dollars a day. You can do better - cost wise. You can certainly plan the evening meal around a single MRE and know you will go to bed with a full tummy and likely have some leftovers to eat the next day.
    (H/T to MREInfo.com, for all knowledge for MREs.)

    Canned food? That stuff weighs a ton! Why would you suggest canned food?
    This is a DIY disaster kit, not something you would use for crossing the high Sierras on foot. Canned food makes sense if you will be traveling by automobile - I'm sure most of us would prefer that over walking. Canned food (also called wet pack) normally doesn't require additional water to cook, is normally part of everyone's diet and are lower cost than MREs or freeze dry foods.

    Why would I pick an MRE over a nice freeze dried meal?
    Rarely is a back-packer 'meal' a full meal, normally FD food is sold as an 'entree'. A popular brand of FD food, like Beef Stroganoff, is lightweight and tasty. Add two cups of boiling water and you have -- a bit over two cups of beef stroganoff. You gain a mere 500 calories.

    With a single MRE, you get a lot more - for a couple of dollars above the cost of that freeze dried entree, if that much more. Open that funky brown plastic bag and you'll find:

    Entree - the main course, such as meatloaf

    Side dish - lots of choices here, rice, corn, fruit, or mashed potatoes, etc. These are available separately of you wish to build your own custom menus.

    Cracker or Bread choice - tortillas even!

    Spread - peanut butter, jelly, or cheese spread. Yum.

    Dessert - a cake or cookie choice.

    Candy - normally a commercial product, in some cases, not even repackaged.

    Beverages - coffee, tea, sport drinks and so on.

    Hot sauce or seasoning are found in some menu choices

    Flameless Ration Heater - if you don't have a stove or don't want the hassle of a stove, these work pretty well, with MRE packaged items.

    Accessories - spoon, matches, creamer, sugar, salt, chewing gum, toilet paper, etc.

    I was in the store and saw some "Heater Meals". Are they any good for this?
    Good question.

    Pros - These and so-called microwave pacs are lighter than canned food, these wet pack items can be readily heated in a hot water bath. The Heater Meal brand has something like the MRE flameless ration heater to warm the meal. I have regularly eaten several different menu choices as lunch while working in Cubeville. Most are decent tasting - but I will caution you to try any of your choices first to avoid any ugly surprises later.

    Cons - These are not as rugged as canned food. You must be careful on how you pack and carry these, least you open your disaster kit and find it full of spaghetti and meatballs. The same caution applies to the peel-top cans as well.
    NOTE - the peel top cans are now all plastic to include the tops. For this reason, IMO, they are good for in-home use only.

    How about those sandwiches from the new First Strike Ration?
    I was a bit excited when they first came out at the backpacking stores here. The reality was less than thrilling. They are long on bread, short on filler. At four or more dollars, per sandwich, I find them pricy. That said, I still have some in my bag because you can eat them cold - ugh. I sit mine on top of the canteen cup as I boil up water for a cuppa. Warmed up they are something of a comfort food and require no real effort to prepare.

    I don't think I could eat a whole can of...say, chili. What can I do?
    There are a host of smaller, 'lunch-sized' items in peel-top cans which, when heated and poured over rice, potatoes or pasta make a good, filling and hot meal. There are a host of 'microwave meals' that offer additional choices that are about half the size of a #303 can.

    I don't like the taste of parboiled rice. I don't want to carry the fuel needed to boil the water for 20 minutes to make real rice. Any suggestions?
    I hate to make those kinds of choices as well. I carry a wide mouth thermal flask and use it to cook 'real rice' and real oatmeal, for that matter. It's also great for heating water the night before to make a hot breakfast without fussing with a stove in the morning. Check out any number of "Thermos cooking" websites for more ideas. For this - practice makes perfect...so practice before you need the cooked food.

    Don't forget that multiple vendors offer rice and noodles in retort pouched that are tasty and easy to heat.

    What else will work for breakfast? It's a big deal for the start of my day.
    There are several dry mix products that will allow you to cook pancakes, grits, bannock (AKA fry bread or pan bread) - or you can roll your own and store the ingredients in a zipbag or plastic container. Ensure your fuel budget covers the extra cooking time and that you have enough water for both cooking and cleaning up.

    I dunno, this all looks pretty complicated.
    Good point, if you eat out all the time or your meals are mostly fast food, canned food or made for you, this can seem intimidating. In that case, the MREs are your friend. If you have even basic cooking skills, you can mix and match to suit your tastes.

    It is really as simple as taking a piece of paper and making a 4 x3 grid - three meals for 4 days, and filling in the blanks.

    Add up your calories and estimated fuel use of the item is to be cooked or heated. Remember to check the "Use by" dates on any food before it goes into your DIY kit and make a note of the dates you need to swap out your food supplies.

    If you only do one or two practice campout trips a year, you can eat the food before it expires and get to practice your cooking.

    If you chose not to camp out, at least cook the food using your kit stove.

    I covered stoves in Chapter Three. The choice of your food items will be the big driver in the stove you pick to go in the kit. If you only need to heat some water for the food you have packed, the simple Esbit brand solid fuel stove would be a good choice.

    If you plan on doing some real cooking, then the Sterno stove, a quality alcohol burner and some pots and pans are in order. Both Esbit and Trangia make low-er cost alcohol stove cooksets worth a look.

    If this is something you plan to leave parked in the closet for a year at a time, then cost should be the major driver in stove selection. I'd hate to have you spend a lot of money on a stove/cookset that might only get used once a year.

    Finally, if you go the all MRE route, ensure you get the MRE heaters to go with the food, all of the menu choices are much more palatable when warmed.

    Military surplus field mess kit
    I had originally planned on my Capstone kit to use the Swedish surplus cook kit shown above - only to discover they are no longer readily available. So I'll suggest a small Esbit cook set - about 25 dollars. Shop around - prices vary wildly..


    Capstone items - food for you covering four days. Cost is dependent on your tastes.
    Dunerunner and Ganado like this.
  14. john316

    john316 Monkey+++

    NEED TO PACK A FEW p38,s or p54,s i like the p54 better
    maybe a small knife
    Peanut butter needs a jar or 2 of jelly AND crackers
    Dunerunner and DKR like this.
  15. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Thanks John. Those are covered under 'tools'.
  16. john316

    john316 Monkey+++

    this looks like it could be good for a lot of people....keep up the good work.
  17. TightRope

    TightRope Monkey

    Good read, very informative
  18. john316

    john316 Monkey+++

  19. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    I've not seen much interest or even a moderate number of hits from folks reading. This is pretty much a classic Coals to Newcastle thing, as you know.

    I assumed the piece to be of little to no interest for the group as a whole.

    Dunerunner likes this.
  20. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    I kept missing the updates....:eek: Keep it coming!! :D
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