Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Review of OnPoint Tactical's Off-Grid Medicine Course

OnPoint Tactical’s off-grid medicine course is not your typical first aid class. It’s not EMT school. I mean no disrespect towards them at all, but those first responder classes are like baby aspirin. What Dr. Steve provides is more like dilaudid or fentanyl. (No, he does not sell these or tell us how to get them. It’s just for comparison between the types of courses. However, there does seem to be the possibility of developing an addiction of sorts. Three of the people from the February class repeated the August class and brought family members with them.)

A Special Forces Battalion surgeon, University of Utah Medical School faculty member, Utah Emergency Physician of the Year, paramedic– the list goes on. This is Dr. Steve Pehrson, the man behind OnPoint Tactical’s Off-Grid Medicine course. The list of credentials might be as intimidating as it is impressive and could scare some potential students away. However, what isn’t mentioned in his biography and course description is that Dr. Steve Pehrson is this kind of cuddly-looking grandpa with a great sense of humor and surprising lack of the God-complex that seems to afflict some doctors.

When asked what he likes to do for fun he replied, “Teach this class.” It must be true because Steve starts at 8:00 to 8:30, and he’s usually still going strong 12 hours later. Then he’s ready to start again the next morning! And the students are, too.

Dr. Steve somehow provides simple explanations of complex anatomical and physiological processes and chemistry. (If I’d had him as a professor in college, I might have followed through with the original plan of studying medicine.) But familiarity with medicine is definitely not a prerequisite. In fact, in the two classes I have attended, there has only been one person in each class with any formal training in medicine. The rest have been regular people—student, pilot, wilderness guide, computer guy, homeschool mom, et cetera. And while Steve’s experience includes extensive time treating people all over the world during humanitarian missions, as well as treating weekend warriors in the emergency room, parents too will benefit greatly from this class. This is because in addition to everything else Steve is also a family physician.

Before class, Steve emails links to lectures and articles to be reviewed prior to the start of class. This advance class material allows more hands on time. He tailors each class to the students. It is slightly different each time based on what worked in previous classes and the desires of the students. This course is designed for people who want to be prepared for a time when there is no doctor or other medical care available to be able to handle broken bones, disease, serious wounds and blood loss, and other acute and chronic conditions, ranging from infants to the elderly. At the start of class, Steve provides a binder of copies of almost every slide used in his presentation with space for note-taking.

Doctor Steve is not actually teaching brain surgery. He does show what you can do to save a person’s life and quality of life by means of suturing, splinting, anesthesia, supply acquisition, and other skills. He tries to help students accept that there are going to be deaths because the technology we take for granted today will someday disappear. Sstudents are taught how to manage modern medical issues without modern technology, without resupply, and at the same time how to address the communicable diseases that most doctors have never even seen. And because modern medicine isn’t always going to be here, and neither is our pharmaceutical industry, Steve also shares his personal experiences with the use of herbal medicines or brings in other experts in that field.

The vast majority of that 1-2% of the population who prepares for TEOTWAWKI does so at the baby aspirin level. They may have some OTC meds and antibiotics, some sutures, and maybe a surgical kit. Dr. Steve educates you on how to use those tools in your surgical kit and what else you are going to want to have and be able to use, or available for someone else to use. Let’s face it. We know what’s coming, and baby aspirin ain’t gonna cut it.

The following is what I wrote in reply to a question posted in response to this review.

I could have left a much longer review, but I wasn’t sure how much would be appropriate. The course my husband, daughter, and I took was five full days–three 11-12 hour days, one 10-hour day, and one 8-hour day. Again, a lot of that depends on the students’ desires. Lunchtime was always a “working” lunch–20-30 minutes to grab lunch and bring it back for informal discussion and questions. Our cost for the Salt Lake City class, was $795 each; however, it was supposed to be $1100 each, as was the case for the Denver class. Due to technical errors on the website, the owners decided to keep with the advertised $795, but not include the surgical set and many other items but made those available for purchase.

The OnPoint Tactical website ( does not provide a whole lot of detailed information on the course, unfortunately. You could try contacting them directly for your specific questions. I hesitate to post Dr. Steve’s email address here, but if you can get hold of him thru OnPoint Tactical, he is great about answering questions. I’ve emailed him countless times since the Denver class in February, and he always responds in great detail about the medical questions, proper procedures, dosages, sources for supplies, etc.

As to how often the class is offered, I know that Dr. Steve wants to hold many, many more. He knows what is coming, and there just aren’t going to be prepared doctors available for everyone who needs them, with all the necessary supplies. The problem has been a matter of how to best get the info out to people.

As far as experiences, where to begin….

–Maintaining medical records, how to take a proper patient history, asking exact questions. How did that bone fracture occur? Without x-rays, you need to be able to figure out exactly how that bone broke to set it properly

–How to tape a badly sprained ankle (and how to tell the difference between a sprain and a break without X-rays) so that the injured person can continue walking without crutches

–Different suture techniques and materials and their various uses–and when not to suture.

–Proper sterilization of tools and supplies–without an autoclave

–Moving patients

–People with conditions that modern technology manages today but who will die without our technology, sooner or later, and being able to accept that–and accept that their families will be angry if you make the decision not to treat and save precious resources for those who can be helped. Like burn patients–even a burn covering 10% of the body can be life-threatening. A burn covering 25-30%? That person will use up a heckuva lot of resources, and will die anyway. What are you going to do?

–Anesthesia–how to administer local anesthetics, how to obtain them (yes, you can legally purchase and possess lidocaine and epinephrine–and those two alone can be very, very beneficial)

–How to use OTC meds to be the equivalent of prescription strength meds

–Checking vitals

–Various medical bags, what he carries, what is pointless, how to package and pack supplies for ease of use, etc.

–Where to get supplies, especially reusable supplies

–Dehydration, and how to hydrate without an IV (because inserting an IV is a perishable skill, and it’s really hard even for trained personnel to put an IV into someone who is seriously dehydrated)

Unlike the attached picture suggests, this class is all indoors, other than the brief plant walk we took with the herbal medic Sam Coffman.

The herbal portion of the class covered two days. It covered the process of making herbal tinctures, the importance of understanding the herbs you use (do no harm), combining herbs to achieve the best results, herbal antibiotics.

Again, this is not first aid. It’s not EMT school. This is stuff most parents would love to know before having children (you know, like whether that cut requires a trip to the ER, whether that sprain is going to heal on its own, whether you can handle that shoulder dislocation yourself and avoid the ER altogether, etc.). It’s stuff every serious backpacker and homesteader should know–the stuff all of us really should know even if TEOTWAWKI never happens.

 © 2019, 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit)

Last week's conventional medicine blog post was on boo-boo kits and what items they should contain.  Boo-boo kits, though they might sound like it, are definitely not Individual First Aid Kits (IFAK).  This acronym comes to us from that great lover of all acronyms, the US military.  And since they created the acronym, they get to define what it is as well.  For military purposes, an IFAK contains some items from the boo-boo kit and a number of more critical items for managing traumatic injuries until a medic is available.  However, the specific contents of military IFAKs are customized to the specific activities of the different branches of service.  Not everyone needs an IFAK.  IFAKs are primarily for those carrying weapons, or hanging out with or near such people.  Basically, anyone who carries a weapon carries an IFAK as well.  It's just common sense.

Create your own IFAKs based on your perceived needs.  The following is what we put together for our concealed carry permit people.  Their IFAKs contain:

--everything from the boo-boo kit  (complete checklist below if you don't need an explanation of the usage of these items)

--an additional pair of exam gloves--whatever has happened, it's probably going to be pretty messy and you're going to want an extra pair of hands to help manage it;

--tourniquet, CAT or SOF-T are designed for military use, able to be applied very quickly with only one hand if necessary;

--chest seal for penetrating chest wounds to cover both entry and exit and prevent outside air from entering and preventing the lungs from expanding;

--Quikclot or Celox gauze--for stopping bleeding in penetrating wounds;

--Sharpie permanent marker, fine point, to write on the patient the time the tourniquet was applied;

--moxifloxacin, the broadest spectrum antibiotic and what soldiers carry in their IFAKs--military studies showed that soldiers who took an antibiotic at the time of injury reduced the wound infection rate to 0%, as opposed to those who did not get an antibiotic until a few hours later;

--meloxicam, a pain reliever more effective than acetaminophen that does not interfere with blood clotting;

--mylar blanket for hypothermia and shock

--triangle bandage, multiple uses

--1.5" wide medical tape, multiple uses, but especially for taping a sprained ankle.

Obviously, you'll need a bit larger bag to carry these items.  (We chose this one from Amazon for our family members:  Soldiers in combat carry these on their chest where they can be quickly accessed, and the tourniquet has its own case as well, so that it can be even more quickly deployed.  More on tourniquet use in a future post.

Abrasions and lacerations:
     ▢     3 Band-aids in various sizes
     ▢     4 alcohol wipes
     ▢     1 benzalkonium chloride wipe
     ▢     2 Q-tips
     ▢     1 packet of triple antibiotic
     ▢     5 Steri-strips (or butterfly closures)
     ▢     1 tincture of benzoin
     ▢     1 Tegaderm

Topical creams: 
     ▢     1 burn gel for burns
     ▢     1 hydrocortisone for bug bites and stings
     ▢     1 Benadryl for poison oak, ivy, or sumac

Oral medications: 
     ▢     Benadryl, 2 tablets
     ▢     Imodium, 1 tablet
     ▢     Tylenol, 2 doses
     ▢     Aleve, 2 doses
     ▢     Vivarin (caffeine) 2 doses
     ▢     moxifloxacin
     ▢     meloxicam

Other items:
     ▢     2 pairs nitrile exam gloves 
     ▢     2 safety pins
     ▢     1 super glue
     ▢     1 razor blade or scalpel
     ▢     1.5" wide medical tape
     ▢     tourniquet
     ▢     chest seal
     ▢     Quikclot or Celox gauze
     ▢     Sharpie permanent marker, fine point
     ▢     mylar blanket
     ▢     triangle bandage

© 2019,  

Monday, October 29, 2018

Alternative Medicine: Usnea--Part 2

Disclaimer.  I am not a licensed health practitioner.  This is just another post on an item you might wish to have available if needed so that a physician can treat you and your family as best as possible.  No medication, including those available over the counter, should be taken without consulting a physician.  Information shared here is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  It is not medical advice nor a substitute for licensed medical care.  A qualified, licensed physician or other medical provider should be consulted before beginning any herbal or conventional treatment.

In Part 1 of the Usnea series, we discussed gathering this fine herb and powdering it for use in wound management.  In Part 2 today we'll cover the preparation of an Usnea tincture and why you are really going to want to have some of this DIY wonder drug herb in your preps.

First off, let's discuss what a tincture actually is.  Herbalists have their own language and in the educational process it's kinda important to understand what they're talking about.  So here we go:

A tincture is a liquid herbal extract--you know, like the vanilla extract you use for making cookies and other tasty things.  In the herbal world, tincture generally refers to concentrated liquid herbals extracted by alcohol.  Alcohol is most often the solvent of choice because it is food grade and because (this is the important part) it can extract the herbal constituents that are poorly soluble in water (if you want your herbal medicine to do its job, you have to get the active compounds from the plant to your body).  The specific alcohol used to make tinctures varies by herb.  Some herbs have more water soluble compounds in them as well, so a lower-proof alcohol (i.e., one that has more water in it) is used to make those tinctures.

Other solvents to make tinctures for internal consumption include vinegar and glycerin, both of which have their advantages and disadvantages.  While alcohol has the benefit of being a premier solvent for both acidic and basic (alkaline) constituents, vinegar is effective really only for obtaining alkaloids.  Because it is acidic, vinegar can't do a good job of extracting acidic components.  Glycerin is similar to alcohol, but it is just not as effective in extracting active components.  But because it is sweet, it's easier for children to take.  Glycerin and vinegar tinctures are not as medicinally powerful as alcohol tinctures, so more of those preparations need to be taken to achieve the desired degree of efficacy.  Those who wish to avoid alcohol may think their problems have been solved.  Not so!  Remember, glycerin and vinegar are just not as effective at extracting the chemical constituents.  While this if fine if you are merely treating common colds and sore throats that are going to resolve on their own anyway, if you're dealing with a serious condition, say tuberculosis, you may be missing something critical.  And glycerin and vinegar tinctures have relatively short shelf lives.  Bummer.

So what to do?  Stay with me here, to the very end.  There are other options, I promise.

First off, let's consider the amount of alcohol actually consumed with a tincture, and the amount of alcohol consumed at other times, you know, when no one is looking.  Like chocolate chip cookie dough.  Tinctures are often administered in numbers of drops.  That's not that much alcohol, and it is definitely not tasty or desirable in any way.  My chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for two teaspoons of vanilla extract per batch of 36 cookies.  Using my dropper (and droppers vary), that works out to five drops per cookie, and I probably eat half my cookies before they're baked.  What about you?

How about smoothies?  In our house, we add a teaspoon or two of vanilla per quart of smoothie.  Going on the conservative side for estimation's sake here, we'll use one teaspoon per quart, and that works out to 1/4 teaspoon per one cup serving of smoothie.  And we never even give a thought to the amount of alcohol we're consuming in these situations.

Now consider that you could be trying to save a life.  Is the amount of alcohol in a few drops or 1/4 teaspoon excessive?  OK, I understand.  Really.  It still makes me uncomfortable.  Not to mention it still tastes really nasty.  So here's one more work-around since the vinegar and glycerin tincture solutions to the alcohol problem failed you.  Add your drops of alcohol-based tincture to very hot water and let sit.  Alcohol boils off/evaporates.  Voila!


Now back to Usnea.  As stated in Part 1, Usnea is really good stuff for treating wounds.  But it is so much more.  Usnea tincture can be used to treat skin infections and abscesses (you don't even take it internally in this case), vaginal and fungal infections (well, kinda, but at least you didn't ingest it), and upper respiratory infections (well, same).  However, that's not all.  It's effective against MRSA.  Even more remarkable is that it eliminates tuberculosis.  And not just the tuberculosis of 100-140 years ago that every immigrant into this country was screened for at Ellis Island and Angel Island, and that could be easily cured with antibiotics a few decades ago.  It kills the antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis that we apparently no longer screen immigrants for, but seem to be welcoming with open arms.  That tuberculosis.

Are you interested now?  I thought so.

The instructions for making Usnea tincture come from Stephen Harrod Buhner's Herbal Antibiotics book (reviewed here), which I very highly recommend.  His entire chapter on Usnea and producing the tincture are found here, without any mention of his name.  It's just been completely plagiarized, and it's been there for over four years.  I don't understand how people get away with stuff like that.

Of course, I can't guarantee how long it will be there, but for those who want to take a look before committing to purchase, there it is. The following directions come directly from Stephen Buhner's book:

Again, the immune-stimulating polysaccharides are most efficiently extracted with heat. To do this, when you are making your tincture, heat the herb first in the water you are going to use for tincturing. The best way is in a slow cooker (or, failing that, on low heat, covered, overnight in the oven).

Use a tincture ratio of 1:5 (1 part herb to 5 parts liquid). The liquid should be composed of half water and half pure grain alcohol. So if you have 5 ounces of herb, you will use 25 ounces of liquid—12.5 of water, 12.5 of alcohol.

Put the powdered herb in the slow cooker, add the 12.5 ounces of water, and stir well. It will turn into a kind of mush. Cover and then cook on low heat for 48 hours. Let cool enough to work with it without burning yourself, then pour into a heat-tolerant jar (Mason or equivalent), add the alcohol when the mix is still warm but not hot, and then put on the lid and shake well. Let macerate for 2 weeks, then decant and strain out the herb. Bottle and store out of the light.

As indicated above, Usnea is one of the herbs that should be extracted with pure grain alcohol (95% or 190-proof).  That's the truly hard stuff.  It's sold under the name of Everclear or Mohawk.  I'd never bought coffee or Coke in my entire life, let alone anything alcoholic (except vanilla extract and the like), so buying Everclear was going to be a real trip.  I remembered talk from kids in high school about getting Everclear.  I never really paid attention, though I understood from their conversation that it was powerful. (Even the folks at Everclear say it is not to be consumed alone, but should be mixed with something.)  I searched the alcohol aisles of all the local grocery and drug stores for Everclear to no avail.

I was getting ready to make my first trip ever into a dedicated liquor store when I read online that Nevada prohibits the sale of Everclear within the state.  WTH?!  We have legalized gambling, pot, and prostitution, but no Everclear.  And neighboring Utah, which prohibits gambling, pot, and prostitution, does sell Everclear.

Talk about irony.

Usnea, Part 1
Usnea, Part 3

© 2019,

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Expanded Food Storage: French Fries

One of the primary challenges in becoming prepared to deal with future events, and especially in getting family members to join enthusiastically with us in our planning, lies in facing the fear of the unknown, like what are we really going to have to eat, as well as the fear of the known--AACCKKKKK!  YOU DON'T REALLY EXPECT ME TO EAT THAT, DO YOU?!?!

And you know, it's been my observation in the many food storage classes that I've attended, and much of what I've seen online (fortunately, there are some notable exceptions), that most people are going to be really sad when TEOTWAWKI hits.  The vast majority will be sad that they didn't store enough; and many of those that did store enough food calorie-wise will wish they'd put a little more thought into what they were going to be eating.

When the trucks stop rolling, life will definitely change without fresh produce and frozen foods.  But just because doom and gloom are on everyone else's menus, doesn't mean it has to be on yours.  And that's exactly where the focus of the weekly blog post on expanded food storage will be.

Today's star is home-canned potatoes.  The kids actually beg for them.

("How can this be?" you ask.  "Did the woman raise her children in a cave?  Do they only get ice cream at Christmas?"

Truth be told, plain cut up and canned potatoes don't actually send tingles down anyone's spine here.  I like canning and I like having all my jars full all the time, and canned potatoes don't do anything for me, either.  They're kind of a hassle to can because they have to be peeled first, and if you're using them for mashed potatoes, well, the texture just isn't quite right.

But is there anyone in your world that doesn't like French fries?  Probably not.  (But even if there is, great.  That's more fries for everyone else.)

So the first step in winning "Mother of the Year" is to buy a French fry cutter (you can get a cheap one from Amazon for about $13--I think mine lasted 2-3 years, probably 60-80 quarts of fries).  Use the large blade (1/2"); the smaller size fries will break too easily.  Then buy a bag or box of No. 2 Russet potatoes; these are large potatoes, but not the monster size they serve at church dinners.  You need to scrub the potatoes well, but they don't need to be peeled.  (In canning, potatoes that will not be eaten as French fries must be peeled to remove all dirt.  Dirt is where we get botulism spores.  Botulism kills.  However, French fries will be fried at very high temperatures--350-400 degrees--for several minutes, creating conditions to render harmless any botulism toxin that may have developed.)  Cut the potatoes with your French fry cutter.  Follow instructions from your Ball Blue Book (you do have a copy, right?) but reduce the initial boiling time for the potatoes from ten minutes to three minutes.  Drain the potatoes and let cool until you can handle them comfortably.  Carefully stack the potatoes on their sides in a wide mouth quart jar, add one teaspoon salt per jar, and fill to within one inch of the rim of the jar with boiling water.  Process per instructions from your Ball Blue Book  and your pressure canner.

When it's lunchtime, open the jar and shake the fries out into a strainer.  Rinse and drain well to remove any excess starch.  Fry in peanut oil until a golden brown.  (One more tip:  If we're in the middle of TEOTWAWKI and you are having to guess as to whether your oil is hot enough for frying yet, drop a few kernels of popcorn in the oil.  When the temperature hits 350 degrees, the popcorn will pop.)  Salt, eat, and prepare yourself to be showered with praises.

© 2019,  

Friday, October 26, 2018

Overview of Long Term Food Storage and Minimum Recommended Amounts

We begin at the beginning.  Where exactly that beginning is will vary by family.  Regardless of where we begin, the goal is the same:  We want to be as thoroughly prepared as possible for the exciting times ahead.

In the area of food storage, some say to begin with a supply of food you normally eat.  Good advice.  I have given it myself.  Others counsel to begin with long term storage.  It's also good advice, and I have taught it as well.  The point is, if you haven't already, to get started with something.  Now!

I know starting is hard.  I'm struggling with it right now, in just how to begin this blog without being as dull as dryer lint.  It's not that I can't write on the subject--I've already written articles and had them published.  Unfortunately, I no longer own the copyrights to those articles.  Which is a pity, because I think they are great articles and I did a fine job composing them.  However, I can provide the links for you readers who just can't wait for everything to be posted here in a piecemeal fashion:

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have counseled their members since at least the time of their arrival in the Salt Lake valley to store food.  Moses counseled the children of Israel to do the same.  It's what is known as an eternal principle.  God has always commanded His children to be self-reliant.  And because these church leaders have been counseling their members to store food, they've also made resources for acquiring much of this food economically and provided suggested amounts for meeting minimum caloric and nutritional requirements.  Following are two lists that have been offered over the years. 

List A: 300 pounds grains, 75 lbs dry milk, 60 lbs beans, 60 lbs sugar, 20 lbs oil, 8 lbs salt.
List B: 400 pounds grains, 20 lbs dry milk, 60 lbs beans, 60 lbs sugar, 20 lbs oil, 10 lbs salt.

Both lists provide 2000 calories per day for one year.  List A is what the Church recommended for years.  They are both quite similar, with list A including much more milk and a little less salt.  List A was recommended for all people until just a few years ago.  However, it was observed that most people will not happily drink powdered milk, and dry milk really needs to be rotated.  It's also the most expensive item in long term storage.  So the lists were adjusted to still provide for all caloric and nutritional needs.  A little more salt was added to list B because more bread baking requires more salt for flavor.  List A is still what is advised for children and pregnant and nursing women who need the extra vitamins and calcium for proper development. Also, bear in mind that children under the age of six need only half the recommended amounts; children six through twelve need three-fourths of the recommended amounts. 

On a daily basis, this breaks down to the following amounts for List B:

Wheat         1.1 lbs         2 1/3 cups
Beans          2.6 oz         1/3 cup
Dry milk     0.7 oz          2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
Oil              0.88 oz        2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
Sugar          2.6 oz          1/3 cup
Salt             0.44 oz        2 teaspoons

Visually, this is what you get:

This is for all three meals for one day. 
Well, you think, that looks ok.  But, did you remember?  That is for all three meals for the whole day!

This is the most economical way to stockpile and begin your family food storage.  Is it really what you want to be limited to, each and every day, for a year?  Probably not.  But remember, it's your foundation.  You start with the economical basics and add in little bits of other items to create variety. 

Now that you know what you need to store in what amounts, future posts will address each of these staple items in detail so that you can make the most informed decisions for your family’s storage program.

© 2019,  

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Plastic Straw Mini Packages

Straws.  Remember what a great treat it was to be able to use a straw with your soda at a restaurant?  Because you hardly ever got to use one at home?  And how much fun you had blowing bubbles in your milk?  As a child, weren't straws just a thing of beauty?

Yeah, those same plastic straws being banned in Seattle and in cities throughout California and other oh-so-progressive locales.  If only we could be so cool here.  Alas, we are mere deplorables living in flyover country.  Sadly, we'll just have to console ourselves by coming up with creative uses for the suddenly much-maligned humble straw.  Embarrassingly, we aren't even recycling them.  How we can even dare to show our faces in public remains a mystery.

Actually, you can recycle your straws for this project, as long as they have been thoroughly washed and dried.  But we almost never go to restaurants and don't have jumbo straws here, so we had to purchase new ones.

Plastic straws are perfect tiny waterproof packages for a myriad of items that we like to keep in emergency evacuation bags, medical kits of all sizes, camping kits, etc.

So what exactly do we use plastic straws for?  Lots and lots of things!  

Pills:  Generally in single doses.  I make an exception for chewable baby aspirin, because if someone is having a heart attack, you want a lot of it.  Right now!  Some pills can fit in regular straws; some require jumbos.  They're perfect for boo-boo kits, IFAKs, car kits, and advanced medical kits without having to carry whole bottles around.

Medicinal powders in medical kits:  Powders, like activated charcoal, can be very messy;  straws contain the mess better. I use jumbo straws for these.

DIY single uses of creams:  Triple antibiotic and Benadryl and other creams (also toothpaste).  Sure, you can buy single uses of triple antibiotic and many creams, but not all.  So far I haven't been able to find single use packages of Benadryl cream, something I really like to carry in my kits.  And it can get a little pricey if you're building kits for a lot of people or if you only need one or two packages of items that are only sold in large quantities.  Small straws for these items.

Food:  yeast (the yeast sold in single packs in grocery stores often doesn't work for me, so I buy one-pound bags), powdered eggs, Parmesan cheese, freeze-dried butter, spices, salt, sugar, pepper, etc.  Yes, you might get the little paper packages of these items, but they aren't waterproof and straws are.

Waterproof matches:  make sure the end you are sealing doesn't have the business end of the match.  Just sayin'.

So how do we do this?

First, get yourself some straws.  You shouldn't actually need that many, as you can get quite a few packages out of each straw.  My grocery store sells jumbo straws, but only colored ones.  Amazon has clear jumbo straws, but of course, they're more expensive.  Clear straws are nice, because you can easily see what's inside, but you're probably still going to have to label each straw anyway.  Colored straws just kinda look fun.  And if you actually remember what pills, powders, foods went into which color, you can find them more quickly.  For example, Benadryl, that little pink magic pill, always goes in a pink straw.  Aleve (naproxen sodium) is a little light blue pill, so it goes in a light blue straw.  You get the idea.

Then gather the rest of your supplies and items to put in the straws.

Supplies needed:  Straws, pliers, tea light or birthday candle, matches, ultra fine tip Sharpie, and something to work on, like a plate or a pie tin.

Filler items:  medications and creams, medical powders, food items, strike anywhere matches, etc.  Whatever you want to have!

General directions:  Light candle.  Crimp straw closed in pliers with just the tiniest bit of straw hanging out.  Melt that end in the candle flame to  seal it. 

For dry items:  Seal the first end, fill, put pliers on filled end, cut to size, seal. 
For wet (cream) items:  Cut the straw, fill by squeezing the cream in, and seal ends.  Ends with liquid on them may take a few attempts to seal.

Caution:  Do not do this with hand sanitizer.  You know, alcohol.  You know, very flammable, as in, burn your fingers right off.

© 2019,  

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Water, Basic Purification

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (actually, it was just Clay County, Missouri, but for all intents and purposes...), I taught preparedness classes for the ladies in my congregation.   And for class one month I decided to focus on the entirely unglamorous subject of water.  No one, and I mean no one, gets excited about water sterilization, purification, filtration, distillation, whatever term you want to use (and no, the terms are not interchangeable).  It's a miracle anyone showed up.  

I thought it would be a good idea to use the same water everyone in our area would have to use if there were a disaster and we had to resort to drinking pond water.  I can't remember if we used scummy pond water from our neighbor across the street, or if my dear friend Betsy provided some of her own precious supply of scummy pond water.  Regardless, it was truly scummy pond water.  I guess pioneers didn't have a problem drinking it, but no one today ever would.  At least, no one in my class would.  

No one wanted to try it even after it had been treated properly.  

I presented the class with four examples of treated water.  a.  water that had only gone through a regular paper coffee filter; b.  water through the coffee filter and boiled; c.  water through the coffee filter and bleach added; d.  water through the steam juicer, in effect, distilled.  

The clearest most beautiful water, most desirable appearance for drinking?   Not that anyone would touch it, because it had been scummy pond water.  Yep, it was the water that had only gone through the coffee filter.  It was so very clear, just like anything you get out of your tap.  Probably even better looking.  What a lesson.  Looks can be very deceiving.

The other three treated water samples were all pretty much equally uninviting.  They had a kind of dull look to them, like I had started off with dirty pans or something.  (My pans were most definitely not dirty.)

Your absolute safest method for making your drinking (and cooking and washing) water safe is to first run it through a coffee filter, or cheesecloth, or some other cloth to remove the larger contaminants and then boil it at a hard boil for one minute, plus an extra minute for each additional 1,000 feet above sea level.  So for me at 5,600 feet altitude, that's six minutes of a hard boil.  Unfortunately, that's going to take a bit of fuel which we may not necessarily have an excess of when TEOTWAWKI hits.  Future posts will cover other methods of water purification.

© 2019,  

Food Fatigue