With disasters occurring more frequently due to climate change and increasing instability around the world, it’s critical to be prepared, self-sufficient, and independent in case of an emergency situation. Today, we’ll share some tips on how to be prepared in these uncertain times. It’s critical to have certain essential items such as food, water, light, power, fuel, solar and or hand-crank radio for news, etc., on hand in an emergency, and it costs relatively little to have an adequate supply. In part one of this series we’ll focus on water and food.
The most crucial resource for humans is clean drinking water. The human body is made up of approximately 60% water, and some of our vital organs such as the heart and brain are 73% water. Humans can last from three to seven days without drinking water, which is a very short amount of time.
It’s easy to store fresh water in case of an emergency. Women need about 0.7 gallons (2.7 liters) and men about one gallon (3.8 liters) per day for optimal functioning, but the human body can survive on about 0.3 gallons (one liter) per day. Most survival guidelines suggest storing one gallon (3.8 liters) of water per person per day in case extra is needed for washing, cleaning, wound care, etc. Water does not expire, but over time, the plastic bottles containing it leech plastic into the water. The shelf life for a five-gallon (18.9-liter) water jug is about two years. If you notice the water becoming discolored, it could signify the growth of algae or bacteria, making it unsafe to drink.
For a longer-term solution, many water filtering options are available. Check online stores or your local shops to find large water filtration systems. Various types of personal filtration straws allow you to drink clean filtered water directly from a freshwater source, such as a pond or lake. Another low-cost option is disinfecting tablets, which use chlorine or iodine to remove chemicals, bacteria, viruses, and parasites from unfiltered freshwater. These tablets typically sanitize water within 30 minutes.
If none of these options are readily available, you can boil water for one minute, or if you’re at an elevation above 6,500 feet (1,980 meters), then boil it for three minutes. This method will remove most but not all toxins, such as lead and cadmium. Using a coffee filter to funnel water before boiling can also help to remove some larger contaminants.
As a last resort, you can create your own natural spring using two buckets, some sand, dirt, rocks, and water. Make a few small drainage holes in one of the buckets, then fill it with a bottom layer of sand, a middle layer of dirt, and a top layer of rocks. Once the bucket is full, hang it on a tree. Place the other bucket on the ground below, so the water you pour into the top bucket will be filtered into the lower bucket. This option will not remove all toxins, but it is better than drinking straight from a freshwater source.
The American Red Cross from the United States suggests keeping a two-week supply of water in the home when sheltering in place is required and a three-day supply to take with you in case you need to evacuate.
Now that you know how to stay hydrated, let’s make sure that your pantry is well stocked with essential long-lasting non-perishable foods. Keeping food for an emergency is simple and cost-effective. If stored properly, many foods we eat daily can last for years or even decades on our shelves.
Let’s start with dry goods. White rice is an inexpensive and calorie-dense food, as one cup uncooked contains 716 calories. Uncooked white rice can be kept for 25 to 30 years if stored in an oxygen-free container. While brown rice might be healthier, it has a shelf life of six months only. Another staple food is dry beans. Beans are known for being rich in protein and fiber, and for their ability to stay fresh for ten years or more when properly stored. Other dry goods known for their extremely long shelf life are pasta, oats, and wheat, each lasting at least a decade with proper storage.
Canned fruits, vegetables, and beans are “shelf-stable” foods that can last five years or more if the cans are kept in good condition. Never eat canned food if the can has rusted, as iron can leech into the food. Also, harmful bacteria can enter the food if a can is dented, punctured, leaking, or bulging. If you open a can and notice a foul smell, milky liquids around the vegetables, or if liquid spurts from the can, avoid tasting the food and immediately throw it away.
Other foods known to last decades include salt, cornstarch, vinegar, baking soda, maple syrup, dried herbs and spices, and coconut oil. Peanut butter is known to last three to five years, and powdered peanut butter can last up to 15 years. Soy sauce can last two to three years if opened, and virtually forever if sealed! Instant coffee can last 10 years in an unopened container. You can also do research on the internet to find vegan emergency food bars and rations that have an extra-long shelf life ranging from five to 25 years.
Let’s now learn how to store these foods to prolong their freshness. The key to making non-perishable foods last, whether they’re dry or canned, is to keep them in a cool, dark, and dry environment.
Store dry foods by pouring them into Mylar bags. When the bags are full, add oxygen absorbers to the bags. Each type of food needs a different quantity of oxygen absorbers to preserve freshness, so please do research online to discover the proper amount of oxygen absorbers for whichever food you intend to preserve. The best way to seal Mylar bags is with a clothes iron or hair straightener. Finally, place the sealed bags in a bucket or container, closing it with a lid. Place the container in a cool place a few inches above the ground to promote airflow. Make sure to label each bag with the food type and storage date before sealing.
Another low-cost and easy option is to place dry goods in glass jars. Glass creates an oxygen and moisture barrier, allowing the foods inside to be preserved for an extended period. However, glass jars have downsides, as they break easily and don’t hold as much food as Mylar bags.
Did you know that many weeds are edible and contain more nutrients than vegetables? The world’s most common edible weed is the dandelion. Found on every continent except Antarctica, the dandelion is full of vitamins and minerals, possibly even more than spinach or kale. All parts of the dandelion can be eaten, including the flower, stem, and root. Lamb’s quarters is another common weed that has been grown in many regions of the world as an agricultural crop, due to its incredibly high nutrient content. Other weeds that can be eaten include common clover, green amaranth, chickweed, nettles, and wild mustard.
As we prepare for the uncertain times ahead, the best thing we can do is learn to be as independent as possible. By learning how to grow our own food, we will always have sustenance, regardless of any shortages. Fruits and vegetables can be grown outdoors or indoors and in accord with any style of living, whether in a house, apartment, or RV.
Our Most Beloved Supreme Master Ching Hai (vegan) shared these wise words with global viewers during a conference with Supreme Master TV team members (all vegans) in July 2020:
“Self-sustain as much as possible.” Even if you have balcony, you can plant things to eat. (Yes.) If you have land, you plant crops, you plant vegetables, you plant fruit trees. Be self-sustained as much as possible. Anyone. Anyone who listens, and disciples, of course. Plant organic food as much as you can. Self-sustained as much as you can. (Yes. Thank You, Master.)