American Survival Guide

PRO­TECT THE CASH IN YOUR STASH

HOW AND WHERE TO STORE YOUR SUP­PLIES AND GEAR FOR THE LONG HAUL

- By Suzy Jef­fries Disasters · Louisville · Kentucky · Louisville · Nebraska · Wisconsin · Iowa · Indiana · Florida

How and Where to Store Your Sup­plies and Gear for the Long Haul

As a ven­dor at sev­eral prep­per shows, I have had the priv­i­lege of learn­ing from cus­tomers and, on oc­ca­sion, the op­por­tu­nity to help them with their sur­vival sup­ply stor­age prac­tices. At least one cus­tomer at each show would share with me that they had se­cured enough long-term stor­age food or other sup­plies to last a year or more. While it is com­mend­able to have such a sup­ply, when asked where and how they were stor­ing these sup­plies, of­ten­times, the an­swer would be in boxes, stacked in the garage, in the base­ment or in an up­stairs bed­room.

Pre­par­ing for po­ten­tial dis­as­ter can be ex­pen­sive and time con­sum­ing; en­sur­ing you re­ally have sup­plies should be a pri­or­ity. No matter where you re­side, there is risk for some type of catas­tro­phe, and re­gard­less of how well you store your sup­plies there is al­ways a chance the un­ex­pected will oc­cur, such as a struc­ture fire, so I sug­gest you have backup sup­plies.

BA­SIC STOR­AGE PRAC­TICES

If it’s within your bud­get, store your sup­plies in air­tight, wa­ter­proof con­tain­ers. Not only will this pro­tect your sup­plies from water and air, it pro­vides pro­tec­tion from in­sects and ro­dents. Longterm stor­age food pur­chased from com­pa­nies such as Legacy and Wise typ­i­cally comes in air­tight, wa­ter­proof buck­ets. If it’s not within your bud­get, pur­chase plas­tic totes with a good fit­ting lid from a dis­count store. For added pro­tec­tion, tape down and seal the lid us­ing a qual­ity duct tape such as Go­rilla brand. An­other op­tion is metal ammo cans which can be pur­chased in var­i­ous sizes rel­a­tively cheap on­line, at mil­i­tary sur­plus stores and at gun and prep­per shows.

To as­sist in ro­ta­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of stored food, write the con­tents and ex­pi­ra­tion date on the side or end and top of con­tain­ers in big let­ters with a Sharpie. For home-pre­serves, write the date they were pre­pared and the best-used-by date on the jar or con­tainer. The ink will come off with rub­bing al­co­hol when it is time to re­use the con­tainer. Make sure the in­for­ma­tion is fac­ing to­ward the front of the shelf or the di­rec­tion from which you will be check­ing your sup­plies. Al­ways put items with the long­est ex­pi­ra­tion date to­ward the back, work­ing your way for­ward to what needs to be used first.

LO­CA­TION, LO­CA­TION, LO­CA­TION

Some folks for­get to con­sider ex­ces­sive heat and di­rect sun­light as a dan­ger to their food and other sup­plies. I once had a cus­tomer from Louisville, Ken­tucky, (av­er­age sum­mer tem­per­a­ture around 89 de­grees (F) and freez­ing win­ter cold are not un­com­mon) who told me he spent a few thou­sand dol­lars on long-term stor­age food, most of which con­tained water; he stored it in his garage, in front of a win­dow, with no cli­mate con­trol; a few years later he dis­cov­ered much was ru­ined from the heat and a few con­tain­ers ac­tu­ally burst from freez­ing cold. Try to store food in a dark, cool area

“NO MATTER WHERE YOU RE­SIDE, THERE IS RISK FOR SOME TYPE OF CATAS­TRO­PHE, AND RE­GARD­LESS OF HOW WELL YOU STORE YOUR SUP­PLIES THERE IS AL­WAYS A CHANCE THE UN­EX­PECTED WILL OC­CUR. …”

above 32 de­grees and be­low 60 de­grees with as lit­tle fluc­tu­a­tion in tem­per­a­ture as pos­si­ble.

Store sup­plies on shelv­ing to pro­tect against flood­ing, as­sist with sup­ply or­ga­ni­za­tion and make food ro­ta­tion eas­ier. Heavy-duty (200 pounds per shelf) ca­pac­ity ven­ti­lated plas­tic stor­age shelv­ing works great, es­pe­cially in hu­mid ar­eas. They are light­weight, easy to as­sem­ble and dis­as­sem­ble, and can be pur­chased at most hard­ware stores and home cen­ters. I found a unit at Homede­pot.com that is 6x3x2 feet for about $55.

Think about where to store your sup­plies. In March 2019 a bomb cy­clone hit the Great Plains with rain and snow, re­sult­ing in his­toric flood­ing, and some ar­eas re­port­edly ex­pe­ri­enced hur­ri­cane-force winds. Ne­braska, Wis­con­sin and Iowa de­clared states of emer­gency. Tor­na­dos are a ma­jor con­cern in this area, so most peo­ple prob­a­bly have some type of un­der­ground shel­ter (base­ment, root cel­lar, etc.). One would think they would be the per­fect place to se­cure sur­vival sup­plies, how­ever, in this in­stance, if sup­plies were not in wa­ter­proof con­tain­ers, the mas­sive flood­ing would’ve most cer­tainly ru­ined most if not all of those sup­plies. Im­proper stor­age of your sup­plies can be the same as hav­ing no sup­plies.

PICK THE RIGHT LO­CA­TION

To as­sist in your de­ci­sion on where to store sup­plies, the fol­low­ing is a list of risks faced by many. Con­sider each one, in­clude any risks not on the list you may face, and rank it on how likely it is to hap­pen to you:

Vol­canic erup­tion

Earthquake

Wild­fire/field fire

Bl­iz­zard

Flood/flash flood

Tor­nado/se­vere storms with dam­ag­ing winds/hail

Land­slide

Dust/sand­storm

Freez­ing

Nu­clear/ra­di­o­logic in­ci­dent

Hur­ri­cane with high wind, flood­ing and pos­si­ble tor­na­dos

Heat wave

Sink­hole/cave collapse

Rock­slides

Power out­ages of three days or more

Here in south­ern In­di­ana tor­na­dos and se­vere storms, flash flood­ing and power out­ages are com­mon. Though not as com­mon, heat waves, drought, sub-zero tem­per­a­tures and sink­hole for­ma­tion and cave-ins are real con­cerns. Topol­ogy

is a con­sid­er­a­tion, even though we don’t live in a flood zone. With flash flood­ing and runoff from the sur­round­ing fields, hav­ing stand­ing water and 6 inches of water run­ning through por­tions of our prop­erty and yard are com­mon oc­cur­rences.

With this in mind, I have ranked the risks in our area as fol­lows: 1) Tor­nado/se­vere storms; 2) Power out­age; 3) Freez­ing cold; 4) Flash flood­ing; 5) Heat wave; 6) Drought; 7) Sink­hole/cave collapse; 8) Field fire; 9) Bl­iz­zard and 10) Earthquake. The rest do not ap­ply in this area.

The next con­sid­er­a­tion: Where or what struc­ture do you have avail­able for sup­ply stor­age and how is it con­structed? Con­sider us­ing your:

Base­ment or root cel­lar

Storm shel­ter

Out­build­ing (garage, barn or shed)

Safe room

Think about where struc­tures are lo­cated, and if you plan to con­struct a stor­age area, con­sider the ge­ol­ogy. For ex­am­ple, in many ar­eas of Florida, a base­ment is out of the ques­tion be­cause of a high water ta­ble, while here in south­ern In­di­ana, care must be taken to stay away from ar­eas rid­dled with caves or prone to sink­holes. Then ask your­self:

HAS IT OR COULD IT FLOOD?

If the spot has high hu­mid­ity, can it be re­duced? Mold is haz­ardous and a ma­jor con­cern in hu­mid ar­eas.

Can you reg­u­late the tem­per­a­ture to keep it be­tween 33 and 60 de­grees (F)?

Is it in an area that may be prone to mud­slide/ rock­slide?

Is it con­structed well enough to with­stand an earthquake, hur­ri­cane, tor­nado, etc.?

Is it close to an area sus­cep­ti­ble to fire and is it con­structed of flammable ma­te­ri­als?

Know­ing how your home or stor­age area is con­structed is an­other con­sid­er­a­tion, if you are build­ing a stor­age struc­ture, plan ac­cord­ingly.

Dur­ing the 1974 su­per out­break of tor­na­dos, my child­hood home took a di­rect hit from an EF4 (winds be­tween 166 and 200 mph) tor­nado and stood; the roof was peeled back, win­dows were bro­ken, shards of glass and de­bris pen­e­trated the walls sev­eral inches, and the walls in our block base­ment were cracked from the vi­o­lent shak­ing. Our neigh­bor’s home was hit by the same twis­ter; it was flat­tened and the block base­ment caved in on top of our neigh­bor. An­other neigh­bor hit by the same storm was in the process of build­ing a house and liv­ing in the base­ment which was poured con­crete (not cin­der block); the house struc­ture was gone, but the base­ment suf­fered no ill ef­fects.

As with any storm, the ef­fect and dev­as­ta­tion may be dif­fer­ent within a few feet how­ever, con­struc­tion and de­sign do make a dif­fer­ence. My child­hood home was de­signed and built by my un­cle in the 1950s with solid oak (hard­wood) and true 2x4 and 2x6 lum­ber; the neigh­bor’s home that was flat­tened was built by a con­struc­tion com­pany in the late 1960s with pine (soft­wood) and the other neigh­bor’s poured con­crete base­ment with­stood the storm much bet­ter than the block base­ment con­struc­tions.

“FOR ADDED PRO­TEC­TION, TAPE DOWN AND SEAL THE LID US­ING A QUAL­ITY DUCT TAPE SUCH AS GO­RILLA BRAND. AN­OTHER OP­TION IS METAL AMMO CANS WHICH CAN BE PUR­CHASED IN VAR­I­OUS SIZES REL­A­TIVELY CHEAP ON­LINE, AT MIL­I­TARY SUR­PLUS STORES AND AT GUN AND PREP­PER SHOWS.”

CHECK THE LO­CAL WEATHER

Re­search his­toric weather pat­terns for your area. If you are in a high-risk area for hur­ri­canes or trop­i­cal force winds that typ­i­cally come from the south, store sup­plies in the north­ern part of your home or struc­ture. If you’re at high risk for tor­na­dos from the south­west, store sup­plies in the north­east part of your home or struc­ture. Put as many walls as pos­si­ble be­tween your sup­plies and the prob­a­ble path of any po­ten­tial storm. Storms in my area typ­i­cally come from the west or south­west. When my child­hood home was hit in 1974, there was one room un­touched: a bed­room in the north­east cor­ner.

You can­not fore­see or pro­tect your sup­plies from ev­ery po­ten­tial event or se­ries of events, so don’t keep all your eggs in one bas­ket. The goal should be to have mul­ti­ple caches of sur­vival sup­plies in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions to en­sure you have the bare min­i­mum. Con­sider stor­ing sup­plies with trusted neigh­bors, friends or fam­ily mem­bers within hik­ing dis­tance.

To bring this all to­gether, I will share how our sur­vival sup­plies are stored and how it has pro­gressed through the years. The stor­age plan has been and is dy­namic, chang­ing based on time, goals and bud­get.

The orig­i­nal part of our home is about 130 years old and is con­structed of red oak. The out­side walls are 8 inches thick, some floor joists are 2x6 and others are 2x8 con­struc­tion, and the frame is roughly 8x8 inches (rem­i­nis­cent of rail­road ties). There is no foun­da­tion, it lit­er­ally sits on lime­stone boul­ders. On the rare oc­ca­sion our area ex­pe­ri­ences tre­mors, we only know when we hear it on the news or from a neigh­bor. Sup­plies in­side the house are stored in plas­tic con­tain­ers, on shelves, in a room that is part of the orig­i­nal struc­ture that is on the east side of the house. As I men­tioned, our storms typ­i­cally come from the west-south­west and there are four walls of the orig­i­nal struc­ture

be­tween the west-south­west ex­te­rior of the house and the sup­plies. Go-bags with emer­gency sup­plies are kept be­side the bed.

In 2002, a garage was built 15 feet from the house. Sur­vival sup­plies were packed in totes and placed on shelv­ing units in the garage; and sur­vival back­packs were put to­gether for our ve­hi­cles.

In 2008, a wood stove was in­stalled in the house for heat­ing, and cook­ing and we can also cook on our kitchen stove as it is fed from propane tanks.

In 2012, an un­der­ground storm shel­ter was in­stalled 20 feet from the house. It is stocked with a month’s sup­ply of food and water and tools and gear to en­sure we can sur­vive for the long term (sleep­ing bags, clothes, water pu­rifi­ca­tion, hunt­ing\fish­ing sup­plies, seeds and pre­serv­ing equip­ment). While care was taken to in­stall the shel­ter in an area not prone to flood­ing, a drainage sys­tem with a 12-volt sump-pump was also in­stalled. Sup­plies are stored on shelves in plas­tic totes and air­tight, wa­ter­proof con­tain­ers; in sum­mer a de­hu­mid­i­fier is used.

In 2013, the storm shel­ter was equipped with deep cy­cle bat­ter­ies and so­lar pan­els to recharge them.

In 2015, one bay in the garage was turned into a cool room for long-term stor­age food; this was done very eco­nom­i­cally by us­ing in­su­la­tion board, duct tape and a small air con­di­tion­ing unit; a small ra­di­ant oil heater is turned on when tem­per­a­tures may drop close to freez­ing.

“TRY TO STORE FOOD IN A DARK, COOL AREA ABOVE 32 DE­GREES AND BE­LOW 60 DE­GREES WITH AS LIT­TLE FLUC­TU­A­TION IN TEM­PER­A­TURE AS POS­SI­BLE.”

In 2018, the sup­ply totes in the garage were up­graded to Pel­i­can cases.

Ad­di­tion­ally, we have sup­plies avail­able at friends who live within hik­ing dis­tance and have al­ways had the bare min­i­mum of sup­plies in a wa­ter­proof con­tainer, buried in our barn.

When con­sid­er­ing your bare min­i­mum sur­vival sup­plies of food, shel­ter and water, take in­ven­tory of your nat­u­ral re­sources. For ex­am­ple, if you live close to a river or lake with trees, store fish­ing hooks, line and sinkers. Most likely, you can find a tree branch to use as a pole.

If you or a fam­ily mem­ber suf­fer from a life-threat­en­ing con­di­tion that re­quires pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion, ask your health care provider for an emer­gency sup­ply in at least the amount rec­om­mended by FEMA (10 days) or if spe­cial­ized med­i­cal equip­ment is needed, try to se­cure a por­ta­ble ver­sion. Con­sider those items an ex­ten­sion of your­self and make sure they go where you go. In the case of pow­ered med­i­cal equip­ment, en­sure you have the abil­ity to power them, such as by bat­ter­ies. If you have a con­di­tion such as high blood pres­sure or di­a­betes that might be con­trolled with diet or ex­er­cise, I en­cour­age you to speak with a pro­fes­sional and at­tempt to con­trol these con­di­tions that way to wean your­self from pre­scrip­tions. You never know how long you may be without them.

Each per­son’s sit­u­a­tion is unique and there are no ab­so­lutes, but you can give your­self the best chance pos­si­ble by think­ing through the risks associated with where and how to store your sup­plies.

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 ?? © GETTY IMAGES ?? Be­low: In Ham­burg, Iowa homes and busi­nesses are sur­rounded by flood­wa­ter on March 20, 2019 dur­ing some of the worst flood­ing they ex­pe­ri­enced in decades. Rain and snow melt from the re­cent "bomb cy­clone" in­un­dated rivers and streams.
© GETTY IMAGES Be­low: In Ham­burg, Iowa homes and busi­nesses are sur­rounded by flood­wa­ter on March 20, 2019 dur­ing some of the worst flood­ing they ex­pe­ri­enced in decades. Rain and snow melt from the re­cent "bomb cy­clone" in­un­dated rivers and streams.
 ?? © GETTY IMAGES ?? Ac­cess to your base­ment from the out­side en­ables you to flush stag­nant moist air out on warm, dry days.
© GETTY IMAGES Ac­cess to your base­ment from the out­side en­ables you to flush stag­nant moist air out on warm, dry days.
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© GETTY IMAGES
 ??  ?? If you live in a flood­prone area, you'll need to find places to keep your sup­plies above your worst-case high water es­ti­mate.
If you live in a flood­prone area, you'll need to find places to keep your sup­plies above your worst-case high water es­ti­mate.
 ?? © GETTY IMAGES ?? Left: Visit sec­ond­hand stores and yard sales be­cause oc­ca­sion­ally you may find a qual­ity plas­tic con­tainer with a good seal you can use to pro­tect your gear and sup­plies. Photo by Suzy Jef­fries and Jim Jef­fries.
Right: Large strong opaque tubs like these are great for stor­ing most of your gear. They also get heavy fast so be care­ful how you load them if you plan to move them of­ten or in an emer­gency.
© GETTY IMAGES Left: Visit sec­ond­hand stores and yard sales be­cause oc­ca­sion­ally you may find a qual­ity plas­tic con­tainer with a good seal you can use to pro­tect your gear and sup­plies. Photo by Suzy Jef­fries and Jim Jef­fries. Right: Large strong opaque tubs like these are great for stor­ing most of your gear. They also get heavy fast so be care­ful how you load them if you plan to move them of­ten or in an emer­gency.
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© GETTY IMAGES
 ?? © GETTY IMAGES ?? Right: Wooden shelves were per­ma­nently fixed in place to pro­vide a solid and sturdy place to store tra­di­tional glass can­ning con­tain­ers.
Some con­cerns about this cache are that re­cy­cled food jars may not keep food safe as long as can­ning jars, con­tain­ers could fall off shelves and break and there is no or­ga­ni­za­tion and a lot of wasted space.
© GETTY IMAGES Right: Wooden shelves were per­ma­nently fixed in place to pro­vide a solid and sturdy place to store tra­di­tional glass can­ning con­tain­ers. Some con­cerns about this cache are that re­cy­cled food jars may not keep food safe as long as can­ning jars, con­tain­ers could fall off shelves and break and there is no or­ga­ni­za­tion and a lot of wasted space.
 ?? © GETTY IMAGES ?? Af­ter the food is di­vided into heavy­duty My­lar bags with an oxy­gen-ab­sorb­ing packet, it will have a shelf life of sev­eral years.
Above: This root cel­lar is a good place to store pro­duce and canned goods but could be or­ga­nized to make much bet­ter use of the space.
Left: These ammo cans are great for keep­ing ammo, tools and other items dry and safe. With a lit­tle work, you can even use them for pro­tec­tion from an EMP.
© GETTY IMAGES Af­ter the food is di­vided into heavy­duty My­lar bags with an oxy­gen-ab­sorb­ing packet, it will have a shelf life of sev­eral years. Above: This root cel­lar is a good place to store pro­duce and canned goods but could be or­ga­nized to make much bet­ter use of the space. Left: These ammo cans are great for keep­ing ammo, tools and other items dry and safe. With a lit­tle work, you can even use them for pro­tec­tion from an EMP.
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© GETTY IMAGES
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© GETTY IMAGES
 ?? © GETTY IMAGES ?? Right: The shelves in this old wooden cab­i­net were spaced to al­low air to flow freely around the jars and pre­vent jars from be­ing stacked on one an­other be­cause mi­nor quakes or bumps to the cab­i­nets could send the jars crash­ing to the floor.
© GETTY IMAGES Right: The shelves in this old wooden cab­i­net were spaced to al­low air to flow freely around the jars and pre­vent jars from be­ing stacked on one an­other be­cause mi­nor quakes or bumps to the cab­i­nets could send the jars crash­ing to the floor.
 ?? © GETTY IMAGES ?? Above, left: Cans of long-term stor­age food are stacked and or­ga­nized by type and ex­pi­ra­tion date. In this way, it is easy to iden­tify what you have. Photo by Suzy Jef­fries.
Be­low: This cin­der block shed can be a good sec­ondary lo­ca­tion for non­per­ish­able sup­plies like tools and gear, as long as threats from floods, storms and theft are min­i­mal.
© GETTY IMAGES Above, left: Cans of long-term stor­age food are stacked and or­ga­nized by type and ex­pi­ra­tion date. In this way, it is easy to iden­tify what you have. Photo by Suzy Jef­fries. Be­low: This cin­der block shed can be a good sec­ondary lo­ca­tion for non­per­ish­able sup­plies like tools and gear, as long as threats from floods, storms and theft are min­i­mal.
 ?? © GETTY IMAGES ?? Left: Es­sen­tial med­i­ca­tions and sur­vival sup­plies should be an ex­ten­sion of you. Keep them with you al­ways and at night en­sure they are within easy reach.
© GETTY IMAGES Left: Es­sen­tial med­i­ca­tions and sur­vival sup­plies should be an ex­ten­sion of you. Keep them with you al­ways and at night en­sure they are within easy reach.
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© GETTY IMAGES
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© GETTY IMAGES
 ??  ?? Above: Translu­cent tubs like these make it eas­ier to see the con­tents, es­pe­cially tools, gear and cloth­ing.
Left: Root cellars have been in use for cen­turies be­cause they have sat­is­fied the age-old need to store backup sup­plies of food, water and other es­sen­tials.
Above: Translu­cent tubs like these make it eas­ier to see the con­tents, es­pe­cially tools, gear and cloth­ing. Left: Root cellars have been in use for cen­turies be­cause they have sat­is­fied the age-old need to store backup sup­plies of food, water and other es­sen­tials.

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