Food Insurance Blog

The Reality of Food Inflation

For several years, we have been encouraging our readers to pay attention to how much they are paying for groceries. As our economy continues to stagnate, and the value of the dollar decreases, more and more Americans are feeling “sticker shock” at the grocery store.

An infographic by @SajKarsan showed up on Twitter this week, and it does a great job at showing just how much food prices have gone up this year.

food inflation infographic

A special thank you goes out to @SajKarsan for the hard work and research you put into this infographic.

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Preparing for the Worst that Hurricane Season has to Offer

Hurricane season is here and since the short time since it began, there has already been activity in the Eastern Pacific.  Almost as quickly as she formed, however, Christina abruptly veered off course and dissipated into a tropical storm, just another media has-been.

In fact, most of the predictions for the season are for a relatively quiet hurricane season;  11 named storms and five hurricanes, two major, are potentially queuing up for 2014. There most likely won’t be a repeat of the 2010 season, which spawned 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes, but it only takes one hurricane making landfall to cause massive devastation.  Hurricane Sandy came ashore as a Category 2 storm and caused over $68 billion in damage as she carved a path across the Caribbean Islands before finally walloping New Jersey, New York, and New England.

So, regardless of what the weather models are predicting, if you live near the coast in an area that has seen hurricane activity in the past, you should be prepared for the worst (think Katrina).

Here are several ways you can do that:

  • Check the Weather – Hurricanes, unlike tornados, announce themselves well in advance. The American Red Cross has a hurricane app that allows you to track storms, locate open Red Cross shelters, and send messages to loved ones.
  • Know the Evacuation Routes – You do not want to leave your home only to get lost and end up heading towards the storm or being stuck behind fleeing traffic. Map out your route well ahead of time and make sure that everyone in your family who drives is well acquainted with it. Place a map in the glove box with the route highlighted in case you’re not getting a signal on the phone or GPS.
  • Keep an Emergency Survival Kit – If you are trapped in your home when the storm hits, you may need more than just candles and food to survive. Roof leaks and flooding can ruin many of your existing supplies, not to mention put you and your family in danger. One of the best ways to prepare for this possible scenario is to invest in several survival kits for your family. Our premium bug-out bag comes equipped with a two week supply of food (1 person), a flashlight/radio, a first aid kit, waterproof matches, a water bottle and purifier, and a reusable heat source, all of which come in a waterproof bag with room for extra provisions. In a life or death situation, this bag and some of our other products could keep you alive and well until help arrives.
  • Acquaint yourself with your Town’s Emergency Measures – Does your town have a disaster committee? If not, you could spearhead the move to make one. If they do, find out about the measures that they would take during a hurricane. Where would they set up a shelter? How soon would evacuated residents be allowed back after the storm? Would they be distributing food and water? It’s a good idea to know who to call and how much you can rely on them for help well before a disaster strikes and you are cut off from information.

When it comes to hurricanes, don’t let the conservative predictions for the 2014 season fool you. One of those named storms could develop into the next Camille. Get ready now; preparation is the key to survival.

 

Put Your Bug Out Bag to Good Use

These days, more families have a bug out bag than ever before. A bug out bag is an easy-to-carry bag (often a backpack) that contains everything you need to survive for 72 hours. Once, these bags were rare and only the most die-hard survivors had them. Now, many families see it as a prudent and inexpensive safety measure that could pay off big one day.

But once you’ve assembled your bug out bag, does it have to just sit in the closet and wait for Doomsday? Not necessarily. In fact, if you leave it behind when your family goes on trips, there’s a very good chance you won’t have it when you end up needing it. That’s why we suggest making a bug out bag an essential part of every camping trip checklist.

Think about it. Camping is a lot of fun, but it’s also the perfect occasion for something to go wrong—just when you’re farther than ever from sources of help. If your car won’t start, if you get lost hiking, or if severe weather cuts you off from civilization, a bug out bag is the perfect survival tool to get you through those crucial days until you can reach safety. That’s exactly what it was intended to do.

Here are the basics of using a bug out bag effectively as a camping emergency tool:

  • Make sure you have it – Put it on your camping trip packing list. Make sure everyone knows that you have it, what it looks like, and where it’s stowed. A bug out bag only does any good if everyone in the family knows how to get it in an emergency.
  • Is it waterproof? – A bug out bag kept in a closet at home may be a simple school backpack. But if it’s going with you on multiple forays to the outdoors, it’s going to get wet eventually. Make sure your bag is reasonably waterproof and that any water-sensitive supplies inside are in their own baggies.
  • Don’t pilfer – There’s probably a flashlight in your bug out bag, but it shouldn’t be the one you use around the campfire at night. In general, supplies in the bug out bag shouldn’t be used day-to-day. If you do have to use something, like a bandage from the first aid kit, make a note to replace it right after the trip.

Having a bug out bag along could be a lifesaver. Do you take your bug out bag camping?

Simple Tarp Survival Shelters that Keep You Dry and Shaded

When you’re living off the land, there’s no time for frills. By rule of thumb, all you need to survive is food, water, and shelter.

But what is “shelter”? We know what food and water are – anything you can safely eat and liquid made of 2 parts hydrogen and one part oxygen – but shelter can be anything. It can be a wooden hut with a thatch roof, a tipi made of sticks, or a hammock made with a tarp and some string.

A survival shelter can be all of these things, but as you can probably imagine, many of these shelters require a huge amount of time or are very impractical (like the tarp hammock).

The three tarp survival shelters outlined below only take minutes to set up and allow you to enjoy the “luxury of practicality.”

Three Simple Tarp Survival Shelters

For these simple tarp shelters, you only need a tarp, a set of metal stakes, and a length of string (except for the last shelter that requires only a tarp!). It also helps to have an object to drive the stakes in when your foot isn’t enough. This can be a rock, a large stick, or refined tool like a hammer.

A-Frame Tarp Shelter

Survival shelter that requires a tarp, two trees, string, and stakes.

The A-frame tarp shelter is a great shelter for people surviving in hot areas. It offers a sufficient source of shade and gives you a place to call “home” in a matter of minutes. Because of its two open sides, it’s not ideal for storms, but it can weather light rain. It has six tie-down points and requires two trees, anywhere from 20-30 feet apart depending on the length of your tarp.

To set up the A-frame tarp shelter, follow these instructions:

1. Tie a length of rope to opposite center sections of your tarp (on 2 of 4 sides).

2. Tie one end to the closest tree, then tie the other end to the other tree – tightly.

3. Stake down the corners of your tarp and make taut.

Depending on your needs, you can either make your tent taller or longer. If you tie the longer sections of the tarp to the trees, your shelter will be taller; and if you tie shorter sections to the trees, you shelter will be longer.

Wedge Tarp Shelter

Survival Shelter that requires a tarp, a tree, stakes, and some string.

If you’re in an area that’s prone to frequent rain storms, the wedge tarp shelter is a better option than the A-frame tarp shelter. Unlike the A-frame, it only has one open side, which makes keeping rain out easier. During a storm, rain will come in the open end, but you can position the open side in the direction of the wind to decrease your rain exposure.

To set up the wedge tarp shelter, follow these instructions:

1. Spread your tarp out on the ground about 5 feet away from a tree, making sure the tree aligns with the tarp’s center loop.

2. Stake down the two corners of the tarp farthest away from the tree.

3. Tie a string through the center loop closest to the tree.

4. Pull the opposite end of string upward in a diagonal fashion and tie to the tree, preferably above a branch for added stability.

Stake down the two corners closest to the tree.

You can also station a tall stick behind the center loop to create a rain flap at the head of your shelter.

Tarp Burrito Shelter

Survival shelter that only requires a tarp.

This is the most basic tarp shelter, and it’s great for all kinds of weather conditions. While it’s not ideal for people with claustrophobia, it’s perfect for the survivalist who is on the go and needs to set up a shelter fast – 30 seconds-fast.

To set up the tarp burrito shelter:

1. Spread your tarp out flat and fold one end into a third.

2. Take that same end and fold again so that you’re left with a 3-layer-thick tarp.

3. Tuck one end of the tarp under itself and leave the opposite end open.

From the open end, you can slide your sleeping bag inside the tarp and any other gear for survival that will fit.

Prepare for Disaster with This Fun Summer Activity

Survivalist couple engaged in a fun summer activity involving prepared food, emergency equipment, and the great outdoors.Summer is great for vacationing, lounging on the beach, swimming, and jogging outside. But it’s also a great season for something else that not many people think of – preparing for disaster.

Summer and disaster. The two words don’t go together so well. In fact, they seem like complete opposites. But this is exactly what makes summer prepping so attractive. Due to the lack of harsh, cold weather and the blooming environment, summer is great for entry-level “disaster trainers.” Warm-weather preparedness activities can be really fun, too. Almost like camping.

But how do you prepare for disaster? Where do you go and what do you need? Read more…

10 Ways Paracord Can Help You In A Pinch – Infographic

Who would have thought something that was made to help soldiers jump out of a perfectly good airplane could be used for so many things that could help you survive in a pinch. Paracord can help you keep your pants up and protect your food from hungry bears, paracord should be part of any emergency preparedness plan.  We put together this infographic with the help of our good friend Gaye Levy from BackDoorSurvival.com. Gaye did a great job figuring out over 40 ways to use paracord to help you stay prepared for any situation. Feel free to check out her site for more amazing uses for paracord and let us know what you think in the comments.

 

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What Do Regular, Run-of-the-mill Families Need to Prepare For?

 

You’ve probably heard about those “preppers” or survivalists.  You know, the people who store food, medical supplies, and maybe ammunition or other necessities they think they might need in an emergency?  Perhaps for a long time you thought they were crazy.  Then came Katrina, Sandy, and maybe a period of unemployment, and you decided they may be onto something.

Your family doesn’t have to go overboard and become backwoods survivalists to begin and sustain a preparedness program.  If nothing else, you’ll gain the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re ready for whatever life throws at you.  This article isn’t a comprehensive family preparedness guide, but here are a few things you might need to be prepared for.

 

Job Loss or Financial Hardship

The vast majority of the time, you don’t know in advance that you’re about to lose your job or be faced with a financial hardship. The total and unwelcome surprise of losing your job is something most people fear, but not enough prepare for.  While you don’t know when or if a loss is coming, the best thing you can do is prepare for it before it happens.  Getting your family into a good financial situation now can greatly reduce your stress and heartache later on.

Cut unnecessary expenses to put more money away.  Pay off debts and eliminate your credit card balance.  Sit down to discuss and reassess your needs versus your wants, and include the whole family in these discussions.  Can you eliminate or cut back on entertainment, cable, and shopping?  It might also be a good idea to stock up on non-perishable and freezer-friendly food. If you have a health savings account, see if you can contribute a little extra that could get you through a period of being uninsured.  Overall, eliminate as many costs as you can.   When you lose an income, the number of bills you eliminate could make the difference between being able to keep your current home and having to move.

 

Weather Emergencies

Even if you don’t live in an extreme climate, it’s important to be prepared for weather-related emergencies before they happen.  Whether it’s extreme heat, high winds, or a snow and ice storm, being prepared will help you avoid panic.  Once a dangerous forecast comes out, it’s pretty safe to say there will be a run on supplies like food, batteries, flashlights, and toilet paper.  But if you already have these supplies, you can rest easy.

Whatever the season, be sure you’re prepared to go without electricity, clean water, and perhaps sanitation for a time.  Store drinking water, make plans for alternative heat (or how you could stay cool), and make sure you have a good supply of hygiene items and food on hand that doesn’t require a lot of preparation.  Put together a 72-hour kit, including first-aid supplies and medications, and update it frequently for the needs of any family changes.

 

Natural Disasters

Even if you don’t live in a flood, hurricane, earthquake or tornado zone (though most of us live in areas where these things CAN and sometimes DO happen), being prepared ahead of time for natural disasters is essential to your ability to cope.

There are several simple things your family can do ahead of time to help you meet disasters with confidence.  First, know how to turn off your home utilities such as gas, water, and electricity.  Make sure large appliances, furniture, and your water heater is anchored to the wall to avoid tipping in an earthquake.  Move breakables and heavy objects to lower shelves.  Keep papers in a fire and water-proof safe at home or another secure location.  Document your belongings for insurance purposes and make sure your coverage is adequate, as many policies do not include natural disaster coverage.

Also, make sure you stock up on non-perishable food, first-aid supplies, batteries, flashlights, matches, blankets, etc.  Be ready to get through several days without utilities.  It’s always a good idea to have cash on hand as well.

Make sure you have a family emergency protocol in place.  Where should everyone take shelter in the house?   What would be the best escape route, if necessary?  What should your kids do if they’re at school in an emergency?  Where should everyone meet if you’re away from home and separated?   Knowing you are prepared and have a plan will help the entire family cope with a difficult situation.

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Where and How Do You Start Preparing?

Perhaps you’ve decided your family needs an emergency preparedness plan, but you’re a little overwhelmed at all there is to do.  Maybe you’ve gone as far as to make a list of things to buy and how to store them, along with some information about surviving an emergency, but putting your plan into action seems a little daunting.  For those who have a desire to get their families better prepared and aren’t quite sure where to start, here are some simple steps.

Lights, please!  If you already have flashlights, be sure to store the right kind of batteries.  LED flashlights and lanterns will last a lot longer than the traditional kind.  If you want something totally self-sufficient, buy a few crank-powered lights as well.  That way, if you do run out of batteries, you’ll have something to fall back on.

Food and water.  When you go to the store, buy a few extra cans of tuna, fruit, or jars of peanut butter.  When pasta goes on sale, buy 10 bags.  Spending just a few extra dollars per week will buy you a significant amount of storable food within a few months.  Once you start building your supply up, buy some food-grade buckets for longer term storage.  Buy food storage items your family is used to, and date the cans or boxes so you can use the oldest items first.  When you use something, jot it down on the grocery list to replace next week.  As for water, large water containers for storage are good to have around, but you can also buy cases of bottled water for a supply you know is clean and portable.  Also remember hygiene essentials like soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper when you are planning what to store.

Fire and cooking.  If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove, be sure you have lots of firewood at the ready.  Bags of charcoal can also serve you well, even if you burn it on a concrete pad and set your Dutch oven on top for cooking.  Also don’t underestimate the use of your BBQ for preparing all kinds of meals; just be sure to store extra propane.

Guns and ammo.  Guns and ammunition can be essential to your family’s safety against criminals or civil unrest.  Even if you don’t want a gun, you might consider storing ammunition for bartering.  Look at used firearms at your local store or online, and buy a box of ammo whenever you can.  Please note that those with children need to be especially careful about the safe storage and security of these items.  Never store a loaded firearm, and make sure guns are in a locked place inaccessible to children or others who may use them improperly.

72-hour kit.  If you need to survive for a few days either at home or elsewhere, a 72-hour kit is essential.  Include food, water, light, heat, blankets and first-aid supplies for everyone in the family.  Consider keeping one in your car as well.  If you aren’t sure what to put in it, the Red Cross has a great list.

Blankets.  Especially if you don’t have a fireplace or wood/pellet stove for alternative heat, a large supply of blankets will be your best friend for keeping warm.  Mylar emergency blankets are essential too, as they retain and reflect most of your body heat right back onto you.

Tools.  Make sure your emergency supplies and/or 72-hour kit includes a good knife or multi-tool with saw, can opener, wrench etc.  One of these tools can be put to dozens of useful tasks.  And don’t forget the rope and duct tape!

Trash bags.  These come in handy not only for garbage, but for sanitation if the plumbing isn’t working.  Lining a household toilet or plastic bucket with a trash bag can work for temporary sanitation and disposal.  You can also buy deodorant or enzyme tablets at any camping store.

Gas.  You may be limited in the amount of gasoline you are comfortable storing.  However, simply ensuring your family cars have at least half a tank of gas at all times can go a long way to helping you get to safety when necessary.

Grow your own food.  Start with a few strawberry, tomato, and cucumber plants.  Learn to can or dry foods.  If you’re nervous about gardening, a fruit tree or two can be a great place to start.  You can grow a lot on a tree without having to weed it.

 

Plan to assemble your emergency supplies over a number of months, or even a year.  Get a calendar and write down what you intend to acquire or accomplish each month.  Before you know it, you’ll have the peace of mind that can only come from knowing your family is prepared for anything.

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How To Live Without the Internet

A big part of any preparedness program is being ready to go without electricity for a few days, or even weeks at a time.  When the power goes out during an emergency or natural disaster, so does your furnace, air conditioning, refrigerator, lighting…and your computer.  Sure, you can run your laptop on battery power for a few hours, but chances are your WIFI is not going to be around.  Gone would be Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, and Google+.  So, putting the rest aside for a little bit, do you know how to survive without the Internet?

 

Studies show that people are pretty glued to their devices.  We are either in front of our computer or holding our tablet, phone, or other device pretty much all the time.  Sure, it’s nice to be connected to all the friends and information the Net has to offer, but what happens when it all goes away, even for a couple of days?  In a disaster, most reasonable people would say that being connected to the World Wide Web would be the least of their worries.  But think about all the stuff you use it for.  How are you going to survive without the Internet and not lose your sanity?  Here are a few things to consider doing now before your Internet goes dark.

1. Buy the books.  Look, if you have no power, your Kindle is only going to last you so long.  In the case of an EMP or similar situation, it may not work at all.  So buy the books.  Buy books so you can read totally unplugged.  In a disaster, there may be no other way to escape the stress.  Perhaps most importantly, buy a family preparedness manual and a set of encyclopedias for the kids.  After all, without the Internet, there’s no Google to help you with your homework, tell you how to purify water, or where to stock up on firewood (which, incidentally, you should already have).  Couldn’t hurt to have a dictionary and a phone book too, since you might actually need to look up a word or address.

2.  Try getting some of your news offline.  Subscribe to the newspaper or even listen to the radio. The point is to stop relying so much on the Internet for EVERYTHING.  And as you might have heard, half of what you read online isn’t true anyway.

3. Be social.  For real.  Social media is great, especially when friends and family live far away. But there is simply no substitute for actual human interaction.  Like without a computer.  Go out to eat.  Sit and play games.  Fly a kite.  Talk.  This is especially important for your own family. How many times do you sit in the same room with your spouse and kids, with nobody talking because you’re all on some device?  How’s that for family togetherness?  Practice being together without the Internet.  You might actually have fun, and when and if that dreaded day of disconnect comes, you’ll still know how to have fun the old fashioned way.

4. Balance your checkbook.  You can still use your debit card, but write down your expenses and keep an eye on your balance without looking it up online.  If the Internet isn’t available, you’re going to have to know how to do this to avoid going into overdraft and paying those unpleasant fees.

5. Unplug regularly.  Whether you put away all devices for certain hours, take a day away from the  Internet once a week, or use some other method, try doing an Internet detox now and then, and have your family do the same.  Let them get used to real life again.

 

Hopefully, we will never know how crazy things could get without our precious connectivity.  But sooner or later, for some amount of time, the Internet is bound to be inaccessible.  Imagine the hoards of miserable, edgy, Internet-addicted people who don’t know how to get by without it.  Learning to enjoy life unplugged right now can help you keep from losing your mind when the time comes.

The Prepper Dictionary

If you are ready to start your family preparedness program, join all the clubs, and generally turn into a prepping nerd, you better know the lingo. Here’s your chance to learn what all those “preppy” people are talking about (and what all those acronyms mean), so you can be a prepper too.

1. #10 Can: A very specific size of can. It’s about 7 inches tall by 6.25 inches wide. Their uniform size and large capacity make them a favorite among preppers. A properly sealed can of freeze-dried food with an oxygen absorbing packet inside can last 25 years or more.

2. Bug Out: “Bugging out” means getting out of the current location and into safety, when a disaster or other potential danger is threatening. Others may choose to “bug in” at home with their supplies.

3. Bug Out Bag: This bag should contain life-sustaining supplies and other essentials that are quick to grab and easy to take with you. Your bug out bag should have at least a 72-hour supply of necessities per person.

4. BOV: Bug out vehicle. Could be your family minivan or another specified vehicle equipped with supplies ready to go.

5. Buddy Burner: This is a light, portable burner with fuel source for outdoor or “vagabond” cooking. They are often made with paraffin wax, poured into a tuna can full of rolled cardboard. Want to make one? Google knows how.

6. Cache: A stash of supplies either on site or off.

7. DEEP: Disaster & emergency preparedness.

8. Dutch Oven: A heavy, cast iron pot that’s perfect for outdoor cooking, either on charcoal or right on the fire. You can make just about anything in a Dutch oven. Once properly seasoned, clean it by simply wiping it out with some plain hot water. Just be sure to dry it thoroughly or it will rust.

9. EMP or Electro-Magnetic Pulse: An EMP is a powerful pulse of electromagnetic radiation, potentially generated by a nuclear explosion high above the earth. An EMP would would disrupt power, satellites, and radio transmissions, causing massive power outages. Any electrical equipment or device could be rendered useless after an EMP.

10. FAK: Acronym for first-aid kit

11. Faraday Box: This is a special shielding device, meant to protect electronic equipment from an EMP. There are many simple ways to make your own Faraday box for storing things like radios, flashlights, even the batteries that power them.

12. Food Insurance: This is not an actual insurance policy, but basically a prepper’s term for food storage. Storing food is like having an insurance policy against hunger and potentially starving to death in a disaster or other hardship.

13. Food Grade Buckets: These buckets are specifically made to be safe for food long-term food storage, up to 25 years or more if kept dry and somewhat cool. Sealed by pounding the lid with a rubber mallet, requiring a special wrench to open. For this reason, many preppers buy “gamma seal” lids. They offer the same protection for food, but they simply spin open and closed without extra tools.

14. Genny: Short for generator.

15. Get Home Bag: Similar to a bug-out bag, but includes essentials to help you sustain yourself and get back to your home after being stranded somewhere. Great to keep in your car.

16. Ghee: Ghee is clarified butter, meaning it has had the solids removed. This is not only perfectly suited for long-term storage in cans, but also eliminates the LDL “bad” cholesterol. Ghee works great for high-temperature cooking and frying as well.

17. GOOD: Get out of “dodge” or bug out now.

18. Ham Radio: Slang term referring to amateur radio. In the event of an interruption in telephone or cell tower service, this could come in handy. Google for more information about getting started.

19. Hordes: People leaving the cities in search of supplies in a disaster.

20. Living “Off the Grid”: Since the “grid” refers to municipal power, water, sewer, or gas supplies, living off the grid means to be totally detached from these services. Living off-grid is is seen by many preppers or survivalists as the ultimate in self-sufficiency.

21. MRE: MRE stands for meals ready-to-eat. Originally formulated for military camps and placements, MRE meals can be eaten right out of the package, warmed on a burner, or heated with an included chemical packet.

22. Multi-tool: Combination tool usually including a survival knife, saw, wire cutters, can opener, pliers, etc.

23. Mylar Bag: Mylar bags are made out of food grade mylar material, providing protection from sun, moisture, and even insects. They may be purchased individually or in food grade “super pails” for storage of 25+ years.

24. Paracord: Paracord is a strong, durable, lightweight nylon rope. Paracord is now being woven into bracelets, belts, and more. Wearing one or keeping some in your car or 72-hour kit can be helpful in an emergency for building shelter, starting a fire, trapping food, and more.

25. Paraffin Wax: This wax is actually a preservative that keeps moisture in (or out) and helps food last longer. It is often used for canning and is even edible. It is flammable at high temperatures, which is why it’s often used in buddy burners. Also called bakers wax or canning wax.

26. Oxygen Absorbers: Used with proper packaging, these little packets absorb oxygen, extending the life and flavor of food or pharmaceuticals.

27. SHTF: “Stuff [or, you know] hits the fan.” Meaning the strike of a major disaster of natural or man-made origin.

28. SIP: Shelter in place or “bug in.”

29. Solar Oven: Solar ovens or cookers use the sun’s energy to bake, roast, or heat foods. Aluminum reflectors focus the heat into a dark-colored oven and/or pot. Also useful for sterilizing water.

30. WROL: Without rule of law, or a state of “every man for himself.”

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