Survival Knowledge – Skinning and Gutting a Rabbit

Over the years, our family’s hunting traditions have morphed into a grand gathering of our extended family for a three day event we refer to as the “Shoot Out”.  We typically schedule this event towards the end of September and meet at our favorite spot – a large meadow in a very remote area of the Manti-La Sal National Forest.  This meadow sits at an altitude of about 9,500 feet and is the perfect location to camp, ride motorcycles and four wheelers and target practice.

We typically bring every firearm we own as well as model rockets, potato and flare guns and have a blast shooting targets, going on rides, eating great food and telling stories around the campfire.

There are times when I gotten up in the middle of the night (when nature calls) and sat by the coals of our fire and spent extended periods of time just gazing up at the unbelievable wonders of the heavens.  Seeing a sky so full of bright stars and the Milky Way so clearly – a sight most of us don’t have the opportunity to see if we live near a big city.

Typically, we have about 25 to 30 of us who show up for the annual Shoot Out and have on occasion invited some of our wives to attend.  We haven’t had too many takers.  Two of my sisters wanted to come but after their first time, never wanted to return.  I guess there’s just too much testosterone at this event.

Our younger boys like to go rabbit and squirrel hunting.  These are boys ranging from eight to twelve years old.  They take their BB guns and pretend they are mighty hunters.  We have a rule in our family – no sport killing.  If you shoot an animal, you eat it.

This rule is always readily agreed to when they ask permission to go hunting as a group but when it comes down to actually consuming their game, it’s often a different story.

I have a son-in-law who is our official trainer when it comes to teaching the boys how to properly gut and skin a squirrel or rabbit.  Some of the boys are a little squeamish when it comes to this part of the experience, nevertheless, it’s an important step in assuring the meat is not wasted.

Then comes the exercise of cooking the critter over an open fire.  Learning how to properly cook the meat without turning it into a crispy charcoal mess takes some practice.  Then properly seasoning the meat and actually eating it is always a funny experience to watch for the first-timers.

This is knowledge that will prove very valuable in the event circumstances require us to live off the land or raise our own meat.  It would be wonderful if it was possible for us all to have access to enough land and resources to raise a few cows and pigs and some chickens, but in most cases, that’s just not an option for most of us.

Raising guinea pigs or rabbits in a portable hutch is far more practical and could provide the protein we need to feed our families in a crisis.  Since most of us are more familiar with rabbits, lets talk about how to skin and gut a rabbit.

Rabbits are a great source of protein. Unlike beef and chicken, they aren’t pumped full of antibiotics. Rabbits eat fresh greens generally. They reproduce extremely quickly ensuring your food source in well stocked. Skinning and preparing rabbits can be a challenge, follow these simple steps to help it go smoother. The fresher the rabbit, the easier skinning will be. Allowing the rabbit to decompose could taint the meat so it is important to skin and gut the rabbit right away.


Large sharp knife
Flat work surface


Place the rabbit on a flat surface on its belly

Pinch the hide near the neck and cut all the way around the neck

Cut from the stomach to the neck, careful not to puncher the stomach as the juices could contaminate the meat

Create an opening by pulling the skin away from the meat with your index and middle finger

Hold the carcass by the hide legs and pull the skin off like you would remove a pair of pants

Pull the upper part of the skin towards the base of the skull

Cut the head and tail off

Cut off the feet at the ankle

Make a cut near the pelvis

Place a finger on either side of the knife

Lift the skin and cut towards the head, careful not to cut deep enough to pierce the stomach

Cut the rib cage open

Pull out the organs in one motion starting under the rib cage and pulling towards the pelvis

Set aside the kidneys, liver, and heart. They can be eaten, it’s a matter of personal taste. Avoid eating the liver if it looks discolored. This is could be a sign of a sick rabbit.

Cut through the pelvis and rinse out any droppings that remain

Wash the rabbit with clean water to ensure fur, blood, and droppings are cleaned off

Remove the silver skin or thin layer of fat from the entire rabbit

Cut just under the shoulder blades to remove the front legs

Cut against the rabbit’s loin and down the rib cage to remove the meat from the belly

Use a sharp knife to cut through the hip joint to remove the back legs

Fillet the back and ribs, do not cut meat off the rib cage, cut away from the spine and ribs

Save the neck, rib cage, and pelvis to make rabbit stock

Cut the rabbit into more manageable sections for cooking or storage

There are several good videos on YouTube that will show you step by step how to skin and gut a rabbit as well.  If it’s your first time, I highly recommend you take the time to watch several videos before you try your first rabbit.

Taking the time to actually practice this method BEFORE you’re desperate will go a long ways in building confidence and preventing unnecessary mistakes.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Know Your Surroundings

As we play out in our minds possible scenarios of how and when we may need to fall back on our preps, it’s often the case that we take for granted the “where”.  I think most of us assume we will be at our current residence with familiar surroundings.  That may or may not be the case.

Not really knowing and understanding the lay of the land where we currently live can create real problems at a time when the last thing you need is more problems.  This became evident to me just the other day when a road construction detour forced me to take a road I’d never been on.  Keep in mind, I’ve lived in my small town for almost 30 years and thought I was pretty familiar with the surrounding neighborhoods.  Not the case – I ended up driving through a neighborhood I had no idea even existed.

I think all of us are so used to our daily routine of where we go and drive the same routes that we end up not really knowing the details of where we live.  This could be especially important in the event of a necessary evacuation.  Take the time now to drive the roads you’ve never been on and take note of  the details that may or may not be helpful in time of need.  If you know your region before the event occurs, you’ll have a far better chance of surviving it.

After you establish your prepping priorities, the next step would be to predict the best course of action for you and your family, before disaster strikes. For example, would bugging-in be an option for your family? Will you be forced to move to a safer location? If so, which route will be the safest and do you have all the supplies to make the journey, even if there are delays?

All these questions can be answered if you know your region and it will help you reduce the “unknown” factor. If you are forced to find refuge in your local wilderness, it is important that you know what resources are available and how to find them. Even more important, you should know how to avoid the dangers within your region.

Here is what you should know about your region before disaster strikes:


Many plants have the ability to save your life in an emergency situation. However, they can also put you in an early grave if not researched carefully. Without taking the time to practice plant identification, you will easily confuse the plants that can save your life with the ones that can have an adverse effect. You should start by learning which plants from your region will be of help during a survival scenario and which one you should avoid.

Edible plants

Some of the plants from your region can provide you with the vitamins and nourishment you need to survive when food is scarce. You should discover which edible roots, flowers, berries or grasses grow in your part of the country and how to safely prepare and eat them.

Medicinal plants

A doctor may not always be around and proper healthcare will be difficult to find during a crisis event. Fortunately, you have a bio pharmacy in your region and nature can provide you with all sorts of cures. From headaches, to sore throats and even blood clotting, nature has a solution for everything. There are all sorts of plants that can heal minor ailments and injuries. You just need to know how to identify and use them.

Poisonous plants

Touching the wrong plant or ingesting the wrong berries can easily seal your fate. While some will make you ill and incapacitate you for a long period of time, others will leave you cold for good. Before you go out foraging for edible and medicinal plants, you should learn about the plants you have to avoid. Making a positive identification before usage is the number one skill of every forager. If you are in doubt, leave it be!

Natural water sources

While water might not seem a primary concern when disaster strikes, it can become a major hassle if the event is not a short-term one. Many survivalists and preppers, have a good supply of water and various means to purify the water they find, if they are able to find it. You should know all the available water sources from your region. It will help you restock your water supplies and it will provide you with an understanding of the disaster’s gravity.

If there is only one major water source, there will be a lot of competition for it. You need to make sure you are able to deal with “competition”. If there are multiple water sources, you should try the smaller ones in order to stay out of sight. Weather conditions play an important role in your region and they will increase or decrease your chances of finding water.


When hunger is becoming your mortal enemy, finding an animal in the wilderness is a true blessing. Each hunter knows that it is important to learn about the animals from the region. This helps you figure out which can be eaten and which will eat you. Every region has an ideal prey that is good for consumption.  The trick is to learn which ones in your area are the easiest to find.

You might not have a rifle available or you will have to avoid using it due to various circumstances. It is crucial to know various hunting techniques. You also need to learn about the right way to cook them because prey might be different from what you buy at the grocery store.

Your food list will include mammals, reptiles, insects and everything in between when your food supplies run out. Predators can be found in your region as well. You need to know what deadly beasts might be on your trail.

Every region has its dangerous animals and an encounter with a bear or a mountain lion is not a pleasant experience. Not to mention that there are also the sneaky, stealthier ones like spider and snakes. You should educate yourself about how to handle the dangerous animals that can be found in your region.

Building materials

If your bug out location was not designed for long-term living, you might need to build something that provides you with comfort and protection. To do that, you will need to rely on using the natural materials from your region.

Building a shelter is not easy without the proper tools and materials. Time might not be on your side and you need to know beforehand which materials are available. You have to practice how to use them properly and what tools you need to get the job done. The resources from your area will have to be exploited to create shelters, tools and weapons if the crisis event extends over a few weeks/months.

Escape routes on foot

If you need to bug out from your region you will need to learn about the escape routes you have and how to use them. You will use a vehicle for the most part of the road, but eventually, you will have to continue on foot. Regardless if you are in the city or in a rural environment, you will have to flee on foot at some point in time.

Do you know enough about your area in order to make sure you make it to your safe heaven by foot? If you have a long journey ahead, you will need to plan a bug out timeline and stick to it. Think about if you need to cache some supplies along the way. You will need a meeting spot for your family member and other local friendlies.

We prepare for the worst and hope for the best, but that’s not enough. Emergency preparedness requires planning and prioritization, and it is not just a shopping spree as many tend to believe. Studying the details of your home region will give you a better chance of surviving a crisis event. It will keep your loved ones safe during an emergency situation.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Hurricane Preparedness Resources

I had an interesting phone conversation this morning with a woman who lives near the coast of North Carolina.  Hurricane Florence is headed right for them and she was really beginning to panic.

I have had conversations with her in the past regarding her family’s preparedness and she had expressed to me a desire to acquire more food storage and emergency supplies.  Unfortunately, there were other things in her life that distracted her from moving forward and procrastination got the best of her.

As I talked with her, I could sense a real fear as well as regret that she hadn’t taken action sooner to prepare as now, it was too late to do much at all.  I sincerely wish I could have helped her but it just wasn’t possible this late in the game.

Florence is moving westward and has become a powerful CAT 4 hurricane. Satellite images show that the distinct eye has warmed in the center, with convection increasing in the eyewall during the past several hours.  The hurricane is moving over progressively warmer waters over the next couple of days, with water temperatures peaking near 85F… meaning…. Florence should continue to strengthen.

If you are located on the East coast anywhere between SC and VA, NOW IS CRUNCH TIME!

In a disaster situation, you want to be a spectator, not a participant.  If you are a participant, you will either be a victim, or a survivor with an unpleasant story to tell.

Avoid being one of those individuals appearing on national news with matted hair and dirty clothes crying, “Where is FEMA?”

Foremost, now is the time to be considering an evacuation plan.  Sit with the family, makes your calls and lock in a place to stay inland if the need arises.

Next, now is also the time to be considering what prep materials and actions will be needed at your home or place of business if the weather system ultimately targets your location.


The key categories you should consider are as follows:

●   Food and Water
●   First Aid Medications
●   Power Needs
●   Tools and Supplies
●   Special Requirements (Baby, Elderly, Pets)
●   Important Documents
●   Cash
●   Fuel


National Hurricane Center – Florence Page


This year, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is making changes to maps and other products to help improve communication to the public, including where a tropical system is headed and what impacts it may bring.

1) When the NHC issues a track for a tropical system, the map includes what is known as the cone of uncertainty.

Beginning this hurricane season, the cone will be smaller than it has been in past years. This will give the public a better idea of where the center of the storm is headed in the coming days.

2) In 2017, the NHC introduced an experimental map to help convey to the public when strong winds would arrive at a given location.

Beginning this hurricane season, the NHC has decided to make these maps fully operational.  Get used to them.  They can be very helpful.

3) It is standard for the NHC to issue a public advisory that includes information about all aspects of the storm, such as current winds, expected storm surge and the precise location of the system’s center. In past years, these advisories only discussed the given tropical system for the next two days, limiting the amount of log-range details about the storm.

Beginning this hurricane season, these advisories will contain information that talks about hazards as far as five days in advance.

At the link below, press the play button to view an animation of the movement of Florence over the next few days as predicted by NOAA’s Global Forecast System (GFS) model.

Hurricane Spaghetti Models, Maps, Radar, and Imagery

Ventusky Storm System Visualization

Sector Radar Loops


 Red Cross…n-shelter.html


FEMA Mobile App
FEMA has made available a free mobile app for Apple and Android devices with tools and tips to keep you safe before, during, and after disasters, including the location of shelters. The app is available for Apple devices via the iTunes store and Android devices via the Google Play Store.

Info via SMS
To search for open shelters: text SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA) .

To search for open Disaster Recovery Centers, text: DRC and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA) .

Pet Friendly Evacuation Shelters for Hurricane Florence

Please share this information with friends and family.  There will be many who will b impacted by Francine who may find these resources helpful.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Did Hollywood Get it Right?

I came across an interested video clip on YouTube recently that I found quite entertaining.  My wife didn’t think so and I know there are those of you who after watching this video will also question how I could enjoy watching such events.  Nevertheless, I’ve always enjoyed seeing Hollywood’s depictions of end-times scenarios.  I get a kick out of seeing just how overwhelmingly devastating they can create each scene with the aid of today’s super CG effects.  It really is quite amazing and realistic.

This video has taken clips from twelve such movies and put them together.  There’s very little voice-over during the video, but the first sentence you’ll hear is what I would classify as a very accurate statement.  Something I struggle with constantly and wish I had the answer to.  A young girl is heard saying, Everyone was warned, but no one listened.  A rise in temperature, ocean patterns changed and ice caps melted.  They called it extreme weather.  They didn’t know what extreme was.  In the year 2019, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts unleashed a wave of destruction upon our planet.”

First of all, based on many of these clips, living near a coastline doesn’t appear to be the safest place to reside.  That solar flare deal didn’t look too appealing as well.  Not sure where you could find safely in a situation like that!

But back to the underlying reason I wanted to share this video.  I believe that such movies actually have the opposite effect you may think on the surface.  One might think that the viewers would be incentivized to evaluate their preparedness levels and possibly commit to doing better to be prepared to confront and mitigate the effects of such devastations.

I believe it does just the opposite.  I believe such movies, in spite of their entertainment value, have a tendency to marginalize such potential events.  In the movies, these events are depicted on such a grandiose scale that it becomes very easy for viewers to believe such events will never really happen – it’s just the movies.  These events appear so over-the-top on the reality scale that’s it’s somewhat like old time cartoons where one character is constantly being shot, blown up, smashed or thrown over a cliff just to reappear in the next scene as if nothing ever happened.

That’s the underlining problem – these films foster the belief that such things will never really happen.

So such movies simply turn potential future events into a wild roller coaster ride that temporarily scare and excite the riders.  Then it is all quickly forgotten as other interesting and distracting activities present themselves. Nevertheless, I hope Hollywood keeps making such films – I really enjoy them!

Now let me be clear – I personally don’t believe that such major natural disasters will present themselves in the manner depicted in these films.  If they did, there would be basically no need to prepare as everyone would be totally wiped out.  I do believe however, the frequency and magnitude of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and droughts will increase.

It’s been concerning to watch the increase of wildfires this summer.  I can’t remember a time when there’s been so many large and devastating wildfires in the western states.  California alone has had 18 such wildfires with many deaths of fire fighters reported along with millions of dollars of property damage and loss.

I believe such events will become more and more prevalent.  Even though I don’t believe California will fall off into the Pacific Ocean as a result of a major earthquake, I do believe earthquakes will present themselves is a fashion that could cause power, gas and water disruption for many weeks or months.  The same could happen with hurricanes and tornadoes as well.

What if the water lines had been broken or the water supply contaminated, how would you survive?

Just think about what it might be like if you couldn’t flush your toilet for a month.  What would you do?

Once the shelves have been cleaned out at the local grocery store, where are you going to go to feed your family?

If there’s a medical emergency and calling 911 or heading to the hospital isn’t an option, are you prepared to provide the medical care needed?

I’ve talked with people who have the attitude of “just let me die” or put the target on the roof of my house so if bombs are dropped, one will fall directly on me and I won’t have to deal with the aftermath.  I do believe there are those who are serious about choosing death over tribulation.  But when it comes right down to it, I also believe the overwhelming desire to survive will trump such feelings.  That’s why water-boarding is so effective.  People will do anything to avoid the feeling of drowning.

The facts are that most of us will survive the initial effects of natural disasters or other catastrophic events.  The question of survival really hangs on how long after the event we will survive.  When food, water, shelter and medical supplies are limited in supply or are used up in the first few weeks – then what?

Military experts in the field of a potential EMP attack (electromagnetic pulse caused by a nuclear explosion at high altitudes) have calculated that within one year after the national grid goes down, 80% of the U.S. population would have perished, primarily due to starvation.  It wasn’t the EMP that killed them, it was being unprepared for the after-effects.

So it will be for the majority of natural disasters, wars, conflicts and collapse scenarios – the events themselves will indeed cause much damage and some deaths but it’s the weeks and months thereafter that will prove far more catastrophic in deaths and disease due to basic unpreparedness.

So please, enjoy Hollywood’s end-of-the-world movies but view them as entertainment, not accurate predictions of how things will unfold in the last days.  Yes, things will continue to get worse and more problematic as it relates to our day to day lives.  It may unfold like the old fable of how to boil a frog.  If you put the frog in cool water to keep him from jumping out and slowly turn up the temperature, eventually the frog will get cooked, simply because he becomes comfortable and complacent with his surroundings until it’s too late.

Let’s not be like the frog, let’s allow ourselves to be uncomfortable enough to take action now before such action is no longer an option.  Remember the statement, “Everyone was warned but no one listened.”  Let’s both listen and then act.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

What Do You Need to Just Survive?

There’s no question, if things got really tough and it all hits the fan, we’d want access to all of our preps to help mitigate the trauma of a very difficult situation.  Unfortunately, the odds of something difficult taking place as we sit in our comfortable homes with all our food storage and preps at hand is very unlikely.  Chances are, we will be away from home, either at work or away on vacation or maybe in the hills hunting or fishing when an emergency hits.

And we all know, there’s no way we’re going to carry a large backpack with us wherever we go with a bunch of survival gear and food “just in case” (even though many of us wish we could).  So what happens?  We go off completely unprepared.  This happened to me and my son when we were caught in Hurricane Katrina more than a thousand miles away from all our preps.  It’s an extraordinarily vulnerable feeling knowing the only thing you have to rely on is your survival knowledge and your courage.

So what’s the solution?  It’s really quite simple.  We all need to assemble small, easy to carry survival kits that we keep with us where ever we go.  If it’s not possible to keep your survival kit on your person, then it needs to be very close by, like in your briefcase or desk at work or in your car or in your RV.  These kits are not designed to replace your 72 hr. kits, these are exactly what their name describes, “survival” kits.

Every survival expert seems to have their own list of what they feel is most important to have on hand so I’m going to show you several options so you can decide what makes most sense for you.  Each of these survival kits consists of only 10 items that can easily be kept in a small gear bag or small backpack.  Here are some of the suggestions.  Keep in mind, these are just the essentials.

Todd Smith, Outdoor Life Magazine
Personal locator beacon (PLB) or cell phone
Map of area
Small first-aid kit
Water bottle
Lighter and fire starters
Space blanket/bivy sack
Signal mirror

Doug Ritter, Equipped To Survive
HeatSheets brand space blanket
Chlorine dioxide water-purification tablets
Nylon braided line
Waterproof matches
Tinder (for fire starting)
Signal mirror
Personal locator beacon (PLB)

Mike Forti, United States Air Force Survival School
Large knife (machete or hatchet)
Cell phone
Bic Lighter
9 x 12 foot plastic painter’s tarp (0.35 mm thickness)
Mylar survival blanket
Mini LED flashlight
Water purification tablets
Water Container of some sort
Small roll of fishing line or dental floss
Fifty dollar bill (“After a few days lost in the woods eating bugs, it would be a real shame to emerge next to a 7-11, and have no money for food,” Forti said.)

I then came across Dave Canterbury who came up with the 10 C’s of Survivalability.  His list makes the most common sense to me because it lists categories rather than specific items.  I see a lot of lists including cell phones.  I would say probably more than 50% of most states have NO cell phone coverage in remote areas, making these new model GPS’s with text capability subscriptions far more practical and very popular.

So here is what Canterbury says:


Dave Canterbury of the Pathfinder School, LLC developed the “10 C’s of Survival” as a handy list of the most essential tools for staying alive in a wilderness emergency. The 10 C’s of Survival should be taken to heart by anyone who spends any time in the back country—indeed, even the front-country.

After all, a day hike can quickly become a situation of perilous stakes. Weather can rapidly turn, bringing frigid rain or wet, heaping snowdrifts where ten minutes before was blazing sunshine. You may stray from the trail and become entirely disoriented, or become suddenly hobbled by a twisted ankle.

The 10 C’s of Survival are best thought of as divided into two batches: a core of five absolute must-have pieces of survival gear rounded out by an additional roster of highly useful, if not essential, tools.


Never head into the boonies without these first 5 of the 10 C’s of Survival.

(1) Cutting Tool: Ultimately, this means a sturdy, full-tang survival knife—something that should always be on your person in the backcountry. A design with a four to five-inch carbon-steel blade and a flattened back edge is typically the most dependable and versatile. Well-made survival knives allow you to do everything from clean fish to split kindling.

(2) Combustion: Being able to spark a fire is critical in a survival situation. In inclement weather, it’s the first order of business—fundamental to maintaining your core temperature. Additionally, a blaze can help you advertise your location to potential rescuers. Carry spark-catching material such as the Pathfinder Mini Inferno tinder or Gorilla Tape alongside a ferro rod and a good lighter.

(3) Cover: A common mistake committed by plenty of outdoor recreationists is neglecting to include an emergency shelter in their go-to hiking packs. Even if you’re simply setting out for an afternoon trail hike, you need the ability to quickly erect a precipitation and cold-resistant covering to keep you dry and warm in the event of an unforeseen night out in the backwoods. A poncho, wool blanket, tarp, or even a plastic garbage bag will serve you well.

(4) Container: An ideal container for wilderness use is a 32-oz. stainless-steel water bottle. Staying hydrated is fundamental in an emergency, and you want a durable vessel for storing and carrying water. The high-quality metal additionally allows you to boil water—or melt snow—to render it safe to drink: You don’t want to be dealing with a gastrointestinal malady on top of your other worries.

(5) Cordage: Sure, you can fashion rope from plant materials in the back country—but why expend that time and effort if you don’t need to? Carry a good 100 feet of 550 cord, which can assist in a dizzying array of tasks.


In the event of contingencies in the wilderness, the remaining five items of the 10 C’s of Survival can be immensely helpful to have on hand.

(6) Candle: It’s all too easy to forget about an illumination source when preparing for a day on the trail. If you’re stranded for whatever reason, the onset of night is a real threat: You can quickly hurt yourself fumbling around in the dark for kindling or water. Having more than one source of light is best—a headlamp is particularly convenient, but bring candles along as well.

(7) Cotton: It’s no weight or space burden to stuff a few cotton cloths or bandannas in your pack—a level of convenience that belies the versatility they display in the backwoods. From bandages to signaling flags, from fire-starters to head coverings, cotton bandannas are deceptively multi-use.

(8) Compass: There are plenty of methods for orienting yourself in the wilderness, from keying into the wheel of constellations to tracking the sun’s shadow. But bringing along a durable compass with a sighting mirror gives you an unfailing tool for precise navigation—one that readily doubles as a signaling mirror.

(9) Cargo Tape: From injuries to pack malfunctions, a roll of duct tape serves as many functions in the backcountry as it does in the garage.

(10) Canvas Needle: Also called a sail needle, this little tool can be employed to repair clothing or shelters, act as a makeshift compass, dislodge nasty splinters, and for other delicate, high-precision operations.

Remember, the “survival weapons” of the 10 C’s of Survival only work when combined with the knowledge and presence-of-mind to put them to use. If you can stay calm and ward off panic—commonly your greatest threat in the wilds—you can use this basic equipment to keep yourself alive, healthy, even contented, until help arrives.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

How Many Calories Do You Need in Your Food Storage?

If you look at a lot of long-term food storage kits, you’ll see that they are determined by a daily calorie count. This is meant to be a baseline for you to determine your food storage needs.

How is the best way to determine how much food storage you and your family need?  Truly, the best way is to look at the personal needs of each family member, and then add them together to match up the best long-term kit.

Here’s a quick breakdown of daily caloric needs as determined by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (1). These are general requirements required to maintain weight. Of course, adjust according to your personal nutritional needs.

Infants/toddlers1000 calories/day Both male and female toddlers have the same caloric needs.

Young children1200-1400 calories/day – Again, male and females have the same caloric needs. The more active your child is, the more calories he/she needs.

Pre-pubescent BOYS – 1600- 1800 calories/day.  This is when boys’ nutritional needs start to become more than girls’.

Pre-pubescent GIRLS1400-1600 calories/day. The more active your daughter is, the more she will need.

set fruit and vegetables isolated on white

Pubescent and post-pubescent teenage BOYS 2000-2600 calories /day.  This is a time where nutrition needs vary. If your teenage boy eats excessively or has a high physical activity lifestyle, you may even want to store up to 3500 calories per day for him.

Pubescent and post-pubescent teenage GIRLS – 1800-2000 calories/day.  Even active girls generally don’t have the same caloric needs as their male counterparts. However, this is a time their brains and bodies are growing, requiring more calories than most adult women. It’s important to not skimp on a teen’s calories.

Young adult men age 21-40 2400 calories/day. Caloric needs of grown men are lower than when they are growing and developing. If you are a highly active male, you may need to add more calories.

Young adult women age 21-501800-2000 calories/day. During pregnancy/lactation, you will want to have 2200-2900 calories/day stored.

Adult men ages 41-60- 2200 calories/day. Activity levels and metabolism usually are lower than younger men, requiring fewer calories to sustain weight and nutrition.

Adult women ages 51 and older1600 calories/day. 

Adult men ages 41-602200 calories/day.

Adult men ages 60 and older- 2000 calories/day.

Again, these are general requirements. As you plan your emergency preparedness food, adjust to your family’s needs.

What is a Julian Date?

Good news! Food Insurance now carries hugely popular MREs. We’re just as excited as you are. MREs are a great addition to your food storage plan. However, with a 1-5 year expiration, you have to be on top of the manufacture dates, which can be fairly confusing if you don’t know the Julian dating system. Never fear, we’ve got you covered.

What is a Julian date? Julian dating is actually one of the oldest ways of keeping a calendar, dating centuries before we started our calendar system. While we’ve adopted a relatively young Gregorian calendar using years, months, and days, Julian dating uses only numbers.

Why would MRE manufacturers use Julian dates? Remember, MREs are originally made for the US military. The military uses the most efficient timekeeping methods. Think military time- 8am is 0800 and 4pm is 1600. Julian dating is similar to the continuous numerical time. It isn’t divided by months, but rather years and days. This is easier for programming the date stamp system.

Julian dates are 4 or 5 digit dates that that start with the last digit of the year and end with the corresponding number of the day of the year.

That doesn’t help? Okay, here’s a visual representation for you.  Our traditional expiration date looks like this: MM/DD/YYY.  January 1, 2018, looks like 01/01/2018.  The same Julian date looks like this: YYDDD.  January 1, 2018, is 18001. (The 18 for 2018 and the 001 is for the first day of the year.)  If you want to get more complicated, let’s try July 9, 2016.  The Julian date is 16191.  2016 was a leap year, making July 9th the 191st day of the year.

What if there are only 4 numbers on my MRE? That’s easy. That particular MRE distributor only uses the last digit of the year. So the Julian date 7115 was manufactured April 25, 2017.

Here’s an easy resource to compare your MRE Julian dates:

Julian dating is mostly used for MREs, but you can also see them with food storage dating. If you don’t see a traditional manufacture date, look for that 4-5 digit code. You’ll know exactly which date your food was manufactured.

Sanitation in an Emergency

Do you remember returning from your family camping trip smelling like Big Foot? I bet that first hot shower felt amazing, washing away all the dirt and grime. Perhaps you even needed a second shower to get the campfire smell out of your hair. Imagine being out in the elements and never being able to get clean? Even worse, imagine an emergency situation where the spread of filth and disease is unpredictable because there isn’t sufficient sanitation to contain it. That need to get clean after a camping trip underscores the need to make personal hygiene a part of your emergency preparedness.

When Would You Need a Sanitation Station? 
During Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, one of the biggest problems was the human waste that piled up because the city’s sewage system was knocked out. It does take a category 5 hurricane to cause a sanitation emergency, though.  Overheated power grids can cut power to sewage/water stations. Storms, sabotage, and other factors can also affect our sewer systems.  At that point, even your home can become a bacterial nightmare.

That’s okay. Your emergency preparedness plan includes your sanitation needs. Because you’ve prepared, your family can stay clean and disease-free. Here are some tips to get your sanitation station going.

Staying Clean with Limited Water
Of course, washing your hands is one of the most important parts of personal hygiene. This is when your water storage comes in handy.  A  water container with a spigot is a great asset in your preparedness plan. The water container can be used over a sink or bucket to keep your flow of water going and your hands clean.

If you don’t have access to clean water, there are options.  Keep wet wipes (preferably antibacterial), hand sanitizer and paper towels on hand. Remember that household cleaning wipes (like Lysol or Clorox) are NOT safe for skin.

Keep Surfaces Clean 
Speaking of household cleaning wipes, these should be part of your sanitation preparedness plan.  Surfaces in toilet and eating areas will be susceptible to germs spreading. Premoistened disinfecting wipes are a great way to kill germs and prevent bugs/rodents from infecting your space.

Toilet Needs
Part of a good sanitation plan is understanding toilet needs. Since toilet areas are breeding ground for germs, you’ll want to make sure you have a specified area for human waste, as far away as possible from food and living areas.  If you are sheltering at home, you can use your established toilets, just line the inside of the bowl with a trash bag or disposable bathroom bag. (Use a drop or two of bleach after each use to minimize bacterial growth. Having portable toilets, disposable bathroom bags (preferably with biodegradable gel/powder to break down waste), and a handwashing station will help contain germs to one area.
(Note- Find out what your city ordinances regarding human waste disposal are before you put full bags in the trash.)

Your Sanitation Kit
Make sure you have the items you need in your 72-hour kit to stay sanitary and sane.

  • Water Container with spigot
  • Wet Wipes
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Soap
  • Body Wipes
  • 5 gallon bucket toilet
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toilet bags with biodegradable gel
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss (Cleanpaste)
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Lotion
  • Baking Soda
  • Lip balm
  • Travel Towel
  • Nail Clippers
  • Body Powder
  • Comb
  • Hair Brush
  • Hair Ties
  • Straight Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Small Scissors
  • Feminine Hygiene
  • Contact Solution
  • Extra Pair of Glasses in Case
  • Contact Case

What else do you keep in your sanitation kit?

Image thanks to My Honey’s Place

Your Guide to Water Storage

Water storage is a major component of your emergency preparedness plan.  It can be a daunting task, saving 1 gallon of water per day per person,  plus whatever you use to cook and clean with.  However, like all things related to emergency preparedness, if you work one step at a time, you can be ready for all your water needs.

When preserving water there are a few things you need to consider:

Water Containers Choosing your water container is one of the most important parts of water preservation. You should look at different sizes that will work with the different water needs. For instance:

Large water tanks – Large water storage tanks are great for general water storage. Large water barrels range in size from 30 to 500 gallon
Pros: Using a siphon, you can easily extract the water for drinking, bathing, washing, etc. They are also usually more cost effective, especially if you shop during a water container sale.
Cons: These water tanks can be more difficult to clean and rotate your water storage. They also require more room than smaller containers.

250-Gallon Water Container


5-gallon and smaller – Another good option for water storage is the 5-gallon stackable water container.
Pros: These 5 gallon water jugs are easy to clean, easy to rotate, and easy to use. They are stackable so they can be inserted into most storage spaces.
Cons- Your water supply is disrupted faster than if you use a larger container.

Water bottles/Water Pouches – Water bottles/pouches are good for individual drinking needs.
Pros: This is the most convenient way to get your water. You can monitor exactly how much you are drinking, take your water with you, etc.  Water pouches are sturdy and packable and have a 5-year shelf life.
Cons: While most bottles are now BPA free, the thin plastic is not as strong as the larger containers, causing leaking risks. Also, the clear plastic exposes the water to heat and light, increasing the risk of mold/bacteria growth.  You can’t add preserver without breaking the seals of each bottle.

When choosing water containers, remember:
– Only store in food-grade, BPA-free containers.
– If using glass containers, make sure they haven’t had any other liquid inside previously.
– Never use containers that have stored chemicals, oils, etc.
– If using stainless steel, don’t use a water preserver as the chemical will break down the metal over time.

So, what water containers do you need? Really, a combination of water containers is ideal for water storage emergency preparedness. Larger containers are good for washing, cleaning, and drinking. Medium water containers are perfect for easy-access water needs. Smaller water bottles are convenient for drinking and on-the-spot cleaning.

Water Preservers –  There are only a couple water preservation methods proven safe for long-term storage.
Bleach- Also known as sodium hypochlorite, bleach is a common way to preserve water.
Pros: Bleach truly does clean water, and keeps it clean for long periods of time. It’s also easily accessible.
Cons: Store-bought bleach is sold in a fairly high sodium hypochlorite/water ratio, making it very hard to know what concentration is safe for human consumption. It’s best for storing in containers used for washing, but not for drinking.
Water Preserver – Also sodium hypochlorite or bleach.
Pros: Bottled water preserver is best for consumable water because the chemical/water concentration is regulated and is consumable in the recommended ratios.
Cons: Water preserver isn’t as easy to get as bleach.  It isn’t at most stores, so you need to get it through emergency preparedness sites. (We recommend Food Insurance, of course.)

IF you choose to not use a water preserver, be prepared to rotate your water and clean out your container every 6-12 months.

Storage and Rotation– Water never goes bad. We’ve had the same water supply since the beginning of time. However, water can grow bacteria and mold grow in it over time.  Bleach and water preserver allows you to minimize rotation for up to 5 years, depending on storage conditions. Store your water in a cool, dark room away from direct sunlight for optimal results.  If you don’t have a cool, dark room, that’s okay. You can obviously still store your water. You just need to rotate it more regularly. If you store outside, rotate it every year, even with a water preserver. (If you store it outside without a preserver, check it every few months.) If it’s inside, but in a lit area, check it every year, but you can probably go longer. The key is to check it regularly.

Do you prefer larger or smaller water containers? Where have you found is the best place for you to store water?

Cooking During a Blackout

The power has just gone out. You find the flashlight and light some candles. You realize its dinner time and the kids are hungry, now what? Going out to dinner might not be an option if the power is out in the whole city. Crackers and a jar of peanut butter might be okay for one night, but what if the power outage lasts for longer than that? Power outages can happen at any time. They could last a few hours or even a few days.

Order of Operations  It is important to start by using what is in your refrigerator first. When the power goes out, the fridge will be able to keep food cool for 24-48 hours. Don’t open your fridge more than you absolutely have to. Know what you are looking for, open and close the fridge quickly and efficiently. If the power is still out, eat what is in the freezer next. Food will remain frozen for 2-3 days as long as the door stays shut.

Alternate Cooking Methods  Our ancestors have used fire to cook food for millions of years. Learn from their ingenuity and adjust your own cooking methods.

Fire Starters Fire has come a long way in the last several years. Products like EasyFire make building and maintaining a fire as easy as ever.  Using nontoxic inert minerals, paraffin wax, and recycled wood, you can create more than enough heat to safely cook any meal. Use a firepit, fireplace, or other safe, ventilated container to maintain an easy fire.

Cooking Outdoors A functional and fun trend is the backyard firepit. This is a great area for cooking during a blackout. Take a note from the Boy Scouts of America and make a good old fashioned tin foil dinner. A tin foil dinner can contain just about anything. Take a sheet of aluminum foil and fill it with meat and potatoes. Add a few herbs and some salt and pepper. Roll the edges of the foil together and toss it in the fire for a while. Bury the tin foil dinner in a bed of hot coals so it cooks all the way through. Check to see if it is done, if not roll it back up and put it back on the fire until everything is tender and cooked.

Barbeques, grills, and camp stoves are ideal for the 4th of July, they are also the most obvious ways to cook during a power outage. Since they run on propane or charcoal they won’t be affected by the blackout. DO NOT grill indoors on a charcoal or gas grill. It will produce lethal carbon monoxide.

Emergency Stove Candle or Stove-in-a-Can stoves use wax hydrocarbon fuel. Chafing dishes use the same principle to keep food warm. You’ve probably seen the blue flames under trays at parties or other catered events. These little cans are great for heating up food during an emergency. They won’t be able to cook a full course meal, but they are able to heat up a can of beans just fine.

Use Your Food Storage People sometimes protect their emergency food storage, assuming that a bigger emergency is around the corner. In reality, events like blackouts are exactly when you should use your food storage. It provides convenient, easy meal prep.  For instance, MREs have built-in MRE heaters to cook without needing any other cooking method.  If you have more freeze-dried food, that’s almost as easy. Freeze-dried meals only require hot water to produce a full, delicious meal.

Use Your Car Your car engine gets hot enough to heat food. Simply wrap your food in several layers of aluminum foil, open your hood and place the foil on the engine. Close the hood and turn on your car. (PLEASE make sure your garage door is open so you have plenty of ventilation.) Cook your food until the internal temperature is safe (usually 160 degrees for meat). You may need to flip the foil back and forth to ensure even cooking.

Alternative Cooking Methods 

  • Backyard BBQ
  • Camp Stove
  • Firepit
  • Fireplace
  • Chafing Dish
  • Sterno Stove
  • Self-heating MREs
  • Just-add-water freeze-dried-foods

Do you have any advice for cooking without power? We’d love to hear from you.