Article – Hurricane Harvey Hysteria: Customers Fight as Stores Sell out of Water

I can’t believe I’m linking to an Alex Jones article, but…

U.S. residents living on the Gulf Coast are hitting grocery stores searching for water and other essentials before a potentially life-threatening hurricane makes landfall.

The National Weather Service forecasts Tropical Storm Harvey will be upgraded to a major hurricane by Friday, “bringing life-threatening storm surge, rainfall, and wind hazards to portions of the Texas coast.”

A photo from a Sam’s Club in Corpus Christi depicts a long check-out line full of people, with a caption reading, “Waiting to buy water for #Harvey.“

Here’s the part Im having a hard time with: why are you buying water? Does the tap in your house no longer work? I mean, I recognize the convenience of 20-oz bottles of water, but whats the big deal if the stores are out of it? Fill some five-gallon jerry cans from your tap and call it good. Then fill your empty bottles from that if you need to.

And if you live in hurricane country why don’t you already have a large chunk of this taken care of?

At the moment, I’ve got something like 50 gallons of treated water set back, and a couple flats of bottled water. My need to go stand in line with the panicked creatures of WalMart? Zero.

2(??) Lifestraws for $16 on Amazon

$15.96 is a pretty good deal for a Lifestraw. However the description of the product here clearly says “Package Quantity: 2“, and if that is correct…well, thats an insanely good deal. Wonderful stocking stuffers. If it’s a typo, it’s still a good deal. Might wanna jump on ’em before they sell out.

I keep one of these in my Tromping-Around-The-Woods bag, and they should always be in your BOB/GHB type gear.

For the price, these are excellent pieces of kit for whatever cache of gear you’re squirreling away somewhere. I’ve a dozen or so in storage and scattered among various packs.


ETA: Wow, those didn’t last long. Link appears to be dead…musta sold out.

Canned water

It’s kind of interesting to look back on the history prepping back to the golden-age of the Red Scare and Cuban Missile Crisis and seeing the gear that was marketed towards those wanting to survive the inevitable nukefest.

cw-1One of the things that I often see pictures of in old bomb shelters is canned water. More specifically, drinking water that was packaged in cans like beer or other canned food would be. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Notice that this was in the days of dinosaurs before the pull-top can was invented. So, if you wanted to slake your thirst in the post-nuke world, you needed the old-fashioned church key to open it. Although there are plenty of these relics floating around, and people come across them from time to time and post pictures of them on the internet, very infrequently do you find those same people saying if the cans were still full or not. Assuming the cans were not lined with any particular barrier coating (which seems pretty likely considering the era), and their steel construction,  the cans probably succumbed to rusting pretty quickly. (This, by the way, is why those old Civil Defense water barrels were not stored full of water,  but rather stored in such a condition as to allow them to be rapidly filled when the warnings were given.)

Water_sideFrom a manufacturing standpoint, the market for this sort of thing would have been a no-brainer for a company that was already involved in the bottling/canning process. For example, here’s some canned water that was canned by the folks at Royal Crown, or as we know it today – RC Cola. If you’ve already got the canning operation set up to make pop, why not just turn the taps on and can some water at the same time? No additional capital investment and a whole new market to sell to….seems like a win to me. But, realistically, that market for canned water, even at the peak of the crisis, probably couldn’t even begin to compare to the market for the regular product.

Anheuser-Busch-Water-Cans-in-Packaging-1 Interestingly, canned water actually does turn up these days in disasters. The folks at Anheuser-Busch, most famous for Budweiser beer, periodically use their resources to run off batches of canned water to be distributed in disaster areas. Compared to the old cans, these things are rocketships…pull-top cans so no opener is required, lined interiors to preserve taste, and aluminum construction to reduce weight and increase durability. And, considering the manufacturing technology and resources of a company like A-B, they probably produce more of these things in an 8-hour shift than most companies could have produced in a week back in the days of Sputnik.

51BhAMJrHnL._SX425_Interestingly, if a person was interested in getting some of this sort of thing for their own bunker you can find it online without having to hang around a disaster relief tent. There’s at least one vendor on Amazon selling the stuff. (Blue Can) And although I rather like the idea of the convenience and durability of an aluminum can, I think that, when you really think about it, any advantages offered by an aluminum can are pretty much available in other forms…most specifically the ubiquitous plastic water bottle that we get at WalMart for around $5 a case. (Versus what amounts to about a buck a can for the aluminum cased stuff.)

I can’t speak for everyone, but my own experience has been that the plastic water bottles are exceptionally durable and probably more durable than the aluminum cans. The biggest issue that springs to mind is what happens in cold weather…I’ve had cans of Coke freeze and explode like an M67, but I’ve never had one of the plastic bottles explode. The bottles also have a bit of ‘give’ to them so things that might puncture an aluminum can don’t necessarily have the same effect on the plastic bottle. In fact, pretty much the only advantage I can come up with for the can over the plastic bottle is the opaque nature of the can preventing light transmission and inhibiting any type of growths.

thTwo other packaging options are the ‘juice box’ style of packaging, which is also pretty tough to find, and the foil pouches that we often see marketed specifically towards preparedness. The boxes seem like a clever idea but I think theyre the least durable and therefore the least attractive option. I do very much like the foil pouches. While I don’t think they have the puncture resistance of the plastic bottles, I very much like their small serving size…their small size means that if they freeze (like in your car in the winter) you can thaw them quickly and easily by just tucking them under your arm or sitting on them. Contrast that with trying to quick-thaw a 16 oz. frozen plastic bottle of water.

It’s also worth pointing out that if you’re the DIY type of guy you can actually ‘can’ water same as you’d can fruits or other foods using your pressure cooker. The water is completely sterilized, the containers are sterilized, and pretty much the only weak point is the glass container.

Storing water with gear

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

,Rawles had a link about caching and added a caveat that storing water amongst gear is to invite disaster if the water container leaks, since much gear is not greatly enhanced by being soaked. He urged that water be stored separately from such gear.

This is true, but sometimes you really don’t want to  increase the footprint of your storage any more than you have to, and adding separate containers for water might do just that.

When I leave packs laying around with water in them in environs where they might freeze, I always start off using bottled water. I’ve experimented a lot with plastic bottles of water and have found that they’ll handle freeze/thaw cycles with virtually no failures. (In fact, I’ve froze/thawed hundreds of bottles of water and have yet to have one fail because of the freeze/thaw cycle. The ones that did fail were because, while frozen, the bottle was dropped and that damaged the plastic. A drop that would damage a frozen bottle, however, will usually not damge a thawed bottle since the thawed bottle flexes with the impact.) I’m very comfortable with the survivability of regular plastic water bottles. However, I am also a suspenders and a belt kind of guy. If I have a pack stored somewhere, then it’s probably important that the gear in that pack be in great shape since that pack is sitting there for the day when theres an emergency and my safety and well-being depends on the gear inside it. Most folks would figure the answer is to put the bottle of water into some other container to act as a secondary container in case the first one fails. Makes sense. Many folks use something like a Ziploc bag…a mistake, in my opinion. Ziploc bags are great, and I use lots of them for other stuff, but they just are not really waterproof. If you dont believe me, put some frozen chicken in one, and sit it in the bottom of your fridge to thaw. Come back in about three days and see what mess is sitting under the bag.

I take each bottle of water and vacuum seal it in a bag. The vacuum seal bags are quite waterproof, and they let me know at a glance if there’s any failure in bag integrity. (Since even a pinhole will cause the vacuum to fail.) If you really, really wanna go nuts you can vacuum seal it twice. I usually just take one 20 oz. bottle of water, vacuum seal it, and move onto the next. One bottle per bag. As long as the sealed bottle of water is kept protected from sharp objects and such, it lasts forever. (The bottled water in my pack is in its own zippered compartments…so there’s nothing to puncture or abrade anything.)

Don’t have a vacuum sealer? Get one.They are easily one of the best gadgets any survivalist could own. Even for non-preparedness uses, they’re awesome. Yeah, it’s a bit of money upfront but we save tons more money by being able to buy in bulk. (Case in point, the $1.50/# ground beef in the freezer that was bought a year or so ago and is now saving me from having to buy $2.99/# ground beef.)

Contraversely, (yes, I’m making my own words) if all the other gear is waterproofed then it doesn’t matter if the water container leaks. So , if you vacuum sealed all your other stuff and didnt add an extra layer of protection to the water bottles, you’d probably be okay there as well. Of course, the best way to do it would be to do both: waterproof the gear and isolate the water bottles.

If your situation can reasonably accommodate storing water separate from gear, then by all means do just that. But, in those circumstances where the water bottles have to be mixed in with the gear for space/pack constraints, this method has worked great for me so far.




Putting the ‘poo’ in ‘apoocalypse’

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

It occurred to me that while I have plenty of posts about food and being able to shove more cake down your piehole, I dont have any posts about the other end of the gastrointestinal tract.

In many situations, when the power goes out the water pressure sometimes follows. Even if you’re in an area that is served by gravity, rather than pumps, all it takes is some physical disruption to the delivery system (damaged pipes, etc.) and turning on the taps gets you nothing but a gurgle and a feeling of impending doom.

Now, drinking water isn’t that big a deal compared to water for sanitation. We all store water, and a method to purify it, right? Worst comes to worst, we take our Katadyn and a five-gallon jug, have someone stand watch, and we pump some water from the nearby river or lake. Unfortunately, sanitation takes a bit more water than that.

The average flush toilet in this country uses something like 1.6 to 4 gallons of water depending on your toilet. If you’re good with a bucket you can ‘flush’ your toilet with a well-heaved bucket of water into the bowl. But let’s be real here….we’re guys – give us a shovel, a roll of toilet paper, and a modicum of privacy and we’ll be fine. We are, after all, the gender that has raised bodily function jokes into a social greeting and form of entertainment. Chicks, on the other hand, can get a little fussy about this sort of thing. Don’t think so? Try to remember back to your dating days…what was the one thing that chicks weren’t willing to put up with in your bachelor pad? Filthy bathroom. Your kitchen could look like a food-decay laboratory, and she might think the 48″ metal lathe in the living room was ‘manly’, and she might even tolerate the sheets that crunched when you lay down on them, but if the toilet in your bathroom looked like a Third World squathole you may as well forget about any sort of action.

More than aesthetics and squeamishness, the improper handling/disposal of…uhm….’waste’…is a major health risk. When there’s a huge disaster just about anywhere in the world what follows about a week later? Cholera, typhoid, dysentery and a host of other serious diseases related to ‘improper hygiene and sanitation’. The classic example is Typhoid Mary who, through her career as a cook, managed to kill and sicken quite a few people before she was forcibly isolated for the public good.

Solution? Well, you know that old saying about not crapping where you sleep? That and some serious attention paid to handwashing and cleanliness will go a long way. But, more importantly, when the water-flush porcelain commode becomes an artifact of a happier, less apocalyptic time, a Plan B is going to be needed.

Fortunately, there are some options. (Although none are as familiar as what we’re used to.)

There are all sorts of ‘portable toilet’ systems out there. All are pretty much the same thing – some type of toilet-seat situated over a removable plastic bag. That’s pretty much the basic design. After that, it’s bells and whistles. Some systems use a powder or other medium to reduce odors and turn liquids to solids, some use heavy deodorizers, and some are about as simple as you can get. (Like the guys overseas who improvise toilet seats out of their tri-fold shovels.)

The old Civil Defense sanitation kits are probably the forerunners to what we see today in terms of products like this and this. The old CD kits might be a good foundation to use in designing your own kit. I suppose in an emergency just about any suitable container, such as a garbage can, and a pile of plastic bags can be improvised into use as a portable toilet but why improvise when you can get something a little more purposeful? And although this seems like some sort of redneck joke, I can see where might be pretty practical at a hunting camp or similar venue.

Regardless, in addition to a toilet seat and some sort of catchment, there appears to be some other things that will go along with them to make things a lot easier and safer. The old CD sanitation kits packed:
Sanitation Kit Contents List

Kit Item
Commode Seat, Plastic
Can Opener (manual)
Sanitary Napkins
Hand Cleaner (can)
Polyethelene Gloves (pair)
Water Dispensing Spout
Tie Wire (bag closing)
Cups and Lids (plastic)
Commode Chemical (pack)
Poly Bag Liners (commode)
Instruction Sheet
Toilet Tissue

If I had to guess, and I do, I’d say the cups and lids were for the gents to use in a quiet corner of the shelter. No point in filling that commode any faster than necessary, right?

So lets say you’ve purchased some sort of portable toilet system. What should be packed away with it? Well, right off the top, you’re probably not going to ever find that you can have too many plastic receptacle bags. Really. Go long on these. Next item up is the future currency in just about any disaster – toilet paper. Again, having too much is pretty impossible. How much to have? Just keep buying it and stocking it away. Make sure you protect it from wet (obviously) and from critters that like using it as nesting material. After that, I’d think you’d want a large amount of hand sanitizer/cleaner/soap, a few gallons of bleach and a spray bottle, maybe some Lysol spray, gloves for handling clean up, some method of sealing the bags, and a few other sundries..(like a shovel for burying the bags). Given the critical nature of a piece of equipment like a small portable toilet it may be a good idea to have more than one. Given the relatively low price of some of these packages, it might be a bit more comforting for each person to have their own.

Unfortunately, in large natural disasters like Katrina, Haiti, Japan, etc. it seems that cholera and associated diseases spring up immediately afterwards. While you can’t do much about other folks’ behaviors, you can certainly minimize risks to yourself – wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after bathroom breaks. Disinfect the hell out of anything that is used communaly by anyone for anything..toilet seats, door knobs, radio handsets, bicycle handlebars, etc, etc. And have a plan and supplies in place so that when the water supply or sewage elimination options dwindle to nothing you can still manage with a degree of safety and cleanliness.


The blegging continues for another couple days.


Those soft-sided water carriers

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

One thing about this hot weather, man….you can go through a lot of water in a hurry. I was up at Glacier a couple weeks ago and found that for most of my needs, a Nalgene bottle hanging off my belt in a RolyPoly was good enough. However, I did bring along a Platypus ‘soft bottle’ to keep in my bag in case it looked like more water was called for.

“Exuse me…mind if I take a look at that? Thanks.”

Funny story – I was completely unfamiliar with these ‘tubeless’ water bladders that were being used in lieu of ‘hard’ water bottles. I was up in Alaska doing the touristy thing when I saw one of the park guides with the Platypus bottle. My curiosity being aroused, I asked her about a dozen questions about it. The newly-minted missus found this amusing and actually took a picture of me grilling the poor gal about this water bottle that I was unfamiliar with. Naturally, once I got back to someplace where internet access wasnt charged by the minute, I started doing some research.

Note the three different type of caps…regular, pull spout, and drink tube. Also, the reinforced lanyard holes are extremely handy. L-R:Platypus® plusBottle 1L., Platypus Hoser 1L (tube removed), Platy Sports Bottle – 1 Liter (with tube from Hoser)

While I’m a big fan of the CamelBak-style ‘hydration bladders’ there are times I just wanna have a small container of water that can be tucked into my gear or into a pocket. These things turned out to be just perfect for that task. The two big players are Nalgene and Platypus. One thing that really pushes the Platypus to the top of my list is that in addition to being used as a water bottle the threaded caps are interchangeable between a regular cap, a pull-to-drink spout, and a drink tube. That’s the sort of modularity that I find extremely attractive in a piece of gear. As an interesting side note, it appears that Coke/water bottle caps are threaded similarly that they can be used if the cap of the Platypus is damaged or lost. (And that’s really my only complaint about these things is the non-captive caps.) The larger capacity Platypus (Platypii?) also have reinforced attachment points so you can just clip a carabiner through them and hang them off your pack or whatever…that’s a mighty useful feature since on most Nalgenes all you can do is use the lanyarded lid for that task and that sometimes puts way to much strain on that part.

A local sporting goods store closed a few years ago and most of their stuff was marked down 50%. I cleaned ‘em out on the Platypus stuff. I’ve got a plastic tub full of these things in storage.

Nalgene 48 oz. ‘Cantene’….holds 50% more water than usual-sized Nalgene bottles.

Nalgene, the folks that make those rugged drink bottles I like so much, also has a presence in the market for these sorts of products. Since I got such a good deal on the Platypus stuff, I tend to stick with them. However, the Nalgene does have some interesting uses…for one thing their large 48 oz version ( Nalgene Wide Mouth Cantene ) has the same size/threaded opening and cap as their hard bottles. This means that any of the accessories that thread onto the hard bottle mouth will work with the flexible one. More interestingly, in the book Six Ways In And Twelve Way Out it is mentioned that for a small survival kit the Nalgene wide-mouthed bottle is an excellent container to protect your small items from the environment. The idea being that you keep your little stash of matches, fish hooks, paracord, whistle, etc, etc, inside the Nalgene to keep them protected. An interesting idea except that once you decide to actually use the thing for it’s intended purpose of carrying water you now have a couple handfuls of small items you have to find a way to carry.

Anyway….in weather like this I usually take a hard Nalgene bottle, fill it 1/3 with ice tea, freeze it over night, and then fill the remainder with more iced tea. After that it goes in my bag (or on my bag, more likely) and keeps things cold most of the day. But I keep one or two of the Nalgene or Platypus soft-bottles in my bag ‘just in case’. Why? Well, you never know when you’re going to find yourself in a strait where you’re going to want to have as much water as you can carry. Remember those old movies where the guy is in the desert and he tilts the canteen to his lips and only a few drops of water come out? He looks at it and then disgustedly throws it away. What they don’t show is that when this genius eventually does come across a water supply he know has no way to carry the water. So..I carry an extra or two, empty and rolled up, in my bag. They take up far less space than a hard bottle and if, for example, it looks like a real killer of a day I can load up at the nearest water source and have extra water to carry…or to hand off to a less-prepared partner.

Another nice side benefit of these things is that as you empty them you can squeeze the air out so the things don’t make any sloshing noises like you’d get with a half full (or half empty) canteen. Don’t know about you but I hate hearing that sloshing noise every time I take a step when I’m out hunting.

Durability? I’ve read that the Platypus is a bit better than the Nalgene. The complaint with the Nalgenes seems to center on where the threaded neck is ‘welded’ to the pouch itself. Apparently they sometimes leak. I’ve had a bunch of the Platypus and have never had a problem. haven’t accidentally punctured one yet, although I suppose it’s possible…which is way i usually keep the full ones in something like a Maxpedition Rollypoly (which is what I use..great product) or similar cordura ‘holster’ to protect it from the rigors of life. And, nice thing is that when the Platypus is empty I can also roll up the RollyPoly to it’s compressed size and tuck it away.

If you’re only using the hard bottles you may wanna check these out.