Thursday, 29 June 2017

08:55 – It was 60.7F (16C) when I took Colin out at 0615, partly cloudy and calm. Barbara is out filling bottles for science kits, which she’ll be doing most of the day. She’s headed down to East Bend, outside Winston, around 1700 to have dinner with her friend Marcy. She should be back mid-evening.

As it turned out, it wasn’t the water heater. It was one of the copper feed lines coming out the top of it. Two guys from Shaw showed up yesterday around 1100 and replaced both the old copper lines with PEX. It took them less than half an hour. They were both surprised that we had a 110V well pump. Neither of them had ever seen one before.

A few minutes after they left, Jay Shaw stopped back with a sheath of paint swatches to show me. He matched the existing paint pretty closely with an off-white color called “cotton ball”. I told him that, fortunately, Barbara didn’t really care about the exact color as long as it was an off-white and a reasonably close match for what was on the walls now.

I ordered 250 grams of reagent-grade (AR) iodine crystals off eBay yesterday. Thirty bucks, including shipping from China. If it weren’t for federal regulations, I could have just ordered it from Fisher Scientific or another US supplier. But that involves an incredible amount of paperwork, so much so that many US vendors no longer sell elemental iodine, and if they do the cost is outrageous.

Understand, I’m not breaking any laws by ordering iodine on eBay. It’s perfectly legal for me to buy it, import it, or possess it in any quantity. It’s just illegal for US resellers to sell elemental iodine to US customers without going through all the regulatory bullshit. I can even sell iodine solutions, as long as I don’t sell more than 30 mL at a time and it’s less than 2.2% iodine w/v. That’s fortunate, because every kit we sell includes a 30 mL bottle of Lugol’s iodine solution, which is 1.27% w/v iodine in a 2% solution of potassium iodide.

For that matter, it’s trivially easy to isolate elemental iodine from potassium iodide, which is completely uncontrolled. I could order a hundred kilos of KI, and no one would blink an eye. And all it takes to convert that potassium iodide to iodine is some hardware store muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) and a jug of supermarket chlorine bleach. I did that as a demo at MakerFaire in 2008 to demonstrate how futile federal regulations are.

Lisa emailed me an update of their progress. They’re well past her initial goal of food/water/shelter for three months, but are still accumulating LTS food and other supplies. They’re now studying for their Technician Class ham radio licenses in preparation for taking the test in August.

They’ve also stocked up on OTC medications, bandages, etc., but Lisa came across one of my posts about SHTF antibiotics and wants to get some. She said that the source I recommended, aquabiotics.net, appears to be out of business. Their web page is still up, but it’s nothing but a placeholder.

They’re actually still in business, but not on the Internet. PayPal and other credit-card processors have banned them solely because they’re selling antibiotics. The owner, Dave Folsom, is now processing orders solely by email. Email him at dcfolsom@reagan.com and ask for his current price list. Decide what you want, total up the price, and send him a check. I know that’ll probably make a lot of people nervous, but I’ve bought from him twice that way, and each time he’s shipped exactly what I ordered via USPS Priority Mail the day he got the check.

I suggested to Lisa that for the six of them (assuming no drug allergies) she order at least a few courses each of 100 mg doxycycline, 800/160 mg SMZ/TMP, 875/125 mg amoxicillin/clavulanate, and 400 mg metronidazole. And, in case nothing else works, at least a course or two of 500 mg levofloxacin. Stick them in the freezer, and don’t even think of touching them unless the S has really, really HTF and you’re convinced the patient is going to die if you don’t take desperate measures.

More email from Jen. They routinely run readiness exercises every time there’s a three-day holiday weekend. This one is four days, which is better still. They’re starting as of 1800 tomorrow and running their exercise through next Wednesday morning. David is on call for a couple of those days, so he has to keep his cell phone on, but otherwise they’ll be completely off-grid for the duration. No grid power or other utilities, no TV other than DVDs and other local stuff, no Internet (although they do cheat and check email and news sites in case there’s a real emergency), etc. These exercises became routine for all of them a long time back. As Jen says, it’s essentially just a family camping trip at home.

Brittany and her family are also doing a readiness exercise over the holiday weekend. These aren’t as routine for them, yet, because they haven’t been doing them as long or as often as Jen and her family have, but they did get most of the bugs worked out some time ago.


11:15 – I forgot to mention one new thing Jen and her family will be trying out. In past readiness exercises, their main problem was keeping a 24×7 watch, particularly when it was just the six of them participating. So they decided to install an HD NV surveillance system. The system they bought has eight Ethernet PoE 1080P surveillance cameras with IR illuminators, and is rated for 100-foot detection at 0 lux (with the IR working). Those cameras feed into a 16-port DVR that has all kinds of bells and whistles.

Jen’s husband, brother, and nephews spent some time last weekend getting cameras mounted and everything installed. The cameras and DVR have standard Ethernet RJ-45 jacks. They mounted the cameras under the eaves at each corner of the house facing out at 45-degree angles and at the center of each wall, facing out at 90 degrees, and ran pre-made Ethernet cables to each camera. Jen didn’t want a bundle of Ethernet cables coming down into the house proper, so they declared the main floor utility room to be their comm center and ran all the cables back there.

They were a bit concerned that the rated 100-foot IR detection range was insufficient, so they also bought one PoE IR illuminator, installed it under the eaves near one of the cameras, and ran an Ethernet cable back to the comm center. They’re going to try that one camera with and without the supplementary IR illuminator and see how much difference it makes. If it greatly increases the range, they’ll install seven more IR illumintors, one per camera.

They’ll power the illuminators with an old 8-port Ethernet hub, of which they have several. They also bought a low-end BPS that should run the cameras, DVR, and illuminator for a long time on battery. The comm center is near their solar power charge controller and battery bank, so in a grid-down situation they’d be able to power their surveillance gear indefinitely.

I’m looking forward to hearing how that all works. They spent a fair amount on all the gear, but getting a smaller system costs only a few hundred dollars and would be a useful security supplement.

Monday, 26 June 2017

09:51 – It was 60.9F (16C) when I took Colin out at 0700, clear, bright, and breezy. When we came back in 12 minutes later, it was already up to 64.3F (18C). Barbara is off to the gym and a meeting this morning. This afternoon, more science kit stuff.

Barbara asked this morning if the old Adam Dalgliesh mysteries were available on Netflix or Amazon streaming. I did a search on Roku, which turned up nothing. So I did a search for Roy Marsden, who played the title character. That turned up one movie and two TV series. None were available on Netflix or Amazon streaming, but they were available on a news-to-us service called BritBox. It’s a joint effort by BBC and ITV, and, unlike garbage rent-seeking services like AcornTV, it looks as if it may be worth the $7/month subscription. We’ve always watched a lot of British TV, so this US-only service looks very interesting to us. There’s a 7-day free trial, which I’ll sign up for after the end of this month.

Right now, Barbara’s binge-watching CSI:NY (she likes Gary Sinese). Netflix streaming currently has all nine seasons, but they lose seasons 1 through 8 on 6/29. She’s currently on S08E04 in the 18-episode S08, so she’ll be able to binge her way through the 15 remaining episodes over the next few days.

When I’m in the room while she’s watching it, I annoy her every time they show a NYC-scape by shouting “Sparta”. The other night, I did actually get a laugh out of her when they had a scene set along the beach with a pretty girl (it’s always a pretty girl, which annoys me) who’d been munched by a shark. As they showed a long shot of the beach, I shouted, “Sparta Beach”. When they zoomed in on the dead shark, I shouted, “Sparta Shark”. I then googled “sparta shark”. Believe it or not, there actually is such an item, made in Canada. It’s a folding knife.

Email from Lisa. She and her husband attended amateur radio Field Day over the weekend and met several of the local ham operators, one of whom was only 12. As I expected, she found all of them very friendly and helpful. They decided to sign up for a family membership, and are on the schedule for next Technician Class training class and exam. She’s also made a lot of progress on her prepping goal of having a 3-month supply of food, water, etc. They already have a lot of stuff from local supply runs stacked in the basement, and several hundred dollars worth of Augason dry foods on the way from Walmart.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

08:37 – It was 64.5F (18C) when I took Colin out around 0630 this morning, mostly cloudy. Barbara is off to Winston today to get a haircut, make a Costco run, have lunch with friends, and do some miscellaneous errands.


Ruh-roh. Lisa has hooked up with Jen and Brittany. These women are going to take over the world, I tell you.

I got email overnight from Lisa, CC’d to Jen and Brittany, congratulating me on getting my ham radio ticket. Lisa had been thinking about ham radio for a while, and asked me what she needed to do, on a budget, to get started. What to do, how to get licensed, what to buy, etc. As happens so often, she wanted to know exactly what I did because she intends to copy me. So, with the usual provisos that she is not me and what’s right for me isn’t necessarily right for her, here’s what I told her:

How to Get Started

First, go to http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club and locate the nearest ham radio club. Contact them and attend the next club meeting. Take your family along and let them know you’re interested in getting licensed. I’ve never met a ham who wasn’t friendly and eager to get others involved in the hobby. You’ll find the club very welcoming.

Find out if they offer classes for getting your license, and when and where the license exams occur. The exam for the entry-level Technician Class license and the second-level General Class license each comprises 35 questions from a published pool of 400+ questions. You don’t absolutely have to attend classes to pass your exam. Many people do so just by using on-line ham resources like hamexam.org, which has the question pool (with correct answers), flash cards, and sample tests.

If you’re interested only in local two-way communications–say within a 20-or 30-mile radius or within your county–all you need is your Technician Class license, and that exam is pretty easy to pass. If you’re interested in talking with other hams around the country or around the world, you’ll also want to take the General Class exam, which offers almost complete ham privileges. The General Class exam is harder than the Technician Class, but is still pretty easy.

Once you decide which license class each of you wants to get, start preparing for the exam. If you wish, you can buy the official ARRL study manuals for Technician and General Class, but chances are you’ll do fine just drilling on hamexam.org.

The tests are administered by a group of three Volunteer Examiners. There is usually a $10 per person charge for an exam session. During that session, you can take only the Technician Class exam if you wish, but if you pass that you can go on to take the General Class exam without paying any more. In fact, you can take all three, including the top-level Amateur Extra exam, at one session for the one $10 charge. You have to pass each lower level before you’re allowed to take the next level up.

What to Buy

Again, I’ll emphasize that what I recommend here isn’t best for everyone, but it’ll certainly get you started well.

⊕ Transceivers are available in hand-held versions (called HT’s for handy-talkies), mobile versions designed to install in the dashboard of your vehicle, and base station versions that are designed to sit on a desk or table at home. Nowadays, most hams start with an HT, and many never use anything else.

HT’s are available in a wide range of prices. Name-brand units (Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood, etc.) are generally quite expensive ($150 to several times that), and are limited to transmitting only on amateur radio frequencies. No-name Chinese models (BaoFeng/Pofung, etc.) are much, much less expensive (typically $20 to maybe $70), and can transmit across a broad range of frequencies, typically 136 to 174 MHz and 400 to 520 MHz). That range includes the amateur 2-meter and 70-cm (440 MHz) bands, but also includes many other services, such as FRS/GMRS, MURS, Marine Band, Business Band, etc. Many experienced hams dislike these programmable HTs for just that reason, while most preppers love them, for just that reason.

You might think you couldn’t possibly get much of a radio for a quarter to a tenth or less the price of a name-brand model, but you’d be wrong. A $30 BaoFeng HT has specifications (power output, sensitivity, selectivity, etc.) very similar to a $300 Icom or Yaesu.

There’s not much difference in terms of construction quality, either. One guy on Youtube torture-tested a $30 Chinese HT. He froze it, baked it, drenched it with a hose, and ran over it with his truck. Each time, it kept on working. Finally, he drenched it with gasoline and set it on fire. When the fire finally burned out, the case was charred and melted and the rubber-duck antenna was just a naked coil of wire. And it still worked. Note that he tested the UV-5R, which “feels” like a consumer-grade radio. The UV-82 “feels” a lot more like a commercial/industrial-grade model.

In fact, the commercial model of the UV-82, the UV-82C, is widely used by government and NGO emergency services agencies and volunteer groups that work with them. The only difference between the C model and the regular UV-82 is that the former costs about $60 rather than $30 and is a Type Accepted Part 90 device. It has had keypad access to VFO disabled, so new frequencies can’t be input from the keypad. These units have to be programmed with a computer and cable.

So I have no hesitation in recommending these radios for new ham operators, particularly those on a budget. You can buy a $30 model and use it as-is. If you want to accessorize it, you can spend another $10 or $20 each on things like a spare battery, a battery eliminator that let’s you plug into the cigarette lighter socket in your car, a AAA battery adapter that lets you use AAA alkalines or NiMH rechargeable, a good whip antenna, a speaker/mic, and so on.

So, what specific items do I recommend for getting started on a budget?

BaoFeng UV-82 HT – buy one or more of these. They run about $30 each. Assuming all of your group are getting their ham licenses, buy one for each of them. You can use them legally on the 2-meter and 70-cm ham bands to communicate directly between units (simplex mode) or with local repeaters (duplex mode) to extend your comm range over probably a 50- to 100-mile radius.

BaoFeng programming cable – The UV-82 has 99 programmable channels. You can program it manually, from the keypad on the radio, but it’s much easier to use a programming cable connected to your computer. This genuine BaoFeng Tech cable costs about $20, but it Just Works. Don’t make the mistake of buying one of the cheaper clone cables for $6 or whatever. They use an obsolete chipset that requires old drivers that screw up your computer. The cheap cables are nothing but headaches. You only need one programming cable no matter how many units you need to program, unless you just want a second one as a spare. (two is one …)

Download a free copy of the CHIRP software (available for Linux, MAC OS, or Windows) and use it to program your radios. You can also download various templates for CHIRP that include groups of 99 useful frequencies. Here’s one example, which includes a useful set of frequencies for preppers.

CHIRP templates are stored as simple CSV files, which you can edit with any text editor. You might want to edit the template mentioned above to remove some of the less useful frequencies (like the PMR446 group, which are kind of the European equivalent of the US FRS/GMRS frequencies). You can then use those free channels for 2-meter and 70-cm ham frequencies that are popular in your area for either simplex (direct unit-to-unit) or duplex (repeater). Programming frequencies, mode, etc. is very easy once you look at the CSV file. Pretty much self-explanatory.

The UV-82 itself comes with a charging base, battery, and rubber-duck antenna, which is all you really NEED to get on the air. I consider the programming cable and CHIRP almost a necessity, so I also included it above. There are also several optional items you might WANT. Here are the most popular ones:

Nagoya NA-771 replacement antenna – this 15.6″ dual-band whip antenna costs about $17 and is a direct screw-in replacement for the rubber duck antenna included with the radio. It is much, much more efficient and effective than the standard antenna. Using it can easily double the effective range of your UV-82.

⊕ BaoFeng BL-8 7.4V 1800 mAh battery – you’ll probably want a spare battery for each of your UV-82 HT’s. Battery life is good on the UV-82, but if you ever need to run your HT’s 24×7, spare batteries for each are critical.

Buy the Nagoya-branded antenna and BaoFeng-branded battery, and buy them on Amazon from BaoFeng Tech or BTech (same vendor), which is the authorized US distributor for BaoFeng. Do NOT buy them if Amazon is listed as the vendor. Amazon and its third-party vendors are both notorious for shipping counterfeit products. The branded units from BTech/BaoFeng Tech cost about the same price Amazon charges if they’re selling them, and BTech doesn’t charge sales tax to most locations. Amazon ships it, but BaoFeng Tech is the seller.

BaoFeng battery eliminator – this $16 item has a cigarette lighter plug on one end. The other end looks just like the UV-82 battery, and slides onto the HT in place of the real battery. You’ll probably want at least one or two of these, and maybe one for each radio or at least each vehicle, if you plan to use them a lot in vehicles. Once again, buy these from BTech or BaoFeng Tech as the vendor.

BL-8 AAA battery – another $16 item that’s basically just an empty battery housing for the UV-82. It lets you use AAA alkaline or rechargeables. Interestingly, this adapter requires only five alkaline AAA’s but SIX NiMH rechargeable AAA’s. That’s because the real battery is 7.4V. Five alkalines is 7.5V, which is close enough; six NiMH’s is 7.2V, which again is close enough. But if you put six alkalines in this adapter, it’s delivering 9V, which is too much. The UV-82 apparently continues to work, but it won’t transmit. That’s why this adapter includes a dummy/spacer battery, for when you use alkalines. Again, buy these only from BaoFeng Tech or BTech as the vendor.

⊕ Finally, if you can find it, you might want a clone-and-copy cable. I bought one of these from Amazon back in 2013 or so but they’re now listed as no longer available. Like the programming cable, they have a two-prong connector on one end, but instead of having a USB connector on the other, they have a second two-prong connector. That allows you to connect two UV-82 HT’s directly together and transfer the programming from one unit to the other. The only reason you’d use this is if you don’t have access to a working computer to program units directly. And, if absolutely necessary, you can program units directly from their keypads. So this is definitely an optional item.

So this is what I recommend, in the sense that this is what I actually did and bought.

 

Friday, 16 June 2017

09:55 – It was 64.3F (18C) when I took Colin out around 0640 this morning, mostly cloudy and with a light misty drizzle. Barbara is gone all day today doing various things, and then gone most of the day tomorrow.

More email from Lisa overnight. She made a run yesterday and picked up 100 rounds of #00 buckshot for their 12-gauge shotgun and five bricks of .22LR ammo, which is all the place had in stock. As it turns out, they won’t need to join a gun club or shooting range. One of their neighbors has a 100-yard range set up on his property and had already offered them the use of it any time they liked. Her sons already did the basic gun safety course, and the four adults were already all competent on gun safety. She downloaded some standard targets from a web site and printed out a bunch of them. They plan to have their first practice shoot this weekend.

She bought the ammo at the same place they’d bought the .22 rifles for her sons. When she told the owner that she wanted six bricks of .22LR ammo, he commented that she must be planning to do a lot of shooting. She explained what she was doing, and he suggested she might want to buy some extra magazines for their rifles, which as it turns out are Ruger 10/22’s.

Lisa ended up buying three two-packs of Ruger BX-25 25-round magazines. Her thought was that if they were going to use those rifles for self-defense, it’d be a good idea to be able to reload them quickly. She hadn’t opened the packages yet, and asked if she’d made a mistake and should return them. She paid just over $100 total, which I told her was about as good a price as she could have gotten on-line.

I told her that, although a .22 wouldn’t be my first choice as a defensive rifle, it was certainly a reasonable choice in their circumstances. The .22 is anemic and certainly not known as a man-stopper, but on the other hand no one in his right mind wants to risk being shot with one.

With six of them, they now have three reasonably competent defensive weapons. Even if they decide later to add some AR-15’s or whatever, those 10/22’s will continue to be useful as defensive rifles for one of them who otherwise wouldn’t be armed.

And I suggested she continue to patronize that gun store. They’re treating her right.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

09:21 – It was 64.5F (18C) when I took Colin out around 0640 this morning, clear, bright, and calm. It’s already up to 82.3F (28C).

Barbara has to run down to Elkin this morning to pick up the beer for the charity golf event. She’ll make a supermarket run on her way back, since she’s booked solid tomorrow. Then we’ll spend some time this afternoon building more science kit subassemblies.

I’m taking the Technician and General Class amateur radio exams next week, so I need to get serious about preparing for them. So far, I’ve been coasting on my memories from being a ham radio operator 50 years ago. Obviously, some stuff has changed since then.

So yesterday I decided to visit HamExam.org and take the practice tests. I started with the Techician Exam, for which I have the official ARRL manual but haven’t read it yet. I took the test three times and averaged 33 of 35 questions correct. Passing is 26 correct. Then I decided to give the General Exam a try. I ran through it three times as well, and averaged 30 of 35 correct, with 26 again the passing score. That’s just not good enough. So I intend to spend some time over the coming weekend reading the ARRL books and studying the exam questions, for which the correct answers are provided. I’ve never failed a test in my life, and it would be embarrassing for this to be the first.

More email from Lisa overnight. She’d mentioned earlier that she intended to continue building their deep pantry until they reached at least a one-year supply of food and asked what she should focus on next. She has a Sawyer PointZeroTwo water filter on order as well as a supply of HTH. They have a wood stove, for which she just ordered another two cords of firewood, which is to be delivered in the next few days. They have a couple portable radios and several flashlights and lanterns, with a decent supply of batteries. They have a reasonably good first-aid kit, and none of them are on any critical medications.

About the only thing they’re really short on is defensive weapons. They own two .22 rifles and an old 12-gauge shotgun, but not much ammo for them. None of them other than her sons has shot at all for at least 10 or 15 years, and only her husband and father-in-law have ever so much as fired the shotgun. They bought the .22 rifles for her sons when they did an Appleseed course or similar a couple of years ago.

I suggested to Lisa that she should first find a local gun club or range and get all six of them signed up for a beginner class in gun safety. Then head for Walmart or whatever and buy a hundred rounds of buckshot for their shotgun and six bricks of .22 ammo, one for each of them. Then get each of them out to the range for several sessions and shoot 500 rounds each at targets. Then we can talk more about what defensive firearms they should buy.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

09:42 – It was 62.7F (17C) when I took Colin out around 0620 this morning, partly cloudy and calm. Barbara is off to the gym this morning and then spending the rest of the day making up subassemblies for science kits.

Barbara is binge-watching CSI: NY on Netflix streaming. They have all nine seasons available, but for some strange reason they’re dropping the first eight seasons as of June 29th. She’s about half-way through season 2 now, so there’s no way she’ll make it through all of them before the end of the month. I don’t watch it, but it doesn’t bother me to be in the den reading or browsing the web while she watches it. The writing is pretty bad, and the forensic science is ridiculous but it’s not offensive. About the only good thing I can say about it is that they use The Who’s Baba O’Riley as the theme music.

Email overnight from the woman I mentioned last Friday, who wanted to prep quickly. I’ll call her Lisa. It sounds like she’s been spending too much time reading Zero Hedge. She’s convinced there’s a good chance the economy will collapse this summer and that with the hot weather we’ll see a return to the Days of Rage. I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon, but I’ve been wrong before.

Lisa’s initial goal was to be prepared for her family of six for a period of three months. She spent last weekend making multiple runs to Costco and placing orders on Amazon.com and Walmart.com, and estimates she’s progressed from about 2% prepared as of last Friday to maybe 90% prepared as of now. She hasn’t had time yet to get everything organized and stowed away, so it’s all still sitting in piles in her basement, where they still need to install shelving for everything.

She said that as long as they’re installing shelves she intends to put in a lot more than they need. Her intention is to continue accumulating supplies until they reach at least a year’s worth for the six of them. As she said, the stuff she’s bought is all foods they eat anyway, other than dry beans, so there’s no real downside to having it sitting in their basement instead of on store shelves. And the beans are a good cheap source of protein that keeps a long, long time, so she has no problem with it taking up some shelf space.

I encouraged Lisa to start actually using the bulk food for cooking meals and grow her storage by buying two or three or four more each time she uses one. Move a case of soup from long-term storage to the kitchen pantry, buy two more cases for your long-term storage, and so on.

Lisa is still concerned about best-by dates, although I told her that for almost all products they really are imaginary. She’s decided to install stand-alone steel shelving rather than shelves accessible only from one side. That way, she can add new stuff to one side of the shelf units and pull older stuff from the other side. I told her to go for it if it makes her feel better, but it’s going to involve a lot of shifting stuff around after every supply run. And since she intends to maintain only a one-year supply of LTS food, there’s really nothing to worry about anyway. The “old” stuff she pulls off the shelves will still be only a year or so old and probably still well within its best-by dates.

Friday, 9 June 2017

10:11 – It was 51.0F (10.5C) when I took Colin out around 0645 this morning, bright and breezy. It’s already up to 72F (22C). Barbara has a busy day today, including gym, supermarket, various errands, a doctor appointment, and a meeting. We’ll do more work on science kits today if we have time, otherwise over the weekend.

Email overnight from a woman who’s recently developed an interest in getting prepared. She’s been reading prepping websites for the last couple of weeks, and she’s utterly confused. She wants to prepare for herself and her husband, both in their early 40’s, their two high-school age sons, and her husband’s parents. She’s intimidated by the conflicting advice on various prepper sites, not to mention the cost of all of this. She wants to know what to do, specifically, to prepare herself and her family. Her goal is to be able to take care of them for three months to start with, and to do so without going into debt.

I told her that the first thing to remember is that prepping is an industry, and that all of the sites she mentions are pushing needlessly expensive gear and supplies to benefit themselves and their advertisers. In short, if a prepping site has ads or a site store, or even affiliate links, don’t trust their recommendations.

I told her her top priorities should be water, food/cooking, and sanitation (toilet paper!), along with drugs if she or any of her family were on critical prescription medications.

Water – they live on an exurban property with a pond so my first recommendation was to buy and store as many cases of bottled water as they have room for, buy one gallon of generic chlorine bleach, and buy a Sawyer PointZeroTwo water filter and a couple of 5-gallon buckets.

Food/Cooking – they have a Coleman propane campstove, so I recommended buying an adapter hose for a 20-pound propane canister and a couple canisters of propane.

As far as food, I suggested that they begin with the LDS Church recommendations and purchase the following, either from Costco/Sam’s/Walmart or from and LDS Home Storage Center:

Starches – 600 pounds of carbohydrates, any mix she prefers of white flour, pasta, egg noodles, rice, pancake/waffle mix, oatmeal, cornmeal, breakfast cereal, etc.

Beans – 100 pounds of dry beans, such as pinto, soldier, white, Lima, etc.

Sugar – 100 pounds of white granulated sugar or the equivalent of honey, pancake syrup, etc., or a mix.

Oil – 20 liters of olive oil, vegetable oil, shortening, lard, etc.

Salt – 15 pounds of iodized table salt.

Milk – 42 pounds (2 cases) of LDS non-fat dry milk.

Multivitamin tablets – Buy sufficient for each family member to have one per day. Store them in the freezer, if you’re concerned about shelf life.

That’s sufficient to feed her family for three months with adequate calories, protein, and fats, but it’s a pretty boring diet. To make all of this more palatable, I suggested she also buy, roughly in order of priority:

Herbs and Spices – Large Costco/Sam’s jars of whichever spices she and her family prefer. Buy a #10 can each of Augason meat substitute/bouillon in chicken, beef, or whichever flavors you prefer. Dried onion and garlic are both extremely flexible, so buy a lot of those unless you just don’t like them.

Sauces – you’ll be making a lot of casseroles and skillet dinners, so buy at least 90 jars of assorted sauces–spaghetti sauce, alfredo, barbecue, etc. etc. Keep at least a couple gallons of pancake syrup, which can also be used with oatmeal.

Meats – 90 28-ounce cans of Keystone Meats beef chunks, ground beef, chicken, pork, and/or turkey. This provides about 4 ounces of meat per day per person. If you prefer, substitute Spam, Vienna sausage, canned hams, etc. for all or part of the meat.

Supplemental cooking necessities – Buy several each of Augason #10 cans of egg powder, cheese powder, and butter powder.

Canned fruit/vegetables – contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need any fruits or vegetables for a balanced diet. They’re primarily useful for improving taste of bulk LTS foods. They’re cheap, so buy a bunch of regular-size or #10 cans of whichever you like. For six people for three months, you’ll probably want at least 500 small cans total or alternatively 70 or 80 #10 cans. The latter are available at Costco and particularly Sam’s Club, and are noticeably less expensive than buying the equivalent weight in smaller cans.