Some fear the zombies. Some fear nuclear war. But few stop to think about how the most mundane things in life can be deadly. Excessive heat or cold and particular bacteria costs people their lives every day. Even water can kill you. Too much, and you’ll die. Too little, and you’ll die. Untreated water? Yep, you could die. The same goes for food. Let’s talk about that.
How much water do you really need? Generally, you need at least one oz. of water for every two pounds of bodyweight. If you’re working hard, you’ll need more than that. It’s a good idea to have a minimum of five liters carrying capacity in your bugout bag, and three liters in your daypack. At home, you should ideally have three gallons per person per day. This should include water for cooking, cleaning, sponge baths, and hydration. Now, if you just did the math and are wondering where on earth you’re going to keep all that water, consider one of the preparedness favorites: cleaned IBC totes.
Ever heard of Giardia? Cholera, perhaps? You’ll need to treat your water to avoid those and other nasties. There are multiple options for filtering water with dirt and other debris—a sock, bandana, T-shirt or coffee filter will do. Keep a metal container in your kit for boiling that water to kill pathogens. Water purification tablets are highly recommended—they’re lightweight, small, and very convenient. Also, consider additional water filtration like the Sawyer Mini and options from Mountain Research.
Of course, you actually need to know how to find water. Nothing beats experience here, but know the basics: water flows downhill, creek beds seep, and certain plants like sycamore trees indicate water below ground or nearby. Find where the water is between work and home, home and your bugout location, and so on. Plan now, because “hope” is not a strategy. Treat every water source as though it is the last water you’ll find; It may be. Don’t walk past anything just because you have water in your pack.
How much food do you really need? In your bugout bag, you need two lbs. per day– without foraging. At your house, keep one year’s food supply for everyone who will be there. Yes, that’s a lot of food; It’s also a lot of security. It means your family will not go hungry if you lose your job or if the trucks stop running to your local grocery store.
Again, in addition to storage, you should ideally be producing food of your own. Plant a garden and learn to save your seeds. Have two years’ worth of garden seeds ready to go. Keep animals, if possible, to create a closed loop system and to greatly supplement your calories. Food production can also include foraging and hunting skills. Remember that the skills to process that food is just as important. The last thing you want to do is consume something unfit to eat or fail to properly process a kill.
Consider storing a tub of multivitamins to round out your nutritional needs and keep your body functioning as well as it can during hard times. For anything not kept in mylar with oxygen absorbers, rotate the supply to prevent expiration, spoilage, or nutrient reduction. Remember to store things for flavor—salt, spices, and variety. (Salt is also a key food preserver—store a lot of it.)
Anything can kill you, even the most basic things like food and water, but they don’t have to. Now you know what to do to survive. The question is, will you actually do it?