Thursday, December 14, 2017

The First Day of Christmas: A Stove You Can Carry

Looking for some gifts for that special someone you really want to survive the apocalypse with? How about an Alcohol Burning Stove?

These tiny, pocket-sized devices can use a variety of fuel: denatured alcohol, Rubbing alcohol, HEET fuel additive, Grain alcohol... just about any flammable fluid. (for indoors use, stick to the denatured or wood alcohol, which burn a lot more cleanly). 

This little stove will not only boil water, it'll heat a skillet sufficiently to dry meat. Add in a small pot r skillet, a flask of fuel, and a disposable lighter, and you have everything you need to cook meals in a pinch--from a simple can of chili or pasta to a complicated mix of powdered eggs, canned cheese, and fried spam for a tasty post-apocalyptic omelette.

Unlike a lot of survival gear, alcohol stoves can be found on Amazon for less than $15.00, and they'll fit in that special survivalist's Christmas stocking. And don't worry about whether or not they already have one--you can never have too many of these, particularly if you're cooking for more than one person, or trying to make multiple dishes at once--traditional stoves come with multiple burners for a reason. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Beware the Bunker Steps!

There was once this plan to launch a series of videos showing people how to cook in their bunker/fallout shelters, with a launch date of September 1, 2017. That got bumped a couple of weeks due to some technical problems. Then I fell in my bunker. 

Well, it's a basement, really. But it's below ground, and would be a suitable shelter for most disasters my family might make. That fall completely sidelined me for the past couple of months, as I ruptured a tendon in my left ankle and was forced to wear first an immobilizer boot, then a brace, and spent very little time on my feet. That kind of ground video production to a halt. 

Now, as I'm well down the path to recovery and can once again stand for an hour or more, we're ready to get back into our bunker cooking videos we'll soon be launching. But before we do, I wanted to point out the importance of safety in your own home shelter. 

In a disaster, you may not be able to run down to the urgent care center to figure out if anything's broken. Nor can you expect an ambulance to come--assuming you can even get through to 9-1-1. So the best thing for a disaster situation is to avoid injury altogether. 

Illumination is the first step in your bunker injury avoidance plan. I couldn't see where I was walking back on September 17th. I had reading glasses on, in a dimly-lit stairwell, and was trying to read my smartphone as I walked down--something I'd done countless times before. But I miss-gauged where I was, thinking I was at the bottom, when I was still several steps up. Better illumination might have prevented this fall. 

Hand Banisters are the next step in your bunker entrance safety plan. These simple rods give you something to hold onto if you do lose your step--unless you're an idiot like me and happen to be holding something in your hand while you descend. Banisters can be metal or wood, and generally bolt to the wall. Even concrete walls, provided you have the right drill, bits and concrete anchors. 

Somewhere soft to land would have been nice for me, back in September. Concrete is great--it's sturdy and cheap, and has a nice utilitarian look about it. But when I fell onto my unfinished concrete floor at the bottom of my stairs, I was sure I'd broken something. As it turns  out, the loud pop/crack I heard was an ankle tendon rupturing (partially tearing) when my foot hyperextended and caught on the carpeted stairs as I fell. While I lay on my chest, in extreme pain, I wished my basement floor was padded with nice, soft carpet. 

You may not want to put carpet in your basement/bunker. Flooding may be a concern, or tracking in dangerous foreign particles. Then invest in carpet squares, or maybe have an entranceway at the bottom of the stairs. A soft landing isn't just for you, it could be for precious supplies you're carrying down into your survival nest. Meaning you need either some cushioning, or a drain. 

Nearby seating is your next important entrance safety requirement. I had to belly-crawl to my recliner, around an entranceway into our "movie room". Getting up into my recliner was no easy feat, particularly without the use of one of my feet. Also, if I'd had a simple folding chair near the bottom of the stairs, and I had tracked something into the ole bunker, it'd give me a place to sit and remove my footweat comfortably. No one wants to stand during the entirety of the apocalypse. 

First Aid is an obvious choice for any underground shelter, but what exactly is first aid? Bandaids and antiseptic were of no use for me--no bone was sticking out or anything. Instead, cold packs that use an endothermic reaction to produce instant chilling were by far more useful. If this had been the apocalypse, there'd have been no power to run the icemaker in our upstairs refrigerator, but I was able to send my daughter to the box of cold packs we had only recently added to our disaster stores. 

Your final, and probably least intuitive need for the shelter is a way to call for help. Yes, in a disaster, phones might not work, but you're just as likely to get injured stocking your shelter as you are using it after Armageddon. I was fortunate my kid was with me, and was able to go get my wife and older daughter--not that they could do much for me. Still, if I had needed an ambulance, they could have helped me summon one. Or I could have used the smartphone that led to my fall to call 9-1-1. Make sure you have a landline or other means to communicate with the surface in your subterranean shelter.