Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Five Everyday (Prepper) Gifts

The whole idea behind preparedness is that we be "prepared" in the event of some catastrophic, life-changing event.  Many of us in the prepper world imagine a future with limited resources in which we will be scrounging just to meet our daily needs.  That's the kind of future we are trying to avoid by being prepared - the scrounging part, that is.  We believe we'll be prepared, and everyone else will be scrounging.

The positive about being a prepper is that it is empowering.  We feel secure that we are ready - no matter what may come.

This past summer, Deus Ex Machina left his job, and we were in a position where our income was no longer sure.  Deus Ex Machina found another job before our situation became dire, but our situation is not the case for a lot of people.  A job loss could probably be defined as "life changing", and it certainly did change our lives - mostly for the better.

We were ready, as I told him (and anyone else who would listen).  We'd been getting ready for exactly that type of event for a very long time.

With the holidays right around the corner, and having come through our Summer of Scarcity, I am compiling a list of gifts that are both useful and practical from a prepping standpoint, and I think I have five really good items to get for the prepper (and non-prepper) in your life.

The thing that makes a good gift is something that you know your recipient will need/use, and that's where a lot of prepper kinds of gifts fall short.  Many of them are not things that people will use on a regular basis.  Like a solar shower.  I mean, YES!  During the recent power outage having a camp shower would have been a lot easier than my 4L shower, but the 4L shower is more practical - and it was free(ish).  So, win/win for me.

Other than being free, let's talk about why the 4L is a better alternative to a solar camp shower.

Unless one goes camping, that solar shower will get shoved into a corner and never see the light of day ... unless there's a power outage ... and then, it STILL may not make it out of that dark corner.  It depends on one's shower set-up.  We'd probably have to put a hook in the cedar tongue-and-groove boards in our bathroom, and given the expense and time we spent putting the wall up, it's very unlikely that I'd be able to talk Deus Ex Machina into putting a hole in it.

Chances are that most people are in the same predicament.  One gallon of water weighs 8lbs.  Five gallons of water (the usual size of a solar camp shower) weighs 40 lbs.  The average shower rod set-up won't hold 40lbs. 

I like gadgets.  Having a solar shower would be fun, just to say I have it, but I'm not sure it's something I would use very often.

So, when I think about gifts, I have to keep that in mind.  What will the people to whom I am giving those prepper gifts (whether or not they are preppers) most appreciate and most likely use regularly?  And it goes back to what I would use.

Here's a list of five things that can be considered Prepper Items, but that can and probably will be used more regularly.

1.  Jumpstarter Battery.

During our most recent two-day outage, we found that having this particular little gizmo was very useful.  We were able to plug things into it to charge them up - like all of our phones.  Several years ago, when I was still working as a Virtual Assistant, I was able to plug my transcriber into the jumpstarter and do some work.

It's really useful in a power outage as a back-up battery.  It's also useful in just general, daily use.  It's actual function is to jumpstart a car, and I don't know about you, but I started carrying jumper cables many years ago, because of how frequently I needed them.  Just this weekend, we were at a gas station, and our truck wouldn't start.  We know we need a new battery, but haven't had time to get one.  The cold weather is making the truck temperamental, and having the charger meant we didn't need to call a tow truck.

It also allows us to put air in our tires (including the bicycle tires) and it has a great work light.

In short, it's a very functional and very useful item to have hanging around.

2.  Food Dehydrator.

The hallmark of a good prepper is someone who has at least three months of stored food.  Most serious preppers have a lot more, and preppers who also have a homesteading bent will have a garden and a desire to store as much of that seasonal goodness as possible.

Canning is a good option for storing excess summer produce, but canned foods use a great deal of energy (all that boiling water and all), AND jars take up a lot of room.  Plus, there's the whole food spoilage worry.

Dehydrated foods are easy to prepare, don't require a lot of storage space, and depending on what the food item is, are generally safe for long-term storage.  Pemmican, which is a cake made with dehydrated meat, berries and fat, stores for a very long time.  It's touted as a survival food, and by all accounts, was used by the Indigenous people of North America as a winter food.

Another benefit to dehydrating foods is that most will retain their nutritional value (or even concentrate some vitamins and minerals) better than some other methods of preserving those foods.

We use our dehydrator and not just as a prepper tool, but as a tool for preserving our harvest.  Our favorite dehydrated foods are wild greens (like dandelion and plantain) and jerked meats.

3.  Outdoor solar lights.

Little Fire Faery has two obsessions currently:  plants (mostly succulents) and "fairy" lights.  She has several sets of different sizes around her room, and I have to admit that the look is growing on me.  I like the way the string lights look, but I don't like the amount of electricity they use.   As an alternative, these lights would be perfect.  She could put the charger in her window, and then, string these lights around her room.  

But the lights are useful in a lot of different spaces.  We have two skylights, and with these globe lights, we could put the charger in the skylight to charge the lights all day, and then, at night, even when we still have power, we could have "free" light in the hallway.  

And, of course, they add ambiance to outside spaces also.  

For the price (a lot less than purchasing, installing and running an electric light - even with LED bulbs), this lighting option can't really be beat, and for those who are serious about cost savings AND prepping, having solar lights instead of a bunch of electric lights all over the place, is a dream come true. 

Plus, we'd never have to listen to "Dad" tell us to turn off the lights (in my house the dad who is always complaining about all of the lights being left on is me - drives me crazy :)).

4.  Fondue Pot.

One of the reasons the recent power outage here in southern Maine was no big deal to my family was that we have a wood stove.  We had heat, and we were able to cook.   The problem, for us, is that if it's hot and the power goes out, we won't have the wood stove going.  Our options for low-energy cooking are limited.  We have a propane grill, but that requires that we have propane.  We can also start a fire outside and cook on an open fire, and since Deus Ex Machina and Big Little Sister are Trail Rats, we have a few a camp stoves - none of which can be used inside.  

So, if it's warm AND raining, we're very limited in our ability to make a meal. 

The first time I had fondue was when Deus Ex Machina and I were enlisted in the Army and in Germany.  As OCS candidates, we were invited to a very fancy, officers-only dinner with our German Partnership Unit.  Fondue was the appetizer.  I probably embarrassed myself, but I was cute and a very rare uniformed female (at that time, there weren't a lot of women in the German Army).  

That experience left an indelible mark on me.  The ability to cook, MEAT, of all things, in a little pot of oil on a table is actually pretty remarkable, and from a prepper standpoint, it's a really awesome tool.

But from any standpoint, having a fondue pot is useful ... and fun! 

Fondue is just fun food.  Making fondue can be a serious family bonding experience, and depending on the quality of the meats and cheeses, it can be a really healthy choice over most fast food.  In fact, instead of Pizza Fridays, maybe families could start doing Fondue Fridays.  Steamed vegetables, some gluten-free crackers or bread, and small chunks of meat.  With two fondue pots, one could have a meat cooking pot and a cheese melting pot.  

Plus, the fondue pot is a really good low-energy cooking source.  Our dessert fondue pot uses a tea light candle for fuel.  Then, there's this how-to article on making fondue gel.  

5.  Phone Charger.

It's probably true that no one needs a cellphone, and in a true powered-down scenario (like the feared EMP strike), all of our cellphones would be obsolete anyway.

But in an everyday world, we still use cellphones, and we still need to charge them.  I charge mine regularly.  Sometimes, I even need to charge mine when I'm someplace without a wall plug.

That's where this handy-dandy little charger can be exceedingly useful.  It can be charged with the sun or by plugging it into an outlet.  It holds the charge for a good long time and has enough power to fully charge a couple of devices.

Deus Ex Machina originally purchased it for the Trail, but my daughter uses it all of the time - even when we're not in the midst of a power outage. 

This one is a great gift, and a great item for everyday use.

The point of this post is not to encourage consumerism, but for those who are going to purchase gifts for friends and loved ones this season anyway, but who are also of a prepper mindset, all of the items listed are reasonably priced and are useful for everyday AND prepper applications.

1 comment:

  1. Great ideas and I never would have thought of a fondue pot like that!