Saturday, May 21, 2011

Re-purposing what you have

If you are preparing on a shoestring, and you have a 'shelter-in-place" plan in addition to your GO! plan, then re-purposing what you have may accelerate your feelings of being ready for an emergency. I'll share some of mine-- most are no-brainers, like using an old gymbag or craft-supply box for your first aid kit. Others a little more subtle and took me a while to have the light bulb come on.

The easiest of all is your hot water heater. If you are without power or water and have a tank-style water heater, there's 40 to 50 gallons of ready water storage. Most tanks have a spigot near the bottom, so just fill your pitcher or kettle from there. I advise that you save this for drinking and potable use. There are some other sources for your non-potable.

Things to carry your water in half to several gallons abound. The 2-liter soda pop bottles are great. If you have room in your freezer, put a couple in there with the top on loosely (upright at first) and freeze them. Screw the tops on tightly once the water inside is frozen. If the power goes out, you will have a few extra hours to decide what to do with your freezer contents! Back to water storage -- Well-rinsed Clorox bottles work. My Dad's hobby was fishing. As long as I can remember, the water bottles he carried in the boat were always rinsed Clorox bottles. Despite the scary stories we hear every day about chlorine, he died at 88 after a brief period of ill health, so I don't think that's what got him!

Of course your BBQ grill, even an inexpensive hibachi, can be your outdoor cook stove in an emergency, just keep some dead wood or charcoal around in an area where it won't get wet. You can probably boil water or cook things in pans over junk mail and newspapers. The trick there is to roll them tightly and wrap with a wire -- even if you save the little twist ties from bread bags and string a few together. By rolling them, you help them burn more slowly. You can make some other fire starters or primary fire sources from re-purposed things like cardboard egg cartons, shredded newspaper, dryer lint and candle ends. Fill the empty cups of the egg carton with dryer lint and shredded or finely torn newspaper. Melt the candle ends in a metal bowl over a pan of hot water and pour over the egg cups of the carton, trying to saturate all that absorbent paper and lint. Leave several of the tips of the paper or lint sticking up out of the wax so you have at least 2 wicks in each. Use kitchen scissors to cut them apart after the wax has cooled and store them in a Tupperware or plastic bag.

If you do it right, you can boil a small pan of water over two of the egg cups. To help, re-purpose a tomato can, preferably the 28 ounce size. After using the contents, rinse the can and remove the label. Using an old-fashioned can opener (the type that leaves a triangular hole), open three or four holes on the side of the can near the bottom. DO NOT OPEN THE HOLES ON THE BOTTOM OR REMOVE THE BOTTOM OF THE CAN!! Then open three or four similar holes on the side of the can near the opened top. Now you have a little stove that will concentrate their heat. Put a couple of the wax cups in the bottom of the can and place it in your BBQ grill. Light the lint cups and let them get started. Put your small to medium sauce pan with about 16 ounces of water on top of the can. It should be boiling before the wax cups are burned out!

What are some of your preparedness re-purposing favorites?

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