Tips For Storing Food Reserves In Urban Areas For Survival Purposes

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Pablo Edronkin

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Being in a city doesn't guarantee that survival will be easier for anyone, if compared to what has to be done in the wilderness: on the contrary, cities and urban areas present their own problems and oddly enough, their inhabitants are often very ill prepared to deal with emergencies.

Archaeologists and historians generally think that the first human settlements that could be called towns and the primitive organisation of society evolved as consequences of common needs like gaining protection against natural and man-made threats. In ancient Mesopotamia, people began gathering in towns to defend themselves against raiders coming from northern mountains - what we know today as Kurdistan -; these raiders who came from a region that is rather poor in resources and certainly ore hostile than the fertile plains around the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, became a real problem and so, it was only a matter of time until people agreed on pooling their resources, probably under the auspices of some of those mountain raiders that then formed the core of the first organised armies or defence forces. It wasn't just a matter of money: As raiders took the produce of each harvest the robbed farmers were often left with no thing to eat until they could harvest again, and that took months. Survival was a complicated thing to achieve without those cereals and at any rate, attackers could come and steal again, so protection for food was as important as protection for people. There was no contention for those that lost their harvests either by natural catastrophes or by the action of men because the productivity of those early agricultural ventures was nominal if compared to today's standards. People could harvest about what they could store and eat between each harvesting period, so helping your neighbours wasn't often an option, even if you knew that helping them would in the end serve as an insurance for you, expecting the same treating in the future.

Religious temples became not only social centres for life in the incipient towns but the places were food was actually stored much like silos are used today for the same purpose. Simply put: It takes time to eat or sell cereals and you have to store them in a safe place where vermin and stealers will not touch anything. Plus, in this way the local chieftains-evolving-into-kings could extract taxes. This led to the development of accountancy as a technique, plus the first writing skills over clay tablets. But ironically, this quest for the common good led over centuries to the loss of some skills that were common to almost anyone all thorough our prehistory: People forgot how to defend themselves, only warriors and soldiers kept developing the required techniques, and over time, complacency led to forgetting also how to store food, plan for the future and how to think considering the hard times that may come.

People living in towns and cities have seemingly lost or forgotten the innate capabilities of humans to survive, and best proof of that can be seen in any urban scenario involving events of significant magnitude: People just don't know what to do and need police officers, firemen and rescuers to tell them what actions to take. This, up to an extent can be expected, but other things are surprising. People in cities don't know how to deal with the environment created by themselves. And one of the aspects in which this becomes more evident is that of food storage; getting provisions and putting them under storage has been a human practice since the advent of sedentarism. Creating safe storage policies and systems has been something that -as we just discussed - is a concept known since the time of the Sumerians. You just need to store food to survive in a city in the case that an emergency develops, bust almost no one does that.

This is therefore one of the aspects that require the most planning and thinking in the realm of urban survival. Thus, we decided to provide you with the following recommendations:

Water is the most important thing: A person without water dies sooner than another without food. Store water in bottles or whatever kind of clean recipient that you have. Think that in the event of an emergency water services may cease to work and if everybody else goes out to look for the scarce sources left, the liquid will become even scarcer. Survivors from the Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, in 1990, repeatedly told interviewers that the first thing they did was to fill with water everything that could be used as a recipient, including bathubs. Being people from the desert, they understand this problem better than most of us.

Consider the time span of the emergency situation: Almost no abnormal event is terminal for a city or town. Cases in which urban areas have to be abandoned for good are exceptionally rare; they do occur but they are not the rule. Most emergencies and exceptional situations last between a couple of hours and about two weeks if the vital infrastructure of the city has not been compromised by some disastrous event such as an earthquake, a sever fire and so on. If such a thing happens, then the exceptional situation may continue for a while, depending on the severity of the damage. Thus, the most sensible thing to do is to plan to store provisions for about fifteen days; you can, of course, accumulate more food, water, etc. but budgetary and space considerations will probably limit most people in this regard.

Martial Law: Call it like that, curfew, state of exception, state of emergency or whatever. They are all essentially the same legal figure by which local authorities and law-enforcement forces - maybe even the military - gain extraordinary powers, legally speaking, to maintain law and order in a distressed area. You should keep in mind that when something like that takes place the situation has already evolved sufficiently for the worse to make it advisable to stay at home and not roam the streets anyway, despite any kind of authorisation given by those imposing the martial law. Usually a curfew implies certain hours in which people may or may not get out but if this comes into being, you should better not go out at all, meaning that by then you should have already stored all the provisions required for an extended period of time. In some cases, martial law is issued by occupation forces or authoritarian regimes to control the population. Then, your freedom will depend on your storage facilities because under such an order of thing people suddenly find themselves depending on the government - be it good or evil - just to obtain food and water.

Secrecy and low profile: Nobody outside your intimate circle should know that you have stored goods and provisions. If that were the case and during a relatively prolongued emergency state you could become the victim of an attack or even some sort of political with hunt.

Store food with log shelf life: dehydrated food is the best, generally speaking, but an exception would take place in places or situations in which finding water may become difficult.

Check your reserves periodically: You should take a look at your survival shelf stash or shelf and even use the food stored there, replacing by newer packages. A long shelf life doesn't mean eternal life, plus, vermin and rodents may want to take a bite there too. Once the survival or emergency situation begins unfolding, you should check that no survivor starts stealing food.

Keep everyone up to date: Survivors of your group should know what is going on, even the younger ones. Nobody will we truly aware of a situation if he or she doesn't know the general picture. If you have to leave your premises, you home, retreat or shelter, tell everyone about your schedule and intentions. Everyone must know where you go, why and when you intend to return.

Be ready for the black market: If an abnormal situation persists over time, the black market - particularly for food - will indeed appear and flourish. You should remember this because you may have to make use of it to buy things you need but it could also become a good opportunity: If you have or produce some demanded goods like brad or biscuits, you will most certainly be able to barter them for other things. Bear in mind that the value of money may change dramatically, and things with a lot of market value during normal times may not be so valuable in such special times.

You might have to cook like this.
You might have to cook like this.

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