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The Emergency Preparedness
Tip o'da Week

The Pallet Root Cellar

The material presented on this page is intended to start you thinking about what you can do today that might someday save your life. If nothing else, our "Tip o' da Week" might just make your life a bit easier when a disaster strikes. We do not present topics that cost a lot of money (like structure reinforcement.) These are "do it yourself" projects and are relatively inexpensive.


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Emergency Food Storage - The Pallet Root Cellar
By Author and Survival Expert, Ted Wright

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Some background about this tip's submitter:

Author and Survival Expert Ted Wright

Ted Wright is a pioneer in the field of Disaster Survival.

With voluminous hours of wartime search and rescue (London, W.W.II), numerous personal survival challenges (Special Forces Combat, etc.), and a wealth of practical experience, Ted brings home the message that anyone who is properly prepared can successfully survive a natural or man-made disaster.  He covers a variety of topics from backyard survival to the necessary elements of a home medicine chest.

Ted's main company, Hand of Man, so named for its motto, "People helping people for the benefit of all." provides educational products and services through its subsidiary, Survivors Unlimited.

As Hurricane Opal bore down on the Gulf Coast, the People's Radio Network called on Ted for on-the-air direction and commentary to guide unprepared evacuees to safety with last-minute preparation tips.  He broadcast live for an hour with only three minutes notice.

Ted will go anywhere, anytime to give his domestic survival message. He has never charged for his time; all he asks is that his expenses be paid and his needs be met.

Kacey Sack-Wright has been Ted's faithful partner in domestic survival since 1989. As a Special Educator who works with children with special needs, she has the patience to act as loving wife, compassionate editor, and persistent Net surfer who cajoles a persnickety 2400 baud modem through the intricacies of the Web on a regular basis.


Emergency Food Storage: The Pallet Root Cellar
By Ted Wright

Fifteen years ago when I began my odyssey as a "Domestic Survival Specialist" I began compiling the educational materials I felt were necessary for the layman to fully grasp the scope of "Successful Survival." In routine fashion, I searched my own memory banks recalling the many systems and hard lessons that I learned by trial and error during my time both in the London bomb shelter and as a Special Forces combat soldier. This led to what I considered was a complete educational package of survival material covering all aspects of survival needs.

High on the list, of course, was "Food & Water." Following a life long practice, my research led me to the study of the successful in this field; those who had conquered the very challenges facing today's post disaster survivor. I was led to the Native Americans and the early Pioneers who overcame the very problems we face today; storage and lack of refrigeration, both of which limit our efforts when it comes to food inventories.

Since 1980, when I started teaching others, the priorities have changed. Oh, we still need to put away supplies of food, but the urgency is now more focused on the amount required due to circumstances other than natural disaster. Since we live as we do (under the computer processed bottom line), happily on the trail of increased profits, the inventory of "ready-to-eat/ready to sell" food in the pipeline has been reduced to the barest minimum possible. As a result, grocery stores no longer have a stockpile of goods in the "back room." We notice that every few days the supermarket is stacked up and down the aisles with boxes of goods waiting to be stocked directly onto the shelves. Given this information, the fact that we must all face is that throughout the whole country there is less than a few days food supply readily available. If the truck does not roll on time, we are plumb out of luck!

Back in the 80's I developed my "Pallet Root cellar" to face the existing problems. This is obviously patterned after the old, rural storage system some of us still remember seeing way back when. The root cellar system allows for the storage of a great amount of food (and some beer, inside joke!) in a small space that is naturally regulated at a constant temperature of about 63 degrees year round. The only proviso is that the lid must be kept on at all times. Back in the old days it was a door.

All food stored in the root cellar should be of the dry variety, tightly sealed in dry containers. Rice, grains of all kinds, beans of all varieties, as well as packaged food items such as soups and similar items. The product of our food dehydrator is also stored down there. A typical meal example could be to select some beef stew base packets, boil some white beans, put in some dried carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes and with sourdough rolls enjoy a fine "backyard stew!"

The #3 video I have just completed fully outlines the treatment of food and water including, of course the preparation of food for the root cellar, all as an extension to Chapter 4 in my book, "The Home and Backyard Survival"

Construction of the Pallet Root Cellar is very simple and can be made and put into use in a weekend. Here's how:

The Root Cellar hole, larger than pallets

Hole lined with plastic

The floor installed

Walls installed

2x4s installed to hold walls

Now you are ready to stock the box with food. I use 30 gal plastic trash bins as containers and fill these first. Once food is placed in the storage unit, the top pallet should be put on. Pull the rolled plastic over the top to keep the inside cool.

You may decide to put hinges on the "lid," as well as make shelves or other improvements to my basic design.

As soon as the unit is full, cover the lid with a good 3" of newspaper, pull the plastic liner back in place and cover with a good strong plastic tarp. Then put rocks, bricks, or soil over the tarp to keep it in place.

That's it. You are now the proud owner of your own "Root cellar" full of food. If you are careful in packing the items, you should have many months of food down there. This item is good for most natural disasters (except, obviously, floods) and as can be readily appreciated. Even if the house is flat, your food is still there waiting to be used. I am sure many of you have already envisioned many "Root cellars" all over the yard, some with food, some water, or clothes or?

Good luck! And, as always, please Think Survival!--Ted Wright


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