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Emergency Food Storage: The Food Torpedo

15 Apr, 1996

This tip was submitted to us by internationally recognized domestic survival expert Ted Wright, author of "Wright's Complete Disaster Survival Manual: How to Prepare for Earthquakes, Floods, Tornadoes & Other Natural Disasters."

A "Positive Post Disaster Imaging" Program: Food & The Food Torpedo

Ted WrightTed says, ...In an effort to "Bring the message to the people" in a more positive manner, a new approach seems to be in order. Rather than concentrate on the word "Survival" (important as that word is), I am instead going to attempt to direct the attention of the reader to a time period after a major event, whatever it may be, wherever one happens to be at the time.

To me, disaster and all that is entailed has been presented in a backwards manner with the stress always being on the before rather than the after. I bring your attention to the fact that all concerned in such matters focus all their attention a la the "Command Post Syndrome." The planning that goes into this effort always has now rather than then as its emphasis.

Now planning involves all that direction and organization of essential services, virtually eliminating any involvement by the masses most concerned at disaster time. We, the people, are supposed to stay where we are, be it stuck on the freeway or under the rubble of our houses, and wait for 'THEM' TO DO THEIR THING. Even the most inept math student can figure out that there just isn't enough of them to go around!

Since being involved with the Japanese and their approach post Kobe, I once again present to you the simple logic I have been espousing for 15 years:

  • Where will you be?
  • What will you do?

and, using Positive Post-Disaster Imaging:

  • What will you need?

Imagine yourself in your average day and answer these questions. Most of the information you may require can be found at TheEpicenter.com.

The Food Torpedo

Food TorpedoPreviously, I shared my ideas on food storage from a static and stationary point of view. Imaging forward to the times when we are, through no fault of our own required to be mobile, the question has to be faced "What do I do now?" Many years ago, when I was preparing my first domestic survival manual, I answered this challenge by developing my "Food Torpedo" package (which is featured in my book Wright's Complete Disaster Survival Manual). The principle of the "Torpedo" is a relatively simple one and is adaptable to many storage uses from food, to storage of documents, money, priceless photos, and valuables of all kinds. The torpedo principle is limited only by your own imagination. I use the same principle for the home and the automobile and recommend the principle for office survival planning as well as community survival plan development.

Many years ago, when imaging my "Backyard Survival" plans, two questions arose. The first was security: What happens if someone comes along and steals all your food? The second, of course, was: What happens if a sudden evacuation is required due to toxic clouds, fire, tornado, or flood? My answer was the development of the torpedo idea. All that is involved is to secure a mobile storage device.

In my case, I used 6" diameter Schedule 40 PVC (which is very thick) and cut it into 4 ft. lengths. This can be adapted as a food storage container (as the diagram illustrates). Using rubber caps (called "J" caps), which come supplied with a steel band, the unit can be secured to be both water and insect proof. I tested mine in a swimming pool.

The completed torpedo is then buried in the ground (or stored in a front hall closet in the case of non-earthquake situations). For the flood plain residents, as I say in my book, "Store in the highest part of the house." I am sure that once you grasp the idea, many variations on the theme can be devised (e.g.: a torpedo just for babies' needs; special diets for diabetics; etc.). How about smaller tubes for the automobile or, as mentioned, various sizes for those special items that are irreplaceable?

In my book I tell the story of how many years after the London bombing had stopped, the piles of rubble were finally cleared away to make room for new houses. As the bulldozers worked clearing the site of each once standing house, the people who had lived there flocked like birds. As soon as they were able, they pulled containers of all kinds (glass jars, tin boxes, etc.) from the ground. Each was recovered with precious contents intact. In many cases, pictures of sons and daughters lost in combat, family heirlooms, important records, and other family treasures that would have been lost in the mass destruction were saved because they were kept underground all those years, the hiding place known only to the person who buried such treasures.

One of the first requirements for making an insurance recovery claim is documentation. Think about it.


Now back to food. The torpedo has one essential requirement, food for storage must be dry. Grains, cereals, rice, beans, packaged foods of all kinds (including all those delicious soups and such) are ideal for this purpose. In the book I described the basic procedure. Let us say we are preparing for two people. Imagine yourself in a future time when you are standing in the backyard or outside your apartment post-disaster and hunger is the need. You remove the lid from the torpedo and there on top is the first days food all neatly separated for your use.

Set out on the table five days meals, first breakfast, say a small bag of pancake mix, coffee or tea packets, and small packets of sugar and creamer. Perhaps you would include some dried fruit or even hard candy with fruit flavors to keep the saliva going. Follow with lunch and the evening meal. Repeat the sequence for the other 4 days.

Next, cut five cardboard disks the size of the inside of the tube, leaving the bottom "J" cap off to allow air to escape. Pack the food packets for the first day into the bottom of the tube followed by a separator disk. Follow with day 2 supplies and a disk. Now put the "J" cap loosely on the bottom of the torpedo and continue packing the other days. As the job is completed, tighten the bottom "J" cap put the other cap on the top and seal it for burial or other appropriate storage procedures.

If you use a four foot tube, you will have five 8 inch sections. Each section is roomy enough for storage of one days food. My book has a whole section on food preparation for this type of application including the "Sourdough starter" and other ideas.

Now, if you visualize your own particular post disaster scene and have answered the basic questions posed at the beginning of this information ("Where will you be?", etc.), I am sure you can adapt this torpedo idea to your needs both as an evacuation requirement, either as a unit to dig up or as a "stand-by-ready-for-the-hurricane-or-flood water unit."

For apartment dwellers, torpedoes are ideal to have in the outside storage lock up or even in the trunk of the vehicle. Positive post disaster imaging now while all is quiet will allow you to gather ideas as to the types of foods that are already available. You can use this information as you go through the sections in the grocery or health food store and find things that you don't usually look at. I know when I did my research I was stunned at all the food items available in small packets all with a shelf life into years. They were just made to order as we plan a positive approach to the post problem time, which for some is an annual event!

Of course, the question "Why go to all that trouble?" always arises. My answer now is to point to positive pre-disaster imaging for the post-disaster scene. A woman who wrote to me from Florida said, "Until I read your book I never thought to prepare ahead of time for evacuation!" Positive pre-disaster action will lead to clear indication of the post disaster situation in your own particular geographic area. In my own locale we now have a situation where, due to hard economic times we are down to one hospital with a small emergency facility that will have to service almost 300,000 people at disaster time. In addition to the problem of food and water, medical needs now become one more personal priority since it is not numerically possible for "Them" to meet that need. Positive post disaster image that scene!

Following the post disaster imaging principle, let us consider a family of four and visualize that a rapid evacuation is required. Upon leaving their backyard, if each member of the family carried one torpedo, they would have roughly a 20 days supply of food. Conversely, the same family returning to a home that was destroyed would, if they had followed my directions, have a similar 20 days supply waiting for them!

I have attempted to outline the basic principle of the "Food Torpedo." Following my suggestions, sit down with your family, your significant other, or just yourself (if that's your situation) and calmly carry out a few minutes of "Positive Post Disaster Imaging."

Use the established processes I have given you to determine now what you think will be your position at home, at the workplace, traveling, or whatever. Do you feel that a food torpedo would come in handy? Will it be in the ground or in the trunk? What about a couple in the hall closet ready to grab and run? If your answer is yes, then do it now.

Remember, if you are waiting until disaster strikes to do something about your post-disaster situation you're too late -- you just might strike out!

Closing thoughts

Suppliers of PVC pipe will be glad to cut the pipe into lengths for you. I suggested 4 ft. because that's what I feel is easiest to carry. You may wish to vary the lengths according to your own need or purpose.

The "J" caps use a slotted screw, so attach a penny to the outside of the tube just in case you need to open your torpedo and have no screwdriver! If you have an electric drill available, drill a small hole through the penny, and attach it to the "J" cap with copper or stainless wire.

Remember the successful survivors law:

"A successful survivor is ever aware of hazards that may prevent further successful survival!".

By visualizing your hazards now, your dividend will be the great peace of mind and the empowerment that your efforts earn for you and your loved ones.

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