Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stocking Up On Food

Stores of dry goods are considered by many to be the most cost effective and prudent way to prepare against a time of crisis.  No matter how expensive precious metals may become, you cannot eat them.  When facing starvation, a loaf of bread is far more valuable than a bar of pure gold. 

As the prospects for worldwide economic collapse increase, more and more Americans are stocking up on food.  While doing so appears to make more sense today because of the conditions that the nation faces, storing food has always been a priority for the prudent.  Whether extreme survivalist or cautious pragmatist, having the means to provide the basic necessities of life for ones self and family in a time of emergency, disaster, or crisis, is something everyone should plan for.

How much food should I store?  What types of food should I store?  These questions are foremost in anyone’s mind when making preparations for an unpredictable future.  Freeze dried and dehydrated food packages are available that can provide for the basic nutritional needs of an individual or a group.  These consist of prepackaged meals requiring little in the way of preparation (in many cases, boiling water is all that is required to fully prepare a meal).  Staples can also be purchased separately, and  in varying quantities that will enable the preparation of a variety of foods. 

As a starting point, anyone implementing a food storage plan should know what staples are recommended and the quantities that would be required to feed a specified group for a year.  The following calculator is provided by  Links to the website will assist in pricing the recommended quantities of food.  Food storage packages are also available at

How Much Food Does Your Family Need for One Year?
 Enter the number of people and click "Calculate"

Family Members Age 7 & Older:
Family Members Age 6 & Younger:

Basic Long Term Storage Recommendations for Staple Dry Goods Food Supply for 12 Months:

Wheat lbs
Flour lbs
Corn Meal lbs
Oats lbs
Rice lbs
Pasta lbs
Total Grains      lbs

Fats & Oils
Shortening lbs
Vegetable Oil gal
Mayonnaise qts
Salad Dressing qts
Peanut Butter lbs
Total Fats lbs

Beans, dry lbs
Lima Beans lbs
Soy Beans lbs
Split Peas lbs
Lentils lbs
Dry Soup Mix lbs
Tot. Legumes lbs

Other Things to Consider:
[   ] Cereals
[   ] Popcorn
[   ] Fruits
[   ] Vegetables
[   ] Eggs, Meat
[   ] Pudding
[   ] Cake, Cookie & Biscuit Mixes
[   ] Pre-Packaged Meals
[   ] Food Storage Packages

Honey lbs
White Sugar lbs
Brown Sugar lbs
Molasses lbs
Corn Syrup lbs
Jams lbs
Fruit Drink, pwd lbs
Flavored Gelatin lbs
Total Sugars lbs

Dry Milk lbs
Evaporated Milk cns
Other lbs
Total Dairy lbs

Baking Powder lbs
Baking Soda lbs
Yeast lbs
Salt lbs
Vinegar gal

12 Month Water Consumption
Water gal
Bleach* gal
* Household bleach may be used as a purifying agent

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Get a Kit

When an emergency occurs, you may not have the luxury of relying on anyone else for basic necessities. Your very survival may depend on how well prepared you are when disaster strikes.  Experience has shown that you must prepare for a critical period of at least three days (72 hours) before you can expect relief after an emergency.  To prepare for this period you should have on hand enough food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantities for yourself and your household. Your planning should also take into consideration that basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be unavailable for a considerable period of time.

The Department of Homeland Security website lists recommended items to include in a basic emergency supply kit.  These items are:
  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
In addition to the basic items listed above, suggests you consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit:
  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler's checks and change
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book.
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
For a selection or ready made kits and other resources and supplies visit the following links:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene, One Month Later

Hurricane Irene was a wake up call. A large hurricane making landfall over such a densely populated area so far north of the equator is a rare reminder that nature's awesome power can affect anyone at any time.  The urban walls of man's creation are no match for the concentrated forces of nature. Hurricane Irene woke us up from our complacent sense of security, reminding us of our vulnerability.  

Thankfully, the worst predictions portrayed in the media did not prove accurate, and the cost in human life was minimal.  What was learned and hopefully will be remembered is that when a disaster strikes the time for preparing is past.  Just ask those who could not find food and supplies in the stores as Hurricane Irene approached.  The Lesson learned?  Don't wait until you need food, water, emergency shelter, or emergency supplies. Get them now and store them away for any catastrophe that may come. There is nothing more satisfying than the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are prepared.king heads did not

Looking back on Hurricane Irene one month later, one of the amazing developments was the volume of traffic on social media Internet sites. People were able to connect in an unprecedented way as the storm struck. The amount of information and the overall accuracy of the texts and posts was amazing. In analyzing this and other events and circumstances relating to Hurricane Irene, a blogger at Code Name Insight, came up with the following 10 tips gleaned from recent experience:
  1. Stay informed. With some disasters, there is no warning, but hurricanes, wild fires, flooding, and other disasters usually provide for ample warning. Pay attention to the news and plan accordingly.
  2. Always keep your home stocked with food, water and other necessary items. It never fails, right as a disaster is scheduled to arrive, the news crews are out videotaping people trying to stock up at the grocery store, fill their cars up with gas, and buy plywood to board up their windows. Don't be one of these people.
  3. Use social media to get the latest info on what's happening. Face Book, Twitter, Reddit, text messaging, and emails were the most common way to get immediate information on what was happening. The hurricane even got it's own Twitter handle.
  4. Expect that parts (sometime many parts) of the infrastructure will break down. In [the case of Hurricane Irene], people were left without electricity, roads were closed, and emergency response was not as quick as usual. Plan accordingly.
  5. Consider evacuation and have a plan to do so. Mandatory evacuations are generally...well...mandatory, however there were plenty of people in mandatory evacuation areas who researched the risks and calculated worst case scenarios and decided to stay. Whichever you decide to do, you of course should take full responsibility for your actions. And again, plan accordingly.
  6. Be ready to evacuate, just in case. This includes everything from having a full tank of gas being able to grab critical items (cash, ID, prescriptions, food, water) and being ready to head out the door at a moment's notice.
  7. Make a pre-event checklist for disasters that are likely to happen in your area. Add to the checklist any items that are unique to your situation. In the case of a hurricane, items on the list may include: tie down or bring in things that could fly away outside (garbage cans, outdoor furniture) and keep your yard free from items that could cause a problem (i.e. cut down dying trees, route potential flood waters away from your home, etc.). Additionally if you are responsible for a sick or elderly relative, their needs should be on your list as well.
  8. Realize that disasters can strike anywhere. An earthquake in Washington DC? That's pretty rare but it just happened. A hurricane in Connecticut? Again, rare but it happened... A tornado in Maryland? Ditto.
  9. Work within the limits of technology. Just a few decades ago, there would be a disaster and people would sit in their cold, unelectrified homes and read a book to pass the time. These days, if people aren't online 24/7 they go into withdrawals. Some hints: send text messages instead of making calls on your cell phone right before, during, and right after a disaster since text messages will go through but phone calls won't when the cell towers are overloaded, use the Internet on your phone instead of Internet at home (with no power your modem probably won't work anyway), and have a way to charge your electrical items in your car should your house be without power for a long time.
  10. Check your insurance coverages...many homeowners impacted by Hurricane Irene won't have the proper insurance coverages to pay for damage done during the disaster...
As it turned out, much of the media coverage ahead of Hurricane Irene may now seem over the top.  The storm itself did not live up to its billing.  But despite Irene being a relatively minor storm compared to several other hurricanes in recent memory, her effects have been significant and widespread. While the level of destruction and loss of life may not be as severe as with many other major storms, the scope of Irene’s influence on the people living in her path has been anything but insignificant. Large scale flooding, interference with transit, shortages on supermarket shelves, and power outages have effected millions of lives.

In terms of power outages caused, Irene ranks above Katrina and several other much more deadly and destructive storms. It was several weeks before electricity was fully restored. Perhaps one of the most important lessons we can take from Irene is that we need to be as prepared as possible for anything, independent of the hype, and always skeptical that government, the utility company, or the supermarket can save us from the difficulties that even a relatively mild storm can cause. 

Being aware of how others have prepared or failed to prepare properly is an important part of our own preparation. Whenever disaster strikes, the stories of real people affected by it can teach us something about ourselves. Hopefully we can gain inspiration from the very best in humanity that often shines forth in times of great tragedy or loss. Hopefully too, we will heed the warnings that the tragedy itself provides to anyone who is paying attention.

Download a free copy of the American Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Flu Season

As the 2011-2012 flu season is about to begin, prudence demands that we make the necessary preparations.  Historically, the flu has been a big killer compared with many other more notorious and exotic sounding diseases.  Because it is so common, people have a tendency to underestimate the flu's potential to cause serious health consequences and even death.  Historically, the flu has been a deadly disease, and it claims the lives of from 3,000 to nearly 50,000 annually, depending on the strains of flu in any given year.  While 90% of flu related deaths are among those aged 65 and above, it is important for everyone, especially those who have weakened immune systems, to take necessary precautions.

What makes the flu especially troublesome is its unpredictability.  Flu viruses change constantly, with new strains appearing every year.  The timing of a flu epidemic is also unpredictable.  While we know that an epidemic will occur every year, flu activity begins and peaks at different times.  The flu season can begin as early as the first of October and most commonly peaks in January or February, but can also peak at other times throughout the season.  Because the flu virus is always changing and the season is so difficult to predict, preparing for the flu requires a consistent approach.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. Sometimes respiratory symptoms may occur without a fever.

As with other infectious diseases, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) prepares for, tracks, and combats the flu virus every year.  The following are recommendations by the CDC on how we can prepare ourselves and our loved ones for the flu season:

1. Get a flu vaccine:
  • A yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the three viruses that research suggests will be most common.
  • The 2011-2012 vaccine will protect against an influenza A H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that emerged in 2009 to cause a pandemic.
  • Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine as soon as the 2011-2012 vaccines are available.
  • Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
  • People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
  • Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to high risk people.
  • Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for them should be vaccinated instead.  
2. Take preventive steps:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu–like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
3. If sick, consider treatment:
  • If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness.
  • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
  • Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.
  • It’s very important that antiviral drugs be used early (within the first 2 days of symptoms) to treat people who are very sick (such as those who are hospitalized) or people who are sick with flu symptoms and who are at increased risk of severe flu illness, such as pregnant women, young children, people 65 and older and people with certain chronic health conditions.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Texas Wildfires

As recent Texas wildfires roared out of control destroying over 1,000 homes and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate, those of us who were not immediately threatened by the flames looked on in horror as firefighters did everything they could to prevent loss of life and property.  Despite their heroic efforts, thousands were still affected by this disaster. 

Wildfires can occur anywhere certain conditions prevail.  Such conditions include weather patterns involving high temperatures, high winds and the prolonged lack of rain; the prevalence of dry grasses, brush, and other fuels; and a catalyst to ignite the flames.  In Central Texas, months of drought created an extremely dry terrain and the abundance of fuel.  All that was needed for disaster to strike was a spark.  That spark came when Tropical Storm Lee bypassed Texas with much needed moisture but sent high winds inland downing power lines in critically dry areas.  Fires were also started by residents barbecuing over the Labor Day weekend and by other human activities such as welding.  In all, nearly 180 fires have burned throughout Texas scorching over 170,000 acres.

Events like this remind us of the awesome power of nature and the destructive force that can be unleashed when a natural disaster strikes.  Once disaster occurs the time to prepare is past.  That’s why it is essential that we prepare ourselves before disaster strikes.  We may not be able to prevent loss, but we can minimize the effect that a disaster can have upon us and our loved ones by taking steps today to prepare ourselves for unexpected events.  

To prepare for wildfires, as with any disaster, you should have the following on hand and ready to take with you at a moment’s notice:

  • Three day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day)
  • Three day supply of easy to prepare, nonperishable food.
  • Flashlight
  • Battery ­powered or hand­ crank (dynamo powered) radio.
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Seven ­day supply of medication or other needed medical items
  • Multi­purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal and legal documents including birth certificates, insurance policies, wills, deeds, etc.
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blankets
  • Maps of the area
  • Other essential items that could not be replaced if they were destroyed
Several kits are available that can help you prepare, or you can make your own.  The important thing is that you prepare today, don’t procrastinate.

The American Red Cross suggests several other important things you can do before, during and after a wildfire to prepare for, react to, and recover from it.  The following is a partial list to consider (for a full Red Cross Wildfire Checklist visit the American Red Cross website or download a pdf version for free):

  • Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside your home, such as a small pond, cistern, well or swimming pool.
  • Set aside household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, ax, hand saw or chain saw, bucket and shovel. You may need to fight small fires before emergency responders arrive.
  • Select building materials and plants that resist fire.
  • Regularly clean roofs and gutters.
  • Plan and practice two ways out of your neighborhood in case your primary route is blocked.
  • Select a place for family members to meet outside your neighborhood in case you cannot get home or need to evacuate.
  • Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside your home, such as a small pond, cistern, well or swimming pool.
  • Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
  • Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
  • Always back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
  • Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in.
  • Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.  If you do not have air conditioning and it is too hot to stay inside with closed windows, seek shelter elsewhere.
  • When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution, such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves. Do not vacuum because it stirs up particles that are already inside your home.
  • Do not enter your home until fire officials say it is safe.
  • Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.
  • Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles and downed wires.
  • Watch for ash pits and mark them for safety—warn family and neighbors to keep clear of the pits also.
  • Follow public health guidance on safe cleanup of fire ash and safe use of masks.
  • Wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles.
  • Wear leather gloves and heavy soled shoes to protect hands and feet.