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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Luci Inflatable Solar Latern

I ran across an item I just felt I had to share with everyone! This is one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” tools. Before I go any further I do not get anything for writing a review so this is uncompensated.

The Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern is an outstanding item to have for emergencies! We have had one for a while now and have used it during a power outage. The one we have has also been kid tested and approved! The little ones have tossed, stepped on and otherwise abused the thing for several days with no issues!

Over the last week I have used charged and used the lantern over and over again. The lantern has worked flawlessly. Now the light it gives off is not going to replace the lights in the house but it does light up a room. The ingenious design is simple and effective. I’ve been leaving it out on the porch and then bringing the lantern back in at dusk. Even on cloudy days the lantern seems to charge enough to work for hours.

Each night I have used the lantern or tested the lantern the light has ran for several hours. More than enough to last from dusk till bedtime. I’ve even left the lantern on overnight and have found it working in the morning. About six hours, let’s not talk about my schedule and lack of eight hours every day!

Besides some flashlights, camping lanterns and other power outage tools I would highly recommend you purchase at least one of these. I now own half a dozen! I plan on sticking a couple in our Get Home Bags and power outage kit!!!!!

As Always,
Stay Safe!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Furry Family (pets) in an Emergency

A lot of us have four legged family members whose special needs we have to account for during any emergency situation. Of course we might not think about these special needs until we are forced into a situation and this would be far too late into the scenario to try and deal with their needs. A few minutes of planning and preparedness done now, when you are not under the stress of any situation, will greatly increase your odds during a situation.

If you have a dog, cat, weasel, hamster or other four legged family member of the small to medium size variety stop what you are doing! Stop what you are doing! Is the pet supply store open? If it is go now and buy a carrier, harness leash and in the case of dogs a muzzle. I’ll wait here……………..

Your Back!!!

You are going to need these things if a situation comes around in which you have to evacuate your furry friends!!! A carrier is the easiest way to transport a pet. You’re going to need the leash when they time comes to take your friend out to use the restroom or just stretch their legs. If you end up in some sort of shelter you will need the muzzle for a dog in most cases. Some shelters will not take you in if you have furry friends, be ready for this situation. For those of us without the furry type of friends a carrier can still be used to transport the pet iguana or birds. For birds try and get a carrier big enough to hold their cage inside of.

Another very important and absolutely needed item for your furry family member is up to date papers!!! These are just as important as the paperwork you need to have for your two legged family members. Make copies of all their paperwork and put it where you keep your own. Last thing you want to do is waste time in an emergency looking for "Fiddo’s" paperwork!!!! Along with paperwork your pets should already have tags. If not go this weekend and get them some!!!!! This will help out greatly if you are separated from your loved one or the little guy has run off during the situation!!!

Most cases we can use a car to transport all of our family members. In some cases we might not be able to. For these rare cases when you have to walk, pick up a red wagon or garden cart; something big enough to place the carriers on along with being easy to maneuver. You will not be able to carry your furry family very far in the carrier.

In most emergency situations animals, excuse me, furry family members, can take care of themselves. At times they take care of themselves better than some two legged types can! Animals will go outside if the can during an earthquake, they will run from fire and generally take the proper action to save their little butts when needed. The rough part is usually after an incident.
After an incident we might really need the leash and carrier to take our pet somewhere safe. Once there we might need to keep them in the carrier until they get used to the new surroundings. We also need to have the ability to feed and water our family members.

Planning food and water for them is no different than planning the same all the other family members. Food needs to be stored and they should be included into the water plan. How much of do you need? You know what your pet eats daily or weekly. Add this amount into your planning. Another words you do not have a weeks’ worth of food for the “family” until every member of the family has a weeks’ worth!!! The good part about most of our friends is they will also eat whatever we feed them. This means you can find food for the fuzzy family members almost anywhere you find food for the two legged.

For larger animals such as horses, goats, bulls or other larger animals we need to plan now to evacuate them. Do you have access to a trailer without counting on anyone else? Do you have all the tack you need if you had to saddle the horse up right now? If not we need to acquire these things ASAP. Do not count on anyone being able to help you when something happens and you should plan on doing as much as you can alone.

As hard is this might sound to some of us; abandoning your pets might be a necessity. I know you do not want to think about having to do this but their might come a time when you have to. This might not be as bad as it sounds. Cattle can be let out, along with horses, goats and other live stock. They will do everything they can to stay alive and you will find them after the emergency is over. Smaller furry friends have tendency to run off at the first sign of danger. This is a good instinct on their part and odds are they will come back when things are over. Never let the life of an animal take precedence of the life of any other part of your family!!!

Furry friends, pets and animals are some of the easiest family members to plan for. They are also a overlooked part of most people’s planning until they are involved in a situation. Plan now and take steps to ensure your special friends are also included in your plans!!!!!

As Always,

Stay Safe!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Normalcy Bias

Watching the news recently I noticed people were being affected by something which is rarely talked about or discussed, normalcy bias. What is this? Here is a good definition from Wikipedia;

"The normalcy bias, or normality bias, is a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster and its possible effects. This may result in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations.
The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur. It can result in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation"


This mind set does not just affect people during a natural disaster; people are affected by this during everything from a car wreck to a civil disturbance event. People do not acknowledge things are not normal and act in ways which are not appropriate to what is going on. Most of us have seen this happen in one form or another. Most common manifestation of this is people who keep asking ‘why?’ something is happening.

“Why are you doing this?”
“Why is this happening?”
“Why is this happening to me?”

This mental state seems to come before the ‘flight or fight’ syndrome kicks in and can even delay the triggering of ‘flight or fight’. For some people this mental state stops them from realizing the situation is not normal and even dangerous. This can lead to people doing really just stupid things or lead to complete inaction by the person.

People also seem to exhibit this behavior by just not doing anything before, during or after an emergency. Not in the situation has overwhelmed them, they cannot mentally handle what is happening and they simply melt down way. Some people will refuse to take any action because they believe someone else will fix the situation or the situation will change for the better. All they have to do is keep waiting. This inaction in most cases leads to the situation only becoming worse. We have all seen people just stand or sit around waiting, they are not panicked or emotional they are just waiting. Nowadays with everyone having a camera this is also manifested by people who walk around recording incidents as if the camera somehow keeps them safe and separated from the situation. As if they are spectators? The biggest problem with having normalcy bias is the inaction it brings.

People will not acknowledge things can happen and they will not do anything to prepare.
People will not react during a situation because they refuse to acknowledge something is happening.
People will not take proactive steps after something has happened to deal with the situation.

A major step to countering normalcy bias is to acknowledge bad things happen. Sounds simple enough yet is the most difficult part. Mentally you have to say to yourself “Ok, I do not like the idea of something bad happening, heck it kinds of scares me to think about it, but I need to know bad things can and will happen to my loved ones or myself!” Once you mentally accept things will happen you are a step ahead of the rest of the herd.

If your loved ones and you have already acknowledged the fact things happen you can move on to the next step, what to do? While others take the step of getting over their bias you can already be walking out of burning building, taking shelter during a storm or gathering needed supplies. The trick is to already be a step ahead in the decision making process.

Since you are reading this post odds are you might have already acknowledged things can go south. The next step is to get your family, friends and neighbors to at least acknowledge this. The more people planning, reacting and ready to help during a situation the better for everyone, including you!

As Always,

Stay Safe!

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Do it yourself food storage

The best food you can eat is the freshest food, the best food you can store is the food you will eat and the cheapest way to do both is to grow and store the food yourself.

We’ve been looking at food storage as a step by step process or in a tier format. This would be the last tier but does not have to be done last. You can start this portion of your planning at any stage. Heck you can start today!

In addition to adding to your pantry or emergency supplies you should add to your skills and knowledge base. Some of us might already know how to plant a garden, know how to ‘can’ our own foods or other such skills. I for one had no idea how to do any of these things!!!! In our modern times few of us know how to grow our own food or utilize the resources around us. We go to the market and food is just there…….. With this in mind; having the ability to grow (learned when your family does not ‘need’ the food) your own food is a skill few of us know how to do anymore!!!

“I do not know how to grow anything; I have nowhere to grow anything!”

This is the idea, learn how to grow something and find somewhere to grow something. The internet is full of information on how to grow food stuff!!! You can find literal hundreds of ideas on how, what and where to grow things. Does not matter if you live on the twentieth floor of an apartment building or in the suburbs, there is something you can grow!! Start small, find a window which has sunlight for most the day. Maybe you can put a pot or two in the window or maybe on the roof of the apartment building? Maybe there is that unused strip of dirt along the side of your house? If you start looking there will be a spot you can find.

Start small maybe just some parsley or other herbs in the window sill. Just to get in the habit of watering something every day. Then once you have grown these, a pot with tomatoes or onions or peppers? Find out what grows in your local area and try to grow what you know will grow. You want to give yourself the best chance at success! Do not try to grow too much too soon or you will become discouraged when all your plants die!!! I know this from firsthand knowledge!!!!

Bring the kids in on the growing of food, make it a fun time digging in the dirt, let them help water the plants and watch how excited they get when you harvest!!! Of course how much they can ‘help’ depends on their age. What you want to do is try to give them a skill set you might be learning from scratch but might just be what they need later in their lives!!! Plus it is fun to get dirty with the kids!!!

Look around your home. What plants are growing you can use? Our home came with an apple and apricot trees. I had no idea how to grow either, the internet helped me out! Now we have apples we do not have to buy at the store and I figured out how to make jam with the apricots!!! We had a neighbor who would bring oranges over and we would give them apricots. They would make apricot brandy??? We give away the apricot jam to friends and family.

Lemon trees, orange trees and others can be grown in pots and everything you grow on your own does not have to be bought at the store. Money you can use elsewhere. Of course most of us do not want to turn our yards into farms but there are things you can grow which do not take away from the beauty of your space and give you something you can use. We have apples, apricots, blackberries, onions, sage, potatoes and grapes growing in our yard!!! Grapes for making jelly not wine; although I’m sure someone in the house rather we grow wine grapes!!!!

This may sound generic but there really is something to be said for growing your own food and using the food to cook with. A certain joy in knowing you grew what you are using. It is hard to explain but once you do it you will understand!!

Remember we are trying to have enough food available for just ‘one more meal’ and the food you can grow in your own space might make the difference for your family and you!!! Go out and try it, learn a new skill set and have some fun!!!!!

As Always,

Stay Safe

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Long Term Food Storage

Once we have a cupboard full of food and some prepackaged food to take on the move, then we can move on to long term storage planning. This would be food which is packaged and able to store for twenty or more years.

Why would we need food to last this long? Think of it as ‘buy and forget’. Hopefully you can build a stockpile of these types of foods and forget about it until you need it. This way no matter what comes you have something to turn to. Maybe you lose a job and are completely broke, you still can put something on the table for the children to eat. Even if you have burned through all the other food you have. Remember we are planning for all kinds of emergencies not just the end of the world!

These types of stored food are expensive so be prepared for the sticker shock before you start looking for items to buy! Unless you package the food yourself, which is a post for a different day, you are going to pay in order to have food which last so long. To counter the shock of seeing the price start small, buy just one can a month focus on what is on sale. After twelve months hopefully you are in a better position to spend a bit more.

Start with items on sale. Most of the sales you will find are hit and miss. Try to focus on things you need for an extended situation, things high in protein, fruits, vegetables and staples. If you are to a point where you have to use your long term storage, things are bad. You are going to want to keep people full and healthy till the situation changes.

Focus on sales of items which “put meat on your bones” and items you cannot get in the local area. Canned meats are the most expensive but you are going to want your children to eat protein to stay healthy. Fruits and vegetables you cannot find locally will give you diversity in your meals and go a long way in keeping people healthy. Almost anything you eat regularly can be found in large #10 cans.

Why #10 cans? Because most have at least a pound or more of food stuff inside, the cans are sturdy and if stored properly will last the 30 years or whatever the length of time the company claims. They also let you adjust the amounts used to your needs.
These cans take up space and you need somewhere to store them. If you are thinking you will simply buy a year supply and been done with it you will have to have the space for all the cans. When you look for a space the same rules apply to these cans as apply to the smaller ones; a cool, dry, dark place, a place rodents and other pest cannot get to. If you are storing the cans in a garage or other area, place them off the floor and away from the side of the area which gets the most sunlight. This would be the north side of buildings for those of us in the northern hemisphere. By keeping them off the floor you cut down on flooding or moisture collecting on the can. Moisture brings rust and rust ruins food. The side away from the sun stays cooler and the temperature does not fluctuate as much as the sun exposed side.

The longest lasting types of #10 cans are the ones packed with dehydrated food. You can also buy none dehydrated food in #10 cans at most big box stores and at some grocery stores. These might not last as long as the dehydrated types. What they will do is allow you to increase your food storage and give you more selection of items. If you have a big family this might be something you want to put into practice every day and not just during a bad day.

Again, try starting off with items on sale. Start with items you cannot easily get in the local area. Move onto staples which will allow you to make different things. After these you might be surprised in what you can find packaged in cans!!!! (I have found the company Auguason Farms to have the best deals. No I do not get anything for promoting them!)

When you start on this project do not forget the most important item you will need........ a can opener!!!!

As Always,
Stay Safe

Monday, April 20, 2015

Prepackaged Emergency Foods

As we gather and stockpile food stuffs in our home we will get to a level of preparedness where we are ready to add another layer to our abilities. Each of us will reach this at a different pace and for this reason no set “must have” mile marker is suggested. Maybe you live in a very small flat; you have stocked up on what you eat every day, along with staple food items and have reached your goal of food stuff. This could be three days’ worth of food, one week or even a months’ worth of food. Each of our situations is different and we are customizing to each of our situations.

The next layer or tier to your food preparedness is suggested to be mobile food sources. These are items you can quickly pack, already have packed, grab and go. This gives you the ability to move quickly, save space and still have food with you if the situation you find yourself in causes you to leave your home. Fire, floods, earthquakes and other issues are reasons you might have to leave your home and cannot carry with you all the food items you have stored away. With these items you can move when needed; although not the ideal situation, your family will not go hungry.

Of course if you have to move weight becomes a major issue. You can only carry so much food. Your husband, wife, children and pets can only carry so much. Especially if you consider all the other items you need if you are forced to become a refugee! Are you going to carry ten pounds of rice or ten gallons of water, change of clothing for you and the children or fifteen cans of green beans, taking a tent to shelter in or meat for the children to eat? All of these can become life changing decisions if you are in this situation. Having prepackaged foods can go a long way in this situation. Any of the items we are going to discuss here are expensive and this needs to be factored in when planning for this level of readiness.

MREs are always brought into the conversation when mobile food sources are brought up. They are a quick solution to the issue. Having eaten these for days on end……. MREs get old really fast! There are only so many types and everyone is not going to like every type of meal. The upside to them is one meal has enough calories to keep you alive for one day, the have a variety of food items and if you buy the right type you can have a hot meal at a time you probably really need one. The military and civilian versions are not that different and there are types for every food preference.

Prepackaged containers or ‘buckets’ are another option. Most of these come in some kind of container for easy of carrying. The majority of these containers are not designed for carrying the food any great distance by hand. If you choose to purchase these types of portable food make sure you read the packaging carefully. Unlike an MRE some of these meals require water to be added in order to prepare the food for eating. Serving sizes also very greatly from one company to the next with most hovering around a 1 cup serving size. This could be far less than you might think the serving should be.

Along with these types of meals backpacking meals are also an option. Some of these can be eaten right out of the bag without water. Most have the same concerns as the prepackaged “emergency” meals, serving size and the need for water. On the plus side when using backpacking meals; they come in a wide variety of meal types and they lack the weight of MREs. You can even find ice cream and other desserts if you shop around!!!!

Another option is emergency ration bars. These are ‘bricks’ of food used aboard life boats. If you decide to buy these try and find ones approved by the Coast Guard because they have the most nutrient value in almost every case. You will often see these as items in survival kits which state they will keep you and others alive for days at a time…………….. yes these can keep you alive. One word of caution, they taste like cardboard and in most cases are not pleasing to the pallet!!!! You can live off of these food rations but you will not enjoy eating them for days at a time. A suggestion would be to have these rations as a last resort, the finally line between your family and starvation.

One thing we can do with all of these items which is seldom discussed is to give them away. If you are in a situation where you are at home, have other food stuff and are not in fear of starving or going without having these items on hand can solve a problem. “What do you do when the neighbors ask for food? What do you do when you see other people’s children going without? One answer can be to give them any of these items. I know some people say they will never give anything to anyone during an emergency and I would say you have never seen a child really going hungry!!!

If you do not want to be charitable, what about using these items for trade? During an emergency people are not going to want to be paid in money, checks or by credit card not if they are hungry right now and do not have access to food. Food will be a far greater priority then the check they might be able to put in the bank later. What if you need something done or an item you do not have and you can pay for the service or item by trading someone a prepackaged meal?

Think of this tier as giving you more options. If you can, buy some of each type of prepackaged food to give you more flexibility in your response to situations. Should you have to leave do not think you can only bring these sorts of food items with you. If you have the ability bring ALL your food with you!!

As Always,
Stay Safe

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Reality of Government help.

Over the course of time I have had conversations with people who believe the government, primarily first responders will be there when something happens, this gives them a reason to not take any steps to prepare on their own. A few quick searches on the internet should be enough for most of us to understand this is not always the case. For those of us in areas where the government, at any level, does not provide for first responders you already understand this.

Let's say the tornado or storm rips through your area, luckily no one you care for needs immediate assistance from the first responders. What do they do? They move on to people who do need their assistance. What else can you expect from the first responders? Simply getting on the web and doing a search will tell you in the agencies own words what most people do not want to consider, you are on your own for a while:

From the FEMA website, I highlighted the relevant section


A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.

You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days.

Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages."

In some literature this time period has been upped to as many as five days!!! The government is telling you what to expect from them. The minimum amount of time you can expect before the government even claims to be able to help you. And the time frame when you can not get upset by the lack of 'help'. Agencies people think they are going to count on in their time of need are already giving you the reasons why they will not be there to help you and your loved ones BEFORE anything has even happened!

Let that idea sink in for a minute………. What if your health insurance provider told you the same thing? “Sorry we will not be able to assist you for at least three days. Yes we understand you broke your arm but you have to take care of it for three days before we can even claim to be ready to help you.” If you could odds are you would change your provider, right? For us we have a choice and change our “provider” for emergencies. We can change the provider to ourselves! This way we do not become another statistic on a spread sheet somewhere in a government office.

Now to be fair to the government workers out there, they have to follow rules and at times those rules do not allow them to do what needs to be done in a timely manner. The guy in the warehouse cannot let supplies go until his supervisor tells him to and the proper form is filled out. Why? Because she/he does not want to lose their job when everything is said and done. They have family to feed also. Their supervisor won’t fill out the form or tell them to release supplies from the warehouse until their manager tells them it is alright and they present the supervisor with the proper form. Of course the manager will not tell them to release the supplies until the executive level person above them is told all of the factors revolving around the present situation have been taken into account, along with any mitigating circumstances the manager may not be aware of have been brought into the conversation and only after all concerns have been address in the committee meeting, at which a joint decision will be reached in regard to the appropriate response the agency should deploy in order to properly assist with, in keeping with the mandates of the agency and maintaining a positive impression with the laws regulating the response of the agency to the situation which might or might not require a response from the agency. Of course none of this can take place until such time as the director of the agency has been directed to formulate a response to the crisis by the chief executive officer overseeing the agencies delegated with the responsibility to respond to situations which they have been organized to provide, if required, responses to. If you are confused after reading all that try working in an environment where all of this makes sense!

Logistical the response you can expect from any agency is going to be slower than what you might think it should be if you are the one needing assistance. Especially if you are a parent and are forced to watch your children while they suffer. Trucks only drive so fast, planes can only fly so fast and lines only move so fast. Some issues simply cannot be changed by wishing they were different. In any situation supplies along with aid have to come from some area outside the affected area. The larger the incident the further away the aid has to come from.

Reality check!!! When the people bringing the aid are deciding where the aid goes first they do not care about you! Your family is not the first people on their list to help no matter the situation. In large scale incidents the people directing the response do not see individual people; they look at the larger picture. If they can deliver water to a hundred people by driving the truck past your house they are going to. They are thinking about larger numbers of people and in the end five is a smaller group to lose than 100. Sorry this is the reality of the situation. Sure they would love to be able to help everyone but it would be impossible to give each person involved this level of personal care. Aid workers have to deal with large groups of people only in smaller scale scenarios could you ever hope for the personal level of service most people want during large scale emergencies.

Given the agencies flat out tell you, you are on your own for several days we should think of any aid as supplementing what we have already set aside. If we believe the cavalry is going to come over the hill and save the day we have only ourselves to blame when we are hungry, homeless and desperate! Never count on others to take care of you and your family. You have to take care of yourselves first and foremost.

Any time a disaster happens there are good people in the government working hard to bring aid to those people in need. These people must wait for the red tape to be taken care of before they can do anything which might help. After the red tape is dealt with they have to deal with logistics. Something they can do very little about at the end of the day. Physics dictate how fast supplies can be moved and not governments. When planning we must take into account this reality, we must provide ourselves with the supplies and skill sets to survive until help can supplement what we have already provided ourselves with.

As Always,

Stay Safe!