Monthly Archives: March 2010

  • Tornado Preparedness

    |4 COMMENT(S)

    The following information on tornadoes is taken from the FEMA website at

    Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard.

    Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible.

    Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

    Here are a couple of facts about tornadoes:

    • Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
    • Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.
    • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., but can occur at any time.
    • A Tornado Watch means that tornadoes are possible and you should remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
    • A Tornado Warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. You should take shelter immediately.

    Before a Tornado - How to Plan

    You should conduct tornado drills each tornado season. Designate an area in the home as a shelter, and practice having everyone in the family go there in response to a tornado threat. Discuss with family members the difference between a "tornado watch" and a "tornado warning."

    Have the following disaster supplies on hand:

    Katio® Voyager™

    You should also develop an emergency communication plan in case family members are separated from one another during a tornado (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school). Have a plan for getting back together. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

    What to Do During a Tornado

    If at home:

    • If you have a tornado safe room or engineered shelter, go there immediately.
    • Go at once to a windowless, interior room; storm cellar; basement; or lowest level of the building.
    • If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway or a smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.
    • Get away from the windows.
    • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.
    • Use arms to protect head and neck.
    • If in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere.

    If at work or school:

    • Go to the area designated in your tornado plan.
    • Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways, or shopping malls.
    • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a workbench or heavy table or desk and hold on to it.
    • Use arms to protect head and neck.

    If outdoors:

    • If possible, get inside a building.
    • If shelter is not available or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
    • Use arms to protect head and neck.

    If in a car:

    • Never try to out-drive a tornado in a car or truck.
    • Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building.
    • If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Be aware of the potential for flooding.

    After a Tornado

    • Help injured or trapped persons.
    • Give first aid when appropriate.
    • Don't try to move the seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
    • Call for help.
    • If you smell gas, do not turn on any appliances or switches. This includes using phones, flashlights or a cell phone.
    • Turn on the radio or television to get the latest emergency information.
    • Stay out of damaged buildings. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
    • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
    • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, or gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the buildings if you smell gas or chemical fumes.
    • Take pictures of the damage--both to the house and its contents--for insurance purposes.

    Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance--infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

    When a tornado is coming, you have only a short amount of time to make life-or-death decisions. Advance planning and quick response are the keys to surviving a tornado.

    Posted In: Uncategorized

  • Food Storage GPS

    How can you know where to go, if you don’t know where you are?


    Last week, as we continued our journey to preparedness, we discussed the many different options for food storage. If you are like most of us, you’ve already started your journey, and have some items tucked away on your shelves. The question is, how much do you really have? Oh, you may know that you have two cases of this, or several boxes of that…but what does that really mean? Well, don’t worry, you aren’t hopelessly lost on the trail! We have a food storage GPS™ for you! It is called the Food Storage Analyzer, and not only will it pinpoint where you are in your preparedness, but it will help you know where to go next! Have I piqued your interest? I hope so! Let’s learn more!


    This free preparedness online tool is available at You can simply try it out without creating an account; however, by creating a login your data will be saved for future reference. Let’s go through the step by step process of using your Food Storage Analyzer.


    Login. You create your own password and username so you can save all of your data and update it as your journey progresses. It is a very simple process, and you just need a username and your e-mail address to begin!


    Input Your Family Information. The Analyzer wants to know how many people you are storing for, their sex and age. This helps the program determine how many calories you need for each member of your family. You will get to see the recommended caloric intake for each member, and later on you’ll see how important this information is!


    Fill in Your Current Food Storage Items. These are items that are commonly stored, like Mountain House Foods, MRE’s, SuperPails, and Provident Pantry #10 Cans. There are also many commonly purchased grocery store canned items in the system. All of the items you have purchased from Emergency Essentials will be in the Analyzer, so you will quickly be able to click on each item you have and add it to your list.


    Add Your Own Items. Do you have items not listed on the Analyzer? Don’t worry, you can add them! Just input the name, nutritional, and serving size information found on each package and the Analyzer will add it to your list, and calculate the calories and nutrients for you!


    View and Analyze the Calculations. After you have put your items in, now you get to calculate your results! The Analyzer will tell you how many days worth of calories your current food storage has. Not only will you see how many days your family can survive on the calories you have stored, the Analyzer also tells you what nutrients you are short on, and suggests items to help round out your food storage. For example, if you find that you are short on Vitamin A, the Analyzer will allow you to look up items that will add more Vitamin A to your plan!


    Add Intended Future Purchases. You can now take the time to figure out what items you could add to your plan to make it more nutritionally sound for your family. The Analyzer will allow you to add items that you “intend” to purchase and then see how it affects your calculations! No busy work for you, just a few simple clicks to help you make a plan for your future purchases.


    Ordering. If you would like to, you can even order items straight from the Analyzer! If you choose to do so, the Analyzer will guide you step by step through the ordering process.


    Keep your Analyzer Updated. As you visit the store, and add items to your shelves, don’t forget to add them to your Analyzer list! The analyzer allows you to print out a copy of your food storage contents to hang in your pantry and manually update as items are added and consumed. Periodically take this information and update your analyzer.


    So, if you aren’t sure where you are in your preparedness journey, don’t hesitate to click on the link at! Your Food Storage GPS™, The Food Storage Analyzer, will change the way you look at your food storage! It really is much more than just a calculator.

    -Angie Sullivan

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • Food for Thought

    There are so many options to consider, how do I know what kind of food to store?

    For some of us, this may seem to be the most perilous point of the preparedness journey! What food should you store? Let’s take a look at all of the options and help you decide the best path for you!

    Emergency Essentials suggest that the best way to begin is to store a three month supply of the items that you eat each day. These are the grocery store goods that you know you can keep on the shelf and use in regular rotation. Things like canned goods, peanut butter, and pasta are some suggestions. I think it is helpful to put together a meal plan, and use that meal plan to determine what items you use most and what you should have on hand to make your particular menu. At our house, we’ve stored lots of canned vegetables, cereals, pasta and sauces, boxed mixes, and other staples.

    After you’ve stored a three month supply of the items you use regularly, consider storing more of "the basics". These are the building blocks of food storage. They are the tried and true foods that we know can sustain life. Think of the pioneers…what did they store and eat? There are seven “basics” that should be stored: Grains, legumes, oil, salt, milk, honey, and garden seeds. These provide the most calories and are have the most important nutrients for survival. They are the “bang for your buck” items that are the least expensive, and store the longest.

    Now you should have a good foundation to build upon. Here’s where you can begin to explore all the amazing food storage options available:

    Dehydrated foods

    We eat dehydrated foods everyday including muffin mixes, cake mixes, pasta, soup, hot cereal and more. Dehydrated food is compact in size and cost effective. I bet you have several dehydrated items already in your pantry, and you didn’t even know it!

    Freeze-dried foods

    Freeze drying is another method of dehydration where the food is first flash frozen at the peak of freshness then a low-level heat is applied inside a vacuum chamber. This process changes the ice crystals to a vapor leaving a dried food. Freeze-dried food locks in the size, color, texture and flavor of the food while retaining most of the nutrients. Freeze-dried food mainly consists of entrees, fruits, vegetables, meat and cheeses.

    Many people ask "which is better, standard dehydrated food or freeze-dried food?" You should consider having both in your food supplies. Some items like milk, muffin mixes, and drink mixes are best dehydrated. Fruits, vegetables, meats and cheese are usually best freeze-dried. By having both in your home storage, you will have a great selection of items packaged for long-term storage.



    MRE stands for Meals-Ready-to-Eat. These meals are used daily by the men and women in the armed forces. As the title infers, these are meals ready to be eaten. They do not need to be cooked, rehydrated or warmed, although many prefer MRE's when heated. These are ideal for emergency and 72 hour kits and also for food storage. They are not as compact as dehydrated or freeze-dried food, but require less preparation.


    Calorie Food Bars

    These bars are best when used for 72 hours. These bars are designed for quick calories in an emergency. They are life sustaining for the first three days. Under most circumstances, they have a 5+ year shelf life. These are great for auto kits and are the least expensive and lightweight for emergency kit use.


    Did we bite off more than you can chew? Don’t worry, we’ll explain in greater detail many of these items and give you much more food for thought!

    -Angie Sullivan

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • By Angie Sullivan

    Are you worried about your family during an emergency evacuation? Take the weight off your shoulders by putting on a backpack of supplies!

    It’s true, having a backpack or other easily toted supply pack ready for you and each of your family members will help you move forward on your journey to preparedness with confidence and less anxiety. Are you not quite sure what an emergency kit is, or are you worried about whether the ones you have include what you really need? Come on travelers, our journey has brought us to a very important crossroad, so we’re using our 72 hour checklist as a compass to point us in the right direction!

    In creating this compass, I began researching what should be included in an emergency kit by reviewing Emergency Essentials list of Insight Articles at There are several very informative articles and even a checklist you can print off to help you put together your kits. Let’s review a few of the basics:

    Backpack or Bag-

    First, a kit needs to be portable. You need a good backpack or duffle bag. Consider who will be carrying the pack and make sure they can carry it when everything is packed inside. Also, make sure you store these kits close to an exit. No one wants to be digging through the basement when they need to get out the door quickly! Backpacks work great since they keep both hands free.

    Food and Water-

    You can use water bottles, water pouches, or water boxes. Water purification tablets would also be a wonderful addition to your kit. After you have your water, you are ready to store some food! You can begin simply by rummaging through your own pantry! Do you have granola bars, beef jerky, soup, cans of tuna, or fruit snacks? Any items that store for a long time are perfect. MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) are a great choice! They come in many different flavors and can be eaten straight from the pouch! High calorie food bars are lightweight and provide the calories needed to sustain life. Hot chocolate and drink mix packets will help make the water, which might be a little stale, much more palatable. Hard candy is a great addition. It keeps for years and in a pickle, who wouldn’t want a little candy for comfort? Store as much food and water as space and ability to carry allow. Make sure you check your food and water at least once a year and rotate as needed. If you have cans that need to be opened, make sure you have a can opener.

    First Aid and Sanitation-

    Purchase or put together a basic first aid kit. This kit might include bandages, antibiotic ointment, cleansing wipes, pain medications, and a small first aid pamphlet. Consider adding tweezers, safety pins, and any medication family members require on a daily basis. Now, let’s add some sanitation supplies to our kit! I don’t know about you, but having toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, soap, comb/brush, lip balm, and deodorant are must haves on my list! Assess the hygienic needs of each family member. What would each need? I have three girls, so some hair bands to keep their hair out of their face are a must. Just take note of what you need to get ready in the morning (bare minimum of course) and pack those items. Dollar stores are great places to pick up these items!

    Clothing & Warmth-

    I would be miserable without a change or two of clothing should an emergency strike, so having a few changes are necessary for my family. Extra underwear, clothing that can be layered and large zip top bags to store them in should the weather be inclement. If you have small children, you will need to adjust their packs seasonally to make sure the clothing will fit them. You also need to pack a few items should the weather be cold! Ponchos will keep off the rain, emergency bags and blankets will reflect that body heat, and hand warmers will keep those fingers toasty!

    Fuel and Mess Kit -

    If you have stored food that needs to be heated, you will want to store a mess kit, stove and fuel. If you don’t plan on heating food, choose items that don’t need to be heated to be eaten like the food calorie bars. MRE’s can be purchased with “heaters”, little pouches that use a chemical reaction to heat the food up.

    Tools -

    Think about what you might need should you be on your own! Consider a multifunction tool that has scissors, can opener, and other tools that may come in handy. Pack flashlights (preferably LED, and include extra batteries) ,add candles, matches, duct tape, whistles, compass, garbage bags, zip top baggies, tarps, (and a tent if possible), battery or hand crank radio, and rope. Don’t forget some pencils and paper, cash and coins. (Not all members of the family need to pack all these items, but someone needs to!)

    Sleeping arrangements-

    Make sure you have sleeping arrangements for each person. If you’ve got a tent, great, but if not, get a tarp and some rope to fasten a makeshift one and put a sleeping bag or bedroll in for each member of the family. Again, emergency bags or blankets though not comfortable in the traditional sense, will hold in lots of body heat and take up little space and are extremely lightweight!

    Remember: Keep this kit as lightweight as possible. Just remember, this is for “mobile” needs. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or occupy a lot of space. Try to keep them close to an exit in your home and make sure each member of the family knows where it is stored!

    If you need more detailed lists to help you put together your Emergency Kit, just click on the Insight Articles link on the Emergency Essentials website and begin taking the weight of worry off your back and into a pack!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • Store for Thirst First

    I felt like I couldn’t last an afternoon without my bottle of water, so how would I fare in an emergency?


    The other day, I spent the afternoon helping at my daughter’s school. I usually carry around a bottle of water with me, but I had forgotten my bottle in the shuffle of bringing in supplies. I came home later that evening and downed a HUGE class of cold water. As hungry as I was, it was the water that I was really yearning for. It was then that I began to think about this new journey of Preparedness I was planning on taking with you, and it struck me that if I could barely go a few hours without getting uncomfortable without water, it should be top on my preparedness priority list!


    How long can a human survive without water? Most sources cite that the human body cannot survive without water for longer than 3-4 days without doing damage to bodily organs. Beyond 4 days, all the food in the world would do you no good without water. For this reason, I decided to focus on water storage for our first landmark on our trip to Destination Preparedness!


    Emergency Essentials Inc., suggests that the first place I needed to store water was in my 72 hour emergency kits. You remember those! The pack of survival items you need if you had to get up and go with your family. Of course, you can choose to outfit your pack with basic water bottles. They are easy to find at your local grocery store. If you would like something specifically made for long term storage, you can store a metalized water pouch or box. These nifty little containers look a lot like those juice boxes or pouches you’d put in your child’s lunch box. They are specially treated, filled with purified water, and are specifically made for long term storage, just perfect for that emergency kit!


    Now that you have your survival stash for the first three days of an emergency, what about storing water in your home? Did you know that you should consider having both stationary and portable water?


    Boxed water containers and water barrels are the least expensive and most space efficient way of storing large volumes of water.


    Portable water is stored in containers of approximately 5 gallons or less (remember 8 pounds per gallon!) These are very helpful to have on hand for transporting your stored water to a usable location, like your car if the emergency requires leaving. Once the water has been used, simply fill up the jug again from your stationary source. Five gallon jugs are a great choice for your portable water storage. You can also use washed out plastic soda pop bottles, but be sure to clean them out well and store them away from light and other storage items that could be damaged should the bottles leak. Do not use milk jugs, they are much more prone to bacterial growth and the plastic breaks down over time. The key to good water storage is to have a clean, sturdy container that protects against light penetration. This key inhibits bacteria growth. One of the best ways to store a portable source of water is a boxed water kit. These kits come with a metalized bag that you fill with water and then place in a sturdy cardboard box. Do you want to know the coolest thing about these kits? In an emergency, the sturdy box can double as an emergency toilet! Love that!


    The most common containers for larger amounts of stationary water storage are those blue water barrels you see around. These heavy-duty, thick, polyethylene barrels are made of food grade materials. Barrels made for water are usually blue. Color is important, as blue means water is stored, and red indicates fuel. (Remember those fuel containers for your lawn mower?) Be aware that other colors may not be made of food grade plastic. You can purchase these barrels in many sizes. I’ve found that 55, 30, and 15 gallon are the most common. Try and store your blue barrels in a cool, dark area. A basement is a perfect option. Make sure there is an insulation barrier between the barrel and the ground. I’ve got mine perched upon some wood leftover from a home improvement project. It is not recommended to store your barrel outside, but if it is absolutely necessary, be sure to keep the barrel out of sunlight and be careful not to fill it too high! It is also wise to insulate the barrel and protect it from the elements as much as possible. You need about 1/10 of the barrel empty to allow for expansion should it freeze. This is not ideal, so don’t put it outside unless you have to. Oh, and don’t forget to grab that bung wrench and siphon pump! They are the tools you’ll need to open your barrel and siphon the water out!


    So the next question that sprung up in my mind was how much water should I store? I discovered that experts recommend storing a minimum of 14 gallons per person. This is a two week supply if you store the minimum one gallon per person per day suggested for drinking and light sanitation. Light sanitation? I sit here thinking about my own family of five, four of which are females. I can’t imagine this gaggle of girls using just one gallon comfortably. For this reason, I’ve decided we are going to store some extra for our next emergency.


    Have we quenched your thirst for knowledge on water storage? I hope so! You are now ready to equip your family with the most necessary of all supplies! WATER!

    -Angie Sullivan

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness

  • By Angie Sullivan

    As with any journey, having priorities and a detailed itinerary will help you navigate the bumps on the road and ensure you reach each landmark successfully!

    Here we are, embarking on our amazing journey to Preparedness! As with any trip, it is wise to have your path marked and the landmarks highlighted to help you along the way. If you prioritize your preparedness, you will be able to cover the most important items first, and then move on to a more rounded supply! Just like following your trusty glove compartment map, we are going to be following a priority list of preparedness to keep us on the road to our destination! Are you ready to map out our journey? Let’s begin!

      Water Storage - The first aspect of preparedness we will be focusing on is Water Storage. If you are like me, you might have overlooked water storage at first. Did you know that your body can only survive a few short days without water before suffering internal damage? The human body is over 70% water and it is extremely vital to keep it hydrated. All the food storage in the world will do you no good if you have no water to drink! Also, how many of you plan on adding dehydrated or freeze dried food for your food storage? These items need to be reconstituted so it would be wise to have a method of water filtration on hand in addition to the water you store.


      Emergency Kits - We always had our 72 hour kits growing up, and I thought they didn’t do much good, tucked in the closet next to the front door. But, I remember the day that I realized the importance of a 72 hour and auto emergency kit. I was watching the victims of Hurricane Katrina wait and suffer while supplies were being hastily gathered for them, and it dawned on me that if they had a 72 hour kit they would be much more comfortable. These kits should be portable, preferably stored in a backpack or other easy to carry bag, and should contain necessities your family would need for the first three days of an emergency. It should contain water, food, sanitation, along with first aid and other important survival items. We’ll go into detail on everything you should have in your emergency kits in the weeks to come!


      Food Storage - After you’ve stored appropriate amounts of water, and have your emergency kits on hand, it is now time for you to work on your food storage! Though many of us imagine using our food storage should a natural disaster occur, there are other emergencies that may require us to use our food storage. With the recent economic uncertainties we’ve experienced, some of us might find ourselves under-employed or even unemployed. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some food storage on hand to supplement or even replace that large “grocery” portion of your monthly budget? Making your family as self sufficient as possible is a great priority! I also challenge you to look at your food storage in a whole new light and from a different perspective than you may be accustomed to. In order to maximize nutrition and reap the greatest value out of your food storage, try out the mantra of “eat what you store, and store what you eat”. Don’t worry, it isn’t as intimidating as you might think. Emergency Essentials and I will help you along the way. Emergency Essentials also has some great tools such as the “Food Storage Analyzer” that will help you not only keep track of your food storage, but show you exactly what you need for your families specific needs! How great is that?

    Alright travelers, this is just a hint of all the wonderful things we will be learning about and discussing in the weeks to come! Now that we have our itinerary in hand, we’re well on our way to visiting the first wonderful landmarks of our journey!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: angie sullivan, Passport to Preparedness