Monthly Archives: October 2010

  • Let There Be Light

    By Angie Sullivan

    Don’t be left in the dark during a power outage…make sure your family is prepared and let there be light!

    Last year something happened that still disturbs my young family. There was a sudden power outage in our neighborhood, possibly caused by some renovations being done to a nearby school. It was evening, and my youngest was sick and I was rocking her as she watched her favorite cartoon. One of my older daughters was taking a shower and the other was in the basement doing her homework. Suddenly, it was pitch black. My sick toddler began to wail in horror. My daughter in the shower began yelling for me hysterically, and my daughter in the basement began to scream at the top of her lungs. Luckily, I had a stash of candles and a lighter at the end of the hallway, but the few minutes it took to retrieve those items felt like a lifetime to my little crew. Once each child was rescued from their different areas of the house we all sat around the candles and read a story until the light was restored. The very next day my husband brought home several lights that plug into the wall and turn on automatically if the electricity goes out. We reassured the children that these will help them navigate to other light sources and to mom and dad should this happen again.

    What light sources might you need in a power outage or emergency? First of all, consider several flashlights for directional light. Having a flashlight close to your bedside is ideal. You may choose a hand crank light so you don’t ever have to worry about batteries, or maybe you’ll choose an LED light, the long lasting and resilient bulb insures reliability and endurance. A great way to save money and always have batteries is to purchase rechargeable batteries. Make sure you get the charger to go with your batteries so you can keep them ready to go. My personal favorite is a headlamp flashlight. I like the convenience of hands free operation and the light is excellent and always where I need it.

    Of course, you will also want to have candles on hand for help in lighting your way on a dark night. Many of us have beautiful decorative candles all over our homes and can easily use those in an emergency situation. You might also want to consider purchasing Emergency Candles made from liquid paraffin. These specialized candles last longer than wax candles and liquid paraffin is smokeless and odorless which makes them ideal for indoors. They also can be moved easily without the worry of spilled wax.

    Another excellent option, especially if you’d like to light up a larger space, is kerosene and lamp oil lanterns. These are decorative, but also very useful. They give off a stronger light than just a candle and the fuel is safer for use indoors than propane powered lanterns. Don’t forget to store matches, wicks, and extra fuel to ignite all of these light sources. Make sure you keep them in a safe, but accessible place that you can easily find in the dark. Our family also likes battery operated lanterns. Like the oil lanterns, they can be placed on a table for general lighting, but don’t require liquid fuel and light up with the flip of a switch. Just be certain you have extra batteries and bulbs on hand.

    Another source of light that is safe, lightweight, and fun for children is the nontoxic chemical lightstick. These are very similar to the glow in the dark necklaces your children use for fun, but they are much larger and give off a greater light than the necklaces, yet they are just as simple and easy to use. Lightsticks are excellent to use in cars and emergency kits and will stay bright for up to 12 hours.

    Our family learned the hard way how necessary light is when the unexpected happens and the electricity goes out. Consider your family and home’s individual needs and equip them with the several different light sources to depend on. After all, no one likes to be left in the dark! So… let there be light!

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  • Home Making

    By Angie Sullivan

    Learn how to build your own shelter and you’ll feel confident that even in the most uncomfortable of circumstances, you’ll have the knowledge to do some “home-making”!

    Shelter is a high priority when preparing for an emergency. After food and water, shelter is next on the list. Most of us don’t think about shelter because we assume that shelter will always be available for us, whether at our own homes or within our community. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes disasters leave people stranded in harsh weather or amidst destroyed buildings and they are desperately in need of shelter to protect them.

    The easiest way to know you’ll always have shelter and protection from the elements is to carry it with you. A lightweight tent or tube tent that you can keep in your car or emergency kit is ideal. Your car can also be an excellent shelter, especially in cooler weather. Be sure to leave the windows open when the temperature is over 65 degrees to avoid heat exhaustion.

    Though having a shelter on hand is recommended, there are times that you may need to create your own. There are several different types of shelters you can build. If you do not have any materials with which to construct a shelter, you need to use any cover or protection available to you, such as a cliff overhang, or a cave to shield you from wind or rain. If you are in a completely open area, sit with your back to the wind and put as much of your equipment behind you as possible to create a windbreaker for you.

    You can use any size of tree branches to give you shelter from the wind. Begin by tying a branch to the base of another branch where it forks off from the trunk. Cover with additional branches and twigs. Pine and fir trees are particularly effective because of their dense leaves, which offer more protection. Also, creating a shallow depression in the ground can give you shelter, especially if you are able to cover the top with branches, logs, or sticks. This method is better in warm, dry climates as it will not deflect rain from entering the shelter.

    Making a lean-to shelter is as simple as propping logs, branches, and other material against a mountainside, large rock, or fallen log. If you have rope on hand, you will be able to lash the materials together, and a tarp or even a poncho on top of the structure will add an extra layer of protection. This method can also be used to make a teepee shaped shelter. Begin by lashing longer branches together at the top, and then cover with denser material.

    If you are stranded in the snow, you can use the snow as the basis for your shelter. Digging out a depression and forming walls that angle in will provide a layer of insulation. Be sure to have a hole in the top to provide ventilation, especially if you will be making a fire to keep warm.

    Shelter is something many of us take for granted. Should the time come that you find yourself needing protection from the elements, you will be grateful for this knowledge. Take a few minutes from your regular homemaking to think about emergency shelters and you’ll find yourself able to do some real “home-making”!

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

  • Safe At Home

    By Angie Sullivan

    Cover all your "bases" and you’ll find you can be "safe at home"!

    Your home can be a sanctuary, a safe refuge from the storms of life. But, should the real storms or natural disasters hit, is your home truly as safe as you think? If you follow these guidelines you’re sure to hit a home run in making your home a safe and secure place for your family.

    Make sure that your family’s beds are not directly beneath a window, or anything that could fall and injure them should an earthquake strike. Secure any shelves or tall furniture to wall studs. Check those shelves for large and heavy objects that could cause significant damage should they fall. Make sure the heaviest decorative items are the closest to the ground.

    Check cabinets for loose doors and unstable shelves. Glass bottles should be kept on bottom shelves, and not in upper cabinets. Heavy appliances like refrigerators or water heaters should also be secured. Flammable materials should be kept far from heat sources. Painting or cleaning products should be stored in the garage or in a shed, and excess newspaper or cardboard should be recycled or thrown away. Roof tiles should be secured to the roof along with air conditioners and swamp coolers. Be sure to cut off any dead or diseased tree limbs in your yard.

    Now that you have checked your home and made the necessary adjustments, be sure the evacuation plan we discussed last week is accessible and add an emergency phone number list. Along with out of state contacts and other close friends and relatives, your phone list should include:

    911

    Fire Department

    Police Department

    Family Doctor

    Poison Control

    Utility company hotline

    With your family evacuation plan in hand, stored emergency kits along with food and water, and your home checked and secured, you’ve certainly covered all of the "bases" to help you be "safe at home"!

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

  • When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

    Much of our preparedness journey has discussed having your home prepared for an emergency, but what happens if you need to leave your home in an emergency? Do you have an evacuation plan for your family?

    It’s not a pleasant thought, but it is definitely something we’ve seen in the news much more in the last few years: Emergency Evacuations. Many different types of disasters require home evacuations. Hurricanes, tsunamis, chemical spills, gas leaks, and house fires are a few examples of these types of disasters. Having a plan in place before something happens will help your family cope and adjust in a stressful situation. This plan will help you take advantage of every second you have, and will guide your actions to be most efficient and safe.

    Begin with a simple fire escape plan. Make sure your entire family knows the plan, and knows escape routes out of your home should there be a fire. Be sure to have a safe place designated away from your home where all members of the family can meet. If you feel that you could use more help in creating this plan, there are many different sources to turn to for help. Emergency Essentials' Family Emergency Preparedness Plan DVD will help guide you as you put your plan together.

    Here are a few hints to get you going:

    Make a map of your home, including all exits, doors, windows that will qualify as an emergency exit. Make sure each room has a primary exit (usually the door or hallway) and a secondary exit like a window. Label where each family member sleeps. Make sure you label the main shutoff valves for gas, electricity, and water. Mark your safe meeting place outside your home, where everyone can be accounted for.

    Take an evening and practice your evacuation plan. Make sure your family is clear on how to evacuate safely and what they are responsible to do. If your home has second story bedrooms, you may want to consider a fire escape ladder for a safe exit from those windows.

    If you are required to evacuate your home for other reasons, you’ll be grateful to have your emergency kits placed near one of the main exits so they are easy to get to. Assign someone the task of grabbing the kits should you need to leave your home in a hurry. Be sure you know where and how to turn off the utilities. This will be an easier task with a gas wrench in hand. You might also want to consider leaving a pair of shoes, gloves, and a flashlight close to each person’s bedside.

    Designate an out-of-town and out-of-state contact person for your family to call in case you get separated. These numbers should be posted close at hand, and preferably memorized! You can even contact Emergency Essentials for a free magnet to post on your fridge with your emergency contact numbers, or visit: beprepared.com/evacuation for a free PDF version of our evacuation plan.

    If you develop an evacuation plan for your individual family, you will feel confidant knowing that are ready should you need to leave your home during a disaster. Because everyone knows that when the going gets tough, you might have to get going!

    -Angie Sullivan

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