Monthly Archives: January 2014

  • Prevent Winter House Fires with FEMA's Safety Tips

    Did you know that on average, at least 905 people die in winter house fires each year?

    In fact, the majority of house fires in the United States take place in winter when families prepare holiday meals, heat their homes, and display decorations that may use unsafe heat sources. However, according to FEMA, the leading cause of winter house fires is cooking and the most common times for them to occur is between 5 to 8 p.m. which makes sense because that’s  the same timeframe that many of us cook dinner in.

    Since the threat of winter fires is very real and there are many statistics to show just how real and how common winter fires are, FEMA wants everyone to be informed and learn safety tips to protect themselves. Recently, FEMA launched a campaign to help families and communities learn winter fire safety.

    Aside from the statistics, FEMA’s winter fire safety campaign offers downloads, links to winter safety tips, social media messages, public service announcements, and an infographic and widgets to place on websites to help spread the word about winter fire safety.

    To find out the leading causes of winter house fires and tips to protect yourself against them, check out one of FEMA’s winter fire safety public service announcements below.

    Learn more about FEMA’s winter fire safety campaign and how to protect yourself and family at FEMA.gov. And while you’re at it . . .

    Prepare yourself and your family against winter fires by creating a “fire escape plan” and learning ways to “prevent kitchen fires” in your home.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Emergency plan, emergency preparedness

  • The Life Cube is a completely stocked inflatable shelter

    “In tough circumstances, sometimes all you need is hope.

    “…but other times you need a blow-up survival shelter featuring a bed, a couch, freeze-dried food, a 50-gallon water bladder, a first-aid kit, a radio and a cookstove.”

    According to wired.com, the latter may be a consumer option in the near future. A company called Inflatable World is in the process of raising capital to produce what they’re calling the Life Cube—a 4”x 4” box containing a well-stocked, heavy-duty, inflatable shelter. The projected pricing is steep, and for now the company (whose link from the article doesn’t work) appears to be limiting its market to first responders and aid organizations, though we could see it for sale generally sometime soon.

    The Life Cube highlights a gap in our preparedness efforts. Most of us consider the need for shelter in our emergency prep and include items like tents and sleeping bags in our stash. (Read our article on shelter and warmth to learn why a product like this could be crucial.) But when a disaster necessitates long-term accommodations, FEMA has reported overcrowding and insufficient facilities in the motels and temporary shelters they typically use. The Life Cube stands somewhere between the tent and the high school auditorium, as a temporary dwelling comfortable (and private!) enough to stay in for weeks or months at a time. Think luxury camping during the apocalypse.

    So, what do you think? Would this be a useful addition to your prep gear? Does it sound preferable to a FEMA trailer? And would you be willing to pay five figures for it? We’re intrigued.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: shelter, preparedness, Survival, emergency preparedness, Life Cube

  • Each Monday in January, we’re sharing our Preparedness New Year’s Resolutions for 2014. If you’d like to make some Prepping Resolutions of your own, but don’t know where to start, borrow some of our resolutions or use this series to get some ideas.

    This week we're  talking about Survival Skills. Take a look at last week’s resolutions for Food and Water Storage.

    Prepper style New Year's Resolutions for Survival Skills

    Here is what our Emergency Essentials’ bloggers plan on doing to hone their Survival Skills in 2014:

    New Year’s Resolution Prepper Style: Survival Skills

    Sharon

    I resolve to experiment with and learn different alternative cooking skills, such as basic thermos cooking and one-pot meals on a Single Burner Folding Stove with a Heat Cell Canister. I hope to get a Volcano Collapsible Grill with an Oven Lid and learn to use it for both grilling and baking using the Volcano Dutch Oven. I also plan to continue learning how to grow vegetables successfully in pots. (Last summer’s results were mixed: the cucumbers and peppers were great, but the eggplants were so small I kept waiting for them to grow large enough to harvest while they were actually growing old!)

     

    Sarah

    You may or may not know that, growing up, I used to go camping and hiking with my family all the time. As I grew older, I kicked my inner tomboy to the curb and embraced the world of stilettos and manicures. This year I’m letting the pendulum swing back to middle ground and I’ll be spending some more time outdoors, practicing and learning some survival skills (like building a fire or a shelter, orienteering, etc.). I’m also going to do some canning and dehydrating this year, which will be a totally new experience for me. There are dozens of skills I want to learn, but I’m trying to pace myself, so the first thing I’m going to do is a winter camping trip where I’ll practice building an emergency shelter and a fire. (Wish me luck. But if you’re worried about me, also know that I’m absolutely taking a tent. And an armful of hand and body warmers.)

    Angela

    Sometimes my husband acts like he’s a “dead body” and tells me to try to carry him out of a “burning house” (yes, I know this is weird). It’s annoying when he does it, but I fail at dragging him even two feet every time. This makes me think that I need to strength train to be able to get him to safety if something happened. So my New Year’s Resolution for skills is to learn various methods for carrying another person, strength training (so that I can lift more than 30 pounds . . .), and exercising more in case we have to evacuate on foot, or build a shelter.

     

    Kim

    Once upon a time I was CPR and First Aid certified . . . that was like 6 ½ years ago. This New Year, I resolve to relearn (and get re-certified) in First Aid and CPR. I just hit my one year wedding anniversary this last December and it’s made me realize that I want to be able to be self-reliant in protecting my family, if it comes to that. My husband and I ski . . . a lot. By developing First Aid skills, I will be better prepared to take care of my husband if he gets hurt while we’re skiing (before ski patrol arrives, of course). Knowing CPR and First Aid will also help me in the future when I have children. Learning these skills now will give me confidence to heal/help my children when they are ill or get injured.

     

    What type of Survival Skills do you want to develop in 2014? 

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: skills, Survival, emergency preparedness, survival skills

  • Pennies for Prepping: 2013 Year in Review

    At the beginning of 2013, I had very little in the way of preparedness gear or food storage. But I also had (and still have) school loans to pay, so I couldn't budget too much toward building my supply each month.

    After a year of saving all my spare change, the small bills I had in my wallet at the end of the week, and (after I got smart), setting $20 or more aside at the beginning of the month (with the understanding that if I needed it for something I could use it), I was able to save over $450 to spend on survival gear and emergency food!

    Let's check out my 2013 year in review. Here’s a list of everything I purchased this past year. I mostly shopped sales and group items, and the total amount I (and those who gave me gifts) spent was right around $457.11. For all of this goodness :

    Pennies for Prepping: 2013 Year in Review

    The picture might not look like it includes that much stuff, but it does. Here it is as a list (you can find these items at beprepared.com):

    • 1- 3600-Calorie SOS Bar
    • 2- BurnFree single use packets
    • 2- ReadyBath wipes
    • 1- Aqua Towel 4 pack
    • 2- Fresh & Go toothbrush
    • 1- Grey GSI Fork
    • 1- Grey GSI Knife
    • 1- Grey GSI Spoon
    • 1- LED Glow Stick Combo
    • 4- HotSpot
    • 4- Fresh & Go Floss
    • 1- high Uinta Night Sight Headlamp
    • 1- MRE Garlic Herb Chicken
    • 1- MRE Ratatouille
    • 1- 10 pack Hydropack pouches
    • 1- 8 pack Utility Flame Gel Packets
    • 1- #10 can Mini Meatballs (cooked)
    • 2- 4 oz. bottle of BurnFree
    • 1- MC can of Vanilla Pudding
    • 1- Static V Sleeping Pad
    • 1- Teton 1-Man Quick Tent
    • 1- Goal Zero Switch 8 Charger
    • 2- Splinter Out 10-pack
    • 1- 11-Function Survival Tool
    • 1- Wool Blend Blanket
    • 1- P-38 Can Opener
    • 1- MyChoice BBQ Sauce Mix
    • 1- #10 can of Apple Cinnamon Pancake Mix
    • 1- Fox 40 Classic Whistle
    • 1- Mobile Washer
    • 1- Organic Sprouting Seed Combo
    • 3- Sparkie Fire Starter
    • 1- Gerber Shard
    • 1- Teton Scout Backpack
    • 5- Adhesive Toe Warmers
    • 5- Insole Warmers

    So, if you think your budget is too small to get prepared, think again. Even $5 or $10 a month can get you started with some of the most basic items. The main things I suggest you keep in mind are:

    1. Keep making progress—even a little at a time is better than nothing
    2. Work with a plan in mind so you can track which needs you’re meeting and those that still need to be addressed (I use a spreadsheet)
    3. Start with basic gear and upgrade when you can.

    If you’re not on a tight budget, you can get a lot of your preparedness needs taken care of in no time at all, and at great prices, too. Emergency Essentials offers a Low-Price Guarantee, and we’re here to help answer any and all of your questions. Reach out to one of our preparedness consultants by phone or in our stores for customized suggestions to meet your needs.

    If you’re looking to make a big dent in your preparedness needs pretty quickly, then this month there’s a great option for you. Our year supplies are always a great value, and this month we’ve taken our Gourmet 2000 supply one step further and added a bunch of gear to it… for $100 LESS than the normal price. That’s right. Check out our Gourmet Plus Supply for all the details.

    I’ll be back with more Pennies for Prepping in 2014, plus some other goals and projects. But for now, this is Urban Girl… signing off.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Urban Girl, Prepping on a Budget, Pennies for Prepping, emergency preparedness, 2013

  • Building your water storage today will give you clean drinking water tomorrow

    We often take for granted that with just the flip of a handle clean drinking water is dispensed straight into most homes. But how many of us actually know what is coming through the tap?

    A chemical spill polluted water supplies in West Virginia on Thursday. Schools and restaurants closed, grocery stores sold out of bottled water, and thousands had to go without drinking, bathing, cooking, or washing their clothes with municipal water.

    According to Tom Aluise, a state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman, the tank that leaked holds at least 40,000 gallons, but they’re “confident that no more than 5,000 gallons escaped.”

    Although not lethal, the chemical in question is harmful if swallowed or inhaled, according to a fact sheet from Fisher Scientific. It can cause eye and skin irritation, along with other symptoms.

    To read more about the chemical spill, check out the article here.

    Even if you don’t live near one of the nine affected counties in West Virginia, it’s important to prepare against the chance of water pollution. When you’re prepared, an emergency can seem less like a crisis to you and your family.

    Having a water storage supply and a means to filter and purify your water are useful during a variety of emergencies. In cases such as this, however, typical microfilters and purifiers won’t be able to cleanse the water from the chemicals. But the Hydropack will.

    The Hydropack has .05 micron (5 angstrom) sized holes for water to pass through when dropped into a water source. The spilled chemical (4-methylcyclohexane methanol) is larger than 5 angstroms; the cyclohexane molecule itself is 5.3 angstroms. That means the chemical molecules are too large to pass through the Hydropack’s forward-osmosis filtration membrane.

    Simply drop the Hydropack into your water source and let it absorb the water, filtering out chemicals and other contaminants to create an electrolyte drink much like a sports drink.

    Although the Hydropack can help in a situation like this, storing clean water is important so that you can rely on yourself in times of emergency without having to wait for a filter or relief groups to get set up. There could also be situations when the pollutant in the water is small enough that the Hydropack won’t solve the issue.

    Start building your water storage supply today so you have clean drinking water tomorrow. These articles have great tips to get you started:

    Water Storage Overview

    5 Myths about Water Storage

    Water, Water, Everywhere: The Importance of Water Storage

    Water Storage Options

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Survival, water storage, emergency preparedness, chemical spill, west virginia

  • Pennies for Prepping: December Update

    You guys, I can’t believe it’s January already!

    Time for an update on my December Pennies for Prepping selections. I’m also ready to give a short yearly overview so you can see what I was able to buy on my “spare change” budget in 2013—so look for that tomorrow.

    In December I was able to save up some extra money because I got some cash for Christmas, plus I got some great preparedness-related gifts, so the total cost for this month is a little more than usual.

    December Pennies for Prepping Purchases (and Gifts):

    I bought a Mobile Washer so I can do laundry if my water or electricity goes out in an emergency. It would also be great for a long-term camping trip so you don’t have to wash your clothes in the river and send suds downstream to the next camp.

    The Mobile Washer works really well with one of our 4-6 gallon buckets and features a special agitation motion that pushes and pulls water through your clothes to get them really clean. It’s just $14.95—so it’s a great and affordable way to do laundry when your washing machine or a Laundromat isn’t an option. (You can see the Mobile Washer in action on our YouTube page.)

    Pennies for Prepping: Mobile Washer

    I also bought the Organic Sprouting Seed Combo and Sprouting Lid. I love salad, you guys. In an emergency where fresh produce isn’t an option, salad is one of the first things I would miss. I’m getting creative and planning to use sprouts as a lettuce substitute on sandwiches and burgers, in tacos… you get the idea. Sure, the texture is different, but you still get the crisp freshness you find with lettuce—and a hefty dose of nutrients, too.

    The combo is just $16.99 (lucky you, it’s on sale this month!) and includes a lid that fits any standard wide-mouth jar. You can also buy the components separately if you’ve already got some of the items on hand.

    If you followed my Pennies for Prepping series in 2013, you know I’m working on building out my everyday carry. One thing I added to that in December (thanks to “Santa”) was the Gerber Shard multi-tool. It’s a great little tool to keep on a keychain for everyday issues that may come up where you need a screwdriver, mini pry-bar, bottle opener, or wire stripper. $4.79 will do it. Easy peasy.

    Santa also brought me a couple of Sparkie Fire Starters. Now this is my idea of what a fire starter should be.  It’s not only easy to use, but it’s easy to use one-handed, so you can block the wind, keep your tinder in place, or make other adjustments with your free hand. (Santa obviously knows my skill level.) Each Sparkie is just $7.95 and can start up to 100 fires.

    I bit the bullet and bought a Teton Scout Backpack in December, too. I don’t say “bit the bullet” because of the cost—it was only $59.99. It $62.95 in January, which is still a total steal for an internal frame backpack of this quality (totally adjustable with lumbar support, compression straps, and a built-in rain fly).

    I say “bit the bullet” because I’m not a backpacker. I don’t really even camp. But I’m committing to in 2014, because I think hiking, camping, and backpacking are great ways to learn about preparedness, get comfortable in the outdoors, and learn what skills I need to add to my arsenal in case I get stuck outside without a bunch of gear. Practice is the name of the game in 2014 for this Urban Girl.

    Warmth is also the name of the game, though. I am not winter’s biggest fan, but I realize that by being prepared and dressing properly for the winter weather, I can enjoy it more. So that’s where my last December purchase comes in: I bought 5 each of the Adhesive Toe Warmers (1.25 each) and the Insole Warmers ($2.50 each). Because getting cold feet is the worst. With my little piggies all toasty warm in my boots, I’ll be ready to face the weather.

    So, the total you would spend this month on those items (since some of them are no longer on sale) is about $130 (if you bought 5 of each warmer and two Sparkie fire starters). Not bad, my friends.

    What did you get in December? Did you splurge on something for yourself? Get any good prepping-related gifts?

    Check back tomorrow for my 2013 recap, showing exactly what I got and how much I spent in 2013.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Urban Girl, preparedness, Pennies for Prepping, Survival, emergency preparedness

  • How to teach preparedness to toddlers

    After a year of teaching 3-4 year olds as a Sunday school teacher, I’ve learned it’s hard to get toddlers to sit down and focus for even just 5 minutes! This makes the task of teaching emergency preparedness skills . . . Um, how should I say it . . . DIFFICULT.

    So should toddlers be taught about emergency preparedness? Can it even be done?

    Teaching toddlers emergency preparedness skills is not a lost cause. It can be done, but strategically through repetition and play.

    Repetition and Strategic Play

    According to the MetLife Foundation’s pamphlet, “The Power of Play,” toddlers need movement, action, and repetition to understand the world around them. Repetition “helps children know what to expect [and] gives them a sense of security and control over their world. It also helps them master new skills and boosts their self-confidence.”

    Since toddlers rely on routine to understand the world around them, teaching emergency skills through repetition may be the key to helping toddlers not only to prepare, but to feel more confident when an emergency hits.

    How do I Teach My Toddler Using Repetition and Strategic Play?

    Build Your Own Emergency Kit Activity

    Get a backpack for your 3 or4-year-old. Tell them “this is your emergency backpack” (have them repeat the phrase ‘emergency backpack’). Let them know the backpack is special and should be used only when an adult tells them to use it.

    1. Use FEMA’s disaster preparedness coloring book pgs.4-6 to discuss with your child what an “emergency” or natural disaster is.  Explain it in a way they can understand and not feel overwhelmed about. (See coloring page below)

    FEMA Disaster Preparedness Coloring page

    2. After going through the coloring page, tell your child that they need their special backpack when there’s an emergency.

     3. Have a pile of items (maybe 2-3 for now, you can put more in the next time you play) to put into the emergency kit. Pull one item out at a time. Ask the child to identify or guess what the item is and what they would use the item for. If they don’t know, help them.  Let them put it in the backpack.

    CAUTION: Many of the items will be similar to what they already use daily so it’s important to specify that these are special pull-ups or a special sippy cup that they only use when an adult tells them to get the emergency backpack. Repeat this point and ask/tell them the appropriate time to use each item.

     

    4. Talk with your child about things they’d want to have in an emergency to help them feel happy. You’ll want to include some of their favorite snacks and a blanket or toy in the emergency kit.

    CAUTION: You may not want to put toys or blankets your child is attached to into the bag at the moment but take note of these things so you can bring them or get duplicates to put in later.

     

    5. After you put all the items in the backpack, explain to your child that “we need to put this backpack in a place where we can grab it quickly for an emergency.” Help your child select a place to store the bag, close to the front door.  Make sure they understand to only get this special backpack out when they are told by an adult.

    6. Show the toddler you have a special backpack as well, stored in the same place, or if it isn’t, go move the backpack to the same place. Show them some of the items in your kit.

     

    This is an activity that you’ll want to do often. You can do it when it’s time to replace items or you can do it once every three months, reiterating the same ideas and principles about preparedness. Review the items that are already in the bag, put them back in, and add other things as needed.

     

    Check out the Insight Article, “Special Considerations for Emergency Kits” to help you decide what to include in your toddler’s kit.

    And while you’re at it, check out our other articles about prepping for kids and teens:

    Prepare Teens for Real-Life Disasters  Using Young Adult Fiction

    Survival Skills for Kids: Outdoor Survival Games

     

    Have you tried to teach your toddler about preparedness? What did you do? What suggestions do you have for other parents or caregivers?  Let us know in the comments.

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: skills, preparedness, family, emergency preparedness

  • Savannah Calls 9-1-1

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    Teaching children how and when to call 9-1-1 just might save your life

    You may remember our guest post from earlier this year about teaching young children how and when to call 9-1-1 (“Who They Gonna Call”). In the original article, found on babysittingjobs.com, the authors emphasize making sure your little people know their critical information (name, age, address) and what kind of circumstances really warrant an emergency call. It’s a helpful article and worth another look.

    A great example of these principles at work has gone viral. The video below shows the conversation between 5-year-old Savannah and a 9-1-1 dispatcher, after her father’s chest pains make it too difficult for him to speak.

    When instructing kids on 9-1-1 protocols, be sure they know to stay as calm as Savannah does. She speaks clearly, listens well, answers questions, and repeats the dispatcher’s questions to her dad verbatim—more than many of us might manage in a frightening situation! She also does a fantastic job of following directions, even when she first wants to do something else (the whole pajama issue is priceless!). It’s pretty standard for dispatchers to tell the caller to unlock a door for the EMTs and then stay close to the person in trouble, but if other circumstances necessitate more specific actions, kids need to listen calmly and do exactly what the dispatcher tells them to do.

    One of the best ways Savannah helps the professionals is by offering specific information readily. Not only can she give the dispatcher her name and age, but she describes the problem accurately and even gives him a heads-up about the family dog. A useful role-play might involve a parent acting out an emergency (heart attack, fainting, fall and injury) and having the child describe exactly what they see. Model a call, giving details of the victim’s situation (not breathing, not moving, can’t talk), then have kids take turns observing an accident and making pretend calls.

     

    If you need more ideas and resources for family 9-1-1 training, check out the links below.

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: skills, preparedness, family, 9-1-1, emergency preparedness

  • Twitter Alerts

    Twitter has just made it easier for iOS and Android users to receive critical information during times of crisis. On Dec. 19th, Twitter added new features to its emergency alert system.

    Twitter Alerts now lets users subscribe to emergency alerts directly from a participating organization’s Twitter profile. Simply click on the bell-shaped icon next to the follow button to enroll for emergency alerts and to follow that participating organization. When facing the threat of a natural disaster, or in another emergency, these organizations will send alerts and information to your electronic device. These alerts appear as a separate bar of text along the bottom of your Twitter stream.

    Twitter Alerts first appeared in September 2013, and in the past three short months over 120 organizations from seven different countries have been enrolled. According to Gabriela Pena, a blogger on The Official Twitter Blog, “More than 50 U.S. organizations — state, regional, federal — have Twitter Alerts enabled. Participants include the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of State, Department of Homeland Security and the Red Cross.”

    Read the rest of the story from Mashable or straight from The Official Twitter Blog.

    Communication during times of unrest is vital. Apps like Twitter Alerts are being created so you can be better informed during an emergency when other communication sources may not work.

    To learn more about communication during emergencies, check out our Insight Article Communication During and After a Disaster

     

    Do you have any kind of emergency alerts set up on your devices? Which ones?

     

    Photo Courtesy of The Official Twitter Blog

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: twitter, emergency preparedness, natural disaster, emergency alerts

  •  The Polar Vortex: What are the Consequences?

    Despite sounding like a setting from an episode of Doctor Who, the polar vortex that is affecting parts of the US brings with it some serious consequences. This winter phenomenon has caused several travel delays, school closures, disrupted business and farming, and anywhere from seventeen to twenty-one deaths have been reported.

    A polar vortex is a technical name for the “gigantic mass of swirling dense air” that normally sits at the North Pole.  The polar vortex has moved further south than usual, causing Midwesterners to get an actual artic experience.

    In fact, according to Nick Wiltgen from the Weather Channel the term ‘artic outbreak’ is a more accurate term than ‘polar vortex’ to describe the dramatic cooling effect the Midwestern and eastern portions of the U.S. are currently experiencing.

    For an even better explanation of what a polar vortex (or artic outbreak) is, take a look at this ABC news clip.

    Also, check out the Reuters article, “Polar Freeze Grips United States, Disrupting Travel and Business" to see exactly how cold things are.

    Even if you don’t live in an area affected by the polar vortex, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start thinking about ways to stay warm in extreme winter weather. Our insight article, “Emergency Warmth” gives great ideas for keeping warm in an emergency, whether at home, outdoors, or on the road.

    In my part of the country, the post-Christmas stretch of winter can be the harshest. What about you? Are you prepared for real cold?

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: warmth, Winter, emergency preparedness, winter weather

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