Search results for: 'pet'

  • Could you Survive an EMP?

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    Could you Survive an EMP?

    Are you ready for a blackout triggered by an electromagnetic pulse? Experts such as Peter Vincent Pry, the executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, warn that the civilian world isn’t as prepared as they should be.

    An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is a burst of electromagnetic energy that can come from nuclear missiles detonating in Earth’s atmosphere or from super solar flares (explosions on the surface of the sun) that reach our atmosphere. This burst of energy is capable of disabling or even destroying electronic devices connected to the grid (cellphones, computers, television, toaster, etc.) whether or not they are plugged in.

    According to, “Electricity is the lifeblood of the modern world. Food, transportation, medical facilities, and communication systems all need it to function.” In our daily lives, we use electricity for even the simplest of tasks: cooking our food, washing our clothes, lighting the dark, charging all our technological devices, and more.

    Not only would an EMP interrupt daily tasks, it would prove detrimental to many people’s way of life. The kicker is… we could prevent it, but we don’t.

    To read more, check out’s article “Experts: Civilians not ready for EMP-caused blackout

    If the electric grid went down in your area, would you be able to survive? Think about the following questions:

    • How will you keep your perishable foods safe to eat?
    • How will you light your home?
    • How will you provide warmth?
    • How will you communicate with loved ones?

    If you can answer these questions, then you are on your way to preparing for a blackout. Make sure you add the appropriate gear to your emergency supplies. Consider adding some of the following:

    Also check out these other categories for more gear that could help you survive a blackout:


    Adding the right gear into your emergency supplies will make a huge difference if you find yourself without power for days on end. Learn more about what you can do to stay safe and prepare for an EMP-caused blackout with some of our Insight Articles:

    What preparations have you made for a blackout?




    Photo Courtesy of

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Blackout, power, communication, solar power

  • Is your Pet Safe?

    Is your Pet Safe?

    I must be on a happy endings kick, ‘cause here’s another one that had me crying great big, sloppy, happy tears. When Jen Leary suffered an injury that prevented her from doing her job as a firefighter in south Philadelphia, she made a minor change to her career path. Instead of rescuing humans, now she rescues animals. (You can watch the video that made me tear up here.)

    Her organization, Red Paw, does for pets what the Red Cross does for people affected by disasters. It rescues pets from emergency sites; offers food, shelter, and medical care; and works with volunteers to provide foster care and adoption services.

    And while it’s strictly local at this point, the idea is beginning to catch on. In fact, according to a write-up in, the organization has more than 17,000 followers on social media (check out Red Paw’s Facebook and Twitter pages), and the city’s Office of Emergency Management actually enlists Red Paw’s help in its emergency response efforts.

    According to Leary, Red Paw is the only organization of its kind in the country. And while Red Paw is certainly the most thorough service provider for animals, if you don’t live in the Philadelphia area, there are other organizations you could contact for help with animals in an emergency situation. Notably, PetSmart Charities has an emergency relief arm, the AKC’s Pet Disaster Relief collects resources and works with local emergency management centers, and the American Humane Association’s “Red Star” mobile animal relief service has helped on disaster sites across the US.

    In addition to accessing large-scale rescue organizations, there are steps you can take on your own to prep and protect your pets in the event of an emergency. Check out the posts and resources we’ve collected below.


    Don’t leave Fido and Fluffy out of your plans when preparing for an emergency—every member of your household deserves to stay safe!


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: pet, pet preparedness, pets

  • 12 Dos and Don'ts of Food Storage

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    12 Dos and Don'ts of Food Storage

    When an emergency strikes, you’re often left to your own skills and preparation to provide for you and your family. Food is one of the major necessities of life that you want to have on hand when an emergency hits, whether a natural disaster, an economic crisis, or health issues. If you haven’t thought to prepare before a disaster yet, now is the time to start because once it strikes, the time to prepare is over.

    As you work to build your food storage supply, consider these 12 Dos and Don’ts of Food Storage:

    1. DO carefully plan your food storage supply. Keep a record of what you and your family like to eat and then build those items into your food storage supply. Budget carefully and buy food items when they’re on sale. It’s a good idea to build a short-term supply quickly, but one of the perks of building a long-term supply is that you can build over time, giving yourself time to plan and wait for all the good deals.

    2. DO build a menu. Building a two-week, one-month, or even three-month food storage supply can be pretty simple and stress free. To decide how much food you need, build a menu and then multiply it.

    For example, if you want to build a food supply to last your family for 3 months, then you'll need 12 weeks of food. Build a menu for one week, two weeks, or even a month.

    Food Storage Menu Planner Download Image Food Storage Menu

    Once you build your menu, build a list of the food you need, and then multiply it. For example, multiply a one-week menu by 12 (weeks), a two-week menu by six, or a one-month menu by three. Pretty easy, no?

    3. DO store basic ingredients first. Adding staple ingredients into your supply will help provide you with the necessary ingredients that help create a variety of homemade meals. Add food staples such as wheat, flour, grains/legumes, rice, cornmeal, oatmeal, honey, sugar, powdered milk, dried whole eggs, baking powder, salt, spices, pasta, etc.


    12 Dos and Don'ts of Food Storage

    The old saying goes, “You can’t live by bread alone,” but according to Peggy Layton, author of Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook, “you can live on bread and soup.” In her book, Peggy describes the endless combinations and variations you can make with bread and soup…which would not only be delicious but would also help you survive in an emergency.

    Another food item that can help you survive is storing the basic ingredients for bread. With these staples, you can bake quick breads (banana bread, zucchini bread, lemon poppy seed bread), yeast breads (white or wheat, bread sticks, and scones), dessert breads (cake, pie crusts, and cookies), and breakfast breads (pancakes, waffles, muffins, cornbread). [ii]

    Match those breads with variations of hearty soups and stews using different soup mixes and an addition of your favorite vegetables and meat, for endless possibilities.

     4. DO eat what you store and store what you eat. Make sure you only buy food to store that your family will actually eat. If they won’t eat lentils before an emergency, they won’t be happy about eating them during one, either. So get food that your family likes to eat on a regular basis…and then eat it.

    Rotating through your food storage will help your family get used to it and will minimize losing nutrition and flavor (which can happen when you wait too long for an emergency before you break it open). If you rotate through your food storage, then you’ll always have the freshest foods available to you.

    As you use your food, keep a food inventory list handy and mark the items off of the list as you use them so you know what you need to replace.

    Learn more with our Insight Articles, “Eat What You Store” and “Rotating Your Food Storage

    5. DO store food based on special needs for family members. Make sure that you have a variety of food stored to satisfy each member of your family and that’s appropriate for all ages. Include baby foods and consider any food allergies family members may have when planning what to store.

    6. DO store your food storage in a cool (70° or lower), dry, and dark place—like a basement. There are four factors that contribute to how long your food storage items will last: light, temperature, moisture, and oxygen. The less interaction your food has with these four factors, the longer it will last.

    Learn more about proper storage conditions with our Insight Article, “Shelf Life

    7. DON’T let yourself get overwhelmed. Often when building a food storage supply, the task can seem daunting from a distance. All you have to do, though, is start small.

    Begin adding items to your emergency supply to help your family survive for three days, then a week, then a month, and so on. You can also include food storage items into your weekly grocery shopping. By doing this, you’ll gradually build your supply (which is easier on your pocketbook) and before you know it you’ll have enough to help you survive for your chosen amount of time.

    8. DON’T think you have too little space to store food. Whether you live in a 3-story home or the tiniest apartment in the world, you can find a place for your food storage. It may not meet the ideal storage conditions, but it’s better than no storage at all! Check out some of these tips for where you can store your food if you’re tight on space:

      • Under the bed (you can even hide your storage with a dust ruffle)
      • Use them to create bookcases/shelving to hold more cans by laying a wooden board across four cans (two on each end) and stacking more cans and boards until your shelf is the size you’d like.
      • Build your own food storage shelf that slides into the wasted space between your refrigerator and wall.
      • Use larger bins, such as SuperPails, as end tables or coffee tables. Simply disguise it as furniture by covering them with tablecloths.
      • Stack them behind your couch where there is wasted space between the couch and wall.
      • Fill the dead space in your coat closet. Typically there is quite a bit of vertical space underneath your coats in the closet. It’s a great, accessible place to store your food.

    9. DON’T store your food near chemicals or cleaning products. You don’t want to risk contaminating your food storage supply if any dangerous products were to leak—especially if you don’t find the contamination until you need your food in an emergency.
    10. DON’T use non-food-grade plastic containers to store food. If you plan to dehydrate, can, or store your own food, make sure to keep it in a non-toxic, food-grade container such as glass, ceramic, or stainless steel. Non-food-grade plastic containers are not good for long-term storage as they can leach chemicals into your food. Keep your food in double-enameled, stainless steel cans (or metallized bags) with an oxygen absorber to help them last longer. You can also store large quantities of food in Superpails lined with metallized bags, which use food-grade plastic, making them safe for long-term storage.

    11. DON’T wait until an emergency to learn to cook with freeze-dried and dehydrated foods. Although cooking with food storage ingredients isn’t difficult, it is a little different than cooking with fresh ingredients. As you rotate through your food storage, try out different [recipes] that can help you make home-cooked meals so delicious that your family would never guess they’re from food storage.


    Check out some of our favorites:

    12. DON’T forget to store food for your pets. If you are a pet owner, make sure you include enough pet food for them to be able to survive during an emergency, too.

    Make all the prepping and planning involved in building your supply, just a little easier by using our pre-made worksheets, menu calendars, and inventory sheets to help you stay organized.

    For more tips, check out some of our Insight Articles:






    [i] Food Storage For the Health of It by Azrcka Bedgood

    [ii] Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook by Peggy Layton. Pg. 59-64; 75-77; 88;


    Posted In: Food Storage, Insight Tagged With: food storage supply, food storage

  • When Mountain Lions Attack

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    When Mountain Lions Attack

    You’re hiking in the Colorado Rockies, enjoying the fresh air and just-rising sun, when suddenly you hear a snarl from a tree above you. Your blood chills. What is it? A bear, a mountain lion, a bobcat? How can you tell, and how should you react? You look up and meet the intent stare of a large cat. Your first instinct is to turn tail and run like crazy—the cat can have the whole mountain if he wants it! But is that the best choice? Consider the following information so you can be as prepared as possible for such an encounter.

    What is a mountain lion, and where are they found?

    The mountain lion goes by many names—cougar, puma, catamount, panther (or painter)—but it is actually more closely related to the leopard than to the lion. Its habitat used to cover all of North and South America, but the need for cleared farmland and cities in the eastern United States drove the population westward.

    Mountain lions are now present throughout the forested areas of the Midwest and are most concentrated in the mountains of the Western states, Canada, and throughout Central and South America. They are slowly making their way back east into Pennsylvania and New England, as evidenced by sightings, paw prints, and occasional attacks or skirmishes with cars.

    Do mountain lions prey on people?

    They can and do attack people, but, according to Tom Chester of the California Mountain Lion Foundation, you are 2,000 times more likely to be killed by a car, and 10 times more likely to be attacked by a pet dog—your own or someone else’s—than by a mountain lion.

    Mountain lions are not especially interested in people, although small children and pets—anything that may run—will look like prey to them. But this disinterest doesn’t mean that they never attack adults. They will attack either for food or to protect their young or a kill they have made.

    How can you identify a mountain lion?

    Because it can be hard to judge size and distance in the wild, some reported sightings of mountain lions are actually of its much smaller cousin, the bobcat (or wildcat). There are several distinct differences that can help you distinguish between the two cats:

    Mountain Lion

    When Mountain Lions Attack

    • Weighs 50-175 lbs.
    • 52 to 54 inches tall
    • Has a yard-long tail
    • Tawny golden color
    • Rounded points on ears, not tufted
    • Feeds primarily on deer and moose
    • Has intent, intelligent expression
    • Will snarl, hiss, give a blood curdling scream
    • Will attack to obtain or protect food, or to protect its young




    What's the difference between mountain lions and bobcats?

    • Weighs 15-35 lbs.
    • Just taller than a large house cat
    • Has a “bobbed” tail—about five inches long
    • Organge-tan color with black spots
    • Tufted ears, with long hairs at tips
    • Feeds on smaller animals—rabbits, chickens, mice
    • Has an expression more like a house cat
    • Will snarl, hiss, scream, and yowl if cornered
    • Will attack for food; invade yards for birds, animals, water or shelter


    10 tips for avoiding a mountain lion attack:                                                        

    1) Don’t hike or wander alone in the woods or mountains. All known fatalities from mountain lions have happened to people who were out in the wilderness alone.

    2) Avoid hiking during dawn and dusk—their most common hunting times.

    3) Be noisy as you hike. Talk, sing, play music, beat the bushes with a stick. You may feel silly, but noise scares off several types of animals you don’t want to encounter.

    4)  Be BIG. If you see a mountain lion, make yourself as large as possible. Raise your arms so that your jacket looks like bat wings. Like any cat, a mountain lion is going to concentrate on what seems “do-able.” He will look for something smaller and more vulnerable than himself.

    5) Do not take your dog into the wilderness with you. While it’s tempting to do so, and you may think your dog would scare off the cat, the opposite is more likely. The dog looks like dinner to the mountain lion, and can attract the cat instead of repelling it.

    6) Do not let your children wander off from the camp into the woods. Most are small enough to be interesting to a hungry mountain lion.

    7)  If you come upon a deer carcass that’s fresh and partially covered with twigs and leaves, get away quickly. This is most likely a mountain lion’s kill and the cat will defend it by all means.

    8)  Realize that most of the time, the mountain lion will make sure his prey doesn’t see him before he attacks. He hides and waits for likely prey to come his way, or he may sneak up quietly from behind and go for the neck to sever the spinal cord. Don’t keep your eyes on the ground while hiking; look up as well, watching for a tawny shape or a long tail among the trees. Turn around and look behind you from time to time.


    What to do if a mountain lion does get aggressive with you:

    1) Try not to give in to panic and fear.

    2) Face the cat down. Do not turn your back, squat, or bend over, unless you must quickly pick up a child. Otherwise, put a child behind you. Make eye contact with the animal.

    3)  Suppress your own instinct to run away. Any cat will interpret running as an invitation to give chase, and you will look more like prey. You can try to slowly back away, while still appearing threatening.

    4)  Yell and shout at the cat, as well as to attract human help. Shout “Cougar!” or “Lion!” rather than just “Help!” so that anyone within hearing distance will know what’s going on. Snarl and growl as well, as the cat will recognize that as threatening.

    5)  Make yourself appear as large as possible. If you’re wearing a jacket, open it and raise your arms so that you look big and threatening. Put a small child up on your shoulder—both for the child’s safety and to make you look larger.

    6) If a mountain lion leaps on you from behind, bend forward and try to throw him over your head.

    7) Fight with anything you have at hand—a knife, rocks, sticks—anything that will inflict pain. Throw dirt or sand in the cat’s face and eyes if you can. If you hurt him, he’s more likely to retreat.

    8) Do not try to talk soothingly to the cat as you would to a pet; it won’t help. Do not curl into as small and quiet a ball as possible, as this will make him see you as easy to prey on—and you would be.


    You may know that you are not breakfast food for a mountain lion or that you have no interest in the deer he just killed—but does the cat know? He’s just going on instinct—and if you react to his presence by running from him, his instincts will label you as “prey,” and he will attack. Think of a frisky housecat chasing a mouse, ball, or moving light—if it moves, it’s obviously meant to be chased and pounced on!

    The mountain lion is an efficient hunter, so we need to do all we can to avoid looking like attractive, vulnerable prey.



    Posted In: Insight, Skills

  • Ticks: How to Identify them and Prevent their Bites

    |4 COMMENT(S)

    It’s that time of year again, where we start thinking about all the outdoor activities we can do as it starts getting warmer outside. Activities like hiking, biking, camping, hunting, target shooting and many other sports may take us into the desert or mountains and into contact with ticks.

    You have to worry about coming in contact with ticks just about anywhere in the contiguous United States. Some ticks carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. These illnesses can lead to hospitalization, and in worst case scenarios, can cause death. There are several different species in the US, and depending on where you live there may be one or more varieties to worry about.

    Let’s talk about 7 common tick species in the United States, how you can prevent tick bites, and how to remove ticks if you are bitten.

    7 Types of Ticks Common to the United States



    There are several things you can do to prevent tick bites, especially during the warmer months between April and September.

    • Apply repellent that contains 20% Deet to your face, neck, and ears. Avoid getting it in your eyes and mouth.
    • Wear light-colored clothes which will make it easier to see if ticks are on your clothes.
    • Stay in the middle of trails and avoid high brush and vegetation.
    • Wear long pants. Tuck your pants into your socks and tuck your shirt into your pants.
    • There are even lines of clothing that have been treated with Permethrin (a type of insect repellent) that can stay on your clothes through multiple washings.

    Once you get home or back to your camping spot, do a tick check. Strip down and use a hand held mirror to search the places ticks love: your hair, underarms, belly button, between your legs and behind your knees, for example.

    If you’re a parent carefully check for ticks on your children and pets. Perform this check before going into your home, camper or tent.

    Amazingly, ticks can live through a cycle in your washing machine, even with hot water. But they won't be as lucky when you run your clothes through a cycle in the dryer on high heat.

    Removing a Tick

    If you find that, despite all your diligence, a tick has embedded itself into your body, you need to remove it as quickly as possible. As you remove it, make sure that the tick and its mouth are fully intact and no part of the tick is left on your body.

    We’ve all probably heard about using petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, alcohol, and even using heat or cold to try and get ticks to back out, but these things usually won't work and may even cause the tick to dig in deeper and secure its hold.

    The best method of removal is to get a pair of tweezers and grasp the tick firmly as close to your skin as possible and carefully pull upwards with steady, even pressure. Be careful not to squeeze too hard because fluid from the tick can cause infection or spread disease.

    Do not twist or pull hard. By using steady, gentle pressure—even causing the skin to tent a little—the tick should pull out within a minute or two.

    If the tick does not come out intact, you should see your primary care doctor or clinic and make sure everything gets removed.

    Signs and symptoms to watch for after a Tick Bite

    If you or a family member has been bitten by a tick, you need to watch for signs of illness.  Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Tularemia are a few of the most common illnesses to worry about. Signs and symptoms include body aches, fever, fatigue, joint pain or rashes. See your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms after being bitten.


    With this in mind, go out and have a great summer. Enjoy the backcountry, but be careful and make sure you take the necessary precautions.




    Posted In: Uncategorized

  • 45 Ways to Conserve Water

    |7 COMMENT(S)

     45 Ways to Conserve Water

    Have you ever thought about how much water you use in a day?

    Everyday activities like bathing, washing clothes and dishes, flushing the toilet, and watering your lawn require a lot of water—and we may not even realize how much water it takes.

    So what would you do in an emergency if your water supplies were limited or totally cut-off? Practicing water conservation now can help you to use your water wisely and develop habits that will help your water storage last longer in a crisis. Here are 45 ways to start conserving water in your home. (Some of these tips may surprise you!)

    Conserving Water at Home

    • Start by doing Emergency Essentials’ Water Challenge—One Gallon of Water for One Day to see how much water you actually use and how much you should store. Doing this will help you determine where to start conserving.
    • Insulate your water pipes. This will heat the water faster so you don’t have to have the water running as long while you wait for it to heat up.
    • Choose water-efficient fixtures. Faucet Aerators control the stream and reduces splashing as your water comes out of the tap. They help you to waste less water because they control splash reduction. You can also get a water-flow reducer attachment, a low-flow toilet, and choose water/energy efficient shower heads, dishwashers, and washing machines. Doing this can help you cut down on your water usage.
    • Fix any leaks from faucets, toilets, or sinks in your home. Call a professional or fix the leak yourself if you know how. Fixing leaks is an excellent and easy way to begin conserving water.

    Conserving Water While Cooking

    • Do not use running water to defrost frozen meat. Either use the microwave setting or put it on a plate in the fridge the previous night to let it defrost without using water.
    • Rinse fruits and vegetables by putting them into a bowl full of water and swishing it around. This will save you from constantly running the tap water in the sink. You can reuse the water in the bowl for house plants or your garden.

    Conserving Water in the Kitchen

    • When boiling water for tea, coffee, or cocoa, instead of just filling the kettle full of water, measure out just enough water for one cup only or enough for however many cups you’re making.
    • Install an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don’t have to run the water for a long time as you wait for it to heat up.
    • Garbage disposals use a lot of water to break food down. Consider creating a compost pile instead or scraping leftover food into the trash before rinsing your dishes in the sink.
    • Don’t start the dishwasher until it’s completely full. This will save several gallons of water.
    • If you have a dishwasher, use it instead of washing dishes by hand. Dishwashers save more water than washing them in the sink if you keep the water running constantly.
    • Fill up the sink or a large pot while hand washing dishes instead of letting the water run the whole time.
    • Scrape uneaten food off your plate instead of using running water to rinse it off.
    • Keep a water pitcher full in your fridge so you don’t have to keep turning on the tap to cool it down whenever you want a drink.
    • Pick one glass for drinking water (or your beverage of choice) from each day, or use a refillable water bottle to cut down on the amount of dishes you wash and the amount of water used.

    Conserving Water in the Bathroom

    • Fix toilet tank leaks. According to, “Put a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank and check the bowl after 15 minutes; if the color has seeped in -- without flushing -- you have a leak. Fixing it can save up to 1,000 gallons (about 200 flushes) a month. Often, what’s needed is a new flapper, or “valve seal,” which you can find in just about any hardware store”
    • Use a displacement device (you can even use a brick) in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water you use each time you flush.
    • Do you really have to flush the toilet every time you use it? All those flushes per day can add up to flushing 20 gallons of water down the drain. If you are just urinating, leave it there to lessen the amount of times you flush per day.
    • Replace or fix broken toilet handles. If your toilet handle sticks when you flush the toilet, replace or fix the handle. If your toilet handle sticks, the water in the bowl continually run.
    • Conserve water in the shower. Turn on the water to get wet. Turn off the water to lather up. And turn back on to rinse off. Do the same thing when washing your hair.
    • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
    • When washing your face or shaving, fill up your sink halfway so you don’t have the water running the whole time. Use short bursts of water to clean off your razor.
    • Take more showers than baths. It takes about 70 gallons of water to fill a bathtub.
    • Take shorter showers. Challenge yourself and your family to take five minute showers. Use a kitchen timer to keep track. Older shower heads can use up to 5 gallons of water per minute.
    • When washing your hands, turn off the water while you apply and lather soap.

    Conserving Water in the Laundry Room

    • Use the shortest reasonable cycle available to wash your clothes in the washing machine.
    • Only wash full loads of laundry. This will save several gallons of water.

    Conserving Water on House Plants

    • After you clean your fish tank, give the water to your plants. This water will be full of nutrients and good for growth, similar to an aquaponics system.
    • If you drop ice cubes on the floor, don’t toss them down the sink. Put them into a plant instead.
    • If you have leftover water in a glass (that you don’t plan to drink), reuse it. Instead of tossing it down the drain, water a plant or add it to your pet’s water bowl.

    Conserving Water on the Lawn and in the Driveway

    • Give your pet a bath on an area of your lawn that needs to be watered.
    • When installing an irrigation system, choose a drip, micro, or bubbler system. These systems are more efficient than spray or sprinkler irrigation systems because they direct water to the plant’s roots and minimize water loss due to evaporation.
    • Use on-off or shut-off timers while watering your lawn.
    • Water your lawn early in the morning or in the late afternoon, evening, or night. Watering the lawn when the sun is not at its peak allows the grass to hold in more moisture so you don’t have to use as much water to replace what’s evaporated in the heat of the day.
    • In the summer, only water your lawn once every three days when hot. Water once every five days in cooler temperatures.
    • Make sure your sprinklers are only watering your lawn and not the sidewalks or streets.
    • Use a broom to clean off your driveway, porch, or sidewalk instead of using a hose.
    • Wash your car at a carwash where they recycle water instead of washing your car with a hose and letting the extra water run down the street.
    • If you must wash your car at home, use a bucket of water to wash your car. Only turn on the hose when you need to rinse.
    • If you must wash your car at home, use a hose nozzle or turn off the water as you lather the car.
    • Cover outdoor pools when not in use. On average, swimming pools lose about a quarter of an inch of water each day, yet variations in wind intensity, humidity and sunlight can drastically change water loss rates.

    Conserving Water in your Garden

    • Plant drought-resistant, native plants in your garden that don’t require much watering.
    • Use a rain barrel to collect rainwater from gutters for watering your garden. Note: Make sure that it’s legal to collect rainwater in your city or state before you do this.
    • Use mulch in your garden. This will help keep moisture in and require less watering.
    • Do not use a lot of fertilizer on your plants. While they’re good at helping plants grow, they also increase water consumption.
    • Use a rain gauge to keep track of how much water your plants actually get so you don’t overwater using the hose.


    What do you do to conserve water? Give us your best tips in the comments.


    Sources: (toilet trick)

    Posted In: Insight, Water Storage

  • 3 Easy Food Storage Dinner Parties

    3 Easy Food Storage Dinner Parties


    Hi, friends. Urban Girl, here.

    We’ve been experimenting with food storage more and more here in the Emergency Essentials Test Kitchen, and we hope you’ve been enjoying the recipes coming through in our emails (if you aren’t signed up for those, click on the blue button near the top of the blog to sign up!).

    I’ve been thinking about having a dinner party in the next couple of weeks, and I decided I want to kill two birds with one stone and have a food storage dinner party. So I’ve been looking through the recipes on and I’ve come up with three dinner parties I could pull together. Here’s what I’m thinking (click each image to see the recipe):



    Appetizer: 7-layer Dip 

    Food storage 7 Layer Bean Dip


    Entrée: Beef Brisket Taco

    Mexican Food storage Dinner Party: Beef Brisket Taco


    Dessert: Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Crisps

     Food Storage Dinner Party Dessert: Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Crisps



    Appetizer: Creamy Tuscan Tomato Soup

    Creamy Tuscan Tomato Soup


    Entrée: Linguini Chicken with Vegetables

    Linguini Chicken and Vegetables


    Dessert: Peach "Shortcake" with Strawberry Basil Sauce 

    Peach Shortcake with Strawberry Basil Sauce





    Appetizer: Zucchini Corn Fritters

    Zucchini Corn Fritters


    Entrée: Cajun Chicken and Pasta

    Cajun Chicken and Pasta


    Dessert: Strawberry-Banana-Peach Cobbler

    Strawberry-Banana-Peach Cobbler



    And for drinks, I’ll make one of the delicious food storage mocktails we whipped up in the Test Kitchen. Yum!


    I’ve tried all these recipes, and I love every single one. So now I just have to decide which menu to use. I’m leaning toward the Southern-inspired dinner, but man… I really love 7-Layer Dip.

    Which of these dinner parties would you throw? Or would you go a different route for a food storage dinner party?


    Bon appetit!


    P.S. Need to get more familiar with food storage? Try some of these recipes out, or check out our Recipes page for other options. (We’ve also got a photo contest going on with our recipes… we’ve got a lot of recipes that need photos and we’d love to see what you come up with…Winning pictures will be featured and credited on our site, and if your photo is chosen you get to pick a free MyChoice can of food storage! Click here for the contest details.)

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: party, recipes, Urban Girl, food storage

  • Why Won't my Garden Grow? 5 Mistakes you May be Making

    |7 COMMENT(S)

    5 common gardening mistakes

    As blossoms poked their heads through the soil last spring, this new growth prompted my husband and me to do something we’d never done before: plant a garden. In our excitement, we went all out for our vegetable garden. We planted carrots, green onions, watermelon, two varieties of green peas, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet peppers, chili peppers, green beans, spaghetti squash, yellow squash, and zucchini. It didn’t take us long to figure out we were a little in over our heads as first time gardeners.

    As spring grew into summer, I watched parts of my very first vegetable garden grow and thrive, as the rest of it sprouted weak, miniature crops that curled in on themselves and died. What did I do wrong? Apparently the mistakes I made are common among many (if not most) first-time gardeners. Here are five mistakes every gardener should know to avoid:

    Mistake 1: Planting your Garden in the Wrong Spot

    In our excitement to grow a vegetable garden, my husband and I bought every type of vegetable we thought we’d like to have. The problem was we didn’t have enough space to give each plant the right amount of room, water, or sunlight they needed.

    When shopping for plants, make sure you understand what your plant is going to need to grow.

    • Does your plant need sunlight or shade?
    • Does it prefer dry or moist soil?
    • How much space does it need between it and other plants?

    You know what your yard is like—how much space there is, the type of soil, etc.—so make sure you buy plants that will work in those conditions. When you understand and provide the conditions your plants need, you’ll have better luck growing a full and plentiful crop.

    You can find information for specific plant conditions on plant tags at nurseries, or in seed descriptions in catalogs.

    Mistake 2: Overwatering

    Why Won't my Garden Grow? 5 Mistakes you May be Making

    We all know that if a plant doesn’t get enough water, it will die, and so as novices we can fall prey to overwatering. Well, overwatering is just as dangerous as under-watering. While under-watering can lead to dehydration, overwatering can lead to rot, which inhibits the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients.

    All plants need water to metabolize nutrients and to help them grow, but every plant is unique in how much water it needs. It’s important to know what your plant’s moisture requirements are. Some plants (like tomatoes) are heavy drinkers and need more water, while others, like beans, require less.

    Real Simple shares an approach from Rebecca Sweet, a garden designer in the California Bay area and writer of the Gossip in the Garden blog. Sweet suggests that in order to stop guessing how much water your plants need, “invest in an irrigation system with a ‘smart’ controller…[that can] automatically adjust watering levels based on historical data and moisture sensors.”

    If an irrigation system is a little too expensive, just give a little extra attention to the soil in your garden. Check it regularly and if it’s dry and crumbly (or especially rock hard!), it needs watering. If you can form it into a loose ball, then it has enough moisture.

    Check out this chart from The Old Farmer’s Almanac to see how much water to give your plants and when.

    Mistake 3: Not Giving Plants Enough Sun

    Why Won't my Garden Grow? 5 Mistakes you May be Making

    When I plotted out my garden last spring, I knew certain plants (like my squashes) needed direct sunlight to grow. We didn’t have enough space in the sunlight for all the vegetables we wanted to plant and I thought, “No problem. A half day of sun will be just enough for the squash. These squash will be strong” and I planted them. Unfortunately, they weren’t strong enough and my spaghetti squash only grew to the size of a grapefruit before it died.

    Certain plants, like my squash, are sun worshippers and absolutely need full sunlight to thrive. Other plants, like green peas, can thrive and grow in shady areas. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because one plant can grow in partial sunlight, so can another. Most vegetables need at least six hours of direct sunlight. recommends that you plan your garden before you plant. Make sure you have enough space available in your garden to give enough sunlight to each plant. You can check the planting recommendations on seed packets to know which plants will need more sunlight. Give the sunniest spot in your yard to plants that require the greatest amount of sun.

    Mistake 4: Planting too Close Together

    Although your plants may start out small in your beginner garden, perennials take up more space with each additional season. However, there’s more than one reason to avoid planting your vegetables (or other plants) too close together.

    When too close together, plants will compete for the nutrients found in soil, water, and sunlight. If you follow the spatial recommendations found on seed packets, however, your plants will be able to thrive.

    Some plants, like carrots and green onions, are okay planted close together when initially buried. The reason they can be close is because not all of them will sprout. After the viable seeds have sprouted, it’s important to thin them out and give them more room as they grow.

    Don’t worry about wasting vegetables. Most the small vegetables you pull out to thin your row of carrots, green onions, or other veggies are edible, so you can start using them right away while the rest continue to grow.

    Mistake 5: Letting weeds grow too large

    Why Won't my Garden Grow? 5 Mistakes you May be Making

    During my first year of gardening, I didn’t realize how quickly weeds (aka my arch nemeses) would grow and take over my garden. By the time I realized weeds were actually a virus-like problem, my husband and I only had one option: we had to completely dig out our plants that were riddled with weeds.

    If not contained, weeds will choke out all the plants you love, leaving nothing behind but ugly grass and crunchy leaves. The best time to go out and weed your garden is when the first tiny weed pokes out of the soil. Catch them early in order to avoid more work later on. When weeds grow, their roots spread, making it more difficult for you to pull them out without damaging the roots of your plant. Also, the larger a weed gets, the more nutrients it will steal from your plants.

    Unfortunately there is no cure-all for making weeds disappear for good. All you can do is tend to your garden and pull the weeds out (or even move the top layer of soil around with a hoe to upset the weeds) when you see them growing.


    What mistakes did you make on your first garden? What’s your best tip for a beginning gardener?

    Check out some of our gardening Insight articles to help you grow a better garden:




    Posted In: Gardening, Insight Tagged With: gardening

  • How to Make Compound Butter using Food Storage

    |3 COMMENT(S)

    Often times, after you’ve devoured the contents of your favorite food storage cans, all that’s left in the bottom are small pieces and powder that comes from jostling the can over time. Compound butters are an easy way to add extra flavor to your favorite dishes and use up the little bit of extra powder you have left in your mostly-eaten food storage supply. Typically, compound butter is made from a mixture of butter with additional ingredients such as oils and herbs to give it a unique, tasty flavor.

    Check out these delicious, tried-and-tested, compound butters using your extra food storage (or come up with your own combinations):

    Blackberry Butter

    Food Storage Blackberry Butter Recipe

    Using Red Feather Butter, this sweet spread combines raspberries, blackberries, and honey into a delicious blend you’ll love. This butter is great on toast, cornbread, pancakes, waffles, or other dishes that need a hint of sweetness.

    Honey Cinnamon Butter

    Food Storage Honey Cinnamon Butter

    Honey and cinnamon come together to give you a sweet, mouthwatering flavor. Honey Cinnamon Butter is delicious on muffins, toast, bagels, cornbread, French toast, and more.


    Strawberry Honey Butter

    Food Storage Strawberry Honey Butter

    Using Provident Pantry Butter Powder, the flavors in this strawberry and honey butter will give you a sweet, refreshing taste of summertime and will add flair to your breakfasts, brunches, and desserts. It’s great to use on cornbread, toast, scones, biscuits, popovers, pancakes, and French toast.


    Basil Garlic Butter

    Food Storage Basil Garlic Butter

    Unlike the sweet butters above, this savory Basil Garlic Butter is perfect to eat for lunch or dinner. This appetizing blend of herbs and green onions helps you create a variety of unforgettable sides to go with any meal. Use it on French bread or homemade bread using Provident Pantry White Bread Roll and Scone Mix and serve with a salad or pasta.


    Do you use flavored butters? What other ways do you use the little bit of powder from the bottom of your food storage cans?

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: food storage recipes, recipes, food storage

  • 10 Ways Camping Helps You Prepare for Emergencies

    |15 COMMENT(S)

    Camping. You may have a love/hate relationship with it. Or you may have a hate/hate or love/love relationship with it. Regardless of your feelings, here’s the reality: camping is good for preparedness.

    Camping is a great way to prep yourself for an emergency

    Here are 10 ways camping can help you prepare for emergencies:

    1. You’ll get used to sleeping in less-than-ideal circumstances.

    Growing up, my family would camp pretty frequently, and someone (who shall remain nameless) always snored like a bear. It would keep me (and others) awake at night, leading to crankiness and fatigue the next day.

    So, camping with the sound of your neighbor snoring his brains out or—even more distracting for some people—the sound of animals and the wind working their way through the trees can build up your “immunity” to those sounds. After a while, you may find that you actually enjoy the rustling of the trees and the sound of birds and other animals.

    You may not develop immunity to the sound of snoring, though. So consider packing a pair or two of ear plugs in your camping gear and your bug-out bag.

    Even if you end up at a shelter in an emergency, rather than roughing it, earplugs could help drown out sleep-talkers, kids screaming, or other noises. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of not being able to hear, though. If sounds are muffled, you might not hear someone trying to wake you up (or someone who is rifling through your stuff).

    2. You’ll learn to eat meals that are easy to cook—or don’t require cooking at all.

    Camping is great for practicing emergency cooking. Try out your canister stove, Kelly Kettle, or Volcano stove on a campout to get used to different cooking methods. You’ll find that the easier the meal, the better—in most cases, anyway.

    That simplicity translates well into emergency situations. When the stakes are high, complicated meals may not work out (wasting food), or take longer to prepare (leaving you and your group hangry [hungry + angry]).

    The best way to ensure simple, quick meals in an emergency is to add some MRE and just-add-water entrees, sides, and desserts into your supplies.

    For MREs, you’ll just need some MRE heaters, a car engine, a warm rock, or some other way to warm it up. You can even eat them cold, because they’re 100% pre-cooked and ready to eat.

    To cook just-add-water meals, you’ll want to have a way to quickly and efficiently boil water, like the Kelly Kettle or a canister stove. Then you just add the water to your food, wait about 10 minutes, and dig in.

    3. You’ll get used to using “the facilities” in less-than-ideal circumstances.

    I don’t know anyone who prefers using toilets that don’t flush (there could be someone out there, but I personally don’t know anyone). But in a large-scale emergency situation, disrupted utilities are highly likely. That means no flushing toilets, no running water, and finding a way to safely deal with human and pet waste.

    If you have to evacuate to a location without a permanent shelter or running water, experience “taking care of business” in the outdoors will come in handy.

    One of the easiest ways to deal with bathroom needs in an emergency is a Tote-able Toilet and enzyme packets. The toilet is a 5-gallon bucket with a specially-designed toilet seat that fits on it just like a lid. Each time you use the bathroom you can sprinkle some of the enzymes in, and they will help to fight odor. You can even grab one of our deluxe privacy pop-up tents

    Don’t forget the toilet paper!

    4. What you deem “necessities” will likely change.

    You may think you know what the necessities are—and maybe you’ve had to experience enough bare-bones living to know what you actually need and what is just nice to have.

    Camping regularly will give you an idea of the things you actually need to have to stay safe, healthy, and fed when you’re away from home.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t put “want-to-have” items in your bug-out bag. Some familiar items will bring comfort and can provide distraction during long wait times at shelters or in food or aid lines. But when it comes down to what is really necessary to survive, camping will give you a pretty clear idea.

    5. You’ll have a chance to practice important skills and become more resourceful.

    Knowing how to build a shelter from branches and other resources you find nearby, start a fire without matches, identify edible plants, fish, and many other skills can come in handy in a survival situation—and camping is the perfect time to learn and perfect those skills.

    Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Well, it’s just a fact of life that if you go camping, you’re bound to forget something—sometimes trivial, sometimes important. Forgetting some of the necessities doesn’t have to derail your whole adventure, though. Turn the irritation into an opportunity to find creative solutions—either drawing on the resources you’ve brought with you or those provided by nature.

    Forgot rope? Are there vines or crawling ground cover you can use to lash things together?

    Forgot matches? What about using a magnifying glass or a pair of reading glasses to start your fire?

    When the stakes are high and you have to make it on your own, you’ll feel better knowing you’ve had practice making things work during campouts when a trip to the store wasn’t actually out of the question.

    6. You’ll learn which kinds of clothing, shoes, and outerwear are the best fit for the outdoors and your needs.

    The best type of clothing for the outdoors changes depending on the area you live in and the weather you expect to face. But there are some pretty basic rules that work no matter what:

    1)      Dress in layers—that way you can add or subtract layers as conditions change.

    2)      Wear clothing that will dry quickly and wicks moisture away from your body.

    3)      Comfort and safety are the most important things to think about when it comes to outdoor clothing.

    4)      Cotton is the fabric of death. (Most of the time. In the hot summer sun, light cotton or linen clothes can be ideal.)

    7. You’ll be more at ease in nature.

    Spending time hiking, backpacking, and camping will help you get comfortable spending long periods of time with Mother Nature. You’ll start to understand things like: how easily you sunburn, what kinds of plants grow in your area, where to find water or shade when you need it, what kind of wildlife is common in your area (and how frequently they disrupt campsites), etc.

    Spending time outside is a novelty for some people—don’t let that be the case for you. Spend time outside, get to know your surroundings, and use them to your advantage if the time comes that you have to evacuate by foot or camp out after a disaster—even if it’s in a park right next to the Red Cross or other relief shelter. If your home isn’t safe and there aren’t enough shelters, you’ll have to find a way to stay safe, clean, warm/cool, and fed—which is a lot more likely if you’ve had some practice.

    8. Your kids (if you have any) won’t be quite as freaked out that they aren’t sleeping in their own beds.

    Spending time camping—whether it’s multi-day backpacking trips or car camping at a developed camp site—will help your kids feel more at ease if your family ever has to sleep in a tent, under the stars, or in the car. Camping for fun before camping out of necessity will help them feel at ease in nature, be less anxious away from home, and develop what I consider one of the most important things a person can have: a sense of adventure.

    9. You can get used to finding and treating water before you drink it.

    Safe drinking water is one of your first priorities in an emergency. Staying hydrated is crucial to keeping up your energy and well-being in any circumstance, and in an emergency it can become a serious challenge if you haven’t prepared.

    In an emergency where water isn’t readily available—maybe your supply has been ruined by a tornado or earthquake—you’ll have to search for it. Knowing in advance where to find it will give you a big advantage, so you don’t waste precious energy combing the area near your house for water sources.

    If you’ve got a water filter, water purification system, or a combination of both, then you’re well on your way. Using these tools on campouts will get you in the habit of treating found water before you use it. Although many filters are quick to use, water treatment tablets like MicroPur can take up to 4 hours to thoroughly treat water (if it’s dirty and cold)—so be aware of the time it may take for your water to be ready, and plan accordingly.

    Note: Don’t use a water filter on your campouts if you don’t need to—once the carbon in filters has been exposed to water, it’s only good for six months, so it doesn’t make sense to pull it out for a “practice run” unless you’re planning to use it regularly in the upcoming months.

    10. You’ll be really efficient getting your camp set up.

    The more you go camping, the better you’ll get at setting things up, packing things away, understanding what’s going to make life easier and what’s just going to get in the way, and a whole slew of other things. It might not seem like a big deal if you’ve always had good weather and plenty of time to get things set up, but if you’ve ever set up camp in a rainstorm or in the dark, you know that the more familiar you are with how your gear sets up, the sooner you’ll be warm and cozy in your tent. And in an emergency, that can be priceless as far as keeping your body temperature up, keeping sickness at bay, and keeping everyone calm and happy in a stressful situation.

    So… Go Camping!

    Like I said before: you may love camping, you may hate it. Either way, I’m here to tell you that you should go camping on a regular basis. It will not only help you enjoy the beauty of nature (hopefully… if not, you may be doing something wrong), it will also help you gain experience and skills that will come in handy during an evacuation or other emergency.


    --Urban Girl

    Editor's Note: Why is Cotton the Fabric of death? 100% cotton clothes are not good for survival situations because they absorb and retain moisture. Since it absorbs moisture, wearing that wet cotton shirt could lead to hypothermia because if you are cold and wet, that makes you more susceptible to hypothermia. Also, Items that are 100% cotton are heavier, making running or hiking through the woods hot and could lead to easier fatigue. In other words, make sure that you have clothes made of lighter or more breathable fabrics packed in your emergency kit for a survival situation. Cotton polyester blends are lighter than 100% cotton. In essence, look for cotton blends to help you in survival situations.

    Posted In: Insight, Skills Tagged With: emergency supplies, emergency preparedness, camping

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