Search results for: 'winter'

  • Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to Know This Week (Dec 14-19, 2014)

    Justin Sullivan_Getty Images_Almond Farmer_CA Drought

    A tractor plows a field in Firebaugh, California, on February 25. Almond farmer Barry Baker had 1,000 acres — 20% — of his almond trees removed because he didn't have access to enough water to keep them alive. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


    Here are five need-to-know news stories in the world of emergency preparedness for the week of December 14–19.


    1. 11 trillion gallons of rain still needed to end California drought

    Recent rainstorms have brought hope to Californians, but the state still needs 11 trillion gallons of rain, or about 17 million Olympic-size swimming pools full of water, to end its extreme drought, according to NASA. More rain is in the forecast this week, but from gentle storms, not the torrential storms needed to make headway towards filling California’s parched reservoirs. Get your fill of the story at

    2. Potential Christmas week storms may bring snow, travel headaches

    Preliminary forecast conditions for holiday weather show rain and snowstorms across the lower 48 states, indicating travel conditions could be hairy. A cold front is expected to drive into the East Coast and significant flight delays may impair the Chicago area. Many areas may experience a white Christmas, though with the holiday several days away, forecasted conditions could change. Chill out with the whole story at

    3. American Red Cross teaches children about emergency preparedness through game app

    Seven to eleven year-old children can learn emergency preparedness skills the fun way through a new app released by the American Red Cross. A game helps children learn to identify hazards and to use emergency supplies. The app works on both IOS and Android. Learn more at

    4. Survival kits being ordered for every major bank in the U.S.

    Every major bank across the United States will soon have emergency preparedness survival kits. The kits will include everything from water purification tablets to solar blankets in preparation for potential terrorist attacks, and may cost the government up to $200,000. Order up the full story at

    5. FEMA hosts third emergency-preparedness symposium

    The National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC) recently held its third training symposium to train state and local agencies in hazard response, including counterterrorism; explosives; and chemical, biological, and radiological attacks. Learn more at

    More Headlines From Around the Globe:

    The debilitating outbreak sweeping the Americas
    Japan Snowstorm Dumps Feet of Snow, Kills 11; Hundreds of Flights Canceled
    California Storms Bring More Flooding; Mudslide Closes Portion of Interstate 91 in Orange County
    China approves experimental Ebola vaccine for clinical trials
    Concerns Over Flu Outbreak and Vaccine

    -- Caroline

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events

  • Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to Know this Week (12/12/14)

    Los Angeles Retrofit for Earthquakes - Monica Almeida - NYT

    If approved, the required safety measures in Los Angeles would cost billions in the

    private and public sectors,the mayor said. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

    Here are five need-to-know news stories in the world of emergency preparedness for the week of December 7 to December 12.

    1. Earthquake Plan Would Require Retrofitting Thousands of Los Angeles Buildings

    If approved by the Los Angeles City Council, an earthquake plan will require thousands of apartment buildings and offices to be retrofitted for earthquakes. They are the most sweeping earthquake safety changes ever seen by the state and, if passed, they will come with a hefty price tag: $5,000 per apartment unit and $15 per square foot of office space. Read more at

    Learn how to prepare your home for an earthquake here.


    2. Study: Offshore Fault Where The 'Big One' Originates Eerily Quiet

    The Pacific Northwest Coastline is eerily quiet, according to earthquake scientists. They attribute the silence to a probable locking of the tectonic plates. Unfortunately, this likely means, they conclude, that the plates are increasingly storing energy, which will eventually need to be released. Read the latest at


    3. 'San Andreas' Movie Trailer: Could The Earthquake In Dwayne Johnson's Latest Film Actually Happen?

    An earthquake disaster movie staring “The Rock” will be released in theaters May 29, 2015. Trailers are already out, with depictions of buildings crumbling and people panicking. The movie is called “San Andreas” and likely refers to the famous fault line running through California. The question is, how “Hollywoodized” is the movie or could similar take place when the “Big One” strikes? Read more at


    4. Virginia Scores High on Health Emergency Preparedness

    Virginia recently received a top score among states on a national emergency preparedness competition. The state scored 8.2 out of 10, with the national average being 7.4. The readiness index gauges public readiness to respond to a variety of emergencies, such as hurricanes, terrorism, food-borne disease outbreaks, radiological events and earthquakes. Read more at


    5. Centre for Buildings Under Govt Schemes to be Earthquake-Resistant

    The Indian Home Ministry wants all new national and state buildings to be earthquake resistant and to set up 78 digital seismograph stations by 2016. They currently maintain a network of 42 digital seismograph stations. Read more at


    More Headlines From Around the Globe:

    The Path to Zero Ebola Cases
    Emergency preparedness is ongoing for local group
    How to Effectively Layer Up and Stay Warm This Winter
    10 Tips for Safe Driving in Winter Weather
    Destructive Winter Moth Has Maine Bug Experts Asking For Help
    -- Caroline

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events

  • Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to Know this Week (12-6-14)

    Super Typhoon Hagupit_6Dec2014 Super Typhoon Hagupit made landfall in the Phillippines. 650,000 evacuated.


    Here are five need-to-know news stories in the world of emergency preparedness for the week of November 30-December 5.

    1. Super Typhoon Hagupit makes landfall in the Philippines

    Super Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) is considered a "very strong" typhoon, equivalent to a category 2 hurricane. Over 650,000 have been evacuated. Read the latest at

    For information on Hurricane (Typhoon) Preparedness, check out our 5-part mini series on the subject:


    2. American possibly exposed to Ebola being transferred to Atlanta hospital

    A U.S. healthcare worker working in West Africa who was possibly exposed to the Ebola virus is being transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which treated the first two Americans who contracted Ebola while working in West Africa. Read the latest at

    Learn more about protecting yourself and your family from Ebola from the CDC.


    3. Winter crisis in Far East Russia causes state of emergency

    Russia’s Far East has received the heaviest snowfall in decades, causing a state of emergency and the need for military aid to dig its citizens out of trouble, which includes heavy traffic, slide-offs, power outages and food shortages. On the bright side, the storms cleared pollution in Moscow. Read more at

    Be ready for winter storms by brushing up on your winter driving skills, reviewing these winter survival tips, and snagging any gear you may need to stay warm.


    4. It finally rained in California – but not enough

    After months of drought conditions, Tuesday’s rainstorm brought hope to Californians. 24 hours brought 1.5 inches of rain to the Bay Area and Los Angeles, breaking rainfall records in Southern California. Unfortunately, the storm was not enough to end the 3-season deficit. Read more at

    Be as prepared for a drought as possible. Store water before the crisis hits, and practice conservation both before and during a drought to get the most out of the water that is available.


    5. Michigan provides emergency preparedness app

    The Michigan Department of Community Health has developed a smart phone app to help residents to plan for emergencies. The app provides emergency contact and health information, and gives users the ability to create, manage and export emergency plans right from their mobile devices. Read more at


    More Headlines From Around the Globe:

    One critically injured in West Jordan car fire
    Chile: Mega volcano field 'could trigger eruption 100 times larger than Mt St Helens'
    Evacuations in Cape Verde after volcano erupts
    'Emergency repair' reported at Ukraine nuclear power plant
    Plane makes emergency landing on I-575 in Canton


    Some of these stories are scary realities, and some of them are hypotheticals (like the Chile mega volcano). We share them to help you think of possible scenarios that you may need to prepare for based on your location and your family's needs. We hope they help in your efforts to prepare.

    Any additional stories from this week you think others should know about?

    -- Caroline

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events

  • Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to Know this Week (11-22-14)

    Southern California Gas Company officials enter an apartment that caught fire killing two children ages 2 and 6 in San Bernardino, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. The children were killed early Thursday in the California apartment fire that broke out hours after their mother went to a hospital to give birth, authorities said. The children's father was critically injured in the blaze at the two-story duplex, fire Battalion Chief Michael Bilheimer said. (AP Photo/The Sun, John Valenzuela Southern California Gas Company officials enter an apartment that caught fire killing two children ages 2 and 6 in San Bernardino, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. The children were killed early Thursday in the California apartment fire that broke out hours after their mother went to a hospital to give birth, authorities said. The children's father was critically injured in the blaze at the two-story duplex, fire Battalion Chief Michael Bilheimer said. (AP Photo/The Sun, John Valenzuela


    Here are five need-to-know news stories in the world of emergency preparedness for the week of November 17-21st.

    1. Two young children killed in California house fire

    A six-year old girl and two-year old boy were killed in a San Bernadino, California apartment fire on November 20. Their father was also critically injured with severe smoke inhalation and burns covering most of his body. The house had no smoke detector and had blocked exits. The family was living illegally on a 500 square-foot unit on the property. Fire up more of this story at ABC News.

    From the EE blog: Learn, Don’t Burn: Fire Safety Tips for the Home


    2. Record-breaking arctic cold sweeps through U.S.

    More than 400 record low and record cool high temperatures were set among 43 states since Sunday, leaving only five contiguous states, all in New England, without record cold temperatures. Redmond, Oregon dropped to 19 degrees below zero early Sunday. Chicago had seven-day stretch of subfreezing daily high temperatures and set a record for consecutive hours below freezing for November with 180 hours. Chill out at for more information.

    From the EE blog: 7 Tips for Surviving Winter and Winter Driving Tips That May Save Your Life


    3. Mali Ebola crisis deepens with doctor’s death

    The Mali Ebola crisis has deepened after an announcement from the Mali government that a second healthcare worker linked to a single patient has contracted the Ebola virus and died. The patient was initially thought to have kidney disease. According to ABC News, healthcare workers are particularly vulnerable to contracting Ebola because of their close contact with the sick. Catch more information at ABC News.

    From the EE blog: Sanitation and Hygiene During an Emergency


    4. 4.2-magnitude earthquake rattles Central California

    A 3.6 earthquake followed by a 4.2 earthquake five minutes later struck Hollister, California Wednesday at 10:21 p.m. On the U.S. Geological Survey Website, nearly 1,000 residents reported feeling shaking in the first earthquake, and more than 60 residents reported the second. There were no reports of damages or injuries. Shake down more news at KSWB.

    From the EE blog: Preparing for Earthquakes


    Don’t be caught unprepared; emergencies happen unexpectedly and suddenly. Prepare now, and you'll be ready if and whenever disaster strikes.

    -- Caroline

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events

  • 8 Ways Duct Tape Could Save You in a Bind

    People always joke that duct tape fixes everything, but did you know that it could potentially save your life? In a survival situation, duct tape can have many uses, and here are just twelve ways to use this adhesive wonder in a number of emergency situations you may encounter.

    8 Ways Duct Tape Could Save You in a Bind

    1. Patching holes/Sealing – Rip your tent while assembling? Hole in your siding? Missing a shingle? Duct tape is the perfect way to patch holes, seal items, or make emergency repairs on just about anything (like, for example, a tent whose zipper breaks in the middle of a rainstorm… not that I’ve ever had that happen to me).

    2. Medical Uses – Duct tape is a great resource for first aid. You can use it to make bandages (it might hurt a little pulling hairs, but that beats bleeding to death), provide padding on a blister, or even splint an ankle in an emergency. You can also make an emergency duct tape field stretcher!

    3. Make Cord/Rope – You can easily twist long pieces of duct tape together to form a rope or cord. This can be used to hang clothes to dry, hang up a bag out of reach of pests, or any other number of uses (including a belt, if you’re desperate).

    4. Waterproof/Insulate – While this could apply to just about anything, it’s specifically helpful with shoes, especially in the winter. Just wrap duct tape around the shoe to form a barrier from water and provide extra insulation.

    5. Cup/Bucket – Duct tape can be used to fashion a watertight cup, bucket, or even a bowl/plate if you need one. Check out the Norwegian Bushcraft video below to learn how to make a small bucket from duct tape that can hold water, but can also be used to gather food or other necessary items. (The tutorial begins about 27 seconds in to the video).

    6. Weapons and Hunting – Even if you have more ammo than you think you’ll ever need, eventually it’ll run out and you’ll have to resort to something besides a firearm. You can easily create a spear by using duct tape to fasten your knife or broken piece of glass to a piece of wood. You can also improvise an arrow as shown in the video below.

    7. Transportation – Duct tape can be used to repair the exterior and interior furnishings of vehicles, but you could also create a kayak out of PVC pipe and duct tape (and a few other household items)! Duct tape can even help repair leaks in a regular kayak or canoe.

    8. A Place to Sleep – Here’s an example of a hammock made out of duct tape (although I would suggest using something stronger to support if you plan on using it long-term or for more than 120-150 lbs.). Or fashion yourself a tent if you’re desperate!


    There are a lot of other uses for duct tape; what are your favorites?




    Other Sources:





    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: duct tape, DIY, Survival Tip, Survival, skills

  • Drought Update: Lake Powell's Bleakest Year Yet

    Drought Update: Lake Powell's Bleakest Year Yet

    We’ve talked a lot this year about the destructive drought choking the western US. And while California gets most of the attention (check out UNL’s drought monitor and their frighteningly visual perspective on California’s situation), other states are suffering, as well. In fact, the drop in a single reservoir is affecting residents of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah—and California! This headline from the Daily Mail sums up the dangerous situation:

    “Satellite images reveal mud-choked Lake Powell is LESS than half full and has hit a record low as the Western drought continues to strain major reservoirs”

    The article, which features a chilling image gallery of the barely recognizable vacation spot, reports that Lake Powell currently sits at 42% of its capacity, with experts estimating that this year’s snowmelt will only bring it up to about 51%. And it’s not just bad news for boaters. The man-made reservoir serves as a source of drinking water for 20 million people living across the west, and the Glen Canyon dam that regulates the reservoir provides hydroelectric power to the area.

    While forecasters predict a cool, wet “El Niño” year for 2014, Eric Holthaus over at explains why that won’t be enough to recover from this decade-plus long dry spell in his article, “What Does El Niño Mean For Me?”. With no end in sight, then, how can we…er…weather this storm?

    For ideas on ways to prepare against the effects of severe drought, check out these helpful posts:

    And for a recap of this year’s drought and its unexpected effects, read here:


    What are you doing differently this year because of the drought?



    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, drought, Current Events

  • 7 Signs You're Going to be Attacked by a Moose

    |6 COMMENT(S)

    While it’s true that moose typically aren’t aggressive towards people, if provoked, they can be deadly. Unlike deer (the moose’s close cousin), moose aren’t usually afraid of humans, so they won’t run away just because you’re there. Their lack of fear makes it more tempting to approach them—to pet them, feed them, play with them, etc.

    But like most other animals, moose will defend their young and their territory if they feel threatened. And even though they look slow and bored, they can run up to 30 mph, so you’re not likely to outrun a moose. If a moose attacks, they can use their hoofs and full body weight (they weigh up to 1200 pounds!) to knock you to the ground and trample you.

    Here are our tips for avoiding a moose attack while you enjoy the great outdoors.

    Signs of an Attack 

    How do you know when it’s time to back off from a moose?

    It’s important to understand that moose can get aggressive at any time of year, but there are certain seasons when they’re more likely to be aggressive. For instance, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife suggests that moose typically become aggressive during the following seasons:

    • In late spring, early summer when a cow (a mother) feels her very young calf is in danger
    • In the fall when a breeding bull (a male) is competitive and agitated
    • In the winter when they are hungry and tired from walking in deep snow

    You can also tell if a moose will become aggressive by its body language. Here are 7 signs to look for:

    1. The moose stops eating and stares at you.

    2. Lays back its ears and raises the hair on its hump, neck, or hips.

    3. Smacks or licks its lips, and clicks its teeth.

    4. Lowers its head and walks toward you.

    5. Urinates.

    6. Shows the whites of its eyes.

    7. Whips its head back like a horse.

    These are all signs that a moose may attack. But sometimes it may not even show these signs at all—they may just charge without warning!

    Practice Moose Safety

    Moose live in forested areas and around lakes, ponds, or streams in the Northern Hemisphere of the US. Their habitats are essentially ideal vacation spots for those who love the outdoors. So if you’re out on the trail in this area of the country, you’ll need to practice your “moose safety.”

    The best way to avoid a moose attack is not to put yourself in a situation where a moose may become aggressive. In order to avoid such situations, check out these tips:

    • Watch moose from a safe distance—give them their space. If you come across one on a trail, consider changing directions or backing off. Moose are somewhat nervous creatures. If they’re approached too much or too closely by people, they can become stressed and may become aggressive.
    • According to Kristine Rines, wildlife biologist with New Hampshire Fish and Game and New Hampshire’s state Moose Program Director, warns that if you’re causing the moose to change its behavior, you’re too close. She says "You should be far enough away to get behind the nearest tree before a galloping horse could get there.”
    • Don’t feed a moose. When fed, moose can get aggressive if they don’t get as much food as they expect. They may even attack those who aren’t feeding it. In some states, like Alaska, it’s a crime to feed wild animals because when their aggression becomes unsafe to the public, the animal is put down (and we don’t want that).
    • Don’t walk between a cow moose (mother) and her calf. If you do happen to walk between them, back away immediately.
    • More people die from moose vehicle collisions than from actual attacks. If a moose crosses your path while you’re driving, let it cross. If you try to move the moose, it may attack your car. Drive slower at night in moose inhabited areas so you don’t hit one (a crash could be fatal to you both).
    • Keep your dog close or on a leash. Moose often confuse dogs for wolves, a natural predator.
    • If you come across a moose, show respect. Don’t make loud noises, chase, or harass the moose.

    What to do if you’re attacked

    If you recognize the signs of "moose aggression" (or it just starts charging at you), there are some things you can do to keep yourself safe.

    • Back off and run. Make sure you get behind the nearest tree, fence, or building that acts as a strong barrier between you and the moose.
    • Curl up in a ball. If a moose knocks you to the ground, curl up into a ball. It may continue running, start stomping, or kicking you. Curling up will protect your head and vital organs.
    • Don’t get up until the moose moves a good distance away. If you try to get up while it’s close, it could attack again.

    The best way to avoid a moose attack is by learning and taking preventative measures before you go into the outdoors. Add this to your survival tool belt. And while you’re at it, learn about how to survive these animal attacks as well:



    Alaska Department of Fish and Game

    Glacier National Park Travel Guide

    Appalachian Mountain Club

    Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

    Moose Safety University of Alaska at Anchorage

    Posted In: Insight, Skills

  • The Effects of California's Driest Year

    |7 COMMENT(S)

    The Effects of California's Driest Year

    This post is the second installment of a three-part series highlighting the 2014 California Drought. Check out Part One of the series: "California Drought: Four Months in Review

    For the last three to four years, drought conditions have spread all across the western US, but recently, California has been hit the hardest, facing dry temperatures and withered land. The following infographic from Drought Monitor shows you just how dry (and as a result, at risk for fires) certain areas of California are. 100% of the state of California is now in “severe” to exceptional drought.

    California Drought Monitor

    Conservation Mode

    The state is in emergency water conservation mode until further notice. According to Kathleen Miles from the Huffington Post, Governor Brown has advised residents to cut their water use by 20%. Homeowners who don’t promptly fix leaks have been fined by city governments.

    Coin-operated car washes must only use recycled water. Restaurants and private citizens are encouraged to use paper plates and cups, and water is served in restaurants only upon customer request. Newly-constructed swimming pools may not be filled. Earlier in the year, cities were squabbling over who gets how much water; and in Mendocino County, the sheriff’s office is keeping a close eye out for water thieves who try to pump water from Lake Mendocino into trucks and haul it away to sell or use.

    According to a Huffington Post article from May 16th, 40 city employees in Sacramento have even been “re-designated as ‘water cops’ tasked with reporting and responding to wasteful maintenance.”

    Industry Affected

    Tourism is also adversely affected. California’s ski industry struggled all winter for the lack of snow. Fishing has been banned in several rivers to protect drought-stricken salmon and steelhead trout that may be in danger of extinction if the drought continues. The wine industry is also suffering, with grapes growing slowly and ripening before they’ve reached mature size.

    Wildfires Increase

    California is especially vulnerable to wildfires during times of drought. On average, 69 fires are reported monthly during normal conditions; however, just from January 1 to January 25 of this year, 406 wildfires were reported. The California wildfire season typically occurs during the summer and fall, but the drought has caused wildfires to become an all-year-round occurrence.

    According to the National Journal, as of May 15th “brush fires in California had burned nearly 10,000 acres, destroyed 30 homes, threatened multiple military facilities, and forced thousands to evacuate.” The state has also faced a series of heat waves, with highs between 98 and 106 degrees F that are not helping the situation.


    These drought conditions are severely taking a toll on daily life in California and other areas in the west. Check out our Insight Articles to help you conserve water in the future by building up your own water storage supply today:

    Tomorrow, check out Part III of our California Drought Series  "California Drought: the Impact on Farming and Produce"

    -Sharon, Kim, and Angela

    Photo Courtesy of the United States Drought Monitor

    Editor's Note:  Correction to a statement made in an earlier version of this article. Lawn watering and car washing has not yet been banned in California. Watering has been reduced to two days a week and car washing has not been reduced yet. Residents are asked not to water sidewalks in an effort to conserve water.



    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: California Drought, drought, natural disaster

  • Getting your Ham Radio License

    |16 COMMENT(S)

    Getting your Ham Radio License

    Since communication is vital in an emergency, getting your Ham Radio license could go a long way in giving you up-to-date information during a crisis. Ham Radios, also known as amateur radios, give you access to hundreds of different frequencies and the opportunity to communicate in a number of different modes (voice, Morse code, or in digital/video).

    But before you can get on the air, you’ll need to pass a written test and know the rules to legally operate a Ham Radio. But don’t worry—getting a Ham Radio license is easier than you may think. Check out these six steps for getting your license and learning how to use your radio.

    1. Decide what type of Ham license you want. The Ham Radio network is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and they have created the operator test. There are three types of Ham licenses you can get—Technician, General, or Extra. Each license gives you different privileges on the waves. You have to get the Technician license first before you can get the General and Extra licenses.

    • Technician: The entry-level Ham Radio license. You must take a 35-question multiple choice exam, which is relatively simple. Each question comes from a pool of 400 questions. If you’re only interested in talking locally (city, town, community, etc.), you’ll only need a Technician’s license.
    • General: The secondary-level license. You must take a 35-question multiple choice exam, which is of moderate difficulty. Each question comes from a pool of 500 questions. This license is the one you’ll want for emergency communications. Having a General license will help you and emergency crews to communicate by using Ham frequencies when local lines are down.
    • Extra: This is the most advanced license and the most difficult to obtain. You must take a 50-question multiple choice exam. Each question comes from a pool of 700 questions. With this license, you’ll have all the privileges of the Ham Radio network. You can communicate locally, nationally, and internationally.

    2. Study for the test. We’ll focus on studying for the Technician license, because you’ll have to get that license first in order to obtain the other two. According to Steve Whitehead (NV7V), a volunteer examiner (VE) from Provo, UT, the Technician test requires you to know some frequencies, operating rules, knowledge of basic safety, electoral and electronic principles, along with some basic arithmetic.

    Once you pass the Technician test, you’ll be able to access frequencies above 30 megahertz, which allows you to communicate locally. This license also gives you limited privileges on shortwave bands. To learn more about the General and Extra licenses, check out this American Radio Relay League (ARRL) article

    All the questions and answers for each licensing exam are published online or in books, and many of these study materials are free. Here’s a list of some websites and resources that can help you study:

    • QRZ: Ham Radio News , look-up who is a Ham in your neighborhood, and a lot of other useful tools
    •  A complete and free video course is available online. The instructor uses the ARRL Technician study manual, but you don't need the manual if you use the free resources listed here.
    • Kb6nu Ham Radio Blog:"No Nonsense Study Guides”
    • A free site for studying made by Richard Bateman (call sign: KD7BBC): Ham keeps track of your studying, ensures that you see all 500 questions that may possibly come up on the 35-question exam.
    • Practical Amateur Radio Podcast:  Great for listening to the course while jogging, gardening, or doing other activities.
    • American Radio Relay League: At this site, you can purchase books to study for the test.
    • Join a Local Ham club. Local clubs offer classes to help you study for the test as well. Joining a club or talking to a local club member is helpful because they can help you find study resources, and they can teach you about radio lingo and equipment. Find your local club at the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) website ( And if you live in the Utah County area, Steve Whitehead teaches classes in the fall, winter, and spring in Provo. If you have questions, contact him at

    Remember: If you use online sources, keep in mind that the question pool for each of the three licensing exams changes *every two years. It can take websites a little while to update the question pool so make sure you’re studying the current one. The test questions for the Technician entry-level pool will change on July 1st, 2014.

    3. Take the test. In most states, the cost for taking the exam is $15 dollars, and exam sessions are available monthly in Utah and most other states. Again, you'll want to contact a local Ham Radio club to find out what the cost of the test is and when exam sessions are held in your state. Once you get your license, it is valid for 10 years. After passing the test, you’ll be assigned a “call sign” by the FCC (it’s like a code name or identifying marker that you use over the waves. For example, John Cunningham of call sign is W1AI).

    4. Get a radio. Taking the exam doesn’t cost much, but where you’ll really spend money is on the radio itself (as to be expected). Terry Buxton, an amateur radio operator from Virginia, said his first radio, which was a Handie Talkie (HT), cost $130.00. He also got an antenna for his car which was $40.00. He now uses a radio that cost $700.00. The price range changes depending on experience, what you plan to use the radio for, and where you plan to use it. If you plan to purchase a radio, but don’t know where to start, talk to club members. Club members can advise you on the type of radio to purchase and can also suggest places to buy them for a good price.

    5. Learn the rules of the waves. Steve Whitehead says that “just like any other community, there are established procedures and behavioral expectations using a Ham Radio. You need to fit in and know what others expect of you on the air. You gain this knowledge through using your radio and talking to other Hams. Swearing and CB “lingo” used on citizen band radios are not tolerated and are a violation of FCC rules. All communications must be “in the clear” and hiding the meaning of your communications is not permitted.”

    6. Practice, practice, practice. Like we always say, practice makes perfect when it comes to an emergency situation (if you have a plan and know what to do, you can make it through any emergency). The same applies to Ham Radios. If you want to become an operator, you can’t just use your radio once and expect to know how to use it in an emergency. Ham Radios can be difficult to use because you have to learn the various frequencies and how to connect with others, and for that you need to practice and know how to use your radio when it matters most.

    Learn more about the importance of emergency communications and the importance of radios by checking out article, “Communication During and After an Emergency.”


    *Editor's Note: According to the National Association of Amateur Radio, the test question pool is valid every four years, not every two years.


    The National Association of Amateur Radio,,

    FCC website

    Steve Whitehead, Volunteer Examiner (VE) in the Provo, Utah area

    Terry Buxton, amateur radio operator from Virginia

    Posted In: Equipment, Insight

  • Cooking with the Sunflair Collapsible Solar Oven

    |4 COMMENT(S)

    Learning to cook with a solar oven is a useful skill to develop as you prepare for emergencies. It helps to have a variety of ways to cook your food in an emergency so that you’ll always be prepared to feed you and your family. A solar oven is the most self-sufficient method of outdoor cooking because the only fuel you need is an energy source that will never run out and can be used anywhere there is sunlight.

    Cooking with a solar oven, such as the Sunflair Deluxe Solar Oven Combo, allows you to cook your food while you’re off having other outdoor adventures. Sit back, relax, and let the sun do its job with the confidence that your food will never burn, but will come out moist, warm, and delicious. The Sunflair Deluxe is convenient, easy to use, and portable.

    Basic How-To:

    Cooking with a solar oven is similar to cooking with a slow cooker, so make sure you give yourself 3-4 hours (high-moisture foods will take longer) to cook your food before you plan on eating. The length of time it takes to cook your food depends on the amount of available sunlight, the season, and the type of food you’re trying to cook. Midday in the summertime (when the sun is higher in the sky) will cook your food faster than early or late in the day during wintertime. Slow cooker recipes are great to use in solar ovens where conventional recipes should have their cooking times doubled or more.

    The following recipes were cooked at 150 to 200 degrees. If the temperature of your oven gets hotter than that, your food won’t need to spend as much time in the oven.

    So the sunnier the day the better, but even with partial cloud cover or wind, your food will still cook through. Because this is a lightweight, portable oven, make sure to stabilize it with rocks if you’re in a high wind area.

    Before you begin preparing your meals, set up the oven according to the package directions and place the oven in the sun to preheat. Make sure to put the oven on a level surface, directly facing the sun (the oven’s shadow should be straight behind it). Place the included thermometer inside the oven and zip closed the clear, plastic cover.

     How to set up the Sunflair Solar Oven

    While the oven preheats, prepare your food. Once you start cooking your food, check it every hour to hour and a half, and rotate the oven as needed so it constantly faces the sun with its shadow straight behind. If the oven ever reaches a temperature too high for your meal, open the zipper to release some of the heat.

    For Best Results:

    • Use Sunflair bakeware—thin, dark pots that absorb heat and cook food best
    • Cook your food in high sun for faster cooking
    • Slightly tilt your oven back when the sun is directly overhead to get the most amount of sunlight in the cooking chamber
    • Wipe steam off of the plastic cover and vent by partially unzipping the oven.
    • Leave the oven zipped closed as much as possible
    • Avoid shadows in the cooking chamber


    What We Made:

    Solar Pork Chops with Apple Pear Cabbage (Approx. 4-5 hours)

     Solar Oven Pork Chops with Apple Pear Cabbage

    This sweet entrée combines the flavors of apples and pears with delicious pork chops. It makes a great meal for camping or in an emergency. Cooking it in the solar oven can also be a fun way to cook your dinner at home tonight.

    Spicy Roasted Cauliflower (Approx. 5 hours)

     Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

    The spice of this healthy dish will set a slight fire to your mouth—and will leave you craving more. Try using this great recipe as a side for dinner or a snack during a movie. Or add your own oils and seasonings to create a unique blend of flavors your family will love.

    Want to learn more about solar ovens? Check out Emergency Essentials’ Solar Oven Cook-offs:

    Do you have any tips for cooking with a solar oven?


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