Tag Archives: Passport to Preparedness

  • Pocketbook Preparedness

    By Angie Sullivan

    You might not think that personal finance has much to do with preparedness, but in these rough economic times, it’s even more important to make sure you are financially ready as well as physically ready for an emergency!

    If you are like many people in America, you may find yourself struggling to pay all the bills at the end of each month. You know -- too much month at the end of the money. Mounting debt can bring on your own personal emergency situation. Here are a few tips for staying afloat if you find yourself drowning in debt.

    First of all, make a list of everyone you owe, how much, the monthly payment required, and the date each bill is due. Contact these creditors if you are unable to make your payment on time. Sometimes you can negotiate lower payments, or even better interest rates. Many experts advise you to begin paying off the smallest debt amount with the highest interest rate first. This method will help you see results quickly, and take care of some of the highest interest rates first.

    Be aware of companies trying to consolidate your loans and in the process charge you for this service. There are many non-profit organizations available online to help you figure out your debt and pay it off as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, the very best way to keep yourself out of future debt, is to get rid of all your credit cards, except one, which you will only keep in an emergency, at home in a safe place.

    Now that you are tightening your financial belt, you might need some ideas for saving money and paying off those debts. First begin by shopping grocery sales and using coupons whenever possible. Prepare simple and basic foods, they are inexpensive and healthy. For example, one serving of Nine-Grain Cracked Cereal would cost approximately 20 cents. (This is where your already stored food might come in handy during your financial emergency!) You also might want to be aware of any wasteful habits. Are there times in which you prepare more food than you use? Do you pay for more cell phone minutes than needed? Do you run to the store three or four times a week when one well thought out trip would work? (This would help prevent impulse purchases).

    When you do need to make a purchase, don’t buy furniture or clothing on credit. Shop at second-hand stores, flea markets, or take advantage of local consignment shops or classified ads to find what you need at a fraction of the retail price.

    Eliminate any extra costs you have in your budget. Extra phone lines that are not absolutely necessary, cable television, eating out frequently and other superfluous monthly expenses can be eliminated to free up extra cash. Little changes like watching movies at home instead of the theatre, eating lunches from home instead of purchasing lunch can end up paying big dividends at the end of each month.

    Financial preparedness is essential part of your preparedness plan. Once your finances are in order, other areas of your preparedness plan will fall into place much more easily. By following these guidelines and keeping out of debt, you will find you have great pocket book preparedness!

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

  • Survival Swap Meet

    Find out what skills and supplies your neighbors have to offer in an emergency, and plan your own neighborhood Survival Swap Meet!

    During an emergency like a power outage, flood, earthquake, or even winter storm, you may find yourself working with and helping your neighbors. Planning ahead and knowing the supplies and skills of your neighborhood friends can be a huge blessing should you find yourselves relying upon each other in an emergency.

    How can you best assess what help you can give and get from your neighbors during an emergency situation? I suggest planning a neighborhood survival swap meet! What is a survival swap meet? Well, it’s the opportunity to meet with your neighbors and discuss the products and services you could swap with each other should disaster strike.

    For example, you might have a neighbor who works in the medical field. Knowing beforehand that they might have specialized supplies and first aid knowledge would be beneficial. Perhaps you have a neighbor that owns a chain saw that could help in the clean- up efforts after a disaster. You might even discover that your neighbor would be willing to swap some of her bottled fruit for your extra tent.

    In my neighborhood, I’m an at home mom, while my neighbor works during the day. It might be wise for me to know how to shut off the gas supply outside her house should an earthquake necessitate this while she may be stuck at work. I might also create a plan with her for helping get her children safely home from the nearby school and have a neighborhood meeting point should we be unable to contact each other. List this information, along with contact information and then copy for each neighbor.

    Meeting with your neighborhood friends to assess the skills and supplies each can provide will help you work together should you experience an emergency. You may be pleasantly surprised at the things you will learn and exchange at your Survival Swap Meet!

    -Angie Sullivan

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

  • Taking Care of Business

    Emergency Toilet and Sanitation Kit

    It’s a subject we don’t often discuss, but it is a basic need—and one that can get tricky in an emergency if you haven't planned ahead. Waste disposal and sanitation is essential because no matter what is happening, you’ve still got to take care of business!

    A while back, my husband planned a fun weekend camping trip with his father and my three daughters. When the men were discussing what hiking they would do, what sights they would see, I was concerned about something else: bathrooms. You see, these three little girls of mine are just like their mother, and I know they won’t be comfortable going to the bathroom just anywhere. I began voicing my concerns to my husband, but he had already taken care of the problem. He had a portable toilet and a privacy shelter packed in the back of his truck. Problem solved.

    This situation reminded me of how important it is to have these types of supplies on hand in an emergency. If I can barely use the restroom in an amusement park, how would I fair should the water be shut off and I’m forced from the comfort of my own home?

    With a few supplies, I found out that you can create a very comfortable restroom in an emergency:

    A portable toilet is simply a large bucket with a snap on toilet seat lid. You can line these toilets with special garbage bags
    Enzymes can be added to your portable toilet to help breakdown and deodorize waste.

    Disposable vinyl gloves can be priceless when you need to change bags, or clean your portable toilet.

    Portable privacy shelters can be assembled in a matter of moments and will quickly provide a space for your portable toilet, or even just a private place to change or wash.

    Having sanitizing wipes or gel on hand is also a good idea. Water will be a commodity, but cleanliness will still be a necessity, so make sure you have plenty of both.

    Take the time to put together these restroom basics and just like my daughters and their camping trip, you can be clean and comfortable “taking care of business” in an emergency!

    -Angie Sullivan

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

  • Back Up Plan

    Not only should you prepare your family for an emergency, you should also prepare your data for an emergency.

    I love taking pictures of my family. There’s rarely a get-together, performance, or other activity in our family where I’m not behind the lens of my camera. Most of the time, those precious pictures are stored on my computer and later turned into a video or added to a blog. These photos are some of my most prized possessions. Several years ago, my laptop crashed. For several days we were unsure if we would be able to retrieve the information stored on the hard drive. I was devastated. I had yearsof pictures stored on that computer. Luckily, with the help of a good friend in the computer business, we were able to retrieve my files, but I quickly went to work looking for ways to back up my data for the future.

    Securing your information digitally may not seem like emergency preparedness, but many of us put some of our most important information on our computers. In an emergency, this information can be lost. Imagine a house fire, hurricane, flood or other natural disaster. If you were to lose your computer completely, what would happen to everything stored in its files?

    With our current technology, many pieces of our lives are already digital, or can be easily converted to a digital format. This information should always be backed up and updated if the files change. There are four basic types of back up for your data: USB Flash Drive, CD/DVD, External Hard Drive, and online backup service.

    USB Flash Drives are small, quick, and convenient. They are easy to transport and have a data retention span of up to ten years (citation?). But, due to their small size, their storage space is often limited. If your home is like mine, flash drives are often misplaced. If you keep them in the same space as your computer, they may also be damaged in a disaster. In addition, flash drives need to be backed up manually.

    CD’s and DVD’s are small, stackable discs that allow you to store hard copies of your data. Depending on the manufacturer and where your discs are stored, your CD or DVD can have a shelf life of 20 to 100 years (citation?). Like flash drives, they require manual backup and can be damaged in a disaster. Still, I like to make copies of our family videos on DVD to give to other family members. This makes a great gift, and is a wonderful way to have extra copies should your information become damaged.

    An external hard drive is simply a hard drive  stored outside of your computer. They usually connect to your computer through a USB port and can have a large storage capacity. These too need to bebacked up manually to keep your information current. I use an external hard drive to hold my pictures and videos so they don’t slow down my computer. When I need to retrieve my pictures, I just connect my external drive and voila.

    The last form of data backup is Online Backup. This is relatively new and has grown in popularity over the last few years. Basically, you download and configure the provider’s backup software onto your computer  and the software takes care of everything else! Many of these services automatically backup the information on your computer and your data will be encrypted, so it cannot be seen by others. and the servers where your information is stored are typically kept in temperature regulated, tamper-free rooms where it is highly unlikely that your information can become corrupted or stolen. Should your computer go down, all your information would be available by simply recovering the information from the company. Typically, there is a monthly fee involved in this backup system, but in my opinion, it is well worth the cost to know that my information is constantly being saved and in a remote location. I often hook my external hard drive up to my computer so it can also be backed up online. This method will not work without an internet connection and will not be as effective if your connection is often compromised.

    Take the time this New Year to make sure you have a backup plan for your data. A combination of several of these backup methods will keep your information both close at hand, and safe from harm!

    -Angie Sullivan

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

  • Readiness Resolve

    By Angie Sullivan

    The New Year is right around the corner; discover a new type of resolution, a resolve to be ready!

    If you are like me, the New Year is bittersweet. There is something invigorating about starting off with a clean slate and creating a set of new ideas for running your life. Then there is the down side. Often, my New Year’s Resolutions tend to be overwhelming, self depreciating in nature, and I find myself two weeks into February and I can’t even remember what I decided to do.

    Several years ago I abandoned this theory of a “list” of resolutions and decided to choose one simple phrase to describe how I would try to use my year. I’ll give you a few examples. The first year my resolution was “Be Happy” and I spent that year learning how to find happiness in the most mundane of tasks. It was a success! I’ve since chosen to “Find Beauty”, and most recently “Be at Peace”. These small resolutions have been simple, yet profound in their effect. I enjoyed more sunsets, laughed more with my children, even learned to be still and ponder instead of rushing through my day.

    I would like to suggest a simple phrase for you this New Year. Though it will definitely help you remember to work on your food storage, it can help in many areas of your life. Here it is: Be Prepared. What should you be prepared for? For whatever you decide you need! For me, this resolution will mean that I will not procrastinate the things that are most important for me. For example, I’m going to make sure that the school projects for my older daughters are done early, so I can be free to rock my youngest at night.

    In regards to preparedness, your goal to be prepared can influence your decisions throughout the year. Maybe you’ll decide to forgo that new sweater and instead put together a more comprehensive first aid kit instead. Or, you’ll dedicate one family night a month to preparedness. Maybe you’ll decide that you need to try out that emergency kit while camping this summer to be sure that it is properly supplied. Perhaps you will be more prepared by adding just one extra can of food to your grocery list each time you run in to buy a gallon of milk. The possibilities for you on a personal level are virtually limitless!

    Take a few moments during this holiday time to find a resolution that will bless your life in many ways. Maybe you too can resolve to “be prepared” and make it a daily part of your life, whether it be physical preparedness, or just a pledge to be aware of what your family really needs from you and be ready to provide that. With your readiness resolution, you might find that 2011 is your year to be prepared!

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

  • Holiday Hazards

    By Angie Sullivan

    It’s the holiday season and you are at home cooking and celebrating, or out and about on fun adventures. Whatever you’re doing, don’t forget your first aid kit because sometimes there are hazards that come with the holidays!

    I don’t know what it is about having everyone over for the holidays, but it seems pretty inevitable in our family that someone is going to get hurt. It’s sounds terrible, but it’s true! Whether it’s a burn from baking cookies in the oven, a cut from a broken Christmas light bulb, or even just a bump or bruise from the kids wrestling together, you’re bound to need a good first aid kit around.

    What would be in good first aid kit? Well, you first need to decide what type of kit you are creating. I have several different kinds of kits in my home. I always carry a small pocket first aid kit in my purse for those little paper cuts or other “owies” my four year old is bound to get while we’re out and about during the day. I keep a first aid kit in our car, and one in our boat which are a little more comprehensive and have extra items specific to those circumstances. Finally, in my medicine closet I house our most extensive kit, one that I could take with me in an emergency. Speaking of emergencies, a small first aid kit in each emergency kit is essential too!

    Now that you know the type of kit you are making, start with the very basics and continue to add to the kit until you feel it is sufficient for what you are using it for. The first aid kit in my purse has not only bandages, antiseptic wipes, and antibacterial ointment, but I also include pain reliever, stomach pills, wet wipes, and even a set of tweezers (we’re always getting slivers at the park!).

    When I stock first aid for my transportation kits, I add a few additional items. I like putting in bug spray, sun block, burn gel, small scissors, and even a few ice and heat packs. I also think an ace bandage and an arm sling are a good idea.

    My comprehensive first aid kit houses a few specific items that I’ve found can be helpful. I’ve add vinyl gloves, splints, larger bandages and gauze pads. I also tuck in medical tape and additional specialized bandages like knuckle, spot, and fingertip bandages. You might want to consider what medications are essential for your family. My children have a tendency toward ear infections, so having extra children’s ibuprofen and Benadryl on hand is essential for us. I often experience stomach discomfort, so a sufficient supply of antacids in important too.

    Above all, one of the most important items you should put in your first aid kit is a good first aid booklet. Having the knowledge of how to provide proper treatment is the best preparedness you can have.

    Take some time out of your wrapping and baking to put together some good first aid kits for your family. You will be grateful to have it should your family experience any holiday hazards!

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

  • Come Clean

    [pic in doc] Cleanliness and sanitation is a topic that cannot be ignored, especially during an emergency. Have you taken the measures needed to really “come clean”?

    I’m not the outdoorsy type. It’s not that I don’t love the beautiful scenery or the opportunity for peace and quiet. Obviously, that is what I love about the great outdoors. When it comes down to it, the only thing I really don’t enjoy is the dirt. When our family goes camping, my husband knows that I will be content only if we take the necessary measures to keep all of us as clean and therefore as comfortable as possible.

    Preparedness requires the exact same type of planning. Here are several great ideas to add to your preparedness pantry:

    Body wipes are pre-moistened and do not require rinsing after use. They are a great alternative to a regular bath, especially when water is at a premium. Sanitizer gel is also a great alternative when running water is hard to find.

    Toothbrushes and toothpaste are absolutely essential in my opinion! Nothing would make me more uncomfortable than going too long without a good brush. Of course, you can certainly store toothbrushes and toothpaste, but you may want to consider a ready to use toothbrush. These brushes come with toothpaste in the handle that dispenses with a simple twist and a cover for the bristles. There is enough paste for several uses and is handy not just for emergencies, but a wonderful idea for travel. There are also single use toothbrushes that you can stash in the glove compartment, or in the gym bag. How convenient is that?

    Now that your body is clean and your teeth are taken care of, let’s think about your clothes. There are some wonderful and simple products that will help you wash your clothes with minimal water and detergent. One of those items is the Mobile Washer. This contraption looks more like a toilet plunger than a washing machine, but don’t be fooled! It uses the force of the plunge and the water’s movement to effectively clean clothes. Used with a simple 5 gallon bucket and a small amount of detergent and you’re on your way to cleaner clothes without electricity! Another option for cleaning clothes is the Wonder Washer. This small washer uses slight agitation to clean clothes. Isn’t it great to know that you aren’t stuck beating your clothes on a rock in an emergency?

    Now is the time to store those essential sanitation items. Keep your family comfortable in the worst circumstances by storing some specific items to help them “come clean".

    -Angie Sullivan

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

  • Cook With Confidence

    You’ve got your holiday meals planned, and your oven is ready for the turkey. But, have you considered how you’d cook all your preparedness food during an emergency? With these ideas, you’ll be able to cook with confidence!

    Many years ago, I decided I’d try cooking my very first turkey. It was just a week before Thanksgiving and some good friends of ours were moving and I wanted to give them a great memory and a home cooked Thanksgiving meal. I was mortified to cook my own turkey, I fretted over my mashed potatoes, and I can’t even begin to tell you how I worried over the gravy. Despite my distress, the meal turned out wonderful. I believe its success was because I had three important things. Good ingredients, and a little know how from my mom, and the right tools for the job.

    Preparedness cooking is no different. You must begin with the right foods. We’ve spent the last several months discussing the different types of foods to store and which ones are right for your family. We’ve also spent some time learning about recipes and discussing how best to prepare many of the foods available for your preparedness pantry. Now, I’d like to discuss a few of the cooking tools you should have to help you serve up a feast, no matter what conditions you encounter.

    Having a good emergency stove is essential to cooking with confidence. There are many different choices, and what you choose will depend upon your needs and your budget. For your emergency kit, or if you are on the go, you may wish to rely upon a simple flat fold stove. This stove stores flat, is lightweight, and each canister provides about 5 hours of cook time. The fuel is free from toxic fumes and biodegradable. It can also be used for warmth.

    If you are at home, don’t forget your patio BBQ! Yes, that wonderful backyard cookout can be an emergency cookout too. You might want to consider storing extra briquettes in buckets for just such an emergency.

    If you prefer using propane, you have more options available for your cooking needs. The Volcano stove is powered by propane and can even be used to bake. It folds flat and can be stored easily. It can be fueled by the same propane you use on a gas grill and is extremely versatile.

    These are just a few of the options available to you as you decide how to cook in an emergency. Study your options and make sure your choice accommodates your different cooking needs and your family’s situation. Don’t be afraid to take the time to try out your emergency cooking tools, you may be pleasantly surprised at how you will soon be cooking with confidence!

    -Angie Sullivan

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

  • Prepare for Presents!

    By Angie Sullivan

    Not sure what to give everyone on your gift list? Consider preparedness products! 

    Many years ago, when my husband and I had just started our little family, I yearned to become more prepared. With the cold weather and a new daughter to care for, I realized how much I might need a few items to keep my family comfortable should an emergency happen. I let my parents know that for the holidays that year, I would like food storage or preparedness gifts. I remember opening the cans of food and being so grateful that my little pantry would be better stocked in the coming year.

    Don’t hesitate to consider preparedness items for your gift list this year. Imagine giving those you love the gift of a better prepared home, some extra cans of food, or warmth should they need it. Here are some ideas to help you check off a few presents on that gift list!

    • Stocking stuffers are easy to find when it comes to preparedness! Emergency blankets, first aid kits, whistles, fire starters, and hand warmers. are just a few of the wonderful items available to stuff a stocking with.
    • If you need a gift for a dear friend, you might want consider an emergency kit. You can find kits as small or as big as you would like.
    • Would you like to celebrate a great teacher, hairdresser, or mail carrier? A basket containing an assortment of preparedness items really shows how much you care.
    • Know someone who spends a lot of time commuting? Give them an emergency car kit to help keep them safe on the road.
    • Many of us have avid hunters and sportsman in our families. Could they use a new tent, sleeping bag, or water filter?
    • Do you have a friend who loves to cook? There are food dehydrators, canners, mixers, mills, and many other items that can make kitchen work fun, easy, and help them should an emergency occur.
    • Who doesn’t enjoy a good meal? Consider putting together a collection of several dehydrated or freeze dried items to make an entire meal for a special family.
    • Neighborhood gifts can be simple when you consider preparedness items. One year, I supplied my neighborhood friends with a 5 in 1 Survival Whistle and a fun poem about preparedness.

    The possibilities are endless! This year, take a closer look at your holiday gift list and consider checking it off with emergency preparedness items. Not only will you be helping your loved ones prepare, you’ll be blessing them with the gift of love by letting them know you want them safe and comfortable no matter what the future holds. You might find that you’ve started a new tradition in your household, being prepared for presents!

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

  • Fired Up

    Want something that will give light, keep you warm, and help you cook? Get fired up about starting up a fire!

    The cold weather makes me yearn for the warmth of a crackling fire. Though most of us long for the fire simply for the ambiance, during an emergency situation having that fire could help you cook, give you light, and keep you warm. Thinking about building a fire takes me back to the days of my youth. I remember trying to hone my fire making skills at girl’s camp. At first the beautiful flames were illusive, but soon with some help and a few extra tools, I was roasting marshmallows and warming my hands by the crackling fire. Just like my girl’s camp days, the time to learn about and prepare for making a fire is before an emergency strikes.

    Technology has provided us many options besides a fire to keep us warm, give us light, and help us cook. Nevertheless, this most basic of skills is still one of the most important things for us to learn. Let’s begin with the basics of fire building:

    First, determine a safe place to build your fire. Build on dirt or rock, as far from dry grasses and other vegetation as possible. Be sure you have water nearby to extinguish your fire should it get out of hand. You will need three sizes of material to make a great fire. These are calling tinder, kindling, and fire fuel.

    Tinder is material smaller in width than a match. Shredded bark and pine needles are examples of tinder. Many fire starters are simply a flint and tinder. You can even find fire starter pellets that you can use as the tinder. They are incredibly handy and can help you get your fire up and crackling! Next you need to gather kindling. Kindling is the small sticks up to the size of your wrist. After the tinder and kindling, you need to gather your wood for the fuel. I prefer to arrange my wood into a tee pee configuration, with the tinder and kindling beneath.

    You have a couple of choices when it comes to lighting your kindling. Waterproof matches are especially smart in an emergency along with lighters and flint and steel. I like the idea of having a few options on hand just in case.

    To extinguish your fire, simply sprinkle with water and stir the ashes in with dirt. Continue to sprinkle the water until there is no longer steam or hot embers. Be certain it is completely cool before leaving your fire unattended.

    Take advantage of the cold winter weather and teach your family how to build a fire. Because with a little know how and a few helpful tools, you can get all fired up!

    -Angie Sullivan

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

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