Tag Archives: preparedness

  • Preparing Dads for Disasters

    “Everyone had one thing in common… they all love their kids and were all equally concerned about being prepared for future disaster.”

    Preparing Dads - FishingThat was the scenario in Ohio at a disaster preparedness training for fathers as put on by the U.S. Office of the Administration for Children and Families. It was designed in preparing dads for the unexpected. As Father’s Day fast approaches, perhaps it’s time for fathers – and father figures – to sit down and think about what more we can do to help prepare our families for disaster.

    Now, I’m not a father just yet (although I will be by Father’s Day), but when I think about all I need to do to help my growing family be prepared, it can be a little bit daunting. I want to make sure they have food, water, and shelter if a disaster hits. In fact, there are 12 areas of preparedness that fathers can prepare their family with: water, food, shelter, heat, light, power, sanitation, first aid, communications, cooking, tools, and planning. This post will address each area briefly and what fathers can do to help their family prepare.

     

    Water

    First on the list is water. Without water, we can only survive for about three days. Kids and adults alike need 1 quart of water (about 0.25 gallons) for every 1,000 calories eaten. Storing water is pretty easy. You can start by filling pop bottles with tap water and storing in your basement or somewhere out of direct sunlight. You can also find water in cans and pouches, or use larger jugs, barrels, or large reserves. No matter what your living conditions are, there’s always room for at least some water storage.

     

    Food

    Preparing dads - FoodFood is next. We can last longer without food than we can with water, but again, without food, we’re still in a heap of trouble. I might be able to skimp on meals here and there, but kids are going to need to eat regularly – and in good amount – to stay healthy and growing. Food storage was once regarded as old, musty food stuffs like raw wheat, dehydrated milk and bags of sugar stacked in dark corners in big metal canisters. Well, today is nothing like your great Aunt Ruth’s cellar. Freeze dried fruits and vegetables are actually good enough to eat anytime, even right out of the can. Just-add-water meals include whole entrées like Fettuccine Alfredo and Beef Stroganoff. And even powdered milk is made with processes that perfectly preserve flavor. And, freeze-dried food is packaged to last up to 25 years, so it’s going to last until you need it (unless you get the munchies and pop open that can of freeze-dried strawberries). Today’s kids can be picky eaters. Fortunately, food storage isn’t what it used to be.

     

    Shelter

    Preparing dads - ShelterHaving a good shelter can really make post-disaster life so much more enjoyable. I’ve actually written some great articles about shelter (if I do say so myself), so I’ll just link you to those. The first one is called 4 Reasons Why You Need An Emergency Shelter, and provides information as to what shelters protect you from (hint: it’s more than just rain). This next one explains how tents became the go-to after the Nepal earthquake, and what that means for us. In a nutshell, shelters are right up there in importance with food and water. In short, shelter is not only a great way to keep yourself and your family out of the elements, also provides a feeling of family safety and security, a comfort to your children.

     

    Heat

    Even in the summertime, nights can be cold. In the winter, every time can be cold. Making sure your family stays warm is an essential part of emergency preparedness. If the power goes out, how will you stay warm? My wife has told me stories of a time when she was a teenager, living in Kentucky. They had a crazy ice storm that knocked the power out for days. After a couple days of cooking food with a small, propane stove and bundling up in blankets, they decided to abandon ship and stay with friends who actually had power, and therefore heat.

    Thinking back on her experience, I want to make sure that if we lose power for an extended period of time that my family will have the resources to stay warm. Having something like an indoor-safe propane heater, or other alternate heat source, would have been a welcome relief to my wife and her family during that ice storm.

     

    Power

    Family of four outdoors with solar panel, portrait, elevated viewThe stove cooks the food, the fridge keeps the leftovers cold and the microwave nukes leftovers back to life. There are lights, heat, computers, phones, tablets…and all of it works only when they power is on. When it’s gone, everything changes. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to get power when you need it.

    Solar panels are getting to be a lot more economical to have around as an alternate power source. Other sources to consider are battery-powered devices (make sure to stock up on batteries, though), power packs (big or small), or hand-crank battery packs. Then, of course, are the full-fledged back-up generators. Any of these options can help you through a power outage.

     

    Light

    Speaking of power outages, light is one important thing we are without when power goes down. And if that outage is due to a nighttime disaster, you will be left in the dark in the very moment you need light most. Kids need light for all sorts of things: doing homework, reading Harry Potter, not to mention, just to feel safe. After all, isn’t that what night lights are for? Having light when you otherwise wouldn’t can provide your children (and you) with comfort. Candles, rechargeable lanterns, and outage-sensing emergency flashlights are all inexpensive and easy to keep around the house and in your emergency kits. Then, when your child turns on a flashlight, you can tell him, “You light up my life.” Awww, such a tender moment. I’m glad we could share that together.

     

    Sanitation

    This is one many people don’t generally think about. Sanitation is vital for maintaining good health. Options for personal necessities should be planned for when access to the bathroom is not possible. Also, with kids running around, playing in the dirt and getting into who-knows-what, keeping hands and faces clean might be a tad more difficult than you might think. Give sanitation and hygiene some thought and minimize health issues.

    I recently posted another article about how good sanitation can save your life. It’s a good read (again, tooting my own horn), and should provide you with important information on how to stay sanitary.

     

    First Aid

    Not to be confuse with Second Aid, which is much less effective than First Aid. Even just knowing how to respond to cuts, sores, and other owies can prevent additional harm and prevent infections. First aid prep can be as simple as having band aids (preferably of the Star Wars variety) to having a complete medical kit. Check out fema.gov for a list of things you should have in your first aid kit.

     

    Communications

    Preparing dads - CommunicationsHaving a way to stay connected to the world around you will help you know what the situation is like, when you can return from an evacuation, and just letting your family know you’re OK. We can’t predict earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, or other horrendous disasters, but we can prepare our families to cope and survive as best as possible. By knowing what communication options are available to you before and after a disaster, you’ll have more confidence that you can know how to protect your loved ones. Confidence can be contagious, too, so that’s never a bad thing to have in an emergency, especially if you have children. They need to see their father and mother confident that all will be well.

    Be sure to establish a meeting place where family members can meet up after a disaster or in case of an emergency. A local school or church are usually good options. Or, if for some reason you can’t all gather together, find someone you can all call or text, so you can all be accounted for and know each other is safe.

    It is important to note that if you’re all separated, this common third-party person you will contact should live outside the affected area. After all, if you choose someone who lives within the affected area, they may be having just as many problems as you are. And, if you’re trying to get in contact with someone, it’s always best to text. During an emergency or disaster, phone lines can be tied up or even down. Text messages have a tendency to get through when phone calls can’t.

    Having communications equipment will help you stay in touch with your family and the world. Walkie talkies are always a good idea to have on hand. Emergency band radios are also something to consider. These radios will keep you in tune with other radio stations so you can know what’s going on, where help is, and other vital information following a disaster. Some emergency band radios, such as the Kaito Voyager Pro, can even notify you when there is a severe weather warning in your area. Definitely a good source of information, and information can be a total game changer in an emergency.

     

    Cooking

    Preparing dads - CookingRemember the story I told about my wife and their ice storm? Do you remember how they had to cook their food? It definitely wasn’t their stove or oven. It was a portable propane stove. What might have happened to my dear sweet wife had her parents not been prepared with an alternate source of cooking? In reality, they probably would have abandoned their designs of holding the fort a lot quicker. But still, what if that ice storm had made it impossible to leave? Things could have been very different for them.

    Having an alternate source for cooking is another great way to prepare your family for disaster. Be prepared with an alternative way to cook, such as a portable stove, kettle, sun oven, grill, or anything else you can think of that works for you and your family.

     

    Tools

    Have you ever been in a situation where you needed a certain tool to fix something but you don’t have it? That’s happened to me, and it sure is annoying to have to go out to the store and pick one up. Needing a tool you don’t have during an emergency won’t necessarily end as well as just going to the store. I like to keep a 4-in-1 Mini Folding Shovel in the trunk of my car for the next time I hit the ditch and have to dig my car out of the snow. Tell you what, the first (and only) time that happened all I had were my hands. I don’t recommend it. Having other tools, such as knives, screwdrivers, gloves, duct tape, and anything else you can think of can be the difference between a quick fix and a long wait for help.

     

    Planning

    Lastly (but certainly not leastly) is planning. Planning is one of the most essential parts of emergency preparedness, because without a plan, implementation might never happen. The Journal of Family Psychology suggests that “parents have an important role in disaster preparedness through individual and family disaster planning and by addressing the concerns their children experience in anticipation of disasters.”

    That’s smart talk for “Parents, plan ahead so when a disaster happens, your children won’t freak out.” Although planning is down here near the bottom of this post, it should really be one of the first things you do. Remember Benjamin Franklin’s wise words: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

     

    These the 12 areas of preparedness are what every father should plan for. Your family is counting on you to keep them safe. Your role as a husband and father is more than just going out every day to work and bring home the bacon. Among other things, it’s to prepare and protect them from the disasters that are coming, so they will be safe, healthy, and happy. And don’t worry if you haven’t started preparing. There’s always today! If nothing else, just jot down a simple plan to help get you going.

     

     

    What is the most important thing you prepare for with your family? Let us know in comments!

     

    Practice Your Prep

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Cooking, Emergency Kits, Equipment, First Aid and Sanitation, Food Storage, Insight, Planning, Skills, Water Storage Tagged With: father, preparing dads, Dads, Father's Day, family, preparedness

  • Emergency Essentials and Mountain House: Partners In Preparedness

    |3 COMMENT(S)

    mhPouches

    Emergency Essentials:
    Proud to Bring Mountain House to You

     
    Did you know that Mountain House is the number one, premier brand of freeze-dried meals on the market? And did you also know that through the whole month of March we’re offering all Mountain House freeze-dried meals for 25-50% off? And did you further know that we guarantee the lowest prices on Mountain House in the country?

    I know I just blew your mind, but stick with me. I had the chance to speak with our President, Matt Nettesheim, about the Emergency Essentials-Mountain House relationship and why he feels so strongly about providing this kind of quality product to our customers. He gave me about a gazillion more reasons to love this brand.

    soldier Mountain House has been feeding our soldiers for almost 50 years.

    So, what’s so great about Mountain House?

     
    “They’ve been doing this for a long time,” Matt says. Since the Vietnam War, to be precise (check out the company’s fascinating origin story here), and that history shows. As Matt explains, Mountain House’s work with the US military has resulted in freeze-dried, shelf-stable food that meets extraordinarily rigorous quality specifications. Not only that, but Mountain House continues to conduct scientific testing on factors like shelf life—so when the company claims their #10 can will last 25 years, it’s legit.

    All those things are important, in a label-reading kind of way. But what’s the real distinction?

    One word: taste.

    “They have taken just-add-water meals to a new level,” explains Matt. “A lot of places might take a freeze-dried meat, add a dehydrated sauce blend and some dehydrated noodles. All the ingredients are there, but they were never together until they were put into the can.” By contrast, the savory portions of most of Mountain House’s meals are completely prepared, ingredients fully mixed and flavors blended, prior to freeze-drying. Then, just as you pour sauce over noodles or rice at home, the freeze-dried meats and sauces are poured over instant noodles or rice and sealed in pouches and cans. “That process has set Mountain House apart for being able to provide fast and easy meals that are also as good as homemade,” says Matt. “Millions love ‘em."

    But I’ve already got basic ingredients in my food storage. Why do I need Mountain House?

     
    I may have a varied and impressive array of ingredients in my food storage. But the harsh truth is that in the immediate aftermath of an emergency, while my children are frightened and the future is uncertain, the last thing I’m going to want to do is cook.

    As Matt points out, needs and priorities vary. Everything from personal taste to culinary skill to financial constraints come into play when we consider an emergency food storage. “Gathering the basic pieces—wheat, beans, fruits, vegetables, those kinds of things—is probably the most economical way of doing things, but it also requires the most time and effort from the consumer.”

    openPouch All you need is hot water and a fork.

    The trade-off that Matt refers to here becomes powerful when we compare the equipment required to make use of traditional food storage ingredients (pots and pans, portable stove, oven, utensils, wheat grinders, etc.) versus Mountain House’s freeze-dried meals (hot water, fork). I’m especially enamored of the Mountain House pouches that act as their own serving dish. Truly, when ease, convenience, and speed of the essence, there’s no better option.

    Okay, I’m convinced. But how do I rotate these babies? Are they good for anything other than disaster relief?

     
    When I asked Matt if Mountain House meals worked well for eating at home, he said , "We’d have Mountain House at home all the time…if I was in charge of dinner.”

    Mountain House is a huge favorite for outdoor meals. Mountain House is a huge favorite for outdoor meals.

    Matt’s wife may be a gourmet, but as for me? This harried working mom thinks he may be onto something. Late meeting? Overlapping activities? Pinterest recipe fail? I can think of a million reasons I’d appreciate a quick weeknight meal that doesn’t come wrapped in paper with a cheap toy.

    A little more seriously (okay, I really was serious about that Pinterest thing), Mountain House is the preferred meal for camping, hiking, and other outdoor adventures. Lightweight and with minimum gear requirements, the pouches are ideal for backpacking and car camping alike. In fact, Matt tells a great story of bringing Mountain House meals on a large group canoe trip: while everyone packed their own meals, by the end of the trip, the others were throwing their pre-packaged food away and begging for Matt’s leftovers. A dozen hungry Boy Scouts can’t be wrong!
    riceBowl

    Matt’s picks?

     
    “Beef Stroganoff and Noodles and Chicken—those are probably my two favorites,” Matt gushes just a little. And the Breakfast Skillet, which he eats in MRE tortillas like a breakfast burrito. “Oh, and the Granolas and Blueberries! Oh, and…!”

    There you have it. Matt’s personal endorsement, the highest endorsement we can give. And if you don’t want to take Matt’s word for it (though he really is a nice guy), there’s no better time to try Mountain House for yourself. Cans, pouches, kits, and collections are on sale all month—hop on over and find your favorites!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: taste, preparedness, mountain house

  • Crisis City: "Disney World for Emergency-Response Instructors"

    Crisis City: "Disney World for Emergency Response Instructors"

    Gunshots, screaming, dust clouds rising from a recently collapsed pile of concrete rubble. It could be a scene from a disaster film. Or it could be a training course at Crisis City, Kansas’s premier emergency response training facility. A collection of simulated disasters—from train wrecks to burning skyscrapers—spread over 45 flat acres in the central part of the state, Crisis City has been called “Disney World for emergency-response instructors.”

    According to a recent write-up about the facility in Popular Mechanics, other similar facilities exist—notably Texas A&M’s TEEX and Georgia’s ginormous 830-acre Guardian Centers. The purpose is to train the professionals in a setting that is both safe and realistic—a tricky engineering feat, the article points out! Everyone from local firefighters to FEMA responders can practice pulling mock victims out of collapsed subway tunnels or train dogs to find survivors after a tornado.

    The principle at work here is a simple one: practice makes perfect…especially when adrenaline is high and critical decisions need to be made quickly. And while monster facilities like this can be booked for a small fee (somewhere in the neighborhood of $23,000 a day, reports Popular Mechanics), you can put the same principle to work with your family on a much smaller scale.

    Have an evacuation plan? Practice it. An escape route in case of fire? Make the kids act it out. A phone tree in case of emergency? Call it. Whatever plans you have in place, make an activity out of practicing them regularly, until those responses become second nature. Because it’s not just the professionals that need to act quickly when disaster strikes!

     

    --Stacey

     

    Photo Courtesy of Popular Mechanics

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, preparedness

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