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  • The Best Winter Ever!

    If you have friends in the Northeast, your Facebook and Instagram feeds have probably been saturated with images of snow piled disturbingly high on sidewalks and in yards, or buried cars and blocked doorways. And yet, somehow, these images are not complaints. This may be the one of the snowiest winters on record, but New Englanders are no strangers to harsh weather. And while some of us get twitchy just reading about school closures, our friends under several feet of snow seem to be having a pretty good time of it.

    If you’re one of those soft Westerners who cancels park days when it’s cloudy, take a page out of New England’s handbook, and consider the…

    Top 10 Reasons 2015 is the Best Winter Ever

    1. busesSnow days. You’re eleven years old, and you have a book report due tomorrow that you haven’t started. What could possibly give you more joy than to watch heavy, fluffy flakes falling outside your window? While the rest of the country suffers through math quizzes and cafeteria lunches, untethered children all over the Northeast are sledding through a winter wonderland. (Public service message: don’t forget the hand and foot warmers!)
    2. Snow angels are cute. Snowmen are fun. Snow forts are awesome. But full-scale snow castles are epic.
    3. Community spirit. Boston’s mayor Martin Walsh recently noted, “The residents of the city are very special. Just watching everyone help each other, that’s what I love seeing about the snow.” Mayor Walsh was referring Boston, but he could have been talking about any of the dozens of cities covered in snow right now—especially Crewe, Virginia, where Tommy Adam’s good deed got him noticed nationwide.
    4. Glen in Tennessee finally gets to use his generator. A post on Instapundit.com points out that “preparedness pays.” Two days after Valentine’s Day, Glen Reynolds reported that the “power’s out, but the generator kicked in and we have heat, lights, Internet and TV. Here’s to hoping that it comes back on soon, so that other folks aren’t stuck in the dark, but right now Helen, who was slightly dubious, is very pleased.” See, Helen? Haven’t we been saying this for years?
    5. shovelSnowExercise. I mean, real exercise. Like, three straight weeks of full-body cardio.
    6. Florida never looked better. In fact, the good sports over at the Ithaca, NY, tourism board agree. Rather than trying to entice people to head north with promises of igloo rentals and Yeti sightings (like some people in Boston are actually doing!), Ithaca’s tourism website officially—and hilariously—“invites you to visit the Florida keys this week. Please come back when things thaw out.”
    7. Food storage rotation. What better time to eat your way through all that 2014 canned food than several weeks without a clear route to the grocery store?
    8. Slow the pace. Isn’t it kind of nice sometimes to have a break in the routine? Or, at least, to have an excuse to slough off all the errands you keep meaning to do and just sit next to the heater vent and drink hot chocolate all afternoon? A friend of mine from Maine has finished approximately seven full-sized quilts since the snow began to fall. (She’s also predicting a New England baby boom round about September of this year.)fabricPatterns
    9. creaturesRare creatures are stirring. And no, I’m not talking about MIT students whose labs are closed. An anonymous Twitter user has adopted the moniker, “the Boston Yeti” and is posting mysterious photos of him-/her-/itself all over the region. (Another public service message: If you’re going to don a one-piece costume and traipse around town in a blizzard, I’m really serious about those hand and foot warmers!)
    10. And finally, pandas. No kidding, if you haven’t watched the National Zoo’s Bao Bao frolic in the flakes, you haven’t really experienced this winter.

    So, how’s your winter going? What are you loving about the weather in your area? It goes without saying (but I’ll say it again anyway…), if you’re sufficiently prepared, you can enjoy any kind of weather. So, what kinds of preparations are you making so that you can enjoy the extremes in your local weather including the odd whiteout?

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Winter, food storage

  • Mother Nature: A Study in Unpredictability

    motherNatureW

    hen it comes to rowdy weather, we seem to have it all figured out by region: earthquakes in California, tornadoes in Kansas, hurricanes in Florida, and whiteouts in Maine, right? How, then, do we account for recent phenomena like snow in SoCal, a first-time-ever hurricane off the coast of Brazil, and Oklahoma's new distinction as the US's most earthquake prone state? As we prepare for the unexpected, why is it so hard to know what to expect?

    The answer is that Mother Nature refuses to be figured out. She regularly breaks patterns, records, and electrical grids; and her only truly reliable feature is her unpredictability. (Now that I think about it, in some ways she's a lot like my two year-old. Only with a little less applesauce in her hair.)

    While meteorologists and seismologists puzzle over the whys and wherefores, for the rest of us, the biggest question regarding the prospect of a natural disaster is something more along the lines of, "How do I not die?"

    Good question. For our money, the best way to stay on our toes when Mother Nature is feeling capricious is to prepare for a range of circumstances. Have a fire escape plan and a tsunami evacuation route; know how to secure windows for a hurricane and protect pipes against a freeze; teach kids where to hunker down in an earthquake and where to run to in a tornado.

    map We all know where “Tornado Alley” is. Or do we? This map shows that tornados occur just about anywhere they choose.

    Most natural disasters have a specific set of recommended safe practices (check out Ready.gov's disaster specific tips sheets), and we don't want to confuse advice like `stay low in a fire,' and 'stay high in a flood.' Other preparations, however, are not only common to any disaster, but also vital. Here are three that could save your family, no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.

    We all know where "Tornado Alley" is. Or do we? This map shows that tornados occur just about anywhere they choose.

    Store food. Have we mentioned this before? Once or twice? Whether you're an advanced practitioner, with an extensive and neatly catalogued food storage, or a student with a couple of cans of chili under your bed, you need to consider how to access your stash in a hurry. Most organizations recommend keeping 72 hours worth of food handy. You could pull from your storage and make sure you have enough for each family member for three days in some kind of easily accessible pack. Or you could look into pre-packaged kits, like our Premium 4-Person 72-Hour Food Bucket.

    prep101 Learn about the 12 Areas of Preparation. Click on this image to download your own online booklet— Prep 1010: An Introduction to Getting Prepared.
    Store water. Again, the recommendation is water for three days (though longer term storage is a smart idea!). Figuring one gallon per person per day—and more for pets, children, or the elderly—that adds up quickly. There are loads of water storage options on the market, for long and short term, as well as filters and purifiers in case of contamination. Check here to see our range of water storage barrels, packaged water, and water treatment mechanisms.

     

    Store supplies. You may be MacGyver when it comes to household fix-it jobs, but a collapsed roof or flooded living room are going to require more than duct tape and paper clips. Be sure you have a well-stocked emergency supply kit stashed somewhere you can find it readily. FEMA has a useful emergency supply list, for general purposes. For more focused preparation, browse of collection of emergency kits, including everything from auto emergency kits, to power outage kits, to classroom school emergency kits.

     

    So, while this February the Rocky Mountains are enjoying 60° afternoons and Tennessee schools are closed due to icy roads, don’t be outsmarted by that shifty Mother Nature character. The facts are, tornados do strike in Salt Lake City, and Oklahomans will likely feel at least three tremors today. Who knows what’s in store for the rest of the country? Prepare for nature’s curveballs by keeping the basics on hand!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: unpredictability, mother nature

  • Mind Game: What to Do in an Emergency

    mindGameYou’ve heard us say before that proper emergency preparation can mean the difference between life and death. It turns out that that’s truer than even we knew. Obviously having food and water stored and knowing some key survival skills are crucial to provide for our needs in an emergency situation. But researchers are noting an even more fundamental advantage to preparation.

    In a recent article on BBC.com, military survival instructor John Leach explains the psychological effect of preparation in the midst of a disaster. In essence,

    “[s]urvival involves goal-directed behaviour: you feel hungry, you look for food; you feel isolated, you seek companionship. Normally, this is straightforward…But in a new, unfamiliar environment, particularly a stressful one such as a sinking ship or a burning aircraft, establishing survival goals – where the exit is and how to get to it – requires a lot more conscious effort.”

    safetyOnBoardjpg Actually listening to the flight attendant and thinking through the “what ifs” can actually save lives…maybe yours.

    Another expert points out that strong emotions tends to inhibit logical thought processes by actually limiting the number of alternatives we consider—all of which adds up to a lot of baffled people standing around in the midst of an emergency wondering what to do.

    According to Leach and others, the antidote to this all-too-common mental paralysis is (you guessed it!) preparation. If we know ahead of time the steps to take in the event of an emergency, we eliminate the need to run through all the options in our mind and decide on the best course, and can proceed straight to action.

    In the short term, that may mean noting emergency exits and fire alarms, reading evacuation notices, locating life jackets, or paying attention to safety instructions. But what if you’re at home, or visiting friends, or camping, or in one of a thousand situations where there are no conveniently posted directives telling you what to do in case of a disaster?

    I’m glad you asked.

    1. Have a plan, and practice it! How does my spouse get hold of me at work? Which neighbors can my kids go to safely if I’m not here? Where do we go if we need to evacuate? All these kinds of questions can be thought through, discussed, and decided long before any need arises. And to make it easier, download our free and handy templates and checklists to get it all on paper. Make sure each family member knows the plan, and practice it until the response becomes second nature.

    kit2. Gather the right gear, and keep it handy! FEMA recommends keeping enough food, water, and supplies on hand to survive 72 hours (see their recommended supply list here). Be sure your bug-out bag is up to date and conveniently located—the very back of the basement closet may be the only available real estate in your home, but an emergency kit won’t help you much if you can’t access it in a hurry. And if you don’t have one, check out our variety of pre-packed kits, buckets, and packs.

    3. Educate yourself! Your personal repertoire of survival skills will not only provide the necessities for your family in an emergency, but it will add some much needed peace of mind in a stressful situation. Local classes are a great option; most fire departments teach regular CPR courses, and you can look online for community groups that focus on gardening, canning, foraging, or anything else. We’re also big fans of online tutorials, and don’t forget to browse our books on everything from cooking with wheat to surviving nuclear war.

    There you have it. No excuses. Increase your chances of survival in any situation by preparing your brain for action…Now!

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: preparation, Emergency

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