• 5 Uses for Rain Water - No Butts About It

    No Rain WaterIf you’re one of the millions living in a drought-stricken area this summer, you’re in for a doozy. The lakes are low, the sprinklers are off (or at least, they should be), and water restrictions are disrupting our casual regard for that precious liquid we call water. We are more aware than ever that we should be taking a more responsible look at how we turn on the tap, run the sprinklers, and even channel the little rain that falls on our yards and rooftops. And so I ask, “What should we be doing, now and in the future, to best use and conserve water?”

    Enter the water butt.

    Rain BarrelWhile doing some research about rain barrels, I was amused to find that our good neighbors across the pond (ie. the United Kingdom) describe them as “water butts.” Now I don’t know why they call them water butts, and I’m not going down that road to the obvious one-liners. But with a very dry summer on fast approach, in barrels or butts, it’s a good time to consider ways to collect every precious raindrop that may fall our way.

    Water butts are actually quite common in the UK, and like barrels, they collect rain from rooftops for future use. But once you have a butt-load (sorry) of water, or your barrel is full…what are you supposed to do with it? Let’s use the UK as an example we all can follow.

    The United Kingdom can be a rainy place, but they are also used to drought on a regular basis. That’s why, for centuries, the Brits have made it a regular practice to capture and use rainwater. By using their heads and their butts (sorry, again), they are able to channel rainwater for variety of different things, many for which we often use fresh tap water, in fact. It’s this blatant disregard for clean tap water, and the precious rain falling around us, that may soon send us up a dry river without a paddle. And so, using those Limies as our example, I give you…

    Five uses for your rain water!

     

    1. Drink It

    I hate to be Captain Obvious, but one of the most important roles water plays is giving us life. However, before you drink it, you’ll want to filter and treat it first. After all, most of that water is coming straight off your roof, which has who-knows-how-much dirt, pollution, and whatever-it-is-that-birds-leave-behind on it. But fear not, for once the water has been treated, it’ll be safe to drink. Boiling, chemical treatment, and water filters are all good methods for making your water drinkable. And you can keep on living.

     

    1. Cook With It

    This is pretty much the same as #1, except this relates to preparing food instead of straight-up drinking it. The same principles apply here. Even though you’re cooking your food, you’ll want to make sure you treat and filter rainwater before use. See the previous option for methods in making your water clean.

     

    1. Water Your Plants

    If you have a garden – flowers, vegetables…weeds – use the contents of your rain barrel to water them. Don’t waste precious potable water on plants that don’t care if it’s filtered or not. Since rain barrel water can become pretty dirty from just sitting there, be sure to avoid watering the tops of your vegetables. This prevents contaminating the edible, above ground portion of the veggie that’s hard to clean. This is especially true for leafy greens. And, as always, make sure you wash your vegetables thoroughly with clean water before eating them.

     

    1. Wash Cars and Windows

    Because rain water is free of calcium, chlorine, and lime, water from your rain barrel is a great option for washing your car. Since it’s soft water, it won’t hurt your car’s paint or damage windows. And, you’ll be saving some of that precious tap water for more practical uses, like drinking.

     

    1. Flush the Toilet

    This might not work as well in areas where rain doesn’t fill up your large rain barrel every week, but in places like Seattle, using your rain barrel to flush your toilet can save a ton on water. Actually, it can save closer to 9 tons of water, per person, per year. And that is when you use high efficiency, low-flow toilets. As it turns out, there are a number of places in Seattle already using this tactic. So if you live in a rainy state, this could be a unique alternative to literally flushing away your good, clean water and can also cut back on your water expenses.

     

    If those ideas don’t suit your fancy, you can always do what I did as a kid; collect pollywogs and keep them in your water barrel. Of course, you’ll soon have a large infestation of toads to deal with (see my future blog about all-natural garden pest control).

    The drought has had a positive impact on how we value and conserve water. If we do more like our English cousins and put tap water where our mouth is, and rainwater where our butt is (last one, I promise), we can help make sure there will be plenty of the precious liquid to go around. No buts about it, rain barrels can be a real life, and water, saver.

     

    What other things do you use your rain water for? Let us know in comments!

     

    Drought Click Bait 2

    Posted In: Gardening, Insight, Water Storage Tagged With: rain water, water butt, drought, water barrel

  • Hurricane Hazards

    Have you heard the one about hurricanes in the middle of a drought? They’re called “The Carolina Hurricanes,” and their 6-year playoff drought is a real disaster. But hurricane (and hockey) jokes aside, let’s get down to business: hurricane hazards.

    Famous for torrential rain and lashing winds, do you know where most hurricane damage occurs? If you say flooding, you’re right! You rocked it, as they say, like a hurricane! Most hurricane damage is caused by flooding, and not generally from the rainfall, but from rising ocean levels called “storm surge.” This storm surge affects more than those on the coast, too; storm surges can penetrate many miles inland, as we recently witnessed in New Jersey during hurricane Sandy.

    Hurricane Hazards - Storm Surge National Hurricane Center

    A storm surge is a huge wave of water caused by a storm’s strong winds. They can reach as high as 20 feet and can span hundreds of miles of coastline. Storm surges can damage buildings, erode and cause damage to beaches, and are one of the leading causes of death during hurricanes.

    A prime example of the devastation a surge can cause is in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. According to the National Hurricane Center, “at least 1500 persons lost their lives during Katrina and many of those deaths occurred directly, or indirectly, as a result of storm surge.” This is one reason those ordered by government officials to evacuate should do so without delay. Staying behind could be disastrous.

    Because it’s easier to visualize a storm surge with, well, visuals, I have two videos that will help you understand what they are and how you can prepare. This first video comes to you from the U.S. National Weather Service will help you learn more about storm surges and where to go for more information regarding this hazard:

    Ready.gov and the National Weather Service have some great information on hurricanes, their hazards, and how we can be ready.

    This next video is an animation retrieved from the National Hurricane Center shows an example of the destruction a storm surge can do when a hurricane comes in:

     

    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/surge/animations/hurricane_stormsurge.swf

     

    Besides storm surges, there are many other hazards associated with hurricanes. As if being in a hurricane isn’t disaster enough, tornadoes are also a common inland occurrence that accompany hurricanes. In fact, the National Weather Service claims that “in recorded history, almost every tropical storm and hurricane that has come onshore in the U.S. has produced a tornado.”

    Hurrican Hazards - Rip Current NOAA.gov

    Another hurricane hazard are rip currents. Rip currents aren’t your ordinary ocean shoreline current. Strong winds can almost reverse the natural shoreline waves that, instead of pulling water towards shore, actually pull away from shore. These currents are deadly, and hurricanes can produce these currents at our shores from hundreds of miles away. For example, the National Hurricane Center reported that “in 2008, despite the fact that Hurricane Bertha was more than a 1,000 miles offshore, the storm resulted in rip currents that killed three people along the New Jersey coast and required 1,500 lifeguard rescues in Ocean City, Maryland, over a 1 week period.”

    Even 1,000 miles offshore, Bertha produced strong rip currents that effected swimmers on the shores for over a week! That right there is a great reason to always check the water conditions before you hit the beach. After all, rip currents often form on calm, sunny days.

    Hurricane Hazards - Winds The Telegraph

    This article on hurricane hazards just wouldn’t be complete without talking about the high winds that accompany hurricanes. A category 1 hurricane starts with wind speeds of 74-95mph. As the wind speeds increase, so does the category number, until it reaches category 5, which is 157 mph and higher. Even a category 1 hurricane will have dangerous winds that will produce damage. As the category number rises, so will the damage it causes. Check out this link here for more information on hurricane categories, their wind speeds, and what to expect from the damage they will cause.

    Hurricanes do have something of a bright side. Unlike tornadoes and earthquakes, this natural disaster tends to give us several days’ notice, so there should be time to board up, alert the family and evacuate if need be. However, don’t expect to be able to stock-up once news of a hurricane hits; stores will be picked bare within an hour of when ground zero is identified.

    Know the hazards hurricanes bring so you can keep yourself safe.

     

    How do you prepare for these hazards? Let us know your thoughts in comments!

     

    Hurricane Hazards - Main Page

    Posted In: Additional Reading, Disaster Scenarios, Insight Tagged With: storm surge, winds, rip current, hurricane hazards, Hurricane

  • Cooking Off Grid

    Have you ever considered how much of our lives are spent in the kitchen? For many, these are delightful hours spent in creative bliss. For others, it’s get in, get out, and move on to other less tiresome activities. Either way, preparing food is an essential part of daily life, and an activity that can be greatly disrupted in an emergency.

    During a natural disaster or home emergency, you might not be able to stay put. Even if you can reach your kitchen, your power or gas might be out, rendering appliances worthless. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have ready an alternative method for cooking, so you'll be prepared when it comes to cooking off grid.

    One option is the Cube Stove. The Cube Stove is a lightweight, stainless steel frame in which you light fuel disks while setting cookware on top. Selling for under $40, the Cube Stove is lightweight, folds easily, and is something you can take with you anywhere you go. It’s a great option not just for emergencies, but also for taking out with you camping, fishing, or hunting.

    Other alternative cooking options are Solar Ovens. For Between $115 and $350 you can harness the power of the sun, cooking without any other fuel source! Of course, daylight is an essential, yet unpredictable part of solar oven cooking success. But when it’s shining, these solar ovens get hot enough to bake a loaf of bread or roast a chicken, even on cold December days.

    Do you have alternative cooking options in your arsenal? As a member of the Prep As You Go program, we’ve arranged special deals for you, offering both the Cube Stove and the Sport Solar Oven at the best prices ever.

    Also, during the month of June, we are encouraging everyone to go out and practice their prep. Practicing your preparedness is a great way to find out just how ready you actually are. Couple cooking outside on camping trip in the wildernessWhy not take your portable Cube Oven or your Sport Solar Oven outside and cook up some of your emergency food storage?

    Now is a great time to get your alternative food prep plan in place, then have fun practicing how you will get coking in an emergency.

    Posted In: Emergency Cooking Tagged With: alternative cooking, solar oven, off grid, Cooking off grid, emergency cooking

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