• Bleach, Boil, & Bottle: Prepping for Water Trouble

    Thirsty? You’re probably pretty used to just turning on the tap. But three incidents from last month remind us that taking our water for granted can land us in serious hot…well, water. In Winnipeg, tests came up positive for E. Coli in parts of the city’s water supply. That same week, a diesel spill in Lewisburg, West Virginia, shut down the city’s water system in an effort to prevent widespread supply contamination. And in Bladensburg, Maryland, an underground water pipe split, causing a sinkhole large enough to flood homes and swallow cars.

    Solutions to these problems ranged from a mayor appearing on YouTube and advising his citizens to boil their water, to a local restaurateur deciding, “We are going to limit our menu frankly to things that don’t require very much water.”

    Water purification and filtration should definitely be a priority, when it comes to emergency preparedness (check out our water filters and purification systems here!). And it wouldn’t hurt to have a repertoire of meals that don’t require boiling water (MREs, anyone?). But one standard prepper practice would make life considerably easier in a similar disaster.

    water-storage
    That’s right. I’m talking water storage.

    If that tap that you turn on a hundred times a day still works, then storing water can be easy and free. Just be sure that you follow credible recommendations to make sure the water you store is safe to use. Both the CDC and Ready.gov provide handy tip sheets on water storage. Here are a few of considerations highlighted there:

    How much water should I store?

    • The recommended amount is a gallon of water per person per day. Keep in mind that some factors may require storing more (hot weather, children or nursing mothers, etc.), and don’t forget to figure pets into your calculations!
    • To go along with your 72-hour emergency supply kit, plan on storing at least three days worth of water for each person in your home.

    water-reserve

    How should I store it?

    • Commercially purchased and sealed water supplies, like our cans and pouches, are the best way to store water, hands down.
    • To supplement store bought water, you can also store your own tap water in clean containers. Don’t use empty milk jugs, fruit juice containers, or anything that ever contained chemicals. Do use two liter soda bottles or dedicated water jugs and barrels.
    • Wash used containers with soap, sanitize with diluted bleach, and let them dry completely before filling them.

    What should I do with my stored water?

    • Keep purification tablets, like our Katadyn Micropur purification tablets, on hand, especially if the bottles haven’t been bleached.
    • Label the bottles clearly with the date and “drinking water.”
    • Store somewhere away from light and high temperatures.
    • Rotate stored tap water every six months.

    Of course, we hope that the tap keeps working the way it’s supposed to. But it’s a smart idea to prepare for every contingency. Let us know how you’re doing on your water storage!

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    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: reserve, water purification, water

  • Weathering the Worst of Winter Storms

    1_28_15 Weathering the Worst of Winter StormsThe torrential blizzard predicted to bury New York City turned out to be just delightful snow flurries dusting the iconic Manhattan landmarks. For Boston and the rest of New England, however, Winter Storm Juno lived up to its headliner forecast, dumping 3 feet of snow and more before moving on.

    For every American living in snow country, however, Juno served as a wake-up call, reminding us that the best time to prepare for the "big one" is while the sun is shining, before dark clouds appear on the Weather Service radar and time is running out.

    These simple tips will help you get ready for the next time the snow piles up, the power goes out, the roads are closed, and help may be days away.

    Before the Storm...

    ...Put Together a 72-Hour Kit
    The first three days after a big storm are the toughest. With roads closed and walkways buried, running to the store is dangerous, if not impossible. In addition to paralyzing snow and ice, winter storms often cause widespread power outages and broken water pipes. So, a useful 72-hour kit should contain water, heat, light and communications, as well.
    Here is a short list of the types of things you'll likely need until you can venture out after a big winter storm:

    Keeping your Storm Kit in a sturdy backpack makes it ready to go in times when you need to evacuate. Keeping your Storm Kit in a sturdy backpack makes it ready to go in times when you need to evacuate.
    •  Three days of non-perishable foods like canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, and freeze-dried meals
    • A manual can opener
    • Three days of water (at least three gallons per person)
    • First-aid kit, with essential prescription medicines
    • Flashlights, candles and light sticks
    • Cell phone, with hand-crank charger
    • Portable radio or NOAA weather radio
    • Extra radio and flashlight batteries
    • Baby-care items
    • Pet supplies
    • Extra blankets and sleeping bags
    • A fire extinguisher

    Keep in mind that if your workplace is a long commute from home, you'll need the same items at the office (minus baby and pet supplies, perhaps). Plus, keeping an Emergency Car Kit in your trunk will assure you're ready if weather conditions force you to wait for help along the roadside.

    Some simple household chores will help you avoid some serious winter storm damage. Some simple household chores will help you avoid some serious winter storm damage.

    ...Get Your House Ready

    A few regular home maintenance tasks can do more than just keep a neat home. They can also protect you and your family in the event of a big snowfall or ice storm, as well.

    Take time to see to the following:

    • Ice, snow and wind can snap tree limbs down onto the roof, windows and power lines. Trim away tree branches close to your home.
    • Keep rain gutters clean. Otherwise, snow and ice can build up and allow water to seep under the roof and eaves causing damage to walls and ceilings.
    • See that smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are working and store fresh batteries.
    • Have your chimney flue checked and cleaned, if necessary, to lessen the risk of fire.
    • Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows to keep out cold air.
    • Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide insulation.
    • Wrap pipes in insulating foam to keep them from freezing. Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.
    • Know how to safely shut off gas, electric power and water valves.
    • Check your homeowner's insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage.

    ...Plan for Lights Out

    We all know that, even in the best of times, power outages are not uncommon. While the occasional unplanned candle-lit evening is a charming break from the routine, extended power outages particularly in stormy weather can present significant problems even dangers. These simple steps can further prepare your family for blackouts, whenever they occur:

    Weathering the Worst of Winter Storms3

    • Power sensing flashlights come on automatically when the power goes out. Plug-in a few around your home. Candles and light sticks should be a prep staple, as well.
    • Furnaces, even gas and oil-fired ones, cannot operate without electricity to power the blowers. An indoor rated kerosene or propane heater will keep living spaces livable.
    • Keep a bit of cash stashed in a safe place, since stores and other services (if they are open) will not be able to process credit and debit cards.
    • Make a practice of refilling your car's tank at the half-empty point. This assures you will have at least a tank half-full when electric gas pumps won't operate.
    • Store ice packs that can be moved into the fridge, or into a small cooler for meds.
    • Know how to release garage door openers so that you can manually open your garage.

    Juno reminds us that winter weather can be hard to forecast. But we can all predict that we'll each take our turn being caught in a dangerous storm. These few simple steps can mean the difference between frantically surviving and comfortably weathering your next winter storm.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Current Events, Survival, Winter

  • Lake Effect and Ice Storms: The Right and Left Jabs of Winter

    Winter storm Hektor is raising heck this week, sweeping snow and ice from the Ohio Valley clear down to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas, while weather-weary New Yorkers are still digging out from up to 5 feet of lake-effect snow dumped along the eastern shores of Lake Ontario last weekend. Throughout the East, Midwest, and South area officials are urging residents to prepare for extreme cold, power outages, and road closures that could last for days.

    Every winter we hear about them: lake-effect snowfall and ice storms—the one-two punch of winter weather that affects millions. But what are these brutal weather phenomena, and what destruction do they leave in their wake?

    What is a Lake-Effect Storm?

    Folks living on the eastern and southern shores of the Great Lakes are quite familiar with the dreaded “Lake Effect,” as are residents of northern Utah living east of the Great Salt Lake. In fact, wherever a large body of water meets a blast of cold air, you have the recipe for a dumping of lake-effect snow. Caused by simple physics, these uncommonly heavy snowfalls occur when warm, moist air over a lake rises into a moving front of cold air. As this moisture lifts, it cools, condenses, and then falls as snow, and lots of it…often as much as 5 inches an hour for several hours.
    Just before last Thanksgiving, Buffalo, New York was pounded by just such a lake-effect storm, receiving up to 5 feet of snow in only 24 hours. Cars were buried, roofs collapsed, and roads were closed. Life came to a standstill for everyone except the snowplow drivers.

    Lake Effect Snow: How It Works

    How are Ice Storms Different from Lake Effect Storms?

    As dramatic as lake-effect snowstorms can be, ice storms are even more destructive. Ice storms are caused by conditions almost exactly opposite those of lake-effect storms. They occur when warm, moist air above moves over a cold air mass below. As the moisture above turns to rain, it falls through the cold air, becoming super-cooled until it hits the cold ground. Immediately the rain turns to ice, coating everything including roads, trees, and power lines. Havoc on the freeway, downed power lines, and trees falling onto roads and houses are only the beginning of an ice storm’s chaos. Unable to open doors, people become trapped in their cars. Crops are severely damaged. Walking outdoors is near impossible.
    If the inconvenience of such weather events is not bad enough, these types of storms become a real health hazard. Thousands of injuries occur on the highway, as well as the result of falls on ice and snow. High winds and cold temperatures often lead to hypothermia and frostbite, particularly for those trapped in their cars, or at home without heat and power. Risk from these hazards increases as people are forced to venture into the storm to find help.

    Freezing Rain: How It Works

    So What Can You Do to Stay Safe, Fed, and Warm?

    While the health and welfare of thousands are threatened by lake-effect and ice storms every winter, many endure them well. Those who thrive best are those best prepared. A three-day store of easy-to-prepare food and water will relieve concerns about leaving home to stay fed. Emergency lighting and a heater with fuel will be warmly welcomed during extended power outages. And a portable kit filled with food, water light, and heat in the car and at the office will make both places much more pleasant until it’s safe to come home.

    For all, it’s wise to remember: wherever you are, bad weather will eventually find you, too. Be Prepared.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: natural disasters, Current Events, Winter

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