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  • 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

  • Mom's 5 Tips for Weathering Thunderstorms

    Mom's 5 Tips for Weathering Thunderstorms

    To this day, I love a good thunderstorm. I think it’s because when I was little, my family would gather in our screened-in porch and watch the clouds roll in. We’d drink punch and eat popcorn, and we’d huddle together to listen to and watch for the cracks, booms, and bolts in the sky. I would smell the wet heat rising from the pavement, and I would wish, wish, wish that the power would go out. I wanted that cozy, let’s-huddle-together feeling to last even after the clouds had rolled away.

    Now that I’m a parent, I realize that my happy childhood feelings about thunderstorms were made possible because my parents were prepared for whatever storms might bring—and whatever they might leave behind. I recently checked in with my mom to get her insights on how to prepare for this kind of sudden, potentially serious stormy weather.

    Mom’s 5 Tips for Weathering Thunderstorms:

    1. Weather gear. My mom reminded me that it’s a good idea to have certain items on hand that will make weathering the actual storm itself a comfortable, less wet experience. Ponchos, raincoats, galoshes, umbrellas, long johns, and thick wool socks can make rainy seasons (and puddle stomping) downright enjoyable. Also, they can help protect you from getting too wet and cold, which can be helpful if stormy weather turns into power outages, and you don’t have an easy way to get yourself warm and dry.

    2. Windows. The first thing to do when storms are coming is to close your windows—especially the ones you don’t usually think about or see (basement windows, garage windows, etc.). This alone can prevent a lot of unnecessary seepage.

    3. The light and the bucket. My mom says that a smart person once told her to put a working flashlight right near her bed, so even in the middle of the night, she wouldn’t have to go fumbling around storage closets or bins to find the things she would need in the dark.

    She says it’s an even better idea to fill a plastic bucket with all of the first things you’ll need when the power goes out (e.g., flashlight, battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, batteries), and store it someplace easy to remember and easy to reach. If both the light and the bucket are ready to go and easily accessible, you’ll have sucked the scariness right out of the first moments of a power outage, and you’ll be ready to find your emergency gear without much hassle.

    4. Power. If the storm is serious, you may lose power. There are lots of workarounds for this, but the most important thing is that you’ve thought about it in advance and are ready to go. My mom’s preferred cooking device is a sterno-powered foldable camping stove similar to the Single Burning Folding Stove. With this and a can opener on hand, warm meals are easy to prepare.

    She points out that also having a fireplace and marshmallows can turn an otherwise dismal blackout into a fun family event. (Note to self: Keep marshmallows on hand for emergency purposes. And punch. And popcorn.)

    5. Floods. If the rain comes down too quickly or for too long—or both—flooding is a real possibility. My mom’s number one tip is to keep your gutters clean. Clogged gutters can make flooding much worse than it might otherwise be; but, if gutters are clear and able to do their jobs, they can direct excess water to places it should go (like away from the house).

    If the storm is forecasted to be a big one, sand bagging areas of potential weakness can be helpful. Also, putting up cellophane and caulking around garage doors adds an extra layer of protection. Having your burner or furnace installed on blocks can prevent you from losing them at a critical time. Likewise, taking everything off the floor can keep most of your stuff safe and dry. Mold is a real problem, so be sure to inspect flooded areas and ask for expert help, as necessary.

     

    I like the idea of being able to act now in ways that will help my children have the same safe, prepared, ready-for-anything feelings my parents gave me. I feel lucky that my parents’ preparations allowed me to enjoy the beauty of this crazy earth, including the beauty of a thunderous rainstorm. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)  That is a gift I want my children to have, too.

    --Sarah B.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: thunderstorm, storms, emergency preparedness

  • Severe Flooding Follows Tornadoes in the Southeast

    Severe Flooding Follows Tornadoes in the Southeast

    Natural disasters can sometimes cause a domino effect of other disasters: an earthquake can cause a long-term power outage, a drought can cause a wildfire, and the high-speed winds of a tornado can quickly turn into a raging flood.

    Many in the Southeast are learning that one storm can cause another as the tornadoes that sprawled across over a dozen states this week have not only left behind twisted cars and destroyed homes, but also brought on severe floods.

    Florida was one of hardest-hit states, where Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency after 20 inches of rain fell in 24 hours, killing at least one and leaving others stranded, according to Fox News

    “There’s a lot of water on the ground,” the governor said to Yahoo News. He also anticipates that more flash flooding is still a real threat.

    In some areas, flooding reached up to four feet, other locations flooded more. Across numerous states, floods trapped people in homes, vehicles, and other buildings. Yahoo News reports one elderly woman dying in Escambia County after being unable to escape as the high waters surrounded her vehicle.

    "We were rescuing people out of cars, out of ditches, out of homes," said Mitchell Sims, the emergency management director for Baldwin County. "We are still getting reports of people trapped."

    When preparing for an emergency, it’s common to overlook the fact that one disaster can trigger another. It’s important to prepare as well as you can for all types of disasters. Are you prepared for a tornado and a lightning storm? Do you have duct tape for your windows for a hurricane and sandbags for flooding? As you stock your supply, are you thinking of how to prepare for multiple disasters?

    As you work on your preparedness, check out the following Insight Articles for some helpful tips for staying safe in a variety of disasters:

    Have you ever been caught in a “secondary” disaster triggered by a first? What happened? Share your story and expertise in the comments

     

    --Kim

     

    Sources:

    http://www.foxnews.com/weather/2014/04/30/forecasters-downplay-tornado-predictions-as-storm-system-weakens-in-south/

    http://news.yahoo.com/u-tornadoes-kill-34-threaten-more-damage-south-043914845--sector.html

    Photo Courtesy of Fox News

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: natural disasters, emergency preparedness

  • How to Build your Own All-in-Four Portable Shelter Kit

    |13 COMMENT(S)

    UPDATE: You asked, and we listened. The All-in-Four 4-Person Emergency Supply is now available!

    A little while ago we learned about the Life Cube—an all-inclusive, inflatable shelter stocked with the necessary food, water, and gear to help a person survive the few days after a natural disaster occurs. The Life Cube, which weighs between 950-1100 lbs., is ideal to be airdropped into areas suffering from catastrophic events. However, although it is a great idea for mass emergencies and agency use, the Life Cube currently costs anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000. For many looking to add an all-inclusive, portable shelter to their emergency gear, this may be a little out of their price range.

    We were inspired by the Life Cube to create our own all-in-one portable shelter kit. Rather than focusing on agency use, however, our portable shelter kit focuses more on a personal/family level, only weighing about 71 lbs. and costing approximately $762. Here at Emergency Essentials, we have configured a list of items that would work as a basic all-in-one (or in our case, all-in-four) portable shelter. The all-in-four portable shelter consists of four bags with essential supplies divided among them. These items not only give you shelter, food, and water, but other basic supplies to help a family of four survive for three days after an emergency.

    DIY All-in-Four Portable Shelter

    First things first: Collect your gear. The following list describes what gear is needed to help four people survive for three days in an emergency.

    Each pack gives you more than 2,800 cubic inches of space to hold all of your emergency supplies and gear while providing durability and expandable comfort to stick with you on all your travels.

    Trail Hiker Backpack for a Portable Shelter

    This pack is a great way to include versatility to fit the needs of the owner. Wear the pack on your back, carry it by the handle, or roll it along the ground behind you. This is a great pack for people unable to carry a lot of weight on their back.

    Good hygiene will help keep you healthy and safe during an emergency. This kit provides basic bathing, dental, and toilet hygiene needs for a family of four.

    Family Sanitation Kit Part of our DIY Portable shelter solution

    These simple-to-setup and waterproof tents give you 49-square feet each to spread out and enjoy a good night’s rest.

    Just-add-water breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (plus sides and drinks) give you enough food to feed a family of four for 3.5 days.

    We typically recommend a two-tier approach for treating your water: have a microfilter and purifier. Adding the Katadyn Hiker Pro and Micropur tablets will help provide you and your family with filtered, purified water while remaining compact and lightweight.

    Katadyn Hiker Pro for a  DIY Portable Shelter

    Made from Tritan™ plastic, these bottles give you get extra durability in a BPA-free bottle. These are perfect to take on outdoor adventures or to use along with a microfilter in an emergency.

    This kit includes 397 pieces of first aid gear to help you survive every scrape, cut, burn, or bruise that you or a family member may get.

    These lightweight, pocket-sized sleeping bags unfold to wrap you in a covering that will reflect 80% of your body heat, keeping you warm on cool nights.

    Emergency Sleeping Bags for a DIY Portable Shelter

    These lightsticks are safe, reliable, and easy to use making them fantastic for families with children. Just bend, snap, and shake for a light source that will last up to 12 hours.

    Keeps you up-to-date with communication services, provides 30 minutes of light (with one minute of hand-cranking), and charges your cell phone (including many smart phones).

    Lightweight and reusable, an emergency poncho is a must-have to keep you dry from sudden storms.

    Easily alert rescuers to your location with an emergency whistle.

    This high-quality, BPA-free water container can store 2.5 gallons of water and collapses to easily fit in your pack. It even remains flexible in cold temperatures.

     Reliance Fold N Filter for a DIY Portable Shelter

    Use Sierra cups as bowls, plates, drinking cups, or as cooking and warming pans. Their versatility lets you get more done with less stuff to carry in your pack.

    BPA-free, washable, heavy-duty plastic spoons can be used for every meal you eat during an emergency.

    This kit includes over 172 hours of total warmth. It includes 6 Hand and Body Warmers, 4 Adhesive Body Warmers, and 2 Hand Warmer 2-packs.

    This super-compact stove is simple to use, fully flame adjustable, and stores easily. You don’t even need matches to light it. Requires a canister of Iso-Butane/Propane fuel, which can be purchased locally.

    Volcano Lite Stove for a DIY Portable Shelter

    Stormproof Matches will help you weather any storm. Blow them out, bury them, submerge them in water, do it all over again, and these Stormproof Matches will keep relighting themselves for up to 15 seconds.

    How to Build It

    Once you’ve gathered all of your supplies, you just need to pack them.

    Pack #1: Trail Hiker Backpack

    • 1 Twin Peaks Mountain Trails Tent
    • Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter
    • 4 (6 inch) Green Lightsticks
    • 24 Packets of food from the Gourmet 14 Day Supply
    • 1 Tritan Emergency Essentials Water Bottle
    • 4 Emergency Whistles
    • 397 Piece First Aid Kit

    To make your pack more compact, fit the lightsticks into the outside pockets along with the Wavelength Radio Charger Flashlight, the 4 Emergency Whistles, and the water bottle. The other items will fit in the main compartment of the pack.

     

    Pack #2: Trail Hiker Backpack

    • 1 Twin Peaks Mountain Trails Tent
    • 20 Packets of food from the Gourmet 14 Day Supply
    • 4 Emergency Sleeping Bags
    • 2 Tritan Emergency Essentials Water Bottles
    • 4 Emergency Ponchos

    Fit the water bottles into the outside pockets. The rest of the materials should fit within the main compartment of the pack.

     

    Pack #3: Olympia 18” Rolling Backpack

    • 4 Packets of food from the Gourmet 14 Day Supply
    • Reliance 2.5 Gallon Collapsible Fold-A-Carrier
    • 3 Sheets (or 30 tablets) of Micropur
    • 1 Tritan Emergency Essentials Water Bottle
    • 2 large Sierra cups
    • 2 small Sierra cups
    • 4 GSI Spoons
    • Warmth Emergency Kit
    • Volcano Lite Stove
    • Stormproof Matches

     

    Pack #4: Family Sanitation Kit

    The last “pack” is the Family Sanitation Kit which comes full of sanitation items for you and your family. About 1/3 of the bucket will still be empty for you to add additional or personal items too. The kit includes:

    • 1 – 6-Gallon Bucket
    • 1 – Bar of Soap
    • 1 – Tote-able Toilet Seat and Lid
    • 4 – Toilet Paper Rolls
    • 1 – Box Double Doodie Waste Bags
    • 1 – Epi-Clenz Plus Hand Antiseptic
    • 4 – Fresh & Go Toothbrush
    • 3 – ReadyBath Packets

    Each pack is manageable to carry and there’s extra room in most of them for personal items.

    Upgrades

    Although the basic items will help you survive during an emergency, some people prefer to have items that may make their time in a crisis a little more comfortable. If you’d like to upgrade some of the items in your kit consider adding the following:

    • Headlamps or flashlights instead of the lightsticks.
    • SOL Escape Bivvy in addition to the emergency sleeping bags.
    • One Month Supply of Water in addition to the filter. Instead of just adding a microfilter and purification tablets to your portable kit, try adding a one month supply of water. Water is priceless in an emergency and this item gives a family of four enough stored water to last for a week (drinking 64 ounces a day) in case a water source to filter from is unavailable.

    *NOTE: Upgrading items in the kit will change the price and weight of the pack. It also may require you to rearrange and reassemble how the all-in-four portable shelter kit is packed.  You can, of course, change the way items are distributed among the packs for redundancy in case you get separated.

    To make carrying your all-in-four kit a bit more comfortable, or to add even more space, replace the Family Sanitation Kit (pack #4) with another Trail Hiker backpack, put the kit items in the pack, and lash the bucket to the outside of the pack using [paracord] or another rope.

    Now that you’ve prepped yourself with all the supplies you need to help you and your family survive the days immediately after a disaster, try developing your survival skills with some of our Insight Articles:

     

    --Kim

    Sources:

    http://lifecubeinc.weebly.com/uploads/9/9/4/2/9942328/life_cube_sheltered_delivery_system_user_manual.pdf

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, shelter

  • Setting Preparedness Goals

    |9 COMMENT(S)

     Setting Preparedness Goals

    “Getting Prepared” is a worthy goal in and of itself, but can be a little bit nebulous. How do you know when you’re done? Do you have a way to be sure you covered all your bases?

    There’s one easy way to be sure you get everything done that you need to do without getting burned out: Set preparedness goals. Here are four good reasons you should:

    Track  your progress

    Setting preparedness goals is a great way to see how much progress you’re making in a given time period. If you set time-specific goals, even better. Keep your goals all in one place, and sort them by preparedness category. Assign a “due date,” and as you achieve them, check off the box, knowing you’ve got one more item, concept, or skill under your belt.

    Stay focused on the most important needs first

    It’s easy to get sidetracked in your preparedness efforts—everything can seem like “the most important” based on what’s going on in the world, the things you’ve already started working on, and things your neighbors, friends, or others tell you to do. Making goals will help you focus on what will meet your needs. Let your neighbors focus on their own needs, and everyone comes out ahead.

    Pace Yourself

    Working on one or two goals at a time keeps you from running around like a crazy person, doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, while somehow still feeling like you didn’t make any progress at the end of the day (week, month, etc.).

    Consistently working on the same single goal (or two) will allow you to keep up your momentum without getting burned out and throwing in the towel.

    Enjoy the Accomplishment

    This is a biggie one—especially if you’re the type that likes to check things off your list. Setting manageable goals and checking them off your list can give you that boost of motivation to keep building on the supplies and the skills you already have.

    Get the Most Out of Your Goals

    There are a few things you can go to set yourself up for success in achieving your preparedness goals:

    1)      Figure out your preparedness needs and priorities first. This will keep your goals focused and relevant to what you want to accomplish.

    2)      Write them down. This is crucial. Have a preparedness binder? Stick this in the very front, and categorize your goals so you can easily see how your efforts are preparing you to meet your needs and face certain challenges.

    No preparedness binder? Keep your goals posted in your storage room near your supplies, or keep a document on your computer, tablet, or phone.

    3)      Make yourself accountable for your goals by sharing them with family or friends who are also interested in preparedness, survival, or homesteading (or all of the above). Friends and neighbors can provide additional ideas, help, and motivation.

    4)      Set timelines for each goal—and be realistic. If your budget won’t allow you to buy a year supply of food at once, don’t set a short-term goal to get a year’s worth of food. Make that a long-term goal, and work on a week supply or a month supply first. If, however, you’re too generous with the timeline, you may lose motivation to keep working toward your goal. So strike a balance, and don’t be a perfectionist about it.

    5)      Make the goals specific enough that you’ll know when you’ve accomplished them. If you find yourself checking off a goal and saying, “Well, except for…,” then it might be best to create two or more related goals.

    Remember to Have Fun!

    Enjoy the process of getting prepared—if you’re feeling burned out, alternate “have to” goals with “want to” goals to keep your interest and your motivation high. It might be boring to chop logs into firewood, but if you follow that with an evening of cooking delicious meals over a campfire or a backyard fire pit, you’ll remember the benefits of all your hard work—and practice a useful survival skill at the same time.

     

    So, what’s next on your list of survival goals?

     

    --Urban Girl.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency preparedness, Emergency plan, preparedness

  • 10 Ways Camping Helps You Prepare for Emergencies

    |15 COMMENT(S)

    Camping. You may have a love/hate relationship with it. Or you may have a hate/hate or love/love relationship with it. Regardless of your feelings, here’s the reality: camping is good for preparedness.

    Camping is a great way to prep yourself for an emergency

    Here are 10 ways camping can help you prepare for emergencies:

    1. You’ll get used to sleeping in less-than-ideal circumstances.

    Growing up, my family would camp pretty frequently, and someone (who shall remain nameless) always snored like a bear. It would keep me (and others) awake at night, leading to crankiness and fatigue the next day.

    So, camping with the sound of your neighbor snoring his brains out or—even more distracting for some people—the sound of animals and the wind working their way through the trees can build up your “immunity” to those sounds. After a while, you may find that you actually enjoy the rustling of the trees and the sound of birds and other animals.

    You may not develop immunity to the sound of snoring, though. So consider packing a pair or two of ear plugs in your camping gear and your bug-out bag.

    Even if you end up at a shelter in an emergency, rather than roughing it, earplugs could help drown out sleep-talkers, kids screaming, or other noises. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of not being able to hear, though. If sounds are muffled, you might not hear someone trying to wake you up (or someone who is rifling through your stuff).

    2. You’ll learn to eat meals that are easy to cook—or don’t require cooking at all.

    Camping is great for practicing emergency cooking. Try out your canister stove, Kelly Kettle, or Volcano stove on a campout to get used to different cooking methods. You’ll find that the easier the meal, the better—in most cases, anyway.

    That simplicity translates well into emergency situations. When the stakes are high, complicated meals may not work out (wasting food), or take longer to prepare (leaving you and your group hangry [hungry + angry]).

    The best way to ensure simple, quick meals in an emergency is to add some MRE and just-add-water entrees, sides, and desserts into your supplies.

    For MREs, you’ll just need some MRE heaters, a car engine, a warm rock, or some other way to warm it up. You can even eat them cold, because they’re 100% pre-cooked and ready to eat.

    To cook just-add-water meals, you’ll want to have a way to quickly and efficiently boil water, like the Kelly Kettle or a canister stove. Then you just add the water to your food, wait about 10 minutes, and dig in.

    3. You’ll get used to using “the facilities” in less-than-ideal circumstances.

    I don’t know anyone who prefers using toilets that don’t flush (there could be someone out there, but I personally don’t know anyone). But in a large-scale emergency situation, disrupted utilities are highly likely. That means no flushing toilets, no running water, and finding a way to safely deal with human and pet waste.

    If you have to evacuate to a location without a permanent shelter or running water, experience “taking care of business” in the outdoors will come in handy.

    One of the easiest ways to deal with bathroom needs in an emergency is a Tote-able Toilet and enzyme packets. The toilet is a 5-gallon bucket with a specially-designed toilet seat that fits on it just like a lid. Each time you use the bathroom you can sprinkle some of the enzymes in, and they will help to fight odor. You can even grab one of our deluxe privacy pop-up tents

    Don’t forget the toilet paper!

    4. What you deem “necessities” will likely change.

    You may think you know what the necessities are—and maybe you’ve had to experience enough bare-bones living to know what you actually need and what is just nice to have.

    Camping regularly will give you an idea of the things you actually need to have to stay safe, healthy, and fed when you’re away from home.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t put “want-to-have” items in your bug-out bag. Some familiar items will bring comfort and can provide distraction during long wait times at shelters or in food or aid lines. But when it comes down to what is really necessary to survive, camping will give you a pretty clear idea.

    5. You’ll have a chance to practice important skills and become more resourceful.

    Knowing how to build a shelter from branches and other resources you find nearby, start a fire without matches, identify edible plants, fish, and many other skills can come in handy in a survival situation—and camping is the perfect time to learn and perfect those skills.

    Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Well, it’s just a fact of life that if you go camping, you’re bound to forget something—sometimes trivial, sometimes important. Forgetting some of the necessities doesn’t have to derail your whole adventure, though. Turn the irritation into an opportunity to find creative solutions—either drawing on the resources you’ve brought with you or those provided by nature.

    Forgot rope? Are there vines or crawling ground cover you can use to lash things together?

    Forgot matches? What about using a magnifying glass or a pair of reading glasses to start your fire?

    When the stakes are high and you have to make it on your own, you’ll feel better knowing you’ve had practice making things work during campouts when a trip to the store wasn’t actually out of the question.

    6. You’ll learn which kinds of clothing, shoes, and outerwear are the best fit for the outdoors and your needs.

    The best type of clothing for the outdoors changes depending on the area you live in and the weather you expect to face. But there are some pretty basic rules that work no matter what:

    1)      Dress in layers—that way you can add or subtract layers as conditions change.

    2)      Wear clothing that will dry quickly and wicks moisture away from your body.

    3)      Comfort and safety are the most important things to think about when it comes to outdoor clothing.

    4)      Cotton is the fabric of death. (Most of the time. In the hot summer sun, light cotton or linen clothes can be ideal.)

    7. You’ll be more at ease in nature.

    Spending time hiking, backpacking, and camping will help you get comfortable spending long periods of time with Mother Nature. You’ll start to understand things like: how easily you sunburn, what kinds of plants grow in your area, where to find water or shade when you need it, what kind of wildlife is common in your area (and how frequently they disrupt campsites), etc.

    Spending time outside is a novelty for some people—don’t let that be the case for you. Spend time outside, get to know your surroundings, and use them to your advantage if the time comes that you have to evacuate by foot or camp out after a disaster—even if it’s in a park right next to the Red Cross or other relief shelter. If your home isn’t safe and there aren’t enough shelters, you’ll have to find a way to stay safe, clean, warm/cool, and fed—which is a lot more likely if you’ve had some practice.

    8. Your kids (if you have any) won’t be quite as freaked out that they aren’t sleeping in their own beds.

    Spending time camping—whether it’s multi-day backpacking trips or car camping at a developed camp site—will help your kids feel more at ease if your family ever has to sleep in a tent, under the stars, or in the car. Camping for fun before camping out of necessity will help them feel at ease in nature, be less anxious away from home, and develop what I consider one of the most important things a person can have: a sense of adventure.

    9. You can get used to finding and treating water before you drink it.

    Safe drinking water is one of your first priorities in an emergency. Staying hydrated is crucial to keeping up your energy and well-being in any circumstance, and in an emergency it can become a serious challenge if you haven’t prepared.

    In an emergency where water isn’t readily available—maybe your supply has been ruined by a tornado or earthquake—you’ll have to search for it. Knowing in advance where to find it will give you a big advantage, so you don’t waste precious energy combing the area near your house for water sources.

    If you’ve got a water filter, water purification system, or a combination of both, then you’re well on your way. Using these tools on campouts will get you in the habit of treating found water before you use it. Although many filters are quick to use, water treatment tablets like MicroPur can take up to 4 hours to thoroughly treat water (if it’s dirty and cold)—so be aware of the time it may take for your water to be ready, and plan accordingly.

    Note: Don’t use a water filter on your campouts if you don’t need to—once the carbon in filters has been exposed to water, it’s only good for six months, so it doesn’t make sense to pull it out for a “practice run” unless you’re planning to use it regularly in the upcoming months.

    10. You’ll be really efficient getting your camp set up.

    The more you go camping, the better you’ll get at setting things up, packing things away, understanding what’s going to make life easier and what’s just going to get in the way, and a whole slew of other things. It might not seem like a big deal if you’ve always had good weather and plenty of time to get things set up, but if you’ve ever set up camp in a rainstorm or in the dark, you know that the more familiar you are with how your gear sets up, the sooner you’ll be warm and cozy in your tent. And in an emergency, that can be priceless as far as keeping your body temperature up, keeping sickness at bay, and keeping everyone calm and happy in a stressful situation.

    So… Go Camping!

    Like I said before: you may love camping, you may hate it. Either way, I’m here to tell you that you should go camping on a regular basis. It will not only help you enjoy the beauty of nature (hopefully… if not, you may be doing something wrong), it will also help you gain experience and skills that will come in handy during an evacuation or other emergency.

     

    --Urban Girl

    Editor's Note: Why is Cotton the Fabric of death? 100% cotton clothes are not good for survival situations because they absorb and retain moisture. Since it absorbs moisture, wearing that wet cotton shirt could lead to hypothermia because if you are cold and wet, that makes you more susceptible to hypothermia. Also, Items that are 100% cotton are heavier, making running or hiking through the woods hot and could lead to easier fatigue. In other words, make sure that you have clothes made of lighter or more breathable fabrics packed in your emergency kit for a survival situation. Cotton polyester blends are lighter than 100% cotton. In essence, look for cotton blends to help you in survival situations.

    Posted In: Insight, Skills Tagged With: emergency supplies, emergency preparedness, camping

  • 5 Ways to Start a Fire with Water

    |10 COMMENT(S)

    5 Ways to Start a Fire with Water

    A crucial skill to have in practically any emergency situation is knowing how to build a fire. Whether you get lost overnight on a ski trip or your car runs out of gas as you pack up to leave your campsite, knowing how to build a fire and stay warm could save your life.

    So what’s the best way to build a fire? “Building” a fire typically comes in three stages: gather the materials, lay the fire, and then start it. Check out our Insight Article to learn “How to Build a Fire” using these three stages.

    However, in an emergency situation, there’s one other item that could actually help you start a fire that many overlook—water. It’s true. Grant Thompson, from thekingofrandom.com, shows five ways you can start a fire using water. Check it out:

    There you have it: five ways water can start a fire. Four of Thompson’s five fire starting methods show you how to use water as a magnifying glass to spark a fire, letting the power of the sun do all the work (or at least a lot of it!). But e But B ven if there’s cloud cover, you aren’t out of luck. With just a few supplies you can still ignite a fire in seconds.

    If you plan to use water to help you start a fire in an emergency, make sure to add the following supplies to your emergency gear so you are completely prepared.

    Method 5:

    • A light bulb. Make sure your bulb has been rinsed and cleaned according to Thompson’s directions. Cushion the bulb with fabric, grocery sacks, or other forms of padding to keep it from breaking and place it in a small container before you put it in your emergency supplies.
    • A balloon to cap off the end of the light bulb after you’ve filled it with water

    Method 4

    • Plastic wrap
    • A bowl

    Method 3

    • Plastic wrap
    • A picture frame

    *For this method, make sure you have a way to securely attach the plastic wrap to the frame and to heat water.

    Method 2

    • A juice bottle (that looks like a bubble) filled with water

    Method 1

    • Toilet paper
    • Toilet paper roll
    • Small chunks of sodium
    • Jar lid

     

    Caution! Playing with fires is dangerous so make sure to have proper safety gear (a fire extinguisher, goggles, and leather gloves) with you when practicing these new ways to start a fire. Also, make sure to light fires in a cleared area away from flammable objects or dry grass.

    These are some fun, unique methods you can use to start a fire, but don’t forget about the traditional methods as well. Adding items such as the Sparkie, the P-25 Strike Master or FiredUp! firestarters to your emergency supplies are reliable ways to get a roaring fire and warmth fast. (Or, taking a hint from Thompson, how about a magnifying glass?)

     

     

    Sources:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCyHC7lnMyQ

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: fire starting, fire, emergency preparedness, skills

  • Earthquakes and your Mental Health

    How do Earthquakes impact your Mental Health?

    After a 4.4 magnitude earthquake shook California residents on St. Patrick’s Day, many people have found it difficult to shake their high-strung nerves, according to CBS Los Angeles’ article, “‘Earthquake Nerves’ could Impact Mental Health’”.

    Emotional aftershocks are common after experiencing emergencies or natural disasters. But did you know these aftershocks are capable of affecting your mental health if you ignore them?

    One of the most important things you can do after a disaster, according to Psychiatrist Charles Sophy, is to talk about your experience. Sophy believes emotional signs such as the inability to fall asleep or the lack of hunger are “signs that you’re still very upset [and] are red flags that you need to do something, which is either talking to [another] adult or call[ing] your doctor. Talk to your husband, your partner, whatever, but you’ve got to talk about it.”

    Talking about your experience can help alleviate the stress and anxiety that comes from the lack of control you felt during a crisis. It’s equally important to talk with your children if you’re a parent and to not underestimate or downplay the danger of earthquakes. Read the rest of the article here.

    Preparing will help alleviate some of the potential emotional turmoil and distress that comes from emergencies. Focus on the following areas (in addition to gathering gear and supplies):

    1. Prepare your home: You can prepare your home by building a supply of food, water, and gear to help you survive after an earthquake. You can go even further by bolting down furniture or securing vases, frames, and other moveable objects with an adhesive putty or gel, like these from Quake Hold.
    2.  Prepare your children: Teach your children how to stay safe at home, school, and while outdoors during an earthquake. Also let your children help make a plan, build an emergency kit, and get involved. Check out Ready.gov for ideas on how to include your children.
    3. Prepare yourself: Prepare yourself emotionally and physically for an earthquake. If you’ve taken the above precautions and prepared your home and your children, you’ll be able to better focus on keeping your emotions in check during an emergency.

     

    What precautions do you think are the most important to take for an earthquake?

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: national disaster, Earthquake, emergency preparedness

  • Caught in a Mudslide: Survivors' Stories

    Caught in a Mudslide: Survivors' Stories from Washington state

    Imagine hearing a crack and then sliding from zero to 20 miles per hour in half a second while sitting in the front room of your home. That’s how many described the massive mudslide that crashed through a neighborhood in Washington state on Saturday, March 22.

    As the mudslide rushed towards the homes below, people frantically cried for help. Evacuation teams immediately worked to rescue people from their homes, airlifting them from destroyed structures.

    One survivor spoke with the Washington Post about her experience:

    “I looked out the window, and I saw this huge wall of mud – must have been 20 feet tall. We went moving, and we were tumbled. I had a mouth full of mud, and nose full of it. We were under everything, and we had to dig our way out,” said Robin Youngblood.

    “To all my family and friends in many parts of the world – we’re all OK,” Youngblood wrote on her Facebook page after the event. “We don’t have a home at present, its only matchsticks, the landslide took it out with Jetty and I inside. It was a wild ride. We were airlifted out by helicopter after about an hour. The only thing that survived besides us is a painting called Night Warrior…”

    Read more stories from survivors from the Washington Post here.

    The rescue effort is still underway as volunteers search through the rubble. Right now the death toll is at 14, although emergency officials expect it to rise, and there are 176 people unaccounted for. Our hearts go out to all those suffering from this natural disaster.

    Landslides can be fast-moving or slow; they can cause damage gradually or destroy property and take lives in an instant. They can happen anywhere and for a variety of reasons (heavy rain and snowmelt, shaking due to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, erosion, and gravity, etc.).

    So what should you know about avoiding or preparing for landslides?

    The Red Cross shares three tips to help you avoid or prepare for landslides.

    1. Learn about your area’s landslide risk. Landslides tend to repeat in places where they have occurred in the past. If the home you’re hoping to build or buy is in an area where a landslide has occurred before, think seriously about choosing a different location.
    2. During severe rainstorms, avoid roads that may be in the path of a land/mudslide. Heavily saturated ground makes the chances of a mudslide more likely.
    3. Generally, landslide insurance is not available. However, some flood insurance companies may cover damage caused by debris flow. Check with your company and see how you can protect your home and personal property in the event that a mudslide does happen in your area.

     

    Have you ever been caught in a mudslide before? What was your experience? What would you do differently if you could?

    Photo Courtesy of the Washington Post

     

    Sources:

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/03/24/2-killed-in-big-wash-mudslide-sheriff-office-says/

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/03/24/the-fatal-mudslide-in-washington-what-was-it-like/

    http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/landslide

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: natural disasters, emergency preparedness

  • Hunting Snares: Types and How to Build One

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    Understanding how to use snares for hunting can help you survive in an emergency

    In severe disasters, often times you end up relying on yourself and your own outdoor survival skills more than you might expect. It’s handy to have your supply of food storage and other gear, but what if a sudden tsunami sweeps it all away? What if an unexpected earthquake buries your supply in rubble or opens a sink hole and swallows it whole? (It’s rare—but it does happen). What if, for some reason, you can’t access your storage anymore? As a prepper, it’s important to prepare in all areas: food, water, gear, and skills.

    Hunting Basics: Traps and Snares

    Not everybody is a hunting expert with a Brush Gun slung over their shoulder, but everyone can, and should, be a snare/trap expert—or at least know the basics.

    When you have only yourself to rely on for food, a basic knowledge of snares and traps may prove to save your life.

    In an emergency, there’s always a chance that you will be out on your own for longer than three days. Think Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms hitting the Philippines in 2013; it killed nearly 6,000 people and displaced another 3.6 million. Or consider the tornadoes that swept through Oklahoma in May of 2013, destroying homes, damaging schools, and killing 24 people.

    Disasters like these happen all too often, making your knowledge of survival skills vital to staying alive.  Learn to build traps and snares out of basic items you can find after a disaster (or items you have stored in your emergency kit), and you’ll be better prepared to face the unexpected.

    Types of Traps and Snares

    A snare is one of the simplest types of traps you can make that allow you to catch animals or birds using a rope, wire, or cord. This post will tell you how to make a few types of snares to use in a survival situation. Typically it’s a good idea to place multiple traps around your area and build a variety of them—certain traps work better in certain locations or with specific species.

    Keep in mind that a lot of animal snares and traps are illegal and dangerous, such as the Pine Pitch Bird Cup trap, so make sure you check with your local authorities to determine whether or not your choice of snare is okay for hunting or if it should only be used in a real emergency situation.

    A Squirrel Noose

    This classic snare uses no bait and little supplies, letting you easily trap your prey right outside his home. All you need is wire. According to the Survivalist, you want 2-foot lengths of wire (22-gauge or 24-gauge wire works well) for each snare, which you’ll want about a dozen of.

    Squirrel Snare--Photo Courtesy of the Survivalist

    First, locate an area where squirrel activity is high. You can usually tell by either finding a squirrel nest in a tree or by signs of their activity on the ground (ex. a pile of pine cone shreds where one has sat and eaten). Once you’ve found your location, search out a log to rest against the tree. It’s preferable if there is already one that you can tell squirrels use to get up to their nests. If there’s not one already set, find your own.

    Using your 2-foot lengths of wire, make a small loop (about the circumference of a pencil) at one end of the wire. Feed the other end of the wire through that small loop making a noose. Pull it through until your snare loop is no bigger than 3 inches in diameter. Tie the other end of the wire around your log. Don’t save your snares, use dozens over the one log, making the nooses cover the tops, sides, and bottoms so your prey can’t escape.

    Learn how to build a Squirrel Noose from the experts at the Survivalist.

    Fixed Snare

    The Fixed Snare allows you to catch an animal and to keep it from running away. You can make a fixed snare out of practically any flexible, durable material (wire, a braided-steel cable, etc.) making it an ideal snare to use in an emergency situation. However, these snares are usually a one-time use trap as the wires tend to bend and weaken after an animal has been caught.

    Fixed Snare--Photo Courtesy of Outdoor Life

    For the fixed snare to work, simply create a small loop at one end of the wire (about the circumference of a pencil). Feed the other end of the wire through that small loop to create a type of noose. Place the ‘noose’ above a burrow or on a small game trail and wait. When an animal scampers by, pull the wire, which will tighten the noose and catch you a meal.

    Learn how to build a Fixed Snare from the experts at Outdoor Life.

    Deer Trail Snare

    Trapping a deer is tastier than other game you may find in a survival situation, and with this snare it’s pretty easy to do. Locate a path where deer travel frequently—look for animal tracks across a trail where shrubbery and bushes overlap into it. These trails are great to help hide your snare.

    For this snare, all you need is paracord, wire, and nature. Create a snare loop (as explained in the Fixed Snare and Squirrel Noose instructions) with your wire large enough for a deer’s head to fit through—roughly 12-24" in diameter and up to 3 feet high. Over the trail, locate two trees. Tie one end of your paracord to one tree and the other end to the second tree; hang your noose wire from it. Use the overhanging brush to disguise the wire hanging in the middle of the trail. When a deer walks through, his head will get caught in the noose and he’ll be trapped. This trap won’t kill the deer, but will hold him until you can get there to finish the job. 

    Greasy String Deadfall

    This bait-driven snare will catch and kill your game. This snare is great to use in survival situations because all you need is a deadfall (a weight, like a rock, that’s heavy enough to kill the animal on impact), a forked branch/stick, a sapling, and twine or paracord. All of these items can be found outdoors except for the twine—which you should put in your emergency kit ahead of time.

    Greasy String Deadfall Snare--Photo Courtesy of Outdoor Life

    With the Greasy String Deadfall, an animal is lured to your string covered in bait (that’s the ‘grease’). Your bait can be anything from other dead animals, berries, etc. You can decide what type of bait to use based on the type of animal you’re trying to catch. As your prey chews on the string, it will snap and the rock (a.k.a deadfall) will land on top of the animal.  

    Learn how to build a Greasy String Deadfall snare from the experts at Outdoor Life. 

    Bottle Fishing Trap

    The Plastic Bottle Fishing Trap is as simple as it gets when it comes to traps. This trap is ideal for catching small fish, which you can either eat or use as bait for another snare. All you need to make this trap is a water bottle and a sharp knife.

    Bottle Trap Snare--Photo Courtesy of Off Grid Survival

    Using your knife cut off the top of the water bottle and insert it back into the bottle, nozzle down. You can place insects or other bait into the bottle to attract the fish. Place the bottle in shallow water where you can hold it steady with surrounding vegetation. Small fish will swim into the bottle for the bait, but be unable to find their way back out.

    Learn how to build the Bottle Fishing Trap from the experts at OffGrid Survival.

    For additional snare ideas and tutorials, check out the sources below:

    Sources:

    http://www.worldvision.org/news-stories-videos/2013-top-natural-disasters

    http://offgridsurvival.com/survival-traps-and-snares/

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Snaring/step6/The-Fixed-Snare/

    http://www.outdoorlife.com/photos/gallery/survival/2013/03/how-build-trap-15-best-survival-traps

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_trapping

    http://www.myoan.net/hunting/jargon.html

    http://survival.outdoorlife.com/blogs/survivalist/2012/08/survival-skills-how-make-squirrel-pole-snare

    Posted In: Insight, Skills Tagged With: preparedness skills, hunting snare, trap, snare, hunting, emergency preparedness supplies, emergency cooking, food, emergency preparedness, Survival, skills

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