All posts by JoAnn K. (Gateway)

Earthquake Safety “Triangle of Life”

m6340297_514x260-logoIn the horrific and unbelievable aftermath of major earthquakes, such as the 9.0 that recently struck Japan, public interest in earthquake preparedness understandably increases.  While there are several reliable sources to turn to for accurate earthquake preparedness information and American Red Cross), there are also plenty of sources with inaccurate information as well.

One such source of inaccurate information is an email which circulates after every major earthquake.  The email is entitled the “Triangle of Life” by Doug Copp.  Mr. Copp presents a very convincing argument as to why we should revamp our earthquake survival techniques; unfortunately, Mr. Copp’s theories have been refuted by several major earthquake research organizations, including the American Red Cross.

Here’s the response from the American Red Cross to Doug Copp’s “Triangle of Life” theory:

American Red Cross response to “Triangle of Life” by Doug Copp

Sent from
Rocky Lopes, PhD Manager, Community Disaster Education American Red Cross National Headquarters

Recently it has been brought to my attention that an email from Doug Copp, titled “Triangle of Life,” is making its rounds again on the Internet. “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” is CORRECT, accurate, and APPROPRIATE for use in the United States for Earthquake safety. Mr. Copp’s assertions in his message that everyone is always crushed if they get under something is incorrect.

Recently, the American Red Cross became aware of a challenge to the earthquake safety advice “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” This is according to information from Mr. Doug Copp, the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of American Rescue Team International (a private company not affiliated with the U.S. Government or other agency.)

He says that going underneath objects during an earthquake [as in children being told to get under their desks at school] is very dangerous, and fatal should the building collapse in a strong earthquake. He also states that “everyone who gets under a doorway when a building collapses is killed.”

He further states that “if you are in bed when an earthquake happens, to roll out of bed next to it,” and he also says that “If an earthquake happens while you are watching television and you cannot easily escape by getting out the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to a sofa, or large chair.”

These recommendations are inaccurate for application in the United States and inconsistent with information developed through earthquake research. Mr. Copp based his statements on observations of damage to buildings after an earthquake in Turkey.

It is like “apples and oranges” to compare building construction standards, techniques, engineering principles, and construction materials between Turkey and the United States.

We at the American Red Cross have studied the research on the topic of earthquake safety for many years. We have benefited from extensive research done by the California Office of Emergency Services, California Seismic Safety Commission, professional and academic research organizations, and emergency management agencies, who have also studied the recommendation to “drop, cover, and hold on!” during the shaking of an earthquake. Personally, I have also benefited from those who preceded me in doing earthquake education in California since the Field Act was passed in 1933.

What the claims made by Mr. Copp of ARTI, Inc., does not seem to distinguish is that the recommendation to “drop, cover, and hold on!” is a U.S.-based recommendation based on U.S. Building Codes and construction standards. Much research in the United States has confirmed that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” has saved lives in the United States. Engineering researchers have demonstrated that very few buildings collapse or “pancake” in the U.S. as they might do in other countries. Using a web site to show one picture of one U.S. building that had a partial collapse after a major quake in an area with thousands of buildings that did not collapse during the same quake is inappropriate and misleading.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which collects data on injuries and deaths from all reportable causes in the U.S., as well as data from three University-based studies performed after the Loma Prieta (September, 1989) and Northridge (January, 1994) earthquakes in California, the following data are indicated: Loma Prieta: 63 deaths, approximately 3,700 people were injured. Most injuries happened as a result of the collapse of the Cypress Street section of I-880 in Oakland. Northridge: 57 deaths, 1,500 serious injuries.

Most injuries were from falls caused by people trying to get out of their homes, or serious cuts and broken bones when people ran, barefooted, over broken glass (the earthquake happened in the early morning on a federal holiday when many people were still in bed.) There were millions of people in each of these earthquake-affected areas, and of those millions, many of them reported to have “dropped, covered, and held on” during the shaking of the earthquake.

We contend that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” indeed SAVED lives, not killed people. Because the research continues to demonstrate that, in the U.S., “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” works, the American Red Cross remains behind that recommendation. It is the simplest, reliable, and easiest method to teach people, including children.

The American Red Cross has not recommended use of a doorway for earthquake protection for more than a decade. The problem is that many doorways are not built into the structural integrity of a building, and may not offer protection. Also, simply put, doorways are not suitable for more than one person at a time.

The Red Cross, remaining consistent with the information published in “Talking About Disaster: Guide for Standard Messages,” (visit states that if you are in bed when an earthquake happens, remain there. Rolling out of bed may lead to being injured by debris on the floor next to the bed. If you have done a good job of earthquake mitigation (that is, removing pictures or mirrors that could fall on a bed; anchoring tall bedroom furniture to wall studs, and the like), then you are safer to stay in bed rather than roll out of it during the shaking of an earthquake.

Also, the Red Cross strongly advises not try to move (that is, escape) during the shaking of an earthquake. The more and the longer distance that someone tries to move, the more likely they are to become injured by falling or flying debris, or by tripping, falling, or getting cut by damaged floors, walls, and items in the path of escape. Identifying potential “void areas” and planning on using them for earthquake protection is more difficult to teach, and hard to remember for people who are not educated in earthquake engineering principles.

The Red Cross is not saying that identifying potential voids is wrong or inappropriate. What we are saying is that “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” is NOT wrong — in the United States. The American Red Cross, being a U.S.-based organization, does not extend its recommendations to apply in other countries. What works here may not work elsewhere, so there is no dispute that the “void identification method” or the “Triangle of Life” may indeed be the best thing to teach in other countries where the risk of building collapse, even in moderate earthquakes, is great.

Source: Letter from American Red Cross

More information can be found at:

Emergency and Public Alerts

In case you didn’t know, with today’s technology it is easier than ever to stay informed about public safety announcements and alerts.  Many organizations, cities, and states are utilizing this technology to allow you, the user, to subscribe to the alerts or messages you want and best of all you get to determine where you receive the alerts (on your mobile phone, email, twitter, etc).

Here’s a list of some of the alert services that I use:

Principles of Home Preserving

How to preserve food

Whether you’re just getting started in home food preservation or just want to expand or brush-up on your skills visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s (NCHFP) website.  The NCHFP in conjunction with the USDA have put together a website and several guides to provide the latest procedures and recommendations based on current research. Quick links from the NCHFP website:

There is also a section of “How To” slideshows that you may find helpful – you can find the complete list of slideshows by clicking here.  Please note these slideshows are in Microsoft PowerPoint – if you don’t have this program you may obtain a FREE PowerPoint viewer by clicking here – after you install the viewer then you’ll be able to view the slideshows.

Photo source: public domain

A Young Woman Discovers the Joy of Canning

By Amy H.

Canning is one of my family’s favorite summertime activities. I can still remember the first time we chose this method for preserving food. My husband and I were students at BYU. We drove past a fruit stand one afternoon. There was a great deal on peaches. Kevin suggested we can some.

I admit I was totally overwhelmed at the idea of canning! I knew you had to follow strict methods of preserving, being careful to have the food at the right temperature, and to make sure the equipment was properly sterilized. The first thing that came to mind was “Botulism”!

I agreed to preserve the peaches if we did some canning and some freezing. I felt freezing was easier and safer. My mother had a big chest freezer when I was young and we always used that method. To my surprise, I found that canning was much easier than I had expected. It took pre-planning. We had to make sure to have rings, lids, jars, and a large pan with a rack in the bottom. The peaches sure did taste great that winter. And they looked beautiful on the kitchen shelves of that little student apartment.

When we moved to Oregon we continued with canning. We have limited space so the jars are perfect. I don’t need a big freezer or lots of storage space. The shelves in one cupboard hold finished products. I also store jars in the laundry room. We almost always can items that we get from friends, neighbors, our garden, or from heading out into woods to pick. We have canned plums, peaches, apples, tomatoes, salsa, blackberries, strawberries and many types of jellies and syrups.

My kids love the jelly. I don’t remember the last time I purchased a jar from the store. I enjoy sharing low sugar jellies with friends and opening a jar of salsa in the middle of the winter. Tarragon pickles were a big hit with my family last year. They were delicious and easy! I finally purchased a pressure canner and added vegetables and meats to our canning experience. My family enjoyed the taste and convenience of home made soup.

Juice steamer
Juice Steamer

Canning is easy! If you are going to can I recommend purchasing or borrowing a canner, a steam juicer, the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, and plenty of rings, lids, and jars.

Basic Tools for Canning
Basic Tools for Canning

I suggest starting with jelly making. It is easy and there are directions in every box of pectin. You can experiment with recipes as you become more proficient. If summer time is busy for you, can the juice from fruit then make jelly in the fall or winter. Tomatoes are also really easy to can.

Give canning a try. You may discover, like me, that it is fun, easy, and rewarding!

Featured image: public domain

Photos by LDS Intelligent Living

HAM Radio: Frequently Asked Questions

Handheld Ham RadioThe following frequently asked questions regarding Amateur Radio Operators (HAM) have been answered by Louis B., Regional Emergency Communication Specialist:

Why should I get a Ham Radio License if I can use a CB radio? What is the difference between the two? Do you need a license to use a CB radio?



Ham Radio, is both a hobby and a service in which participants, called “Hams,” use various types of radio communications equipment to communicate with other radio amateurs for public service, recreation and self-training. One of three license levels is required for sole operation of a Ham Radio (a non-licensed person may operate a Ham Radio under the guidance of a licensed Ham).

Amateur radio operators enjoy personal (and often worldwide) wireless communications with each other and are able to support their communities with emergency and disaster communications if necessary, while increasing their personal knowledge of electronics and radio theory. Millions of people throughout the world are regularly involved with amateur radio.

The term “amateur” is not a reflection on the skills of the participants, which are often quite advanced; rather, “amateur” indicates that amateur communications are not allowed to be used for commercial or moneymaking purposes.


Citizens Band Radio, or CB, is a short-distance two-way voice communications system for use by individuals for personal and business activities on one of 40 available channels.

There are no age, citizenship, or license requirements to operate a CB radio in the United States. Operators may use any of the authorized 40 CB channels; however, channel 9 is typically used for emergency communications or for traveler assistance. Usage of all channels is on a shared basis.

Other forms of CB-like two-way communications are Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS).



  • Available communications frequencies range from: High Frequency, 160 Meters (1.8 MHz) up to frequencies 275 GHz and above.
  • Transmit power levels of 2,000 Watts are permitted on certain frequencies and modes. Power levels of below 1 Watt to 50 Watts are more common. Most Hams use the lowest power levels possible to prevent interference from limiting the communications abilities of other people in areas close by.
  • VHF 2 Meters (144 MHz) and UHF 70 cm (420 MHz) are most commonly used for local communications and by entry level Hams.
  • Unlike CB, FRS, and GMRS, the frequencies, in sections, are continuously tunable and are not limited to fixed channels.
  • Ham Radio can be configured to use repeaters that allow weak signals to be “relayed” by powerful transmitters with antennas located at high elevations on buildings, towers, or mountains. This feature is particularly useful for low-power or hand-held radios that can lose the ability to communicate when located or carried into a valley or in-between tall structures where line-of-sight between radios can not be maintained.
  • There are multiple operating modes available such as Digital Formats used for text, data, and image transmissions; voice (often referred to as phone); and Morse Code (CW).
  • Digital and CW formats can often be intelligible under conditions where voice transmissions are impossible.
  • Frequencies can be selected for specific requirements such as long distance communications, ability to penetrate structures, and other specialized applications.
  • Fewer antenna location and height restrictions.
  • Transmission ranges can vary from less than one mile to many thousands of miles depending on the radio type, antennas, and other equipment used.
  • Although a license is required, Ham Radio will usually be the most reliable and suitable form of two-way radio communications available during emergencies. That said a good emergency communicator would use any and all forms of communications that succeed in getting the messages from one point to another.


  • Operation is permitted anywhere within the United States and its territories or possessions; as well as anywhere in the world except within the territorial limits of areas where radio services are regulated by a foreign government, or another U.S. agency such as the Department of Defense.
  • Transmitters must be FCC certified and may not be modified, including modifications to increase output power or to transmit on unauthorized frequencies. Output power is limited to 4 watts for AM transmitters and 12 watts peak envelope power for single sideband (SSB) transmitters. The antenna may not be more than 20 feet (6.1 m) above the highest point of the structure it is mounted to, nor more than 60 feet (18.3 m) above the ground.
  • CB and other types of two-way communications formats, including Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), are more likely to experience unfavorable communications conditions during emergencies due the large number of people trying to communicate, those intentionally attempting to disrupt communications, and the limited frequencies or “channels” available.
  • Operates within the High Frequency (HF) 11 Meter Band (27-MHz). The maximum legal CB power output level, in the U.S., is four watts for AM and 12 watts (peak envelope power or “PEP”) for SSB, as measured at the antenna connection on the back of the radio. It is one of several personal radio services defined by the FCC’s Part 95 rules.
  • Uncooperative users sometimes make legitimate, short-range use of CB radio difficult and users of illegal high-power transmitters, which are capable of being heard hundreds of miles away, may blank out all other users for many channels in each direction of the primary channel in use. In the United States, the vast number of users and the low financing of the regulatory body mean that the regulations are only actively enforced against the most severe interfering stations, which makes legitimate operations on the Citizen’s band unreliable.
  • The 27-MHz-frequencies used by CBs, which require a long antenna and don’t propagate well indoors, tend to discourage use of handheld radios for many applications.
  • Expect a communication range of 2 to 10 miles, most often less than 5 miles depending on the surrounding obstructions.


  • FRS uses narrowband FM (NBFM) with maximum effective radiated power of 0.5 watt (500 milliwatts). FRS is intended for hand-held, short-range local, and private communications.
  • Operates within the UHF spectrum and usually penetrates structures better than CB signals but with much lower power levels that feature may be limited.
  • Expect a communication range of 1 to 5 miles, most often less than 2 miles, generally line-of-sight; significantly less if not line-of-sight.


  • General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is a licensed land-mobile FM UHF radio service in the United States available for short-distance two-way communication. GMRS is intended for use by an adult individual that possesses a valid GMRS license.
  • The GMRS-only channels are defined in pairs; with one frequency in the 462 MHz range for simplex and repeater outputs, and another frequency 5 MHz higher for repeater inputs. There are eight channels exclusively for GMRS and seven “interstitial” channels shared with Family Radio Service. GMRS use requires an FCC license, and licensees are permitted to transmit at up to 50 Watts on GMRS frequencies (although 1 to 5 watts is more common), as well as having detachable or external antennas.
  • GMRS licensees are also able to use the first 7 FRS frequencies (the “interstitial” GMRS frequencies), but at the lower 5 Watt maximum power output, for a total of 15 channels. FRS channels 8 through 14 are not available for GMRS use; use of these frequencies requires an FRS transceiver and are the most commonly used GMRS Radios.

How old do you have to be to get a Ham Radio License?

While there is no minimum age requirement for obtaining a Ham Radio License there is a reading test involved so typically six might be the youngest Ham you could expect to see.

How expensive are Ham Radios, and what radio do I buy after I get my license? How do I pick one, there are so many out there?

A Ham Radio can be obtained from less than $100 to many thousands of dollars. The operating mode you find interesting or type of use you intend would dictate your choice. You may end up with many different types of Ham Radios for different purposes.

For new Hams I always recommend purchasing a very basic used hand-held VHF radio for less than $100, which is easy to do at most Ham Fests (a two-way radio flea market), get used to the hobby and discover which mode or modes and frequencies interest you and then make other purchases specifically designed to fit your new and informed tastes.

I would also recommend securing the opinion and assistance of an experienced Ham when deciding on and purchasing your first radio.

Do I need a huge antenna for my radio to work?

Typically the greater gain (usually specialized or larger antenna) and higher above ground your antenna is mounted, the greater distance you will be able to transmit and receive. If you use a local repeater to relay your signal a hand-held radio with the original “rubber duckie” antenna will usually be adequate for most local needs. If a repeater is not available a better remote antenna could be required depending on your application.

How much does it cost to get the license?

Study materials could cost $20 and up depending on the source, but there are Internet sites that offer free what is needed to prepare for the exam. The commercial materials are usually worth the investment.

Some testing entities offer the exam free and others charge a modest fee to cover materials (usually $15 or less). The FCC does not charge a fee for obtaining a Ham Radio License.

Where do I take the test?

There are many groups in multiple locations that Procter Ham Radio License exams. Members of CARS (a local Ham Club) offer testing two or three times a year. Other groups offer more frequent testing. Ask a Ham or contact the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) for testing site information.

How long is my license good for?

Usually ten years.

How can I prepare for the test? What manual should I use?

The Internet is full of material to assist in preparing for the Ham Radio License Exam. The ARRL (see URL above) offers a booklet titled; “Now You’re Talking” approximately $20 that contains the necessary information to pass the exam and additional electronic theory that is helpful while you enjoy your new hobby.

If I take a High Speed Ham Radio class, how much should I study to get ready?

The “High Speed” class will include the information necessary to pass the exam, but in a condensed and rapid-fire mode that leaves little time to deeply absorb the concepts. To obtain the greatest satisfaction from your new hobby additional study and experimenting would be advised.

To facilitate understanding, considering the fast-paced nature of the High Speed class, I would recommend purchasing the ““Now You’re Talking” book and read/study a few weeks before the class. This will also prepare you to arrive at the class armed with a bevy of questions.

Do I have to go to meetings after I get my license?

There are no meeting requirements to maintain your license. Attending meetings where like-minded people gather will offer support and a networking base to tap into when you have questions, run into problems, or need help building/repairing something.

How can I get involved to help the community once I am a licensed Ham Radio Operator?

Join with other like-minded Hams and they will apprise you of a plethora of service opportunities. Usually the most convenient way to do that is joining a Ham Club like CARS:

Cascade   Amateur   Radio   Society (CARS)

Can I connect with other Ham Radio Operators from our stake and other stakes?

Join CARS and sign up for the Email Listserver. The Listserver reaches Hams from all over the region.

How can a Ham Radio Operator help during an emergency response plan in a ward?

Talk with your Bishop and suggest you be assigned as a Ward Emergency Communication Specialist.

Are there any benefits to obtaining a Ham Radio Operators License beyond helping out during an emergency affecting the church?

It can be a very enjoyable hobby, assist with family matters, and increase your knowledge base, which will be useful in all other areas of your life.

Being the only Ham in my family, my wife used to dislike my taking the radio along on outings because of the “funny noises it made”. The following occurrences affected her opinion:

1) We had a flat tire in a remote location with 10” of snow, 12°F outside, jack would not fit under the car, and no Cell signal. I managed to hit a repeater with my radio and summoned aid.

2) On I-5 South bound we had a group of thugs try to run us off the road and gestured that they were going to harm us in other ways. Our Cell Phone happened to have a dead battery so I used the Ham Radio to make a phone call through a repeater to 911 Dispatch. They patched me through to the State Police and the thugs were in custody within five minutes.

3) In remote Southeast Oregon, out of Cell Phone range, we happened upon a wreck involving a car and pickup truck. The car was damaged enough that the doors would not open, smoke was coming from the engine compartment, and gas was leaking from the tank.
Using my Ham Radio I managed to contact a farmer who was also a Ham. He phoned the local fire protection group and then drove to our location (about 20 miles away). He had the windshield broken out and the occupants extricated before the rescue people arrived.

Although the car had not ignited before the Fire Department arrived it could have and I cannot imagine watching people burn to death.

In spite of having three Cell Phones my wife now insists I bring the radio along and demonstrate that it functions before we leave on an outing.

I have also experienced numerous pleasant events while using my radio.

With a higher power permitted than FRS, GMRS will usually transmit further and should have a range similar to CB Radios but with a more restrictive line-of-sight requirement.

Find an amateur radio license exam in your area, click here…

Feartured image source: public domain

Photo source: LDS Intelligent Living

Long Term Food Storage – Suggested Quantities

The new guidelines for Long Term Food Storage as found in the pamphlet “All is Safely Gathered In:  Family Home Storage” include the following foods and quantities (these quantities are listed for adults – children and youth requirements will vary): Have any combination of the following with a combined total weight of 25 pounds per person per month:

  • Wheat
  • White Rice
  • Corn
  • And other grains

Have any combination of the following with a combined total weight of 5 pounds per person per month:

  • Dried Beans (Pinto, Navy, Black, Kidney, etc)

All of the foods mentioned above have a 30+ year shelf life. For a quick and easy calculation each adult needs 300 pounds of the grains per year and 60 pounds of the dried beans per year. It should be noted and considered in your long term food storage plan that some of the “long-term” foods mentioned above can serve duel purposes.  For instance did you know that white beans can replace fat in most baking?  Or did you know that you can make sugar (diastatic malt) from whole-wheat, which can be used to supplement part of the sugar needed for bread making?  Wheat can also be made into basic gluten, which can be used as a meat substitute. The pamphlet also makes the following suggestion:

“You may also want to add other items such as sugar, nonfat dry milk, salt, baking soda, and cooking oil. To meet nutritional needs, also store foods containing Vitamin C and other essential nutrients.”

Other food items with a long shelf life which can be purchase from an LDS Home Storage Center include:

  • Non-fat dry milk (20 years)
  • Sugar (30 years)
  • Apple slices (30 years)
  • Carrots (25 years)
  • Macaroni (30 years)
  • Spaghetti (30 years)
  • Onions (30 years)
  • Potato Flakes (not pearls) (30 years)

Photo source: public domain – National Cancer Institute

Some 72-Hour Kits Provide False Sense of Security

By JoAnn K.

I remember when I put together my first 72-hour food kit at a ward activity; I thought it was the neatest most compact “real” food kit I had ever seen. Someone had taken the time (not me) to painstakingly purchase and try out various food products and package sizes for 9 complete meals (3 each of breakfast, lunch, and dinner) that would all fit perfectly (in the right sequence, much like a puzzle) into a 1/2 gallon milk carton. I thought this was brilliant – each person just needed one of these 1/2 gallon milk cartons full of food and they were set for the full 72 hours (of course water also needed to be stored); what a convenient size, so easy to store . . . and better yet it was given a 6 year expiration date. At that point in time I put my food kits in my trunk and thought I was set for the next 6 years, good job me!

About 3 years later in a different ward I had the opportunity to participate in another ward activity featuring 72-hour kits. This time though the container of choice was the #10 can. The can isn’t as small as the 1/2 gallon milk carton, nor does it stack as well – but it’s larger size did mean we could now store a greater variety of foods, and it’s rodent proof, and pretty much crush proof as it’s rolling around in the trunk . . . and even better yet it was still given a 6 year expiration date.

Fast forward two years and as we moved again I decided I was going to open the “milk carton” kits and see what they were like 5 years into their 6 year storage life. Can you guess? They were disgusting! The smell alone was repulsive, I was going to at least sample a granola bar, but the combined smell of all of the stale foods had penetrated everything. Did it still have any nutritional value? Maybe. Would it sustain life? Maybe someone’s, but not mine! The smell alone made me nauseous, now combine that with the stress of an emergency and I’m quite sure I would never be able to keep it down, which would lead to dehydration in a hurry; which is worse then hunger pains.

At this point I was curious and opened my #10 can, 2 years into it’s 6 year storage life. I was expecting to find the food in a better condition, it wasn’t. It had the same awful stale smell of mixed foods. As I was relating this experience to a member of my previous stake who was considered an authority in the Emergency Preparedness arena she begged me to spread the word to my ward and everywhere else I could that these types of 72-hour food kits that “seal” up nice and tight and aren’t meant to be opened unless there is an emergency are giving people a false sense of security.

Many believe as I believed that they have their emergency food already and that it will just sit there year after year and be ready in an emergency. Many people will be disappointed when they finally do open their “sealed” containers and find the food completely unpalatable.

The solution is simple – Store your 72-hour food in a container that is easy to open – anytime. Then, you are more likely to rotate the products in your kit more frequently and nothing will go to waste. In our home we use gallon size Ziploc baggies and we rotate the food in our kits during General Conference weekend, then it happens twice a year. The older food goes to the pantry for quick consumption and the new food goes into the kits. If you haven’t checked your 72-hour food kits in over a year – please do so now and either start over fresh or rotate out those items that are no longer palatable.

Click here to read “The Food in Your 72 Hour Kit”

Click here to read “Emergency Car Kit”  about storing food in vehicles.

Photo source: public domain

Emergency Car Kit

by JoAnn K.

Having emergency supplies readily available in our vehicles is always a good idea.  Most of us spend several hours each week or even each day away from the comforts and convenience of home.  When an emergency strikes, if we have our Emergency Car Kit with us in our vehicle we will be in a much better position of comfort and convenience until help can arrive or conditions improve so we can continue to our destination.

It sounds like common sense and also seems so easy; yet, many of us struggle with the assembly of these Emergency Car Kits given the limitations of space and extremes in temperature the interior of a car will encounter over the course of a year.

Keeping our Emergency Car Kits simple may provide the motivation and direction we need to assemble the kits and actually put them into our vehicles.

Let’s remember the basics of life: water, food, protection.

Water –

  • It is recommended by FEMA that we store 3 gallons per person (1 gallon per person per day for 72 hours).  This quantity includes water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene.  If you don’t have enough room for the full quantity of water in your vehicle just store as much as you can; although 3 gallons per person is the ideal some is better than none.
  • Keep in mind that different size water containers may help you achieve your goal; while gallon jugs are easy to carry, you probably can’t store one under your seat (at least not without breaking it).  However, smaller size containers can fit in the nooks and crannies, under the seat, in the seat pockets, in the glove box, and of course in the trunk.
  • Try to use or buy water containers that can expand if frozen, the extra ribbing (fancy bumps and designs in the plastic of commercial water bottles) will usually allow the bottle to expand without breaking should the water freeze in your vehicle – some bottles have more ribbing than others.

Food –

  • Choose items that won’t spoil with extremes in temperatures and that won’t make you excessively thirsty.  This means no canned foods and no dehydrated fruits that have a high moisture content (those that are sticky to the touch like raisins and apricots – these will mold quickly in a hot humid vehicle).
  • Graham crackers, a box of your favorite cold breakfast cereal, granola bars, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are some examples of the types of things that can be stored in a vehicle.

Protection –

  • Since you most likely can rely on your vehicle for protection we will focus instead on clothing and blankets.  While you may be safe in your vehicle from a rain or snow storm the temperatures inside the vehicle will still become cold.  Add an extra pair of warm clothes to your kit or a blanket or two.
  • Consider adding a poncho or rain coat (and of course an umbrella).
  • Consider adding a hat and gloves as well.
  • If you often wear dress shoes put a pair of tennis shoes in your kit.

Once we have these basics covered and in our vehicle we can then start adding additional comforts such as:

  • First Aid Kit (read labels carefully on medications as some will not tollerate extremes in temperature)
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Multi-purpose tool and/or a knife and set of basic tools
  • Activity to occupy your mind – book to read, game to play, paper and pen to write wit
  • Road flares – alert others on the road of your presence (do not use as a light stick, they drip and have noxious fumes – place on road or other non-flammable surface)
  • Light sticks – fairly inexpensive and provide up to 12 hours of light

Storing your Emergency Car Kit can also be done in any manner you desire.  Plastic totes with lids, gallon size baggies (there are even larger sizes now that zip closed and keep the contents dry), and cardboard boxes are just a few examples.

Photo source: public domain CDC

The Ant and the Grasshopper

By Mike Thompson

The Ant and the Grasshopper

I suspect that most of us remember the story of the ants who were preparing for the winter and the grasshopper who fiddled away his time to prepare. This story has several insightful issues and truths that we each should consider.

In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. “Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?” “I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.” “Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity. From Aesop’sFables

The question is; are we an “ant” or are we a “grasshopper”? We don’t really know when “winter” will come or how long we have to prepare for “it.” I don’t know if it is “spring, summer, or fall”, but I do know that it is time for us to prepare.

May we each use the available time to prepare for what lies before us.

Mike Thompson

Check Your 72-Hour Kit For Recalled Items

Many of us shuffled through our food storage looking for peanut products that were on the peanut recall list so we could dispose of them. However, as we recover from the massive recalls and begin to consume our beloved peanut products, take a moment to check your 72-Hour / Emergency Preparedness kits for any of the peanut products listed in the recalls (don’t forget your pet’s treats).

Check your kit (and your home for that matter) for other products that have been recalled

Evacuation: 10 Minute Challenge

How well do you think you’d do in the 10 minute challenge?
 You can find more information to help families become prepared for emergencies,  here.
Business owner’s should check out the Business section.
Photo source: public domain