Category Archives: Emergency Preparedness

N95 Particulate Respirator Mask

Preparedness Tip

There is a difference between the common dust mask and an N95 mask. The N95 mask has two straps, not just one. They are labeled N95 Particulate Respirator. NIOSH Approved TC-84A-_______. The last four numbers will depend on the manufacturer and the approval from NIOSH.  You can check out those that have been approved on-line at the NIOSH site, click here to read more…

If all other protocols are followed, a procedure mask may also work.  Some get too hung up on the mask when distance, not touching your face with unwashed hands, proper hand washing, and staying home when sick are just as important.

Eric J. Harmston, Sr., CSP

BYU Idaho Safety Office

Questions &Answers Novel H1N1 Influenza Vaccine, click here…

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, click here

CDC: Interim Recommendations for Facemask and Respirator Use to Reduce Novel Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Transmission



Cascade Amateur Radio Society-CARS

C.A.R.S. – Cascade Amateur Radio Society (a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation)

A gathering of Ham Radio operators committed to providing Emergency Communications support to the emergency relief efforts of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints, governmental entities, private relief organizations regardless of affiliation, and to the community at large, during times of need.

We are also dedicated to the furtherance of Ham Radio as a hobby, and other common communication interests of the Society members. Membership is open to all with an interest in radio communications (emergency and non-emergency) without discrimination relating to religion, race, gender, ethnic origin, or age.
CARS List Server Web Site:
CARS Training and Traffic Net:
 Sunday 21:00 hours on one of the following three frequencies. Check all three to see which one is being used, and occasionally monitor the unused frequencies, and redirect operators to the frequency in use. We usually use the VHF Repeater at 146.700MHz-PL Tone 100.
Simplex (limited rage-may need to be relayed): 147.555 MHz
CARS UHF Repeater (Prune Hill-near Camas): 444.525/449.525 MHz (Tone 103.5)
CARS VHF Repeater (KOIN Tower): 146.700 – offset, PL Tone of 100.0
ERC Net Saturday 8:00 AM 70 Meters 3.937 MHz
ERC Net Sunday 8:15 PM 70 Meters 3.937 MHz
Mercury NW Net Monday 9:00 PM 70 Meters 3.965 MHz & Sat. 8:15 AM 3.937 KhZ
Photo source: public domain

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

First Aid Kit for the Household

by LDS Intelligent Living

After doing some research about First Aid, I got motivated and decided to check my First Aid kits. I knew I hadn’t changed anything for years in the containers. It was time to update and add a few extra things too. Feeling more confident from my recent knowledge, I decided to do something about my neglected kits and involve my family in the process. tool box 001 I have kept the First Aid supplies for the house in a tackle box for years (an idea I got from a TV show) and used a pre-made kit for the car.            more first aid and more 002 I decided to upgrade the house container to a bigger size because I wanted to keep my supplies in one place and since I use herbal First Aid too I needed more space to fit everything in. I prepared a new First Aid kit for the car using the old tackle box.  Click here to read “Emergency Car Kit” by JoAnn K.  As I shopped around, I kept in mind the features I wanted the container to have:

  • Easy to carry
  • Simple to open
  • Durable
  • Roomy enough to contain the items needed for the family
  • Good visibility of contents

more first aid kit 001 I got my children involved in organizing the supplies in both containers. As we worked, we talked about each item and how to use it (the younger kids were excited about organizing the bandages by size).  First Aid Kit 010 Click here to view the recommended content of a First Aid Kit. We  spent a couple of hours as part of our elective for school that day (we home school) to talk about First Aid, which also helped my son pass off requirements for his Scout rank. We watched videos and discussed what to do in different emergency situations. We talked about the importance of having emergency phone numbers and made sure those we had were up-to-date and visible in the box. We checked that all medications were dated, added the First Aid manual, and wrote the date the supplies were checked on the lid of the container. We decided to update it twice a year along with our 72-hour emergency kit at General Conference time. We keep the First Aid kit within easy reach in one of the bedroom closet in the house (bathrooms are not ideal because of the humidity which shortens the shelf life of some of the contents of the First Aid kit).

Where are the bird-aids

If you do not have a First-Aid kit, and your budget is tight, build-up your supplies the same way you do with your food storage: gradually. A simple cardboard box will do to hold your items if that’s all you have, and ziploc bags to group and compartmentalize the supplies (keep wound supplies in one bag and medication in another). There is a wide selection of pre-made First Aid kits in many different price ranges. You need to shop around and decide what works best for you, to buy a pre-made kit or do it yourself.

Photos by LDS Intelligent Living

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

Car First Aid Kit Idea

How to Make a Compact First Aid Kit in a placemat By Carmel C. Instructions on how to make a compact First Aid kit for your car using a placemat and 1 gallon size ziplock bags. first aid kit in a placemat 012What you will need: Cloth Place Mat – approx. 12″x18″ 1 yard of 1 1/4″ wide ribbon Heavy (carpet) thread 6 one gallon zip-loc plastic bags

1.  Pin the ribbon down the center of the place mat, on the 18′ side, leaving tails at each end for tying.

2.  Sew up each side of the ribbon and anchor it at each end of the place mat, by stitching 2 or 3 times.

3.  Open the placemat with the ribbon on the under side and place 3 zip-loc bags with the opening towards the left and 3 bags wiith the opening to the right.

4.  Overlap the bags in the middle, adjusting the length to the size of the placemat, so the bags don’t show over the top.

5.  Sew down the middle of all layers of bags at once. Stitch again, about 1/4″ from the center seam on both sides, for strength.

6.  Fill the bags with First Aid Supplies and tie the kit shut with the ribbon.

Place under the seat of your car.


1. Gauze (squares or a roll), adhesive tape, scissors, band-aids, butterfly bandage strips, antiseptic cream, tweezers. antiseptic towelettes or alcohol swabs, sanitary napkins for compresses.

2. Latex gloves, dust masks to ward off germs, elastic bandage with safety pins.

3. Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, wash cloth, bar of soap.

4. Pain and discomfort supplies: Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Vicodin or other pain pills, cold and allergy pills, Benadryl for itch and bee stings, gas relief pills, Immodium for diarreah, eye drops, pain reliever cream, burn ointment and lip balm.

5. Foil blankets, hand warmers, instant ice pack, packet of tissue.

6. First Aid book, glucose tablets and snacks for diabetics,  pencil and pad of paper.

first aid kit in a placemat 013

Photo by LDS Intelligent Living

First Aid Kit – Contents

First Aid in Tool Chest

by LDS Intelligent Living

Here is a list based on what The Red Cross and the Portland Fire Department recommend to have in a First Aid kit.

Household First Aid kit:

  • Sterile adhesive bandages/Band-Aids in assorted sizes
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Latex gloves (2 pairs) (use to protect from infection, can be made into ice packs)
  • Sunscreen SPF of 30 or greater
  • Instant ice pack 
  • 2″ sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • 4″ sterile gauze pads (4-6) (use to cover and clean wounds, also as a soft eye patch)
  • 2″ sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • 3″ sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • Medical Scissors or regular sharp scissors
  • Medicine dropper
  • Tweezers with pointed tips (use for stinger, splinter, or tick removal)
  • Sterile needle for splinters
  • Moistened towelettes or baby wipes
  • Antiseptic wipes (use to cleanse wounds)
  • Antibiotic ointment Polysporin, Neosporin, or other
  • Thermometer (oral and rectal for babies)
  • Tongue blades (2)
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Calamine lotion (use to relieve itching and scratching)
  • Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication (Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate, or similar)
  • Antacid (for stomach upset)
  • Syrup of Ipecac (to induce vomiting, use only if advised by the Poison Control Center)
  • Laxative
  • Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)
  • Sanitary napkins (2-4) (use as temporary dressing, padding over an injury, or to cover large wounds)
  • Ace bandage (use to provide firm support for sprains or strained joints)
  • Scarves, triangular cloth (use for splints)
  • Sterile water (use to flush wounds and cool burns)
  • Kerlex, Kling (6 rolls) or any other brand of roller bandages (use to wrap over dressings and secure splints)
  • First Aid instruction manual

First Aid Kit idea for household, click here

Car First Aid Kit idea, click here

Photo source: LDS Intelligent Living

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

Winter Storm 2009 in Western Kentucky

white winter gifWe have had ice storms. We have had power outages. We have many a weatherman say that this could be a “big one”. Most of the time such warnings bring about a rush to the grocery store to purchase an extra gallon of milk and a few extra bags of potato chips.

On Monday night at about 9:00 pm on January 26, 2009 I dropped our oldest son off at Grandma’s house where he would have more one on one attention should there be no school and found myself at Wal-Mart stocking up on groceries. The weather man predicted that this could be a storm where power might go out and it occurred to me that our charcoal grill from the summer of 2008 had been retired with the plans to purchase a new one the next summer. Wal-Mart had just put away Christmas ornaments and was starting to put out gardening and spring-like items and so I picked up the only grill they had which was a table top charcoal grill with a grill top that was about one foot in diameter with two bags of charcoal—just in case it got really bad!

The drive home to Marion from Paducah generally took about an hour. The sleet had started to fall and the newscasters were warning people to get home and stay home. The car tires began to slip and the more I progressed toward home the heavier was the precipitation. Two hours later I arrived home to a worried husband and settled in for what I figured would be a long day or two.

The eight children who were at home were excited to awaken to a snow day! They made plans to sled as soon as the snow would stop. We waited and watched and listened as the weatherman said that a second wave of ice was hitting and that they were anticipating a third wave. Chili sounded like the perfect meal for an icy day so preparations were made for a chili dinner. Just as the chili was heating the lights blinked off for about a minute and then came back on. It was nearly three in the afternoon but we began looking for every flashlight that we could find. The electricity blinked once more and then was gone. We weren’t too worried. We’d had the electricity off for a day or two at a time. This would be an adventure! We put the pot of chili in the refrigerator and ate Poptarts and crackers for dinner.

A thick layer of ice covered everything outside. We had not seen a single vehicle on the road all day and neither of our neighbors had left their houses. The radio warned that a third round of storms was on its way.

The temperature outside was in the 20’s. Although our heat was fueled by gas we discovered that electricity was required to run the central heating system. The house became progressively colder over the evening. At around 6:00 it began to get dark and my husband and I began preparing the children for bed. By 6:30 it was totally dark outside and eerily so since the streetlights were all out. We sent flashlights to each bedroom and made sure all of the kids had plenty of blankets and since it was so dark and cold we all went to bed early.

It was a cold night (around 10 degrees)! The morning brought that third round of storms and, by the time the ice stopped falling there was an inch and a half of ice. The temperature remained in the twenties throughout the day and on our crank radio (which had been a Christmas present just a month ago from my mother) we heard that it was to be in the teens that night. With the ice no longer falling we pulled out the charcoal grill, fired it up, and heated the chili. It was Wednesday and the second snow day in a row. The temperature inside the house made the idea of a snow day not quite so enjoyable. The kids were bundled up in layer upon layer and really just sat around with blankets on because it was too cold to do anything. As I was washing bowls from eating chili I noticed that the water pressure was not so good. I was worried (but not surprised) that the pipes were beginning to freeze. This time opening the cabinets that hide the pipes wouldn’t provide much heat to keep them from freezing and leaving the hot water dripping wouldn’t help either because we have an electric water heater! I hoped that the temperature would come up in the coming days and that the pipes wouldn’t burst in the meantime. We had stocked about eight twenty-four packs of bottled water so we knew we’d be alright for drinking water. Within four hours the trickle of water had stopped completely. We hunkered down for the night with lots of blankets around 6:30 in the evening.

Wednesday morning brought about two inches of snow and a realization that no water meant that toilets would not flush. We had drinking water but had not stored water for washing and flushing. We shut bathroom doors, had little boys go outside to take care of their routine potty needs, and prayed for the water to come on soon.

Wednesday came and went and no one around appeared to be leaving their houses. No cars were on the roads. The world was eerily quiet.

The world was so quiet. No one inside was warm enough to run around and play and enjoy the days off. No one outside was leaving their homes. The ice prevented any vehicle from being able to be on the roads. We had seen no one outside of our home since Monday night.

Thursday dawned a brilliant day! The sun shined without a cloud in the sky. Everything glittered as if covered in crystal. The temperature was still in the low 20’s so not too much melting occurred. The weight of the ice, however, began to take a toll on the poor tree limbs. As we stood in the back door and looked at the glimmering world around us we heard branches and entire trees crashing down in the woods as if some unseen force were chopping away. The crash of the icy branches on the icy woods floor below was constant. The wind blew fairly briskly which added to the trauma.

On Thursday afternoon our neighbor and her son came to the door. She asked if we were all OK. She said that the water pipes were not frozen but that electricity was out in the entire county including the water treatment facility and that there was no water anywhere in the county except those who had wells (and if the wells were run by electricity they wouldn’t likely have water either). Although we were listening to our crank radio for hours at a time we had not heard a single word about what was going on in Crittenden County. Our neighbor told us that her husband had spoken to a neighbor who is a police officer and found out that the county was unable to convey to the media our needs in Crittenden County because all phone and cell phone coverage was down. (Cell phone towers require electricity to operate and electricity was out, except in very few spots, throughout the entire 14 county region) She said, however, that county officials were beginning to estimate that water could be out in our county for up to a month and that electricity would likely be out for at least that long. She said that county officials were encouraging people to evacuate if they were able and to get to the only shelter in the county which was at the elementary school in town if they were not able to leave town. She said, however, that the elementary school did not have electricity or running water and that the National Guard and FEMA had not been able to get into the area yet because of the ice on the roads.

On Thursday afternoon Howard and I made an attempt to dig our van out of the driveway. After an hour or so of attempting we saw that it would not be possible. We did, however, sit in the van for a few minutes (we rotated kids as well) and thawed with the heat on! We were able to hear from the radio that someone from Crittenden (our county) had gotten word to the radio stations that Crittenden was in need of supplies and help to get to people who were having medical emergencies. Ambulances and police cars were unable, at that point, to get to anyone other than those on the main road. Hope was that the National Guard would be able to get to the shelter within a day or so and bring a generator. They were suggesting that if people were able to get to the shelters that they bring their own bedding, food, water, and medications. They could provide no more than a place to stay for the time being.

When we discovered that toilet flushing water would not be forthcoming any time soon we decided to get creative. We lit a fire in the charcoal grill, heated some canned food, ate, and then used the remaining embers to melt snow which we scraped off of the ground. It took four pots of melted snow to flush the toilet one time. That took about an hour.

The sun blessed us again on Friday. By this time all of us were feeling quite grimy (no baths if there is no water!) The temperature outside was still in the 20s but the sunshine had really increased the amount of melting! We put plastic tubs in the front of the house to catch the melted ice that fell off the roof! We used that water to flush toilets! The water was crystal clear and cold (as ice!) and yet we washed our faces, our hands, and my teenaged daughter even washed her hair! Our spirits were high because it was such a beautiful day. We ran in the yard and attempted to build a snowman. In the afternoon we even had a visit from the state police. My family in Paducah (an hour away) were worried because they had not heard from us. Their power had come back on and they had cell phone coverage and weren’t able to reach us. They sent the police to us for a “welfare check”. We told the police that we were all well and alive. They asked what we needed. We told them we had plenty of drinking water for now but that we couldn’t get our car out of the driveway. He said “Join the club!” and left. We continued scraping the driveway and Howard eventually got his car out of the driveway. He drove to town only to find that nothing at all was open. He came home and we put the kids to bed at dark (6:30) again and waited for what Saturday would bring.

The ice continued to melt on Saturday. I drove into town to see if there was any way to get more charcoal and to see if we could find any supplies. One bank in town had opened (still no electricity) and was allowing people to withdraw $50 a day. I withdrew the cash they would allow (one person at a time in the bank and they used flashlights to do the transaction.) One gas station in town was running on a generator and allowing people to fill one car with $10 worth of gas if you had cash to pay. Police officers ushered one car at a time. The line was WAY down the road (maybe a quarter of a mile long). I filled with $10 worth of gas and headed to the grocery store. The grocery store did not have electricity but was allowing people in about three at a time and they would allow you to walk with their cashier who took each item that you wanted and wrote the price of the item with a magic marker onto the item and then added your purchases with a calculator and took cash only as payment. They only allowed people to purchase the necessities… food (no perishables-they were deemed unfit) and charcoal and toilet paper. Everyone was quiet and it was a spooky, ghost town feeling. I went home in awe of how scary a situation it had become.

On Saturday afternoon my aunt and uncle from Paducah showed up at the house. They came and bundled up kids and helped us get the big van out of the driveway. We all went to Paducah to stay with my aunt, uncle, two cousins, my mother, my sister and brother, my brother in law, my nieces and nephews, and my grandmother (that was twenty one people total in the house) who had electricity and running water! We stayed with them through Tuesday (one week exactly from when the electricity went out!) when we came back to take care of our dogs and found the electricity was back on and the water was running (though there was still a boil water order for another three days!)

Some people in our area were still without electricity for another two weeks. It is now May 22 and the cities and counties are still trying to clean up tree limbs and winter storm debris. In the papers it has been reported that the damage to trees will be felt for generations to come.

Howard’s 2 cents: – The total debris (trees/tree limbs) gathered for clean-up so far (May 22nd) for District One in Western Kentucky (which makes up around 4 or 5 counties) adds up to 3,053,615 cubic yards. – 40,000 dump trucks have been used so far in the clean-up process. If you lined the trucks up end to end they would span about 280 miles.

What I had not anticipated: – Though we had enough drinking water, I had not stored enough water for flushing toilets, hygiene purposes beyond brushing teeth. – As the town was coming alive again, having cash was a necessity. We did not keep much at home (usually used a debit card). – Even when places were starting to open again, don’t assume you can get the supplies you need. Everyone is wanting the same thing. It took weeks for some things to stay on shelves again. – This storm isolated everyone (even the county) from each other and the rest of the world. One week can seem like an eternity and there where many who were without power for up to 4 weeks.

What I learned: – You can never be too prepared – Different situations call for different needs, so it is important to anticipate as many scenarios as possible that could cause a crisis – I had always thought about emergency preparedness, but an Ice storm caught me by surprise. You never know what can hit you. – Stay positive, have faith that God will provide you with what you need – I relearned that trials are for us to become stronger in the gospel

What I would do differently: – Have more emergency cash stored somewhere – Have a whole lot more water – Already have a list of things to keep the family occupied (games, etc.) to keep them busy and their mind off of other problems – Talk more with my family about preparedness and potential problems.

What I’m glad I did: – The whole family kept an unusually positive attitude, despite how scary the situation was. We are not a gripey, argumentative family anyway, but given the circumstances, we had an incredibly positive attitude (both parents and all 8 kids) – I’m sure this was due to increased scripture reading and prayers that we had during this time (the extra time in the house gave us plenty of opportunity for this) – Having a grill outside was great and saved us especially for melting ice. (a propane one would have been even better in this situation I think, but we had enough charcoal.

Howard & Willa S., Paducah Kentucky Winter 2009

Animated gif by LDS Intelligent Living


The Food in Your 72 Hour Emergency Kit

by LDS Intelligent Living

You should gather whatever your family will need to survive for three days.  Those items in your emergency kit might be the only possessions you will have. During a disaster, there will be a lot of stress. You may have been evacuated to a  shelter, you could be walking or driving to get to safety (always have your gas tank close to full), and you may have to use your camping gear for a while. Having food you like to eat during these difficult times will definitely boost your morale. You certainly do not want to try new things. Plan your food according to your family’s needs (allergies, diabetes etc.) The food should be non perishable, easy to store and prepare, light weight and have a long shelf life. It should have adequate  calories, protein, carbohydrates and be low in sodium (salty food will make you thirsty). You want food that will give you energy and fill you up. You don’t want to add to your stress level by being hungry. Choose food high in fiber and avoid junk food.                          

Some Food Ideas


Most of you would be fine on 2,000 calories a day in an emergency situation. You might need more calories in cold weather or if you have to do heavy work. Keep this amount under consideration as you build your food kit. The best types of food are starches and the like (complex carbohydrates). They are easy to digest, and provide longer lasting energy. If you are a nursing mother, you should have powdered formula for your infant (you will need to plan extra water), and have disposable bottles/liners etc. on hand because sterilization may not be available. You may not be around to nurse your child during an emergency.                       

Organizing the Food


It is more convenient to plan the same food items (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) for the three days. Separate the food in gallon-sized Ziploc bags for each day. If you separate the food for each of the three days, it will help you not over eat your supplies and allow you to keep order in your kit. You can easily see the food in the Ziploc bag, which makes it easier to notice if you forgot anything.

Some suggestions for 72 hour emergency food

Peanut butter, Nutella, granola bars, protein bars, cereal, MREs and Freeze Dried Food (FDF), soy milk, milk (powdered or canned), raviolis, chili, beef stew, tuna, rice, ready-to-eat soup (not condensed), dehydrated fruits and fruit leathers, instant oats, instant grits, juice boxes, fruit cups, canned food, and Ramen noodles.Favorite snacks should be included, as well as lollipops, and hard candies. The flavor of peppermint ((gums, candies) is soothing and curbs the appetite and will keep mouths occupied when hungry.

Remember to separate food with strong flavors or scents so they don’t mix with the rest of the food in the Ziploc bag.

Don’t forget to date the Ziploc bags as well as your food items. Write family members’ names on the bag as well, especially if there are food limitations for some of them. Keep a record of all the food you bought for your emergency kit and how you organized each day’s menu. It will make it easier to update your food pack later on.

MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, the U.S. military’s field rations) MREs can be eaten cold but are not very palatable. An MRE basically tastes like any sort of food out of a can does. Each meal contains about 1300 calories. The shelf life (3+ years) of this type of food is dependent on the storage temperature. Keep in a cool place at 70 degrees or lower. Marshall Brain, talking about the taste of MREs, said the following,

“If you grew up like a lot of Americans, eating casseroles, Hamburger Helper and lots of prepared foods out of a can or a jar, then an MRE is a completely normal, completely acceptable meal for you.”

Freeze Dried Food Freeze dried food in pouches maintain nutritional values rivaling the best fresh frozen products. They have a long shelf life (up to 7 years). They come in a wide variety of products in 1, 2, or 4 person food pouches (entrees, side dishes, snacks, and more). There is no cooking required, just add water. They are lightweight, which is desirable for an emergency kit, but they are expensive. You need to plan extra water if you have FDFs as part of your emergency food kit.

Updating your kit Involve your family members in this preparation so they can learn about preparedness. General Conference is a good time to update your 72 hour emergency kit. This way, twice a year, you can change the food and clothes for the fall/winter and spring/summer seasons. Kids sizes change (adults too), and clothes need to match the seasons. Other supplies in the emergency kit such as batteries etc. can be updated at that time as well. Have your family members eat the food between the sessions of General Conference. Our kids enjoy the eating part of updating the 72 hour kit. Remember, it will be less stressful if you pick food that requires little or no water and also doesn’t require cooking. If your food requires cooking, you will need a mess kit or other compact equipment and a stove. If you have canned food, pack a can opener. Include one even if you do not have cans in your kit, you might need it anyway.

Our son would not leave behind his pet lovebird Soleil if we had to evacuate.


You need to plan for your pets as well. They will depend on you for food, water, and shelter. You’ll also need to store a gallon of water per day per person. That is a lot of water to carry. Try putting as many water bottles as you can in a cooler, cart, or bag with wheels and keep it with your 72 hour emergency bags and supplies.

Do not forget to pack hand wipes, plastic utensils, paper bowls and/or plates, and trash bags.

Remember, this is a short term situation. This kit is a survival kit. Do not go to extremes as you gather these supplies.

Photos by LDS Intelligent Living


by Jerry K.

I was asked under what circumstances besides after an earthquake would you need your 72 hour kit?  The answer I gave is this, following any emergency where your house is not fully livable.  That brought further questions and so I decided a bit of explanation is in order.

We prepare for a Great Earthquake to hit Portland as it is the biggest natural disaster we can conceive that is likely to occur in our lifetimes.  Sure, we can look at preparing for Nuclear War (we are targeted by Russia, China and allegedly North Korea) but that is considered too far fetched and frightening.  We can prepare for Mount Hood to awaken and erupt.  Again, not likely anytime soon and besides, volcano experts say Mt.Rainier will be the next one to turn active after Mount St Helens.

Anyway, by preparing for the most likely worst case scenario we are also preparing for all the lesser disasters that are even more common to the Metro Portland area.  For example, at the time I am writing this article the “Pineapple Express” is roaring through the Pacific Northwest.  There have been mudslides, power outages, localized flooding, downed trees upon houses and cars, etc.  Homes in our stake have been affected and the residents, if prepared for a larger disaster can weather out these types of emergencies.

Besides these emergencies there are many others that can make a home unlivable.  For instance a fire or pipe breakage can both force a family out.  When my family came home from vacation we discovered that a ¼” water line to our fridge’s icemaker had burst while we were out of town.  For at least three days water ran through our split-level home.  Most of the house was uninhabitable until renovations could be complete.  For the first couple of days we were on our own.  The insurance company took awhile before they would pay for us to move into a hotel while workers tore up the floors, ceilings, carpet, etc. to fix the mold problem and water damage.  So during the first 72 hours we used our kits and camping gear to cook, eat and sleep in the back yard.

Police and Fire Department emergencies can require your family to evacuate for a lengthy time on very short notice.  Let’s say there is a barricaded subject down the street, or a broken gas main.  Emergency responders knock on your door and give you five minutes to gather your things and get out.  It may only be for a few hours to a day but you are better off with your spare clothing, medicines and toiletries from your 72 hour kits than just with the clothes on your back.

A longer set of emergencies requiring evacuation are those involving hazardous chemicals, whether a truck accident, train derailment or terrorist attack.  No matter where you live there are roads with trucks carrying chemicals passing near-by.  Wherever there is a store there are chemicals delivered there by truck.  Say a semi- is carrying a load of supplies for Fred Meyers.  In it there is a pallet load of chlorine bleach and a pallet load of window cleaners with ammonia.  If there was an accident the two could mingle and voila, a third more dangerous chemical spill is created requiring evacuation downwind.

Just remember that your 72 hour kit is also an evacuation kit for many different types of emergencies besides an earthquake.

2006 Noah’s Ark Newsletter/LDS Intelligent Living

For more information, view Evacuation and also click here

Photo source: public domain


Thoughts on Food Storage

By Karen P.

Our Relief Society Theme for 2007 is “When obedience ceases to be an irritant, and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power” (Pres. Ezra Taft Benson). I have been thinking how that relates to having our families prepare for emergencies. When we hear about being prepared does it irritate us? If so, perhaps it needs to become our quest and then we will have the enthusiasm to “do it!”

In 1976 the Teton Dam broke in southern Idaho, flooding the valley below that was inhabited predominately by members of the Church. These Saints were endowed with power” because preparedness had been their “quest”. My parents and younger brothers went to the Rexburg area to help in the cleaning-up process. My mother has very narrow hands that allow her to reach into a quart-canning jar to clean it. That was her assignment that day to clean out muddy bottles that once held canned fruit. As she knew the hours of labor spent in preserving the fruit, she cried most of the day. Despite the losses, testimonies were shared of the miracles witnessed by these Saints. Ricks College sits high on a hill and the floodwaters flowed around it. Those whose homes were flooded flocked to the student cafeteria where hot meals were provided. There were more people fed during those weeks than there was food brought into the cafeteria. They were blessed because they had been faithful, not in the manner they had expected, but in the Lord’s way.

As we continue our “quest” to have our families and homes prepared for those unknowns that will come our way, we can rely on the Lord’s promise that those who are prepared need not fear.

Karen P., POE Stake Relief Society President

2007 Noah’s Ark Newsletter/LDS Intelligent Living

Photo source: public domain