Wednesday, April 29, 2009

N95 Face Masks on sale at Emergency Essentials

Emergency Essentials in Utah has N95 Particulate Respirator Masks (box of 20) on sale this month for $12.99 (value $29.99). This sale ends April 30. I don't usually promote any one store, but I have found that this store does have some good sales. And these are the masks that keep out 95% of airborne viruses and are a recommended product to have for pandemics. If you would like to understand more about preparing for pandemics, go to this BYU Idaho video - Prevention of Avian Flu at the bottom of the page. It's nice to see a college that is proactive instead of reactive.

Call an Emergency Essentials store to find out how many they have left. Or order online TODAY at even though they are on backorder. Hopefully we won't have to use these and they will become part of our emergency supplies for the future. But wouldn't it be nice to know you were prepared?

(801) 994-1055 Salt Lake
(801) 222-9667 Orem
(801) 254-6510 South Jordan Store

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu Epidemic and Pandemic Preparation Part 2

We should each take a proactive approach to prepare for a pandemic.

Epidemic Defined: An epidemic is defined by an illness or health-related issue that is showing up in more cases than would be normally expected.
Pandemic Defined: A pandemic is an epidemic disease that spreads to other communities usually beyond national borders.

What is Swine Flu? "Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by a type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans; however, human infections with swine flu do occur. Public health officials have determined that this strain of swine flu virus spreads from human to human and can cause illness." CDC

Typical swine flu symptoms:
Fever (greater than 100°F or 37.8°C)
Sore throat
Stuffy nose
Headache and body aches
Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur and in more severe cases it could lead to pneumonia.

Supplies to have on hand:
  • N95 medical masks - at least 3 per person. "95" means that they keep out 95% of the airborne particles. Contact a local medical supply store, or order online. Cheaper if ordered in bulk, but even Walgreens carries them. These will disappear quickly from the shelves in a pandemic.
  • liquid hand soap
  • hand sanitizer (one for every family member)
  • household bleach
  • Lysol® or Clorox® disenfectant
  • disinfectant wipes (plenty)
  • trash bags (plenty as there may be limited trash pickup)
  • laundry detergent (if someone in your family is ill, you will be doing plenty of washing)
  • kleenex tissues (not fabric handkercheifs)
  • toilet paper
  • paper towels (use instead of hand towels. We've used these in our guest bathroom for months)
  • disposable diapers for infants
  • disposable vinyl, nitrile, or latex gloves or other reusable gloves that can be disinfected
  • a supply of your prescription medications (in case you are too sick to go to the store), nonprescription drugs, and other health supplies, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, vitamins, rubbing alcohol, thermometers
  • have a 2-week to 3-month supply of food at home (outside food may be difficult to obtain or you may not be able to get to the store if you are ill).
  • food for the flu such as chicken noodle soup, Sprite, 7-up, or ginger ale, saltine crackers, white rice, broth, Pedialyte for children or Gatorade, jello, etc.
General Instructions from health officials:
  • Call your doctor if you suspect you have the swine flu. "If you think you are ill with flu, avoid close contact with others as much as possible. Stay at home or in your hotel room. Seek medical care if you are severely ill (such as having trouble breathing). There are antiviral medications for prevention and treatment of swine flu that a doctor can prescribe. Do not go to work, school, or travel while ill." CDC
  • Teach family members how to wash hands often for at least 25 seconds (sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star")
  • Teach family members how to cover coughs or sneezes by using your arm or sleeve rather than your hands
  • After you cough or sneeze, wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol‑based hand gel.
  • If one of your family or household members becomes ill, they should be isolated in a separate room in your home. Several ill members can be in the same room.
  • If your family does not get the flu, others should not come to your home as they can infect your family. So you will need to keep your healthy kids inside
  • Schools, colleges, and childcare facilities will likely close if conditions worsen
  • You will want to keep your car filled with gas as gas stations may be closed if employees are ill.
  • Have cash on hand at home in case banks are closed or services are limited.
  • Avoid handshaking and other forms of contact with the public.
  • Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms and is the most reliable method of purifying water easily
Other Resources:
Pandemic Flu Planning Checklist for Individuals and Families,
Pandemic Preparedness Planning, LDS Church at An excellent link!
Centers for Disease Control

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Disaster Stories

Reading disaster stories about other people can help each of us become better prepared for emergencies. As you read these stories, pay attention to the emergency supplies people found useful, how people felt and coped, how they helped each other, and what they learned.

Victoria Australia Bush Fires, February 2009, follow day-by-day

Evacuating Hurricane Katrina with those with Special Needs, August 2005

"Storming Back," Hurricane Katrina and Rita, Aug. & Sept. 2005

Evacuating Hurricane Rita, September 2005

"Mountain on Fire" Southern California, October 2003

"In Case of Disaster," Hurricane Hugo, September 21, 1989 and Northern CA earthquake, Oct. 17, 1989

"Big Blowup Turnout," Mt. St. Helen's eruption, May 18, 1980

"Teton Dam Flood," Sugar City, Idaho, June 5, 1976

"Night of Disaster in Rapid City," Rapid City Iowa, June 9, 1972

Farmington City, Utah, Emergency Awareness Fairs, Saturday April 25th

Emergency Awareness Fair today from 9 to 12 noon at Farmington Jr. High, just south of Lagoon Amusement Park. If you live in the Davis County area and have an hour, drop on by. Come to gather information on becoming better prepared for emergencies in your home and neighborhood. The free event will feature information on food storage, developing a family emergency plan, dealing with natural gas or other utility hazards, preparing first-aid or 72-hour kits, Dutch-oven cooking, and gardening. Farmington Jr. High, 150 S. 200 W., Farmington, Utah

From 1 to 3 p.m., the Davis County Children's Justice Center Friends Board is presenting the Be Safe safety awareness fair at Farmington Community Arts Center, 120 S. Main St. Features food, games, information on bike safety and crime prevention, and a magic show at 2:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Does Your Household Medicine Need an Annual Checkup?

I like to keep a year's supply of medicine our family regularly uses at home in a tote in the hall closet. My year's supply and yours will look totally different. We have been very blessed, so it won't look like much. Yesterday I took my permanent marker and wrote the expiration date on the top of the bottles in the tote. I can hardly see the expiration dates that manufacturers stamp on the bottles. Can you see above how easy it is to see the dates now? This will make it easier to discard medicine during our annual checkup. As I was going through the medicine tote, I found some expired bottles and realized I no longer have a year's supply.

I wanted to add some medicine to our tackle box first aid kit (see my April 20th post), but the bottles wouldn't fit. So I went to my friendly neighborhood pharmacist and he gave me some childproof prescription bottles for free. I transferred a small supply of medicine into each smaller bottle, then I put an address label on the container and wrote information about the contents, dosage, and an expiration date. It is recommended that you keep medicine in its original container, but I needed a smaller supply and this works for me.

I also keep my personal meds in my purse in these childproof containers because I don't want my small daughter to accidently open the medicine. Some medicine is sold in small tube containers, but after examining the shelves at my pharmacy I found out that there is a limited selection. Cost of this project: $0.00. I already had everything!

Here is a link to find out if Your Medicine Cabinet Needs an Annual Checkup and to learn how to dispose of medicine.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tackle Box First Aid Kit: Organize your first aid supplies

My sister-in-law, Suzie, introduced me to the idea of putting our home first aid supplies into an easy-to-grab fishing tackle box. It's been bugging me that our first aid supplies have been dumped into a plastic basket with no rhyme or reason. So unlike me, but I'm the culprit.

Today I spent an hour in Walmart going back and forth looking at tackle boxes, duffle bags, small coolers, jewelry bead boxes, toolboxes, and then back again to the tackle boxes in the sporting goods department to end up buying a medium-sized bright orange tackle box for $17.98. My poor 4 year-old kept asking me what we were doing as I danced about the store. Well, she earned a pack of gum and a Redbox DVD rental of "Bolt" which made up for everything. When we got home, we talked about how it was important that she not play with it. I let her help me organize the band aids by size, and everything else in the tackle box, which she loved. It was a good teaching moment. This box has an outside storage compartment where we put the band aids and wipes for everyday access.

I could not fit my larger bottles of rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, but I think I can pour some of the contents into smaller travel containers. I put larger bandages in ziploc bags in the bottom. I still have a few more items to gather, but I was very happy that I had most of the first aid supplies already at home.

This first aid box can be taken on vacations, outings, and easily grabbed in an emergency. A larger one would hold much more, but I think this will do for us. I also have first aid items in our car emergency kits, and in our 72-hour kits. This is just for home use.
Cost of this project:
Tackle Box: $17.98
Redbox DVD rental: $0.00 (A lady behind me in line gave me a free movie code)
Pack of gum: $.99

Here is a sample First Aid Kit list, but there are many online as well.
Another Tackle Box First Aid Kit with a list of items

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Inexpensive Ways to Get Emergency and Food Storage Supplies

As I've looked at online emergency and food storage supply stores the thought keeps coming to me that I don't have to buy the fanciest or newest items and gadgets to be prepared for emergencies. In a talk given by President Gordon B. Hinckley in March 1990 he counseled us to remember a motto the pioneers followed: "Fix it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without."

Sure, it would be nice to have a brand new solar powered flashlight, but couldn't I get by with the battery powered one we already have? There are some great kerosene stoves on the market too, but what if we already have a working Coleman camping stove and all we need is to buy some extra fuel. The gear my son accumulated for scouting trips can easily be used for emergency supplies. My wheat grinder is pretty ancient and I've been coveting the new ones on the market, but it works great and I haven't seen any weevils, and I store fresh ground wheat in the freezer.

Here are some other inexpensive ideas to get you thinking:

  • Print your county map online, and laminate it. Presto! Your own emergency map. Or stop by your Chamber of Commerce for a free one.
  • Find a small plastic Ziploc-type storage container and go through your home first aid supplies to create a miniature 72-hour first aid kit.
  • Watch the after-Halloween clearance sales to buy light sticks at 50% off. Then store them with a lanyard string. Kids love these extra assurances of light.
  • Find activities for kids to do at an emergency shelter by printing them online and creating your own activity pages for their 72-hour kit.
  • Maybe your tent has a hole in it. Well, you can repair tents! Check this link out.
  • - Search online at for used camping and food storage supplies in your city. Put in various keywords and you will pull up a host of items. I did a quick search today and found a Coleman battery powered lantern for $5.00, about $25 new; a Coleman 2-burner stove for $20, about $60 new; a new hand grain mill for $30, retails $60 - $70;
  • Classified Ads - Search in your newspaper classifieds too. Today I found a Lodge cast iron 6 qt. Dutch oven for $40, retails $90; used canning jars for .25 each, used Bosch mixer for $50 and another for $75.
  • Here is how I figure out how much to spend on a used item. I look up the retail amount, typically at or, and for used I am willing to pay about 25%, and new 40% - 50%. You will typically pay more on and in the classifieds than at a yard sale, however it's much easier to find something online where you can look at pictures than by chance. But if you are patient, yard sales are typically the better deal. Many are listed in the classifieds.
  • Yard Sales - Keep a list of needed emergency and food storage equipment supplies with you in your car to take advantage of some great deals at yard/garage sales. Yard sales are where people get rid of stuff, so they usually keep their prices low and are willing to bargain. Many home owners need you to shop these days, so it is a win, win situation. Click here for some yard sale tips.
Don't feel that because you see supply lists on my blog that you have to go running to the store to shop for brand new items. First search your own home and Fix it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without. If you still need something, then patiently shop for used items in the ads. And last if you absolutely have to, buy new.

Share any ideas you may have!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Food Storage Step 5: Storage Solutions 101

Deciding where to store food storage can seem complicated until you start to think of it as an extension of your pantry rather than something you bury in the ground for doomsday. The whole idea of food storage is to have some food available in times of job loss, decrease in income, short-term natural disasters, etc., and to help others in similar circumstances. Unlike other stockpilers, the attitude of the LDS church can best be reflected in this statement:

"Our Heavenly Father created this beautiful earth, with all its abundance, for our benefit and use. His purpose is to provide for our needs as we walk in faith and obedience. He has lovingly commanded us to “prepare every needful thing” (see D&C 109:8) so that, should adversity come, we can care for ourselves and our neighbors and support bishops as they care for others.
"We encourage members world-wide to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings.
"We ask that you be wise as you store food and water and build your savings. Do not go to extremes; it is not prudent, for example, to go into debt to establish your food storage all at once. With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve."—The First Presidency, All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage, Feb. 2007, 1

The food you store is the food your family normally eats (3-month supply). You also want to store some long-term foods that hopefully you use in your cooking so this too becomes what your family normally eats. So your canned and packaged food CAN be put in your everyday kitchen cupboards and pantry. If you are lucky to have a basement, this is a wonderful location as most are cool and dry, but this is not the situation for many. Because I lived in Southern California for 38 years of my life I know that some homes lack basements and adequate storage space. The top 10 US states that read my blog come from Utah, Idaho, California, Arizona, Texas, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Nevada. I also have readers from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand and other parts of the world. Talk about feeling some responsibility! All of you have very different homes, but the same common desire to prepare for every needful thing.

When deciding where to store your food, consider these factors:

Light: Dark is best
Moisture: Dry is best
Temperature: 75°F/24°C or below
Insects and Rodents: Protect food in sturdy containers. Set some traps.

Realize that for every 20 degree increase in Fahrenheit, your food will lose 50% of its shelf life! So that would mean that if you are storing in a location that reaches 95 degrees, your wheat, that would normally store for 30 years, is now reduced to 15 years. Your cans of corn that normally store for 2 years are now reduced to 1 year, etc. And heat can damage food items. I don't recommend storing food in a garage. It's a great place for paper goods, and some emergency supplies though. Read this post to understand what can happen to wheat when stored in a hot garage for 20 years. Could you store your food in a kitchen or bedroom that reaches 80 degrees in the summer? Sure. But realize that your shelf life numbers are reduced somewhat.

I truly believe that with several weeks of thought, prayer, and research, you can come up with a solution of where to store your food. Understand that most apartments may not have enough space to store a year supply of food, but a 3-month supply could work. Don't get hung up on feeling that you HAVE to have a year's supply of food if you are not living in a home that has space to do that. Sometimes we just need to accept our circumstances and do the best we can.

I know it's hard for those who don't have basements to see pictures of those who do, but don't start coveting thy neighbor's wife's basement. :-) Or nag your spouse that you don't have one. Accept reality and work with it.

I don't promote a particular brand of canned food rotation shelf or any shelf on my blog, but I will share pictures of what others are doing. I personally don't own a rotation shelf. My wooden shelves were in my basement when I moved in. And I have a large kitchen with lots of cupboard space and big pantry cupboards, but I don't have a walk-in pantry. However, you can learn by looking at pictures of what others have done, and then with those ideas see a solution for your own circumstances. So, here are some posts that will help you with storage solutions. Good luck!

Spring Cleanup: Our Family Hard at Work
Shopping and Storing Everyday Food Storage Inexpensively
More Pictures of Food Storage Shelves, Pantries and Rooms
Change #3 Reorganize Your Cupboards & Closets
Small Spaces Storage Solutions - RESULTS

Books to check-out at the Library:
"Complete Home Storage," by Sunset.

This is Food Storage Lesson #5 in my step-by-step instructions on organizing and gathering food storage. I will be listing these lessons on the sidebar of my blog.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What Would You Take if You Had to Evacuate? How to Create a Grab & Go List

What would you take if you had to evacuate? Many people do not think clearly during times of stress and panic, so a well thought out Grab and Go List created before an emergency could greatly assist you. It should have items listed by priority because you do not know how much time you will have to evacuate. Not all evacuations can be planned in advance like hurricane evacuations. You could get a knock on the door in the middle of the night and be told you have a few minutes to leave. You may never experience an evacuation, but you can learn from the experiences of others. Most will tell you that the better planned you are, the fewer regrets you will have.

Consider these things when planning your Grab & Go list:

1. Who is important to you?
2. What is important to you?
3. What would you need if you are gone for a few days to a week?
4. If everything in your home were to disappear, what items would make starting over easier?

The first time I sat down to write my list, it was short. As I researched and read other people's evacuation stories, my list grew and grew. You may have a similar experience. However, as much as you want to, you know you cannot take everything.

How to Organize Your Grab and Go List:
1. List items which are important and essential to you. It could be a list of random thoughts at first. That's fine. I will be listing some evacuation stories in another post that may help you come up with other ideas.

2. Next, prioritize your items into four groups. Items at the top of your list are your absolute essential things to grab if you had 5 minutes to evacuate. Items in the middle are those you would add if you had a total of 10 minutes. Items towards the bottom are things that would be nice to have if you had 30 minutes. And those in the last group are items you would gather if you had a few days to prepare. Take it from me. You will be switching items from one group to the other and back again.

3. List the location of the item next to it, and then sort within each group based on areas of your home. This will prevent you from running all over your home only to pass up items in the same area. Try to imagine running through your home gathering items. This got my adrenaline going. As I did this sorting and thinking process I realized that I wanted to move items into different areas of my home for easier access. I also wanted to put some items, like our old journals, in easy to grab containers. I even decided that I would photograph the pages of my kids scrapbooks and put them on CD rather than grabbing the 20+ of them.

4. Ask other family members what things in their rooms are the most important and irreplaceable to them. Pay attention to what children say. You may not be able to take everthing they ask for, but in a stressful situation "Mr. Rabbit" may be just the thing they need. Find a place on your list for these items as well.

5. Make several copies of the list and post it in several places in your home such as upstairs, downstairs, or on either end of your home. You could post these on the backs of doors. You may change this list again and again, but the important thing is to spend some time working on it as soon as possible. Keep a copy of your list in your cell phone by emailing it to yourself since you may get a call from a kind neighbor who wants you to tell him what to take if you are not at home.

6. Do a practice evacuation with your family and use your list. You could assign different family members to gather different items. You could also practice with all of them, and then with only a few of them. I would probably practice with and without my husband. Let me add some humor here because sometimes my posts get too serious. One of my favorite I Love Lucy episodes is the one where Lucy gets ready to go to the hospital to have her baby. I love the scene where Ricky, Fred and Ethel practice the moment that Lucy will tell them "the time has come!" They each have their assignments and practice several times. They are so excited at how efficient they are until the time actually comes. It is quite hilarious. Hopefully your planned evacuation will go much more smoothly, but it helps to see what happens when people get overly excited.
*Update your list twice a year.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Make a 72-Hour Kit in 12 Steps: Step 12 - Additional Supplies

In the event of a natural disaster, having additional emergency supplies would be worthwhile. These items are not the same items in our 72-hour backpacks, but additional items we may find useful. These will look like camping supplies to most of you which they are to us too.

You can separate these items into 5 or 6 gallon buckets, totes, or additional bags. Obviously you can't carry all of these on foot by yourself, but you could load them into a vehicle if you could drive away. Or they are kept together in a closet for easy access at home. Having them ready to go if you had to evacuate would save a lot of valuable time. Here is a list of some emergency supplies our family is gathering.

5-gallon Bucket #1 -
  • List of items in bucket
  • Bucket lid (not Gamma lid if adding toilet seat)
  • Family-sized First Aid Kit (update every 6 months. Could be used to help others. Put near top)
  • Sun block
  • Insect repellant
  • Emergency flares
  • 50 Purification tablets
  • Water filtration bottle
  • Can opener
  • Large 30 gallon trash bags
  • Mess kits (if can't fit in pack)
  • Paper plates, paper bowls, paper cups, plastic utensils
  • Paper towels, small roll
  • Foil
  • Small bottle of dish soap or camp soap
  • Small bottle of disinfectant
  • American Red Cross First Aid books
5-gallon Bucket #2 -
  • Leather work gloves (put near top or in 72-hour kit)
  • Large tarp
  • Folding shovel
  • Hatchet
  • Whet stone
  • 50 ft. nylon cord
  • Duct tape
  • Small folding cook stove with fuel
  • Small hand broom
  • Pliers and wrench
  • Crowbar/prybar
Additional Items:
  • Toilet seat lid made to fit on bucket
  • Cases of bottled water (*what you can't put in your backpacks)
  • Water container to refill at evacuation shelter: tote, bucket above, or jug with spout
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Battery powered TV
  • Chainsaw w/extra blade
  • Extra fuel 5-gallon gas cans
72-Hour Kit in 12 Steps

Sunday, April 12, 2009

72 Hour Kits: Personal Supplies

From my search across the internet and in various preparedness books, I've put together a list of personal items for 72-hour kits. I've also read many stories of people evacuating Hurricane Katrina, and my list contains items you want to have so you are prepared and don't have to run through your house gathering them in an evacuation.

It would be nice to say that you and your spouse would be home to help your children, or your spouse would be home to help you, during an evacuation. But I believe you need to plan for different scenarios such as: you will be home by yourself while your kids are in school, or older children will be on their own and you will be gone, or it will be the middle of the night while you are sleeping. So, these personal items are items you might need for 72-Hours or more.

We also store additional items in our combined Family Emergency buckets which I will write about in an another post. If you would like to read about food packs for your 72-hour kits, go here.

If you are using backpacks or another container for your 72-Hour kits, keep in mind that you want the total carrying weight to be about 25% of your body weight including the weight of your container. If you have an infant or preschooler, you may not need to put toiletries and money in their kits so adjust for the needs and circumstances of each family members. My list below is only a suggestion. I keep changing my mind and adjusting, and so can you. I have collected most of these items already, but still have some work to do.

72-Hour Kit Personal Supplies
Backpack, tote or small suitcase
List of items in kit (put near top)
Important numbers (update every 6 months)
A recent family photo
Map of city and vicinity
Small flashlight like a Maglite
Batteries for flashlight (put in separate baggie with the flashlight near top)
Emergency rain poncho (put near top)
3-N95 Medical mask (put at top) (Can help during a fire)
Mini First Aid Kit (update every 6 months) (put near top)
Light stick on a neck cord
Whistle on a neck cord
Hand warmers
Thermal reflective (space) blanket
3 day supply of food (2000 calories per day per adult)
3 gallons of water (*will be more than you can carry. Only pack what you can carry)
Pencil and small notebook
Cards, crossword puzzles, sudoku, etc.
Paperback book
Scriptures (Military size is good)
Small comb or brush
Small mirror
Antibacterial hand wipes
Pocket tissues
Lip balm
Wash cloth for sponge bath
Travel-sized toothpaste, toothbrush
Travel-sized liquid body soap
Travel-sized shampoo/conditioner
Travel-sized deodorant
Travel-sized lotion
Travel-sized hand sanitizer
Razor (males)
Personal sanitary items
3 large trash bags
Toilet paper roll
Copies of personal papers & documents for this person (put in hidden but accessible location)
Money - $50 per pack, small bills & coins, waterproof bag (put in hidden but accessible location. This is not all the emergency cash you should have. Just an amount that is always stashed away in your 72-hour kit.)
Waterproof matches (not for young children)
Extra Kit Items for Kids
Games, cross-word puzzles, coloring book and crayons, stuffed animal, small toys, infant pacifier **Note: I asked my 4 year-old which small stuffed animal she wanted in her emergency backpack. She brought me several and then I had her choose one that she could slip inside. Making her a part of the preparations has made her backpack special to her. She brought out her backpack on Easter to show it to her college-aged brother.
Comfort foods
Clothing Ideas
Complete set clothing: pants, 2 socks, underwear, long-sleeved shirt (can roll up if hot), hat, mittens
Sturdy shoes (Not in pack)
Coat (Not in pack) However, if you can squish a windbreaker in, do it.
Sleeping bag or lightweight wool blanket (Not in pack) (in lawn bag or sturdy bag)
Sleeping pad (grab if you have time)

Boy Scout Summer Backpacking List
FEMA Basic Disaster Supplies List

Go here for 72-hour Kit Container ideas
Go here for 72-hour Kit Food Pack ideas
Go here for Additional Family Emergency Supplies ideas
Go here for Evacuation Grab & Go ideas

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Make a 72 Hour Kit in 12 Steps: Step 11 - Container Ideas

Why 72 Hour Kits?
72-hour kits or Grab and Go bags are meant to assist you after a disaster. Seventy-two hours is approximately how long it takes to get help after a disaster and for evacuation shelters to get up and running. I worked answering phones at a Red Cross center after Hurricane Katrina. And then later at an evacuation center. Even though it was in Southern California, many people who were without places to live came to California for help. I saw the time it took to get volunteers trained, and then assist displaced disaster victims. There is so much involved that it's mind boggling.

Understand that immediately after a major disaster you will be on your own. You may not see an ambulance or police car for some time as the craziness begins. It takes time for community leaders to get organized. So plan to take care of yourself and your neighbors.

All Emergency Supplies will NOT fit in a backpack.

You will need several containers:
  1. A personal container for food, personal supplies, small flashlight, some water, etc. If you had very little time, this would be the one item you would grab, so very important items would be in it. I prefer a backpack for these items.
  2. An additional container for the rest of your water, bedding, etc. I use totes for these as I would only take them if I could evacuate by car.
  3. A bucket or tote to carry items the whole family needs to make their next few hours more pleasant. I use a bucket for these items as I would only take them if I could evacuate by car.
  4. A family tent in its own bag. I would take it if I could evacuate by car or if you have a small family you could attach a small tent to a backpack.
When choosing a container for your own personal 72-Hour kit, keep these factors in mind:

1. It should be easy to grab and go by foot in an evacuation.
2. It is somewhat weatherproof.
3. It is a size that the family member can carry based on health, strength, age, and size. Obviously infants need someone to carry one for them.

Do not wait until you have funds to purchase the perfect container before you start gathering kit items. If all you have is a cardboard box, use it for now. You can get a better container later. These container options are ideas I adapted from the book “Preparedness Principles” by Barbara Salsbury. Recommended are the best, Good are okay, and So-So are the least recommended.

Backpacks: Recommended to Good
  • Easier to use if you have to evacuate on foot. This is what our family uses.
  • They do not stack well, but can be hung, or leaned against each other on a shelf.
  • Water-repellent, but not waterproof.
  • More expensive at sporting goods stores, however, watch for back-to-school sales.
A sturdy sewn, not glued, roomy school-type backpack (meant to carry books) is easier for kids to manage. Remember to keep your supplies lightweight. A backpack shouldn’t weigh more than about 25% of the weight of the person carrying it. So if a person weighs 125 pounds, the total weight of the backpack should be no more than 31.25 pounds. Of course it should be lighter if a person does not have strength to carry it. You can see why you may have to put some of your water in another container. Backpacks on a frame can withstand bad weather and rough handling and could carry a sleeping bag. However, those on a frame are not suitable for small children or seniors.

Luggage: Good to Recommended
  • Choose one that is made of sturdy luggage material, not cloth material. Be careful not to overload or it will be too heavy. Keep it lightweight and portable. Wheels are helpful. Since most are not waterproof, keep your items inside in trash bags. Carry-on size is good for a 72-hour kit. This may be a good choice for seniors who might not be able to carry a backpack.
Duffel Bags: So-So to Good
  • Must be heavy-duty. Some are water-repellent and quite sturdy. Do not use college laundry bags as they are difficult to carry.
Containers that are not recommended:
  • Tote bags as they are usually too small.
  • A pproduce box is okay to start with, but replace with a better choice as soon as possible.
  • Trunks, footlockers, and ammunition boxes are too heavy.
  • Garbage cans are too heavy, and it’s difficult to get to supplies at the bottom.
Keep your kits accessible and together:
  1. Keep your kits in a strong structural area of your home that can withstand earthquakes better like a closet, or under beds or stairways.
  2. Keep items close to a door that exits your home. A garage is difficult to get into after an earthquake. However, if this is your area, keep items close to a door. Food items must be able to withstand varying temperatures in a garage.
  3. Label your kits with your name or first initial and last name and phone number. We used duct tape and a permanent marker. Can you imagine the number of bags at an evacuation center?
  4. If you have small children and have to walk, put items in a stroller or wagon.

72-Hour Kit in 12 Steps

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New 2008 Handbook for Earthquakes in Utah

Because of the recent devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake in L'Aquila, Italy which left 250 people dead, I thought I would share today about earthquakes. As of yesterday, 50,000 people are without shelter and many are sleeping in tent cities or their cars. Researchers say that Utah is long overdue for a major earthquake. Some of you may have noticed the new 2008 Handbook for Earthquakes in Utah in your April 5th Sunday newspaper. If not click the link above and read or download it.

According to the brochure, poorly constructed and older homes in Utah that have not been bolted to their foundations or retrofitted are most vulnerable. The Salt Lake Tabernacle and the State Capitol recently had seismic upgrades. Some buildings in Italy are much older than those in Utah, and researchers do not expect as much damage in Utah. However, some of the older buildings in Italy stood, while some buildings constructed after 1980 did not, teaching us that we must all be prepared.

Few households in Utah have disaster plans, or disaster kits. "Geologic evidence shows that movement on the Wasatch fault and other faults in Utah can cause earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 to 7.5, with potentially catastrophic effects," pg. 2. "Nearly 80 percent of Utah’s population lives within 15 miles of the Wasatch fault," pg. 14. "Many people think that all injuries in earthquakes are caused by collapsing buildings. Actually, most injuries in quakes are from objects that break or fall on people," p. 22. The brochure will teach you how to stabilize items in your home.

The Wasatch fault is divided into segments. FEMA's estimation model suggests that ground shaking from a magnitude 7 or higher will cause major losses in these segments of which some are listed below. Key: DH = displaced households, LTIF = life threatening injuries and fatalities

Brigham City segment - 14,000 DH; 500 LTIF
Weber segment (Davis/Ogden County areas) - 57,000 DH; 3,000 LTIF
Salt Lake City segment - 150,000 DH; 9,000 LTIF
Provo segment (Utah County area) -48,000 DH; 3,000 LTIF
Nephi segment - 4,000; 200 LTIF

Watch the Wasatch Fault flyby video to understand where the Wasatch fault is.

Can You Live Without The Services You Rely On?
• Water may be in short supply.
• Natural gas and electric power may be out for days or weeks.
• Garbage and sewage services may be interrupted.
• Telephone, Internet, cell phone, and wireless communications may be overloaded or unavailable.
• Mail service may be disrupted or delayed.
• Gasoline may be in short supply, and rationing may be necessary.
• Bank operations may be disrupted, limiting access to cash, ATMs, or online banking.
• Grocery, drug, and other retail stores may be closed or unable to restock shelves.

Focusing on gathering a 3-month supply of food and emergency supplies can help following a major earthquake. Earthquakes cannot be prevented, but you can better prepare for them so that you can help your family and others.

If you live in another state or country, look up your government website for earthquake information in your area.

Monday, April 6, 2009

72 Hour Kit Food Packs: Putting Them Together

On Saturday, our family put together our 72 Hour Kit food packs. It was a fun activity and went quickly. This would be a great family night activity. Here is how we did it. First I laid out all the food items on a table, and we opened all the plastic and boxes.

Next my 4 year-old had a good time putting the "replace by October 2009" labels on gallon-sized Ziploc bags; three per person. I like using these bags for several reasons.

1) three bags divides the food into 3 days
2) since you wouldn't eat everything all at once it’s a nice holding device
3) it prevents items from water damage
4) these same bags can also store trash
5) they make it easy for the kids to fill their bags each season

Then I told the kids how many of each item to put in their 3 bags. The older kids did their own filling. My husband was the camera man, so I filled our bags last realizing as I did that I was short on a few items. So I will have to go back to the store.

I helped our 4 year-old by holding her bags, and telling her what to grab from the table. Very fun for her. When we got to the bottled water, the kids took out their old water bottles from their backpacks and replaced them with new water. Hopefully after 4 years the old bottles will taste okay. We will replace the water once a year, instead of every 6 months like the food items. Hopefully I can stay on top of this. I put a task reminder in my Outlook calendar.

Some finished bags.

Our son goofing off with the cheap and not wise face masks.
We replaced these with new N95 medical masks. More on that in another post.

Our daughter trying out her bag. A bit heavy, but manageable.

More 72 Hour kit ideas are on the left sidebar of my blog.

For a PDF file or Excel spreadsheet of the items we put in our food packs go to my post March 24th.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Spring Cleanup: Our Family Hard at Work

Over the past few weeks we have been clearing branches from the awful choke cherry trees (name?) that used to drop messy fruit on our property. Our city does a wonderful service and lets us trim our trees and then leave them out front for a green waste pickup.

Joe carrying wood to add to our enormous pile

Everyone worked hard to carry the branches to the front of our house. It was a good thing we each had our own work gloves.

My husband used our chain saw to trim the branches to size. Read my funny story about how we got the chain saw. The lower terraced area is where we will build our vegetable garden boxes.

My idea of spring cleanup is to rearrange food storage, again. Does it ever end? I have a hard time visualizing how it will all fit, so periodically I have to rearrange it. I haven't converted to putting some of my long-term items into buckets yet, so I still use #10 cans. I think that's leftover from my California days where we struggled to find space in our home to store food, and #10 cans worked best. When we first moved to Utah (almost 2 years ago) I left the cans in boxes. Then I took them out and put them in our super duper storage room. But I didn't like them being so separated from all of the other food. So, they are back in boxes. :-)

My 17 year-old was a great help in putting 2x4's under the boxes of #10 cans that I was trying to fit in the outer room of our "food storage room." I neglected to do that when they first went in, and I was concerned that moisture might come up through the cement and the carpet and reach the bottom of the boxes. That meant he had to move all the boxes, trim the wood, place the 2x4's and then restack the boxes. I am grateful for all of my strong sons.

I received one of the greatest compliments from him yesterday as he was carrying cases of canned food purchased from Smith's case lot sale. After he put them on the shelves he smiled and said, "I like having food storage because I know there is always good food around." :-)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Food Storage Lesson 2: Food Storage Budget

Lesson #2
In a day when many people are struggling financially, I find myself more emotional as I write this post. However, the principle of keeping a budget is very important as we strive to be wise stewards of that which we have been given. I want to start with my testimony that even though hardships will come, if we are obedient and diligent and remain focused we will be blessed. I have knowledge of this.

Most families do not have enough money to buy a year’s supply of food all at once. That is not required of you. Follow this wise counsel: “With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve.” The First Presidency, All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage, Feb. 2007.

I prefer to buy over time so I avoid wasting money on items I find out later do not work well for our family; my buy-as-you-go, learn-as-you-go approach. I don’t promote buying a year supply, all at once, to anyone. I could not live on someone else’s idea of what my family will eat.

Every family is unique, but all families will move forward with their food and home storage plan if they create a budget. It does not matter how large your budget is. Don't compare your financial situation to anyone else. Remember that I have a family of 6 at home, and 3 others including my son, daughter, and son-in-law that come for dinner once a month. Here are my ideas:

1. Divide your original monthly Grocery Budget into two budgets. I didn’t have a magical pot of gold hiding somewhere, so this is where I came up with my money. If you do have some extra funds, then of course add that each month. But I know with the state of our economy, many are trying to find a way to still get their food storage on a limited budget. I used two categories: Groceries and Food Storage, and the following percentages. Your percentages may be totally different at first.

Groceries 75%
Food Storage 25%

By regularly using a weekly menu, shopping the loss leader sales in stores, and using a few coupons I decreased the total amount of last year’s monthly grocery budget by about $400, and have increased our food storage at the same time! I have prayed for guidance and wisdom and we’ve been blessed with a miracle. After learning to use what we store, last month we did this:

Groceries 51%
Food Storage 49%
Remember. I do make some meals from scratch, but when I'm too tired to cook, I open a can or package of something. Semi-homemade here.

2. Decide what you want to include in your monthly budget. If your budget is limited, you may only want to include food in your budget, and not some of the items I listed below. That's perfectly fine. But I feel greater peace having some additional items for emergencies. My goal is to store enough paper goods, toiletries, cleaning & laundry supplies, and freezer foods for 3-months, and most everything else for 1 year. Do what works best for your family, and don't go into debt. Here is what I included in each budget:

Grocery Budge:
Perishable food
Eating out (just me and my 4 year-old)
School supplies, this and that

Food Storage Budget:Canned food and long-term foods (Soups, canned meals, fruits, vegetables, wheat, rice, beans, flour, etc.)
Packaged food (Cake mixes, boxed potatoes, pudding, breakfast cereal, etc.)
Bottled food (Fats, oils, condiments, sauces, etc.)
Beverages (Water, bottled juice, drink mixes, etc.)
Food storage equipment (shelves, water containers, totes, wheat grinder, canning supplies, etc.) Food Garden supplies (soil, seeds, lumber for boxes, etc.)
Fuel & Light (Propane, charcoal, batteries, etc.)
Snacks that store well (I keep a 3-month supply)
Freezer foods (a generator will help in power outages) (3-month supply of meats, fruits, vegetables, cheese, butter, breads, ice cream, chocolate chips, etc. I have an upright 20.6 cu. ft. Kenmore Elite Frost Free freezer and love it!)
Toiletries (3-month supply)
Cleaning & Laundry (3-month supply)
Paper & plastic goods (3-month supply)
Emergency supplies (72 Hour kits, car kits, first aid supplies, etc.)

3. Keep good records. Write the amount of Groceries or Food Storage you spend on the top of all of your grocery receipts. (See picture above). If you do this weekly, you won’t get confused. Total your receipts each month to see how you did. I keep all of my receipts because they also help me update my Inventory sheets.

Please share any ideas you may have for others about Food Storage Budgets.

"12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
15 And she awent and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah." (1 Kings 17:12-16)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Taking Food Storage Inventory

Next, you will need to take your first inventory. This is something new to many people, but imagine you are the manager of your own home grocery store. You want to know what is selling (what is being eaten by your family), and what isn't. Right? First you have to take an initial inventory count to know what you have. This process may take you several days. Don't feel rushed. Here is how you do it.

1. Print out about 28 Inventory Sheets (on page 5)from Utah State University Extension. If you flip a page over and put it back in your printer, you can have an inventory sheet on both sides of the paper. Just make sure they are facing the right direction so they can be turned easily in your binder.
2. After you print your Inventory Sheets, hole punch them for your binder.
3. Here is a list of suggested inventory pages. Of course if you don't have a baby or a pet, don't list that category.
  • Baby
  • Baking
  • Beverages/Water
  • Cleaning/Laundry
  • Condiments
  • Dairy
  • Emergency Auto Kit
  • Emergency Supplies
  • 72-Hour Kit
  • Equipment
  • Fats/Oils
  • First Aid
  • Frozen Meats
  • Frozen Other
  • Fruit
  • Fuel/Light
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Meat Canned
  • Medicine
  • Paper/Plastic
  • Pet
  • Snacks
  • Soups/Meals
  • Spices
  • Sugar
  • Toiletries
  • Vegetables
4. Write your inventory page categories in pencil on the page, and then alphabetize the inventory sheets for quick reference.
5. Start listing items you want to have in your food storage. List item description and size for each item. You may want to look at my 3-Month Food Storage Calculator (see my sidebar) for some ideas.
6. Write the GOAL of how much you want to store of each item. I suggest you list a 3-month goal for your family to start with.
7. Go around your house to find any items you listed. Count how many of an item you have, and write it down. Perhaps you want to change something. That's why I suggested you use a pencil so you can erase. It doesn't matter if items are alphabetized on the sheet.
8. Write the date you are taking the inventory in the space on your inventory sheet.
9. Each week after you go grocery shopping, add the items you purchased for food storage on your Inventory sheet. After you reach your 3-month goals, list 6–month goals, and so forth. This is your choice. Some of you may only have space or finances for a 3-month supply. Try to get your 3-month food storage supply completed BEFORE you go on to another goal.
10. Take a formal inventory count every 3 months to see what items you are low on. Meaning what your family has used. If you are using items quickly, take an inventory count sooner.

My April Food Storage Monthly Shopping Goals

I'd like to share my April food & home storage monthly shopping goals. I hope you will see that as you consistently plan and gather items, your food & home storage does get accomplished. This will complete my 3-month food storage supply ("Three-month supply items are foods that you normally eat, including canned and commercially packaged foods" I'm already adding items to my May list. Next month I will focus on more long-term foods, emergency supplies, and clothes for our 72 hour kits. I plan most of my purchases in advance on a Monthly Food Storage Shopping Plan worksheet.

I'm excited to say that I have not been in Sam's Club (except for a bite of lunch with my 4 year-old) since February 11th. Almost 2 months! I used to buy everything for my food storage there until I learned to watch for GREAT sales at grocery stores and elsewhere, and use a few coupons. There are still a few items I prefer to buy at Sam's Club.

So I placed my Sam's Club order yesterday online with their Click-N-Pull service. This service is FREE to Sam's Club members. It took me 45 min. to think about and enter items I wanted to buy on their website. I placed my order yesterday (before 5 p.m.), and today my items were ready in a grocery cart for me to pick up near the customer service desk. They send someone to the back for freezer and refrigerator items. I was in and out of the parking lot in 35 min. And at my request, they loaded it into my car. I love this service because I am not tempted to impulse buy. If only Walmart would offer it!

April Food & Home Storage Monthly Goals:
Monthly Budget -
$500 food & home storage (includes some freezer items)
$300 for other grocery items

Please understand that items in my food and home storage are items we use. They are not buried in my basement, but real food. I try to buy more than we use so they don't disappear too quickly.

Food Storage Items $124.50
$86.67 packaged school lunch items (S) (In an emergency, these will be eaten)
$10.59 Chicken Noodle Soup, .45 ea. SALE (SM)
$12.00 24 Pinto beans .50 ea. SALE (SM)
$4.56 4 Spaghetti Sauce jars (T)
$2.50 Wesson canola oil 48 oz. (T)
$8.18 64/16.9 oz. bottled water (S) (I like these because in an emergency, they will be easy to share)

Non-Food Items $110.81 (I have a 3 Month supply for daily use and emergencies)
$31.06 72 rolls toilet paper, .43 ea. (S)
$17.58 12 Bounty Mega paper towels, $1.47 ea. (S)
$9.64 paper cups (S)
$15.04 2/250 sf. foil (S)
$9.09 10 facial tissues, .91 ea. (S)
$8.56 contact lens solution 3pk (S)
$9.66 shampoo (S)
$10.18 Gum 15 pk (W)

Emergency Items $101.55
$73.57 food to replenish our 72-hour food packs (S)
$5.00 Raisins boxes (T)
$12.99 N95 medical face masks 20 ct. SALE (EE)

Freezer Foods $78.22 +$18.90 lean ground beef, 10 lbs. $1.89 (looking for a great sale)
$18.12 10 lbs shredded 3 blend cheese, $1.81 lb.(S)
$5.88 4 butter, $1.47 lb. (S)
$14.48 sirloin hamburger patties (S)
$8.48 frozen berry blend, $2.83 lb. (S)
$12.36 6 loaves wheat bread, $2.06 ea. (S)
Ham (looking for a great sale) See How to Freeze Ham
easter candy CLEARANCE (looking for a great sale) see Fun Things to Do Leftover Easter Candy

Long-term Food Storage Items

Equipment $23.89
$7.95 Cookie Sheet SALE (SRE)
$9.99 24 cup mini muffin pan (SRE)
$5.95 powdered milk mixer pitcher (EE)

Total: $438.97 (estimate)

Key: Sam's (S), Smith's (SM), Emergency Essentials (EE), Walmart (W), Target (T), Standard Restaurant Equipment Co. (SRE)

Case Lot Sales Tips

1) Some stores let you buy single items, and others limit you to the whole case. You have to ask at the store.
2) Just because it says Case Lot doesn't always mean it is the lowest price you can get an item for. Sometimes WalMart sells their “store brand” goods for about the same price. (see below)
3) Plan before you purchase. Check your inventory at home to see what you really need or want, so you don't impulse buy when you get into the store.

Walmart Everyday Prices from my Price Log to help you compare at Smith's:
Canned vegetables, about 15 oz., are between .52 and .68.
Canned mushrooms, 4 oz., .52
Canned fruit about 15 oz., between .82 and .92.
Canned pineapple, 20 oz., .82 ea.
Tomato paste, 6 oz., .36 ea.
Tomato sauce, 8 oz., .27 ea.
Diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz., .50 ea.
Creamed soups, 10.75 oz., .82 ea.
Dinty Moore beef stew, 24 oz., 2.12 ea.
Spam, 12 oz., 2.23 ea.
Grape Jelly, 32 oz., 1.28 ea.
Spaghettios, 14.8 oz., 1.00 ea.
Canned beans 15.5 oz, between .68 and .76 ea.
Pork N Beans, 15 oz., .48 ea.