Friday, March 26, 2010

Free, or Almost Free

Our preparedness coordinator, Renee the Great, brought us an article by Carolyn Nicolaysen, a preparedness expert who writes for Meridian Magazine. She owns Totally Ready and writes The Totally Ready Blog too. She is a great resource as her personal experience spans so many forms of natural disaster. She write prolifically on pandemics and man-made disasters as well. In this piece she details Thirty Things to Prepare That are Free, or Almost Free. Now, what's not to like about that?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Prepared in an Earthquake

In the last 90 days we have seen amazing footage from several earthquakes around the world. My personal favorite is the woman running from a grocery store carrying a very large package of toilet paper. The video was shown hundreds of times in every looting story in the media (I think she was the only one looting...), but it never lost poignancy. No matter the emergency, there are basic needs we will all continue to have. We need to be prepared.

Michigan is not known for it's earthquakes, but I don't think that negates our need for preparation. We may not be famous for them, be we've had a few memorables. From USGS...

The earthquake of August 9, 1947, damaged chimneys and cracked plaster over a large area of south-central Michigan and affected a total area of about 50,000 square miles, including points north to Muskegon and Saginaw and parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The cities of Athens, Bronson, Coldwater, Colon, Matteson Lake, Sherwood, and Union City in the south-central part of the State all experienced intensity VI effects. Reports of damage to chimneys and some instances of cracked or fallen plaster, broken windows, and merchandise thrown from store shelves were common over the epicentral area.

The last line is the part that got my attention...merchandise thrown from store shelves. We have shelves in our home that hold Mason jars of food. Every time I walk by them I am careful not to knock something off. Wonder what might happen during an earthquake? More common than the epicenter occurring in Michigan is feeling the tremors from a quake that occurs on the New Madrid fault in Missouri. That has happened several times in recent history.

One of our favorite preparedness blogs has an extensive post on preparing your family for an earthquake. The Prepared LDS Family discusses everything from those shelves to teaching your family members what to do in an earthquake. Read this. It also explains that the email forward you received on the "triangle of life" is WRONG and a FRAUD. Since we might not spend every day of our lives in an earthquake-free zone, it's a worth our time.

-Anne Burns

Build a Reserve

Gradually build a financial reserve, and use it for emergencies only. If you save a little money regularly, you will be surprised how much accumulates over time.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has taught: “Set your houses in order. If you have paid your debts, if you have a reserve, even though it be small, then should storms howl about your head, you will have shelter for your wives and children and peace in your hearts” ("To the Boys and to the Men," Ensign, Nov. 1998, 54).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Without Power

Generators. A fascinating subject, especially if one does the research to understanding the power requirements of your home, i.e., just how many watts do I need anyway to power my home? This is but one question of many you could ask and says nothing of the social/political ramifications, for there are forces in the world that do not want you to be self sufficient. In this thesis I will try to tackle some of them.

First and foremost, I will not try to determine how many watts or the type of generator you might need. If I were, it’d be like me picking a mate for you and there are simply too many tastes to do that properly. Generally I will talk about many aspects of the thinking and get you on the right road.

One thing before we get started, safety and common sense are needed to keep you and your family members alive while using a generator. They must never be run indoors! To say nothing of the danger of handling gasoline, there are other dangers as well, so beware!

We need to determine whether we are going to provide generated electricity for short term or long term outages. Short term being may be from a few hours to two weeks. A call to your electric company, at the time of the outage, usually fields a phone message to the estimated reconnect time. This usually occurs when a storm goes through or a tree falls over one of the power lines that supply your neighborhood. Long term, could be described as more than a month to infinity. And infinity is possible. As this is a Preparedness Fair that I am writing for, and we live in the times of a terrorist threat, let’s just err on the safe side and become PREPARED! Short term, long term, according to your needs, your budget, and it’s your call.

Now, let’s consider the most important fact of all. In my opinion, put this in the front of your mind while researching all of your requirements: A Home Generator is only as good as the Fuel Source, i.e., type and amount.

Modern gasoline fuels start to break down and deteriorate within days or weeks after they are made. Broken-down gasoline can gum-up carburetors and worse, make the generator useless. Of course any automotive parts supplier can sell you inexpensive gasoline stabilizers and they will usually extend the life of gasoline for a year or so. Keep in mind, you cannot just keep re-stabilizing your stash of gas and expect positive results.

Diesel generators and their fuel fair far better. Diesel fuel can be stabilized for extended use and they last much longer than gasoline, but like gasoline it does have a shelf life. Un-stabilized shelf life for gasoline is generally 6 months to a year and diesel shelf life can be up to a couple of years. Properly stabilized and stored fuels can increase this time, somewhat. This is all “kinda-sorta,” because conditions vary and your results may be different, but not by much.

The start-up cost for a diesel generator is much more costly than gasoline generators. Whereas a decent gasoline generator will last maybe a year or two with constant use (purchase price $500-$2000 and more) and a good diesel generator will survive fifteen-twenty years of continuous use (good ones start in the $5000).

Of course, for any generator you will need a large supply oil filters and multi-viscosity oil for the crank case, and spare parts - the kind that wear out with normal use. They are usually inexpensive and easy to install. As a side consideration, these things are very thirsty and if you don’t want to go outside twice a night to refill the supply tank, some kind of external tanking is a must. The gas tanks on most commercial generators run, under load, for anywhere from 2-4 hrs on their supplied tank. Models with larger tanks can be bought, but an eight hour run is fairly rare to purchase. The good news is that you can, with a modicum of skill rig up a better tank system, checking the oil at least twice in a 24hr period.

For my money, I like propane fuel. Propane has an indefinite shelf life. You can get external tanks delivered, up to 2000 pounds, without permits. They burn incredibly clean, thus extending the life of the generator engine. With multiple tanks and watching your total wattage burn carefully and a supply of engine/generator wear parts, a ten+ year supply of energy is not only possible, but doable. Best of all, propane can run a properly setup diesel generator as well. I know of one propane generator running a hunt camp/lodge, which has been running continually, except for normal maintenance shutdowns, for some 35+ years now. Again, start-up cost for such a generation machine is considerable and much less money can keep you comfortable, until you either run out of fuel or the generator breaks down.

It’s really quite simple to determine how many watts you may need and at the end of this thesis you will find some very helpful Internet calculators to do it with.

Yes, you could get by with a 1500-watt generator. It won’t run your furnace (1/2hp furnace motor will surge 2300 watts at start-up, and continuously run on 875 watts), but it would run your refrigerator and many lights. After the fridge gets cold you could unplug the fridge and plug in the Freezer or run the freezer at night. By jockeying things around, one can get by on a much smaller output generator. In a total short term power outage you could even get by with one of those 500-watt portable generators, turning out the light in one room before going to the next.

When calculating your needs, keep in mind that for a furnace surge, you’ll need a 2500-watt Generator (this is a little more than what we need in the above example of 2300 watts) for start up. After the motor gets going you’ll only need 875 watts, leaving 1625 watts (2500w-875w=1625w) to do other work. A good strategy in this circumstance and an overall thinking process for the use of these useful machines goes like this: If you need the furnace for an extended period, then use the generator to start up the furnace ONLY, then engage the summer switch so the fan keeps blowing constantly, never turning off until you disengage it. The furnace fan is the major source for the surge. If you incorporate this thinking into your generator use, then in this example you’ll have that nearly 1625 watts left over for other usage. I say nearly 1625w, because there is some power that is used to run the other parts of the furnace and if you exceed the rated watts of the generator, you’re going to pop a fuse on the generator itself. Keep lots of fuses around while you are learning how to use your generator in an actual power outage.

In short order you will learn which appliances you can run and when.

In these times you never know when a Katrina lays in store to make your life interesting.

Do be not discouraged, do a little homework, use the Internet, and become PREPARED!!

- Tim LeGendre, Lapeer, MI

Food Storage Confessions

I admit it, I used to cringe when I heard others talking about food storage. I wished the whole concept would just go away and I wouldn’t have to hear about it again! I tried to think of reasons why the counsel was not good for me. I know there are many of you who feel the same way. My feelings were mostly the result of guilt, because I was not prepared years ago. The task of accumulating a year’s worth of food to keep my family fed in case of emergency seemed insurmountable, and I was reluctant for a few reasons:
1. Lack of money

2. Lack of time

3. Lack of know-how

(those are really just my excuses, see below for the real problem)

4. Lack of faith

Eventually, I came to a point when I realized that when we follow the counsel of church leaders, we are always met with success and blessings in our life. I grew to discover that this principle applies to obtaining food storage as well. Even though I didn’t have much spare cash and my hands were full taking care of small children, I decided to just start becoming prepared. I didn’t obtain a food storage all at once - it took a few years to accumulate. We have to begin by taking “baby steps.”

Some suggestions:

Did you know that our church recommends storing at least three months’ worth of foods that we eat on a regular basis? (For most of us, we’re not talking wheat kernels here.) For my family that means storing lots of peanut butter, jelly, cereal, spaghetti noodles, soups, pasta sauce, and macaroni and cheese. Oh yeah, and chocolate chips, too. It’s easy to collect these kinds of foods: next time you go to the store to buy two boxes of cereal, purchase three and put one in your food storage. When canned corn goes on sale, pick up a case of it. Now you have begun. Continue to grow your three-month supply this way over time.

Wheat, dry beans, and powdered milk may not be our favorite foods, but they do sustain life, so it is important to have them on hand. (See for a complete list of foods to store long-term.) I know the thought of obtaining these bulk necessities may seem daunting, but here’s some great news: wheat, rice, beans and oats are now available pre-canned and boxed! All you have to do is drive to the Home Storage Center, pick them up, take ‘em home and put them in the basement (see for pricing and hours). It’s easy, reasonably priced, and you can fit a couple months’ worth of these staples in your car at once. Go with your friends and ward members to the home storage center and can additional bulk items once every few months.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly your supply blossoms once you begin making regular efforts. The peace of mind that comes from being prepared is irreplaceable. Come what may, we will have enough to eat when we are follow the counsel of our leaders and obtain a year’s supply of food.

- Michele Shinedling

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Four Levels of Preparation

Everyone has different abilities and interests in preparing for what is ahead. Here is a list of items broken up into four levels for your consideration.

With just a little money what can I/my family do to survive for a one year period of time with no outside help, and no electricity, bare minimum?
Basic Food... 400 lb. Wheat, Legumes, Cooking oil, yeast, baking powder, learn how to cook from scratch, learn how to sprout, clothing, (winter especially), good hiking boots, gloves, (winter and work), hats, water for two weeks, water purification means - filter, iodine tablets, colloidal silver, simple shelters/tent(s) for family if need to leave home for any reason (tube tents??), sleeping bags (0 degree if possible), 22 rifle with 5000 rounds of ammunition, basic first aid kit, Simple survival tools (knives, hatchet, cooking pot, etc.), roll of plastic, (3 mil, 6 mil preferred), nylon cord, duct tape, matches/lighters, candles, books on how to cook with food storage, general survival methods, 5 empty gal buckets, scriptures, pay off credit cards, lots of tin foil, bread pans, small hand wheat grinder, small pocket radio, rechargeable if possible, flashlights...

I have the bare basics, now what can I add to it that will make life a little better? A step beyond the basic survival level.
Variety of spices, flavorings, lots of tomato paste, sauce, different legumes, rices, grains, canned/dried vegetables, canned/dried fruits, various sprouting mixtures, anti plague/disease materials (colloidal silver), herbs (black ointment, cayenne, etc.), shotgun 1000 rounds, (bird hunting, home/family defense), prepare garden near house, use heirloom (non-hybrid) seeds, books.... how to, sanitary napkins, diapers (cloth), toilet paper, flashlights, cooking, dutch oven, cooking fuel, some homeschool teaching materials, pay off all unsecured debt, sewing kits, better quality wheat grinder...

If my family could not occupy our home or were forced to leave, for a long period of time, maybe during winter, (because of earthquake, flood, plague, tornado or other), how would we survive if there was no outside help of any kind?
Large bore large game hunting rifle, 3000 rounds of ammunition, rechargeable devices, JP extreme cold weather suits (pants first) for family * Good camp cook equipment, utensils, 3-4 4 gal pots, (8) 5 gal buckets, 2 porta-potty lids, more water and water purification supplies, 2-3 rolls of plastic (clear -&- black), survival how to books, tarps, cord, better tents (4 season outfitters tent) much homeschool teaching materials, reduce all future cash needs - pay off vehicles, pay down mortgage, set aside cash reserve, camp stoves (wood/coal), hand tools, axes, saws, shovels, pickax, plastic garbage bags - heavy duty, knowledge of square foot gardening, clear tape, roll of heavy twine, portable oven, dutch ovens, portable wood stove, large hand crank wheat grinder, musical instruments and music, Hymn book...

I have provided well for my family and have the funds available to do more... what can I do to help others?
Double your food storage....expand to 2+ years, bicycles for every member, 2-4 solar panels, battery pack, laptop with infobase, encyclopedia, classics, teaching tools, printer -&- paper, tools; garden, carpentry, leather working, wood carving, small power tools, how to books, videos (small TV/VCR combo), full JP suits for family, snow shoes, extensive herbal, natural medicine knowledge and skills, nursing training, heavy duty sewing machine (foot pedal preferred) thread, cloth, needles, tools, trading items chocolate, candy, sugar, knowledge and skill in pottery making, manual throwing wheel, binoculars, telescope, spotting scope, prepay your own utilities, taxes, etc. 1-2 years in advance, pick up truck/trailer, solar chargers, small generator and fuel, communication devices trailer, truck to haul stuff (extra fuel), 4-wheeler, large or small bore gun for every member of family 5000+ rounds, dry pack veggies/fruits, how about a mobile command/repair/medical center, a super get-away vehicle...RV and utility trailer.

OTHER IDEAS (that may or may not have been covered)
Vitamin & Mineral supplements, yeast culture knowledge, cleaning supplies/soap, (laundry, dish, hand, shampoo, all purpose cleaner, toilet cleaner), fuel (fire wood, lantern/stove/heater fuel, and gasoline/diesel for your vehicles/generators), shoes, clothing, blankets/sleeping bags, field expedient tools: (assortment of knives, garden tools, shovel, ax, hatchet, sledge, wedge, rifle for shooting game, chisels, hand drill with different sized bits, hammers, a good supply of different size nails, rope, saws, pry bar, chain saw, (extra two cycle oil), outdoor cooking equipment, back packing equipment, battery radio with extra batteries, tarps, matches, something to read: Survival manual, Bible, special interest literature, etc.

No Cotton (only in blends) any synthetic is better than cotton; Long Johns---poly propylene, allows moisture off the skin; Boots---if you use the rubber pullover do 2 sizes bigger than the boot; Socks---polypropylene, army issue, good cool weather; Pants---wool, Swiss, Swedish, US, camo, (BDU), pant liners, shell to stop the wind; T shirts--use as much synthetics and blends as possible; Coats---3 is good, make one a fish tail parka; Gloves---loose fit, mittens are best; Hats---can add a 1/2 inch piece of foam to the top of a hat, protect your ears, face mask, poly propylene liner mask; blankets--wool, country blankets, French blanket; Sleeping bag--- (Rating on commercial is about 20 degrees off what it is rated. So if it's rated for 0 degrees then add 20 degrees to that), extreme cold bag which should be rated below 0 degrees, if you have lighter bags can put two together, a sleeping hood will also make a big difference, good pj's, no cotton. Can use a tarp over sleeping bag for warmth and windbreak. Have a good insulator under your sleeping bag or bed, use closed foam of barrier. Two or more can share the same bed and stay warmer; Add insulation to the tent and floor insulation.

Consider as a final goal - a well organized neighborhood ready for any problem.

Remember that...
Wealth does not guarantee happiness
Luxury does not build character
Work is a wonderful principle, essential for success

Don't forget to...
Pay your tithing
Stay out of debt except for a house or business
Live on less than what you earn
Save for a time of need
Learn to distinguish between needs and wants
Develop and live within a budget
Work for what you get
Be honest - integrity will never go out of style
Promote excellence