The Survival Mom » Preparedness http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Tue, 16 Sep 2014 06:00:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Top 5 wilderness survival skills you need for urban survival http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-5-wilderness-survival-skills-need-urban-survival/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/top-5-wilderness-survival-skills-need-urban-survival/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 06:00:28 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17735 I recently set up a bugout bag for my daughter. She starts college next week near Los Angeles and I’ve always been paranoid about the potential for a major earthquake in that area. Then, in an instant, I went from Read More

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top 5 urban survival skillsI recently set up a bugout bag for my daughter. She starts college next week near Los Angeles and I’ve always been paranoid about the potential for a major earthquake in that area.

Then, in an instant, I went from being paranoid dad to visionary, as a 6.0 earthquake was registered in Napa, CA the Sunday before we were going to leave. Extensive damage was reported, and I expect to run into some of the aftershocks later this week.

So, as one reader asked, how valuable are the wilderness survival skills in an urban disaster environment? Very. Here are some you need to know.

The best wilderness survival skills for an urban emergency situation:

Well, a survival mindset is necessary for surviving anything. Studies have shown that 80 percent of people in any emergency won’t know what to do and will need someone to lead them. Another 10 percent will do the wrong thing. And the ones who survive, the remaining 10 to 15 percent, will survive because they relied on previous training.

So lets say an earthquake (fill in your particular disaster) has occurred. You have to evacuate a building and end up in a parking lot with a lot of other people. The weather is nasty, and the temperature is dropping. There is no help in the foreseeable future.

What skills do you need?

Here are five wilderness survival skills that could help you survive an urban emergency.

Shelter: The first decision might be to get out of the elements. Do you know how to tie effective knots? Can you make a shelter out of the available materials?

A nearby dumpster could be the best place to find shelter materials. Look for anything that can insulate you from the elements: plastic sheeting, newspapers, cardboard etc.

Check out the trash cans. If one has a 55-gallon liner, you can make a quick shelter out of it.

LA maps

Among critical skills for urban survival is the ability to use a map and compass.

Water: Any water you might find should be suspect, unless it is bottled or otherwise sealed from contamination.

Fire: You should know how to build a campfire using whatever flammable materials might be available. Many of the people in the parking lot might need a place to get warm. Light will be really appreciated as it gets dark.

Also, boiling water is usually the quickest way to purify it. Make sure to get any containers from the dumpster. You may need them later.

Obviously, if you smell gas or the situation seems dangerous, don’t play with fire!

Navigation: If you have to leave the area because staying would be dangerous, do you know where to go and which way to take to get there? Can you read a city street map and use a compass? During a storm or in the darkness, you may not be able to determine directions. Be able to orient a map and know how to read it.

First aid: Everybody should take a basic first aid class. You don’t have to reach EMT expertise, but a rudimentary knowledge is important. After any sort of disaster, somebody will be hurt and you may be the only one available to help. This is not the time to look around frantically and wonder what to do.

Obviously, there are a lot of other skills that you should know or learn. If you practice and prepare for an earthquake, for example, that means you’re pretty well set for other disasters. You can’t prepare for every eventuality, but you can come close!

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How Hollywood Got ‘Preppers’ All Wrong http://thesurvivalmom.com/hollywood-got-preppers-wrong/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/hollywood-got-preppers-wrong/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:44:55 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17590 Pretty much everyone has heard about or seen the television show, “Doomsday Preppers.” In each episode, the ‘prepper’ is shown getting themselves all prepared to deal with a specific man-made or natural disaster. Maybe it’s just me, but they seem to pick Read More

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Hollywood got preppers wrong

Pretty much everyone has heard about or seen the television show, “Doomsday Preppers.” In each episode, the ‘prepper’ is shown getting themselves all prepared to deal with a specific man-made or natural disaster.

Maybe it’s just me, but they seem to pick the most mentally unstable, extremist people they can find for the show. They know the average person watching will take what they see as normal behavior of all preppers. The reality is so far from what is shown on television, and I think I can say this for most of us who homestead or prep, that those who are seeking to be as self-reliant as possible look upon the show and those in it with scorn and sometimes outright disgust.

When you break it down, prepping is not all that exciting. It is a lot of work and scheduling, budgeting and planning. Hollywood has skewed the truth so much that those of us who employ even smaller aspects of prepping in our lives are afraid to say anything due to the judgments, eye rolling, laughter, whispers as we pass through the office, and general scorn that we are met with if you say the word PREPPER.

To help clear things up, we will look at what has been shown versus what is the reality in the following areas: perceptions, mannerisms, activities, beliefs, hoarding vs. being stocked, and outlook.

Perceptions

Our perceptions of how these people actually live have been heavily scripted to paint a very specific picture. One of these shows was filmed on the island I live on. It is the one with Alaska Ink featured. They create supply caches and toss them in the ocean for storage.

Generally speaking, the ‘events’ people are prepping for are ones assigned to the group to try and meet. The people in the shows are kept up for long hours, on purpose, to create drama and strife.  The production crew is told to instigate strong emotions and outbursts for better television.

“Accidents” are staged on purpose to, again, create more drama. In fact, if you listen closely to many of these types of shows, you will hear what people are saying was not said in one sentence! The sentence will start off in one tone but end in another tone. It is common for these types of ‘reality shows’ to take words from one statement and string them with another statement to create whatever is needed to be said to enhance the drama. 

The reality is that these people aren’t doing things much differently than their grandparents or great grandparents did: they are preparing for unforeseen events. Back then it was not called ‘prepping,’ it was called ‘life.’ Back then, there wasn’t a grocery store on every corner (not that they had the money to run to the store anyway) and life was not as disposable as it is today.

Mannerisms

Mentally unstable people make for excellent television, don’t they? Keep ‘em awake for 20 out of 24 hours and things get really fun! While everyone has eccentricities that help make us unique, even the most normal of quirks is made to be something really ‘out there’ in the editing room.

These shows would have you believe that all preppers are paranoid, food hoarding, anti-authority gunslingers. Or just completely out of their minds.  

The reality is the majority of preppers are normal people, just like anyone else is ‘normal.’ In this day and age of labels, there isn’t a person on the planet that some psychologist couldn’t find one label or another to pin on all of us. That being said, if you look beyond the scripting and presentation of the show, you will see that these preppers are people who would rather rely on themselves versus the government and plan for the future. They consider things weeks, months, and years down the road.

They are working to provide for themselves versus waiting in line on the government steps with hand stretched out and think they are entitled to whatever is being given out. Preppers are producers, not merely consumers.

Activities

When most people think of preppers, thanks in large part to Hollywood, they think of people with year’s worth of food in bunkers and thousands of rounds of ammo. They believe that preppers spend all their time and money on preparing for disasters and situations that ‘are not likely to happen anytime soon.’  Preppers are portrayed to be almost zealous or fanatical about their activities.

While there is assuredly passion about what they are doing, the reality is that the average prepper is one of the most down-to-earth and logical people you will meet. They reuse, recycle, upcycle and generally try to make things work with what they have on hand versus going out and buying something that they could either do without or make themselves. Yes, sometimes you just need to buy something new as an investment, but overall, they live very practical lives.

The biggest difference I usually see through talking with people and reading other blogger’s posts is that they go about these purchases in ways that will avoid debt. It is considered absolutely normal in today’s society to be tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. To take on the ideal of living 100% debt free is foreign to most Americans. Your credit score actually goes down if you do not have a good mix of credit cards, mortgage loan(s), and car loan(s).

I worked in a bank for 7 years and have always watched my score closely. I noticed that one of the factors that lowered my credit score was due to the fact that I do not have a mortgage loan. I called Experian and asked about it. I was told that if I had a mortgage, even if it had late payments, my credit score would go up 25-40 points!! WHAT?! No wonder people who live debt free are judged or looked at as weird! 

Beliefs

This is a big one. Hollywood has painted a picture of ‘preppers’ as though the entire group of 3 million, at last count, believe a huge catastrophic event will happen in their lifetime. In many ways, the prepping community as a whole has been cast in a cult-like light.

I have seen posts from certain prepping and survivalist sites that incite fear and try to whip people up into a frenzy, thinking they need to go out and buy all this stuff to be able to survive whatever threat may come their way. This is the same type of tactics used on some television shows. This could not be further from the truth.

The reality is that preppers come in all shapes, sizes, beliefs, and cultures, and are as diverse as any other group of people under the microscope. There are extremists in any group out there. The trouble is the media primarily focuses on those type of people for the ratings and drama.

How good would a show be that only depicts normal, everyday people who have large gardens as a food source and a means to provide for themselves and save money? What about the family who uses camping and hiking as a way to teach the children skills that will help them survive if needed? It is too normal and would be pretty boring for the general public who thrives on turmoil, strife, and watching shows that make them feel normal compared to ‘those whack jobs’ on television.

Hoarding vs. Stocked

This is one of my favorite myths to break whenever the topic of “Doomsday Preppers” comes up. We have all seen the people with bunkers and pantries absolutely stocked to the roof with years worth of food. There is that episode, too, where one lady takes a door apart and stores boxes of macaroni and cheese inside it. Really? That is, without a doubt, 100% extremist and absolutely not the normal behavior of one who calls themselves prepper.

If you were to walk into my house, you may see my stack of mylar bags with beans, rice, and barley in them. Does this mean I am hoarding 50 pounds of each? No way! But I do have enough to get us through hard times such as a job loss, a break in the supply chain, or some other event that would leave us unable to shop for more food.

One thing I would like to specifically point out here for perspective is that the first grocery stores as we know them have only been around for the last 70 years or so. Before that, there may have been trading posts and whatnot but absolutely nothing like what we are used to today. Most people had their own gardens and livestock for their food source. They would hunt and fish and trade.

As the idea of a self-serve supermarket gained popularity, you still saw people buying in bulk and setting some back ‘just in case.’ Growing up, my grandmother always had some kind of pantry in a ‘cool room’ that was usually in the back of the house in constant shade. When things would go on sale, say corn for example, she would buy a whole case at a time. When I asked her about it in my adult life, she said when she was a child the shelves were stocked with jars instead of cans but she liked having the convenience of someone else doing all the processing.

That idea became the normal way of doing things! Let someone else process it. Big food companies were born and now it is to the point where they have so much control over what we eat, and where we get it from, that people are getting arrested for buying raw milk or raw vegetables from their neighbor, and heaven forbid they have a garden in their front yard. The scandal! What we are seeing, I believe, is a shift back to our great-grandparents’ way of living. I can hope.

Outlook

In just about every single episode of Doomsday Preppers, the people are portrayed as actually wanting something to happen. I have personally been asked this question before, “What if nothing happens? Won’t you feel dumb and be mad that you wasted all that time and money for nothing? Wouldn’t it be better for you if something did happen so you wouldn’t feel like you wasted your life?”

This is where I get the chance to set some things straight. If you love what you are doing, how can it be a waste of your life? How can learning to grow your own food or make a shelter or learn different ways to start a fire be a waste? I do not feel like anything I do to increase my self-sufficiency is a waste of anything.

There are so many rewards that have come from switching over lifestyles that I never thought of and when they show up, it is like a little surprise party. Examples are the pride I had this past April when I pulled out the last jars of green beans and carrots that I had grown from seed the year before. We did not buy a single can/jar of pickles, carrots, or onions. I know exactly how they were all grown and processed! That was including the jars I had given out to my mother in law and presents of the jams and jellies at Christmas to friends.

Homesteaders and preppers are some of the most optimistic, realistic, and generous folk you will ever meet. Generally speaking, they love to share knowledge and forge bonds to strengthen the system around them. They realize they are part of something much larger and have a genuine desire to want to help make things better. They also understand and accept that not everyone thinks the way they do and there are those who will never take steps to secure even  3 days of emergency food and water for themselves. Most really wish their neighbors would wake up and get on board.

Closing Thoughts

Preppers have gotten a really bad reputation and I believe strongly that it is directly because of shows like “Doomsday Preppers” that seek to show folk like myself as being completely whacked, out of touch, and extremist. The saddest part about it is that the word itself is now tainted and those of us in the preparedness/homesteading community pause before referring to ourselves as such.  

I personally call myself a modern homesteader but the reality is there is a very fine, blurred line between that and prepping. Both seek to be self-reliant. Both prefer to have more control over their lives than the average person does. That does not mean they are anti-government, anti-authority, and anti-country. They want to be free to live their life and eat the food they prefer. They want to be able to defend their homes and families without worry that the government will step in and make them the criminal for it. In fact, if you look at history, it is those very ideals and desires for freedom that founded our country in the first place. 

These are the personal opinions and viewpoints of LeAnn inAK and do not necessarily reflect those of the site admins or owner.

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Candles Aren’t Just For Birthday Cakes http://thesurvivalmom.com/candles-arent-just-birthday-cakes/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/candles-arent-just-birthday-cakes/#comments Sun, 14 Sep 2014 06:00:50 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17707 Candles come in all shapes and sizes and are very handy to have in your various survival kits. They serve two main purposes–providing light and assisting with fire making. There are different types of candles suitable for survival purposes. Starting Read More

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Candles - Library of Congress, Highsmith Archive Candles come in all shapes and sizes and are very handy to have in your various survival kits. They serve two main purposes–providing light and assisting with fire making.

There are different types of candles suitable for survival purposes.

Starting Fires

Small tea light candles are great for small to medium size kits and you can pack several into a small plastic bag. They weigh almost nothing so you won’t notice them in your kit. They don’t last a long time once lit but they work great with helping to get a fire going.

Light the candle, then build your tinder and kindling around it. Or, construct your fire lay in such a way that you can push the tea light out once the fire is going. That way, you can blow out the candle and save it for use again later.

The gimmick birthday candles, the ones that relight themselves after you blow them out, also work well for fire making. They are pretty much single use, though, and don’t burn a long time. The advantage is they are small and you can pack a whole bunch into a small pouch.

There are, of course, candles that are specially designed for emergencies. Generally speaking, they are somewhat thicker than the ones you’d buy for a romantic dinner and thus they burn longer. However, due to their size, they aren’t suited for use in small kits.

4 candlesMake Your Own or Buy Them on Clearance

You could also consider making your own emergency candle for a survival kit. Use an Altoids tin or another similar size metal container. Use broken candles or old crayons for the wax. Wicks can be purchased at any craft store.

Melt the wax in a clean soup can placed into a few inches of boiling water. Once melted, carefully pour the wax into the Altoids tin and as the wax begins to set, insert the wick. I usually do two or three wicks, placed evenly apart. This gives me the option of more or less light based on how many wicks I have burning.

A great time to go candle shopping is right after Christmas, when all sorts of holiday decorations are on clearance. You can pick up a bunch of candles for pennies on the dollar. In a survival situation, it really doesn’t matter if it is the middle of July and you’re breaking out the Santa candles, or April and enjoying Halloween colored ones.

Obviously, once lit, candles are an open flame and need to be treated with caution. Always be aware of what is near the candle and where it is positioned, lest you accidentally bump into it.

Personally, I like to use oil lamps and candle lanterns for emergency light in the home during a power outage, as they tend to be a bit safer. But, there’s no arguing that candles can be a very cheap and reliable source of emergency light, as well as a great way to help get a fire going.

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7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Join a Meal Swap & 5 Reasons Why You Should http://thesurvivalmom.com/shouldnt-join-meal-swap/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/shouldnt-join-meal-swap/#comments Sat, 13 Sep 2014 19:57:50 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17747 Over the years, I’ve participated in several different meal swaps.  If you aren’t familiar with these, it’s where a bunch of people, mostly women, get together and swap meals.  For example I might be in a group with 5 other Read More

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Join a Meal Swap

Over the years, I’ve participated in several different meal swaps.  If you aren’t familiar with these, it’s where a bunch of people, mostly women, get together and swap meals.  For example I might be in a group with 5 other women.  On the designated day I make 6 casseroles and so do all the other women using different recipes than mine.  Then we get together, hand them out to each other and we each go home with 6 different meals. (After some awesome Mom-time visiting of course)

The first one I was in was a Freezer-Meal Swap.  That meant that the meals we came home with were either already frozen or ready to be frozen.  I think it lasted for 8 months or so.

The next time I decided to join a meal swap, we decided it would be a Pantry Meal Swap.  All the ingredients needed to be shelf stable.

I was at lunch the other day with a friend  and she told me about a fridge-swap that she’d been part of. It was a  weekly thing and the meals just went in the fridge for that week’s dinners.

Now there are a few reasons that I’d like to share as why you might not want to join a swap,  Do any of these resonate with you?

  1. You hate to socialize with other people on a regular basis.  Commiserating on the trials of motherhood makes you ill.
  2. You love that angelic question that comes from the lips of your offspring each day, “I’m hungry. WHAT’S FOR DINNER?”
  3. Your brain just adores thinking of something new, creative, beautiful nutritious and delicious each and EVERY evening.
  4. You love extra work. In fact you search it out, as much as possible.
  5. You’ve never had the opportunity to learn about ‘motion studies’ from Frank in “Cheaper By the Dozen” (the original)
  6. Washing lots and lots of dishes after a hard day of Mom-ing makes you oh, so happy.
  7. Your family is perfectly content with the same 3 or 4 recipes for dinner.  They are just happy there is something….anything :)

Now, the readers of this blog are more intelligent than some and I’m sure you can tell by now that the title of this article was a bit (OK, a lot) sarcastic. In fact, I think everyone should be part of a Meal Swap at some point in their lives because:

  • It’s rejuvenating to meet with like minded people on a regular basis, if only to realize that we are not alone in our day to day struggles.
  • Meal prep happens in concentrated spurts rather than little bits here and there that can take away from other more important things, like reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books on the sofa to our children or grand children.
  • We get to try a variety of meals that we might not have otherwise experimented with.
  • Grocery bills are lower because we get to purchase ingredients in bulk.  I planned my swap selections around the current sales, like when I buy chicken in bulk.
  • Daily meal prep is as easy as preheating the oven and heating up a main dish.  Add sides and bread if you like and dinner is on the table.

Are you interested yet?  There is nothing to lose and so much to gain by sharing the burden and workload with others.  Ask around and if there are no swaps with vacancies, start one of your own.  The great thing about starting your own is that you get to make the rules.

In our Freezer Meal swap we set rules like these.:

–All veggies either had to be blended beyond recognition or big enough to pick out.

–Meals had to feed 8 adults which usually meant a 9×13 pan.  Our families were different sizes but for the smaller families that size left enough for dad to pack in his lunch the next day while still feeding the larger families a full meal, with second helpings sometimes.

–We emailed our meal choices early in the month so we could avoid duplication in the same month.

–Recipe cards were provided with each meal so that if it turned out to be a keeper we’d have it to make again.

In our Pantry Meal Swap (We called it our the PMS Group) these were the rules:

–All ingredients need to be shelf stable

–Meats for the dish were provided by the recipient, this allowed for flexibility at the time of use.  If there was power we could use frozen meats, if not we could use our bottled meats (In that group were a bunch of preparedness minded families and this was on our mind quite a bit)

–All ingredients fit into a box about 4 x 10 x 12 for easy stacking in our pantries or food storage rooms.  This wasn’t the most space efficient way to store the ingredients but it made it a handy grab and go size.  We did a bulk purchase on the boxes so they were very inexpensive.

Meal Swaps are a great way to expand your repertoire at meal time and add variety to the everyday ruts we get into.  Have you had a great experience with a meal swap?…or maybe a horrible one?  I’m itching to start another swap. Tell me what’s worked for you.

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Unexpected Ways Savvy Preppers can Use Living Social and Groupon http://thesurvivalmom.com/living-social-groupon-prepping/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/living-social-groupon-prepping/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 06:00:09 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17021 Most people know what Living Social and Groupon are. Basically, they offer deals for, usually, a few days. You buy an item or pay for an activity and they send you a voucher for it. You take the voucher (or Read More

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groupon living socialMost people know what Living Social and Groupon are. Basically, they offer deals for, usually, a few days.

You buy an item or pay for an activity and they send you a voucher for it. You take the voucher (or use the code on it) to the merchant and redeem it for what you purchased, generally at a very big discount.

These sites are so far down the list of places people think about for prepping that not only do they not make the list, but it makes people confused. It just doesn’t compute – aren’t those sites about discounted spa days, restaurants, museum tickets, and hotels?

Well, yes, definitely – but if you really look deeper at what they offer, there is an astounding cornucopia of goods, services, and experiences for the savvy prepper to explore.

What Do They Have?

As I looked through while writing this article, it felt more like what don’t they have. Cooking classes, firearms safety, physical fitness, goods and gear to buy – they have a little bit of everything, at least sometimes. (The deals are only for a short time, but many recur if they drive enough business to the merchant.)

As one example, my son and I are going to learn how to make cheese – a whole bunch of different kinds of cheese, not just one or two. Truthfully, I would never have made the leap, but I got a great deal on Living Social and my son really really loves cheese, so we’re going to do it together.

Learning how to make cheese is a great prepper skill, plus a great way for the two of us to bond. Who knows? Maybe we’ll end up making cheese together for many years to come. Worst case, I’ve wasted approximately the cost of our family of four going to a single movie at the theater.

The Survival Mom and her husband took a bee-keeping class, thanks to a Living Social deal!

Here are some classes you might find on these websites:

Personal Safety

  • Evasive driving techniques
  • Simulated tactical shooting situation (not target shooting)
  • Krav Maga (unarmed self defense) plus countless kinds of more common martial arts classes
  • Shooting classes

Even paintball could also be a way to simulate a more tactical shooting situation while having some family fun.

Physical Fitness

  • Boot camp and gym memberships
  • Kayaking, tubing, and canoeing
  • 5K races (even the mud, zombie, and colorful ones)
  • Skiing
  • Aerial adventure parks
  • Parkour (think American Ninja Warrior)
  • Barre (yes, as in ballet, but for those of us who aren’t flexible ten year olds any more)

The list of possibilities is enormous. If you want to get fit, they want to provide you with the class(es) to do it.

Goods

  • Hand-crank solar flashlights
  • Reusable water bottles (the super lightweight, foldable kind)
  • Home organizers (under bed/closet/hanging)
  • Camping backpacks
  • Portable hammock (with stand)
  • Cast iron cookware
  • Knives (all kinds) abound – cooking, diving, pocket, etc.

Food

  • Powdered peanut butter
  • Tea and coffee, in K-cups or not
  • Gourmet beef
  • Astronaut ice cream
  • Kits to make root beer, cheese, or molecular gastronomy

The deals change constantly, but there is something for everyone. And with the discounts they offer, it’s a whole lot easier to take a risk and try something new.

So, what prepper deals can you find on Living Social and Groupon?

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What you need to know about Disaster Preparedness from Pelican ProGear http://thesurvivalmom.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-disaster-preparedness/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-disaster-preparedness/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 16:02:11 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18059 Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

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What you need to know about disaster preparedness

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Where are my children? 3 questions to ask about your school’s safety plan http://thesurvivalmom.com/school-safety-plan/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/school-safety-plan/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 07:09:06 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17704 Disasters can happen anytime, including when your children are at school. Do you know exactly where they will be if it strikes? 1. Where is my child in the building? Ask your children or their teachers where the students will Read More

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School Safety

Disasters can happen anytime, including when your children are at school. Do you know exactly where they will be if it strikes?

1. Where is my child in the building?

Ask your children or their teachers where the students will be during any type of drill – fire, tornado, earthquake and lockdown drills. Think through where the children would be when they are in different parts of the building, too, such as lunchtime and specials. Keep a copy of your children’s daily schedule on hand. I often keep a copy on the refrigerator and take a picture to keep in my phone.

Speaking of lockdown drills, make sure to take the time to talk to your children about what they would do if one happened when they were in various locations in the school. One of my children once asked what she should do if she was in the bathroom when they called for a lockdown – that made for an interesting discussion.

2. What is the evacuation plan?

If the school is damaged, find out where the school will take the children. Sometimes there is a church or community center nearby that the school plans to use. Some school may plan to use a nearby field or parking lot if there is not a big enough building nearby. If your children are the kind that like reassurance (mine do), let them know that you know where they will be taken to during an evacuation and that you will come get them.

3. What hospital does the school use in its’ school safety plan?

Sometimes a disaster is a more personal one where children get hurt or collapse at school. If they have to transport your child to a hospital, do you know which one they would use? Knowing that could save you time by knowing ahead of time exactly how to get there. It is good to know what emergency services your school would call as well. Do you have specific people lined up who can get your children in emergencies if you are not available? Make sure to let your children know who is and is not allowed to pick them up. One good idea is to establish a family code word that a person who picks them up should know.

Now you know

Ask these questions and you can be prepared in case a disaster happens while your children are in school. You can also apply these questions to any event that you leave your children at – scouts, church, sports, and friends’ houses. Knowing where they are means you will be able to get to them quicker in case of an emergency.

What other questions would you ask about your school’s emergency plan?

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If you just moved here: How to prepare for an earthquake http://thesurvivalmom.com/just-moved-prepare-earthquake/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/just-moved-prepare-earthquake/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 13:30:35 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17700 Earthquakes happen with no notice and can strike almost anywhere in the world. However certain areas, like Alaska and the West coast, are more prone to them. If you just moved to an area that is in an earthquake zone, Read More

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prepare earthquake

Earthquakes happen with no notice and can strike almost anywhere in the world. However certain areas, like Alaska and the West coast, are more prone to them. If you just moved to an area that is in an earthquake zone, you need to know how to prepare for an earthquake. Here are some tips to help you prepare for “the big one.”

I felt the house move

I have honestly never been more scared than when I was on the second floor of our house with two little children and I felt the house move. I knew I could have mere seconds to get us downstairs and under a door frame or outside. I couldn’t move fast enough. We were living in Alaska and I knew we lived in an earthquake prone area, so I knew what to do, but I will never forget that feeling in the pit of my stomach when the house shook.

Get somewhere sturdy

Earthquake drill advice is to get under something, in a door frame or go outside. Earthquake drills are quick and easy to do and should be done often in all different locations so that your whole family can quickly evaluate where the closest safe spot is to them. It doesn’t take but mere moments for things to start falling apart when the earth moves. Young children can be taught the importance of running to their parents in emergency situations. Use a certain phrase that catches their attention to have them come to you so you can get them to safety.

Know where to turn off gas

Almost as important as being somewhere safe is knowing how to turn off the gas line at your home if you have one. Gas explosions can occur because of earthquakes, which can break gas lines. Know where the gas shutoff valve is and have the right tool somewhere outside to use to turn it off. It’s good to know how to turn off your electricity and water, too, until after you inspect all the damage in the area.

Have a bag located where you can get it

Bug-out bags for earthquake locations have to be placed somewhere that can be easily accessed if a house collapses on it. Garages with no rooms on top of them or sheds may be the easiest places to dig into to find a bug-out bag. If your home is severely damaged, there is a good chance your vehicle may be, too, along with local roads. Plan on walking to wherever you need to go or plan to camp out in your backyard. Have a couple locations in mind since the earthquake damage will be unpredictable.

It’s usually not a one-time event

Remember that there will probably be aftershocks, which could lead to more damage. Earthquakes can also trigger landslides, avalanches and volcanic eruptions (or vice versa on that one). Each of these events has its own preparation list. Duct tape and plastic tarps are key to have on hand for volcanic eruptions. Try to imagine keeping ash out of a house damaged by an earthquake. What other supplies and tools might you need? And, where would you go if your home was no longer a safe place to stay?

It can strike when you’re not at home

You may be at work and need to walk home. You may have to gather family members from school or friends’ houses. You may be stranded on the one highway that leads anywhere because it is damaged. Have enough emergency gear in your vehicle to prepare you for these scenarios. If you live near a volcano, consider having air masks for people and air filters for your car – a vehicle can only drive so far if it’s sucking up ash.

I hope you never feel the earth move under your feet, but if you live in an area where it could happen, please take the time to be prepared. A little bit of thinking and planning will pay off if “the big one” ever hits.

Do you live in an earthquake-prone area? What have you done to prepare for “the big one?”

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REVIEW: ESSIO Aromatherapy Shower http://thesurvivalmom.com/review-essio-aromatherapy-shower/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/review-essio-aromatherapy-shower/#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 16:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17932 I have become a big fan of essential oils over the last few years, so I was curious when I had the chance to review the ESSIO Aromatherapy Shower kit. The kit includes a plastic arm that clips onto to Read More

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aromatherapy showerI have become a big fan of essential oils over the last few years, so I was curious when I had the chance to review the ESSIO Aromatherapy Shower kit. The kit includes a plastic arm that clips onto to the showerhead pipe, three types of oils, and a plastic tray to hold the oils.

To start, if I didn’t make every possible mistake with the first pod, I’m not sure which one I missed. This is good for you, since I can tell you what to watch out for.

After I got all my mistakes out of the way, it was easy to use.

The First Pod: Breathe

They clearly state that these aren’t designed for use with a hand-held shower. The master bath shower was in the middle of being recaulked, so I tried it in the kids shower. Naturally, it has a hand-held shower. (If I wasn’t writing a review, I would have waited, but I thought it might be helpful for readers to know how it worked out – I’m thoughtful that way.)

The short answer: It wasn’t terrible, but the oil pod wasn’t directly in the water as is intended. It might actually have made it, if I had realized that the plastic arm the pod attaches to telescopes out to become longer. My user errors didn’t stop it from filling the room with a lovely scent, but it just didn’t seem quite as effective.

When I pulled out the pod, there was a plastic cover on it. The instructions didn’t mention removing anything before attaching it to the plastic arm, so I thought it was paper that would be punched through. It does not punch through, it twists off – and you’ll need to put it back on when you’re done, so don’t throw it away.

Even after I removed the plastic cover, I had a difficult time getting the pod attached and dropped it a couple times, once into running water. The instructions warn you it will dilute the oil if you get water into it by putting the entire pod under the water flow.

When I finally attached it, I wasn’t careful and managed to ram the tip that is supposed to go into the water flow back inside the pod. Between dropping it, ramming the tip inside, and other user-errors, I used up all the “Relax” oil in the first usage.

I did find that it made me more relaxed, even with the problems getting started, and both my boys enjoyed the scent when they took showers a little later in the evening.

The Second Pod: Passion

I used it in the master bath and it went far more smoothly. The plastic arm easily attached to the pipe in both bathrooms, and I was able to attach the pod easily now that I knew what not to do.

The pod easily reached the water flow. Flipping it up to reduce usage and back down to add more aroma was a piece of cake. The “lid” went back on the pod for storage without any challenges.

I used very little of the oil this time and have more than enough for several more showers, and I really enjoyed the smell.

The Third Pod: Breathe

I can’t testify as to whether this helps on a stuffy head since I don’t have one right now, but it smells nice and like something that would help, if I was stuffy.

I had a little more trouble attaching this one than the second, but nowhere near the difficulty I had the first time, and I still had it attached in well under thirty seconds. As with any product that requires a tight fit (you don’t want the pod dropping off mid-shower), sometimes the fit is simply a little tighter than others.

While my kids aren’t tall enough to tilt the pods up and down, the youngest loves the idea and the eldest is willing to give it a try. The next time they have a cold, we’ll use this. I may even buy the “Night” pods for nights he’s not very sleepy at bedtime.

Overall

aromatherapy nightI could understand readers thinking that putting oils in your shower could make the shower slippery or leave your hair or body oily or greasy. The truth is, as with all things essential oil, we’re talking about drops of oil, not cups of it. In addition, it’s not dripping on you. The drops of oil are delivered through a specialized tip that diffuses them in the shower water.

Even when I dropped the pod directly on the tub floor, it wasn’t oily. And even with using an entire pod in one shower, I didn’t feel any residue on my skin or hair. The whole family could, however, smell the oil throughout the upstairs for quite awhile after my shower.

As I said, I’m a big fan of essential oils. These are a fun, easy way to get aromatherapy benefits – and an excuse to take a little extra time both in the shower and in the bathroom afterwards, pampering yourself a bit and enjoying the lingering aroma.

The Actual Pods

Since you are probably wondering, while a refillable pod that you can put your own scents into would be great, they don’t offer those. They do have a nice selection that covers what are probably the most-often-wanted uses for for aromatherapy including the three discussed, Night, Wisdom, and Clear.

We’ve all seen McCormick’s little oval squeeze containers of dye for coloring food. Each oil pod is approximately the same size (and shape) as those dye containers, but they aren’t squeezable. They also aren’t refillable, but you can buy replacement packs of 4 or 8 pods for $19.99 or $29.99. Given that they are 100% certified organic oils with no chemicals or synthetics added, that price seems reasonable.

If each pod lasts for 4 showers, that works out to about $1.25 or $0.94 (plus shipping ad handling) per shower for a home-spa experience. (They are actually offered at my favorite day spa!) I’ll take that deal.

Giveaway

ESSIO is running a giveaway from now through September 25th. Five lucky winners will receive a free Shower Kit.

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Try it Today! Build a Workplace Emergency Kit http://thesurvivalmom.com/build-workplace-emergency-kit/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/build-workplace-emergency-kit/#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 07:00:04 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17715 You’ll want to pin this! Great info to have on hand. Click here to Pin. While few of us would relish the thought of having to spend a single minute more than absolutely necessary at work, it is conceivable you Read More

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You’ll want to pin this! Great info to have on hand. Click here to Pin.

Cars parked under heavy snow during blizzard

While few of us would relish the thought of having to spend a single minute more than absolutely necessary at work, it is conceivable you could end up stranded there overnight.  If severe weather rolls in, such as a major blizzard, travel could be treacherous at best.  Rather than roll the dice and take your chances on hazardous roads, you may be better off just hunkering down at your desk.  By planning ahead and assembling a workplace emergency kit, you can turn such an event into nothing more than an inconvenience.

If you work from home or stay at home during the day, consider putting together one of these kits for a spouse or other loved one who does have to go to work each day.

Start with a bit of food, such as granola bars, crackers, or perhaps one of my favorites, honey roasted cashews.  Sure, many of us routinely have some snacks stashed away in our desk but it is never a bad idea to have some extra goodies in your workplace emergency kit. Check out this list of handy no-cook foods for some suggestions. One popular emergency food among preppers is the high-calorie emergency bar. These are used by the military and are actually quite tasty.

Don’t forget a couple of bottles of water, too.  We have no way to reliably predict what the situation might be and the disaster you end up facing could result in water not flowing from the bathroom taps. In that case, you might have to get water elsewhere, and it might be questionable as to its safety. A LifeStraw comes in handy for that and since it’s low-cost and very lightweight, you could easily keep it stored in a desk drawer. The Sawyer Water Filtration System is also portable and very popular.

If the power remains functioning, you might want to hit up the vending machines so toss some cash and coins in your kit.  Just a few bucks will probably be enough. Make sure the bills aren’t too wrinkled to be recognized by the machine!

A good flashlight with extra batteries (or perhaps a dynamo powered flashlight, where turning a crank provides the power) will make you a hero at work, should the power go out.  Many of us work in office buildings where the bulk of the work space has no exterior windows.  If all the lights go out, it gets mighty dark in there.  Do you really want to take a trip to the bathroom using the Braille method? If your flashlight uses batteries, store an extra set or two nearby.

A few hygiene items can help greatly with morale.  These include a toothbrush, toothpaste, a small bar of soap, and a hand towel.  If nothing else, having these things in your kit will help prevent people standing further and further away from you during conversations.  Another thing to keep in your kit is your preferred feminine hygiene supplies.  I realize most women carry a stash in their purse already but redundancy is always a good idea.

If your job requires you to wear business attire or, conversely, you end up dirty and sweaty from working in a factory, a change of clothes would be nice to have on hand.  Comfortable jeans, perhaps, and an old flannel shirt, as well as thick socks and sneakers.  The idea is to have clothes you won’t mind staying in for hours on end, rather than spending the night in a skirt or dress slacks.  A hooded sweatshirt might also be desirable.

It’s very possible that you might have to do some walking to get home or to another shelter. Sturdy, warm, waterproof shoes with wool socks are an absolute must. Shoe Goo can be used to create a waterproof barrier if need be.

Many workplaces have first aid kits in the break room or perhaps the Human Resources office.  Often, though, these are poorly equipped and rarely maintained.  Either buy a small first aid kit or assemble one with supplies you have at home.  Adhesive bandages, pain relievers, and meds for stomach ailments should all be included.  If you regularly take any sort of prescription medication, keep in your kit enough to last a day or two at least. This article, while meant for kids’ first aid kits, has some excellent suggestions.

Of course, many of us are guilty of catching a cat nap here and there while we’re at work.  But, given that you may end up spending a full night at the office, a small blanket and inflatable pillow will probably be welcome.  Emergency blankets are all well and good but honestly, they aren’t all that cozy when you are just looking to snooze for a bit. A couple of yards of fleece fabric makes a warm, frugal blanket, although on a chilly winter night, you’ll need something more.

Finally, count on the fact that you’ll probably get bored after a while.  You work with the people around you every single day, you’ve already heard all of their stories and you likely don’t want to listen to them again.  Something to help pass the time will be of great benefit.  A book to read, maybe crossword puzzles or word search puzzles, if that’s your thing.  A deck of cards could be fun, whether you play poker or solitaire (you do know you can play solitaire without a computer, right?).  I would refrain, though, from chewing up your flashlight’s battery to engage in these activities.  If an office has a window, and thus light coming in, great.  Otherwise, save your flashlight for when you truly need it.

Your workplace emergency kit will likely fit into a small duffel bag, which can be stashed under your desk or in your locker.  While most of us have our bug out bags or get home bags in our vehicles, having this separate kit at your workplace will prevent you from having to leave the building at all until it is safe to do so.

If you are a business owner, I would encourage you to give serious thought to ways you can be prepared to assist your most valuable assets–your employees–in the event of a disaster hitting during working hours.  Visit Disaster Prep Consultants to learn how they can help you with your disaster planning.

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