The Survival Mom » Featured http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Thu, 16 Oct 2014 20:12:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Shelter Life: How to Thrive and Survive in a Red Cross Shelter http://thesurvivalmom.com/shelter-life-thrive-survive-red-cross-shelter/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/shelter-life-thrive-survive-red-cross-shelter/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 15:00:57 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18657 During disasters like wildfires and floods, we’ve all seen TV news reports that the Red Cross is opening a shelter at such-and-such High School or other public building. It’s hard not to feel sorry for people who are either temporarily Read More

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red cross shelterDuring disasters like wildfires and floods, we’ve all seen TV news reports that the Red Cross is opening a shelter at such-and-such High School or other public building. It’s hard not to feel sorry for people who are either temporarily or permanently unable to return to their home, who may have lost precious pictures or other possessions. But have you ever imagined yourself in that place?

The need for an emergency shelter can be anticipated in some cases, such as a forecasted hurricane. In larger wildfires, fire officials can sometimes predict the need for additional evacuations requiring a shelter be opened. But in most cases, a shelter is opened with little or no notice. Similarly, the evacuated residents have a sudden need to leave their homes for an unfamiliar environment and an uncertain future. Fortunately, you can prepare in advance for an unexpected stay in a Red Cross shelter.

What is a Shelter?

A shelter is an improvised group dwelling with an organized support staff, established as the result of a disaster or local emergency. American Red Cross Chapters across the country have cots, blankets, and other supplies standing by in case a shelter needs to be opened in an emergency. They also have volunteers and staff trained as Shelter Managers, Shelter Staff, and supporting services provided by Nurses and Disaster Mental Health counselors.

In most cases, the Red Cross has identified the location, such as a school or community center, has inspected it and has entered into an agreement with whoever runs it far in advance of the need for a shelter. That way they can be sure how many people it can accommodate and that it has adequate restroom facilities and other requirements in advance.

However, not all shelters are operated by the Red Cross. Sometimes a church or local government will open and operate a shelter without the help (or knowledge) of the Red Cross; there’s nothing wrong with “spontaneous” shelters, but they may not be as organized or well-supported as a Red Cross shelter.

The Red Cross

Red Cross Shelter

Shelter, Santa Barbara CA, 2009

The American Red Cross is a non-profit organization with a unique relationship with the Federal Government and most state and local governments. For the most part, they rely upon the generosity of the American people’s donations to fund their operations.

Here is their description in the National Response Framework, the Federal Government’s emergency plan: The American Red Cross is chartered by Congress to provide relief to survivors of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. The Red Cross has a legal status of “a federal instrumentality” and maintains a special relationship with the Federal Government.

The “Red Cross Shelter” is the gold standard of what Emergency Managers call “Mass Care.” Mass Care is the provision of group shelter, feeding, and supportive services to disaster victims. Images of school gymnasiums, cots and Red Cross volunteers handing out sandwiches come to mind. The Salvation Army, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, and many other non-governmental organizations have important parts in the effort. But we all expect the Red Cross to be there when we need them.

Finding the Shelter

So you’ve been evacuated, and need a place to stay, where do you go? Your local officials advertise the locations of shelters on TV and radio news stations, via their mass-notification systems, and on their web pages, Twitter feeds, and Facebook pages. The Red Cross also notes the locations of open shelters on their web page, http://www.redcross.org/find-help. They also have several “apps” for Android and Apple smart phones with great emergency and preparedness information.

What is an “Evacuation Center?”

In some cases, especially if evacuations occur earlier in the day, an Evacuation Center will be opened instead of a full shelter. An Evacuation Center is basically a shelter without the cots. Evacuees can get information updates, snacks, and a place to hang out away from the danger. Some Evacuation Shelters convert to shelters if the need is there, but some don’t.

What about My Animals?

Shelters have to accommodate legitimate service animals, period. Beyond that, the difficulties surrounding sheltering people with their household animals led to the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-308), also known as the Pets Act. The Act direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure that emergency plans “take into account the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals prior to, during, and following a major disaster or emergency.”

In other words, take your pets with you when you evacuate. They are part of your family. Local governments are required to provide them shelter, just as they must provide you shelter. But understand that they may be sheltered away from the Red Cross shelter, especially at first. You may be temporarily separated.

Larger animals like horses will probably be sheltered elsewhere, like at a nearby fair ground, but help should be available. Registering with a local large-animal rescue group in advance will greatly facilitate getting help for them.

Arrival

All shelter residents are required to register and agree to adhere to the shelter rules. You will be screened for health issues, disabilities, access and functional needs, and medications. You should have shown up with your needed meds. If you don’t have them, alert the staff as soon as you arrive. They may be able to facilitate replacements. If you arrived by car, leave any valuables locked in the car out of sight. Your locked car is more secure than inside the shelter.

Can You Really Prepare for Life in a Shelter?

You absolutely can prepare for a temporary stay in a shelter. In many ways, it’s like preparing for a camping trip. You can have a small “shelter kit” prepared in advance. Examples:
• They will provide a cot, but you can bring your own, which you can choose yourself.
• You can bring bedding for your special cot as well as good pillows.
• Pack a nice towel and small versions of favorite toiletries, brush/comb, toothbrush, etc.
• If you have special dietary needs or follow a certain diet (gluten-free, Kosher, etc), you need to bring your own food. They may not be able to accommodate your needs.
• Pack a small security container (like a pistol safe) that has a way to attach to something solid, to keep your wallet, meds, etc. Theft is sometimes a problem in shelters.
• Throw in a couple of paperback books, cards, puzzles, or toys for the kids to pass the time.
• Invest in extra phone and tablet chargers, an extension cord, and a multi-plug adapter. Outlets are few!
• Pajamas are a must, even if you don’t wear them at home. A robe might be a good idea, too.
• Pack earplugs and an eye-shade if you have difficulty sleeping.
• Anything else in your daily routine you or your family members would miss, such as coffee or tea.

The Bottom Line

Prepare. Talk it through. Practice. You have more control than you think.

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Bucket Backpack Review http://thesurvivalmom.com/bucket-backpack-review/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/bucket-backpack-review/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 06:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18692 I recently tried the Bucket Backpack to complete a few chores. I was very excited at the possibilities this product presented to make normal tasks more efficient and easier physically. I tried the bucket backpack on a five-gallon bucket for Read More

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bucket-backpack-review[1]I recently tried the Bucket Backpack to complete a few chores. I was very excited at the possibilities this product presented to make normal tasks more efficient and easier physically. I tried the bucket backpack on a five-gallon bucket for few different chores to get a true feel for the value of this product.

The versatility of the Bucket Backpack

I was immediately impressed with the comfort and ease of attaching the product to the bucket. The shoulder straps were easily adjustable and well padded. It was easy to attach to a 5-gallon bucket and it held firmly with no slipping.

This product really helped with cleaning up the yard from leftover summer goodies. I filled the bucket with dead plants, broken landscaping scraps and fallen sticks and other debri that the fall winds have blown around. I was able to fill the bucket and put it on and still have my hands free to carry flower pots and other gardening décor to put away without having to make several trips.

This product was helpful in carrying feed to our outside animals leaving hands free to carry gallon jugs or other buckets of water at the same time, resulting once again in fewer trips and faster chore execution times.

I also brought the bucket backpack indoors and filled the Bucket Backpack full of dirty laundry. With a bucketful of dirty clothes on my back, I was able to carry another basket also full of laundry and therefore able to carry twice as much laundry to the wash room without making several trips throughout the house.

The most unorthodox use I tried for this product was probably carrying in groceries. Once again to avoid several trips back and forth, I placed some of the lighter weight bags in the bucket leaving hands free to carry in more bags in one trip.

Watch out for this, though

Putting on and taking off a fully loaded bucket backpack proved to be challenging unless I first placed it on a table or surface comparable to my height. When I tried to put on/take off this product when it contained items that protruded from the bucket (I had a couple 2×4 boards that stuck about a foot out of the bucket as well as some gardening tools) the items spilled out. I did not have this problem when the bucket was packed tightly or with items that were the same height of the bucket or less.

I do not recommend using this product for hauling water or other liquids. I did try to use this product to make the tasking chore of hauling water to our chicken coop easier. However, a full bucket is almost impossible to put on from the ground and even with placing on a height compatible surface, a lot of spilling and splashing still occured. Even buckets only half-filled proved challenging. Walking with water in the bucket will result in getting soaked unless the bucket has a water-tight lid.

Final Thoughts on The Bucket Backpack

I learned that a five-gallon bucket can hold a lot more than I realized and therefore, becomes very heavy on the back. However, having the weight distributed evenly while wearing the bucket backpack was much easier than trying to carry the load one handed while stumbling to the next stop.

An important lesson to remember is not to bend over too far to pick up another item with a full bucket load unless you are squatting.

Although the joy of summer gardening is over, I am excited to use this product next year while gathering produce from our summer vegetable garden and for collecting berries. I can also see this product coming in handy when carrying buckets of baseballs to the fields next spring or hauling camping and fishing gear next summer.

All in all, the bucket backpack made several tasks much easier and quicker and I look forward to discovering more uses for this product.

Visit the official Bucket Backpack site to learn more and to place an order.

NOTE: The writer of this review was furnished a Bucket Backpack at no cost to her. There was no expectation of a positive review, and these are the honest opinions and experiences of the writer.

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Is Buying a Pre-Made Survival Kit a Good Idea? http://thesurvivalmom.com/buying-pre-made-survival-kit-good-idea/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/buying-pre-made-survival-kit-good-idea/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:08:02 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18544 Given the popularity of prepping today, it stands to reason that many companies would jump on the bandwagon and try to cater to that market.  You can now find pre-made survival kits at places like outdoor stores like REI and Read More

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survival kitGiven the popularity of prepping today, it stands to reason that many companies would jump on the bandwagon and try to cater to that market.  You can now find pre-made survival kits at places like outdoor stores like REI and even at discount retailers like Walmart.  But is buying a pre-made kit a good idea?

Problems with Pre-Made Kits

Well, like anything else in life, it depends.  The first problem I’ve seen with many commercial kits is that some or all of the components are of poor quality.  If you are staking your life on an item, you want it to be up to the task.  Some kits are nothing more than cheap, dollar store quality items tossed into a sub-average knapsack.  You really aren’t saving much money with those kits.  Sure, the package says the kit contains 200+ survival items.  But, they also count each adhesive bandage as a single item.

The second problem I’ve seen is the kits are often incomplete.  They are almost always lacking gear for at least one major category.  Maybe it has food, water, and shelter covered but it has nothing for first aid.  Or, it is missing any sort of fire making equipment.  Few kits on the market today truly cover all of the major categories of survival needs:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • First aid
  • Signaling
  • Navigation
  • Communication
  • Tools

A third issue with many pre-made kits is the container they use, such as the backpack or duffel bag.  Typically, these are cheaply made and aren’t going to hold up in any sort of realistic survival scenario.  If you’re hoofing it to your bug out location, you don’t want to discover a hole in the backpack halfway through your journey, a hole through which much of your gear has managed to leak out from over the last several miles.

Why Bother Buying One?

In most cases, you are far better off assembling your own kit from the bottom up, taking into account your own skill sets, your needs, and your overall situation. What works for one person might not be the best idea for another. However, commercial kits can serve as a starting point.  If you purchase a kit with that in mind and take the time to become familiar with each provided item, you’ll be in a far better position to decide what else needs added to the kit.

Personally, I like the products sold by Echo Sigma as well as those made by Survival Resources. Both companies take great care in selecting gear that actually works under real life conditions.  Of course, the kits they assemble and sell aren’t cheap, but neither is your life.

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The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook: Review & Giveaway http://thesurvivalmom.com/ultimate-dehydrator-cookbook/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/ultimate-dehydrator-cookbook/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 06:00:02 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18710 IMAGINE being able to preserve your own food at home safely, economically, conveniently, and with no harmful additives. EVEN BETTER, your food storage will take up very little space, and will last you for years to come! Whether you are Read More

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ultimate dehydrator cookbookIMAGINE being able to preserve your own food at home safely, economically, conveniently, and with no harmful additives. EVEN BETTER, your food storage will take up very little space, and will last you for years to come!

Whether you are an avid gardener or you bring your produce home from the grocery store, The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook by Tammy Gangloff will inspire and motivate you!

indexI was a skeptic at first. I purchased a dehydrator over a year ago and dried some fruit. After the first batch of strawberries and banana’s were dried and immediately eaten by my family, I boxed up the dehydrator and tucked it away on a shelf. I am almost certain that if I had read the Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook in the beginning, I would probably be the proud owner today of not one, but two dehydrating machines!

Convincing a Skeptic (me!)

I was originally unenthusiastic about dehydrating because I’m a home canner. Dehydrating food is far different from home canning fruit, vegetables and meat, because canning is preserving with water. With dehydration, the goal is to eliminate water. After reading the book, I was very surprised at the amount of nutrients that are lost when it comes to preserving food by freezing, canning and dehydrating. And you guessed it, dehydrating is the best option for preserving those nutrients!

Although I do think it’s important to can my own meat, and will continue to do so, I now find that dehydrating my fruits and vegetables makes a lot of sense. Not only will this take up less space in my food storage, but most important, it takes less time! For example, when I’m canning, it takes me at least 3-4 hours from start to finish.

With dehydrating, I just plug it in, fill the trays, and go to bed!

More Uses: Drying Herbs

THIS IS THE PART where I want to jump up and down. The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook has shown me the ease in drying my own herbs for tea and medicine!

In the past, I have spent a small fortune buying commercial herbal teas. I stock up like crazy for sick days. After reading this book, I am more inspired than ever to grow my own, dry my own, and create my own herbal tea remedies! I can only imagine how much money I will save, not to mention the joy and peace of mind in knowing exactly what my family is consuming.

Not only will the book inspire you to dehydrate more, but the wonderful recipe section will have you dreaming up all kinds of meals and desserts for your family.

From dehydrating your own baby food, to crackers, or for creating unique holiday gifts, I have discovered that this book truly is THE Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook!

The Giveaway

We have so many awesome items from Dehydrate 2 Sell that we made it into two different giveaways, and EACH ONE INCLUDES A COPY OF HER BOOK!

The first, larger, also includes a Dutch baby pan, a coffee / tea press, a mesh tea infuser, an herb mill, an herb chopper, a pie lattice, a mini pie mold, an egg beater, silicone oven mitts, a set of three scoops, and a bucket / barrel opener.

The smaller prize package focuses on canning and adds a cherry pitter, apple peeler / corer, 6 piece canning set, canning lid holder, and a bucket / barrel opener to her book.

Feel free to enter both contests! Contest ends on October 21, 2014, and winners are selected at random. Winners will be notified the following day and have 48 hours to respond or prizes will be forfeited and a new winner selected.

GIVEAWAY #1

a Rafflecopter giveaway
GIVEAWAY #2 a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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10 Things You Should Know About Ebola http://thesurvivalmom.com/things-know-ebola/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/things-know-ebola/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 07:00:41 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18779 Like many of you, I have been trying to keep up with stories about Ebola, ever since this terrible virus reared its deadly head, again, in Africa. At first, the stories were interesting and a lot of us in the Read More

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things know ebolaLike many of you, I have been trying to keep up with stories about Ebola, ever since this terrible virus reared its deadly head, again, in Africa. At first, the stories were interesting and a lot of us in the prepper/survival niche toyed with the idea of, “What if it came to America…”

Well, now it’s here, and by the time you receive this email, things could have gone very, very wrong, indeed. Or, perhaps not. We now know of at least one more confirmed case of Ebola, a nurse who had been attending the infamous Liberian patient, Thomas Eric Duncan. If we’re lucky, that will be as far as the virus spreads.  Another possibility is that the Ebola hype has died and another potential pandemic is on the horizon.

I originally sent this article to my newsletter subscribers but I’ve received so much positive feedback that I wanted to share it on the blog as well. I do send out exclusive articles to my subscribers, and you can sign up for these here.

There are 10 things you should know about this Ebola scare, and they apply to any type of outbreak:

1. If you’re prepared, in general, you’re already prepared for Ebola or any other outbreak. Almost. Be reassured that you have many survival pieces in place and are way ahead of the game, if the worst should happen. Now it’s just a matter of adding some additional supplies and making a few, new plans. Just in case.

2. Almost prepared for something like Ebola isn’t good enough! In addition to your food, water, cooking/heating, and other preps, you should begin adding:

  • Heavy duty trash bags. These will serve a multitude of purposes, but this story about a woman in Liberia who was able to treat her family members with little more protection than a raincoat, rainboots, and trash bags is inspiring and shows the need for this basic supply.
  • Multiple pairs of Nitrile gloves. They’re inexpensive, so stock up.They’ll come in handy for far more than Ebola.
  • Face masks. Read this article for more details, but a respirator is highly recommended. The ReadiMask is a good, inexpensive option, but the most recent reports seem to indicate that nothing short of a respirator is the best choice in an Ebola hot zone.
  • Safety goggles. If you ever have the misfortune to be in the presence of an Ebola patient, every bit of skin should be covered. You’ll need safety goggles to protect your eyes and the skin around them.
  • Several gallons of bleach. If you know how to use calcium hypochlorite to make your own bleach, that’s a better option, but it’s also more of a challenge to get the chlorine at a safe level.
  • Hand sanitizer in every possible form and plenty of soap.
  • Protective clothing, if possible.

Here’s a big word of warning. We’re seeing healthcare workers who have worn professional, protective gear become infected with this virus. In no way am I suggesting that the supplies on this list will keep you safe if you are face to face with an Ebola patient. Until we know more about how the virus is transmitted, and I don’t believe even our most expert experts know for sure, the best course of action is to avoid any known areas with the infection.

3. Begin thinking about hunkering down, in place, for weeks or possibly months. If any pandemic grabs a foothold in your area, say within 100 miles, you won’t be able to go to work, the kids will stay home from school, even going out to buy groceries or other necessities may be too dangerous. What should you have on hand in this case? Could you begin homeschooling your kids? Do you have cash on hand, rather than just in the bank? Read The Jakarta Pandemic for some practical tips.

4. Keep track of news from multiple sources. Information coming from the CDC is scary, not reassuring, and they are supposed to be the ultimate source for controlling disease. On the other hand, some voices on the internet are screaming that it’s all over and we’re doomed. Read everything you can and assess information from multiple sources.

These five articles that have given me a lot of insight and food for thought:

  1. When Ebola Protection Fails
  2. What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola
  3. Ebola, A Nurse’s Perspective
  4. The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola” (This one is sad.)
  5. Firestone Did What Governments Have Not: Stopped Ebola in its Tracks

5. If now is the time to panic, you absolutely must not panic! This is the time to assess your preps, get the facts and the latest information. Prepare to hunker down or pack up what you can and head for a part of the country that remains unaffected. Thinking clearly and making logical plans will be your 2 best survival preps.

Having said that, if a particular website or radio host or friend is a source of nothing but negative, doomsday information and you find yourself swallowed up in it, avoid them. Just a friendly tip from Survival Mom!

6. At this point, normalcy bias could be your worst enemy. I never dreamed that you and I would be talking about EBOLA in AMERICA, yet here we are. There’s no point in trying to take comfort in, “It’s just one guy in Dallas.” That’s normalcy bias talking. If the virus made it this far, it’s likely to pop up again, and again. That could be our new reality. Hiding behind, “It couldn’t happen here…” is the least helpful thing you can do.

7.  Work hard to become as healthy as you possibly can be. It doesn’t appear as though Ebola’s effects are more profound against the unhealthy, aged, and/or weak, but Ebola isn’t the only potential pandemic on the horizon. Build your immune system by paying attention to your body, first and foremost. When you’re tired, rest, and get plenty of sleep. Spend time outdoors in the sun and nature. Eliminate sugar and processed foods from your diet as much as possible. Strengthen your muscles and overall stamina through regular exercise.

8. Introduce any changes to your family routine slowly and matter of factly. Scaring kids with horrific tales of Ebola or any other disease and its effects will only instill panic. Being a bit more cautious than usual around sick family and friends, taking some time off from school when flu reports become widespread, teaching kids to wash their hands more frequently — none of these are wild-eyed, tinfoil hat responses! They make sense and when you have a low-key explanation, kids will cope just fine.

9. Be prepared to take action before officials give the go-ahead. Officials at all levels, including school districts, fear nothing more than panicked citizens. When a large number of people panic, they begin to take actions of their own. This might take the form of demanding accountability from individuals and agencies or it could take the form of riots or worse.

Try to stay one step ahead by getting your information from multiple sources. If you have friends or family in the medical field or in government agencies, ask for insider information.

10. Continue to enjoy life. Make plans for holidays and birthdays. Go ahead and try to lose those last 15 pounds! We’ve seen good times and bad times come and go, but what keeps us steady and sane are the little things in life that aren’t so little — family, faith, friends. In the stories coming from the Ebola hot zones, there’s something that comes up over and over: family bonds and traditions. It’s important that we keep those going in our own homes and communities.

As a Christian, this verse from Ephesians 6:13 comes to mind:

“Therefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

You may not be a Christian and this article isn’t about the armor of God, but as a group we are determined to survive and are every bit as determined as any ancient warrior. So to paraphrase, “Take unto you all common sense preparation plans both for you and those you love that you may be able to stand strong during worst case scenarios, and when you’ve done all you can, stand strong.”

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6 Simple Tips for Developing a Natural Spring http://thesurvivalmom.com/6-simple-tips-developing-natural-spring/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/6-simple-tips-developing-natural-spring/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 06:00:48 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18598 One of my favorite childhood memories was venturing into the woods with my late grandfather to fill up gallon jugs with water from a spring he found and tapped himself. I never thought much about it back then; walking a Read More

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6 Simple Tips - SpringOne of my favorite childhood memories was venturing into the woods with my late grandfather to fill up gallon jugs with water from a spring he found and tapped himself. I never thought much about it back then; walking a quarter mile or so into the wooded hills to obtain the family’s drinking water was just something that was routine.

Years later, when I moved down the road from my grandparents and experienced the rural fun of having to haul water in from town, I found comfort in knowing that the old spring was still resting in the hills should we ever need it.

A natural spring is an outlet of ground water and not a stream or run off simply pooling on the surface. A true natural spring will surface from naturally flowing groundwater. There are many methods of finding and tapping a natural spring. Below are some simple, low-cost suggestions for finding your own water source if the situation calls.

Finding and Tapping a Natural Spring

  1. Your efforts will yield the best results when you search in dry weather. A spell where the ground is dry can help determine if a wet area is simply run off or coming from another deeper source.
  2. Begin in middle elevation areas. Look in places where there are both higher and lower ground available such as the middle/side of a hill.
  3. ditchSearch for wet areas and obviously eroded areas that resemble a damp, naturally made ditch. Once this kind of environment is located, follow the path to higher elevations until the ground either becomes too steep to safely hike or you become too high on the hill to consider the location middle elevation. Another location indicator could be an increase in gravel, smooth rocks and moss in the surrounding areas and possible pooling water toward the lower elevated areas.
  4. Carefully dig into the hillside until you reach a steady flow of water. Be sure to dig deeply enough to get a clean avenue to place a channeling source.
  5. Place one end of a channeling source such as a plastic pipe as deep into the water source as possible. Placing rocks or gravel around and under the channeling source will help prevent sediment from getting through and help prevent the pipe from sinking.
  6. Cover the transport with rock and soil to hold it in place being sure to leave a good portion sticking out of the ground for easy access.

The disruption of the natural flow and excavation will result in muddy/cloudy water for a while but a true natural spring will clear up quickly once everything begins to settle. Some folks wish to tap into a spring and have it directly pumped into their homes for everyday water usage. Some springs may be plentiful enough to meet this type of supply but require more complicated excavation methods and tapping systems. Depending on the proximity of the spring to the home and the amount of gravitational flow, a pumping system may not be necessary.

I do not recommend drinking water from a natural spring without taking water purification measures or having a sample tested periodically to ensure the water is free of contaminants and is safe to drink.

Developing and maintaining a natural spring is a great back up water supply! Drink up!

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3 Herbs for SHTF Hygiene http://thesurvivalmom.com/shtf-herbal-hygiene/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/shtf-herbal-hygiene/#comments Sat, 11 Oct 2014 06:00:54 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18484 I have a confession: I don’t use coupons. I know, I know. They can be a great way to help stock up on extra personal hygiene products to round out your preparedness kits. But my main focus has always been Read More

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SMHerbalHygieneI have a confession: I don’t use coupons. I know, I know. They can be a great way to help stock up on extra personal hygiene products to round out your preparedness kits. But my main focus has always been having a back up plan for the backup plan.

Herbal Hygiene

Rather than keep ten years’ worth of deodorant and toothpaste on hand, I’d rather just keep one or two extras in the medicine cabinet and know what I can use from my garden instead. Part of this is because space is at a premium in my living quarters, partly because I’m a stubborn minimalist, and partly because I’m a kooky herbalist. Take your pick.

So, let’s take a look at the three most basic components for personal hygiene: something to wash skin, hair, and clothes; something for oral health; and something to keep the arm pits from getting quite so stinky. Three easy to grow, perennial herbs that fit these functions perfectly are soapwort, licorice, and sage. Being able to use these three herbs in a pinch can be handy, or they can supplement an existing daily routine as a more natural option.

Soapwort- Saponaria officinalis

Soap Substitute

Soapwort is a beautiful perennial plant that is hardy in US zones 3-9. It grows to be about three feet tall, and prefers rich, compost-heavy soil. It can be a little finicky about light requirements, as it likes sun but not too much afternoon sun. If it likes its growing location it can become invasive, but if that happens, just harvest more of it. Soapwort leaves and roots can be dried for later and still lather when used.

To make a soap solution with soapwort, use 1 tablespoon of dried leaves or roots (three tablespoons if the herb is fresh) per cup of water. Bring the water to a boil, add the herb, and allow to simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. Strain and cool before use.

Soapwort solution can be used for hair, skin, and clothing. It is very gentle, and is often found in high end organic facial care products and used to clean antique textiles. So by all means, don’t wait for SHTF!

Soapwort is toxic to fish, so don’t wash with or dump soapwort solution directly into a pond or stream where live fish are present.

Licorice Root- Glycyrrhiza glabra

Toothbrush/Toothpaste Substitute

Another perennial in the three to four foot tall range, licorice is hardy in USDA gardening zones 7-9. It prefers full sun and moist soil but doesn’t appreciate clay.

The plant will need to grow for two or three years before the roots are large enough to harvest. Once they have matured, they should be harvested in the fall, when the plant has focused all of its resources down into the roots before winter. The flavor and chemistry of the roots will be at their peak during this time.

Not only does licorice root contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory components, it’s also shaped perfectly for turning into a simple toothbrush substitute. I use them in addition to a regular toothbrush/toothpaste routine, but some people successfully use licorice root alone.

Licorice root typically grows in a long, thin shape. Once it has been dried (this technique won’t work on a fresh root), choose one end of the root and soften it by standing in a glass with a half inch of water or by sucking on it until the root softens (usually about sixty seconds either way). Peel back the outer root bark (the brown looking skin on the root), and gently chew the root until there is a quarter inch or so of “brush” at the end. Gently rub along the gumline and over each tooth to clean the mouth.

Licorice has a sweet taste, so there’s no need to fear that your brush will taste like pencil shavings. After each use, trim away the used “brush” with a knife or scissors and store in a clean place until next use.

Sage- Salvia officinalis

Deodorant substitute

Sage is a small to medium perennial herb that prefers a very sunny location with dry, well drained soil. It will grow from zones 4-8 in the US. Many people are familiar with sage as a culinary herb, but it also has more medicinal uses.

Make a strong infusion of the fresh or dried herb to spritz or splash the underarms and help control body odor. For best results, make the infusion in the evening and allow to sit overnight before straining. It will need to be applied more frequently than a store bought deodorant, because it will not be as strong. It is not an antiperspirant, either, so it won’t keep you dry.

Fresh sage leaves can also be added to an oral hygiene routine with licorice root. Simply rub a fresh sage leaf over the gums and each tooth. Sage has a stronger flavor than licorice, but the leaves can be harvested more often and more easily than licorice roots, so it’s a good option to know.

Soapwort, licorice, and sage have many other herbal uses, but they are definitely botanical all stars when it comes to personal hygiene. Knowing how to grow and use them will mean you always have a back up plan for soap, toothpaste, and deodorant.

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Railroad Safety Tips: Train Your Brain! http://thesurvivalmom.com/railroad-safety/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/railroad-safety/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 15:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18452 Train safety was hardly on my radar several weeks ago when I encountered a traffic jam in my small city that had residents complaining on local forums and looking for routes out of the mess. Seems that a train had Read More

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railroad safety

Train safety was hardly on my radar several weeks ago when I encountered a traffic jam in my small city that had residents complaining on local forums and looking for routes out of the mess.

Seems that a train had come to a full and complete stop along the tracks that cross the main street leading into our city. For a few hours, no one could come in and no one could get out, at least via Main Street.

Rumors quickly began to spread. The train had hit someone. A woman. She was injured, no killed! It was an accident, or was it suicide?

Suddenly, the fact that we lived so close to a very active train route became something we didn’t take for granted anymore, and train safety became more of a concern.

Scary statistics and railroad safety

The golden age of the railroad has long since passed, but what you may not realize is that trains are responsible for transporting a whopping 12 million containers filled with all kinds of products each year. Think about that the next time your kids are counting cars on a train!

railroad safetyMost railway tracks course through unpopulated areas of the country, through deserts, across prairies, and over mountain ridges. However, enough trains pass through towns and cities of all sizes to make train safety an issue. Consider these numbers:

  • About every 3 hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train.
  • In 2013, there were 11,523 total train accidents/incidences. This number includes 736 fatalities.
  • A driver is almost 20 times more likely to die in an accident involving a train than with another vehicle.
  • 94% of all vehicle/train collisions are caused by risky driver behavior.
  • More people are killed each year in highway/pedestrian train accidents than in airplane crashes.
  • It can take a train a full mile or more to brake — even after it’s hit something!

Injuries and fatalities involving trains can’t be blamed on the weather or late night hours, since a full 64% occur during the daytime! 50% of the accidents occur when the train is traveling just 30 mph.

railroad safetyIt’s a little frustrating when you realize that virtually all these accidents could be avoided. Not a single life needs to be lost. It just takes a few minutes to “Train Your Brain.”

Yes, Train Your Brain!

Norfolk Southern, one of the leading rail transport companies in the country, is taking the lead in spreading the message of train safety with its public safety campaign, “Train Your Brain“. The campaign features a happy, pink, walking brain named Brainy, who is intended to be a walking illustration for citizens to remember railroad safety at all times.

The campaign also features provocative billboards illustrating to passing drivers that the race across the tracks isn’t worth it. Each year Brainy’s efforts focus on a different area of the United States, and this summer he has traveled about North and South Carolina sharing safety facts and tips.

If flashing lights, RAILROAD CROSSING signs, and lowered crossing arms at railroad crossings aren’t enough, how about a dose of common sense?

Here are some safety lessons to remember and teach your kids:

  1. A crossbuck sign at a railroad crossing means slow down, look, and listen for a train. You won’t always hear the train whistle, so don’t rely on that alone. (Scary to think that 20% of the population doesn’t know what the crossbuck sign means!)
  2. Stay away from the tracks. Uneven ground and the tracks themselves provide a hazardous walking surface.
  3. Trains come from both directions, so be sure to look both ways.railroad safety
  4. Riding motorcycles or minibikes on train tracks is illegal and dangerous.
  5. Be patient. It may take a while for a train to pass.
  6. If you have to guess whether or not you can, “beat the train“, you can’t. Just stop and wait.
  7. Just because you’ve never seen a train pass through on a particular set of tracks, doesn’t mean that rail line isn’t active anymore. Treat any set of tracks as though a train could pass at any time.
  8. Playing on train tracks is dangerous and illegal. Walking on tracks may look cool in the movies but, again, dangerous and illegal.

The lure and romance of trains runs deep throughout American history and modern rail transport is one of the backbones of our nation’s commerce. We can co-exist without accident, injury, or death by following common sense rules and teaching them to the next generation.

Click here to view the entire infographic.

Norfolk Southern sponsored this post as part of their “Train Your Brain” public safety campaign. I agreed with them that this is an important message for Survival Mom readers.

 

 

 

 

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Avoiding Tunnel Vision As a Prepper http://thesurvivalmom.com/avoiding-tunnel-vision/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/avoiding-tunnel-vision/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 17:15:05 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18542 Click here to pin this to your boards. This is a problem that afflicts both new and experienced preppers.  There are so many different categories of needs with prepping, such as food, water, shelter, and self-defense, that we sometimes get Read More

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tunnel vision

Click here to pin this to your boards.

This is a problem that afflicts both new and experienced preppers.  There are so many different categories of needs with prepping, such as food, water, shelter, and self-defense, that we sometimes get wrapped up with one area and neglect another.  While there is some prioritization that is necessary (clean water is far more important than, say, board games), all are important to one degree or another.

I see this happening most often with security equipment.  A guy or gal invests thousands of dollars into firearms and ammunition, yet has nothing more than perhaps a case of canned stew and a couple of rolls of toilet paper.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not negating the need for firearms, far from it.  But there needs to be a balance in your prepping.

You can’t do everything all at once, of course.  However, you need to make sure you are giving attention to all areas of your prepping at some point or another.

Diversification

For example, let’s say you have $100.00 you can devote to prepping this month.  You got a bonus check at work, or maybe your deadbeat brother finally paid you back for a loan you gave him a couple of years ago.  Whatever the reason, you have some extra funds you can put towards prepping.  While you need to consider your individual situation and the needs of your family, generally speaking you’ll be better off splitting up those funds rather than plunking it all down on one thing.  Here’s how it might play out:

  • 8 cases of bottled water (4/$10) – $20.00
  • 2 boxes of ramen noodle, 12 pouches in each box ($2.50/box) – $5.00
  • 1 case canned chicken (12 cans) – $24.00
  • LifeStraw - $20.00
  • Copy of Countdown to Preparedness - $12.00

Then, put the remaining $19.00 into savings.  With just the above items, you’re able to provide food and water for your family for at least a week or two, purify additional water, and make a small investment into learning more about preparedness.  This, my friends, is called diversification.

The same holds true with how you spend your time, rather than your money.  I encourage you to always try and do at least one thing each and every day to move you down the preparedness path, but try and do something different each day, too.  If today you sat down and researched ways to create your own cleaning or personal hygiene products, tomorrow maybe work on learning one or two wild edibles in your area.

Be wary of tunnel vision.  It happens to all of us, believe me.  But, if you watch out for it and are aware that it happens, you’ll be more apt to recognize and snap out of it quicker.

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Are you prepared to be stuck in your car? http://thesurvivalmom.com/prepared-stuck-car/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/prepared-stuck-car/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 06:00:11 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18428 Could your family survive being stuck in your car for hours on end? Go sit in your car and picture it – your whole family in the car and it’s been four hours since you have been able to move Read More

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stuck in car

Could your family survive being stuck in your car for hours on end?

Go sit in your car and picture it – your whole family in the car and it’s been four hours since you have been able to move the vehicle amidst all the traffic. The weather outside is awful, so no one wants to get out of the car, either.

It happened here in Ohio. It rained and rained and rained and water suddenly rushed across the eight lanes of I-70, trapping people on the highway for six hours.

  • What about the mom who didn’t pack the extra bottle?
  • What about the dad who had the ingredients for dinner?
  • What about the teenager who didn’t have any water or food in her car?
  • What about the man who’s next round of medication was waiting at home?
  • Would I be ready if I had gotten caught in that traffic mess?

Thinking about this scenario is a good place to start for having an emergency kit in your car. A few hours could easily be made more bearable by just having food, water, something for entertainment, a light source, and supplies for babies and medications. Watching gas levels is a good idea, too. Many people (myself included) try to keep gas tanks at least half filled all the time. You would hate for the traffic jam to free up and then run out of gas while getting out of there.

I used to think about getting stuck in my car a lot with little children when we lived in Alaska. Driving from Anchorage to Wasilla, there is only one highway. Our worst-case scenario was having an earthquake hit during a heavy snowfall. I made sure I had enough food, water and supplies for 2-3 days in case we were stranded on the highway. I also made sure we had blankets and warm clothing so we wouldn’t have to keep the van on the whole time – both to conserve gas and to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Fortunately, the worst thing we saw while we were there was the 2-hour traffic jam due to state fair traffic. We were glad for the almost full gas tank during that trip.

Another important consideration is bathroom facilities, or lack thereof. Keep a roll or two of toilet paper handy, take a look at the Go Girl, and if you have young kids, especially, keeping a small potty chair in the trunk is a great idea, and something most adults could use, in a pinch. Add some hand sanitizer, waste bags, and Clorox wipes for good measure. A box of kitty litter would be helpful to keep down odors and include a travel size bottle of Stain & Odor Remover from Kids’n Pets as well.

By the way, if using a potty chair just strikes you as wrong, check out these other possibilities:

So, grab a pen and notepad and take 15 minutes to go assess your car – what do you need to have in there if you and your family where stuck for hours? Then, make sure to do something about that as soon as you can!

Report back here – what do you need to add to your car’s emergency kit?

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