The Survival Mom » Featured http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:00:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Eat Real Food for the Healthiest Body Ever http://thesurvivalmom.com/eat-real-food/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=eat-real-food http://thesurvivalmom.com/eat-real-food/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:00:29 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16310 The idea of “clean eating” sounds great, but the reality can be intimidating. When you are used to processed foods, it can be difficult to make the switch to healthy eating. The body becomes physically addicted to high levels of Read More

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eat real foodThe idea of “clean eating” sounds great, but the reality can be intimidating. When you are used to processed foods, it can be difficult to make the switch to healthy eating. The body becomes physically addicted to high levels of sugar and salt, and it can be a challenge to change our normal rotation of “go to” foods.

Why make the transition to eating real food? A healthy body is a prepared body — ready to make quick decisions, ready to protect home and family, ready to move as far and as fast as necessary. Many preppers have rooms full of stored food and prepper supplies, but they’ve neglected their most important asset: their own bodies.

How to make the switch to eat real food

There are two ways to introduce healthier foods into a diet. One is to replace foods you currently eat and trying to stick as close to your usual foods as possible, and the other is to change how you eat entirely, making a new routine with new foods. Both of these methods have their benefits and drawbacks, so I have found that a combination of both works best for me.

For example, if you usually eat boxed cereal for breakfast, try replacing it with fruit and cottage cheese, yogurt and granola, or muesli. These foods are higher in protein and whole grains, and lower in sugars and fast burning carbs.

You will feel more energy for a longer time, but since your body may be physically used to a sugar rush first thing in the morning, you may find yourself craving something sweet. This is when a break in routine can help, and instead of trying to force yourself to hold off til lunch, or cracking and reaching for the chocolate, try having a piece of fresh fruit to hold you over.

Remember, that all simple carbohydrates, such as bread, doughnuts, fruit juice, and most packaged cereals will cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Now is the perfect time to begin deleting them from your diet.

Tips for making the transition easier

Fresh Fruit Tip

Prep your fruit ahead of time. It may seem like a pain or unnecessary, but you will thank yourself later. To me, a cut apple or peach is much more appetizing than having to deal with a drippy, messy, whole one, and cut fruit can even be eaten with a fork if you are busy with work.

At lunch time, instead of processed lunch meats which can contain unwanted sodium and nitrites/nitrates, try using leftovers from dinner to make your own sandwiches on whole grain bread or put the sandwich fixin’s on top of a big salad. We make our own chicken salad by cutting up leftover pieces of roast chicken or chicken breast. If you make a roast beef or pork roast, try slicing off thin pieces to use in a sandwich the next day. Take the extra time to add lettuce and tomato to your sandwiches, you’ll need less meat and will get an extra serving of fruit and veg.

You can also vary the “carnivore” routine and make a lunch of hummus and crackers, avocado on toast, or peanut butter and banana.

Sandwich Bread Tip

If you can’t get used to the taste of regular whole wheat, try pumpernickel or 12 grain. An even healthier choice is sprouted bread, such as the Ezekiel brand.

Instead of drinking sugary soda during the day, try homemade iced tea, which is easy to make ahead of time, or cut up fruit and put in a pitcher of water. I love to cut limes and put them in seltzer for a fizzy drink that is healthier than soda. Most restaurants will serve seltzer or sparkling water if you are looking for something more interesting than water but want to skip out on the soda.

For an afternoon snack, instead of a bag of chips, try dehydrated fruits or vegetables. You’ll still get that snacky “crunch” without all the MSG and other scary ingredients. Just make sure to read the labels and beware of “natural flavorings” as well as eating too much of the dried fruit with all their sugar.  A handful of nuts is another healthy option. Almonds in particular are high in protein and won’t give you that bloated feeling from too much sodium.

Homemade dinners can be a pain, especially when you take the time to use fresh vegetables and wholesome ingredients that are not prepared ahead of time. Eat for what your body needs. If you need iron, incorporate red meat. If you want to lower your cholesterol, eat lean meats like chicken breast and ground turkey.

Dinner Tip

Do yourself a favor when you make healthy recipes and double the batch so you’ll have enough to freeze for another night or for lunches later in the week. Doing this will not only keep you off of frozen pizza and takeout, but it saves time and money in the long run.

Here are some “Don’ts” to make the transition to healthier eating easier:

  • Don’t go to the health food store and buy lots of expensive food that you have never tried, hoping you’ll like it.
  • Don’t try to replace items you usually use with their “low fat, high ingredient” counterparts (eg. switching butter for margarine, or coke for diet coke). Many of these foods that may seem healthier but are not actually good for you. They contain many harmful ingredients like fake sugars and hydrogenated oils.
  • Don’t force your family to eat food they hate. If your husband hates ground turkey, there are other healthy meats you can try instead.
  • Don’t buy the lie that healthier versions of your usual recipes will taste just as good. I made this mistake with whole-wheat pasta and couldn’t figure out how to use it for a long time because I was using it as a replacement for white pasta. Whole-wheat pasta has an entirely different flavor and so I needed to find new recipes that worked well with that flavor.

All in all, you’ll have to find the way that works for you, but incorporating fresh foods and healthier choices into your lifestyle is not as hard as it seems. In my house, the “big change” did not happen all at once. I started incorporating fruits and vegetables into our meals, experimenting with healthier options, and in about one summer we had made a complete lifestyle change!

Some websites you may find helpful

All Day I Dream About Food

GNOWFGLINS

Kalyn’s Kitchen

SkinnyTaste

And listen to these podcasts by Jessica Brassington, host of My Kale Kids:

“Starting Your Journey”

“Supermarket Superstar”

“It All Started With a Crunchy Piece of Kale”

 

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Win a 72-Hour Survival Bucket! http://thesurvivalmom.com/survival-bucket-giveaway/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=survival-bucket-giveaway http://thesurvivalmom.com/survival-bucket-giveaway/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16705 A group of fellow bloggers and I have come together to offer a fun and easy contest that will help anyone be better prepared for emergencies, a survival bucket giveaway! Get to know some of the top bloggers in the Read More

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survival bucket giveawayA group of fellow bloggers and I have come together to offer a fun and easy contest that will help anyone be better prepared for emergencies, a survival bucket giveaway!

Get to know some of the top bloggers in the survival and prepper community as well as the sponsor Survival Based when you enter to win a very cool Food, Fire, Filter Bucket. Most emergency buckets contain only food, but this one includes some pretty important items along with that food:

  • 6  InstaFire Paper Pouches
  • 1  Folding BBQ Grill
  • 1  Cooking Pot w/ Detachable Handle
  • 1  8 oz. Drinking Cup
  • 1  6-in-1 Detachable Utensil Set
  • 1  Seychelles 24 oz. Water Filter Bottle
  • 1  Plastic Container w/ 50 Waterproof Matches
  • 1  23 Piece First Aid Kit

You definitely won’t starve in a short-term emergency with foods like Artisan Oatmeal, Texas Sunrise Skillet, and Rotini a la Marinara. These just-add-water meals will be easy to prepare with the InstaFire paper pouches, folding BBQ grill, and the cooking pot.

This kit would be ideal to keep at the office, in the trunk of your car, or to give to a college kid. Add a few more necessities, such as a flashlight, duct tape, paracord, toilet paper, and a good knife, and the kit will be even better equipped.

Enter the survival bucket giveaway!

This contest is very easy to enter. There are opportunities to visit the sponsor’s website and sign up for their newsletter and connecting with some pretty impressive bloggers via social media. You can enter once or as many times as you like, adding up entry points as you go!

The giveaway ends at midnight on August 3, and the winner will be selected at random and notified by email. This particular prize can only be shipped within the contiguous 48 states.

Good luck!
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Review and Giveaway: “The New World” Series by G. Michael Hopf http://thesurvivalmom.com/sanctuary-g-michael-hopf/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sanctuary-g-michael-hopf http://thesurvivalmom.com/sanctuary-g-michael-hopf/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 06:00:30 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16202 Once you read this review and get excited about reading all of G. Michael Hopf’s dystopian “The New World Series” – Sanctuary is the newest book – put the books in your Amazon cart or on your wishlist, enter our Read More

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Sanctuary by G. Michael Hopf

Book 3 in the series and the latest release.

Once you read this review and get excited about reading all of G. Michael Hopf’s dystopian “The New World Series” – Sanctuary is the newest book – put the books in your Amazon cart or on your wishlist, enter our contest to win the entire series (at the end of this review), then sit back and wait. If you’re the winner, empty out that cart and start reading! If not, well you still have an excellent series waiting for you!

The author is a former Marine and has researched what the effects of an EMP would be on America. According to Penguin Press, these books are his way of bringing “awareness to this real threat.”

If you’d like to listen to his explanation of how he developed this book series, listen to Lisa Bedford’s interview with author G. Michael Hopf here.

Would you survive a living nightmare?

A time travel machine has been invented, and I hope that no one ever uses it because there is a living nightmare on the other side, and that nightmare is the setting of G. Michael Hopf’s New World Series. That time machine is an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) that could send us all back to the lifestyle of the 1800′s and a life without electricity by destroying (overloading) all our electronics so they no longer work. This includes the electrical grid itself.

As the book series begins, Washington, D.C. is destroyed by a nuclear attack. At the same time, a Super EMP detonates over the Midwest, leaving only Alaska and Hawaii with power in the entire U.S. At first, most people sit around just thinking the power has gone out and will come back on shortly. A few people wonder why their phones and cars aren’t working either. (Older model cars work, but cars built from roughly 1980 on are increasingly chock full of electronics that an EMP would destroy.)

People who see planes fall from the skies realize something bigger has happened. One of those people is Gordon Van Zandt, a former Marine who was out for a morning run in San Diego. While other people wait for the power to return, Gordon has his family start filling up containers with water and grabs a bike and trailer too get supplies, knowing they will disappear fast. His quick decisions set his family up for a good chance of survival.

"The End" by G. Michael Hopf

Book 1 in the series.

Gordon’s brother, Sebastian, is a deployed Marine when the attacks happen. Orders are sent out to recall all military back to the U.S. to help with the recovery on the East coast. However, his unit commander, Lt. Col. Barone, decides to take over the ship and go back to California so the servicemen can help their families survive.

The orders had been given by the only person left alive in the government chain of command, Speaker of the House Brad Conner. He had left Washington because his son was in a car accident in Oklahoma. The ventilator his son is on in the hospital stops working after the EMP and yet, after this loss, Conner realizes that something big has happened. He makes his way to Tinker Air Force Base in an old truck and is sworn in as President.

Down in Mexico, there is one final player who makes an impact in this series, Pablo Juarez. He is the son of a drug lord who sees America’s demise as a chance for restoring Mexico’s glory as his own empire.

These four worlds collide as people try to survive and America tries to get back on its feet. Neighbors turn into enemies over food. People barter with ammo, food, and anything else available. Starvation and disease become the norm. Violence and murder can be viewed from your front porch. Anything that can go wrong, does.

And that’s just in the first few weeks after the attacks.

In the most recently released book of the series, Sanctuary, Gordon finds himself seeking revenge against a leader of a cult who held him captive while his family travels to their land in Idaho. They get there just as winter sets in and are forced to seek shelter amidst strangers, just shy of their goal.

Juarez continues his attack on the former America using any means necessary. The country divides into sections and people like Lt. Col. Barone seize the opportunities to control parts of the country. Even Sebastian finds himself seeking sanctuary as his new marriage divides the family. Without giving too much away, the end will have you wishing book 4 was already released!

It Makes You Really Think

Book 2 in the series.

Book 2 in the series.

I recommend this series for anyone who wants to explore what an EMP could do to our way of life but enjoys good fiction. It is also a great series to lend to people who do not understand or feel the need to prepare for emergency situations. This is one of the most devastating scenarios of what could happen, but it does cause you to think about how and if you could survive a true disaster.

This book is not appropriate for anyone under 18 because there is a lot of descriptive violence, which would be a reality in a post-EMP world.

As a newbie to the postapocalyptic (dystopian) genre, this series was riveting and caused me to think a lot about different scenarios that could happen with an EMP attack. I have re-examined what things we need to have on hand, such as coffee. “The lack of caffeine in this new world had more than once proven to be a problem for him,” Gordon thinks in Sanctuary.

I honestly don’t know how long my family and I would survive after an EMP attack, and I hope we never have to find out. However, it is something that we all should think about when preparing for emergencies.

For more information, visit G. Michael Hopf’s websiteFacebook page, and follow him on Twitter, @GMichaelHopf.

Entering the Contest

The prize for this contest is the entire series! You get all three books so there’s no waiting to buy the next one!

This giveaway is open to all legal residents of the United States who are 18 years of age and older at the time of entry. The giveaway starts July 29th, 2014 at 5:00 am (CDT) and ends on August 2nd, 2014 at 5:00 am (CDT). We will choose a winner at the end of the giveaway and that person will be notified by email.  They will have 48 hours to respond. If they do not respond we will choose another winner.  Good luck to everyone and here’s to enjoying a great book series!
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How to Baton Firewood http://thesurvivalmom.com/baton-firewood/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=baton-firewood http://thesurvivalmom.com/baton-firewood/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:00:03 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=15980 Mother Nature often doesn’t like to play nice. While we’d hope that if we had to spend the night in the woods, it would be nothing but clear skies and perhaps just a bit cool, the reality is you are Read More

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Baton FirewoodMother Nature often doesn’t like to play nice. While we’d hope that if we had to spend the night in the woods, it would be nothing but clear skies and perhaps just a bit cool, the reality is you are just as likely to be sitting in the middle of a steady rain with not a dry twig in sight for the evening fire. But, as they say, where there’s a will there’s a way.

If you have a sturdy knife, you can find dry wood, even in a downpour. I do have to stress, though, that the knife must be of good quality. A cheap “Made in China” knock off probably won’t stand up to this sort of abuse. Most folding knives aren’t going to have the blade length necessary, either. Ideally, your blade should be four to five inches in length or longer. Batoning firewood is an age-old technique for splitting wood in the field. The objective is to split thick branches so as to expose the dry wood inside.

To baton properly, as well as safely, you need your knife and a solid surface, such as a flat rock or a tree stump. You can do this on packed earth as well, but I’ve found having a harder surface makes the job much easier.

The branches you select to baton or split need to be thinner than the length of your knife blade. For example, if your blade is five inches long, search for limbs that are about three inches thick. As for branch length, look for branches up to about three feet or so. While I’ve successfully batoned branches upwards of five feet long, shorter lengths make things easier to handle. If need be, you can always break or chop long branches into shorter pieces.

Concentrate your searchBaton pic 2 on dead wood that is off the ground, either low branches still attached to trees or branches that have fallen but are resting on rocks or logs. The reason for this is branches lying directly on the ground will have absorbed more moisture and are less likely to be dry inside.

You will also need one branch to act as a hammer of sorts. A solid piece of wood around eighteen inches in length and a couple of inches thick will do the trick nicely.

Position the branch vertically on your rock or tree stump. Place the blade of your knife across the top of the branch, with the blade edge facing into the wood, making a T shape. The100_5864 blade should extend beyond the side of the branch by a couple of inches at least. Next, pick up your “hammer” stick and gently tap the spine of your knife blade, driving the edge into the wood. As it digs deeper, strike the blade more firmly and toward the tip of the blade.

Continue driving the blade through the branch until it splits completely or until you’ve reached a point where you can easily pull the pieces apart by hand. The wood inside should be dry and ready to burn.

Batoning is an excellent addition to the wilderness survival skills toolbox.

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Try it Today! How to Can Green Beans in a Pressure Canner http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-today-can-green-beans-pressure-canner/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=try-today-can-green-beans-pressure-canner http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-today-can-green-beans-pressure-canner/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 10:00:52 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16012 Green beans are a great candidate for a first-time gardener and for someone new to canning. They grow well in lots of different gardening zones. They grow and produce rather quickly, and the more you pick them, the more they Read More

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How to Can Green Beans in a Pressure CannerGreen beans are a great candidate for a first-time gardener and for someone new to canning. They grow well in lots of different gardening zones. They grow and produce rather quickly, and the more you pick them, the more they produce.

They are easy to can and will provide your family with a green vegetable throughout the winter, making them a great choice for food storage. We love green beans in our house. It’s the only green vegetable my whole family likes, so we eat them about twice a week, with lots of bacon grease. You can find our favorite recipe here.

Equipment Required

    1. Clean canning jars with lids and rings

 

    1. Pressure canner with gauge and rack (you cannot use a water bath canner)

 

    1. Canning funnel

 

    1. Ladle or large spoon

 

    1. canning green beans1Jar lifter

 

    1. Magnetic lid wand

 

    1. Non-metallic small spatula (I use a chopstick)

 

    1. Large pot to heat jars

 

    1. Large pot to heat beans

 

  1. Colander

canning green beans6To Can Green Beans

    1. Break ends off beans and then break into smaller, 1 – 1 ½ inch, pieces. (I normally break beans at night while watching TV and can them the next day; it takes awhile to get them all broken.) Rinse well in several changes of water.

 

    1. Gather your equipment and wash with hot soapy water.

 

    1. Place clean jars in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer. Place the lids in a smaller pot and bring to a simmer as well (do not boil lids.)

 

    1. Add water to your pressure canner to the appropriate level (check the directions for your specific canner model) and turn the burner to medium. You want to warm the water to about 180 degrees, not boil it. Tip: add a splash of vinegar to your water to help keep yourcanning green beans7 jars free from residue while processing.

 

    1. Bring another large pot of water to a boil and add the broken, washed green beans. Boil for 5 minutes and remove beans from cooking liquid. Reserve cooking liquid to cover beans in jars.

 

    1. Working one jar at a time, use your jar lifter to remove the jar from simmering water, dumping the water back into the pot.

 

    1. Put the canning funnel on your jar and fill hot jar with hot beans, to 1 inch of headspace.

 

    1. Add canning salt (optional) ½ tsp for pints, 1 tsp for quarts.

 

    1. Ladle the hot cooking liquid over the beans, leaving 1-inch headspace.

 

    1. Slide your spatula – or any non-metallic utensil – between the green beans and jar; press back gently on the beans to release any trapped air bubbles. Do this a couple times, then add more cooking liquid if necessary to the correct headspace.

 

    1. canning green beans9Wipe rim and threads of jar with a clean, damp cloth. (Any liquid or debris on the rim of the jar could keep your lid from sealing properly.) Remove lid from hot water using a lid wand; place lid on jar and add the ring, screwing to fingertip tight (do not over-tighten).

 

    1. Place jar on rack in pressure canner and repeat with remaining jars.

 

    1. When all jars have been filled, put lid onto the canner and lock it into place, leaving the vent open. Turn up the heat under your canner and watch for the stream of steam to escape out the vent. When steam is escaping steadily, set your timer for 10 minutes, turning the burner down if needed to maintain a steady stream.

 

    1. Once the steam has vented for 10 minutes, add your 10 lb pressure gauge (for altitudes below 1,000 ft above sea level, refer to this chart for proper adjustments) and turn the heat back up if you turned it down while the canner was venting.

 

    1. canning green beans8Once your canner has come to the correct pressure, start your timer. (The weighted gauge will begin to rock when the correct pressure has been achieved.) Process pints for 20 minutes and quarts for 25 minutes. Make sure to keep the pressure steady during this time. (Steady means the pressure gauge should be rocking gently back and forth for canner that use a weighted gauge.) When processing time is complete, turn off the burner.

 

    1. Let canner cool down and return to zero pressure naturally, then let cool for at least an additional 10 minutes before opening the lid. Unfasten the lid and remove it. Always lift the lid towards you so that the steam inside doesn’t burn you. Let jars cool inside canner without lid for 10 minutes then remove each jar using your jar lifter and set on a dry towel to cool. Make sure to leave a couple inches between each jar. Let set  12 to 24 hours. You will hear a loud popping noise as the jars cool (the sound of success!!).

 

    1. canning green beans featuredRemove bands and check to make sure your jars have sealed by pressing down in the center of the lid. If the lid pops back up, your jar hasn’t sealed correctly and should be refrigerated and consumed within one week. Store your canned goods in a cool, dry, dark place.

 

Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Want more information about canning? I recommend these resources:

Simply Canning by Sharon Peterson

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judy Kingry

The Canning Diva website

Simply Canning website

Canning Granny website

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Water Purifier Comparison: The Sawyer Point ZeroTWO and The Berkeys http://thesurvivalmom.com/water-purifier-comparison-sawyer-point-zerotwo-berkeys/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=water-purifier-comparison-sawyer-point-zerotwo-berkeys http://thesurvivalmom.com/water-purifier-comparison-sawyer-point-zerotwo-berkeys/#comments Sat, 26 Jul 2014 10:00:12 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=14793 The saying “two is one, one is none” is common in military and survival circles, and for good reason. The principle is especially true when considering water purification, as most people can function effectively for weeks with little food while Read More

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water purifier comparisonThe saying “two is one, one is none” is common in military and survival circles, and for good reason. The principle is especially true when considering water purification, as most people can function effectively for weeks with little food while they require water in greater and more frequent quantities.

Today’s water purifier comparison includes two filters that are appropriate for the home or car. They are a bit large for normal backpack carry, though they could be hand carried for some distance if necessary.

The Sawyer Point ZeroTWO

I snatched up a Sawyer Point ZeroTWO for just over $100 and so far I am impressed. The filter is simple, although it requires a five-gallon bucket to work as designed. The Sawyer Point ZeroTWO kit includes a drill bit that can be used (without a drill) to attach the filter to the bucket (see below.)

Sawyer with Bucket

Photo by Sawyer

The Sawyer Point ZeroTWO uses gravity to purify water. Users need only fill the five-gallon bucket with collected water, then unhook the filter from the bucket and hold it above a second container. The bucket of “dirty” water will obviously need to be placed on a shelf, or, in the wilderness, attached to a tree or improvised platform to allow gravity to do its work.

Also included in the kit is a syringe that is used to “clean” the working mechanisms of the filter. The instructions are well written and this system could be set up “on the fly.”

For the price, this filter is outstanding, and Sawyer advertises it is good for 100,000 gallons! The manufacturer states that the Point ZeroTWO “offers the same level of protection against bacteria and protozoa, and is the first portable filtration device that removes the virus mechanically. It has a removal rate of 0.02 micron absolute with a record rate of 5.5 log (99.9997%), the highest level of filtration available today. This small and light kit filter can provide up to 170 liters of drinking water per day for hospital, camp, etc..” (This is presumably in comparison to the PointONE specs.)

Berkey

Photo by Berkey

The Berkeys

Berkey’s counter-top filters, like the Big Berkey pictured here, are constructed of highly-polished stainless steel and come standard with two purifications elements. Two additional purification elements can be added (for just over $100.) The basic two-filter Big Berkey costs around $250. It can filter 3.5-7 gallons of water per hour, depending on configuration, up to a total of 6,000 gallons.

In addition to aesthetic and durable construction, the Berkey systems are powerful enough to remove bacteria, viruses, cysts, and parasites. They can even remove harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, radon 222, and trihalmethanes. They can reduce nitrates, nitrites, and metals such as lead and mercury. Berkey states that “this system is so powerful, it can remove food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs.”

Comparative Pros and Cons, and Strategy

Berkey Systems are certainly  more durable and powerful, with a price tag that reflects such. They are not easily transported by hand, and extra purification elements are necessary beyond 6,000 gallons of water filtered.

Sawyer’s Point ZeroTWO, like the Berkey, is a bit bulky to move by hand once attached to a bucket, and can filter 100,000 gallons. They are not as powerful, though the drinking water is clean and can sustain life. These filters are not as durable as the Berkeys, and will require gentle handling in a wilderness environment to avoid damaging them. They are not overly fragile, but survival living can be rugged and care should be taken.

Ideally, I would like to have several gallons of tap water stored, perhaps in a closet or the garage, a Berkey on the countertop, and a Sawyer ZeroPointTWO waiting with my other gear. Cost (as always) is a factor, but the possession of multiple solutions brings invaluable peace-of-mind because “two is one, and one is none.”

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The Prepared Immune System: Four Herbs to Know (Other Than Echinacea) http://thesurvivalmom.com/prepared-immune-system-four-herbs-know-echinacea/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=prepared-immune-system-four-herbs-know-echinacea http://thesurvivalmom.com/prepared-immune-system-four-herbs-know-echinacea/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=15972 Your immune system protects you from many threats even on a normal day. After  stamina and physical conditioning for your body, making sure your immune system is in top shape should be your next big priority for health preparedness. The Read More

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preparedimmunesystemYour immune system protects you from many threats even on a normal day. After  stamina and physical conditioning for your body, making sure your immune system is in top shape should be your next big priority for health preparedness.

The immune system isn’t isolated in one area of your body, though. It’s an incredibly complex system made up of cells communicating in your bloodstream, in your bones, and even in your intestines! A full 70% of immune cells can be found in the gut, and modern research is only just beginning to understand the way “good” bacteria (probiotics) in the gut can have an influence on overall immunity.

This is just one example of how the strength of your immune system relies on many different factors and many other body systems. Sleep, stress, nutrition, and hygiene are all important, and so is exercise. Some studies indicate that regular, moderate exercise can decrease the incidence of illness by almost 30%. But, once you have all the bases covered in terms of lifestyle and hygiene, herbs can add another layer of support.

Using Herbs for Immune Support

If you are doing everything else to support your health and immune system that we just mentioned, there should be no need to use herbs for immunity on a daily basis. But many people (myself included) find it helpful to use herbs for immunity at the onset of acute symptoms.

Even if you are doing everything right, busy schedules and chronic stress can wear down the immune system over time. A single high stress event, such as the sudden loss of a loved one or another personal emergency can tip the scales of the immune system. For any long distance or high performing athletes out there, you may know that while a little exercise is great for the immune system, the toll of running a marathon or other rigorous training can have a short term negative impact on immune resistance. A little boost to the immune system at the right time can make all the difference in the world.

Four Herbs For Immune Support

So, when I am looking to give my immune system an extra boost, here are the herbs I am most likely to turn to:

1. Andrographis: An herb native to India, Andrographis paniculata is traditionally used as a bitter tonic, antipyretic, and stomachic. Modern studies have shown that it helps activate the immune system and enhance immune function. It seems to have a broad influence and affect several parts of the immune system.

2. Oregon Grape root: Oregon grape root, mahonia aquifolium, is currently being studied for use in conjunction with antibiotics. One of the chemical components of the herb, berberine, appears to make antibiotics more effective by decreasing or eliminating bacteria’s ability to resist antibiotics. Traditional herbalists refer to Oregon grape as a cooling herb, so it is paired with “heat” signs in the body, a category that includes many types of infection.

However, simply labeling it as an herbal “antibiotic” is much too simplified and misleading – a fate that often also befalls echinacea and goldenseal. One of my favorite articles about this plant can be found here at Methowe Valley Herbs. Rosalee de Foret does a great job explaining how to most effectively use this herb.

3. Elderberry: This one is a favorite of mine! Elder, Sambucus nigra,  is a versatile herb, with both the flowers and berries being commonly used. The berries have been studied for their ability to increase cytokine cell production by the immune system, and also for their ability to interfere with viruses as they try to gain a foothold in the body.

Cytokines are the proteins released by immune cells to communicate with one another and coordinate an attack on bacteria or viruses. Elderflower tea is traditionally used for hayfever, and it is one of my favorites teas for allergy season.

4. Reishi and Maitake Mushrooms: Several types of culinary mushrooms have traditionally been valued for their medicinal properties as well. Reishi (Ganoderma spp) and Maitake (Grifola frondosa) are two of the most common, but what all of these mushrooms have in common is a substance called beta-glucans. Among other things, these substances appear to help the immune system by boosting cells of the immune system called macrophages and natural killer cells.

Other Considerations

Because these herbs have been shown to affect the immune system, they should be used cautiously by anyone with autoimmune disorders - only under a doctor’s supervision, if at all. As I mentioned earlier, there normally shouldn’t be a need to use any immune herbs on a daily basis. However, I would be comfortable using a good mushroom blend as part of a daily wellness plan long-term in the event of an epidemic or pandemic.

Personally, I supplement with teas or extracts when I first start feeling like I have a cold or flu coming on, and usually continue supplementing for five to seven days. If I catch it early enough, noticing that I’m getting “that feeling,” I may simply use a blend of yarrow, elder and peppermint as a tea and go to bed early that night. Often, that’s all I need to tip the scales back in my favor.

It’s a traditional trick that has worked very well for me many times. For things that come on suddenly, or are more localized than a cold or flu, I may continue to supplement for ten to fourteen days. My personal rule is: if it gets worse after three days of taking good care of myself, I go the the doctor. Also, if it’s really unusual – something that I haven’t experienced before or am not sure about, I go to the doctor immediately. For other things, rest and a little herbal TLC are usually all I need.

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Training Kids To Be Resilient http://thesurvivalmom.com/training-kids-resilient/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=training-kids-resilient http://thesurvivalmom.com/training-kids-resilient/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:00:47 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=15919 Many are familiar with The Stockdale Paradox. This concept, coined by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, came to be during a fantastic interview with the late Vice Admiral James Stockdale. For those who do not know the Read More

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training kids resilientMany are familiar with The Stockdale Paradox. This concept, coined by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, came to be during a fantastic interview with the late Vice Admiral James Stockdale.

For those who do not know the story, Admiral Stockdale was a Prisoner of War for more than seven years in Vietnam, and became known for his resiliency and leadership.

Admiral Stockdale stated:

“I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.” 

When asked who did not make it in Vietnam, Admiral Stockdale answered,

“Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Lastly, he asserted,

“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Though the lesson of The Stockdale Paradox is timeless and invaluable, the story is a bit intense to be explained to my four-year-old. Below are three simple methods I often use to convey this valuable lesson.

Develop Narratives From Personal Experience

Early in my military career, I made the choice to enter a difficult training program. The washout rate was high and my confidence level was low. By focusing on my goal of graduating, throughout multiple small failures, I was able to make it and do more than I originally believed possible.

Use Sports Analogies

Modern sports present numerous examples of underdogs who held on to overcome adversity. Doug Flutie was too small to play quarterback. Herschel Walker was too heavy and slow to even become an athlete. These stories are prevalent, and children can relate to them.

Use Archetypal Stories

These are perhaps the most fun. Shrek experienced a difficult journey. So did Nemo and Dusty Crophopper the crop duster. With each example, children can understand how the characters may have felt.

In a culture flooded with information, the valuable lessons of faith and discipline are constantly available for presentation. Those who enjoy the stories can witness how the characters chose their focus. Children love narratives of this nature, and their parents have the opportunity to emphasize simple, positive concepts. As children mature, stories that once seemed fun and entertaining often become more meaningful, given a little life experience.

 

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Tornado Survival: No Shelter, No Basement, No Problem http://thesurvivalmom.com/tornado-survival/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=tornado-survival http://thesurvivalmom.com/tornado-survival/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:30:40 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16046 It you live in an area that is vulnerable to tornadoes, you have undoubtedly heard the advice to head for your shelter or basement as a severe storm approaches. Hopefully, you’ve made tornado survival plans. For an entire week prior Read More

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tornado survivalIt you live in an area that is vulnerable to tornadoes, you have undoubtedly heard the advice to head for your shelter or basement as a severe storm approaches. Hopefully, you’ve made tornado survival plans.

For an entire week prior to the April 2011 storms and tornados that devastated parts of my town and Northern Alabama in general, the local weather forecasters gave us warnings. They saw the emerging weather pattern as it traveled across the country and how dangerous it would likely be. If your weather forecaster starts talking like this, you need to start planning ahead. Many storms won’t give that much warning, but staying weather aware will give you enough lead time (usually hours at least) to enact your pre-determined tornado plan.

So what do you do if you don’t have a shelter or a basement?

1. Go to a friend’s house

Consider leaving your home and staying with a friend who has a shelter or basement. Of course, you must ask first! Don’t just assume there will be space for you or that they will even be home. If you’re invited to stay with your friend, you don’t want to be a burden, so bring enough food and water to last your family a minimum of three days. Be sure to take your emergency kit and important papers with you in case your home is damaged or you are not able to return to your neighborhood for a period of time. 

2. Go to a community storm shelter

When you create your emergency binder,  include a list of community storm shelters in your area. Know where they are and the quickest route to get to each one. List the rules of the shelter – most don’t allow pets, some don’t allow large bags or bins, and many request that you bring your own bottles of water and snacks. Know that shelters often fill up quickly so don’t wait until the last minute to arrive. Community shelters are often cramped, sweaty, and full of frightened and/or bored children, but the safety and peace of mind they provide will be worth it.

tornado survival3. Go to a public building

Some public spaces like churches, libraries, malls, large stores, and government buildings have storm shelters or “safe areas” built in for their employees and customers. Going to these locations and waiting out a storm is an option. Speak to a manager ahead of time and ask them what their policy is for allowing members of the public to use their location. Include this information in your emergency binder. If you choose this option, be sure to leave your home well ahead of the storm. Keep in mind that tornadoes can happen in the middle of the night and public buildings are unlikely to be open and available.

4. Make the best of what you’ve got

Sometimes you may not have enough of a warning to be able to leave your home. Or you may choose to ride out a storm in your own home instead of at a public place with strangers. For whatever reason you decide to stay put, you need to make a plan to stay as safe as possible.

When looking for your home’s safest place when you don’t have a shelter or basement, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Be on the ground floor.
  • Go to as close to the center of the structure as you can so you have as many walls between you and the outside as possible.
  • Do not be in a location that has an exterior wall.
  • No exterior doors and no windows.
  • Be in as small of a space as possible.
  • All of these rules apply to apartment dwellers as well. If you don’t live on the first floor, you need to find out from your apartment manager what the tornado warning protocols are for your apartment complex.
  • Common places in many homes that fit these criteria are bathrooms, closets, and under stair storage areas.

5. Prepare to enter your safe place

  • Make sure everyone is wearing shoes.
  • If you own motorcycle, bicycle or football helmets, get them and put them on to protect your head from flying debris.
  • Stage the location with emergency supplies like bottled water, protein bars, a first aid kit, flashlights, battery or crank powered weather radio, a blanket to cover your body, and a hatchet to help remove debris if needed. If possible, keep these items stored in your safe place all the time.
  • If you do not store your emergency kit and/or bug out bags in your safe place, bring them in.
  • If your pets are small, put them in a crate with a towel or blanket covering them. Ideally each pet will have a collar on as well. Dogs and cats should be chipped in case they lose their collars in the chaos of a tornado. Have leashes nearby. If you have larger pets, consider having both collars and leashes on them while you are waiting out the storm.
  • Have on each person as available – photo ID, cell phone, and a whistle.

When your area is put under a tornado watch, start preparing your safe place. If you are upgraded to a tornado warning, pay very close attention to the advice of the weather forecaster. He or she will tell you when you need to be hunkered down in your safe place. If in doubt, go into your safe place and wait. If you hear the words “Tornado Emergency” for your area, that means a tornado is actively on the ground. You should be bracing for the tornado in your safe place, NOT outside taking a tornado selfie!

The reality of tornadoes, especially the stronger EF-4 and EF-5 varieties, is that anything above ground that is not a specific tornado shelter is unlikely to survive a direct hit. That said, the statistical chance of getting a direct hit by an EF-4 or -5 is very low. You are more likely to encounter a survivable, less destructive tornado, and the difference between walking away from it and suffering an injury or death can be as simple as choosing the safest place in your home to weather the storm.

Author’s note: One specific caveat. Mobile homes do NOT have a “safe area.” NEVER “make the best of it” if you have a tornado warning in your area and you live in a mobile home. ALWAYS leave to stay with a friend or go to a community shelter. 

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Ponds as Emergency Water Sources http://thesurvivalmom.com/ponds-emergency-water/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ponds-emergency-water http://thesurvivalmom.com/ponds-emergency-water/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:37 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16211 In many parts of the United States, ponds are as common as bees. Often the results of periodic flooding in river basins, ponds are an important part of local ecosystems. Many an adult can recall a pleasant childhood memory of Read More

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Ponds emergency waterIn many parts of the United States, ponds are as common as bees. Often the results of periodic flooding in river basins, ponds are an important part of local ecosystems. Many an adult can recall a pleasant childhood memory of chasing frogs or fishing in a local pond. A pond’s ability to sustain wildlife extends to sustaining us as well if you learn how to use ponds as emergency water sources.

Man has tamed the pond, as he has many other of nature’s features, and just as the in-ground pool is now ubiquitous in communities throughout the world, so too, the backyard pond can be possessed by those with the inclination. As the owner of a pond, one possesses not only the valuable aesthetic benefits of this little piece of nature’s beauty but the emergency preparedness benefits as well.

Let’s look at how your beautiful little pond can help sustain your family in a disaster. We’re going to address the backyard pond first, and then we’ll look at how ponds in your local area can supplement your survival strategy.

Beautiful and Life-sustaining

The pond is the anchor of a local ecosystem and sustains aquatic plants, insects, fish, birds, and other wildlife. Water is needed for life, and a concentration of water equals a concentration of life. Whether natural or man-made, a pond contains more water in a small area than you could reasonably store in your garage or backyard shed.

For example, a pond 15 feet by 15 feet and 2 feet deep contains approximately 450 gallons of water, or the equivalent of almost 2,200 pint-sized water bottles (1 cubic foot=7.48 gallons). Add some fish, and you have an additional food supply as well (fish also help control nuisance insects like mosquitoes).

As with any home improvement, money is a trade off with time and effort. In other words, if you have a ton of money, you can just hire a landscape architect to design and build your backyard pond. For the rest of us, there are numerous online resources and books available to help you start your own pond.

A basic pond requires some kind of liner to contain the water. There are rigid ones that are in a particular shape and flexible ones that allow you to design the shape and features within the pond. Anything over about 250 gallons will require the use of a flexible liner.

The actual construction techniques for installing your pond are comprehensively covered online. I particularly like This Old House for a great step-by-step explanation.

In addition to the installation of the pond liner, we have other details to plan. A pond isn’t just storage for water. It is a chemical and biological soup that should be managed to assure nuisances like algae and nitrates don’t ruin your plans. The good news is that you can design the pond’s environment to address likely problems. As a part of your emergency water supply, you need to get this right.

Your ally in keeping your pond environment clear and fresh is oxygen. Just as a living-room aquarium relies on a pump and filter to keep fish alive, a backyard pond benefits from a fresh stream of oxygen in the form of a fountain or waterfall. If you have fish in your pond, a pump and some type of biological filter is essential for removing ammonia and nitrates excreted from the fish. Aquatic plants help in much the same way.

Keeping it Clean

A biological filter sounds pretty complicated. The fact is that all you need is a place for beneficial bacteria to grow and a flow of water through the area. You’re going to love how easy this filter is to make. I have had great success with evaporative (swamp) cooler pads, available at your hardware store. Find a container, like a 55 gallon drum or big trash can, and direct the discharge from your pump into the container. Roll up a swamp cooler pad and place into the container, which needs to have a closed top (cuts down on mosquitoes).

Use a “bulkhead fitting” (also available at the hardware store) to affix a hose from the container back to the pond, where you can direct the discharge to a waterfall or fountain. The good bacteria naturally latch on to the fibers of the pad, and turn the nitrates and ammonia into a dark sludge. This sludge collects at the bottom of the container, and is full of nutrients for plants. Periodic draining of the sludge keeps your bio filter in top shape.

Using the Pond Water for Emergencies

When the finished pond establishes its own balance, the water should be pretty clear. While it is probably safe to drink, prudence indicates at least some basic purification before use. Straining the water through a coffee filter or other cloth will remove the larger particles. At a minimum, boil the water for a couple of minutes. Adding 8 drops of regular chlorine bleach per gallon will accomplish the same level of treatment in 30 minutes. As a last resort, you can put the water in clear plastic bottles and leave it in the sun all day. The ultraviolet rays from the sun kill microbes in the water. Using ponds as emergency water sources only works if the water is safe to drink.

Living Off the Land: Natural Ponds as a Water Source

Using natural pond water is a good strategy in areas with lots of rainfall or with a high water table. It’s a little trickier when you come across a stagnant pool with lots of algae, or foam. If you have the choice, avoid it as the excess algae can indicate contamination with chemical runoff.

When collecting water from a natural pond, draw from below the surface and above the bottom. Both areas are more prone to contaminants. A regular garden hose and 12 volt pump (available at hardware stores) are sufficient for water collection. Take extra care in purifying water from a natural pond, distillation and/or reverse osmosis are ideal methods. Boiling and bleach are second choices.

Of course, other water sources like streams and lakes are valuable water sources, but are greatly outnumbered by the humble pond. To be on the safe side, get your own!

 

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