The Survival Mom » Preparedness http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Mon, 13 Oct 2014 21:02:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 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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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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Get YOUR copy of Survival Mom ebook for just $1.99! http://thesurvivalmom.com/survival-mom-ebook/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/survival-mom-ebook/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:15:43 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18694 Pin this to share with your friends on Pinterest! When my Facebook page reached 100,000 Likes a few days ago, I contacted my publisher, Harper Collins, to find out if they could lower the ebook price to celebrate such a Read More

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survival mom ebookPin this to share with your friends on Pinterest!

When my Facebook page reached 100,000 Likes a few days ago, I contacted my publisher, Harper Collins, to find out if they could lower the ebook price to celebrate such a nice, big number.

Well, they exceeded my expectations and until October 20, you can get the ebook version for just $1.99!

The ebook version is super handy to have on an ebook reader or your smartphone. You can even save it directly to your computer and access it any time you’re working on your computer. You’ll be able to quickly search for whatever information you need with the ebook.

Some of my favorite Amazon reviews:

Are you confused with all the “prepping” or “survival” info out there? Wonder who or what to believe? Do you wonder why, how and where to start, or how to assess and beef up your prepping efforts? Do you want the hype-free message with no sale pressure? If so, you will love this book, Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios by Lisa Bedford.

Since I have been an avid reader of Lisa’s website for years, I doubted this book would have much new information-but I was so wrong. If you’ve been to her website, you’ll notice that she’s covered so many topics that you may think there isn’t much left to talk about (at least that’s what I thought). I was so wrong! I can’t believe how much practical information she has gathered, all in one place, to help the average mom, dad, or even a single person survive anything and everything, from every day emergencies on up to more extreme emergencies.

I can hardly wait for the next one. I have spent quite a bit of time reading and rereading. I want more.

This is one of the most amazing books I have ever purchased. It is clear and effective without scaring the mess out of you (like some prepping / survival books). It is written by and from the standpoint of a modern mom prepper, this the title. It has checklists that are easy to follow and customize included in each chapter as well as a plethora of information that would take substantial time to gather yourself online.

Writing this book was one of the most enjoyable chapters of my life and knowing it has helped families around the country is a great feeling.

You can’t beat $1.99 for this 300+ page book, but the sale price ends October 20. Click here!

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20 Slightly Unusual Items for Stocking Up http://thesurvivalmom.com/unusual-items-stocking-up/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/unusual-items-stocking-up/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 06:00:31 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=10328 Everyone is slightly different in the things they need and we all find different unusual, cool things to include in our preps. Rather than having one person create a list of their favorite unusual items, this has items from the Read More

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unusual items stocking upEveryone is slightly different in the things they need and we all find different unusual, cool things to include in our preps. Rather than having one person create a list of their favorite unusual items, this has items from the Survival Mom Writing Team members and Survival Mom Radio hosts.

  1. An Altoids tin with a small plastic container of denatured alcohol to make a small, portable stove. (Jim Cobb)
  2. A Land Shark Bag is a patented instant emergency shelter that keeps you warm, dry, and visible to search & rescue crews for miles, on land or on the water. (Rob Hanus)
  3. Vacuum sealed Cheetos in a jar. Cheetos make me happy. (Jamie Smith)
  4. Meat tenderizer to rub on ant bites. It works miracles.  (Jamie Smith)
  5. Activated charcoal is commonly prescribed at the emergency room to absorb toxins in the stomach. During a SHTF scenario, there will be an increase in food poisoning, arsenic, adverse reactions/celiac, etc. (Helen Cates)
  6. Binder clips can be used for numerous things.  Keeping bags clipped down, clipping items to clotheslines, hanging items to dry, hooking tarps together and more! (Karen Lynn)
  7. Small tin of Vicks VapoRub. Triple use: Medicinal use per the label. Mixed with tinder, it is an excellent fuel for starting fires, even in the rain. Swabbed under the nose, it covers unpleasant smells like spilled sewage or dead bodies.  (Jim Acosta)
  8. Dried prunes. Dietary changes and stress might affect your digestive systems. We have four kids, and one of the quickest ways to clear them out is to have them eat a few prunes. (Sarah Anne)
  9. Sillcock keys” or “4 way keys.” Outside of fast food restaurants and gas stations are water spigots that don’t have a traditional handle. This prevents unauthorized people (read “homeless”) from using the water for drinking, bathing, etc. The water can only be turned on with a sillcock key. Having one of these in your bug out bag may help provide you with a source of water that others won’t be able to access.  (Amy Van Riper)
  10. Knee-high (and some full-length) pantyhose. Possible uses include: (1) straining debris from water before sending it through the purifier; (2) use sterilized ones as you would cheesecloth to strain cooled bacon fat or make cheese (#2 was untested!); (3) tie strips around the garden fence and tomato cages to keep critters away; and (4) slip it over a leg or knee injury and unroll it over a gauze pad for an instant flexible compression bandage that doesn’t stick and doesn’t show dirt a fast as white tape and gauze. (Kris Alford)
  11. Popcorn is filling and a fun snack to bring out for a little taste of comfort for the kids, especially if you pop it on the stove top or over a fire (not microwaved). You can grind it into corn meal. I’ve even had success with soaking it and cooking it slow and low like you would dried beans. It was not the best that way, but it was certainly edible. (Christy Jordan )
  12. A huge amount of coffee, to make life pleasant and safer. How many people do you know who are nice before their first cup of morning coffee? (Christy Jordan )
  13. My Bible because when things go wrong, nothing brings me comfort like reading scripture. (Melissa K. Norris)
  14. CASH. When there is no power we need to have CASH. For those stores that are open, many can help you if you pay with cash because they won’t be able to run credit or debit cards. (Paula Tobey)
  15. If you have to evacuate, bring a few things to help maintain your routine. That could be books to read for bedtime, a board game, chargers for their electronics, favorite music, a blanket or pillow…. Whatever part of your family routine matters most, try to preserve it. If you keep some predictability of routine, your kids will not feel as scared or frightened during disasters, power outages or bad weather. (Paula Tobey)
  16. Glovesall kinds of gloves. Many of us have a pair or two of work gloves for adult family members, and of course gloves / mittens for cold weather. Consider adding work gloves for elementary and middle school kids, bags of cheap gloves with rubber-coated palms (in more than one size, and some double-coated), Mechanix gloves, gardening gloves, dish-washing gloves, nitrile gloves, and even fingerless work gloves. (Liz Long)
  17. I have an entire 5 gallon bucket dedicated to just hair doodads:  hair brushes, combs, barrettes, bobby pins, and hair ponies. There are 5 girls here, and we all have a ton of hair. I can’t stand having hair in my face when I’m trying to get stuff done!!! (Charley Cooke)
  18. Thieves essential oil helps fight germs, including cold and flu germs. (Julie Behling-Hovdal)
  19. Paracord (made in the USA, and available in many colors). If you’re dropped in the middle of the jungle, it’s the one thing you want. Snares, fishing line, stashing a food cache, rappelling down a cliff, bivouacking above the forest floor. It makes it easier to build a lean-to or create shelter. It has a zillion and one uses. Just about anywhere in the world, you can make something sharp, i.e. a blade. But it’s hard to create a rope that will support your weight. Paracord rules! (Patrice Lewis)
  20. Jalapenos. I have them dried, freeze dried, pickled, and canned! I love spicy foods and can’t bear the thought of eating bland rice and beans in a future worst case scenario. (Lisa Bedford)

Hopefully this has gotten your wheels turning and you’ve found some new items to add to your own preps. Please add your own favorite unusual prep items in the comments as well!

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Disaster Help From the Federal Government (FEMA): Truth vs. Fiction http://thesurvivalmom.com/disaster-help-fema-truth-vs-fiction/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/disaster-help-fema-truth-vs-fiction/#comments Sun, 05 Oct 2014 06:00:45 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18575 When you hear or read “FEMA” (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), what is your reaction? Other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), FEMA is the one Federal agency that tends to evoke reactions ranging from hope to despair, anger to Read More

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FEMA Help

When you hear or read “FEMA” (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), what is your reaction? Other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), FEMA is the one Federal agency that tends to evoke reactions ranging from hope to despair, anger to annoyance, and fear to paranoia.

Some of the criticism is very fair. As a former FEMA employee, I sympathize with the frustration felt by the public for some of its actions. On the other hand, I don’t buy in to a lot of the fringe theories of “FEMA Camps” or fears that FEMA somehow is preparing to imprison large numbers of Americans. Frankly, I don’t think they could accomplish that!

Federal Disaster Assistance (FEMA)

So let’s talk about federal disaster assistance. The good news is that the Feds are SO much better at disaster response and recovery than they were prior to Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Superstorm Sandy (2012).

Keep in mind that FEMA is mainly the coordinator of the myriad of Federal agencies that are players in disaster assistance. Under the National Response Framework, the federal government’s emergency plan, FEMA actually provides only a few direct services to disaster victims.

Here are some basic concepts to keep in mind:

  • Insurance is the best way to assure your disaster recovery, and is the payer of first resort;
  • FEMA primarily provides disaster assistance to state and local governments, not families;
  • FEMA only financially assists families in Major Disasters;
  • Much of the available disaster assistance is loans, not grants; you must pay them back!

The Legal Stuff

FEMA Disaster Assistance is regulated by the Stafford Act, a federal law. After President Jimmy Carter created FEMA by Executive Order in 1979, he transferred the responsibility for several different Federal disaster activities to FEMA.

The Stafford Act (1988) better defined FEMA’s responsibilities and authorities:

The Congress hereby finds and declares that -

(1) because disasters often cause loss of life, human suffering, loss of income, and property loss and damage; and

(2) because disasters often disrupt the normal functioning of governments and communities, and adversely affect individuals and families with great severity; special measures, designed to assist the efforts of the affected States in expediting the rendering of aid, assistance, and emergency services, and the reconstruction and rehabilitation of devastated areas, are necessary.

(b) It is the intent of the Congress, by this Act, to provide an orderly and continuing means of assistance by the Federal Government to State and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to alleviate the suffering and damage which result from such disasters.

The Influence of Homeland Security

Orange County,FL

Orange County,FL Hurricanes 2004 photo by Jim Acosta

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, FEMA was placed under the new Department of Homeland Security via The Homeland Security Act of 2002. In some respects, FEMA was weakened due to personnel and responsibilities being transferred to other agencies, and the government-wide emphasis on preventing terrorism. Responding to natural disasters was given a lower priority than responding to terror.

We paid the price for that change in Hurricane Katrina.

The nation observed the inadequate response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 by FEMA and much of the rest of the federal government. The failures and deficiencies exhibited by FEMA in the response to Hurricane Katrina resulted in the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006. The PKEMRA Act restored to FEMA much of the autonomy taken in the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and strengthened FEMA’s status within DHS. A lot of good changes came out of the pain of Katrina.

Then came Superstorm Sandy in 2012…and criticism of the FEMA response again. In July 2012, FEMA published the “Hurricane Sandy FEMA After-Action Report.” While acknowledging the strengths of the FEMA response, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate recognized the shortcomings:

“We also recognize where work remains to further improve. We still do not go big enough, fast enough, or smart enough. Building on our experiences from Sandy, we will continue our efforts to prepare for catastrophic events and not rest on past performance. We still plan for what we are capable of doing. We still train and exercise for what we can manage. We must plan, train, and exercise even bigger to fracture the traditional mind set. We know that it is reassuring to survivors to see government representatives who are actively engaged in the area of impact. We are an organization in which every employee, full-time or temporary, has an integral role in reducing the suffering of survivors and supporting communities toward recovery.”

FEMA Assistance to State and Local Governments

The Stafford Act established categories of assistance that can be provided to state and local governments in disasters. In many significant events, FEMA can provide financial assistance for major wildfires through Fire Management Assistance Grants, and funding for Debris Removal from public right-of-ways and for Emergency Protective Measures to prevent loss of life or property. But for the average citizen, FEMA has little to offer in minor-to-moderate disasters. Other federal agencies like the Small Business Administration may be able to offer low-interest loans to businesses and homeowners, but that’s about it.

In more significant disasters, if the President declares a Major Disaster, AND designates that Individual Assistance is to be provided to victims, a host of programs and assistance programs become available; descriptions are available at: http://www.fema.gov/disaster-assistance-available-fema.

Advice for the Disaster Victim

  1. Document your losses: pictures are so important pre- and post-loss.
  2. Contact your insurance agent ASAP.
  3. Reach out to your elected representatives.
  4. Contact your city or county emergency management offices.
  5. In major disasters, register with FEMA: (800) 621-3362 or http://www.disasterassistance.gov/
  6. Read any correspondence you receive from FEMA very carefully; many claims are denied for lack of a document or two.
  7. Appeal any denials…you have nothing to lose and lots to gain.

Realistic Expectations

Few people are made whole through government disaster relief programs. Homeowners’ and Renters’ insurance is a far more reliable and predictable source of aid after a disaster strikes; especially in the specialty areas of flood and earthquake insurance, your insurance agent can protect you much better than any government program.

You have so much more control over your future when you plan ahead and don’t rely on help from government that may not ever come.

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If You Just Moved Here: 10 Realities After a Major Flooding Event http://thesurvivalmom.com/l10-realities-major-flooding-event/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/l10-realities-major-flooding-event/#comments Sat, 04 Oct 2014 06:00:13 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=18397 So a hurricane has hit your town or a major flooding event. Your family survived the disaster and it’s time to go back into your community and rebuild your lives. Here’s some of the realities that we didn’t expect about Read More

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10 realities floodingSo a hurricane has hit your town or a major flooding event. Your family survived the disaster and it’s time to go back into your community and rebuild your lives. Here’s some of the realities that we didn’t expect about our lives after Hurricane Katrina.

  1. EVERYTHING takes longer, and I do mean everything. Why? Because everyone else in the community needs the same things, too. You may have been to the propane place a hundred times, and never waited for more than 10 minutes, BUT when everyone else in your community also needs propane for their FEMA trailer, the line is going to be long.
    As you stand in those ridiculously long lines, you will swap horror stories. “I got 1 ft of water.” “My roof was completely ripped off.” You will be reminded that everyone has it better and worse than you.
  2. Unexpected problems will arise. If the flooding is more than about 18”, it will get in your outlets and damage your electrical system. It will also damage the motor in your washing machine. “No problem,” you think, “I’ll just go to the laundromat.” Except the one down the street got flooded, too. You drive across town to another laundromat. On the front door, there’s a big sign. “No flood clothes”. They are concerned about the mud and mold damaging their machines.
    IF they do accept flood clothes, be prepared to wait a REALLY long time because see #1. “No problem,” you think, “I’m a prepper. I”ll just do it by hand.” Except, you have spent all your time and energy gutting your house, scrubbing mud and mold off what you could save, and driving around to find a laundromat that will take them. Believe me when I say this won’t be appealing.
  3. Waiting in lines will be an excellent source of communication about resources. It is how you will find out what is open and what is not, which grocery stores have been restocked. Be prepared to swap tales and chat. This is where you will glean some of your best information.
  4. Flood water isn’t just water. It is water, mud, car fluids (think about all the cars stewing in the flood), mystery chemicals from people’s garages, and worse mystery chemicals from businesses like pest control and contractors. IF the water does not drain right away, but instead sits in your house for days, there are things in your home that you will not be able to save that you expect to save. Pots, pans, and dishes can’t be just washed off. The stuff in the water will permanently etch and damage their surfaces. As an aside, my husband was working in a used video game store after Katrina. The water may damage the machines, but the games themselves MIGHT be okay with a rinse off, IF they didn’t sit in the nasty water for weeks.
  5. Expect months of things not being readily available. The more commonly used the item is the easier it will be to replace. My oldest son had just crossed into the “young men’s” shoe sizes. It started to get a little chilly in late October. He was wearing sandals when we evacuated in August. I drove all around town trying to find him a pair of slip on or velcro tennis shoes. No one had them in his size. “No problem,” I think, “I’ll order them online.” By this point, it’s the beginning of November. Shipping is 5-7 days. Not a big deal, the mail, FedEx and UPS were running again. I would check the tracking.
    My package would make it an hour or two away from me, then I would see a message, “Delay due to disaster zone” My package would then turn around and head north. I would call FedEx and plead for my delivery to be delivered. It would get an hour or two away and the cycle would repeat. We didn’t get those shoes until the beginning of December, by which point we had already experienced our first freeze. ( I put my son in 2 pairs of socks with his sandals. Not pretty or stylish, but his toes were warm enough.)
  6. Forget about restocking things at thrift stores. They got flooded, too. When they restock from out of town, everyone else will be there too.
  7. Ever dreamed about when you retire that you and your spouse will hit the open road in an RV? Yeah, the reality of being forced to live in one is much different. First, if it’s a FEMA trailer, you don’t get to pick it. You don’t get to choose the decor or style that would make the most sense for your family. You get what they give you. Second, you will be storing precious mementos and remnants of your old life for “When we get our house back….” Third, even the items that you replace won’t necessarily be designed for the trailer, because you will be planning for “When we get our house back….”
  8. As businesses begin to reopen, you will have to return to work. No extra days off to deal with your home because the business needs to be cleaned. There will be less time and more work. Any and all conveniences will be appreciated. Be prepared to eat lots of MRE’s, TV dinners, etc… Remember, the fast food place down the street got flooded, too. Everyone will be in the same boat. Everything takes longer, but everyone wants businesses to stay open longer, which in turn means, that you will have less time to do the things that you need to do.
  9. The hardest thing for most of us will be saying “YES” to help. People from all over will want to help. They will reach out to your church, school, homeschool group, etc…. They will want to help. The self-sufficient person that you are will look around and think. “I don’t need donations. I have insurance,” “I have savings,” “I have family,” OR “Others have it so much worse than me.”
    Learn to say “yes, thank you so much” You see, this person found YOU. They didn’t find that other person that you know needs more help than you. They want to help. When you say yes, you not only let them help but you are given choices. You can use the donation yourself. Believe me, in a flood you will be “nickel and dimed” to death. There are so many hidden expenses.
    Maybe you could replace your towels yourself, but since towels were given to you, you can afford to replace an extra pair of shoes. OR you can give it to the person that you know needs the help more than you. You can never repay the person who helps you. The $10 that is given when you really need it isn’t just $10, it’s $10 plus hope and the ability to go on. Thank people who help you profusely, but pay it forward later, when to someone else it is $10 plus hope.
  10. Government programs and big charities are very much fill in the blank organizations. You need food. You get standard issue food boxes. If you have food allergies or picky eaters, tough. The saying, “Beggars can’t be choosy” takes on new meaning. We began to refer to FEMA as “Fix Everything my A$$”. You are told to take the help you get and be grateful.
    But when you need shoes, and all they have are pants, how grateful can you be? The number one lesson is to be prepared for anything and everything that you can be. Nothing will turn out how you expect it to in a disaster situation.

In a flooding disaster, the first inch of water is the most devastating. The water ruins floors and everything that touches the water.

Be prepared, as well as you can, but expect to find that you weren’t as prepared as you thought.

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Stomach “Bugs”: An Herbal Back-Up Plan http://thesurvivalmom.com/stomach-bugs-herbal-back-plan/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/stomach-bugs-herbal-back-plan/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 06:00:27 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=17779 These tips may come in handy someday soon! Click here to pin! So perhaps it’s that time of year, and stomach “bugs” are starting to make the rounds at school and work. Or, perhaps you’ve had a run in with Read More

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stomach bugs

These tips may come in handy someday soon! Click here to pin!

So perhaps it’s that time of year, and stomach “bugs” are starting to make the rounds at school and work. Or, perhaps you’ve had a run in with a mild bout of food poisoning. There are plenty of OTC drugs available (Imodium, Pepto and the like), but let’s take a look at some alternatives in the event that OTC meds aren’t available for whatever reason.

Basic Care for Stomach Bugs

There are many other herbs with a history of use for digestive support, but these five are especially easy to grow and identify, so I think they are particularly well suited for emergency preparedness scenarios where OTCs might be in short supply or unavailable. Combined with a commonsense care approach focusing on food and fluid intake, they should provide a decent family or community back-up plan.

First, regardless of what else is available, food and fluid are going to be key in keeping the situation from getting out of hand. Fluid loss from diarrhea and vomiting are especially dangerous for children and the elderly, so pay close attention to what is going in, not just what’s coming out.

Bland, soft foods are important so that the digestive system isn’t stressed further, so stay away from offering spicy or greasy foods. Make sure the foods still have nutritional value. Sugary gelatin and pudding really aren’t the best idea here. Some nutrient dense but bland foods include oatmeal and other whole grain porridge, meat and veggie broths, yogurt, and plain fruit and vegetables that are cooked until soft.

Maintaining electrolyte and fluid balance is even more important.  Make sure they drink plenty of water, diluted fruit juice, and herbal teas. Stay away from sugary drinks and anything with caffeine. An electrolyte formula can be used if the fluid loss is especially severe, and is a good idea for children and the elderly.

If you don’t have access to Pedialyte, the World Health Organization recommends ORS (Oral Rehydrating Solution) which is 5 liters of water, 6 level teaspoons of sugar, and ½ level tsp of salt. The solution is good for 24hrs, after that you will need to make a fresh batch. It can be used by alternating with other fluids.

Beyond that, these five herbs have a tradition of use for digestive upset. I’ve included some information on the growth habits of the plants as well as how they are used, and hope that will be useful for my readers interested in growing their own herbs and being less reliant on outsourcing their dried herbs.

Herbs for Vomiting

Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)

This plant is soothing for the stomach and the throat when there is a lot of vomiting and the stomach acid leaves the throat feeling raw. Marshmallow has a high level of mucilage, which makes the tea take on a distinctive “slippery” texture.

The best way to use marshmallow as a tea is actually by allowing the dried root to soak in room temperature or cool water- not brewing it with hot water as is common with most herbs. Leave it overnight for best results, but it can be used anytime after it has soaked for thirty minutes.

Marshmallow is traditionally understood to coat and soothe inflamed tissues of the digestive tract. It is one of my go-to herbs for the aftermath of food poisoning. Marshmallow is native to Africa but it is not a fussy plant and is usually happy to grow in rich garden soil as long as it gets enough water. It is a perennial that is hardy across most zones and prefers consistently moist soil.

Ginger (zingiber oficinale)

The root of this herb can help settle a stomach, and is traditionally used for nausea and improving digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Tea from fresh ginger root is best, but dried will also help. Some health food stores carry candied ginger root, which is convenient and palatable to most people. I enjoy adding it to trail mix, too, so I usually keep plenty on hand.

Ginger is a tropical plant, so for most parts of the US it will do best if grown in pots that can be brought inside during winter and placed in a sunny window.

Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)

The bark of slippery elm is traditionally used as a thin porridge – a gruel – or added to porridge such as oatmeal. Like marshmallow, slippery elm is helpful for coating the stomach. The main difference between the two is that slippery elm is considered to be more nutritive and was used during convalescence as a food. It was often turned to when the sick person couldn’t seem to keep any food down.

Some good flavorings for a gruel that uses slippery elm are ginger or cinnamon, for an extra boost of stomach settling goodness, and honey as a sweetener. To make a slippery elm porridge, start with a bowl of oatmeal or other whole grains, and stir in a tablespoon of slippery elm powder.

To make a slippery elm gruel, place a tablespoon of slippery elm powder into a bowl, and add one cup of hot water. Add cinnamon or ginger, if desired, and allow to cool to a safe temperature for drinking.  It will thicken as it stands, so if it becomes thicker than you want, add more water.

Sometimes, herbalists mix honey and slippery elm powder to form a dough, and then roll the dough into bite sized pieces This can be eaten a few pieces at a time, rather than making a gruel.

Native to central, eastern and southern US and parts of Canada, this tree is an excellent addition to the landscape as a shade tree. Harvesting is a little trickier for trees than for other herbs. It is usually done in the spring, when the rising sap makes the bark easier to peel from the tree. It’s best to learn how to do this from someone who has had experience. “Girdling”, or stripping the bark all the way around the tree, can kill it.

These herbs are especially good if there is vomiting. But what if the problem is at the, ahem, other end?

Diarrhea

Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus)

Blackberry is the old-timey standby for diarrhea. The leaves were favored by traditional European herbalists, while the Native tribes in the US favored the roots. In the US, blackberry plants are grown domestically and it is also a common wild plant.

The leaf is easier to harvest, and usually easier to find commercially than the root.  Leaves from raspberry (a close relative of blackberry) can be used as well, and both are best prepared as a hot tea. If you are making use of blackberry leaves from your own plants, harvest them as the plant is beginning to bloom and arrange them on screens or hang in bunches to dry until you need them.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

The go to herb for end-of-meal digestive support, peppermint is also excellent for stomach bugs that leave you feeling gassy and bloated. Try hot peppermint tea with a little honey for best results.

In the garden, I always recommend planting peppermint in containers; if you plant it directly in the ground be aware that it spreads by runners and rootlets and is vigorous enough to kill other, more mild mannered, plants by crowding them out. I have also commonly found peppermint growing wild around old home sites and damp fields. It’s quite hardy and spreads freely.

As always, be aware that although many herbs have a long record of safe use, they can interact with prescription and OTC medications, so be sure to check with your doctor for potential problems before you use an herb for the first time.

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