In my opinion, these are the best of the best of survival and preparedness articles gleaned from the 'net.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

The Prepper Podcast Episode 31

Another week brings you another great episode of The Prepper Podcast. Episode 31 features Angela from Adventures in Self Reliance. Angela has been blogging for almost a year and a half and has released a ton of content. She specializes in food storage, and does a lot of her own canning and dehydrating. We talked about one of her posts where she experimented with different brands of powdered milk vs store bought milk; among other preparedness related topics. Angela is very knowledgeable while still learning the ways of preparedness. Enjoy the show!



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Safe Havens and Safe Rooms…The Twilight Zone…One Second After

Last week we had Stacy and Lady M comment on an episode of The Twilight Zone. That show used to freak me out as a kid! They referred us to an episode that dealt with a family who took shelter in a safe room and what happened with their neighbors who hadn’t prepared. It was very good and not too freaky. The episode is called the shelter and really is a great place to start a conversation. It would be great to show at the beginning of a discussion on preparedness. For older children it would also be a great conversation starter and point out why we prepare and why we don’t tell everyone exactly what we have and what we are doing.
With all the interest and discussion in our yahoo group about EMPs I would also recommend again the book: One Second After. It is fiction and may not all be appropriate to share with your family but it will give you some ideas about what topics to discuss and how to prepare for a society without electricity and the perks that go along with that.
Safe Havens and Safe Rooms
With spring storm season upon us and tornado season approaching let’s take a look at ways to protect against their fury. A safe room has traditionally been defined as a place where the family can gather and wait out a storm under the safest possible conditions.

In recent years we have seen the evolution of the safe room. A safe room is now defined as a concrete or reinforced “bunker” in your home, basement or garage. Homes in tornado- and hurricane-prone areas are now often built with a concrete safe room in the center of the home.
For our purposes here let’s make a distinction between a safe haven and a safe room as this — a space in a home or business not specially built for this purpose that satisfies most of our requirements is a “safe haven,” and an area designed and built for this purpose is a “safe room.”
Concrete safe rooms can be expensive to add to an existing home. As you save to build your bunker, there are some immediate steps you can take to improve your chances of surviving a weather emergency. Nothing will protect you completely or under all circumstances, but your chances for survival are greatly improved if you have a well-equipped safe haven.
Building a Safe Haven
Begin by choosing an area in the center of the house that has no windows. A bathroom or large closet under a staircase will work well. A basement is the best location in tornado or hurricane country, but only if you are located away from a storm surge area or flood plain.
Reinforcing the structure of your safe haven is definitely something you should consider doing now. Remove the sheet rock and bolt the framing to the floor and to each other where the corners of the room and the ceiling meet. Add more bracing between the studs.
In extremely high winds, debris can be thrown at a building with enough force to penetrate even masonry walls, so our objective is to protect the room against penetration. Adding sheets of plywood to the walls will greatly increase the safety of your safe haven since most injuries during a storm are caused by this flying debris. Although plywood is not going to completely prevent debris from penetrating your haven, it will provide greater protection than sheet rock alone.  Don’t forget to re-enforce the ceiling, because debris can be forced through the ceiling as well. Remember high winds cause the twisting of building components, so your job with all this reinforcement is to help minimize that twisting.
If you have hollow core doors, you will also want to replace these with solid wood or metal doors.
Using a Safe Haven
Before entering your safe room or safe haven, close all doors in your home. Close and lock all windows in your home, too. Lower all blinds, and close all of the drapes. Shut off the air conditioner and heater. We used to believe opening a window would help in a storm. It does not. Any time you invite air into your home you increase the damage.
Very Basic Supplies for your safe haven or safe room:
  • AM/FM radio — battery or crank operated.
  • Glow sticks or flashlight — NO CANDLES (for safety in case of gas leak).
  • Blankets to use for protection from flying debris
  • Your 72-hour kits, for use after the storm has passed.
  • Important documents, which should already be in your 72 hour kits.
  • First aid kit.
  • Land line phone with cord, as well as cell phone. (Cell phones will probably not work after a natural disaster.  Sometimes land line phones will be working.)
  • Personalized phone directory with local emergency numbers as well as the numbers for out of state contacts. Local lines may not be available and your only communication option may be out of state or out of the area contacts.
  • If you have walkie-talkies, use them if you must be separated after the storm or event – phones may not be working.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Folding shovel and axe to help you dig out.
Although most storms pass fairly quickly and you may not need all these items, they will become very valuable after the storm has passed. During the storm, cover family members with blankets and pillows to protect from debris.
When you are sure the storm has ended, be careful when exiting your room. There may be unexpected debris as well as rodents, snakes and insects that are not normally present. Never exit without shoes on. Watch for downed power lines and stay at least 30-feet away from any you encounter. Remember that water conducts electricity.
If it is night and you are confident there are no gas leaks or danger of further collapse, wait until there is light outside before leaving the immediate area. If you do smell gas or your home is unstable, take your 72-hour kit and leave the area. Listen to the radio for directions to shelters or other information to determine which areas are safe to evacuate to and which are not.
If you are in the center of a tornado or hurricane, nothing except a concrete safe room will completely protect you. If you are outside the center of the storm a safe haven may well save your life.
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Disaster Tip of the Week: Preparedness Considerations for People with Disabilities and Special Needs

Photo by: exfordy 
Like everyone else, people with disabilities and special needs need to prepare for disasters and the unexpected at home and in the work place. While the basic needs are the same as most individuals there will be some obvious differences depending on the needs of that specific person.
In the corporate world as I have worked as a consultant and spoken to others on this issue the preparedness level runs across an entire spectrum from the excellent, where people volunteer to help those with special needs to help them evacuate, to the legally questionable, "those people are on their own" attitude.
While I will not be addressing any of the workplace issues here, it is important to know that people with special needs, should be incorporated into your disaster planning. What I will be doing here is providing some basic advice for those with disabilities and special needs and for their family members who may also have concerns about preparedness issues.
First since everyone can start with the same basic preparedness needs here is an excellent checklist you can use for your emergency preparedness kit from Ready.gov It is in PDF format so it is easy for you to download and print out.
Next, start with the individual needs of the person, do they require more water? Odds are, they will for hygiene and sanitary purposes. Do they have special dietary needs, feeding tubes? These will require you to stock some extra items for these people in case of an emergency. People who take insulin which requires refrigeration also have concerns about power. These are just some small examples to get you thinking about deferent needs.
Here is a list from ready.gov which is quite useful to help you get started in planning for persons with disabilities:
  • Create a support network to help in an emergency.
  • Tell these people where you keep your emergency supplies.
  • Give one member of your support network a key to your house or apartment.
  • Contact your city or county government's emergency information management office. Many local offices keep lists of people with disabilities so they can be located quickly in a sudden emergency.
  • Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to help identify your disability.
  • If you are dependent on dialysis or other life sustaining treatment, know the location and availability of more than one facility.
  • Show others how to operate your wheelchair.
  • Know the size and weight of your wheelchair, in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported.
  • Encourage electronic payments for federal benefit recipients. Keep in mind a disaster can disrupt mail service for days or even weeks. For those who depend on the mail for their Social Security benefits, a difficult situation can become worse if they are evacuated or lose their mail service – as 85,000 check recipients learned after Hurricane Katrina. Switching to electronic payments is one simple, significant way people can protect themselves financially before disaster strikes. It also eliminates the risk of stolen checks.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury recommends two safer ways to get federal benefits:
    • Direct deposit to a checking or savings account is the best option for people with bank accounts. Federal benefit recipients can sign up by calling (800) 333-1795 or at www.GoDirect.org.
    • The Direct Express® prepaid debit card is designed as a safe and easy alternative to paper checks for people who don’t have a bank account. Sign up is easy – call toll-free at (877) 212-9991 or sign up online at www.USDirectExpress.com.
    Signing up for direct deposit or the Direct Express card is a simple but important step that can help protect your family’s access to funds in case the unthinkable were to happen. If you or those close to you are still receiving Social Security or other federal benefits by check, please consider switching to one of these safer, easier options today.
  • Additional Supplies for People with Disabilities:
    • Prescription medicines, list of medications including dosage, list of any allergies.
    • Extra eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries.
    • Extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen.
    • Keep a list of the style and serial number of medical devices.
    • Medical insurance and Medicare cards.
    • List of doctors, relatives or friends who should be notified if you are hurt.
Be sure to visit the website Disability Preparedness from DHS for more information and resources.
One last note if you have family at home on an important life sustaining device that requires power at all times make sure you communicate that with your local power provider. Once they know that you have someone in your home that is a high priority and that you need power returned ASAP when it is out they will work with you to restore your power quickly. They will try when possible to keep power running to your home in many cases when servicing the area, and may even provide additional assistance in some cases by providing a generator (though not all may do so). You also can often get a direct number to someone in the office as an emergency contact as well. If this is a real concern for you I also would recommend having your own generator ready to go at all times.

Dehydrating Basics (Lets Talk Taters!)

I was asked if I could explain the drying and rehydrating process.  This is my attempt to do so. The question was about potato's but most vegetables use the same process.  Blanching times will vary with different vegetables.         

When dehydrating potato's, there are several ways to do them.  You can slice them for uses like scalloped potato's.  You can dice them in small pieces and use them in many different things.  You can cut them into french fries as well. You can shred them and use them for hashbrowns. This part is up to you.  Peeling your potato's is optional- there are lots of vitamins and minerals in the skins . They look nicer peeled but, again, its up to you.
I will explain the sliced potato's here, but they are all done the same way.
Slice your potato's approximately 1/4" thick. Your pieces should be as uniform as you can make them. This is where a food processor or a slicer comes in handy.  I do mine by hand but that's because I don't have either of them!   While you are cutting your potato's, put on a big pot of lightly salted water and heat to boiling. 

Put your potato slices in a vegetable basket or a French fry basket and drop them in the boiling water. When they start to boil again, let them blanch for for 5-8 minutes.  Have a large bowl ready with ice water. Plunge them in the ice water and let them sit for 15 minutes or so. Then spread the potato slices out on paper towels and daub dry.
Another method you can use (I would suggest doing this with things like hashbrowns) is to steam blanch them.

Spray your racks with some vegetable spray and place the potato's as close as you can get them without having them touch.  They need air circulation around them.  Dry them until the potato's are translucent and brittle.  You should not be able to "bend" them.  Let the potato's cool down, remove them from the racks and store them in jars or baggies.  Try to keep as much air out as you can.  This is where my FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer comes in handy.  I like to put them in jars and vacuum out the air.

To rehydrate them,  place the dried potato's in a bowl or pan and cover with boiling water. Cover the bowl and let them sit for about 20 minutes or until re-hydrated completely.  Drain excess water and they are ready to use.

 You can dry just about anything.  Carrots, peas, sweet corn, green beans, cabbage, spinach, swiss chard etc. I also dry tomato's for use in soups and stews.  I like drying  green peppers, hot peppers, and onions for use later in the year when these things are out of season.
I have had problems with rehydrating green beans in the past and asked a true drying guru for some help.  She suggests blanching and then freezing the green beans before drying.  The freezing breaks down the cells so they will rehydrate better  otherwise, they will take a couple of hours to rehydrate.

Here are a few ideas for using some of your dehydrated vegetables. 

I like to do mixed veggies to use as soup starter.  Diced carrots and peas are good together. You can use dried sweet corn (ground up) and add it to flour when making cornbread.  Scalloped potato's or au gratin ones. Dried diced potato's make a great hash when mixed with leftover beef and dried onions.  Cabbage dices  and fried diced bacon and onions or leeks with bow tie noodles is good.  Sometimes I add dried tomato's as well.  How about cabbage soup with potato slices, carrots, and fried bacon?  Hmm, lets see.... pickled beet slices, gingered diced carrots, green pea and boiled egg salad.
Make white bread and roll it thin. Add rehydrated hamburger, carrots, peas, onions and line the bread and make a pinwheel. Let the bread rise and bake. Slice and cover with gravy made from  the rehydrating water.

The possibilities are endless.  So what are you waiting for? 

(thanks to Gen-IL Homesteader from the Illinois Prepers Network for asking about this- I hope I helped a little bit)

Waste not want not; Dandelion Jelly

With spring comes weeds. However the dandelion, although invasive, is a beneficial plant to your yard (helps worms). you can eat the leaves in your salads, or make wine, but a great way to use all those gorgeous little yellow heads, and keep a burst of spring around is to make
Dandelion Jelly

1 quart tightly packed ripe yellow Dandelion flowers
6 cups water
6 cups sugar
juice of one lemon
8 tablespoons Pectin

make sure your flowers have not been sprayed, pick and wash. remove the ends, and as much green as possible.

Place petals, water and lemon juice large heavy bottom pot, bring to a boil, then transfer to a bowl. Place a piece of waxed paper over top and refrigerate until morning.

Return to pot, and sugar and bring to a hard boil. Stirring occasionally. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool until hand able. Strain through a sieve, discarding petals.

Add pectin to the liquid and return to a boil for 5-10 minutes, until it begins to set.

Pour into hot sterile jars, and process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes.
Tastes a bit like honey

Have a recipe to share, why not post it in the Kansas State Forum.

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