Sunday, November 27, 2011

Preserving and Proving Your Identity and Worth in an Emergency

There are four areas of documents that you should consider when planning your 72 hour supplies. Those are a record of material possessions in the home, identification, cash and irreplaceable family mementos. Following a brief explanation of each of these subjects is a complete list of documents you should consider storing in your 72 hour kit

Taking an Inventory of Your Home
In the event of a natural disaster or fire, you may find your home and everything in it badly damaged or destroyed. This is traumatic enough for any family, but if they don't have a photographic record of their possessions, they may find a battle for reimbursement with the insurance company even more horrific.

Barry and Lynette Crockett, co-authors of 72-Hour Family Emergency Preparedness Checklist, Family Emergency Plan, and A Year's Supply urge families use one of the following methods to keep track of items in the home:

  • Make a list of every item in your home and try to include serial or identification numbers, when and where purchased, the receipt and its estimated value.
  • Use a tape recorder and make an audio list
  • Supplement a written list with photographs of furnishings and other valuables in their normal setting in the home
  • Videotape a tour of your home and garage

After you have taken inventory, store one copy with your 72 hour supplies and then give a back-up copy with a relative or family friend (preferably in another town). Or, you could store the back-up copy in a safe deposit box; just make sure you keep a copy of the key in your 72 hour kit.

It's important that you make your inventory list as complete and well documented as possible. This will ensure a fast and fair settlement with the insurance company.

In an emergency situation, being able to prove who you are is critical for receiving help, both from government agencies and insurance companies. Some of the documents you should have copies of in your 72 hour kit include:

  • Social Security cards and/or numbers for each of your family members
  • Drivers license
  • Passport
  • Birth certificates

Again, it would be wise to have these in water-tight bags or containers and to also have another copy in a safe deposit box or in another town.

After a natural disaster such as an earthquake, hurricane or flood, many of the convenient ways we spend and get money no longer exist. Automatic teller machines, credit card networks, even the banks themselves are often inoperable. It is then that towns become "cash only" societies for goods your family may desperately need.

Having enough cash on hand to get you through the first 72 hours following a disaster will bring peace of mind to you and your family. Here are a few suggestions of storing money:
  • $100 - $200 in cash, small bills
  • Rolls of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies
  • Checking, savings and credit card numbers

Irreplaceable Family Mementos
Some of the worst things a family can lose in a disaster are those that can't be replaced: photo albums, family histories, journals, the list could go on. Chances are not everything that your family cherishes will fit into your 72 hour kit to be taken with you at a moments notice. There are some alternatives, however, that will bring you peace of mind in an emergency.
  • Make copies of photographs, pedigrees and personal histories and store them with a trusted relative or friend in another town
  • Store them in single location--in a closet or on a bookshelf near an exit, so if needed, they could be taken out with your 72 hour supplies
  • Store family mementos in a safe deposit box

A Complete List of Vital Documents 
                 -as advised by Barry and Lynette Crockett in their book, Family Emergency Plan

  • Household and place of business inventory (recorded using photographs, videotape, or stored on a database manager computer program).
  • Important information and records stored on computer back-up software
  • Duplicates of insurance policies (life, health, auto, home, hazard, etc.)
  • Mortgage documents
  • Real estate deeds, investments
  • Property settlement agreements
  • Title papers
  • Motor vehicle titles and bill of sale, serial or VIN numbers, driver's license numbers, registration, and plate numbers (including boats, RVs, etc.)
  • Wills and trusts
  • Safe deposit box: location, number, inventory of contents, location of key, authorized persons to access box
  • Investment portfolio
  • Record of hard assets (precious metals, gems, collectibles, etc.) jewelry appraisals
  • Net worth statement
  • Stocks, bonds and other securities
  • Accounts receivable information
  • Purchase contracts
  • Other contracts
  • Bank loan agreements, other obligations
  • Bank, checking, savings account numbers or certificates
  • Credit card accounts (company and account numbers
  • Permanent tax records
  • Important guarantees, warranties and sales receipts
  • Voter registration
  • Family health and medical records
  • Employee benefits information
  • Letter of instruction in case of death
  • Funeral and burial plans (pre-arranged)
  • Name, address, phone number of attorney, accountant, executor, trustees, stockbroker and insurance agents
  • Photocopy of documents carried in wallet or purse
  • Location of spare house and car keys
  • Birth, marriage, and death certificates
  • Divorce and separation decrees
  • Adoption and custody decrees
  • Citizenship papers
  • Military papers
  • Passports, visas
  • Social security card (or card numbers)
  • School transcripts, diplomas
  • Patents, copyrights
  • Original manuscripts
  • Employment records
  • Membership cards or records
  • Important church records
  • Cherished family recipes
  • Cherished family Photos, slides, videotapes, etc.
  • Important books
  • Journals, diaries, scrapbooks, etc.
  • Person and family histories,
  • Genealogies
 --Above article from BePrepared.Com - Emergency Essentials

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Winter Weather Preparedness

Be Prepared...Before the Storm Strikes

At home and at work have available:
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (Public Alert) receiver and portable radio
  • Extra food and water
  • Extra medicine and baby items
  • First-aid supplies
  • Heating fuel
  • Emergency heating source
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors
In vehicles (cars, trucks, snowmobiles):
  • Fully check and winterize your vehicle
  • Carry a winter storm survival kit: blankets/sleeping bags, flashlight, first-aid kit, knife, non-perishable food, extra clothing, a large empty can and plastic cover with tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes, a smaller can and water-proof matches to melt snow for drinking water, sand, shovel, windshield scraper, tool kit, tow rope, booster cables, water container, and road maps
  • Keep your gas tank near full
  • Carry a cell phone
  • Let someone know your itinerary

If caught in a Winter Storm

If caught or stranded in a winter storm, use the safety measures outlined below.
At Home or in a Building
  • Stay inside and when using alternative heat from a fireplace, wood stove, space heater, etc., use fire safeguards and ventilate properly
  • If you have no heat:
    • Close off unneeded rooms
    • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors
    • Cover windows at night
  • Eat and drink as food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat and fluids prevent dehydration
  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing and remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration, and subsequent chill
In a Car or Truck
  • Stay in your vehicle as disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold
  • Run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat:
    • To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, open the window a little for fresh air, making sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked
  • Make yourself visible to rescuers by: turning on your dome light at night when running the engine; tying a colored cloth (preferably red) to your vehicle to make it more visible; and raising the hood to indicate trouble after the snow stops falling
  • Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm
  • Find shelter and try to stay dry, covering all exposed parts of the body
  • If no shelter: prepare a lean-to, windbreak, or snow cave for protection from the wind and build a fire for heat and to attract attention

Winter Storm Driving Considerations

Motorists must remember to adjust driving behaviors during winter weather. When the first snowstorms hit the valley, a higher number of crashes are observed, because people just aren't used to adjusting their driving behaviors for winter conditions. Snow, sleet and ice on the road require drivers to be more diligent, attentive, and cautious. Winter weather conditions can turn small mistakes into serious problems. Please keep the following winter safety driving measures in mind this winter.
Monitor road conditions before departing:
  • Utah Department of Transportation CommuterLink at or via phone at 511 (within Utah) and 866-511-UTAH (out of state)
Drive for the conditions:
  • Slow down
  • Allow extra braking distance
  • Do not tailgate
Allow snowplow operators to do their job:
  • Maintain a safe distance...if salt is hitting your vehicle when following a snowplow, you are too close
  • Avoid passing snowplows on a roadway that is only one lane in each direction
Remain alert for sudden road condition changes:
  • Bridges and overpasses often become icy first
  • Snow and blowing snow can produce sudden restrictions in visibility
Information provided by the National Weather Service.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Emergency Alert System Test - November 9th at 12:00 MST

FEMA wants everyone to know about the upcoming Emergency Alert System (EAS) test and how it may impact them.  Please share this message with your communities and though your social networks.

Click on this link for more information:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Safely Stored Fuel Is a Preparedness Essential

In even minor emergency situations, like a power outage, you need to have a source of fuel, so it's definitely an essential of storage. These are the many options you have for fuel storage.
The type of fuel you store for heating, lighting and cooking in an emergency will vary according to your living situation. Gaining knowledge about the various options is helpful in order to make wise choices.

While a family living in a home with a large yard may have room for a good supply of firewood for a wood stove or fireplace, apartment dwellers may have no such option and must find other sources of fuel to heat or cook. If you can store firewood, there are some guidelines to keep in mind. Rotten wood crumbles, smokes, and gives off very little heat. Moisture encourages rot, so you’ll need to keep your woodpile enclosed or covered to the best of your ability. Some people construct woodsheds, store their wood on a covered patio or carport, or at the least, cover it with a tarp or heavy plastic. Be aware that mice, spiders and some snakes are very fond of nesting in woodpiles, so always wear gloves and be alert when collecting an armload of wood! Some firewood needs to dry and age, referred to as seasoning, for about a year to be suitable for burning. Freshly cut wood still has sap in it, so it will burn at a low temperature and give off creosote, a black oily residue, which can clog your chimney. A general rule is that hardwood burns longer than softwood. Hardwood, such as apple, ash, beech, oak, hickory, and maple, is more readily available in the eastern United States, while softwood, such as alder, aspen, elm, cedar, cottonwood, pine, spruce and redwood, are more available in the west. Woods that fall between the two and burn acceptably include white birch, hackberry, larch, and swamp maple.

Wood is most often sold by the cord or fraction of a cord. A cord is 128 cubic feet (4’X 4’X 8’). How long would a cord of firewood last? This is completely dependent upon a several variables: Hardwood or softwood? Dry or damp? Seasoned or green? Humid or dry weather? How many hours a day do you need to have a fire? How many fireplaces? Are you cooking on a large wood stove, or a small Volcano stove? The size of the stove will determine the amount and the size of the wood stored. If you are storing wood for frequent, long-term usage or for emergency heat and cooking, you’ll want to order it by the cord or pickup load rather than purchasing the shrink-wrapped bundles from the supermarket. The supermarket option would be prohibitively pricey, as would pressed wood logs. However, if you have a wood burning fireplace with no outdoor storage space for firewood, pressed wood logs are an option. In that case, try to buy your logs by the case at a discount store rather than one package at a time at the corner store.

If you have the time, energy and skill to cut and split firewood you may want to let people in your community know that you’re willing to haul away the wood from trees they’re having removed. You may be able to find someone willing to do this for a portion of the haul. State parks will often allow some dead wood to be harvested for a fee. Check with your state parks commission. Road crews and utility companies sometimes clear roadsides and leave wood to be picked up. Check to see if this is a possibility in your area. In either case, be sure to get permission! You will probably need a couple of strong helpers along with the right equipment to do this type of a project.

If you chance to subscribe to a newspaper, you might want to recycle those papers by turning them into logs for your fireplace. There are many ways people recommend doing this and many who value its worth but there are also those who discount its effectiveness. You may want to search the internet for ideas.

Coal burns hotter than wood, but requires a brick-lined fireplace or a stove specifically designed for coal. In the case of either wood or coal, you must have a way to deal with the ashes that are produced. Ashes must be completely cold before being disposed of, as even a tiny spark, if you are not careful, can cause a fire to flare up. Coal is messy to handle and to clean up after, and if you don’t know just how to load, shake and rake it; your fire will go out. It is more difficult to start burning than wood. Like wood, hard coal is available in the eastern states and softer coal in the west. Also similarly, hard coal burns hotter and longer than soft, and any coal supply needs to be kept dry, preferably in bins, to be useful. Coal can be used in wood stoves, and takes up less space than firewood for the amount of heat produced.

Like regular coal, charcoal must be kept dry to remain useful. One suggestion is to store it in covered metal cans such as trash cans, in a covered place. Never attempt to cook with charcoal in your house, as it consumes oxygen, although you may be able to use it in the middle of a well-ventilated garage. Keep some form of a safe fire-starter on hand as well, as charcoal can sometimes be stubborn about igniting.

Canned Heat
This product is a gelled fuel made from petroleum or alcohol. It comes in a small can and is stable to store and use indoors, but remember to use in a well ventilated area. It won’t spill, lights easily with a match, and is a dependable fuel for cooking or warming food. Most brands need to be kept tightly closed when not in use, as the fuel will evaporate quickly when exposed to the air.

You might consider the excellent product “Heat Cell” fuel, which burns clean and odorless up to nine hours as a food warmer or approximately four hours at cooking temperature—much longer than similar products. Easily used with a flat-fold stove, it achieves maximum temperature quicker than other fuels, contains no alcohol, does not evaporate, and is totally biodegradable with no harmful emissions or pollutants. Unlike other canned cooking fuels, it can be shipped by air transportation.

Heat Tablets
For a cooking method that takes up very little storage space or is easily portable, heat tablets may be the way to go. First used by the military, these are made of three different chemicals—trioxane, hexamine or methenamine (Hexamethylenetetramine). They light readily and can be used as fire-starters or to fuel small stoves to heat water or soup. Two hexamine tablets, for example, will bring a cup of liquid to a boil in minutes, and will continue to burn for twelve to fifteen minutes. They should be used outdoors or in well-ventilated areas (especially Trioxane), and care should be used not to burn yourself by getting too close to the invisible flame as it is extremely hot. Protect your stove from the wind if possible. If you find yourself without a stove, you can create a small one by cleaning a tuna can and punching a few holes in the side of it for an oxygen supply. Set the can on a level, fireproof surface, burn a tablet or two in it, and place your pan on top of the can. These tablets are shelf-stable and will last for a long time. They do not evaporate, except for Trioxane, which will do so if there is even a pin-prick in its packaging.

Propane can be purchased in small 16.4 ounce cylinders about the size of a lunchbox thermos bottle, or in the familiar five-gallon (20 lb-propane weighs about 4 lbs per gallon) tanks typically used with outdoor grills. Like all liquid fuels, do not store propane inside your home. Propane works well to power outdoor cook stoves or barbecue grills. Propane provides about 91,000 BTUs per gallon. A small two burner propane stove in which each unit has a 12,500 BTU burner (25,000 BTUs total) will use up a 16.4 ounce cylinder in almost a half hour at full power using both burners. It will take about 18 hours to deplete a 5 gallon (20# tank) with both burners using the full 25,000 BTUs. Obviously, most people do not use their stoves at full power so a 20# tank would last most people anywhere up to or maybe beyond a hundred hours of cooking.

Also pressurized in canisters, butane is safe to use, burns completely with no residue, smoke or odors, and can be used indoors in a ventilated area. It provides about 84,800 BTUs per gallon so it would be close to the same time usage as propane. Butane’s disadvantage is that it does not work well in cold temperatures, so you will want a back-up plan if you live in a potential cold climate. Some companies have created a mixture of butane, isobutane and propane to help alleviate this concern.

Before you buy a kerosene lantern, stove or space-heater, check with your local building code authorities or fire department to see if their use is permitted in your community. Today’s kerosene appliances for cooking and heating are safe and reliable. Purchase the kind that automatically shuts off if it is tipped over or malfunctions in any way. Be sure that you use clear, certified 1-K grade kerosene. Always keep kerosene in containers specifically designed and dedicated to storing kerosene. DO NOT mix kerosene and gasoline or try to store or use them interchangeably as they are not at all the same thing, and combining even small amounts can greatly increase the risk of fire or explosion. Kerosene is traditionally stored in blue containers. When heating with kerosene (or any fuel), keep a window open an inch or so to dilute the small amount of carbon monoxide emitted by the burning kerosene to a totally safe level.

Lamp Oil
A clear-burning, smokeless refined liquid paraffin, lamp oil may be stored in the container it came in, or in your lamp to be ready for use. An ounce of lamp oil will last approximately five hours. While it may not provide the ambience of a “hurricane” lamp, the 100-hour Candle also burns liquid paraffin and is an excellent, affordable, safe product for providing dependable light for a long period of time.

White Gas
Also known as camping fuel or by the familiar brand name Coleman Fuel, white gas is unleaded gasoline that has been cleaned and modified to work well in camping equipment. It is one-third the cost of propane cylinders, but the downside for some people is that you need to pour it into tanks attached to your equipment and then pump up the pressure. It also produces more carbon monoxide emissions than most other fuels, so must be used only outdoors.

Normally gasoline that is kept at home for use in lawnmowers, generators, and other tools or appliances is kept in a red container to distinguish it from any other substance. Gasoline’s shelf life is short, generally only a month or two, so you’ll want to rotate your supply and use it while fresh. For this reason, it’s not reasonable to store more than you’re likely to need in a month or two. One way to do this is to empty your red can of gasoline into your car’s tank and refill the can every month or two. Gasoline is extremely volatile, use it with much caution and only for your automobile or other appropriate unit that was designed to use it.

Matches and Lighters
Wooden matches are much more reliable than small book matches as they are sturdier and don’t absorb moisture as readily. Even better are the fireplace matches with long “stems,” which are safer to use for lighting wood fires, charcoal or appliances. Keep them in a tightly-closed container and they will last for years—or purchase a supply of windproof/waterproof matches. These are designed to light in adverse conditions.

Lighters vary in their usefulness. The long-barreled butane lighters are good for igniting most things (other than lanterns with very small openings), and some of them can be refilled, but cigarette lighters are not as useful, as there’s no way of directing the flame downward and it will burn back toward your fingers. Emergency Essentials carries several fire starter devices, including Fired Up emergency fuel and fire starter. Two cups of this granulated product will burn for about half an hour, and the product has a thirty-year shelf-life.

The best advice on storing fuels is to know your substance and how to care for it, and to treat anything flammable with great respect. Anything flammable should be stored in a red container. This lets service authorities know that the contents could be dangerous if exposed to certain conditions such as high temperature, fire, etc.

Fuel is a powerful, essential resource, especially in an emergency. Follow any owners manual instructions and the above precautions and they will help you be both safe and prepared.

Article from LDS Living - Emergency Essentials - October 4, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Not All Barrels Are Built the Same

Did you know that a water container that holds less than 15 gallons is considered a jug, not a barrel? It's time to learn more about the best ways to store some of your most vital storage – water.

Water storage containers vary in their size, color, shape, versatility, type of material and quality. The most commonly found barrels sizes are 15, 30 and 55 gallon in capacity. Water containers that are smaller than 15 gallons are usually considered jugs not barrels. There are three criteria to consider when purchasing water storage containers.

It is recommended by preparedness experts to have at least 14 gallons of water stored per person. This provides one gallon of water a day for two weeks. This would give a person 64 ounces of drinking water and 64 ounces for cooking and light sanitation. A 15 gallon water barrel provides one person with this minimum amount. A 30 gallon water barrel provides this basic amount for two and a 55 gallon water barrel for four.

Most people would think that blue would indicate water and it generally does. You may want to make your barrel indicating “Water” so in case of a fire or similar natural disaster, emergency personnel know that water is being stored in it and not a flammable material. Gasoline and other fuel should only be stored in red containers. The blue barrel’s dark color also restricts light and helps prevent algae growth. If your water container is light in color, be sure to store it in a dark location, away from light.

Water barrels should be high in quality, offering ultimate reliability and integrity. Manufactured with prime resin and FDA approved high molecular weight high density polyethylene (HMWHDP) is strongly recommended. These barrels are BPA free and UV coated to prevent light penetration. They are also thicker than other barrels on the market. A thicker barrel reduces the possibility of warping, cracking and deterioration over time.

As a reminder, it is recommended not to store your filled water barrel directly on cement. It is wise to use an insulating barrier, such as wood, between the barrel and cement. A barrier that allows breathing is ideal to prevent mold, mildew and bacteria growth.

It is recommended to rotate your water annually (using a drinking water safe hose) unless a water additive is used. Purchasing a quality water barrel is a wise investment. When choosing water storage containers, remember that not all barrels are built the same.

Article from LDS Living - Emergency Essentials - September 27, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

EP - Seychelle Water Filtration Bottles

Drinking water is essential for survival in an emergency and in every day life.  While attending the Self Reliance fair held at the South Town Expo Center last month, I came across a product that incorporate a water filtration system into a 28oz water bottle.

The company that makes the product is called Seychelle and their website is  They offer several different styles and sizes of water filtration systems and a couple of options on levels of filtration.

One concern I had was if you used the bottle for a couple of days (like camping, or an emergency) and then didn't use it for a year, would the contaminants grow in the filter and it become unusable?  

From their website:

Most Seychelle filters deliver up to 100 gallons of great-tasting, clean water before they need to be changed. This is equal to up to 757 half liters of bottled water! The time to change any filter is when the water flow becomes greatly diminished, and it is difficult to squeeze it through the filter bottle.
The filters should not be used with salt water.

Seychelle filters have an indefinite shelf life. For prolonged storage, follow these simple steps:
  1. Fill the bottle with chlorinated water made by mixing half tsp of chlorine with one US gallon of water. Run this through the system and then rinse and flush with filtered water.
  2. Allow the bottle/filter assembly to dry overnight unassembled.
  3. Re-assemble the bottle/filter.
You may now store the product for any length of time.

I would encourage you to review their entire website and compare products with others similar.  I picked up a couple of these to throw in my family 72hr kits and will also look to purchasing an extra advanced filter for each bottle to have on hand.  If your source of water is questionable in any way, this bottle can provide you with 100 gallons of water at 99.99 percent filtration of pollutants.  

Prices vary online from $27 to $37 for the one shown.  I did find the bottle for $22 sold by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at their distribution center.  I believe it comes with the standard water filter.