How Many Calories Do You Need in Your Food Storage?

If you look at a lot of long-term food storage kits, you’ll see that they are determined by a daily calorie count. This is meant to be a baseline for you to determine your food storage needs.

How is the best way to determine how much food storage you and your family need?  Truly, the best way is to look at the personal needs of each family member, and then add them together to match up the best long-term kit.

Here’s a quick breakdown of daily caloric needs as determined by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (1). These are general requirements required to maintain weight. Of course, adjust according to your personal nutritional needs.

Infants/toddlers1000 calories/day Both male and female toddlers have the same caloric needs.

Young children1200-1400 calories/day – Again, male and females have the same caloric needs. The more active your child is, the more calories he/she needs.

Pre-pubescent BOYS – 1600- 1800 calories/day.  This is when boys’ nutritional needs start to become more than girls’.

Pre-pubescent GIRLS1400-1600 calories/day. The more active your daughter is, the more she will need.

set fruit and vegetables isolated on white

Pubescent and post-pubescent teenage BOYS 2000-2600 calories /day.  This is a time where nutrition needs vary. If your teenage boy eats excessively or has a high physical activity lifestyle, you may even want to store up to 3500 calories per day for him.

Pubescent and post-pubescent teenage GIRLS – 1800-2000 calories/day.  Even active girls generally don’t have the same caloric needs as their male counterparts. However, this is a time their brains and bodies are growing, requiring more calories than most adult women. It’s important to not skimp on a teen’s calories.

Young adult men age 21-40 2400 calories/day. Caloric needs of grown men are lower than when they are growing and developing. If you are a highly active male, you may need to add more calories.

Young adult women age 21-501800-2000 calories/day. During pregnancy/lactation, you will want to have 2200-2900 calories/day stored.

Adult men ages 41-60- 2200 calories/day. Activity levels and metabolism usually are lower than younger men, requiring fewer calories to sustain weight and nutrition.

Adult women ages 51 and older1600 calories/day. 

Adult men ages 41-602200 calories/day.

Adult men ages 60 and older- 2000 calories/day.

Again, these are general requirements. As you plan your emergency preparedness food, adjust to your family’s needs.

What is a Julian Date?

Good news! Food Insurance now carries hugely popular MREs. We’re just as excited as you are. MREs are a great addition to your food storage plan. However, with a 1-5 year expiration, you have to be on top of the manufacture dates, which can be fairly confusing if you don’t know the Julian dating system. Never fear, we’ve got you covered.

What is a Julian date? Julian dating is actually one of the oldest ways of keeping a calendar, dating centuries before we started our calendar system. While we’ve adopted a relatively young Gregorian calendar using years, months, and days, Julian dating uses only numbers.

Why would MRE manufacturers use Julian dates? Remember, MREs are originally made for the US military. The military uses the most efficient timekeeping methods. Think military time- 8am is 0800 and 4pm is 1600. Julian dating is similar to the continuous numerical time. It isn’t divided by months, but rather years and days. This is easier for programming the date stamp system.

Julian dates are 4 or 5 digit dates that that start with the last digit of the year and end with the corresponding number of the day of the year.

That doesn’t help? Okay, here’s a visual representation for you.  Our traditional expiration date looks like this: MM/DD/YYY.  January 1, 2018, looks like 01/01/2018.  The same Julian date looks like this: YYDDD.  January 1, 2018, is 18001. (The 18 for 2018 and the 001 is for the first day of the year.)  If you want to get more complicated, let’s try July 9, 2016.  The Julian date is 16191.  2016 was a leap year, making July 9th the 191st day of the year.

What if there are only 4 numbers on my MRE? That’s easy. That particular MRE distributor only uses the last digit of the year. So the Julian date 7115 was manufactured April 25, 2017.

Here’s an easy resource to compare your MRE Julian dates:

Julian dating is mostly used for MREs, but you can also see them with food storage dating. If you don’t see a traditional manufacture date, look for that 4-5 digit code. You’ll know exactly which date your food was manufactured.

Do You Have an Escape Route?

I live in a small community where the city struggles with collecting enough tax revenue to maintain the infrastructure, especially the roads.  Just recently, a bond was passed to address the terrible state of disrepair many of our roads have fallen into.  There were so many pot holes, cracks and uneven surfaces that many times one feels as if it would be a smoother ride if it was a dirt road.

Well, just a few weeks ago, the road repair began.  Orange cones appeared everywhere with road construction signs on almost every street.  Then the heavy equipment showed up and the process of tearing up the old roads in preparation of laying a new road base and a fresh layer of asphalt.  Then things began to get tricky.

You see, so many of the roads were being worked on at the same time that it created a real challenge to drive just about anywhere.  Then when they chocked down certain roads to one lane with flagmen stopping traffic every few minutes, things got really frustrating.  In an attempt to bypass much of this construction, I took the time to map out alternate routes that were longer in distance but much quicker in time.

Now everyone in the community agrees, these roads desperately needed to be fixed.  It’s just the inconvenience of not being able to use the roads for a period of time (since we’re all such impatient people), really gets under our skin at times.  I made the mistake the other day of not remembering my prior though out route change to avoid much of the construction and turned onto one of the most highly congested one lane roads under construction.  When I realized my mistake, I quickly looked around to see if I could make a U-turn to get out of there but no such luck – I was locked in.

I spent almost 20 minutes on a stretch of road that normally would take less than 3 minutes and I was ticked.  I was in a hurry with what I felt were important errands but the construction workers just didn’t seem to care.  They made me wait just as long as everyone else.

I think we’ve all been on roads where there was either construction or an accident or just far too many cars (I hate rush hour).  It can be really infuriating dealing with stop and go traffic and average speed limits of under 20 mph.  There’s no question, this can anger a lot of people and road rage can take an uptick in these situations.

I remember going to a huge 4th of July fireworks celebration at a university stadium some 20 miles away.  There were 60,000 attendees inside the stadium and another 30,000 outside the stadium.  We knew traffic and parking would be a nightmare so my wife and I decided to take my motorcycle.  My wife’s not a huge fan of riding on my bike, especially in traffic so I always try and drive a little more conservatively when she’s on board.

From previous years’ experience (when we drove a car to the event), I knew the worst time would be right after the event when everyone would be trying to get out of there.  We had been stuck in traffic for hours in previous years.  My plan this year was to avoid most of that by being able to drive on the shoulder passing all the cars stuck in grid lock.

What I didn’t expect is how some drivers would react to my plan.  Now keep in mind, I wasn’t driving very fast on the shoulder so drivers could see me coming.  There were those who were so upset about my passing everyone by, they actually would steer their cars over to the right blocking the shoulder.  I’m not sure why they felt they were personally be hurt by my passing them by, but nevertheless, there were several who tried to keep up from passing.

This of course was so very comforting to my wife – the thought of people trying to run us off the road.  Needless to say, it was the last time we rode my motorcycle to this event.  These experiences have caused me to reflect on the utter chaos that will exist should a mass evacuation be required or necessary.

The 1998 movie, “Deep Impact” comes to mind as I think about such potentially massive traffic gridlock.  A comet is on a collision course with the earth slated to strike in the Atlantic Ocean generating a 3,500 ft. high mega-tsunami.  Everyone is on the road trying to get to higher ground.  Problem is, there are so many on the road, traffic is at a complete standstill.  Tempers are flaring and desperate actions taken.  Unfortunately, I believe this scene could repeat itself in real life for many of us.

One of the most dramatic examples I personally experienced was related to hurricane Katrina.  A little more than a day before Katrina hit, I was in New Orleans and watched as they changed the traffic flow on all the freeways in the area.  It’s called contra-flow and the direction of the flow on all freeways was headed out of the New Orleans area.  Even though the vast majority of the residents of the New Orleans area did not evacuate, still the freeways were a mess!  I can’t imagine what it would have been like had EVERYONE tried to evacuate using the freeways.

So you may be asking yourself, “What’s the solution?”  There isn’t a blanket solution for every circumstance but there are some common sense precautions one can take to greatly reduce the risk of having to deal with such difficult and potentially life-threating situations.

First – Take the time now to map out several different routes out of your area using less traveled roads.  You should have at least three escape routes planned out.  Using Google Maps and Google Earth, it should be fairly simple to map these routes.  You then must drive them.  Make notes of any potential bottle necks or concerns that may have you choosing another escape route.

Second – Make sure you always have enough fuel in your car.  My wife has the bad habit of running her car down to the empty mark before she lets me know she needs gas.  I try and help her avoid this issue by always filling her car whenever I drive it.  Ultimately, we should drive off the top 1/4 of a tank, always filling up when you get to 3/4 of a tank.  This is not always possible but I seldom let my tanks drop below 1/2 (unless my wife’s driving).

I also feel it’s important to keep at least 5 gallons of gas in a red plastic gas can in the garage that could easily be thrown in the trunk in a bug-out scenario.  Better safe than sorry.  Back in August, a friend and I decided to drive up to Idaho for the solar eclipse.  Knowing there would be tens of thousands of others also driving up there and not knowing what the traffic conditions would be, especially right after the eclipse, I decided to take two 5-gallon gas cans with us.  We ended up not needing to use them but it really gave us that extra sense of security that if things got dicey, we’d be able to make it out.

Remember, the last thing you want is to be stuck in traffic with an impending disaster looming.  Please take the time now to ensure you have your escape routes and fuel secured and I promise you will sleep better.

Sanitation in an Emergency

Do you remember returning from your family camping trip smelling like Big Foot? I bet that first hot shower felt amazing, washing away all the dirt and grime. Perhaps you even needed a second shower to get the campfire smell out of your hair. Imagine being out in the elements and never being able to get clean? Even worse, imagine an emergency situation where the spread of filth and disease is unpredictable because there isn’t sufficient sanitation to contain it. That need to get clean after a camping trip underscores the need to make personal hygiene a part of your emergency preparedness.

When Would You Need a Sanitation Station? 
During Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, one of the biggest problems was the human waste that piled up because the city’s sewage system was knocked out. It does take a category 5 hurricane to cause a sanitation emergency, though.  Overheated power grids can cut power to sewage/water stations. Storms, sabotage, and other factors can also affect our sewer systems.  At that point, even your home can become a bacterial nightmare.

That’s okay. Your emergency preparedness plan includes your sanitation needs. Because you’ve prepared, your family can stay clean and disease-free. Here are some tips to get your sanitation station going.

Staying Clean with Limited Water
Of course, washing your hands is one of the most important parts of personal hygiene. This is when your water storage comes in handy.  A  water container with a spigot is a great asset in your preparedness plan. The water container can be used over a sink or bucket to keep your flow of water going and your hands clean.

If you don’t have access to clean water, there are options.  Keep wet wipes (preferably antibacterial), hand sanitizer and paper towels on hand. Remember that household cleaning wipes (like Lysol or Clorox) are NOT safe for skin.

Keep Surfaces Clean 
Speaking of household cleaning wipes, these should be part of your sanitation preparedness plan.  Surfaces in toilet and eating areas will be susceptible to germs spreading. Premoistened disinfecting wipes are a great way to kill germs and prevent bugs/rodents from infecting your space.

Toilet Needs
Part of a good sanitation plan is understanding toilet needs. Since toilet areas are breeding ground for germs, you’ll want to make sure you have a specified area for human waste, as far away as possible from food and living areas.  If you are sheltering at home, you can use your established toilets, just line the inside of the bowl with a trash bag or disposable bathroom bag. (Use a drop or two of bleach after each use to minimize bacterial growth. Having portable toilets, disposable bathroom bags (preferably with biodegradable gel/powder to break down waste), and a handwashing station will help contain germs to one area.
(Note- Find out what your city ordinances regarding human waste disposal are before you put full bags in the trash.)

Your Sanitation Kit
Make sure you have the items you need in your 72-hour kit to stay sanitary and sane.

  • Water Container with spigot
  • Wet Wipes
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Soap
  • Body Wipes
  • 5 gallon bucket toilet
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toilet bags with biodegradable gel
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss (Cleanpaste)
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Lotion
  • Baking Soda
  • Lip balm
  • Travel Towel
  • Nail Clippers
  • Body Powder
  • Comb
  • Hair Brush
  • Hair Ties
  • Straight Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Small Scissors
  • Feminine Hygiene
  • Contact Solution
  • Extra Pair of Glasses in Case
  • Contact Case

What else do you keep in your sanitation kit?

Image thanks to My Honey’s Place

Your Guide to Water Storage

Water storage is a major component of your emergency preparedness plan.  It can be a daunting task, saving 1 gallon of water per day per person,  plus whatever you use to cook and clean with.  However, like all things related to emergency preparedness, if you work one step at a time, you can be ready for all your water needs.

When preserving water there are a few things you need to consider:

Water Containers Choosing your water container is one of the most important parts of water preservation. You should look at different sizes that will work with the different water needs. For instance:

Large water tanks – Large water storage tanks are great for general water storage. Large water barrels range in size from 30 to 500 gallon
Pros: Using a siphon, you can easily extract the water for drinking, bathing, washing, etc. They are also usually more cost effective, especially if you shop during a water container sale.
Cons: These water tanks can be more difficult to clean and rotate your water storage. They also require more room than smaller containers.

250-Gallon Water Container


5-gallon and smaller – Another good option for water storage is the 5-gallon stackable water container.
Pros: These 5 gallon water jugs are easy to clean, easy to rotate, and easy to use. They are stackable so they can be inserted into most storage spaces.
Cons- Your water supply is disrupted faster than if you use a larger container.

Water bottles/Water Pouches – Water bottles/pouches are good for individual drinking needs.
Pros: This is the most convenient way to get your water. You can monitor exactly how much you are drinking, take your water with you, etc.  Water pouches are sturdy and packable and have a 5-year shelf life.
Cons: While most bottles are now BPA free, the thin plastic is not as strong as the larger containers, causing leaking risks. Also, the clear plastic exposes the water to heat and light, increasing the risk of mold/bacteria growth.  You can’t add preserver without breaking the seals of each bottle.

When choosing water containers, remember:
– Only store in food-grade, BPA-free containers.
– If using glass containers, make sure they haven’t had any other liquid inside previously.
– Never use containers that have stored chemicals, oils, etc.
– If using stainless steel, don’t use a water preserver as the chemical will break down the metal over time.

So, what water containers do you need? Really, a combination of water containers is ideal for water storage emergency preparedness. Larger containers are good for washing, cleaning, and drinking. Medium water containers are perfect for easy-access water needs. Smaller water bottles are convenient for drinking and on-the-spot cleaning.

Water Preservers –  There are only a couple water preservation methods proven safe for long-term storage.
Bleach- Also known as sodium hypochlorite, bleach is a common way to preserve water.
Pros: Bleach truly does clean water, and keeps it clean for long periods of time. It’s also easily accessible.
Cons: Store-bought bleach is sold in a fairly high sodium hypochlorite/water ratio, making it very hard to know what concentration is safe for human consumption. It’s best for storing in containers used for washing, but not for drinking.
Water Preserver – Also sodium hypochlorite or bleach.
Pros: Bottled water preserver is best for consumable water because the chemical/water concentration is regulated and is consumable in the recommended ratios.
Cons: Water preserver isn’t as easy to get as bleach.  It isn’t at most stores, so you need to get it through emergency preparedness sites. (We recommend Food Insurance, of course.)

IF you choose to not use a water preserver, be prepared to rotate your water and clean out your container every 6-12 months.

Storage and Rotation– Water never goes bad. We’ve had the same water supply since the beginning of time. However, water can grow bacteria and mold grow in it over time.  Bleach and water preserver allows you to minimize rotation for up to 5 years, depending on storage conditions. Store your water in a cool, dark room away from direct sunlight for optimal results.  If you don’t have a cool, dark room, that’s okay. You can obviously still store your water. You just need to rotate it more regularly. If you store outside, rotate it every year, even with a water preserver. (If you store it outside without a preserver, check it every few months.) If it’s inside, but in a lit area, check it every year, but you can probably go longer. The key is to check it regularly.

Do you prefer larger or smaller water containers? Where have you found is the best place for you to store water?

Cooking During a Blackout

The power has just gone out. You find the flashlight and light some candles. You realize its dinner time and the kids are hungry, now what? Going out to dinner might not be an option if the power is out in the whole city. Crackers and a jar of peanut butter might be okay for one night, but what if the power outage lasts for longer than that? Power outages can happen at any time. They could last a few hours or even a few days.

Order of Operations  It is important to start by using what is in your refrigerator first. When the power goes out, the fridge will be able to keep food cool for 24-48 hours. Don’t open your fridge more than you absolutely have to. Know what you are looking for, open and close the fridge quickly and efficiently. If the power is still out, eat what is in the freezer next. Food will remain frozen for 2-3 days as long as the door stays shut.

Alternate Cooking Methods  Our ancestors have used fire to cook food for millions of years. Learn from their ingenuity and adjust your own cooking methods.

Fire Starters Fire has come a long way in the last several years. Products like EasyFire make building and maintaining a fire as easy as ever.  Using nontoxic inert minerals, paraffin wax, and recycled wood, you can create more than enough heat to safely cook any meal. Use a firepit, fireplace, or other safe, ventilated container to maintain an easy fire.

Cooking Outdoors A functional and fun trend is the backyard firepit. This is a great area for cooking during a blackout. Take a note from the Boy Scouts of America and make a good old fashioned tin foil dinner. A tin foil dinner can contain just about anything. Take a sheet of aluminum foil and fill it with meat and potatoes. Add a few herbs and some salt and pepper. Roll the edges of the foil together and toss it in the fire for a while. Bury the tin foil dinner in a bed of hot coals so it cooks all the way through. Check to see if it is done, if not roll it back up and put it back on the fire until everything is tender and cooked.

Barbeques, grills, and camp stoves are ideal for the 4th of July, they are also the most obvious ways to cook during a power outage. Since they run on propane or charcoal they won’t be affected by the blackout. DO NOT grill indoors on a charcoal or gas grill. It will produce lethal carbon monoxide.

Emergency Stove Candle or Stove-in-a-Can stoves use wax hydrocarbon fuel. Chafing dishes use the same principle to keep food warm. You’ve probably seen the blue flames under trays at parties or other catered events. These little cans are great for heating up food during an emergency. They won’t be able to cook a full course meal, but they are able to heat up a can of beans just fine.

Use Your Food Storage People sometimes protect their emergency food storage, assuming that a bigger emergency is around the corner. In reality, events like blackouts are exactly when you should use your food storage. It provides convenient, easy meal prep.  For instance, MREs have built-in MRE heaters to cook without needing any other cooking method.  If you have more freeze-dried food, that’s almost as easy. Freeze-dried meals only require hot water to produce a full, delicious meal.

Use Your Car Your car engine gets hot enough to heat food. Simply wrap your food in several layers of aluminum foil, open your hood and place the foil on the engine. Close the hood and turn on your car. (PLEASE make sure your garage door is open so you have plenty of ventilation.) Cook your food until the internal temperature is safe (usually 160 degrees for meat). You may need to flip the foil back and forth to ensure even cooking.

Alternative Cooking Methods 

  • Backyard BBQ
  • Camp Stove
  • Firepit
  • Fireplace
  • Chafing Dish
  • Sterno Stove
  • Self-heating MREs
  • Just-add-water freeze-dried-foods

Do you have any advice for cooking without power? We’d love to hear from you.


Russia Prepares for Nuclear War with the U.S.

Russia Prepares for Nuclear War With U.S., Instructing Citizens to Buy Water and Gas Masks

By Cristina Maza

Russian state-owned television is urging the country’s residents to stock their bunkers with water and basic foodstuffs because Moscow could go to war with Washington.

Warning that the potential conflict between the two superpowers would be “catastrophic,” an anchor for Russia’s Vesti 24 showed off shelves of food, recommending that people buy salt, oatmeal and other products that can last a long time on the shelves. Powdered milk last five years while sugar and rice can last up to eight years, the newscaster explained before showing videos of pasta cooking in a bomb shelter.

The channel’s newscasters also displayed charts explaining how much water people need to store for drinking, washing their face and hands, and preparing food every day—and how that amount changes depending on the temperature of a person’s bomb shelter. The program also recommended that people stock up on gas masks and read guides on how to survive nuclear war.

The program aired just one day after sources told Newsweekthat “there is a major war scare” in Moscow, as President Donald Trump prepares to strike Syria in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons against civilians over the weekend. The Trump administration has said it believes Syria’s Russian-backed President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the attacks, and it plans to ensure that Assad pays the price. Russian military forces have responded by saying that Moscow would meet fire with fire and said that it will shoot down any U.S. missiles.

If there is a strike by the Americans, then the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired,” warned Alexander Zasypkin, Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, during an interview on Tuesday with a television station linked to Hezbollah.

The increasingly bellicose rhetoric has sparked fears that a conflict could break out between two nuclear-armed superpowers.
On Wednesday morning, Trump took to Twitter to issue a stark warning to Russia, which he accused of partnering with “a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!


Know Your Limits

I qualified for a learner’s permit when I was 14 years old and received my driver’s license when I turned 15.  My dad had purchased a brand new 1969 Ford Bronco and it was his pride and joy.  Moving beyond our family station wagon, we now officially had a SUV rather than trying to make the old trusty station wagon act like a SUV.  I had learned how to drive with our automatic transmission station wagon so the manual transmission Bronco posed a new, exciting challenge.  Four-wheel drive was a new thing for me and I just couldn’t get enough of testing the limits of what a 4X4 could do.

My younger brother and I were always coming up with new and bizarre adventures that would put our dad’s Bronco to the test.  The Bronco was powered by a 302 V8 with three on the tree.  For those who don’t recognize that terminology, if was a 3 speed manual transmission with the shifter mounted on the steering column.  It had both a high and low range four-wheel drive shifter on the floor that was often temperamental.  If everything wasn’t just right, it was almost impossible to shift into four-wheel drive or move from high to low.

One of our creative adventures was to drive out to the mesa where there were several old, abandoned cars.  We would hitch a tow chain between the Bronco and the old vehicles, put the Bronco into four wheel drive and pull the old car around the mesa, usually with my brother in the driver’s seat of the old car.  We all got a real kick out of this and the cloud of dust we would leave was always huge (seeing as these cars seldom had any tires or wheels).

On one of these adventures, we found an old car that was partially buried in the dirt and sand.  This didn’t worry us because we knew we had four-wheel drive.  We hitched the chain up to the vehicle and I jumped back into the Bronco while my brother climbed into the old car.  As I shifted into four-wheel drive I had a thought I should probably shift into four-wheel low since the old car was partially buried.

I pushed the buttons in on the shifter handle and was able to shift into four-wheel high but I could not get it to go into four-wheel low.  I tried and tried but no dice so I made the decision to try and make it work in high. I dropped the tranny shifter into first gear, revved up the motor and began to let out the clutch.  I was just barely able to move the old car before the motor stalled.  I started it up again and revved the motor even more and began to do something very stupid.  I began to slip the clutch trying to artificially create even a lower gear.

It worked.  I was able to pull the old car out from being partially buried but because there was still a lot of sand and dirt inside the car, I had to keep slipping the clutch to keep the Bronco going.  As I looked back to see how my brother was doing, I saw him climbing out the driver’s side window swinging his arms and yelling at me to stop.  I didn’t know what the problem was so I stopped and jumped out of the Bronco.  It was only then I could understand what my brother was yelling – I was on fire!

I had been slipping the clutch so much that it created enough heat to ignite the clutch plates.  Flames were coming up from underneath the Bronco so we started throwing dirt up underneath the Bronco until the flames were extinguished.  I jumped back in the Bronco and depressed the clutch pedal and there was nothing there.  I began to sweat thinking about what I would tell my dad.

I’m grateful to this day my dad was somewhat understanding.  I think in spite of it all, even though he wouldn’t openly admit it, he got a kick out of our creative adventures.  Not only did I learn the lesson of compassion, but I also began to understand how important it is to understand the limits of your equipment and make sure you have the right tools for the job.

Having the right tools and knowing the limits of your equipment are essential for you and your family’s safety sake.  I took my wife and two small kids snowmobiling one winter thinking we would have a great afternoon.  I had a special snowmobile trailer/sled where we set the kids and my wife and I rode on the snowmobile.  After driving for about an hour on a remote, snowy mountain road, we stopped to have a picnic lunch in the snow.  I spread out a tarp and we had a great time having lunch and playing in the snow.

When it was time to turn around and head back, I got the kids loaded up in the sled and my wife and I climbed on the snowmobile ready to go.  I grabbed the pull starter and gave it a good yank and POP, the pull started rope broke.  I couldn’t believe it – really?!  After unloading the kids, I spread a tarp beside the snowmobile, lifted the hood and went to work fixing the pull starter.  I guess I should rephrase that – I attempted to go to work fixing the pull starter.  I quickly realized the only tools I had with me was a small crescent wrench, a small Philips screwdriver and a rusty cheap pair of pliers.  Not the tools I needed!  I tried for about 30 minutes to take off the pull starter with the pitiful tools I had but no dice – it just wasn’t going to happen.

Now what?  We’re miles away from civilization, the kids are starting to get cold and we’re dead in the water (so to speak).  I ended up making a fire for the kids while we hoped and prayed another snowmobiler would come by.  I knew there was no way the kids would be able to hike out and I was not about to leave them and my wife alone while I hiked out.  In a few hours it would be getting dark and I really started to pray hard that someone would come by.

Fortunately, our prayers were answered.  About an hour later two guys came by on their snowmobiles and I flagged them down.  They were properly prepared with all the tools I needed to take the pull starter off, repair it and reinstall it.  After just a couple of pulls, the motor was purring and I knew we’d make it home safe and sound.  Had those two snowmobilers not taken the same trail that day, the end of our Saturday afternoon adventure could have been significantly different, possibly even tragic.

Please take the time now to ensure you know the limits of your equipment and make sure you always have the correct and necessary tools in the event things break down.  This type of preparation can literally be lifesaving.

Do You Know Where Your Emergency Shut-Off Valves Are?

Do not wait until disaster strikes to try and find the emergency shut-off valves in your house. Part of your emergency preparedness plan should be to  familiarize yourself with the set-up of your home. There are several different setups for home utilities. If you have trouble finding your shut-off valves, contact your local plumber or electrician for help. Getting a bit of help now could prevent a major bill in the future.

Emergency shut-off valves are usually located in the dark, forgotten corners of the home. Be sure you can find them in a hurry, keep a flashlight around just in case. Emergencies don’t send a warning. Keep in mind many home repairs also require gas, water, and/or electricity to shut-off first. Knowing where the valves are in your home will help you complete all of those DIY weekend warrior projects you have planned.

Gas  – Gas leaks could cause a deadly explosion. It is vital you know how to shut off the gas in an emergency. Most homes have a ball valve somewhere on the gas line, typically near where the gas line enters the house. If the handle is parallel to the pipe the gas is flowing. Turn the handle to close the valve and shut-off the flow of gas. New homes have high-pressure lines. Look for a flexible copper pipe usually near the furnace, the shut-off valve should be there. Older homes might not have a gas shut-off valve inside of the house. There should be a street-side shut-off near the meter. If the rectangular nub is parallel gas is flowing, use a wrench to turn the nub a 90 degrees to shut the valve. Most gas companies don’t want you to operate the street-side valve so only use it during an emergency, if you’ve been given permission. Using it without instruction from your gas company can cause extreme damage.  Contact your gas company for assistance.

Water – Leaking water pipes can cause a lot of damage to a home. Make sure you know where your main water supply shut-off valve is. If you live in a house with a basement or crawl space the valve is typically on a wall near the front of the house. If your home is on a cement slab look for the valve near the water heater or in the garage. Turn the valve clockwise to turn off the water flow. If you can’t find a shut-off valve inside the house, check for a buried box near the curb. This is the water meter box, the residential water supply for your house. You’ll need a meter key, a long T shaped rod, to turn it off. A crescent wrench and screwdriver can be used in place of a meter key if you don’t have one. Turn the valve clockwise to shut off water to the house. It is important to release the pressure from the pipes, run both the hot and cold water until the water flow stops.

Electricity – An electric shock can be deadly. Make sure the power is off before starting home improvements that involve wiring. Locate the main breaker panel, typically a grey rectangular box. Look in the garage, laundry, or next to the furnace. In older homes, the circuit breaker or fuse box might be on the exterior of the home. Larger homes may have multiple boxes, make sure you can locate all of them. If you are having trouble finding it contact an electrician for help. To shut off power to the whole house locate the main power switch at the top of the box, and pull them to the off position. Fuses are round and screw into sockets. Circuit breakers will have rows of switches for individual areas of the house. You can shut the power off in one area of the house for repairs and still have power in the house.


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Compression-Only CPR

Recent research has shown that compression-only CPR or hands-only is just as effective as traditional CPR, if not more so. New statistics from The Journal of the American Medical Association show that bystanders who perform compression-only CPR instead of conventional CPR do, in fact, save more lives. Adults who experience cardiac arrest are 60% more likely to survive if they receive compression-only CPR instead of traditional CPR or no CPR at all. Hands-only CPR is more beneficial because it eliminates the need to interrupt chest compressions with rescue breathing, which can inhibit blood flow.

Hands-only CPR is easy to learn and remember. During a five-year public awareness campaign which focused on hands-only CPR,  rates of compression-only CPR increased from 19.6 percent to 75.9 percent. Traditional CPR courses focus on the ratio of chest compressions to breaths, cycles of CPR per minute, and time between breaths. That is a lot of information to remember and think about during an emergency situation. Compression-only CPR is much easier to remember and perform. Untrained individuals can use chest compressions to save a life.

Compression-only CPR is widely accepted. Those without medical experience are more willing to perform hands-only CPR since it doesn’t require mouth-to-mouth contact. Rescue breathing masks are available, but you might not always have one with you when you are faced with an emergency situation. Hands-only CPR eliminates the need for breathing masks. Since only 6 percent of people who experience cardiac arrest outside of the hospital survive, teaching the public about compression-only CPR could double or even triple their chances of survival.

Hands-Only CPR

  • Call 911
  • Get directly over the chest. Remove clothing with buttons or zippers for better access to the chest area
  • Start chest compressions
  • Place the heel of one hand in the center of the chest. Place the other hand on top of the first interlacing the fingers together.
  • Push hard and fast in the center of the chest. Compress the chest 100 to 120 times a minute.
  • Sing Staying Alive by the Bee Gees to keep the rhythm of compressions going. This song has a 103 beat-per-minute rhythm, helping you maintain the correct compression rate until you can be relieved.
  • Maintain compressions until medical help comes. If needed, switch off between other people to maintain energy.