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.


Economic Collapse – So Very Close

The main reason an economic collapse is a big priority is because it could happen at any time, and it seems like no one even cares anymore that we are trillions in debt.

Politicians don’t care about the national debt, they care about getting reelected, and if you think they are going to be the ones who say “we need to make huge spending cuts” you’re kidding yourself. They would never get reelected because the people in this entitled society that we’ve become would have none of it.

First off, I have to say that I am no economist by any stretch of the imagination. I understand that government economics and budgeting and home budgeting are completely different. With that being said, I am not so naive to think that this business as usual approach, and massive government overspending is just “how government works”, Regardless what they would like is to believe.

According to some experts, when factoring in unfunded liabilities like Social Security, Medicare, government pension plans and Obamacare, estimates put the real national debt somewhere around $200 trillion.

Let me got off my soap box here and just say, at some point, something has to give. How that looks, when it happens, and what the repercussions are no one knows. One thing is certain though, if we continue on this path, something is bound to give.

Not preparing for a potential economic collapse could be catastrophic.  Everything we’ve worked for and saved over our lifetimes could be gone in a flash.

Preparing for an economic collapse should be one of our highest priorities because it encompasses every area of preparedness. As you prepare for a economic collapse, you are inevitably preparing for other disaster scenarios.

Most disasters would be short lived, and you would know fairly quickly whether or not you were going to get through it. A collapse could be something that requires a longer term preparedness plan. How much you prepare depends on your situation, but this could last anywhere from a few months to a few years.

The most important thing is to stay vigilant and pay attention. Watch what is going on in Venezuela right now, and pay attention to how the government is reacting, how the people are reacting, and what the major issues are.

Take a few minutes and watch this video.  It’s hard to argue with the facts.  We cannot say we’ve not been warned!


My Friend – the Station Wagon

I have very fond memories growing up of a special member of our family.  Sure, I grew up with five sisters and two brothers but there was another family member that each of us grew to love and appreciate and was the “vehicle” through which many wonderful and exciting memories were created.  Yes, I’m talking about our nine passenger family station wagon.  We had several versions of this wonderful machine and my dad seemed to favor the Dodge brand.

In the 60’s, this was our SUV – we used our family station wagon for everything.  My dad installed a trailer hitch so we could tow a utility trailer to haul both gear and people (people just on dirt roads).

We owned a cabin in the mountains of New Mexico and one of our traditions was to drive up a steep, rough road near our cabin that led to an abandoned turquoise mine.  Dad would not only load up the station wagon but also pull our trailer full of kids.  It’s an absolute miracle he didn’t burn up the transmission.  Keep in mind; this was during an era where seat belts were seldom if ever used, hauling family and friends in an open trailer in the mountains was normal and my favorite, sitting outside the door windows or out the back window while driving on dirt roads was the best!  We’d hold on to the luggage rack and sing and tell jokes while soaking in the beautiful scenery.

It was the car I learned how to drive, the car I used for my first date, and the car that carried us to exotic places unknown on our family trips.

Sitting in the front seat between my parents was the most cherished and highly sought after position of all.  Not only did you get the full force of the air conditioner, but you didn’t have to fight with your siblings over a myriad of petty issues.

One of the unique features of these station wagons was the folding rear seat.  When it wasn’t needed, it could be folded down to provide more room to haul things.  When needed, it would be lifted up but unlike the other two bench seats, this seat faced backwards.

With the back window rolled down, this provided hours of entertainment for us where we could hang our feet out the window, sing songs, play games and dangle army men on fishing line out the back window (if you’ve seen the movie Napoleon Dynamite, this will make more sense).

There was one uncomfortable side effect of sitting in the back seat.  If we were driving around town and came to a stoplight, it was always embarrassing and uncomfortable to look at the driver and passengers in the car behind us.  Eye contact was always avoided, unless it was a trucker where we would try and get him to blow his horn by making the fisted pull-down movement with our arms.  It was always a relief when we started moving again and there was distance between us and the spectators following us.

Our station wagon was also a university – a place of learning valuable lessons I would rely on throughout my life.  You see, almost every Saturday morning, my dad would spend time tuning up, repairing or cleaning our family station wagon.  He would always include me in that process and teach me valuable lessons about vehicle maintenance.  He would let me do much of the work.  I used to love to use a star wrench to spin off the lug nuts when rotating the tires.

My dad was always prepared for anything that might go wrong on our trips.  I remember a burlap water bag hanging from the front grill in case the radiator overheated.  He had a tool kit with him to repair just about anything and we always felt safe and confidant Dad would take care of us.

I remember helping Dad change the oil, rotate the tires, change the spark plugs and replace the brakes.  Seldom would my dad take the station wagon into a mechanic.  If something needed fixing, it was put on the list for the Saturday’s chores.  Being taught at an early age how to handle most minor repairs gave me great confidence growing up.  I was never afraid to try and fix just about anything.

I have over the years acquired the title of Mr. Fixit primarily because I’m not afraid to try and fix anything.  From cars to computers; I enjoy tearing them apart and figuring them out.  It wasn’t until my twenties that I learned I was really different in that regard.  Many of my friends had no idea how an engine worked or how to replace brakes.  I was really surprised that everyone didn’t know these things.  It did give me a feeling of superiority and prestige especially when others would make reference that “Taylor can fix it”.  It’s now more common to hear, “Grandpa can fix anything” as my grand-kids bring me items of theirs that need repairing.

I believe this is a very important aspect of preparedness.  We need to be self-reliant in every sense.  We can’t plan on having others helping us when something breaks or doesn’t function properly.

Can you repair a torn canvas or a worn out shoe.  Can you replace a broken fan belt or patch a tire?  Do you know how to correctly sharpen a knife or an axe? Do you know what to do if your generator won’t start or how to sharpen or repair a chain saw?  A true hopeless feeling can come from being stranded in some fashion and not knowing how to resolve the situation.

With the countless number of YouTube videos showing how to fix everything from your washing machine to fixing a leaking faucet or replacing the alternator on your car, we really don’t have any excuse not to learn how to become our own version of Mr. Fixit.  Experience is a great teacher and with the help of a virtual dad online, there is no excuse not to become far more handy than you are now.

Your family deserves to feel secure and protected in any situation.  Now is the time to become familiar with and equipped with the knowledge and necessary tools.  Have some basic tools for both carpentry and mechanical work and repair.  A decision I made early on was to maintain a good supply and assortment of nuts and bolts, metal and wood screws and nails.  Seldom does a repair job take place where I don’t dip into my fastener supply.

A multi-tipped screwdriver, a small and large crescent wrench, needle nose and regular pliers, channel locks and a set of metric and US standard wrenches would be a good start.  Add to that a clawed hammer, a hand wood saw and metal hack saw.  Ask for tools for your birthday and Christmas.  Never stop learning how things function and don’t be afraid to take things apart in an attempt to fix them.  You may ruin them in the process but you will have learned valuable information on what to avoid in the future.

In addition, take the time to teach your kids that just because something doesn’t work doesn’t mean you throw it away.  I love the saying, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”  Teaching frugality, how to take care of our possessions and how to repair them will go a long way in teaching our families to become self-reliant.

Are You at Risk of Being Homeless?

There was an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times recently entitled “L.A.’s homelessness surged 75% in six years”.  According to the article, “The number of those living in the streets and shelters of the city of L.A. and most of the county surged 75% — to roughly 55,000 from about 32,000 — in the last six years. (Including Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach, which conduct their own homeless counts, the total is nearly 58,000.)”

Three out of four homeless people — 41,000 — live in cars, campers, tents and lean-tos, by far the biggest single group of unsheltered people in any U.S. city.  There are plans to utilize city owned parking lots as locations for tent cities for the homeless.  This should help with the congestion problems on the streets and in parks where groups of homeless individuals congregate together for companionship and security.

I had an interesting experience with a family I met with years ago to assist them with updating their food storage.  They related an experience with me of how their food storage helped them save their home from foreclosure.   I was intrigued on how that was possible and was very interested to hear their story.

There was a major steel plant near their city where this gentleman worked for many years.  It was a time when cheap Japanese steel was being dumped on the US market and US steel makers were screaming foul and insisting the US government impose strong tariffs against foreign steel imports in an attempt to keep the playing field level.

As the government often operates, there was a lot of feet dragging, political posturing and red tape that caused many US steel plants to take drastic measures to keep from going out of business.  As a result, there were many lay-offs and furloughs extended by steel plants that aided in maintaining solvency until the government finally stepped in to save the steel industry.

As a result, this gentleman lost his job with the expressed hope by his employer that he would be re-hired as soon as the cheap import issue was resolved.  During this waiting period, unemployment benefits were applied for and eventually granted which provided a meager survival income for the family.  Unfortunately, that income wasn’t sufficient to cover all the family needs as well as their mortgage payment.

This family was very well prepared with food storage – they had been setting food aside for years never really knowing what might cause a need to dip into their supplies.  Little did they know their food storage would provide that extra level of support they needed to keep their heads above water during this trying time.

They decided to rely solely on their food storage for groceries and only go to the store for necessary paper goods, cleaning supplies and hygiene needs.  As a result, the family saved over $800 per month in food costs which allowed them to put their unemployment compensation towards their mortgage, utilities and insurance.  By relying on their food storage, this family was never put in the terrible position of potentially losing their home due to unemployment.

This experience was a powerful reminder to me of how important it is to follow the example of our forefathers who understood the importance of putting food aside in the event of a rainy day.  They didn’t have access to unemployment compensation when things got tough, they had to rely on their own resources and their wisdom in preparing for the time when they may have to rely of what they had stored.

I think it’s very easy to take our current life-style for granted.  We have to admit, we have things pretty easy.  We don’t have to produce or kill our own food to survive, just make it to the grocery store.  We often put more emphasis and importance of the less essential items in life – a nicer or larger home, new cars, recreational vehicles, trips – you get the idea.  I think all of us have at least three basic priorities in common – a home, a car and food.  But, if push came to shove, which would you prefer to go without for 60 days?  A home?  A car?  Food?

As important as a home is, it’s not essential for survival.  Some type of shelter is important but that could come from something as basic as a tent.  It would be extremely challenging for a family to live in a tent, especially during the winter, but it could be done.

A car is really a luxury in many countries around the world.  Here in the U.S., most of us may believe it is essential – we couldn’t survive without that critical transportation.  But, once again, if circumstances dictated, we could indeed survive without a car.  Even if we had to walk everywhere we needed to go, life would go on and we might just get in better shape as a result.  If things were tough enough, the car could be used as a shelter.

Now let’s consider food for a minute.  It doesn’t take long to realize that going without food for 60 days simply is not an option.  It would be impossible – we would not survive.  If fact, food is the most valuable commodity we could own as it’s one of the only ones that provide lifesaving sustenance.

Well, if this really is true, food being the most important of the three, why don’t we spend our time, energy and resources in securing enough of it to provide for our families in time of need?

We do spend our hard-earned money on procuring life insurance in the event of an untimely death.  We purchase health insurance to cover the costs of extreme illness or injury.  We secure homeowners insurance to protect our homes against fire, flood, earthquakes or other potential damaging occurrences.  We acquire auto insurance to cover the costs of accidents and injury.  But strangely enough, far too many of us neglect the most important of all – food insurance in the event of a natural disaster, economic down-turns, unemployment, sickness of deaths, war or terrorist attacks, or a combination of all of the above.

I had a close relative pass away without any life insurance and it was tragic to witness the overwhelming grief of his family and see how it was compounded by the additional financial stress that was caused by not only the ongoing lack of accustomed income, but all of the associated expenses related to his death, funeral and burial.  I remember having an overpowering feeling – almost a strong urgency to increase my personal life insurance just to make sure my wife and kids never had to go through what my relatives experienced.

In a like manner, even though I’ve been in the preparedness industry for well over 30 years, I cannot stop adding to my supplies knowing the time will come I’ll be grateful I did.