Functional Friday: Preparedness Project - Make a List

I love camping!  I know many of you have less enthusiasm about it.  I always encourage my non-camping friends to come out camping with me because, of course, I think I do it well.  But I believe there are a few keys to my camping success.

1) Great weather - I certainly can't control this, but when the weather goes wrong, I know when to pack it in and go home (or at least to go shopping).
2) Great Accommodations- A good tent and sleeping bag will go a long way toward a comfortable stay and a good night's sleep.  A warm fire doesn't hurt either.
3) Great Location - Picking the right spot in personal and requires some experience.  When will the sun hit your tent? Where will the rain water run through?  Is there a level spot for the tent?
4) Great Gear - If your matches, hot dog fork, or flashlight don't work when you need them, I assure you that frustration will set in.
5) THE LIST - This is the clincher.  I have this organized and formatted camping list that I edit and print every time we go out.

Each trip I edit THE LIST, which includes anything that I might routinely include on a typical trip.  After I print a copy, in preparation for a trip, I mark through any items I don't plan to take.  I make notes for extra items I might add.  And I assemble our camping supplies.  Using my tried and true list, I know that I won't forget critical fun saving, headache saving, or life saving items.  Mark them off the list and put them in the car.  When I return home, I make any permanent changes and save THE LIST for the next trip.

At Everyday Providence, we want to help you get prepared.  If you are reading these posts, you already have some degree of interest in "preparing for the best" in your life.  Get a notebook and get started.  (THE LIST that I take camping started as a page in a notebook with checks and scratches and notes in the margin.) I have learned that much of preparedness takes place in the thinking and planning stage anyway.  Once you start thinking about what you want to do you won't be able to help getting started.  If it is all you do this year, start your lists.  Think things through.  Make a plan.  We'll help you know how to complete those plans as we go along.

Week-end Preparedness Project
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 ☐  Grab a notebook and a pen/pencil.  (You can scratch this onto the back of used envelopes or
      type it into a spreadsheet, if you like.)
 ☐  Make a list of supplies, projects, or ideas you would like to complete for you own 
 ☐  Add to your list as you go.
 ☐  Organize your lists as they grow.
 ☐  Divide your lists by location or topic.
 ☐  Mark items that you have, items that you want, items that you need.
 ☐  Put the list where you can find it when you think of an idea to write down or when you have a 
      moment to implement an idea.

    Preparedness at Night

    Yesterday, we learned that Indonesia had a devastating earthquake at night.  Once upon a time, we had a small earthquake as well.  At 3:00 am.  In the past couple of months we’ve had many tornado warnings (actual sightings) in our area, all after we’d gone to bed, all alerted by the community siren.  And this past week, we've had strong and violent winds... at night.  This made me really think about preparedness while we sleep.  I’d argue it’s the single place where we spend the most time every week, so it makes sense to have a plan.  Here’s mine:
    • Every night, next to the bed, I keep my purse with basic essentials in it – keys, wallet, ID, cash, etc.  My cell phone is often charging, but it’s charging in my bedroom.
    • I wear pajamas. Reasonable ones. This may be a no brainer, but if the smoke alarm goes off in the middle of the night, you don’t want your attire to keep you from doing what you need to do. At least, keep clothes or a robe very handy.  Also keep sensible shoes at hand.
    •  Keep the floors clear.  If you need to make a quick exit, you may not have the luxury of parting the sea of toys, magazines, or laundry in the living room.
    I’ve planned out for specific emergencies we might face at night:
    • Tornado?  We have some extra clothing and bedding in the basement in addition to normal emergency supplies.  An extra pair of glasses.  I can see well enough to get downstairs, but once I’m there, it would be nice to watch the television report.  Our go bags are in another part of the house, so we have some duplicate items (flashlights, radio, etc. down there)
    • Earthquake?  I also keep a pair of shoes next to the bed.  There could be broken glass and other hazards on the floor.
    • Fire/CO Poisoning?  I’ve thought out egress routes and have items nearby heavy enough to break a window for fresh air or escape. A fire extinguisher in the bedroom is not a bad idea. You should have one in the same room with every home exit and/or heating unit (furnace, water heater, stove, fireplace, space heater, etc.)
    • Power outage?  A flashlight next to the bed is a must.

    These ideas might help you bridge the gap between peaceful slumber and your normal emergency preparations.  And a middle of the night emergency is when you’ll always be thankful for well-stocked supplies, a half tank of gas, and extra cash because the store, gas station and bank are closed.

    Bread in a Can

    I'll admit it, I'm obsessed.  Every time I go shopping I'm always looking for new items to store in my pantry that will serve me in a pinch or a disaster.  I found a fun one this week.  (I know, I'm weird!)  

    Brown Bread IN A CAN!  This product originates from colonial New England where they made this whole grain (wheat, rye, and corn) and molasses rich bread.  The bread was traditionally steamed in a mold (can) in a kettle in the fireplace. Colonial cooks could not bake bread since most settlers didn't have an oven in their home.  The sweet bread often contained raisins, since dried fruit would be available year round. (I bought my bread without, though.)

    Serve this with some baked beans (My kids love baked beans!) and you have an authentic New England meal whether you're revisiting 1776 or enjoying a 2010 tradition.  The beauty of this meal is that you can make steamed brown bread and Boston baked beans from scratch for a delicious, healthy meal.  Or you can eat in minutes (or in an emergency) with these shelf-stable products.

    Do you have ideas for interesting shelf stable meals?

    Functional Friday: Preparedness Project - Daylight Savings Time Checks

    Have you started some emergency preparations? A stash of extra food and water? An emergency evacuation bag? An extra $20 in your glove compartment? First, give yourself a pat on the back. Then, mark your calendar for November 7th. That's the day, this year, when Daylight Savings Time ends.

    It’s a great time to review the preparations that you’ve already made and make any seasonal updates.

    - Inspect First Aid Kits for expiration dates, ensure that nothing has spilled and compromised that box of bandaids.
    - Review your Emergency Food for expiration dates. (Plan to eat or consider donating any items that are approaching their expiration.)
    - Review your Evacuation Bag emergency food. While you’re unpacking everything, inventory it. Write down the item description, expiration, calories, protein and fat. (Next time, you can just pull out the list and buy appropriate replacement items before you unpack anything.)
    - Review your emergency water supply and replace expired water.
    - Replace your home’s smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector batteries. Test them while you’re at it. This time of year is when most people start turning on their heat, electric blankets, fireplaces, etc.
    - Have your furnace and fireplace inspected for any hazards.
    - Switch out clothing in your emergency bags to ensure you have cold weather clothes and accessories (hats, gloves, scarves, chemical hand warmers).
    - Perform garden winterizing.
    - Switch out any storm windows from screens to glass. You’ll be glad your house is retaining as much heat as possible in the event of a winter storm power outage.
    - Make sure you have rock salt, a good shovel, and ice scrapers.
    - Make sure your snow blower (or snow shovel) is in good condition and gassed up.
    - Get ready to enjoy the season knowing that you’re prepared.
    - And don’t forget to reset your clocks!

    Week-end Preparedness Project

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     ☐  First Aid Kit check.
     ☐  Check dates and rotate emergency food (home, work, evacuation bag).
     ☐  Check stored water supply.
     ☐  Replace smoke and CO detector batteries.
     ☐  Clean, check, inspect furnace and vents.
     ☐  Check cold weather gear in car.
     ☐  Home and garden winterizing.
     ☐  Check snow and ice removal equipment.
     ☐  Set your clock back an hour on November 7.

      Trick-or-Treat Alternatives

      Do you feel like giving out Halloween candy is more of a trick than a treat? Consider handing out something that your trick-or-treaters will find fun, but might bring to mind safety, as well.

      Whistle – Besides annoying Mom and Dad, whistles are often used by backpackers and hikers who are lost. A whistle can be heard much further away than a yell, and it’s much less fatiguing.

      Flashlight keychain – You don’t need an emergency to find this handy, especially as trick-or-treat night gets dark and there are lots of kiddos out walking around.

      Chemical Glow Stick – or necklace or bracelet. This is a fun way for kiddos to be easily seen.

      Reflective stickers – Put these on a treat bag or back pack or shoes to be highly visible.

      Safety Bookmarks – Fire Prevention, Bike Safety, etc. Kids who are just learning to read will find these particularly interesting, regardless of the topic.

      Functional Friday: Preparedness Project - Evacuation Bag

      If you followed the news this past month, you know that there have been evacuations in central Wisconsin due to flooding (and failure of a 100+ year old levee), in Utah due to wildfires, and along the Atlantic Coast due to hurricanes and tropical storms. Other recent events that caused evacuations have been train derailments, chemical spills, and industrial plant fires. Many of these incidents had no loss of life and evacuation plans contributed to that. Years of studying emergency management, learning from past disasters and planning ahead has given us some insight into good emergency preparedness, and being prepared for an evacuation event is part of that.

      A few weeks ago, we talked about a power outage in your home and “sheltering in place”. But what if you need to leave? What would you take with you? Of course, people and safety come first. In any house fire, for example, you and your family need to evacuate immediately, leaving everything behind if necessary. But what if you had 5 to 15 minutes to get out? Having a bag packed with the basics would give you more time to gather up the sentimental and valuable items. (Remember that your personal safety is paramount. If the situation is life threatening, DO NOT stop for pictures, antiques, or anything.) Here are some ideas for a “go bag”.

      - Sturdy bag, preferably a back pack that will give you both hands free
      - Complete change of clothes with shoes and a hooded sweatshirt
      - Full set of keys to your house and vehicles as well as emergency keys to a family or friend’s house
      - Cash – for a meal, a hotel stay, gasoline, phone call. Small bills and change are best.
      - Ready-to-eat Food (3 days recommended) & Water (as much as you can reasonably carry)
      - Prepaid phone card
      - Cell phone charger
      - First Aid Kit
      - Flashlight with 2 full sets of batteries
      - Pocket knife
      - Hand-crank radio
      - Firestarter (matches, lighter, other)
      - Emergency Mylar Blanket
      - Copies of important documents (ID, credit cards, insurance policies, birth certificates, etc.)
      - Hygiene/toiletry essentials
      - Special needs – infant diapers, formula, bottles, medications

      Everyone's bag may contain a different assortment of items.  Think of what you'd like to take with you to a hotel stay, plus what you need in a power outage, and consider a few survival rules (shelter, fire, water).  Start your list now.  Tweak your list and your bag as you go.  We'll continue to add information and ideas for your evacuation bag (or "go-bag"), so start one this week-end and let it build.

      Week-end Preparedness Project

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       1 bee1 bee1 bee(depending on what you have already)

       ☐  Get a bag (duffle, tote, or backpack - one for each family member)
       ☐  Collect one set of clothes and hoodie for each bag (pack for the coldest)
       ☐  Buy some shelf stable food and snacks to put in bag (tuna, soup, crackers)
       ☐  Include 2 liter/quart bottles of water (minimum)
       ☐  Make your own list and add other items as you collect them
       ☐  Be certain to include first aid and 2+ weeks of medications
       ☐  Copy documents (licenses, insurance, credit cards, prescriptions, etc.)
       ☐ The most important part of this project is starting it!  You can finish later!