Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

10 Steps To Prepare For a Blizzard

I am certain that there are many folks in the Chicago area right now who are hoping and praying that the current weather forecast is incorrect. The forecast for the next few days there is downright nasty. Even for mid-westerners who are used to cruddy winter weather, this storm may bring some surprises. CNN meteorologist Sean Morris says that “this storm could be one of the top ten biggest snow storms ever in the city.”

I know people panic in these situations. The idea of being without heat and electricity can be scary, as can the idea of trying to drive across town on roads that are literal sheets of ice. But as I always say, it is best to be proactive and prepared, not panicked. Here are 10 basic essentials to being prepared for a snow storm:

(1) The most important thing to prepare for is a power outage. With the heavy snow fall and strong winds that are common in blizzards, it is not unlikely that you will lose power. If your water supply depends on an electric pump, stock up on bottled water. Make sure you have a hand-held (not electric) can opener, a battery-operated radio or television, and extra batteries. Place candles around your house in places where they can be safely lit and not knocked over. Stock up on blankets, thermal underwear, matches or lighters, and cleansing supplies such as baby wipes. If you have a back-up generator, make sure you have enough gas to run it. Place these all in an obvious spot, in case it is night-time when your power goes out.

(2) Gather up your family’s warmest winter clothes. Pack a bag of thermals, gloves, hats, and other winter clothes for each member in your family. Place these bags in a safe, obvious spot. Again, you want to be able to easily find them if it’s dark out when you lose power.

(3) Do not plan to drive anywhere. Even if you have a SUV or other vehicle with 4-wheel drive, it is not a good idea to travel in a blizzard. A white out may occur at any time. Even if you trust your own ability to drive in a blizzard, you cannot trust everyone around you.

(4) If you must drive, be prepared in case you get stranded in your car. Before leaving your house, stock your car with bottled water, snacks, and blankets. Place these all inside your car, not in your trunk. Dress as warmly as possible. If you get stuck in a white out, pull over to the side of the road and turn off your engine until conditions improve. It may seem like a good idea to keep your engine on to keep the heat running, but carbon monoxide can build up inside your car and is poisonous.

(5) Stock up on at least 1 week’s worth of any essential medications. If your power is out, it will probably also be out at the pharmacy down the street. Replenish your first aid kit, if needed.

(6) Close all of your curtains, and cover drafts around windows and doors. This will help to keep warmth in your house in the event that the heat shuts off.

(7) Make sure you have an adequate supply of nutritious non-perishable survival foods. Canned beans, chicken, and fish are all good sources of protein that do not need to be cooked. Powdered milk is a basic essential. Fortified dry cereals are a good option, as are preserved fruits and vegetables. Beware of high sugar protein bars and other processed foods that claim to be healthy but contain high fructose corn syrup and other junk.

(8) Stay indoors, and keep your kids indoors. They may beg you to go outside, because it’s boring to be cooped up. But kids are very susceptible to frostbite. Plus, ice and snow drifts present hidden dangers. Stay safe by staying inside.

(9) Charge your cellphone battery. Then use it in case of emergency only. Even if phone lines are down, you can still use your cell phone.

(10) Gather up all of your snow shovels, scrapers and other snow removal tools. Keep them in a mud room, by your back door, or in another spot adjacent to your house. Essentially, you want to be able to access them if you are snowed in.


What Would You Do Without Medicine?


There are lots of preppers out there who have done an excellent job of accumulating an appropriate and adequate survival food and goods supply. They have saved heirloom seeds, they have stored dry goods properly, they have accumulated basic supplies like a water filter, shovels, plastic bags, and wire. But here is a life necessity that is easy to forget about, or overlook: medicine.

If T.S.H.T.F, what will you and your family do about medicine? Because the truth is, even if you have a supply of medicine saved, those items do expire.  In a crisis, you will absolutely not be able to count on conventional drugs, such as those used for diabetes, chronic pain, asthma, and hypertension, to be available. Now consider this- it’s not just prescription drugs, but over the counter things that you rely on, like Tylenol, aspirin, Tums, Pepto Bismol, and DayQuil. What will you do when these things are not available?

I realize that it is more than likely that you, along with every person in your family, take at least one prescription or over the counter drug every day. If you and your family are totally drug- free, then that is wonderful. Wonderful and unusual, with pharmaceuticals being the largest and most profitable industry in the world.

Of course you know what I am going to say, but I would like to strongly encourage you to start looking into alternatives to your perceptions now, while you still can. Homeopathy is a very real and reliable practice, as is herbology. I feel very strongly that everything that has been invented by major drug companies, Mother Nature came up with first. The Earth can supply us with everything we need to cure our ailments. Well, except perhaps for birth control pills. You should probably look into an alternate form of prophylactic if you wish to remain sexually active. (Again, a lot of people don’t think about this, but it is really important!)

A good starting point for learning how to grow, create, and use your own medicines is with the Survival Herb Bank. As I’ve written in the past, the Survival Herb Bank contains heirloom seeds for several powerful medicinal herbs. One that I use very frequently is catnip. People are always surprised by the great number of uses there are for this herb. Additional heirloom herb seeds within the Survival Herb Bank include:

  • Arnica
  • Black cohosh
  • Boneset
  • Calendula
  • Red Pepper
  • Chamomile
  • Chicory Root
  • Comfrey
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Evening Primrose
  • Fennel
  • Feverfew
  • Hyssop
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Marshmallow Root
  • Rosemary
  • Valerian
  • Yarrow

 Two other medicinal plants I have nurtured in my Survival Herb Garden, which my kids used to call the medicine garden, are aloe vera and ginger root. With these 21 plants, I am confident that I have all of my families’ medicinal needs covered. Plus, these plants are notoriously easy to grow. In fact, some of them, like the lavender, you actually need to keep a good eye on, lest it grow out of control.

These plants can be used to treat everything from arthritis, to bacterial infections, to diarrhea, to depression. Like I said, the only prescription drug I can think of that these plants cannot replace is birth control.

If you have not already planted a medicinal garden in your yard, plan to do it this spring. The plants are easy to care for, grow, dry, and use. And you will be able to completely break yourself from dependency on pharmaceutical companies, which is a great feeling. Not to mention an essential safeguard for the future.

Would Your Children Survive a Crisis?

As a parent myself, I know that this is something that none of us like to think about. But the sad truth is that when a crisis occurs, it is really the children who suffer the most.

What got me really thinking about this was when I was watching the news this week, and saw reports on the 1-year anniversary of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti. Rubble still stands in great piles. Thousands of people are still living in tent cities. President Bill Clinton was quoted as saying that a great amount of progress has been made there. But to the naked eye, everything remains completely in ruins. One woman who was interviewed tearfully stated that she has literally nothing. Anything that she has, she said, is something that was begged for, or that she was given by friends.

All of these images are painful and disturbing. But of course the most painful images are those of the children. Many children have no choice but to fend for themselves, as they or orphaned, or their parents are too weak and sick to care for them. The same thing happened in Argentina recently after their economic collapse- children literally wandered the streets scrounging for food and digging through garbage to simply survive. We also saw the same image after the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Really, these natural disasters can happen anywhere at any time.

With the reality of economic and weather-related disasters all around us, we should ask ourselves, have we equipped our children to survive these crises? If we were injured or incapacitated, could our kids fend for themselves? If they were on their own, would they know what to do? This is an essential part of survival. Our kids must be taught self-sufficiency, they must not rely on us entirely for survival.

A good starting point for teaching your children survival skills is to remember to make it fun for them, not scary. Try making it game-like. Tell them that you are going to take them camping and teach them how to build a fire, not that they need to learn to survive in the wilderness. Invite a neighbor or relative along so that your children can build trust with another adult. Definitely don’t tell your kids that they may be orphans one day and they need to learn how to survive by themselves. There is no need to frighten your kids like this.

Another great beginning point for teaching your children survival skills is to practice gender neutrality. Do not teach your daughter skills that you think a girl should know, and your son skills you think a boy should know. Teach them both equally with no regard to gender. There are plenty of people out their who think that only women know how to sew and only men can handle a pocket knife. But these are skills that both boys and girls should learn and be comfortable with. All kids should learn basic gardening, hunting, and safety skills (staying away from downed power lines, stop-drop-and-roll, etc).

As you garden in your survival garden, pull your kids away from their video games and get them out in the garden with you. You may think they will not be interested, but I’ll bet you that they will be. Gardens are full of all sorts of creepy, crawly, smelly, dirty, and cool things. Teach children the names of fruits and vegetables, and what nutrients they have that are good for us. Also make sure to teach children what plants they should not eat- those that may be poisonous or harmful. My kids were always fascinated with my herb garden- they knew it as the “medicine garden” because it contained everything I needed to cure their tummy aches, bumps, and bruises. From a very early age, my children knew that they could rely on the earth and its fruits to care for them. This is an important lesson.

Again, I know it is not pleasant to think about your kids needing to survive on their own. But with the real possibility that in a crisis you may not be able to care for them, teaching your children to be self sufficient is a truly valuable lesson.

Be Prepared For More Severe Winter Weather

This morning I read the news that there is currently snow on the ground on 49 out of 50 U.S. states. Even in Hawaii, there is snow. Somehow, the only state in the entire country that is without snow is Florida. And this is probably only because the storms that battered every other state on the entire east coast did not travel that far south.

No doubt, you have heard all about the terrible winter blizzards that have ripped through the country for weeks now, stranding holiday travelers in airports and leaving people without power for days. Actually, now that I am thinking about it, I am sure that you have not only heard about it, but probably experienced it yourself.

So what is the deal with all of this severe winter weather? Well, it is no doubt due to global warming. You may be raising your eyebrows and thinking, “How would global warming cause all this snow?” Well, contrary to popular misconception, global warming does not always equal warmth.

Factually, 2001 to 2010 was the hottest decade ever recorded in history. And The World Meteorological Organization recently reported that 2010 was one of the three warmest years on record. But these recent blizzards should not cause climate change skeptics to feel too triumphant. Because many scientists agree that the unusually high temperatures across the globe and the severe winter blizzards are actually connected.

One theory is that consistently warmer temperatures in the Arctic are leading to colder winters in the northern mid-latitudes. As the Arctic has continued to get warmer and warmer, countries like Britain are getting colder and colder. In fact, Britain just experienced its coldest December on record, while Greenland and Arctic Canada just experienced their hottest years on record. In these areas, the average temperatures were about 5 to 7 degrees F warmer than normal. As a result, the ice in the Arctic sea has continued to shrink. The loss of ice has contributed to an even warmer temperature in the far north, thanks to what is known as the Albedo Effect.

Of course, this is just one theory about global warming and climate change. Not everyone agrees that this is what is causing temperatures and weather patterns to fluctuate from the “norm” all over the entire planet. But regardless of what you think is the cause, the truth of the matter is that adapting to a warmer planet is not going to be easy or pleasant. We must be prepared for what will inevitably continue to be a year (a decade… a millenia…) of harsh and unpredictable weather.