Archive for the ‘Crisis Preparedness’ Category

20 Signs That A Horrific Global Food Crisis Is Coming

I am posting a re-post here. I would encourage you to do the same, because this information is worth spreading. I have acquired this list from M.D. Creekmore at The Survivalist Blog. Its original source is the Economic Collapse Blog.

  1. According to the World Bank, 44 million people around the globe have been pushed into extreme poverty since last June because of rising food prices. This was documented by The New York Times in February 2011.
  2.  The world is losing topsoil at an astounding rate.  In fact, according to Lester Brown in Foreign Policy, “one third of the world’s cropland is losing topsoil faster than new soil is forming through natural processes”.
  3. Due to U.S. ethanol subsidies, almost a third of all corn grown in the United States is now used for fuel.  This is putting a lot of stress on the price of corn.
  4. Due to a lack of water, some countries in the Middle East find themselves forced to almost totally rely on other nations for basic food staples.  For example, it is being projected that there will be no more wheat production in Saudi Arabia by the year 2012.
  5. Water tables all over the globe are being depleted at an alarming rate due to “overpumping”.  According to the World Bank, there are 130 million people in China and 175 million people in India that are being fed with grain with water that is being pumped out of aquifers faster than it can be replaced.  So what happens once all of that water is gone?
  6. In the United States, the systematic depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer could eventually turn “America’s Breadbasket” back into the “Dust Bowl.”
  7. Diseases such as UG99 Wheat Rust and Mad Soy Disease are wiping out increasingly large segments of the world food supply
  8. The tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis in Japan have rendered vast agricultural areas in that nation unusable.  In fact, there are many that believe that eventually a significant portion of northern Japan will be considered to be uninhabitable.  Not only that, many are now convinced that the Japanese economy, the third largest economy in the world, is likely to totally collapse as a result of all this.
  9. The price of oil may be the biggest factor on this list.  The way that we produce our food is very heavily dependent on oil.  The way that we transport our food is very heavily dependent on oil.  When you have skyrocketing oil prices, our entire food production system becomes much more expensive.  If the price of oil continues to stay high, we are going to see much higher food prices and some forms of food production will no longer make economic sense at all.
  10. At some point the world could experience a very serious fertilizer shortage.  According to scientists with the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative, the world is not going to have enough phosphorous to meet agricultural demand in just 30 to 40 years.
  11. Food inflation is already devastating many economies around the globe.  For example, India is dealing with an annual food inflation rate of 18 percent.
  12. According to the United Nations, the global price of food reached a new all-time high in February.
  13. According to the World Bank, the global price of food has risen 36% over the past 12 months.
  14. The commodity price of wheat has approximately doubled since last summer.
  15. The commodity price of corn has also about doubled since last summer.
  16. The commodity price of soybeans is up about 50% since last June.
  17. The commodity price of orange juice has doubled since 2009.
  18. There are about 3 billion people around the globe that live on the equivalent of 2 dollars a day or less and the world was already on the verge of economic disaster before this year even began.
  19. 2011 has already been one of the craziest years since World War 2.  Revolutions have swept across the Middle East, the United States has gotten involved in the civil war in Libya, Europe is on the verge of a financial meltdown and the U.S. dollar is dying.  None of this is good news for global food production.
  20. There have been persistent rumors of shortages at some of the biggest suppliers of emergency food in the United States.  The following is an excerpt from a recent “special alert” posted on Raiders News Network:

Look around you. Read the headlines. See the largest factories of food, potassium iodide, and other emergency product manufacturers literally closing their online stores and putting up signs like those on Mountain House’s Official Website and Thyrosafe’s Factory Webpage that explain, due to overwhelming demand, they are shutting down sales for the time being and hope to reopen someday.

It is true that most American believe that they will never have to go hungry. They believe that their grocery store shelves will always be stocked with affordable food and they will never have to provide for themselves. People believe this because ignorance is bliss. Please, don’t be ignorant. As always, I encourage you to be smart and be prepared.

How Does Radiation Get Into Food and Water?

Image source: Mike Morpeth

God bless the people of the country of Japan, as they continue to cope with the aftermath of the deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck them earlier this month.

Immediately, Japan’s residents began to face a food shortage and near-empty grocery store shelves, as depicted here in the above photo from Digital Journal, and the below one from CNN.com. With nearly no gasoline available, food simply could not be transported to stores. Thirst and hunger have been common problems since March 11.

Image credit: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images

Now, when Japan is already facing food shortages, they are facing yet another problem with their food supply. Eleven different types of produce, along with milk, and city tap water, have all tested positive for radiation. Some samples of spinach tested contained as much as 27 times the legal amount of radiation.
 
So the next logical question here is, how did this radiation get into the food, water, and milk? Because of the very nature of the word “radiation,” and the fact that it is invisible, it is easy to imagine it traveling through the air in waves, as from a microwave, through walls and buildings. But this is not the case. What actually happens is that radioactive particles(of which there are 4 main types) bind to particles of dust in the air, and can travel for a distance through the air before settling to the ground. This means that radioactive particles, such as such as cesium-137 and iodine-131, that escaped from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant traveled through the air, then settled on surrounding crop fields. Crops with a large surface area above the earth, such as spinach leaves, make them more likely to accumulate dangerous levels of radiation. And it does not get into milk by way of the actual milk carton or even the milk processing plant. It gets into milk because radiation settles on the grass, then the cows eat the grass.
 
Experts say that little is known about the long-term effects of consuming radiation on food and in water. Many sources say that the amount of radiation that people could intake from eating produce from the Fukushima prefecture, and others that surround the nuclear power plant, is not likely to cause health problems. However, understandably, many people are frightened, and avoiding purchasing the items in question, such as spinach and milk.
 
This is, in my opinion, yet another example of when and why a survival food source is an absolute necessity. Under normal circumstances, rice is a cheap and reliable commodity. However, today rice may become scarce in Japan, as radiation continues to be a threat, and the Fukushima prefecture accounts for 4.5% of Japan’s total rice crop.
 
Store rice, beans, honey, water and other staples when you can. Keep them in a safe place, and store them for longevity, according to the basics outlined here in my How to Correctly Store Your Food blog. This simple and inexpensive act can save your life when the seemingly reliable grocery store shelves are empty, and food that is on the shelves may be poisoned. If you haven’t already started your store of survival food, start it today.

ZPrepared.com- Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

I recently came upon this website while reading up in my favorite survivalist blogs. ZPrepared, it’s called. And according to the website,

Zprepared is a group of like-minded individuals who feel that it’s hard enough to survive the endless hordes of the walking dead, so people should have the option to do so with the coolest gear available. We find all kinds of gear that will not only help you survive, but to survive in style. Make the zombie apocalypse more comfortable and stylish…ZPrepared.

So I got a kick out of browsing through a variety of their different products. I must say, some of them are quite clever. Like this bacon in a can, which has is already fully cooked, required no preparation, and has a 10 year shelf life. Then there’s the Mayday Emergency Food Ration, which is a small bar of food that contains a total of 3,600 calories. That could sustain you for several days, and could fit right in your pocket.

Then, as I was browsing, low and behold, what did I find there listed right between Zombie caution signs and a Zombie-proof bunker that is for sale in the UK? None other than the reliable Survival Seed Bank. On the site, Hudson Steele writes,

If you’re anything like us, you’re preparing for the long haul. That means a fortified shelter, lots of supplies, and a plan to sustain yourself once the dust settles a little. When your food stores run out you’re going to need a way to sustain yourself, and other survivors you’ve collected along the way. When the going gets tough, the though get GROWING. Most people don’t realize that the Produce you buy in the grocery store are of a Hybrid variety, meaning you can’t just plant the seeds from a Golden Delicious and expect to grow an apple tree. We recommend having your own supply of self germinating, survival ready seeds to grow your own crops. The Survival Seed Bank fits the bill perfectly. This kit comes with all the basics for starting your own renewable food source. It features 22 varieties of Open Pollinated “Super Seeds” that yield a full acre of nutrient-dense food crop. They’re individually vacuum packed for maximum shelf life; up to 20 years at 70 degrees, and up to 100 years when frozen so they’ll be ready to plant when you are. The kit also includes a nifty bottle of “Nitro Seed Starter Solution” to help jump-start your crop and a handy manual for rookies. All you need to supply is the land, water, ample light, and the manpower to make it happen. While the rest of the world is scrounging for leftover cans of baked beans, you’ll be feasting on fresh healthy veggies grown with your own hands.

Hudson, I really don’t think I could have put it any better myself. Regardless of whether you think an impending Zombie attack is fact or fiction, doesn’t this product description hit home?

Look at all the good, fine folks in Japan now, for example. Grocery store shelves are, for the most part, empty. There is scarcely any gas available, so it is not reasonable to expect food to be transported to stores in the near future. More than 160,000 people have been evacuated from a 12-mile zone in an attempt to avoid the fallout from an impending nuclear disaster. Really, the situation there is heartbreaking. Because how many of these people do you think abandoned their homes with a supply of survival food in tow? How many of these families could turn to the harvest of their crisis gardens when the earthquake struck, and they faced rolling blackouts and empty grocery store shelves? Probably not many.

The message here is clear. If it’s not Zombies, it will be an earthquake. Or a tsunami. Or a tornado. Or a flood. We must all be prepared for these occurrences, which can happen at any time. It is spring now, and the ideal time to plant. So go get busy in your crisis garden.

Planning for the Spring Planting Season, Part 5: Conducting a Soil Test

 

Not all soil is the same. Some soil is mostly made up of clay, while some may be mostly sand. Plenty of people who are reading this blog right now are looking for gardening tips because their soil is very rocky. Or others may have chalky or silty soil. Depending on where you live, what you are used to as “dirt” can vary greatly from what someone else may have to work with.

When preparing to plant a garden, one of the most important things you can do is get acquainted with your soil. Healthy soil is what I consider to be the #1 most important factor in whether you will have a successful garden. It is the lifeline for all of your plants. Any time that you wish to feed your plants, what you really need to do is feed your soil.

So to get to know your soil, you’ll want to conduct two basic tests:

 (1) Test #1- The Squeeze Test

The squeeze test is the easiest way to test the texture of your soil. This is essential because in order for plants to thrive, you must insure that your soil has the right texture to enable water, oxygen, and nutrients to flow through it.

Go out into your yard/gardening space and pick up a handful of your dirt. Now give it a gentle squeeze. If the soil clumps together in your hand, then falls apart when you poke it, this is ideal. This means that you have loamy soil, which is ideal. Loamy soil retains moisture but also drains well. If the handful of dirt doesn’t hold together at all, this means it is sandy. Sand drains well but doesn’t really hold in nutrients. If it holds together and does not fall apart when you poke it, this means your soil is mostly clay. Clay is typically rich in nutrients, but does not drain well.

Now if you have sandy soil, it cannot be transformed into loamy soil. This is to say that the actual particles of sand cannot be turned into something else. However, you can add to your soil to change its overall texture. This way, you can add other particles around the sand particles in order to allow the soil to overall hold in nutrients.

To amend sandy soil, your goal is to add in organic matter. This will help the sandy soil to drain more slowly, and to hold on to nutrients in order for your plants to be able to use them. Amend sandy soil with organic matter such as cow manure, worm casings, shredded bark, peat moss, compost, or a combination of any of these things.

To amend clay soil, use the same method of adding organic matter. This will help to break up the compacted particles of the clay, and therefore allow water to drain through it, and oxygen to flow in it. Aim for a ratio of 50% dirt to 50% organic matter.

With both clay and sand, make sure to till your garden area before adding the organic matter. “Tilling” means that you will be loosening the soil at a depth of about 12 inches. You can use a shovel, spading fork, or hoe for this task. Mix in the organic matter well, rather than just laying it on top. (Laying something on top is referred to as “mulching” rather than “amending.”)

 (2) Test #2- The Soil Ph Test

All soil, regardless of its texture, has an acidity level. This can be measured by testing the Ph level of your soil. Ph is tested on a scale of zero to fourteen. Zero is the most acidic, whereas fourteen is the most alkaline, and seven is considered to be neutral. Most plants grow best in soil with a fairly neutral Ph that is between six and seven. If plants need a slightly more acidic or alkaline soil, the seed packet will specify this. For example, some root vegetables grow well in soil with a Ph of about 5.5. Plants that like “very acidic” soil thrive in soil at a Ph level of 5.0, whereas plants that like “very alkaline” soil do well in soil at about 8.0. So really, you don’t want your soil to be further on the scale than this in either direction.

To test the Ph level of your soil, I would recommend purchasing an at-home test kit at your local gardening store. These typically do not cost any more than $6. If you do not wish to conduct your own test, you can contact your local cooperative extension, as many will offer soil tests for free. Home tests are quite accurate as long as you follow instructions closely.

When attempting to change the Ph level of your soil, it is very important to first recognize that there is no immediate solution. You may need to use a combination of amendments, or apply several treatments over time. There is no quick fix or instant cure. It is best to start amending a whole growing season before you intend to plant.

With that being said…

*If you have acidic soil– add amendments to raise the Ph level, such as ground limestone or wood ashes. Avoid “quick limestone” as this tends to burn out your  plants.

*If you have alkaline soil– add amendments to lower the Ph level, such as pine needles, shredded leaves, sawdust, sulfur or peat moss. These will all add acid to your soil.

Compost has the amazing ability to bring either type of soil to a more neutral level. So as a general rule, it is always wise to be continuously adding compost to your soil.

Planning for the Spring Planting Season, Part 4: Seed Starting Tips

I just love the month of March. Daylight savings is coming up and the days are getting longer, the frigid weather is beginning to melt away, and the trees are starting to bud. March is also the official start to the spring planting season in many hardiness zones, including here in zone 7b. There are many types of fruits, vegetables and flowers that can be direct sown in March. My favorites are listed here in my blog from last year, What Can I Plant In March?

For seeds that are not quite ready to go in the ground yet, or ones that do not have a lot of success when they are sown directly in your garden, March is a good time to start your seeds. The term “seed starting” refers to the process of  planting your seeds indoors, in a safe and temperature controlled environment. Then, once the seeds have sprouted into seedlings, they can be transplanted outside into your garden. There are several good reasons to start your seeds indoors, including:

  • Seed starting gives you a head start. You can plant seeds inside while the ground outdoors is still hard, and while there is still the danger of seedling-killing frost in your area.
  • Vegetables that like cooler temperatures, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and head lettuce will grow better when started indoors. This is because they can go from transplant to harvest before the hottest days of the summer set in.
  • If you buy seedlings from a garden store, it is much, much more expensive than growing your own seedlings then transplanting them. Plus, when you buy seedlings, you are limited to the mainstream varieties that are available. When you start your own seeds, you can use any seeds you want.

Now depending on where you live, you may be able to start your seeds right away, or you may have a little ways to go. The best way to tell when you are ready to start your seeds is to count backwards from when you typically receive your last frost.

  • Eggplants and peppers- Start your seeds 7 weeks before your last frost date. Transplant the seedlings outdoors 2 weeks after you receive your last frost.
  • Tomatoes- Start tomato seeds 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. Tomato seedlings can be planted outdoors as soon as your last chance of frost has passed.
  • Squash, cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins- All of these plants generally like heat. You can start your seeds indoors 3 weeks before the last frost date. Wait 2 weeks until after the last chance of frost has passed to transplant your seedlings outdoors.
  • Corn- Start corn seeds 5 weeks before your last frost date. Transplant the seedlings as soon as the last chance of frost has passed.
  • Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage- These are cool season vegetables, so they can actually go in the ground up to  a month before the last chance of frost has passed. These cool season veggies can be started indoors 5-7 weeks before you want to transplant them. Then the seedlings can be transplanted in your garden 4-6 weeks before the last frost.

For more tips on how to start your seeds, please visit my articles:

Tips for Starting Your Garden With Seeds

Tips for Growing Heirloom Tomatoes From Seeds

Planning for the Spring Planting Season, Part 3: Installing a Rain Barrel

 

We all know that April showers bring May flowers. And if you have a rain barrel, you can stretch those beneficial showers even further. A rain barrel is a device that collects and stores rain water, therefore allowing you to recycle it in a variety of ways. It is an efficient device that is earth-friendly and easy to maintain. If your city has any type of water restrictions, then a rain barrel is a must for you in order to be able to water your plants. It is also a great way to know that, should you be without running water, you will have a stored supply available to you. Just one single rain barrel can store up to 80 gallons of rain water. I probably would not recommend drinking water from a rain barrel yourself. But collected rain water is perfectly sufficient drinking water for your survival garden.

You can purchase a rain barrel at pretty much any major lawn and gardening store for less than $100. Or, if you are a big do-it-yourselfer, you can even make one yourself. If you are particular about its appearance, then don’t worry. You’ll find that there are several different designs, including ones that are designed to match your decor, such as those that mimic the look of ceramic or terra cotta.

Rain Barrel Tip #1: If you have gutters, your rain barrel should be placed underneath a downspout on your house. If you do not have gutters, you can place the barrel under a spot on your roof where water flows off. Either way, this is the most logical place for your barrel to collect water.

Rain Barrel Tip #2: If your ground is not even, try placing the rain barrel on some cinder blocks, patio stones, or gravel. If it is possible, try to prop your rain barrel up so that it sits about 1-2 feet off of the ground. Cinder blocks are an easy solution for this, or some people build a wooden frame. This will make it easier for you to empty water from the barrel once it is full. (You should not expect to be able to lift 500 pounds of water, you’ll need to rely on a spigot.) Having the barrel propped up also means that you can rely on gravity to feed the water to the spigot, and into hoses.

Rain Barrel Tip #3: Once your rain barrel is in place, all that is left for you to do is cut your downspout, and/or the top of your barrel to insure that water flows into it. If your rain barrel has a solid lid, you will need to cut a hole for the downspout using a jigsaw. If your rain barrel does not have any lid at all, it is wise to cover it with a piece of screen in order to prevent leaves, debris, and animals from getting into your barrel. Try to fashion your rain barrel so that there is only one specific opening where the clean water will flow in.

Rain Barrel Tip #4: You also have the option of installing more than one rain barrel, and installing overflow tubes so that if one rain barrel overflows, the water will flow into another barrel.

Rain Barrel Tip #5: A rain barrel is really not something that can be used year round. You should not leave water in your barrel over winter to freeze. If you live in a region where you are still experiencing very cold weather, wait until the risk of a hard freeze passes in order to install your barrel. Once the start of spring hits your region, it’s rain barrel time.

For some great how-to tips, check out these resources:

Making and Installing Your Rain Barrel- Do It Yourself. com

Rain Barrel Basics- YouTube Video

How to Set Up A Rain Barrel- Cool People Care

Installing a Rain Barrel- Joel the Urban Gardener

Planning for the Spring Planting Season, Part 2: Taking Seed Inventory

I derive a great satisfaction from saving my own seeds from my garden every year. Perhaps it is because some giant monopolizing seeds companies (ahem, Monsanto) will have us believe that we shouldn’t be doing it. Or perhaps it is because it symbolizes just how self-renewing and self-sustaining gardens really are. But either way, saving seeds is a simple task from which I receive great pleasure. So if you’re reading this blog, hopefully that means you’re a seed saver, too. With spring on the way, it’s time to start taking inventory of your saved seeds. It is wise to not let your seeds get too old, and to track just how long you’ve been storing them.

Each time I save seeds from an item from my garden, I dry them out completely, place them in paper envelopes, then file them inside a plastic file box or glass jar. (For full details, you can read my tips on saving seeds here.) This storage system helps to keep the seeds from being exposed to extreme heat or cold and moisture, which is very important.

Now you’ll notice that in the above article, I recommended planting seeds within a year. This is the best case scenario- to plant seeds the year after you save them. But of course this is not always possible. So if this is the case, it is very important to rotate your seeds storage. As with any survival food that you store, you should be rotating the oldest seeds forward and using them first. The newest seeds should be rotated to the back of your storage.

Not all seeds have the same shelf life, so you can actually safely and effectively save some seeds longer than others:

  1. Short Lived– Short lived seeds are ones for which the one-year rule applies. I generally do not recommend keeping corn, leek, onion, parsnip, or spinach seeds for longer than one year. Try to plant your seeds the next planting season after you save them. These items all are a high priority in my garden- I’ll pull these seeds out of storage first.
  2. Medium-Lived- These include beans, carrot, celery, chard, eggplant, parsley, peas, pumpkin, and squash. Medium-lived seeds should be planted within 2 to 3 seasons. So if you have pea seeds from last season that you don’t intend to plant this year, that’s okay. You can rotate them to the back and plan to keep them for another year or two.
  3. Long-Lived- Here’s some good news- lots of seeds that you can easily store are long-lived seeds. These include include beets, all brassicas (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, and kohlrabi), chicory, endive, escarole, radicchio, cucumber, kale, lettuce, melons, mustard, peppers, radish, rutabaga, sunflower, tomato, and turnip. Whew! So for long-lived seeds, you should rotate your oldest ones to the front. If you have cucumber seeds that are 5 years old, you can still plant them this year. And the newest ones can go to the back. You can store long-lived seeds for 5-6 years.

Planning for the Spring Planting Season, Part 1: Crop Rotation

It’s February already, and that means spring planting season is just around the corner. I know it may not feel like it just yet, but Punxutawnie Phil did see his shadow last Wednesday, so that means warmer temps are on the way. It is time to get ready for seed starting and planting season. This is a great time of year to allow yourself to be bitten by the planning and organizing bug.

Now while it’s still too early to start tilling and amending my soil, it’s not too early to create my 2011 garden map. I’m sure you’ve probably heard the term “crop rotation” before, but did you know that it applies to gardens on a small scale, not just been large crop fields? Crop rotation is important, even to small garden plots, because it is one of the best ways to thwart pest and disease problems, as well as prevent soil erosion and allow your soil to remain healthy. For example, tomatoes are heavy eaters. So if you plant them in the exact same spot for a few years in a row, you are likely to deplete your soil of the nutrients that the tomatoes need. However, if you plant peas the year after you have planted tomatoes, the peas will help to return nitrogen to your soil, therefore helping to keep your soil and your garden healthy. Isn’t it cool that plants have the ability to balance themselves out like that?

My goal in creating my garden map for 2011 is to insure that I am not placing members of the same vegetable family is the same place as I put them last year. The nine vegetable families are:

  1. Nightshades- Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes.
  2. Legumes- Peas and beans.
  3. Squashes and Melons- Summer and winter squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons.
  4. Brassicas and Salad Greens- Greens, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
  5. Sunflower Family- Sunflowers, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), lettuce, and endive.
  6. Carrot Family- Carrots, parsley, parsnips, and celery.
  7. Goosefoot Family- Beets, swiss chard, and spinach.
  8. Grass Family- Corn.
  9. Onion Family- Onions, garlic, leeks, and scallions.

Now, a good goal to set for your spring garden map is to plan not to plant members of the same family where they were planted last year. For example, don’t plant beets in the same place where you planted spinach last year, because these are members of the same family. So, in essence, you are rotating not just a single crop, but a whole crop family. If you planted beans in one spot last year, plant corn there this year. Members of the grass family need good fertile soil, so they will grow well in a place where legumes were planted the previous year. Members of the sunflower family are light feeders, so they will grow well in a spot where heavy feeders such as brassicas grew the year before.

Are you starting to get the big picture? Crop rotation does take some attentiveness and planning. But it is very well worth it. It not only helps you maintain the health of your soil, but also helps to insure that your spring and summer vegetable garden will have the largest output possible.  Plus, come spring, having a garden map will make planting that much simpler for you. Planning in the winter makes for ease of planting in the spring.

Other important things to take into consideration when mapping your spring garden are:

  • Taller plants should not block sunlight from reaching shorter plants.
  • Some veggies and fruits grow really well together. Check out this information from Seeds Of Change on Companion Planting for more details.
  • Will your garden be exposed to harsh elements, such as wind? How will you protect it? How about protecting it from critters?
  • If you are expanding your garden this year, will it still be within reach of your irrigation system?
  • How much space do you need between your plants? If you have a 3″ by 3″ plot for carrots, for example, how many carrots can plant in this space? It is important not to crowd your seedlings. And with climbing plants, make sure to leave enough space to stake them.

Okay, now I am sure I have given you plenty of food for thought. Time to get back to the ol’ drawing board!

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.