Monthly Archives: November 2008

Ready or Not #23: Gifts

Don’t you just love gift cards? I know I do. It’s the perfect size, the perfect color, and nobody ever wants to re-gift them. So when I received an e-mail cautioning me about buying gift cards this season, I was a little sad. The e-mail stated that there were several large chain stores that were either closing all, or at least some, of their stores after the Christmas season. The author of the e-mail said that depending on the stores situation, the gift card money might be lost.

When I looked at the list of stores that were on the watch list, the only concern I had was for all of the people that would be losing their jobs because most of the stores were ones that I couldn’t afford to visit any way. But it got me thinking. It is quite obvious that I think that it is important to build up a good food storage and to be prepared – so why not use a grocery store gift card for Christmas gifts to help a loved one build their food storage this year? If you decide to do that, I want to be on your gift list!

I’ve told you in the past that my in-laws give my husband and me each 10 pounds of hamburger every year and I look forward to it – each and every year. If you don’t want to give a grocery gift card and you want to wrap something, then how about a case of tuna, or Tomato soup, or Cream of Chicken soup, or even a couple of cases of macaroni and cheese. I even heard once about some parents that gave each of their married kids a processed and wrapped pork each year. Wouldn’t that be a great gift? I want to be able to do that for my kids someday.

You don’t have to give food if you don’t want to. There are lots of safe gift cards and certificates that gift receivers would be happy to get. What a thrill to get a gift card to a gas station, or how about a gift certificate to a preparedness store to build a better 72-hr kit? How about a roll of stamps? Use your imagination.

The more that I listen to the news and read the newspaper and listen to my friends and coworkers, the more I see people’s tastes, wants and needs change. I don’t hear as much talk about extravagant vacations as I do about the really good deal they found at the grocery store last week and how they were able to stock up. A neighbor admitted that whenever she starts to get nervous about the economy, she goes down and buys something for her food storage. If you like to spend money when you’re nervous, that is certainly a better solution than going out and buying another pair of shoes that you really don’t need.

The one thing that I loved about the e-mail that warned me about buying the gift cards – and I’m not making this up — is that the author said that you would be better off buying food storage instead of gift cards! I was so happy! Food storage is the new fad! I was cool before it was cool to be cool!

Now go buy something edible and storable.

Ready or Not #22: Latrines and Sanitary Concerns

Several posts ago, I wrote about how miserable I was (it’s all about me, not that everyone else was miserable too) when my parent’s water wasn’t working at their house in Saint George. I also told you that you that it took eight 2 liter bottles of water in order to flush the toilet. What I didn’t tell you was that because I didn’t want to have to keep filling the toilet up each time I used it, I decided to cut back on how much water I drank. Keep in mind that I usually drink a lot of water and so I did become somewhat dehydrated, but that wasn’t such a big deal, right? Wrong! My body was used to having water and instead of just being thirsty I got a urinary tract infection (UTI). That’s right, I was miserable.

Now, I am not telling you this because I want sympathy (although a few I’m sorry’s would be nice). No, I’m telling you this because I think that it would be a good idea to talk about our sanitary situation during a disaster. First and foremost, don’t limit your water intake, make sure that you have enough water for your body to stay healthy. UTI’s are very painful. (2 gallons of water per person, per day for a two week period).

Next, most disasters like severe storms and electrical power outages won’t disrupt the use of our sewer and water systems, but if we have an earthquake and our water and sewer lines are disrupted, what will you do? And how long will you be able to do it? Are you going to use the bathroom in your trailer? Or do you have a port-a-potty? How long will it be before it is filled up? How will you dispose of the refuse?

What will your children do if they are at school without facilities? Does your school district have a plan in place for this type of problem? What is it? We do have a portable restroom company that is local, but could they deliver them? Are the roads useable? How many people would they be able to service? And how long would they be able to keep up with the demand and would they even be able to dump them or service them at all?

I have lots of questions and I don’t know all of the answers. I do think that as families and communities we need to think about this before we are confronted with it. My biggest fear is that people will get desperate and just start using “the bushes.” I mean, how can you say no to a child? Do we need to have our city leaders call somebody in the community to be The City Latrine Master (or whatever other creative name we can come up with – Emergency Sanitation Engineer or Privy Person or – whatever, but I digress).

Can we build latrines in our back yards? What are your city’s rules and regulations on that? Maybe there should be a latrine for each neighborhood. Who’s property would it go on and who would clean it out once the disaster is over? So many questions, but better to ask and answer them before a disaster than to make unhealthy decisions in the middle of the disaster.

My biggest concern out of all of this is the disease that follows when sanitary issues aren’t addressed. More people died in the Civil War from dysentery, diarrhea, and cholera (all caused because of unsanitary conditions) than from war wounds. What a miserable way to die.

In talking about making sure that we stay healthy and sanitary especially during a crisis, I want to share a new product that can help you do just that. For all of those who use Purell, GermX or any other alcohol based hand sanitizer; I want you to check out a new product called PureWorks antibacterial foam. This is a non-alcohol based hand sanitizer that kills 99.99% of all germs and then continues killing the germs for up to several hours after applying it to your hands. While alcohol products do kill 99.99% of all germs too, they stop working the minute they dry.

You can check the PureWorks product out and see how it works and even order some if you like it at: http://www.buypureworks.com/. I’ve got some of this incredible new product (that has gone through EPA and FDA testing) in my emergency kit at work, in my car and at my home. I won’t be without it – I just want to stay clean and I don’t want to get sick. Another thing that impressed me about this product was that it doesn’t use pesticides to kill the germs. Check it out, it’s quite impressive. You still need to make sure that you have water to wash your hands, but it is also wise to get additional protection.

Ready or Not #21: Turkey Bones and Coconut Bread

Thanksgiving really is a time for giving thanks. Even in times of hardship and trial, we will always have reason for giving thanks. Part of being grateful is taking advantage of every opportunity that is given us. At the most elevated level we can appreciate, God, family, working hard, achieving what we set out to do and being satisfied with our accomplishments. At the most basic level I find myself being grateful in finding ways to “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

In addressing the “use it up” part, I would like to remind you to use up your turkey this Thanksgiving feast. After you have consumed turkey to your hearts content, and had a variety of meals using turkey leftovers, don’t forget to “use up” the turkey bones.

After all is said and done and you are tempted to throw the leftover bones, skin, fat and the gelled broth – don’t. Instead throw them into a large soup pot, fill the pot with water and throw some salt in. Place on a medium heat and let it boil on low for anywhere from an hour to two hours. You can also add other herbs and spices like garlic, onions, sage, oregano, basil, or whatever else sounds good or smells better. Add salt and pepper to taste.

After you have retrieved all of the flavor from the bones, skin and fat, strain it through a colander and then again through a sieve. If you are truly diligent, before throwing the bones away, you can go over them and find the meat that was left clinging to the bones. Actually, if you take the time, there is usually quite a lot of meat left behind from the initial meal and leftovers. If you are too tired, then you can throw them away.

At this point in time you can do several things to save the flavorful broth. You can immediately make a delicious Chicken Noodle soup with homemade noodles, or even better yet, Danish Dumplings. Mmm, sooo very good. Both recipes are in the recipe section of this website and are quick and easy to make.

Straining the broth through the sieve will remove most of the fat, but if you want to remove all of the fat, the best and easiest way is to put it in the fridge and let it get cold. All of the fat will congeal on top of the broth and it will be easy to remove with a spoon or fork.

Now that the broth is fat free, but full of taste, you can either bottle it or put it in a freezer bag or container and freeze it. If you want to freeze it, just put it in a freezer tight container or freezer bag and place it in the freezer. If I am using the bags, I like to lay them flat so that they stack nicely and don’t take up too much space.

If you don’t have space in your freezer or when you want to use it you don’t want to wait for it to thaw, then your best option is to bottle it. Bottling chicken broth, or any broth for that matter, is a very simple procedure. After you have cooled the broth down and have removed the fat, heat it back up to a boil. Pour the hot strained broth into hot jars, leaving 1-inch head space. Adjust the caps and process – pints for 20 minutes and quarts for 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in a pressure canner. That is all there is to it.

Now to end on a sweet note. I have a friend who shared this delectable recipe that I thought you might want to try for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Coconut Bread
4 eggs
1 C. oil
2 C sugar
sift together: 3 C flour, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp., baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt
add:
1 C buttermilk
1 C. coconut
1 C. nuts
Bake 325 for 1 hour or till done. Poke holes with toothpick all over the top. Pour all of the glaze over the holes and let it cool for a while.
Glaze: 1 C sugar, 1/2 C water, 2 tablespoons butter, bring to boil, add 1 tsp., coconut flavor.

After it is cooled, gather your family together and enjoy this tasty homemade treat – and maybe you could even talk about all of the things you have to be grateful for.

Ready or Not #20: Propane

Out of all of the storeable and usable fuels, I think that I like propane the best. I like the ambiance of a nice wood fire, coal will keep my house warm through the night, gasoline kind of scares me, but for me, propane is still the most efficient and easy fuel to store. My dream is to someday have a propane generator that is wired into my house so that if the power goes off, it will automatically kick on and save everything in my fridge and freezer – whether I’m home or not. Maybe someday – if I keep saving my pennies.

Because I have been looking into purchasing a propane generator, I was curious about how to safely store the propane. I called Rich at Freeway Propane in Springville to get the best and most accurate information. He said that each city has its own set of rules and regulations for propane use and storage, so make sure to ask your city officials before purchasing large storage tanks.

The basic Utah state regulations require that if you have a tank between 101 gallons to 999 gallons, the tank must be a minimum of 10 feet away from any building, structure or property line. If your tank is 1,000 gallons or more, the tank must be no less than 25 feet away from any building, structure or property line. The only exception to that rule is if you bury the tank. If you want the tank underground, you must make sure that you purchase a tank that has been specifically manufactured to be buried and have it installed by professionals.

A 6,000 to 7,000 watt generator, depending on the horsepower, will burn approximately a half-gallon of propane an hour. This means that you would be able to run the freezer, refrigerator, a few lights and a couple of other items for seven to eight days, on less than 100 gallons (a 120 gallon tank will hold 100 gallons of propane) – and that is if you ran it non-stop, full throttle, day and night. Obviously, you would only need to run it for maybe 10 to 15 hours out of the day to keep your food cold and you warm, and you could possibly extend that 100 gallons to last up to two weeks. I’m impressed, and there is no messy clean up.

Most natural gas stoves, and other appliances, are manufactured to be able to make a simple orifice change to make it compatible to burn propane. Another thing to think about: if you want to store fuel safely for your car, you can adapt one of your vehicles to run on propane. Propane is safer to store than gasoline, it is cheaper and unlike gas, propane never goes bad and it is one item that doesn’t have to be rotated. Doesn’t need to be rotated? I didn’t think that I would ever say that, but in this case it is true.

The most effective way to store propane, if you don’t want to buy a large storage tank, is to buy portable propane tanks as you can afford them and keep them full. If you have old tanks lying around, you need to make sure that the old valves have been changed with the new safety valves on any tank that is 10 gallons or less. If you have tanks that are 11 gallons or larger, they will need to be checked and certified. Freeway Propane in Utah County, Utah, can change your old valves for the new safety valves and they can also certify your larger tanks – and they can fill them for you too.

In the past, I have heard that propane will freeze and not be usable in the winter if it gets too cold. I asked Rich about this and he said that, as in any case, you need the right tool for the right job. He said that when you use propane you are actually combusting the vapor, not the liquid. If you are using an appliance that is too large for a small tank, the vapor can freeze because of the pressure and friction. This can even happen in the summer. A really good example of this is when you are using a portable weed burner. The weed burner uses a lot of vapor really fast and if the tank is too small and hasn’t got enough “area” to do its thing, then it can freeze up.

I have heard of some pretty scary techniques to “thaw” out a propane tank, none of which is safe or smart. Don’t even be tempted. Just make sure that when you are using an appliance that you check to make sure you are using the right sized propane unit to feed the appliance you are using and you won’t have any problems – no matter the outside temperature.

Make sure that whatever you do, and however you choose to keep your family safe and warm, that you are really keeping them safe while keeping them warm. With any kind of alternative heating, whether you choose wood, coal, gasoline or propane, make sure that you have plenty of fresh oxygen and always keep CO2 detectors around to make sure that you stay healthy, happy and ALIVE.

There are a lot of other additional energy sources you can check out: solar, wind turbines or windmills, water, bicycles hooked up to a generator and so forth. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that it is safe, that you are not using more energy to produce the energy than what you are getting in return, and that your choice is something that you can live with. You might even consider having several different resources. Think it through and choose the best alternatives for you and your family.

And please store your water.

The Utah State Law pertaining to propane storage:

3803.2.1 Portable containers.
Portable LP-gas containers, as defined in NFPA 58, shall not be used in buildings except as specified in NFPA 58 and Sections 3803.2.1.1 through 3803.2.1.7.
3803.2.1.1 Use in basement, pit or similar location.
LP-gas containers shall not be used in a basement, pit or similar location where heavier-than-air gas might collect. LP-gas containers shall not be used in an above-grade underfloor space or basement unless such location is provided