Lights Out!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
The Frankenstorm out east has landed, and reports are coming in that 8 million customers are without power.

The latest estimates from ConEd (the power company for New York) are that it will take approximately TEN DAYS to get power restored.

As we reflect on the massive destruction of this storm, and ponder our own readiness, ask yourself this:  Is your household prepared or equipped to go for nearly two weeks without power?

Do you have alternate light sources, power sources, heat sources and additional fuel?  Do you have meals ready that wouldn't require electricity?  Do you have communication options that will still function with the power out? 

What would you do if you had to go without power for ten days?  No public transportation, no stores, and possibly no communications?  Would you be ready?

What I've Been Doing - Canning Pear Sauce!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Having an 8-month-old has not really left me a lot of time for canning this year.  But I did manage to sneak in just a bit this last Saturday!  I was able to get a box of some of the last of the Idaho Bartlett pears for the season (they were seriously the best pears I have ever eaten - EVER!) and needed to quickly find a way to use them before they all went bad.  I also wanted to can some stuff for baby food, so I decided to do pear sauce! 

It was super easy, and I did the entire box of pears in one afternoon with no problem.  I ended up with three jars of pear juice that I also canned (they are in the second to last row where you can't really see them).  I've never made pear sauce before (I've done applesauce lots, but not to can) nor have I even eaten before, but my kids loved it so I think this will become a yearly staple at our house!

Food Storage 101: Treating Your Water

Friday, October 19, 2012

So, because it would be nearly impossible for most of us to physically store all of the water we would need for a year's supply, we have to rely on some alternate methods for obtaining water in the event of a long-term emergency situation.  Streams, lakes, rivers and other water sources are great places to turn to, but you need to have some way to purify or treat that water to make sure you don't become sick.

According to most government and city/county sources, there are two main ways to safely treat water: boiling and bleach.

To purify your water, first make sure that you use some type of physical barrier to filter cloudy water or water that has particulate matter in it.  You can use coffee filters, cloth, towels, paper towels or cheese cloth.  You may need to run the water through your physical filter several times - try to get it as free from particulates (little floaty things) as you can.

Once you've passed your water through your physical barrier filter, then:

1)  Boil it.  This is the most effective method.
Bring your water to a rolling boil for one full minute.  Then allow to cool before drinking or using.


2) Add liquid bleach.
Use standard household bleach (usually between 5-6% chlorine) that is free from dyes or perfumes.  Add the liquid bleach to your water, and mix well.  Allow the water to stand for at least 30 minutes before use (60 minutes if the water is very cloudy).

For liquid bleach, use the following:
1 quart water - 3 drops if water is clear; 5 drops if it is cloudy
1 gallon water - 1/8 tsp if water is clear; 1/4 tsp if water is cloudy

Infant 72-hour Kit

Sunday, October 14, 2012 has taken me a little longer than I planned to get back to finishing this full post.  ;)  Sorry about that.

Here is what I pulled together for a 72-hour kit for my littlest one.  It is in a separate backpack because so many of the items (diapers, clothing, some of the food) needs to rotated on a MUCH more frequent basis than the stuff for the older kids or adults.  I figured it would be easier to keep up on it if it was a separate bag and I wasn't having to dig through the bigger packs to find all the various pieces that needed to be rotated.

Here's what I have gathered together for the littlest one's kit:

(1) cotton blanket
(1) fleece blanket
(2) sleep n' play outfits
(3) onesies
(3) socks
(1) hat
(15) disposable diapers
(10) cloth diapers
(4) diaper pins
(1) pkg baby wipes
(1) infant pain reliever drops
(1) baby hygiene travel set (baby powder, baby wash, baby shampoo, baby lotion, diaper cream)
(1) full tube diaper rash cream
(1) pkg pedialyte drink mix (for dehydration)
(1) baby glycerin suppository (for constipation)
(2) binkies
handful of small toys and teethers
(1) bowl and utensils
(2) bottles (1 of those uses the drop-in liners)
(1) roll drop-in bottle liners (easier to use in emergency situation and does not require as much water to wash the full bottle every time, just the top and nipple - they are stored IN the bottle in this picture)
(1) can baby formula (this was the smallest can I could get - we have to go with soy-based because of allergies, and they don't make the smaller cans or premixed stuff in the soy-based formula dang it)
(6) pouches pureed fruit/veggies
(1) box oatmeal cereal
(4) containers 2nd stage food
(1) jar Puffs snacks
(3) water bottles

This all fits inside the large backpack, but just BARELY!  I have all of the medicine and hygiene items in the hardsided first aid case you see in the pic, but am wondering if I should take it out and put it in a ziploc bag to same some room. 

If you're wanting to go lighter/less space, you could drop the disposable diapers all together and just go with the cloth diapers, use a smaller can of formula, find smaller container of cereal, or put a smaller amount in a ziploc bag or plastic food container, go with a smaller package of baby wipes, etc.

I may go through and modify this slightly.  I'd like to get a fleece sleeper now that it is getting colder, and maybe long-sleeve onesies.  It's still a work in progress, but it's much better than it was a few weeks ago, with all the items spread all over the house and garage in various locations!  ;)

Did you know...?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Did you know that your smoke detectors have an expiration date, and your fire extinguishers will slowly discharge over time?

Today's post is a reminder about the importance of checking your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on a regular basis.  Why?  Because you never know when you might need them.  And these are items that you do NOT want to malfunction...

It has finally started to get cooler here in the evenings (thank goodness!!!) but with that comes mixed blessings.  My husband and I LOVE sleeping with it fairly cold in our room.  Our kids, not so much.  And it isn't healthy or safe for our littlest one.  So Saturday night we turned on the furnace to make sure the temperature wouldn't dip below 65.  All was well until our furance kicked on early in the morning.  We woke up to a smoky haze everywhere and our son yelling about smoke in the house!!!  Not exactly what you want to wake up to.

We jumped out of bed and ran around trying to figure out what was causing the smoke.  It didn't smell like a fire, and it had the distinct smell of the burning dust that comes when you turn on your furnace for the first time each season, but we've NEVER had smoke along with it.  We checked to make sure there was no fire, and then we turned everything off.  Our smoke detectors had NOT gone off this entire time, even though the entire upstairs (where there are 5 smoke detectors) was very hazy. 

My husband went up into the attic (where our furnace is) to check for smoke, flames, etc.  He ran downstairs and grabbed our fire extinguisher from the kitchen, just in case.  No flames, no smoldering - however, once he got back down from the attic, he looked at the fire extinguisher and realized that it was completely discharged and unusable.  Had he needed it for the attic, we would have been in big trouble.  UGH!!!

We opened the windows to help air out the upstairs, and about 2 minutes after opening the windows, the smoke detectors throughout the house went off.  And kept going off.  We couldn't get them to stop, even after we pulled the batteries out (which usually quiets them).  We finally got them to stop, once again checked to make sure there was no fire anywhere, and went to replace the batteries.  We got to the one in our son's room, and no matter what we tried, we could not get the battery back in without the alarm going off - new battery, old battery, it didn't matter. 

The smoke detector had us worried since it was malfunctioning, and we realized that they are all about 9 years old in our house.  What most people may not realize is that smoke detectors have an expiration date!  And it is usually between 5-10 years, depending on the type.  With the issues we were having, and the fact that the other detectors were all either expired or getting very close to expiration, we figured it was best to replace them all. to Home Depot I went, to buy fire extinguishers and smoke detectors!

These things aren't cheap!  But then again, how can you really put a price on safety and peace of mind?  We actually already had two new smoke detectors still in the packages, that we bought earlier this summer for the kids' rooms (voice alarms) and which we had not yet installed.  And we decided to add more fire extinguishers (one for each floor, which is the recommendation of most of the national safety councils).  We also are putting in a couple of dual-sensor smoke detectors to replace some of the ionization ones we have, so we'll have a little better coverage.  I learned a lot from this mess, and also from my trip to the store to purchase these items, so I have lots to fill you in on in an upcoming post! 

Food Storage 101: Water - Purification Methods

Friday, October 5, 2012
Having some water stored for an emergency is one of the best ways you can be prepared.  But it just isn't practical to be able to store ALL of the water you would need for long-term usage.  So it is a good idea to have some other methods available for providing and purifying water.

One option is to have a water filter.  These can be big, small, simple or very complex.  You'll want to do some research and find out what will work best for your needs.  Ideally, you will want to pick the best quality filter that your budget will allow for - this is not something you really want to skimp too much on.

We have a couple of Seychelle filtration bottles that we use with our 72-hour kits.

The backpacks we use for our 72-hour kits also have water bladders in them, where we can store extra water should we need.  One of the backpacks has a bladder that is internal and not removeable, but the other has a bladder that is removeable and could be carried separately to a water source if needed.

I am hoping to be able to save up some food storage budget money to eventually buy one of these beauties, the LifeSaver water filter bottle:

There are also self-hydrating filter packs that are very lightweight and handy for use in backpacks, like the HTI HydroPacks:

[Folks, there are SO many water filter options out there - I'm not necessarily endorsing any of these, they are just a few that I am familiar with.]

I also keep a couple of redundant back-up filtration/purification methods on hand in our storage as well.

I keep water purification tablets in our 72-hour kits and in our food storage.  You can find these at camping stores, outdoor retailers or in the camping/sporting goods section of your local big box store.  These are some made by Coleman that I found at Walmart:

And there are also some other options for purifying/filtering water, like boiling, charcoal/sand filtration and treating with chlorine.  Since those require specific instructions, I will cover those in the next water post.