Sunday, August 7, 2011

Using Emergency Bandages

The important thing to remember when using an emergency / trauma bandage is to keep it tight so it can help control bleeding. The illustration above shoes some different ways to tie it for this purpose. It doesn't have to be pretty, DOES have to be effective.

Practicing tying this type of bandage might make a great family home evening activity sometime!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Emergency Crayon Candles

This is completely cool and is one of the MOST inexpensive ideas I've ever come across!
Go to the Dollar Store and pick up a box of cheap crayons and try this.

Get a small saucer or plate or even a candle dish...something fire-safe. Crayons are flat on the bottom side and will stand on end. You'll be taking advantage of this feature. Paper is flammable. You'll be taking advantage of this feature also.

Take the crayon and break off the point so that the crayon is flush with the paper. With a lighter or match, melt the broken end of the crayon and allow the paper to catch fire. The paper is your candle wick. Once it starts burning, place it flat end down on your dish and allow it to burn. One average crayon will burn for about 15 minutes. A box of 24 crayons will provide light for 6 hours.

Want to watch it happen? Check out this little video:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Freezing Without Blanching

Canning is the preferable way (in my opinion) to preserve fresh fruits and veggies from the garden. Sometimes, though, I only get a few things out of the garden and it just doesn't seem worthwhile to can up 8 tomatoes, ya know? So in cases like that, I opt to freeze. Freezing is not a long-term solution because "what if the power goes out?" You lose your frozen foods, that's what. But if you only freeze those small portions, chances are that you'll get them used in a more timely manner and won't have to worry about it anyway.

A lot of foods need to be blanched to stop the action of enzymes. Those enzymes continue processes inside the vegetable that will ultimately cause it to lose color and texture and flavor. But there are a few you can get away with NO blanching!
So what foods can you do that with and how do you do it?

  • Blueberries
    Don't even wash your blueberries! Just spread them out in a single layer (such as on a cookie sheet) and freeze them. Once they freeze, put them into a bag, label the bag with what they are and the date you picked them, and store them in the freezer. Wash them after you thaw them out for use.
  • Cucumbers
    Peeling is optional. Slice them up like you like them, bag, label, freeze!
  • Mushrooms
    Slice them, bag them, label and freeze!
  • Onions
    Slice, dice, chop, however you like them, bag them, label them, freeze them.
  • Peppers
    Wash, slice and remove the seeds and membrane thing in the middle, bag, label freeze. (NOTE- I particularly like bell peppers this way, making them great to toss into spaghetti sauce or to saute in stir-fry or include in pepper steak recipes. You can do other peppers too, so don't hesitate to freeze all different types.)
  • Tomatoes
    Wash and dry them, cut the core out, half or quarter each one (if desired, or just leave them whole), pack into freezer bags, label and freeze. When using, rinse in warm water to get the skins to slip off easily.
It is normally not recommended to keep these foods frozen for longer than 6 months, but if you are only freezing SMALL quantities, that shouldn't be too terribly difficult, right?

Good luck to you preserving even the small amounts!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Preserving Memories

When I was a little girl, I remember my grandparents and aunt coming over to our house for "garden work." What that really meant was that Daddy (and maybe me too) would go out early in the morning to pick tomatoes or corn or okra or squash or whatever else was ready. If it was corn, we ALL sat around the yard with knives and bowls of corn pulling husks and digging out silks. Then the women moved into the kitchen and canned it all. I remember a day we did was mushy corn. I hate mushy corn. (That would be translated as cream-style corn.) Another time, I remember we worked on vegetable soup. I had to shell butterbeans for this project. Another time I can remember canning tomatoes. I was a little older at this one, because this time I was in the kitchen helping Mama and Grandmaw and Aunt Thomasene with the tomatoes. I remember being fascinated watching the tomatoes go into the hot water for a few minutes, then dipping them out and watching the cold water split the skins. It was so amazing! And slipping those skins off was too fun! I imagined what it might be like if we dipped a little brother or sister into boiling water and then ice water. Would their skin slip off that easily?

Such memories... sweet memories. Grandmaw and Paw are no longer with us. Mama and Daddy live in another state. Aunt Thomasene has a different life now. My memories continue though.

When we moved to Idaho to go to Ricks College, it turned out that someone in our apartment complex was also from Georgia! It was someone I had known in the Douglasville ward, so that was really cool! I made great friends with his wife, and together she and I canned some apples and some pickles. I learned a lot from her. Somehow we canned those things even with her 4 kids and my little Manti all underfoot. Not one time we did feel the need to nail them to a wall to get them out of the way! I don't know how that happened! I remember that she couldn't wait 6 weeks for her pickles to "pickle" and she had them opened and eaten before 3 weeks was up! I sure did love Anna. I learned a lot from her.

And then there was the time we moved BACK to Idaho to try and finish school. Tonya was my best friend....she was more to me than she will ever know. She still is! One day, she and I went to another friends house and we picked cherries. We picked a BUNCH of them too! They were pie cherries, so together we canned cherry jam and some cherry pie filling. It was MOST AMAZING! Tonya helped me develop a side of myself I didn't believe in.

Once we came back to Georgia, Angie Harcrow and I got to be good friends. She helped me can my first batch of green beans. It was the first time I had ever used a pressure canner. Let me tell you, it was SCARY! I just knew that pot was going to blow up! We canned a lot of beans, and we laughed a lot. I loved every hot minute of it. The next time I wanted to can green beans, I had to call Angie and ask to borrow her canner. She let me! And the year after that, SHE LET ME AGAIN! She's let me use her canner almost as often she's used it herself! Now that's a good friend!

Two years ago, Tommy bought me my own pressure canner. With my job and his disability and all the responsibilities tied to me and my time, I didn't get to can last year. This year, I wanted to can so badly! Last week, Manti picked me a 5 gallon bucket full of green beans. I was afraid I wouldn't have time to can them. I was seriously worried. Friday night, I asked Mesa if she felt like helping me and learning a little about it. She shocked me by saying "sure", so we headed to the kitchen. I showed her what to do, and she did it. She canned 12 quarts of green beans largely by herself!

Now, I have a new memory!

And perhaps Mesa does too. This is the point of my post: if you have memories tied to canning, relive them often. Give them as a gift to your children, to your girlfriends, to your anyone who comes into your life. Someone will treasure the memory you preserve as they preserve foods in the future. What a blessing to all involved!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Are you preparing your MIND too?

Food storage has been drilled into our minds. We know we need to collect those staples that will keep us alive if/when things go haywire in our economy. We also know we need to store non-perishables and sanitary items and water and clothing and other things that help with survival. All of these things will take care of us IF that's all that goes wrong.

But there is more you can do! And I learned today that you can't start learning it too soon!

I'm a cub scout den leader. I have 2 little boys under my care, plus 2 more that we affectionately call our "Honorary Cub Scouts" and do things with them too so they feel as official as they can be while they wait till they are old enough to be official. Today was our den meeting. The two official cub scouts were there and my youngest child, Jared, was with me. It was 99 degrees outside today....and this is the south where humidity is commonly as high as the temperature. It was a painful heat, as if we were cooking from the inside out.

In our meeting, we were in a room with no air conditioning. We practiced tying some knots and then I taught the boys how to tie neckties. They were having a blast, but I saw their attention spans waning fast. Mesa, my daughter, is my assistant den leader. So I told her to help the boys collect our things and I would go check with the other group of boys to see if they were ready to join us in a game.

I was gone less than 2 minutes. When I walked back into the room, the boys were concerned about Mesa---who was laying in the floor. I asked the boys what had happened and they told me that she had passed out. They checked her to see if she was bleeding and they reported to me all that they knew. They told me she wasn't playing around and they were leaning over her to figure out what more they could do. Then they moved back to allow me space to take care of her.

What makes this significant is 1) they boys had just learned some very very basic first aid steps just two weeks ago, and 2) their ages: Jared 5, Luke 8, Morgan 9.

Now this story is simplistic, but it is also profound. These boys remained calm, and by doing so, they set the tone for me to also stay calm. They checked for the immediate signs of trouble and reported their findings to their leader- me. They stepped back immediately to allow space and air, and then they moved along to the next phase of the cub scout meeting.

These children listened and learned and then APPLIED their new knowledge. They have no idea just important it was that they perform in exactly the ways that they did. They didn't do it for reward or even congratulations (they will be getting one though! I'm just too proud of them not to reward their efforts), they just did what needed to be done. Because they did, a bad situation was avoided and Mesa is just fine now.

Imagine this situation were an adult situation. Imagine it is your elderly loved one that passes out and hits their head on a cement floor. What will you do? What is your reaction likely to be? How well will you keep it together? Will you know the best way to care for them? Or perhaps a little bitty child has an asthma attack and there are no medical professionals in the area where you are. Will you know how to respond? Will you panic and get foggy minded, or will you have enough knowledge of what to do to remain calm and just do it without having to scrape together bits and pieces of remembered techniques?

We never know what accidents or incidents are waiting in our future. We don't get to choose what experiences are coming our way, so that means preparing for those exact things is really hard. So prepare your mind the way you prepare your pantry. Study emergency first aid. Study CPR. Keep your CPR training current, because those people change the guidelines of "how to" administer CPR all the time. Know about the common distresses that you might come in contact with and what the best methods of care are in just such a circumstance. And when you have done all you know to do,.....ask someone for other suggestions.

Remember that no matter how much you prepare, there is always something more you can do. FIND THAT and get to work preparing that much more. In the famous words of Tony Little,.... "You can DO IT!"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Taking Inventory

My personal opinion is that from time to time (perhaps once per year) it is a good idea to take a personal inventory of your storage items. How far you take it is certainly up to you, but DO it. How else will you know if you've got enough to survive 3 days? 3months? a year? 3 years? You might find you have weak areas or that you've completely overlooked certain items. Having a chance to take care of those things when there is no real emergency is definitely preferable!

Whether you hand-write a list or just look at your pantry and think to yourself, consider what you've stored.

Do you have flour/sugar/wheat?
Do you have cooking oils?
Do you have bottled fresh vegetables? fruits? meats?
Do you have dehydrated vegetables? fruits? meats?
Do you have freeze-dried vegetables? fruits? meats?
Have you thought about eggs and butter?
What about spices to make your foods taste good?
Did you remember adequate water? (at least 1 gallon per person per day for drinking, more for cleaning/cooking)
Did you consider sanitation? Toilet paper, baby wipes, soap/shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, feminine needs, diapers?
Do you have sufficient first aid items in a kit and do you know how to use them all?
Do you have a well stocked 72-hour kit? (The FEMA type people say that "The first 72 are on you" and THEN they will consider helping your needs.)
Do you have clothing and blankets and a tent?
Are your flashlights holding fresh batteries?
Do you have extra batteries?
And a battery powered radio for emergency communication?
Do you have copies of important documents (birth certificates, insurance forms, medical info, etc) in waterproof storage bags and in a handy location?
Do you have a few dollars set aside in case you have to evacuate?

If that's not enough, I have more for you to consider...
Do you have a recipe booklet to help you cook up those foods you stored?
Do you rotate those items so that your body accustomed to them and you won't suffer diarrhea?
Do you practice fire drills or evacuation steps or tornado drills so you can take cover quickly?
Do you maintain enough fuel in your vehicle to get you out of the area at a moments notice?
Do you check your home regularly for little safety problems you can fix and avoid hazards?
Do you have an escape plan in place for your home? Church? Workplace?
Do you have emergency phone numbers posted and up-to-date?

If you think that you've stored plenty and haven't checked it to ensure it is still free from water damage, bugs or spoilage...if you feel comfortable that you have enough and have no need to store more,....I hope you will take a moment and re-evaluate. If are always preparing, or improving your preparations, you will come out much further ahead should the need arise.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gardening Time!

"The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah."
~~~~ President Ezra Taft Benson

Think back to the story of Noah's Ark. How many people survived that tremendous flood? Only those who were obedient and followed Noah into the ark--which were very very few. Once the rains came and the doors of the ark closed, how many people "saw the light?" I would say very very many...but at that point, it was too late. The only way to survive was to get on that ark.

We have been told to "build an ark" of our own. The time is fast approaching when the ark doors will be shut and only those who got on board will be protected from the storms. Our storms can come at any time and in a multitude of ways, and we NEVER know when that might be! Just ask those citizens of Japan, and Louisiana, and Haiti, and New York City, and Homestead Florida, and,.... countless other regions that have suffered some type of devastation suddenly. These things are happening more and more frequently, and that limits our time between storms to prepare. The more we do today, the brighter tomorrow can look.

The prophets have said to plant a garden.
"We will see the day when we will live on what we produce."
~~~~ President Marion G. Romney

The result of us NOT following this counsel is found here:
"When people are able but unwilling to take care of themselves we are responsible to employ the dictum of the Lord that the idler shall not eat the bread of the laborer."
~~~~ President Boyd K Packer

I wish not to be an idler. I do not wish to beg my neighbor to give to me what I should have gathered for myself....and KNEW that I should have gathered and yet did not. I also do not want my extended family to have to starve to ensure that I am cared for. So I will be planting my garden. And as I do, I will also be offering my prayers to ask the Lord to bless that field that its fruits may be a blessing to my family and a testimony to my children of their parents' faithfulness.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where are your 3-month supplies?

Tonight I attended my meeting at the stake center for the ward emergency preparedness coordinators. One thing that was brought to my attention is a question asked from our stake representative: Where are you with your Food Storage?

I have items stored. How long will the items I've stored last? Do I know what to do with the things I've got? I've got a can of freeze-dried bell peppers. What in the world will I do with that? None of us just eat bell peppers like that. I use them as an ingredient in a few things like spaghetti sauce. So do I have spaghetti stuff stored? Actually,... no I don't. So I'm storing bell peppers that I can't really use unless my family is literally starving to death. I need to remedy that by storing other ingredients to go with my bell peppers.

But still, I've got items stored. How long can I survive if what I currently have is all I have when emergency strikes? Honestly, I don't know. It's time to evaluate! Not only that, but its time to fill in the gaps that I already know exist in my food storage.

Why are we storing food?
No, we're not trying out for the Hoarders tv show. We're not even preaching doomsday theories here. Instead, we're suggesting wisdom that thinks ahead. Nobody plans to lose their job. Nobody plans to get hurt and be physically unable for a time to care for their needs. Nobody plans on economic hard times. They do happen, though. They happen everyday to somebody. That means YOU will likely have your own turn at some point. Prepare to deal with it now while you can!

Now that brings me to another thought. How do you afford food storage?
One of the members of my ward mentioned to me several months ago that she and her husband had purchased a years supply all in one fell swoop. She said it cost her around $3000.00 which is an amazing price if you add up what you normally spend week by week for a year. That big round number took my breath away, and I dare say there are many who would feel the same way. So if you can't do it that way, then you do it little by little...."line upon line, precept upon precept" until you finally get there. Storing your food should be a constantly ongoing effort anyway. Why? Because what parent can let their children-even grown children-go without food should crisis strike? And what about grandchildren, ... or maybe its your parents who fall upon hard times. Take care of YOUR needs first, and then build upon on it so you can help your neighbor and other family. You should be EATING those foods you store too. Its devastating to spend time and money storing food only to find it has gone bad or been infested by bugs or rodents or received water damage, etc at the time you suddenly need to depend on it. Rotating keeps you aware of the condition of your food and lets you get the most good from it regularly.

So now I ask you: Where are you with YOUR food storage? Do you have three months worth of food in your pantry? Not just those things you can stash for 25 years before opening. I mean those simple things you use on a daily basis and keep close at hand, NOT in the basement. Do you have adequate water handy to re-hydrate those dehydrated and freeze-dried foods?

You can afford what you want to afford. You can collect what you want to collect. You can make any effort you choose to make. What will YOU do?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

EMCOMM Exercise

Those of you who became licensed ham radio operators, I felt the need to commend you for your efforts and let you know that your obedience has been noticed well beyond Powder Springs stake--- word has spread to surrounding stakes as well. You have set an example that is impressive. So feel good about yourself! You've done a good thing.

Now moving forward, Saturday (1/15/2011) we will have the first multi-stake net in North Georgia. We will practice (probably relay style) communicating with each to see how we will have to do it to get the most communication accomplished. If you are a Ham and are unable to attend, then look into downloading Echolink and go to Walmart or Staples and purchase a headset (headphones and mic combination). Crank it on and start your highspeed listening....working up your confidence to interact there yourself.

As I said, this is the FIRST multi-stake net, implying there will be others-- and there will be. There will also soon be a local WARD net too. It will operate a little less often, but will operate soon nonetheless. Hopefully it will provide an opportunity for some of us to gain more courage and confidence AND EXPERIENCE so that larger nets and communication activities will scare us less.

So this is your heads up! If you are interested in participating, be at the church Saturday morning by 8am, or post/email your questions.