Thursday, December 27, 2012

Income in Uncertain Times: Barter and Cottage Industry

The universe has certain natural laws.  And sometimes its first one seems subtitled Murphy.  But whether you find yourself searching the Help Wanted Ads, are trying to make ends meet just that tiny bit further, or are rebuilding your life after a major disaster--you can still provide for your needs and keep your independence.  As Disney says, all it takes is faith and a little bit of Pixie Dust--or in other words, ingenuity, hard work, and careful planning!


By bartering or through your own cottage industry, of course!


Bartering is simply the exchange of goods or services.  When we barter, we trade an item for an item, an item for a service, or a service for a service.

Before you freak out that you don't know how to barter, you need to remember that, actually, you do.  Remember trading stuff out of your lunch at school?  Or how about trading 'favors' with your sibling?  Or how about going to work each day and getting a piece of paper at the end of the month with a dollar sign on it?  The truth is, we've been bartering all our lives--and all of humanity's history!  While the stuff we've bartered for has changed according to our needs and what we value, the fact that we barter still remains.

Sure, you can pick up training books on Amazon to learn how to barter better--and I highly recommend it!--even watch tv shows like Trading Up to see how some people go at it and pick up ideas from their ideas--but in truth, the basics of bartering are actually quite simple and steady.

After all, you bartered as a child, remember?

So let's refresh the adult you on the basics of bartering.

First, you have to decide what you want to get or what service you need done.  This includes taking the time to research the current 'market value' of them.  Remember, you can only successfully close a trade if everyone involved feels it is actually fair.  Hopefully, you already know this, but make sure that what you want is legal.  Or you might find that you end up trading for a neat pair of orange coveralls!

Second, you must choose what you will be willing to provide in trade back--either in goods or services.  Bartering is a two way street!  This means you need to know the market value of things at your end, as well.  Just as you don't want to cheat someone else, you definately don't want to under sell yourself, either!  And again, keep it legal!  Federal Agents do pose as potential barter partners to catch illegal trades--I actually know someone who learned this the hard way!

Third, you need to connect yourself with the person who has or does what you want or need.  And not just any Joe Schmoe, it needs to be the person who also wants what you have or do back.  This takes networking--and includes taking the time to ask around, post ads (think bulletin boards, newspapers, magazines, or online), and going to barter organizations (both online and off) to make the connections you're looking for.  Be patient and choose carefully, you want to deal with a reputable person--and in a good way!

Fourth, start talking with your potential barter partner.  If you've done all your research ahead of time and are talking to someone who has a good chance of being interested, all you have to do now is be courteous and chat for a bit.  Make that human connection.  This lets both of you decide if you want to deal with each other.  Then propose your trade.  If the other guy is interested, the haggling can now begin.  Stay courteous.  If the two of you can't agree on a deal, that's fine.  Shake hands and part respectfully.  If you can, then shake hands and keep your part of the bargain.  Murphy's may be the universe's first law, but The Golden Rule is definately the second!

So have fun and be careful, bartering can be a really powerful financial assist.

But if bartering is a powerful assist, cottage industry and be a mainstay strength.

Cottage Industry

Cottage Industry is simply small-scale industry done at home--usually by family members using their own skills and equipment.  In other words, it is the industry that comes out of the home rather than out of the factory.

Where does cottage industry happen?

Why, all around you!  You can see the goods at craft fairs, small 'mom and pop' shops, SCA markets, and online at personal websites or in 'shops' on internet markets like Etsy or even eBay.  You see its services advertised on family owned cleaning vans or on their landscaping trucks.   Cottage industry can be done by grandmothers knitting in their favorite chair or by a young college student bent over a computer keyboard.  It can be baked goods done in a small kitchen or photography sessions performed in a corner of a garage.  It can be an income supplement or the entire income itself.

So how do you begin your own cottage industry?

First, sit down with some paper and a pen, and carefully decide what goods or service you want to provide.  Analyze yourself!  Know your abilities and interests, research the costs (which include needed equipment, base supplies, advertising, etc.), and determine your market (who you are selling to, your competitors, all projected sales, and your future revenue sustainability).  Here is where the quality of your research will make or break you later.  Be smart--don't pull punches with your ego--if you aren't truly skilled enough to produce a particular item or service in quality, either get skilled or find something you are actually good at!  This isn't a pride issue, this is a monetary issue.  Those that are skilled, get the income.

Second, get to know your local, state and federal laws in reference to cottage industry.  Again, it's the orange coverall.  Don't short yourself in the end for a tempting short cut now!  Keep careful records, pay your taxes, deliver quality goods or services, follow all regulations, and be wise.  Risk taking is for Vegas, not for when you or your family are relying on food getting on the table and bills being paid!

Third, create an 'official' workspace and hammer out a 'real' work schedule.  Why?  Because this will make the difference between having a hobby and having a cottage industry.  Professional structure gives professional results.  If you want your cottage industry to be a true income--whether in goods or services--you must give it true attention.

Fourth, do your self marketing.  This can be stuff like business cards and websites, ads in papers and online forums, flyers on bulletin boards or attending activities in your target markets.  If people don't know you exist, they can't buy from you.  Basic logic.  And don't forget to take advantage of the already esisting barter organizations and network--or available targeted markets like Etsy!  They are some of the best and fastest ways to get yourself out there.

So, now you are thinking about barter and cottage industry!

Remember that whether times are hard or just tight, bartering and cottage industry can help you make ends meet and keep your financial independence.  And there is nothing as satisfying as providing for yourself or your family through your own ingenuity, hard work, and careful planning! 

Take the evening to sit down and do some thinking.

Uncertain times doesn't have to mean uncertain income.

So be your own Pixie Dust.

You can do it!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Elder Care in Emergencies

Some of our most vulnerable people in emergencies are the elderly. 

Before we can properly plan for their care in emergencies, we need to create a personal assessment of them.  This means that to begin, first we must determine two essential things:

Where are they located?
What are their needs?

The elderly are typically in one of three permanent locations--living with family members, residing in their own homes, or staying in an assisted care facility.  Where they spend the majority of their time, determines in huge part how you make your plans for emergencies.  One, because it gives you a good starting point of their basic needs.  Two, it determines where you will be storing their supplies.  And three, it lets you know how to alter your plans best to accommodate them and you in emergencies. 

Let's take each of the three locations and go through the determining points noted above.

Living with family

Elderly people living with family usually need some form of assistance to function in the day to day environment.  While this can be something like just needing help with mobility, it can also mean needing total assistance to stay alive.  Generally, their needs in this location are tended to by family members entirely--sometimes with occasional help from trained medical personnel.   This means there should be at least one person on site who is familiar with and able to help them in emergencies. Their emergency supplies will be located with the rest of the household's supplies and because they are already present, there is no need to plan for bringing them to your location for safety--though you will want to plan for moving them from your location in case evacuation is necessary.


Those living in their own homes usually are able to completely take care of their own day to day needs--though some may have outside assistance in areas they have decreased ability or medical requirements in.  Their emergency supplies will be located in their own home but you will need to plan for the possibility of relocating them and their supplies in emergencies due to safety concerns.  You will also need to keep up on their needs and receive any training yourself which could assist you, should you need to relocate them to your home in an emergency, as you may not have the ability to bring in outside assistance.

Assisted Care Facility

Elders living in an assisted care facility generally have severe needs requiring constance observation and professional help.  Their emergency supplies may be stored here in whole or in part, with any remaining being located at the family member's home nearest them.  Emergency relocation from a care facility is rarely to a family member home--and is usually to another care facility or medical facility, due to the advanced needs of the elders in this area.  Your plans will have to be detailed and well-laid out, to tend their needs--and it is highly recommended that you make sure the facility they reside in has extensive and realistic emergency plans in place for all the residents, with all the emergency supplies on site and sufficient trained personnel present to actually be able to enact the plans.  Care facilities are notoriously understaffed and undersupplied on a regular basis--a situation which becomes even worse in emergencies.   You need to know the facility's plans, who is helping with evacuations and where they will be taken, how emergency supplies are getting to the facility in emergencies and how much is kept on hand regularly, who will be assisting the residents throughout the emergency, how regular daily needs will be met--even without power, the training levels of all staff, etc.  If needed, contact state or federal agencies to get the facility your elder is located in, up to safe and responsible levels.  But make no mistake, caregiving is a job--which means in emergencies, you might not have anyone show back up to work.  So be prepared to take over all care of your elder if needed or be able to move them to another site safely--you just might have to.  This source gives a good idea of what a care facility should have considered and tended to in their emergency planning, print it out, study it, and take it with you to the facility.  In fact, make another copy and give it to them.  And follow up until their emergency plans are excellent.

So, now that we know the effects locations make on your emergency plans for the elderly, it is time to begin building your plans.

There are a HUGE number of organizations currently in existence which can help you plan realistically and as accurately as possible for your elders in emergencies.  You will NEED to do research to narrow all the information down and specialize it to the particular needs your elders have.  I strongly recommend beginning with the following sites and going from there:   This site is amazing--and hosts a huge library of topics which are sortable by need area--and provides information for elders as well as their caregivers.  This is an essential emergency informational tool for any elder--and gives them the ability to instantly inform any caregiver or emergency personnel of their needs.  And it is neatly portable, so relocation needs do not endanger your elder with the possible loss of vital information.  This site holds a large number of references for planning for elders in emergencies (FEMA 476 Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and Other Special Needs, is but one of the resources available.)

There are additional assists from the Red Cross, the Alzheimer's Association, AARP, Ready, Homeland Security, Emergency Preparedness Initiative, etc.

Now, once you've done all your research from professional and up-to-date sources, it is time to begin actually making your emergency plans.  If your elder is able to understand, it is essential that you make all emergency plans together--just as you should have made all emergency plans for your family with the members who will be effected by them.  Plans can only work if they are correctly made and KNOWN.

I will not take the time here to relist the areas of planning that are already covered in previous posts--instead, I will add the information here which is specifically for elders.

Obviously, you will need to focus any information on your elder's needs, so remember to adapt accordingly.

Elders require special attention in the following areas:



You must plan for their daily medical needs.  Because emergencies threaten the ability to get to a doctor easily, you need to arrange with your elder's doctor to have at least a two week extra supply of all medicinal needs.  If possible, a thirty day supply is best.  You also need to have all of your elder's medical information in one location which is easily accessible in emergencies, should you or trained personnel need to relocate them--this is where the My Ready Book really shines.  Do not forget that you need to plan for all of your person's medical assists, as well.  This means everything from hearing aids and batteries, to oxygen, to walking assists, to eyeglasses and dentures, blood sugar monitoring devices, to service animals--with everything needed to maintain them, too.  It would also be a very good idea to have a manual replacement for anything battery operated, if at all possible--or the means to recharge the batteries.  Be sure that you and any other responsible family member knows how to correctly give all medicine and operate all medical assists.  If you need to evacuate your elder, you must bring all medicines, medical history and information, necessary medical assists and service animals with them!  Failure to do so may literally mean life or death of your elderly person!  So plan ahead and carefully.


Keeping clean in emergencies is essential--and can be significantly harder for the elderly to manage.  You must have toileting supplies (emergency toilet, wipes, toilet paper, sanitizer, and any incontinence or diapering items needed), bathing supplies (body wipes, soap, 'sponge' bath items, etc.), grooming supplies (specialized nail clippers, shaving items, comb or brush, tooth and denture items, etc.) and laundry supplies (for manually washing clothing and bedding).  You must also be trained in properly toileting, sponge bathing, and grooming the elderly.  And yes, it does take training to do it right!


Elders often have mobility issues.  This can be something as a simple need for a steady arm to lean on to a cane or walker, or it can mean something more complex like a wheelchair or scooter.  Your person could need help getting up and down--or be bedridden entirely.  If possible, have more than one essential mobility item--that way if one is lost, stolen or damaged, your person is not left unassisted.  Remember to have extra batteries and battery chargers for any assists your elder needs--and manual versions of essential ones, if possible.  Remember that this area also includes your long range mobility plans--evacuation and relocation.  Some elders can be moved by a regular vehicle, others require wheelchair accessible vans, and some require a full medical transportation.  Know what your person needs and plan for it.


The mental state of your elder is something you need to really plan for.  The Alzheimer's Association has a lot of assistance to provide for people with needs in this area--from helps in planning, to GPS tracking, to medical alert tags, to helplines.  They can be contacted here:  Remember that emergencies are seriously high octane stress for adults of full mental abilities, let alone someone who doesn't.  Be patient and compassionate--you WILL make the difference for them in an emergency, for better or worse.  I strongly recommend taking professional training in how to communicate and assist elders with cognition issues.  Don't just wing it.  You can hurt your elder badly by being untrained--and bring legal action against yourself for the abuse.  You need to be a source of comfort and stability in an emergency, so learn how to be.


Emergencies bring out the best and the worst of people--they also bring damaged buildings, disrupted power, broken water or sewer pipes, and a host of other hazards.  You need to provide as much protection for your elder as is possible.  This means everything from doing or making sure is done any repairs or hazard-proofing of their home or facility, providing non-powered means to maintain daily living over extended emergencies, to making their place as criminally protected as possible.  Know the possible emergencies which could effect their area--and plan for dealing with them.  This could mean fire alarms and extinguishers, assist 'grab' bars throughout the home, emergency immediate contact ability should your person fall and be unable to reach a phone, non-electrical lighting (preferably non-flammable) for loss of power, etc.  If this means you will have to relocate them, then have the ability to do so--and the secure location to take them to.  Do NOT count on the 'goodness' of others--or their sense of 'duty'.  Your elder's care is your responsibility.

Now, you have the basic information to start your emergency plans for your elder--go for it.  If at all possible, sit down with your elder and talk with them, include them in the planning process.  Make sure they know how to respond safely to emergencies--and that they feel secure that their needs are going to be accurately met.  You have a ton of professional sources out there--do your research and take any training you need.  Remember to have your elder learn and train as much as they can, with you.  Assist any staff members or facility operators in developing quality and realistic emergency plans.  Go back through the previous posts to this blog, center the Layers of Personal Emergency Preparedness we've talked about before on your elder.  Prepare their kits and build up their supplies.  Use the information you have learned today, to enhance everything for their best benefit.  You can make all the difference for your elder's life.

Start now.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Doing Laundry in Emergencies

Doing the laundry is part of your normal routine.  Whether you have your own washer and dryer or use a commercial facility, it's a given that you will be dealing with dirty stuff at some point.  

Even in emergencies, there is just no getting around the need to do laundry.

But how do you do your laundry when you don't have electricity?

The answer is:  manually.

Happily, however, you've got choices in how you do it manually!

But how do I know what will work best for me? 

Easy--ask yourself:

How much laundry will I have to do?  Is it just me I'm planning for--or do I have a family's level of laundry to take into consideration?  Could I have more people with me than I normally do in an emergency--friends or extended family?

What you are trying to figure out, is the easiest way for you to do the amount of laundry you could at worst need to do.   This lets you figure out what to pick as your manual washing option, so you can do laundry more efficiently.  And more efficiently means easier in the long run!

So what are your options?

Now, sure, you could wash your laundry by hand in a plugged sink.  Or take your laundry down to the nearest creek and pound it with rocks.  Either works.  But the first isn't practically for doing a lot of laundry and the second isn't very secure in times of emergencies when you need to keep an eye out for bad guys at the same time you do your underwear--or sanitary for what you might unintentionally introduce into the drinking water supply!

So what we are going to talk about is using manual washing 'machines'.  These give you a lot of pluses.  They give you the ability to do even a lot of laundry on a regular basis in emergencies.  They stand up to long term use so you are covered even in extended emergencies and their long aftermaths.  They let you remain in your home or on your property for better security safety while you wash.  They improve your sanitation levels by improving your cleaning levels.  And they also make doing laundry by hand easier

And anything that makes a chore easier is good!

So let's start by learning about our options.

Now, there are typically three standard divisions of manual washing:

*Crank Turned
*Board and Basin

Let's talk about each division--remember to keep in mind your earlier answers, so you can pick which one will work the best for your needs.  And your backup!

Crank Turned

These are operated by turning a crank handle, forcing water by rotation through laundry to clean it. The fastest and lowest effort to operate--they are the best for large laundry needs or long term emergency use.  They range from the portable model types RV owners, apartment dwellers, and military personnel favor like Wonder Wash--to the full size machines used by non-electric powered communities like the Amish prefer, such as the Home Queen Wringer Washers

Board and Basin

These are the ones most people are familiar with from Westerns and other historical styled tv shows--consisting of a basin or large tub and a ribbed board (called a washboard).  Clothes are worked up and down the board to scrub them clean.  A second basin or tub is needed to 'rinse' your laundry.  There are both antique and modern set ups available for purchase.


This style uses a bucket and a specially made laundry plunger like the Rapid Washer to work the dirt out of laundry through an up and down motion.  A second bucket for use as a rinse bucket is necessary to plunge the soap out of laundry.  Again, there are antique and modern versions for you to choose from.  This set up is usually the cheapest--in fact, you can even create your own 'makeshift' set up, using a NEW industrial strength toilet plunger and two buckets.

So now that you know your options, choose the laundry set up which best fits the answers you gave earlier.  You can purchase some of these set ups from antique stores, home supply stores or warehouses.  I recommend using Amazon or Lehman's (both available for online shopping). 

But don't forget--no matter what set up you choose, you are going to need accessories!

What sort of accessories?

Think of stuff like:  buckets to haul water (and a heavy duty pull wagon if you want to be nice to yourself or the poor dude doing the water detail), more buckets to hold wet clothing or do rinses in, laundry line and clothespins for hanging up wrung out clothes for drying, sturdy laundry baskets or bags, soap and soap grater, just to start with.  If you want to be able to iron your clothing without power, you'll need metal irons (called Sad Irons).  Of course, you'll need to be able to boil water in large quantities, so have industrial strength stainless steel stockpots or even better, large cast iron dutch ovens for use over coals (you'll want to save any fuel-operated heating means for stuff like cooking!).

But whatever laundry set up you choose, take the time to read up on how to use it--and practice using it!  Believe it or not, but there are actual skills needed to effectively do your laundry manually!  Be smart and take the time to learn them before you need them.

So sit down and figure out what will work best for you and get started.

You can do your laundry even in emergencies!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Planning Your Food Supplies

Planning your food supplies for emergencies takes more than just stuffing cans or boxes on your shelves.


First, because you can't count on being able to just pop back out to the store to pick up something you forgot.  

Severe winter weather could make using roads crazy talk.   Trucker strikes could halt food shipments into your area.  Power outs could force stores to shut down.  Godzilla could decide to walk through your city and squish everything. 

The point is, you might not be able to just go pick up something from the store.

And second, because your food supplies need to do more than just fill your stomach--they actually have to take care of your needs.

So what are your needs?

Well, to find out what your needs are, start by considering the following twelve factors:

*Group Size--How many people do you need to plan for?  Could there be any unexpected additions to this number?

*Duration of Need--How long could you need to rely on your food supplies without the opportunity to restock?

*Exertion Levels--What is the maximum level of physical work you might need to do?  Over how many hours, days, weeks, or months?

*Weather--What is the worst possible conditions you could be exposed to?  For how many hours, days, weeks, or months?

*Nutritional Balance--What foods do you need to stay in prime health?  Are you planning a food supply which will let you do everything you might need to do?  Have you planned correctly for the nutritional needs of any special groups in your home--children, elderly, pregnant females, etc?

*Individual Dietary Needs--Are there any special dietary requirements you need to plan for?  Do you need to compensate for any allergies, illnesses, diseases, religious requirements, or any other necessary food choice alterations for yourself or anyone else? 

*Food Preferences--What do you and your people like to eat?

*Expense and Availability--What is your financial budget for building your emergency food supplies?  Are there items which may become unavailable to purchase before others?  In what order of importance should you acquire items?

*Storage--What foods store well over long periods of time?  Where will you store your food supplies?  Are the places you choose, secure and pest (or other threat of damage or loss) free?  Do you have the skills and materials to properly and safely store additional food as it becomes available?  Can you protect your supplies in these locations?

*Preparations--What do you require to prepare these supplies for eating?  Do you need any repair, maintenance or replacement items for this?  If there is no power, do you have sufficient fuel stored to prepare your foods?  What is your alternative preparation means for when you run out of fuel?  What skills do you need to use your supplies?

*Mobility--Can you relocate your food supplies quickly if needed?  Do you have the equipment or physical assistance needed to help you do this?  If you can't move all of your supplies, what portion is your designated evacuation supply?  Where is it kept?  Where will you move your supplies to?

*Safety Net--Do you have any extra supplies for unexpected losses or needs?  What safety margin have you given yourself to counter any errors in food storage planning?  Do you have the knowledge, skills and equipment needed to add to or replace your food supplies?

Once you have considered these factors, you need to look at your base calorie requirements. 

What is your base calorie requirements?

It is simply this:  You need to eat a certain amount of food, containing a certain amount of calories-- based on the type of weather you will be exposed to and the amount of exertion you will be performing.   This is something the military knows very well for feeding its troops in the field--and it works very well for you in planning for your emergency food supplies.

I recommend the following guide, which comes from NOLS to give you a good idea of how much poundage and calories you need to aim at for each person per day.   Personally, I really recommend planning for the absolute maximum possible need you might have--rather than risk planning too little.  Think of Murphy's Law and go for a planning counter!

NOLS Guide:

*1.5 lbs, 2,500-3,000 calories for leisure days with hot days/warm nights
*1.75-2 lbs, 3,000-3,500 calories for moderate to active days with warm or cool days/nights
*2-2.25 lbs, 3,500-4,500 calories for heavy work days with cool days/cold nights
*2.5 lbs, 4,000-5,000 + calories for extremely strenuous work days with cold days/extremely cold nights

So now that you know your needs, sit down and plan out your food supplies.  Take your time and do your research--consider the above factors and your base calorie requirements in this planning.

Remember that you are planning to take care of yourself and your people in emergencies--so plan well!

And get started now.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Home Storage Supply

Each of the Layers of Personal Emergency Preparedness is aimed at helping you increase your independence and self-reliance.   As you add layer upon layer to yourself and your loved ones, you are increasing your skills, abilities, and supplies--and increasing your opportunities for succeeding in emergencies.  Taken together, as a whole, your layers help you deal with short term and long duration trouble.  We have talked about the layers that will help take you through two weeks of difficulty in previous posts.  Now we're ready to talk about the last layer in the set, the one specifically designed for extended emergencies and their long aftermaths--the Home Storage Supply.  Because this is the most comprehensive and far reaching layer, know that it will also be the one that takes the most preparation and planning of them all.

So let's start now.

What is the Home Storage Supply?

The Home Storage Supply is simply this:  everything you need to be self-sufficient for an absolute minimum of one year.   And that includes you, anyone living with you (human or otherwise), and your home and property.

While this seems like a really daunting layer--and it can be if you go at it without any proper planning!--you will find that if you pay attention to your focus categories, that it really isn't as scary as it seems.  The simple key is persistence.

Like they say, eat an elephant one bite at a time.

Now, if you've been building your layers as we've gone through them, you already now have increased your self-reliance to two weeks.  What we are going to do now is just keep on building. 

So how do I start?

First, begin by going through the following categories and meeting your complete needs now for one month.  Then another month, and then another, and so on.  If your personal finances are tight, then bite off a smaller piece--and go for one more week or two.  What matters is that you keep adding.  Why do we do it this way, instead of getting everything in one category before moving to the next?   Because we aim to be self-sufficient as we go rather than wait until the end!  After all, we never know when an emergency will happen.

So here we go!

The categories that you need to keep focused on are:

*Warmth, Light and Clothing
*Food and Water
*Shelter Needs
*Medical and Hygiene
*Tools and Weapons
*Comfort and Entertainment
*Library and Documentation
*Currency Needs
*Cottage Industry and Barter

Let's talk a bit about each of these categories--again, keep in mind that you must consider yourself, those with you (human and other), and your home and property when you think about each one.

Warmth, Light and Clothing

It is very important that you compensate for possible periods of extended loss of electrical power.  You might be lucky and keep it the whole time, but there's no guarantee!   Do your research and know exactly how long each one of your choices last--otherwise you'll fall short.  Cold or rainy climates need to pay really close attention to this category to help guard you and yours from suffering from cold related medical trouble.  You will also find that children, elderly and animals need special considerations in this category, so tailor your plans to you!

Warmth:  You must be able to stay warm--this means your home and anything living in it!  Some ways you could plan for this could include:  installing non-electric powered wood burning stoves (not pellet ones!), increasing the insulation of your home, getting generators, having proper clothing layers of correct materials, storing quality wool or down blankets and cold temperature sleeping bags, etc.  Don't forget that you must also cover all the maintenance needs and fuels for these things as well!   Plan for keeping your animals warm--fur is often not enough!

Light:  You will need light outside of daylight--this is more than just psychological, it for work assistance and security!  This could mean installing solar panels or one of the other alterative ways to draw your own power off grid.  But this also means actual supplies of stuff that gives you light.  Some things to consider are:  lanterns, oil or kerosene lamps, candles, flashlights, area lights, high powered lightsticks, etc.  Again, you must also include all parts, fuels and maintenance needs for each of the items you choose.  Remember that you have choices in how these things operate--there is solar power, hand power, fuel or battery operated, etc.   Research!

Clothing:  You must have a supply of sturdy and climate appropriate clothing for each person in your plan--suitable for hard work and able to be repaired by hand.  Learn how to layer clothing correctly, what types are most effective, how to launder them by hand, and how to repair or make more of them.   Don't forget to include the supplies which will let you do your own repairs or make replacements--which also means, that you must learn how to do this stuff!  Don't forget your animals in this area--dogs and horses are just some which often need coats or blankets to help protect them from severe cold or penetrating chill.  

Food and Water

It is important in this category that you remember that you may not be able to resupply yourself and your animals from the store--or receive one of those oh-so-convienant government supply drops like you see in tv shows like Jericho.  You will need to plan for your own food production or acquisition, food processing and proper storage, cooking, cleaning up, and disposing of garbage.  Just as you need to plan on locating and hauling water, purifying and storing it to replenish your supplies.  And don't plan on having electrical or fuel powered assists to do this stuff!  You will need some serious skills in this area and lot of practice.  Be extremely detailed oriented in your supplies to do this stuff--and think of the need to reuse and keep going over a long period of time.

Food:  You will need to plan for approximately 600-800 lbs of food per person per year.  This gives you 'wiggle room'--the ability to safely counter:  greatly increased physical activity, exposure to the environment, illness, high stress, theft or partial confiscation, spoilage or infestation, cooking failures, sharing, trading, new additions to your family, etc.  Choose foods that require no refrigeration, ones that you actually like eating, those that provide good nutriention, and ones you know how to use in cooking.  Store them properly and never all in one place (it's the whole eggs in one basket saying!).  Balance your food supply by including:  grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products, meat and meat alternatives, oils, leavenings, sugar or sugar alternatives, seasonings and flavorings, and treats.  Plan for more than you need.  Always.

Water:  You must have at least one gallon of drinking water per person per day--more if your area suffers from high or extended heat.  Remember--any other beverages are in addition to that, not in place of.   Nope, sorry, soda pop is not a water substitute!  Remember, you also need to store water for your cooking needs, bathing and sanitation requirements, doing your laundry and for the general cleaning requirements of your home--at least one gallon per person per day in this area, too.  You also need water purification means, water transportation assists, and the long-term storage containers to store your water supplies.  Because you will need to purify the water you gather, it is a good idea to add drink mixes to your storage to help with taste.  If you can, install water gathering assists ahead of time--filtered gutters that run to rain barrels, cysterns, wells (with manual pumps in addition to electrical ones), etc. 

Shelter Needs

Your home takes on special importance in emergencies--it becomes more than just a living space, it becomes a necessary place of comfort and security in the middle of chaos and danger.   Anything you can do now to improve your home and make it more secure and disaster resistant is a really good idea!   Remember that you may not have electricity to keep your home comfortable or safe in emergencies--so plan your manual alternatives and get them installed.  Make your home and property as clean, well maintained and secure as you can now, it will only help you later.  So don't put off any work that needs to be done to it--it is supposed to be your sancurary in emergencies, so make it one now!

Maintenance, Cleaning and Repair:  You will need the knowledge, skills, tools and supplies to keep your home as functional as possible for as long as possible--this means you will need to provide any maintenance it needs, keep it as hygenic as you can, and repair any damages an emergency or its aftermath causes.

Protection:  You need to keep your home secure at all times--from emergencies themselves and from any criminal intent.  Remember that you might not have electricity to help you do this.  Get professional advice!  FEMA and the Red Cross have information on how you can help protect your home from (or reduce the damaged done in) emergencies.  Law enforcement and security personnel can help you plan your protection from the people danger side of emergencies.  Don't take risks or chances with your home's security--you are going to rely even more on it in times of trouble than you do now!

Medical and Hygiene

In emergencies, especially extended ones, medical and hygiene supplies become extremely hard to locate--and personnel skilled in them, are stretched very thin.  What you install and supply in your home now, will give you serious advantage later.  Take professional training and plan carefully!  Don't forget to make special plans for any medical conditions or age specific needs in your home.  And don't forget your animals!

Medical:  Store all necessary medical supplies for multi-person, long duration needs.  This includes medical assists (with non-electric backups), first aid supplies, extended need medical supplies, prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, etc.  Keep modern and detailed first aid and advanced response books on hand--and take the training for them.  Consider alternative medicines and take professional training in them.  Remember that injuries in emergencies are common.  Focus on tending:  burns, lacerations, breaks, punctures, fall related or debris falling related injuries, shock, extended illness, etc.  If you can, have a designated 'sickbay'--at least, have some section of your home set aside for medical supplies which you can easily get to quickly. 

Hygiene:  Emergencies make hygiene a serious concern--and will require you to make a special effort to guard yourself.  Because you may not have power, you might not have running water or flushing toilets.   Plan for your alternatives.  You will need to have an emergency toilet and know what to do properly with waste matter.  You must have the ability to bathe and wash your hands, tend to garbage requirements, do your own laundry manually, clean your cooking and eating impliments, and keep your home sanitary.  Females have to plan for their menstral cycle.  Mothers must plan for diapering and toilet needs of small children.  The elderly need to have their own hygiene concerns taken care of.  And you will need to be able to take care of any sick people's needs.  There is a lot of training available for you in these areas--take advantage of it now!  Try and put into your supply both disposable and non-disposable alternatives.


The ability to keep in contact with family members on your own property or about the city, receive information from emergency personnel and get updated news is essential in emergencies--especially in extended ones with their prolonged recoveries.  Because you may not have power, any communications equipment you choose needs to run on solar, battery, fuel, manual power, etc.  You may be able to use your phone or computer--but you may not.  Overburdened communication systems, destroyed towers or lines, inability to recharge batteries, etc., all may render your phone or computer useless.   So do some research and choose quality equipment to take their place in emergencies.  Choose your equipment to fit the two needs your phone or computer would normally cover:  local and long distance.  You will need some form of "walkie talkies"--letting you keep in contact with your family as you move about your local area.  Get something with at least one mile reach, preferrably five or more if possible.  You will also need radios to receive outside information.  If you can, get a Ham radio and become full trained in its use--this will let you receive information and send it, allowing you to be of great assistance to your area in emergencies.  Do not forget to include the simple communication means in your supplies--like whistles, air-propelled horns, signal flares, etc.

Tools and Weapons

Simply put, you need tools and weapons.  Especially when you are quite possibly on your own for an indeterminate length of time in a potentially damaged area.

Tools:  This area includes all the items you might need to help take care of yourself, your people and animals, and your home and property.  This means all maintenance, repairs, food procurement (hunting, fishing, trapping, planting, etc.) and processing, daily labor, etc. needs.  And it includes all the items needed to take care of and use those tools as well!  It is important that you take the time to receive proper training and practice your skill use of all of these things.  Again, don't rely on electric powered items--and be sure and store any batteries, fuels, and parts needed to go with this stuff.

Weapons:   This is an area that many people neglect to plan for in extended emergencies.  It is a dangerous mistake to rely on law enforcement or military personnel to protect you--disasters spread them impossibly thin to provide constant coverage to everyone, and without power, your means to quickly call for help and receive it swiftly is also often gone.  You will need to provide for your own and others' protection--and be able to protect your home and supplies.  Disasters bring out the best and the worst of people--be prepared to defend the best from the worst.   Know that this requires some serious professional training.  Get that training now.  Remember that you will need weapons for both short range and long range needs--as well as any additional tools or supplies to maintain and keep them operational.

Comfort and Entertainment  

Easing hardship in prolonged emergencies and their aftermaths is essential--this is more than just 'blowing off steam', it is boosting morale and helping to keep a positive psychological outlook in times of high octane stress and severe trauma.  This means building into your supply ways to play and treats to eat or drink.  This also means planning for holidays and birthdays, whether there are children present or not.   Again, do not rely on electric powered things.  Consider:  boardgames, puzzles, cards, dice, solar or manual powered radios, musical instruments, books, toys, etc.  Remember to include religious items--books, hymnals, etc.   Have laminated copies of your favorite and most meaningful family photos.  Be sure and take training specifically on how to help yourself and others deal positively with emergencies, hardship and trauma. 

Library and Documentation

You need all the information you can possibly get a hold of--specifically that which teaches you how to do all the little things you might need to know how to do.  This could be anything from how to repair your home to how to procure food to how to build a composting toilet to how to sew your own clothing.   You will also need to be your own source of your own documentation needs--this might be for insurance purposes, government assistance or rebuilding your life after a disaster.

Library:  Build up your personal library before an emergency--while there is time and ability to locate any needed information.  Stay current and use professional and reliable sources.  Think of all these categories--the needs they represent--and write out your list of possibly needed skills, training and resources.   I strongly recommend you use FEMA, Red Cross, and the Hoodlum Adventure Team (located in my Cool Sites to Check Out section) to help you figure out what you need to know and where to get the information. 

Documentation:  Gather all personal vital documentation--get any certified copies you need to replace lost items--and store it in a secure and hidden location.  Be able to take this information with you if you must leave the home, so store it in a portable and waterproof container.  You will need to have:  personal identification, passports, insurance polices, proof of ownerships, marriage certificates, medical records, prescription orders, immunization records, education records and licenses, social security cards, bank and credit card accounts, etc.--as well as contact information for any of these things.  Do not forget to have family and friend contact lists, family and pet identification pictures, etc.  It is a good idea to have a backup of these things--certified copies--in a bank deposit box, in the event that your home is lost.

Currency Needs

While it is true that there are times in extended emergencies and their aftermaths when money has no value and supplies become 'currency', there are also times when money is perfectly useful.  Without power, accessing bank and credit card accounts is difficult at best and impossible at worst.  Checks are rarely if ever accepted.  ATMs still operating are quickly emptied.  So you will need to have cash or cash substitutes (such as gold or silver) on hand to pay bills and purchase needs.  Again, you must keep these things in a secure and hidden location--preferrably in more than one secure and hidden location!  How much you store is up to you and your estimated need possiblities--but at least one month's bills on hand is a very good idea.

Cottage Industry and Barter

Severe disasters may mean a loss of your 'regular' income for an unforeseeable future length.  But you will still need to pay bills and purchase necessities.  It is wise to provide other means of income for yourself and your family.

Cottage Industry:  Learn a trade, craft, or skill which can bring you income even after a disaster.  Get any professional training and tools you need to do this.  Become proficient and successful in it.   There are ton of resources out there--think of any talents or skills you already possess and consider areas in your strongest abilities.  In good times, use this as a source of additional income.

Trade Supplies:  As seen in previous disasters, any needed item becomes 'currency'.  Learn how to barter and trade--and have items already stored to let you do this.  Think of things that are needed in emergencies, when supplies become limited and precious--remember that small things are easier to use, like 'small bills'.  Consider things like hygiene supplies, clothing repair items, assistance goods (like duct tape), etc.

Now you have the basic startup for the Home Storage Supply!

By building this final layer of your personal emergency preparedness, you are giving yourself extended duration assistance--and vastly increasing your independance and self-reliance!  True, this layer is going to take a lot of work--and lot of planning, learning, and supply gathering.  Don't let this deter you.  Just take it 'a bite at a time'--and be consistant!  Steady continual work will get you there. 

You can do it!

So start now!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Stay In Kit

All emergencies fall into two categories:

*Those that require us to deal with them away from the home

*Those that require us to face them at or from home

Some emergencies will fall into one category and stay there.  Some, however, will start in one and move to the other (and even bounce back again, depending on the nature of the event!).

Our need to be able to take on emergencies from any location, is why we've been learning about and building the layers of emergency preparedness.  The EDC, Personal Emergency Kit (or Go Bag), Car Kit and Work/School Kits, are all specifically built for the times when you must deal with an emergency away from home.  The Stay In Kit and the Home Storage Supply, however, are specifically built for those emergencies which must be faced at or from home. 

Your layers help give you the ability to adapt yourself successfully to your needs--which is why you must plan them carefully and gain the skills you need to use them to your maximum advantage!

We've talked about the layers that cover the first category--our EDC, Personal Emergency Kit, Car Kit, Work and School Kits.  Now, we are going to begin talking about the layers that take on the second--the Stay In Kit and the Home Storage Supply.

This post is for learning about and beginning to build the layer called the Stay In Kit.

The Stay In Kit needs to be able to take care of all your basic needs for at least two weeks from your home without any outside resupplying--any length of time more than that, and you will be moving into your last layer, the Home Storage Supply.

FEMA is an excellent source for beginning your research into what is needed for building this layer, as is the Red Cross.   I recommend The Hoodlum Adventure Team referred to in my Cool Sites section for in depth information and assistance.

As you plan the Stay In Kit, once again go through the six areas we've talked about before--you are planning against a number of possible emergencies, so take the time to really think it through.  You will want to consider the following categories:

*Food and Water
*Light, Heat, and Cooking
*Repair and Maintenance
*Entertainment and Comfort

As you consider these categories, remember that you are planning for a two week use need.  And don't forget--you are planning for the self-reliance of you, your home, and anyone else (human and other) who might possibly be with you for that duration!  Because you don't know if you will have electricity for the entire duration, everything you plan must be taken into consideration from a non-electrical angle.  Just as you don't know if you will be allowed or able to leave your property at all.  So keep this stuff carefully in mind.

So let's begin.
You need to have a two week supply of food and water--one that doesn't require electricity to let you eat or drink it.  This means ready-to-eat foods (edibles that require NO cooking or heating up) and bottled water (as the piped water system of your home or your electrically operating well may not working--or even contaminated).  Remember this is a two week supply for everyone in your home--including all animals.

You will need to have light and heat sources.  This is psychological and necessity based.  Battery, fuel operated, solar, chemical triggered, and manual powered are all possibilities.  A means to heat up your food and water is not necessary but may be comforting or even helpful (especially when it is cold!).  Remember that everything must be non-electric powered and safe to operate in your home.  Don't forget the supplies that go along with your sources, like:  candles, batteries, fuel, quality blankets and warm clothing--or the stuff needed to maintain or operate your light and heat sources.  And definitely don't forget the correct type of fire extinguishers for every room of your home--in case something goes wrong!

Because power may not be on, you really need to watch your sanitation.  This means methods to keep yourself clean, to deal with waste matter, do your laundry and tend to garbage.  Depending on the emergency; water may not be flowing in pipes or contaminated, toilets my not be operational and garbage services may be disrupted.   Using disposable dishes and utensils, stashing garbage bags, having a portable toilet with supplies, storing bleach and other sanitizing agents, getting a manual washing machine with laundry supplies and knowing how to give yourself a proper 'sponge' bath,  are all some of the ways you can help tend your sanitation.  Remember that females, children, elderly and animals will require extra assists in this area. 

Other than life-threatening requirements, all of your medical needs should be able to be taken care of at home.  Keep at least a two week supply of all vital prescriptions or required items.  If there are non-electric or non-battery supports for any necessary medical devices, get them as backups (like manual wheelchairs)--talk to your medical support team now and see what is available to assist any needs in your home in complete power outs.  Have solar powered or manual chargers for essential batteries.  Store a quality, extended use, multi-person medical kit.  Be fully trained in basic and advanced first aid.  Remember that some emergencies involve serious illness--know how to properly tend sick people and keep supplies which will ease or increase their speed of healing.  Sometimes you will have to restrict access to your home in order to prevent contacting illness--be responsible and practice this quarantine completely, knowing that failure to do so may be fatal.

In an extended emergency, you may need to perform makeshift or immediate repairs of your home or any items in it.  You also will need to maintain everything.  Get any training you can to assist you in this area.  Store basic tool and supply needs (hammer and nails, tarps/plastic sheeting, duct tape, epoxy, gas shutoff tool, plywood sheets, hard hats and other protective gear, etc.)--quality home supply places can assist you in creating your home's basic tool and supply needs.  Remember, that this area can be greatly helped by your effort NOW.  Do any repairs you need on your home or property immediately.  Update insulation, secure piping, make reinforcements, and do other emergency pre-assists.  FEMA offers assistance in planning how to make your home more emergency resistant.  All this is part of your Stay In Kit.  Think of it like taking care of your kit's really large duffle carrier, essential.

Your protection in an extended emergency should be taken seriously.  Law enforcement officers and military personnel may be stretched very, very thin.  Without power, security systems both personal and local are down.  Damage may interfere in even access by personnel.  Even if your cell phone is operational, the system may be overloaded.  Plan to be your own protection.  You should do most of this NOW, while the supplies and professional installations are available.  This means putting in secure fencing, chaining and locking all gates, using window and door blocks, installing security doors and frames with proper locks, removing 'blind spots' or other danger spots about your home where criminals could hide or move undetected, etc.  Talking to law enforcement or home security personnel can give you excellent help.  During an emergency, be able to immediately install complete blackout protection (to avoid unwanted attention), have the ability to board over all windows and secondary doors, and reinforce your main entrance.  Be able to secure your vehicles and all out buildings.  Take defensive training and be extremely competent with firearms and other weapons.  Plan how you will defend your home.  There are professional personnel who can teach you this.  Remember that a large part of protecting yourself is in reducing your risks--don't open doors, don't open windows or use window blocks if you have to, use a quiet generator or sound proof where it is located, don't tell others about any supplies you have built up, keep your gates locked, stay armed, etc.  Criminals become bolder, more violent and hunt in larger groups in extended emergencies--and any supplies you have, the bad guys will want for themselves.

Now, you may have no power in extended emergencies but you still need to receive emergency information and know what is going on.  Get at least two quality emergency radios--only one of which can be battery operated, the second should be a solar or manual powered one.  Store extra batteries.  If you can, become a HAM operator and have your own generator powered set up--this will let you receive and sent information, becoming an assist to emergency personnel in your area.

Because you may be staying inside your home or confined to your property for the entire two weeks without power, do not neglect your entertainment and comfort category!  Emergencies are highly stressful, especially ones that extend over more than one week.  Our society is a highly 'plugged in' one, but while you might have access to power, never count on it.  Murphy's Law remains in effect!So plan to entertain yourself in non-electric ways.  Books, games, hobbies/crafts, exercise equipment, etc., are all options.  Remember to include snacks and other comfort items!  Have easy access to meaningful items, to give yourself extra emotional support.  Take the time daily for prayer, meditation, and other 'quiet' moments--you need to stay calm and stay focused, even when everything else gets a bit crazy.

And that is the basic setup of the Stay In Kit.

Of course, the Stay In Kit is an extensive kit--some of it is 'built in' and some of it is in actual supplies.  Because of its intended duration of coverage, and the skills it requires of you, it is going to take serious thought and research on your part for this kit to be of the best help to you.  Don't let the 'size' of this kit make you nervous, take it by category and work your way through it.  You'll change things as you gain skills and knowledge, but everything you do to help increase your success in an extended emergency is good.   Think of everyone (human and other) who could possibly be with you in an emergency--with all of their needs, as well as your own--and plan your kit around this.  Get professional assistance, information and training.  Start gathering your supplies and keep them in a secure but easy to access place.

Remember, that building this kit will take some time--so start now and keep at it.

So roll up your sleeves and have at it.

You can do it!

Friday, June 22, 2012

School Kit

Everyone knows that emergencies aren't age selective.  Hopefully, you have been teaching your child or teen the layers of personal emergency preparedness--and helping them learn the skills they need, to face trouble with as much calm and success as possible.  If this seems a bit scary for you, then remember that FEMA, the Red Cross, and a lot of other professional emergency personnel out there already have a ton of information on how to teach children and teens what they need to know.  You can build on that. 

Now, your child or teen should already have their own EDC and Personal Emergency Kits already--and know how to use both correctly.  Obviously, you will have helped them make these things appropriate to their age, skills, level of responsibility, training, etc.--just as you made your kits. 

But don't stop at just those first two kits.  After all, just like you need the layers of emergency preparedness, so do they.  So keep working with them.  You can teach positive self-reliance and independence to your children, you just have to make a real consistent effort.

So, just as you have a Work Kit, your child or teen needs one, too--their version is called the School Kit.

School Kits take some extra thought--because they are specifically for a child or teen to use.  You must remember to:

*Follow all school rules (on top of local, state and federal ones).
*Keep the kit completely child or teen 'user friendly'.
*Watch the size and weight of the kit with particular care.
*Focus the kit on providing comfort while waiting for parental pick-up.
*Include emergency contacts and provide basic child/teen personal information.
*Recheck and restock the kit frequently.

Schools are very particular about what is brought onto their grounds.  Do not get your child or teen expelled or facing criminal charges because you put something in the School Kit that is forbidden.  Remember, you aren't packing your child or teen to take on SkyNet--you're just packing them to stay comfortable and safe at school until you can come get them.  It is also very important that you know the school's emergency procedures--lock downs are fairly normal for most emergencies and there are usually requirements as to when, where, and how you can get your child or teen.  These procedures are not designed to just annoy you.  They are designed to try and protect your child and keep the school's liability levels to something remotely manageable.  So behave yourself--you may be worried about your child or teen--but the school has hundreds of them to worry about.

The School Kit will only be effective for your child or teen if they can actually use it.  Themselves.  So make sure they are trained in how to use it.  This sounds obvious, but adults often overestimate things like child hand-eye coordination, strength, knowledge base, reading/comprehension abilities, etc.  Even something as simple as an item's packaging can mean your child can't get into it at all.  So sit your child or teen down and make sure they not only know what everything is, know how to use everything, but actually CAN use everything.  Don't count on an adult being able to help--all adults present will be very, very busy riding herd on an entire school of children or teens and they just might not have the time to give any individual attention beyond the most basic.

Keep the kit size and weight appropriate for your child or teen.  The kit needs to fit into the corner of a desk or locker--and be able to be stuffed into their backpack and carried if they have to move from one part of the school to another to wait for pick-up.

The School Kit, like your Work Kit, is intended to make an emergency at a specific location easier to handle--until you can go home.  However, as children or teens in school aren't allowed to just 'walk off' by school administrators as you can in an emergency from your workplace, they have to stay in place until you come to get them (or emergency personnel move them to a safer location).  So keep the School Kit focused specifically on comfort while waiting.  Remember that the electricity may be out or the building damaged--include light and warmth sources (think glow sticks, flashlights, emergency blankets, hand warmers, etc.--base your choices on their abilities), food and drink, stuff to do, and things to offer psychological easing (like a favored item, snacks, or laminated family photo, etc.)

Laminate a card containing emergency contact information and any basic personal information necessary to protect your child or teen.  Don't give information which could be used illegally (like social security numbers!), just basic information that school administration, emergency personnel or your child/teen could use to contact you or other trusted adults for pick-up--or which would help them receive correct medical care (allergies, current medications, medical conditions, blood type, etc.).  Put this card into the kit.  Make sure you have all the information and any emergency instructions also put into their school records, as well, or there could be confusion.

Remember that children and teens have a tendency to take stuff out of things and not put them back.  Work hard on teaching them not to do that with the School Kit--and why.  But be the responsible adult and plan around them, just in case.  Check the kit frequently--add back in anything that is missing and change out anything that needs it.  Be sure and change the kit as your child or teen grows, receives more training, develops more skills, etc.  Just remember rules when you do it, so neither of you get into trouble!

Now you have the foundation of a School Kit.

So now that you know where to start--start!  Do your research from professional emergency resources, think through the six areas and focus it on your child or teen, and then sit down with them and do some real talking together!

After all, you want them to be as self-reliant and independent as they can be, too.   And they need knowledge, skills and their own layers of emergency preparedness to help them do it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Work Kit

Clark Kent was a reporter.  Bruce Wayne was a corporate businessman.  Wonder Woman was an ambassador.  But they never counted on villains politely waiting until after work hours before trying to take over the world.

And neither should you.

Whether you work in the classic corner office, lay claim only to a locker, or just shove your bag into a crew room somewhere--it doesn't matter.  You can plan to take on an emergency just the same.

You just need to make your own version of Batman's utility belt and create a mini-me Bat Cave.

You need a Work Kit.

First, once again sit down and go through the six areas we've talked about in previous posts--but this time, consider the areas centered from your workplace.  After all, this kit is for emergencies that might happen while you are at work.  So do some serious thinking about your workplace.  You need to know at least the following:

*What kinds of hazards or dangers are already present in my workplace--before anything new happens?

*What possible assists to me are already present present?  (Think of tools, supplies, skilled personnel, etc.)

*Are there any workplace emergency plans already in place?  Are they current and competent?

*Am I going to stay at work for the duration of an emergency or will I leave to go home?  (For some jobs, staying is a requirement--so know your job's requirements and plan accordingly!)

*Do I have any duties or responsibilities to perform in my workplace in the event of an emergency?

*How many other people are here regularly--any maintenance or supply delivery workers, fellow employees, customers?  Will I be facing an emergency with any of these or just by myself?  Are there any non-humans regularly present? 

Remember, every workplace has rules--so check them out carefully.  Getting fired for bringing in a pocket knife is silly--especially when there are other non-knife edged options available to you.  Use your brain.  This is where all the encouragement for you to be thinking according to need and not by item comes back in.   Think:  I need to be able to cut things in an emergency.  Not:  I need a knife.  After all, EMT shears, heavy duty scissors, box cutters, multi-tools, even pop top food cans, etc. all allow you to cut things, too.  So if your workplace doesn't allow one thing, don't freak out--just pick something else.  And don't forget local, state and federal rules, either.  Breaking those can get you a lot more than just fired!

Now, before you begin gathering your Work Kit's items, you need to think first about its mini-me Bat Cave.  Some workplaces have lockable spots or at least designated 'personal' spaces--some only have general employee rooms.  Theft may be something you need to counter--so either only put items you can stand possibly being lifted or store your kit in some kind of 'distraction safe' to increase the odds you'll keep your stuff. 

Distraction safes are simply containers designed to look like one thing, while actually being another.  They come in all sizes and you can make them yourself--check out Instructables in my Cool Sites to Check Out.  A hardback book just doesn't get the kind of curiosity an unwatched purse does.  Just don't forget, the size of the place you can store your Work Kit, will determine the size of the kit, itself. 

Just whatever you pick, if your kit can't be locked awaydon't store it in anything that just screams 'steal me'.  No purses, no briefcases, no laptop bags.  Duffles are okay in some places.  Regular boxes, totes, tins (a fruitcake tin could probably hold gold and be safe), postal shipping boxes (sealed and addressed to yourself), etc., are all possible ideas.  If you need distraction safes:  books, fake plant pots (put the kit inside and arrange the plant on top to look like it is potted), Kleenex boxes, shaving cream or foot fungal cream containers, diaper boxes, feminine hygiene boxes (even better than a fruitcake tin for warding off curiosity), or anything else your clever mind and careful crafting can build.  You're not storing illegal or rule-breaking stuff at work--again, that would be stupid--you're just trying to improve the chances that when you need your kit, it's actually where you left it.

So don't get into it where other eyeballs can see you doing it--and only when you're updating or rotating items or when there is an actual emergency.  Using up your stuff or forgetting to put it back is bad--having someone else take it, isn't any better.

Okay, so now begin choosing items based on your workplace, the six areas you've considered, and your answers to the questions above.   If you find yourself stumped, think of filling the following categories:

*Safety--both things to stay safe in the workplace and to get out of it safely
*Medical and Hygiene--injuries, medical conditions, and sanitation concerns
*Light and Warmth--personal and area lighting, non-hazardous heat sources or retention items
*Needed Tools--to get out of the workplace as well as to successfully deal with stuff in it
*Food and Water--sealed, long-lasting food and water
*Entertainment and Comfort--things to do, snacks

Remember, you may not have the luxury of electrical power--this means lights may be out, elevators not working, the heat off, restrooms not functioning or backed up, piped water not running or contaminated, ventilation systems off, electrical tools unable to be used, even automatic emergency doors unintentionally locked or unlocked.  You might have a heavily damaged workplace--which means debris (large impact risks or respiratory hazards), gas shutoff needs, chemical spills, injuries, blocked or risky passageways, structural failures, etc.

Protect your eyes, breathing, hands, head and feet with special care.

Always remember to rotate, update, or change your Work Kit as items come up for expiration or your skills or needs change.

Hopefully, you'll have your EDC Kit on you and your Car Kit in your vehicle just outside.  But don't rely on having either of them when you plan your Work Kit--you could have forgotten to bring your EDC with you that morning, or your car could now be a super compact beneath a parking garage collapse.  Build your Work Kit as a stand-alone and then any other kit you end up having access to, will simply be added happiness.

So take the time to plan this kit out--do your research, get any training, and practice anything that will give you an edge in any emergency.  Don't just slide through this, hoping someone else will cover your backside.  You are responsible for yourself.  And you need to actually be able to trust yourself.  Always keep in mind that you might be the only one at your workplace who has taken any training or prepared any supplies for an emergency.  In fact, you might seriously want to plan for it--or rather, around it.  Which means either getting management and fellow employees to take professional training and put in proper emergency plans and supplies, or realizing that you might find yourself either unofficially in charge or unfortunately even in possible conflict with others in an emergency. 

So plan carefully.

Just think:  What Would Batman Do?

And get to work building your Work Kit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Car Kit

In our modern society, we practically live in our cars.  Commutes to work and back, delivering children to school, running errands, job requirements, family vacations--we are a car people.

Which means that there is a pretty good possibility that at some point we will find ourselves in the middle of an emergency with only our car to keep us company.  And this time, getting a tow might not even be an available option. 

Now, some emergencies make it a good idea to stay with your car--like avoiding hypothermia by wandering off into the forest--but some mean we're going to have to abandon it and head back home on foot--like after earthquakes rip up or block roads.

Either way, we can make our lives a whole lot easier by having an emergency kit already snuggled into our car.

A Car Kit.

This Car Kit has two parts--the section designed to support your car and the section designed to support you.  If you have to abandon the car, you'll leave the first section and just take the part designed for you--so only this second section needs to be kept in a comfortably portable carrier, the other can sit in a tote in the trunk.

The car part

The car part of the kit breaks down into even further into two more parts.  First, what you 'build' into it, and second, what you stash in it.

Everything you do to keep your car in its best possible shape--and to give you any 'edge' of increased safety--is part of your built in kit.  This means:  all regular maintenance kept up to date, tires correct for your environment and in proper condition, at least half a tank of fuel present at all times, quality parts, fresh battery, etc.  A trustworthy vehicle is a superior tool for your success in emergencies.

Everything you need to repair it or get it out of trouble--is part of your stashed section.  Obviously, there are limits here, but if you carefully think it out, you can greatly improve your chances just by adding some 'basic needs'.  Snow chains, tire change needs, tow strap/chain, jumper cables, essential fluids, spare gas can, the correct type of fire extinguisher, snow/ice scraper, folding shovel, flares, duct tape, rope, etc.  Any decent car maintenance store can help you get a good idea of what you might need--but do your own research as well.   After all, you are responsible for yourself.  Don't forget the simple stuff--like the need to keep the interior of your car clean and free of junk food wrappers and nasty socks--you might need to sleep in it. 

Take the time to learn the basic car emergency skills--how to change a flat tire, add fluids, jump your battery, etc.  Never count on someone else being willing or able to help you--be able to be your own rescue.  It's that whole be independent thing.

The you part

This part is specifically for taking care of you--so keep it portable so you can take it with you if you have abandon your car.  Of course, you can easily use it while you are with your car, but keep your options open.

Think this part through very carefully--this is the section that is supposed to take care of you until you make it back home or get to some place safer than where you are currently at.  Ask yourself:  Where do I most often go in my car?   How far do I think I might have to walk to get back home?  Are there others who could possibly be with me--human or otherwise?  Do any of us have any special needs to plan for?  What do I normally wear while in the car?  What kind of terrain could I have to cover on foot just to get back home?  What is the absolute worst the weather could be?  What are the possible emergency events which could happen in my area? 

Plan this accordingly.

And remember that you need to fill some basic areas: 

*food and water
*warmth and shelter
*entertainment and comfort

Choose a sturdy carrier.  While I recommend a backpack for your Personal Emergency Kit, here I recommend a quality duffle.  Why?  Because it usually fits in your trunk better.  Just make sure the carry strap is a comfortable length for you--and doesn't dig into your shoulder.  Add padding if needed.  Seriously, it's the little things that can make all the difference.  Weird, but true.

Now select what food and water you're going to put in.  Keep in mind that your car can get very hot or very cold.  Ready to eat canned goods, dried edibles (also ones that don't require water or cooking to eat), and sealed food bars make decent choices.  Water bottles, water pouches, or water 'drink boxes' are easier to carry than a gallon jug.  Rotate your edibles out every six months or less--depending on the temperatures your car gets to.  Poisoning yourself is uncool.  Double bagging stuff is a good idea--or putting it into an airtight/leak proof container.

Pick at least two ways to start a fire--one that you can do with only one hand (injuries happen) or in winter gloves (dexterity issues).  Remember to store tinder, too.  Your car itself will provide shelter a lot of times--but sometimes it can't, either due to damage or because you have to abandon it.  So consider how you are going to provide weather protection and shelter for yourself away from it.  A quality poncho, blankets or sleeping bag and tarps are handy.

Because you could be going to work in a dress and heels or coming back from a workout in shorts, you need to include a change of emergency clothing.  Store this in a large plastic bag to keep it dry.  Base your choices on the area, climate, and possible events which could occur.  Your head, eyes, hands, and feet are essential focuses--but don't forget the rest of you.  Layers let you accommodate seasons and differing dangers.  Remember to check your stored clothing every year--or when you change sizes or locations, you might need to switch something out for a more suitable item.

A good first aid kit is a must.  Talk to the Red Cross or other trained emergency personnel to get one or build one suitable for the possible injuries that might be involved with a car.  Get trained!  And keep up to date with it!

Obviously, you need to be able to see--flashlights (non-battery ones are best for car storage) and be seen (safety vests, light sticks, etc.).  You also might need to protect yourself.  Look into the laws of your area and consider your skills--and remember that temperatures effect some tools of defense.  Take defensive training.  Store a sturdy walking stick or cane with your duffle--this has an additional help of getting you over rough terrain or damaged areas, along with the protection use.  You can do make-shift protection, too.  A folding shovel or tire iron are often used in car-related emergencies--and double as good weapons in need.  Be able to signal others for help--flares, whistle or air horn, a loaded phone card for pay phones should you 'oops' and let your cell phone die, etc., are all good items to stash.  Keep current maps of the places you live and travel about--you might need to take 'round about' ways to get home in emergencies (like to avoid civil riots or due to earthquake damage of roadways).

Tuck in a bit of cash--obviously, you should have your EDC stuff on your person--but some "Plan B" never hurts.  Again, small bills.

You could be stuck with your car for a while--or have to stop for rest breaks on the way back home.  Have some stuff for fun and comfort.  This means anything from snacks and Tic Tacs to something to read or play by yourself.  Avoid battery items--batteries have an annoying tendency to up and die when actually needed.  It's either Murphy's Law or some weird aspect of Karma.

*Now remember--if there is a good possibility that you will have someone (human or other) with you, you need to plan and prepare for them in your car kit, too.  That is just part of being a responsible adult and a compassionate human being.  Don't skip this--after all, you could be the 'extra' person in someone else's car in an emergency, too--and hoping desperately that they can help ease your way in trouble.

So now you have an idea how to start your Car Kit.

Now start it.

Do some serious research, get quality advice from trained professionals, and learn any skills or information you might need in dealing with your car in emergencies.  Practice until you can 'do it in your sleep'.  Keep yourself updated at all times--both in knowledge and gear.  Keep yourself in good physical condition--you need to actually be able to do what needs to be done.  Then take it calmly as it comes.  You may not be able to control an emergency--but you can control how you deal with it.  For the better or the worse.

Be good to go.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Personal Emergency Kit

It is a grim fact that a large portion of emergencies require us to leave our homes.  Sometimes this sudden requirement for living on the move is only for a short duration--a few days, a few weeks.  Sometimes, however, it can be for a lot longer--or even permanently.   And while often this means we merely relocate to relatives or friends or a FEMA/Red Cross shelter site, it can mean that we find ourselves homeless for a while.

This can be a rather frightening thought.

So what do we do?

Well, being independent and self-reliant people, we plan for the possibilities and do something smart about them now.

We create our own Personal Emergency Kit--or a Go Bag.

What is the difference between the Personal Emergency Kit and the EDC kit we learned about in a previous post?  Basically, the difference is the duration factor.  An EDC kit is meant to help take care of you in an emergency for a short term--usually just until you get back home or until emergency personnel can get to you.  A Personal Emergency Kit, however, is for use in an extended period of movement or relocation, where you may be entirely on your own without professional assistance or emergency resupply.

Think less like going on a Star Trek Away Team Mission and more like going through the Stargate to Atlantis without knowing if you can ever come back.

Because this kit is meant for some really serious use for possibly quite a long time, you need to plan it out very carefully.  Which means you need to do some very thorough and realistic self-education and training.

Again, I recommend The Hoodlums Adventure Team Forum noted in my Cool Sites to Check Out.  While FEMA and the Red Cross have a decent basic run, neither site is intended to help you be independent or self-reliant for a long term--they focus on the short term emergency, with government and emergency personnel assistance to step in with relief supplies to take care of you.  Don't get me wrong, this is useful and often needed.  But you might need more.  Hence the referral to the Hoodlums. 

Whatever educational source you choose, do it wisely--and never stop learning, training, and practicing.

Now, hopefully you remember the six areas talked about in previous posts--if not go back in and read them again.  Get some paper and a pencil, find a quiet spot, and go through those six areas again--this time with a mind focused on the real possibility of needing to rely on your Personal Emergency Kit entirely and completely alone for an extended period.

Once you've done this, now pull out some more paper and start applying your answers to the baseline needs of this kit--which are:

*Warmth, Light and Clothing
*Food and Water
*Medical and Hygiene
*Communication and Direction
*Tools and Weapons
*Comfort and Entertainment
*Currency and Trade Needs

I'm purposefully giving you the needs first in categories, not in listed items.  Categories teach you to actually think, not just grab an item on a list. 

So what,  you say?  Why is that important? 

Because we're about the qualities of self-reliance and independence here--and the ability to actually think things through and adapt correctly to fit your needs is essential to achieving them.

So let's begin planning your kit by going into these categories a bit.


Because you're going to be mobile, obviously, you need to take your kit with you.  And though it may sound funny, you need to plan as carefully what you are carrying your gear in as you do the gear itself!  Why?  Because when you are mobile, your carrier becomes your new home.  This means it has to be of good construction so it lasts as long as possible, be repairable because it will get hard use, be a match for the climate and terrain of your area, be comfortable to wear for long periods of time over possibly destroyed or damaged environment, and it has to actually hold your entire kit properly.

That is a lot of requirements for just a carrier!

So start by considering a backpack or duffle.  For extended comfort and hard use, I find a backpack works best.   Don't get discouraged if finding the right one takes some effort and time--it is worth it!  And have some fun with it--this is your mobile home--if you find cool or funny patches, put them on, not only are you making your kit easy to identify as yours, but you're building in some psychological uplift into it as well.

Warmth, Clothing and Light

If you're mobile, you're exposed--this means you need to deal with your environment.

You need to make fire, stay dry, keep warm, and see what you are doing.  This means you need fire starters and tinder, sleeping protection, suitable clothing layers for your area, and flashlights or other portable light sources.

Do your research!  You need hardy stuff that lasts but you also need to watch their weight and size, after all, the carrying capacity of your pack is as limited as your own.

Water and Food

You need to provide for your own food and water.  This means having some already in your kit to start out with.  Generally, it is a good idea to have anywhere from three days to two weeks of food in your kit--ten days is usually the average.  It all depends on what you choose and how compact it is. But eventually you'll run out, which also means that you need the ability to provide and cook additional food--and clean new sources of water and carry it with you. 

This area is going to require you to spend some serious time learning--hunting, fishing, trapping, plant identification, food preparation and preservation, scavenging, etc.  And lots and lots of time practicing.  As you learn and become proficient, you will know what tools to include in your kit to get the 'biggest bang for the buck'.  Remember that anyone else in the area, will also be hungry, so be prepared for conflict from the bad guys.


While you are moving, you still need shelter.  This means body shelter--from proper clothing to an actual place to settle into.  This can range from anything like a poncho and tarp to one of the ultralight, multi-season tents.  Educate yourself and choose according to what you might face and how much weight you can comfortably carry over distance, through damaged areas, and in extreme weather.  And don't forget any weather-proofing, repair kits, or needed accessories.

As you train, you will learn how to build 'make-shift' shelters--and how to 'stealth' camp, so that you can increase the chances of a safe rest.

Medical and Hygiene

The medical area takes professional training.  Get the basic first aid training as well as whatever advanced levels or courses you can possibly take.  This should include both urban and wilderness areas and cover dealing with specific hazards or emergencies which you might encounter in your area.  

The Red Cross, your local emergency agencies/personnel, area colleges, and FEMA all offer classes--some hands on, some online.  Additional information can be found in books or online from reliable sources.  Take advantage of every quality source to learn everything you can--you are making your own difference!

The hygiene section does not take as much specialized training as the medical, but it still takes knowledge and practice.  How to eliminate waste and keep yourself clean, ironically, takes some skill outside of the bathroom--as does how to properly take a 'sponge' bath or clean your own clothes by hand.  Any female will note that she needs to tend her menstrual cycle or would like to urinate without having to expose herself entirely.  Knowing how to avoid contaminating your food or water, is a real need--as is how to provide clean your water, itself.

Do your research!

Communication and Direction

In an emergency, you need to be able to contact others, receive additional information, and get to a more secure location.  While your cell phone or other neat-o device has an address book and a cool internet connection for emails and MapQuest, it also has a battery life which you might not be able to recharge.  So think manually as backup. 

A small book with phone numbers, physical addresses, mailing addresses and email addresses--as well as any needed account or insurance contacts is a must.  If it isn't on waterproof paper, then keep it safe inside a double Ziplock bag setup.  A phone card or some coin for pay phones is a good idea.  Signalling devices are also a good idea--you might need help.  Maps of your area with information on predesignated emergency assistance sites or evacuation routes is really good. 

Tools and Weapons

What you choose for this section is heavily dependent on your training and the laws of your area.  Remember that official emergency shelters are really picky about what they let you take in--and martial law means a whole new set of issues itself! 

For tool choices, you need to consider everything you might need to do to take care of yourself over an extended time in an emergency or its recovery period.  This can include, but is not limited to: shelter building, fire making, food and water procurement, assisting others, moving through damaged or destroyed areas, clean-up, repair/maintenance of gear, etc.  You will need the tools themselves--but also the protective gear to keep yourself secure and uninjured while using these tools.

For weapon choices:  your training, the laws of your area, and possible governmental/martial response in a time of emergency all comes into play.  Realize that in disasters, law enforcement is spread brutally thin--and that violent crime skyrockets.   Serious training is a must--both for unarmed and armed defense and fighting.   Some people cringe when they hit this section.  Don't.  It's one of the reality bite marks that an emergency forces you to deal with.  Your options are to risk it untrained and unarmed or to face it trained and armed.  Remember that you are not limited to just guns--but have a whole range of make-shift or alternate protection possibilities available to you, lethal and non-lethal.  Make your choice seriously.

Comfort and Entertainment

It is absolutely important in extended emergencies to take special care of your mental and emotional state.  You are doing more with this area than just 'passing the time'--keeping your 'spirits up' is essential to success.  This can be anything from snacks to games to religious or entertainment reading--or to including laminated copies of meaningful photographs or personal 'talismans' or lucky items in your kit.  You don't have a lot of extra space in your kit or on your person, so pick what matters most to you and bring it.  Just don't rely on anything battery-operated.


You need to carry proof of at least the following areas:  personal identity, home and vehicle ownership, insurance policies and contact information, financial accounts and contracts, medical records and prescription orders, marriage/divorce certificates, child identification, and pet identification.  Keep it in a waterproof 'packet'.

Obviously, this stuff is sensitive information--so store the waterproof packet in a very secure location until you leave.  And hide it well on your person or in your pack when you do.

Currency and Trade Needs

Given the possibilities of power outs, you may not be able to rely on credit or bank cards to give you the money you need in an emergency.  Those ATMs still operational will quickly be emptied of their cash supply by desperate people.  Checks, whether personal or traveler, are becoming a thing of only mail-in bills and few people will take them in an emergency--if any at all. 

You will need either cash itself, or a cash substitute.  The amount you carry is up to you, but keep bills small (it is seriously doubtful you will get change back) and hide them throughout your person and pack to increase your odds of keeping at least something if attacked.  Remember that in emergencies other forms of currency can include precious metals, jewelry, and other trade items.  The type of emergency and how long it lasts will determine what people find of value--Hurricane Katrina let us see soap as a barter item.

Make Your Choices Wisely

Just like your other layers of personal protection in an emergency, you're going to constantly be changing your Personal Emergency Kit as your skill levels change and your knowledge increases.

Whatever you choose for your Personal Emergency Kit, take the time to do it carefully.  Ask yourself if an item actually fills the need you are choosing it for--or if there is a better option available.  You are looking for quality, durability, and success of use.  Keep in mind that you are going to have to carry this kit--if it is more than one third your body weight, see if you can reduce it back down by choosing lighter weight options or by selecting items which fill more than one area of need.  Remember to keep your EDC kit on your person, even while you are carrying this larger kit--you could be forcibly separated from your backpack and you still need to have the basic tools to keep yourself going.  The more you know and are skilled at doing, the safer and more successful you will be.

Your Personal Emergency Kit is your mobile home in an emergency--one that you are leaning your life on.  Make it a good one!   Do your research, take the training, practice continually, and choose what you carry wisely.  Be your own best source of emergency assistance.

You can do it.