How to Seal Your Food for Long-Term Storage

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freeze dried blueberriesEvery prepper, both beginner and expert alike, knows the importance of sealing food for long-term storage. Sealing your food properly will ensure that it lasts a long time and is able to be consumed in the future. Even families and individuals who don’t consider themselves to be preppers can learn about these techniques to make their food available and edible in emergencies.

There are a variety of methods for sealing your food. Some of these include vacuum sealing, dry ice, canning, and freeze-drying/dehydrating.

Vacuum sealing – This method of food storage is both economical and effective. Vacuum sealing removes oxygen from the food package, and therefore slows down its deterioration. Foods won’t dry out, plus you can conserve space for more storage. Foods that have been vacuum sealed last 3 to 5 times longer when compared with conventional methods. Vacuum sealing can be combined with other storage methods, like freezing, for better results.

Dry ice – Believe it or not, dry ice can be used for food storage. Simply place the dry ice in the bottom of a dry food storage container and then pour in the dry food. The dry ice will replace the oxygen in the container with carbon dioxide. Once that process is complete, the container can be sealed. There are, however, safety considerations when handling dry ice. This storage method works best with dry goods including legumes, grains, powders, and seeds.

Canning – Canning is a preservation method in which food is processed and then sealed in airtight containers. Most of us probably purchase canned food at the grocery store, but you can also do it yourself. The only equipment you need are cans, lids and a canner. There are two kinds of canners: water bath and pressurized. Canned food can last anywhere from one to five years.

Freeze-drying/dehydrating – Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods are widely available for purchase, but you can also make your own using dehydrators and freeze-dry systems in your home.

There are also different containers in which to pack stable shelf foods.

Plastic buckets – Plastic buckets are convenient for storing large amounts of dry foods. They store well, are compact, can be carried easily, and are stackable. Plastic containers are also fairly cheap and can hold up under rough handling.

Metal cans – Metal cans with proper sealing are ideal for long-term storage because they can remain free of oxygen indefinitely. They also can withstand rough handling.

Glass – Glass containers are good for long-term storage as well. They are non-permeable and difficult for animals to get into. However, they are fragile.

Pouches – Pouches are nice for storage because they come in many different sizes and are portable. Pouched foods can last anywhere from three to ten years but can be easily damaged.

No matter what your preference is for food storage, the important thing is to get started. Find the method that works best for you and your family!

10 Odd but Useful Items to Include in Your Survival Kit

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zip tiesPutting together a survival kit is not all that difficult. There are some items that just make sense to include in your kit. Things like extra food and water, first aid items, a multi-tool, a fire starter and cooking devices are essential.

There are other items to consider putting in your survival kit that you might not immediately think of. However, these things could still help you out in a pinch.

1. Zip ties – Zip ties are neat little tools that can be used in a large variety of situations. Plus, their holding power and strength are incredibly impressive. You can use zip ties for just about everything including making handcuffs, keeping items secured, building a snare, repairing backpacks and tents, attaching to a splint or using as a tourniquet, and attaching items to bags or shelters.

2. Tampons – Tampons have many survival uses beyond what they are originally intended for. Tampons can be used to fashion an emergency water filter and a weapon. Tampons can help start fires, plug up a wound, clean teeth, lure animals, and produce light like a candle.

3. Carabiners – Carabiners are extremely helpful for carrying stuff around. If you need to carry something but don’t have room for it in a bag, simply clip the item to your bag using a carabiner. Carabiners are also handy as key rings or to hold other smaller items together. They can make good emergency zipper pulls for bags or shelters as well as fishing and constructing a shelter.

4. Tea tree oil – Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties that can treat infections, but it is also good for treating problems with critters such as lice, scabies, and ringworm. Additionally, it helps to keep mosquitoes and parasites away.

5. Paper clips – The mighty paper clip is not only cheap, but it also has survival uses. Use them to make an emergency compass and get your sense of direction, attach bait to a paper clip for fishing, and use one to repair a zipper pull.

6. Small candle – Get some light and keep warm with a small candle. Candles will eventually run out and you’ll need something to light it, but a small candle can make a big difference in a survival situation.

7. Super glue – If anything breaks in your survival kit, as something most likely will, keep a small tube of super glue for repairs.

8. Glow sticks – Glow sticks don’t require batteries, and you can simply hang one around your neck with a string. They are much easier to carry around than most flashlights.

9. Cash – Although it is less common to carry around cash these days, it’s always handy to have a little bit on hand for emergency situations. When credit card machines are down, you never know when a little cash will help.

10. Panty hose – Panty hose can help in many ways. They can keep you warm as well as reduce friction to keep blisters at bay. They also work as emergency water filters for removing larger debris.

Stick some of items in your emergency kit, and you might be surprised what you can use them for!

How to Avoid a Gator Attack

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alligator attack

One of the risks of recreating outside is that of encountering animals and possible animal attacks. Those encounters hardly ever go well for the parties involved. Take, for example, the death of a two-year-old boy in Florida after he was attacked by an alligator in June 2016. Not only was the boy killed, but officials also hunted down and killed the animal that was most likely responsible.

However, there are things that parents can do to make sure their children are safe from alligators and other dangerous animals. First of all, it’s important to remember that alligator attacks are still relatively rare. There have only been 24 fatal gator attacks in Florida since 1948. Plus, authorities say that humans, especially young children, are often easily mistaken for prey.

Know the Risks

It’s essential to know what animals you might encounter when heading outside, and more specifically, how to avoid attacks. Alligators, in particular, inhabit freshwater lakes and canals in certain parts of the country. It’s safe to assume that alligators are present in every body of fresh water in Florida and that they travel.

Despite their chunky appearance, alligators can move at speeds up to 20 mph, and they are masters at ambush. They camouflage themselves in the water and can thrust their bodies up to grab prey. Alligators then drag their prey underwater to drown it. They are most active from dusk until dawn, so it makes sense to avoid the shores of lakes and canals during those times.

Avoiding Attacks

The best way to avoid a gator attack is never to approach an alligator or attempt to feed one. Stay as far away as possible and avoid swimming or wading in fresh bodies of water. Always take serious “no swimming” signs. If you’re close to a lake or pond, keep your eyes out for large swirls in the water, as that’s a sign an alligator is beneath the surface.

Keep children and pets away from the edge of lakes and canals, and don’t allow them to sit or wade in shallow water. Always know where your children are around water and stay close to them.

What to Do During Encounters

If you do encounter an alligator, there are things you can do to avoid an attack. For the most part, humans are able to outrun gators on land. If someone puts up a big enough fight, it’s possible that the gator will let go. Gators try to avoid people, so the more noise you make, the less likely gators will be around.

Always seek immediate medical attention for an alligator bite and report any alligators that are threatening humans or property.

Photo credit: Andy Lidstone /

5 Ways to Save Money on Entertainment

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saving money on entertainmentWith the cost of living on the rise, it seems like families are always on the lookout for ways to save money and live more frugally. One of the areas to consider cutting back on is entertainment. The reality is that you don’t have to spend much money to have fun.

  1. Ditch the cable – To save money on at-home entertainment, it makes sense to get rid of your cable TV. Many cable providers offer their services at decent introductory prices but then up the ante after a certain period of time. The result is that you end up paying way more per month than you originally thought you would. There are several alternatives to cable TV, including putting up a digital antenna or subscribing to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Sling TV, Amazon Fire Stick, and Streambox are other alternatives.
  2. Rent, not buy, movies and TV shows – It’s unlikely that you’ll watch a movie more than once or twice. Instead of buying DVDs and Blu-ray discs, which can be pretty expensive, rent them at much cheaper prices. Some services that allow you to rent movies and TV shows include Vudu, Redbox, Gamefly,, VidAngel and Google Play. Better yet, become a member of your local library and borrow movies and TV shows to watch for free.
  3. Opt for cheaper dates – Instead of going out all the time, opt for cheaper dates by staying at home. At-home dates don’t have to cost anything when the focus is on spending quality time with your significant other. Other cheap date ideas are taking bubble baths, volunteering together, singing karaoke, having a picnic, stargazing, getting outside, cooking and going for a drive.
  4. Shop for the holidays in the off-season – Start making a list of gift ideas weeks or even months in advance of holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. That way you can take advantage of sale prices when you see them. Another way to save money is to do your holiday shopping right after the season is over when retailers have deep discounts on all kinds of items and seasonal decorations. Not only does this help save you money, but it can also cut down on holiday-related stress. Then use the money you saved for holiday celebrations and entertainment.
  5. Take advantage of happy hour – If you find yourself spending too much on going out for food and drinks, take advantage of happy hour at a bar. Try to limit yourself to one drink, and enjoy the discounts on food. This is a good option for sports lovers, especially when watching big games and tournaments.

With a little effort, you can cut back on entertainment and still have loads of fun!

DIY Treatments for Sunburns

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homemade sunscreenSummertime is an excellent time to get outside, but with hot temperatures, there comes the possibility of getting sunburned. Since the Earth’s axis is tilted, the sun’s rays hit the planet at a steeper angle during the warmer months, increasing the amount of light that strikes at a given point. Plus, the longer daylight hours mean that there’s more time for the temperatures to rise.

Consequently, there’s the potential for you and your loved ones to suffer sunburns. Depending on their severity, sunburns can be extremely painful. They can also lead to blisters, swelling, infection and even headache, fever, chills, and fatigue requiring medical attention if the sunburn is serious enough.

Most minor sunburns, however, can be treated at home using items you already have around the house. There are a few different options.

  1. Use compresses – Immediately after getting sunburned, the skin is often inflamed. You can minimize the inflammation by applying a compress. Try dipping a cloth in cold water and applying for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. For inflammation, you can also apply witch hazel with a cloth or cotton balls. For relief from itching, apply a powder with aluminum acetate.
  2. Apply natural remedies – For pain that often accompanies sunburn, you can apply several natural remedies either directly on the burn or via a cloth. These household items include water and oatmeal, boiled lettuce, yogurt, tea bags soaked in cool water, cornstarch with enough water to be mixed into a paste, and fat-free milk mixed with water and ice cubes.
  3. Take a bath – It’s important to never use soap following a burn. Soap dries and irritates the skin that’s already been damaged. Avoid bubble baths and soaking in soapy water. Instead, rinse the skin with cool (not hot) water, and consider soaking the affected area in cool water. You can also soothe the pain by adding baking soda or vinegar to the bath.
  4. Use Moisturizers – Sunburned skin is dried out, so it makes sense to add moisture back to your skin by applying moisturizing lotion. (Lotion with aloe is a plus.) Be sure to drink lots of water to add moisture back into your body as well. It also helps to eat a balanced diet to provide the nutrients your body needs to heal.
  5. Get some rest – Your body will need lots of rest in order to heal. However, sleeping on a sunburn can be a challenge. Sprinkle talcum powder on the sheets to make your bed more Plus, satin sheets can help provide relief to dry, itchy skin.

Of course, prevention is the best way to minimize the damage that sunburns can do. Use sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 when going outside. Reapply sunscreen as necessary, especially after sweating and swimming. Wear protective clothing like hats that shade your face and lightweight fabrics. Try to avoid the hours between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when the sun is strongest.

Biography of a Prepper: Lisa Bedford

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lisa bedfordAlso known as the Survival Mom, Lisa Bedford has made a name for herself in the world of prepping. As a suburban wife and mother of two children, Lisa got her start as a prepper because she wanted to protect her family and their way of life after the family business was hit hard by economic troubles. Today, she is a well-known prepping blogger, author and speaker.

It was the economic collapse of 2008 and resulting loss of financial security for millions of people, including her family, that introduced Lisa to prepping. At first, she really only focused on topics that could apply to her situation, but her research eventually evolved into a blog at a time when prepping grew into a big trend.

On her blog, Lisa offers a unique female perspective on prepping. The articles are geared towards moms, helping them worry less and enjoy peaceful homes. She includes articles on survival, emergency preparedness, homeschooling, important skills, and having a balanced work-family life. Her website also offers a store, videos, podcasts, guides, and checklists.

Lisa and her website have earned widespread attention. She appeared in an article in Newsweek magazine just four months after her blog began. Her tricks and tips have also developed into a best-selling book called Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios. Lisa even appeared on National Geographic’s prepping show Doomsday Preppers and other national TV programs like the Today Show.

Lisa strongly believes that there’s power and peace in being prepared, and that is something that every family wants. With so much uncertainty about the future, we live in a world where one major event could rip the rug right out from under us. Millions of people are realizing that events like an economic collapse, terrorist attacks, and catastrophic natural disasters are not so unlikely anymore.

Make Your Own Survival Knife

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In a survival situation, a knife is a critical piece of gear to have. A good old-fashioned knife can do all sorts of things. It can help cut wood for a fire, fashion traps to catch food, fight off predators, make tools, drive in stakes, cut bandages for first aid and much more. Consequently, it is an essential part of an emergency kit and/or survival pack.

So what if something happens and you don’t have one on hand? Your best bet is to make one yourself.

The materials and tools you’ll need for your DIY survival knife are:

  • A hacksaw blade
  • Paracord
  • An electric grinder
  • A file
  • Scissors
  • A lighter
  • Hand, ear and eye protection

Start by gripping the hacksaw blade in your hand. This will give you an idea of where the grip will be. Make a mark where your index finger is and begin grinding away with the electric grinder. Cut into the blade about 1/4” and taper the handle back. Then sharpen the edges of the front of the blade down to a point.

For the handle, take an inch of the paracord and place it against the handle near the top. Hold this piece in place while wrapping the paracord around itself all the way to the bottom of the handle. Pull the last little bit of the cord through the last round, snip it, and then burn it.

Take an arm’s length of the paracord and use a strider weave running along the handle. See the video for detailed instructions.

Once this is complete, you can then sharpen the knife and it’s ready to go!

5 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bill this Summer

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lower power bills

For most families, summer is a time of the year when they see their electric bills spike. Of course, the air conditioner is one of the biggest culprits of this increase in energy usage. Just a few degrees higher in temperature outside means that your air conditioner is working harder to keep the indoors comfortable; next thing you know, you get a (not-so) nice surprise in your electric bill.

There are, however, ways to save money on your electric bill this summer.

  1. Keep your air cooling system in top shape – Be sure to have your air conditioner and/or cooling system inspected before the hot temperatures arrive. This will ensure that it will be operating at peak efficiency. Be sure to check your air conditioner’s filter and change it regularly throughout the summer. The unit has to work extra hard when the filter is dirty.

You may need to install a programmable thermostat so you don’t have to constantly mess with the temperature in your residence. There are even self-regulating models that learn your home and away patterns and adjust the temperature accordingly.

  1. Install air conditioners in the warmest rooms – This may seem like a no-brainer, but individual air conditioning units in the warmest rooms of the house can help save money. Older homes especially have one or two rooms that don’t cool off as well as the rest of the house. Use the unit when you’re in the room and turn it off when you leave again.
  2. Take advantage of ceiling fans – Ceiling fans can go a long way in keeping your cooling costs lower this summer. When used properly, ceiling fans can save you as much as 40 percent! Make sure the ceiling fan is running in a counterclockwise direction in the summer to keep the cool air circulating. Only use it when in the room, and turn it off when you leave.
  3. Check around your windows – Windows can be a major outlet of cool air in the summer. In order to minimize your loss, make sure to check for leaks and cracks around windows and doors. Caulk or insulating foam can be used to fill the gaps. Also consider keeping blinds and curtains closed to minimize sunlight coming in through windows.
  1. Cut down on using appliances – Appliances around the house have a tendency to make the temperature inside creep up. Two popular culprits are the oven and clothes dryer. You might want to hang your clothes outside to dry during the summer and plan your meals so that you don’t have to use the oven as much.

Although it takes some effort, cutting down on energy costs in the summer means extra money for other things. You can use your savings to splurge on an exciting family activity or road trip!

How to Keep Your Kids Safe around Water

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keep kids safe around waterChances are that you and your loved ones will want to keep cool this summer by being around the water. Beaches, pools, water parks, and lakes are all popular destinations for families wanting relief from hot temperatures. However, the water can be dangerous for children. About 1,000 kids die each year by drowning, and it’s the second leading cause of accidental death for those ages 5 to 24.

The good news, however, is that there are many precautions that parents can take to ensure that their kids are safe around the water.

  • Never leave your children unattended. They need constant supervision when in or near water including places you’d least expect it like ditches, fountains, inflatable pools, the bathtub and even the sink. It doesn’t take much for a child to drown. In fact, babies can drown in as much as an inch of water.
  • In public areas, always swim in areas supervised by lifeguards and use the buddy system.
  • Have children older than four take swimming lessons. Those older than age one might also benefit. Adults in the family should know how to swim and consider taking a CPR class.
  • Invest in flotation devices for each child, and have the kids wear them when near the water. These devices should fit properly. For kids younger than five, use a vest with head support and a strap between the legs.
  • Teach your children to never play in the water without your supervision or that of a trusted, responsible adult.
  • Build a fence around your home pool. Use a gate that is self-closing and self-latching with the latch out of the kid’s reach.
  • Bring a cell phone with you when watching kids playing in water. However, keep conversations brief so you won’t be distracted.
  • Make sure kids wear foot protection in ponds and lakes.
  • Know which rides are appropriate for your children at water parks.
  • To cut down on waterborne illnesses, take your kids on bathroom breaks often and shower before entering the pool. Babies who are not potty trained need swim

The water is an excellent place for staying cool in hot temperatures but there are dangers, especially for children. Keep your kids safe by taking precautions to ensure their safety.

First Aid for Heat-Related Illnesses

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Heat Exhaustion

With warmer weather fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about ways to stay cool this summer.  There are a variety of heat-related illnesses that can strike you and your loved ones. These illnesses are caused by prolonged or intense exposure to hot temperatures, typically occurring in the summer months.

It’s important to remember that the elderly, the obese, children and those who work outside are at a greater risk of suffering from hyperthermia, an elevated internal body temperature. Athletes who exercise in hot weather are also at an increased risk. Those who live in humid environments may be more susceptible as well.

Here are some common heat-related illnesses and how to treat them.

  • Overheating – Overheating is an elevated body temperature that occurs when the body tries to cool itself through profuse sweating. The first symptoms of overheating that many people experience is muscle cramps. Cramps are caused by the loss of salt and other minerals through sweating. If you experience heat cramps, drink water with a snack or consume a sports drink with electrolytes. Seek medical attention if the cramps last more than an hour.
  • Heat exhaustion – Heat exhaustion occurs with the loss of an excessive amount of water and electrolytes through sweating. This loss can cause problems with circulation and brain function. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, headaches, nausea, irritability and the decreased ability to urinate. You can treat heat exhaustion by moving the person to a cooler location and having them lie down. Loosen their clothing and apply cool, wet cloths to their body. Have them take small, frequent sips of water. If they lose consciousness or have slurred speech, call 911 immediately.
  • Heat stroke – The most serious heat-related illness, heat stroke, can cause death or permanent disability without emergency medical treatment. Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to regulate its temperature. Sweating stops and the body can’t cool itself. Symptoms of heat stroke include confusion or an altered mental state, a loss of consciousness, hot/dry skin and seizures. If someone around you is suffering from heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Move the person to a cooler area and try to reduce their body temperature with cold cloths or submersion in cold water if possible.

Being proactive can decrease the risk of overheating and heat-related illnesses this summer. When the temperatures warm up, there are some things you can do like wearing loose, lightweight clothing and drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid alcoholic beverages and other drinks that dehydrate you.

If you plan to be outside, let your body acclimate to the heat and avoid sunburns by wearing a hat and applying sunscreen. Never leave children or pets in a parked car. Remember to pay attention to your body and seek a cooler location if you experience symptoms related to heat exposure.

How to Survive a Drone Attack

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drone attackDrones, or unmanned, remote-controlled flight vehicles, are proving to have many uses. In the past, they have been used mostly for military operations and intelligence gathering. However, we’re seeing more and more uses in everyday life. They can be used for everything from surveillance, scientific research, and rescue operations to food delivery, photography, and monitoring the weather.

The FAA predicts there will be over 30,000 drones in U.S. airspace by 2030. The bad news is drones can still be used for deadly force. Could terrorist groups use drones to launch attacks against Americans? What happens if criminals get their hands on drones?

In the future, drone attacks could become more commonplace. The average American doesn’t really have to worry about being attacked by drones, but drone technology could eventually find its way into the wrong hands.

So what kinds of things can you do to protect you and your loved ones from a drone attack?

The first key is to make it more difficult for drones to find you. It’s harder for drones to identify a person when they are under thick cover from trees and brush. Consider camouflaging your home, property and vehicles by covering them with foliage and mud.

Drones are incredibly effective because some of them use infrared detection. That means that they see heat, like from human bodies, a warm home, or a fire. However, certain materials will block a drone’s capacity to detect body heat. These materials include aluminum, gold, plexiglass, and several types of pigment coating. These substances can be used as coverings for people as well as animals and dwellings.

It’s also always a good idea to have an underground shelter in which to hide if you know a drone attack is imminent. These underground shelters need to be made of materials that will keep the occupants safe from the bombs or missiles and the resulting fire from the explosions. Drone attacks have been known to cause severe burns.

Of course, these underground shelters will need to be outfitted beforehand with everything you need to survive until the threat has passed. Stock an underground shelter with emergency supplies like those found in a 72-hour kit like extra food and water, a first aid kit, radio, and so on.

Unfortunately, drone attacks are hard to detect. They often catch people unaware. Moreover, most people are not familiar with the sights and sounds of drones. Maybe, as drones become more common, we will be able to recognize them and develop advanced warning systems.

5 Tips for Having a Successful Garden

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Organic GardeningSpring is a popular time to get outside after a long, cold winter. It’s harder to stay inside on a beautiful, sunny day. One of the ways that you can get outside in the nice weather is to plant a garden, and gardening has many benefits. By growing your own food, you can control what you eat, save money, and protect the environment.

However, many people I know complain that gardening requires too much effort. Between work and family, a lot of people just don’t have the time to put in the work that gardening takes. Or they’ve tried gardening in the past and failed miserably. Perhaps they jumped in without adequate preparation.

The good news about gardening, though, is that it doesn’t take that much effort. Once the seeds are planted, the gardener can step back a little and let Mother Nature do her thing. Plus, gardening isn’t hard to learn. Millions of people have discovered the satisfaction of this hobby.

In order to have a successful garden this year, consider the following tips.

  1. Plan ahead – This is the most crucial stage of your gardening efforts. Many people start gardening without planning ahead and then wonder what went wrong. The planning stage is the part where you determine what will be planted, when, and where. Of course, this should be done well in advance of the growing season. Location is important. Successful gardens need at least seven hours of sunlight a day and should be located close to a water source.
  2. Choose the soil – The foundation of a good garden is the soil. Most vegetable plants need rich soil. However, your yard might not be ideal for what you want to grow. It’s a good idea to discover what is good for growing in your local area and what isn’t. If your soil isn’t the best, though, you can use framed beds for planting in your own soil mix or a store-bought variety.
  3. Use your own fertilizer – Even though there are a variety of fertilizers available for purchase, making your own is a win-win. You keep kitchen, yard, and garden debris out of landfills, and compost enriches the soil for your plants. In general, organic waste from around the house makes the best compost ingredients.
  4. Rotate your crops – It’s not recommended that gardeners grow the same crops in the same place year after year. The soil needs time to regain its fertility. Plus, crop rotation reduces problems with diseases and disease-causing organisms.
  5. Control for weeds and pests – Weeds and pests can pop up at any time and lay waste to your garden. Don’t let your garden be susceptible; tend to it regularly. By being proactive with some TLC, you can avoid disaster. Chances are you will discover the pleasure of gardening after a successful growing season.

Fight Off a Home Invasion with These Tips

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Protecting Your HomeOne of the scariest situations to find yourself in is being a victim of a home invasion. A home invasion is defined as an illegal, often forceful entry into a private dwelling with the intent to harm the occupants. Home invasions include the threat of violent crimes against homeowners including burglary, assault, murder, rape, or kidnapping. According to the FBI, about 135 home invasions happen every day in America.

So what can you do to fight off a home invasion and protect yourself and your loved ones? The first thing to do is call the police and/or trigger your home’s security alarm system. If you don’t have a security system for your house, a good alternative is to use your vehicle’s alarm system. Keep your car keys in your bedroom and trigger the alarm. Purchase a bull horn or trigger the fire alarm in life-threatening cases.

Experts say that noise is the best deterrent in a home invasion. Try yelling through a window or getting a noise box that blasts loud sound effects — anything that gets a neighbor’s attention so they can call the police. If you hear someone trying to break in, it might be best to get yourself and your family members outside and to a neighbor’s house. Sleep with all your bedroom doors open so you can hear what’s going on.

Another option is to try disabling the attacker. The attacker might be disabled by using some sort of weapon. For example, you can try spraying him or her with a can of wasp spray. Wasp spray is more powerful than mace and can reach up to 25 feet. Any intruder hit with wasp spray will be temporarily blinded. There is the option of using a handgun for self-defense in a home invasion. If you choose this option, however, be sure to know how to use it and any laws that govern its use.

Of course, the best option is preventing an invasion in the first place. Here are some suggestions for deterring a criminal.

  1. Keep the doors and windows locked. About 30 percent of burglars enter through an unlocked door or window.
  2. Set up a wireless alarm system. The majority of convicted burglars report that they intentionally avoided homes with security systems, and if these alarms were triggered, they would flee immediately. Plus, a wireless system is less vulnerable because there are no wires to be cut by the perpetrators.
  3. Plant thorny bushes around windows.

Remember that no material possession is worth your life or the lives or your loved ones. In a life-threatening situation, it might be better to cooperate with the invaders rather than risk harm.

Could You Survive Like “The Martian”?

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martian survival skillsThe science fiction novel “The Martian” is a thrilling tale of survival. The best-selling book by Andy Weir tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney after he is abandoned on Mars and manages to survive long enough to be rescued. “The Martian” has most recently been made into a movie starring Matt Damon.

Even though the story is a work of fiction, there are several important survival lessons that we can take away from it.

  1. Problem Solving – As a scientist and astronaut, Watney is exceptional in his problem-solving abilities. His expertise as a botanist means he’s able to grow his own food, and his engineering background gives him a leg up in fixing and rigging equipment to suit his purposes. It seems that there is no problem that Watney cannot overcome with a little bit of ingenuity.
  2. Using What’s at Hand – Watney has to rely on a variety of different materials he already has on hand for his survival. For example, he establishes communication with NASA by using a lander from a previous Mars mission. He makes use of space suits, human waste, and even good old-fashioned duct tape to stay alive. Watney demonstrates that it’s essential in any survival situation to use whatever is available.
  3. Communication – One of the keys to Watney’s eventual rescue is his ability to establish communication with NASA. There are many individuals who work together to come up with a successful plan to save Watney once they know he’s alive. However, this partnership wouldn’t have been possible without Watney being able to communicate with Earth. His communication with NASA also provides a psychological and emotional boost. When Watney loses his link to NASA in a freak accident, he suddenly finds himself desperately alone and flying blind.
  4. Relying on Others – Even though Watney is alone on Mars, there is a whole team back on Earth that will do anything to see him rescued before he runs out of food. This team involves members of NASA, the crew that left him behind, and even space agencies in other countries. Watney has to depend on others to get himself home.
  5. Not Giving Up – As the first human being to be stranded on Mars, Watney faces a series of problems that no one has ever had to deal with. These include making water, having enough oxygen, and encountering Martian storms. However, he does face similar problems that those of us back on Earth deal with in emergency situations: getting enough food, staying warm, and waiting for rescue. He encounters problem after problem, and it’s difficult not to be impressed by Watney’s survival mindset. He is determined to live despite the odds against him. This might be the most important aspect of survival: perseverance.

How to Survive a Gunshot Wound

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edc gunWould you know what to do if you or someone near you were shot? Gunshot wounds aren’t that common. In fact, usually only soldiers, law enforcement personnel, and maybe hunters need to worry about what to do if they are shot. Still, random shootings can and do happen. Probably no one in the Aurora, Colorado theater on July 20, 2012 expected to be suffering gunshot wounds that night.

Fortunately, advances in medical technology have dramatically increased the chances of surviving a gunshot wound. If you or someone else is shot, the most critical factor is getting professional medical attention as soon as possible by calling 911. Of course, your ability to call for medical attention, and also survive the wound depends heavily on where the bullet entered your body.

In general, gunshot wounds to the head and the trunk or torso are more deadly than a gunshot wound to an extremity. The most dangerous place for a gunshot wound is the head, and wounds to the heart and liver cause a serious amount of bleeding. In order to increase your chances of survival, it’s important to assess where the wound entered the body, and then take steps to control the bleeding and prevent infection before medical help arrives.

Here are some guidelines of what to do when gunshot wounds occur to these specific parts of the body:

  • Head – If a bullet lodges in the brain, it’s unlikely that the person will survive. However, if the bullet just grazes the head or hits a non-vital area, chances of survival are better. The key to survival in these cases is controlling the bleeding. Head injuries tend to bleed profusely, and you’re likely to bleed to death if the bullet pierces the carotid artery in the neck. Be sure to apply direct pressure to the wound.
  • The chest – The chest contains many vital organs including the heart, lungs, and spine. Try not to move if shot in the chest. There will probably be internal bleeding. Plus, if the bullet is near the spine, any movement could cause paralysis. The only thing to do is to try to plug the entrance and/or exit wounds with a solid object to make it easier to breathe.
  • Abdomen – Injuries to the abdomen are incredibly dangerous because of the risk of bleeding and the potential for infection. A bullet wound to the intestines can cause massive damage. Don’t drink or eat anything until medical help arrives and places a dressing on the wound.
  • The arms and legs – When shot in the arms and legs, it’s important to control the bleeding by applying direct pressure and elevating the appendage above the heart. Arteries in the arms and legs can bleed significantly.

Thankfully, we live in an age where it is more likely to survive a gunshot wound. However, there are a lot of variables to surviving a gunshot wound including proximity to professional medical help and location of the wound. With some basic medical training and calling for help right away, you are more likely to survive.

Mental Health First Aid

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Mental ToughnessMany of us know and can apply the basics of first aid. We understand that to stop bleeding, we put pressure on the wound. A sprained ankle is treated with RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. But less of us understand the basics of mental health first aid, or even recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse in the first place.

It is important to at least know the basics of mental illness, because, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health, one in five Americans has a mental illness. What makes mental health first aid more difficult is that the symptoms of mental illness are often hard to detect. Moreover, the person with the condition is usually hesitant to seek help. A lot of stigma surrounds mental health, so the person who is suffering might not know where to turn for help.

That’s where we can come in. Learning mental health first aid means that you are able to recognize the symptoms of mental illness, provide initial help, and connect the person to a wide variety of resources. A mental health first aid course teaches the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses including depression and mood disorders, anxiety disorders, trauma, psychosis, and substance abuse disorders.

By taking a class, you’ll be able to help a person experiencing things like hallucinations, panic attacks, thoughts of suicide, and an overdose of alcohol or drugs. The mental health first aid plan includes the following steps.

1. Assess for risk of harm or risk of suicide – Anyone in a mental crisis needs to be assessed for risk of harm to him or herself. This includes thoughts of suicide. Some of the warning signs of suicide include threats to harm oneself, talking about death or dying, hopelessness, irritability or anger, withdrawing from friends or family, and risky behaviors. Be sure to ask the person if they have a plan to harm him or herself. If they do have a plan, seek out emergency medical services right away.

2. Listen to their story – If the person is not in immediate risk, ask the person to describe what’s going on. It’s important to listen nonjudgmentally and use active listening skills. It also helps to treat the other person with dignity and respect and not to blame the person for their illness. Blaming only increases the stigma surrounding mental illness.

3. Encourage professional help – During the conversation, help the person explore his or her formal and informal resources. Formal supports include doctors, counselors, social workers and other mental health professionals. Informal resources include family, friends, and other places of emotional support.

4. Develop an action plan – An action plan sets out what the person is going to do next in order to get help. It could include coping strategies such as relaxation techniques, exercise, meditation, and participation in support groups. It helps if the individual comes up with his or her own action plan.

To find out where you can take a course in mental health first aid, visit

4 Changes You Can Make for More Sustainable Living

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Sustainable livingMost people would agree that helping out the environment is a good thing. After all, most of us want to make sure our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy the places and natural resources that we enjoy today. On the other hand, actually living a more sustainable lifestyle — one that reduces our individual and societal impact on Earth’s resources — is sometimes more difficult. Sustainable living means giving up some of the conveniences of modern society and doing things differently than we’ve already done.

The good news, though, is that sustainable living is not overwhelming or hard to do. It just takes a few simple changes to reduce your impact on the environment. Here are some tips for more sustainable living:

  • Just say no to plastic – Plastic has a tendency to end up in landfills, and they are not biodegradable, so it takes 1,000 years or more to break down. Plastic spoils landscapes and waterways. Instead, use containers for food and water that are reusable. Glass or ceramic containers for food as well as metal for water are more eco-friendly. You can also switch to reusable grocery bags and then recycle plastic bags if you end up using them now and then.
  • Cut down on water waste – Washing the dishes with a free-flowing faucet wastes a lot of water. Cut down on water waste by filling up two sinks, one to wash and one to rinse. If you only have one sink, try picking up biodegradable metal containers. Fill one with hot, soapy water and the other with clean hot water. After you are done washing and rinsing the dishes, you can use the leftover water to hydrate plants as long as the soap is biodegradable.
  • Make your own cleaning products – Cleaning products can be expensive, and the chemical agents in them can be harsh on the environment. Cut down on their environmental impact by making your own cleaning products or purchasing organic cleaners. You can make your own all-purpose cleaner, laundry detergent and hygiene products.
  • Cut down on electronic waste – Most electronic devices continue to draw energy even when they are turned off. You can cut down on electronic waste by unplugging your cords when not in use or by plugging the cords into a power strip and turning it off.

Ultimately, sustainable living does take a conscious effort on our part. It means making a few small changes now in order to reduce our larger impact over time.

How to Collect Rainwater

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Rainwater Collection SystemIf you’re looking to save money on water for your household, consider collecting rainwater. Using rainwater has a lot of benefits, and rainwater collection systems are fairly simple to put together. Collecting rainwater also means that you are practicing more sustainable living.

There are many reasons why using rainwater is advantageous. First of all, rainwater does not go through the complex filtration and treatment process. Directly collected rainfall typically has low hardness levels and does not pick up extra minerals, salt, and other pollutants from seeping into the ground, reducing stress on underground aquifers. Collecting rainwater tends to cut down on erosion and household water waste as well saving time and money.

Moreover, rainwater can be used for a wide variety of purposes including drinking, cooking, bathing, irrigation, watering plants, and watering and washing animals. Plants especially seem to enjoy the soft, warm, chlorine-free water. Stored rainwater can serve as a handy supply in case of emergencies and/or power outages.

The most basic method of collecting rainwater is that of a rain barrel. Simply place the barrel outside and wait for it to be filled with rain. In order to minimize the number of contaminants in the water, be sure to keep the barrel clean and free from debris. Remove any overhanging branches and debris in gutters. You can keep mosquitoes out and other insects out by making sure the barrel is sealed tightly and covered on top with a fine wire mesh. You’ll probably still need to boil the water before drinking to remove viruses, bacteria, and other parasites.

Another way to collect rainwater is through a rainwater harvesting system. Also known as a rainwater catchment system, this is a must if you plan to use rainwater as your household’s sole water source. Small systems cost a few thousand dollars, or you can fashion your own. A rainwater catchment connects your house’s gutters to a center water tank; some can hold up to 100,000 liters of water.

To fashion a rainwater harvesting system, make sure that your house is fitted with gutters or downspouts. If not, you can place aluminum or plastic on the rim of the house’s roof. The rain will fall on the roof and collect in the gutters. The downspouts will funnel the water downward; you can make your own from aluminum or plastic. Place a water container or rain barrels beneath the downspouts. The containers or rain barrels are placed on top of cinder blocks for stability.

Overall, rainwater is not hard to collect, and it has a lot of advantages for use in your household. When you harvest rainwater, you cut down on water waste and improve the environment at the same time.

DIY: 5 Common Seasoning Mixes

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DIY seasoning mixesFor many of us, we want to be independent and have control over what we eat. This desire leads us to hunt, fish and garden — all activities that can be sustainable and environmentally friendly. But have you ever thought about making your own seasoning mixes? Seasoning mixes and spices are used in a wide variety of delicious, everyday recipes. Most of us don’t think twice about picking up seasonings or spices at the grocery store, but there’s an alternative that can save you money.

Making your own homemade seasoning mixes has many advantages to store-bought packs. First of all, making your own seasonings cuts down on expenses. Certain spices are extremely expensive to buy at the grocery store. A 1-ounce container of pumpkin pie spice costs around $5.00! Making your own spices also cuts down on trips to the grocery store if you need only a little bit for a particular recipe. This can be especially helpful for moms who don’t want to go through the trouble of bringing along their kids.

In addition, making your own seasoning mixes means that you can control what ingredients are added to them. Take a look at seasoning mixes or spices at the store and you’ll see ingredients like MSG, sugar, modified food starch, gluten, and silicone dioxide. Plus, making your own spices and mixes is simple. All the tools you need are the ingredients, measuring spoons, and glass jars. Just mix the components together and store in an airtight container.

Here are some simple DIY recipes for popular seasoning mixes and spices:

  1. Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground ginger
4 tsp. ground cinnamon

  1. Taco Seasoning Mix

2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
dash cayenne

  1. Poultry Seasoning

2 3/4 tsp. rosemary
1 1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. black pepper

  1. Chili Powder

1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. garlic powder

  1. Allspice

Mix equal parts of:

Overall, it pays to make your own seasonings and spices. You can control what you put in there, and it saves you time and money from not having to pick them up from the grocery store. Seasonings and spices also last a long time so they are a good addition to any prepper’s storage or emergency supply. Try it for yourself!

Off Grid Cooking Methods + Dutch Oven Recipe

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dutch oven cookingCooking is an essential life skill. Everyone must learn the basics of cooking at some point. And when it comes to survival, knowing how to cook off the grid is a must. Being able to boil water and cook meat using primitive methods can mean the difference between life and death in some emergency situations.

Off-the-grid cooking is more challenging and time consuming in the absence of electricity and modern conveniences. However, it can also be more rewarding. There is nothing more gratifying than making a full, hot meal for yourself and your family by cooking like the pioneers did two centuries ago.

The basic foundation of cooking off the grid is learning how to build an outdoor fire. In a pinch, a fire serves as a cooking method as well as a source of heat for staying warm. Fires can be fueled with wood, charcoal or even dung. Place a Dutch oven or reflector oven on the fire pit and you can make casseroles, pies, cobblers, cakes, bread, beans and stews.

Dutch oven cooking, in particular, is extremely popular; whole cookbooks are dedicated to it. Here’s a simple recipe for baked beans using a Dutch oven.

Fortunately, modern technology has made off-the-grid cooking even easier through the use of stoves that employ many different kinds of fuel sources. Outdoor camping stoves are lightweight, extremely versatile in terms of fuel, and great for boiling water or reheating. Some of these stoves have internal battery packs and can even charge cell phones! Other types of off-the-grid cooking methods include propane grills, solar stoves, and woodstoves.

The trick to off-the-grid cooking is finding a method you’re comfortable with and then practicing. The more that you practice, the more you will grow in your confidence, knowledge, and skills.

Have You Made These Essential Updates to Your Long-Term Storage?

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emergency-food-storage-canned-foodWhether or not you consider yourself to be a prepper, it’s always a good idea to have a food storage supply for emergencies. You’ll want some extra food and water on hand that will last for a few days or weeks when natural disasters, power outages, severe winter storms, and man-made calamities occur. In these situations, you might find yourself without the basics of survival.

Even if you do have an emergency food and water supply, it is recommended to take an inventory of your food storage items at least once a year. That way you can assess your current state of readiness and update your food and non-food items as needed. Chances are that you’ll need to remove some items and add others.

Here are some things to look for when updating your long-term food storage items.

  • Expiration date – Almost all food items have an expiration date. Check the date on the item or package. Get rid of those items that are expired and replace them. There are a few food items that will never spoil including honey, salt, sugar, baking soda, instant coffee, bottled water, white rice, and powdered milk. Consider investing in these particular items because they can last a lifetime using proper storage methods.
  • Nonfood items – Even though nonfood items will never expire, check the condition of these things. Items like knives, guns, tents, clothes, stoves, radios and tools might need to be cleaned and/or repaired. It’s always frustrating to discover that the item doesn’t work right when you want it. Make sure these items are still in working condition and have fresh batteries if applicable. Check the supplies in your first aid kits and replace any medicines that have expired.
  • Storage containers – When taking your inventory, it’s helpful to check the condition of food storage containers. Containers can get damaged or break down over time. Check for holes, decay, and broken seals. Your food storage supplies can last longer with proper containers that keep out moisture, insects, and are resistant to damage.
  • OrganizationBesides the items themselves, it might also be time to update how you organize your items. You can use your own methods for organization or adapt someone else’s. The ultimate goal is to make it easier for you to find items in an emergency. Consider making an updated list of supplies that lets you know what you have on hand and what you still need.

Even though it might be overwhelming to update your food storage, it’s important to do a little at a time. Set small goals for yourself throughout the year so that the process is not tedious but actually enjoyable.

Guess How Many Americans Have a Financial Backup Plan?

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budget 101It’s a fact of everyday life that the unexpected can, and often does, happen. Gathering emergency supplies and being prepared for the worst helps your chances of survival. But it’s also worth asking yourself if you and your family are prepared financially to survive the unexpected. Do you have a financial backup plan or an emergency fund to help you weather the storm?

A backup plan or emergency fund is a financial safety net to help cover unforeseen expenses or financial challenges. These include things like:

  • The loss of a job
  • Major medical problems
  • Expensive repairs
  • Rebuilding in the aftermath of a natural disaster
  • A death in the family

Studies have shown that fewer than half of American families have a financial backup plan. That means that the majority of us are only one incident away from ruin or bankruptcy. Emergency funds are needed to help when the unexpected happens.

A financial backup plan usually means putting money away. Experts recommend having a savings account that can cover at least eight months of living expenses. However, you might need more depending on the number of people in your household. That amount should also be enough to cover other expenses like taxes and payments on outstanding debts.

Developing a financial backup could also mean having an additional source of income and adequate insurance coverage. In order to save some each month, it’s always helpful for families to create a budget and then stick to the plan.

Here are some ways to get started developing a backup plan or emergency fund:

  1. Cut Back – It’s always surprising how much you can live without. Some of the conveniences of modern life can be gotten rid of in order to save some money. These include things like cable TV, magazine subscriptions, and new books and movies. Find low-cost or free alternatives like borrowing books, magazines, and movies from the local library.
  2. Filling Out Your Tax Forms Correctly – Many people miss out on hundreds of dollars in tax deductions every year. Then they spend their refund all at once. How about using that tax refund to jump-start your backup funds?
  3. Seasonal Employment – Temporary or seasonal employment can help you ride out financial storms and save for emergencies by offering an additional source of income.
  4. Trick Yourself into Saving – Setting up automatic payroll deductions or automatic transfers into savings accounts means that you don’t have to handle those funds.

However you go about developing your own financial backup, just remember that it’s worth the effort. When those funds are needed, you won’t regret it!

Make a Life-saving Water Filter when You’re in a Pinch

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activated charcoal water filterIn any emergency situation, it is imperative to know how to filter water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene. Earthquakes, floods, fires, and even government officials, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, may cause your water supply to become contaminated and unsuitable for use. In these situations, your Brita filter won’t cut it. It is always a good idea to invest in a quality filtration system, but the price can keep many people away.

There is, however, the option of fashioning your own filtration system using everyday household items. There are many methods to do this but the easiest DIY filter involves an athletic sock and a nylon stocking or pantyhose made out of fine mesh. Simply insert the foot of the nylon stocking or pantyhose inside the athletic sock and slowly poor the untreated water into the opening. It’s important to position the sock so that the filtered water drains into a clean water container. If you don’t have a nylon stocking or athletic sock, use several layers of clean cloth or clothing items to accomplish the same purpose.

Another option for water filters involves two 5-gallon buckets and lids, a filtering element, a spigot, and some household tools. The first step is to drill a 1/2” hole in the bottom of one of the buckets. This will be the top bucket. These types of buckets can be found in restaurants, grocery stores, and bakeries. Take the bucket and place it on the lid of the bottom bucket.

Using the hole you just drilled, trace a circle onto the bottom lid with a marker. The next step is to drill another 1/2” hole in the lid with the circle mark as a guide. Then, install the filtering element in the hole you made in the top bucket. This filtering element could be made up of a candle or ceramic filter or even a homemade filter. After installing the filter, take the bottom bucket and drill a 3/4” hole on the side near the bottom. Install a spigot in this hole.

The last step is to assemble the system by placing the top bucket onto the lid of the bottom bucket and making sure that the filter element aligns with the hole of the lid of the bottom bucket. Fill the top bucket with water and you’ll have filtered water in about an hour.

Of course, it is always a good idea to purify water before drinking. You can use common household items for this as well. Liquid bleach is one of the most cost effective methods for purification. For one quart of clear, clean-looking water, add two drops of bleach. Stir the water and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Preparedness Goals for 2016

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plan-b-headerThe beginning of a new year is always a good time to stop and evaluate your goals. It’s common to make resolutions related to health and fitness in January and February, but what about making preparedness goals?

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Americans are woefully unprepared for natural disasters and emergency situations. A 2015 survey found that only 40 percent of participants have developed an emergency plan, and 60 percent of American adults have not taken part in a disaster or emergency drill within the last year.

In general, getting you and your family prepared involves three stages. The first stage is determining what your goals are and gathering information. The next step is to create a plan and hammer out the specifics of who, what, where, and how. Then, you and your family will be able to start collecting and assembling emergency supplies like a 72-hour kit plus extra food, water and other necessities.

Figuring out what your preparedness goals are should be the number one priority to begin with. Preparedness goals could include things like:

  • Finding out what natural disasters are most common in your local area
  • Discovering what the best evacuation routes are in case of an emergency
  • Developing a workplace emergency plan
  • Learning basic CPR and First Aid
  • Participating in an emergency evacuation drill
  • Collecting enough essential supplies to last at least 72 hours
  • Learning about emergency plans at your children’s schools and/or daycare centers
  • Identifying emergency contacts
  • Making copies of important documents and storing them in an emergency kit
  • Discussing your emergency plan with family members and responding to any questions they might have

When choosing your disaster goals, keep in mind that they need to be as specific and concrete as possible. Vague or unclear goals typically never get accomplished. For example, many people choose losing weight as a goal at the beginning of the year. However, these goals are usually never realized because they aren’t specific, and a concrete plan isn’t made for completing them.

For preparedness, it’s also helpful to evaluate the current state of readiness for you and your family and go from there. That way the process of setting goals for the year won’t be too overwhelming. You can always start by taking an inventory of what supplies you already have and then purchasing other necessities for emergencies.

DIY Cold and Flu Remedies

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Peppermint Herb Uses

One of the downsides of cooler weather is the arrival of the cold and flu season. As people head inside because of rain and snow, it is easier for cold and flu viruses to spread. Even though you might take preventative measures like hand washing and getting plenty of sleep, there is still the risk of getting sick.

While many people turn to prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines at the first sign of a cold or the flu, there are several do-it-yourself remedies to try in order to relieve symptoms. Here are some of the most common symptoms and homemade treatments.

  • Sore Throat – Having a sore, painful throat is never fun but often accompanies a cold or the flu. If you come down with a scratchy throat that makes talking a chore, try gargling with items you already have around the house. These include honey, salt, and peppermint. You can also try hot chicken soup. Be sure to add some pungent spices like garlic or curry powder to thin the mucus in your throat.
  • Stuffy Nose – Clear up a stuffy nose or throat with steamy water enhanced with fresh ginger or a few drops of eucalyptus oil. You can also try taking a warm shower and using a saltwater spray to rinse out the nostrils. Be sure to get plenty of hot liquids, and try to avoid coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks while you’re feeling bad.
  • Running Nose – A common yet annoying symptom of a cold is a running nose. Running noses occur when there is an increased production of mucus as the body tries to rid itself of a cold or flu virus. Treat a running noise with garlic soup or ginger tea. You can also drink a warm glass of milk or water with turmeric added to relieve a running noise.
  • Coughing – Raw honey is a natural antibiotic that helps to keep your throat moist in order to relieve coughing. Try taking 1 tablespoon of honey 1–3 times a day in order to alleviate coughs. Thyme also helps to open up the airways and relax the muscles of the lower respiratory system. Make a thyme tea by combining 2 tablespoons of dried thyme with 8 ounces of boiling water.
  • Fever and Muscle Aches – Get plenty of rest to combat a fever and muscle aches. Your body needs rest in order to heal. Drink lots of liquids. Water, clear soups, broth, and even electrolyte replacement drinks work the best to promote immune functioning to combat a cold or flu.
  • Nausea – Relieve nausea with peppermint. It helps to relax the stomach muscles so that food can move through. Peppermint can be taken in many different forms, including tea. It’s also extremely safe during pregnancy.

Disclaimer: We are not health professionals and nothing we write is intended to cure or diagnose. You should consult your doctor or other health professional for your healthcare needs.

Essential Swimming Skills for Survival

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swimming survival skills
One of the most neglected areas of survival preparation is that of water safety training. According to the American Red Cross, only half of adults in the United States can perform the essential skills they would need to survive in the event of a water emergency. These critical skills could ultimately save lives.

Certain swimming abilities are necessary in order to live through water emergencies, like being stranded in open water. Situations that could leave you stranded in open water include being swept out to sea by strong currents, plane crashes and sinking boats. The swimming skills that could help you survive in these situations include:

  1. Treading Water – Treading water involves moving the hands and feet in particular ways to keep oneself on top of the water. Usually only the head is above the water to allow for breathing. Although there are many floating techniques, the most popular one is to move the hands and arms horizontally across the body while flutter kicking with the legs. Treading water allows a person to recover their breath if they’ve swallowed water and to stop and orient themselves in the middle of a swim.
  2. Survival Floating – In any water emergency, it is critical to stay afloat. This can be accomplished through many different kinds of personal flotation devices, some of which can be improvised. However, if you find yourself without a raft, lifeboat or other flotation device, you can use floating techniques to conserve energy. The most common way to float is on the back, but this should be done only in calm waters. In rough waters, lie facedown in the water, lifting your head to inhale and then exhale back into the water.
  3. Rising to the Surface – When immersed in deep water suddenly, it is important to be able to get to the surface quickly in order to breathe. It is helpful to activate one’s flotation device for the best results. However, you might find yourself without one. In those cases, orient yourself in the water by moving toward light. Flutter kick with your legs, and use your arms by pushing down against the water all the way to your hips.
  4. Front Crawl – The front crawl is the fastest, most efficient way to move in the water. The front crawl is performed by flutter kicking with the legs and using the arms to scull the water. The arms and hands enter the water thumbs first out past the head and then pull horizontally along the length of the body. The swimmer breathes by turning the head to one side and then exhaling into the water.

As always, it is a good idea to practice these techniques before a survival situation occurs. Check your local area for swimming lessons in order to learn these essential water safety skills.

Five Multi-Use Survival Items to Carry

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get home bag multitoolIt is every outdoor adventurer’s dilemma: How can I carry the items I need to survive an emergency yet cut down on weight? Those who venture into the wilderness miles away from help must be prepared with the skills and tools to cope with survival situations. Yet, being far from civilization means that they must carry all the essentials on their backs, and extra weight makes things more difficult.

The answer to this problem is to invest in items that have more than one use. Knowing how to pack a survival kit with items that have multiple uses is key to adequately preparing and cutting down on pack weight. Here are five survival items that have multiple uses:

1. Knife – A good knife can be used for many different things that can come in handy for emergency situations. Practical uses include killing and cleaning game for food, making fire, splitting wood, cutting bandages and making strips of cloth, digging, making shelters and self-defense.
2. Multi-Tool – There are some uses that large survival knives are not made for, and for everything else, a multi-tool can come in handy. Some of the features multi-tools are equipped with include a small blade, scissors, a can opener, a bottle opener, a corkscrew, pliers and more. There are many different brands and types of multi-tools so be sure to hunt around for the one that fits your needs the best.
3. Garbage and/or Plastic Bags – Garbage bags and plastic bags can be used for just about anything you can think of. They are helpful for storing food, keeping clothes dry, collecting water, fashioning shelters, marking trails, keeping medical dressings dry, and collecting and disposing of human waste.
4. Duct Tape – Duct tape has a wide variety of wilderness uses. It is especially useful for first aid in securing a splint or being used as an emergency bandage. It can also be utilized to start fires, build shelters, and waterproof a tent or a backpack. You can use duct tape as a temporary repair for just about anything. Plus, you can use it as a tie or adhesive to fashion basic weapons. Duct tape is light and easy to carry. Easily wrap a portion of duct tape around a trekking pole or tent stake to take it with you.
5. Paracord – Survival bracelets made out of paracord are popular for good reason. In case of emergency, paracord has many different uses. Paracord is a sturdy material that holds up well under the strain of wilderness living. It can be used for making slings and splints, tying a tourniquet in the case of severe trauma, making shelters, hunting, and starting fires. No extra room is needed in a pack, as they are carried on the wrist.