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Tornado: What You Should Know

After what I thought was a quiet spring, we have experienced a horrific tornado in Oklahoma with more than 50 killed. Loss of life from disasters, both natural and man-made, is an ever-present danger, and we must be prepared to deal with these issues are they present. Given the unpredictable nature of these calamities, it is more important now than ever to be prepared to deal with injuries. Medical preparedness has never been more important.

There are few people who haven’t been in the path of a major storm at one point or another. If you fail to plan ways to protect yourself and your family, you may find yourself having to treat significant traumatic injuries in the immediate aftermath. Later, flooding may contaminate your water supplies and expose you to serious infectious disease. Preparing to weather the storm safely will avoid major medical problems for you, in your role as survival medic, later on.

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and the thunderstorm (sometimes called a “supercell”) that spawned it. From a distance, tornadoes usually appear in the form of a visible dark funnel with all sorts of flying debris in and around it. Because of rainfall, they may be difficult to see when close up. A tornado (also called a “twister”) may have winds of up to 300 miles per hour, and can travel for a number of kilometers or miles before petering out. They may be accompanied by hail and will emit a roaring sound that will remind you of a passing train (I can tell you this is true by personal experience). There are almost a thousand tornadoes in the United States every year, more than are reported in any other country. Most of these occur in Tornado Alley, an area that includes Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and neighboring states. Spring and early summer are the peak seasons.

Injuries from tornadoes usually come as a result of trauma from all the flying debris that is carried along with it. Strong winds can carry large objects and fling them around in a manner that is hard to believe; Indeed, there is a report that, in 1931, an 83 ton train was lifted and thrown 80 feet from the tracks.

Tornadoes are categorized by something called the Fujita Scale, from level 0-5, based on the amount of damage caused:

•F0 Light: broken tree branches, mild structural damage, some uprooted
•F1 Moderate: broken windows, small tree trunks broken, overturned mobile homes, destruction of carports or toolsheds, roof tiles missing
•F2 Considerable: mobile homes destroyed, major structural damage to frame homes due to flying debris, some large trees snapped in half or uprooted
•F3 Severe: Roofs torn from homes, small frame homes destroyed, most trees snapped and uprooted
•F4 Devastating: strong structure building damaged or destroyed or lifted from foundations, cars lifted and blown away, even large debris airborne
•F5 Incredible: larger building lifted from foundations, trees snapped, uprooted and debarked, multi-ton debris becomes airborne missiles

Although some places may have sirens or other methods of warning you of an approaching twister, it is important to have a plan for your family to weather the storm. Having a plan before a tornado approaches is the most likely way you will survive the event. Children should be taught where to find the medical kits and, if possible, how to turn off gas and electricity. Giving your loved ones experience in the use of a fire extinguisher and the treatment of injuries would be highly useful as well. Just use the search engine at www.doomandbloom.net for more information on treating wounds and fractures.

If you see a twister funnel, take shelter immediately. If your domicile is a mobile home, leave! They are especially vulnerable to damage from the winds. If you live in a mobile home and there is time, get to the nearest building that has a tornado shelter; underground shelters are best. If you live in Tornado Alley, consider putting together your own underground shelter. Here’s a link on how: http://www.tornadoproject.com/safety/ism2.pdf

Unlike bunkers and other structures built for long-term protection, a tornado shelter has to provide safety for a short period of time. As such, it doesn’t have to be very large; 8-10 square feet per person would be acceptable. Despite this, be sure to consider ventilation and the comfort or special needs of those using the shelter.

If you don’t have a shelter, find a place where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. Basements, bathrooms, closets or inside rooms without windows are the best options. Windows can easily shatter from impact due to flying debris. For added protection, get under a heavy object such as a sturdy table. Covering up your body with a sleeping bag or mattress will provide an additional shield. Discuss this plan of action with each and every member of your family or group in such a way that they will know this process by heart.

If you’re in a car and can drive to a shelter, do so. Although you may be hesitant to leave your vehicle, remember that they can be easily tossed around by the winds; you may be safer if there is a culvert or other area lower than the roadway. In town, leaving the car to enter a sturdy building is appropriate.If there is no other shelter, your car will protect you from some of the flying debris. Keep your seat beat on, put you head down below the level of the windows, and cover yourself with something.

If you are caught outside when the tornado hits (on a hike, for instance), stay away from wooded areas. Torn branches and other debris become missiles, so an open field or ditch may be safer. Lying down flat in a low spot in the ground will give you some protection. Make sure to cover your head if at all possible, even if it’s just with your hands.

Armed with a plan of action, you will know what to do when you see that funnel cloud or hear that tornado siren. Evaluate your home for weak and strong points, educate your loved ones on the right strategy, and you’ll have a head start on weathering that storm.

Dr. Bones

You many view the original article here: http://www.doomandbloom.net/tornado/

Can also be viewed here:  www.modernhomesteaders.net

Preparing for Power Blackouts – Plan Ahead and You Can Weather Any Storm

(Dr. Bones says: Today we publish a post by survival author, blog writer, and emergency preparedness consultant M.D. Creekmore of The Survivalist Blog . He is the author of “31 Days to Survival” and ”The Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat“ and his blog has more than 3,000 articles posted on survival and self-reliance topics.)

 

Power outages are nothing new and thousands of homes are without power every year in the U.S. most for only a few hours, but some for days or even weeks – would you be prepared if the power stayed off for several days or even months?

Such extended power outages are a real possibility after a serious hurricane, winter storm or even the result of a terrorist attack affecting the power grid or an EMP strike. The U.S. runs on electricity, without a functional power grid the U.S. would come to a standstill. Without electrical power, gas pumps no longer work, scanners at the supermarket will fail, radio and television stations go off the air and computers fail to connect to the web.

Could you provide for your family?

Everyone should plan for and prepare for the possibility of being without power for an extended period of time, but where do you start. What do you need to put away so the next blackout won’t become a nightmare. Let’s take a look…

Have Safe Water

Every emergency kit should begin with a safe supply of drinking water. Granted, if you are on a municipal water supply your water may not be affected by a power outage, but you should still stock up. If backup power fails at water-treatment plants then that water may become unsafe for drinking or cooking and need to be boiled, or treated before use. Including water in your emergency kit is always a good idea no matter how secure you think your current method of supply.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends storing at least one gallon of water per day per person for emergency use. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking they state. You’ll also need to take into consideration age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate to determine needed qualities. And don’t forget about your pets, they need water too.

I live off-the grid with most of my water provided from a nearby spring, but I still include stored water in my emergency kit. The easiest way to store drinking water is to simply buy bottled water from the supermarket shelf. But it is cheaper to store water from your own tap. I store most of my water in six-gallon water jugs bought in the sporting goods department at my local Wal-Mart for the purpose. But you can use cleaned 2 liter plastic bottles instead.

Some of the readers of The Survivalist Blog, have asked about using milk jugs for water storage, and I always recommend against it. While milk jugs can work short-term, they are prone to leakage and the plastic deteriorates quickly. Milk jugs are also more susceptible to bacterial growth because of milk proteins that are often left in the container even after cleaning. A much better solution is two liter plastic soda bottles.

If using two liter plastic soda bottles the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends sanitizing the bottles after cleaning with dishwashing soap and water, by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.

Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, there is no need to add liquid household chlorine bleach to tap water before storage as this water has already been treated by the water utility company. In this case all you need to do is fill the bottles to the top and tightly screw on the cap.

Emergency Food

Next you need food. This should include things your family already eats you just need to store extra for your emergency kit. Canned soups, meats, nuts, fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, dried fruits and vegetables and crackers for example will last at least a year if stored in unopened air tight containers.

Self-rising flour, corn meal, sugar, salt, rolled oats and other died goods should be stored in air tight, food safe containers made of plastic or glass to keep out pests and moister. One mistake a lot of people make is not using what they’ve stored. They buy up a bunch of foods for emergencies; they put it on the shelf and end up throwing it out when it passes the listed expiration date.

This can be avoided by implementing a simple food rotation program.

Date each container with a permanent marker or date stamp and use on a first-in first-out basis (FIFO). As each item is used in your normal everyday meals, replace that item with a new product of the same value, date and repeat. If you follow this simple principle you will never have to discard food from your emergency kit and will always have a fresh supply on hand for emergencies. With canned foods this rotation can be automated by building or buying a building a rotating canned food shelf.

I suggest you keep at least a two-week emergency food supply on hand at all times, several months to a year would be even better, but isn’t practical for most people. This food storage calculator is a big help when determining needed amounts, but it isn’t exact and you will have to make the final decision based on your family’s eating habits.

Heating and Cooking

Most power outages in the U.S. happen during periods of extreme weather. For example, in 1993, I was without power for three weeks after an ice storm blanketed my area. Luckily, I had a fireplace for heating and cooking and a supply of wood to keep the fire burning. But, many folks aren’t so lucky and need to make other preparations for cooking and staying warm.

Kerosene heaters can be used for heating and even cooking with certain models, for example the Alpaca Kerosene Cooker. Kerosene can be stored in large quantities for long periods of time without any special treatment. It has been estimated that a gallon of kerosene will provide about the same heat output as a wheelbarrow load of wood!

Kerosene is easy to store and has a longer storage life than does gasoline. I store kerosene in blue cans marked for its use. Mistakenly pouring gasoline into a kerosene heater, could have dire consequences. Following a color coding system helps avoid this possibility.

The main disadvantage to using a kerosene heater is that they can be smelly if not used properly, they have to be refilled every few hours and the wick needs to be replaced every few months depending on how much the heater is used during that time.

The standard fuel container color coding system is blue for kerosene, red for gasoline, and yellow for diesel. I suggest you follow this system. You’ll need roughly two – three gallons of kerosene per day with continues use, so for two weeks you would need a minimum of 28 gallon.

Keep in mind that this is only an estimate and actual usage will depend on several factors. Including but not limited to the type of heater, quality of the fuel, condition of the wick (don’t for get to add an extra wick to your emergency kit) and environmental conditions where the heater is used.

Propane heaters like the Mr Heater Buddy can be used indoors and in my opinion they are safer and more efficient than the kerosene heaters mentioned. I’ve used one of these heaters for the past two winters to heat my travel trailer with no problems what so ever. They work great and I like not having to refill the tank every few hours or needing to replace the wick as is the case when using kerosene.

I drilled a two-inch hole through my floor beside the outside wall and connected a 100 lb propane tank to my Mr Heater Buddy heater via a hose adapter and filter then sealed the hole around the hose with expanding foam insulation. This also has the advantage of keeping the fuel source outside. One 100 lb tank will last me over a month even in the coldest weather, if I keep the heater burning at the lowest setting.

The downside to the Buddy heater are that they are difficult to cook on and you’ll need a stove just for that purpose if you don’t already have a gas cook stove in your home. I suggest a small propane Colman camp stove; these can be found in the sporting goods department at your local Wal-Mart or Kmart.

It is recommended that portable gas camp stoves not be used indoors as the fumes can be deadly. Using the stove in a ventilated area will help reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. In other words crack a window or door and have a working carbon monoxide detector if you must use the stove for cooking indoors. And make sure the stove is turned off after use.

Miscellaneous Suggestions

Most of these items can be stored in some sort of bug out bag, five-gallon plastic bucket with gamma seal lid or plastic totes until needed.

•A good first aid kit
•A sleeping bag for each family member
•Several pairs of wool socks for each family member
•Thermal underwear for each family member
•A battery-operated or crank radio and extra batteries
•A deck of cards, jigsaw puzzles, and board games etc.
•Flashlight and batteries
•Battery-powered lamps or lanterns
•Non-electric can opener
•Prescription drugs and other needed medicine
•Rock-salt to melt ice on walkways
•Chemical fire extinguisher
•Battery powered smoke alarm
•Battery powered carbon monoxide detector
•Disposable plates, bowls and utensils (to avoid wasting water washing dishes)

If you have any other suggestions or questions feel free to ask in the comments below. Stay safe my friends.

You can view the original article here: http://www.doomandbloom.net/preparing-for-power-blackouts/

Can also be viewed here:  www.modernhomesteaders.net

The Seasonal Food Challenge

Hey Preppers,

Have you ever noticed that your supermarket in Chicago has bananas for sale in February? Down here in South Florida, we have chestnuts available at Christmas time, and lots of other stuff that you know came from a place far, far away. Can anyone even remember a time when the only things you could get to eat were produce that was “in season” and locally grown? I can’t. We take for granted amazing things like coconuts for sale in a market in Montana, and don’t realize that the variety that we have been blessed with, even in the dead of winter, is something that is plain old unnatural. Even worse, the fuel used to transport all these wonderful things to our area leaves a carbon footprint and increases our dependency on foreign sources of oil.

In the old days, we could only eat whatever food was in season, and grown relatively close by if not locally. The complex infrastructure that allows us to eat a wide variety of produce is still intact, but one day that infrastructure, fragile as it is, may no longer be there. What will we do then, after being spoiled our whole lives by the luxury of having the entire world be our grocery store? We’ll have to eat what is grown nearby and producing at that time of the year. It will be a shock, and it won’t be pretty.

I’m looking at our garden. It’s pretty extensive for a suburban property; yet, because it’s so hot here in summer, we have less variety that what we usually have in the cooler seasons. Agriculturally, this is our winter. Despite this, we South Floridians still have cucumbers, okra, some melons, peppers, bananas (yes, we have bananas), sugar cane, avocados and mangos. If we only ate what grew naturally and at this time of year, I could scare up a diet that would keep us healthy just by adding a protein source. But what if we were up north in the winter? We’d be living off whatever we were able to store: corn, potatoes, apples, more if we were skilled at dehydrating.

What if a collapse occurs, and there’s no transportation of food to our area? Without significant food storage, our diet would be pretty bleak by today’s standards. It’s important to plan out now what your daily meals will be like if the you-know-what hits the fan one day. If you’re a prepper, your food storage will fill in the gaps. If you’re not, you’re in trouble.

Here’s a challenge for you. Spend one season, maybe even just a couple of weeks, eating only what’s locally grown and in season for your area. This won’t be a terrible sacrifice in the summer. Many farmer’s markets will sell only locally grown produce. Doing this will teach you what is locally grown in your area, and this is good to know. Visit the same market at different times of the year, and you’ll see how availability changes depending on the season. This will give you a true picture of what is going to go on the table if things go South. If you’re smart, you’ll save some of the seeds from the produce you buy, and plant it next spring. At the very least, you will gain an appreciation for the bounty that we currently enjoy, even if it is somewhat at the expense of the environment in terms of fuel used to deliver it to us.

Dr. Bones

This is a guest post by:

http://doomandbloom.net

You can view the original article here: http://www.doomandbloom.net/the-seasonal-food-challenge/

Can also be viewed here:  www.modernhomesteaders.net

Flood Safety

storm surge

Reading about the flood in San Antonio that took the life of 2 women, I realized that I hadn’t written an article about flood safety, other than discussing storm surges during hurricanes.  Yet floods count among the disasters most responsible for loss of human life, both during the event and from the effects of the aftermath.

The definition of a flood is an overflow of water that submerges land which is normally dry.  Flooding may occur as an overflow of water from water bodies, such as a seacoast, river or lake, in which the water runs over or breaks levees, resulting in the escape of large amounts of water into populated areas. It may also occur due to an accumulation of rainwater on saturated ground.

Some floods develop slowly, while others (called “flash” floods), can develop in a very short time and affect areas where it wasn’t even raining.  As a result, it often catches the population downriver by surprise, causing severe damage and loss of life

There are several types of floods:

Areal

Floods can happen on flat or low-lying areas when the ground is saturated and water cannot run off quickly enough to stop accumulating. This may be followed by a river flood as water moves into local waterways. Floods related to rainfall can also occur if water falls on an impenetrable surface, such as concrete, asphalt paving or frozen ground, and cannot rapidly be absorbed into the ground.  In urban areas, it usually takes at least 1 inch (25 mm) of rainfall per hour to start significant ponding of water on impermeable surfaces.

Riverine

Floods happen in rivers when the flow rate exceeds the capacity of the river channel, particularly at bends in the waterway. These are some of the most dangerous, as people tend to live and work by rivers due to access to fertile soil, irrigation, and trade routes.

River flows may rise to floods levels at different rates, from a few minutes to several weeks, depending on channel width and the source of the increased flow.

Slow rising floods most commonly occur in large rivers, like the Mississippi, that have large catchment areas. The increase in flow may be the result of sustained rainfall, rapid snow melt, monsoons, or tropical storms.

Coastal

Flooding on the coast is commonly caused by a combination of sea tidal surges caused by winds and low barometric pressure. Coastal areas may be flooded by storm events, such as hurricanes, resulting in waves over-topping seawalls and levees.

johnstown flood

Aftermath of dam collapse in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1889

Failures of infrastructure such as the collapse of a dam may cause catastrophic flooding, as in the
Johnstown, Pennsylvania event in 1889 that took 2,200 lives. Major flooding may also be caused by the effects of an earthquake or volcanic eruption. These events often occur at sea hundreds of miles from the area affected, but result in tidal wave floods called Tsunamis. The penetration of salt water causes widespread failure of fresh water delivery systems and may make farmland unusable, sometimes for many years.  More on tsunamis in a future article.

Flooding often causes a failure of the power grid. Once this happens, the aftermath
of the disaster may have more severe effects than the flood itself. These effects include loss of the water supply due to contamination by sewage. As a result, water-borne illness such as diarrheal disease may take a major toll on the population. Cholera and Typhoid are just some of the diarrheal/dysenteric diseases which may be life-threatening. Other issues include the inability of aid to get to flooded areas and the inundation of farmland causing loss of entire crops.  Some industries may fail, leading to depression in the affected area. Once water and food shortage combine with the inability to receive help and/or make a living, economic collapse and civil unrest are likely to follow.

The scenario above is not purely hypothetical: Disasters related to flooding have sometimes caused millions of short- and long-term casualties. In both 1887 and 1931, major flooding of the Yangtze river in China ended up costing 1-2 and 3-4 million lives, respectively.  If you take out war, famine, and pandemics, flooding is, undeniably, the deadliest of human tragedies.

Most people have heard of hurricane or tornado watches and warnings, but the U.S. weather services also tries to warn the populace of flooding. A “flash flood watch” means that flash flooding is possible in the near future; a “flash flood warning” means that flooding is imminent in the area. Many people ignore these warnings at their own peril.

If you live in a low-lying area, especially near a dam or river, then you should heed warnings when they are given and be prepared to evacuate quickly. Rising flood waters could easily trap you in your home,and you don’t want to have to perch on your roof waiting for help.

Here are some flood safety tips:

Get Out Early

Make the decision to leave for higher ground before extensive ponding occurs.

Be Careful Walking Through Flowing Water

Drowning is the most common cause of death during a flood, especially a flash flood. Wilderness experts know that rapidly-moving water can knock you off your feet even if not that deep.

Don’t Drive Through a Flooded Area

As many people drown in their cars as anywhere else. Cars stall and roads/bridges could easily be washed out. Try to figure out now if there is a “high road” to safety, before a flood occurs.

Beware Of Downed Power Lines

Electrical current is easily conducted through water. Watch for downed power lines; you don’t have to touch them to be electrocuted, only step in the water they’re in.

downed power line

Turn Off The Power

If you have reason to believe that water will get into your home, turn off the electricity. Don’t use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have completely dried. You might have to take some apart to clean debris out of them.

Watch Out For Intruders

Critters that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Snakes, raccoons, and other unfriendly creatures may decide your home is now their territory.  Human
intruders may also be interested in your property.

Look Before You Step

After a flood, watch where you step; there is debris everywhere. The floors of your home may be covered in mud, causing a slip-and-fall hazard.

Check for Gas Leaks

Don’t use candles, lanterns, stoves, or lighters unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area has been well-ventilated.

Exhaust Fumes Can Kill!

Only use generators, camping stoves or charcoal grills outside. Their fumes can be deadly.

Clean Out Saturated Items Completely

Floodwaters are not clean! Don’t use floodwater as drinking water or to cook food unless you have thoroughly sterilized and filtered it. Make sure you have food storage in waterproof containers.

Floods are just one of the many natural disasters that can endanger your family.  Pay close attention to storm and flood warnings and you’ll have a head start on keeping them safe.

Dr. Bones

The Original Article may be found here: http://www.doomandbloom.net/flood-safety/

Can also be viewed here:  www.modernhomesteaders.net

This is a guest post by Joe Alton, M.D., and Amy Alton, A.R.N.P., aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy of www.doomandbloom.net

 

Dehydrating Dinner….more food for winter!

dehydrator

I have talked about canning, freezing, and root cellaring.  There is another way to preserve food!  Dehydrating.  It is easy, saves space, concentrates flavors, and who doesn’t love a dried cinnamon apricot?

I bought my fancy dehydrator when Doug and I were on our Raw Foodie kick.  We used our income tax refund to purchase a Vitamix and the Excalibur dehydrator.  Luckily we bought high quality items so that even now they work fabulously.  The Excalibur has temperature controls so you can control how quickly or how slowly you want to dehydrate your food.  I layer the trays with apples (disappeared in two weeks upon completion), apricots (just finished the bag.  I hid it for awhile so Doug wouldn’t finish them in two weeks as well), and tomatoes.  The finished product slides into zip lock bags and sits in the basement.

tomato

The first year that I dehydrated food to put up for winter, I only processed it to the point where it looks like the ones in the stores.  The stores add a preservative.  So those juicy looking dried tomatoes quickly molded and the whole batch was ruined.  At home I have to dehydrate everything until there is no sign of moisture.  You could dehydrate it until moist and eatable now but then you would have to freeze them and that seems counterproductive to me!  The apricots are not crispy, just leathery.  Same with the apples.  The tomatoes are hard, so are the peas, green beans, and carrots that I dehydrated and put in canning jars.

We are able to chew on the leathery fruit for awhile as it slowly starts to reconstitute, releases juices, and becomes a satisfying snack.  The tomatoes I pour boiling water over and let sit until I am able to snip them with scissors into smaller pieces and drop into sauce.  The same can be done with the soup vegetables as well as dried mushrooms from the store if you don’t grow them (something I’d like to learn).  I made the error of throwing the peas, green beans, and carrots in with rice while it was cooking.  Sautéed it all together with soy sauce and egg to make a stir fry.  We all bit into it, made a face, Doug kept eating, Emily and I made popcorn!  They were still pretty hard.  I prepare the dried vegetables first before adding them to meals now!  You can add the water you soaked them in to stock or sauces.  Particularly the mushroom broth, very rich and tasty.  You can bring the vegetables to a boil for five to ten minutes to reconstitute as well.

IMG_0612

I thought last year, as I am trying to do things without electricity more, that I would sun dry all these things.  I placed my large folding rack for laundry on the hot back porch and balanced the trays from the dehydrator between the rungs.  An hour later they looked great until closer inspection when I noticed all of the ants.  I read that if one sprinkles cinnamon around the trays the ants will stay off.  Ants love cinnamon at my house, apparently.  I brought everything back in and finished it in the dehydrator. But I tell you what, the cinnamon apricots were my favorite!  Maybe covering the fruit and vegetables with cheesecloth?  Does anyone know of any clever ways to achieve bug free sun dried food?

This year I would like to dehydrate onions.  I buy a tremendous amount of dried, minced onion because I love the flavor in food.  I sat there while opening the bag thinking, “I could do this!”  Isn’t that how homesteading starts?  Look at something that you always buy or always use and think, “I could do this!”

I hope you are planning on preserving lots of food this year.  In these uncertain times it sure feels good to have a full larder and dehydrating can help bolster your stores!

The original article may be found here: http://farmgirlschool.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/dehydrating-dinner-more-food-for-winter/

This is a guest post by Farmgirl of http://farmgirlschool.wordpress.com

Can also be viewed here:  www.modernhomesteaders.net