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Sunday, May 27, 2012

A reminder of our 12 month set of challenges...

We are almost 4 months through our "2012 Year of Preparedness", a set of challenges that Bishop B. asked me to put together for our ward.  

Here is the twelve-month calendar of challenges, in case you have forgotten.

2012: A Year of Preparedness
MV Ward
No heat for one night
No lights, no powered entertainment for one evening
Learn about food storage, plan, and begin buying food from your plan
Obtain containers and fill them with water 
(and keep buying food)
Flush toilets one day with stored water.
Cook and drink using stored water for one day.
Plan 7 days of meals using only shelf stable ingredients (Shelf Stable means they don’t need refrigeration.)
Make all your meals out of shelf stable ingredients for 3 days.
Cook 2 menu items without electricity.  Show off your cooking at the ward Labor Day picnic.
Practice your preparedness skills at the MV Ward Campout.
Don’t go to the store For 6 days.
Buy Emergency Preparedness items as Christmas gifts.
January 2013: 
Learn to bathe using stored water.

Are you ready for the June challenges, using stored water to flush toilets one day, and using stored water to cook and  drink a different day?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bathtubs, water heaters, are also containers for water

I keep emphasizing that we should all obtain containers in which to store water, so we will have water on hand in case of a disaster.

Hurricanes are one of the main disasters we have here in the south, and we always have several days warning that they are coming.  When a hurricane is on its way, you can fill up all your bathtubs, and that will be another storage place for water. 

However, there are a couple of problems with that.  Of course, you won't be able to use the bathtub anymore until the disaster is over or until the threat of the disaster is past.

Also, I don't like people to plan on doing that for any other unforeseen disaster.  Most of the time, YOU WILL NOT HAVE ANY WARNING, therefore, you won't know to fill up your bathtubs ahead of time.  Think of disasters where there is no warning:  earthquakes, city water supply getting contaminated, nuclear disaster, broken water main, etc.   You MUST have other water storage in your house or you will be out of luck.

So please, think of water in your bathtub as a supplemental source of water, not your main source.

Also, I was asked if a water heater is a good source for water in a disaster.  I am not an expert on that, I can only assume that you could probably use it if there was water pressure to make it come out your faucets.  I would not trust myself to unscrew the pipes coming out of the water heater in order to drain it into a bucket.

We have two valves on our new water heater, one stops the water before it gets to the water heater, and one stops the water coming out of the water heater.   If we ever had water contamination in our area, I don't know if I would trust the safety of the water heater.  How would I know if the contaminated water had already entered it?   I suppose if I got there in time, I could shut off the water going into the water heater, and then it would be safe to drink.

Anyway, this is all speculation.  I really don't know how to get the water out without water pressure pushing it through the pipes.  So I will go ahead and store water in 50 gallon barrels and recycled soda pop bottles, because I know how to use them.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Food advice for backpacking

A woman asked this question to my husband (who is an avid backpacker and camper):  

Where does your family normally buy the Mountain House meals for hiking?  If I do buy them from Emergency Essentials how long do their orders typically take to get here?  I want to make sure they arrive before the boys go on their 50-miler.

Answer from my husband:
 I've never been a big fan of Mountain House.  It is pretty good food, but I prefer lower cost foods from the grocery store.  Not only is it less expensive, but I like the way that it tastes better.  And, I've had fewer problems re-hydrating the food.  MH tends to leave crunchy bits in the corners...
  You might look at Emergency Essential's web site to see what their delivery times are.  But if you ask for faster delivery, you lose the savings and might as well buy locally.
  I think WalMart carries some.  But, REI is going to have a larger selection.

If you want to explore the grocery store style, here are some things we like:
  Instant Oatmeal, 2 packets per person per breakfast.
  Hot Chocolate or Instant Spiced Apple Cider
I just boil water and pour it into my cups.
Then, if there is enough hot water left, I use that to wash the cups.
I really don't do much else for breakfast. I just change the flavors to break the monotony.
  We have taken Pop Tarts, too.  They taste good, but they are...
  - very high in calories without filling you up
  - quite heavy.
  This can be the hardest meal to think of.  I want food that allows me to eat when I'm hungry, and I won't have to stop and heat anything.
I tend to bring:
  Bagels & Cream Cheese
These pack well and don't get too squished,
and are very filling.
 Cream Cheese 
Get the Cream Cheese in the little tub.
They have a bunch of different flavors.
I've never had a problem when I carry it 
deep in my pack away from the sun 
and the heat of my back.
  Trail mix
I make my own with:
  Cracklin' Oat Bran
  Nuts (what ever variety you like)
Make sure the nuts are SALTED.
You need to replace the salt.
  Granola Bars
  Just add boiling water and let it sit for 5 minutes.
There are a variety of flavors to choose from. My favorites are Parmesan or Pine Nut.
Uncle Ben's (or your favorite brand) Flavored Rice
These come in 5 and 25 minute cook times. Make sure you get the 5 minute time to save on fuel.
Ramen noodles.
  I like these better than the Cup O' Noodles because you don't have to carry the empty foam cup after.
Lipton Noodles
  These come in quite a few flavors and have pretty short cook times.
Mashed Potatoes
  Not Plain.
There are many flavored varieties like  
Herb & Garlic,  Loaded Baked Potato, etc.
NOTE: This can leave you wanting something to chew, too.
So, you might want to pair it with Beef Jerky, Summer Sausage, etc.
I always re-package all of the food in freezer bags.  I clip the name & directions from the box or bag
and drop them in with the food then throw away the boxes.
That way I know how much water to add & cook times and which flavor I'm going to eat.
This reduces the weight of all the packaging and if you have left overs, you can put them in the ziplocks. That reduces the smell of the trash bag you carry out.
This is more than you asked for, but I thought you might like to have some options.

(Note from Amy:  I thought his backpacking food choices would also work well for 72 hour kits, or for eating during a disaster when you have to cook without electricity.)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Non-food items to have in your storage

(I got this list from Wendy Dewitt and then added some stuff to it.)

All you have to do is think of the quote from Spencer W. Kimball:

"I remember when the sisters used to say, 'Well, but we could buy it at the store a lot cheaper than we can put it up.' But that isn't quite the answer, is it?....Because there will come a time when there isn't any store."  (April 1974 Welfare Session.)

Picture what you would need if there was no way you could buy anything.  What would you wish you would have bought now?

Non-food items that I have in my storage:

antibiotic creams

can openers (non-electric), 5 (those food storage cans are really hard on can openers)
candles- LOTS (I get them at yard sales very cheap)
canning jars
canning lids (for bottling meats)
ColdEze to stop a cold
dish soap
documents (copies of birth certificates, car/home ownership papers, etc)
duct tape, electrical tape, packing tape
board games, card game, novels, children's books, for entertainment if there is no electricity
garbage bags LOTS
plastic bread bags
aluminum foil
gloves- (leather work type, warm winter type, knitted mittens, fleece mittens, children's sizes and adult sizes)
hats (broad band to protect from sun, fleece winter caps, knitted caps)
hydrogen peroxide
matches (waterproof, non-waterproof, strike anywhere, strike on the box,)
medications you may need
muscle rub
plastic utensils/paper or styrofoam cups/plates/bowls/
paper towels
portable toilet/garbage bags
rubbing alcohol
sewing needles/threads/ polar fleece/denim/sewing patterns for children's clothes
shoes (sturdy walking/working shoes, boots, snow boots, all sizes)
soap (bar, dish and laundry)
sun screen
toilet paper (average of 1 roll per person for every 5 days)
tooth brush/toothpaste/floss
tylenol & tylenol pm
vics vaporub (rub it on the bottom of your feet & cover with socks to stop a cough)
thick coats (down insulation, polyester fleece, water resistant exterior, puffy down vests) in every size
ski pants, insulated hunting pants, water resistant pants, camping pants
heavy blankets and quilts, sleeping bags
sleeping pads to go under sleeping bags, to insulate you from the cold ground
extra jeans for every person
packages of new socks
buckets, dish pans, 
fuel:  kerosene, charcoal, lantern oil, propane
solar oven
Campstove, backpacking stoves
lanterns, flashlights, lightsticks, solar powered lighting.
solar showers, one for each person in the family.  (You can use the hot water for laundry and dishwashing too)
solar/windup radio
inverter (allows you to plug electrical devices into car cigarette lighter)
clothespins, clothesline
cleaning supplies
gardening tools, seeds,
hand tools (screwdrivers, hammers, pliers, wrench, etc.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Water Storage containers: Pros and Cons did a great job of showing the pros and cons of different water storage containers.  Please read it and see which containers would be best for your family.  (Hint:  You would do better to get several different kinds for different scenarios.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Some tips for storing water

Go to this link and read tips about storing water, written by Carolyn Nicolaysen.

Some of her ideas:

1.  Water is heavy and you need to consider this when choosing containers. Five gallons of water weighs 42 pounds.

2. Water may be stored in well-rinsed bleach (hypochlorite) bottles.(I actually disagree with this one.  I don't want any child to accidentally drink bleach.  I would stay away from storing water in bleach bottles myself.)

3. Store water in soda bottles. 

4. Mylar water storage bags.  These are sold with cardboard boxes to hold them.

5.  Store water inside your glass canning jars, in between times when they aren't filled with fruit or vegetables.  

(Be sure to go to her original article, there were a lot more details there.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What are Water Bricks?

Here is an interesting product, water containers which stack like bricks.

The price listed here is 4 water bricks for $79.99.  I don't know what year that was posted.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Water storage boxes you can buy

Here is one pretty good way to store water in your closets or maybe under the bed.

This is the basic 25 gallon boxed water kit, sold through Emergency Essentials, at

Each person needs a minimum of 14 gallons of water stored, so do the math for your family and see how many 5 gallon boxes you would need.

When the emergency requires you to evacuate, this basic 25 gallon boxed water kit is possibly the most important item to take with you. After filling, each water box weighs approximately 40 lbs. The basic 25 gallon boxed water kit includes five heavy-duty boxes each with its own metalized five-gallon water storage bag with pour spout. In an emergency, the heavy-duty boxes can be converted to portable toilets, making the basic 25 gallon boxed water kit even more useful. Value $40.00 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Best "Water Storage" posts from FoodStorageMadeEasy

Food Storage Made has had many good articles about water storage over the years.  In the following post, they list every one of the questions they have answered about water storage and where to click to get the answers.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

How often does water need to be rotated? (Part 2)


Her:   "How long would you consider the shelf life of stored water safe for drinking purposes?"

(She is talking about city tap water she puts into containers herself.  I believe commercially packaged water is probably germ-free forever until the packaging gets a hole in it.  I don't think there are any problems drinking commercially packaged water that is many years old.)

Me:    " Personally I would probably not worry if I knew I had personally cleaned out the bottles well, and it was six months or less since I filled them.  Maybe when I get into a disaster situation I might be even less picky, I don't know."

Her:   "DANG!  So I guess drinking water stored 5 years or so would be out of the question?"

Me:  If you don't think you'll rotate it for 5 years, I  want you to understand that storing it is still a good idea.  If you have room for it, do it.

Like I said, older water would be fine to use "as is" for flushing, washing, etc.  And you could still put it through a camping water filter for drinking.

You've got to ask yourself what types of disasters are you preparing for.

Nuclear disasters:  Covered containers of water would not have radiation particles in them.  Every drop of water you had would be worth gold.

Hurricanes flooding the water treatment plants:  You would have to boil all water coming into your house, it would be easier to use the old water.

A temporary breakage of the water treatment plant, or even a pipe breaking in your neighborhood.  Your stored water would be enough for that.

The breakdown of society as we know it?  No water treatment plants left?  In this very extreme example, you would have water for a little longer than your neighbors, but eventually you would have to live off pond water anyway.

So just ask yourself what scenarios are you thinking of?  I think storing a lot of water, even if you don't rotate it for five years,  is still useful."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How often does water need to be rotated? Part 1

After recommending that people fill their own containers with tap water, I was asked this question:

"How often does the water need to be rotated?"

My answer:

The information from is given below.  I marked in red the parts that apply to your question. Notice that they don't give any guidelines for how often to rotate the water. 

I think you need to realize that MOST of the water we will be using during a disaster will be for bathing, washing dishes, flushing toilets, and doing laundry.  A smaller proportion of the water will be for drinking and cooking.  I would consider most of your stored water to be perfectly acceptable for washing, even if it has never been rotated.  

To be safe, you might want to limit yourself to DRINKING only the more recently stored water, or to drinking commercially packaged water.  Personally, I might be using my camping water filter on the stored water I drink.  But I won't worry about using it for bathing and laundry, even if it is several years old.  I have had city tap water stored in 55 gallon barrels for several years, and when I dumped it to rotate it, it still looked and smelled good.  --Amy

Drinking Water

Store drinking water for circumstances in which the water supply may be polluted or disrupted. 
If water comes directly from a good, pretreated source, then no additional purification is needed; otherwise, pretreat water before use. Store water in sturdy, leak-proof, breakage-resistant containers. Consider using plastic bottles commonly used for juices and soda.
Keep water containers away from heat sources and direct sunlight.

Water Storage

Commercially bottled water in PETE (or PET) plastic containers may be purchased. Follow the container’s “best if used by” dates as a rotation guideline. Avoid plastic containers that are not PETE plastic.
If you choose to package water yourself, consider the following guidelines:
Use only food-grade containers. Smaller containers made of PETE plastic or heavier plastic buckets or drums work well.
Clean, sanitize, and thoroughly rinse all containers prior to use. A sanitizing solution can be prepared by adding 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of liquid household chlorine bleach (5 to 6% sodium hypochlorite) to 1 liter (one quart) of water. Only household bleach without thickeners, scents, or additives should be used.
Do not use plastic milk jugs, because they do not seal well and tend to become brittle over time.
Do not use containers previously used to store non-food products.
Water Pretreatment
Water from a chlorinated municipal water supply does not need further treatment when stored in clean, food-grade containers.
Non-chlorinated water should be treated with bleach. Add 8 drops of liquid household chlorine bleach (5 to 6% sodium hypochlorite) for every 4 liters (one gallon) of water. Only household bleach without thickeners, scents, or additives should be used.
Containers should be emptied and refilled regularly.
Store water only where potential leakage would not damage your home or apartment.
Protect stored water from light and heat. Some containers may also require protection from freezing.
The taste of stored water can be improved by pouring it back and forth between two containers before use.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Question about water storage

_____ wrote:

I got the notice a while ago suggesting to fill up old juice or soda bottles for emergency water supply.  I know I need 1 gallon per person per day, but I was just wondering how often the water needs to be changed out to keep it safe and fresh?

I answered:

Here's what says, it really doesn't say how long it is good for, it just says to empty and refill regularly.
Containers should be emptied and refilled regularly.
Store water only where potential leakage would not damage your home or apartment.
Protect stored water from light and heat. Some containers may also require protection from freezing.
The taste of stored water can be improved by pouring it back and forth between two containers before use.
I've had some jugs in the backs of closets for probably 4 years, they still look fine.  There is no algae or discoloration, and when I open them the water has no odor.  But I would try to drink the ones I have filled more recently, if there was a disaster.  We also own water filters, so if the water was too old I would be tempted to filter it.
During a disaster, you will find that the majority of your water will be used for washing, so all the stuff in jugs should be fine for that.  You could be more picky about your drinking/cooking water.

Oxygen Absorbers

I'm trying to put loads of "water storage and water filtration" type articles on my blog this month, because that is the goal of our bishop's challenge this month.

However, our ward is also supposed to be continuing to buy food for our 3 month's supply and our long term storage.

I did a Relief Society display last night about dry canning, and wanted to give this link for some really good information on Oxygen Absorbers.  It is posted on

Water Storage Containers: Pros and Cons

Good article with photos, by

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Jodi's Water Storage Evolution

Read this article on one of my favorite blogs.

Jodi gives a great description of how she started out with water storage, what she bought next, and what she is trying to buy now.
It just shows you that you can start small, and as you see better alternatives, save up and buy them.

Solar Disinfection of Water (SODIS)

What a great discovery! People in third world countries can lay plastic bottles full of water on top of a tin roof or other reflective surface, in the sun for 24 hours, and the UV rays and heat will kill the germs in the water!

We can do that too! If you are worried that the water you stored might not be safe, just lay it out in the yard on a $1 mylar emergency blanket on a couple of sunny days, and it should be safe to drink.

(I mentioned this to my dad, and he said it isn't new, people have known about this for years. When he was a kid, he went out hunting with his uncle. They saw a big boulder that had rainwater collected in shallow pools all over the top of it. It had been sunny for a day or two after the rain. His uncle told him that the rainwater had been in the sun, so all the germs were killed.

And I know that I, personally, would rather drink the water on top of the sunny boulder than water in a puddle.)

A "Water Bob"- I'm gonna buy one of these

This is like a huge plastic bag filled with water, and you fill it while it is inside your bathtub.

It holds 100 gallons of water!

I can't wait to buy one of these.  Then, when we have a hurricane coming, I will fill it up, just as a way to augment my existing water storage.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Story of being without water for One Full Week

I got this story from another website, and have published it with permision.  The author, "10K" from Southern Utah,  wants me to tell everyone that she and her husband are completely into preparedness, and have "a year's supply of everything", yet they were still unprepared for this crisis.
I live in a nice home that we had built about 8 years ago. Last month our water bill went from $10 a month to $60. This month our bill was $75. I called the city to see what was going on. They gave me instructions as to finding out if we had a water leak. Sure enough we did to the tune of about 2,000 gallons a day running somewhere underground at our expense.

Here is our day by day experience without running water:

Day 1 (Thurdsay, Feburary 9th, 2012)
Water turned off about 3 pm. Not much of a problem because we have over 1,000 gallons of water on our property in barrels and tanks. First we went to our 72 hour kits and took out the 2 seven gallon plastic jugs to make dinner with. This was going to be a fun experiment for us to see how well we can do in case of emergency.

Not too much problem and we were in the "fun" mood and excited to do this. My DH is a teacher so he called in to be excused from work so he could run the back hoe we bought two years ago and save us tons of money digging up the cement and yard to find the leak.

Putting 5 gallons of water down the toilet every time we used it got old and my shoulders and back felt the weight straining my muscles.

Our son came home for the weekend from college. We told him the situation and he was ok with that for the night. He soon found it "not so fun" and stayed the rest of the weekend with friends at their homes.

Day 2:
We got up early and took spit baths. Yuck! And started breakfast, getting ready for a full day without water so we filled all our jugs again. And again. And again. Who said we can live on 2 gallons a day per person? Boy what a joke! each time we flush the toilet...there goes 5 gallons...

My husband goes outside to start digging up the drive way where the meter is. It took 1/2 day to find the line. BTY we did have a plumber here "helping" ( I am not quite sure what he was doing because it looked to me like my DH was doing all the work).

The floors got dirty from traffic coming and going in and out of the house. I could not mop so I just kept sweeping the floor. Pouring more water down the toilet tank. Lifting heavy jugs. Trying to find something to do to take my mind off of the project that was going on outside.

By evening they found the water line but in the process broke the sewer line. (that stopped me from dumping water down the toilet for a few hours. That made the house start to stink until I could flush it again.)

Because we were trying to save money we put in a wood burning stove. So that meant I had to keep stocking it to keep the house warm. My DH had shoulder surgery a couple of months ago so I have been splitting all the wood this winter. Luck was with us this time. I had already split enough wood for the week so I only had to keep bringing it in the house.

After dark they fixed the sewer line but not the water line. And because it was the weekend and our plumber doesnt work weekends, we would have to wait until Monday to do any more work. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

Our good friends, 2toads and Boaz offered us their shower so we couldn't resist because we work at the St. George Temple every Saturday, and we needed showers!

We were supposed to have our family dinner on Sunday with all our kids and grand kids but because of no water we called them all up and cancelled. Can you see us having 20 grand kids and their parents here with no water...flushing the toilet every other minute?

Day 3:

We got up ready to work at the temple. I had to wash my hair in a dish pan! Yuck again!!
Not really that bad, just not the norm. By 10 am we were out the door and on our way to spend the day in the service of the Lord and our fellow brothers and sisters. All went well. Arrived home about 10:30pm. (did I mention we work double shifts every Saturday)

Day 4:

OK Sunday was upon us. We are both tired from the 12 hours yesterday at the temple. Sunday's are supposed to be a day of rest...well how much rest can you get when you have to haul water from outside and have to build fires and take spit baths with water you have to heat on the stove and cook breakfast? Not complaining ...just saying....

My DH is High Priest Group Leader so he had PEC at 7 am then at 11 am I joined him for our regular meeting schedule.

After church our kids in Cedar City called us and asked us to come up there for dinner. By the time we got to New Harmony it was snowing hard and cars were already spinning out on the I 15. We made it there without any problems, enjoyed a couple of hours with them then returned home with slush all over the roads. We were glad to be home in our non-water home again.

We found out there was a guy that knows how to pull the water line by hooking onto the old line somehow so we wouldn't have to dig up the rest of our yard. Only problem was he works full time during the day for the city and could only do it in the evenings. He couldn't do it Monday because it was FHE and he said he couldn't do it Tuesday because it was Valentines Day so the earliest he could come would be Wednesday night.

Day 5

My DH takes the day again off work on Monday to get everything ready for the guy to pull the line. He had to find the other end of the line so more digging was necessary. I still have to do the drills of getting water, fixing fires, meals, etc. I am getting depressed, my body aches from hauling water and I miss my showers. My DH is getting depressed from missing school, being out of our normal routine and having a messy house. I finally broke down and washed dishes in the camping dish pans with water I had to heat. Things are getting very hard to do now. We both have to force ourselves to do anything at all besides mope around feeling sorry for ourselves.

Day 6
We start feeling this is a permanent situation. So we start off by my DH going back to work. I take all of our dirty laundry to the laundry mat and go searching through our camping gear for our emergency toilet and our camp shower. Sorry to say that Valentines day wasn't that great for us. Depression is a very real thing and even though we are very prepared this was very hard.

We were thinking about how hard it is on us and realize that most people are not as prepared as we are. When the emergency really comes to the community it is going to be crazy. Water will be the first problem, followed by how to cook the food they have, then needing food. By day 3 of an emergency the whole world will be upside down.

We had to go to St. George for some things so we jumped in our truck only to find out the struts or something was out. We turned around to get our car then went to the repair shop and left the truck for the night. That cost us $1,000 to fix all 4 struts. Then on our way to St. George I got pulled over by the highway patrol because my back light was out. (which I had fixed only 2 months ago) and I couldn't find our current registration. What else could go wrong? The officer said if I went and got my registration and fixed my light he would just let me go. Wow! Miracles do still happen.

Day 7
I waited un-patiently all day for the plumber and the other guy to get here. I kept doing all the other stuff as I had come to know as survival and really not liking it much anymore. My fun had worn out and I was getting sick and tired of the situation we were in. After all we live in a community with utility services, the store just down the street and my husband has a job. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

about 6 pm the job was done. We now have water. Even though we still have great big holes to fill and things to get packed back up for a real emergency, life is going to get better, Right!??

I can see from this experience that if we ever left our homes for more than a vacation for a few is going to be very, very hard.

If you want to have a good on hands experience, go turn the valve to your water off for a week and see just what happens to your mind.