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Back At It

19 Jan

Hey all! Sorry I’ve been MIA for…well, I don’t want to think about it. Life has been nuts…I’ve moved halfway across the country, I’ve started a new graduate program, am training for a marathon and an Ironman triathlon, and am getting closer and closer to my wedding date. Blogging (and really, my social life in general) have fallen by the waysite, but I’m making it a priority for 2013. 

This post is really just to say hi and that I’m still here, but over the next few weeks I hope to be sharing some prepping tips with you, as well as more of what I’ve been doing in my own life to get prepared (INCLUDING baking a lot more bread from scratch – probably my biggest accomplishment!). 

Until then…stay safe and be smart!



PASAP – Prep As Soon As Possible

10 May

Guess what? I’m still alive! This week took a turn for the busy and I’ve been seriously neglecting the blog, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. On that note, this post goes out to all of you who may experience similar time crunches!

Is “slow and steady” just not your style? Here’s a quick and dirty guide to getting essentials stored in your home – FAST. This one-shot list will stock your home with the essential food, water, and supplies to help you weather a short-term emergency. This list is best suited to a hunker-down situation, in which you don’t plan on evacuating.*

I really don’t recommend this approach, but sometimes a situation calls for fast action.  I also don’t recommend waiting to start preparing until RIGHT before an emergency (the hurricane hits in two hours! GO!), so keep that in mind when making your plans.

As with every post on this site, I make no guarantees…your results may vary!  Personally, I could survive for a long time on the food and water that this shopping expedition would bring in, but I don’t eat a lot. I also don’t have a large family to feed. Adapt to suit your needs.

Go to the grocery store and buy:

  • 4 big jars of peanut butter
  • 3 huge canisters of rolled oats
  • 4 5-lb bags of flour
  • 2 5-lb bags of sugar
  • A canister of salt
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • 40 cans of soup (not condensed) – the heartier the better
  • 30+gallons of water
  • 20 lbs of dried beans – your choice (pintos are cheap)
  • 20 lbs of rice (white – longer shelf life, brown – more nutritious)
  • 20 cans of tuna (or chicken or salmon)
  • A big canister of Tang drink mix
  • Two big boxes of powdered milk
  • The largest bottle of cooking oil you can find
  • 30 cans of vegetables – assorted
  • 20 cans of fruit – assorted
  • A big bag of raisins or other dried fruit
  • As much chocolate as you can stuff in your cart 🙂
  • Hard candies

Now go to a walmart, sporting goods store, or the like. Purchase the following:

  • Flashlight
  • Radio (preferably hand-crank and/or solar)
  • Manual can opener
  • Water storage drums – fill these AS SOON AS you get home.  Buy enough drums to have 30-60 gallons of water on hand, in addition to what you bought at the grocery store.
  • Bleach, try for about a gallon (it has many uses)
  • Multivitamin – 90 count at least
  • Matches, lighters
  • Steel wool, if you can find it quickly, and a 9-volt battery
  • Spare batteries of all sizes (for trade if nothing else)
  • Biggest first aid kid you can find
  • Medications: cold, pain relievers, the like
  • Biggest package of feminine products you can find (again, you can always trade these for more supplies)
  • Toilet paper
  • Duct tape

If you have time, also pick up a propane stove, as many extra propane tanks as you can afford, and some sleeping bags/extra blankets.

What else would you put on this list, if you were shopping for your family?


*That being said, NEVER hesitate to evacuate your home if local officials make an evacuation order. This is why survival packs or grab-and-go bags come in so handy – I’ll talk about them in a future post. 

MIA Blogger!

7 May

Did you notice that I’ve been gone for a few days? I was busy getting ready for, and competing in, my first-ever half marathon! It went really well and I can’t wait to do another one, but right now I’m just focusing on icing my knees and taking it easy. But don’t worry, I’ll have another post up before you know it 🙂 

Pocket-Sized Survival

2 May

Hey everyone! I hope you’re having a good week! I just presented some of my research at a conference (I’m a scientist in “real life”), and it feels so good to be finished.  As prepared as I am for some things, I always  put off getting ready for speeches because I get a little nervous….I’ll have to work on that!

Now, one thing that we apartment-dwellers know is that storage space is hard to come by.  Any preparations that don’t infringe upon our ever-shrinking closets are exactly what we need! So today, let’s talk about something that we carry every day….our wallets.

The few “survival” items that I carry with me in my wallet are neither high-tech nor expensive, but they help out in a pinch. For example, just last week I tripped and fell while on an 8-mile run. My tights protected my legs, but my hands and arms got pretty scratched up. The band aids, sterile wipes, and gauze pad that I keep in my wallet helped patch me up until I could get home ( I was two miles away!) and clean up for good.

So what do I personally carry with me every day?

  • A multi-tool (got this for 75 cents at Radio Shack!)
  • Three or four band aids
  • Gauze pad
  • An alcohol prep pad
  • Small packet of triple antibiotic
  • Four safety pins
  • Two rubber bands
  • An old gift card with a little duct tape wrapped around it
  • Toe warmers (the kind that heat up on their own)

These things don’t take up a lot of space; in fact, they fit in the pockets of my wallet without bulging. I’ve read articles about people who have added some pretty cool stuff to their wallets, such as lockpick cardsand flat compasses.

If you want to turn your wallet itself into a survival tool, check out this neat  tutorial.

What gear do you keep in your wallet? 

FREE Resource – Highway Maps

25 Apr

Get FREE state maps for your car or BOBs! (Image credit: Castillo Dominici)

This is going to be another short post, but I wanted to let you all know about an awesome idea that I

heard recently. I’m sure you know that your local DMV has free highway maps available at the counter, but did you know that almost every state will send these maps to you – for FREE – if you request them online?

Highway maps are great for people (like me!) who live  near the border of several states, or for people who plan to be traveling a fair distance if they have to evacuate during an emergency. If you live in North Carolina and your family is in Kansas, will you be able to find your way if the GPS satellites are down?

Here is the link to the database organized by state. The listings were updated just a few days ago, so the information is kept quite current. I ordered 5 or so maps, and I’ve already received them all! Now I’ll be covered regardless of which evacuation route I take….and that’s a good feeling.

TIP: Store your maps in a gallon-sized plastic bag in your grab-and-go pack. They’ll be protected from the elements and they’ll be grouped together so you don’t have to waste time searching through your pack in an emergency.

Exercise Three: Important Documents

19 Apr

This post is part of a series of exercises about how to begin preparing for emergencies. See the complete list of posts here.

Keep your documents by your side, even in an emergency (photo credit: basketman)

Remember that three ring binder you’ve been hanging onto for a few days?

Now’s the time to fill it with important information. If an emergency were to occur and you had mere seconds to evacuate, you would potentially lose all of your official documents and government-issued forms of identification. If you keep photocopies (or even originals) of these documents in your binder, you can grab it on your way out the door without a second thought.

Here are some items that you may want to include in your binder:

  • Copies of debit and credit cards (front and back)
  • Ownership titles (house, car, boat, etc)
  • Your will
  • School transcripts/certifications
  • Insurance information
  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Marriage license
  • Copy of your drivers license
  • Passport
  • Copy of gun permits


  • Medical history/list of medications and dosage
  • List of firearm serial numbers
  • Contact information for doctors, pharmacies, credit card companies, family members, etc.

Keep this binder in a VERY safe place. Remember, you are responsible for your own security and  privacy. If you want, keep this information in an encrypted folder on a flash drive – email me if you want instructions or recommendations on how to do this. I’d love to hear from you!

We’ll put more items into your binder later on in the week! We’ll also start shopping (yay!) for supplies to store in your apartment, and we’ll talk about ways to maximize storage in small spaces. Until then…be smart and safe!

New Items to Pack

13 Apr

I posted this morning about the small survival items I keep in my purse.  I hadn’t updated my bag in a while, so I started thinking about what else I may want to add. I have three new ideas to share with you:

  • I wrapped several feet of duct tape around my old drivers license. Duct tape is super-handy, and my old license can serve as a last-ditch form of ID in case I would need it.
  • I wrapped several yards of toilet paper around a stick of deodorant. This should be self-explanatory 🙂 but if you do the same, make sure you use unscented deodorant so that you don’t draw attention to yourself if you have to go out in the wilderness.
  • I cleaned out my drier and put the lint into a small plastic baggie. Did you know that drier lint is great tinder? Plus, it’s free! ALWAYS good for those of us on tight budgets.

I have a larger pack that I plan to carry if an emergency arises and I need to leave my apartment, but I do like to keep my purse stocked just in case something comes up while I’m away from my 72-hour kit.

Do you have any more ideas for my purse?


What’s in YOUR purse?

12 Apr

Ladies, is your purse as big as mine? I feel like my posture has been permanently ruined from carrying a huge, heavy bag on the same shoulder for 8 years and counting. Before I started prepping, my purse would hold books, sunglasses, gum, books, my wallet, and books (notice a theme?). Now that I’m a little more prepared, here’s a partial list of what I tote around. An added benefit: anything that’s in my purse doesn’t take up any storage space in my apartment!

  •  A small flashlight
  • A small first aid kit
  • A Leatherman multi-tool
  • Water in a steel bottle
  • Assorted granola bars (I’ve been liking Clif
  • CPR mask and latex/rubber gloves
  • Pepper spray
  • Extra hair ties
  • Sunscreen
  • Survival blanket
  • Reusable shopping bag (I have one that folds up to the size of a cell phone)
  • Small radio
  • Garbage bag

It sounds like a lot, but it actually doesn’t take up too much space….good thing, because I still tote around a small library every day. I recently finished Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) and The Hot Zone (Richard Preston), I would HIGHLY recommend both!

Do you carry any survival items in your purse (or backpack)?

Read any good books lately? 🙂

Stock your purse with survival essentials (Photo credit: Ohmega1982)

Exercise Two: Building a Specific Plan

11 Apr

Your evacuation route may be full - come up with several alternatives.

By now, you’ve spent a day or so thinking about potential catastrophes that might occur where you live. The next step is only slightly more labor-intensive, but when you’re done you’ll be  more prepared than most Americans to handle an emergency!

Review your list from Exercise One.  For each circled item, consider:

  • If this event were to occur, would I evacuate the city or stay in my apartment?
  • If I evacuate, what route would I take? What if that route is blocked? What should I take with me? Where will I go, and how long will I stay there?
  • What will I do if I must evacuate quickly and with little warning? What will I take with me?
  • If I stay in the city, how long will the emergency last? Will I have electricity and running water? How will I protect my apartment from potential looters?
  • What if I am away from my apartment when a disaster occurs? Will I return to my apartment or my car? Will I run away? What should I take with me?

Once you have thought through these questions, begin writing down your specific plans for each of the four or five circled emergencies. You can use this printable pdf if you would like! Write down:

  • Whether you will evacuate or hunker down.
  • How long the crisis might last.
  • Which resources you will need to survive.
  • Where you should store these resources (i.e. if you evacuate, store food and water in the trunk of your car).

Also write down at least two evacuation routes, regardless of whether or not you plan to leave the city when disaster strikes. Remember, you may not have a choice.

Now stick that paper in your 3-ring binder and call it a day! Next time we’ll begin filling your binder with important documents so they’re not left behind during a short-notice evacuation.

Do you feel better now that you have a solid plan?

Extra credit: Locate personal documents such as your Social Security Card, birth certificate, marriage license, passport, etc. If you would like, buy tabbed dividers for your 3-ring binder.

Car Safety Tools

10 Apr

This morning I tweeted about window breakers. Have you seen those before? They look like small hammers, but their tip is specially designed to break through car windows in case of emergency.  If your door was jammed and you needed to get out of your car, a window smasher could save your life. They often come with seatbelt cutter blades, making them multi-purpose safety tools.

I keep a large window breaker (like this) in my car, but I also have a small one on my key chain in case I ever run into trouble while riding with someone else.  I LOVE the mini one because it detaches from your key ring with only a sharp tug, so you can use it even while your keys are in the ignition. This was actually a Christmas present from my grandma…she’s so smart!

Do you have a window smasher in your car?

Do you own a mini one too?