Ensign Articles

Valerie from Prepared LDS Family posted a lovely compilation of all the articles from the past four years found in the Ensign on Self-Reliance and Preparedness.  Enjoy!



Lessons from Superstorm Sandy

There is a lot of  work to do after last week's superstorm, Sandy.  The devastation was huge and help is slow getting to a lot of people.  Because we lived on Long Island for several years, we're hearing first hand from close friends about the struggles that they are having.  Many still don't have power.  There isn't much gas available which is limiting travel and even the ability to help each other.  Almost all have trees down.  We can all learn so much about preparedness as we learn from others' experiences.   Here are a few lessons from Sandy that I've made note of:

1. Be prepared for more than 72 hours. 
We always hear about 72 hour kits and you might think that it's enough.  But clearly there are some people who haven't had any help and it's been longer than a week.1  There are still areas without electricity, food or water.  Some families are still in shelters, not knowing how quickly they'll be able to return home - if ever.  The reality is that in large scale disasters, help might be slow in coming.  Be prepared with much more than for just 72 hours. 

2. Store food and water.
As usual, the stores were cleaned out of food and water quickly.  When a storm is looming, you've already missed your best chance to store these items.  Now trucks can't get into many flooded and damaged areas to replenish supplies. It's a good idea to store food and water in abundance.  Aim for at least a three-month supply.  As I mentioned above, help might not come for weeks.

3. Ask yourself, what will I do without electricity.
How will you cook?  Stay warm?  Charge your cell phone?  Run your fridge?  Do you have a Cpap or any other necessary medical equipment that requires electricity (like a fridge for insulin)?  Address these issues ahead of time.  Have what you need on hand.

4. Don't wait to evacuate.
With Sandy, too many families thought they would be okay and didn't want to evacuate until it was too late.    Don't disregard warnings from authorities because you've weathered previous storms.  Be aware of all travel routes possible and the likelihood of becoming trapped.  I always worried about this when we lived on Long Island.  Because it's an island, there just weren't very many escape routes.  During Sandy many families were trapped on islands or peninsulas because those few routes were flooded, blocked or closed.  Always listen carefully and err on the side of caution.  It's also a good idea to keep money on hand so that you'll be able to make purchases if you are required to evacuate.

5. Have flood insurance.
Most flooding happened in what is called Zone A flood areas.  Flooding is highly likely in these areas and you should always have flood insurance.

6. Be prepared even if you aren't in harm's way.
Most of our friends on Long Island weren't ever in danger of their own homes flooding.  Still they are highly affected by the flooding roads, falling trees and damage that did happen around them.  Similarly, even if you aren't flooded or primarily compromised in a disaster, you might still experience the repercussions like loss of power, blocked roads, no gas, or low stocked stores, etc.  Sometimes the problems affect people thousands of miles away.  Everyone should be prepared regardless of location and situation.

1 - http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/03/us/tropical-weather-sandy/index.html?hpt=hp_t1


Would the Romneys Keep a White House Food Storage?

This is not intended to be a political post.  Nor is it intended to be a recommendation that you vote any certain way.  I highly respect every individual's right to vote his/her conscience.  But the possibility of Romney, (who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is also the organization from which most of my recommendations come), moving into the White House does make me wonder how he might handle food storage.  I loved this little snippet from CNN which ponders the same question.

Jessica Ravitz writes, "The LDS Church advises its members to store enough food to feed a family for a year.  Food storage is viewed as a practical measure, one that can come in handy during, say, a crippling superstorm, massive power outages or unforeseen financial hardships.

The practice is rooted in Mormon history. The church’s early pioneers, on their trek westward to what is now Utah, experienced great suffering and starvation. They also endured their share of persecution and couldn’t rely on the help of others. So having resources squirreled away became a collective comfort.

Any chance that the Romneys would institute White House food storage?  Not because they would need it for themselves or likely anyone else at the White House, but Riess said in these uncertain times, it could be a good lesson in preparedness to showcase to the nation.  “I wouldn’t be surprised to see that,” she said.

Even if a family storing it doesn’t need the food, by having it available that family is poised to help others. Serving those less fortunate or in crisis is big in the LDS Church, and it is a part of another practice that may find its way into the White House if the Romneys move in."

I agree with the author that having a food supply would set a good example in preparedness for the nation.  I also like that she highlighted that one of the main purposes for having a food supply is so we can help others.  So, we'll have to watch and see.  What do you think?  It might not even be a relevant question after Tuesday.  [Don't forget to vote!]

Source:  http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/02/if-mormons-move-into-the-white-house/?hpt=hp_c2


Storm Preparation

Forgive me for such a long absence.  I have teenagers and life has gotten busy. 

Photo Source: NOAA

In wake of the "superstorm" approaching the eastern United States, I though I would repost some relevant past preparedness information.

Hurricane Preparedness
5 areas to address as you prepare for an approaching hurricane.

Winter Preparedness for your Car
If there is any chance that you'll have to evacuate or travel during the storm, make sure your vehicles are already packed with supplies. 

Winter Warmth
When the temperatures plummet and the power is out, here are 11 hints for staying warm.

Also see:  CNN's Hurricane Preparation Checklist - What to do before a big storm.

It looks like sustained flooding, flash floods, and winter weather (for the north) are the biggest issues.  Above all, make sure you weather (pun intended!) out this storm in a safe place.  Don't wait until Monday night to stock up.  Check in on your elderly neighbors.  Stay off the roads and stay safe!


An Example of a Fire Evacuation List

This video tells the story of Jaime Astorga and his family in Colorado who were threatened by a fast moving wild fire. Their family had discussed the need for fire evacuation plans and developed a custom list of items to collect dependent upon the amount of time they had prior to evacuating. They divided their list into 15 minute segments.

 It sounds like they were able to gather quite a bit before having to leave. And the best news? Their home was one of a few saved and they will be able to return!

A list like this is a great idea for many situations.  Want some ideas for making your own list?  Here is a prior post with some ideas:  http://iprepared.blogspot.com/2010/08/prioritized-evacuation-list-grab-n-go.html


Collecting Rain Water

As I have planted my garden this year, I've already had a failure.  My onions, lettuce, and carrots haven't come up and I've planted them twice!  I suspect it's a watering issue.  We've moved to secondary water which isn't turned on until mid April.  That means I've had to hand water for the first few months this year and I suspect that I didn't water those baby seeds enough.

This has me thinking about water for my garden in an emergency.  We live in a desert and don't get a lot of rain through the summer.  In order to be productive, my trees, berries and seeds would definitely need water even if it wasn't available.  I probably wouldn't want to use my clean drinking water supplies.  They would be depleted too rapidly. 

Collecting rain water would be a great way to ensure that you have some water for your garden.  I've seen some great ideas and different set-ups as I've browsed the web.  I've compiled a few here to give you some ideas. 

Basic Components:
1) A large container such as a trash can or water barrel to collect the rain.
2) A lid or top.  You need to be able to keep kids out.  A lid (or at least a screen) will also keep mosquitoes from multiplying.
3) An overflow function.  You don't want the water backing up into your downspout, pouring into your window wells or gathering around your foundation.  You might think this isn't necessary, but Sunset Magazine states that one inch of rain water on a 1000 square foot roof will yield 600 gallons.  In a good rain storm, you might be needing that overflow after only a few minutes.  A good overflow system will handle a large volume of water and move it far from your foundation.
4) Water accessibility method.  This can be a fancy hose set-up at the base or it can be just as simple as a lid that you lift to scoop out the water.

You probably don't want to locate your barrel in the front of your home where it might be an eye-sore.  A location in your back or side yard that is also close to your garden would be ideal.  Two or more barrels can be connected for additional water storage.

Here are some pictures and ideas:

This is a pretty simple setup from Workbench Magazine.  The hose on the side is for overflow.  You could make it longer if needed.  Instructions can be found here:  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2gdNar_rMtAMjQxNzUxYmItYjU1ZC00YzYzLTgwNjMtZjg1ODA2MjYxMzdk/edit?pli=1

(click to enlarge)

This is a fairly elaborate setup from Family Handy Man.  I love the use of two barrels and the wooden base.  I also really like the overflow mechanism used.  Instructions Link: http://www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Projects/Green-Home/Saving-Water/how-to-build-a-rain-barrel

You can buy a ready-to-go commercially prepared rain barrel.  Just search for "rain barrel" and you will see many options.  Some are even beautiful like this 65 gallon barrel above which is about $150 on Overstock.  Amazon is also a good source.  They have kits and other supplies as well.

Here are some basic instructions from HGTV.   Actual barrel building starts at 1:30 in the segment.

This is also a fantastic how-to video from Kansas State.

I'd love to hear how you've made this work at your home!

Update:  Here is how Troy made his own 10 barrel rain collection system: http://iprepared.blogspot.com/2013/11/a-working-rain-collection-system.html



After one minute of intense 7.0 shaking, extensive damage is done.  As you look around at the cracked windows, broken furniture, and utter mess, you are grateful to be alive.  But now the real test begins.  The power will likely be out for weeks.  Water lines are compromised and you won't have water up to a month.  Major shipping corridors and roads are blocked by falling overpasses.  No food, no electricity, no phone service and no water.  Where is your family?  Do you have what you need? 

If not, get prepared!


Activities for the Great Utah ShakeOut

The Great Utah ShakeOut happens exactly one week from today!  Have you made any plans yet?  Here are some ways that you can help your classroom, business place, or family participate:

Just Do It!
Make plans to signal an earthquake drill at 10:15 a.m on April 17. 

Give Some Advanced Warning
Wouldn't it be nice if we could all have warning when a real earthquake happens!  You can forewarn your colleagues and/or children about an upcoming STOP! COVER! and HOLD ON! drill or you can just create and act out a simulation.  Drills like this can scare young children.  So carefully assess your participants and decide if they need to know beforehand.  You can download and print posters advertising the ShakeOut here: http://www.shakeout.org/utah/resources/index.html

Review Earthquake Procedures
Do a little training at home or with colleagues to educate them about STOP! COVER! and HOLD ON!  Evaluate your living/work spaces and make improvements as needed.  More information, including some games and quizzes, and can be found here: http://www.dropcoverholdon.org/ and here: http://www.shakeout.org/utah/

With Children, "you can ... play the ‘Earthquake Game’ where when anyone says “earthquake!” everyone has to pretend an earthquake is happening and practice their response. Teach your children that they should go under a table and hold on if one is near. If they are in a room without a table, crouch against an interior wall, away from windows. Find an “earthquake-safe” location in every room of the house so they don’t try to run during an earthquake. (http://www.shakeout.org/utah/faq/index.html)

Use Sound Effects
The Great Utah ShakeOut website has an audio earthquake file that you can download and use.  There will also be local radios participating in the drill and playing an audio file with sound effects.  You can find the audio files and participating radio stations at:  http://www.shakeout.org/utah/drill/broadcast/.  We did something similar for a Relief Society preparedness night several years ago.  Just having the audio was powerful and frightening.  Be aware that children might be especially frightened and adjust accordingly.

Don't let it be business-as-usual afterwards.  The real trials of an earthquake usually come after the shaking has stopped.  Discuss with your family and/or peers your current readiness and set specific goals to improve.


Where Are Your Tomatoes?

Four years ago in April, Elder L. Tom Perry and his wife, Barbara, were hosted by my parents for several days during the weekend of their local stake conference.  One evening as Elder Perry gazed out at the beautiful yard and mountain view from the home's east windows, he turned to my father and asked, "where are your tomatoes?"   It was April at the time - too early for planting tomatoes.  But my parents, over the years, had planted grass over the large garden plot where I used to weed and pull beans and eat warm raspberries as a child.  The garden had been moved to the flower beds and had been gradually reduced until they had just a few raspberries and tomatoes each year. 

You can be sure that my parents have planted tomatoes every year since Elder Perry asked that question.

Elder Perry practices what he preaches.  He once said “There have been very few years in my life when I have not been responsible for a garden. Even now as a city condominium dweller, I still plant and harvest a garden each year. …" (New Era, October 1980)

During the April 1975 General Conference, President Spencer W. Kimball quoted a "much-read" magazine:
“Almost every backyard has what every person needs: a way to help cut inflation and ease the world food crisis in the process.
“It’s called ‘land.’ And there doesn’t have to be much of it to help a lot.
“It can be the play area that doesn’t get played on anymore, a sunny plot behind the garage, a 10-foot strip that runs across the back of the lot, or the adjoining lot that was bought to grow grass and play catch on.
“And all you need to make this space lower your food costs is to raise your own vegetables on it.
“It’s been calculated that a carefully managed garden just 15 x 20 feet in size can yield almost $300 worth of fresh food in six months. So the savings can be substantial.”
Then President Kimball continued,
We are pleased that many people are planting gardens and fruit trees and are buying canning jars and lids. City officials here and many other individuals are planting patches of soil almost equal to the days of the “victory gardens” in World War II. We congratulate those families who are listening and doing.

Planting a garden today is just a relevant as it was in the 1970s.  We similarly face challenges such as world food shortages and looming inflation.  So, like Elder Perry asked my father, I'm asking you, "Where are your tomatoes?"  And if you don't have an answer, today is the day to make plans to plant some!


The Great Utah ShakeOut

Where will you be on the morning of April 17 at 10:15 a.m.?  At work?  At school?  At home?  Likely your family will be in many different places at that exact moment.  What would you do if there was a 7.0 earthquake?   How would you get back together?  How would you communicate?  Do you have enough supplies to survive an extended recovery period without water or power?

Be Ready Utah is hosting The Great Utah Shake Out and is encouraging everyone state wide to DROP! COVER! and HOLD ON! at exactly 10:15 a.m. on April 17.  Write the date on your calendar today!  Even if you don't live in Utah, you can still partcipate and take the opportunity to practice with your family and to improve your earthquake preparedness!

This is a fantastic video to get you thinking about what could happen:

There is a ton of information at this website:  http://www.shakeout.org/utah/resources/


All About Sources

There is a lot of information on preparedness found on the web.  Some of it is fabulous and frankly some of it is flat-out wrong.  In one of my recent posts, I described the importance of seeking out good sources when you look for preparedness information.  Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to determine how much to trust any source.

1) Does the website cite sources? 

I often share my own personal stories on my blog, and there isn't a better source than myself when it comes to my own experiences.  But when it comes to reporting news, giving safety information, etc., I feel that I have a serious responsibility to give you accurate, up-to-date information.  So I often turn to other, more-knowledgeable sources.  No single writer is going to know everything about everything.  Eventually, they'll read or use other resources.  Watch for clarification from the writer about which elements of their writing are their own opinion and when it is coming from an outside resource.  When that happens, they should tell you what their resource is.  Even better, look for links and source lists included with each relevant post. 

2) Do they cite credible sources?

Don't just look for cited sources, but look at what those sources are.  You can learn a lot from just a glance.  If you can't tell about the source in a glance, then click on the links and follow them to the original location. I do this with every website that I read regularly. It doesn't take long to learn if the writer is using trusted, less-trusted, or sub-culture resources.

For example, if you were reading a list of first aid tips and looked under and saw a reference to throwsafetytothewind.com, it might indicate that what you read there deserved much more scepticism than if it stated redcross.org

3) Does the writer (and the resources they cite) use multiple and primary sources?

Articles, news reports and blogs are much more credible when the authors verify their information by using multiple and primary sources.  I often compile information for my posts using multiple sources in order to give you accurate information.  I try to make sure that my sources come from places that use information that is verified in this way.

Multiple sources means that several people or news agencies independently report the same/similar information.  A primary source means that the person who had the experience is the one giving the information - not my mother told me that her neighbor said . . .

I read a recent article online that had to be retracted just a few days later because it's single source didn't stick by their information once under pressure.  The mistake was that the writers of the article used only a single source and that single source was a secondary source (not primary) meaning they were sharing an experience someone else told them about.   

4) Is this information consistent across many other sites?

Check out the information you read by searching for other sites that verify the same information.  Usually a single source is not enough.   It is better to find two or three opinions that back up what you have read.   And again, pay attention to the credibility of those back-up sources. 

5) What is the bias?

EVERY writer has a bias.  Make sure you read enough to know what that bias is.  

6) Do they openly acknowledge the relationship between themselves and any advertising on their page?

A lot of online sources openly advertise on their pages.  They don't hide that they profit from doing so.  Usually any advertising is clearly labeled as such.  I get particularly concerned, though, when writers advertise products without publicly making disclaimers about their possible bias or profit because of advertising kickbacks. 

A recent example of this was a blogger who discussed a product and claimed it was the superior one available and most cheaply purchased at *recommended website*.  A little research on my part soon made it clear that the link was to the blogger's own retail website, which wasn't disclosed and was quite difficult to discern.  Think of it as a major conflict of interest.  Because of the lack of disclosure in this situation, I will be less likely to trust that writer's product recommendations in the future.  It just takes a little research to find similar advertising conflicts, but it's definitely worth your time, especially when you are trying to purchase reliable products for reasonable prices.

Hopefully you can use these questions to help you determine the trust-worthiness of the writing that you read.   It's good to apply a healthy dose of skepticism and always keep your guard up.  Remember, that even the most trusted sources make mistakes sometimes.   When you are paying attention to sources, you can proceed with more confidence about the information that you have received.


How Do I Get Started With a Longer-Term Supply?

Question:  How do I get started with a longer-term supply?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says,
"For longer-term needs, and where permitted, gradually build a supply of food that will last a long time and that you can use to stay alive, such as wheat, white rice, and beans."  
At the Provident Living website, under product recommendations they add,
"You may also want to add other items to your longer-term storage such as sugar, nonfat dry milk, salt, baking soda, and cooking oil. To meet nutritional needs, also store foods containing vitamin C and other essential nutrients." [Link]
So, a good starting point is grains and beans.  Sugar, milk, salt, oils, baking soda, and vitamins can be also included.  I'm hoping you noticed that it doesn't say "one-year supply" anymore.  It's up to you to decide how much to store.

My Longer-Term Supply
There are so many approaches to organizing and gathering a longer-term supply.  Ultimately, you'll have to decide how to make a plan that works best for you.  This is how I gathered my longer-term supply:

1) I got a three-ring binder and filled it full of paper.  I set up one sheet for each long-term category.  [You could also do this with a spreadsheet or word processing program.]
2) We decided that we wanted to store 9 months' worth of longer-term items.
3) We figured out how much we wanted to store for each month's worth.  I used old food-storage recommendations to figure this out.  Roughly per person/per month: Grains - 25 lbs (we do 33); Legumes - 5 lbs; Sugar - 5 lbs; Fats - 1.7lbs; Salt - .7 lbs; Milk - 1.3 lbs. Vitamins - 30; Baking soda - unknown.  [Sources: http://providentliving.org/ & First Presidency Letter, 2002]
4) I wrote the category and goal amount at the top of a sheet of paper.
5) I did an inventory and listed what I already had on that paper.
6) I added items to the sheet as I purchased them.  I loved retotalling the amount and calculating how many months I had already accumulated. 

An Example:
Goal - 1485 lbs.

On Hand:
flour - 50 lbs
pasta - 20 lbs
pancake mix - 10 lbs
wheat - 265 lbs
rice - 200 lbs
cornmeal - 5 lbs
cereal - 20 lbs
oatmeal - 50 lbs
cream of wheat - 10 lbs
Total: 630 lbs (4 months' worth)
Still Need: 855 lbs

bought 2 - 50 lb bags of rice
New total: 730 lbs (5 months)
Still Need: 755 lbs

On my first trip to the store after making these pages, I bought the entire supply of salt for less than $8!  I was so excited to have one category completely done!  It was so motivating.  So, I would recommend that you start with salt - and maybe you'll have the same experience.

I chipped away at the totals on each page for more than a year.  I loved seeing the progress.  A longer-term supply goal can seem very overwhelming, but by working on it in chunks, it became very doable. 

Even now, my longer-term supply is very fluid.  In some categories, I've fallen below our 9 month goal and need to replace some items.  In other areas, I'm ahead.  That, in some ways, is the biggest blessing of striving for a longer-term instead of a one-year supply.  Regardless of where I am in replacing this food, I'm able to have the blessings of being completely obedient.

Let me know if you have any questions!  I'd love to hear about your system for gathering a longer-term supply.  Please share in the comments below.


The End is Near!


There are a lot of scriptures that talk about false Christs and false prophets in the last days.  One, in Luke 17: 22-23 says, "And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.  And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them."   I used to think of the guys that stand on street corners holding "The End is Near!" posters when I read these verses.  I'm realizing, however, that the false Christs and false prophets of our modern world are much more subtle than the obvious sign on the corner.  We are surrounded with false prophets all trying to lead us in their way - not God's way. 

I am noticing many individuals who are genuinely seeking Christ, but who believe everything that they read from every source and are consequently making unwise choices.  They listen to and regard the instructions of self-described "experts" as if they were prophets.  Are you someone who believes everything you read?  Or do you you consider carefully the biases found in the sources of your information?  Do you look for sources when you read?  Do you check to see if those sources come from trusted venues?  It's important that you not abdicate your own agency to someone else and look to them to make decisions for you.  You are your own agent and need to be responsible for your own decisions. 

Please understand that no one is perfect.  My blog and the information therein are not perfect.  Even though I am extremely careful about what I include, I have biases just like anyone else.  Part of living a Christ-like life is gaining the companionship of the Holy Ghost who can warn you when you are being led astray and can also confirm when you read truth.  As you gather information for your own preparedness, employ all the wisdom you have, make sure you listen carefully to the Spirit, and then you will be able to discern the paths and methods you should take.


New Year's Resolution

FEMA has a new media spot encouraging everyone to make a 2012 New Year's Resolution to be prepared.

This past year we've seen the need to be prepared no matter where you live.  Even if you don't choose their recommended resolutions, find at least one way to become better prepared this year.  If you don't have a three-month supply of foods that you regularly eat, I would recommend starting there.  I think I'll be working on taking better inventory of my own storage and rotation.