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.