Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead Part 4

For this segment of emergency preparedness, I will be focusing on the personal 72 hour kits, which we keep in backpacks. We each have a backpack with everything we need to be okay for 72 hours. If a tornado destroys our home, a wildlife destroys the property, or a snowstorm/ice storm knocks out the power, we are good to go for 72 hours.

I realize that 72 hours doesn’t seem like a very long time, but we have a storm kit, plenty of food in the pantry, which can be cooked on the grill, camp stove, or using the double burner hotplate, plugged into the generator. This kit is specifically for that first 72 hours before you are able to get yourself and your family situated a bit more permanently.

We have used our kits on multiple occasions for ice and snow storms. Three winters ago, we were without power for two weeks. This is a long time to be without central heating, a working stove, microwave, and oven. That first ice storm, we were not really prepared for so, having those 72 hour kits helped immensely. The kids had hot meals until we figured out how to set up the generator to keep a single room in our home warm and livable. This room just happened to be the master bedroom. We took the kids queen size mattresses and put them on our floor. We had an electric space heater, the dish receiver, and our television hooked up to the generator. Everyone was warm, comfortable, and not bored to tears. We have since purchased a kerosene heater, which has the ability to heat the entire downstairs of our house, which frees up a spot on the generator for the internet.

We have also been looking into whole house generators, which hook into the breaker boxes somehow, I am not completely certain how this works and an electrician will be the one doing that aspect. We have experienced two weeks without power so, we have been able to plan for this situation far better than before and we have experienced it twice since that first storm.

So, without boring you further these are the items in my personal 72 hour kit. (These items are not an end all list. They are a good starting point for creating your own 72 hour kit.)

I have 4 MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, also known as military rations.) I purchased these in cases at the commissary on the base near us, but these can be purchased here or at military surplus stores. You can also make your own and purchase the heaters separately. You can also substitute backpacking meals, which can be found at Walmart (Mountain House is a major brand of these type of meals)

I have an entire box of granola bars and another box of single serving trail mix pouches. I tend to snack when stressed.

Chocolate (I have a bag of fun size mix chocolates)

A change of clothing (jeans, thin long sleeved shirt, 3 tank tops, hoodie, 3 pairs undies, 3 pairs socks, tennis shoes, beanie hat, gloves.)

I have some bottles of water, but I also have a filter bottle and a life straw. I wouldn’t be able to physically carry 72 hours worth of water. We have a ton of bottled water in the house, a few gallons I each vehicle, and we fill empty plastic kitty litter buckets with water for flushing toilets (we have a well, which needs electrical to run)

I have a small hygiene kit, which includes bath wipes (these are intended for invalids and are much larger than a baby wipe) baby wipes, a small kit for my contacts, 3 days worth of all of my medications (I asked my doctor for this and I swap out the medication each month) a folding brush, a toothbrush, flosspicks, toothpaste, chapstick, dry shampoo, a travel size roll of toilet paper, and a travel size deodorant. (I also have a small feminine hygiene pouch with supplies)

I have 4 garbage bags and one heavy duty contractor bag. The garbage bags can be used to keep the contents of my backpack dry and to keep soiled items away from clean items. The contractor bag can be used as a makeshift shelter, a poncho, etc. I also have ziplocks for holding water, holding garbage, holding small items, etc.

I have a small first aid kit, we have larger ones in the house, in every vehicle, and in the storm kit.

A cell phone charger, earbuds, and a power brick

Flashlight and headlamp

Hand warmers (these are single use items, which warm up when opened and exposed to air.)

I have a thumb drive with important documents and another with photos.

Cash. I keep $100.00 in small bills because power outages and emergencies affect businesses as well as homes.

A Gerber multi-tool (I have several of these and it is my favorite tool because it has almost everything I usually need all in a single tool.)

My knife, which clips to my belt and I usually have it on my belt because I use it constantly for opening boxes, cutting things outside, etc. This does not stay in my bag.

A spare set of everyone’s keys. House keys, car keys, safe keys, tool box keys, trailer hitch keys, trailer keys, etc.

550 cord (parachute cord) I have this woven around the straps and handle so, it doesn’t take up any room.

Duct tape. I have approximately 10 feet wrapped around the 3 Bic lighters, which are in different pockets.

Waterproof matches and a magnesium fire starter. (I have multiple ways to start fires simply because heat is essential and being able to boil water or heat food is really nice.)

Sterno. Sterno is heat in a can/ cube. I have both forms. (I do not recommend using the cubes indoors. They smell awful.) These are great for Heating water for tea or heating soup because they are easy to light and heat quickly.

An aluminum cup (I can boil water or cook in this.) A set of camp utensils (it’s a fork and spoon, which fold up and fit inside a small zippered pouch. I found these here. (I bought these for backcountry camping trips years ago and found a small zippered pouch for them to fit in perfectly. These are NOT necessary, but some form of eating utensils are needed if you don’t use MREs with the accessory kits.)

Sunblock and Bugables Mosquito Bands

Finally, I have my backpacking tent, and sleeping bag tied to my backpack. These are very lightweight items and rather costly if you are on a budget. If you have a tent great, if it’s huge, keep it near an exit so you can grab it and go. Keeping blankets in your trunk omits the need for sleeping bags (unless its below zero, then have them close to an exit or easily accessible.) Hubby keeps pillows and blankets in his truck so he can nap during his lunch hour. My youngest enjoys fishing and camping so these things usually go with him, when he leaves the house for a fishing trip so they are easily accessible for him if needed. I am the only one in the house who has a tent and sleeping bag because mine are lightweight enough for me to be able to easily carry them. Each of these items weighs less than 2 lbs.

I have another bag, which is for the whole family, which I grab along with my backpack if anything happens. This bag contains comfort items, more food, medications for every situation (basically a sampling of the household medicine cabinet.) A larger first aid kit, and extras of some of the items listed above.

This is my personal 72 hour kit. I have a few other items, which I am not listing because they are personal items. I have comfort items, which I strongly recommend for anyone. For little ones, pack a diaper bag with 3 days worth of supplies and keep an extra can of formula on hand if possible (even if you breastfeed, having formula may be a good idea in case you get separated for any reason. In natural disaster situations, it is possible that you may be separated.)

I also recommend writing your cell number, name and address on your child’s arm and then, paint over it with liquid bandage to make it waterproof. You can also have custom made temporary tattoos made or wristbands (the kind made from a waterproof material, which stick to themselves.) This company makes both wristbands and temporary tattoos. These are also great for trips to theme parks, the zoo, or anywhere your little one may wander off. It can get them back to you safely much faster.

Pack what works for you and your family. The main things are food, water, first aid, heat, and shelter. Until next time…

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General Homestead Update

As I stated previously, it has been a rough couple of weeks. I have been getting sunburned each time I go get the mail. I wear sunblock religiously. I put it on each morning, like most people would put lotion on. I reapply every few hours unless I am actually outdoors and then I reapply every hour. I managed to get severely sunburned while building the coop and I could not, for the life of me, figure out how I got so burned.

It took a few weeks to figure it out. I had gone to the pharmacy to get some stuff for my sunburn and the pharmacist came over to me while I was gathering different things off of the shelves. He asked me if I had been using sunblock, to which I replied, “of course”. He then asked me if I knew that my new prescription causes photosensitivity. I just looked at him dumbfounded because this tidbit was not listed ANYWHERE on the printout for the prescription, it wasn’t on the medication website, which I read thoroughly because I have so many allergies, it’s ridiculous. I asked why it wasn’t on the printout and he explained that they had just received the updated list of side effects since it is such a new medication (They had to order it for me when I filled it the first time.) I had no idea that this medicine caused photosensitivity. I had been using my regular spf 50 daily sunblock. I was burning every time I walked outside and I have been battling what I thought was a migraine for three weeks. Nope, not a migraine, light sensitivity due to this medicine. If it didn’t work so well, I would have called my doctor and had him change my prescription, but it works really well so, I’m not changing it.

They stuck a nifty warning sticker on the bottle this month that says, “Avoid exposure to direct and/or artificial sunlight while taking this medicine.” Wasn’t that nice of them?

I have found a way to avoid exposure. I have a very thin shirt that is long sleeved, but has built in sunblock properties. It’s a button down and breathes like I am wearing nothing. It’s that thin. I ordered a few more in different colors since the sun has become an enemy instead of just being a rival. I keep one by the back door and another by the mudroom door. I use the mudroom door a lot so, I needed one there as well. We never use the front door. I have no idea why, we just don’t. I was able to sit outside for a bit the other day earlier in the morning and I saw my very first humming bird ever. It was so loud. It scared me at first because I thought it was a giant wasp or a giant bug. I have a few feeders around the outside of the house.

The other lovely thing happening, which has delayed my chicks being ordered, is the air conditioning. We have two separate air conditioning systems. One for upstairs and one for downstairs. They are both on the fritz.

We have this nifty thing called a home warranty. It’s like insurance for appliances, plumbing, and electrical. Instead of paying full price, we pay a deductible and the home warranty company either repairs or replaces the appliance that fails. I highly recommend having one if you own a home.

The issue is that we live in the middle of nowhere so, they had to find a company willing to accept the job. This has taken two weeks. (Once they found one, the agent I spoke with told me how to avoid the wait in the future.) I finally spoke with the company and have to call Monday to set up the appointment.

So, for two weeks, our house has not been as cool as we normally keep it. I have managed to keep the air conditioning running for the most part by shutting it off for an hour or so and turning it back on after it thaws out. (According to the A.C. guy, it’s low on freon.) Heat compounds all of my health issues and makes me a very miserable human.

Hubby and I both agreed, that the chicks should wait until the air conditioning is fixed, since we have been in the high 90s and in the 100s these past two weeks. Once it hits 80° inside, I am useless. I swell up and I am miserable. It is definitely not fun. The other concern was regulating the temperature for the chicks. I don’t want them overheating. The humidity inside is also extremely high for some reason.

I probably won’t have many eggs this year, but I am okay with that. I don’t want to not be able to care for chicks because I am not fully functioning. I have contacted the company we are ordering from (I had to cancel my order.) They gave me wonderful news. They have Silkies hatching in July and August. This thrills me to no end. I think they are adorable. I can add a few to my order when I order in July. They had zero issues with me cancelling my order (the chicks hadn’t hatched yet) and were extremely understanding. I have room for 20 full grown chickens. I was going to get 10, but I think I will be getting more since they have a few colored egg breeds hatching in July and August.

Aside from my sun issues and the air conditioning breaking, we have had quite a few things happening around the homestead. Hubby finally taught me how to start the riding mower. This means I can mow any time I decide it needs to be mowed. I really enjoy mowing.

We are setting up the clothesline this weekend. I cannot wait for line dried sheets and linens. The smell and crispness of line dried sheets cannot be duplicated. I won’t even have to leave the back porch or put on shoes to use the clothesline. Hubby is setting up a pulley system so I can stand on the back steps barefooted and hang laundry or take it off the line.

We are also beginning a major project of finishing half of the basement. After having a house full of family in May, we both agreed, that we need more room. He really likes my idea of using corrugated metal for the walls. (Insulation boards behind the metal and waterproofing behind the insulation boards) He said we would never have to worry about painting and it would make the room so much brighter because light will reflect.

The one side of the basement can be turned into two bedrooms. The kids have already been bickering over who gets the basement rooms once they are finished. They bicker over who gets which room when they come home now. So, it wasn’t shocking that they are already bickering over the basement. Regardless of who gets the rooms, we will have to have Dish Network come wire the rooms for satellite tv and an electrician to wire for outlets and lighting. I am thinking of doing the industrial look for outlets and basic sconces for lighting. The ceilings are too low for ceiling fans or even normal lighting. Someone would hit their head on them. The ceilings are high enough that no one has to duck (as long as the kids stay under 6 ft they won’t have to duck) As far as heating and air goes, all of the duct work is already there, we simply need to add vents. That part will be easy.

We currently use the basement for a storm shelter so, having actual bedrooms, power, and television down there will make it much more comfortable for everyone. It will also turn our 4 bedroom house into a 6 bedroom house. Eventually, we will add a bathroom because water lines are already in place. There is a sink down there already.

So many projects are on our list. I don’t think we will ever be without projects. The coop has a floor, the window has been secured, we tested the roof with a pressure washer and ended up raising it a bit for better drainage. Gutters will be added along with a rain barrel, which will be a water source for chickens and for the greenhouse which will get added one day. The run is complete aside from the gate, which will take about 10 minutes to put it on the run. I still need to paint something on it so, it isn’t eggshell and boring. Perhaps I will do that this weekend since I have nothing else planned for the weekend except a clothesline. If I manage to avoid the sun and get it painted, I will take oodles of pictures. Until next time…

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead, Homemaking on the Homestead

Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead Part 3

It’s 2:30 in the morning and insomnia is keeping me from sleeping, yet again, so, I am writing the third part of my Emergency Preparedness on the Homestead series. This post will focus on the Household Binder. I realize this may not seem like an emergency preparedness item, but it really is and I will explain how to create one as well as why it should be a part of your emergency preparedness plan. This will explain everything and you will know how to create your own by the time you reach the end of this post.

First, I am going to give you a list of supplies, some of which are necessary, while others just make the whole process more enjoyable. I will differentiate between necessary and optional with an asterisk next to the necessary items. Almost all of the necessary supplies can be found at Dollar Tree stores and are generally inexpensive no matter where you purchase them.

Supplies for your Household Binder

  • *One 3-ring binder (I used a 1 inch binder)
  • *Clear plastic page protectors (these are plastic sleeves for sheets of paper)
  • * Tabbed Dividers (you can go with the inexpensive paper ones or the more costly plastic ones. It doesn’t matter which ones you use.)
  • *Paper (either notebook paper or printer paper or both.)
  • * a pen or pencil
  • Dry erase markers
  • Colored pens
  • Pocket folders with 3-ring holes pre-punched
  • A 3-ring hole punch
  • Washi tape
  • Stickers
  • Highlighters
  • Printer
  • Printed pages (this will make more sense as I continue)
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils

Now that you know what supplies you need, we will get started on what a Household Binder is and what goes inside.

A Household Binder is an organizational tool for your home. It helps you to keep track of everyone’s schedule, favorite recipes, important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries, and so much more. I am sure you are still wondering how this related to emergency preparedness and I promise I will get to that, but first, I am going to give you a list of sections and pages for your Household Binder.

Sections

  • Finances
  • Calendar and Important Dates
  • Pantry
  • Housework
  • School/Work
  • To Do
  • Babysitter
  • Pets
  • Medical
  • Shopping
  • Holidays
  • Emergency Preparedness

Pages

  • Babysitter checklist/Letter
  • Seasonal Task List
  • Holiday Gift List
  • Holiday Budget
  • Household Budget
  • Monthly Bills (due dates, amounts, and who to pay)
  • Monthly Calendar
  • Weekly Calendar
  • Yearly Calendar
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Internet Account Passwords (for paying bills, children’s online gradebooks, etc.)
  • Master Grocery List
  • Master Pantry List
  • Master Freezer Inventory
  • Master Fridge Inventory
  • Master Pantry Inventory
  • Household Member Clothing Sizes
  • Emergency Kit Inventory Checklist
  • 72-Hour Kit Inventory Checklist
  • First Aid Inventory Checklist
  • Housework Schedule
  • Laundry Schedule
  • Spring Cleaning Schedule
  • Holiday Menu
  • Birthday and Anniversary Budget
  • Address Book
  • Phone Book
  • Pet Medication Dose Tracker
  • Map of Child’s School (in a sleeve)
  • Child’s Class Schedule (in a sleeve)
  • Emergency Escape Routes
  • Household Fire Drill Schedule
  • Household maintenance Records and Schedule
  • Copy of immunization Record and Immunization Schedule for Children
  • Pediatric Over the Counter Medication Dosage Charts (for Babysitter or Parent who doesn’t normally do this)
  • How to for Spouse or Significant other for running things while you are away.
  • Current Shopping list (workable)
  • Current To-do list (workable)
  • Bills to pay (in a sleeve)
  • Daily Schedule (workable)
  • Weekly Schedule (workable)
  • Weekly Menu
  • Monthly Menu
  • Daily Menu

Now, you have a pretty good idea of what a Household Binder is and what it includes. If you noticed, there are pages for sitters and pages for your spouse or significant other, which will give them the information they need to do things they don’t normally do. For example, if you are at work, in a meeting and unable to answer your phone, the dosing chart for fever reducer is in the household binder. So, if your little one suddenly starts running a fever, the person caring for him or her can now accurately dose your child. Say you are unexpectedly hospitalized and unable to pay your bills, your spouse or anyone you trust can open that binder and successfully pay your bills for you while you are unable. If you have to suddenly leave town, your most used recipes are in this binder as well as a daily schedule, a weekly schedule, and if necessary, a monthly and yearly calendar and Schedule can be included as well.

If you have started building a stockpile because you became obsessed with couponing, you can keep a running list of what is in your pantry, when those items expire, and you can even chart put where everything is located in your pantry. A master pantry list allows you to go through the pantry and ensure you have your most used pantry items stocked up in the pantry, but it will also tell you what is missing when you can’t figure it out by looking in the pantry.

A maintenance schedule reminds you to change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, have the chimney cleaned, air filters changed on schedule and the central heat and air units serviced, which keeps your family safe and helps save money on electric or gas bills.

Those optional supplies like dry erase markers allow you to write on the plastic sleeves and then just wipe them off when you are finished. Washi tape and stickers are simply for decoration. Colored markers, pens, pencils, and highlighters allow you to designate a specific color for each member of your household, making appointments much easier to distinguish with a simple glance. (You can color code your entire house to make life even easier. One color per person and that color is applied to drinking cups, tooth brushes, bed linens, underwear if you have multiple boys or girls, etc. Just let each one pick their favorite color and color code everything possible.)

I do hope this post was helpful to you. A Household Binder really is a wonderful tool and it falls right in line with being prepared. I strongly recommend including the emergency kit checklists. Check your kits twice a year. The best way to remember this is to schedule those checks on the dates for Daylight Savings. This doesn’t work if you live somewhere that does not participate in daylight savings such as Arizona. If you live somewhere that does not participate in daylight savings, check your kits on your birthday and your significant other’s birthday, or on your children’s birthdays. If you are single, use your birthday and Valentine’s Day. This way, if anyone asks what you are doing (and you don’t actually have plans) you can easily say, “I have a date, it has been planned for a year.” You will be telling the nosy person asking the truth and if they ask with who, just say, “someone important, but I am not at liberty to say” again you will be telling the truth because this date is with your emergency preparations and the important person is yourself. Keep the nosey buggers guessing. 😂

Until next time…