Tag Archive: survival


responsibilityOkay, hold on to your hat cause what I am about to talk about might just hit home and make you squirm and most likely make you mad.
Can we talk? I mean really and truly have an eye opening discussion about what is really going on in this country? I am not speaking about the Ebola doctor and nurse that ran around possibly harming other people knowing full well they would most likely get sick, nor illegal immigration, 2nd Amendment gun rights, militarization of the police, discrimination of any sort, and not even what is going on down in Ferguson, Missouri…these and so many other ‘happenings’, shall I call them distractions?
These are merely outcomes of personal IRRESPONSIBILTY and abdication of personal responsibility. And they are just that…distractions as to the truth of what is going on in the United States and heck, across the global if you really want to get down to it. Its like a slimy mold that grows and grows…
So lets talk about personal responsibility.
Yeah, you read that right, PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. Some of you might have an understanding about what that phrase means, but for those that don’t I will give a real simple explanation as to what that means. It means that YOU are responsible for YOU. What you do, what you say, how you behave. The choices and decisions you make or for that matter, what you don’t do, what you don’t say, what choice you choose NOT to make or what decision you choose not to make. And they all IMPACT OTHERS…NOT JUST YOU.

The dictionary says responsibility is:
the state of being the person who caused something to happen
a duty or task that you are required or expected to do
something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.

So this begs the question what does RESPONSIBLE mean?
having the job or duty of dealing with or taking care of something or someone
able to be trusted to do what is right or to do the things that are expected or required
involving important duties, decisions, etc., that you are trusted to do

Got it now? Hmm, could personal responsibility be seen as, horrors, being a mature adult? As I see it, too many people in this country have turned over their personal responsibility to others and mainly that is at this point in time, the government or some other state sponsored ‘authority’ .instead of personally taking charge of their own life and making their own informed decisions that guide their actions. With the knowledge inside that its not just about THEM (read that yourself).

Oh, we love to pretend that we are ‘responsible’ but I would beg to differ. How many times have you just gone with the flow? Or instead of spending the time to research something for the real facts you just accept what ‘they’ say as the gospel. Or better yet, when YOU figure out you don’t like what has happened you get angry or feel betrayed because it doesn’t fit the narrative that has been fed to you? OR forbid, say screw it, knowing better and put yourself and others at risk and then have the nerve to say ‘but’…the very word ‘but’ throws out personal responsibility…so… Say it all together now…lets play victim.
See, being personally responsible for yourself means that when you screw up, you own up and try to make it right. When you hurt someone else, you don’t point the finger at someone else. When something bad happens you don’t go looking to place blame, but stand back to see the bigger picture and the role YOU play in that picture. There is a sayin’ ‘if you aren’t a part of the solution then you are part of the problem’. You don’t go looking to Big Brother or your mommy for a handout to bail you out of YOUR MISTAKES. You don’t go around blaming others for what happened or where you are in life. There are too many people who have OVERCOME really bad things and came out on top for me to buy into that one. You get real, not emotional and then accept facts and get going. People who are personally responsible for themselves don’t get stuck in the emotions of the moment. They go through the emotions and then get REAL.
Yeah, things happen and we all find ourselves in circumstances where we need help because we figuratively shot ourselves in the foot, or someone else decided to do something that had an impact on/in our life, but personal responsibility dictates that you ask for help and then get moving on your own again ASAP. Or you just pick yourself up and get moving again. And if something ‘bad’ happens to someone you know, you step back and take a look at their own actions, instead of immediately assigning responsibility to someone else no matter how unattractive or distasteful it maybe. That is called RESPONSIBLE thought. Personal responsibility means that you see things for what they are and not through some lens of victimhood.
And while you’re at it, quit your whining too. Life ain’t FAIR, crap happens and we aren’t all the same, won’t get the same. That is NOT how it works no matter what they want you to believe. The infamous ‘they’ have taught us that its someone else’s JOB to do this, that or the other for us instead of allowing people to fail or succeed. Each according to their own comes to mind. Instead of allowing people to rise above their mistakes, own their mistakes and deal with their own choices, decisions and actions. Its called being accountable, dealing with the consequences of your choices, decisions and actions. When you won’t control yourself, others WILL.
Shall I give a list? War on Drugs, War on Poverty, War on Terrorism, heck, lets thrown in the War on Women…and how has things worked out for Chicago and New York with gun violence? You get my point.
It means being responsible for YOURSELF, YOUR CHOICES, YOUR DECISIONS, YOUR ACTIONS AND THEN DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS. You aren’t an island…get over yourself. And no one is GOD, until someone hands over their own personal responsibility. Everything you do sends out ripples and affects other people. And when YOU decide to stop having personal responsibility there is the very real danger that not only you will pay the price, but many others will too. And THAT my friends, is when you open the door to being subject to OTHER PEOPLE’S decisions and dominion. You eventually even loose your ability to make your decisions and choices. Keep on not taking PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY and someone will fill in for you.
I am just as guilty as the next guy for playing the blame game, the whine game and finger pointing, but ultimately YOU and I are the only ones who have dominion over ourselves and once you get THAT figured out, then you truly begin to understand what it means to be personally responsible for YOURSELF. When you stop abdicating YOUR PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO OTHERS that is when you are set FREE. When you teach your children about personal responsibility, accountability and consequences then you and your children are no longer a slave to the ‘they’.
Understand, we are all individuals but when we do not take personal responsibility then others suffer, we suffer and we have no one to blame but ourselves. After all, someone has to do the job right?

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no ebola

Its germ season and with the growing concerns over Ebola spreading within the United States I thought it might be wise to discuss PREVENTION verses what to do ‘if’ as prevention is obviously our first line of defense.

Soap and hot water are our obvious first bet as always. Several times a day. But I know and understand that this isn’t always possible so alternatives to keeping our hands as germ free as possible are next in line. I will speak directly to viruses (and this includes Ebola) as not all alternatives are good for bacterial disinfection.

According to the MSDS and The Canadian Centers for Disease Control there are basically 4 ways to kill ‘enveloped’ viruses such as the flu, ebola and many ‘stomach bugs’ that are emerging right now.

Phenolic compounds which are found in many of our everyday items we use such as: They can be toxic at certain levels, though hospitals still use phenolic compounds to clean floors, bed railings and tables. You will know you have a sanitizing phenolic compound if you see the ‘phenol’ in any part of the ingredients. A few that I found were: ortho-phenylphenol, ortho-benzyl-para-chlorophenol, ortho-phenylphenol, para-tertiary-amylpheno.
Typically phenolic sanitizers will need to be left to dry for at least 10 minutes (typical time to work to ‘inactive’ a virus) Do NOT get on the skin or inhale the vapors (such as in air ‘sanitizers’). You should also not use these products containing phenolic compounds around babies or young children nor on surfaces where food may touch.

Ethyl or Isopropal alcohols
. These are found in hand sanitizers and common rubbing alcohol…but here is the catch. NOT ALL hand sanitizers have their main ingredient as ethyl alcohol. Remember the big scare about children eating hand sanitizer and getting sick? Some of the more popular brands changed their formulations and do NOT have ethyl alcohol as its active ingredient. So be sure you look at the ingredient list on the hand sanitizer you buy and make SURE it says Ethyl alcohol. And it must be at least 62% but no more than 70%.
As for rubbing alcohol, you can use this on surfaces, your hands or body. But here is the catch: it has to be 60 to 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. If any higher it will not as effective. Science has shown that to kill enveloped viruses such as Ebola, MRSA, and Influenza you must have water to penetrate the virus. They love water! So, the more water the rubbing alcohol is diluted in the better the kill rate. Optimal is 60-70 percent of isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Do NOT ingest any of type of ethyl or rubbing alcohol.

Next, and most prolific in disinfectants and used in hospitals are the Ammonium Chlorides. Look for cleaning, disinfecting/sanitizing products with the words ammonium chloride in the ingredients as these will kill any enveloped virus…ebola, flu, HIV, etc. It can be found in sanitizing wipes, many surface cleaners and in fact, is the main chemical used by hair stylists for disinfecting there clippers and scissors. Goes by the brand name Hydrocide which is readily available to the public. Clorox wipes contain ammonium chloride. NOTE OF CAUTION. If you are going to use a product with ammonium chloride you allow to air dry. Do not wipe dry. Also, if you will be using on surfaces where you cook, after allowing to air dry it is advised to use plain water to wipe afterwards (10 to 15 minutes after using product) so that you do not eat this as it can build up in the body and cause a toxic reaction. Same goes for the aerosolized versions you find in disinfectant sprays…don’t breath it in.

Bleach is next on killing all sorts of viruses and bacteria and is a traditional stand by. However, I would not use on the skin as allergic reactions can occur and contact dermatitis can occur over repeated exposure to bleach. A 10% solution will work for hard, non-porous surfaces. Do NOT use on rubber as over time it will break it down.

Finally, we come to good old fashioned vinegar. According to the MSDS vinegar even at 3% dilution will kill ebola, influenza and many other enveloped viruses. Yes, that is SCIENCE. Often times you will see vinegar in homemade cleaning solutions. But personally I would just use it straight and it is safe for SKIN too!

As a note: you may also use a 50/50 combination of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar for cleaning hard surfaces as a disinfectant. This also has been shown to kill many viruses including ebola.

Stay safe, be prepared and get the knowledge to be panic free!

Survivingshtfmom

http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/disinfection_sterilization/9_0pceticacidhydropoxide.html#a1

http://www.msdsonline.com/resources/msds-resources/free-safety-data-sheet-index/ebola-virus.aspx

http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/lab-bio/res/psds-ftss/ebola-eng.php

http://www.bccdc.ca/NR/rdonlyres/EAA94ACF-02A9-4CF0-BE47-3F5817A25669/0/InfectionControl_GF_DisinfectntSelectnGuidelines_nov0503.pdf

ptsd triggersKind of tongue in cheek title, but with all do seriousness, I made it that way in an effort to make you think. PTSD symptoms do not happen in a vacuum. They might fade, disappear for a time but they never truly go ‘away’ forever. Think of it this way, the brain is like computer with a CD Rom that is always recording what is going on. When a traumatic event happens that too gets burned onto the CD. A trigger is like a command prompt or a file connected to the original event which then gets replayed. Or more simply put, a trigger is like pushing the on button unintentionally.
The best way I can describe how a trigger works in the real world is lets say as a child, said child (now adult) was abused. One very bad beating occurred because they wouldn’t eat green beans or even the broccoli or it could be the beating occurred just after eating it. In this child’s mind, the beating becomes associated with the broccoli. In adulthood, the abused child may avoid eating anything green or even something that looks like the broccoli. This is called avoidance. However, one time, the adult attends a dinner meeting in which the menu is preplanned and guess what is on the plate that is put in front of him? Broccoli. The adult then abruptly becomes very upset and seeks away out of the meeting (avoidance) in order to protect themselves when just seconds before they were laughing and enjoying themselves. Broccoli is the trigger that makes the adult remember the pain of the beating, the feelings of helplessness of not being able to stop the beating or get away.
Lets say a combat veteran or first responder hits a deer driving home and the deer is mangled, and when checking on the car/deer they smell the blood and see the mangled deer. The smell of blood alone could be a trigger into anxiety, anger or some other PTSD symptom. Seeing the mangled body of the deer could trigger memories of seeing someone who was seriously injured or killed which in turn releases all the original trauma memories and symptoms of PTSD occur.

In other instances, such as in finding a loved one or close friend who committed suicide may find PTSD symptoms triggered when they are home alone or find a picture of them accidentally. An domestic violence survivor may ‘freak out’ (PTSD) if she gets into an argument (trigger) with a new partner. A runner who just ran his best time may experience a racing heart if he doesn’t cool down properly, which in turn ‘triggers’ PTSD symptoms. Like I said, its not about the broccoli. Triggers are internal and external ‘cues’ that takes someone back to the original trauma and cause symptoms of PTSD in that moment…out of the blue so to speak.

PTSD triggers may be all around you or your loved one. And typically they fall into two categories. Internal Triggers and External Triggers. Internal triggers are things that you feel or experience inside your body. Internal triggers include thoughts or memories, emotions, and bodily sensations (for example, your heart racing). External triggers are situations, people, or places that you might encounter throughout your day (or things that happen outside your body). Listed below are some common internal and external triggers.
• Internal Triggers
o Anger
o Anxiety
o Sadness
o Memories
o Feeling lonely
o Feeling abandoned
o Frustration
o Feeling out of control
o Feeling vulnerable
o Racing heart beat
o Pain
o Muscle tension
• External Triggers
o An argument
o Seeing a news article that reminds you of your traumatic event
o Watching a movie or television show that reminds you of your traumatic event
o Seeing a car accident
o Certain smells
o The end of a relationship
o An anniversary
o Holidays
o A specific place
o Seeing someone who reminds you of a person connected to your traumatic event

So we see, its not about what is happening RIGHT NOW its about what happened during the traumatic event. But in daily life we can only employ avoidance strategies so long and many times we cannot avoid what may trigger symptoms of PTSD to reoccur. So the question becomes, if we can’t avoid triggers entirely then how do we live without being reactive and in a constant state of PTSD?
Identification of Triggers
An important note on increasing your awareness of triggers: while it is important to do so, be aware that doing so may cause you distress and to be uncomfortable. Some people might actually become triggered by trying to identify their triggers. Before taking steps to identify your triggers please be sure to let someone know what you are doing and have support available to you just incase you are triggered. Never try to push yourself too far. A little at time is all it takes.

The first step to avoid being side swiped by a trigger is to try and identify what your triggers are. When you are in a good place, think about when your PTSD symptoms usually come up. To identify your triggers ask yourself these types of questions: What types of situations are you in? What is happening around you? What kind of emotions are you feeling? What thoughts are you experiencing? What does your body feel like? Get a notebook and write down as many internal and external triggers as you can. Sometimes it can be hard for those with PTSD to identify their own triggers, so you may even want to ask your family and friends about what they believe or see your triggers are.
How to Cope with Your Triggers
Of course the best way of coping with triggers is to avoid them altogether. However, this is almost impossible to do. Why? Well, you cannot really avoid your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. Much of these are out of our control. In regard to external triggers, we can take some steps to manage our environment (for example, not going to certain places that we know will trigger us), but we cannot control everything that happens to us. For example, you might inadvertently come into contact with a news story or conversation that reminds you of your traumatic event.
Because we often cannot avoid triggers, it is important to learn ways of coping with triggers. After we figure out what the triggers are we are then free to ‘make a plan’ to effectively handle the symptoms of PTSD. Some effective and healthy coping strategies for lessening the impact of triggers include:
• Mindfulness- being in the moment
• Relaxation techniques
• Self-soothing techniques
• Grounding yourself
• Expressive writing (journaling)
• Social support
• Deep breathing
The more strategies you have the better off you will be in managing your triggers and the less likely you will turn to unhealthy coping strategies such as drugs, alcohol and isolating. Simply being more aware of what can trigger you can be of great help to you because you will have gained more awareness and thus, be more able to cope better. Awareness of your triggers allows you to begin to feel more in control and gives rise to better understanding of your emotional reactions which in turn validates them (understanding why) and allows predictability all of which can definitely impact your mood and well-being. More on coping strategies to come.

Stay safe and be prepared!
Survivingshtfmom

http://ptsd.about.com/od/selfhelp/a/CopingTriggers.htm

ptsd1

It is very natural and normal to have stress reactions after a traumatic or very upsetting event. Your behavior and emotions will change immediately afterwards and most people get better or find a ‘new normal’ after a few weeks. This is called acute PTSD. However, not everyone ‘gets over it’. As I discussed in the previous article PTSD, What is It? some people will have prolonged stress reactions to events and circumstances, most especially those that are more indicative of producing chronic PTSD. It is a real identifiable brain disorder (see picture).

ptsd2

Trauma causes REAL changes in the brain which can produce profound behavioral, emotional and physical symptoms. Please keep in mind as you read, the key to recognizing symptoms of PTSD is this: if it wasn’t there before a traumatic event happened and then appears, then there is a problem. If it was there before the traumatic event, then it most likely is not related to PTSD.

PTSD is generally diagnosed through presentation of 4 major types of symptoms that last longer than 3 months, cause you significant distress and disrupt your life and/or work.

Intrusion of the event into your life afterwards.
Recurrent recollections of the event. Memories coming back without warning with or without a ‘trigger’ (which I will discuss later)
Nightmares
Flashbacks/Reliving
These can make someone feel as though they are reliving the event in that MOMENT and can cause mental, emotional and physical symptoms. Some individuals with PTSD may experience and feel the same fears and horror as when the event took place.

Hyper Arousal/Feeling Keyed Up
Constantly on guard
Jittery/Jumpy
On Alert
Can’t relax
Can’t sleep

Numbing or Negative Changes in Beliefs and Feelings
Distancing self from people/Can’t trust other people
Unable to feel emotions
Forgetting about parts (suppression) or all of the traumatic experience
Not able to talk about the event
World becomes extremely dangerous
Depression/Anger/Irritability/Impending sense of doom

Avoidance:
Fear based and avoidance behavior typically involve all three of the above symptoms in order to avoid having to deal with the original trauma or prevent the above symptoms from occurring. Avoidance behavior is also another way of dealing with ‘triggers’. Often, people with PTSD will avoid people, places and things that remind them of the original trauma. Some people will get ‘super busy’ as way to avoid dealing with trauma.
Avoiding crowds
Avoiding driving
Avoiding all sorts of media (movie, news, video games)
Avoiding activities that are or could be associated with the trauma (ie an avid hunter may stop hunting to avoid particular triggers).

So this is the clinical take on what constitutes PTSD. But what can it really look like in someone’s life? It will vary from person to person obviously as everyone has different backgrounds, religious beliefs, personalities and different experiences in life. So lets look, in layman’s terms, what someone with PTSD may experience.

Panic Attacks or other anxiety problems including hypersensitivity to his/her surroundings….this is experience of INTENSE fear which most often is accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, dizziness and racing heart. At the very least, discomfort may occur. This is almost directly related to hyper vigilance and may be ‘triggered’ by something totally unrelated to what is happening in that very moment.

Feelings of mistrust (could be specific or not)

Problems in daily living: not being able to function ‘normally’ at work, home and within relationships. This can include a decline in personal hygiene (or obsessiveness with it). Stopping doing daily household chores, organizational problems, etc. Emotional distancing of themselves towards other people, places and things in order to cope with feeling ‘unsafe’. This can come across as being cold, aloof, uncaring, demanding or otherwise socially unacceptable behaviors.

Substance Abuse: using drugs or alcohol to cope with emotional pain

Depression/Mood Swings: persistent sadness, anxiety, emptiness, loss of interest, guilt, shame, hopelessness about the future. Going from being happy to angry and back again for no real apparent reason. Isolating themselves. May become aggressive and angry for ‘no good reason’.

Memory problems are almost always present. Usually this shows up at first as ‘absent mindedness’ such as constantly misplacing things or loosing things. It can progress into forgetting names, appointments and other day to day things. Later on, someone with PTSD may even begin to forget past events that were important to them, or forget what they were saying in the middle of a sentence and may even say something and then repeat themselves a few minutes later.

Risk Taking Behavior such as driving too fast, multiple sex partners, starting fights and other behaviors that typically would be considered ‘risky’ with the potential to do harm to themselves or others.

Isolating from the world…many people with PTSD will in an effort to keep themselves safe begin to withdraw from people to the point that they may turn into ‘recluses’ who only go out when food or medicine is needed.

Obsessive/Compulsive Behaviors: check and rechecking that a door is locked, driving around and around in a parking lot, running to the doctor every time they sneeze. The point in obsessive/compulsive behavior to keep themselves ‘safe’ to prevent further trauma.

Super sensitivity to outside stimulation: this is directly related ‘triggers’. When the original traumatic event occurs, the brain basically ‘burns’ into the deepest part of the memories and cortex exactly what happened, how it happened and circumstances in which it occurred.

Checklist of PTSD symptoms:

Physical Symptoms:
Headaches
Stomach problems
Changes in breathing patterns (shortness of breath/not breathing normally)
Lack of energy OR Hyper Activity
Sleep problems
Emotional pain never felt before
Anxiety problems
Hypersensitivity
Hyper vigilance

Psychological Problems:
Mood swings
Memory problems
Addiction/Self Medication
Loss of personal hygiene/housekeeping
Risk taking behavior
Isolation
Depression (“what’s the point?”)
Paranoid thoughts
Reliving the event(s) with accompanying emotions

Sleep Problems:
Insomnia (not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep)
Having nightmares
Waking up covered in sweat
Kicking during sleep
Constantly waking up and falling back asleep
Waking up and being easily startled and/or being confused about where you are
Irregular sleep cycles

It is my hope that you have found this information helpful in describing what PTSD ‘looks’ like symptomatically. Too often many seek help and a diagnosis of PTSD is not given because the full spectrum of what PTSD looks like isn’t known by many doctors and mental health professionals. Do not be afraid to print this off and take it with you if you choose to seek help (which I hope you will) so that you maybe appropriately helped and treated. PTSD is multi-faceted and can be difficult to diagnosis unless you and those around you know the facts about what it is and what it looks like. But it is treatable and can be overcome. There is hope.

In part 3 of this series on PTSD I will discuss ‘triggers’ which plays an important role in PTSD.

Survivingshtfmom

winterwarmTitle gotchya didn’t it? But no seriously, I might be a newbie in the woods but when it comes to home preparedness, I know my stuff. Come what may, I can survive at home when the grid goes down, which it can and has done during the winter. So I thought I’d share some serious practical advice and know-how when it comes to surviving in your home during a grid down situation during the winter. Been there done that and lived to tell the tale here.

Number one rule: be careful what you use inside your home…candles, oil lamps, any type of flame for light or heat can cause a fire if not carefully attended to, including propane and kerosene heaters. Trust me on that one. Better to skip those if you can, especially if you can’t be right there while using them. I bought a Detz oil lamp that you can heat up or cook on top of and it will throw some good heat too, but I would NEVER EVER leave it where my kids, dogs or I could potentially knock it over. I am ALWAYS right there. I do not use candles, though I have them if and when all other sources of light are used up.
Number two rule: be careful what you use inside your home…to heat your home, to cook food or even get a little bit of power in your house (generator). Do NOT use anything inside that is designed and intended for outdoor use. Most heat and cooking sources use some sort of combustible to generate the heat. If you have combustibles, then you have the potential for carbon monoxide and it is a silent and deadly killer. That’s why previously I advised to have a battery operated carbon monoxide alarm.

Those are the two simple rules of the road in any grid down situation (no power) no matter the season. Remember those and you will be okay.

Alright, now on to the good stuff, tips and tricks to staying warm during Snow/Icemagedeon outside of the typical preparedness/survival stuff:

Here’s the obvious one…have an alternative heat source to heat your home that does NOT depend upon electricity and obviously is SAFE to use indoors.

Story time…
When I first bought my little slice of country the house came with an unvented propane fireplace. Yep, seriously. I personally never used that thing but my ex would and did to get heat into the home during the coldest parts of the first winter. I would wake up and instantly know he had used it that nasty thing because I could smell it and my head would be pounding (carbon monoxide, I am extremely sensitive to it having had mild carbon monoxide poisoning growing up due to a faulty gas heater). Finally, I called the propane company to come get their tank of gas and cut the line…end of subject…it was pretty, but dangerous to have that thing. So round about the ex and I went about ‘spending’ the money on a wood burning stove. This argument went round about until one March morning we awoke to being able to see our breathe in the air. Power was out for only a few hours but needless to say, sometimes pain makes people see reason. I got my wood stove installed about 2 weeks later. And I use it A LOT during the cold times.

There are safe alternatives if you can’t afford a wood stove, pellet stove or something else similar, or you don’t live some place that can have one. Mr. Heater makes a very safe line of propane heaters that can be used indoors for those of you that can’t have anything else.

As a last resort if you go on over to Lehman’s you can find some really good oil lamps that will throw heat in a small space, but as previously warned, be warned this isn’t the best idea.

Best advice to getting heat into your home: Be SAFE and NEVER USE ANYTHING INTENDED FOR OUTDOOR USE.

Up next, minimize heat loss…and heat it up BEFORE it happens.

If you have a wood stove or fireplace use that, get it going well before you actually ‘need’ the heat. As for any heat pump or furnace, crank it up BEFORE the storm comes. You’d be surprised just how quickly the temperature can drop once the power is off and just how long it takes to get heat back into the hours.

One last comment on this…if you have a wood stove, pellet stove or coal stove or use a rocket stove or other type of cooking stove that requires ‘dry’ material…get it in place and out of the weather BEFORE the snow hits…nothing sucks worse than having to traipse outside when you are already cold to get the wood or find wood/pellets/coal. Not to mention that wet stuff is a lot harder to burn and get to burn that dry stuff.

Pick ONE room to ‘survive’ in where you will have the most heat.
If you have a fireplace, wood burning stove or a small propane heater, that is where you will stay.
Keep all exterior windows and doors closed and close the interior doors to the rooms you will not be using. In an extended case you may want to consider hanging blankets, or even emergency blankets over doors and windows to keep the heat in. Use duct tape or some other heavy duty tape to keep the blankets up…it works! Especially emergency Mylar blankets which you can get on the cheap in bulk on Amazon.
Also, don’t forget to block drafts such as that bottom of the door you never got around to putting weather stripping on.

Also consider your heat loss through your flooring. I have a one level home that has a crawl space underneath it and bamboo flooring…all neat and good when the power is on or during the summer, but when its cold those floors get COLD. If you have something along these lines consider insulating the floor where you will be staying put. Be mindful however of fire hazards. Blankets, rugs, pillows…kinda the same idea as when camping, get as much insulation between you and the ‘floor’ as possible to keep your body heat and heat ‘inside’.

Last resort or maybe just an idea to keep the kids distracted…set up a tent and go camping inside while the power is off. Small spaces can be warmed up with just body heat alone and if you use mylar emergency blankets over the outside of the tent you get even more ‘heat’ trapped inside the tent.

For those with a basement…in a prolonged power/heat outage consider your basement. It might not be the Hilton, but if the basement is underground it will be considerably warmer than upstairs, sometimes as much as a 20 degree difference.

Layer your clothes, can’t say too much about that. Without power and a good heat source inside the home, you are basically ‘outside’. Dress as if you were outside.

Sleeping, well, this is an interesting subject. For those that camp and don’t have a good heat source inside the home you know the rules…wet or even damp (even slightly) will suck the heat right out of you. The heat loss through the ‘head’ is a myth…it’s your feet. CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES BEFORE GOING TO SLEEP IF AT ALL POSSIBLE ESPECIALLY THE SOCKS!! If you are a camper then you have some idea of how to handle things, just inside your home. But if not…hopefully you have picked out your one room and have stayed put as much as possible. Create a communal sleeping area there. Share body heat. Sleeping bags are great. Next up pillows, cushions, blankets piled one on top of the other. You get the idea. If you do have a tent and I don’t care if its one of those outside pop up with sides that you can zip on, USE IT. The smaller the space the easier it is to get warm and stay warm. If you don’t have sleeping bags consider a cheaper, emergency alternative…emergency bivvys by SOL.

One last thing…get a stash of hand and feet warmers that hunters use. In the case of the heat going out due to power outage during a winter storm these things are cheap and easy to use to keep the extremities warm. And its sure nice to have toasty feet while you sleep!

Food comes to mind next…if you are lucky to have a wood stove with an area flat enough and big enough to cook on, good for you! (I do and do use it to cook on). But if you don’t or there isn’t an area large enough to get a pot on (such as those wood/pellet stoves that are put into a fireplace) then you have to start thinking about how you are going to eat.
It takes more calories and more water to survive when you are cold. So you need to think about this. Using camping equipment or other OUTSIDE methods of cooking INSIDE is a disaster waiting to happen. Hot food is great, but not at the risk of death. Consider keeping a stash of MRE’s (but keep in mind the colder it is the less warm/hot they will get) as a quick way to have meals. Keep bottled water on hand, this is especially important for those who have well water and becomes important for those on city water IF the power stays off for an extended time (water pipes can and do freeze). Keep canned goods that would be tolerable to eat, even if cold. Use up what is in the fridge. Cook out, yep, on the grill or your rocket stove or whatever you have…it will suck for the person tending the food outside, but hey, a hot meal is worth it.
You get the idea, beef jerky, dried foods…heck, protein bars! Just remember the 2 rules I started with.

Here are some great options and ideas for emergency cooking. Be sure to practice BEFORE you need it!

And here’s a tricky one:
When water is scarce, the “mellow yellow” rule should apply. Don’t flush the toilet unless you *really* need to.
If you have no water for flushing, use a 5 gallon bucket and paper or sawdust to absorb liquid and odor. You could also cover a bucket tightly or use a garbage bag. If you have a wood stove and don’t mind getting a little primitive, you can do what my older sisters used to do. Rather than running out to the outhouse in winter (the farmhouse I was raised in had no running water when my parents started their family), my oldest siblings would poop on several sheets of newspaper and burn it in the wood stove. As I said, primitive, but it worked. I was very glad we had indoor plumbing by the time I was born, as I have used the outhouse when there was a minus 40 below zero wind chill one Christmas and the septic system froze. It was not pleasant.
Don’t bathe unless absolutely necessary. Getting wet is a quick way to get really cold. Keep some baby wipes on hand for waterless cleaning.
If you still have running water, protect faucets that are at risk of freezing by turning on a pencil size stream of water.
(taken from commonsensehome.com…couldn’t have said it better)
But one thing to keep in mind for females…urinary tract infections can happen fast…so keep mindful ladies of keeping clean ‘down there’. Also, when its really cold and you have to go I have found that using a Shewee or PMate is an excellent way to decrease skin exposure to the cold and still ‘go’.
Fill bathtubs before hand with warm water. You can use this water just like in any other emergency.
Have hand crank options for lights and emergency radio.
DON’T use your generator in the snow/ice. Um…think electrocution hazard.
Personally I have a portable charging station that I can recharge the batteries for via the car. It’s a smaller generator that made by Boise that is mainly used on construction sites but no gas is needed, uses batteries just like the ones for your cordless drills and such… it will recharge cell phones, run a light, laptop, etc.

Finally, if keeping warm and eating won’t keep you busy, you’ll need ways of staying entertained…especially children. Just one idea here for you…they do make a DVD player, radio/karaoke player that uses D batteries  you can find it on Amazon…it is a life/mind saver, trust me…worth the investment.
These are my tips for you just in case grid down happens during snow/icemegedeon…feel free to comment and ad your own tips and tricks!

_MG_0086aNothing like experience gets you ready, tests you and your theories, equipment and yourself and your own skills, attitude, body…and there are always surprises, even for the pros (eh hmm…vacreepinoutdoors I am talking to you lol!) Be it in the home or out in the woods camping overnight, there are always lessons to be learned, new ways of doing things and refinement that takes place while you are ‘practicing’ and putting your skills, knowledge and gear to the test.

Vacreepinoutdoors and I went out this weekend camping…mostly because he likes to camp and pit himself against the elements and hone his own woodlands skills (and test out some new gear) but me, the newbie babe in the woods…for me this was a test to see if even during the good times I could function out there in the woods…Obviously I survived, but I also learned a lot of which I will be sharing with you this week in different blogs addressing different issues.

I knew enough not to be arrogant about the situation and quite honestly was a bit scared (gulp) simply because I have never camped in the winter with minimal gear as we did this weekend. But I trust dear heart so off I went into the wild….so my friends, if you haven’t done something before, besure to go with someone you can trust your life with who know knows more than you…and being out in conditions that you aren’t used to, you better trust your partner.

They say practice makes perfect, but I would beg to differ as nothing is ever perfect when it comes to being prepared. Technology fails, or the old school way just won’t fly right for you. Just when you think you know what you are doing in practice or theory, something akin to Murphy’s Law will come knocking on the door. And believe me, it will. Testing your gear and knowledge before you really need it is great and can be a lot of fun. But it will also show you where your strengths and weaknesses are on a lot of levels. Unfortunately, practicing a particular situation doesn’t necessarily give you a replication of what it would be like if the chips were down and it really counted. It is PRACTICE. Its NOT the real game. And even in a somewhat controlled situation as this weekend was (ie we could go home), things happen and they did…things went right and new ideas worked out.

More to come! Stay tuned! Be sure to checkout Vacreepinoutdoors new youtube videos too…he’s who I hang with and learn from and so can you.