This blog is meant to assist you in preparing for an emergency. It also contains other information that you might find helpful and spiritually up-lifting.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Deadly Winter; Be Prepared By Making a Winter Car Kit

Winter is approaching us quickly in 2014. The last few winters have been somewhat mild, but according to the Farmers Almanac it is going to be a very bitter winter this year.
Being prepared for natural disasters is one of the most important things a person can do to ensure the safety of their life and that of their family. Winter is no exception. The risk of hypothermia is high if you do not know the proper clothing to wear or have a winter kit in your vehicle. Having your car break down or slide off the road can be a recipe for death. However, being properly prepared can keep you alive until emergency personnel arrives.
Below are some items to consider for your winter car kit:
(Note: As with any kit, you will want to design it to fit your region. These are *ideas* to help you start your emergency car kit.)
Shelter and Element Protection: 
Tip: If you are stuck in your vehicle it is safe to run your heater for ten minutes every hour. Just make sure your tail pipe is clear of any snow or debris. We keep a tarp and duct tape in our vehicle so we can block off the back seat or the back of the SUV to retain heat to our location in the vehicle.
Food and Water:
  • Filtration water bottle for each family member
  • Several gallons (This depends on the size of your family.) of water for drinking or heating for meals or emergency water pouches
  • Food/energy bars, powdered soups, camping meals, nuts, jerky or any other snack that will not go bad for a while in the trunk. Make sure to change these items out often to make sure. Hot chocolate or instant coffee would be good to keep as well. Not only would it be a comfort drink it will also help keep you warm.
  • Pocket Stove
Communications and Lighting:
  • Flashlight and extra batteries or a solar hand cranked powered light with an all weather radio and USB device charger.
  • Glow sticks ~ If you use glow sticks, one neat trick I have learned is to tie a string or shoelace to the glow stick and swing it around like a lasso when you see a vehicle. It is much more powerful and can be seen from the sky as well. Most emergency personnel know about this trick as well so it would aid in your rescue.
Other items:
  • Emergency whistle
  • Plumber candles – With a little air ventilation these candles last about 8 hours and will also provide heat.
  • Survival Guide/ First Aid book
  • Multipurpose tool/Swiss army knife
  • Duct tape – We use this to tape the tarp down so the warmth stays in the front part of the car.
  • Deck of cards, note pad, pencils/pens, List of phone numbers
  • Signal Mirror
  • Pre-Paid calling phone & card/ emergency cash
  • 3 days of prescribed medication
  • Compass/ local street map and state map
  • Mess kit/utensils or any tin style cup to heat water in.
  • Walking shoes/socks
  • Fold-able shovel
  • Rock Salt
  • Toilet Paper
  • Gallon of Kitty litter to get traction
  • Tow rope
Being prepared can mean the difference between life and death. It is not something to take lightly or put off until tomorrow.  Anything can happen to you in your car. Knowing the proper clothes to pack in your kit is important to.  Many people do not know the dangers of cotton in the winter. Please do your research and do everything you can to keep your family safe.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

8 Tips for Successful, Effective Family Home Evenings

For many years prophets have counseled families to set aside one night a week for time together learning and having fun. Many families around the world are heeding that counsel and making time in their busy schedules for family home evening.
In an effort to strengthen their family and personal testimonies, parents lead their children in lessons, songs, and prayer and share with them what they feel their family needs at that time.
“Raising a family is hard work,” said Darren E. Schmidt during a class at Campus Education Week at BYU. That is why time together as a family is critical to building testimonies and strengthening relationships.
Brother Schmidt, a seminary instructor, shared principles and ideas to enhance family home evenings and scripture study, focusing on simple, practical elements for families to enhance their time together.
1. Be Consistent
“It doesn’t have to be perfect; just be consistent,” he said.
For many parents, the phrase “quality over quantity” applies to family home evening, but there is a danger in that, said Brother Schmidt. It is a combination of quality and quantity that will be the most effective for a family. Although it is important to plan and prepare for family home evenings, consistency is a crucial factor.
“It is a process and not a product,” he said.
As family home evening becomes part of a family’s routine, children will expect their assignments and responsibilities and will look forward to the time together.
2. Be United
“Satan will wiggle his way in, so what we do is prepare for that,” Brother Schmidt said.
One way to deal with distractions and other things that get in the way is through unity. As a husband and wife are united, both spouses will take an active role in family home evening.
Brother Schmidt shared ideas of how to divide and conquer—one spouse is in charge of discipline and the other keeps the evening going. In single-parent homes, older children may be asked to help in a leadership role.
3. Make Family Home Evening Inspired and Purposeful

Family home evening is a place—other than church—where children are able to learn gospel principles. Sometimes the topics to teach are very clear, as parents have certain principles they would like to go over with their children. Other times parents have to “just pick the best thing,” said Brother Schmidt. When the family is prepared, the Spirit is able to teach. In those moments the Lord will often inspire parents to teach something that their child may have questions about or have a desire to learn more about. It is as parents are purposeful in their preparation that the Lord will be able to prepare the hearts of the learners.
4. Plan Ahead
Part of an effective family home evening is planning ahead. Through proper planning, parents are able to involve their children and help them prepare.
Brother Schmidt spoke of the importance of every member having an assignment—no matter their age—every week. As the children are involved, they are able to prepare lessons and learn how to seek inspiration. By assigning the children things to do a few days before family home evening, they are able to work with their parents to prepare.
A simple paper chart is a great way to rotate assignments and keep things organized.
5. Be a Shepherd, Not a Sheepherder
There is a difference between a shepherd and a sheepherder, Brother Schmidt said.
“A shepherd knows his sheep, and the sheep know him,” Brother Schmidt said. “They can hear the voice of the shepherd and are reliant on him. They come when they hear him call.”
A sheepherder may yell for the sheep to follow but have a hard time getting them to listen. Family life is busy, filled with activities—homework, soccer practice, piano lessons and practicing—so families are often rushed. A simple five- or ten-minute warning before family home evening—rather than yelling throughout the house—helps children to finish what they are doing so they are able to come to family home evening and fully participate.
“A five-minute warning shows you are respectful of their time,” he said. “It is less forceful and creates an atmosphere with the Spirit.”
6. Everyone Must Play a Role
With an assignment given to each family member—even the younger children with help from their parents—participation becomes easier. When studying the scriptures, provide some form of scriptures for every person so all have their own something to hold and read.
“For little kids cartoon books are good,” Brother Schmidt said. And when all have something to read, they are expected to participate and follow along.
With that, asking inspired questions allows for deeper discussion and learning. When parents are prepared, they are able to follow the Spirit in extending invitations that encourage their children to act. Just as important as the inspired invitations is the follow-up on discussions and invitations.
“Be purposeful in time and money,” Brother Schmidt taught. Sometimes it is a simple conversation that will make the biggest difference.
Family home evening can be a time for families to set goals together—changing and adapting for each person as they get older—and a great place to reflect and be accountable for their goals.
7. Become Educated
With so many resources available to Church members today, parents have the opportunity to look to those resources for ideas for their lessons as well as answers to questions. Websites such as LDS.org, Church materials including the For the Strength of Youthpamphlet, and Mormon Messages are available to use within teaching and to help parents become educated. Resources for often-discussed topics are available for families to talk about and discuss, approaching sometimes difficult questions in a safe and gospel-centered environment. Children can ask questions and learn in their own homes, rather than through outside sources.
8. Use “the Word” Consistently
Just as important as it is to hold family home evening, it is important to spend time in the scriptures and focusing on Christ. Fun and games are good for families, but teaching children while they are young how to have a relationship with their Heavenly Father is the most important duty a parent has. As parents make a point to study together from the scriptures, they are able to teach and testify as they learn together.

    “Parents lead to the purest source of water,” said Brother Schmidt.

    Friday, October 17, 2014

    Medication and Emergency Preparedness

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    An important part of any emergency preparedness plan that can easily be overlooked is medication. No matter what type of medication you take, you don’t want to find yourself in a crisis situation without it.
    Ensuring that your medication is covered by your emergency preparedness plan involves these six steps.
    1. Compile your medical information.
    This can be cumbersome but is invaluable in the event of an emergency. Having all of your information organized and ready to go makes it much easier to get help if necessary and keep your medication regimen on track. In your medical file you should include:
    • Emergency contacts, including at least one friend or family member that lives at least 100 miles away.
    • Your doctor(s) and other medical providers.
    • list of the medications you take, making sure to include the dosage, frequency, purpose of medication, and the name and phone number of the doctor who wrote the prescription.
    • A copy of the prescription for every medication that you take. You may also want to leave a copy with a national pharmacy chain. If you wear glasses or contacts, include those prescriptions as well.
    • A notation of any sensitivities or allergies that you have.
    • Your immunization history.
    • Information regarding any medical equipment or support systems that you use. Take care to consider things like hearing aids, hearing aid batteries, oxygen, wheelchair batteries, service animals, and the like.
    • If you have a communication disability, include a note of the best way others can communicate with you.
    You should keep all of these records with you emergency preparedness kit as well as with a trusted friend or relative who lives out of town that can be reached in the event of an emergency.
    If you feel comfortable doing so, you may also want to scan and email copies of your medical information to yourself so that it can be accessed from anywhere. An alternate suggestion is to store this information in the cloud.
    Having copies of your prescriptions is extremely important as that will allow you to refill your medication as soon as you reach a pharmacy.
    2. Determine what type of medication(s) and what type of help you would need in the event of an emergency.
    Medications are to be taken for a reason, though some are more critical than others. Determine the importance of your medications and make sure you plan accordingly so that the medications will be available during an emergency.
    Think seriously about your own capabilities, limitations, and what kind of challenges could be imposed by your surroundings in the event of an emergency. Know what kind of assistance you would need and be ready to communicate your needs in an emergency situation.
    3. Stockpile prescription medication.
    Start stockpiling your prescription medications. Your stockpile should include enough of every essential medication to last at least seven to ten days.
    The best way to stockpile prescription medication is to refill your prescription as soon as the pharmacy will allow. By doing this every time, you will have a few extra days’ worth of medicine that you can set aside as part of your emergency preparedness kit.
    4. Maintain your stockpile responsibly.
    Medications do expire, so rotate the medications that are included in your kit so that you don’t store outdated supplies.
    Get in the habit of replacing the stored medication with every new refill. Also, take care to store your medications in labeled, child-proof containers away from places that experience extreme heat, cold, or humidity. Be particularly cautious with certain medications, especially narcotics, as these are more susceptible to being stolen and abused.
    5. Talk with your doctor about your emergency preparedness plan.
    Anyone who routinely takes prescription medication should consult a physician about preparedness issues. Talk with the doctor who wrote the prescription about what to do in case you run out of medication during an emergency. Understand the shelf life and optimal storage temperature for your medication.
    While it is beneficial to plan ahead, it is sometimes impossible to be prepared for everything. Certain medicines and supplies cannot be properly stored away.
    For example, vitamin injections must be stored away from light and refrigerated. Plus, they only have a two month shelf life. This means stockpiling your vitamin injections is impossible; you must routinely purchase new doses. Talk to your doctor about an alternative form of medication that could temporarily replace your injections if necessary.
    Also, other treatments—like nebulizers and dialysis—might be difficult to come by in the midst of an emergency. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to plan for an emergency and what alternatives might be available.
    6. If you get regular treatments at a clinic, hospital, other healthcare center, or at home, talk with your doctor or nurse about their emergency preparedness plans.
    These treatments are part of your medical needs, so work with your service provider to develop an emergency preparedness plan that will cover your needs. Also be sure to get referrals for other providers that offer the same services and include these providers in your list of emergency contacts.
    By making sure that you have all of your medications and medical information in your emergency kit, you greatly increase your chances of staying healthy and getting what you need during a time of crisis.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Billion-dollar lawsuits claim GMO corn 'destroyed' US exports to China

    Three class-action lawsuits filed Friday claim that agribusiness power Syngenta is to blame for depressed corn exports to China since the seed company released a genetically-engineered variant of the crop before it was approved by Beijing.
    At issue is Syngenta’s 2009 release and distribution of its MIR162 genetically-modified corn known as Agrisure Viptera, which is engineered to fend off certain insects known to decimate corn crops. While approved for use in the United States, Chinese regulators have yet to sanction the export of Viptera.
    Syngenta is responsible for “destroy[ing] the export of US corn to China,” which led to “depressed prices for all domestic corn,” according to Volnek Farms, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in an Omaha, Nebraska federal court. Volnek and others are claiming $1 billion in compensation.
    The two other suits were filed in Iowa and Illinois federal courts, according to Courthouse News. In addition to monetary claims, the Nebraska and Iowa suits seek to enjoin Syngenta from cultivating and marketing MIR162, or Viptera.
    In addition to alleging the destruction of the US corn export market to China, Iowa plaintiffs Cronin Inc. and Jim Ruba Jr., who say they do not even plant genetically-modified corn, claim that Syngenta offered “materially misleading statements relating to the approval status of MIR162 in China and the impact the lack of approval would have on the market.”
    “Syngenta's widespread contamination of the US corn and corn seed supply with MIR162, which will continue to foreclose the US export market to China in future years and will continue to lead to lower corn prices per bushel in the US market, as a result,” the Iowa plaintiffs added.
    China’s importation of US corn is expected to rise, Nebraska plaintiff Volnek said, citing the US Department of Agriculture. But China ceased importing US corn after detecting MIR162 in shipments, Volnek and company added.
    Though Viptera has been planted on only about three percent of US farm acreage, it is difficult to say for sure "that any shipments of US corn will not be contaminated with trace amounts of MIR162," the Nebraska plaintiffs said.
    The commingling of corn from various sources at corn distribution centers is “essentially impossible,"according to the Iowa complaint, which cites other major grain companies Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, which do not accept Viptera.
    Syngenta has been encouraged by the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) to stop selling Viptera, according to the Iowa claim. The NGFA has estimated that actions taken in China against US corn have caused prices to drop by 11 cents per bushel.
    The Iowa suit alleges that the release of Syngenta’s Viptera caused the US-to-China corn export market to fall by 85 percent.
    Syngenta has claimed that "the vast majority of corn produced in the US is used domestically," and that exports are not as important, though the USDA says 20 percent of corn produced in the US is exported. These conflicting accounts led to accusations by Iowa plaintiffs that Syngenta has engaged in willful misrepresentation.
    Nebraska plaintiffs allege "reckless disregard" for the commodity market.
    "Syngenta's decision to bring Viptera to the market crippled the 2013-14 corn export market to China,"they said.
    In 2011, Syngenta requested in federal court that a grain elevator firm, Bunge North America, remove signs that said it would not accept Viptera-variety corn. The request was denied.
    In April, the NGFA, a trade organization for grain elevators, reported that China had barred nearly 1.45 million tons of corn shipments since 2013, resulting in about $427 million in lost sales. China first halted shipments of American corn in November, as RT previously reported.
    Concern over the safety of genetically engineered food may have played a role in a recent decision by Chinese officials to move away from GE production of the nation’s own. In August, China’s Ministry of Agriculture announced it would not continue with a program that developed genetically-modified rice and corn.

    Monday, October 13, 2014


    Camera phone tips
    I recently read an article about 10 Snapshots You Should Keep In Your Smartphone’s Photo Album that I thought was pretty interesting. But what was fascinating was all the OTHER great ideas I got for using my phone’s camera from the comments! I spent all afternoon reading and digesting them all and decided I would take my favorites and share them with you.
    If you’re like me you already use your smartphone to keep notes and lists of things you want to remember…but today I realized not only is my camera phone faster and more accurate than taking notes…..the number of things it can help me keep track of is life-changing! :-)
    Camera phone tips

    49 Brilliant Uses For Your Smartphone’s Camera

    • Take pictures of credit cards, front and back, and store them in a “locker” app on your phone. Whenever buying something on the internet you won’t have to take out your wallet, just take a look at the pic. (Click here for Android.)
    • Keep a photograph of your driver’s license and/or passport identification page in a “locker” app on your phone.
    • OR…..take a picture of your wallet opened, showing just enough of each card so you can identify what cards are in there in case it’s ever stolen and you have to call the credit card companies.
    • Snap a photo of your license plate for use when you are at the DMV or filling out a form for a parking pass. I can NEVER remember my license plate number when I need it! :-)

    Camera phone tips
    • If you keep a dry erase or chalk board in the kitchen to write down stuff you are out of, instead of transcribing the list to take to the store, simply snap a photo of it!
    • When grocery shopping for a recipe, snap a photo of the ingredients list before you leave the house for easy access.
    • Pictures of labels from wine bottles that you’ve tried and loved at a party or a restaurant.
    • Instead of searching for paper and pen when you see a recipe in a magazine or on TV that you like, snap a picture!

    Camera phone tips
    • Keep a photo of your pet and their ID/vet tags. That way you don’t have to carry the originals, and you can report it immediately if your kitty or puppy goes missing.
    • Reward program cards with membership numbers.
    • Meeting agendas and menus to text to latecomers (e.g. here’s what you’re missing, and can I order something for you?)

    Camera phone tips
    • Photos of playlists that you like from other iPhones/iPods.
    • Take pictures of furnishings you are thinking of getting (ideally with price tag showing) to run past a friend or partner for second opinions.
    • Speaking of furnishings…take photos of the stockroom info tags at IKEA – no golf pencil required.
    • To go along with IKEA stops, if you keep a picture of the dimensions of the tailgate of your car you’ll know what will fit, and what won’t.

    Camera phone tips
    • Snap a picture of your kids when you are heading out to a crowded amusement park, mall, sporting event, etc. so that if anyone gets separated you will have an accurate description of exactly what they’re wearing.
    • A lot of people use their phone’s camera along with Evernote for the ultimate organization. The combination of a camera phone coupled with an App called Camscanner lets you capture anything in a photo and turn it into a PDF file. Send the PDF to your Evernote account, which has OCR, and then you can search for any word in the capture.

    Camera phone tips
    • When walking through the bookstore, take photos of books you may want to check out from the library.
    • Snap a photo of your printer cartridges, making sure you can see the model numbers.
    • Take a screen shot of your iCE – In Case of Emergency – Contact Information and make it the lockscreen of your phone. That way, if you’re in an accident, and incapacitated, someone can easily get to your iCE info.
    • Keep a photo of your home’s wireless name and password to text to visitors.

    Camera phone tips
    • In case of a minor fender bender in rush hour traffic, pull out your phone, document the damage, snap pictures of insurance cards and drivers license info and get back on our way. Could help avoid a much more serious situation.
    • Keep a photo of the ever-changing monthly class schedule at your local spa, gym, recreation center, etc.
    • Take a picture of all of your appliances, including the manufacturers logos and serial numbers, for future service calls.
    • Take a picture of the cable placement on any audio/video gear before unplugging anything!

    Camera phone tips
    • Take pictures of tags on clothing, bar codes, product info etc. You can often find the exact same thing online for a cheaper price.
    • When traveling to remote areas where it’s likely there will be “No Service” or where roaming is expensive, screenshot online map routes and save them to your phone so they will be accessible offline as well.
    • When renting a car, take a picture of the car and its license plate. This helps when checking in at a hotel and registering the car, not to mention finding it when you have forgotten what the car looks like!
    • Take pictures of each room for insurance purposes in the event of theft, fire, or other disaster.
    • Take pictures of your favorite makeup and hair products (including names and shades) to make it easier when shopping to replace them.

    Camera phone tips
    • Take pictures of the business hours posted on the door of places you go to occasionally, like the library, post office, etc.
    • Keep a running Shopping or To Do list while at work on a pad of paper, then before you leave, snap a photo and put it as your screensaver. Instant list that can’t be lost or misplaced!
    • Snap a picture of the class list on the 1st day of school to help learn your child’s classmates’ names.

    Camera phone tips
    • Document lovely gardens, interesting yard art, and holiday decorations you drive by to try and duplicate at your own home.
    • When you find a great artist on Pandora or Spotify, take a screenshot for reference later.
    • When traveling out of the country, take a screenshot of a currency converter “cheat sheet.”
    • When buying from a bulk bin at the grocery store, snap a picture of the cooking instructions (for grains or beans).
    • When you have time, take pictures of yourself trying on different outfits in your closet for mornings when you can’t figure out what to wear!

    Camera phone tips
    • Take a picture of your spice drawer or rack before heading out to restock so you don’t end up with 5 bottles of dill weed and no cinnamon!
    • For students:  Take pictures of that particular nights homework assignment so you don’t have to pack all your books home.
    • Also for students:  If your teachers occasionally “misplace” school papers that you know you have turned in…start taking pictures of your homework before you hand it in and don’t delete it until you get the paper back with a grade on it! Brilliant!
    • When shopping with the kids, take pics of the toys they want for Christmas or their birthday. Then later they can go through the pictures in your phone and make their lists.
    • Take a picture of all the hardware and software specifications on your computer screen and save on your phone.

    Camera phone tips
    • When moving from one apartment/home to another, take pictures of your wall groupings so you can remember how you had them hanging, and can duplicate them in your new place.
    • Take pictures of your friends with the stuff they borrow from you so you’ll remember who has what.

    Camera phone tips
    And last but not least….a few more that just plain made me laugh! ;-)
    • Take a picture of your coat check ticket (especially if you plan on drinking…)
    • Take pictures of “Help Wanted” signs to send to your kids.
    • Before leaving the house for a trip, take a photo of your stove in the “OFF” position for those moments when you freak out, wondering if you left it on.
    • Keep a copy of your best “selfie” shot for emergency updates to your Facebook profile.

    Camera phone tips
    For those of you concerned about keeping sensitive information on your phone (as we all should be!)….here are a couple of articles that list some of the best Security Apps for Smartphones:
    For Android phones:  15 Top Android Security Apps