Monday, April 23, 2018

Best Veggies To Grow In 5 Gal. Buckets

Tomatoes: Grow one plant per bucket, and use a stake or cage to support the plant.
These guys can really grow wild, if you let them. Maintain regular moisture levels in the soil throughout the season to prevent diseases that destroy fruit. Basil grows well at the base of a tomato plant.
Bell Pepper Plant
Peppers: You can fit two peppers into each 5-gallon bucket. In my experiences peppers want to be supported by a stake.
Peppers are great for water conservation; many types want to dry out between waterings, which means you expend less resources growing them.
Cucumber: One plant per bucket. Cucumbers will grow and creep and do well with some sort of support.
The plants will grow over the container and spread around, so keep an eye on the fruit and ensure it isn’t being devoured by pests.
Onion Plants
Onions: You can fit about four onions inside of a container. Onions are easy to grow but can be anxiety-inducing because you can’t see what’s going on beneath the soil.
Keep your eye on the green leaves climbing skyward to assess the condition of the plant, and don’t keep the soil too wet.
Lettuce plant
Lettuce: Ideal for growing in a container.
You can fit up to four plants per container, but be prepared to water regularly.
Consider other leafy-green options like sorrel to add a lemony tang to your greens.
Rosemary Plant
Herbs: You can fit a half-dozen herbs inside of a single 5-gallon bucket, or more. Thyme, rosemary, basil, cilantro, and chives grow well with each other.
Frequently harvesting leaves and stems keeps plants in check and ensures that they don’t overgrow one another. The flavor they add to your diet is worth it after a few weeks of bland, tasteless food.
Carrot Plant
Carrots: You could fit up to ten carrots in a single bucket.
If growing carrots ensure the soil is loose and sandy for proper root development; they don’t like when their growing medium is compact and rocky.

Tips and Tricks

  • Utilize rain barrels at home and in the field for a low or no-cost supply of water for your vegetables
  • Companion plants may seem superfluous but are beneficial and have “built-in” pest deterrents: adding marigolds to your containers can keep nasty bugs away while inviting beneficial ones such as ladybugs and praying mantis, for example
  • Give your containers a quarter-twist every week to ensure they aren’t growing too lopsided
  • Simple insecticidal soaps can be made by combining four-five tablespoons of concentrated dish soap to one-gallon of water. Mix and apply with a spray bottle to deter insects from your containerized plants
  • You can re-use your potting mix indefinitely, as long as it’s amended and replaced with fresh ingredients once a year: remove dead plants and shake loose the soil from their roots. Fill it right back into the container and get it back to growing.

Food for Thought

Vegetables grown in a 5-gallon container can be useful to everybody reading this right now who is limited on space and growing options in their home. It’s inexpensive and provides fresh produce  for the picking.
In a situation where you have no other option but to grow your own food, containers offer a safe and reliable source of food production.
It takes up little space and they are even portable. The resources used to provide a growing media for each container can be recycled year to year, providing a long-lasting source of growing media.
Get some practice and grow some tomatoes on your patio or deck this year, or experiment with your own potting mix recipes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Wal Mart Should Be Ashamed!

After being home for several days with a sick Daughter I took advantage of a half way warm day to run some errands. One of my stops was to the neighborhood Wal Mart grocery store on E. Sunshine in Springfield, get dog food before I got out of town. Outside the front door there were what had been healthy garden plants & herbs that had all been left outside during a hard freeze we had last night & they were all dead. How hard would it have been for a couple of employees to drag the shelf into the front area where the shopping carts are? How many people could have benefited from these plants? If I'd known they were going to let them freeze to death I'd asked to take them & give them to someone who could use the food. What a waste! Big business at it's worst!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Mountain Maid of the Ozarks

Known to many in Southern Missouri as the "Mountain Maid", Jean Wallace left quite a legacy after her tragic death by fire in 1940. But it wasn't crazed witch hunters who burned her.
Jean was born on a New York City pier at the foot of Canal Street in 1851. She was a lovely fair haired, blue eyed girl who, in early childhood, began showing signs of having inherited her great grandfather's sixth sense - clairvoyance. [Her great-great-? grandfather was William Wallace, the 13th century patriot who led a resistance against the English occuption of Scotland as portrayed in the film "Braveheart."]
Despite her beauty, it was obvious to Miss Wallace that she would never marry; as she noted on numerous occasions, "What husband would want a wife who knows his every secret and thoughts?"
After a brief time of working as a nurse in New York, Jean made her way to Roaring River, near Cassville, Missouri in 1892 and homesteaded on 160 acres of wilderness perched high on a mountain top. Here, a three mile walk to receive mail and five miles for supplies, Jean had a small cabin where she raised chickens and pigs, cultivated a peach orchard, and kept company with several black cats. Word of her unusual talent soon spread and folks began lining up to visit with the 'fortune teller' (although Miss Wallace really didn't like that label). Over time, thousands sought her help in finding lost items and learning about their future. Remembering what her father told her as a child, Jean used her abilities carefully and only for good.
The Mountain Maid was loved and admired by all who knew her. At a nearby CCC camp, the workers had regular visits with Jean and were considered her closest companions. Although she would not accept charity, these men would routinely cut wood to heat the maid's cabin and visiting girls would "accidentally" pack too much food in their picnic baskets and offer it to Miss Wallace. Much charity in disguise was bestowed upon the 'old witch' out of gratitude for the kindness she had shown others. Her services were considered invaluable but she rarely charged for a reading and of the times she received cash payment, her savings was only just enough to cover funeral expenses after her death.
Many skeptics tried to pull the wool over Jean's all-seeing eye, but she didn't waste time with non-believers. In one instance, two sons of a friend visited Jean one day to inquire about their missing saddles, which they had removed and hidden in the woods. Right away she shook her finger and snapped, "Yes, you young rascals, you stole them yourselves. Get back as fast as you can to where you hid them because wild pigs are chewing them up." The boys obeyed, but already the pigs had done so much damage that they had to tell their fathers how it happened.
In another case, a man joined several friends to visit the Mountain Maid and have their fortunes told. Her first words to him were, "You don't believe in me, do you?" He replied that no, he had never believed in people having any special power such as hers and so she stated that no information would he get. But as Mr. Woods turned to leave, she said, "One thing I will tell you, you will have an automobile accident when you are fifty years old." Yes, the prediction came true - Woods suffered a bad car accident later in life.
Many people were so impressed with her ability and inquired why she did not seek employment assisting the government. "There are two reasons," she would reply. "In the first place nobody would listen to an old witch. But, if by any chance they did start to follow guidance, I am sure my powers would be taken from me because otherwise they would be almost certain to interfere with the course of destiny. It is all very well for me to tell people where to find lost pocketbooks and strayed cows, even to warn a businessman against a bad investment or tell a woman how to escape a love entanglement. Such little things in no way affect the great predestined tide of human events, but if the world knew the big events that are to come and tried to forestall disasters, such as the rise of Hitler and Stalin, it would confuse destiny, and that, of course, will never be permitted."
Yes, this sweet prophetic woman predicted, almost to the day, when Hitler would invade Poland.
Wallace's health and eyesight began to fade with time, but her sixth sense remained as strong as ever. Visitors noticed this physical decline as her once tidy home became disorderly and full of filth. Some would clean up while there by stripping the bedclothes and giving them a long overdue washing, and others would drop off groceries when she could no longer make the five mile journey. Many could see, without Jean's special sight, that the poor woman's life was dwindling.
After 48 years of living a quiet life in the rolling Missouri hills, Jean's life ended when her small cabin in the woods caught fire. Her body was cremated by the intense heat and only small bits of bone remained. The community who had loved and sought her guidance for so long, now mourned the tremendous loss. No longer does horse and wagon follow a path to her door, but the legacy of the Mountain Maid lives forever.
Jean Wallace, quoted in Roaring River Heritage by Irene Horner, Litho Printers, 1978 --
"I belong to a race of people that can see... My great-grandfather, a Wallace, was the greatest seer in Scotland. He could describe exactly how a man was dressed, even if he was as far off as India. The gift was handed down to me. All my family was dark, but he was fair. And when I was born they said it was as if it were him born all over again. It is a sixth sense."
Show m

Quiet Sunday & I Hate Clover

   It's a chilly day here. I am listening to my 8 yr old Daughter & her girlfriend giggle their guts out. They are in the basement painting spring pictures. I set up the easels, got the paints out & made popcorn & pizza. She & I worked so hard planting berries yesterday we figured we needed a day of rest. The garden is a MESS! Clover has taken over & the more I pull the more there seems to be. I have never had this happen before.(Insert sad face) Trying to get it ready for planting is really going to be a chore this year. There is a week's worth of rain coming so it will be awhile until I can get out & work on it again. Bucket growing will probably be what I start doing in the future. I am still working on making life easier as we get older. Baby steps.....

5 Tips To Grow Delicious Tomatoes In Containers

5 Tips To Grow Delicious Tomatoes In Containers

grow tomatoes in containers with these 5 tips
Craving garden fresh tomatoes, but don’t have the space for a garden? Consider growing your tomatoes in containers!
You may have heard that getting a good crop off your container grown tomatoes can be difficult. Sometimes the plants won’t produce many tomatoes, and the ones you do get can be watery and lack flavor.
If you’ve ever experienced these problems, then you are not alone! Tomatoes can be one of the more challenging plants to grow in containers, but here are a few tips that will increase your yield and allow you to enjoy your own delicious homegrown tomatoes this year.
Before we dive in, I want to mention two very important things.
First, whether you grow tomatoes in containers or in the garden, make sure you pick a good location where they will get at least 6 hours of sun per day. Tomatoes placed in too much shade will not produce well.
Second, don’t plant your tomatoes too early. If it’s too cold when you put them out in the garden, they’ll really struggle to get going and will be slower to produce tomatoes. Get your timing right with this customized planting guide.
Okay, on to the tips!


A container that is too small will cause stunted root growth and lead to fewer tomatoes. Be aware that many of the popular tomatoes sold at gardener centers are indeterminate plants.
Indeterminate tomatoes will continue to grow larger and longer until they don’t have adequate growing conditions. In an ideal location, they can be 6 to 8 or more feet tall. So this type of tomato plant needs plenty of space for root growth.
Keep your indeterminate tomatoes happy with at least a 20 gallon pot. But smaller varieties, like determinate and dwarf tomato plants, will be okay in smaller pots.
The type of tomato plant is not always listed on the plant label, so do your research about tomato varieties before you go shopping.
Pick your variety wisely with your space in mind. You’ll have more options if you grow your own tomatoes from seed, but you can grow any purchased tomato plant in containers with these tips.


Make sure you give your tomato plants a healthy start by providing them with good soil. Both potting soil and compost are available for purchase at gardening centers and home improvement stores.
Whatever you do, don’t use soil from your yard or garden area in containers.
Garden soil is full of debris and material that you don’t want to put in your container garden. Soil from your yard will probably not have adequate drainage for use in containers. And there’s a very high risk of bringing disease pathogens, weed seeds, and even caterpillar pupae into your container.
Since the container is by definition limited in space, you don’t want your tomato to have any competition for space or nutrients. Tomatoes can be plagued by all sorts of pests and disease, so don’t make things harder on yourself by inviting them in from the get go.
give your tomato plant support in a container


Most tomatoes, sometimes even dwarfs, will require some support as they grow. Since the plant grows very much like a vine, the stem is not nearly strong enough to hold it upright. Without support, your tomato will flop over the edge of your container and end up growing on the ground.
Always try to keep you tomato off the ground to minimize hiding spaces for pests, increase air flow, and allow you to see and access your delicious tomatoes.
Something as simple as a wooden or metal stake and loosely bound twist ties is sufficient to support your tomato plant. Tomato cages are fine, but can make it harder to access and prune your tomato plant.


how to prune tomato plant suckers
To make the most out of your container tomato, make sure you’re pruning off suckers.
Suckers are the little sprouts that come out from the stem at the leaf nodes. These are the beginnings of additional growing stems.
If left intact, they’ll grow to be their own little tomato plant sucking the life out of your main stem. It may seem like you’d want to let them grow for more tomatoes, but you’ll actually get more and better tasting tomatoes if you remove them.
Left alone, the plant will try to do too much. Allow your tomato to dedicate all its energy to making delicious tomatoes on one main stem.
Also make sure to prune of dead leaves from the bottom up. It’s natural for the earliest leaves to start to turn brown. Don’t leave them on to invite disease or pests. Use clean, sharp pruners to cut them off. This will keep your plant healthy and facilitate good airflow.


Whether you plant your tomatoes in the ground or in a container, make sure you provide adequate fertilizer. Tomatoes require lots of nutrients to make flavorful fruit.
Fertilize at least once monthly with a liquid organic fertilizer for the best results. If you see your plant’s leaves are looking pale or yellow, that’s a good sign that they need more nutrients. Hungry plants will also display stunted growth, drop flowers, and produce fewer fruit.
If you choose organic fertilizer, you are less likely to over fertilize and burn your plants. If you’re using inorganic fertilizer, use a bit more caution so you don’t over do it. Always read the directions on your fertilizer label.
Learn more about fertilizer and how to choose the right fertilizer for your veggie garden.


For the healthiest plants, monitor them every day. Observe your plant for pest issues, signs of nutrient deficiency, and watering requirements. Depending on the weather, they might need to be watered daily or only every other day.
When you do water them, try to avoid the leaves and fruit by providing water directly at the base of the plant.
Water that is retained on the leaves and fruit will encourage mold and fungal disease. The plants don’t need to take up water from their leaves or fruit. Watering the base supplies water directly to the roots where they need it.
Tomatoes are really interesting plants! If you want to know more about them, read these 10 things about tomatoes every gardener needs to know.


  1. Growing your tomatoes in containers can be very rewarding! Planning ahead and understanding what your tomatoes need is the key to getting delicious tomatoes from container grown plants.
  2. Choose an appropriately sized tomato and container. Place it where it can get at least 6 hours of sun every day.
  3. Use quality garden soil and/or compost. For the best results, don’t use dirt from your yard.
    Provide growing support for your tomato. Don’t allow it to grow along the ground.
  4. Prune off the suckers and dead leaves to increase your yield. Healthy tomatoes have good airflow between their leaves and stems.
  5. Apply liquid organic fertilizer every 2 to 4 weeks. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and need lots of nutrients to make the best tasting tomatoes.
Bonus tip: Water at the base and avoid wetting the leaves and fruit to minimize mold and fungal disease.
This article was written by Laura Seabolt from Laura is the author Seed Starting For Beginners and The Ultimate Garden Planning Spreadsheets. She and her family grow thousands of tomatoes every year on their farm in Northeast Georgia. They also breed tomatoes and have a micro-dwarf variety they grew in containers through the winter! 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Hurry Up Spring

Bob Harris with Game Plan Experts out of Kansas City shared a few handy tips and the supplies that one person would need to shelter in place for six months.


“Two is one. One is none.” Assume something will go wrong with your provisions/gear.

Rule of Threes. The average person only has the following time frames (all related to some measure of three) to survive: three minutes without oxygen, three hours in harsh climate (e.g. severe cold temps), three days without water, three weeks without food.

The average male needs to consume 2,500 calories per day, and the average female needs to consume 2,000 calories per day.

The average person needs 2 gallons of water per day (minimum) to survive: ½ gallon to drink, ½ gallon to cook, 1 gallon for cleaning and hygiene.


Most people will only have about three days’ worth of perishable food in their pantries. Beyond that, they will need to build up long-term food reserves. Harris recommends a mixture of food supplies to incorporate variety, but also to maintain a healthy balance of nutrients.

The average man would need to consume approximately 450,000 calories over a 6-month period. The average woman would need approximately 360,000 calories.

Most canned goods and properly packaged (nonrefrigerated) items will last six months to a year, so Harris highly recommends caching a good portion of your long-term foods with items that you already eat on a regular basis (e.g., canned corn, peas, green beans, etc.).

If you don’t expect to have electricity, or you are on a tight budget, there are still many good options available on the market. Consider the following examples:

SOS Food Ration Bars. Each brick contains approximately nine 400-calorie bars totaling 3,600 calories.

Liberty Tree (Gluten-Free) Dehydrated/Freeze-Dried pre-packaged meals. Each bucket has a 20-year shelf life and consists of approximately 18,000 calories.

To eat for one day, Harris recommends something like this: an SOS bar for breakfast, a Liberty Tree pre-packaged meal for lunch and a meal of one vegetable, one protein and one fruit from long-term food storage supplies for dinner.

Be sure to have a good daily multivitamin during this period to supplement the vitamins and minerals needed to maintain your health.

360 gallons for drinking, cooking, cleaning, hygiene
A food-grade water storage containers for long-term water storage
A water filter and/or a water filtration straw
Boiling, chlorination (liquid bleach) and/or distillation is highly recommended for any long-term water storage solutions if you do not have a good water filtration system.

Body Warmers
Fire-starters, flint fire-starter, lighter, waterproof matches

Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash
Razor, shaving cream
Nail file, nail clippers
Shampoo, soap, hand sanitizer, hand lotion
Feminine Hygiene Products
Toilet Paper
Disposable waste bags

First-aid guide
Bandages, gauze pads, gauze wrap
Alcohol prep pads, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide
Burn gel/cream
Tweezers, shears, butterfly wound closures, sutures, suture removal kit, skin stapler
Pain reliever, triple antibiotics, sting relief, antacid, diotame anti-diarrheal, electrolyte replacement
Tourniquet, tape
Nitrile Gloves, N95 surgical-grade mask
Any specific medications required

Manual can opener
LED Flashlight/Batteries (solar/hand-crank)
High quality multi-tool (we recommend Leatherman)
NOAA Weather Radio
Generator (Gas/Propane/Solar)
Entertainment (Playing Cards, books, games, etc.)
Forms of communication (cell phone, HAM radio, walkie-talkies, powercords, chargers, etc.)
Personal protection

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

This Is Our Year Of Change

   Even with the wind chill making the feel like temp in the mid 30's Jim & I spent part of the day working on our property. There was an old chicken coop attached to the back of one of our out buildings & it had to be 30+ years old. The roof caved in this winter so it was time to get it torn down. I had been needing some rusty barn tin for a couple of projects so I scored big time.It will be used around a jacuzzi tub & to cover the bar area in the kitchen. It has the perfect amount of rust & patina.
   This is going to be our year of change. is in the making, we are ditching cable TV for our Roku's, Mohu Leaf's, Netflix & Hulu, no more home phone & I have quit using the money pit dryer. I hate to admit it but I will not give up my dishwasher. I do alot of cooking & it is nice to not have to wash dishes.
   I have most of my garden seed started. I saved tin cans all winter to start the plants in. I bought grapes, blueberry & raspberry bushes & have a tulip tree & some daylilys all growing in my kitchen window.I am going to give Gardenchick part of my garden to grow her flowers. She especially wants to grow sunflowers. Along with her strawberry patch she will have her own spot to dig in the dirt.
    I need to get rid of the foxes & armadillos that have taken up residents on our place & get our flock going again. When we were tearing down the coop we found a large trap made out of fencing. It will get used very soon.
   Jim & I realize that as we are getting older we need to make things much more simple. Having an 8 yr. old keeps us on the go all the time, but we need to have a simple life when it comes to everything else. It's been a long time in the making but it is very important to do it now.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Best Free Genealogy Sites and Online Resources

The Best Free Genealogy Sites and Online Resources: Even though many online resources have a subscription fee, there are still some fantastic free genealogy sites to help you research your family!

Prepping On A Budget From Our Friends At

It’s no secret the world is a dangerous place. Every day, we hear about something – whether caused by humans or nature – that’s turned lives upside down. Bad news greets us in the morning and follows us to bed at night.
What are we to do?
flooded house illustration
Fear and stress are killers. They kill us from the inside out. We must find constructive ways to defuse the situation. Faith practices, physical exercise, counseling and peer groups… all can help, but there’s one thing everyone should consider: Get prepared.
When you take the initiative to recognize potential problems and prepare to deal with them when and if they come, you not only position yourself to face those difficulties, but knowing you’re ready helps lower stress.
In this guide, we’ll talk about disaster preparedness. We’ll talk about the supplies and equipment you and your family need to weather out the storm or make it through the crisis. And we’ll suggest ways you can save money and still get high quality goods.
By getting ready now, you won’t have to worry so much about what might happen. If a news alert says severe weather is headed your way, you’ll be ready for it.
You’ll know that whatever comes down the pike, you’re not going to be joining the crowd desperately trying to find a store with something left on the shelves or wondering how in the world to live without water and electricity.
We’ve tried to keep the recommendations here in line with those suggested by the American Red Cross. Responding to disasters is a big part of what they do every day.

Most of Us Are Not Prepared for an Emergency – WHY?

Why don’t we stay ready, just in case the power goes out, the water doesn’t flow from the tap, or the grocery store has to close for a few days?
It’s a perplexing question.
We know disasters happen. We know we’re susceptible. Yet most of us are sorely unprepared.
tornado house illustration
And if we examine the usual answers to why that is, they all fail in the light of reason:
  • I don’t know how to prepare
  • We just don’t have time to figure it out
  • It hasn’t happened yet, so why worry about it?
  • I don’t have the money to get everything I need together
  • Public services like police, fire, and medical can handle any problem
According to data from the United States Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey only about one-third of American households have developed a communication plan and agreed on an emergency meeting location.
In this emergency preparedness guide, we’ll talk about the preparations you should make and suggest ways to check each item off with a minimum of expense and hassle.
After all, the best plan in the world won’t work if you don’t have the means to enact it.
Be aware of your particular situation
House fires are hands-down the disaster any of us are most likely to face. More Americans die each year, as a result of fire, than from all natural disasters combined.
According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), your chances of experiencing a reportable house fire during your lifetime is one in four.
house fire illustration
Wildfire, floods, winter storms, wind storms, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanos – all pose different problems and require specific preparations. We won’t attempt to go deeply into the variables here. Rather, we’ll provide direct references to the information you’ll need to get aware and get prepared.
Hazards vary by location. The map below is based on mortality rates due to natural disasters over a 30+ year period.
Know your immediate environment
The Red Cross suggests a “hazard hunt” in and around your home. If you use natural gas, do you know how to shut off the gas? Do you know where the water and electrical shut-offs are? Are there rickety steps, frayed wires, or overloaded outlets? Take a walk around your property with an eye towards hazard identification.
While you’re on the hazard hunt, remember to also look for hazard abatements. Where are your smoke, heat, and CO2 detectors? Are they operating properly, and are the batteries being replaced regularly? Do you have fire extinguishers? Where are they, and are they properly pressurized? Where are water outlets and hoses? Where are emergency flashlights and batteries?
To be prepared, you not only need to make sure you have the necessary tools, but you must know where they are and be able to access them quickly.
The potential hazards examples
  • Do you know how to shut down the supply?
  • Do you know where the water and electrical shut-offs are?
  • Are there rickety steps, frayed wires, or overloaded outlets?
  • Where are your smoke, heat, and CO2 detectors?
  • Are they operating properly, and are the batteries being replaced regularly?
  • Do you have fire extinguishers? Where are they, and are they properly pressurized?
  • Where are water outlets and hoses?
  • Where are emergency flashlights and batteries?
Know where to get accurate, up-to-date information
FEMA’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) is an integrated network meant “to provide the President the capability to address the American people within 10 minutes during a national emergency.” Anyone watching television or listening to a radio station will receive those messages automatically.
For mobile devices, the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WES) system provides similar notifications. To find out more about the technology and how to tell whether your phone is WES ready, go to the NOAA website, Weather Ready Nation.
emergency alerts by phone
You should also subscribe voluntarily to emergency broadcast systems. From news about severe weather conditions near you to law enforcement announcements, those channels give you an early heads-up about things you might later hear covered in scheduled news broadcasts.
Here are some of those options:
  • American Red Cross logo
    American Red Cross: This is our favorite site for emergency preparation. Go there for training, get the Red Cross notification apps, sign up for news… but don’t leave until you’ve begun the process of becoming an American Red Cross volunteer. Make a difference for others while you learn. The Red Cross offers several smartphone apps to help keep you informed about hazardous conditions of all kinds.
  • National Weather Service logo
    National Weather Service Alerts: There’s a ton of information on the National Weather Service (NWS) website. You can drill down to the specific county or region, and you can install an app on your smartphone to get mobile notifications.
    Here in the Internet Age, it’s not unusual to hear breaking news on Twitter or Facebook before it gets broadcast on traditional news channels. Early notifications can certainly help you avoid traffic jams and get ready quicker to face an oncoming emergency, but be sure to verify what you’re hearing online with official channels.
  • logo This is the national clearinghouse for public safety. Find out about wireless emergency alerts, the emergency alert system, NOAA weather radio, and more. Although much of the information here is duplicated on the previously mentioned site, is a prime spot for getting information on how to deal with emergencies.
Alternative alert platforms are available for specific regions, for boats and ships, for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, for those near specific potential hazards (tsunami risk areas, for instance), and more. The website offers an expanded list of options.
Get familiar with the alert platforms you choose and be sure to learn the terminology. A perennial source of confusion is the need to understand how imminent the threat is. From less severe to more severe, here is the progression:
  • advistory icon
    Advisory: Hazardous conditions are expected and may be hazardous. While there could be considerable inconvenience, conditions should not be life-threatening.
  • watch icon
    Watch:: Hazardous conditions of significant proportion are possible. Get ready. Conditions could be severe. There is a possibility of electrical power loss and danger to life. Prepare and stay tuned to monitor the situation.
  • warning icon
    Warning: A hazardous event is underway or about to begin. Take cover and stay alert.
Problems occur when multiple advisories are issued over a period of time, but conditions don’t get too bad. When the advisory changes to a watch or warning (meaning the likelihood of occurrence is now considerably greater), people are often less prone to believe the prediction, thereby leaving themselves vulnerable to the hazard. By knowing what the terms mean, you’ll be in a better position to take appropriate action.

Talk, Plan, Practice – The Red Cross Prescription

It may sound like an out-of-order sequence for teaching someone how to deliver a speech, but the Talk, Plan, Practice model promoted by the Red Cross covers all the fundamentals of emergency preparedness.
Let’s look at the components to see why.
Talk with everyone in your family and anyone who could potentially be on your team
preparedness meeting
Not only does teamwork make the work lighter, but it helps you uncover unrecognized concerns and do a better job of advanced planning. Each person can share their personal concerns, ideas, and capabilities.
One way to extend the zone of protection is to talk with neighbors. There could be someone who would need special assistance in the event of an emergency, another may have special equipment that could make hard work easier (a chainsaw, for instance), or there could be someone with medical or first responder training.
Not only does teamwork make the work lighter, but it helps you uncover unrecognized concerns and do a better job of advanced planning. Each person can share their personal concerns, ideas, and capabilities.
One way to extend the zone of protection is to talk with neighbors. There could be someone who would need special assistance in the event of an emergency, another may have special equipment that could make hard work easier (a chainsaw, for instance), or there could be someone with medical or first responder training.
Getting your neighbors involved in a community discussion about emergency preparedness will help expedite the teamwork process when it is needed. After all, you’d naturally come to the assistance of others in your neighborhood. Why not spearhead the effort to get organized before help is needed?
For sure, you’ll want to talk with the people who live with you. From the youngest to the eldest, everyone should take part in the discussion. Make a list of the resources you have available. That list will be invaluable in the next step.
Prepare a plan for dealing with all likely emergency situations
You’ve already identified the risks, and you know how to monitor them. You’ve spoken with those most likely to face an emergency with you, and you’ve prepared a list of available resources/skills.
That gives you the starting point for an informed emergency plan. You want to know who does what and how you will communicate during the event.
Who does what and how will you stay in touch?
checklist illustration
If a storm watch is issued, will dad pick up the kids from school, while mom makes a final run to the grocery store? If home evacuation is necessary, which exit will each person use, and where will you meet as a team to be sure all are clear?
Your plan will vary according to the hazard and your particular situation, so talking through each scenario and setting the plan down in writing will help clarify the responsibilities of each person. When the emergency is underway, it is critical that clear communications take place and everyone understands exactly what needs to be done and who is in charge of the task.
Neighbor Discussion Checklist
  • Special needs
  • Special training
  • Helpful equipment for emergencies
  • Contact information
  • Ideas and Questions
Prepare a contact information card that includes the phone numbers of all group members and other contacts you may need (doctor, utilities, insurance info, etc.), then laminate the cards and give one to every group member. provides in-depth coverage on how to prepare your emergency communications plan. You can even get downloadable templates to fill out and print. Remember: It’s often possible to send a text message via your cell phone, even when voice calls aren’t going through.
You’ll want to identify a nearby emergency meeting place where head counts can take place, but you’ll also want to pre-plan an emergency check-in location further away from your home or business.
You’ll also want to identify and enlist the help of a third-party who doesn’t live in your neighborhood and isn’t normally nearby. That will give your team a common check-in point in case you get separated.
Be sure to coordinate with others. Get a copy of the emergency plan at the schools your children attend. If loved ones are in care facilities, get the plan and use it to inform your own plan.
Here are five special tips from the Red Cross:
  1. plus iconChoose someone out of state for your distant contact. In a disaster, it may be easier to make a long-distance call than it is to make a local call.
  2. plus iconRegister on the Red Cross website that allows families or teams to confirm their situation. Here is the link for that communications tool: Safe and Well.
  3. plus iconCode emergency information on your phone by prefacing it with “ICE” (In case of emergency). That will make it easier to access.
  4. plus iconDuring disasters, landline telephones may still be in service after cellular service is unavailable. Make sure your phone is one that does not require electricity to operate.
  5. plus iconCheck your insurance policies in advance to determine your coverage for the most likely events. You may need a separate policy to cover some types of disasters.
Having the talk and preparing the plan are excellent ways to build confidence, but the real rewards come when you put the plan into action… with practice.
  • Check second hand stores for an old-style landline rotary dial phone. They are rugged and require only an active telephone landline for operation. The current price on Amazon ranges from about $35 to $70.
  • You’ll want a waterproof container for your important documents, but you don’t have to buy a special document box. Rather, you can enclose them in gallon-sized plastic bags, then place them inside a sealed plastic container. Both are inexpensive and available at any Big Lots or other discount store.
  • It’s a good idea to laminate your emergency contact phone lists. Any office supply store will carry do-it-yourself lamination sheets or pouches that will do the job just fine. You could use freezer bags, but lamination is best.
Practice your plan
If “practice makes perfect,” then emergency preparedness is something you want to be an expert at. Your plan can be the difference between a catastrophe and an exciting story, or between life and death.
Set the situation, then walk through the response. For instance, have your family members go to their bedrooms and imagine it’s two in the morning and the smoke detector suddenly goes off.
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What’s the plan?
We won’t cover individual responses to every possible disaster in this guide. Instead, we’ll point you to the Red Cross page that covers each in detail. We’ll assume you’ve identified the hazards and included them in your master plan.
For instance: components for fire would include pre-planning escape routes, practicing low crawling in case of dense smoke, and knowing to stop/drop/roll if clothing ignites.
The Red Cross suggests practicing earthquake and fire drills every six months at a minimum. That same twice-per-year schedule should include a full-scale evacuation of your home, along with your emergency gear and pets.

Collect Your Emergency Supplies and Equipment

Carrying out your plan can be a whole lot easier and more effective when you have the proper gear on hand – ready to use and in working order.
Smoke detectors, for instance, need a source of power. The batteries should be tested regularly. And the grocery store may run out of supplies in short order during a disaster. You’ll need to stock up in advance to be prepared.
battery illustration
Batteries can get expensive. Here are our top tips for saving money, staying safe, and choosing the best type:
  • batteryThe fewer types of batteries you need, the better. Choose your emergency gear accordingly
  • batteryNine-volt batteries are fine for smoke detectors, but you’ll get more life from AA batteries to power your lights and lamps.
  • batteryChoose alkaline over non-alkaline batteries, even if the non-alkaline are cheaper
  • batteryGeneric batteries and name-brand batteries perform and last about the same for general purpose usage.
  • batteryFind batteries on sale and buy in bulk. Store them at room temperature and humidity. Don’t freeze alkaline batteries.
  • batteryAlkaline batteries can typically last 10 years in storage. Check expiration dates on the package.
  • batterySearch Coupon Chief for deals on batteries and other emergency prep equipment.
It’s true that you can cut open a nine-volt battery and retrieve six AA batteries from the case. That could be helpful information in an emergency, but it’s not a practice we recommend.
Let’s move on to consider Red Cross recommendations for the types of kits you’ll need and the contents of each.
The minimum emergency preparedness kit
Let’s move on to consider Red Cross recommendations for the types of kits you’ll need and the contents of each.
Three things are essential: water, food, and first aid supplies.
  • water
    Water: The Red Cross recommendation is for one gallon per person, per day, for a minimum of three days. You should also have a plan for what you’ll do should the water supply run out.
  • food
    Food: You’ll want to store foods that don’t require refrigeration or cooking. Make sure there’s enough to feed everyone in the family for a minimum of three days.
  • first aid kit
    First Aid Kit: Bandages, antiseptics, first aid cremes, and the basic first aid supplies should be packaged together in one container. You should also be sure to keep an adequate supply of prescription drugs on hand. Don’t wait until the last day to refill.
  • You’ll need to rotate your water supply every six months. You can begin by purchasing gallon jugs of distilled water every time you go to the grocery store. While not an ideal method, it’s a quick way to get your gallon per person per day backup started. You can use the water for cooking, refilling water bottles, making iced tea, and such – meaning you’ll have a constant flow of water going out and water coming in. That ensures rotation. The downside is this method can take up considerable space.
  • Some grocery stores have water dispensing machines. Once you have a sufficient number of jugs, you can refill there to save money. Our local Whole Foods provides water refills for free. You can also check for natural springs near you and use those for refills. Check the Find a Spring website to see if that’s an option for you.
  • The optimum storage container for water is a UV-resistant, food-grade plastic container. Look for plastics identified as #1, #2, or #4. Typically, containers made specifically for water are blue (helps keep the water free of bacteria). Clean water stored properly will never “go bad.” Prices vary considerably, so shop around. Check Craigslist or other local for sale sites. Check your local outdoor stores. The big box stores like Walmart, Costco, and Home Depot are also places to find affordable pricing.
  • Your food emergency reserve can start with a 25-lb bag of dry beans and 12-lb bag of rice. Fill up a five-gallon plastic bucket (about 30 lbs) full of each and you’ll have enough food for one person to survive on for almost two months. For best results, make sure the food is sealed in plastic bags before placing in the bucket. Brown rice, because of the oils it contains, won’t keep as long as other varieties of rice. Costco and the other big box stores carry rice and beans in bulk at low prices.
  • You’d probably get a little tired of rice and beans after a while, so start collecting canned goods on your trips to the grocery store. Get in the habit of buying extra cans of the foods you like most. Keep an eye out for sales and coupons – always an excellent way to save money. The big box stores carry foods in cases, but always compare prices. Everything that comes in a bigger package is not always less expensive. Be sure to check cans and discard or return any that are dented.
  • You can purchase pre-packaged emergency food kits containing freeze-dried foods. A popular product on Amazon comes in a five-gallon bucket and contains a month’s supply of food for one person. The cost is $83.99. That can certainly be the easiest way to get your emergency food together, but it will cost more money and isn’t likely to be as tasty as the rice, beans, and canned foods you choose on our own.
  • Ready-to-go first aid kits are a quick way to get started. We recommend getting one with a durable case (you probably already have one), then checking to be sure you have the items you need. Normally, for instance, you’ll want to add extra adhesive bandages. You’ll also want to check dates on the items that expire (aspirin, cold tablets, etc.) and make sure to rotate them.
Go-bags and other emergency kits
You’ll want to secure duplicates of some of the things you use every day, then store them in a common location. This is often called a “Go bag” or “Bug out bag.” It holds the bare-bones essential items you would need for an emergency evacuation. The Red Cross calls it your “emergency preparedness kit.”
emergency go bag
Choose your own terminology, but get this kit together first. You’ll want a larger, more substantial store of goods in case you need to hunker down at home, but your go-bag will be the first substantial evidence you’re serious about being prepared.
To begin, you’ll need a bag. You may already have a backpack that would work. You want something tough and easy to carry.
Features you’ll want in your bug out bag:
  • Plenty of space and compartments
  • Durable and weather-resistant
  • Camouflage or inconspicuous appearance
  • The more pockets, straps, and loops the better
  • A tactical vest makes a good addition to your pack
  • Plenty of space and compartments
  • Durable and weather-resistant
  • Camouflage or inconspicuous appearance
  • The more pockets, straps, and loops the better
Here are examples of the types of items you’ll want to stow inside:
  • Extra batteries as needed
  • Emergency food
  • Water and storage container
  • Drinking container
  • A knife and nail clipper
  • A supply of cash
  • Water purification tablets
  • A small first aid kit
  • Fire-starting supplies
  • A poncho
  • Duct tape
  • Eating utensils
  • Candles
  • Essential medicines
  • A signal mirror
  • A signal whistle
  • A fishing kit
  • Shelter and bedding
  • Personal hygiene articles
  • A hand compass
  • A multi-purpose tool
  • A wire saw
  • Survival cord
  • Sewing kit with safety pins
  • Sturdy shoes that go above the ankle
  • Appropriate maps
  • Compact binoculars
  • An emergency blanket
  • Pen and pad
  • A flashlight and extra bulbs
  • Self-defense equipment
  • A small hand-crank emergency radio
  • A cell phone and a crank charging device
  • Protective clothing (long-sleeve shirt, long pants, gloves, poncho, jacket, wide-brim hat, cotton underwear, wool socks, neck scarf (shemagh)
Much depends on how heavy you want the bag to be and how much you have to spend. We consider the items listed above to be essentials.
Here are tips on what to look for and how to save money on your basic emergency preparedness supplies:
  • All of this gear can get heavy. Ideally, you’ll want your bug out bag, when packed, to weigh no more than about ten percent of your body weight. You can purchase bags already loaded with gear. That’s quick and easy. However, you probably won’t get the best quality and durability.To get started, you can keep your list with you and purchase the items you need a little at a time. Of course, the sooner the better.Bag selection is critical. You want it to fit you well and be comfortable. It must also be extremely durable.
  • You can shop for bags at your local sporting goods or military discount store. Once you know what you like and how it feels, you can compare prices online and check local second hand stores for a bargain find.
  • For shelter and bedding, the top end is a lightweight tent and sleeping bag. To save expense, you can use a tarp for a makeshift shelter and a wool blanket or space blanket for bedding. Check backpacking supply stores for ideas.
  • Self-defense equipment can range from a handgun to a bottle of pepper spray. Choose whatever makes you feel most comfortable, but you will want to be prepared to defend yourself against attacks from both animals and humans.
  • Satellite phones are more dependable during an emergency, but also considerably more expensive. Hand-held two way radios are another communications option.
  • Don’t forget garage sales, moving sales, and second hand stores for finding items to go in your emergency pack. Always be looking. Keep you list handy.
  • Online places to look are local Facebook groups that list things to sell, Craigslist, and Always check for discount coupons as well.
  • It’s always quicker and easier to buy the pre-made kits for sewing, fishing , and first-aid kits. You’ll typically get higher quality products and a better price by putting your own together. That also makes you more familiar with the contents.
  • All of this gear can get heavy. Ideally, you’ll want your bug out bag, when packed, to weigh no more than about ten percent of your body weight.
  • You can purchase bags already loaded with gear. That’s quick and easy. However, you probably won’t get the best quality and durability.
  • To get started, you can keep your list with you and purchase the items you need a little at a time. Of course, the sooner the better.
  • Bag selection is critical. You want it to fit you well and be comfortable. It must also be extremely durable.
  • You can shop for bags at your local sporting goods or military discount store. Once you know what you like and how it feels, you can compare prices online and check local second hand stores for a bargain find.
  • For shelter and bedding, the top end is a lightweight tent and sleeping bag. To save expense, you can use a tarp for a makeshift shelter and a wool blanket or space blanket for bedding. Check backpacking supply stores for ideas.
Items to stow in your vehicle
If you need to evacuate, chances are good you’ll be able to take your vehicle with you. That’s why it’s wise to keep the gas tank topped off. You can either take your go bag with you when you drive, or you can create a totally separate emergency preparedness kit for your car.
gas can
If you need to evacuate, chances are good you’ll be able to take your vehicle with you. That’s why it’s wise to keep the gas tank topped off. You can either take your go bag with you when you drive, or you can create a totally separate emergency preparedness kit for your car.
Either way, you can definitely store larger items in your vehicle, and you should always take a go bag with you when you head out of town.
Here are examples of the additional items you can store in your car, but probably wouldn’t want to keep in your personal go bag:
  • Sleeping bags, blankets, pillows
  • A mechanic’s tool kit
  • A full-size tent
  • Extra tarps, gloves, and caps
  • Hiking boots
Quick-grab items
You’ll also want a few items by your bed for quick-grab-and-go situations. To keep it simple, just make sure you have shoes, a jacket, your glasses, and a flashlight within reach. Practice in the dark to be sure you know exactly where they are and how to get to them quickly.
Preparing a longer-term kit for hunkering down at home
While the Red Cross recommendations are to be prepared to go at least three days without access to the utilities and conveniences you normally enjoy, it’s possible you could face a disaster that will last longer. You’ll feel better with a 14-day or 30-day supply of food and water.
Most families have enough goods on hand to go three days without a grocery store. But what if you needed to sit out a week or more, using only the supplies you have right now? That could be tough.
You’d want to first use up the food in your refrigerator, then the food in the freezer (If the power is off, don’t open the door until you’re ready to get food out), then your emergency supplies and the food in the pantry.
For more information, see the federal CDC emergency preparedness website.
Here are some tips on where to shop and what you’ll need.
  • Canned food is excellent for long-term home storage, but not so great for your go bag. For that, your best bet is freeze-dried food.
  • Check outdoor stores and big box stores like Costco and Sam’s Club for deals on emergency meal packs.
  • You can dehydrate your own emergency supplies. With enough sun, you can do it outdoors, or you can purchase an electric dehydrator fairly inexpensively. Here again, remember to look for deals at garage sales, second hand stores, and online.
  • Getting your emergency preparedness kits together can be a fun family adventure. After you’ve collected what you need, don’t stop. Test your systems. Make sure you know how to use all of your tools. Taste the food. Have a bug out day and go camping.
    Make it fun!

Be Prepared: A Good Motto for Us All

Since 1907, the Scouting movement has relied on “Be Prepared” for its motto. Those two words describe the essence of identifying, monitoring, getting ready for, and facing potentially disastrous events.
The Scouts say one should be prepared in both mind and body. We’ll add to that and say one should be prepared with planning and supplies – those help ease the mind and will help protect the body.
be prepared sign