Five Ways to be Prepared for a Turn in the Economy


Do you check your savings account regularly? If you don’t, you should, if for no other reason than to see it grow.

If the economy goes south, you really don’t want to discover – too late – that you didn’t bother to save enough money! Having a savings account is absolutely essential in an uncertain economy. And let’s face it: what economy isn’t uncertain these days?

I sincerely hope that I – and many other preparedness bloggers — are 100% wrong about what may happen in the future. Who would want bad things to happen? But I do know that if something bad happens, I will have prepared for it the best way I can, instead of playing “ostrich” by ignoring all the warning signs. I suggest that you use these five tips to help you have money left over when things get bad.

1.  Know what you have and how to get to it.

Everyone needs a central repository of their information – whether it be a physical notebook or a computer spreadsheet, that lists their various financial accounts. These can be bank savings accounts, CD’s, and retirement accounts, for example. If you are anything like me, you have collected a lot of accounts in different places, and it’s hard to remember where they all are, much less keep up with them all. You and at least one other person you trust should know what these accounts are and how to get into them in case bad things happen. For myself, I keep a list on a spreadsheet of my accounts, and they can all be accessed through an encrypted password program that is accessible from anywhere. My loved ones know how to get to it if I am unavailable.

2. Don’t spend so much money!

We live in a consumerist society, for sure. Everything we see encourages us to spend a lot of money. And there’s no doubt that if people were to quit spending money, the economy would suffer. But remember: you are in charge of your own personal economy, not that of the world. I have a few tricks I use to keep myself from spending too much. First of all, I don’t actively browse sales. Sales advertisements are put there for the single purpose of making people want things. Quit looking. Also, if I do realize there’s something I need or want, I make sure that I already have enough money to pay cash for it in my savings account, and then I find a way to replace that amount of money (in advance), so my savings account won’t have suffered for the purchase. Both these items actually work well to accomplish the actual goal, which is to delay and perhaps avoid, the purchase. Pay no attention to sellers who shout “it’s available today only!” The reason they say that is they know if you have time to think about it, you’ll decide not to purchase. Besides, there will always be “sales and rumors of sales.”

3. Be sure you have an emergency fund

Put this fund in a savings account, where it’s completely accessible, but just a little bit slow to access. Depending on who you believe, your savings should be in an amount to cover at least three to six months of living expenses. I look at it this way: if I have six months’ worth of living expenses in the bank, how can that be worse than only having three months’ worth? Only if you have an active need for that extra three months’ worth of savings should you consider keeping the minimum amount squirreled away. And keep it in a savings account where it is easy to get to, but not too easy.  Give yourself time to think about it before you decide you have an “emergency.”

4. Find ways to increase your income

Despite the fact “there aren’t any jobs,” there are hundreds of places online that offer legitimate ways to earn money. Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t some real scoundrels out there, but if you use common sense, you’ll be fine. The most obvious suggestion I can make is: keep in mind which way the money needs to flow: FROM them, TO you. Never pay to obtain a job, or to be considered for obtaining job. Find out the exact method and timing of how you will be paid, and exactly what you are expected to do. Look independently for others who have used this employer and see what they have to say. Don’t engage with any employer who seems to be shady.

5. Pay off existing debt as soon as possible

You should start paying off your existing debt as soon as you have saved up your emergency fund. I know this is easier said than done (isn’t anything worthwhile?) but this step is very important, and it can go hand in hand with step number four. If you are busy earning money, you will not only have more money to throw toward any outstanding debt, you’ll have less time to buy things. Even if you can’t get a second job, though, do some strong budgeting (with some self-discipline) to see how you can apply at least a little bit extra every month toward your existing debt. That step, combined with a strong commitment not to add to your debt, will help you end that existing debt before you know it.

Planning ahead is essential!

Despite what “they” say, no one really knows what the future will hold. Isn’t it better to be prepared with plenty of money in the bank to see you through? Follow the five steps above, and you will quickly find yourself in a much better position to survive whatever is to come.

© 2012 – 2014, DFW Preppers and Survivors. All rights reserved.

Stockpiling Medicines? Careful Where You Buy Them!

The news is full these days of warnings from the Federal Drug Administration about the dangers of stockpiling medicines by purchasing drugs from online pharmacies.  Apparently many pharmacies that say they are located in Canada (which is often considered to be a “safe” and less expensive place to purchase drugs) may not be there at all!  Although the focus of the FDA article is on prescription drugs, it’s reasonable for American preppers to also want to stockpile over-the-counter drugs as well.  First, let’s take a look at the article I’m talking about.  If you haven’t seen it,  you can find it here:

FDA warns of risks of online pharmacies – USA TODAY

news.google.com

FDA warns of risks of online pharmacies  USA TODAY   “Our goal is to increase awareness,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told the Associated Press, “not to scare people away from online pharmacies. We want them to use appropriate pharmacies. …

 

While the purported reason for warning people away from online pharmacies is NOT to “scare people,” I can’t help but feel that is exactly what they are trying to do.  When you consider the FDA’s  track record of “protecting” people, I am not so sure that this is a source we really want to count on. For example:

FDA expands recall list of tainted drugs as meningitis outbreak grows to 47 cases – Fox News

news.google.com

Examiner.comFDA expands recall list of tainted drugs as meningitis outbreak grows to 47 cases Fox News. Federal health officials have expanded the recall list of potentially contaminated injectable medications suspected in a multi-state meningitis outbr …

 

One might wonder where the FDA was when these drugs were disseminated?  Granted, they weren’t purchased online, but the purpose of the FDA is supposedly to keep this from happening. Here’s another instance:

FDA draws fire over ‘foot dragging’ – The Ledger

news.google.com

FDA draws fire over ‘foot dragging’.  The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, asks the court to declare the FDA’s failure to act unlawful and to order the agency to decide within 30 days of the court’s ruling whether to approve Publ …

Given that the FDA isn’t necessarily a beacon of competence, it’s probably a good idea to read the warnings and then make up your own mind.  If you are stockpiling medicines, particularly prescription medication, you need to be careful to be sure that the online pharmacy you use is reliable.  How to tell?   One place you can look is the NABP Website  (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy)  which has a list of safe, accredited online pharmacies.  Unfortunately, the list is short (only about 3.5% of online pharmacies pass the vetting procedure).  Also check there for the not-recommended list for pharmacies that have shown to be scams.  Unfortunately, that list is quite long.  Other warning signs include pharmacies that:

  • say they will legally dispense drugs without a prescription
  • indicate they have a physician on hand to provide you a prescription without an in-person consultation
  • will dispense unapproved drugs (though one might question the FDA’s competence in approving drugs, given the previous information)
  • are missing a sure-site indicator (usually the site would start with “https://” instead of “http://)
  • do not accept medical insurance
  • do not provide a physical address or a traceable telephone number (this is a really big indicator)


In addition, any pharmacies that are outside the U.S. are considered to be “suspect,” but consider that the main reason for this could be that these pharmacies are not under the supervision and control of the FDA.  So, be careful when you are stockpiling medicines.  Any pharmacy that wouldn’t pass vetting for prescription drugs should also be looked at with a jaundiced eye for over-the-counter medicines as well.

 

© 2012 – 2014, DFW Preppers and Survivors. All rights reserved.

Disappearing Bees Mystery Solved-Not Good News

disappearing beesDisappearing bees mystery is solved!

It has been a mystery for some time now:  Colony Collapse Disorder, where worker honeybees leave their hive,  never to return.  They just disappear!  The queen, waiting for food, starves to death, and the entire colony disappears.

I’m sure that many people don’t really think that disappearing bees is that terrible a problem, especially if they’ve ever been stung, but this can turn out to be a literal disaster for our economy, our food supplies, and yes, even our survival.  Why? Because most agricultural crops depend heavily on bees for pollination and cross-pollination for our domestic food supply, as well as pollination for vegetation in the wild.  Without our agricultural crops, even for those of us who don’t eat grains, there can be a huge problem because our meat supply depends on these agricultural crops for feed.  Indeed, the effect of the disappearance of bees is going to be a disaster if we don’t get a handle on it, and stop it.

Finding the culprit

In a recent Reuters news article, Richard Schiffman writes that three new studies show that – not surprisingly – the offending agent appears to be a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids (neonics for short).  This class of pesticides is mostly produced in Germany by the chemical company Bayer, and not only is used extensively to kill pests in the corn, wheat, soy and cotton supply, it’s commonly used in home gardening pesticides as well.

According to the newest research, these pesticides coat the nectar and pollen produced by the plans, and are absorbed by the bees as they make their pollinating rounds.  The neonics work as a nerve poison and make the bees disoriented, which makes it impossible to find their way back to their colony.  As a result, the bees get lost, they can’t go home, the queen dies, and eventually, unless something is done, food supplies are also going to be lost.

Scientists also believe that other factors are at work as well, including the destruction of the native bee habitat, due to construction and land development, as well as the extensive spread of monoculture agriculture.  Another big factor is a concern that those of us who are concerned with optimal nutrition have identified some time ago:  Genetically Modified crops.  These are crops which may even contain toxins encapsulated into their genetic structure, and will, many of us believe, eventually affect human biology to the point of possible disruption of the continuation of the species (irrespective of the other factors mentioned here.)

To me, the most disturbing aspect of this situation is the way it has been handled, according to Reuters:

Every spring millions of bee colonies are trucked to the Central Valley of California and other agricultural areas to replace the wild pollinators, which have all but disappeared in many parts of the country. These bees are routinely fed high-fructose corn syrup instead of their own nutritious honey. And in an effort to boost productivity, the queens are now artificially inseminated, which has led to a disturbing decline in bee genetic diversity. Bees are also dusted with chemical poisons to control mites and other pathogens that have flourished in the overcrowded commercial colonies.

Could it be that the honeybees are the “canaries” in the coal mine?  I think it’s very possible that this is the case.

So, what can be done about this huge problem?  Now that we know what is causing the bee deaths, it would seem simple enough to stop what is causing the problem and return to a more genetically-unaltered environment, but I am not so sure this is possible.  Even if it is (and I hope it is), it may take a while to implement, if, indeed, we are even able to convince the decision-makers that this is a necessary step to take.

Other countries, like Germany and France, have figured this problem out. They have banned the pesticides that are most at fault in this situation.

Can we do this? Yes, I think we can, but the clock is ticking.  We need to make these changes while there are still bees to save.  Once they are gone, it will be too late.

 

© 2012 – 2014, DFW Preppers and Survivors. All rights reserved.

Raising Pigs as a Food Source

Ever since I saw this little video clip on the news, I’ve been thinking about how pigs, cute though they may be, can contribute to survival in a hands-down, SHTF situation. This is a cute little pig, but let’s not kid ourselves – eventually it will turn into a really big piece of meat on the hoof.

I am not a pig person. I am not saying anything bad about people who are, but I rarely (actually, never) think of having a pig for a pet, even though they are reputed to make very good pets. I usually eat ham once a year around Easter-time when they are less expensive, and bacon – well, despite the fact I’m a low-carber, one piece every month or so is plenty for me! (Cue a collective gasp from all my bacon-loving friends!)

However, there is some advantage to having your food source on the hoof, so to speak, especially when you can feed it its native diet so it will provide you with the best quality of meat, so let’s explore a little bit about raising pigs as a food source. A happy pig will provide the best meat, so let’s see what it takes to make a pig happy.Raising Pigs as a Food Source

 Food:

Pigs are omnivores – like humans, they’ll eat pretty much anything, and often they’ll eat things humans won’t touch. However, if you are raising pigs for meat, you might not want to feed them just any old thing. Pigs love to eat, so divide their food up into at least two servings per day, to give them something to do, and while you will want the pig to have a nice coating of fat, you don’t want them to be overfat, either. So, consider corn, grains, fruit, vegetables, and (yes!) even yogurt, but any kitchen garbage you feed them should be re-cooked. This will ensure that your pig doesn’t pick up infections from contaminated foods. As a general rule, pigs will eat anything, but they do better with vegetable and fiber sources.

Shelter:

When you raise pigs as a food source (and we are definitely not talking about pets here) you need to create a secure outside shelter that will keep them cool-ish in the summer and warm enough in the winter. They needs lots of shade and freely flowing water – as much water as they want. Your shelter should be strong enough to keep a 300-500  pound animal confined, but be sure you give them enough room to roam and exercise. I mention the weight, because building a shelter for an animal that size, that is also a very smart animal, can be a challenge.

 Companionship:

As I mentioned, pigs are very smart. They love people and other animals, and as long as they feel comfortable and unthreatened, they are quite docile. When your piglet first arrives, it is likely to be frightened of you; however, after time and conditioning, she will relax and tame down considerably, especially if you spend a bit of time being around her. The quicker you learn her food preferences, as well, the sooner she will tame down, too. She will quickly notice when you approach her with her favorite foods, and much happy squealing and grunting will ensue. Pigs love their treats and they also enjoy having their heads, backs, ears – almost anything – scratched. Keep in mind, though, that this pig is intended for food, and don’t get yourself too involved in her life, especially if you have children. That will make it much harder when you arrive at….

The inevitable end:

Pigs should be slaughtered during the fall, when the weather is cool, especially if you do it at home. This is, obviously, what you are likely to be doing in a grid-down situation. The best temperature is in the 40-50 degree range, to slow any tendency to spoilage while not subjecting the meat to freezing. That carcass will need to be hung for a minimum of 24 hours in order to ensure that all body heat has gone.

This is not a tutorial on how to slaughter a pig, so I will refer you to an informative article on Wikipedia that might help.

The dinner table (and breakfast! And lunch!)

There is certainly no shortage of recipes for pork. Pork is a featured item on many breakfast, lunch and dinner tables. Just be sure to follow the main food safety consideration, though: be sure to cook the pork to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit before removing it from the heat source. Trichinosis is an unpleasant parasite to become infected with, even though it’s rare these days, so be sure to cook your pork well, just in case.

It’s a good idea, as with all things survival, to practice in advance! If you intend to raise pigs as a food source, you probably need to get cracking on it, because there’s a lot to learn. Not only is it fun, but you will be a step further along in preparing for any unpleasantness that may arrive in the future.

© 2012 – 2014, DFW Preppers and Survivors. All rights reserved.

Were You Prepared For 9/11?

The view from my balcony this morning.

I probably didn’t mention anywhere in here that I’m a big fan of cruising. No, not cruising on a Harley, or cruising up and down the nearest teen hangout – I am talking about cruising on a cruise ship. I know, there’s nothing much going on that’s survival-related when cruising, but maybe there’s more to talk about than first impression would suggest.

What I am really talking about is – what would happen to a cruise ship full of people of the shit hit the fan during their cruise? Well, maybe I know a little bit about that myself, since something very like a SHTF scenario happened while I was on a cruise years ago.

They called it 9/11.

My husband, Howard, and I had just boarded the Norwegian Dream the day before. It was a beautiful day, as are most days in Vancouver that time of year. Maybe a sprinkle or two, but nothing major. We had sprung for an Owner’s Suite that voyage, because it was shoulder season (a time when fares are lower due to likelihood of bad weather) and the rates were excellent! We also booked our airfare through the cruise line, since it was an open-jaw flight and the cruise lines can arrange those less expensively than almost anyone else can. I remember going under the beautiful bridge leaving Vancouver. Standing at the highest available point on the ship, it felt like we could almost touch the underside of the bridge, but of course, that was an optical illusion.

As hot tub enthusiasts, Howard and I decided to get up at 5:00 am the next morning to be the first in the tubs. It was kind of tough, because the changeable Alaskan weather had served up fog the night before, and we heard the captain using the foghorn all night long, about every minute. Undaunted, though, we got up, and after discovering that the hot tubs weren’t in operation at 5:00 am, we retired to our cabin to prepare for breakfast.

I switched on the television to see what was on the news, and noticed a tall building with smoke streaming out of it. Thinking I had happened upon the old movie “The Towering Inferno,” I impatiently switched channels to find some “real” news. As the channels changed but the picture didn’t, I soon realized that what I was seeing was not an old movie but a very real new event, and thus began the saga of How To Get Home. It was at that time I became very grateful for the fact that we had booked our flights with the cruise line, because How To Get Home immediately became their problem, not ours.

But in the meantime, there were a couple thousand other people on the ship who also had immediate problems that were not so easily solved. Some of them had no way to get home, so the cruise line fixed a room full of telephones (cell phones were not so ubiquitous then) set up with free calling for anyone who needed it. Internet access, as slow and expensive as it was, became free, too, but it was still just as slow.

A few things happened that I never expected. We had an excursion scheduled to see whales. Never happened. The boat that was supposed to take us out to watch the whales had a broken part and the only way to get a substitute was to fly it in. No flying allowed; no boat and no tour. Poor Captain Marvin had to refund my payment (I hope I have referred enough people to him in the years since to make up for his missing income – thanks so much, Captain Marv, for being honest!) Fortunately, the cruise ship already had enough food on it to last the week, but if it hadn’t, we would surely be in a world of hurt hunger.

We finished the cruise, because there really wasn’t any point in not doing so, since there was nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. In addition, the cruise line was legally obligated to give us a cruise, since we had paid for one. When we arrived back in Vancouver, many of the domestic flight restrictions were lifted, but our flight was international. The cruise line had to bus us over the US/Canada border, and put us up for a night until our flight out could be arranged for the next day. They did all this graciously and in grand style. We were well accommodated.

So, it all ended well, but was a major pain. Of course, none of this compared to the pain suffered by those murdered in this tragedy, and the effects of this attack on the U.S. go on even today.

My question to you is: were you prepared for the attacks when they happened? I definitely wasn’t, and it took a while before I figured out that I needed to make some changes in my life as a result of being unprepared in the beginning.

If you weren’t prepared, what changes have you made since 9/11 to be prepared for such a horrendous attack in the future?

 

© 2012 – 2014, DFW Preppers and Survivors. All rights reserved.

It’s Not Just About Beans, Bullets and BandAids

So many shootings have been featured in the news lately. Here are some of the ones that have happened just in 2012:

  • July 19, Aurora Colorado movie theater
  • July 17, Tuscaloosa AL, gunman shoots into a barThe Gift of Fear
  • May 20, Seattle, WA, gunman shoots into a cafe
  • April 2, Tulsa OK, gunman shoots passersby in a neighborhood
  • April 2, Oakland, CA, shootings in a classroom at Oikos University
  • March 3, Pittsburgh, PA, shooting at a psychiatric hospital in Pittsburgh
  • February 27, Chardon OH, high school shooting

Seemingly random violence is in the news so often, we as a society have almost come to expect it. And it seems that almost every single time a shooting or other “random” violence occurs, it’s classified as “unexpected” or “impossible to predict.”

But are they really these things?  Is there more to our personal protection and survival than beans, bullets and bandaids?

While many say no, no one could have known these things would happen, and that the shootings are random and impossible to predict, Gavin deBecker, an expert on violence, says “absolutely not.” The entire premise of his seminal book, The Gift of Fear, is that violence is absolutely predictable, and that we, as laypeople, are qualified to predict this violence based on our ability to understand the subtle hints that cause us to fear. It’s the fear that protects us, and the fear that, when paid attention to, will lead us – at least as much as possible – to safety.

The problem is, as good little girls and boys when we were children, we are taught to ignore the fear, because we’re supposed to be nice to people and not seem to be untrusting of them.  It might insult them or hurt their feelings.   The problem is, though, that ignoring the fear can get us killed.

The purpose of this book is to show us how to spot the most subtle danger signs before we become victims of a dangerous person. It tells, specifically, what to look for when in certain situations or faced with people who exhibit certain signs of distress:

  •  Threatening behavior
  • People who refuse to be told “no,” or to let go
  • Domestic violence
  • Stalking behavior
  • Children who are violent
  • Attacks against famous people

As a very young (ten-year-old) observer of terrible family violence, Mr. DeBecker has been there and done that. Rather than allow the terrible violence he witnessed as a child to scar him forever and break him down, he used it to hone his skill at observation and prediction, and now he uses that skill to help people in everyday life, from the most obscure to the most famous, to learn how to protect themselves.

This is a book that I have found so valuable, I keep a copy of it near me for reference.  It never hurts to remind myself that while most people are genuinely good, there are people in the world who do not think like I do, do not have a benign attitude toward their fellow man, and sometimes, are just suffering to the point that they are not in control of their actions.

No, I don’t live with a bunch of violent people, but the value in this book is that it reminds me that it is desirable to keep myself observant and alert, to hone my predictive skills, and to keep myself safe.  I have also lent this book to friends, and most have appreciated it and learned from it, but one of the people I consider to be a most likely target returned it to me unread. “It scared me too much,” she said.

I just hope she never gets more than just scared.

 

© 2012 – 2014, DFW Preppers and Survivors. All rights reserved.

Peer2Peer Lending: How Risky is it in Bad Economic Times?

Many people are looking for creative ways to invest their money, because interest rates on savings are, essentially, zero.  I used to jokingly say that soon, banks would charge US for keeping our money.  But I’m no longer joking!  With the increase in service fees that I have observed in the past few years, that is exactly what is happening!

Image credit: http://www.public-domain-image.com

Many investors, tired of essentially giving their money away to the banks, have turned to more profitable – and risky – measures.  Peer to Peer lending (or Peer2Peer Lending, as it is commonly known), is one of the more profitable of these measures.  Peer2Peer Lending is a system by which willing lenders and borrowers meet in a central marketplace to lend and borrow, as it were, to the mutual advantage of each.

The two main venues for P2P lending in the United States are Prosper and Lending Club.  They have many similarities, but the details of their operations differ in several ways.  I am most familiar with Lending Club, so my comments will pertain mostly to that venue.  In Lending Club, borrowers fill out a loan application and go through several levels of vetting.  According to what I am told, only about 10% of the borrowers are allowed to continue on to the actual loan process.  Their prospective loans are rated according to credit rating, years of employment, length of the loan, and several other variables.  The loans are then anonymized as to name and other identifying details and placed on the market for investors to discover and invest.

The investors, by that point, have funded their accounts with transferred funds from their banks, and they choose the level of risk they wish to entertain.  Based on their choices, the lenders can either choose loans in which to invest or have the loans chosen for them automatically by Lending Club.  They then can fund the loans in any amount from $25.00 at a minimum up to the entire amount  available in their account for investment. Once the loan is fully funded, the borrower receives the cash and begins making payments to Lending Club.  Lending Club then takes a 1% fee for itself, divides the payments into principal and interest, and distributes the rest of the payment amongst the lenders who have invested in that loan.

This all sounds very wonderful, doesn’t it?  Interest rates range from a low of some 6% to upward of 22%, depending on the risk profile of each loan.  When was the last time you earned some 10%  or more on your investment?  Heck, when was the last time you even earned 6%?  For me, it’s been a long, long time.

There are a few problems though, which I have known about for some time, and they all involve risk of default.  There is a general historical default rate which is disclosed by each lending platform, but a post at Nickel Steamroller Blog opened up a somewhat concerning possibility (and this is why I am posting this in a prepper blog, not my finance blog – though I’ll probably post it there, too!)  While most investors understand that there will be some defaults on these loans – they are, after all, risky – what would happen if things got so bad that a huge number of people defaulted due to economic conditions?  Those who chose the highest rate and by definition riskiest loans, will be in a world of hurt!

During the height of the financial turmoil that occurred in 2008 A grade loans performed the best, producing ~+4.0% returns. F grade loans which are currently the best returning loans, returned (-3.85)% annualized for those issued in 2008.

This type of loss is not something we want as investors! Of course, higher reward means higher risk, but keeping in mind that this is not a liquid investment, and these unsecured loans are the first to be abandoned by the borrower, a keen eye on the economic situation is in order.

So, here’s my warning:  if you choose to use Lending Club or Prosper as an investment platform, be aware that it’s absolutely essential to hedge your risk (just as you would with any investment) by taking two important steps:

  • be sure to include some of the lower-risk A and B-grade loans in your portfolio, and
  • remember that this is only one platform. Diversify your risk by diversifying your investments!

© 2012 – 2014, DFW Preppers and Survivors. All rights reserved.

Are you WEA enabled? What does THAT mean?

Courtesy: public-domain-image.com

A new system recently enacted to alert cell phone users – through text messaging – when certain types of unfortunate events occur or may be imminent, is becoming more widespread as the new system gets settled into place.  This is a collaborative effort between the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service.

With this system, called WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts, or CMAS (Commercial Mobile Alert System), participation by your cell phone carrier is voluntary.  Checking online with various carriers, I find that T-Mobile is on board, along with AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, U.S. Cellular and some smaller systems like Celicom and Cricket.  I am sure there are others, and some college campuses and other enclosed communities also use the system.  You must, however, have a WEA-capable phone in order to receive these messages.

The text messages are free to receive, and it’s possible to opt out of  Amber and weather alerts, but once you have a phone enabled  for this technology,  you cannot opt out of presidential alerts. <==Click here to Tweet this!

The biggest concern I have about this technology is that it uses location information to determine whether or not any particular message should be sent to your cell phone (think tornadoes, ice storms, and the current worst-case scenario – wildfires).   It is unclear whether opting out of all messages except presidential alerts disables the sending of location information (but I have my doubts).  If the the location information provided by your phone is limited to emergency use only it might not be so bad, but when has the government EVER kept itself out of your business voluntarily?  When has the government ever limited its use of your information to only the original purpose?  You can see by the related articles below, that I am not the only one who is not overjoyed with the idea that the government is tracking our whereabouts, for whatever reason.

You can easily check with your carrier to determine whether your phone is WEA- enabled.  I checked online for mine, and my phone is not included in the list of enabled phones.  I’ll have to admit I’m glad that I just bought a brand new cell phone, so this is not a worry I will have for a while.  (My method is to pay cash for my phones, do NOT enter into a new contract to reduce the phone’s price, and then use the phone until it’s hopelessly outdated before I go buy another one.  Although the initial outlay is high, overall it saves money in contract fees, AND, apparently, keeps me from being interrupted in my daily life by what some might consider to be less-than-emergency messages.)  At least, until I buy my next phone.

Headlines of the future – I can see them now:  “Courtesy of your government:  a cell phone that turns itself on when the President wants to speak to you!”

Hope you are all having a happy Independence Day!

 

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© 2012 – 2014, DFW Preppers and Survivors. All rights reserved.

Food Storage Solutions to THRIVE on!

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Food is one of my favorite topics – isn’t it one of yours, too?  When I think about all the things that I need to prepare for in a crisis situation, my thoughts always turn first toward the question “what will we eat?”  That’s probably why you see so many posts on this blog about food.  Food I cook now, food I put aside for later, using freeze dried food, buying too much food and using it up before it goes bad (while hoping all the time that I still have set aside enough for later), and even making sure that I have the best emergency and camping equipment with plenty of food to take along if the worst thing that happens is that I “get” to go camping (not my favorite activity, by the way – I’m a city girl at heart).

I suppose my interest in food isn’t all that unusual,  though, because everyone likes to eat, and even if they aren’t as kindly disposed toward food as I am, they know they’re going to have to eat anyway when things get bad.  Food is one of those things you really can’t afford to be without, folks!

That’s why it’s very important to have your food storage system down so you know some pretty important things in a crisis:

  • what you are going to eat
  • how much of it you are going to have available to eat
  • how you are going to prepare it
  • what it’s going to taste like when you serve it to your family

One important component of all the planning for food is to make sure you are completely ready with all our freeze dried food and more in place as well.  Let’s face it: if the food you buy to eat later doesn’t last due to spoilage, is improperly stored, or tastes so bad it’s inedible, you are going to find yourself in a much worse situation than you thought, so now’s a great time to figure out what you are going to do.

An excellent, all-in-one solution to all the above questions is Jean Van Deren’s THRIVE food system over at Right Food4 Life.  THRIVE takes the same foods you normally eat anyway – fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy, for example, flash-freezes them, removes 98% of the moisture, and seals them carefully in oxygen-proof cans to ensure their maximum shelf life.  Then, when you are ready to eat them, you replace the water that was originally removed, to make them perfect for every day use.  THRIVE provides a comprehensive line of both basic foods such as freeze-dried apples, broccoli, chicken and egg white powder (if you are like me and like to cook your own food), as well as dishes already prepared for your family, like bagged and freeze-dried  Broccoli-Cheese soup and Southwest-Style Chicken and Rice.

THRIVE has also figured out the best way to ensure that you rotate your food stock, providing a comprehensive system to optimize your existing storage or to engineer new storage solutions that often can be adjusted to the size of your already-existing food packages.  Best of all, most of these storage solutions auto-rotate the foods so you will automatically be using the oldest ones first.

And finally, while you can eat THRIVE foods right out of the can or add them to your child’s lunchbox just as they are, just in case you decide you want to inspire yourself, be sure to look for the THRIVE Cookbook, which showcases the best and most delicious ways to prepare your freeze-dried foods.

I can’t think of many things more depressing than the idea of having two hundred cans of tuna to eat, and discovering when it’s too late that you hate tuna and – on top of everything else – you don’t have a manual can opener! THRIVE provides a convenient solution to all these problems.  Take a look at THRIVE today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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© 2012 – 2014, DFW Preppers and Survivors. All rights reserved.

Power Goes Out – Solar Oven Can’t Compete with Clouds!

English: Sun oven made to cook with the sun: m...

Yesterday evening, just before I was ready to cook my dinner, our power went out. Unexpectedly, of course. I mean, when does your power ever go out that you are expecting it to happen?  I called the power company and went through an amazingly difficult series of screens and prompts.  Fortunately there was still daylight; else, I am not sure whether I could have seen all the numbers I had to punch in to get the message across.  I do have a flashlight, but from experience,  finding the emergency numbers and figuring out the last seven digits of my ESID are hard enough without having to hold a flashlight under my chin!

After calling the power company for a repair, I got the bright idea to grab my solar oven, set it up in the sun,  and cook dinner.  Unfortunately, the sun didn’t get the memo.  The minute – I swear, I saw it happen  – that I hauled the oven out to the sunny spot in the back yard, the sun went behind a bank of clouds, only to emerge intermittently.  I went back in the house and waited a little while, watching the sun come and go.  I figured I wasn’t getting anywhere except hungry, so I asked hubby to start up the propane grill.  Fortunately, the propane tank cooperated and I went out to rescue dinner  from the oven and finish cooking it in the pot on the grill.  I had predicted that the  oven temperature wouldn’t be over 150, and sure enough….it was 145 when I got it out of the oven.

I suppose this could be considered a failure of the solar oven, but really, when you think about it – it’s just a matter of physics.  The oven is set up so that sunlight enters it (when aimed properly) and is captured by the dark surfaces.  The reflectors magnify the effects of the sun inside the chamber. However, there has to be some sun in order for this to work!  The problem was that the power failure occurred late in the day, and there wasn’t much sun-time left, plus as I mentioned, the clouds chose an inconvenient time to appear.  The third confounder was that I had not kept the oven as clean as it could have been and some of the reflective surfaces had a bit of haze over them.  I am sure this affected the amount of heat I was able to generate as well.

It took an hour and a half to get the power restored, but no permanent harm was done.  I had dinner without much ado, and I learned a few things.  What did I learn?

  • Keep the sun oven clean
  • Keep the propane tanks full
  • Have an extra propane tank, just in case
  • Know where the telephone number is to the electric company
  • Know what your ESID is (write it down somewhere large and obvious, because you never know when you will need it)

This was a great opportunity, given the circumstances, to see just how prepared we are. Well, maybe we aren’t as prepared as we would like to be or that we need to be.  I’m very glad that this time, at least, it was just a dress rehearsal.  We have found some areas that need to be shored up, and some methods that need to be changed.  So, we’ll be working on those in hopes that the next time a drill comes along (I am sincerely hoping it won’t be The Real Thing) we will do better and have some easier lessons to learn.

Do you have other suggestions for what we might have done better?  Please leave me a comment!

 

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© 2012 – 2014, DFW Preppers and Survivors. All rights reserved.