Organic Prepper: Winter Is Coming – Vehicle Emergency Kit

Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper has a good article up on making sure that your vehicle is ready for emergency situations – Winter is Coming: Here’s Your Vehicle Emergency Kit Checklist

Many of us spend far more of our waking hours away from home, busy with work, school, or chauffeuring our kids to their various activities. Because of this, a vehicle emergency kit is vital. In recent winters, there were two notable situations during which a well-stocked kit would have been beneficial. During one scenario, a freak snowstorm struck the Atlanta, Georgia area. Because weather like this is such a rarity, the area was completely unprepared, officials didn’t have the experience or equipment needed to deal with it, and traffic gridlocked almost immediately. Hundreds of people were stranded as the freeway turned into a scene reminiscent of The Walking Dead, with bumper-to-bumper vehicles at a standstill. Those without food and water in their vehicles went hungry, and many people ran out of gas as they tried to keep warm. No matter how comfortable you are with winter driving, in a situation like this, you are at the mercy of others who may not be so experienced.

The take-home preparedness point here is that it doesn’t matter how great of a driver you are in the snow, whether or not you have moved to the tropics from your winter chalet in Antarctica, or whether you have huge knobby tires and 4WD. Over-confidence in your own ability can cause people to forget about the lack of skills that other folks have. Many times, people end up in a crisis situation through no fault of their own and are at the mercy of other people who have no idea what they are doing. (source)

The next situation had a lot more potential for a tragic ending, had it not been for the survival skills of a father of 4 small children. A family of six had taken off for a day of snowy adventure when their Jeep flipped over in a remote part of the Seven Troughs mountain range in Northwestern Nevada. James Glanton, a miner and experienced hunter, kept his family alive and unscathed for two days in the frigid wilderness using only the items from his vehicle and the environment. Due to his survival skills and the things he had on hand, none of the family members so much as suffered frostbite while awaiting rescue. You can learn more about the hero dad’s resourcefulness HERE.

Before adding any preps to your vehicle, make sure that it is well maintained because not having a breakdown in the first place is a better plan than surviving the breakdown. Change your oil as recommended, keep your fluids topped up, and keep your tires in good condition, replacing them when needed. As well, particularly when poor weather is imminent, be sure to keep your fuel level above the halfway point. If you happen to get stranded, being able to run your vehicle for increments of time will help keep you warm. Build a relationship with a mechanic you can trust, and pre-empt issues before they become vehicle failures at the worst possible time.

What’s in my vehicle emergency kit?

Disaster can strike when you least expect it, so now is the time to put together a kit that can see you through a variety of situations. I drive an SUV, and I keep the following gear in the back at all times. You can modify this list for your amount of space, your environment, the seasons, and your particular skill set. Some people who are adept at living off the land may scale this down, while other people may feel it isn’t enough. I make small modifications between my cold weather kit and my warm-weather kit, but the basics remain the same. While you should have the supplies available to set off on foot, in many cases, the safer course of action is to stay with your vehicle and wait for assistance.

Some people feel that having a cell phone means they can just call for assistance. While this is a great plan, and you should have a communications device, it should never be your only plan. What if there is no signal in your area or if cell service has been interrupted? What if you simply forgot to charge your phone? In any scenario, calling for help should never be your only plan. You should always be prepared to save yourself.

How-to-Create-a-Vehicle-Emergency-Kit1-300x236

My SUV is small, but I manage to fit a substantial amount of gear in it, still leaving plenty of room for occupants. The tub on the right hand side just has a couple of things in the bottom and serves two purposes. It keeps the other tubs from sliding around, and it contains shopping bags after a trip to the grocery store. You can also place purchases on top of the other containers if necessary. I have two 18 gallon totes and a smaller 10-gallon tote, with individual components in small containers within them.

Tools

tools

knife

First Aid

first aid

I use old Altoids containers for small items like band-aids and alcohol wipes. They stand up far better than the flimsy cardboard boxes those items come in. (Also, that means we get to have Altoids.)

altoids tin

Light

The police flashlight is also a taser.

Individual Kits

individual kit

It’s sort of hard to see but in the photo above, the container is a stocking hat for warmth and a waterproof hat that will also provide some sun protection. Inside the container are two pairs of socks, a rain poncho, a Berkey sport bottle (it can purify up to 100 gallons of water), and a space blanket. Each of these is topped off with a hoodie in warmer weather. In the winter, gloves and scarves replace the hoodie.

Shelter

shelter

Obviously, THIS is not the Taj Mahal of tents. But it fits easily into a backpack and would be sufficient for day-to-day emergencies in warmer weather.  In the winter, and anytime we are going further from home, we have a bigger sturdier tent that we put in the vehicle. This would be used in the event that we were stranded but for some reason, unable to use the vehicle for shelter. Generally speaking, your vehicle will provide better shelter and safety than a tent.

Emergency Kit

All of the above mini-kits go into one big 18-gallon tote.

Emergency kit

Also included are a few different types of rope, a compass, a road atlas (I like the kind that are spiral-bound), WD-40, duct tape, and a 4 pack of toilet paper. There is room for 2 warm blankets folded on top.

Food

I use a separate smaller container for food and hygiene items.

food

Our food kit contains graham crackers with peanut butter, pop-top cans of soup, pop-top cans of fruit, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, garbage bags, spoons, forks, a survival guide, and plastic dishes. Not shown: ziplock bags of dog food in single servings…

Click here to keep reading at The Organic Prepper. More categories and itemized kit list through link.

Hello Homestead: How to Prepare a Raised Garden Bed for Winter

This article from Hello Homestead includes a step on adding season extenders like the cold frames discussed in an earlier post. Getting that garden properly put to bed for the winter (or keeping it working over winter) is not accomplished by stopping gardening for the winter, much though that might appeal.

How to prepare a raised garden bed for winter

Photo by Gabor Degre

When the gardening season comes to an end, it is easy to get distracted from the pre-frost clean-up. Learning how to prepare a raised garden bed for winter, though, is essential to prepare for the season to come, even when spring is months away.

Throughout autumn, gardeners with raised beds should take several steps to ensure their garden beds are ready for next year’s seeds and seedling transplants.

“It’s an ongoing project,” said Kate Garland, horticultural specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. “I just always think of it as a to-do list for the fall.”

Properly caring for raised garden beds before winter settles in will promote soil health, ward off weeds and prevent diseases in next year’s crops. Here is how to prepare a raised garden bed for winter.

Step 1: Remove weeds

Photo by Gabor Degre

Weeding is essential well into the fall, even when the majority of your crops have stopped growing. Not only can untended autumn weeds harbor disease, but they can lay the roots for future weed problems.

“This is when people are ready to be done with weeding, but this is probably one of the most important times of year to be weeding,” Garland warned. “A lot of our weeds are setting seed right now. Some of the seeds can stay viable for 30 to 40 years or longer.”

For the parts of your raised bed that’s simply carpeted in weeds, cover them with black plastic or a layer of cardboard and leave it in place through the winter season to choke out existing weeds and suffocate sprouting weeds.

Some gardeners will till the soil to prevent weeds and expose harmful pests, but Garland suggests avoiding tillage in your raised beds as much as you can for the sake of soil health.

“There are some scenarios where [tilling] can make sense, but it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense in raised bed settings [unless the soil is really compacted],” Garland said. “If you can avoid tilling as much as possible, your soil and your gardens will thrive in the long run.”

Click here to continue reading at Hello Homestead.

Benton County, WA Road Closure Update, Feb. 12, 2019

According to Benton County:

Benton County Road Closures as of 4:30 PM, Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

The following roads are now open:

  • Clodfelter Road
  • Locust Grove from I-82 to Plymouth Road
  • Finley Road from SR 397 to end of asphalt (approx. 2.5 miles)
  • Nine Canyon Road from SR 397 to Lower Blair Road
  • Sellards RD from Travis to Plymouth Road

The following roads are still closed:

  • Lincoln Grade
  • McBee Road
  • Nine Canyon from Lower Blair to South end of County Road
  • Sellards RD from SR 221 to Travis Road
  • Ward Gap

Closures will last until further notice. Ward Gap Road, Lincoln Grade, and McBee Road will be closed until the snow melts off. Our crews are unable to get plows into these areas due to significant drifts.

Click here to open the Benton County, WA Road Closure Map. It is supposed to be updated regularly.

KIMA: Winter Storm Kills 1600 Dairy Cows in Region

From KIMA news. Stories of hardships caused by the recent storm continue to come:

YAKIMA, Wash.– Farmers have been devastated across the Yakima Valley, as strong winds of up to 80 miles per hour, and cold conditions have killed about 1,600 cows according to the Yakima Valley Dairy Farmers Association.

Yakima Valley Dairy Farmers are continuing to prepare as more snow is expected to hit the Valley, they’re adding extra bedding to insulate areas for cows to lay in, adding extra feed, and thawing water troughs with hot water.

“Without our employees, there’s no way we, or our cows could survive this storm,” Alyssa Haak , a dairy farmer in Prosser said. “To shield our cows from the wind we stacked straw bales to create a windbreak for our cows. I give a lot of credit to our milk truck drivers, too. Without their bravery, we wouldn’t be able to get our milk off the farm.”

Another farmer in Grandview says he’s been working around the clock to make sure his cows are being protected from the elements.

“These have been the worst few days of my life,” he said. “We’re just devastated. I don’t think we’ve ever been hit with weather like this.”

With severe winter weather continuing to occur in in eastern Washington throughout the next week, dairy farmers are assessing their current losses and preparing for the next round of snow and wind.

Farmers say that they are working together to help each other through these tough times.

Markus Rollinger, a Sunnyside dairy farmer stated, “Saturday was brutal. We put in a 36-hour day, but we’ve been fortunate. I’ve spent a lot of time helping my fellow dairy farmers and supporting what they’re going through,” Markus says. “My brother and I are trying to keep roads plowed for our employees and the milk trucks.”

Governor Inslee has declared a state of emergency for the state of Washington, which the farmers are hoping will lead to further assistance.

The dairy farmers say that they continue to cope with these conditions and over the next few days will be touch and go as they assess the damage and losses to their farm.

OH8STN: Grid Down EMCOMM Winter Edition

Julian at OH8STN.org is full of useful amateur radio information. In the piece excerpted below, he talks about winter emergency communications and the difference between preparing for emergency communications when there is a large logistics tail on the move to support you and emergency communications in a long term or grid down scenario. Here’s a bit from Grid Down EMCOMM Winter Edition:

EMCOMM VS Communications Preparedness

There’s a huge disconnect between the yellow vest wearing emergency communications Community within amateur radio, and those seeking to learn and or develop skills for communications preparedness. They both have completely different methodologies, but they are overlapping.

  • With EMCOMM (North American Edition), we almost always have an expectation of a large Logistics deployment machine, deploying resources after the fact. Hopefully this will change after the horrific lessons of Puerto Rico.
  • With Communications Preparedness, our focus is grid down Communications in the thick of the disaster. There’s no Logistics, no one’s coming to help right away, so we are left on our own, getting information into and out of an active disaster zone.

Right now neither the EMCOMM community or the Communications Preparedness crowd are speaking the same language. They simply don’t understand one another. I suspect anyone reading this blog, or watching my videos has a firm grasp of both sides of this “Niche within a niche” as my friend John calls it. This disconnect between the two communities is critical for understanding and ultimately deployment in the field…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4I87136fTa8

Click here to read the entire article (and see video) at OH8STN.org.

AmPart: Gear for Operating in Cold Weather

Baby, it’s cold outside. But cold and wet or cold and dry, you’ve got to away or at least outside and get some stuff done. JC Dodge at American Partisan discusses options, mostly from military surplus, that can keep your both warm and functional while you are out in the cold – Basic Strategies and Gear for Operating in Cold Weather.

The recent extreme cold weather has made survivalists all over the US realize that whether they’re in a “warm weather” state or not, having the gear and “know how” to operate in extreme cold weather is a necessary reality. I laughed when I got an alert that Tallahassee, FL had 21 deg. Fahrenheit (all temps listed in this port are Fahrenheit) and snow the other day. Why did I laugh? I laughed because I knew a guy in that area years ago who told me he didn’t have to worry about cold weather gear in the area he lived, as they never got real cold weather.

Cold weather has a number of categories that have to be addressed withing their own niche. I usually just go through them as such: “Cold/No Precip,” “Extreme Cold/No Precip,” “Cold/Wet,” “Extreme Cold/Wet.”

Staying warm starts with understanding what takes the warmth away when you are in any of the above environments. This starts with doing what you can to stay dry. Not sweating or staying out of the precipitation is your best bet to accomplishing that. Barring the ability to stay dry, having an out layer that is windproof, relatively waterproof and breathable (and with the ability to vent as much heat as possible) is your best bet. This is used in conjunction with under layers of clothing that either wicks away the moisture (like polypro and fleece) or retains its insulative qualities when wet (like wool)…

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan.