Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is gardening too physically challenging? Try wheelchair gardening!

Here's a really nice collection of ideas and resources for those who find conventional gardening a bit too physically challenging:

Susan Tomlin's Disabled Garden Page (check out the photos for ideas and inspiration):

Happy Gardening!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Put a 'Shelter Box' in Your Emergency Preparedness Plans

Even if you plan to ride out every crisis in the comfort of your home, you should prepare to evacuate anyway. When SHTF (Stuff Hits The Fan) it is not usually evenly distributed...Not one of us is immune to the possibility of natural or manmade disasters forcing us to flee our homes or our favorite crisis hideyholes.

Do you have a tent in your emergency bugout kit?

Some of you may be thinking along these lines in the event of an emergency evacuation, "I don't need a tent, I'll be in a motel/relative or friend's house/etc." or "I can sleep in my car, if I need to." If this is you talking, then please consider that best laid plans can go wrong. You may have to abandon your vehicle for some reason or another...or face way too many miles of no motel vacancies...houses can burn get the idea.

The paramount rules for survival anytime, anywhere involves shelter, water and food. Naturally, when preparing for emergencies, we always think of food and water...but how prepared are you for emergency shelter?

If you have not already done so, put a low cost ‘shelter box’ in your emergency preparedness plans. Make your own custom kit to suit your group. Here’s the general idea:

The price and weight is a bear, so...

Here’s my spin…a combination Shelter Box and 'bugout' bag. The following items can be packed into one or two large sturdy and waterproof boxes (or large bags). Waterproofing is essential, in the event of rain. Use plastic bags inside of the containers, if needed. A well stocked Shelter Box should at least include the following items.

This is an outline of a very basic kit. My personal kit contains more gear than this, and other folks may have more or less than what is outlined here. A supply list as long as your leg can be overwhelming to those who are just starting out in their preparedness ventures, or to those who simply can't afford to buy a lot. Here is a short and sweet version of the basics:

1. Expedient dry shelter such as a tent (or several heavy duty tarps and rope if you can’t afford a tent right now). Instead of including one large/medium tent to shelter your whole group, I would include two medium (or smaller) tents. Bad things can happen to your one shelter. Better to have a backup, even if it will be a bit cramped.

2. Bedding and clothing for every person:

A. Thermal blankets and thermal sleeping bags, if you can afford it.

B. Even if it is summertime (or wintertime) when you pack your shelter box, and the next season is far from your mind…don’t forget to include a coat and a summer/winter change of clothing and shoes for each person.

C. One heavy duty plastic tarp for each person, to serve as a ground cover beneath bedding. Include an inexpensive mylar blanket for every person to bolster up insulation where needed. In summer, the same mylar blanket can be used on top of a tarp shelter to divert the sun’s hot rays and to help cool the area beneath the tarp…

3. Light - Include an inexpensive solar powered battery charger and rechargeable batteries for several LED flashlights. I like to get a few of the same kind of flashlight (and other gear), so I can cannibalize one for parts, if needed.

4. Clean water and several ways and means of purification. Collapsible water containers.

5. Heat / cooking - Two lightweight stoves: one multi-fuel stove and one twig-burning stove. Here are some options/ideas: Include several ways of making fire.

6. Cooking aids - 2 cooking pots, cooking spoon, sharp, tough knives, small knife sharpener, folded heavy duty aluminum foil, etc. Include one set of utensils and a bowl for each person. Lightweight mugs if you have room. (A bowl can do multi-duty in a pinch, if needed to save space on plates and mugs).

7. Food - Lightweight instant foods that require no refrigeration or extensive cooking. Include dried fruits, nuts, jerky, tasty energy bars, etc.

8. Tools - hammer, axe, saw, heavy duty plastic bags of varying sizes, quality duct tape (the ‘Gorilla’ brand tape is the best!), folding shovel, rope, tent stakes, bungie cords, etc. etc.

9. Health and special needs: fever and diarrhea reducing meds, personal medications, basic first aid gear. Your favorite insecticide, and mosquito nets if your area calls for it. If you have babies, include the basics for their survival. Pets…decide ahead of time what their emergency plans will involve and plan accordingly.

10. Communications - Radio, cell phone, windup battery chargers. Phone numbers.

11. Sanity savers - Just to mention a few…

A. A copy or the originals of your important papers. You know what they are.

B. A list of details about your employment/educational history. Not many think to include this in their emergency kit, but it is a sanity saver in the event you cannot return home right away, and may need to apply for temporary or permanent work elsewhere.

C. Crayons, pens, pencils and paper can go a long way to help children work through stress. Include instructions for simple games that can be made with found materials.

D. Snacks and hard candies.

E Last but not least, consider your spiritual needs. For me and mine, that would be our Bibles.

If you made your own Shelter Box right now, what would it contain? How could you make it better, later?

Here are a few ideas for solving the problem of hauling all this stuff on foot, if you needed to abandon your home or vehicle. In addition to backpacks, you could consider a few options.

The first one I like. The rest are make-do's, but they may be better than just a backpack alone.

--> Folding game carts and carriers can haul up to 700 pounds of deer and gear--or your shelter box and bugout kits. One of my favorite places to shop has a good variety. Looksee at Cabela's...

--> whatyoucallit...the suitcase-on-wheels-with-a-long-handle kind of thing (lined with plastic bags)...

--> Plastic wheelbarrows can be disassembled and reassembled with minimal tools and ease...

--> Garbage cans with wheels...

--> Child's wagon and rope for strapping a load on...

--> Native American style travios...

Can you think of other ideas for transporting as much of your essential gear as possible, in case you need to travel on foot in an emergency?

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This article is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #1: HOW TO SURVIVE DISASTERS AND OTHER HARD TIMES. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site: