Earth Changes · preparedness · self-reliance · Thinking ahead

Things that Disappear First After a Disaster

This bears repeating over and over. If you don’t own it before the disaster, you’ll pay hell getting it after the disaster.

I’ve told this story before but it is the way too many people see things yet today that warrants repeating.


Dearest daughter marries her college sweetheart. They put up a mobile home on our back forty. If you have followed my blog posts, you will remember that we live in the woods in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Cold, dark, icy, wind-swept, winters, followed by mildly warm, breezy summers.

They moved in during the early summer months when the bad spring storms had given way to bug season. All went well for the newlyweds that first summer but when fall approached I knew that a sudden very wet, heavy snowfall was not out of the ordinary and it usually took out the power for a day or so when it hit.

“So,” I asked dearest son-in-law, “you kids got water and an auxiliary heat source set aside for winter incase the power goes out?”

Dearest son-in-law looks me square in the eye and says, “Yep, we’ll be ok, we have an electric blanket. And I think we have a bottle of water in the frige. Oh, wait, I think I drank that. Eeeh, we’ll be ok.”

Well, as luck would have it, we had one of those heavy, wet snow storms that took out the power that cold, dark, fall. The power had been out for about 3 hours when dearest son-in-law and daughter showed up at our place asking to use our landline telephone and warm themselves by the woodstove.

“I am goin to call the power company and demand that they turn our power back on.” He said adamantly, thinking the power company must have done this dastardly deed. And by now he was in a panic, “what about all the old people? Someone needs to do something about all the old people that don’t have heat too.”

Of course, I had to ask about the electric blankets. “How they workin’ for ya?” My bad!

It was the first crisis these kids had faced on their own. Up until their marriage someone else had taken care of their welfare. Dearest son-in-law had lived with his parents before attending college as well as our dearest daughter.

They now have a copy of my book, How to Survive and Thrive When the Power is Out. I wonder sometimes if I was  ever that slow on the uptake? Naaaaaa

The point here is if you know some people like this, young or old, make a copy of the following list, look them square in the eye and hand it to them.

Things that disappear first after a disaster. (Non-looted items.) Not in any particular order.

Food- bread, milk, eggs, peanut butter, tuna fish, Speghetti O’s, etc.

Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, instant coffee, soda and bottled water

Candles, flashlights, oil lamps, matches and lighters

Toilet paper and feminine products and condoms

Hand can opener

Sugar and Kool-Aid, kids juices

Coleman camp stove, propane cylinders and white gas

Baby supplies, diapers, wipes and formula

Charcoal and lighter- grills


Water hauling containers

Paper plates, cups, bowls and silverware

Trash bags

Water purifiers and filters

Insulated ice chests and bags of ice

Sleeping bags and blankets


Candy, popcorn, hot chocolate, tang etc.

Kids games, coloring books, crayons, reading books and card games

Radio, shortwave, walkie-talkies

Dish soap, bath soap, shampoo

First aid kit

And, you know, if a guy were smart, he’d have a few of these on hand ahead of time.

Believe it or not, the best survival item is your own brain. A few hard copy how-to books in a library wouldn’t hurt either, I’d say.

Excellent videos from 2013 is as important today as then. Brad and Kelly and their two young boys put these out. Like their videos to see more.

















Winter go/get you home safe bag

You mean to tell me that you run up to the 7-11 in your slippers during the coldest part of the winter months for a gallon of milk!? My head is spinning with all the things that can go wrong with that winter scene.

As the World turns, quakes, shakes and bakes. . .

If you are ordered to evacuate. . .

If you get stuck or stranded and need to get home. . .

Now I’m assuming you have secured your 72 hour kit/bag for everyone in the family along with a first aid kit, and potable drinking water, right? If you have not, and I think you are totally crazy for not having them at the ready. You need to do that now, no matter where you live in this world. It will be your first line of defense in any given crisis situation.

This last spring, it was April I believe, two sisters in their fifties came up to our area on a vacation. They were driving some pretty snow covered back roads when they got caught in an unexpected heavy snow storm in the Big Bay area. The snow became so deep that the car couldn’t go forward, backward or any where. They were totally stuck in the wilderness. Too bad they had not left an itinerary with family or friends. Out here in the wilderness cell phones are all but useless and that was the case with the sisters. For about 13 days they were stranded in Michigans Upper Peninsula wilderness on a road that is unused during the winter months. The only saving grace was that they had some cheese puffs and girl scout cookies with them. A search of the area was futile. Then by the grace of God early one morning a helicopter spied something shiny among the trees. The sun had made an appearance briefly and the pilot spotted a reflection from the sun on the ladies windshield. Alas, they were rescued!
The sisters were interviewed on our local TV station and told of their freezing nights when the bears would scratch at the small Ford Explorer trying to get at what little food they had. Their car suffered greatly at the long claws of the bears. It was an experience that could have turned out very differently, they were lucky.

( I just did a google search for 72 hour emergency kits and came up with 24,700,00 sites to choose from. Get busy!)

What to look for in store bought go bag or how to build your own

Get you home bag

Start with an ordinary backpack. (Why a backpack? If you ever have to walk any distance you will appreciate having your hands free.)

The picture gives you an example of some things you can expect to get in your ready made bag when you order it. Add food, water and an extra pair of undie drawers and you are good to go. Notice the solar light, nice touch! Don’t forget a lighter or match or two.

Buying one for each member of the family can get expensive. If the $70 or $140.00 doesn’t fit into the budget right now, here’s an option.

Go to the Goodwill or any second hand thrift store and purchase used backpacks for about $3.00 each. Fill with regular household items that would make your life after a crisis into a situation that you can survive. Avoid canned goods however, they are heavy and will freeze in the trunk of your car. Instead, look for those dehydrated foods in envelopes at the grocery store. The type you just add water and heat. They last years and are not effected by heat when left in the trunk of the car. A google search landed 35,2000 sites for dehydrated storable food.

The home 72 hour “get out of Dodge” bag is wonderful to have packed and ready to go in the event you have less than 10 minutes to evacuate. We live in the woods, fire is our worst enemy. We experienced a fire in the forest across the road in 2010. It was too, too close for comfort. I understand now why firemen refer to a blazing forest as “The Beast”. When the guys are fighting the beast, they claim they are in the pits of hell. I can agree with that because I witnessed our beautiful pine forest burn to the ground. Each pine tree took on the appearance of a wooden stick match exploding with fire when suddenly lit.
When you are told to run, the very first thing that happens is your head becomes total chaos. “What do I need to grab, what do I need to save. Kids, get in the car, NOW! Oh, my God, where’s the kids baby pictures? What do we take? Where’s kitty?”

Hubby and I have one bag each but at the turn of the seasons we adjust it’s contents to match the weather. Living out here away from civilization, we always have a special “get you home bag” in the vehicle we are driving. If you have ever been stranded and had to walk any distance at 20 below zero with a strong westerly wind, you WILL be glad you had your special bag filled with warm clothes and comfort food.

When the pressure is on . . .

Four years ago, I got a phone call from the Husband of our daughter. “We are at the hospital, the pains are 15 minutes apart and she just decided that she wants you to be here, can you make it?”

It’s Saturday, March 1st, 5:30pm and 22 degrees outside. Hubby had to work in the morning, it was his scheduled weekend so he couldn’t go with me.

“Ok, I’ll be there in a little bit, tell her to hold on”, I told him. As I race down the country back roads to the hospital, my 1990 Ford Explorer began to over heat. It is 86 miles from my house to the small rural community hospital in Northern Wisconsin where they are having the baby, I had driven about 50 miles by now. Not much between here and there but trees, trees and more trees. Occasionally, a house jumps from an opening in the forest or a family run grocery/gas station stands alone on a two lane paved road. This lonely gas station had already closed for the night. The only thing I can do is keep an eye on the water temperature and just keep on moving forward.

The old girl chugged along, finally, delivering me to the hospital and I was able to be there when my daughter delivered a perfect baby girl. What a joyous occasion, it’s now 3:30 am, Sunday morning. All the excitement over, now it is time to find some place to get some shut eye. I give hugs and kisses and leave the hospital in hopes of finding a motel close to the hospital. My options are limited however, most places are family run and turn out the light by 11 p.m. this time of year. By now it is 10 degrees outside, the old Explorer fires up nicely and I begin my search for a motel. Only I don’t make it very far, maybe a quarter mile when steam begins rolling out from under the hood and the car begins to lurch. With the cold weather and hot water screaming from my engine compartment I could barely see. I turned the car around and slowly crept back to the hospital parking lot. My daughters house is 45 miles away in the other direction, too far for this car to go.

The parking lot of this very rural hospital is nearly empty so I was able to park close to the building. The emergency room should be open so I make my way to that door. I wait for someone to buzz me in. I wait, I shiver, I wait. I walk around to another door, “Use Emergency entrance after 8:00pm” the sign says. I walk back to the emergency room door, no one is at the desk, still! What to do? I’m exhausted, so I decide to go back to the car and take a nap until the hospital opens up and I can get my son-in-law to look at my car. I get back to the car and open up the hatch in the back of the vehicle looking for my emergency bag filled with all kinds of warm, comforting stuff. What? It’s not here! How did that happen? Damn, now I remember, I took it in the house to update it and with all the excitement of my new grand baby, I forgot to grab it. Damn, damn, double damn!

I spent a couple of really cold hours in the car before someone finally showed up at the emergency room desk and I was able to get back into the hospital. Hubby (baby’s Grandpa) had to get someone to take his shift in the morning so he could come get me. The car didn’t get fixed until Monday when our Son-in-law was able to replace the thermostat. Everything did turn out alright this time but what a lesson I had. It could have turned out very differently.

As important as food and water are after a disaster, something else is equal to in importance.

Sanitation. Keeping yourself and your stuff clean and dry. I can’t stress enough the need to keep your world clean during and after a crisis. Referring back to Joplin, Missouri, they were making our news often with stories the tales of woe and how hard the  clean up has been. Looks like the heat mixed with rain and debris from the tornado became the breeding ground for a black fungus. The fungus was being found in open wounds of the clean up crew and in the lung tissue of the deceased.

Take nothing for granted. Make your “get me home bag” as secure as possible by putting like items together in plastic bags. Nothing is more frustrating than having cold, wet feet only to find that your extra warm pair of socks is soaking up the shampoo that is running free all over the inside of your bag.

My Winter “Get me home safe” bag

The following is a list of items I carry in my bag and vehicle at all times during the winter months;

Small folding cooking stove and a fuel source
Freeze dried food
Small portable Kaidyn water filter
Matches (lots of matches)
A sharp knife
Small cooking pot
Tin bowl, cup and a spoon
Tea, coffee or hot chocolate
Packaged hand and feet warmers
Socks, longjohns, extra hat and gloves
Candles, flashlight or other light source
Plastic tarp
Plastic baggie with cotton balls soaked in Vaseline (for starting a fire when the tinder is wet)
Space blanket and a real wool blanket
First aid kit
Paper map of the area I’m traveling in
How to Survive in the Wilderness book
Snow boots that I keep in the vehicle
Comfort food–cookies, hard candy etc.
Baby wipes or alcohol Handi-Wipes

Under NO circumstances do we leave the house without a bag in the car!

See “Dare to Prepare”, by Holly Deyo over at scroll down to the video. The man in this video is William Forstchen, the author of “One Second After”.

I found this guys list helpful and modified a bit to fit my area.

The Get Back Home Urban Survival Kit

How To Build Your Own Perfect Bug Out Bag


Fat Guys in the Woods/ Ladies in Survival House

Fat Guys in the Woods

Hey, this has got to be right up my alley, I thought.

Well, yes, Creek Stewart has it going on. A real outdoor survival program for real fat guys, eh? Good work Creek and The Weather Channel, it’s a winner! (More after this video clip)

There have been several other reality survival programs featuring professional men survivalists on TV in the last few years that. . .
Well now, this gives ol’ Handy Granny an idea.

Ladies in Survival House

What if, and I’m just saying, what if, us fat gals do something on the line of the fat guys in the woods thing. Let’s say we can get 3 lady volunteers together with any where between 6 to 9 children all under the age of 14. We’ll put them in a middle class standard American three bedroom house in the middle of a suburbia. The clincher will be the house will have no electricity. This survival situation will revolve around a simulated nation wide unplanned power outage. There will be no running water in the house, but there will be a large quantity of only 4 different stored food items in which to cook and feed everyone. To help facilitate the realism of the situation, we’ll throw in one grumpy granny, 2 large dogs and a pregnant gerbil with the cast of volunteers for a full two weeks? No running water means no running toilet facilities, no bath and no washer and dryer. Just imagine no TV or computer, no cell phones, just you and the kids without power for a two full week. That is 336 hours! Now, let’s up the ante and make it real interesting. Let’s do this in the debt winter. What do you say? Think it would make for great TV viewing?