The 7 C’s of Camping

Many of the questions and concerns RVers, motorcyclists, and campers have are solved with mutual respect, courtesy and common sense.

Here are the “Seven C’s of Camping:”

1. Care – We will care how we camp by being considerate of others.

2. Caution – We will use caution in the use of camping equipment both on the road and at the campsite. We will handle fire and flammable fuels so as not to endanger others or ourselves. We will improve our camping skills, knowing the right way is the safest way.

3. Courtesy – We will practice politeness because it enhances the camping experience. We will respect the privacy of others, control our children and leash our dogs.

4. Cleanliness – We will be clean in our camping habits and teach our children the importance of cleanliness. We will pick up litter no matter who left it and be proud of the campsites we leave behind.

5. Cooperation – We will observe the letter and spirit of camping regulations and rules established to protect our enjoyment of the outdoors. We will work cooperatively with others to make it better for everyone.

6. Conservation – We will protect the environment in which we enjoy camping and help those whose job it is to guard and wisely manage our country’s natural resources. We will endeavor to leave a better outdoors for those who follow us.

7. Common Sense – We will apply common sense to every situation, knowing that reason, understanding and humor make camping better for ourselves and others.

10 ‘Enlightening’ Facts You Likely Forgot


Lightning can happen at any time – during snow storms, in hurricane rain bands, in dust storms and forest fires, they are even found in volcanic eruption clouds. We need to think of lightning safety anytime there is a severe thunderstorm in our area.

In the USA, there are several states where you are more likely to run into trouble. Florida leads the list, with double the casualties of the others: Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado and Texas. Each year, almost 24,000 people are killed by lightning strikes around the world and it is the fourth weather killer here at home. Even if you do not live in the 10 states above, you are still at risk.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there are three main ways lightning enters structures: through a direct strike, through wires or pipes that extend outside the structure, and through the ground.

10 Lightning Safety Facts Mom Probably Told You

Fact #1 – Lightning has its own agenda.

According to protocols for the US Army, standing outside during a lightning storm puts you at risk for a strike.  If you must be outside during a storm you should NOT:

  • Remain in an open area
  • Remain near metal fences
  • Be near railroad tracks
  • Remain in tents

Fact  #2 –  Lightning does strike in the same place twice.

It hits the Empire State Building about 25 times a year. Some people are extremely susceptible and everyone should practice lightning safety measures – just ask Roy Cleveland Sullivan (February 7, 1912 – September 28, 1983) who was a U.S. park ranger in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Sullivan

Between 1942 and 1977, Sullivan was hit by lightning on seven different occasions during his 35 year career and survived all of them, although he lost the nail on one of his big toes, and suffered multiple injuries to the rest of his body.

Fact #3 – It is dangerous to seek shelter under a tree during a lightning storm.

Your mom was right, trees are frequent conductors of lightning to the ground. Lightning prefers to strike tall, pointed objects. When the strike occurs, the bolt will usually follow the shortest, most conductible path to the earth’s surface. Therefore objects that stick out above everything else are more likely to be struck.

Taking shelter under trees is dangerous – recent studies of lightning victims showed several highly-vulnerable situations and activities, but the one that stood out was taking shelter under trees.

Fact #4 – You should stay in your car during a storm, but not because the rubber tires will save you.

Lightning has traveled through space…a few inches of rubber mean nothing at all. You should stay in your car because it acts like a Faraday cage. The metal in the car will shield you from any external electric fields and prevent the lightning from traveling inside it. If you are in a vehicle during a lightning storm, close your car windows and ride it out.

Fact #5 – You can be struck by lightning even if you can’t hear the thunder.

Lightning strikes can occur on a day when you cannot see storm clouds near you. This is known as “A Bolt from the Blue.”  Lightning can travel up to 10 miles but our ears can hear thunder claps from only 6-8 miles away.  To be safe, wait at least 30 minutes before resuming activities after a thunder storm.

Fact #6 – You should not talk on a hard wired telephone during a thunder and lightning storm.

According to Ronald L. Holle, a weather consultant and former meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory, “Corded phones are extremely dangerous during a storm. Home phone lines are protected with surge devices, but these defenses can be overwhelmed should lightning hit a nearby power pole. Someone dies every few years while talking on a phone during a lightning strike.”

Your cordless phone and mobile phones are safe to use during a thunderstorm. You can safely use remote controls, but do not touch electrical equipment such as computers, TVs or cords.

Fact #7 – You should unplug your computer and other electronic devices before a storm arrives.

It’s a good idea to protect electronic equipment — stereos, TVs, computers, etc. — with surge protectors. Good-quality ones typically cost between $50 and $100. Like the surge protection built into houses, however, they don’t offer 100% protection. Unplugging devices before a storm is your best approach.

Fun Fact #8 – It’s true! Counting between the lightning and thunder clap will tell you how far away the storm is and if it is moving toward or away from you.

Lightning’s distance from you is easy to calculate: if you hear thunder, it and the associated lightning are within range…about 6-8 miles away. The distance from Strike A to Strike B also can be 6-8 miles. Start counting… one one thousand…two two thousand…

Ask yourself why you should NOT go to shelter immediately. A lightning strike at a very close distance will be accompanied by a sudden clap of thunder, with almost no time lapse, and the smell of ozone.

Fact #9 – A lightning victim is not electrified. If you touch them, you will not be electrocuted.

While the human body does not store electricity, it is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning myths. Imagine if someone died because people were afraid to give CPR!

Call 9-1-1 and if the person has stopped breathing begin CPR immediately. Use an Automatic External Defibrillator if one is available. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for information on CPR and first aid classes.

Fact #10 – In lightning’s electrical field 

If you are caught outside in a field during a thunder and lightning storm, if you feel your hair standing on end, and/or hear “crackling noises” – you are in lightning’s electric field. If you cannot get to shelter you should  follow these steps: 

  • Immediately remove metal objects from your pockets, and remove jewelry. This includes baseball caps.
  • Place your feet together with hands on ears to minimize acoustic shock from thunder.
  • Duck your head.
  • Crouch down low in baseball catcher’s stance with hands on knees, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet, with your head between or over your knees.
  • Never lie flat on the ground

New Mexico’s Sand Dunes and Giant Cavern

New Mexico is a beautiful state with two of our top favorite natural attractions in the Southwest.

Whit e sands 2339408d ast65gbh

White Sands National Park

Lose yourself among the rolling white sand dunes of a true American treasure and descend into the depths of an ancient cavern with more than 300 stunning limestone caves.

Welcome to White Sands National Park and Carlsbad Caverns National Park, two of the Southwest’s more remarkable natural wonders. Covering 275 square miles, the gypsum dune field at White Sands is the largest of its kind in the world.

Hike, bike, or ride horseback through this unique landscape, or follow the 16-mile Driving Dunes Drive to take in the scenery from your car. You can even camp among the dunes in one of the primitive backcountry campsites. Stay the night and you’ll wake up to a view that few get to enjoy.

Jack & Dodie rented a sand slide. It was fun sliding down but the trek back up was tough.

For some time out of the sun, find your way into the subterranean wonderland that is Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Called “the Grand Canyon with a roof over it” by actor and comedian Will Rogers, the park has two trails you can meander along by yourself.

The 1.25-mile Big Room Trail is a flat path that yields amazing views of formations large and small, as well as a rope ladder used by early explorers in the 1920’s.

There’s also the Natural Entrance Trail, a winding 1.25-mile path that descends a quad-burning 750 feet, a journey that passes notable formations like the Devil’s Spring and Iceberg Rock.

Back on the surface, you’ll find 11 hiking trails like the 100-mile-long Guadalupe Ridge Trail, a pathway ideal for backcountry hikers looking to get away from it all.

Tucked away in the farthest reaches of southeast New Mexico, White Sands National Park and Carlsbad Caverns National Park are two of the country’s top natural wonders. As remote as they are, both parks are about two hours away from El Paso, making them ideal daytrip destinations from the Sun City.

Palo Duro Canyon is a True Texas Natural Wonder

Travel deep into the heart of the Texas Panhandle and you’ll find a true natural wonder. Canyon walls gleaming orange in bright sunshine, otherworldly rock formations, and scenic trails lined with mesquite and juniper trees await at Palo Duro Canyon.

About 120 miles long and 20 miles wide, and with a depth of roughly 800 feet, Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the country. Formed over millions of years, the canyon is a majestic showcase of nature’s power. Descend into its depths and you’ll see vibrant layers of rock in the canyon walls that tell a story 250 million years in the making.

I first traveled to Palo Duro while RVing with two sons, ages 8 and 9, in 2005. They were enchanted and loved the remoteness. Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs was their favorite on this particular trip, but Palo Duro Canyon was a highly rated second place.

I suppose some people naturally compare it to the Grand Canyon. If you’ve been there, how can you measure any place against the Grand Canyon? To do so may disappoint. For their young eyes–who had never been to Arizona–Palo Duro was spectacular and offered a spirit of adventure.

We only stayed two nights, but could have easily stayed more. My journalism professor at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State), Jeff Henderson, told me about a show there back in the late 1970s. It remained on my bucket list for 30 years before I was able to experience it.

We enjoyed a great Chuck Wagon meal prior to the event just outside the entry of the Pioneer Ampitheater.

It’s beautifully carved out of and nestled into a natural basin in the state park. Summer 2021 the spectacular TEXAS OUTDOOR MUSICAL Palo Duro Canyon comes alive once again for the 55th season  of the Official Play of the State of Texas.

It reminded me of a Seven Brides For Seven Brothers Broadway musical type play but set against an authentic tapestry of history. The show’s fictional characters bring to life the stories, struggles and triumphs of the settlers of the Texas Panhandle in the 1800’s. Song and dance abound – and a generous helping of good ol’ Texas humor too – with spellbinding lighting, special effects and fireworks.

For a dad with his two sons, one of the best ways we experienced the canyon was by tying on hiking shoes and exploring the CCC Trail, one of more than 30 miles of trails.

If a strenuous, yet rewarding, hike is what you’re after, traverse either the Upper Comanche or the Lower Comanche trails. The former takes you across a river and deep through Comanche territory to an overlook halfway up the canyon wall. The latter meanders beneath Fortress Cliff and past spring-fed streams and Rocky Mountain junipers. Meanwhile, the Juniper/Cliffside trail offers a more easygoing stroll past percolation caves carved by moving water over time.

The Lighthouse

A favorite for many visitors (it was the middle of June, hot, so we elected not to try it–almost 6 mile round trip) to Palo Duro Canyon hike to the Lighthouse, the park’s iconic rock formation. If you decide to trek to Lighthouse trail to see it for yourself, make sure to bring plenty of water.

Of course, there are other ways to uncover Palo Duro Canyon’s many wonders. Ride horseback on the canyon floor on a guided tour with Old West Stables or find your way along many of the trails on your mountain bike.

The canyon’s lush landscapes and variety of terrain makes it a veritable hotspot for birdwatching. Golden-fronted woodpeckers are among the many birds you can see throughout the year, while summer welcomes such colorful species as painted buntings and Bullock’s orioles.

Keep a keen eye and you may even see bobcats, coyotes, and wild turkeys, as well as members of the official State Longhorn Herd (descendants of cattle brought by the Spanish in the 1500s).

Texas Hill Country Thunder Rally is Back- March 25-28, 2021

Texas Hill Country Thunder Rally is back.

The March 25-28, 2021 event will be the 20th straight rally held at Bandera’s Mansfield Park.

Consisting of tent camping, poker run, vendors, food, and field events, there will be music throughout the day Friday and Saturday. Their bike show, tattoo contest, and Sunday morning church service are popular. 21 OR OVER, NO EXCEPTIONS.

Because of the pandemic, last year’s rally was changed to October with a covered stage to  enjoy outdoor concerts and contests in “the wide-open fresh air, under the bright stars of the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

“Ride the beautiful Texas Hill Country all day then come back and shop with our many vendors,” their promotional material states. “Enjoy your meals with one of nine Food vendors located outside the Barn, then go shop with over 30 Inside Vendors (spaced out) and over 40 Outside Vendors, before enjoying the evening concerts and contests.”

NOTE: The first leg of Twisted Sister has been detoured because of the construction of a new bridge on Highway 337.

See TWISTED SISTER Leg 1 Here

“The fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. We start it off loud! Hot Bands rock the night away…We will treat you so many ways you are bound to like one or two.”

The Bike Show categories include Peoples Choice, American Touring,
Metric Touring, Radical Custom, American Cruiser, Metric Cruiser, Antique Trike/Sidecar and Sport.

Other events include a Tattoo Contest, Nightly Risque Contests, The Famous Weenie Bite, Balloon Toss, Drag Race, Slow Race, Pole in the Hole, Keg Push, Keg Throw and Burn Out Contest.

Other features include 2 Beer & Liquor Gardens Ice Sold Onsite Hot Showers Full Hook-Up Spots Available Free Tent Camping Sewer Dump Available Rain Or Shine Event
Lots Of Self Contained Camping
Free Auto Parking Vendors
and lots of shade in this rain or shine event.

“If you had previously pre-registered and have not contacted to provide us with your preference to attend the rescheduled Thunder in the Hill Country or to attend Thunder in the Hill Country 2021, March 25-29, 2021, please contact us at customerservice@bikerralliesoftexas.com so that we have a written record of your preference.”

“For further information or questions, please contact our office at (409) 655-8800 or visit us at http://www.bikerralliesoftexas.com or follow us on Facebook, Biker Rallies of Texas.”

Visit Texas Guadalupe Mountains for Ultimate Hiking Adventures

Returning only twice since the 1970s, I first learned about hiking up the highest location in my state from my Texas State University Journalism (then Southwest Texas State University) professor, David Yates, in 1977.

Guadalupe

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

He published, for a .90 to $1.50, an 11 1/2″×14 3/4″ newspaper, Cedar Rock, for poets and writers that was circulated and purchased in bookstores across the nation, but especially in the Southwest. I was fortunate to have a poem, articles and photos occasionally included.

Yates enthusiastically wrote and mentioned his hikes up Guadalupe Peak in Cedar Rock and in class.

During a long weekend, I joined Mr. Yates and others on a caravan trip from San Marcos to the El Paso area for one of his hikes up the 8,751 foot peak.

I learned that Guadalupe Peak is much more than the Lone Star State’s highest point. Guadalupe Mountains National Park  has since become the destination for one of the state’s most epic hikes.

The Guadalupe Peak Trail ascends about 3,000 feet for more than eight miles round trip. The complete journey took us almost eight hours passing pine and fir trees. I saw my first ever madrone tree as we trekked through breathtaking high desert terrain.

Reaching the peak, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of miles of the surrounding desert and mountains, a vista that can’t be beat.

That shared journey is a wonderful memory, especially watching Mr. Yates’ quiet enthusiasm as he pulled out a journal. Away from the other hikers, he sat high above Texas alone and began writing.

Basic Information

An entrance fee of $10 per person (16 years of age and older) is required; entrance fees/passes permit 1-7 consecutive days of use in this national park.

Holders of the Annual, Senior, Military, 4th grade and Access Pass can bring in 3 adults free of charge under their pass. Any pass must be displayed in a vehicle while in the national park.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park Annual Pass – $35.00

This pass is valid for entrance into Guadalupe Mountains National Park for one year from the month of purchase. The pass admits up to four adults in a private vehicle and is non-transferable; visitors under 16 years of age are free. You can purchase this pass at the Pine Springs Visitor Center.

Pine Springs Visitor Center is the park’s main visitor center and headquarters. Visitors can pay entrance and camping fees, tour the museum, purchase items from the park bookstore, pick up brochures, maps, and obtain backpacking permits here.

  • There is no gasoline available in the park. If you are traveling from (El Paso) Texas, Dell City is the closest town with amenities such as gasoline, diesel, food, and ice. When traveling from New Mexico, Whites City is the last place that offers gas, diesel, food and ice.
  • We’re not kidding. No gas is available for 35 miles in either direction from the visitor center. Plan accordingly.
  • Campgrounds offer primitive dry camping for both tents and RVs. Other than restrooms and potable water, there are no other amenities. There are no lodges in the park.

Clever Tip 5: How to Make Your Own Mini Dehumidifier

Are you troubled with humidity in your bathroom, a closet, cellar or attic? Do you live near the coast or other humid area?

Evidence shows there are health risks (and even problems with clothing stored) associated with high humidity areas in homes.

Here is how to save some money with your own homemade dehumidifier:

1. Place charcoal briquettes in a large, clean, lidded can.

2. Punch a few holes in the lid.

That’s it. Place it (or as many as you need) in humid areas and replace the charcoal briquettes every few months.

Clever Tip 4: How to Melt Snow Before You’re Out of Water

The key word is “BEFORE.” Try one of these methods before you need it. Be anticipatory and BEFORE you decide to melt snow, check the quality of it.

Be certain to collect clean and fresh snow. Avoid discolored and stained ice. Being patient since melting can take a while, especially when you’re out in the freezing wilderness.

It takes quite a bit of snow (is primarily made of air) to make a small amount of water. Clean ice, if you can find it, will actually produce more water in less time.

A rough figure is if you fill a pot with nine inches of snow you will get one inch of water.

If you have electricity or gas and your stove is working, it’s best to place the clean snow in large pot there.

Fun Fact

_____________________________

It takes as much energy to turn ice to water as it takes to boil water that starts at room temperature.

The latent heat of fusion is ~80 calories for ice. The definition of a calorie is the energy required to raise the temperature of water one degree Celsius. So if room temperature is 20 degrees C (~70 degrees F) then it takes ~80 calories of energy to boil a gram of water.

How To Melt Snow For Survival | 3 Ways

Learning how to melt snow is an effective life hack you need to survive! Here are three ways you can turn ice into hydrating water.

1. Boiling It

kettle stands on fire cooking food | how to melt snow


Boiling is one of the most basic skills you need to learn on how to melt snow. If you have a pot and some fire, you have it made with little worries about being dehydrated.

If you don’t have a stove available (gas and/or electricity is out and no suitable fireplace), try this:

Having a modern camping stove is best, but a pot of snow over a fire pit or outside grill will also work. Start with a small amount of ice at first, then add more along the way. Never fill the pot with snow to the brim to avoid overflowing.

Keep the lid on at all times to maintain the heat. With higher temperatures, the snow will melt easier and quicker.

2. Do the Bandana Trick

If a pot or kettle is unavailable an empty jar or cup can serve as a temporary container for the snow.

Grab a bandana, shirt, towel, or cloth and place a lump of snow on top. Tie the corners up to form a sack, then hang it around a stick or branch over the container.

Much like roasting a marshmallow, put the bag of snow near a fire and allow it to embrace the heat of the flames. This will help the snow melt and drip; it may take some time, but it will fill up the cup or jar.

3. What if you have no fire source?

A mountain man at the Royal Gorge in Colorado taught me this trick in 2005. On a sunny day, get a large BLACK plastic trash bag (larger the better and black absorbs more heat). Make an indentation or “bowl” in the snow in a location that will have Sunlight.

Spread the bag over the space that has the “bowl” (larger means more water). Sprinkle snow along the slopes of the “bowl” so as the sun heat absorbs on the black plastic, the snow will melt into the bowl.

Clever Tip #2: Power Out? Refrigerator is Good for 4 Hours, Unless…

When the power goes out, your refrigerator and freezer will only stay cold for so long. According to the American Red Cross, an unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for four hours. After this, temperatures will begin to rise to unsafe levels.

A full, unopened freezer will keep food frozen for 48 hours; a half-full freezer will stay frozen for 24 hours.

During an outage, it’s helpful to have a food thermometer on hand. You can use it to see which foods are safe to eat by checking the temperature of the refrigerator. Throw out any food that has been exposed to 40-degree temperatures for two hours or more.

You can extend the cooling life of your refrigerator by preparing beforehand. Keep one or two gallons of water in the freezer; not only will this make your freezer more efficient when the power is on, but when it goes off, you can transfer these frozen jugs to the refrigerator to keep food cold longer.

If you have a large cooler, you can cool foods even more efficiently by transferring them to the cooler. Use ice or your frozen water jugs to keep the food cold.

Lightning and Thunderstorm Preparation and Safety

Lightning is a leading cause of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Avg. # of days per year of thunderstorms

Thunderstorms are dangerous storms that include lightning and can:

IF YOU ARE UNDER A THUNDERSTORM WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAY

  • When thunder roars, go indoors!
  • Move from outdoors into a building or car.
  • Pay attention to alerts and warnings.
  • Unplug appliances.
  • Do not use landline phones.

HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN A THUNDERSTORM THREATENS

Prepare NOW

  • Know your area’s risk for thunderstorms. In most places, they can occur year-round and at any hour.
  • Create an emergency plan so that you and your family know what to do, where to go, and what you will need to protect yourselves from the effects of a thunderstorm.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • Identify nearby, sturdy buildings close to where you live, work, study, and play.
  • Cut down or trim trees that may be in danger of falling on your home.
  • Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods, or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances, and electronic devices.

Survive DURING

  • When thunder roars, go indoors. A sturdy building is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm.
  • Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of thunderstorms. Be ready to change plans, if necessary, to be near shelter.
  • When you receive a thunderstorm warning or hear thunder, go inside immediately.
  • If indoors, avoid running water or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and phone lines.
  • Protect your property. Unplug appliances and other electric devices. Secure outside furniture.
  • If boating or swimming, get to land and find a sturdy, grounded shelter or vehicle immediately.
  • If necessary, take shelter in a car with a metal top and sides. Do not touch anything metal. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid flooded roadways. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
Golf course green hit by lightning

Be Safe AFTER

  • Listen to authorities and weather forecasts for information on whether it is safe to go outside and instructions regarding potential flash flooding.
  • Watch for fallen power lines and trees. Report them immediately.
  • If you are sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

Safety, Preparation, How To’s For Emergencies, Weather, Prepping and Survival

Here is our suite of informative articles to keep you safe and prepared. We’ll add more as seasons and situations change.

Winter, Snow, Ice and Storms Road Safety Basics

Protecting Property From Freezing Weather

How to Prepare for Power Outages and No Electricity

Bug Out Bag List

Civil Riots and Protests Near You

Severe Weather Camping Tips

Bandanas as a Safety and Survival Tool

Lightning and thunderstorms are a leading cause of injury or death in weather related hazards.

April begins peak season for power outages, but we should be prepared anytime. Here are some worthwhile tips you’ll be glad to know.

Smart Ways to Survive and Prepare For Power Outages and No Electricity

Let’s cut to the chase. These are the basics:

Water

Your family needs at least one gallon of water per person, per day, to function during an emergency. You’ll also need extra water for pets, cooking, and hygiene. If you’re preparing for a two-week emergency, that comes to 56-112 gallons or more of water. Many people don’t have the space to store that much water, and at $1 per gallon, on average, that’s a big investment.

It’s smart to have a least a week’s worth of water on hand. Some people fill up sinks and bath tubs. However, you can look at other ways to get water during an emergency. For example, is there a lake, river, or stream nearby that you could use as a water source? Could you collect rain from the roof? You might also want to look at ways to purify water during an emergency, especially if you’ll be sourcing it from nature. Water purification tablets, bleach, and heat are all economical ways to purify water.

Food

If the power goes out for an extended period of time, store shelves will be emptied within hours and they might not be restocked for a while. Remember the toilet paper and food shortages of 2020?

This is why having a long-term food pantry is so important. If you already have plenty of food tucked away, you can avoid some of the inevitable stress that accompanies a power outage. Focus on storing shelf-stable food that your family already eats. Some good options include:

Prepare Food Long Term Outage
  • Peanut butter
  • Crackers
  • Powdered milk
  • Pasta
  • Canned vegetables, especially canned beans
  • Oatmeal
  • Rice
  • Beef or chicken bouillon
  • Cereal
  • Dried fruit
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit juice
  • Instant coffee and tea
  • Comfort foods, such as cookies and chocolate
  • Manual can opener

You can find a full list of foods that work well for an emergency food supply at Ready.gov.

When stocking up, pay careful attention to expiration dates. Often, discount grocery stores will stock and sell food that is about to expire. We tend to buy extras at our regular grocery shopping trips when there are sales and coupons going on.

Refrigerator and Freezer: What Is Safe?


When the power goes out, your refrigerator and freezer will only stay cold for so long. According to the American Red Cross, an unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for four hours. After this, temperatures will begin to rise to unsafe levels. A full, unopened freezer will keep food frozen for 48 hours; a half-full freezer will stay frozen for 24 hours.

During an outage, it’s helpful to have a food thermometer on hand. You can use it to see which foods are safe to eat by checking the temperature of the refrigerator. Throw out any food that has been exposed to 40-degree temperatures for two hours or more.

You can extend the cooling life of your refrigerator by preparing beforehand. Keep one or two gallons of water in the freezer; not only will this make your freezer more efficient when the power is on, but when it goes off, you can transfer these frozen jugs to the refrigerator to keep food cold longer.

If you have a large cooler, you can cool foods even more efficiently by transferring them to the cooler. Use ice or your frozen water jugs to keep the food cold.

Cooking

Once you have an emergency food supply put away, consider how you’re going to cook when you don’t have power. It’s smart to have a balance between food that’s ready to eat and food that needs to be cooked. Hot meals can do wonders to raise spirits during an emergency, but it’s going to be more difficult to heat and cook food, not to mention procure safe water for cooking and washing.

If your home has a fireplace, fire pit, or wood stove, you already have an easy way to cook hot meals for your family. Make sure you keep an emergency supply of firewood and kindling on hand so that you can quickly light a fire if the lights go out. Store as much as you can so you’re prepared for a long-term outage.

We know people from the RV and camping communities that use small propane stoves or solar ovens. They are easy to tuck into a closet for emergency food preparation. Of course, with propane you will need to stock up on fuel as well. If you have a larger gas or charcoal grill, make sure you have an extra container of propane or several bags of charcoal put away for emergency situations.

Consider Safe Cooking

Heating

If a long-term power outage occurs in the winter, you’re going to need supplies to stay warm. If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace or wood stove then you’re a step ahead, as long as you have plenty of firewood on hand. A portable kerosene heater is another option.

If possible, try to have a sleeping bag for every member of your family. Sleeping bags, especially those rated at 20 degrees or colder, are incredibly effective at trapping body heat.

Smaller children can sleep with adults to stay warm.

Space blankets were designed by NASA, and they help retain almost all of your body heat. They are inexpensive enough to keep some in your car for emergencies that occur when you’re away from home.

Make sure you have a warm wool or fleece hat for everyone in your family and enough blankets to make a bed for everyone on the floor (which will help keep everyone warm). You’ll also stay warm with hand and feet warmers. These are best purchased during warmer months when they are often on sale.

Health and Wellness

A long-term power outage means you likely won’t have access to the medicines you and your family might need to stay healthy. One way to prepare for this, and cut costs, is to learn to rely on vitamins and natural remedies to keep your family healthy.

Dodie, a retired nurse, keeps us on a regimen of supplements and vitamins to keep our immunities and health intact.

If possible, have extra medications on hand for a long-term outage. Many insurance companies only cover medications on a month-to-month basis, so for prescription medications, this might be difficult to do. You also need a comprehensive first aid kit.

Sanitation

City sewer systems depend on electricity to function. While most have backup generators, those generators are dependent on fuel, which, in a long-term outage, might run out within a few days. This is why you need to have a plan in place to address your family’s sanitation needs.

The average person produces one ounce of feces for every 12 pounds of body weight, which means a 160-pound person will produce around one pound of feces daily. If you do the math for everyone in your family, you can see how quickly sanitation can become a serious issue. Not only is it completely dispiriting to have no way to dispose of waste, it is also a serious health hazard. The good news is that with a little preparedness, you can efficiently and safely deal with waste.

Septic Systems
If you’re on a septic system, you’ll still be able to flush your toilet if you have water to put in the tank. Simply pour water into the toilet tank until it touches the float and then flush. Or, you can pour water quickly and forcefully into the bowl itself, which causes the water to siphon and flush on its own.

However, if your area has experienced a great deal of rain or flooding, it’s not a good idea to use your septic system. If the water table is too high, your septic will not work and waste will quickly spill out into your yard, causing a serious health hazard. If you have a yard, you can also dispose of waste by digging holes in the ground that are six to eight inches deep. Make sure each hole is at least 200 feet from any water source, and try to dig holes in sunny spots; the sun will aid decomposition.

Municipal Systems
If you’re on a municipal system, the toilets will not work if the main sewer is out of power. If you’re sure the main sewer system is down, do not flush your toilet. Everyone in your neighborhood will be flushing, and without power to keep this waste moving, the lines will quickly become blocked and start to back up into people’s homes. Instead, you’ll need to rely on a temporary toilet.

Make a Temporary Toilet
To make a temporary toilet, you’ll need the following supplies:

  • At least two five-gallon buckets with lids
  • Several boxes of heavy-duty black garbage bags; the best are contractor garbage bags, sold at most home improvement stores
  • Duct tape
  • Wood ash, kitty litter, sawdust, quicklime, or portable toilet chemical decomposers (like the kind used in RVs)
  • Twist ties
  • Several gallons of household bleach
  • Several boxes of rubber gloves

The easiest way to make a temporary toilet is to use your existing toilet. Take as much water out of the bowl as possible and then line the bowl with two heavy-duty black garbage bags. Tape the garbage bags to the bowl, under the seat.

After each use, pour in a cup of your disinfectant (the wood ash, kitty litter, etc.) and then spray with bleach. When the bag is half- to two-thirds full, spray again with bleach and remove it, making sure to wear rubber gloves. Seal the bag, put the waste in the five-gallon bucket, and put on the lid. You can then dispose of the waste when services are restored or you’re able to find an appropriate site. If you have the space, you can also consider buying a portable toilet.

Bathing and Cleaning

Bathing is going to be another issue when the water stops flowing. While we don’t need to shower every day, we do need to keep clean. This goes for our homes as well: Keeping plates and cooking equipment clean lowers the spread of germs, disease, and illness. This is why it’s important to have the following supplies on hand:

Bathing Cleaning Supplies
  • Baby wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Dry shampoo
  • Disposable utensils
  • Disinfectant cleanser, such as bleach or Lysol
  • Paper towels
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers

Stock up on these items as they go on sale, or use coupons to save.

Lighting and Communication

You also need to look at how you’re going to illuminate your home when the lights go out. Candles are an inexpensive choice, but keep in mind that they can be dangerous, especially if you have children in the house. Some better lighting options include:

  • Flashlights
  • Headlamps
  • LED or solar-powered lanterns

If you have outdoor solar lights in your yard, remember that you can move these indoors at night to light up hallways or bathrooms. Just remember to put them back outside to recharge during the day.

Solar Powered Lanterns

We have a hand-crank or solar-powered radio to get news, provided local stations are able to broadcast.