How to Prepare for Bears in the Wild and at Home

HUNTERS, CAMPERS, HIKERS & HOMEOWNERS BEWARE

HUNTING

Hunters must remember that areas where they leave game animal remains will attract bears.

🔹This carrion is an easy meal that bears will eagerly consume.

🔹No matter what time of year you hunt, it is possible you could encounter a bear. Although contact is minimal in the winter, due to hibernation, be aware of your surroundings, especially in remote locations that may contain dens with sleeping bears.

🔹Bear-proofing wildlife feeding stations, such as deer feeders, can be difficult. Because hunters want game to have access to feed, but want to exclude black bears, the best options involve limiting access. Unless they are protected by an electric fence that deer can jump, gravity feeders should likely be removed in favor of spin-cast feeders.

🔹The base of spin-cast feeders should be at least 10 feet off the ground, and suspended from a cross-member that is least 4 feet from the post that supports it. Alternatively, hunters may electrify tripod spin-cast or gravity feeders, as well as providing electric fencing.

🔹Electric fencing may be permanent, similar to systems designed for livestock, or be portable, such as “back-country bear fencing” often used to secure camp sites. These portable systems are available from many outdoor companies. They are powered by D-cell batteries and use lightweight posts and wire. Whether suspending feed or electrifying, take care to prevent damage and the loss of feed.

CAMPING

🔹Campers should collect trash nightly and hang it high enough from a tree or other structure that a bear cannot reach it, or climb to it. Ten feet off ground level and four feet from any branches is generally sufficient.

🔹Sweet-smelling items such as perfumes, insect repellants, and candy attract bears.

🔹The smell of camp cooking can also attract bears. It is wise to locate your cooking site 100 yards from your sleeping area. Even the smell of food on clothes can attract bears, so change clothes before sleeping if you cook for the camp.

🔹Coolers of food are easy targets for bears—keep them inside vehicles or otherwise inaccessible. Although some coolers are rated as bear-safe, black bears will still cause damage trying to get in them.

HIKING

🔹Hikers should be noisy in areas where black bears are present.

🔹A startled bear is a dangerous bear, and will have the same reaction as any animal when frightened. Although they might flee, they might also display defensive behaviors such as bluff charges or teeth clacking. This is especially possible for a female with cubs.

Bear-proofing around the house 

Human-bear relations are most problematic around private homes.

🔹Bears, like raccoons, are opportunistic omnivores who enjoy human garbage. Homeowners should minimize exposing garbage to bears.

🔹A good first step is to secure trash cans with certified bear-proof covers. You can also contact your waste disposal company to request that they upgrade community dumpsters to be bear-proof.

🔹Minimize areas where you dump cooking grease, scraps, and reduce access to compost piles. 

Black Bears of East Texas. Photos provided by the East Texas Black Bear Task Force.

🔹Other food sources include bird feeders and other wildlife feed, fallen fruit from trees, pet foods, and barbecue pits.

🔹Wood piles attract rodents, which can be a food source. Bears will quickly assess these sources come to them for food. If you choose to feed wildlife in “bear country,” move the feed frequently to prevent bears from becoming habituated to one area. 

🔹It may be surprising, but a closed door, high window, or low wall often will not deter bears. Livestock and pet feed stored in outbuildings are easy, high-energy sources of nutrition for black bears. 

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Essential Camping Safety Tips for RVers and Motorcyclists

Camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and to ensure your trips are safe, here are tips uniquely for RVers and motorcyclists.

RVers and motorcyclists should plan out all escape routes and discuss them with (RV occupants) and fellow campers when traveling. Ensure everyone is informed of the survival plans.

Basic Camping Safety

🔹Keep watch on children! You are responsible for the safety of your children. Make sure you know where your kids are and what they are doing.

🔹Be aware of the natural surroundings. There may be plants with thorns or stickers.

🔹You are a visitor in wildlife’s home. Keep a safe distance from wild animals. Although they may look cute, they are wild and can carry diseases.

🔹Never feed the wildlife! Feeding wildlife can encourage bad behavior by animals and is against park regulations.

🔹Be careful with fire. Never leave a fire unattended and be sure your campfire is out when you break camp.

🔹Axes, knives and saws are useful tools, but be sure you know how to properly use them.

RV Safety Tips

🔹Have more than one fire extinguisher and insure everyone knows where they are and how to use them. Make sure they have the right amount of pressure according to the gauge. In fact, anytime you use an extinguisher, it should be recharged or replaced to avoid future problems.

🔹Watch where you park. Heat from underneath your RV can catch grass on fire.

🔹Never use any stove or cooking appliance for heating space. Smaller space means less ventilation and the greater the chance of a fire.

🔹Keep any combustible items like paper towels or dish cloths away from the stove and remain near the stove when cooking.

🔹Install and inspect smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors regularly. Test alarms every two-weeks to ensure they work properly. This is a fast and easy test that can save lives and property.

🔹A dragging brake line can cause friction. This can easily be ignited by dripping brake fluid. Make sure to check the pressure in your tires regularly and spot check at every stop.

🔹Always be aware of your surroundings.  Be aware of who is camping next to you, across from you and behind you. Pay attention to what is happening.  Know when the weather is changing and who is moving about around your RV.

🔹Always lock your camper when you leave it.  Even if you are just going to the laundry room or the bathhouse in the campground.

🔹Use window locks so your RV can’t be accessed by the sliding windows.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

🔹Pack safe. Keep the center of gravity of your bike in mind and make sure the heavy items are lower down.  below the COV of your bike. Even up the balance on each side of the bike – don’t put all the heavy stuff in one saddlebag! If traveling solo, pack your gear so it acts as a backrest to support your lower back.

🔹Make sure nothing is touching the exhausts. Use the most effective ratchet straps, bungees or cargo nets to secure the load and carry additional items on top for easy access.

🔹Pack light. Space is limited so be efficient and don’t fill up every available space. Seasoned motorcycle campers overwhelmingly pack light and trim luggage down to the minimum. You can always buy stuff along the way.

 🔹Pack efficiently. Determine what you really need, and pack accordingly. Pack your tent and sleeping bag last so they are first things you unpack at camp site, and make sure the things you’ll need on the ride – sunglasses, sunscreen, waterproofs and maps – are easily accessible.

🔹A tent. If tenting, use one with a waterproof floor or groundsheet and take metal stakes to fix it down and a driver. Pick the size of tent according to your needs – even if you are travelling solo, a two or even three-man tent will give you the space you need to hold your clothes and luggage as well as you, and won’t take up much more space than a one-man tent. Vestibules allow you to strip off wet rain gear and store wet luggage without getting the inside of your tent wet. Make sure you have a waterproof fly- sheet for wet nights. Try setting it up at home rather than working out how to set it up in the dark at your first camp site.

🔹Use a sleeping bag in a grade for  the range of temperatures you are likely to experience. Down insulation is more efficient and packs down smaller than synthetic fillings. Use compression bags to hold your sleeping bag, tent and pad to make the most effective use of space.

Orange County Choppers in New York salutes fire departmens and emergency responders across the nation (Photo: Jack Dennis)

 🔹Before you set off, make sure your bike is serviced and in good condition. A day or two before departure do a trial run of packing and riding your bike – ideally an overnight trip if you can. You’ll almost certainly over pack so it is a great opportunity to check and reassess what you are taking, and to ensure everything is efficiently packed and you know where it is and how to get at it. Of course, if someone with you is travelling by car, put the campsite equipment in there and only carry essentials – it also means you can take more stuff you will find useful, such as camp chairs, extra food or a cool box.

🔹When you are on your trip, don’t leave too late in the day to find a site – when you are tired, it’s easy to make bad decisions and leaving too late will increase your stress levels and make mistakes more likely to happen. When you’ve found the site, choose the best area – sheltered and flat, not sloping or rocky, and not low-lying so you avoid pooling water if it rains, or falling cold air if the temperature drops. Be friendly with other campers, and when you leave make sure you leave no trace you have been there – kill any fire you may have made, and pick up any trash and clear it away.

🔹Finally, when you are back home, make a post-trip evaluation of your packing – what did you not use, what did you not take that you needed – and make a note of it, so next trip you will be operating at maximum efficiency, leaving you free to enjoy the ride.

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Urgent Safety Tips if Near the Path of a Hurricane

With Additional Emphasis for RVers and Campers

How much wind would it take to blow you away?

Depending on what you weigh, the strongest sustained winds a large man might be able to withstand without getting blown away is near 70 mph. The maximum gust he could stand without getting blown away is roughly 95 mph.

Severe Weather Events

The following weather events are the most common while camping.  Knowing what to do can make you more educated in case of an emergency.  If you are camping in high-risk areas for hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, and flooding, be sure to have your alerts/radios activated during your stay.

Lightning

There are no reliable warning signs that lightning is going to strike.  If you are outdoors when a lightning storm occurs, your first thought should be to get to shelter to a building or inside your camper as quickly as possible.

If that is not feasible, the next thing to consider is crouching down close to the ground until the lightning passes. 

Make sure you are not the tallest thing around or close to a lone tree or tall object during a lightning storm. 

Generally it’s a good idea to unplug your power at a campground when a big storm is coming. If lightening hits the ground, even on the other side of the campground, it can cause a surge of power through the line into your RV and cause things to burn out. You are usually safe to run your built in generator.

The 30-30 Rule is an easy way to determine the threat of lightning in your area: 30 Seconds: Count the seconds between seeing lightning and hearing thunder. If this time is less than 30 seconds, lightning is a threat. Seek shelter immediately.

Over 60% of lightning fatalities happen when people biking, boating, hiking, camping or fishing.

Most lightning victims are close to safe shelter but don’t head towards it.

Lightening kills more people each year than Tornadoes and Hurricanes combined.

Tornadoes and High Winds

Tornado Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states. 

Tornado Warning: Take Action! A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

If a Tornado Warning is issued get below ground as quickly as possible.

Get to the nearest storm shelter or basement. If that is not available, try to find a small interior room on the lowest floor the closest sturdy building.

Be sure to leave vehicles as they can go airborne in a strong tornado.

If you are caught in the open during a tornado, lie flat on the ground or try to find a ditch or culvert and roll into a ball to protect your head and torso.

Avoid highway overpasses as a place of shelter, they become wind tunnels during a tornado.

There are several atmospheric warning signs that precipitate a tornado’s arrival:

A dark, often greenish, sky  

Wall clouds or an approaching cloud of debris  

Large hail often in the absence of rain  

Before a tornado strikes, the wind may die down and the air may become very still  

A loud roar similar to a freight train may be heard  

An approaching cloud of debris, even if a funnel is not visible

Despite great strides made in meteorology that help us understand and predict tornadoes, there are still many unknown variables. Advance warning and proper precautions are the only certainties.

Tornadoes can occur at any hour but usually strike during the late afternoon and early evening (3 to 9 p.m. although I had a friend who his lost his life to one at 10:30 a.m.). Most move from southwest to northeast but can move in any direction.

High winds knocked train off bridge in New Mexico, 2019.

They have an average speed of 30 mph, but speeds can vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph.

Normally a tornado will stay on the ground no more than 20 minutes, however, one tornado can touch the ground several times in different areas.

 Wind Advisory means that sustained winds of 30 mph for one hour and/or frequent gusts of at least 45 mph are occurring or expected within the next 36 hours. These winds make it difficult to drive high profile vehicles. 

Winds ranging from 55-63 mph are classed as storm winds, and often result in significant structural damage to RVs, buildings and structures. as well as uproot trees.

Thunderstorm winds of 60-75 mph can overturn unanchored mobile homes (many are unanchored), blow over moving tractor trailers, destroy the average sized shed, and rip some house roofs off. Even worse, these winds are capable of downing trees large enough to easily kill a person.

One study indicated the minimum overturning wind speeds needed to overturn an 18 foot travel trailer was 53 miles per hour (MPH) from a  perpendicular direction to the RV.

For a 29.5 foot motor home: 65 MPH.

For a 29,983 lb. semI-trailer: 73 MPH.

For a 16.4 Class B camper van: 101 MPH.

If you have time and can do it safely when heavy winds are imminent, point your rig in the direction the wind is coming from. This will greatly reduce the impact compared to if you are getting hit broadside.

Put slides and awnings in and stabilizing jacks down. 

Stay hitched up to your vehicle if possible, or hitch-up. Being attached to another large object could lessen impact some.

If motorhome has air bags release the air so that you have less bounce.
If possible and it looks more safe, park next to a wall or hillside to potentially lessen wind impact and even hail damage. (We recently parked to the exterior wall of a trash compactor at a Wendy’s during a sudden hailstorm. Because we were on the side away from the direction the hail was coming down at a strong angle, we had no damages).

It’s vital to move your rig if you are parked under trees. Branches and limbs often go through roofs and windows, causing severe damage or total devastation.

Bottom line: if possible seek quick and more reliable shelter (restrooms, caves, basements, etc.). Variousness in materials, type, weight and conditions will cause different results.

Don’t try to ride out any severe storm in a RV.Even if they may seem sturdy, they do not have a suitable foundation and can be blown over by strong winds or swept away in the event of flooding. Look for the nearest solid structure if a tornado or high winds are present.

Avoid driving in high winds. A motorhome or trailer in motion has far different aerodynamics and dangers than those stationary.

Flash Floods

A flash flood is a flood with a rapid onset, generally less than six hours. 

You may not know a rainstorm 6 miles away happens until the water rushes and fills reservoirs where you are. Be aware if you are camping in a low ground area that is subject to flooding before you camp there.

If you are in a flood zone and get a warning, get to high ground as soon as possible.

Be especially cautious at night when you are driving. Don’t cross flooded roads.  It only takes 18 – 24 inches of water to float an average vehicle. If you are surrounded by water that is not moving, abandon the vehicle and move to higher ground.

If there’s enough time and conditions are safe enough before a storm, drive away from the area.

Otherwise, store the RV in a secure facility as far away as possible from the predicted path of a storm.

If you must park your RV in an open area, make sure it’s on high ground and away from large trees.

Severe Thunderstorms

Know your weather terminology:

Watch: A Watch is when conditions are favorable to become a problem. Be on Alert! Have your weather radios available to receive warnings.

Warning: A Warning is when a weather event is occurring or is expected shortly. If one is issued, it is time to take action.

Severe Thunderstorm: This is a storm that produces one or more of the following: a wind greater than 58 mph, hail resulting in 1 inch or larger, or a tornado.

If one of these is forecasted you will want to seek a way to break camp and move out of the path of the storm or seek indoor shelter.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

The 3 A’s of Camping

Years ago, before the days of cell phones, I was tent camping at Garner State Park in Texas with friends and had no way of knowing danger was ahead.

Lightning, strong winds and heavy rain were our only notice in the middle of the night. Concerned of flash flooding from the Frio River, we bit the bullet, grabbed what we could and drove to higher ground.

Others weren’t so fortunate.  We lost a tent, blankets and lawn chairs. Some lost their lives.

Even today, because of that experience, I stay alert of weather conditions.

The Three A’s of Campground Weather Safety

Awareness

Check the forecast before you travel or set up camp.  Once you are in camping mode or vacation mind, you are planning for fun! But weather can change that quickly so know what the weather is going to be like over the next couple days so you can make good decisions about your activities and destinations.  Use a reliable weather information website like NOAA  or the National Weather Service.

If you are in an area that has cell service, then a weather appwith emergency weather notification is a great thing to have set up.  They have a free and paid version.  The app will send you a notification when there are watches and warnings for the area you are in.  Be sure to have your app set up to notify you even if your other notifications are off and also have your location setting turned on.

Alertness

Have your weather radios set up to alert you when there is a threat.  There are different kinds of weather radio options. We have one we can crank if all the other options (solar, batteries, electrical outlet plugin) fail or are unavailable.

Having a radio that doubles as a walkie-talkie can be a good choice to make the most of small space storage.

Frio River near Garner State Park, Texas.

Have a weather contingency plan.  What will you do if the weather suddenly changes and you are in danger?  Everyone on your trip should have a job to do and know how to do it in case of an emergency evacuation.

In case of an emergency, how will you make contact with help?  What is cell service is lost? Using emergency radios can make the difference in campground weather safety.

Action

Have a plan on what to do if there is threatening weather that may put you in danger.

Know where you are – use a GPS to help identify your location in case you need it.

Know your evacuation plan:  If you need to evacuate where are you going?  Are you going to stick it out?

Use your weather radios to keep abreast of changes in weather in your area.

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. “It may be too late the second time,” Texas Park & Wildlife Department officials said. “The first time we can get them out by land, the second time it will be by boat if we can get to them at all.”

Don’t attempt to drive through flooded roads, even if the water looks shallow. “If you can’t see the road, don’t try it,” the Texas Park and Wildlife official said. “It’ll be a deadly mistake.”

Watch out for downed power lines and do not go near them, even around residences.

If you get a weather notification for an approaching storm of any kind, start to clean up your campsite and put things away that could potentially become airborne in a wind gust situation.  Your RV windows, motorcycles and your camping neighbors will love you for it.

A few things to remember:

Have flashlights ready in case of power outage and you don’t have RV house batteries.

Have a weather radio and/or weather app set to alert you when there is a weather event

Have activity appropriate apparel and shoes for your outings in case of unexpected weather.  Dress in layers to avoid discomfort in changes of temperatures.

Keep a positive attitude!  You can’t control the weather but you can wait out bad weather by planning to have games and activities to do when bad weather strikes.

If your plans have to change because of weather, be sure to have some alternate activities planned.  A stash of games and cards can turn a disappointment into another kind of fun!

Texas flood.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

The Incredible True Story of the ‘Miracle Girl’

Believing in miracles, coincidences, and serendipity can be a stunning endeavor. Many people consider them a lucky break, a fluke, or happenstance. But it only takes a second, an eighth of an inch, or some other instance to stumble upon a blessing or make a difference in life.

Linda Morgan

At any given moment, at any location, by any given person, lives can be moved and shaped by our decisions, actions, or circumstances.  

Job 9:10
“He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles.”

It’s been 65 years ago this month. ABC Radio Network’s Peabody Award winner, Edward P. Morgan maintained his professional composure while broadcasting the most challenging newscast of his life. Based in New York City, Morgan reported the collision of two ocean liners in the Atlantic Ocean off the Massachusetts coast.

Edward P. Morgan

Later, Morgan would become known as an anchor with Howard K. Smith on ABC television covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a press panelist between the campaign debates of Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon, and a hands on reporter at presidential nominating conventions. But on the night of July 25, 1956 as he announced the details of the disaster at sea, his listeners had no knowledge that his 14-year-old daughter was on one of the vessels.

During the broadcast, Morgan was handed a list of 52 dead passengers from the crashing of the S.S. Stockholm into the luxury liner S.S. Andrea Doria.

As the ships separated and the Andrea Doria started to sink, rescue and first aid efforts began almost immediately. Passengers were escorted to lifeboats while six vessels in the area closed in.

Morgan had announced that among those survivors were Hollywood actresses Ruth Roman and Betsy Drake (wife of Cary Grant).  Also on board were Philadelphia mayor Richard Dilworth and a man named Mike Stoller, who later wrote many Elvis Presley hits such as “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Treat Me Nice.”

Mike Stoller and Elvis Presley

This was the last night at sea of their Trans-Atlantic trip from Naples, Italy to New York.

“It was a very foggy night and the fog horns had been sounding regularly for hours,” Anna Maria Conti, who was traveling with her mother Lucia, explained. “The ship was due to dock at 9:00 a.m. the next morning… we proceeded to the ballroom and listened to the band for a while before retiring for the night.”

“About an hour later, we were startled from our sleep by people screaming and yelling outside our cabin and opened the door to see what was going on. People were scrambling around trying to find other family members in other cabins. Someone shouted that we were sinking, others thought there was a fire.”

S.S. Andrea Doria

“Many of the passengers were barefooted, in their nightclothes, and panic stricken. My mother and I decided to get dressed quickly, put on our life jackets and report to our muster station as we had practiced on our second day out to sea. Our muster station was located in the main ballroom of the cabin class section of the ship.”

“We had difficulty getting dressed as we were staggering and trying to stand upright and assumed it was the rough ocean. When we left our cabin, we noticed the floor was no longer level and we could not close the door. I know now the ship was listing. It was difficult to walk and stand upright while trying to get to our muster station. We had to hold on to the railings in the corridors to move. There was panic, confusion and chaos. There were no announcements on the intercom.”

Andrea Doria listing

The Contis eventually reached the main ballroom where they found many passengers assembled.

They waited for “instructions or information on the intercom but it was silent. The only sounds we heard were those of distant screams, broken glass and furniture sliding across the room as the ship continued to list. We still did not know what was happening. Tables, chairs, and musical instruments slid across the room while we waited and prayed. Two nuns that were in the room with us left. A priest came in and gave general absolution to everyone and also left. Where were they going? For sure we thought this was the end.”

“Thinking we had nothing to lose, we decided to go up the stairs and on deck. Some passengers had gone before us and others after us. To reach the upper deck on the starboard side of the ship we were forced to crawl up the stairs on our hands and knees due to the severely listing ship. It was impossible to stand up. While crawling, we had to dodge sliding furniture and broken glass which was all over the floors and stairs.”

“We finally reached the upper deck and couldn’t believe what we saw. Passengers were leaving the ship. If we had not ventured up on deck from the main ballroom, we might never have known that the ship was sinking and that passengers were being evacuated.”

Thinking death was imminent, Conti cherishes the next moments, in her eyes, a miracle. Suddenly, the dense fog lifted. In the distance they could see the bright welcoming lights of the luxury liner, Ile de France, which was traveling outbound from New York.

Andrea Doria and Ile de France

When the Andrea Doria sent the SOS, the captain of the Ile de France,  Raul De Beauden, immediately ordered that the ship reverse her course.

Captain Beauden and his crew would soon be rescuing the Contis and 751 other passengers, “many half-naked,” from the doomed Andrea Doria. He kept the Ile de France a safe 500 feet away and lowered his desperately needed lifeboats for the sinking ship’s passengers.

“It seemed like a mirage in the middle of the ocean,” Conti said. “The lifeboats were evacuating the passengers of the Andrea Doria to the Ile de France with the assistance of other smaller boats. Crew members and some of the passengers helped women and children to climb up over the side of the ship to rope ladders and descend to waiting life boats. It was a long way down and many people fell into the ocean screaming. My mother urged me to go first and she would follow. As terrified as I was, I knew that at 19 I could physically climb down that rope ladder.”

“I had doubts that my 56 year old mother would follow or be able to climb down,” Conti remembered. “I couldn’t take the chance that she would not and the crew was rushing us to move quickly as time was running out. I refused to climb over until my mother did first and with the aid of others we helped her over the side of the ship. I remember yelling down to her to ‘hold tight’ reassuring her that I was right behind her. We made it to a waiting lifeboat safely. Praise the Lord!”

S.S. Stockholm postcard

But on the list of those who did not survive  were radio news broadcaster Edward P. Morgan’s daughter, Linda, along with her half-sister, 8-year-old Joan.

Linda’s  mother and stepfather had bedded down in the upper deck of Cabin 54, while she and Joan slept in Cabin 52.

While others onboard heard the crash, Linda’s family directly experienced the terror when the Stockholm smashed 30 feet into their side of the ship. At 11:11 p.m. the two ships began pulling apart as scraping sparks showered the water.  

Prior to the voyage, Andrea Doria Captain Piero Calamai sought a trip postponement due to steering and stability problems. Because it was the height of the summer travel season and the ship was completely booked, his request to place the vessel into drydock for repairs was denied.

While Andrea Doria started her 230-plus feet descent to the ocean bed, Stockholm somehow remained afloat. One of the crew members, thirty-six year old Bernabe Polanco Garcia, surveying the damages, heard a familiar language above him.

Someone was calling in Spanish among the mangled steel of the Stockholm’s bow. He walked up and toward the call to hear the words “Madre! Madre! Dónde esta Mama” (“Mother! Mother! Where is my mother?”).  On his hands and knees he crawled forward and found a young teenage girl in yellow pajamas. She looked up from the mattress she was still on. It was Linda Morgan.

Miraculously, as Stockholm’s bow crushed through the Andrea Doria, it lodged just under  Linda’s bed in such a way that it  hurled her at least 80 feet onto its own front deck. She landed just behind a 30-inch  sea breaker that spanned the full width of the ship. Below her were crew quarters in the forward section where five crew members were killed and others injured.

Captain John Shea, commander of the USNS Pvt. William H. Thomas, directed rescue operations for almost six hours. He classified the cause of so many people being saved was due to  “a miracle.” With over 30 years of experience Shea said he had never seen a rescue operation proceed so smoothly.

Captain John Shea

“It is certainly unusual to get so many survivors off a sinking ship safely,” he observed. “If this happened four months from now it would be a different story. In cold weather there would be lives lost. You could bet on it.”

“A thing like that would happen once in a lifetime,” he continued. “If the fog hadn’t lifted when it did it would have been bad, very bad.”

Ile de France at New York harbor.

Naturally, Linda’s  name was not on the register of persons rescued from Andrea Doria lifeboats. She was assumed dead or missing at sea. Upon the Stockholm’s arrival at New York, she was taken to St. Vincent Hospital with a broken arm, kneecaps, and minor injuries. Around the world, the press reported her as the “Miracle Girl.”

Stockholm arrives in New York

During his broadcast the following day, Morgan, whose credo was “to be as fair as possible but as critical as possible,” revealed he had just returned from meeting his daughter at the dock. She had survived the collision, and was indeed the “Miracle Girl.” This emotional announcement became one of the most memorable in radio news history.

“To all those, of whatever nationality, who participated in the rescue operations following the tragic collision between the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm I extend personal congratulations and admiration,” President Dwight D. Eisenhower extended his “personal congratulations and admiration” to those involved in rescue operations.

President Eisenhower


When her Spanish-speaking rescuer, Polanco, went to the hospital the next weekend to pay her a visit, administrator Sister Loretta Bernard presented him with a Miraculous Medal Of Our Lady.

Mr. Morgan, who had worked in Mexico City where Linda was born, greeted him with an enthusiastic squeeze. “Hombre, hombre,” Mr. Morgan reacted. “Man, man how can I ever thank you?”

Linda grew up graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, moved to Washington D.C and met a coworker named Phillip at the Office of Economic Opportunity. Phillip had been a captain piloting B-47 bombers in the United States Air Force and later became the executive secretary of the Peace Corps during the Kennedy administration. When he met Linda, Phillip was a special assistant to the director of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity under President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Her mother, Jane Cianfarra painfully survived on the Andrea Doria, but on each anniversary of the July 25th disaster she would sink into depression thinking of her daughter Joan and the remembrance of seeing her husband take his last breath.. It was on a  July 25th in 1967 that she died. The following year Linda and Phillip were married and moved to San Antonio in 1970, where she became active in civic affairs. 

Linda, then and now.

“At 14, you think you live forever,” she said in 1997. “I learned otherwise earlier than most. The accident made me more cautious in the physical things, but less afraid of growing old and more adventurous in the mental things. I was pleased when we moved from Washington, where people live such public lives, to Texas, where people accept you for what you are and do.”

“I never understood the attention I got because I didn’t do anything, I just survived,” she continued. “I was once given a life-saving award, but I didn’t save any lives. I just survived. I couldn’t take credit for anything.”

“My husband’s a pilot,” Linda was quoted in the book “Saved!” by William Hoffer. “We fly all over. We hike and canoe and climb. I feel life is to be lived to the fullest. Life is precious. There’s a very thin line between when you’re living and when you’re not.”

Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum

Linda earned a master’s degree in Library Science from Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, and master’s degree in Art History from the University of Texas, Austin. She worked for seven years at the San Antonio Art Museum and later became the chief curator of the highly respected Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum.

She was the founding curator of the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts and has authored books on the history of stage design in Europe, Russia and the United States. She’s been a member of the Historic Review Board and the San Antonio Conservation Society. Recently a permanent endowment fund in her name was formally announced to provide support to grow community gardens, harvest stations, water catchment systems and training opportunities throughout the city.

 As for husband Phillip, he became Chief Justice of the 4th Court of Appeals and a future respected mayor of San Antonio–the Honorable Phil Hardberger.

Linda and Phil Hardberger

In 1977, he piloted a single-engine plane to re-create Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic on the event’s 50th anniversary. In 2007, Hardberger was honored by the Federal Aviation Administration with the Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award for 50 years of piloting planes safely.

The most popular mayor in San Antonio history (approval rating of 86%), he expanded the River Walk, brought integrity back to city leadership and led the acquisitions of more parks.

A signature Voelcker dairy farm and homestead was acquired in 2007 and turned into a park. In recognition, the City Council in late 2009 named it Phil Hardberger Park.

Get Your Natural Vitamins A & D from the Sea!

Click here for GREEN PASTURE

__________________________

What Lies Beneath Texas?

New and interesting book by award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Click for Information

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

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.

Boost Your Emergency Preparedness With This Scouting Wisdom

Boost your emergency preparedness with the 20 mnemonics below. 

Wait! You don’t know what a mnemonic is? It’s a tool that helps us remember certain facts or large amounts of information. They can come in the form of a song, rhyme, acronym, image, phrase, or sentence.

Remember “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue…”?

Mnemonics help us remember facts and are particularly useful when the order of things is important. 

1 – Treating shock

“Face is red, raise the head; face is pale, raise the tail.”

2 – Warning signs of a stroke

Think FAST:

Face – One side of smile droops.
Arms – Do they have equal strength?
Speech – Is it slurred?
Time – If you observe these, get them to a hospital quick.

3 – Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia

“Hot and dry, sugar high; cold and clammy, need some candy.”

4 – Dehydration

If you’re drinking enough water, your urine should be “Clear and Copious.”

5 – Poisonous plants

“Leaves of three, let it be.” Also, for the non-leafed seasons of the year, “Don’t touch the hairy vines!”

6 – Treating diarrhea

Switch to the BRAT or BRATTY diet:

Banana
Rice
Applesauce
Toast

Some like to add T and Y to get BRATTY:
Tea
Yogurt

7 – Using a fire extinguisher

Cool things off with the PASS technique:

Pull the pin
Aim at the base of the fire
Squeeze the trigger
Sweep across the fire

8 – Proper winter camping attire

Stay warm, but not too warm, by getting COLD:

Clean – dirty clothes lose their loft and get you cold.
Overheat – never get sweaty; strip off layers to stay warm but not too hot.
Layers – dress in synthetic layers for easy temperature control.
Dry – wet clothes (and sleeping bags) also lose their insulation.

9 – Diagnosing hypothermia

Look for the “umble” family. Does the person fumble, mumble, stumble, and grumble?

10 – Identifying poisonous snakes

Looking at the color of bands works for some varieties of snakes. Remember “red on yellow, kill a fellow; red on black, friend of Jack.”

12 – When you’re on fire

Just as we learned as kids: “stop, drop, and roll.”

13 – The ABCs of CPR

ABC in its original form stood for “Airway, Breathing, Circulation.”

Nearly all groups still use ABC in some form, but others add D for defibrillation using an AED.

14 – Determining a person’s medical history

This one is usually for the pros, but when interviewing a patient, take a SAMPLE:

Signs and Symptoms
Allergies
Medications
Past medical history
Last oral intake
Events leading up to the injury and/or illness

15 – Signs of a fracture

Think SLIPDUCT:

Swelling
Loss of function
Irregularities on the bone surface, such as depressions or lumps
Pain
Deformity
Unnatural movement
Crepitus, a sound similar to scrunching a bag of frozen peas heard/felt when the two ends of a broken bone grate together
Tenderness

16 – Saving someone from drowning

“Reach, throw, row, go.” But others suggest starting with “talk.” “Always try to talk them back first.”

17 – Conditions that could cause unconsciousness

They’re summarized in the longest mnemonic of the article: FISH SHAPED.

Faint
Infantile convulsions
Shock
Head injury
Stroke
Heart attack
Anaphylaxis
Poisoning
Epilepsy
Diabetes

19 – How to treat a sprained ankle or other body part

Remember RICE.

Rest the injured area. Ice the sprain. Compress with wrap or bandage. Elevate the injured area.

20 – An essential rule of camping

“Dark sky at night, you’re up too late; Dark sky in the morning, you are up too early.”

Clever Tip #3: Make a Portable Toilet When Your Septic or Sewage is Out

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.

Campers use these.

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.