Family self-reliance is making sure in the event of a disaster your loved ones know the “Family Plan” and how to execute properly. It is important your family’s basic needs are being met and that they are safe. Knowledge through communication is the key to making sure your family is prepared during an emergency. Disasters can strike without warning, so all family members should know who to contact and where to meet depending on the emergency at hand.


Step 1- Emergency Evacuation & Shelter Chart

Create two blueprint drawings of your home. One blueprint in the case of an evacuation and the other in the case of shelter needed. The evacuation chart should show every possible exit in the home, as well as simple instructions. These charts should be easily understood by every member of your family, then placed in a common area of the home.

Download Free Escape Grid


Step 2- Teach Your Children

Children can feel the stress of an emergency in a very deep way. It is important to teach them about natural hazards like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, etc. But how do you know how the right way to explain all this? Knowing your child will help you determine how best to explain emergencies to them. Some kids can handle hearing about tornadoes while others may need to be eased into the concept. The goal is not to scare your child into thinking the world is going to end, but that they have the tools to decision make if the situation arises.

An understanding of cognitive development in children might help to know what they might be ready to handle.

  • Children 2 to 5- have developed the skills to focus attention for extended periods, recognize previously encountered information, recall old information, and reconstruct it in the present. For Example, a child in this age range can remember an event that happened (or story told to them), then relay that information to a friend at school.
  • Children 5 to 7- learn how to focus and use their cognitive abilities for specific purposes. For example, children can now comprehend stories or facts have been relayed to them.
  • Older Children start to develop and choose specific strategies for approaching a given learning task, monitor their comprehension of information, and evaluate their progress toward completing a learning task.


Step 3- A Walk Through

  • Gather everyone in your family together to go over the Evacuation/Shelter Charts you previously created.
  • Walk through your home and inspect all of the possible exits and escape routes.
  • Make sure the escape routes are clear and doors/windows can be opened easily.
  • Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor’s house, mailbox, playground) a safe distance outside your home.
  • Choose #1 person (mom) & #2 person (dad) to be the point of contact for everyone.
  • If there are infants or persons with mobility limitations, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them. Assign a backup person too in case the designee is not home during the emergency.
  • Test your walk through! It is suggested to be tried twice a year making the drill as realistic as possible, but remember the objective is not to scare so telling the children there will be a drill can be just as effective as a surprise drill.



Every family should have an easy-to-grab bag for each member of the family which includes all needed food,water, and supplies to last at least 3 days. After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days and being prepared means having the below items. You will also want to consider what unique needs your family might have (pets, infants, seniors, etc.).

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare separate grab bags for home, work, and vehicles.

4 Person 72 Hour Kit Backpacks


After a fire, hurricane, or other major disaster you likely won’t be able to return to your home until after the danger has passed. Wait for the officials to tell you it is safe to return. After you return, take as many pictures to document as much damage as possible.

  • Secure your property by whatever means necessary. Every homeowners policy requires you to take responsible steps to minimize the harm to your property. So, after a fire, if the structure is still burning you must contact the fire department to prevent another flare-up.
  • Contact your insurance company, mortgage company, landlord (if applicable), lawyer, or any other relative agency to inform them of what has happened.
  • Make sure the insurance company acts promptly. In some states they must send you a “notice of intentions” within 30 days of receiving your claim.
  • Keep track of all of your living expenses while you’re out of your home. Your policy may include a “loss of use” clause which entitles you to reimbursement.



We’d love to hear from our ReadyFamily and how they are staying prepared!



Development: Information Processing https://www.gulfbend.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=12760&cn=28Child & Adolescent

Get a Start on Your Garden, Now

I was working on my “Honey-Do” list on Saturday which included pulling out the old squash and tomato plants from the garden and tilling the ground preparing it for the winter.  My wife is the primary coordinator and director of all things pertaining to our yearly garden and I’m just the cheap labor.

We have a friend who has a greenhouse and loves to start all her plants from seeds. We typically get our tomato plants from her and they are just the best.  We don’t have a snazzy greenhouse like she does but have always wanted to learn more about starting our own plants from seeds.

I came across this article about starting with seeds and growing great plants even indoors during the winter.  I wanted to share this with you because I’ve always felt growing a garden is an important part of being independent and properly prepared.

This article is from “thesurvivalmom” and is entitled “25 Different Ways to Start seeds”

No matter the time of year, you can always get seeds started for the upcoming growing season or for growing indoors, and by knowing some creative ways to start seeds, you can save money. I’ve started seeds in muffin tins, milk cartons, and tiny clay pots. There’s no need to buy any type of special starting pots if money is tight or you just want to recycle whatever happens to be around the house.

When should you start these seeds? Well, that’s a topic for a different post, but you can track down planting charts on your county’s extension office website. These websites are invaluable resources, free, the information is public domain, and you should definitely know about them! Find the one for your county or do a search online for “-your county name- extension”.

Once you’re on that site, look around for gardening information and a planting chart. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, then search a different county close by as long as they have a similar climate.

By the way, if you’re new at gardening or feel you don’t have that much knowledge or experience; stick with advice from your extension office. The plants they recommend have been proved in trials to succeed in your area and their advice is all based on research.

Start seeds with items you probably already have at home

1)  Use single and larger size water bottles. Cut off the top and then place the top of the water bottle inside the bottom half spout side down. This allows the water to drain into the bottom portion and avoid soggy roots. Another way to do this is to plant the seeds in the bottom portion and then place the top over the planted seeds with the cap on. This will create a humid microclimate for the seeds and seedlings.

2)  Cut milk jugs partially in half so you have something like a hinged top. Once the seeds are planted in the soil, put the top back over the planting to help retain moisture.

3)  Use a cardboard box and coffee filters. Place your coffee filter in a cup and fill with soil and seed. Take the filter out of the cup and put in the cardboard box. Place these filled filters side by side so they don’t fall over.

4)  Here’s a classic — egg cartons. If you use cardboard cartons, you can cut them apart and place the entire cup in your garden plot. The cardboard will disintegrate and allow the root system to expand into the existing soil.

5)  Recycle juice cartons. Make sure you put drainage holes in the bottom.

6)  Use half or ¾ of a lemon rind. When the weather is right, you can plant the whole thing directly into the ground.

7)  Go through your old Mason jars, chipped cups, and bowls and use those for your plantings.

8)  Clean eggshells can be used both for planting seeds and then transplanting directly into the outdoor soil. Poke holes in the bottom of the egg for water to drain. These little pots can dry out easily, so keep an eye on the moisture.

9)  Use toilet paper or paper towel tubes. Cut into 3″ lengths. These work great for plants that don’t like being transplanted because you can place the seedlings into the ground, cardboard tube and all.

10)  Recycle old food containers — the ones with missing lids, pasta sauce stains, and melt marks from the microwave

11)  Another way to use old milk and juice jugs is to make a mini-greenhouse. Cut the jug in half horizontally. Place top of jug back on top. Use duct tape on one side to create a “hinge”. This allows you to check your plant and adjust the roof of your “greenhouse”.

12)  An old milk jug can also be hung vertically. Cut the jug so the handle can be used for hanging outdoors.

13)  Use rotisserie chicken and plastic salad containers. They are often called “clamshell” containers. Store bought fruit and fast food is often packaged in them. They are ready-made mini-greenhouses.

14)  Make seed pots out of old newspapers. They can be planted right into the ground. Cut the newspaper into strips, get them wet, and wrap them around a small glass jar or cup. Let it dry and remove jar. You can also fold or roll the newspaper into any shape you need.

15)  Sow seeds on a paper towel, napkins or coffee filters. To germinate seeds, place seeds on a damp towel, napkins or filter. Put into a plastic bag. Store in a dark and cool place. When you see seedlings sprout, move to a small pot with loose soil.

Retail or dollar store items

16)  Cake pans and muffin tins are perfect for seeds.

17)  Cookies sheets with a raised edge make great drip pans to place your smaller pots on.

18)  Dollar store plastic bins that are about shoe box sized. The lids help hold in moisture.

19)  For tiny seeds, use ice cube trays with holes drilled in the bottom.

20)  A deep bucket (like mop bucket) will accommodate root veggies and squash

21)  This one is fun for kids. Use ice cream cones! Once the seeds sprout and it’s time to move them outside, you can plant directly into the ground.

22)  Solo cups! Write with a permanent marker on the outside which plant is on the inside.

23)  The kid’s toy aisle at the dollar store is perfect for finding small buckets.

24)  Look for tiny gardening pots at garden and home improvement stores. Use them for peas, squash, and beans.

25)  You’ll also find beginner gardening kits, tray, or seed pods are available at home improvement stores and nurseries.

 Tips for sprouting those seeds

1)  Rotate pots that are by windows. You want all sides of your little seedling to get sunshine.

2)  Ask your neighbors and friends for items they may be tossing out.

3)  Some plants, like lettuce, you can keep in your home and eat from all season long.

4)  Cover seeds with plastic until they germinate

5)  Let the plants soak up water from the bottom. Poke holes in all of your pots.

6)  Check your plants every day. Soil should be moist, not wet.

7)  Check the seed packet for planting instructions.

8)  Prepare your plants for the great outdoors.

We All Have Good Intentions, Don’t We?

I have worked with many hundreds of families over the last 35 years in an attempt to assist them with their food storage and preparedness needs.  Very seldom have I come across families who didn’t feel preparedness was prudent or important.  In most cases, for those who chose not to engage and start their preps, it was an issue of priorities.

Most everyone with give preparedness lip service and declare it really is a priority for them to be prepared, but… there always seems to be something else that ranks higher on their priority list.

Granted, spending one’s hard-earned money on food storage just doesn’t compare to the sex appeal of a new car or boat, an exotic vacation or new furniture and a 70” 4K flat screen TV.  Intentions may be good but “life” just gets in the way.

It has been said that storing food for our families may be as essential to our temporal salvation today as boarding the Ark was for the people in the days of Noah.

If that’s the case, one simply has to ask a couple of questions. First – How many people who did not board the Ark survived?  Second – How many people who waited to start building their own arks until it started to rain survived?

If the answer to both those questions is ZERO, it might be worth one’s time to re-evaluate the family’s priority list.

I came across an entertaining parable the other day entitled “The Book of Gomer”.  It tells the story of a couple who lived at the time of Noah and how they reacted to his council to prepare.

The Book of Gomer
A Parable
Author Unknown

These are the generations of Gomer, son of Homer, son of Omer. And in the days of Gomer, Noah, the Prophet, went unto the people saying, “Prepare ye for the flood which is to come, yea, build yourselves a boat, that ye may not perish.”

Now, Gomer was a member of the Church, and well respected by his friends and neighbors. And Gomer’s wife said unto him, “Come, let us build unto ourselves a boat as the Prophet Noah hath commanded, that we may not perish in the flood.” But behold, Gomer saith unto his wife, “Worry not, dear wife, for if the flood comes the government will provide boats for us.”

And Gomer did not build a boat. And Gomer’s wife went unto Noah and she returned saying, “Behold, Honey, the Prophet saith unto us, “Build a boat, that we may preserve ourselves, for the government pays men not to grow trees, wherefore the government hath not the lumber to build for you a boat.”

And Gomer answered saying, “Fear not, oh wife, for am I not well respected of the Church? Wherefore, the Church will provide for us a boat, that we will perish not.”

And Gomer’s wife went again unto Noah, and she returned unto Gomer, saying, “Behold, mine husband, the Prophet saith that the Church hath not enough lumber to build a boat for everyone, wherefore, mine husband, build for us a boat that we might not perish in the flood.” And Gomer answered her saying, “Behold, if we build a boat, when the flood cometh, will not our neighbors overpower us and take from us our boat; wherefore, what doth it profit a man to build a boat?”

And Gomer’s wife went again unto Noah and she returned, saying, “Behold, the Prophet saith, build unto yourselves a boat, and have faith, for if ye do the Lord’s bidding, He will preserve your boat for you.” But Gomer answered his wife, saying, “Behold, with this inflation, the price of wood has gone sky high, and if we wait awhile, perhaps the price will go down again. And then I will build for us a boat.”

And Gomer’s wife went again unto Noah, and she returned saying, “Thus saith the Prophet, build for yourselves a boat RIGHT NOW, for the price of wood will not go down, but will continue to go up. Wherefore, oh husband, build for us a boat, that we may perish not.”

But Gomer answered his wife, saying, “Behold, for 120 years Noah hath told us to build a boat, to preserve us from the flood, but hath the flood come? Yea, I say, nay. Wherefore, perhaps the flood will not come for another hundred and twenty years.”

And Gomer’s wife went again unto Noah and returned saying, “The Prophet saith, he knows it has been 120 years, but nevertheless, the flood will come, wherefore, build unto yourselves a boat.”

And Gomer answered her saying, “Wherewith shall we get the money to build ourselves a boat, for are we not now making monthly payments on our new four-horse chariot? Wherefore, when our payments end, perhaps we shall build ourselves a boat.”

And Gomer’s wife went again unto Noah and returned saying, “Behold, the Prophet saith that we should cut down on our recreation, and our vacations, and even give each other lumber for Christmas, that we might thereby get enough lumber to build a boat.”

But Gomer saith unto her, “He asketh too much!  Are we to cease enjoying life, just because we must build a boat?”

Wherefore, Gomer built not a boat. But behold, one day Gomer heard thunder in the sky, and he feared exceedingly and he ran, yea, even to the lumberyard to buy lumber. But behold, the lumber store was crowded with great multitudes, all seeking to buy lumber, and there was not enough lumber to be found for the multitudes.

And on the same day were all the fountains of the deep opened, and the windows of heaven were broken up, and the floods came – and behold, Gomer had no boat. And as the water rose above Gomer’s waist, his wife saith unto him,

“Behold, Honey, I told thee so!”

I know it’s easy to make light of the parable of Gomer and his family without really evaluating our own list of reasons why we have chosen to put off preparing.  If we’re honest with ourselves and are willing to sit down with our families and re-evaluate our priority lists, it might be helpful to ask ourselves the follow question:

Is there anything you currently own, or could own, that you would not be willing to trade for food if it meant the survival of your family?

I would hope the answer to that question would be a resounding NO.  In fact, I believe we would trade all the wealth in the world for food to keep our families alive.  When it comes right down to it, there would be nothing more valuable than food if we were in a collapse scenario and everything fell apart.

So if you agree with this logic, would that warrant moving preparedness and food storage any higher on your preparedness list?  It’s time to move from “good intentions” to taking action.

30 Last Minute Ways to Prepare for an Emergency

As Hurricane Michael makes landfall in the panhandle of Florida, there are thousands of people who are panicked about not being prepared for what could be a huge storm and could destroy buildings, flood neighborhoods and knock out the power for weeks on end.

I personally witnessed this while in the New Orleans area when Hurricane Katrina hit.  It was absolutely devastating!  Hurricanes can adversely affect millions of people but they don’t happen without days of warning.

I live in earthquake territory and an earthquake can strike at any time without the slightest warning.  It would be such a blessing if we could get a couple of days notice before an earth quake hit.  The potential loss of life and loss of personal property would be greatly reduced with such a warning.

Hopefully those in the path of an oncoming hurricane will take it seriously enough that the few days of preparation time they have will be spent wisely.

Here is a list of 30 last minute ways one could prepare for an oncoming hurricane. These items are actually good for anyone going forward to be prepared for the unexpected. You can never have too many preps, right

30 Last Minute Ways To Prepare

1)  Fill your gas tank.  Gas stations are known to have lines over 100 cars long after such an event.  Please keep your tank full or at least 3/4 full whenever possible.

2)  Cash, small bills (ATM’s and credit cards will not work when power is off).

3)  Turn your fridge and freezer to a colder setting and keep the doors closed if you lose power.

4)  Space in your freezer?  Then fill zip-lock bags with water to fill in empty space in your freezer.

5)  Charge ALL your electronic devices and keep them charged.

6)  Put together an emergency contact list with names, phone numbers, and emails.

7)  Gather up important documents and place them in a secure binder.

8)  Get prescriptions filled (90 days if possible).

9)  Secure a hand can opener.

10)  Make a few meals and snacks that you can store without power.

11)  Do ALL your laundry NOW.

12)  Pick up a solar phone charger.

13)  Secure batteries for your flashlights (better yet get a solar flashlight).

14)  If you use oxygen, prepare to leave and get backups needed.

15)  Get gas and oil for your chainsaw, you may need it.

16)  Have hand sanitizer and baby wipes available and ready to use.

17)  If you have N-95 masks locate them so you can use them if needed.

18)  Store water in buckets to use in the toilet.

19)  Take pictures of every room and closet in your home for insurance purposes. Don’t forget your garage.

20)  You can use the water heater water as long as your water is not contaminated. Turn off the intake valve and use the spigot on the front of the tank.

21)  Put together an emergency toilet if the water lines are shut off. Make a toilet with a large garbage bag, duct tape, and kitty litter. Yes, store lots of black garbage bags, you will need them.

22)  Put an extra pair of glasses in your 72-hour kit if you need to evacuate.

23)  Get a battery powered radio so you can hear what’s going on.

24)  Put together a plan to evacuate if the city officials suggest you leave.

25)  Be sure and stock up on pet food and make them a 72-hour kit with food, food dishes, vaccination records, extra leash, and harness.

26)  Grab some of those yard solar lights, they are great to bring into your home each night and they recharge with the sun.

27)  Make an evacuation list of all the critical things you don’t want to leave behind if you are evacuated.

28)  Store water, at least four-gallons per person per day. Have some portable containers.

29)  Pick up a portable water purifier.

30)  Stock up on paper plates, paper cups, and plastic silverware.

Here’s some additional tips:

If you’ve had to evacuate your home for an extended period of time, here’s a tip to know if your freezer food (especially meat) has been thawed too long while you were gone.  Fill a small open plastic container with water and freeze it. Then, put a penny on top of the frozen water. If you come home and the penny is no longer on top, assume your food is not good to eat.

Be aware that you may not be able to come home for days. Freeways and roads into cities will be closed by authorities until the area is deemed safe. Be prepared for cars to overheat, bring car tools, and bring an old fashion paper map. If you evacuate – take your food and water with you.  Cities 100 miles or more away will be swamped with evacuees and those stores will also run out of some basics such as water, bread, and milk.  Plus, if you happen to get stranded your family will have supplies.

Back up your computer hard drive(s) to an external drive that you can carry with you; keep a list of doctors, medications, etc., in your wallet.

It’s obviously best to be in a constant state of preparedness but if you know a hurricane is bearing down on you, please that the precious few days to make doubly sure everything is in order.

Close the Door Tight!

I love it when the family comes over to visit.  Usually on Sunday’s, my wife will make a big feast and all the kids and grandkids will come over for a great meal, visiting, games and the traditional stroll around the block in the cool of the evening.

My wife loves to spoil the grandkids and always has treats and goodies for them when they come to visit.  There’s a special cupboard that is stocked with candy and a special place in the downstairs freezer where they know they can find popsicles and other frozen treats.

There is a rule that they ask first but that rule is often overlooked, especially if there is a treat in the freezer downstairs and my wife is upstairs.  This apparently happened just a couple of weeks ago.  The grandkids got into the freezer and didn’t close the door all the way.

Had this happened upstairs, no big deal.  We would have quickly seen to open door and made sure it was closed tightly.  But since we don’t access the downstairs freezer that often, it ended up going several days with the door open.

Needless to say, everything thawed out.  What a mess!  We ended up having to throw away much of the contents which was especially painful seeing that so much good meat was now not edible.  It was an experience I don’t want to repeat and the grandkids have been sternly reminded to ask first so we know when they’re accessing the freezer.

This got me to thinking about a grid-down scenario.  In light of the recent hurricane Florence on the east coast and the extended power outages that resulted, it makes a lot of sense to “war game” such scenario’s to make sure we are well prepared to weather the storm and make the most of an extended power outage.

Here are eight steps to consider as you evaluate your preparedness level for a power outage.

Hopefully, as the power goes out, you look to your food pantry and know you are well stocked. You have canned goods, dry goods and hopefully a significant amount of long-term food storage stored away.  So how do you plan to cook or heat those items?

Food Preparations during Power Outages

Step 1: What about items in the freezer?

First things first.  Eat the ice cream.  No seriously, don’t actually open your freezer until you feel it’s starting to melt.  It will take some time before items in your freezer thaw and keeping the door shut will extend this time.  If there is snow outside, great!  The world is your ice box!

Step 2: What items will go bad first without a refrigerator?

Take a mental review of items in your fridge that will go bad quickly without being cold; milk, bread, delicate veggies, etc. This will change with your climate and season, in some regions bread on the counter will be fine for a week. My wife will often keep the bread in the refrigerator in the summer to extend its shelf life, it would spoil quickly otherwise. Eat this food first before it goes bad.

Step 3: How is your current cooking device powered?

If you have a gas stove top or wood stove, then you will have heating methods already. However, if you use an electric stove top, crockpot or oven then you will be out of luck. Without a generator for power, you will have to find other ways to cook and prepare your meals.

Step 4: Can you cook or heat meals outside?

A summer thunder storm rolls in and knocks the power out. As the storm clouds clear, it’s dinner time and a great time for a BBQ. You could try cooking meals on a grill outside or cook over a real fire. There are also solar ovens that provide the means to cook food without power outside.  If you live in a place where this is not possible, or don’t want to draw attention to your food, you may have to cook inside.

Step 5: Can you cook meals inside?

A small portable camp stove with one burner could heat foods without power.  You must crack the window open and have a battery operated detector to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from camp stoves. If you chose to invest in a camp stove, be sure to store the fuel canisters as well.

Step 6: What do you have pots to cook your meals in?

Now that you are switching from a stove top to a fire, are you pots durable enough to take the direct contact with fire. Cheap pots from the thrift store could be a simple way to have extra pots in case one gets burned beyond use over the fire. The other option is investing in cast iron pots and pans that won’t get damaged under high heat.

Step 7: When you planned your food storage, did you include foods that need to be cooked or just heated?

Canned and pre-cooked foods that just need to be heated will require much less fuel than items like pasta that needs to be cooked in boiling water. Reducing the need for actually cooking food will make your fuel source last longer. Make sure you include in your food storage sufficient foods that just need to be heated rather than cooked.

Step 8: What items in your food storage don’t require heating at all?

Stock up on protein bars, crackers, jam, peanut butter, jerky, nuts, jellybeans and other items that can be eaten straight from the package. These items eliminate the need for cooking entirely and the need for cooking fuel. In general these items also don’t need to be refrigerated and won’t go back sitting in your pantry waiting for a power outage

Steps to Take Today

1)  Evaluate your food storage and consider how you plan to cook each item.
2)  Invest in the skills to cook over a fire, fireplace, or grill.
3)  Invest in a small camp stove for indoor cooking if needed. (Don’t forget the fuel!)

In Conclusion

Cooking during a power outage can be difficult for those living in apartments without gas stoves, fireplaces, fire pits or gas grills. A simple camp stove can solve your food preparation problem. Focus on foods that require heating, not cooking, bonus if they can be eaten raw. Sleep well, knowing you family is prepared to handle food preparation in the event of a power outage.

7 Signs You are Judging Others

“Judge not” is one of the most popular Bible verses in our society, especially among non-Christians. It seems to fit in with two of our society’s most basic assumptions—that (1) religion is private and (2) morality is relative. People love “judge not” because it seems to be a handy way of saying, “You can’t tell me I’m wrong.” Begin to make a public assessment on just about any moral issue and you’ll see this verse swiftly pulled out as a deflective weapon.

The problem is, Jesus—the one who uttered the words—didn’t share our presuppositions about private religion and relative morality. He was constantly making public judgments, many of them rather striking. In John 7:7 he told his disciples that the world hates him “because I testify about it that its works are evil.” So he couldn’t have meant that we’re all supposed to just throw up our hands and say, “Hey, to each his own. Who am I to judge?”

You judge someone not when you assess their position, but when you dismiss them as a person. Jesus told people that their works were evil. Yet John 3:17 says that God didn’t send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save it. There is a difference between speaking a harsh truth and condemning. Condemning goes beyond saying “This is wrong” to saying, “I don’t want you around anymore.”

It’s what you do after you tell someone the truth that determines whether or not you are condemning—a.k.a. judging—them. When Jesus told us the harsh truth about our sin, he brought us close. He made us, even as sinners, his friends.

The antidote to judging is to remember the gospel. Here are some signs you’re judging others (because you’ve forgotten the gospel):

1) You are more enraged at someone else’s sin than you are embarrassed by your own. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that one of the first signs of Christian maturity was a frustration with the hypocrisy of the church and a desire to separate from it. But the next sign of growth was recognizing that the same hypocrisy in the church is present in oneself. We continue to confront others in their sin, but always while being painfully aware of our own.

2) You refuse to forgive (or when you forgive you refuse to forget). To refuse to forgive someone is to be almost entirely ignorant of the enormity of what God has forgiven you. And to “forgive but not forget” is, as I’ve heard it said, “a distinction without a difference.” It’s just another way of saying, “I’m going to remind you of this all the time and use it as justification for being cold toward you.” In other words, it’s not forgiveness at all. Forgiveness means absorbing the debt and offering love and goodness in return.

3) You “cut off” those who disagree with you. This is the essence of judging. When you disagree strongly with someone—over something like faith or morality or politics—and because you can’t agree you cut them off. You say, in essence, “We can’t really be friends if we disagree on this issue.” The ultimate statement of judgment is, “Depart from me.”

Hear me charitably on this: you have to love the person more than you love your position on a particular issue. That doesn’t mean you ever compromise your position or fail to state it. But it means that you stay committed to loving those who passionately disagree with you.

The best example of this is Jesus with Judas. Even after Judas had betrayed him, Jesus says to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Friend. Jesus offers the hand of friendship to him—and to us!—when we are his betrayers. How can I say “Depart from me” to someone else, when God doesn’t even say that to me?

4) You gossip. What makes gossip so dangerous is that you are judging someone without giving them the chance to change. At least if you judged someone to their face, they could do something about it. (And don’t mask it with a “prayer request” or a classically Southern “bless his heart.”)

5) You refuse to receive criticism. Why do you hate criticism? Isn’t it because you hate to admit that you have faults? But if you understand the gospel, that shouldn’t surprise you. So when others point out your depravity, you should be able to say, “Well, of course. In fact, I could tell you a thing or two you didn’t notice!”

6) You refuse to correct someone’s position. Irony alert. As a Christian, when you refuse to correct someone, it’s for one of two reasons: 1) You don’t believe that the Bible is true, or 2) You don’t think the other person can actually change. But by assuming the other person won’t change and won’t listen, you’re judging and condemning them from the start. You’re consigning them to their sin without ever giving them the chance to receive grace. Which leads me to the last one…

7) You write someone off as hopeless. Listen, we serve a Savior who raises the dead. It shouldn’t phase use if we think someone is hopeless. We are just as hopeless. But if we keep our mouths shut because we think someone is beyond hope—or worse, if we’re just afraid of an awkward interaction—then we’re saying that we would rather our friends suffer the full consequences of their sins than speak up. Where would you be if not for the courage of others to speak difficult truths into your life?

There is a balance here between grace and truth. So don’t judge others by withholding the truth. But don’t judge them by speaking the truth without grace. Instead, give them the grace and truth of the gospel. Truth without grace is judgmental fundamentalism; grace without truth is liberal sentimentality. The gospel combines both.

Getting Free From Anger

I had a sad conversation with a friend the other day.  His mother had recently passed away having lived as a widow for several years.  As his family gathered to mourn her loss, his sister became very vocal as to what money and personal belongings their mother had promised the daughter.  My friend tried to assure her, being the designated executor of her estate, that in due time a fair and appropriate process would be put in place for the distribution of their mother’s assets to all four children.

His sister insisted that before and so-called “fair distribution of assets”, she was entitled to a significant payout and gift of assets.  This created so much contention and hard feelings that several family members refused to even talk to each other at their mother’s funeral.

My friend is absolutely beside himself and holds a deep resentment against his sister for creating so much contention during this difficult and tender time for the family.  He is genuinely concerned about ever being able to restore a loving relationship with his sister.

This experience made me reflect on what is happening to our society today.  It seems as if the need to blame and judge others for what is perceived as some type of offense is pervasive.  It seems as if a growing anger about almost everything is becoming commonplace.  Living in such an environment can be so very destructive to ourselves and others if we refuse to learn and implement the art of forgiveness.

Resentment is one of the most damaging of human emotions. The perception of feeling wronged or betrayed can quickly harden into bitterness if we don’t make the effort to learn to grow past the fault we were dealt. Sometimes it may feel as though holding on to anger empowers us, or that if we forgive then we are approving of the action that hurt us so deeply. But you may be familiar with the cliché, “Holding on to bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Still, suggestions to simply forgive and forget can feel flippant when we attempt to apply them to deep betrayals. Forgiveness is a deeper call to the spirit. It is the act of forgiveness that allows us to extract the beauty that is hidden within painful circumstances. Choosing to “just forget about it,” or to “let it go,” without processing its purpose can lead to a pushing down of your anger, which may resurface later in a much less controlled fashion.

Forgiveness is a common thread across multiple religions and faiths.  One learns quickly that a meager effort to “forget” is not at all the same as forgiving. Forgiveness is a job, but it is worth every effort. Through practice, one can learn that those who hurt us give us a beautiful opportunity to grow in our faith and in our belief in goodness, when we are willing to forgive.

Below are some ideas to consider as you begin the journey of forgiveness in your own situation.

Awareness of being forgiven

Being harmed, particularly if it was unprovoked, can often lead us to a place of self-righteous anger. However, being wronged makes us quick to forget that we ourselves have also harmed others at some point. Perhaps not to the same degree or in the same manner, but at one time or another we have surely inflicted pain on someone we love. Take some time to meditate on the forgiveness you have been afforded in your relationships.

Most spiritual beliefs offer us forgiveness for every aspect of our flawed humanity, and when we take pause to consider how enormous that grace is, how we are forgiven so that we may grow into a more loving person, it makes it difficult to hold on to hatred toward someone who has harmed us.

Ignorance in the person who has harmed you

Most people hurt others because they themselves are hurting in some way. Fear permeates the lives of the hurting, and it can blind them to the real effects of their actions. Many spiritual disciplines call this “spiritual sickness.” It helps, because it reminds us that even though it may feel personal, the harmful act was a result of the perpetrator’s own internal struggles. Just as we may be less likely to resent someone who is bedridden with cancer, so might we be more inclined to forgive a person whose spiritual illness has affected us negatively.

Harmful effects of bitterness on your spirit

Betrayals have the power to bring us to our knees if we allow our anger to settle within us. Once we give resentment the permission to take up residency in our hearts, it has a magnetic effect that pulls negativity toward us. Before long there is a sense that we are victims whenever we are hurt in life, and the weight of bitterness robs us of peace, happiness and love.

On the other hand, meditating on forgiveness is freeing. It enables you to not be held in a prison by the person who has harmed you, but rather to gently accept that although their actions were wrong, you are able to heal from the pain and move on as a stronger, more loving person. Allow their consequences to come from their own journey, as vengeance is not yours, unless you want it to consume your whole life.

Belief in the necessary aspects of pain in your journey

Not all of our lessons in life are easy to swallow. If we are to grow spiritually, there will be lessons along the way that hurt deeply. It catches our attention so that we can make the choice to either learn from it or continue to be harmed by it. If we view the person who harmed us as a vessel who delivers us an opportunity to grow, it opens our hearts up to begin to be grateful for their presence in our lives. Again, it doesn’t mean that we approve of their behavior; it means that we are able to see that the greater good is at work.


All of these concepts are great ideas as we strive toward practicing forgiveness, but nothing is more powerful than plugging into divine help. Prayer allows us to reach out in faith and become conscious that we are not alone in the seemingly cumbersome task of forgiveness. Offering daily prayer for the healing, prosperity and joy of the person who offended you will go a long way in helping to give you empathy for their own experiences. Requests for strength, the ability to forgive, and your own peace and healing will infuse your soul with a fortitude that you may not have thought possible.

Now is the time to start to enjoy the freedom of forgiveness. Old resentments can melt away and you can learn how to prevent new ones from keeping you in bondage. It is a wonderful feeling to be fully alive in this present moment, unshackled by the wrongs of the past.

I Can’t Breathe!

I have an elderly family member who is slowly suffocating.  That was actually difficult to put down in words but it’s even harder to see her suffer.  She has a condition where her lungs are slowly filling with carbon dioxide and she’s not able to exhale hard enough to expel the carbon dioxide from her lungs.  As a result, every day she has a little less lung capacity for oxygen.  She wears oxygen nasal prongs 24/7 and still runs out of breath just walking from one room to another.

Breathing to get the oxygen we need is one of the strongest natural urges we all have.  The panicked feeling that occurs when you get the breath knocked out of you and you can’t breathe for what seems like forever (even though it’s only a few seconds) is a very frightening experience.

So not being able to breathe is a very traumatic way to die and one is definitely aware of what’s happening.  There is though, another way one can die by not getting the oxygen necessary to maintain life, and this way is not painful and can happen without you even knowing it.

I wrote a blog about my personal experience with carbon monoxide poisoning.  Here’s the link:


I came across another excellent article about carbon monoxide poisoning I wanted to share with you especially in light of the upcoming winter season where emergency indoor heating and cooking can create a real problem.

The article is titled, “This is One of the Unspoken Dangers That (Silently and Quickly) Kills During Emergencies”.

It claims the lives of hundreds of unsuspecting victims every year and makes thousands more seriously ill.

This invisible killer is odorless, colorless, and tasteless – and strikes without warning.

Everyone – yes, including you and your family, and even your pets – is at risk of becoming a victim of this insidious poison.

Fortunately, simple precautions can keep you and your family safe.

Carbon Monoxide – a Silent Killer

Every year, at least 430 people die in the U. S. from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency department each year due to accidental CO poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Carbon monoxide is produced every time a fossil fuel is burned. This includes fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces.

Everyone is exposed to small amounts of carbon monoxide throughout the day. However, inhaling too much of it can cause CO poisoning. The actual poisoning occurs when you breathe in this air – especially if you’re in a place that isn’t well ventilated.

When too much carbon monoxide is in the air you’re breathing, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with carbon monoxide. This prevents oxygen from reaching your tissues and organs.

Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more likely to get sick from CO. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can have irreversible brain damage or die from CO poisoning before ever anyone realizes there’s a problem.

Depending on the degree and length of exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause:

●  Permanent brain damage
●  Damage to your heart, possibly leading to life-threatening cardiac complications
●  Fetal death or miscarriage
●  Death

How to Recognize CO Poisoning

The warning signs of CO poisoning can be subtle, but because it is a life-threatening condition, it is important to be vigilant.

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning include dull headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, difficulty breathing, blurred vision, confusion, and loss of consciousness.

If you think you or someone you’re with may have carbon monoxide poisoning, get into fresh air and seek emergency medical care immediately. You should go to the hospital right away if you’ve been exposed to a source of CO, even if you don’t show symptoms of CO poisoning.

If you cannot get to the hospital immediately and someone you are with is unresponsive, not breathing, or not breathing normally, move them away from the source of CO. Call 911 and begin CPR if necessary. Continue CPR until the person begins breathing or emergency help arrives. Even if you are able to resuscitate someone who has been poisoned by CO, please seek emergency medical care. This is not a condition to take lightly, as even minor cases can cause long-term, serious complications including brain damage, heart damage, organ damage, and of course, death.

Note: if you do not know how to perform CPR, please learn as soon as possible so you are prepared in case of an emergency like CO poisoning. The best way to learn is via hands-on instruction, but if you don’t have access to a course, at the very least, buy a guide and study it. In fact, buying a guide to keep on hand is a great idea anyway – even for those who have been trained in CPR.

If you believe YOU have been poisoned by CO, go outdoors immediately and call 911. Don’t drive yourself to the hospital (unless it is your only option) because you may pass out while driving.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A doctor or nurse will take a blood sample to determine the amount of CO in the blood. Once CO levels increase to 70 parts per million (ppm) and above, symptoms become more noticeable.

The best way to treat CO poisoning is to breathe in pure oxygen. This treatment increases oxygen levels in the blood and helps to remove CO from the blood. The emergency healthcare provider will place an oxygen mask over your nose and mouth and ask you to inhale. If you’re unable to breathe on your own, you will be given oxygen through a ventilator.

Pressurized oxygen chambers (also known as a hyperbaric oxygen chambers) are also used to treat CO poisoning. The oxygen chamber has twice the pressure of normal air. This treatment quickly increases oxygen levels in the blood and it’s typically used in severe cases of CO poisoning or to treat CO poisoning in pregnant women.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Risks specific to off-grid and emergency situations

When power outages occur after severe weather, using alternative sources of power can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in a home and poison the people and animals inside.

During any kind of emergency that results in a power outage, you may be so consumed by doing the things you need to do to survive that the thought of CO poisoning doesn’t cross your mind. For this reason, it is important to understand the risks and learn how to prevent poisoning now, while you are clear-headed and can prepare adequately.

One of your first precautionary measures should be installing battery-operated or battery back-up CO detectors near every sleeping area in your home. Check your CO detectors regularly to be sure they are functioning properly.

There are many sources of possible CO poisoning that are commonly used during off-grid events and power outages.

CO is found in fumes produced by portable generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood.

Never use a generator inside your home or garage, even if all the doors and windows are open. Only use generators outside – and be sure to place them more than 20 feet away from your home.

Never use grills, or other gasoline, propane, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, garage, or carport or near doors, windows, or vents. If you have a gas oven, do not attempt to heat your home with it.

Recreational vehicles with gas heaters also pose a risk, so ensure there is plenty of ventilation if your RV burns gas, wood, propane, or other fuel. Buy a CO detector and place it in an area near the source of CO. Be sure to change the batteries regularly.

Don’t sleep near a gas or kerosene space heater.

General prevention

The CDC provides the following CO poisoning prevention tips:

●  Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector, buy one soon.

●  Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.

●  Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open. Keep vents and flues free of debris. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.

●  Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.

●  When you use a generator, use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector in your home too.

●  Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.

●  If it’s too hot, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.

●  If you suspect CO poisoning, call 911 or a health care professional right away.

Source:  http://readynutrition.com/resources/this-is-one-of-the-unspoken-dangers-that-silently-and-quickly-kills-during-emergencies_03092018/

Waste Not, Want Not

I’m sure most of us have heard this phrase, but what does it mean?  It’s an old English proverb first recorded in 1772.  In essence, it means if one is not wasteful, one will not be in need.

Many years ago, I remember hearing a story about a pioneer man who was looking for a wife.  To make sure he was pursuing the type of woman he would want as his wife and mother to his children, he asked three single women if he could watch them bake bread.  The first was an attractive woman who eagerly agreed and went about making several loaves of bread.  She was not an experienced cook and made quite a mess in preparing the dough.  The bread itself was over-cooked and what he witnessed was enough of an indicator that this woman was not what he was looking for.

The next woman was also happy to have this eligible bachelor join her as she made a batch of bread.  She appeared to be far more experienced that the first woman and made several very nice loaves of bread.  What the pioneer man noticed, however, was that the woman didn’t use all the dough she had made and she simply threw away the excess scraps.  This really bothered the man.

The third woman was somewhat reluctant to have the man join her in baking bread as she was very organized and thorough and didn’t want the man getting in the way.  Nevertheless, she consented to have him watch if he sat quietly in the corner.  She was very quick and efficient in how she prepared the dough and formed the loaves.  What impressed the man the most though was the way she used every possible scrap and wasted absolutely nothing.  This, the man told himself, is the woman for me!

Whether the story is true or not isn’t really the issue – it’s the principle behind it all.  We are indeed a very wasteful society and have grown far too accustom to the abundance that is around us.  Times of extreme scarcity and need will bring to focus the most important aspects of survival – the precious and essential nourishment that comes from food.

This reminded me of a book I read, “The Long Walk” about a year long journey of WWII prisoner escapees who walked over 3,000 miles from upper Siberia to India.  I would highly recommend this book.  After surviving on very little food during their journey and almost starving to death, upon returning home, the author of the book, Slavomir Rawicz, was absolutely disgusted at the amount of food we both eat and waste.  Having lived on the other side of the survival equation for a year, he had an understanding of the critical nature of food most people will never experience or appreciate.

There have been times in our history when many similar valuable lessons were learned out of necessity.

The Great Depression was a time of lean years for many in the United States as well as all over the world.  Many people learned valuable lessons on how to make food stretch and take advantage of cheaper processed food that came out during this time.  Many people learned to survive on less and some people went hungry.

When World War II came around, many of these lessons were needed to survive the war and stretch their rationing coupons.  People were encouraged to garden during the Depression and were heavily encouraged to do during the war.  Victory gardens appeared everywhere to help feed the people while more and more food was shipped overseas.

Many of these lessons learned during these eras have been lost.  We as a people are incredibly wasteful now.  Our grocery budgets would be better off if we learned these same lessons and kept them in our kitchens.  Then if we have lean times, we would be better off.

Here are 10 important lessons learned during difficult and lean times.

1)  Fat was never wasted.  Scraps of fat were kept from everything they could be and stored.  Fat from meat was cut off to be used to fry and roast.  Bacon grease was kept in a jar to be used to cook eggs and potatoes.  Fat from cooking meat was reused in cooking other meat and cooking vegetables.  Fat was too precious to waste especially when it became severely rationed during World War II.

2)  Cooking liquids were never just thrown down the drain.  That was wasteful! They were reused in cooking for vegetables.  Rice and pasta could be cooked in water that was previously used in cooking vegetables.  They also thought it gave the rice and pasta flavor.  They would also use the cooking liquids in watering plants and feeding animals.

3)  Leftover meat juices had so many more uses!  Leftover meat juices were used for making soup, cooking rice and pasta, flavoring casseroles and skillets dishes.  Meat juices were poured into a jar to be reused in the next meal.

4)  If the food has to be imported into the country, chances are you would have to live without it.  This was especially true in the United States and Britain during wartime when most of their food was imported into the country.  Many things they could grow themselves, but items like sugar and coffee were severely rationed because they could not produce it themselves.

5)  If people could, they raised their own chickens and planted gardens. Sometimes city dwellers could not have gardens, but many cities had garden allotments for people to use.  Raising your food could mean the difference between living and starving for most people.  Many people during the Depression and wartime sold the food they couldn’t eat or preserve.  Many women sold eggs from their chickens in order to bring a little more income into the home.  Many people from these eras have said that having gardens and eggs is what got them through the lean years.

6)  Leftovers were never wasted.  Leftovers were generally incorporated into the next meal or the next day’s meals.  Leftover meat became chopped meat sandwiches.  Leftover meat and vegetables became part of the soup. Cooking liquids and canned liquids were reused.  Nothing was wasted.  If for some reason the leftovers could not be or were not used, they were fed to the animals or put into a compost pile.

7)  If you did not raise or hunt your own meat, meat could be very expensive. Meals in the Depression and wartime were not heavy on meat like they are now.  Meat cooked at one meal was stretched over 2-4 meals.  They might roast a chicken for one meal, make chopped meat sandwiches for another meal, soup for lunch or supper, and use the rest of the chicken in a white sauce served over toast or pasta.  The bones would be used to make broth for the soup before being thrown out to the chickens.  Nothing was wasted.

8)  Consider alternative ways of cooking food.  In the 30’s and 40’s, cook stoves were popular.  Electric and gas cook stoves were becoming increasingly available and were cheap to run.  However, in the Depression, people could not afford to run the stoves.  During the war, gas was rationed. Women used wood stoves and hay boxes to cook food and save money.

9)  Forging was very necessary during these eras.  People looked for dandelion greens, dug up wild onions, and knew where to find blackberries in the brambles.  Forging for anything edible helped at the supper table and, for some families, made the difference between a very meager meal and a decent meal.

10)  “Making Do” was the theme of the Depression and wartime.  People didn’t have a choice if they wanted to eat.  Beans were eaten a lot because they were cheap and nutritious.  Casseroles were made more and became popular because little bits of food could be mixed together to make a more filling meal.  Bits of dried fruit and sweet vegetables were used to sweeten food when sugar wasn’t available or heavily rationed.

Food was never thrown out or wasted.  People became very creative and resourceful to make a meal for their family.  They had to.  They didn’t have a choice unless they wanted to starve.

Where Are My Keys!?

We’ve all experienced the frustration of not finding our keys, especially when we’re in a hurry to get to an appointment or make it to the airport on time.  There are indeed very few things more aggravating and frustrating than not being able to find something important or necessary to accomplish a task.

I had a very disturbing and frustrating dream a couple of years ago.  For more than 30 years, I’ve been very active and involved in the prepper world.  I’ve prided myself in going the extra mile in not only preparing extensively for my family but continuing to store food and supplies for others that I’m certain will need help in times of collapse.

Well, in my dream, the time I’ve been preparing for all these years was upon us.  There had been a communication to relocate for safety’s sake.  There was a distinct sense of urgency and I was actually excited to gather my family and gear and meet at the announced time and location.

As I ran down stairs to my storage room, I was surprised at the unorganized mess I saw.  It looked as if there had been an earthquake or something.  I could hardly get down the stairs to the storage room due to miscellaneous debris and items on the stairs.

As I made my way into the storage room, I became very upset as I could not seem to locate any of the essential gear I was trying to collect.  I could not find my sleeping bags or any camping or survival supplies for that matter.  I was getting more and more upset because I knew time was very short and I had to go but also knew I needed my gear!

In my dream, I thought of how I had just purchased several thousands of dollars worth of the best survival equipment and supplies and now I couldn’t find any of it!

I ended up having to leave without any of the necessary equipment or supplies I had spent so much time, money and effort to acquire.  The level of frustration I felt was off the charts!

After evaluating my dream, I made the commitment to review how my preps are stored.  Even though in reality, my preps are pretty well organized, I still felt the need to analyze my storage systems and refine some of my plans.


As I’ve matured as a prepper, and my stockpiles have grown larger and more diverse, I’ve had to get creative.  Here are a few techniques that I’ve employed that you might find useful:

1)  Always use storage space efficiently.  Think: Volume, footprint, weight, redundancy, shelf life, and frequency of use.  The most frequently used items should be most close at hand.  For example: Extra laundry detergent is stored right in our laundry room just a couple of steps from our washing machine. (Yes, we also have a manual washer, and a wringer.)

2)  If you can’t see it, or at least see it on a list that mentions its location, then your will end up forgetting you have something.  That can lead to needless redundancy or worse yet, using up new stock before you use older stock.

3)  Take a “kits” approach.  I’ve found that it is best to group items with related items.  Most importantly, group tools with other items that are most commonly used together.  For example, all of our car camping items are grouped together.  Likewise, most of our gunsmithing tools are stored together.  And all of our cold weather clothing and camping gear is store in a cluster of just a few bins. Each bin is clearly labelled, and they are all stacked contiguously.  Most of our fence tools and related consumables are stored together.  (Fence pliers, tensioner, galvanized wire, fence clips, T-post driver, and a pair of gloves.)

4)  There is no need to store repair manuals and spare parts items right with the equipment itself, if that equipment is used mostly at home.  However, it is important to keep a central repository of repair and maintenance manuals, so that they don’t get misplaced.  In my experience it is wise to keep the original receipts for equipment paper-clipped of stapled inside of each user manual.  That could facilitate a later warranty or insurance claim, without wasting valuable time hunting for them.

5)  If you have a camping trailer or RV, then build a separate binder of manuals, warranty information, and receipts.  (A binder with clear 8.5″ x 11″ document protectors works great.)  Keep that binder onboard for reference when you travel.

6)  Some redundancy is needed, especially for mobile equipment.  For example, nearly every vehicle will need its own town chain (or tow strap), jumper cables, and can of starting fluid.  Without that redundancy, you’ll end up needing something and then realizing that it is stored with your other vehicle, which is miles away.

7)  Think vertically for storage, but try to stow the most often used items between knee height and shoulder height.

8)  Never store heat sensitive items near the ceiling.  Keep them low in the room.

9)  For gun collections, use 3″x5″ cards for recording serial numbers and descriptions.  Lists get out of date too quickly, but note cards are inherently efficient.

10)  Don’t acquire additional farm machinery or ATVs until you have first built weatherproof storage spaces to keep them safe from the elements.

11)  Never store flammables indoors.  It is best to have a dedicated outdoor shed for paint, stains, and assorted POL (petroleum, oil and lubricants).

12)  Color coding works!  The color of container used–or the color of label used makes for quick reference.  For example, when organizing your ammunition cans, use one color for the labels for shotgun shells, and contrasting colors for rifle and pistol ammunition.

13) Never store anything aromatic in proximity to bulk foods.  There is nothing quite like eating soap-flavored rice.

14)  A “cool, dark place” is good for most items, but also be sure to rig adequate lighting so that you can see what you have stored, at the flick of a switch.

Some Trial and Error

You may have heard the quote, “Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.”  I please guilty to that.  Through many years of trial and error, I’ve learned a few lessons:

 1)  Use first-in, first out (FIFO) rotation of any items with a shelf life.  Special FIFO shelving can be helpful for that.  I once found a full case of peanut butter that had been tucked away out of sight and forgotten for nine years.  It is sad finding expensive food that must then be repurposed for animal feed, fuel, or composted into fertilizer!

2)  Unless you are storing very light foodstuffs (such as onion flakes) don’t stack HDPE storage buckets more than four buckets high, if they are equipped with Gamma Seal lids.  They simply can’t take any more weight than that.  However, buckets with standard lids can be up to stacked six buckets deep, for all but the heaviest grains.

3)  Always keep mice and rats in mind.  The ability of mice to squeeze through small apertures is amazing.  And once they’ve found something that smells good, their persistence at chewing through obstacles is phenomenal.

4)  If in doubt, print label text larger rather than smaller.  This is particularly important in any dimly-lit storage spaces.

5)  Label every container in your storage spaces.  Having any “mystery boxes” or stuff sacks is a huge waste of time.

Learn from the experience of others – you don’t want to experience in real life anything similar to my dream.