How’s Your Battery Health?

Robert and Billie Nicholson

Batteries Required

We as a species take for granted many aspects of our modern lives. Most of our daily routine uses devices that require batteries. From automobiles to fire alarms to iPods and beyond, the list of battery using devices we depend on is almost endless.  We prepare for the unforeseen emergencies of life by purchasing life, home and car insurance. Likewise, we insure our safety and comfort by preparing for emergencies by putting aside a short wave radio, extra flashlights, walkie-talkies, and other supplies.  Most all of these devices require batteries and are useless without them. A regular schedule of battery checking and maintenance helps insure that our devices work correctly when we need them.

Rechargeable Batteries

Battery HealthWhen we store emergency electronic devices we always store the batteries separately from the device in a Zip lock bag. This way if a battery fails and corrodes the device is not damaged. We recently checked all our batteries and found that some had leaked, others were out of date, and others were too weak to be effective. We are changing over to rechargeable batteries to save money. Rechargeable batteries cost more, but save money over their useful life. One could decide that a solar or hand generated electric device is the way to go. If so consider the human energy needed to use the device over long periods of time. We have a solar battery charger. It is slow to charge but it does work. Our battery charger handles AAA, AA, C, D and 9volt sizes.  I also use a multi task meter to keep track of battery voltage. With the winter season coming soon cooler temperatures will make your battery health even more challenging as cold drains batteries of their charge more quickly.   Battery Health

Cleaning Battery Leakage

If your device ends up having minor battery acid leakage, use baking soda and water on a Q tip to clean. If your device has minor alkaline battery leakage, use vinegar on a Q tip to clean. Follow with clean water on a Q tip and a dry paper towel. Use liquid sparingly around electronic devices. Complete instructions are posted on the internet in videos.

For every cloud there is always a silver lining. In an emergency, if your batteries fail because you didn’t take care of them on a regular schedule, you can always use your electronic devices as doorstops.

The One That Got Away

Robert Nicholson


When I go fishing, I always remember the story that my father used to tell. It was about “the one that got away”.  Now is the time to prepare when there may not be enough food to go around by honing fishing and trapping skills. But how exactly can you do that? There is no one single magic step to prepare, but many small steps may give you the advantage you need to provide for your family. Fishing from a number of lakes and streams may not be an original idea, but there are still some things which may give you the edge over other fishermen, like fishing after dark with a light, etc., if you prepare in advance. When fishing a lake, stick to the windward side, where wave action stirs up more morsels of food, hence more fish are found there. If nothing bites, whack the water once or twice with a stick. Sometimes this really works because it wakes sleeping fish. Fish early morning or late afternoon, and don’t forget the mosquito repellant.

I discovered a company that markets a “Speedhook”. The Regular Speedhook is specifically designed for survival applications and is so effective, it is outlawed for non-survival use in some areas like Minnesota. This small device can be used for fishing and trapping. The Speedhook works like a spring-loaded trap and when a fish, or other small animal, “takes the bait”, it automatically springs open setting the hook. This is the same great Speedhook device as the one included in the military fishing and trapping kit. This is a perfect supplement to the emergency fishing kit required by Alaskan and Canadian Aviation Regulations. No fishing pole is required as fishing line is included.

The Speedhook comes in two versions, a basic setup and a military version complete with artificial dehydrated bait. Both versions include full instructions. Either version can also be used to snare small animals like birds, squirrels and chipmunks. If you are lost in the woods a diet made up of these small animals may just save your life.

The kit is available at and the company also offers other small emergency items not easily found. Don’t let your fishing story be about “the one that got away.”

October 2014 

Be Disaster Aware

Be Disaster Aware The chances that your family will survive a disaster depends as much on your family planning as it does on local governmental agencies like police, fire and rescue. Families should have the tools and plans to support and protect themselves for at least the first three days (72 hours) into a disaster. Research on personal preparedness shows that many people who think they’re prepared are really NOT. In addition, some admit that they do not plan to prepare at all. Our nation’s emergency planners, fire fighters, EMT/Paramedics and law enforcement officers do an unbelievable job of keeping us safe, but they can’t do it alone. The biggest challenge is motivating everyone to participate in disaster preparedness activities. Knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency is critical to being prepared. It may make the difference between life and death. When we accept the personal responsibility to become prepared, we participate in the safety and security of our neighborhoods and communities. September is National Preparedness Month.

  1. Get a kit
  2. Make a Plan
  3. Be Informed, Get Involved 
  4. Do It NOW.


Billie Nicholson, editor
September 2014

Additional Articles in September 2014 newsletter include:

Leadership: Restoring order during catastrophic chaos

Growing your own food all year

Home Security Checklist

Emergency Preparedness for people with disabilities

Introducing the UV Paqlite

Solar Moroccan Style Meatballs from our Solar Chef

Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Prepare for emergenciesPeople with disabilities need to prepare for emergencies, too.

The likelihood that you and your family will recover from an emergency tomorrow often depends on the planning and preparation done today. While each person’s abilities and needs are unique, every individual can take steps to prepare for all kinds of emergencies from fires and floods to potential terrorist attacks. By evaluating your own personal needs and making an emergency plan that fits those needs, you and your loved ones can be better prepared. For people with special needs disabilities, being prepared is a matter of life or death. If you are on your own, you need to have a plan.

The first step is to consider how an emergency might affect your individual needs.

Think about a given day, what do you do, what do you need and who can help you? Work on a plan to make it on your own for at least three to five days. It is possible in an emergency that you will not have ready access to a medical facility or pharmacy. Basic supplies for survival include food, water and clean air. Consider assembling two kits. One to use at home and one to take with you if you have to leave home.

Recommended basic emergency supplies include:

*    Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
*    Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and a can opener if kit contains canned food and where possible, extra medication.
*    Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
*    Flashlight and extra batteries for any necessary electronic equipment
*    First aid kit; a week’s supply of any prescription medicines; include copies of all prescriptions and dosage instructions; copies of medical insurance, Medicare and Medicaid cards; instruction for operating any equipment or life-saving devices you rely on
*    Whistle to signal for help
*    Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
*    Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
*    Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
*    Local maps
*    Pet food, extra water, collar with ID tag and supplies for your pet or service animal

Make a plan for what you will do in an emergency.

Write it down and keep it with your emergency supply kit. For every aspect of your daily routine, plan an alternative procedure. Create a personal support network. Share your plans with them and make sure that someone in your support network has a key to your home and knows where you keep your emergency supplies. Practice it. Keep a list of network contact information in your wallet. If you need to evacuate, select a shelter that can accommodate your needs.

It’s important to stay informed about what might happen and know what types of emergencies are likely to affect your region. For more information about preparing for emergencies for people with disabilities, click here for a printable document.

Information from

September 2014


Additional Articles in September 2014 newsletter include:

Leadership: Restoring order during catastrophic chaos

Growing your own food all year

Home Security Checklist

Introducing the UV Paqlite

Solar Moroccan Style Meatballs from our Solar Chef

Be Disaster Aware

Survival Skills for Teens

Youth Need to Know, too.

Survival Skills for Teens


Have you discussed basic survival techniques with the young people in your home? If they were lost or were involved in an accident, would they know what to do? School is back in session and your children are away from home most of the day, now is the time to review these skills.

As your children grow up, starting at a very young age they learn their name, address and telephone number. They also learn how to dial 9-1-1. Let’s not forget riding a bike and swimming. Do they know how to find their way home in your neighborhood or town? What about basic survival skills?  What if your family went on a hike and somehow got separated, or an adult was injured? Would they know what to do? Teens were not born knowing everything, even though there are some who will argue that. Sharing these life lessons may be critical some day.

Teaching Survival Skills Builds Resilience

Before we get into some of the things they should know, let’s discuss how to share this as parents, guardians and mentors. The goal of raising children to become responsible adults involves teaching them more that reading, writing and arithmetic. They need to learn other skills, like critical thinking, leadership and teamwork. Sam Goldstein, a neuropsychologist and co-author of Raising Resilient Children, recommends a fourth “R”, that of resilience. It may be the most valuable skill of all.

We need to be empathetic, communicate with respect, be flexible and give undivided attention. Kids need to be given a chance to solve problems and make decisions on their own and help get projects done. Mistakes need to be used as learning experiences, with strengths recognized, and any corrections or discipline administered with love and kindness. Resilience means bouncing back.

What Survival Skills Should a Teen Know?

  • Not Panic – This is one of the most basic of survival skills. In panic-mode we make bad decisions. Frightened youth, with limited life experiences, may do things which could be life threatening.
  • Be Aware – Does your child know how to decide if they should run, hide or fight back? Are they aware of where you are going, whether walking or riding on a bike or in an auto? Do they know which places are dangerous to go to and what people and types of behaviors that may put them in a compromising situation? As much as we would like to keep our youth in a protective bubble, they need to learn to recognize that bad things happen, even to good people, and they need to know how to handle them.
  • First Aid – Do your children know how to stop bleeding, remove a splinter or treat a burn? Taking a Red Cross CPR/First Aid class or practicing some of the skills in that Boy Scout Book of First Aid you have in your Bug-out-Bag may be a good weekend family project.
  • How to Handle a Firearm – Every teen should take a gun safety course. A child who knows how to handle a gun safely is less likely to be involved in a shooting mishap. He/she may need to know how to use a firearm for a number of reasons.
  • Feed Himself – This skill can range from opening a can without an electric can opener, using a stove safely, harvesting and preparing garden produce, or hunting, cleaning and preparing game. They should know how to set up and use a Sun Oven®.
  • Self Defense – Do your children know how to defend themselves against an attacker; when to run?
  • Get Back Home – Another fun weekend project, day or night. Also, make a family fire escape plan.
  • Skills – Can your child use simple tools – hammer, drill, paint brush or screwdriver – something other than a game box?
  • Stay Warm – Can they build a shelter, start a fire and understand the importance of warmth?
  • Getting Help – Do they know who to ask and how to leave clues if they’re lost?
  • Pack Their own 72 hr. Emergency Kit – Youth should be responsible for selecting most of the items in their emergency bug-out-bag. This is another good family project that should be updated every six months.

Do you know all these skills?  Share them.      

Thanks to Mom with a Prep for some of these pointers.

Billie and Robert Nicholson
August 2014

Other articles in the August 2014 Newsletter include:

Are You Water Competent?

Ebola Update by Dr. Bones


The Fascinating Fig

Sun Oven Demonstrations coming to a location near you

Are You Losing 40%

Meatless Monday Pasta Sauce

Add a Survival Net to Your Bug-Out Bag

Joe Nobody discussed the uses of the survival net during the Survival Summit. You can use it to build 10 life-saving items in a pinch. The survival net is lightweight, has a 1” grid weave, and is available at military surplus stores. The standard issue net is 6-8 feet wide by 12 feet long. It comes complete with “S” hooks, MOLLE pouch and paracord. It should cost less than $30. The “S” hooks should be rated at 200 pounds.

Survival Net Uses Include:

  • Hammock – sling it between two trees; take some small twigs and cut some grooves in them and weave them into each end of the hammock to create a sleeping platform and keep it from bunching up on the ends. Practice doing this. Don’t under-estimate the time it will take to get this set up. String up a poncho or plastic bag above to keep moisture off. A hammock will provide better thermal comfort than sleeping on the cold or wet ground. It is much quicker to break camp with a hammock than a tent. It is lighter and takes up less space in your pack.
  • Ghillie suit or camouflage cloak – weave plant branches and leaves into the opens. It breathes better than commercial ones. Make it mid-calf length to allow for more mobility and minimize snagging. Camouflage is not always wooded; use this in different environments. Take whatever is common and secure it to the net. It is always best to avoid confrontation. Use this to get through an area without being detected.
  • Litter – it can be used as a stretcher to carry someone. Use thumb sized limbs for support. Weave the limbs along both edges and at the end. It is easier to drag an injured companion. The greener the wood the more flexible it is.
  • Fishing net
    • Create a two man drag; one on either side of the creek. Add some rocks on one edge to serve as resistance so it sinks to the bottom.
    • Add rocks on the corners and secure with hooks. Fling it like a Frisbee on top of the fish. rocks will sink and trap the fish in the middle of the net. Weave paracord around the edge to be able to retrieve it with ease. You do need to throw where the fish are. Find them next to structures they might use for hiding places.
    • Make a fish pen by using stakes to create a fence with the net. Attach paracord or other rope to close it.
    • Hiding place – local foliage can be woven into or stacked against the net. Hang one side and let one side fall to the ground and fill in with greens and twigs.
    • Blanket, jacket or raincoat – strips of bark or shaved wood can be woven in for insulation. Plastic bags can be secured to the mesh to form a raincoat or poncho. Old newspapers can be woven in for insulation as well as pine needles, leaves, foliage and even vines. Rags and scraps of clothing can be woven into the net to create a barrier. Heat small rocks or stones in a campfire and secure them in the net for a large scale warmer.
    • Climbing tool – roll up net to use for short ascents. Twist it into a rope. The girth of the twisted net provides sufficient hand hold. Gear ties can be woven into the net for hand/footholds. This works for descending also. Heavy gear can be raised or lowered in a bundle.
    • Cargo Bag – the net can handle more weight than you can carry.
    • Snare – use it to catch small game with some bait and wire.
    • Door Security – securing the net with small hooks around a door frame can make any threshold extremely difficult to breech. This also works for windows. It is hard to cut through. Add something that jingles as a warning.

Reproduced with Permission

Additional Articles in this month’s issue:

Billie Nicholson, Editor
May 2014

72 Hour Kit Rotation Required

72 hour kitTime to Check Your 72 Hour Kit

In the September 2013 “Every Needful Thing” newsletter, we included a list of items to pack in an emergency escape bag, AKA your 72-hour kit. Hope you made one!  We included some things that can last a long time and others that have a shorter storage time. This month is a good time to pull out the bag and review it’s contents.

  1. Exchange the food – Did you pack some granola bars and cracker packets? How about some nuts or peanut butter items? Many of these items contain oil of one kind or another that oxidizes or goes “rancid” if kept for over six months. Take out your snacks and eat them – or at least taste them to determine if they are still fit to eat. As you eat them, add these items to a list as a reminder to replace them on your next shopping trip.  It’s a real disappointment to open one of these packs and find them yucky. Can you imagine how bad you would feel if you were in an emergency situation and that is all you had to eat? Do you have an 72-hour kit for your children? Are they still eating those “chicken sticks”? Have their favorite snacks changed? Staying up to date on their  favorites will make a disruptive situation a little more comfortable.
  2. Check clothing sizes – This is a good idea for adults as well as children. Kids are always growing and changing sizes, so make adjustments by including some currently fitting and well used clothes for them.  Since disasters can happen any time of the year, a bag of extra jackets for snow or lighter weight clothes for warmer weather is a good idea. Adults, include some extra socks, “sweats” or jeans and long sleeve shirts that can be rolled up if necessary,. Rain ponchos are a must, how does yours look?
  3. Rotate Batteries & Medicines – Do you have battery operated items like two way radios or flash lights in your kit? Batteries leak when stored for a long time and can ruin the item they’re in.  Remember to store batteries separately. Prescriptions have expirations. Rotate these, too.

Keep Your 72 Hour Kit Updated


Additional Articles in the April 2014 Issue:

  • A discussion of the importance of “duck and cover” in surviving a nuclear attack
  • What are your plans to provide protein in your diet in an emergency situation? Here are some items to add to your supplies …
  • Are members of your family hearing impaired that might not hear a smoke alarm?
  • Our featured contributor this month is Tess Pennington of She shares an article about Bio Mass Briquettes. Now you’ll have an environmentally friendly use for those shredded documents.
  • Sun Ovens are a perfect partner for bio mass briquettes, here’s how …
  • Some of our friends have complained that their yards were so shady that they doubted they could grow anything in a garden. In answer to their questions, here are some plants that can be grown in shade. Don’t give up on your yard either. Read more …
  • Speaking of gardening, do you use Epsom salts? Here’s why.
  • We can all be prepared to take the initiative to save a life, should we be faced with a life or death situation. Here are three critical first aid procedures that can be accomplished with one dressing.
  • Our Solar Chef has included a wonderful recipe for Solar Stuffed Shells. Give it a try, these are yummy.


Billie Nicholson, Editor
April 2014

Basic Need: Your 72-Hour Kit


Ready Kids & The Federal Emergency Management Agency present:

Family Supply List

Emergency Supplies:

Water, food, and clean air are important things to have if an emergency happens. Each family or

individual’s kit should be customized to meet specific needs, such as medications and infant formula.

It should also be customized to include important family documents.

Recommended Supplies to Include in a Basic Kit:

– Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation

– Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

– Battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both

– Flashlight and extra batteries

– First Aid kit

– Whistle to signal for help

– Infant formula and diapers, if you have an infant

– Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

– Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air

– Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

– Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

– Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

Clothing and Bedding:

If you live in a cold weather climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that the power will be

out and you will not have heat. Rethink your clothing and bedding supplies to account for growing

children and other family changes. One complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person,


– A jacket or coat

– Long pants

– A long sleeve shirt

– Sturdy shoes

– A hat and gloves

– A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person

Consider these items

Below are some other items for your family to consider adding to its supply kit. Some of these items,

especially those marked with a * can be dangerous, so please have an adult collect these supplies.

– Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book or a print out of the information on

– Rain gear

– Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils

– Cash or traveler’s checks, change

– Paper towels

– Fire Extinguisher

– Tent

– Compass

– Matches in a waterproof container*

– Signal flare*

– Paper, pencil

– Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies

– Disinfectant*

– Household chlorine bleach* – You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one

part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household

liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

– Medicine dropper

– Important Family Documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account

records in a waterproof, portable container

September 2013, every Needful Thing                 Billie A. Nicholson, editor

Putting Food in Your 72-Hour Kit

Grab your 72-Hour Kit and Go!72-Hour Kit

In an emergency, many people may need to leave their home quickly. Are you prepared for that, too? Hopefully you have put together a 72-hour kit for each member of your family and have it ready to go at a moment’s notice.

If you haven’t put one together, this article will help you develop a menu for a 3-day food packet that can be easily put together for each family member.

Day 1 

Breakfast – Granola, hot chocolate

Lunch – Tomato soup, jerky,

fruit roll up, candy

Dinner – 1/2 Ramen noodle soup,

fruit bar

Day 2 

Breakfast – Oatmeal, apple cider

Lunch – Chicken noodle soup,

jerky, raisins, candy

Dinner – Peanut Butter/Jelly,

MRE Bread

Day 3 

Breakfast – Granola, apple cider

Lunch – 1/2 Ramen noodle soup, trail mix, candy

Dinner – Cheese & crackers, fruit cup

Feel free to add any additional items to this menu to help make your taste buds happy, as needed. If you are taking any medications, it is wise to include three days’ worth of those medications in your 72-hour kit.

Plan to rotate the food in your kit between six and 12 months. Anything that has oil or nuts will get “rancid” within a few months. Frequent checks will assure what you take is fit to eat.

NOTE: You also want to make sure you have the supplies to cook the food!

August 2011, Every Needful Thing                                                                 Jason M. Carlton

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