A Winter “To Do” List

  1. Stock up on staples – buy items you like to eat including some things that require little or no cooking
  2. Winter clothing update
    1. Check for fit – for both adults and children
    2. Boots, hats, gloves, coats – depending on your location and your outdoor exposure
    3. Layers for added warmth – plan on thermal underwear, sweaters and jackets, ear covers
  3. Winterize your garden
    1. Clean up garden beds discarding dead plants
    2. Mulch items that overwinter
    3. Prepare protective coverings for cold hardy plants
    4. Final harvest – before a hard freeze ruins them
    5. Bring some plants inside – herbs are always welcome and add a flair to foods
    6. Put away plant cages – tomato cages need to be cleaned and stacked
    7. Store irrigation timers, removing batteries and put hoses inside after draining
  4. Plans to stay warm
    1. Sealing the windows and doors to minimize cold drafts
    2. Generator & fuel for power outages – run monthly to keep battery charged and seals lubricated
    3. Alternative energy sources – wood or biomass logs
  5. Prepare to shelter & feed livestock including pets
  6. Organize emergency tools together
    1. Flashlights and lanterns – extra batteries and oil
    2. Shovels and ice scrappers
    3. Water turn-off tool in case of burst pipe; cover outside spigots
  7. Winterize your vehicle
    1. Emergency supplies to eat, drink & keep warm for your emergency car kit
    2. Check battery health – clean up any battery cable corrosion
    3. Fill windshield washer reservoir with fluid containing antifreeze solution
    4. Check radiator antifreeze level
    5. Check tire pressure to reduce wear on tires
    6. Keep a bag of kitty litter in the car to help get out of slippery places

8. Pick an indoor hobby

Billie Nicholson, Editor
November 2014


This month’s article includes:

Thanksgiving Day – An American Tradition  a change of economic systems led to this holiday for expressing gratitude  http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12222

Use household items to make your own Gel packs for sprains and swollen joints  http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12238

Commit these ground to air emergency codes to memory. You may need them this winter. http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12243

Commit these ground to air emergency codes to memory. You may need them this winter. http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12243

Super size your rain water storage  http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12265

Squash Chips – an alternate way to preserve summer squash without freezing  http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12272

French style Stew   http://www.sunoven.com/archives/12032

Waste Not … Want Not … Making Apple Cider Vinegar

Return to Knowledge Basics

     Last fall we wrote about several ways to preserve apples. We canned apple slices, apple sauce and dried apple slices in the Sun Oven®. This year, we’ve had an abundant harvest of apples again. With all that apple preservation, we were left with piles of apple cores and peelings. Homemakers of times past had the perfect use for all this “waste” – making vinegar!
So this year, we decided to give it a try.
The process includes four steps and can take up to six weeks to complete.Apple Cider Vinegar

1. Make a clean cider from ripe apples.
2. Convert all the fruit sugar to alcohol through a process called alcohol fermentation.
3. Change all the alcohol to acetic acid referred to as acetic acid fermentation.
4. Clarify the acetic acid to prevent further fermentation and decomposition.1

Which Apples are Best?

     Fall and winter apple varieties are best for making vinegar because their sugar content is higher than summer apples. Gather fruit and wash it well. We soaked our apples in a diluted solution of vinegar in water. This is recommended to remove any surface pesticides and most of the surface bacteria. While the fruit is soaking in the vinegar solution, thoroughly wash and rinse some half-gallon jars (a good run through the dishwasher works well, too).
Peel and core the apples. Leave the scraps to air. They’ll turn brown. Fill the jar about 3/4 full of scraps and top with filtered (non-chlorinated) water. We covered the jars with coffee filters held in place with a rubber band and placed the jars into a container (to catch the foam-over from the fermentation process.) Cover and place in a warm, dark place (60-80ºF.) You can leave it for up to a month. You’ll notice the contents of the jar thickens and foams and a grayish scum forms on top. 2
We separated the peelings and cores from the liquid after a week, strained the liquid into clean jars, covered them, put them back in the warm space and left them to ferment. After about a month, you can taste test it for strength. When it pleases you, strain it again and bottle it. It may be cloudy and have a sediment. This is “the mother.” This slimy looking thing consists of acetic acid bacteria and cellulose. It’s a natural product of the vinegar-making process. Filtration through a coffee filter will remove most of it.                  There are lots of uses for apple cider vinegar,3 from drinking it, rinsing your hair with it and using it as a cleaning product – don’t forget making pickles! Let us know what uses you have for apple cider vinegar at editor@sunoven.com. 

Making Apple Cider Making Apple Cider OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


  1. http://www.earthclinic.com/remedies/how_to_make_apple_cider_vinegar.html
  2. http://thehealthyeatingsite.com/apple-cider-vinegar-recipe/
  3. http://www.rd.com/home/150-household-uses-for-vinegar/2/

Billie Nicholson, Editor

October 2014

Additional articles in this month’s issue:

Prepper Camp™ Recap
What’s in Your Every Day Carry Kit?
How’s Your Battery
Emergency Medical Assessment
10 things You’ll Regret Not Having Enough of When the SHTF by Elise Xavier,
Escaping a Riot

Our Solar Chef presents Solar Apple Potato Soup 

Escaping a Riot

What to Do When

Escaping a Riot


Riots can be as dangerous and as unpredictable as a natural disaster. They result in thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in property damage each year. Here are some steps to help protect yourself, should you get caught in the middle of a “community unrest” situation.

  1. Be aware – pay attention to events happening in your community or a city you might be visiting. Avoid riot-prone areas. Any crowd can become dangerous if the general mood becomes angry or hysteric. Know where you are in the community and be aware of escape routes; have several of them. Look for crossroads. This will give you an alternate route to take away from protestors or riot police. Always carry some cash in case you need to arrange another form of transportation or purchase food or drinks. You do not want to be considered a looter.
  2. Stay Calm – keep your emotions in check and don’t get caught up in the “mob mentality.” Avoid confrontations, keep your head down but be looking for an escape route, keep moving at a steady pace. Move to a place you can get inside away from the mayhem. Keep away from windows when inside, lock doors and windows, and look for a couple of exits in case you need them.
  3. Keep Companions Close - lock elbows, hold children in your arms, and keep up a reassuring dialog. Your focus should be getting away from the danger.
  4. Don’t Get Involved - your goal should be to keep as low a profile as possible and continue to move away from the center of action. If you are in the middle of a crowd, move toward the outside calmly and slowly.
  5. Drive Appropriately - stay in your car and remain calm, lock your doors, driving carefully but with intent. Should your vehicle become a target, get out and leave it behind. Otherwise, sound your horn and drive carefully around or through a group. Give them time to get out of the way. DO NOT drive toward a police line. They consider vehicles a deadly weapon and may react accordingly.
  6. Avoid Heavy Traffic areas - know alternate routes to get you over, around, or through a crowed area. Safety is the major issue here, not necessarily the quickest way home.
  7. Maintain Maneuverability - if a mob or the police rush your way, step sideways or move diagonally between groups rather than trying to out-run them.
  8. Communication - cell phone channels may be unavailable in the event of a major event. Resort to text messages. Look for phone booths; often they will have priority over other land lines when a system overloads.
  9. Carry a Flashlight - people often panic in the dark. Light a path and you can see where to go.
  10. Avoid Public Transportation – buses and taxis can become a target you don’t want to be trapped inside. Metro trains may be shut down and the stations can be full of people, waiting for another spark of hysteria to incite violence.
  11. Be Bold - act like you know what you’re doing and where you are going. Move and speak with confidence. Use an authoritarian, but not hostile, voice and people will listen. Most of all, think clearly about escape.



Billie Nicholson, editor

October 2014

Additional articles in this month’s issue:

Prepper Camp™ Recap
What’s in Your Every Day Carry Kit?
How’s Your Battery
Emergency Medical Assessment
10 things You’ll Regret Not Having Enough of When the SHTF by Elise Xavier,
Waste Not … Want Not… Making Apple Cider Vinegar

Our Solar Chef presents Solar Apple Potato Soup 



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.

Emergency Medical Assessment

Dr. James Hubbard, The Survival Doctor

 How to Figure Out What’s Wrong

Picture yourself walking down a trail and you find someone lying down, unconscious. Or it could be inside or outside your house, on the side of a road after a wreck—virtually anywhere. But let’s stick with the scenario of a trail. What would you do? Put yourself in the scene. What would do?

Go for help? Yell for help? Run over and actually try to help? Ignore the whole ordeal? That’s going to be a little awkward given the situation that you’re the only one around, but I’m sure it would be tempting to some. But, in fact, after you’re viewed all the segments in this video series, I hope they’ll prompt you not only to help out, but in some instances take charge, even in a crowd of people—at least until expert help becomes available, if that is an option.

Okay, have you thought about it? Someone’s unconscious. What you should do?Emergency Medical Assessment

Your Safety First

First is make sure you’re safe. Make sure whatever might have injured this person isn’t going to injure you. I mean, you’re not helping anyone if you get injured also. In fact, you’re doing more harm because now there are two victims to save. So, look for possible falling rocks, animals, other people who may wish you harm. Next, if you deem it safe, go over and check the person. Yell, “Are you okay?” Shake their shoulder. Pinch their face.

You might get a pinch back if they wake up, but do whatever you can to wake the person … except, what’s the number one thing you should not do at this time? Do you know?

Do not move the person. Not even their head. Not even a little bit.

Only in dire circumstances, like a fire is coming right toward you, should you move the victim. Why? You don’t know whether there’s been neck or back trauma. If you move a person with a broken neck, for instance, and the person pulls through, you could potentially have caused paralysis. More on how to protect the neck and back in my spine segment.

If you can’t get a response, check for any signs of life at all. Such as is the person breathing?

Check for Breathing

So how to check for breathing? Look at and feel the chest. Is it moving?

If the person is moving the chest or any other part, say a hand or foot, you can assume they must be breathing and the heart is beating. If the person is making any sounds, even a grunt, you can assume there’s breathing and a beating heart.

You should do this assessment within a few seconds. Also, about now, you want to shout for help and call 911 if it’s available. If someone’s with you, they should do it, while you continue to assess.

If There’s No Breathing

     If there’s no breathing, begin chest compressions right away. But why not check for a pulse? Current thinking is, unless you’re experienced in doing that, you may be uncertain of whether you’re feeling one and waste valuable time before you start compressions.

Why no mouth-to-mouth? Doing chest compressions alone has been found to revive as many people as combining it with artificial breathing. Again, this assumes you’re not a medical professional. If the person is not breathing, you can assume the heart is not beating. Start compressions.

If you cannot get 911 and someone is with you, they should immediately go for help or at least go until they get into cell range.

From “The Survival Doctor’s Emergency Training Course

Emergency Medical Assessment

October 2014

Additional articles in this month’s issue:

Prepper Camp™ Recap
What’s in Your Every Day Carry Kit?
How’s Your Battery Health?
10 things You’ll Regret Not Having Enough of When the SHTF by Elise Xavier,
Waste Not … Want Not… Making Apple Cider Vinegar
Escaping a Riot

Our Solar Chef presents Solar Apple Potato Soup

What’s in Your Every Day Carry Kit?

Are You Prepared Every Day?

 Every Day CarryNot long ago I attended a bridal shower where one of the games gave points for a list of items in your purse.  As I went down the list, a picture of preparedness emerged. All of us have items we carry every day, like photo identification in the form of driver’s license, credit cards, membership cards, cell phones, and money. Don’t confuse this with a Bug-Out-Bag or the emergency kit you have in your car. In an emergency, if you couldn’t get to your auto or home, how would you get along? What do you carry with you every day?

What Do You Carry?

The items you carry everyday are often based on your health, profession and vanity. By rethinking these with a preparedness mindset, perhaps you may modify what’s in your EDC. We are limited by how much weight we are willing to carry and how we attach it to us. We are also limited by the number of pockets in clothing and by the number of free hands we have, so minimalism is critical.

      The items in your EDC will be determined by several factors: do you live in an urban or rural place, where do you go every day, are you traveling on public transportation or on foot, what is the climate and the season of the year, is your route socially safe, and what are the local laws regarding what you carry?

Add These to Your Every Day Carry Kit

  • Items that can help you get food like coins, cash or other small barter items.
  • Energy bars that are high in calories and have a long shelf life.
  • A 3 day’s supply of any medicine that you take regularly.
  • Water purification tablets or a straw water filter and an empty (for storage) wide mouth water bottle.
  • A Mylar survival blanket can provide shelter.
  • Tools that will help you scavenge for food, like a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman multi-tool.
  • Remember the Speedhook?
  • Edible plant guide.
  • Fire starter or lighter to build a fire to cook food on or keep you warm.
  • Cell phones can contain emergency contact information. Even without service you can call 911.
  • Rope or string, including unflavored dental floss or 550 paracord, for many binding purposes.
  • Mini flashlight will provide light when you need it. Check batteries every few months.
  • Personal protection devices (where permitted by law) can range from a whistle, pepper spray, self defense tools like tactical pens to hand guns.
  • Hand sanitizers will help you avoid infection if you are exposed to others that are ill or if you sustain a wound. Bandaids got me extra points at the bridal shower.
  • If you wear contacts or glasses, extras are a must along with saline packets.
  • Remember knowledge trumps equipment every day of the week.

      Whatever items you choose for your Every Day Carry, make sure you know how to use them.

Billie Nicholson, editor

October 2014

Additional articles in this month’s issue:

Prepper Camp™ Recap
Emergency Medical Assessment 
How’s Your Battery Health?  
10 things You’ll Regret Not Having Enough of When the SHTF by Elise Xavier,
Waste Not … Want Not… Making Apple Cider Vinegar
Escaping a Riot

Our Solar Chef presents Solar Apple Potato Soup

Prepper Camp™ Recap

Prepper Camp

In the foothills of western North Carolina, over 600 serious preparedness citizens gathered for a 3-day, total immersion experience in survival at Prepper Camp™. Attendees had opportunities to learn from the best in the business about topics ranging from alternative power solutions, cheese making, first aid, herbal medicine, how to grow a camouflaged food forest, solar cooking and water filtration. In addition, they had time to talk to vendors and practice some of the skills they learned during evening activities as they camped on the meeting site.

Prepper Camp™


Billie  Nicholson, editor

October 2014

Additional articles in this month’s issue:

What’s in Your Every Day Carry Kit?
Emergency Medical Assessment  
How’s Your Battery Health?  
10 things You’ll Regret Not Having Enough of When the SHTF by Elise Xavier, 
Waste Not … Want Not… Making Apple Cider Vinegar
Escaping a Riot

Our solar Chef presents Solar Apple Soup



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 www.SpeedHook.com 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.”

June 2013 

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.


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

Leadership: Restoring Order During Catastrophic Chaos

from a presentation by Travis Waack

As a part of the Summer of Survival webinar series, Travis Waack shared the following information about leadership and organization during a disaster. These notes were taken during that talk and are supplemented by additional details from an ICS pdf from epa.gov.   Editor

Leadership during a catastrophe

Sometimes we have warnings of coming disasters, sometimes we don’t. Whenever they occur, the first noticeable problem is a lack of communication among the citizens of the area affected and among those involved in providing rescue and recovery. In a culture of preparedness, like our readers, we need to recognize the problems and develop ways to control the situation, not just crisis manage, for the benefit of our families and our communities.

Incident Command System

The Incident Command System (ICS) was developed following a series of California wildfires which caused millions in damage and the death of several people. Local, state and federal fire authorities collaborated to form FIRESCOPE (Firefighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies. This group reviewed the wildfire responses and discovered that poor incident management was to blame, not a lack of resources. Major problems were associated with nonstandard terminology, nonstandard or integrated communication, lack of organizational flexibility, lack of consolidated action plans and lack of designated facilities. ICS was designed to overcome these problems. Following 9/11 this program was nationalized. Today, most major incidents demand so many resources and skills that one local, state, or federal agency couldn’t provide them. The Incident Command System provides a way for many agencies to work together smoothly under one management system.ICS pdf from epa.gov

 Leadership by emergency personnel

Any incident that requires action by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or property or locale damage can be managed by an ICS. It can operate regardless of jurisdictional boundaries and can grow or shrink to meet the needs of the incident. It is designed to develop work accountability and safety, improve communications, enforce a systematic planning process, fully integrate people and supplies, enhance communications to everyone involved and define the chain of command.

Leadership: Restoring Order

Leadership Support Groups

The Incident Commander depends on the information from four supporting groups to provide the necessary information to make final decisions. This command model may have two or more individuals serving as the commander who work as a team. A good commander is responsible for making sure all pieces of the structure are working together properly.

  •      The Operations section does the work; they are the boots on the ground doing the response to whatever the emergency may be. 
  •      The Planning section provides support information. They know what resources are available and collaborate with operations to write incident actions plans – which are objectives for the next day.
  •      The Logistics section procures materials and supplies; obtains and manages facilities; supports workers with food, lodging and medical care. They provide radio communications and IT support.    
  •      Finance & Administration is in charge of paying for supplies, processing compensation and tracking costs and statistics.  

     Each role can be adapted to meet the needs of a Prepper network. A deliberate process will be essential if a group is to be led during a catastrophic chaos. Consider this system for your community.

Additional articles in the September 2014 newsletter include:

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

Be Disaster Aware

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