Tips to Reduce the Chance of Flood Damage to Your Home

With Utah’s high amounts of snowfall this year, flooding is a possibility in many areas. For anyone who has experienced the impacts of water or mud inundating their home, this may induce a sense of helplessness. 

Fortunately, there are many things that can be done now to prevent or lessen the possibility of flooding in and around your home. The Extension Disaster Education Network offers tips to help, including a publication from North Dakota State University titled, “Steps to Reduce Flood and Water Damage,” which includes the following tips:

Move snow away from your home’s foundation. Moving snow just 3 to 5 feet from the house can reduce problems if the ground is sloped 1 inch per foot near the house.

Prevent water from entering window wells. Build dams, and contour the ground so water will naturally drain away from the house. You can do this with sandbags or by adjusting the landscaping.

* Check your sump pump. Clean the sump pump and pit, and test the pump by pouring water into the pit. Consider having a spare submersible portable sump pump. Make sure the discharge hose delivers the water several feet away from the house to a well-drained area that slopes away from the house. If the hose outlet is too close to the house foundation or on flat ground, the water may simply recycle down through the house drain tile. Don’t run sump pump water into a rural septic system because the water may saturate the drain field.

Be sure downspouts are in place. As snow melts, downspouts can be helpful in carrying water away from the house. Use caution if they are buried or frozen and need to be repositioned, as salt or chemicals to melt the ice could damage the lawn in the spring.

Plan an escape route if roads or streets around you are known to flood. Where would you go if your home flooded? Consider local shelters or a family member or friend’s house. Plan and practice an evacuation route with your family.

Plan for pets. Pets aren’t allowed in shelters due to health regulations. If left behind, stressed pets can damage your house, and their safety is at stake, too. Have a plan in place so you know where your pets will go in an emergency.

* Know where and how to safely shut off electricity and how to plug basement floor drains.

Assemble supplies in case the electricity goes out. This includes water, food that requires no refrigeration or cooking, a non-electric can opener, a battery-powered radio and flashlight, as well as extra batteries.

Move valuables off the floor. These include irreplaceable family photo albums, high school yearbooks, videotapes, tax records, insurance policies, household inventories, and other valuable items.

Move hazardous materials to higher locations, including paint, oil, and cleaning supplies. These and other dangerous materials should not be left on the floor.

Have emergency supplies on hand in case of an evacuation order. Gather water, nonperishable food, paper plates/cups and plastic utensils, extra clothing and shoes, blankets or sleeping bags, a first aid kit, prescription medications, cash and credit cards, important phone numbers, and specific items for babies, pets, and the elderly.

Prepare appliances for flooding. Know where fuse boxes or breaker panels are so you can shut off appliances if it becomes necessary. Place freezers, washer, dryers, and other appliances on wood or cement blocks to keep motors above the water level. If high water is imminent and large appliances can’t be moved, wrap them in polyethylene film, tying the film in place with a cord or rope. The water may still get in, but most of the silt won’t, which will make cleanup easier.

* Teach adults and older children where water service mains and natural gas mains are and how to turn them off if necessary.

* Be open and honest with children. Hiding the situation from them may be even more stressful than talking openly. Let them know that you have a plan.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. Since “knowledge is power,” using knowledge to lessen or prevent damage to home and property and preserve a sense of emotional well-being and safety is a helpful way to exercise personal power.

To see the complete article, visit https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/disasters/steps-to-reduce-flood-and-water-damage.

By: Kathy Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, Kathleen.Riggs@usu.edu,


National Preparedness Month: Be Prepared to Create “A Lasting Legacy” 

It is well known that preparation can help overcome fear, and since September is National Preparedness Month, now is a great time to evaluate your preparedness supplies and plans. This year’s theme, “A Lasting Legacy,” means that the life you’ve built is worth protecting, and preparation can help you do that.

           The website: https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit has an option to download a printable Basic Disaster Supplies Kit. The list also has suggestions for “unique needs” that include pets and elderly adults.

Recommendations for the Basic Disaster Supplies Kit include:

  • Water – 1gallon per person per day for at least 3 days for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable foods
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air as well as plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal off windows and doors if sheltering in place becomes necessary
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities such as natural gas
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Cash
  • Prescription medications

Other items can be included, but adding size and weight to the kit may require additional portable totes or backpacks. Things to consider adding include pet supplies, changes of clothing and sleeping bags. A complete list is found at the link above.

Remember that assembling a kit is not a one-and-done task; it requires regular maintenance. You may consider placing a recurring reminder in your calendar to update and replenish the kit. Canned and packaged food will expire, batteries will lose power, and you may think of things to add or adapt to better suit your current situation.

The link also describes where to store your kits – namely in three locations:

  • Home: Keep the kits in a designated place and have them ready in case you have to leave quickly. Make sure all family members know where they are kept. Consider including a list of pre-determined additional valuables that can be located and loaded in 5-15 minutes if there is time, space, and transportation available. The list can be taped to the container top or stored in a pocket of the backpack.
  • Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medications and comfortable walking shoes. These should be stored in a “grab and go” container in an easily accessible location.
  • Vehicle: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your vehicle. It can be similar to your work kit, but you may also want to include some form of shelter and source of warmth should you need to leave your car.

          The key to facing potential disasters is to be prepared and informed. Being proactive and preparing now will help reduce the fear of being hungry, cold or injured in the future.

By:Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor, kathleen.riggs@usu.edu, 435-586-8132

Prepare to Protect: September is National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month is held each September to raise awareness about preparing for disasters and emergencies. The 2021 theme is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “What people do before a disaster can make a dramatic difference in their ability to cope with and recover from it…”

It may not be possible to completely avoid damage from unpredictable natural disasters caused by wind, water, wildfire, earthquakes or drought. However, being aware of the most probable natural disasters in your area and taking steps now to prepare for them will have huge benefits should a disaster occur.

The website https://ready.gov/plan provides information for making an emergency preparedness plan. Consider these four steps.

Step 1: Put a plan together. Discuss the following questions with your household members, extended family and friends. 

 *  How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?

 *  What is my shelter plan?

 *  What is my evacuation plan?

 *  What is my family/household communication plan?

 *  Do I need to update my emergency preparedness kit?

Step 2. Consider the specific needs of your household. Tailor your plan to include supplies for day-to-day living needs for each family member. Having necessary supplies on hand can help family members feel calm, even in the midst of chaos. Factors to consider when developing a personalized plan:

*  Age of each household member.

*  Dietary needs.

*  Medical needs, including prescriptions and equipment.

*  Pet food and supplies.

*  Cultural and religious considerations.

*  Supplies to assist others.

 *  Coronavirus supplies such as masks and disinfectants.

Step 3: Fill out a family emergency plan. Whether completing the document provided by ready.gov or creating your own, the main purpose is to provide answers to the overarching question, “What if…?”

What happens in the event of an emergency if you’re not with your family? Will you know how to reach them if cell service is down? How will you know they are okay? How will they know you are okay?

Step 4: Practice your plan with your family/household. Ideally, your preparedness plan will become second nature after practice and discussion. It can also be written and placed in a central location where it can easily be reviewed.

Now is a great time to make your preparedness plan. To receive tips and information, visit preparedness.usu.edu and click the yellow bar.

By: Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor, kathleen.riggs@usu.edu

Water Storage Tips

The average human body is 65 percent water — an element essential for survival. Water helps blood flow and carries oxygen and nutrients to cells, flushes waste products from the body, cushions tissues and joints and is a critical component for digestion.

Because water is fundamental for daily life, providing for water needs in the event of an emergency should be a top priority.  

According to Teresa Hunsaker, Utah State University Extension educator, with the drought on everyone’s minds, now is a great time to design a family preparedness plan that includes water storage.

“Each person will need at least 1 gallon of water per day,” she said. “For home storage, include at least a 2-week supply of water for each person for drinking and sanitation. If you own a pet, be aware of how much it drinks each day and include that amount in your storage.

Hunsaker said water should be stored in containers such as food-grade plastic or glass jars, including quart canning jars.

“Many people bottle water in their empty canning jars,” she said. “It’s a simple way to use canning jars for another purpose. The downside is the bottles can break, but many people place them in canning boxes with dividers to protect them. You can process the bottled water in a canner for 20 minutes and have a sterile source of water in storage.”

Hunsaker said two-liter plastic soda pop bottles also work well, as do 5, 10 or 55-gallon containers specifically for water storage.

“Previously used juice and milk containers won’t work since food proteins are difficult to remove, and the grade of plastic is generally not adequate,” she said. “Water bottles purchased in cases from the store work well for short-term storage of 1-2 years.”

 Hunsaker said it is important to avoid storing plastic containers directly on concrete or dirt since they will absorb odors, which won’t affect the safety of the water, but it can affect the taste.

“When you are filling water storage containers with tap water, you won’t need to treat the water prior to storage since city water already provides a sanitation treatment,” she said.

Hunsaker said in the event of an emergency, water will need to be treated if it comes from a non-sterile source such as wells, rivers, rainwater, etc. Below are several suggested treatment methods, based on information from Carolyn Washburn, retired USU Extension professor.

* Chemical treatment – Using concentrated, (6 percent) unscented chlorine bleach, add 8 drops per gallon (less than 1/8 tsp), or 2 drops per quart. Be aware that nearly all liquid chlorine bleach is now concentrated and that amounts required for treatment are LESS than in previous years when bleach was not concentrated (3 percent). After adding bleach, let the water stand for 30 minutes. For cloudy water, use 24 drops per 2 gallons (4 drops per quart). If water is still cloudy, repeat the dosage, and let stand another 15 minutes. If it is still cloudy at that point, it is not safe to drink and should be disposed. Water treated with chlorine should have a slight bleach odor. If it does not, repeat and wait another 15 minutes. The treated water can then be made palatable by pouring it between clean containers several times. Beware of expiration dates on bleach. If it is older than 4 months, it should not be used as a water purifying agent. Bleach will dissipate after 1 year. 

* Heat treatment – Boil water for 5 to 10 minutes. The water bath method for glass jars provides sterilization and indefinite shelf life. Fill clean, sterilized jars and boil in a water bath for 15-20 minutes.  

* Other forms of water treatment are iodine, water purification tablets, distillation and filtration. 

* Additional emergency sources of water include potable water from pipes, water heaters and ice cube trays. However, water from swimming pools, toilet tanks or waterbeds should not be used for drinking because of the chemicals that have been added. 

“When potable or drinkable water is properly disinfected and stored in ideal conditions, it should have an indefinite shelf life,” Hunsaker said. “However, to maintain the optimum quality  and avoid a possible stale taste, it is best to rotate the water every 6 months.” 

For further information and tips on preparedness, visit extension.usu.edu/preparedness.

Writer: Julene Reese, 435-757-6418, Julene.reese@usu.edu

Contact: Teresa Hunsaker, (801) 399-8200Teresa.hunsaker@usu.edu

What to Do When the Freezer Goes out

The recent wind storms have left many people without power. The potential loss of food in refrigerators and freezers is a cause for concern. Consider these tips:

1. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Open them briefly only if necessary.

2. Watch for notifications from the power company about when power might be restored. Knowing a time estimation will help you make plans. If full, most freezers will keep food frozen for 48-60 hours, depending on the type of food and the beginning freezer temperature.

3. Place a thermometer in the front of the fridge or freezer to check temperatures after 24 hours without power.

4. Know the highest temperature food has reached, which is the most important factor in determining whether or not it is safe. If power is not back on after 48-60 hours, watch for temperatures holding food between 40 to 44 F.

5. If you do not have a generator and your freezer is not likely to be operating within a day, you may need to move your frozen foods to a working freezer. Consider asking a friend or neighbor if they have freezer space. You might also check into moving your freezer’s contents to a local freezing plant, church freezer, school freezer or even a meat locker. To move your food, put it in insulated boxes or between thick layers of newspapers and blankets, depending on how far you have to go.

6. Another option to help keep foods frozen is to place dry ice in your freezer. To locate a source, do a search for “dry ice” or “carbonic gas.” Some grocery stores carry dry ice. Handle it quickly, and always wear heavy gloves to prevent it from burning your hands. When purchasing dry ice, have it cut into small, usable sizes. Do not try to cut or chip it yourself. A 50-pound block of dry ice is enough to protect solidly frozen food in a 20-cubic foot freezer for three to four days. A 25-pound block should hold the temperature of a half-full, 10-cubic foot freezer below freezing for two to three days.

7. Place heavy cardboard on top of packages of frozen food in each compartment of your freezer and place dry ice on top of the cardboard. Close the freezer and do not open it again until you need to replace the dry ice or the power comes back on.

8. Provide extra insulation for your freezer by covering it with blankets or quilts. Placing packing material or crumpled newspapers between the cabinet and the blankets will also help.  Be sure coverings are away from air vents on the outside of the freezer. The power may come on unexpectedly, and ventilation will be needed. The harmless gas given off by dry ice needs to escape. Dry ice is carbon dioxide in its solid form. It evaporates rather than melts and leaves no liquid. You may notice an off odor caused by carbonic acid, which is formed by the dry ice and moisture in the freezer. It is harmless. Simply leave the freezer door open for a few minutes to let it escape.

Some thawed foods can be re-frozen. However, the texture will not be as good. Other foods may

need to be discarded. Here are some guidelines:

Meat and Poultry: Re-freeze if the freezer temperature stays at 40 F or below. Check each package, and discard if there are signs of spoilage such as an off color or off odor. Discard any packages that are above 40 F (or at room temperature).

Vegetables: Re-freeze only if ice crystals are still present or if the freezer temperature is 40 F or

below. Discard packages that show signs of spoilage or that have reached room temperature.

Fruits: Re-freeze if they show no signs of spoilage. Thawed fruits may be used in cooking or making jellies, jams or preserves. Fruits survive thawing with the least damage to quality.

Shellfish and Cooked Foods: Re-freeze only if ice crystals are still present or the freezer is 40 F or below. If the temperature is above 40 F, throw these foods out.

Ice Cream: If partially thawed, throw it out. The texture of ice cream is off after thawing. If the temperature rises above 40 F, it could be unsafe.

Creamed Foods, Puddings and Cream Pies: Re-freeze only if freezer temperature is 40 F or below. Discard if the temperature is above 40 F.

Breads, Nuts, Doughnuts, Cookies and Cakes: These foods re-freeze better than most. They can be safely re-frozen if they show no signs of mold growth.

To be prepared for a power emergency, find out where the nearest commercial or

institutional freezers are. Locate a source of dry ice. During the seasons when power failures are

common or if you know the power will be off, it is good insurance to run the freezer between -10 F and -20 F. The colder food freezes, the more slowly it thaws.

By: Teresa Hunsaker, Utah State University Extension family and consumer science educator, Teresa.hunsaker@usu.edu, 801-399-8200

Know How to “Go” When Nature Calls in Utah’s Outdoors

Summer is the perfect time to head outdoors, but more people camping, hiking and biking on public lands means more people who have to “go” in places without bathroom facilities.

GottaGoUtah.org is a new website with tips and resources on how to enjoy Utah’s public lands by learning responsible outdoor bathroom etiquette. It starts with the idea that as we all heed nature’s call, keeping public lands and water bodies healthy and beautiful is everyone’s responsibility.

“Recreation on Utah’s public lands increases every year,” said Nancy Mesner of Utah State University Water Quality Extension, who spearheaded the campaign funded by the Utah Division of Water Quality. “This year presents new challenges as budget crunches due to the coronavirus have forced bathroom facilities and campgrounds to be closed in some areas. Learn how and where to easily pack it out so future visitors can have as nice of an experience as you had.”

Utahns are encouraged to explore GottaGoUtah.org prior to venturing farther than bathroom facilities, whether it is in a forest, desert or alpine area, to learn how to easily dispose of waste and toilet paper while enjoying Utah’s public lands. RV campers can also find an interactive map of all RV dump stations around the state so they will never be stuck searching after a camping trip.

Here are some quick and dirty tips:

  • Go before you go—use an outhouse or bathroom before you head out.
  • In many places, it is best to dig a cat hole 6-8 inches deep, and far away from water, trails and campsites.
  • In some delicate environments, such as deserts and alpine forests, it’s best to pack it out. Visit the website for tips.

Be prepared for when you gotta go on your next trip outdoors. For more information, visit GottaGoUtah.org.

Contact: Nancy Mesner, Nancy.mesner@usu.edu

Seven Tips to Help You Take Stock before Restocking Food Storage

Shelves of homemade preserves and canned goods

 Whether you plan to preserve your garden produce or hit the seasonal case lot sales, take stock of what is still in your freezer, pantry or food storage room.

Family changes, including new additions or downsizing, make taking inventory imperative. Adding 50 quarts of fresh home-canned tomatoes or two more cases of cream of chicken soup to the shelves just because that’s what you’ve always done may not serve you well any more.

Basic guidelines for effective food storage are generally straightforward. Here are seven tips:

  1. Store only high-quality foods. You may be familiar with the saying, “You get out of something what you put into it.” While this may not be specifically referring to food storage, it is still a true statement. If you preserve bruised or over-ripe produce, don’t expect it to magically turn into high-quality apple pie filling or firm, tender green beans. This is also true of dry goods that may already be old or unclean.
  1. Practice first in, first out. When stocking your food storage areas, place recently purchased items behind existing food. This will help ensure that food is consumed before spoiling and before the expiration and best-if-used-by dates. If you purchase items in bulk, not all items may be individually dated. Keep a marker close by to include the date.
  1. Date packaged, frozen meats. Many people raise their own livestock or hunt wild game, and it is not uncommon to have home freezers full of packaged meat. These also need to be dated and rotated to help you avoid freezer burn and tough meat.
  1. Store what you use, and use what you store. There are those who love to give advice about food storage. Just because it is suggested that powdered milk or honey be part of every family’s emergency or long-term food storage plan, it doesn’t mean you have to do it. If your family prefers canned milk or granulated sugar, go with what you know you will use. Moreover, if you don’t cook with dried beans, for example, perhaps you would be better off storing commercially canned beans.
  1. Avoid going into debt to purchase food storage. Looking over case lot sales ads can be exciting, but walking into the store with cases of food items strategically placed throughout the store raises the excitement to a whole new level. Before leaving home, make a list, determine how much you will spend, and stick to it. If you plan to buy a half case of canned corn, stick with your plan, even if you have to have an employee divide a box for you.
  1. Store foods appropriately. It can be very disappointing to take a bag of rice from your pantry shelf only to find it has been nibbled on or has been infested with weevil. Pests feed on or breed in flours, cereals, grains, dried fruit, nuts, candy and other stored foods – if they can get to them. Take time to clean and disinfect the entire area if evidence of pests is found. And to avoid this from happening in the future, as soon as the foods arrive in your home, take time to transfer them into air-tight containers or divide them and place in smaller bags and store them in the freezer.
  1. Keep food storage areas clean, organized and pest free. If the only space you have to store food is in a garage or storage shed, it will take additional planning to keep your food items safe, clean and not forgotten. It may require you to install insulated cabinets with doors and avoid storing grains in unsealed containers in the same space.

There are a variety of food storage inventory sheets for tracking food that comes in and goes out. Try an internet search for “food storage inventory sheets” and click “images.”

By: Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences faculty kathleen.riggs@usu.edu, 435-586-8132

Preventing Wildlife Attacks: Let Common Sense Overrule Curiosity

wildlife sq.png

Summer and autumn are gorgeous seasons for outdoor activities. Camping and visiting national parks are some of the most popular. Who doesn’t love spending time in the great outdoors?

While you’re soaking up the sun and enjoying time with the family it’s important to remember that you’re a guest in nature. Be sure to exercise caution and avoid wild animals!


Recent media reports of wildlife attacking humans have many people concerned and reconsidering their time spent outdoors.


Utah wildlife species that have been implicated in attacks on humans, livestock and pets include black bears, mountain lions, moose, elk, mule deer, coyotes, raccoons, turkeys, rattlesnakes and bison. Negative interactions with large ungulates are becoming more common place as humans are increasingly recreating in animal territory, and it’s important to not let human curiosity overrule common sense.


Recent altercations in Yellowstone National Park attest to the value of common sense over curiosity. In June, a bison gored a woman in the Lower Geyser Basin. Before the attack, the woman and other people were within 10 yards of the animal as it crossed a boardwalk. The animal became agitated and charged. Also in June, and in the same area, two women were attacked by a cow elk when they got between the cow and her calf; the cow was defending her calf.


Since 1980, Yellowstone National Park has had over 100 million visitors. During this time, 38 people were injured by grizzly bears in the park. Though this is more than anyone wants, according to the Park for all park visitors combined, the chances of being injured by a grizzly bear are 1 in 2.7 million. For Park visitors who remain in developed areas, roadsides and boardwalks, the risk decreases to 1 in 25.1 million. For those who camp and travel in the backcountry, the risk increases to 1 in 1.4 million for those who stay overnight and 1 in 232,000 for those who travel in the back county.


Although there will always be risks, they can be managed by using common sense and following simple rules.

  1. First and foremost, always remember that Utah is wildlife country. It is home to an abundance of wildlife, which is why so many people are drawn to our state.
  2. Should you encounter wildlife while hiking, biking or camping, remember that distance is your best friend. Most of the attacks reported occur because someone wanted to get that once-in-a-lifetime selfie. Always give the animal a clear path to escape.
  3. If you do encounter wildlife, stay calm and do not run. Pick up children or pets with you. This is the one time that you can be as obnoxious as possible outdoors. Puff up you chest, shout and stomp your feet. Back away slowly. And again remember, do not run!
  4. If a moose, elk or deer knocks you down, curl up in a ball, protect you head and lie still until the animal moves away.
  5. If attacked by a large predator, fight back!
  6. If you encounter a rattlesnake, stop, listen to locate where the rattle is coming from and back away to allow the snake to escape.

Follow these rules for camping:

  1. Keep a clean, odor-free campsite by storing food, drinks and scented items securely in wildlife-proof containers at least 100 yards from your tent. Keep trash away from your campsite, and do not burn it in your fire pit.
  2. Clean your tables, stoves and grills to remove food or odors that could attract wildlife.
  3. Keep your pets leashed in camp and stay with them on the designated trails. Do not let your pet chase or “play” with wildlife, as your pet may be viewed as food.
  4. Always hike, jog and camp with companions.
  5. If you find a wildlife carcass, stay away from it. You could be perceived as messing with a predator’s food, which could cause them to become aggressive.

If you have an encounter with aggressive wildlife, alert the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources office nearest you. For further information on wild animal attacks, visit wildawareutah.org.

This article was contributed by Terry Messmer, Utah State University Extension wildlife specialist.

Eight Reasons to Consider Canning

food canning

Canning your produce can make your harvest go a long way. The practice is economically beneficial and preserves your gardening efforts!


Now that gardens are planted and fruit trees are showing signs of small fruit, many people begin planning how they will preserve the harvest – canning, freezing, drying and even freeze-drying. However, even die-hard food preservers may ask at times if the efforts of growing produce and preserving are really worth it. Here are eight things to consider.

            Emergency preparedness – Preparing for potential job loss, earthquakes or other natural disasters serve as incentives for many to participate in food storage and preservation.

            Economically beneficial – Whether food preservation actually saves money depends on several factors: if you are able to grow your own high-quality produce; if you own the correct equipment in very good to excellent condition; the cost of electricity, natural gas or propane; and the cost of added ingredients and supplies such as sugar, pectin, lids, bottles or freezer bags. A first-time food preserver may find it cost prohibitive to purchase a new pressure canner, dehydrator, or water-bath canner along with all the containers, etc., but those can be purchased over time.

            Time saving – When considering this factor, it is important to think beyond the actual time to harvest, prepare and preserve the food. The time savings actually comes into play down the line when the convenience of having a bottle of stewed tomatoes or frozen chopped onions and peppers on hand to make spaghetti sauce alleviates a trip to the grocery store or time spent preparing these items fresh.


            Quality control – Time from harvest to jar or freezer is minimized when you can pick peaches in the morning and have them canned that same afternoon. Sometimes several days go by between harvesting/picking in a commercial orchard to the processing plant. Also, when it’s your hands sorting through the produce to make certain everything is cleaned and unwanted pieces are discarded, you are more confident in the overall quality of what you preserve.

            Flavor – In general, it is difficult to find commercially preserved foods without added salt, sugar, spices and in some cases dyes and firming agents or other additives. To a large degree, home preserved foods can be prepared with reduced salt/sugar and added spices in your preferred amounts.

            Health benefits – Those who have food allergies must always be on the watch for commercially prepared foods that have possible contamination from tree nuts, gluten and other potentially harmful allergens. Besides the freshness factor, when food is preserved at home, you are in control and can ensure that foods are properly prepared for your family. Reduced sugar recipes for diabetics and lowered salt content for family members with high blood pressure can also be used.

           Reduced food waste – Home gardeners often produce more food than can be harvested and used fresh. For example, rather than having many stalks of ripened corn go to waste, cobs can be shucked, then cobs or kernels may be blanched and frozen. Remaining stalks can then be donated to a farmer to be used to feed goats or other livestock.

            Emotional satisfaction – The idea of producing high-quality foods for future use – and from scratch – can be very satisfying. The best way to feel totally confident in what is sitting on the shelf or in the freezer is to simply follow the approved guidelines and steps established by science and research; not necessarily from a blog, Pinterest or a Facebook post.

For more information on home food preservation, contact your local USU Extension office or visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation at www.nchfp.uga.edu.


This article was written by Kathy Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or 435-586-8132

How to Prepare Your Home for Fall

Prepare your homeNow is the time to prepare for those impending cold winter months.

It’s here, you can feel it in the  air—fall, and fall brings the falling temperatures that herald winter.  The fall Equinox is a good time of year to start thinking about preparing your home for winter, because as temperatures begin to change, your home will require maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape through the winter.

As winter approaches with its guarantee of ice, snow, and frigid temperatures, taking action early is all the more helpful for you. You’re better off preventing any potential problems now, because once the chill of winter arrives anything that goes wrong in your home will inevitably be nothing but a headache to fix. Careful planning and preparation will ensure your utilities will run efficiently and your home will be protected during the winter, and in the end will save you time, money, and frustration.

Here is a checklist of considerations:


  • Check all weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors.  Replace or repair as needed.
  • Check for cracks and holes in house siding; fill with caulking as necessary.
  • Remove window air conditioners, or put weather-proof covers on them.
  • Take down screens (if removable type) and clean and store them.
  • Drain and shut off all outside faucets and sprinkler lines.
  • Clean gutters and drain pipes so they won’t be clogged with leaves.  Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home.
  • Check roof for leaks and repair.
  • Check flashing around vents, skylights, and chimneys for leaks.
  • Check chimney for damaged chimney caps and loose or missing mortar.
  • Check chimney flue; clean obstructions and make sure damper closes tightly.
  • Clean siding. Paint or seal if you have wood siding.
  • Inspect wood framing from termites and re-treat as necessary.
  • Trim trees away from the house. Have dead trees and branches removed by professional tree trimmers, or do it yourself.
  • Insulate any water pipes that are exposed to freezing cold.
  • Make sure you are stocked with rock salt, sand, snow shovels and any other items you will need during the winter.
  • Buy firewood or chop wood. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.
  • If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
  • Drain gas from lawnmowers.
  • Apply sealant to decks to help prevent wood damage from extreme freezing/thawing cycles.
  • Service or tune-up snow blowers.
  • Replace worn rakes and snow shovels.
  • Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment.
  • Winterize your lawn, which includes fertilizing and possibly re-seeding, to keep the grass strong and able to reserve food over the winter.  Check with your local nursery or county USU Extension horticulturist for specific questions about your lawn.
  • Clean and store your outdoor lawn and patio furniture to protect them from winter damage.
  • Drain out your outdoor hoses and sprinklers and bring them inside so they cannot freeze or crack. Also drain the water in birdbaths and cover them.


  • Check insulation as much as possible; replace or add as necessary.  Gas/electric companies may have an insulation program going—check with them for possible assistance and insulation checks.
  • Have heating system and heat pump serviced; have humidifier checked; change or clean air filter on furnace.
  • Drain hot water heater and remove sediment from bottom of tank; clean burner surfaces; adjust burners.
  • Check all faucets for leaks; replace washer if needed.
  • Check and clean humidifier in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Clean refrigerator coils.
  • Test and check batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Install or replace weather stripping on all doors and windows. Check for cracks around pipes and electrical outlets entering or exiting the walls.
  • Prepare an emergency kit—flashlights, candles, batteries, bottled water, blankets, etc.  This is the time of year for power outages and having things readily available is smart.  This is also flu season, so preparing your home with supplies for treating the flu might be helpful too.
  • Buy a battery backup to protect your computer and sensitive electronic equipment.
  • Replace warm-weather clothing with cold-weather clothing, and warm-weather bedding with cold weather bedding.
  • Place a boot tray by the door for people to place their wet boots and shoes in before they enter the home.

This article was written by Teresa C. Hunsaker, USU Extension, Weber County, Family and Consumer Sciences Education