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

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


This article was written by Kathy Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, or 435-586-8132

Ask an Expert // What should I do with all these dried beans?

Dried BeansDried beans can be a great addition to your pantry and food storage. Read on to find out how to properly store and preserve dried beans.

This time of year, case lot sales are common. Among bulk items being offered are several foods known to store well for several years, when handled properly. Among those food items are several types of dried beans, sold in paper or plastic packaging.

Unless your family cooks with beans on a regular basis, a 25-pound bag of dried beans may seem a bit intimidating, or even impossible, to use up within the foreseeable future. If this sounds like you, here are some storage options to consider so you will have quality beans available when you need them for months or years ahead.

Utah State University Extension provides the following information to consumers wishing to add dried beans to their long-term food storage.

Storing dried beans

Quality & Purchase. For the most part, dry beans are graded U.S. No.1 (best) through U.S. No. 3, based on defects. Lesser quality beans are generally graded “substandard” or “sample.”

Packaging. Like most stored foods, beans are best stored in the absence of oxygen and light. Oxygen can lead to rancidity of bean oils and light will quickly fade bean color. The best packaging choices are #10 cans or Mylar-type bags. Canning jars are suitable for smaller quantities providing the jars are stored in a dark place. Oxygen absorbers should be used to remove oxygen from the packages to extend shelf life and minimize off-flavors.

Storage Conditions. Beans in normal polyethylene (food-grade) bags have a shelf life of 1 year or more. Like most stored foods, colder storage temperatures will increase shelf life. When packaged in #10 cans or Mylar-type bags, with the oxygen removed, they have a shelf life of 10 years or more. A BYU study indicated that samples that had been stored up to 30 years had greater than 80 percent acceptance by a consumer taste panel for emergency food use.

Use from storage. All dried beans, except lentils and split peas, require soaking in water for rehydration. Typically, 3 cups of water are needed for every 1 cup of dried beans. Allow beans to soak overnight and then rinse them in clean water. To cook beans, cover rehydrated beans with water in a stock pot. Simmer for 2-4 hours until beans are tender. Once tender they can be spiced and used in cooking recipes. As dried beans age, the seeds become harder. This results in longer rehydration and cooking times. At some point, the seeds will no longer rehydrate, and in that case, must be ground as bean flour. 

Preserving Dried Beans

It is common for home food preservers to “bottle” or “can” dried beans so they are hydrated and ready to use in recipes. For safety reasons, it is important to follow current guidelines for preserving dried beans as described by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. If you are new to pressure canning, visit this website and read how to safely use a pressure canner or contact your local county Extension office.

Procedure: Place dried beans or peas in a large pot and cover with water. Soak 12 to 18 hours in a cool place. Drain water. To quickly hydrate beans, you may cover sorted and washed beans with boiling water in a saucepan. Boil 2 minutes, remove from heat, soak 1 hour and drain.

Cover beans soaked by either method with fresh water and boil 30 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon of salt per pint or 1 teaspoon per quart to the jar, if desired. Fill jars with beans or peas and cooking water, leaving 1-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process as a hot pack;  pints for 75 minutes; quarts 90 minutes at 15 pounds pressure (altitudes 3,000-6,000 ft.) or 13 pounds with a dial-type gauge tested for accuracy by the local Extension office. WARNING: Do not place dried beans in a jar and add water as a method to prepare beans for processing. To guarantee safety, beans must be hydrated first!

Whenever you get in the mood for fresh-cooked chili, humus, beans and ham hocks or refried beans, having quality beans on hand that have been prepared and stored properly will be a great asset to your menus.

Kathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County. Questions or comments may be sent to or call 435-586-8132.


Preparedness Ideas You Might Have Forgotten



  • How many phone numbers do you have memorized? If your cell phone is down, so is your phone list.
  • How can you help? When you get to an evacuation gathering site, do you have skills to help take care of frightened children? Computer skills to help take down information? Carpentry skills to help rebuild or stabilize homes?
  • How many people do you know by name on your street? Can you recognize their children—more importantly, can their children recognize you?
  • How long can you stay cheerful?

The current buzzword in community help agency circles is resilience. It’s the ability to cope and overcome problems. Resiliency in a community is key in recovering from disasters, or just plain hard times. Community resilience is built on a foundation of people knowing each other. If you don’t know the people who live next door to you, or behind you across the fence, or on the other side of town, you can’t help them and they can’t help you. I’ve heard that when a natural disaster first hits an area, everyone bands together—the first week. By the end of the month, everyone is “all funned out,” as Cuzco says in The Emperor’s New Groove, but the rebuilding has only just begun.

Popular Mechanics has a special edition of “The Ultimate Survival Guide” on newsstands, so you can “adapt like the Special Forces.” Ultimately, survival depends on how a community can work together using the knowledge and experience of everyone in it. That sense of community starts now: know the people around you, know the people on the other side of town, know what you can do to help once you’ve been helped.

It’s not the Apocalypse we have to worry about: it’s each other.

Interested in learning more about preparedness? Come to the Utah Prepare Conference and Expo this Friday and Saturday, September 8 & 9 at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy.

This article was written by Cathy Merrill, USU Extension Assistant Professor, Utah County



Ask An Expert // Six Tips for Portable Emergency Food Storage

emergency foodWhat would your family eat in an emergency? Get prepared with these six expert tips on portable emergency food storage.

Weather can regularly create emergency situations such as massive power outages, dangerous road conditions or flooding across the nation. In Utah, we are not without our share of emergency weather-caused situations that can leave people stranded, without heat or lights for several hours or stopped on the freeway due to a car accident.

While these situations can be frustrating at best, some can mean there will be no relief for up to 72 hours. How would you fare if you were home or in your car “stuck” with only what you have on hand to help you survive? Would you have sufficient supplies of food and water and a source of heat/warmth and other emergency items to last for 3 or more days?

If you are new to food storage and/or emergency preparedness, this question may be difficult to answer. However, even for those who think they are prepared, it’s good to review some basics and examine what goes in a 72-hour emergency kit.

Below are six tips for preparing your portable emergency supply, adapted from USU’s online publication, “A Guide to Food Storage for Emergencies.”

1. Foods to include in the 3-day/72-hour kit:

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA 2012), the general guidelines are to stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation along with a manual can opener and eating utensils. Examples include:

  •  Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts, chips or crackers
  • Food for infants
  • Powdered drink mixes to add to water
  • Comfort/stress foods, candy bars, etc.

2. Beverages to include in the 3-day/72-hour kit:

  • Bottled water
  • Soda or juices (Avoid diet sodas if possible since the artificial sweeteners break down and can cause an off flavor in soda stored beyond the expiration date. Regular soda will just taste flat.)
  • Non-perishable pasteurized milk (Sold in cartons; does not require refrigeration.)

3. How to store the 3-day/72-hour supply kit:

In case you are home and need to evacuate on short notice, these supplies should be stored in a convenient location close to a front door or garage. Use one or two portable containers. Consider a tote on wheels with a handle, backpacks, etc., that are easy to move. Be sure they will fit in your car and that they can be carried or pulled to a safe location if you need to leave the car.

4. Amount of water to include:

The recommendation is 1 gallon of water per person (adult) per day. However, the requirement for staying hydrated varies according to age, physical condition, activity, diet and climate. Bottled water is the easiest to store; whether it is purchased in individual serving sizes or larger containers such as 3-liter jugs. Again, consider how you will carry this with you.

5.  How to keep food cold or frozen at home:

If you experience a power outage that doesn’t require you to leave your home, make certain perishable foods remain useable for as long as possible. If you have enough warning or have extra space in the freezer, fill empty spaces with bagged blocks of ice or fill clean plastic containers/jugs with water and freeze. Food in the freezer may not stay completely frozen but will stay cold for 1-2 days. Foods in the refrigerator may fare better if they can be transferred into insulated ice chests and covered with cubed ice.

6. How to maintain emergency food storage:

It is not only important to obtain a 72-hour supply of food and water, but also to store it safely and rotate the food to keep it appetizing and safe to eat.

  • Keep the foods in a cool, dry place.
  • Store in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend shelf life.
  • Throw out any canned goods that have become dented, show signs of corrosion or are bulging.
  • Use foods by their expiration/freshness dates and replace as necessary.
  • Rotate water storage annually.
  • Re-evaluate your food and water storage needs annually as families expand or get smaller in numbers.

The initial expense of time and money to establish a 3-day emergency food supply may seem daunting. However, once established, you can reduce the sense of fear, knowing you are prepared and can keep your family nourished during an emergency situation.

This article was written by Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor,, 435-586-8132

Water // The First Step for Family Preparedness

Water Preparedness.jpgWant to build up your family’s emergency supplies, but not sure where to start? A great first step is to store water. Find out how to get started here!

The human body is made up of 65 percent water, and it is necessary for our existence. Water helps our blood flow, carries oxygen and nutrients to our cells, flushes waste products from our body and even cushions our tissues and joints. It is also a critical component in food digestion. Water is fundamental for our daily life.

Providing for our water needs in the event of a disaster becomes a top priority, as water may have been interrupted or contaminated. Each person will need at least 1 gallon of water per day. For home storage, you should have at least a 2-week supply of water available for each person for drinking and sanitation. Water should be stored in food-grade containers such as glass jars, metal or plastic containers. Previously used juice and milk containers are not acceptable, as food proteins are difficult to remove, and the grade of plastic might not be adequate.

Treatments may be necessary if water is from a non-sterile source. Suggested methods are:

  •    Heat treatment-boil water 5-10 minutes. Use water bath processing for glass jars. 
  •    Chemical treatment Unscented Chlorine Treatment –8 drops per gallons (less than 1/8 tsp), or 2 drops per quart. Let stand for 30 minutes. For cloudy water, use 24 drops per 2 gallons (4 drops per quart). If still cloudy, repeat, let stand 15 minutes, and dispose if still cloudy. Water should have a slight bleach odor. If not, repeat and wait another 15 minutes. The treated water can then be made palatable by pouring it between clean containers several times. 

    Nearly all available liquid chlorine bleach is now concentrated. Amounts that are required for treatment are less than in previous years. Beware of expiration dates. If the bottle of bleach is older than 4 months, it should not be used as a water purifying agent. Bleach will dissipate after 1 year.

  •      Other forms of treatment are iodine, water purification tablets, distillation and filtration. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has recently approved the use of colloidal silver in low doses for maintaining microbiological quality of stored water.  

Additional emergency sources of water may be:  Potable water from pipes, water heater, ice cube trays and beverages. Do not use water from swimming pools, toilet tanks or waterbeds for drinking. Chemicals have been added to these, making them unsafe.

When potable (drinkable) water is properly disinfected and stored in ideal conditions, it should have an indefinite shelf life.  To maintain the optimum quality, water should be rotated every 6 months.    

Water storage is the first important step to preparedness. It is cost effective and something you can do today. Begin by storing in small containers, then work toward the 50-gallon barrels.  These should not be stored on the dirt or direct concrete, as they will absorb orders. Containers that are filled from the tap (city water) will not need treatments.  

This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, USU Professor

After the Flood // Salvaging Carpets and Clothes

floodingHave you been hit with flooding in your home? Try these eight tips to care for your clothes and carpets after the floodwaters have subsided.

With heavy snowfall and recent warm temperatures, many Utahns have experienced flooding in their homes. Flood or drain backup water may contain sewage and unknown chemicals that can contaminate carpet and present a health hazard. Water from irrigation leakage or sump pump failure may be less risky, but equally damaging. In addition to carpet damage is clothing and fabric damage and the race against mildew. Consider these tips for cleaning up after a flood.

  1.  For carpet, the first step is to immediately get it off the floor to start drying it and to preserve the wood under the carpet. You may also have to remove the foam carpet padding. If possible, take it out to a driveway or patio to dry. If the carpet is too heavy to move, lift it off the floor and prop it up to allow air to circulate around it. If possible, don’t let the carpet completely dry this way if you want to save it, as it will likely be stretched out of shape when it dries. If you are working with contaminated water damage, be sure to wear rubber gloves before handling the carpet.
  2. Next, clean the floor to minimize odor and mildew. Scrub the floors with hot water and detergent, then rinse them with a bleach solution of one-half cup of bleach per gallon of water.
  3. Determine if the carpet can be saved. You may need to consult professional carpet cleaners to decide if it is worth saving. Your decision will depend on the source of the water damage. If it is flood water or a sewer backup, your main concern will be sanitation. If the damage is from rain or culinary water, your main concern is preventing mildew. In this case, most rented carpet cleaners should do an adequate job cleaning it.
  4. Recovering flood-damaged clothing is a time-sensitive battle in preventing mildew. Most of the dirt can be washed out, but mildew can permanently damage clothes quickly. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling wet clothing and fabric.
  5.  Since you likely have more clothes than you can clean all at once or want to have dry cleaned, let everything air dry as quickly as possible. Don’t leave clothes in a heap, as this promotes mildew growth. Once dry, shake them out or brush off loose dirt and dried mud. Next separate clothes the way you would for normal washing. Store dry, separated clothes in plastic bags if it is going to take a long period of time to get everything washed.
  6.  Pre-soak clothes in cold water or use the pre-rinse cycle on your washer to remove any additional dirt. Use hot water and detergent to kill germs, and remember to load the washer more loosely than usual since the clothes are extra dirty.
  7. Wool and delicate items may not tolerate hot water. If you don’t want to pay to have them dry cleaned, hand wash them in a basin of warm water using 1-2 tablespoons of heavy duty liquid detergent. Allow to soak for at least 3 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
  8. Most blankets, throw rugs, bedspreads, quilts and down-filled items can receive the same treatment as clothing, just be sure to carefully support them when they are wet to avoid ripping from the weight of the water.

Cleaning water-damaged areas is often difficult and discouraging work. However, with time and patience, most clothing items with light-to-medium water damage can be salvaged. There’s also a good chance that carpet with minimal damage can be saved. For large jobs or major sewer backups, it may be best to contact a disaster cleanup company.

This article was written by Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, family and consumer sciences,, 435-590-7727

Preparing Your Home for Winter


It’s time to start preparing for the winter months. Preparation now will help prevent damage to your home later and will save energy and money. You can spread these home projects out over several weeks to make it easier.


  1. Check seals around doors and windows: You may be surprised by the little cracks and spaces that heat can escape through during the winter.  Look around window frames for any cracks on the outside and apply caulk.  Check on air leakage around electrical outlets and switch plates. You can install insulation or outlet gaskets very easily.
  2. Inspect furnace and filters: Have the furnace checked for efficiency and clean or replace filters. If a furnace has a dirty filter, it will not function as efficiently.  Air vents also fall into this category; be sure to vacuum them and check for possible leaks that decrease efficiency in the home.
  3. Reverse ceiling fan blades. Most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse the direction of the blades. The clockwise rotation forces warm air down where people can enjoy it rather than allowing it to escape to the ceiling area.
  4. Clean chimneys: Since ash and creosote can build up in a chimney, it is important to have a professional clean it at least every other year, or more if you use it frequently. You can use a flashlight to check for bird nests or other items that may be blocking any part of the chimney.
  5. Drain outdoor hoses and faucets: Water expands when it freezes and can ruin faucets and hoses if they aren’t properly taken care of. After draining pipes, store hoses indoors. Cover outdoor faucets with insulated frost-free hose bib covers.
  6. Wrap indoor pipes: Pipes may be exposed to the cold in the basement, inside cabinets or in the attic.  To avoid them bursting from freezing, wrap them in heat tape or tubular pipe insulation sleeves.
  7. Winterize evaporative cooler: Turn off the power and water to the cooler. Turn off water pump and fan, remove them and store indoors. Drain water out of lines and out of the swamp cooler pan. Disconnect the water supply line to the cooler and drain or blow it out to keep any residual water from being trapped in lines and freezing. Place cover or tarp over the cooler and tie it down securely. To prevent warm air from escaping through the ceiling inside the home, close the air diffuser vents and place a diffuser cover over the vent or place an evaporative cooler pillow plug inside the diffuser.
  8. Make necessary repairs on roof: Take a look at your roof and look for any possible places for leaking, missing shingles or weak corners, especially on older homes.
  9. Clean out rain gutters and make repairs: This is especially important for preventing unnecessary damage.  After all the leaves have fallen, you can clean out your gutter and check for possible broken parts.  This helps prevent gutter damming, which happens when draining water gets backed up and leaks into the home.
  10. Mow leaves into the lawn: This will act as mulch and help nourish your lawn during the winter. There is a helpful tutorial at USU Extension’s Live Well Utah blog here.
  11. Prepare the lawn mower for rest: Use all the gas in the lawn mower or add stabilizer to keep it from decomposing over the winter and causing problems when it’s time to use it again.
  12. Pull out the snow removal equipment: Gather snow blower, fuel, snow shovels and chemical ice melt, and place in a readily accessible location.
  13. Check or replace emergency supplies: Inspect fire extinguishers, batteries, candles, flashlights and propane lanterns or heaters.
  14. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Make sure they are working properly.  Carbon monoxide is a dangerous, odorless gas produced by gas furnaces and ranges.
  15. Replace light bulbs in exterior light fixtures: This will provide safety in lighting up walkways and steps during the dark winter nights.


This article was written by Kirsten Lamplugh, USU Extension Intern, Salt Lake County and Marilyn Albertson, Utah State University Extension Associate Professor, Salt Lake County

Resources:   Cozy Up to Colder Weather: 5 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Fall and Winter (parts 1 and 2)

Style at Home How to Prepare Your Home for Winter.  Ask a specialist: Do you have tips for winterizing my home?  Richard Beard, Utah State University Extension Agricultural Engineering Specialist,  2006

Ask an Expert // 7 Things to Keep in Your Car

Car Preparedness.jpg

Don’t get caught unprepared on the road. Stock your car with these seven things to ready yourself for any emergency.

We spend a lot of time in our vehicles, whether we’re driving to work, the grocery store, soccer practice or a family vacation.  Its been estimated that the average American spends 101 minutes per day driving. (Harvard Health Watch 2016)   With that much time in the car, it makes sense that we may have unanticipated issues, including mechanical trouble, a flat tire, weather problems, a car accident, or being first on the scene of any type of accident. Here are seven items to always keep in your car in case of an emergency.

  1. Water- Make sure you have sufficient water for 24 hours for all occupants of the vehicle. A good rule of thumb is 2 liters of water per person.  Water filtration devices are also useful and great for emergency kits.
  2. High Calorie Snacks- While-high calorie snacks are not usually what is recommended in case of extreme weather (heat or cold), they are best suited for emergencies like being stranded or needing to walk to get help. There are many high-calorie snack options, including S.O.S. 3600 calorie bars.
  3. Basic First Aid Kit- There are many inexpensive first aid kits readily available. However, often these kits don’t include some extremely important items.  In addition to the standard Neosporin and Band-Aids, be sure that your first aid kit includes: Neoprene/nitrile gloves, ibuprofen, sufficient ace bandages to wrap a limb, and at least one Mylar survival blanket.
  4. Fire-starter Kit- This can be as simple as a few lighters and some paper, or as elaborate as you would like. A small candle in a can is helpful during the winter and can be used as a source of light.  Just be sure to always have supplies for at least two methods of starting a fire.
  5. Flashlight- Keep a good flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries in your car. Be sure to check the batteries regularly.
  6. Blankets- This is in addition to the Mylar blankets included in your first aid kit. Mylar blankets are an excellent source for shelter or to retain body heat in an emergency.  However, the comfort of a real blanket can be particularly soothing to children during an emergency or for the victims of an automobile accident.
  7. Toilet Paper – It never fails that someone will need to use the rest room as soon as the facilities are unavailable. Toilet paper will add some comfort to an otherwise uncomfortable situation.

Now (as with all preparation) please take into account your typical number of passengers. If you have six children you will obviously need to prepare differently than for a single individual.

Elizabeth Davis is the Utah State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Assistant Professor for Kane County. Questions or comments may be sent to 

Ask an Expert: 5 Tips for Failproof Home Preserving

Canning Tips Graphic

How can you be sure the food you have preserved at home and placed on food storage shelves is safe for your family to eat? USU Extension Professor Kathleen Riggs shares five tips to keep in mind when preserving food.

1- Proper temperature

  • Boiling water method – kills most molds and air-borne bacteria in high acid foods (E.g., fruits, fruit juices and pickles). Steam canners may be used in place of a boiling water bath under specified conditions.*
  • Steam under pressure method – kills anaerobic organisms like those that cause botulism in low acid foods (E.g., vegetables and meats).
  • Note that tomatoes may be processed in a water-bath canner with the addition of an acid such as vinegar or lemon/lime juice.


2- Correct amount of processing time

This is scientifically determined, and as altitude increases:

  • Boiling water – time must be increased.
  • Steam under pressure – pressure must be increased.


3- New jar lids with screw bands that seal properly

  • New two-piece metal lids with sealing compound are recommended.
  • Screw bands may be reused multiple times if free of corrosion and dents.
  • A good seal means lids have indented and cannot be removed easily.


4- Up-to-date, approved recipes

“Approved” doesn’t mean it is endorsed by a favorite friend or relative! Canning is a science; not an art. Therefore, only use recipes from the following sources:

  • USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning
  • National Center for Home Food Preservation ( )
  • So Easy to Preserve (Published by University of Georgia Extension)
  • Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving


5- Current, approved food preservation methods

  • For canning, only two methods are approved:
    • Boiling water bath
    • Steam pressure canning
    • Steam canner- For high acid foods only and for 45 minutes or less processing time.*
  • Other approved methods of food preservation include dehydration, freezing and smoking/curing.


*For guidelines on using steam canners, contact your local USU Extension office or review the following article endorsed by USDA and the National Center for Home Food Preservation:

This article was written by Kathleen Riggs, USU Extension Professor,