Search This Blog

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Helpful Funeral Preparation Information

This is a topic no one wants to think about until it's something you have to think about.  Thanks to Joyce Mitchell from Funeral Consumers Alliance of Utah for the helpful scenario and information.

Video presentation found here:  Video about Funeral preparation

Heed this Cautionary True Story of a Utah Widow
Ring, Ring..

Volunteer: "Hello, This is ________ (name of volunteer)."

Volunteer: "Yes, how can I help you?"

Consumer: "I bought a funeral that I can't afford for my husband because a ‘Helpful Relative’ said he would pay for everything but now he refuses to pay."

Volunteer:  "I'm so sorry.  This is very common unfortunately. Did the mortuary show you prices as you went along during the purchase?"

Consumer:  "Well some, but I was afraid to say anything. I believe the helpful relative thought he would get a good deal since the Funeral Director is his cousin. I didn’t know what agreement they had so I was hesitant to be picky.  But I'm now willing to pay half if he would just follow through"

Volunteer: "Let me ask you two questions: According to Utah's Funeral Licensing Act the funeral home is obligated to hand the consumer a General Price List as soon as discussion of selections begins and it must be a copy that you can keep and take home with you.

So did the funeral director give both of you a price list to look over during the arrangements conference?"

Consumer: "No, I only saw an occasional price as pages of caskets were flipped and pictures of flower arrangements appeared...."

Volunteer: "Not good. One more question.  The FTC Funeral Rule tells Funeral Directors they must give each consumer a completed itemization of all Funeral Goods and Services Selected, with a final total, at the end of the arrangements discussion.

Did you both receive this final statement at the end of making selections?"

Consumer: "No, My Relative received it in the mail and then asked the mortuary to send it to me instead.  That's when I found out how much everything cost and that he expected me to pay.  I would have made more modest selections had I not felt pressured to please my Relative and his Funeral Director cousin."

Volunteer:  "Sounds like your relative was shocked by the price too. I recommend talking to the Funeral Director about what the law says he should have done with disclosures and see if he will reduce the cost."

The above scenario ended well, this time. This widow used the references I sent her to approach the Funeral Director. The mortuary halved the price of the funeral; And the Helpful Relative agreed to pay half of the new price. 

Please friends, do not let others' promise of funds or discounts influence you to spend more than you have in pocket.

See the 501C3 non-profit for actions you can take right now to be prepared for the day you find yourself or someone you love shopping for a funeral.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

 Are YOU Ready For an Earthquake??  This Month is the time to Get READY!

You have most likely heard that Utah is active earthquake territory.  Utah has experienced earthquakes in the past, and geologic evidence shows a large earthquake is overdue.  It's time to get ready!  

Large earthquake are possible anywhere in Utah, but they are most likely to happen in belt 100 miles long along the Wasatch Front from Ogden to St. George.  That means 90% of us in Utah live in active earthquake zones.  Here is an article that explains the probabilities ever further.

 We are going to participate as a Mount Mahogany Stake in the Great Utah Shakeout on Thursday, April 18th at 10:15 am.  Join us by texting your block captain during the drill!


Info included below is modified from and

So what can you do to get prepared?  Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency.
  • Will everyone in your household do the right thing during the violent shaking of a major earthquake? Before the next earthquake, get together with your family or housemates to plan now what each person will do before, during and after.
  • Once the earthquake is over, we will have to live with the risk of fire, the potential lack of utilities and basic services, and the certainty of aftershocks. By planning now, you will be ready.
  • Make sure that your emergency plan includes evacuation and reunion plans; your out-of-state contact person’s name and number; the location of your emergency supplies and other pertinent information.

We all must get better prepared for major earthquakes, and practice how to protect ourselves when they happen. The purpose of the ShakeOut is to help us do both. The following video has been created to show what may happen in a Wasatch fault earthquake, and what Utahns can do to reduce losses.

Utah Preparedness Now Video about what can happen before and after an Earthquake

Before the next big earthquake (or other emergency) in your area, do whatever you can to get prepared so you will survive and recover quickly. These four steps each contain a basic set of recommended actions for how to get prepared at home or in the workplace.Many are free or low cost solutions.

Start with Step 1 by securing a potential danger in your home, something that is easy and fast to accomplish. For example, move a heavy object from a high location closer to the floor. This only will take a minute and will prevent the object from falling onto someone or causing damage. You don’t need to complete all of the actions in each step before beginning the next.

Step 1:
Secure your space by identifying hazards and securing moveable items.

Step 2:
Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency.

Step 3:
Organize disaster supplies in convenient locations.

Step 4:
Minimize financial hardship by organizing important documents, strengthening your property, and considering insurance.
You can complete one item a day, one a weekend, or one a month. Just remember that earthquakes strike without warning, so you want to get as many completed BEFORE the shaking starts. Soon you will be prepared to survive and recover!

Plan NOW to be safe during an earthquake:

  • Practice “drop, cover, and hold on.” Drop, Cover and Hold On Instructions
  • Identify safe spots in every room, such as under sturdy desks and tables.
  • Learn how to protect yourself no matter where you are when an earthquake strikes.

Drop, Cover, and Hold On when the earth shakes.
Taking the proper actions, such as “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”, can save lives and reduce the risk
of injury. Everyone, everywhere, should learn and practice what to do during an earthquake, whether at home, work, school or traveling.

In MOST situations, you will reduce your chance of injury if you:
DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and also allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if nearby.
COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand
  • If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter
  • If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall (away from windows)
  • Stay on your knees; bend over to protect vital organs
HOLD ON until shaking stops
  • Under shelter: hold on to it with one hand; be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts
  • No shelter: hold on to your head and neck with both arms and hands.

Plan NOW to respond after an earthquake:

  1. Keep shoes and a working flashlight next to each bed.
  2. Get a fire extinguisher for your home.
  3. Teach everyone in your household to use emergency whistles and/or to knock three times repeatedly if trapped.
  4. Identify the needs of household members and neighbors with special requirements.
  5. Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR training course.
  6. Know the location of utility shutoffs and keep needed tools nearby. Make sure you know how to turn off the gas, water, and electricity to your home. Only turn off the gas if you smell or hear leaking gas.
  7. Install smoke alarms and test them monthly.

Plan NOW to communicate and recover after an earthquake:

  • Select a safe place outside of your home to meet your family or housemates after the shaking stops.
  • Designate an out-of-area contact person who can be called by everyone in the household to relay information.
  • Provide all family members with a list of important contact phone numbers.
  • Determine where you might live if your home cannot be occupied after an earthquake or other disaster.
  • Know about the earthquake plan developed by your children’s school or day care.
  • Keep copies of essential documents, such as identification, insurance policies, and financial records, in a secure, waterproof container, and keep with your disaster supplies kits. Include a household inventory (a list and photos or video of your belongings).
Have occasional earthquake “drills” to practice your plan. Share your plan with people who take care of your children, pets, or home.

Here are some specifics about what to do in certain situations:

Indoors: Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Avoid exterior walls, windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances, and kitchen cabinets with heavy objects or glass. However, do not try to move more than 5-7 feet before getting on the ground. Do not go outside during shaking! The area near the exterior walls of a building is the most dangerous place to be. Windows, facades and architectural details are often the first parts of the building to break away. If seated and unable to drop to the floor: bend forward, Cover your head with your arms, and Hold On to your neck with both hands.
In bed: Do not get out of bed. Lie face down to protect vital organs, and Cover your head and neck with a pillow, keeping your arms as close to your head as possible, while you Hold On to your head and neck with both hands until shaking stops. You are less likely to be injured by fallen and broken objects by staying where you are.

This new FEMA poster depicts how to appropriately respond to an earthquake in a variety of settings.
In a high-rise: Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Avoid windows and other hazards. Do not use elevators. Do not be surprised if sprinkler systems or fire alarms activate.
In a classroom Drop, Cover, and Hold On. . Students should also be taught what to do at home or other locations.
In a store: Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Getting next to a shopping cart, beneath clothing racks, or within the first level of warehouse racks may provide extra protection. For more details, download a simple PDF fact sheet about Earthquake Safety in Stores.
Outdoors: Move to a clear area if you can safely do so; avoid power lines, trees, signs, buildings, vehicles, and other hazards. Then Drop, Cover, and Hold On. This protects you from any objects that may be thrown from the side, even if nothing is directly above you.
Driving: Pull over to the side of the road, stop, and set the parking brake. Avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards. Stay inside the vehicle until the shaking stops, then proceed carefully by avoiding fallen debris, cracked or shifted payment, and emergency vehicles. If a power line falls on the car, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
In a stadium or theater: Drop to the ground in front of your seat or lean over as much as possible, then Cover your head with your arms (as best as possible), and Hold On to your neck with both hands until shaking stops. Then walk out slowly, watching for anything that could fall during aftershocks.
Near the shore: Follow instructions above for your particular location. Then as soon as shaking reduces such that you are able to stand, walk quickly to high ground or inland as a tsunami may arrive soon. Don’t wait for officials to issue a warning. Walk, rather than drive, to avoid traffic, debris, and other hazards.
Below a dam: Follow instructions above for your particular location. Dams can fail during a major earthquake. Catastrophic failure is unlikely, but if you live downstream from a dam, you should know flood-zone information and have prepared an evacuation plan for getting to high ground.

Earthquake safety video series

If you ask people what to do in an earthquake, you might hear to stand in a doorway, or go into the "triangle of life".  Both of these are outdated recommendations.  If you want to know why, keep reading!

Trying to move during shaking puts you at risk: Earthquakes occur without any warning and may be so violent that you cannot run or crawl; you therefore will most likely be knocked to the ground where you happen to be. So it is best to drop before the earthquake drops you, and find nearby shelter or use your arms and hands to protect your head and neck. “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” gives you the best overall chance of quickly protecting yourself during an earthquake… even during quakes that cause furniture to move about rooms, and even in buildings that might ultimately collapse.

The greatest danger is from falling and flying objects: Studies of injuries and deaths caused by earthquakes over the last several decades show that you are much more likely to be injured by falling or flying objects (TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases, etc.) than to die in a collapsed building. “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” (as described above) will protect you from most of these injuries.

Building collapse is less of a danger: While images of collapsed structures in earthquakes around the world are frightening and get the most attention from the media, most buildings do not collapse at all, and few completely collapse.

Based on years of research about how people are injured or killed during earthquakes, and the experiences of U.S. and international search and rescue teams, these three actions are not recommended to protect yourself during earthquakes:
DO NOT run outside or to other rooms during shaking: The area near the exterior walls of a building is the most dangerous place to be. Windows, facades and architectural details are often the first parts of the building to collapse. To stay away from this danger zone, stay inside if you are inside and outside if you are outside. Also, shaking can be so strong that you will not be able to move far without falling down, and objects may fall or be thrown at you that you do not expect. Injuries can be avoided if you drop to the ground before the earthquake drops you.
DO NOT stand in a doorway:  In modern houses, doorways are no stronger than any other part of the house, and the doorway does not protect you from the most likely source of injury- falling or flying objects. You also may not be able to brace yourself in the door during strong shaking. You are safer under a table.

DO NOT get in the “triangle of life”:
The “triangle of life” advice (always get next to a table rather than underneath it) is based on several wrong assumptions.  Drop, Cover and Hold On is best

Saturday, March 2, 2019

 How to Start Vegetable Seeds Indoors

When I talk to people about preparing for emergencies and getting food in times when food is scarce, people will often say, "If I have to, I'll dig up some lawn and plant a garden."  That's a great idea, but it will be a serious challenge to actually grow food if you've never done it before.  The time to practice growing food is long before you need it.
Image result for gardening
I've grown a garden for years, and every year something I try to grow doesn't grow like it should. I always say the same thing..."I'm sure glad my family won't go hungry because this didn't work out!" 

Gardening requires some supplies, but it mainly requires knowledge and practice.  This year I challenge you to GROW SOMETHING!  Grow a pot of herbs in your window, plant lettuce as an edging in a flower garden, or get a planter and grow a tomato plant on your porch.  Just grow something. 

Most garden seeds can be planted directly in the soil.  Some are planted early in the season, as soon as the soil can be worked.  Others need to wait until the soil has warmed up and there is no chance of frost.  A few plants don't have long enough to grow from seed in the garden and need to be started indoors before planting, or purchased from a plant nursery.  

In this video I talk about starting seeds in doors and show some supplies and techniques.  Enjoy watching or keep reading for the info you will need.  

Here is a planting schedule for vegetable plants from
 Outdoor Seed Sowing Schedule
 * Best as transplants

We are long before last frost right now on March 1st, so I am thinking about only the hardiest of vegetable seeds, and starting to plant seeds indoors for transplants.  In May I'll give you more info about general gardening, but this month I want to focus on starting seeds indoors for transplants.  

Why would you want to do this?

  1. To get a jump on gardening for the year.  
  2. To start the plants that won't grow from seed in the garden.  
  3. To save money.  Vegetable plants are expensive to buy, inexpensive to grow.
  4. To grow healthy plants.  Often plants you grow on your own are hardier than ones in the nursery.
  5. To get a wider variety of plants to choose from.  There is a rainbow of choices in the seed catalogs and a few in the nurseries.  My favorite catalog is Baker Creek Seeds.

What do you need to get started?

  1.  Seeds - my favorite catalogs are Baker Creek Seeds and Johnny's Select Seeds.
  2. Seed starting soil mix.  This should be light but hold water.  You can buy seed starting mix or can make your own.  Don't use regular garden soil if you have another option.   If you’d like to make your own potting mix for starting seeds indoors, try a mix of one third each: soil or compost, sand, vermiculite or perlite, peat moss.
  3. A container to plant in.  My favorite are old 6 cell packs that I purchased plants in from the nursery.  Or you can buy the cell packs online and reuse them each year.
  4.  Light.  Your seeds will need 16-18 hours of light each day!  Turn off your lights for 6-8 hours at night to let your plants rest.  Use an automated timer attached to the plug to make this easier.  The best lights to use are fluorescent or LED lights, about 3-4 inches above the plants.
  5. The right temperature.  Most seeds need some extra warmth to germinate, so place them in a warm place, or purchase a seed starting heat mat.  After they have germinated (sprouted) they like to be closer to 60-70 degrees.  Don't keep it too warm or your plants will get leggy and grown spindly instead of stocky and strong.
  6.  Covers for your containers.  If you cover your trays or containers with plastic wrap or clear plastic tray covers until the seeds sprout, it will trap the moisture and acts like a tiny greenhouse.  Once they sprout, remove the cover for air flow.
  7.  Enough water.  The water should be damp but not wet.  I like to water from below the plants and let the roots soak up the water as they need it.  Make sure your containers have drainage holes in the bottom.
  8. Food.  After the seedlings have two leaves you can begin to fertilize.  My favorite is a liquid seaweed fertilizer.  It is gentle, a little stinky, but the plants love it.  Keep the fertilizer very minimal. 
  9. Thinning.  This is my least favorite part of growing transplants!  When there are 2-3 leaves you need to trim off all but the strongest plant in each cell.  You need to plant more than one seed in each cell because not every seed will germinate, but you can't let all of them live, or none of the plants will be strong.  Rather than pulling them out and accidentally pulling out the one you want as well, I pinch the plant off at the soil level.  
  10. Hardening off.  When you are ready to plant your transplants, you need to set them outside in a protected area for 3-5 days before you plant them in the garden.  This toughens them up for outdoor living.  
Those are the basics to start plants indoors.  Don't worry, just do it!  Growing is as hard or as simple as you make it.  Happy planting and we will see you outdoors in a few months!