The Smart Mama: Preparations Matter in an Emergency ~ Communications Plan

thNews reports of shortages in supplies in advance of the ice storm now hitting the southeast underscore the need to prepare for emergencies in advance – and not 24 hours in advance. Yes, you can plan on being able to go buy food, toilet paper, dog food, formula, shovels, generators, whatever before a storm hits – but what if the stores don’t have the supplies? What if you simply don’t have time? What if you don’t have the money at the time or gas in your car or some other Murphy’s Law situation?

Most survival stories involve planning in advance – the right gear, the right planning, the right training – for the emergency. Of course, stores abound of individuals surviving against incredible odds – but why stake a successful outcome on happenstance? It is easier to plan in advance.  Of course, most plans don’t survive the emergency – but having put some thought into your emergency preparations, you will be much better off and have a higher chance of surviving successfully.

For most families, planning for an emergency is going to involve a family communications plan.  It is highly likely that in the event of an emergency, family members and pets may be scattered.  One or both parents may be at work.  Kids may be at school or at some activity.  A family member may be at church. Whatever.  A family communications plan should involve a discussion about how you will communication and where you will meet.  Where you will meet may vary depending on the hazard.  Cell phones are great – but they may not be available depending on the emergency.  Texts often have an easier time getting through – and kids should be instructed to text (assuming they have phones).  Also, meeting locations should be arranged.  My kids have three bug out locations in the event they are at school and must leave the school in the event of an emergency.  We have prioritized the locations and discussed the locations with my kids.  We’ve also been to the locations from school so that the kids know how to get there.

But talk these preparations out before the emergency.  Talk with your kids about what to do if they can’t reach you after an earthquake or tornado, or where you should plan on meeting.  And discuss how long it may take you to reach that meeting place in the event of a disaster.

So, to develop your emergency family communications plan, the first step is to meet with your family or household members and discuss the plan and options.  Go over how to prepare and respond to the emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.

Make a decision and plan on what you will do if the family is separated during an emergency.  Select at least two places to meet, one right near home in case there is a sudden emergency at home, such as a fire, and at least one outside your immediate neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.  If your kids are at school, I would recommend a third that is safe for them and in between their school and your house.  If it is a friend’s house, make sure that friend knows that your kids may stage at the location.

Together, choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have this person’s emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones, and the contact person should know that he or she may need to act to coordinate.  That person should have some familiarity with your town to assist your children.

You may also want to invest in some handheld two way radios.  They can be useful and easy to use.

If you need to evacuate, decide together where you would go and what route you would take to get there. You may choose to go to a hotel/motel, stay with friends or relatives in a safe location or go to an evacuation shelter if necessary.  But make sure your kids understand what the plan is.

Practice, practice, practice.  It may seem silly, but practice does make perfect. At least drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable.

And, of course, plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.

 Don’t forget to remind your family members that the American Red Cross has its Safe and Well website to let family and friends know you are safe.  Teach your kids how to use it too.

 

 

TheSmartMama’s Guide to Surviving an Emergency – Packing a Get Home Bag for Work

thTo adequately prepare for an emergency situation, you have to know for what sort of emergency you are preparing.  I live in Southern California, and work outside the home.  The most likely emergency situations I will face are earthquakes and wildfires.  And, it is quite possible that these situations could occur while I am at work and my kids are at home or at school.  I work approximately 25 miles from where my kids go to school and we live.  In the event of a wildfire, I’ll probably be able to go get them – in downtown Los Angeles, I don’t see a wildfire sweeping through.  But in the event of an earthquake, it is quite possible that the freeways and streets will not be driveable, and it is also possible my car could be stuck in its underground garage. So I’m guessing I will be walking home.

My kids have bug out locations – I just need to get to them. So I have a “get home” but out bag at work, designed to allow me to get home safely. Assuming there are no major obstacles, I should be able to get home within 24 hours – probably more like 6 hours. So I have a relatively light “get home” bag designed for the conditions I might face in the event of an earthquake and I am forced to essentially walk home. 

Now, the tendency is to put everything you can think of in a bug out bag so you can live for at least 72 hours outside the house. And that makes for one heavy bag. My plan is to keep it light so I can travel quickly home . . . where we have more emergency supplies.  Hence, this is my “get home” bag and not a complete bug out bag.

So, what do I have. I have comfortable walking shoes – worn in tennis shoes. Yeah, tactical boots would probably be better, but those are in my real bug out bag. I have a pair of leggings, a short sleeve sports shirt, a long sleeve sports shirt and a pull over.  I wear dressier clothes to work but I sure don’t want to walk home in them through some not so nice areas of Los Angeles.  I have an emergency poncho in the unlikely event we have rain here. I have a crushable hat and sunblock (critical in sunny Los Angeles). I have a very small medical kit basically just for bandaging, cleaning, topical antibiotics, and some pain killers.  I have some waterproof matches. I have an emergency whistle. I have a paper map of the area of would most likely be traversing. I have a head lamp, a collapsible tactical baton, clean socks, clean underwear (thanks mom), some wipes, a bottle of water, some jerky, some energy bars, some alcohol based cleaner, a small towel, a rope,  and that is pretty much it.  I also have a multi purpose tool and a tactical knife.  I have 2 survival blankets.  I also have a couple of items I can ditch – neoprene face mask, shoe polish (if I need to travel at night), gloves, extra plastic bags, and warmer jacket. Light enough to make tracks if I need to, and good enough to survive.  All of this is in a comfortable backpack, fitted to me.

Now, this is really just for one person to get home. It isn’t going to support my kids – I have another bug out bag in my vehicle if I need to do that.

TheSmartMama’s Guide to Surviving an Emergency – Turning off the Gas

thSo we have now lived at the Land of Fruits and Nuts for a year.  Moving to the Land of Fruits and Nuts has resulted in a drastic change in my outlook.  Just dealing with the abundant harvest on 6 acres has driven me to learn to preserve the harvest – pickling, canning, dehydrating and more.  Trying to learn to preserve the harvest ultimately lead me in my research to a number of homesteading and doomsday prepping websites.  And that lead me to wanting to be much more self sufficient.

To the consternation of my husband. Who walked into our house after being gone for work for a week to a demand for a solar generator and more ammo.

But, that was somewhere in the middle of my journey and I didn’t blog about it.  I’ve been so caught up in gardening and preserve and chasing crows that I only recently woke up and realized I hadn’t blogged for ages.

Oh well.

Now it is a new year and we just had what I’ve dubbed our survival Santa Christmas. And I thought I would start blogging about my emergency preparedness tactics and tricks in 2014.  Because one of my resolutions for 2014 is to be more prepared for emergency situations.

First things first, I live in earthquake country, and knowing how to turn off your gas supply is critical.  Of course, only turn off the gas at the meter if you smell gas, hear gas leaking or have other signs of a leak, and only if it is safe to do so.  But EVERYBODY in the house should know how to do it, including your kids (of course, if they are old enough).

So, yesterday, on January 1, 2014, I disrupted the Minecraft games to teach my kids (1) where the gas meter is located at our house; and (2) how to turn it off with a wrench.

Many homes  in Southern California (and I presume other areas prone to earthquakes) have natural gas seismic shut-off valves.  These valves automatically shut off the gas service when an earthquake of a sufficient magnitude occurs.   You could also have an excess flow valve – this valve automatically shuts off the gas service when a significant gas leak or overpressure surge occurs at a pipe or appliance located beyond the point where the valve is installed.

If you don’t have such a valve, then you do need to know where your gas meter is located and how to turn off the gas flow in the event of an emergency.   You gas meter may be located in a cabinet, under the house, next to the house or in an underground vault. Go find it.  Then, you will need a 12 inch wrench in your emergency supplies to turn off the gas flow

SafetyMeterhand

 

As you can see from the image, the gas flow is “on” when the valve is in line with the pipe, and it is “off” when the valve is cross wise to the pipe. Keep the wrench with your emergency supplies so you have it ready if you need to turn off the gas.

That’s it. Pretty easy. And  your kids should know how to do it – it may save their lives.

Land of Fruits and Nuts – Day 9 – What the heck am I doing and cookbook porn

942000_10201384548321558_1113451416_nOkay, so today I woke up and wondered what the heck am I doing with 6 acres of land covered with fruit trees and vegetables and other stuff. How am I going to do something with the bounty? The avocados hanging on the trees mock me. We can’t sell them at a Farmer’s Market unless we get a producer’s certificate. Which I want to do, but that is in between the rest of life as if I don’t have enough to do. And while I can give away the bounty, I can’t really give it away fast enough. I can do food swaps, but then again, I will end up taking stuff home. And I can donate it to local food banks, which we are doing some but some of the fruits just don’t travel very well, like loquats and mulberries, and cannot be easily or effectively donated.

Instead of doing anything productive to solve that problem, I spent Day 9 of my journey lusting after cookbooks. Of course, Day 9 was the last official day of the book fair at my kids’ school, so I started off by looking at the cookbooks there. And then poked around Amazon. My wish list now has the following books.

First, I love Nigel Slater’s cookbooks. I started with Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard because it seemed appropriate to have a cookbook subtitled “A cook in the orchard” and fell in love. I bought it at Rolling Greens in Costa Mesa (a wonderful store if you haven’t been) and the woman helping me recommended another book by Nigel Slater, The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater. That I absolutely loved. Loved. Sent it to my mom (who loves English mysteries) for Mother’s Day, and lusted after some of his others:

Given Amazon’s helpful recommendations, I then fell in love with several other cookbooks.

 

My husband is going to be out of town for an important upcoming holiday so he may just end up purchasing some cookbooks for me . . . . .

Land of Fruits and Nuts – Day 8 – Sweet Marmalade

DSC01395I’m still trying to use the oranges that are hanging on – the end of the season’s crop. I’ve got fresh blooms and new fruit starting, but we haven’t harvested all of this year’s crop. Mostly because it is all just a little too overwhelming here on our farm. I mean really, I’m a suburban mom with 2 kids and a full time job. How am I supposed to also be a modern pioneer woman?

In any event, having picked 2 more baskets of oranges in my efforts to tame an unruly orange tree (meaning I was attempting to give it a much needed pruning), I had to figure out what to do with them. My previous marmalade efforts were not much liked by my children or my husband. They didn’t like the bitterness, although I thought the marmalade tasted pretty darn good and very English.

If you didn’t know, marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits. The presence of the fruit peel is what makes it a marmalade, and the white pith and membranes impart the traditional bitter flavor. So, I wanted to make a marmalade with less bitterness than the traditional marmalade – a sweet marmalade.

The problem is that reducing the pith, seeds and membranes means that you are eliminating the parts of the orange that contain pectin – which causes the set (or the gel). You can make up for this by adding store bought pectin. So, I decided to try a sweet marmalade recipe, and found one in 175 Best Jams, Jellies, Marmalades and Other Soft Spreads by Linda J. Amendt which seemed pretty easy.

The recipe calls for 12 to 14 medium Valencia oranges. Now, I don’t know what kind of oranges I have. I know I don’t have navel – navels get their name from the fact that the bloom end looks a lot like a human belly button. The book states that you should not use navel oranges for making marmalade because they become tough when cooked and contain an enzyme that will cause the fruit to turn bitter during storage. However, a couple of recipes I found online say that you can use navel oranges.  I don’t know – but I do know I did NOT use navel oranges.  Although I don’t know what kind of oranges we have, I do know that they taste pretty darn good – and the first rule of preserving is to use good fruit to get good preserves.

So I had 14 oranges. First, I prepared the canning jars and lids. The recipe didn’t say how much it would make, so I prepared 6 1/2 pint jars. If you need a refresher on prepping the jars and water bath, read this post. Then I prepped the fruit, which involved removing only the colored portion of the peel from 6 of the oranges. I used a microzester to do it. Once you do that, you peel all of the oranges, removing the outer with pith. You then cut the fruit sections away from the membrane (remember, we don’t want any bitterness) and also remove any seeds. Discard the pitch, membrane and seeds.

Finely chop the fruit and measure 2 and 2/3 cups.

In your jam pot, put in the chopped fruit, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 1/8 tsp baking soda. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 8 minutes. Stir in the orange zest, cover and simmer 3 more minutes.

Slowly add and stir in 5 cups of granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp of unsalted butter (butter is optional – it is supposed to reduce foaming). Increase heat to medium-high and, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in 1 pouch of liquid pectin (3 oz). Return to full rolling boil while stirring constantly, and boil 1 minute.

Remove pot from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Remove any foam if necessary. Ladle into prepped jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims. Add lids and then screw bands (finger tighten). Place jars in water bath, leaving covered by at least 1 inch of water. Cover and bring to boil. Process 4 or 8 ounce jars for 10 minutes and process 1 pint jars for 15 minutes.

Remove jars from water bath and place on wire rack or cloth towel. Let sit without disturbing for 24 hours. Check for a good seal. Remove screw tops and store in cool, dry location.

 

Land of Fruits & Nuts – Day 7 – Taking a Canning Class and More

bigstock-Funny-goat-s-portrait-on-a-gre-41216992Before I get too far along in my adventure here at the Land of Fruits and Nuts, I wanted to share information about a class I took at the Institute of Domestic Technology, rediscovering the future of home economics. I took Foodcrafting 101. We learned a Twenty-One Hour boule recipe (delicious), how to make fresh chevre, handcrafted coarse mustard, and a jam recipe.

The class was held at the historic Zane Grey Estate in Altadena, California. We started by gathering on a lovely screened in porch, munching on handcrafted scones with fresh.

Our leader was Joseph Shuldiner, the Institute Director, LA County Master Food Preserver and author of Pure Vegan.  Every student introduced herself (this particular class was all women) and the groups was quite remarkable. A County Living magazine editor, a modern pioneer woman, 2 professors of physics (one at CalTech, the other at UCLA) and a well known LA food blogger, among other very interesting students.

Then we moved to the kitchen to begin our series of classes, taught by experts. For example, Gloria Putnam taught the cheese module. She has been raising goats and making cheese in Altadena with Mariposa Creamery since 2009. Plus, we got to hear the goats bleating throughout the afternoon and enjoyed their antics through the windows of the kitchen.

We spent the day learning – first doing our bread, then the jam, then the mustard and finally the goat cheese. Along the way we discussed sourcing ingredients and reference books. In between, we had a delicious lunch, made with fresh and local ingredients.

Each crafted item was absolutely delicious. At the end, we nibbled on fresh bread lathered with the leftover fresh goat cheese and the preserves (strawberry rhubarb) at the bottom of the jam pot. I don’t think I have ever had anything more delicious. We were sent home with our bread dough, a jar of our preserves, a take home container of the chevre and a container of mustard.

The Institute has a number of classes, and I plan on taking more. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

Land of Fruits and Nuts – Day 6 – Loquat Jelly

Three glass mason jars on an isolated backgroundAs I explained in my prior post, I had tons of loquats and wanted to use them for something, anything really. I stumbled across a recipe for loquat jelly, and was determined to make it. The day before (Day 5 if you are keeping track), I made loquat juice by de-seeding the loquats, boiling them in a pot just covered with water, and then straining the pulp and skin out. I ended up with 12 cups of juice.

The approved recipe calls for 4 cups loquat juice and says to “cook juice down until thick and cherry colored” but it isn’t clear whether that 4 cups of juice is before or after cooking it down until it is thick and cherry colored. It does say to cook down and then measure into a saucepot so I have to assume it meant to cook down and then measure 4 cups.  Also, since I didn’t know, I looked at some other recipes available on the web, and they all seemed to call for 4 cups of juice for 4 cups of sugar. Therefore, I tried to cook my juice down until it was thick and cherry colored. I cooked my juice for a long time, and while it got thicker and deeper colored, it never really got thick or cherry colored. I may have just had too much juice, or perhaps I didn’t cook it long enough. I ended up with about 4 and 1/2 cups, so I decided to make the jelly.

The recipe calls for 4 cups loquat juice and 4 cups sugar. You measure juice into a saucepot, add the sugar and still. Boil over high heat until it reaches the gel point, or 200 degrees F.  Of course, make sure your canning jars are ready and your lids are ready.  Pour or ladle jelly into warmed jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Put lids and finger tighten screw caps (after wiping rims as needed).  The process time called for is 5 minutes.

Of course, we had to try the jelly right away, and scooped it out of the saucepot upon cooling. My son absolutely loved it. I think it has too much sugar and overwhelms the relatively delicate taste of the loquats. But it was very satisfying to do something with the fruit.

 

 

Land of Fruits and Nuts – Preserving the Harvest – Day 5 – Loquats & Loquat Jelly

bigstock-Loquats-7718853It is May 6, 2013, and loquat trees hang heavy with fruit in Southern California. Driving home from picking up my kids from after school care, we pass 6 or 7 trees in our relatively short drive just covered with fruit – trees that are in the area between a house and the sidewalk. It would be wonderful if all that fruit could be picked and used.

However, I have found that loquats bruise very quickly and spoil – I’ve had loquats spoil overnight. And we’ve got at least 3 loquat trees at the Land of Fruits and Nuts so I really don’t need any more loquats. I hope the birds and other animals enjoy the loquats . . . .

What to do with loquats? They are wonderful eaten fresh, although the season is relatively short.  I like loquats. Ripe loquats are juicy and delicious. The taste is a bit like an apricot, with some citrus zing. We have two types of loquats – small ones, about the size of a large grape, and big ones, about the size of a small apricot. I’m not sure whether these are two different types of loquats or not.

But I could never eat 3 trees worth of loquats before the fruit goes bad.  So, I tried turning the loquats into jelly, having stumbled upon an approved recipe at the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I also understand that loquats are used for medicinal purposes, particularly in China. If I have time, I’m going to research making loquat cough drops or a syrup.

The loquat jelly recipe calls for 4 cups of loquat juice. To get the juice, you have to remove the seeds from the fruit and also the blossom end, then boil them in water and strain. Removing seeds from loquats is a time-consuming process. Cutting them is difficult, because there are usually 2 to 3 seeds inside, and you end up wasting a lot of flesh. I found the easiest thing to do was to stick my thumb in the process end and pull the seeds out, discarding the seeds and the blossom end. Then I put the remaining portion in a pot.

This takes forever, particularly with a large pile of fruit. I did it while I watched television, but I would recommend having a canning party and inviting some friends over. You will be covered with pieces of pale orange flesh, and the loquats will be jammed under your nails.

After de-seeding and removing the blossom end from the large pile of fruit I had picked, I covered the fruit with water and brought to a simmer on the stove to soften the pulp and flesh. This took about 30 minutes. I then strained, pressing the flesh to get all of the juice.

I found I had 12 cups of juice left. At this point, I was exhausted, this process having taken me almost 3 hours. So, instead of moving on to making the jelly, I refrigerated the juice and cleaned up before going to bed. Day 6 will be about making (and tasting) the loquat jelly.

Land of Fruits and Nuts – Preserving the Harvest – Day 3 – Elder

fresh elder flowers against a white backgroundSo, my third day of preserving the harvest at the Land of Fruits and Nuts found me too exhausted to think of canning. For the record, for the past two days, I’d been canning after the kiddos went to sleep, which meant that I was up pretty late.  Plus, I had to tend to the garden in the morning. After that, I had to coach volleyball practice. Then I wandered about the property checking out what was blooming, what was about to bloom, etc. Also had to figure out if we were going to meet the fire clearance requirements or if we had more brush clearing to do.

So, instead of tackling a new canning project, I decided to take stock and look through my cookbooks to discover some new recipes. I also want to prep for a class I was taking the following day on Elderflowers as part of the Wildcrafted Medicine series launched by the fabulous Rebecca Altman and Emily Ho.

So first, checking out my cookbooks led to shopping on Amazon for new books on canning and preservation. I picked out several for Mother’s Day (as a hint to my husband) and will post as I try some of the recipes.

After that, I started reading the information on the Elderflowers class and making sure I was prepared. As I was researching proper identification, it dawned on me that we may have Elder trees at the Land of Fruits and Nuts. The flowers looked vaguely familiar, as if I had just walked by them. But I, quite mistakenly, thought that Elder trees (and flowers and berries) were limited to England, Scotland and the like. I associate Elder with Celtic traditions, priestesses, the Lady of the Lake and, of course, Harry Potter. The thought that I might have Elder trees had never even crossed my mind. And I was off and running down the hill to check it out.

Lo and behold, the Land of Fruits and Nuts has at least 7 mature Elder trees. Apparently, we have Mexican or Blue Elder, although looking at references there is some dispute as to the taxonomy. Oh well. Doesn’t matter much to me – we have loads of the flowers (which smell like summer and magic to me).

Elderflowers can be used to make herbal effusions, elder cordial and a host of other products. I can’t even tell you how excited I was to find so many mature trees present at the Land of Fruits and Nuts. Elderflowers are mysterious and magical to me – growing my own, harvesting them and making a medicinal elixir is an act of defiance against conventional medicine. Off to do some more research!

 

Land of Fruits and Nuts – Joining Team ENERGY STAR

Epic Team ENERGY STARSo, in the Land of Fruits and Nuts, we have to remodel the home. “Have to” is an understatement – the home’s major systems are failing – we’ve had the sewer pipe burst underneath the house, the water pipes have failed in 2 separate locations, the furnace broke down completely, and electrical panel is shot. So we are undertaking a full house remodel.

In doing so, you can be sure that we will be making the home as green as possible, including making it more energy efficient. Yes, we will be joining team ENERGY STAR.

ENERGY STAR is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that is designed to help us save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices.  Now, for my husband, energy efficiency is more about saving money. If you don’t think energy efficiency can save you money, keep in mind that the average US household spends more than $2,000 per year in energy bills.  With ENERGY STAR, you can save over one-third, or more than $760, on your household energy bills.  For me, energy efficiency is critical to preserving the environment and conserving our natural resources. Yes, for me, it is all about the EPIC fight to combat climate change. And that is why we are joining Team ENERGY STAR – an initiative developed to engage and educate American youth and their families about saving energy in the home. This year, ENERGY STAR partners PTO Today and LG Electronics have brought in the heroic characters from the new movie EPIC, to help kids learn about the importance of saving energy while having fun at the same time.

Why does being energy efficient help the environment? Because most of our energy – about 70% of the electricity we use – comes from power plants burning fossil fuels.  Burning fossil fuels causes greenhouse gas emissions – the gases that contribute to climate change. Also, burning fossil fuels spews out a host of chemicals that cause severe  health concerns for those living near and far from the power plants. Don’t think it matters because you don’t live near a plant? Much of the mercury contaminating our seafood is a result of mercury released from fossil fuel burning power plants. We are all part of this amazing interconnected web, and our personal choices do matter.

In any event, because we have to replace so many appliances and products, virtually all of them, we will be purchasing products that bear the ENERGY STAR certification.  If we can, we will select products that are part of ENERGY STAR’s Most Efficient – the best of the best in energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR’s most efficient program has products identified in the following categories: boilers, clothes washers, furnaces, refrigerators, windows and more (even computer monitors)! If you have to by new appliances, be sure to check out the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient models.

We will also be looking for energy efficient lighting. Did you know that the average home spends about 12% of its electricity bill on lighting? A single ENERGY STAR certified light bulb can save between $40 and $95 in electricity costs over its lifetime. So we will be looking for certified fixtures and bulbs.

So, for us, being part of Team ENERGY STAR and the ENERGY STAR program is very important this year.

Not buying new stuff this year? That’s okay. You can still take the ENERGY STAR pledge and take personal actions to reduce your energy use at home. You can also help your family and friends, perhaps even your school, to reduce energy. Take some easy steps – turn off lights when not in use, replace bulbs as needed with energy efficient bulbs, set your thermostat so you don’t run the heat or air conditioning when you don’t need it, etc. Our personal choices can help us not only save money, but conserve energy and thereby minimize climate change. Go check out the ENERGY STAR website for more tips and information. Join Team ENERGY STAR to work towards educating our kids and take the ENERGY STAR pledge to do something now.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I am writing about Team ENERGY STAR because I support the program and because I believe it is important to educate the public about energy efficiency and climate change. The opinions expressed in this post are my own. However, please be advised that I did receive a modest “thank you” reward from LG, an ENERGY STAR partner, in appreciation for my post.