acreage living June 1999

ISU cooperative extension

In this issue: acreage living home page

 Safe from the Storm?

Shawn Shouseby Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension Field Specialist/Ag Engineering, SW Area Extension Center
Phone: 712-769-2600 - e-mail:

Recent deadly tornadoes have renewed our awareness of the devastating power of high winds. Huddled around a radio in the basement of our home, I wondered, as the tornado sirens wailed, just how safe my family and I were in the event of an actual tornado strike.

Wind speeds in damaging tornadoes often reach 150 to 200 miles per hour. In the rare and most violent of tornadoes, wind speeds may reach 300 miles per hour. Flying debris driven by these extremely high wind speeds is responsible for most tornado- related injuries and fatalities.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, and the National Weather Service offer this advice for tornado preparedness and response.
Before the storm:
Have a tornado plan so everyone knows where to go and what to do
Educate family members on the meanings of tornado watches and warnings
Assemble a tornado emergency kit with a radio, batteries, flashlight, and first aid supplies
When a tornado watch is issued:
Monitor radio or television broadcasts for weather conditions
Watch weather conditions for warning signs such as sudden wind changes, flying debris or tornado sounds
Listen for weather alert sirens if your community has them
When a tornado WARNING is issued or a tornado approaches:
If you are inside, move immediately to a basement, cellar, or lowest level of the building
If there is no basement, move to a small interior room like a closet or bathroom
Stay away from windows
If possible, get under a sturdy piece of furniture like a work bench or heavy table
If you are outside, seek shelter inside, or lie down in a low or protected area
If you are in a car or mobile home, get out and seek shelter in a building or low, protected area

Remember that the air around a tornado will be filled with common items turned into missiles by the strong winds. Protect yourself accordingly.

A few tornado myths are worth mentioning.
Myth: Areas near lakes or streams have natural protection from tornadoes.
Fact: Tornadoes occur in all geographic settings. None are safe.
Myth: I can drive away from a tornado to safety.
Fact: Tornadoes often change direction and travel rapidly. You are safer to get out of your car and seek shelter in a basement, building, or protected area.
Myth: I should open windows in my house to equalize pressure as a tornado passes.
Fact: Strong winds and flying debris cause most structural damage to buildings, not unequal pressure. You are safer to stay away from windows and seek shelter immediately.
Myth: The safest location in the home or basement is the southwest corner.
Fact: The side of the home facing the approaching tornado is the most dangerous. Always seek interior rooms with no windows and get under heavy furniture or stairs, if possible.

Following a devastating tornado in Lubbock, Texas, the department of civil engineering at Texas Tech University began studying the damage and effects of strong winds on buildings. These studies eventually led to the development of the Wind Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech. Not surprisingly, researchers found that basements and underground shelters offered the best protection against tornadoes. However, they also discovered that reinforced, interior rooms above ground could provide safe shelter from wind storms and tornadoes. Recognizing that many homes do not have basements, and that venturing outdoors to reach an underground shelter in the face of an approaching tornado is very hazardous, the research teams began development of plans and specifications for reinforced above-ground storm shelters in existing homes.

The concept of the in-residence shelter was to provide a safe, economical, and accessible space within a home that was capable of withstanding wind speeds up to 250 miles per hour. The designs utilize either reinforced concrete or wood frame construction reinforced with layers of plywood and sheet steel for strength. In either case, the structure of the shelter room must be securely attached to a concrete foundation. These rooms can often be added to existing homes (with or without basements) with concrete foundations, and to garages or attached entries to mobile homes or pier foundation homes. Estimated cost of materials to build an in-residence shelter is less than $2500.

Details about the research, development, and testing of these in-residence shelters can be found on the Wind Engineering Research Center web site at A free booklet with complete plans for in-residence shelters can be ordered by calling the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) toll free at 888-565- 3896. The booklet without plans can be viewed at the FEMA web site

An alternative to an in-residence shelter would be an outdoor buried storm cellar. Plans for reinforced concrete block storm cellars are available from your Extension ag engineer. Some concrete product manufacturers market pre-cast concrete shelter units that can be buried near the home. Check your phone book yellow pages under "concrete products" for possible suppliers. One Iowa supplier is Liebus Concrete Products in Oskaloosa, phone 800-491 - 6869.

For more information on tornado and storm safety, visit these web sites:

Check your phone book for a local chapter of the American Red Cross, or contact their national office at American Red Cross, Attn: Public Inquiry Office, 1621 N. Kent Street, Arlington, VA 22209, phone 703-248-4222. National Oceanic arid Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios automatically receive weather advisories and warnings and are available from many electronics stores for $20 to $200. A Des Moines news station is offering a $10 coupon toward the purchase of a weather radio by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Weatheradio, c/o KCCI, 888 Ninth St., Des Moines, IA 50309

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 Retire With All the Income You Need

Mary Beth Kaufman by Mary Beth Kaufman, ISU Extension Field Specialist/Family Resource Management, Shelby County
Phone: 712-755-3104 - e-mail:

Americans are living longer healthier lives and that means additional retirement years and the need for more money in retirement. Will you be able to live comfortably on your retirement income?

imageRetirees usually need to replace 60 to 80 percent of their pre-retirement income to maintain their lifestyle. But how much money YOU need in retirement depends on many things. You might live well on 50 percent of your pre-retirement income or you might need 100 percent of your pre-retirement earnings. Will you travel? Do you want to maintain two homes or winter in a warmer climate? Will housing costs go down because your home is paid off? Do you plan to move to smaller, lower cost housing? Will you spend less on clothing and transportation? Do you plan to eat out often? Will health costs climb as you age?

Retirement spending often follows three distinct phases. In the active early retirement years, spending is high because of doing all the things you've always wanted to do but didn't have time while working. In the middle retirement years, spending declines as retirees become less active. In the late retirement phase, spending continues to decline, unless major health problems cause a dramatic increase in health or living expenses if you need long term care.

When figuring your retirement income equation, Social Security replaces part of your pre-retirement income. According to the Social Security Administration, these are the income replacement rates for 1999.

High earners $72,600 26%
Average earners $28,000 42%
Earners near minimum wage 57%

Many older people find they need to work part time in retirement to supplement their retirement income. Others plan ahead and contribute more to personal savings and investments before they retire. What will you use to make up the shortfall between Social Security and the retirement income you need?

Workers today have many options to build their retirement fluid. Company pensions supply part of retirement income for many earners. Self-employed persons may set up their own retirement accounts. IRAs, both traditional and the new Roth IRAs are choices for others. Many employees have access to a powerfiil tool that can provide added retirement income-the 401k plan offered by businesses. For those employed by non-profit groups a similar opportunity is the 403b plan.

In Chicago, they have a saying about voting. They say vote early and vote often. The same could be said about investing for retirement-invest early and invest often to grow a large retirement nest egg. Time is on your side when you reinvest earnings and earn interest on interest.

Two websites will help you plan for retirement. The American Savings Education Council offers a Ballpark Estimate retirement worksheet. Social Security offers many helpfiil topics. Check these websites: and

The 1997 Retirement Confidence Survey shows 69 percent of American workers are saving for retirement, but only 27 percent have any idea what they'll need to accumulate to retire when and how they want.


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 Feeding Birds in the Summer

Jim Peaseby Jim Pease, ISU Extension Wildlife Specialist, Ames
Phone: 515-294-7429 - e-mail: or

Although many people feed birds only in the winter, some continue to enjoy this hobby through the spring and summer. Seeds are particularly attractive to birds in late summer but some species will continue to come to feeders all summer long. Some small mammals like chipmunks, ground squirrels, and tree squirrels will also feed on seeds all summer. While birds can make it fine on their own, it does bring them closer to give us a better look. It is also interesting to watch feeding during courtship and the feeding of young fledglings.

The American goldfinch, Iowa's state bird ,will still be attracted to a thistle feeder, and by observing closely, bird watchers can see the males turn from their winter drab olive green to a striking yellow and black summer breeding plumage during this season. Most birds, however, are eating fruits and insects during this season.

Although birds glean insects off leaves, bark, and the ground, insects are also a food source that can be provided for the birds during the summer. These insects not only supplement the birds' diet, but are also used for feeding their young. Insects provide the necessary high sources of protein necessary for young birds to grow quickly. One of the ways to provide insects is to raise or buy yellow mealworm. Mealworms can be purchased at pet stores or bait shops during the fishing season. You might also raise them in a container of oatmeal supplied with a small sliced potato on top for moisture. Another method is to catch some insects with a plastic bag under neath a plain fluorescent bulb or a black light placed outside at night with a sheet draped over it.

Fruit also may be used to attract birds in the spring and summer. Though the natural fruits of shrubs like chokecherry, serviceberry, or elderberry are best, apples, oranges, and raisins throughout the spring and summer will also attract birds like orioles, bluebirds, woodpeckers, grosbeaks, and waxwings.

Hummingbird feeders can be used to attract these tiny birds. Use one part sugar to four parts water or cormmercially prepared hummingbird food. Do not use honey water. The honey rapidly cultures a mold that can kill the birds. Red food dyes are also unnecessary.

Providing a water source will attract a greater number and diversity of birds to the backyard. A commercially available mister or dripper can be used to drip water slowly into the birdbath or a recirculating pump making water sources more attractive to the birds. The motion and dripping sound of the water provide visual and audio cues for birds.

imageFor more information see:
Managing Iowa Habitats: Attracting Birds to Your Yard (Pm-1351d) available at your county extension office.


Acreage Living is published monthly. For more information, contact your local county ISU Extension Office.
Editor: Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension FS/Ag Engineering, SW Area Extension, 53020 Hitchcock Avenue, Lewis, Iowa, 51544, Ph: 712/769-2600
Layout & Design: Paulette Cambridge, Office Assistant, SW Area Extension, 53020 Hitchcock Avenue, Lewis, Iowa 51544, Ph: 712/769-2600

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