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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Stuff in my pockets (E.D.C.)

Friend of mine asked me what I carry for my E.D.C., Every Day Carry items. EDC is shorthand for what you have with you all the time which could help you in an emergency. All of us carry things which would help us in an emergency. Some of us just don't realize it.

My wallet is the first thing I carry which could help me if something bad happens. Inside of the wallet I carry survival tools all of us should have. The number one item is my bank card. With this I can handle anything from running out of gas to needing a hotel room for the night. I can buy water, food and shelter. For 99% of the situations I could find myself in plastic would be my first response. What the bank card can't cover the credit cards in my wallet should be able to cover. My medical insurance card would be the next important item in my wallet. The reason for this is obvious, if you have insurance you can go to the doctor's office, hospital or urgent care without being hassled about how to pay for it! Driver's license would be next. In case I need to prove who I am or to gain entry into my neighborhood if it is restricted to residents only. Should I be unconscious for some reason having my ID with me will help those trying to locate my family. Triple A card has come in handy several times when my truck has had a flat or just broke down. They can change a flat faster and safer on a busy freeway with their equipment then I can with the jack in the truck. Why risk it if you can have a professional come do it? Twice now I have had to have my truck put on a flatbed and driven off the freeway. The membership fees have paid for themselves at this point.

"This does not read like a list of emergency items to have?" Yes I can hear you! All of us are more prepared than we think we are, we just need to see what we have in a slightly different light. Dealing with emergencies is not just about stuffing a closet full of MREs it starts with simple things like realizing having your wallet with you all the time is important. Ladies you are way ahead of us men, your purse is already a stocked emergency kit! I have yet to see the inside of a regular purse, not the tiny one you use when dressed up, which did not have enough stuff to qualify for an emergency kit and if you are a mother you have enough in there for two or more!


Lighter would be the most used item I carry on me all the time. Doing this is easy since I'm a smoker. Which means I always have a pack of cigarettes with me. Smokes are great for making friends, calming nerves, starting fires and sealing sucking chest wounds during an emergency. Yes I know smoking is bad for me..... yada yada yada.......

Next would be a pocket knife. There are all kinds of daily uses for a pocket knife and in an emergency having a tool with you could be the difference between being a statistic and making it home. A good quality clip on or old school pocket knife is all you need to carry, this is a tool not the giant bowie knife you fight off zombies with. Of course if a self defense situation arises you could use the knife to defend yourself but this is not the primary use of the knife.

I carry two flashlights, a small one connected to my key ring and another flashlight in my pocket. Both are used mostly to find dropped items under tables at restaurants or to make shadow puppets on the ceiling. They also get used more rarely to see what is making noise in the middle of the night.

Sunglasses are the last thing I would add to my personal everyday carry list.

These are the items I always seem to have on me. The expanded list changes depending on what I am doing that day and who is going with me. With these items I can deal with a large spectrum of incidents I could be faced with.

Keep in mind this is just the stuff in my pockets on most days.

Stay Safe!





Saturday, September 13, 2014

9/11 and multipurpose items

Thinking about that day, 9/11, I started to make a mental list of things which could have helped people on that day. Then I realized some things could help people no matter what day becomes a "bad day" for them. There seems to be a few things in common with any emergency situation and some things we can do to help ourselves. Let's look at a few common issues and ways to mitigate them.

Debris


Terrorist attack, flood, earthquake, hurricane and other situations seem to all have debris in common? One item we can ensure we have to help us in a lot of situations is good footwear. Not tennis or running shoes, flip flops or sandals but a good pair of boots. In a situation movement could be a very important ability to have. Broken glass, wood, metal and other items sticking into your feet could quickly take away your ability to move away from danger, move toward help or help others.

These boots should be sturdy, high topped and broken in. Last thing you want to do in an emergency is try to walk to safety in a pair of boots you did not break in. Breaking in the boots also gives you a reason to go take a hike or two or three which will also help you if you have to walk somewhere during an emergency. Wearing boots while walking over unstable and broken terrain helps to protect your feet and aids in supporting your ankles. Wearing good boots while walking through flood waters is a good idea if you are forced to. Getting a cut or scrape on your feet from unseen obstacles or debris while walking in polluted water is just asking to get an infection. Something you do not want to deal with in an emergency.


Along with a pair of good boots a pair of good gloves seems to be something everyone could use during several types of emergencies. The ability to pick things up without a risk of cutting yourself would be a bonus. Also if you do not do a lot of physical labor on a daily basis, the gloves will help you cut down on blisters you'll have if you are suddenly forced to work more with your hands. Gloves should be thick and made of leather. Packs of these can be picked up at almost any hardware store. Gardening gloves might be good for youngsters during an emergency but any adults or older children realy need to have a pair of work gloves to use.




Light

Be it a tropical storm or a heat wave one thing several emergencies have in common is the lack of electricity. Without electricity we don't have the lights we are all accustomed to. Tonight look around and see how many sources of light you are using or are on around you. Take in to account the street lights, your neighbors lights and all other sources of light powered by the electricity being brought into the area. Even a simple car wreck can cause the power to go off in an area. Having a flashlight is a very good idea and can help you greatly during many situations.

Inexpensive flashlights can be bought at almost any grocery store and in many you can pick them up in packs of two or more. Battery powered camping lanterns can also be picked up at sporting good stores or anywhere else camping equipment is sold. Having one flashlight for each family member is a good idea especially for the younger kids. Having there own light gives them a sense of protection from the dark they don't understand. If you can pick up packs which have a handheld flashlight and a hands free, headlamp included. Having the ability to shine a light without using your hands is almost always a bonus. Plus when bought together the two lights almost always us the same type of batteries.

Candles and oil lamps are old, tried and proven tools to use during a blackout. Simple tea lamp candles can be picked up in bags of twenty or more. I've even bought these at the dollar store with five or more included together for a buck. We must remember if we are using these to light our home these use real fire to work. Fire which if not contained properly and watched could cause a fire and make a bad situation much worse!!! Never leave a flame unattended and always have a means of fire fighting at hand.


Money

If buildings have been damaged, flooding has occurred and especially if the power has gone out it is a good idea to have some cash on hand. How many stores are going to accept credit cards if the power is out. How will you be able to purchase items for your family? What if you need diapers for the baby and the store will not accept your debit or credit cards? Cash is king when things go bad!

Of course you could wait for someone else to bring you free diapers or even loot a store to get those diapers. What happens to your family if the government can not get to you in time? What happens if you get injured, arrested or killed while trying to loot what you need? Having a small stash of cash could go a long way during the early part of an emergency. Everyone's budget is different, having around $100.00 per family member is a good round number to shoot for. This emergency fund could be the difference between your family having what they need and you having to risk exposure to violence, injury and prison time to get what you need.


We could make a list a mile long of items we need and try to cover every situation we might face. For this entry I wanted to keep the 'list' to things we can pick up tomorrow or might already have around the house.

A few other items you want to consider, wearing long denim pants, wearing long sleeve shirts, having a hat for each family member is a good idea and wearing these during a crisis could be the difference between being exposed to the elements or being injured in some way. If your collection of tools counts on electric power try picking up tools which work off of good old fashion muscle power. A hand saw or axe might be the tool you need to rescue a trapped family member, friend or neighbor.

Stay Safe!




Friday, September 05, 2014

Now what? Plan ahead.

How do we organize our thoughts to make sense of what we hope is a decent plan? We want to make sure the rest of the family can understand what the plan is if something bad happens. The best way to make sure we can do this is to stick to a simple idea when writing stuff down. The first acronym and probably the most important one to remember and apply is........

K.I.S.S.

KEEP
IT
SIMPLE
STUPID

You can replace stupid with Silly or another word you find more appealing. :)

The point is we do not want to make things too difficult, especially if we are involved in a bad day. You and those with you will already have enough to deal with and adding a complicated response to the situation will cause you to react slower when you can at least afford it. Also the more parts you add to the plan the more room you are allowing Mr. Murphy, of Murphy's Law fame, to move in. Let's take our fire plan from the last post.

Using the KISS principle the plan comes out like this.

FIRE!
Put out.
No?
Get out!
Rally everyone, Headcount.
All safe?
Good!!


Remember if a caveman can understand the plan you will be able to understand the plan when the adrenaline is pumping, fear has come along for the ride and you find yourself in a situation you never wanted to be in. Alright let's up the vocabulary level a bit.

The next acronym we need is S.M.E.A.C.. For some of you this is a familiar set of letters. For this it will be a frame work we use to hang our plan on. The letters stand for;

SITUATION
MISSION
EXECUTION
ADMINISTRATIVE AND LOGISTICS
COMMAND AND CONTROL

Now we fill in the Fire Plan to see how this works..............

Situation: fire in the house
Mission: everyone in the house is safe
Execution: Utilize fire extinguisher, pull pin, point at base of fire and use sweeping motion. If needed evacuate home, utilize any opening, if on second floor use ladder.
Administrative and Logistics: Where is the fire extinguisher located? Where is the ladder, if needed, located?
Command and Control: Everyone meets at the mailbox. Account for everyone.

Another simple way to do some planning (KISS) is to ask;

What?
When?
Why?
How?

No matter what format you use the important part is to do some sort of planning ahead of time. Everything you have an answer for before you are under stress is one less thing you have to think about! This is important during a crisis because having an answer allows you to move on to the next question faster. With enough planning you will not have any unanswered questions.

While you are still thinking about plans go ahead and write one. Start with the most obvious issue for your area. Being in California my obvious issue is going to be....... nope. Fires would be my obvious issue! In the last five or so years we have had to pack up the cars and be ready to leave on at least three occasions. Take fifteen minutes, write a plan and K.I.S.S..

Stay Safe!!!!!


Monday, September 01, 2014

Now What, Part 2.

Well you let your plan sit for a while but now that you have thought about it, ideas keep popping into your head. Maybe no ideas came and you just became worried if you thought to much about it!!! No big deal either way. People react differently when the subject of emergencies, disasters or a 'bad day' is brought up. Lets bring your thoughts either up to what is just some common things we all should do or back down from planning for the alien invasion.

For those of you on one end of the spectrum, "I don't want to think about this!", you are usually better at doing these things then you think. Why? Because you are not going to get online and buy three hundred military meals and call it a day. You tend to think things out a bit more than some of us. Let's address what you can do this coming week, which won't cause the "I don't want to think about it." reaction. We can plan for all kind of 'crazy' situations but let's focus on ones we might face tonight.

I know they remind us to check our smoke alarms twice a year. Have you done it? No really get up and go check, I'll wait............... Ok no big deal, right? Your smoke detector works and you know the family is a little bit more prepared if a fire happens. Do you have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen? A lot of fires in the home start in the kitchen when folks are cooking. Should one happen and you have some way of putting it out quickly you end up with a good story to tell at the next party. Just pick up a small one. Make sure you read the box it needs to be one you can use of grease fires!!!! Remember, water and oil do not mix! You could spread the fire using water!


Here is a link to amazon where you can get one.
http://www.amazon.com/Kidde-FX10K-Kitchen-Fire-Extinguisher/dp/B000IHUR58

Now you have done the basics of planning for a home fire!!!!!!! See not a big deal and you should have just a little bit more piece of mind knowing you have insured your family is a little safer. Let's add to this.

How do we get everyone out if there is a fire? How many exits are there from your home? Do you live on the second floor?

For this plan every opening in a wall counts as an exit. Kids need to know it is ok to use a window as an exit if there is a fire. This is real important if they are old enough and big enough to get out on their own. You do not want them afraid of getting into trouble for climbing out an window during a emergency!!!

If you sleep on a second story or live in an apartment on anything other than the ground floor do you have a safe way to get to the ground? Jumping down if you do not know how to do it is not a very good idea. You become a casualty and could add to the problem. A simple ladder which attaches to the window will do the trick and help make sure everyone is in one piece when they reach the ground.


Here is link, yes on amazon. I love amazon!!!
http://www.amazon.com/FIRST-ALERT-EL52-2-Escape-Ladder/dp/B0069HG97Q/ref=sr_1_6?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=1-6&keywords=fire+escape+ladder+2+story

Now let's review. We have made sure we have an early warning system incase something bad is happening while we are asleep, we have a way to stop a small problem from becoming a larger one and we have a plan with the means to get everyone out if there is a fire in the home. Good to go!!!! All that for just some brain using and costing under a hundred bucks!

Now what?

Where does everyone met to get a head count? Maybe the mailbox can serve this purpose? Everyone knows where it is and in most cases the mailbox will be a relatively safe distance away to allow you the time needed to get a head count. With everyone out and accounted for whatever happens to your house or apartment does not matter! Let it burn, heck ask the neighbors if they got stuff to make smores with! All that is in there is stuff and stuff can be replaced.

Let's take this out to the next step. Do you have insurance? Is it up to date and paid? Do you have friends or family you can stay with for a day or two? Who would you call?

Now take a moment, open a blank document or the one you were using to write down ideas after reading the prior post and write down your answers to everything we just read about. Then go back and write down your answers to each of the items brought up. Guess what? You just wrote your plan for a house fire!!!!

For the other end of the spectrum.............. slow down on buying 300 MREs and 20,000 rounds of ammo! We need to focus on this first

Before we worry about this!!!!!

Take note of the burning buildings people would have to get out of before they could lay waste to the alien invaders!!!

Now that you have a good idea on how to start making plans I'll try and show you a way to organize the planning in a format to make sense in the next post. Till then, as always

Stay Safe!!!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Now what?



People find themselves in situations every year which are considered emergencies. These can range from car problems to tornadoes and everything in between. The idea of this post is to help you take the first steps which will go a long way toward ensuring you, your loved ones and others can come through these types of situations with a good story to tell while at the party later.




The most important thing you can do in any of these situations is realize they can happen. You would be surprised how many people really do not want to even think about something bad happening, until it is past the time they can do anything effective about it. Just by acknowledging things happen you have gotten over the first obstacle. People will try to deny anything can happen, refuse to discuss it and then live in shock when something does happen. Don't allow yourself to be caught up in this loop of usless thought! You might find yourself mentally or even physically frozen in place when you least can afford to be.



Prior to something happening take some time to play "What if?" scenerios with yourself.



"What happens if my car breaks down?"
"What happens if there is a fire in the kitchen?"
"Who gets the kids from school if somthing happens?"



There are thousands of question you can ask yourself. Do not allow yourself to go to far down the rabbit hole! Stick to a few; "What is most likely to happen where we live at?" (I live in California, easy to figure that one out, fire.)
"How would we react if this situation happens right now?"



Take stock of what you would do and what you have on hand if the number one situation you could think of happens tommorrow or even right now. Do you have even the frame work of a plan in your head?




No? Then make a rough one right now. Get a peice of paper or open another screen and write down what the situation is. What would be your first reaction? Is a large storm coming and you have to leave? Where would you go? Do you have gas? Can you get there in one quick drive? We are not making a complete and detailed plan right now, we are just sketching out an idea.




You know the details of your situation better then I do. There is no way I could sit here and write in detail what you should and shouldn't have. What I am trying to do is get you to think about what you would do, what you have to work with and what you need to do to imporve your prepardness.



Take your rough idea or plan and put it away. Two days from now pull it out and look at it. Does it make sense to you after two days? Do you understand what you were writing? Adjust what you wrote to have it make sense to you now. Add anything to the plan you have thought of while it sat or has popped into your head while you read your plan. Start to flesh out your rough idea into some sort of plan. These things can be a detailed as you want them, after all this is what you plan on doing when something happens! Put the plan away for a week and then take it out again. Does it still make sense?



Now while the plan is growing don't sit around doing nothing. Buy a case of water. Pick up a map covering your route to and from work. Do something else proactive to help you is your number one situation happens right about...... wait for it...... NOW!




Stay Safe!!!