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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Something sharp?

Most folks understand the importance of water, food and shelter during an emergency. What is rarely talked about other than at a surface level is a tool for cutting. Notice I did not say some giant Rambo knife with a kitchen sink, wi-fi hotspot and espresso bar stuffed into the handle? Most of these types of 'tools' are not worth the money you spend on them. What we need to focus on is tools for the situation.

If we need to get a splinter out of a finger using a Bowie knife might not be the best tool. No matter how we try to do this one tool will not cover every situation in this case. If I want to cut a tree down I need a cutting tool which will allow me to cut the tree down, the same tool might not be the best for gutting a fish. The area we live in and the situations we might face also dictate what sort of cutting tool we carry.

A lot of things we might need to do in an emergency can be handled with a simple razor blade. Need to cut rope? Need to open up a package? Need to cut up some plastic sheets? All of these can be done with a simple razor. For safety having a razor in some sort of handle is recommended! You do not want to cause any further issues by cutting yourself.

Swiss Army knives or a simple folder pocket knife like Grandpa carries is what most of us should be looking to own. Small, easy to use and do not take up much room. In most areas you can just put the knife in your pocket and the blade is small enough to not cause you any issues if someone else sees the knife or if law enforcement stops you. Some of you in the UK might have to check local laws on having any sort of cutting tool on your person? These types of tools give you the ability to make shelter, skin a cat and handle most tasks you might need to address during an emergency. If hard pressed you could also use the tool to defend yourself and loved ones.

Larger fixed blade knives are great and allow you to do more things than a folder might. BUT, do not buy one of those Rambo style survival knives!! No! Do not buy one! If you have one take the stuff out of the handle and pack it somewhere else. The reason being the blade will come off the handle when you really need it not to! Do not waste your money on a knife which is not one solid piece of metal, full tang. Save the money and buy one which is a solid piece of metal with a handle mounted on to the metal.

For your get home bag or major emergency packing kit add a knife which is at least nine inches long. Again made of one solid piece of metal. Do not buy one with a saw along the spine of the blade. You know the ones with large teeth which are supposed act as a saw. One, most of these designs do not work really well. Two, if you want a saw buy a saw. In most cases these 'teeth' on the back of the blade weaken the strength of the blade. These 'teeth' also catch if you have to stick the blade into something and make it difficult to pull the blade out of objects.

With a well made knife you can accomplish a lot of task during an emergency. Having a small cutting tool you carry with you everyday is a really good idea. This way you have something with you at all times because you never know what you will be doing when something comes up. Putting even a small folder into your Bail Out Bag is an almost must! Having something bigger inside your Get Home Bag is also a must along with having several types of cutting tools in your Bug Out kit.

As Always,

Stay Safe!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Purpose Driven Packing - right gear for the task

We pack a bag, box or backpack and then put it in the trunk, floor board or in the garage. Hopefully we check the contents at least once a year but for some of us that might be it. Yet is the equipment or items you packed awhile ago relevant to what you are doing today? Is the Bail Out Bag you keep in the car packed for what you need this week? Is the emergency kit you bought at the store for one person and the family has grown to three??

I personally had an interesting experience with this when I went on a trip to visit my oldest child. Instead of going by myself one of my younger children was going to go with me this trip!!! Going through my stuff I quickly realized my kit was good for taking care of one good looking, older fella but not one good looking, older fella and a five year old little lady!!! I had to sit down for a minute or two and figure out what I would need to adjust in order to cover the mission at hand.........

Now matter the situation which might arise I would have to take the little lady into account. Flat tire - do I have the things I need to make sure she does not get stuck for to long on the side of the road? Traffic accident - did I pick the right place to put her carseat and did I put it in properly? Food - do have snacks for her while driving? Clothes - how many changes of clothing does a five year old need? The list just keeps growing if you think to hard! Whatever happen I did not want to come home to an angry Boss Lady because I screwed something up!!!!

I had to decide if I went all "The End Of The World As We Know It"

Or maybe tone it down a bit. Either way I would have to tailor my gear to the reality of the situation. Plan for the worst, hope for the best, be realistic!! Which means plan to cover as many things with the minimum amount of stuff. We can not plan for every event but we can plan to give ourselves flexibility, good foundation of equipment and knowledge to use both.

Of course I packed the car with all of the regular stuff kids and adults need for a trip covering a few days and a couple of hundred miles. After the Boss Lady packed the youngsters gear I started to pack my gear and adjusting things for the current situation. If you have never seen the supply train for a little one.............. Take what most women pack on a trip and double it!!!! (that ought to get me in trouble)

My stuff in the pockets really did not need to change. I had my wallet, lighter, cash, flashlight etc etc. I did add a few things.... Every Day Carry covered!

My Bail Out Bag!!! Ok here I was stuck for awhile. My bag is packed for me, for what I would need if I had to jump out of the car and boogy. Now I had to figure out what I needed for the Little Boss if we had to bail out!!! Dumping the pack on the table I went pocket by pocket and item by item. This took me longer then you might think. Some of this was easy, identification, extra money, GPS, charging cables for phone, fire starting gear and water purification. A lot of the stuff went back to where it lives in the bag.

I had to figure out how to pack extra clothes for the both of us. Which I did with a compression sack, just barely! I had some medical stuff for me but a five year old can not live on ibuprofen alone. Repacking the medical items I added children flu medicine and a box of band aids with her favorite cartoon characters on the band aids.

I then realized I missed something........ TOILET PAPER!!!! Not just the amount I would carry for me but, remember this part guys, enough for a five year old to use!!!! After shifting items around I loaded some up and added a kids poncho for the little lady.

Ladies you may skip this part..... guys, we have to remember the special needs of the fairer sex when we are putting stuff together OR you could have more issues to deal with than just the alien zombie invasion!!! OK ladies come back.

Tossing in some MREs and a case of water I thought I had everything covered. Until the Little Boss Lady reminded me we had to take her favorite Teddy Bear with us!! DUH, I am an idiot!!! A few other items were packed away and we were off on the GRAND ADVENTURE!!!

Remember your situation changes from time to time and we need to review what we have to fit the task at hand. Having a solid base of items and skills makes this much easier. If something is easier odds are we will do it, Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance!!! Before we hit the freeway I had already mentally gone over what I would now have to grab if I bailed out. My B.O.B., the Little Boss Lady and the teddy bear!!!

As Always,

Stay Safe.

(P.S. the trip went beautifully!!)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Normalcy Bias - an example

Recently there was a fire on the 5 Freeway here in sunny California. Someone called me and I watched the event unfold on live TV. I found myself yelling at the people on TV as I watched people make some really odd decisions.

NORMAL – “usual or ordinary: not strange”

These folks were driving along on the freeway just cruising down the road, no different than other trips along this route some of them had done before. First smoke appeared blowing across the road and was followed by the sight of flames along the road. Someone decided to stop. Maybe they could not see? Maybe they thought the flames would burn their car? The reason they stopped really does not matter at this point. What does matter is the flow of traffic stopped. People now started making decisions which would affect their lives or the lives of others!

CHANGE – “to make someone or something different”

Some people milled around watching the flames come toward them. Of course cell phones were brought out and video was taken. ‘Selfies’ made their way on to the internet. People did not seem to understand their “normal” had changed…………

Mass panic – “An uncontrolled mass response to a triggering event (e.g., fire, explosion) in which a crowd of people—e.g., on a religious pilgrimage or at a professional sporting or music event—move at once towards a presumed direction of egress, which, if blocked, may result in a mass disaster of human crush injuries and death due to compressive asphyxiation.”

Mass hysteria – “A socially contagious frenzy of irrational behavior in a group of people as a reaction to an event.”

One of the people involved gave this interview;

"Police had come by, calling over their loudspeakers for people to stay in their cars.” Sclafani and her teammates ditched their van, left everything and started running up the mountain in the 95 degree heat of the California afternoon. What seemed like 1,000 people were doing the same, she said. “Including a pregnant woman we helped out,” she said. They stayed up on the hill for about three hours.“There were lots of people crying. Some were vomiting. People were really frightened,” she said."

When we talk about normalcy bias we have to first work on our own. Then we have to take into account everyone else’s bias. Most people do not think about what could happen to change their day. They take no steps to prepare themselves or to give themselves items which could help them when the situation takes a turn for the worst. Instead we see here an example of people’s bias turning into panic and I would add a "out for themselves" mentality.

With the exception of a few of the large semi-trailers on the road, every single one of the passenger vehicles on the road could have put their engine into reverse and driven backwards on the freeway! They could, with a limited amount of cooperation, turned their vehicles around and carefully driven back the way they had come. Instead people thought only of their own situation and reacted in what they thought was the best way to save their own hides.

Luckily, no one was killed in this incident. The Fire Fighters did an outstanding job of dropping water on the burning vehicles right there on the freeway, never seen that trick before! What was unlucky is some people did not have vehicles to return to. They were now stranded on the freeway with what they had with them! Most of them had basically nothing with them………………

There was no group hug and a sharing of resources at the end of the danger. If people returned and their vehicle worked, they left the area. Not sure if the first person to run had a vehicle to return to. Absolutely positive the people just outside of the affected area enjoyed having video, photos and a story to tell but did not stay to help the people now stranded along the freeway. At the end of the day this is a reminder we are responsible for our loved ones and ourselves..... Do not count on others to make the right decision for you or to help you in any way!

The desert around the cities of Southern California is a real desert and most people tend to forget this as they fly by in the vehicles. If these people had been trapped by the flames for much longer than three hours or had been forced to run a greater distance to save their lives how many would have made it? How many people, on a regular day, would say they would stop to help the pregnant lady? How many of these people ran passed her in “real life”?

Remember the actions of others are out of your control yet can greatly affect your life! Have the forethought to pack a Bail Out Bag! Have a Get Home Bag! Make decisions even if the decision is not what the herd is doing! Help those people you can!

As Always,

Stay Safe!!!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Shelter - Clothes on your back

Every day we get up, throw some clothes on and go about our day. Most of us never really think about what we are doing when we get dressed, we put on an outfit and do not think of this layer of clothing as our first line of shelter if a bad day comes. Sure we take into account the weather, if it is hot we wear less, if it is cold we wear more. “Simple, nothing to think about! I know how to get dressed!”

Sure we all get dressed every day, have you ever thought about it? Are you wearing clothes which assist with keeping you warm or cool? Do you know how to use your clothing to assist with keeping yourself comfortable? Are you giving yourself advantages or disadvantages if something interrupts your normal routine?

Our skin is the first layer between us and the outside world. Yes our skin also keeps all of our insides ‘in’ but our skin does more than this. Our skin helps regulate our body temperature by sweating and other mechanisms. When we get dressed we can assist our skin or hamper our bodies’ ability to regulate by what items or materials we place on top of our skin.

Layering is important when you pick your clothing for the day. Being able to add or subtract articles of clothing gives you the ability to regulate better how hot or cold you are. Proper clothing can be the difference between suffering and dealing with a situation. Just having the ability to access additional clothing or the ability to change clothing can be a god send in certain situations. Nobody wants to be cold and wet if they do not need to be.

Mothers understand this quicker than most fellas, especially when little ones are involved. When the bag gets packed for the little one Mom always makes sure there is jackets or a change of clothes packed away “just in case”. As we plan our day we should take a moment to also plan for “just in case”. Take a moment and check the weather. Is there a chance of rain? Maybe we should plan for the chance of getting wet later in the day? Maybe we alter what we wear to what the weather report says could happen?

You can still be fashionable and wear proper clothing to assist you with dealing with the elements. Now days there are plenty of materials both natural and manmade which can keep you cool, warm and dry. Except for in warm climates cotton is something we should stay away from. Cotton likes to hold water and this will just make you colder and miserable if you are caught in a rain shower or snow. You want a base layer of material which whisks perspiration away from your skin. In a hot environment this helps your body cool down, in a cold environment this helps to keep your body warm. Your clothing has to help your skin do what the skin is supposed to do. If your bas layer holds your sweet against your skin you are hindering what your body is trying to do.

Think of clothing as building a shelter around your skin. In cold weather you want more between you and the elements. In hot weather you want to help your body cool down and keep the sun from burning your skin. The same as you try to regulate the temperature in your home. Just like your house your clothing layering needs a tough outer shell or a roof and walls. Your outer layer of clothing needs to work like a portable house. This layer needs to be water, snow or sun proof. This layer needs to be something you can put on or off easily and in most cases is a jacket you have handy. Umbrellas also count in this outer layer group. Remember this is your tough outer shell.

Between your outer shell and your base layer are all the other clothes and options you have. Long sleeve shirts, gloves, maybe a scarf? This is the layer most of us throw on in the morning but do not think much about. Yet this is the main layer which predicts how well we can deal with the elements. Sure you can pack a big heavy jacket and toss this on when the rain starts. But those dress shoes you are wearing as you walk through the rain do not keep the water out. Your cotton socks are never going to dry. The dress slacks you have on soak up water like a sponge. Your jacket does a good job covering you from the neck down but the water coming down is hitting you on the head, dripping down your neck and soaking into the shirt you have on. Then the power goes out and the heating in the office stops working. Of course the power does not come back on and now you have to think about walking home…….. Hope you are not wearing those flats and dress…..

A suggestion is to have clothing available to you if the situation changes and you need to adapt to the weather. Having a spare pair of shoes or ‘real’ boots, not fashionable ones, to put on along with a few other items could make all the difference. We all can stuff a rain coat in the trunk or find a spot in the office to stash one. Pair of wool socks and a good hat also does not take up much space.

Should you ever find yourself in a situation take a moment and figure out if your clothing is helping our hurting your ability to deal with the situation. Finding dry and warm clothes can instantly make a bad situation better. Hypothermia and hyperthermia, getting to cold or too hot, can quickly make you a casualty during an emergency and your clothing choices can go a long way in making sure neither happens.

As Always,

Stay Safe!!!

Monday, July 06, 2015

Greece Crisis - On $66.00 a day

This morning the news was filled with stories of the Greece Financial crisis, of course every talking head had a different idea of what the situation meant. For this post I will stay away from the politics (for the most part) of the situation, instead let us talk about what we should do to help ourselves and our family if we are caught up in a situation like this.

The news stories pointed out banks in Greece were only letting people withdraw the equivalent of $66.00 USD. Not real sure what the prices of food, gas and other items are there but take a minute and see if you could live on $66.00 a day…….. Quick math….. $462.00 a week?...... $1,848.00 a month?..... $22,176 a year?!?!?! Reports are already stating the banks cannot guarantee how long the paper money can be found to keep “letting” everyone withdraw $66.00 a day. If the banks can keep paper money flowing into and out of the ATM machines? This means even if you have a hundred thousand in the bank you only get $66.00 a day, welcome to the other side of life!

Yes for some of us this is a bizarre thought; you go to the ATM and the only amount you are “allowed” to withdraw of your own money is $66.00. To all of us living in the USA, yes this can happen here also! YES IT CAN!!! That means you have to work with $66.00 a day or you have to work with what you have on hand and the $66.00. No your credit cards will not get you through this one as Greeks are finding out.

When we are discussing planning for emergencies we are not focused only on the end of the world zombie attack or an asteroid showing us how it felt to be T-Rex seeing the big fire ball coming down from the sky. We plan for everything we can by having a solid foundation. If we have some money put away the money could really help out if the car breaks down, one of the kids gets thrown in jail or the financial system you live under collapses! Having extra in the fridge and pantry would really make a difference for people in Greece right now. I watched and read reports of hoarding already taking place this morning.

“Some of us are barely making it check to check and cannot put any money away?” Yes you can, we all can. Fixing your financial situation at home should be a priority, before you spend any money ask yourself “Is this a WANT or a NEED?” but that concept is for another day. For right now think about all the change you have around the house, collect the change, the money you find in a pair of jeans after they are washed. Toss all of it into a jar. Then put the jar somewhere you cannot see it, if you can see it you will spend it. In most cases the money you collect is already been budgeted in and ‘spent’ so you should not miss this money.

If your budget allows $6.00 a day for a pack of cigarettes, they cost $5.50, you now have $0.50 to put in the jar. The next day you toss in the $0.50 for that day and now you have $1.00! You get the idea. We add the $1.00 to the $66.00, when the crisis hits, for $67.00 and just maybe this is enough for your family to make it through the day? Over time you will be surprised by how much money you can collect this way. SIDE NOTE: no judging here, some of us still smoke and you are not allowed to judge!

We all know at some point the crisis will lead to violence if the powers that be cannot come to some sort of agreement. With hoarding already taking place, people will not be able to find what they need; this will also lead to violence. If you have planned ahead your ‘NEED’ to go out and expose yourself to the situation will be decreased.

Having planned ahead will give you more to work with. You will have more options when the options start to be limited. $66.00 a day will go further if you do not ‘need’ to go to the store every day for the days meals. Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

As Always,

Stay Safe!!!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Got To Go Box

This will be one of those “GO DO IT NOW!” postings. As soon as you read this go do it, do not wait, get up from where you are at and do it!
Find a box, shoebox, hatbox or just any small box you might have around the house. Inside of this box put all of the important information you have around the house. Extra identification, mortgage paperwork, insurance paperwork, medical information, shot records, address book and anything else you can think of you would need if you had to walk away from your home right now. Remember you cannot take everything so just the important stuff. GO DO IT NOW!

I’ll wait…………………………..

Ok so hopefully you took the time to gather the stuff up and toss it into some sort of container. Of course we can upgrade the container to a fire resistant box, old ammo can or hopefully some other container which is portable and you can lock. You might of also accidently organized some of the clutter and have all of the important stuff in one place now!!

Should you need to leave in a hurry you only have to grab this one container and you know you have the most important paperwork with you. Just that quickly! No running around trying finding and organizing stuff while the water is rising, the fire is approaching or the Zombies are stumbling toward your home. The twenty minutes to an hour you spent doing this now could really pay off when and if you find yourself in an emergency!!!

Please take a few moments, be pro-active and tackle this task!!!!

As Always,

Stay Safe!!!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fire Season

Fire season has started. With the start of the season it is time for those of us not already affected by one of the first fires to crank up our planning to respond to what nature has in store for us this year. Forest fires can affect all of us, even if we live in the “city” fires we would think of as “forest fires” can quickly find their way into the city and the fire does not care where you live or how far away from the wilderness you live.

First thing we have to do, buy insurance!!! Home owner’s and renter’s policies can be bought to cover your house if the fire decides your house needs to burn. This helps with after the fire for the most part yet can also give you comfort during the fire. Having insurance lets you think “Well at least we got insurance!” Being able to say this pushes the grief and worry back a bit and allows you to function better.

Having to evacuate from a fire or finding you cannot return home from a fire is not the time to think about the prior planning you “should” have done. Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance! We all need to take a few minutes and check over or begin planning for having to evacuating from a fire. Of course leaving the house for any reason is hard to do and in this case can be one of the shortest warnings you might receive. Following some of the plans we have covered in other post let’s check and see what we can have Pre-Planned to help us if we suddenly need to evacuate.

No matter if the fire is minutes or hours away one of the first things we check is our Every Day Carry. If we have our wallet, phone and other items on us or positioned for easy pick up in the middle of the night we are even with the game so far. We can run, literally run from the house in our pajamas if we had to! With our EDC we should be able to buy some clothes, food and shelter. Of course some of us might want to rethink what we wear to bed in case we suddenly end up in the street for all to see!!!!!

If you keep your Bail Out Bag in the car or by the door having one means you have more with you when the time to run comes. Hopefully the bag includes a jacket, more money, phone charger and other items which can help you in the immediate aftermath of the running!! Once in the car or on the way out the house hopefully you picked up or have your get home bag! This will also give you additional items, food, clothes and other items to help you. All of these items and the prior planning which goes with them could be a God send if you have to run. Especially if you have little ones you have to care for. Having already planned to evacuate if you need to will also help with our furry friends. Having carriers on hand to pack them into or plans for moving larger animals already worked out will make ensuring they are safe much easier.

When to go? As soon as someone tells you it is time to go! If the police come through your neighborhood or the reverse 911 systems tells you to go! GO! DO NOT WAIT, GO! At the end of the day whatever it is you could jam into the car or put in to a bag is not worth your life!!!! Fire does not care who you are, it will burn you and move on, never thinking of the hurt your death will bring to others. You must remember this; you dying will affect others for the rest of their lives!!! The loss of photos, toys or electronics can be dealt with mush easier…………… If the fire is getting close, leave. Just leave! You do not get extra “tough guy/girl” points awarded for staying until you can feel the fire on your face. What you do get is to use up some of your luck and some of us are not lucky to begin with!!!

Do not be the idiot on the news trying to hold back a wild fire with a garden hose! Your dumbass just becomes something the fire fighters have to deal with when they could be focusing on the firefighting!! Because when the fire gets close enough your little hose can reach the fire your little hose is no match for the fire!!

Being able to secure your home, because you have taken steps to increase the security of your home, should give you more piece of mind knowing no one can just break in if you leave. Having cleared away brush to give the fire fighters room to work should give you another piece of mind to add in. Not having to plan while in the middle of something should also help.

Now if we have the time we need to prioritize what we take. Start with paperwork, insurance paperwork, mortgage or rental agreements, passports, shot records and all the other paperwork which will help you after the fire. All of these things need to be in one spot, preferable in one container. Cheap, locking, fire resistant boxes can be picked up at Target or hardware stores for cheap. These boxes easily give you somewhere to keep all this stuff and allow you to just throw the box in the car and go.

Medications or other special need items should be the next priority. Making your way to safe area is good, getting there and needing the heart medicine you left in the house is bad. Clothes for at least three days might be next. This way you can have a set on, one in the wash and one set for the next day. Fill a cooler with food for a picnic, the kid’s favorite food or other items you do not need to cook. Maybe you just need to pull back to a nearby park for a few hours? Having something to eat could make watching the fire go by your house make easier to deal with! After all these things, then think about heirlooms or the big TV. Just remember you can live without the PlayStation or the picture Grandma painted in 1918!!!

From experience I can attest having to pack to run from a fire is not fun! Having plans in place really does help. The last fire we had to pack up for was chaos for a few minutes followed by hanging out watching to see if the fire was going to come close enough to run. Personally seeing, implementing and having the little piece of mind from prior planning were great not just for me but also the wife and kids. Which is the point of taking the time to plan ahead……………..

As Always,

Stay Safe!!!