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Friday, August 28, 2015

Train attack and 'ON AIR' murder - two different outcomes.

Two incidents occurred recently which got me to thinking about how much situational awareness really matters. For those of us who might not know about these incidents, one was a man on a train who was shooting people and the second was a man who shot three people while on live TV. Instead of getting tied up in the mired of items we could discuss revolving around these two incidents I want to focus on one item which seems to make a difference in these two incidents. Awareness of what is happening around you! Having awareness is very important in situations like these and in these two cases might of been the difference between living and dying.

Too many people spend the day with a very narrow focus on what is happening around them. Do not think so? OK, here is your homework for the day. Put your phone down and look around. While you look around count the people who are staring at their phone and not looking up. How many of these people could you walk up to and smack upside the head before they would even know you were there???? ONLY TRY THIS ON PEOPLE YOU KNOW!!! Or don't, might make the day more exciting to just smack random people!!!! (thats a joke!) The point is people do not simply look around or pay attention to their surroundings during their day. How can you see danger if you are staring at your phone?

I am going to try and discuss both of these situations without giving anything to the people who committed the acts. Personally I feel it is wrong to even say the names of people who do these things because I feel the motivation for some of these incidents is the notoriety the people get after the event. The first incident occurred on a train in France...........

A person was observed walking into the restroom with his baggage, one of the passengers thought this was odd and observed the man step out of the restroom with a rifle. The passenger attempted to disarm the gunman in an attempt to protect his wife who was also a passenger on the train. The passenger lost the scuffle when the gunman shot him in the neck and he fell to the floor of the train. Other passengers took over the fight and they were able to subdue the gunman. One of these passengers was wounded when the gunman pulled out a second weapon and cut him with it. The gunman was "hog tied" and held by the passengers until law enforcement could take over.

With the gunman and weapons secured the people on the train tended to the wounded aboard the train.

The second incident was during a 'ON AIR' live report from a TV reporter. There is video the killer put up on the internet. I'm not going to add a link. If you must see the video just look it up on your own............. The most striking thing to me in the video is watching the gunman walk up to the victims, point a firearm at them, step back from the victims and point the weapon back at them before opening fire on the victims.

How could this have happened? How can a person walk up to three people, point a gun at them from close range not once but twice and none of them react?!?!?!?!?!?! I wonder what the outcome would have been had any of the three not had tunnel vision at that moment. What is tunnel vision? This is when your perception has narrowed to a point you might as well be looking through a tube at the world around you.

When I watched the video of this murder I was screaming at the images because these people should have clearly seen the danger!! On more than one place in the video the victims eyes, ears or gut should have told them something was wrong!!! Having someone walk up to you when you are off to the side of a setting as they were should at the very least get a curious glance just to see who is approaching!!!! Yet this gunman walked up to them, pointed a gun, obviously did not like the view his camera was recording, changed his position and opened fire when he was satisfied with the view his camera would record..................................

Now before anyone gets all fired up, no I am not saying being shoot was the victim's fault!!! What we are attempting to discuss is the need for awareness in our everyday life!!!! You want to change this conversation that is your business! Moving on..........

When we are out and about during the day we need to remember to take a moment and see what is around us. If you are focused on something right in front of you, your area of awareness becomes very small. This can also be brought out into a bigger idea. If your input of information comes from only a few sources your knowledge or world view is very limited. The same way lifting your head out of a book while sitting at the park allows you to see the folks playing soccer, reading a different newspaper or watching a different news channel broadens your view of the world and allows you to see more. If you can see danger coming you can avoid it, always option one, or deal with it. If you can not see the danger coming you are simply a victim waiting to be victimized..............

We all need to work on our awareness and should start today! Try to put your phone down and look around. This is called "panning and scanning". Look around your area and see what is going on. (side note: you might be surprised who you see also panning and scanning) This is not being paranoid, just look around and see what you see. Who's in the area around you? What are the people around you doing? Why are they doing it? Just take moment and people watch. Doing this more often is a benefit and increases your awareness. Heck make a game out it with your kids! Ask them to remember the color clothes people wore or other such items. Give them the gift of awareness!!!

As always,

Stay Safe!!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fire - make it safe

Fire, one of the greatest inventions or utilization of natural resources ever!!! With it we can heat ourselves, cook food, keep the dark at bay and gives us an excuse to sit around with friends and loved ones!!! Fire is something most of us take for granted on a daily basis. We turn on the stove or put food in the oven and eat when the food is ready. Heck some of us might just use a microwave or drive through a restaurant to get our cooked food. Most of us really do not know how to make a fire, feed a fire or cook over a fire. We kind of take for granted the clicking noise the stove makes and the flame which pops up.

The internet is filled with videos of how to build a fire from scratch, utilizing the most primitive methods possible. Something you rarely see is how long it really took to learn how to make the fire, how many times the person failed before they mastered the method. Learning these skills is important and something we should all try to learn. They also seem to never show the fire builder clearing an area or prepping an area to safely build the fire.

Now learning to properly build, light and feed a fire is a very important skill to have and every one of us should take the time to learn how to do it. What we are going to discuss for a moment is safety when you are making and using open flames! If we are faced with an emergency or just building a fire to enjoy with our friends and families we need to be safe while we are doing this.

Not taking a moment to properly clear an area, contain the fire and having the ability to quickly put out the fire can take a bad situation and make the situation much worse. Imagine your family huddled in an abandoned building. Your children are cold and you struggle to make a fire to warm them. In your haste you pile rubbish in the corner and light it. Of course now you feel better as you run around to add fuel to the flames, knowing at the very least your children will not be cold in a few minutes. The situation might suck but at least you will be warm. Yes we all can see where this is going! The curtains by the window catch fire or the wall behind your fire catches fire or the fire gets so large the ceiling catches fire and in the end you and your family are back outside in the elements. Of course you will have a fire for while….. At least until the building burns down.

Fires get out of control all the time. Someone leaves a candle unattended, a spark jumps from a fire place or the cook lets the grease catch fire in the kitchen. Any time we are dealing with flames we need to make sure the area around the flame is clear of anything which could catch fire. We need to have a way to put the fire out quickly if the flames start to become uncontrollable. We need to keep in mind the fire has a mind of its own. Ask a fireman, flames are creatures in their own right and have a mind of their own.

Build a fire on the ground, as in dirt not the covered floor of a house. Build a fire on concrete or cement, not on tiles. Build a fire in a container, a metal bin or surrounded by rocks. Maybe you can find cement blocks to surround the fire with? Place a bucket of sand or dirt near the fire. A fire extinguisher is a better idea.

On the weekend or during an emergency safely managing a fire is something we all need to take into account. The simple mistake of not doing this could compound a bad situation or simply ruin a family gathering. Take the time when using flames to look at what you are doing with safety in mind. The house you save could be your own!!!

As Always,

Stay Safe!!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

First Aid ABC's

One of the most important skills we can learn is simple first aid. Having the ability to deal with medical issues even at a very basic level can determine if someone lives or dies when there is a emergency. The knowledge you gain by attending even one class is something you can use and more than likely something you will use on a regular basis.

First aid is a subject you really need to sit in a classroom setting to learn. There is no way this post could cover every situation or impart the knowledge you would need to cover every situation you could encounter. What we will do here is cover a few concepts which can assist everyone when faced with a medical emergency. First and foremost, if you have medical emergency and have the ability call for help!! The sooner you call the sooner they will arrive! Weather someone has stopped breathing, bleeding badly or is unconscious minutes count toward what the outcome is going to be and you need to get help coming your way as soon as possible.

The next vital thing, as the person giving aid to someone you MUST remain calm! Yes you might be looking at a bloody mess but you cannot let the injured person know how bad the injury is!!!! By keeping cool during the situation you allow the injured person to remain calm or at the very least you do not add to their panic. When the injured person becomes upset their blood pressure rises, they are less corporative toward being helped and they can easy slip into shock. Even over a simple injury victims can go into shock if they “think” the injury is worse than it is. Even an untrained person can take action to help an injured person and one tool we can use is the ‘ABC’s’ of first aid.
If you come across an injured person follow these steps;

A – AIRWAY, are they breathing? If someone is not breathing all bets are off. It only takes a few minutes to die without air and permanent damage can be done to a person even if they recover from the lack of oxygen.

B – BLEEDING, after ensuring the person is breathing or at least the airway is open to allow breathing in the case of an unconscious victim you next want to deal with bleeding. In a lot of cases this is what you will be immediately dealing with. People cut themselves all the time while cooking or working around the house and you will quickly see they are breathing due to the screaming or cussing coming from them.

Bleeding looks bad and can cause people to freak out. In most cases applying direct pressure and elevating the wound will stop the bleeding. You would be surprised to see how much blood a person can lose before the loss has a really devastating effect on them. Direct pressure is the first step you want to take to stop the bleeding even if the pressure you are applying is just with your hand. The sooner pressure is applied the quickly the wound will stop bleeding. Now does this work for every wound you can come across? No, yet this will work for the vast majority of wounds you are likely to come across.

This is also the step where you would start CPR. If the person is unconscious, unresponsive and you cannot find a pulse this step becomes starting the flow of blood. Knowing how to do CPR properly is a very important skill and one each of us needs to take the time to learn.

C – CIRCULATION, this is the last of these very basic steps we are going to look at. Is the person in a position which stops the flow of air and blood in their body? In the case of CPR is it working? Is the air making it’s way into the lungs or gut? Are you doing the compressions properly? This also covers checking for shock. In most cases everyone will go into some form of shock over being injured but we want them to suffer from the lowest level of shock possible. Hopeful the level we can keep them at is “Man this hurts”. This might mean we have the person sit down, lay down and/or we elevate their legs to help the blood stay in their core areas. This is when you being calm has the greatest effect.

The ABC’s are just the starting point. This can be expanded on way more than what we can fit into this posting. Even if you are not trained but you can remember to keep your head about you and remember ‘ABC’ you will be of greater help to someone who is having a medical emergency than those people who have no training and panic when they see the injured person. The need for all of us to receive medical training by qualified instructors can be emphasized enough here!!!

Here is a link to the American Red Cross. I strongly recommend everyone take the time to find training in their own area!

As Always,

Stay Safe!!!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Emergency shelter - elements

When we discuss shelter during an emergency we need to focus on what is the purpose of the shelter? Shelter during an emergency serves a purpose, the purpose being to separate us from the elements. This is really the only purpose of shelter, to put layers between us and what Mother Nature has in mind.

This could be us seeking shelter from a tornado in a tornado shelter or seeking high ground from a flood. Remember we need to put something between us and the elements. In most cases this is a temporary situation but one which could cause us issues if we do not take proactive and positive actions during the situation. Elements will kill you! Nature does not care about you. Wind does not care if it saps the heat from your body, rain does not care if you did not pack properly and the sun does not care if you have no shade or air conditioning.

This may sound weird, when you are forced to find emergency shelter think or imitate the homeless. What? Yes, think what you have seen homeless people do. I do not mean the homeless guy passed out on the sidewalk laying there at the mercy of the elements. Think of the homeless person you see with what could be termed a “mobile home”. The one who obviously been in the situation for a while and has adapted to their situation. They use the environment around them. They improvise with what most of us would consider garbage but they follow some rules even if they do not understand they are.

First thing they do is deal with the major element. If it is windy, move to the side of a building which is away from the wind. Sun beating down on a hot day; use the shadow of a building to protect yourself from the sun. A doorway protects you on three sides from the elements simply by the construction of the entry. Dealing with the major element affecting your life is the first thing you have to do when figuring out shelter during an emergency.

Once you are out of the rain or have strung something up to keep the sun off of you then you can improve your shelter. In an emergency situation you should work to improve your position. Never just sit and wait for help or whatever. Always work to improve your position.

Again think of the homeless. What do they all seem to do when sleeping? They put something between themselves and the ground. Anyone who has ever done some camping will understand why. The ground is hard and does not care! Also the ground will suck heat from your body. They may not ‘know’ what they are doing but the homeless are stopping or trying to stop the transfer of heat from their bodies to the ground by placing cardboard or other items between themselves and the ground. If you have a choice between sitting on the bare ground and sitting on some discarded milk crates, sit on the crates! Heck, make a couch out of several crates and knit a blanket while you figure out what to do next.

Blankets, what do they do? They keep the wind, the air off of your body, which stops the air from stealing the heat from your body. Because the air does not care if you are cold the air does what it does regardless if you exist or not. Blankets also keep your heat in. Allows you to utilize the heat your own body generates to keep you warm! Once you have separation from the ground and the air you have made your shelter. This can be simply wrapping you in a blanket. You have separated yourself from the elements, which could care less about you or your situation.

Now we can discuss all sorts of shelters we could make in the wilds of the jungle or in the forest of Siberia but, yes there is always a ‘but’, each of us live in different environments and to discuss one environment only would leave us lacking if we found ourselves in a different environment. Instead we will keep thinking the way of a homeless person. This gives us guidelines we can use anywhere.

Cardboard, we have all seen homeless people using cardboard for shelter. A piece might be between them and the ground. Maybe they have utilized the whole box to curl up in. What are they doing with the cardboard? They are putting another layer between themselves and the elements. These added layers allows your layers to work better at keeping you warm and dry by each layer only having to work a little at keeping you warm and dry. If you curl up in a cardboard box your jacket no longer has to keep the rain off of you while also trying to keep your body warm. The box keeps the rain off while your jacket keeps you warm. If your blanket stays dry the blanket will do the job of keeping you warm. This is the purpose of most emergency shelters you can learn about. The shelter is to keep the elements off of you.

Do the homeless construct large shelters? No, why? Because the less area you have the less area you have to heat. The larger your house the harder it is to heat and cool. In an emergency a smaller shelter is much more useful than a large one. Your body heat can heat a tent or cardboard box and in an emergency every bit of heat could make the difference. If you have a candle with you a small shelter can be heated by a single candle. Of course we must be extremely careful when utilizing heat in any shelter! You can easily burn your hut down and find yourself standing out in the elements.

Think of your shelter building as adding layers. Each layer helps the underlying layer. A tarp strung up over your cardboard hut keeps the rain off your cardboard. Your cardboard hut is not wet; the card board is dry and can keep the wind at bay. The card board is dry which means your blanket is dry and the blanket can help keep you warm. With a dry blanket your clothes stay dry which means you can stay warm. Each one of these layers helps your body to regulate its own temperature and keeps you alive.

The next time you see a homeless person’s shelter take a moment and appreciate what they have done. This person may have issues but they have adapted to their situation and are living. Something you should keep in mind if you ever end up in an emergency situation.

As Always,

Stay Safe!!!

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!!!