Saturday, March 29, 2014

10 Simple First Aid Skills

Everyone should have some basic first aid knowledge as you never know when disaster will strike and YOU will be the one needing to dispatch first aid to someone in need.  Here's 10 simple skills to brush up on:

  1. How to call 911.  Even small children can learn this valuable skill.
  2. How to build a well-stocked first aid kit.  Check this kit regularly to make sure supplies haven't been pilfered.  Also be sure to add any items that you use regularly (extra prescription meds, glucose tabs, Epi-Pen, etc).
  3. How to perform the Heimlich Maneuver.  You never know when you will be enjoying a nice meal out and the person next to you starts choking.  Know how to handle this kind of situation.
  4. How to perform CPR.  Another vital, life-saving skill to know.
  5. How to use an AED.  While CPR is good, for someone whose heart has stopped, having an AED on hand and the skills necessary to use it can truly be a lifesaver.
  6. How to stop bleeding.  All bleeding stops...eventually.  Or so the saying goes.  You want to make this process as fast and efficient as possible by knowing a few simple skills for stopping bleeding quickly.
  7. How to treat for shock.  When someone goes into shock, know what to do to help them out.
  8. Treat environmental emergencies.  Whether it is hypothermia, heat stroke, or altitude sickness, you want to learn how to deal with these common environmental illnesses.
  9. Treat common medical problems.  There are a number of medical maladies that are pretty common in this day and age.  Know how to treat the following problems: low blood sugar (diabetes issue),  allergic reaction, and dehydration.
  10. How to treat common illnesses at home.  Grandma's treatment for many illnesses included copious amounts of chicken soup and a variety of herbal teas.  There are many simple medical issues that can usually be treated at home with a bit of knowledge.
Remember, if in doubt or if the situation is serious, don't hesitate to call 911 for help or additional information.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

10 Bug Out Options

Bugging out is a pretty hot topic.  There are BOBs (bug out bags), BOVs (bug out vehicles), BOLs (bug out locations), BOCs (bug out cabins), et al.  Many people think that "bugging out" doesn't happen until TS hits TF and society crumbles into a flaming heap but the necessity to bug out, and the various bug out equipment/supplies/etc will actually come into play much sooner than TEOTWAWKI.

It may be something small (like a wild fire heading your way), medium (like a chemical spill that empties your town) or bigger (like Hurricane Katrina bearing down on your city) but these are all occasions when bugging out is a good idea (or better than a good idea, legally mandated).  Where will you go if you need to clear out of your home and possibly your city on a moment's notice?  Here's ten options:

  1. A community shelter.  These are set up when there is a disaster in your area that displaces more than a few home's worth of people.  A fire, for example, might displace a few families at which time the Red Cross usually shelters them in hotels but when there is displacement of A LOT of people, shelters that can house up to a hundred or more people are generally set up.  Community shelters are also set up when people can not shelter themselves due to the severity of the problem (ie: a tornado shelter for folks living in mobile homes, a warming shelter when the power is out for a whole community, etc).  On a scale of "wonderful places to bug out to" these rate pretty low.  But they are better than nothing.
  2. Nearby neighbors, friends, and family.  If the problem that sent you fleeing from your home is limited in area (a small wild fire or flooding in low lying areas for example), one of your better bug out options may be with nearby neighbors, friends, or family.  This is generally good for the short term and leaves you close enough to your home so you can do/help with your own recovery, make further arrangements, etc.  Not a bad place to bug out to depending on the situation (you need to get along well with these people and the fewer people bugging out the better as bringing a family of two to stay is usually easier than bringing in a family of eight).
  3. Hotels and motels.  Whenever there is a disaster, a common place for people to bug out to is either nearby or further away hotels or motels.  This gives you more autonomy and privacy than staying with friends or family but can also get expensive quickly.  Some of these places will give you better rates if you intend to stay for a longer period of time or if they know you have been in a disaster.
  4. Family and friends further afield.  If the disaster is big enough, you may not be able to stay near to your home and may be forced to travel further away to seek shelter.  Staying with family or friends who live further away from you is a good option.  This is often a cheaper option (they may allow you to stay for free for at least a certain period of time) but the issue may be how to get there if roads and other transportation options are down.
  5. Boat or RV.  Nothing like sheltering in your own "home away from home".  If you have a boat or RV, along with a full gas tank, and the roads aren't too badly damaged, traffic isn't massively backed up, and/or access to useful waterways is available, this may be one of your best options.  You will be mobile so you can relocate at a moment's notice and you will have privacy plus many of the comforts of home.  Obviously this is higher up on the scale of expensive bug out options.
  6. Camping.  For a short-term bug out, camping may be an option.  Obviously you need the gear/food/fore planning to do this.  Some of the negatives to bugging out in this manner are that, depending on the disaster, many other people may have the same idea so crowding at your intended camp spot may be an issue, security may be an issue (people may not be so nice is extreme situations), the weather can be an issue, and overall, camping due to circumstances instead of by choice can be downright unpleasant (plus you will need to source/create your own food, water, shelter, latrine, etc).
  7. Squat.  Living in a squat can be either better or less better than camping but not by much.  If your area is demolished but there are still buildings standing, these places look like good enough places to shelter for many.  Again, safety and security will be issues (either with law enforcement or other residents), as will basic living resources (water, food, hygiene) but if the choice comes down to sleeping in a cardboard box or in a perfectly useful vacant building I'd probably pick the vacant building.
  8. Bug out cabin or second home.  The image is need to leave your home in a hurry due to disaster or other reasons and you have a perfectly good second home or cabin waiting for you.  The three problems you may have with this set up are #1 the expense (it is expensive to pay for two complete houses, utilities, etc), #2 security when you aren't there (your second home may look like a good target for others either to squat in or to loot with or without you there), and #3 getting there (how will you get there during a disaster?). 
  9. Another country.  In an extreme bug out situation, high-tailing it to another country may be an option.  Note that this would make you a REFUGEE which is an overall unpleasant experience by all accounts.  But extreme times require extreme measures so if this is one of your bug out options, you need to be ready by having a passport, the means to get there and set yourself up for your stay, and a plan for what to do next.
  10. On the move.  Slightly better or slightly worse than being a refugee--depending on the situation--would be a roaming refugee.  Sure it is possible to grab your BOB or your bike and just keep on moving from place to place camping one night, couchsurfing another etc. until you come up with a better plan but this is yet another situation where your safety and security could be at risk not to mention the fact that you will still need to be able to provide the basics like food and water for yourself.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

How to Stick With a Goal and Reach It

We've been inundated with guests for the past couple of weeks but now our house is blessedly silent (not that I don't like having guests but it can be a bit much when our guest rooms are booked solid for weeks on end).  Oddly enough the refrain we heard most from all of these guests was "I wish we could retire like you guys did".  At which point I silently calculate one couples $400k+ income per year and another guy's $120k+ income per year and his multi-million dollar net worth and have a difficult time keeping a straight face.

So this is how to retire early (or take that trip around the world you've always wanted or build that bug out cabin you've always wanted, etc).

  • Step 1.  Decide what your big goal is.  If you don't have a goal to focus on or have a variety of "I would like to do/haves" in mind you will be too unfocused to accomplish anything of significance.
  • Step 2.  Get out of debt ASAP.  You can do SO MUCH MORE when you aren't dragged down by the weight of debt (ie: imagine your life if you had no credit card payments, no car payments, no house payments, etc).
  • Step 3.  Be ready to give up stuff.  And it really is stuff that keeps you from reaching many goals.  If you must have the latest sports car, eat out every night, have a huge house with an equally huge house payment, or you keep yourself running on the treadmill of life (carting your kids to five separate activities each week or appointing yourself oversee-er of your dysfunctional family to the point that you can't even leave them for a week-long vacation for fear that someone will end up in jail/in court/in other versions of trouble) then you will not get off the hamster-wheel of "normal" life to do something decidedly abnormal (like achieving a kick-ass goal).
  • Step 4.  Be ready to stop being "normal".  As Dave Ramsey says, "normal" is broke and in debt.  Normal is also doing what everyone else is doing and to veer away from such things is (negatively) interpreted as being abnormal (and we all want to fit with the status quo right?  Uh, no). 
  • Step 5.  Think strategically about how you can reach your goal.  For example, we wanted to retire early.  Now there is no way we could reach our goal when we were living in an expensive area (Seattle), had a huge house (and a huge house payment), had new leased cars sitting in the driveway, and had credit card debt.  There was also a growing business to consider, the kids to consider, and a necessary income that was needed during our goal-reaching phase.  The totally radical answer to reach our goal quickly was simple (and simply insane according to some people at the time): we sold our assets (house, business), paid off our debts, returned the cars at the end of the lease period keeping one older paid off car, saw that the kids were situated (easy since they were all adults and gainfully employed), and learned to live (very) frugally on a small military pension.
  • Step 6.  Face the fear and march through it.  Some of the insomnia-inducing fears we considered: will we end up homeless (we did, it wasn't so bad), what will our friends think (initially that we were crazy but we left to travel for about a year before officially settling down and retiring; we didn't see them so their censure ended up being a mute point), can we reduce our income to an eighth of what it originally was and still survive (yes, with ease it turns out), and what if something catastrophic happens (the catastrophe in question was rather nebulous but doing something so radical tends to bring the worst "what-ifs" to mind). 
  • Step 7.  Have a fall-back plan.  This was rather simple and not well thought out but we did have a lot of friends and family who would open their homes to us should we literally end up "living in a cardboard box" homeless.  We had a good-sized emergency fund so worst case scenario we would be able to rent an apartment and "start over" if needed.  We also had a small yet consistent income (a pension, income from some freelance work) which meant we wouldn't end up with absolutely no money to sustain us.
  • Step 8.  Let your goal evolve.  Our goal, in theory, was to retire early.  Along the way we decided to travel for a bit since another goal had been to travel in a more extended fashion than what a few weeks a year allowed.  After months of "hanging out" and traveling from here to there, extended travel kind of lost its luster.  At that point we just happened to be in Las Vegas for the WSOP and some friends mentioned that houses were a steal in the city (this was shortly after the housing market bottomed out, hitting Las Vegas harder than most other cities).  Again, a bit of strategic planning allowed us to come to the conclusion that we could buy a house and by living frugally would not have to work, thus meeting the goal of retiring early.  Goal achieved!
  • Step 9.  Realize that you might reach your goal and find that there were some unintended consequences.  Don't get me wrong, retiring early is nice.  What we hadn't anticipated is that when you are retired and have absolutely nothing to do, you may become bored very quickly.  Becoming un-bored generally requires an expenditure of money (a quick trip to Europe, a fancy restaurant meal, or tickets to the newest big show on the Strip).  Again, by going into strategic thinking mode answers to the problem can be found (ie: enjoy free or low cost activities, work a single short-term gig to acquire the money needed for a larger purchase like a big trip, think about dipping your toes back into business, etc.).
  • Step 10.  Realize that you can always go back to "the way things used to be" (although why anyone would want to do that I have no idea).  Should this goal have crashed and burned, hopping back on the hamster wheel of "normal" life was an option: find a place to live, get jobs, rack up the credit cards again, lease a new sports car, etc (although why anyone would want to do that I have no idea).
That's kind of the tldr; of goal achievement.  To see how others have done similar, life-altering goal achievement projects, check out these links:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Stockpile These Foods

When it comes to stockpiling food for an emergency, you want to make sure that you get the best bang for your buck when it comes to purchasing this food.  Here's where you want to put your money in order to reap the most nutrients:

Top 10 foods with the most protein

  1. Meat (beef, pork, chicken, etc)
  2. Fish (tuna, salmon, etc)
  3. Cheese
  4. Tofu
  5. Beans
  6. Eggs
  7. Dairy (milk, yogurt)
  8. Nuts (almonds, peanuts, etc)
  9. Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc)
  10. Spirulina

Top 10 foods with the most fat

  1. Animal fat (beef tallow, lard, etc)
  2. Fish oil (cod liver oil, herring oil, etc)
  3. Oil (olive, corn, peanut, etc)
  4. Butter/margarine
  5. Cheese
  6. Nuts/nut butter
  7. Fatty fish
  8. Dark chocolate
  9. Dried coconut
  10. Avacado

Top 10 foods with the most carbohydrates

  1. Sugar
  2. Grains and cereals (rice, oats, etc)
  3. Dried fruit
  4. Crackers, potato chips
  5. Flour (cakes, cookies, bread, etc)
  6. Jams and jellies
  7. Potatoes
  8. Soda
  9. Pasta
  10. Starchy fruit and vegetables (bananas, apples, etc)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

20 Things to Know About Your Neighborhood

How well do you know the place that you live?

  1. What are the natural water sources in your neighborhood?
  2. What does your neighborhood look like on Google Earth?
  3. How many evacuation routes are there from your neighborhood?
  4. What are the (natural, commercial) food sources in your neighborhood?
  5. Who are your neighbors?
  6. Do you regularly check the crime map for your neighborhood?
  7. What is the economic data for your neighborhood (average house price, average income, percentage of rentals, etc)?
  8. What types of public transportation is available in your neighborhood?
  9. Do you regularly walk around your neighborhood during the day?
  10. Do you occasionally walk around your neighborhood at night?
  11. What are the hazards (both natural and man-made) in your neighborhood?
  12. What resources are in your neighborhood (ie: police sub-station, library, pharmacy, etc)?
  13. What is your neighborhood/community disaster plan?
  14. Does your neighborhood have a neighborhood watch program?
  15. Do you know the people who work in your neighborhood (mailman, gardeners, etc)?
  16. Do your kids have safe homes they can go to in your neighborhood if you aren't home?
  17. Where is your family's meeting spot in your neighborhood in case they need to evacuate your home?
  18. Do you regularly check the sex offender list for your neighborhood?
  19. What are your neighborhood/community news sources and do you regularly monitor these (newspapers, blogs, Twitter feeds, etc)?
  20. Do you ever work with your neighbors for common goals (neighborhood garage sales, neighborhood barbecues, community sports teams, etc)?