Monday, January 21, 2019

Daily Preparedness Tip: Take a CERT Class

Something that everyone should do if they are interested in preparedness--take a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) class.  Many communities offer these kinds of 'preparedness 101' classes which provides info on everything from basic preparedness and basic medical skills (CPR, first aid) to basic emergency response (how to shut off your gas and water during a disaster) and other useful information about dealing with emergencies in your community.  These classes are free, open to everyone in the community, and participants even receive some free preparedness gear when they "graduate" from the class.  This is an interesting and useful way to spend a weekend.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

20 Things to Teach Your Kids This Weekend

Here are 20 simple things you can teach your kids this weekend that will be useful to know during a disaster...

  1. How and why to turn off the main breaker in your electrical panel.
  2. How and why to turn off the water coming into the house.
  3. How and why to turn off the gas to your home.
  4. How and when to check the smoke detector and CO detector (check that the batteries are good and that they still work).
  5. How to escape from your home during a fire (at least two different ways).
  6. How and why to lock down the house as quickly as possible.
  7. When and where to go to the family meeting place away from your house but in your neighborhood.
  8. How and why to use a fire extinguisher.
  9. How to cook a half dozen simple meals that they can eat if no adults are home (age appropriate, of course).
  10. How and why to make their own BOB (Bug Out Bag).  This should be a simple, general use bag they can take to grandma's house or take if they need to evacuate their town.
  11. How, why, and when to call 911.
  12. How to memorize at least two cell phone numbers (mom and dad, dad and grandma, etc).
  13. How to safely use a sharp knife/pocket knife.
  14. How to camp (set up a tent, open up a sleeping bag, sleep outside over night)
  15. How to be safe around a bonfire (also how to start/extinguish a bonfire if they are older).
  16. How to remember details and recite them back (look at that license plate then after the car turns the corner, recite the state and number on the license plate; look at that man and describe him to me, etc).
  17. How to safely navigate local streets (how to walk safely along the street, how to safely cross streets, how to find their way around their neighborhood).
  18. How to use simple tools such as scissors, a needle and thread for older children, how to hammer a nail, how to use pliers and wrenches, etc.
  19. How to follow verbal and written (when they are older) instructions (games like Simon Says and following written instructions for a scavenger hunt are fun ways to learn these skills).
  20. How to find and fix hazards around your home (overloaded electric outlets, rugs that can bunch up and cause falls, improperly stored chemicals, etc).

Friday, January 18, 2019

10 Reasons to Travel Overseas

42% of Americans have passports today which is a giant increase over the paltry 15% of Americans who had passports back in 1997.  That being said, more than half the people in this country never travel overseas which is a shame because there is a lot to be learned from doing so including...

  1. Learning how the foreign travel process works.  Customs, immigration, planning, etc. are all learned by actually doing.
  2. Forcing you to deal with a language you may not even understand (you learn quickly to get your point across whether you know the language or not in these cases).
  3. Seeing how other people do things.  When you never leave America, you think that the American way is the only way but you will see that people can live the most different lives and do things quite differently than you do but the result will often be the same or better than what you experience here.
  4. Seeing extremes you would never experience here.  Other countries have extreme wealth and extreme poverty and extreme social injustice and extreme differences of all kinds that you will never experience here.  It is rather eye-opening when you see poor in America compared to poor in a third-world country.
  5. Experiencing new foods.  Your prepper food stockpile can increase exponentially when you include foods from around the world and the best way to learn about these foods is by trying them made by the experts--people in foreign countries.
  6. Getting to know all kinds of people.  When you travel you meet the most amazing people.  Travelers, locals, cool people, unusual people, fun people...you learn pretty quickly that people are pretty much the same the world over.
  7. Learning to overcome, adapt, and improvise.  Things don't always go smoothly while traveling but you figure things out along the way, often in ways you would have never thought possible.
  8. Learning about yourself.  You learn to deal with difficulties and disappointments and being lost and being tired and being hungry and being stranded...all good prepper skills.
  9. Breaking out of your rut.  Life sometimes becomes so routine that you could do entire days on autopilot.  This doesn't happen when you are exploring new places on a daily basis.
  10. Finally, you may find some possible bug-out locations in countries you've never thought of before.  In fact, some people even decide to retire (or at lest digitally nomad) overseas when they find they like the area and that their money will stretch much further in other countries.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Preparing for a Massive Snow Storm

Apparently some of you will be seeing 40 inches of snow in the next few days or so.  That's A LOT of snow and a very dangerous situation to be in.  If you haven't prepared yet, you don't have much time but there are several things you can do to get ready:

  • Stockpile food, water, and supplies (like toilet paper, diapers if you have a small child, etc).  You probably won't be able to make it to a store that will be open when the worst of the storm hits.
  • Stay home if at all possible.  Driving will be extraordinarily dangerous.
  • If you must be out and about, be sure your vehicle is prepared with a full tank of gas, adequate supplies, chains, and an emergency kit.  But really, just stay home, even snow plows have a hard time getting through such deep snow.
  • If it will be dangerous to stay home (someone has severe medical issues, for example), evacuate ahead of the storm.  Ideally you could fly out of the storm's path and stay with friends or family until the storm is over.  This way, if there is a medical crisis, the person will have easier access to medical care.  Always keep enough prescription medication on hand to cover an extended period of time when pharmacies may be closed.
  • Plan for a long-term power outage (between the snow storm and the ice storm that is set to follow, power lines will probably come down).  If you have a generator, have plenty of extra fuel.  Stack up fire wood near to the house if you have a wood stove which could be used for cooking and heating.
  • Have a plan for your pets and farm animals to keep them safe, warm, dry, fed, and watered throughout the storm.
  • If your home isn't safe to be in during the storm or you cannot prepare adequately, call now to find out where your town/city/county warming shelters will be and how to access them.
  • Have plenty of warm clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-operated radio, etc. on hand.
  • Have all of your electronics (cell phones, tablets, laptops, battery banks, etc) fully charged before the storm hits.
  • If you must go outside (to check on animals or the neighbors or your property) try not to do this during the worst of the storm or during blizzard/white out conditions and always watch for downed power lines (you may not be able to see them in the snow so be aware).  Also, know what hypothermia and frostbite are and how to avoid/treat these conditions.
  • Protect your pipes from freezing ahead of the cold weather.  When temperatures drop below freezing, let the water drip from each faucet to keep the water circulating (this won't work if you have a well and the power goes out).  Know where the main water shut off is in case of burst pipes.
  • Make one room of your house the "warm room" which you keep heated (with a portable stove or wood stove), where you can block off with blankets to keep heat from escaping out windows or down hallways, and where everyone can "camp out" to stay warm.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning (don't use combustion appliances for heating, be sure that generators and portable heaters are adequately vented, and make sure your CO detector is working).
  • Always watch or listen to local news for more area-specific warnings and guidance from local authorities.
Read more on winter storm preparedness here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Top 10 Global Health Threats for 2019

The WHO recently released their 'top ten threats to global health for 2019' list.  And while most preppers are getting ready for something akin to a zombie apocalypse, people are orders of magnitude more likely to suffer from a major health incident than anything zombie or apocalypse-related.  Fortunately, many of the threats on the list are things you have direct control over, so in the interest of prepping for things that will actually happen, here are some things to consider:

  1. Air pollution and climate change.  Air pollution=bad...obviously, yet I still see people inhaling particulates (in bakeries, wood working, steel working, etc) which is no bueno for your lungs.  Wear a mask if you are in an area with high air particulate matter, whether this is a polluted city, in an area with active forest fires, in a business with any sort of dust in the air, etc.
  2. Non-communicable diseases.  This is where people can make the most difference in their mortality rate for diseases like cancer and cardiac diseases.  Eat nutritiously, get plenty of exercise, sleep well, deal with stress, take care of mental health issues, etc.
  3. Global influenza pandemic.  We've seen some bad flu years lately but nothing on a pandemic scale...yet.  Do what you can to prevent the flu including getting a flu shot, keeping your hands clean, not touching your face with unclean hands, avoiding sick people, etc.
  4. Fragile and vulnerable settings.  When I hear this term, I think of sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asia and while drought, war, and famine are pretty far from our everyday experience here in the US, the after-affects of such events can still be felt here.
  5. Antimicrobial resistance.  Whoda thunk it--massively overusing antibiotics and all of those antibacterial wipes/soaps/sanitizers would create super bugs which are immune to drugs that kill bacteria?  We are getting to that point now so I guess the lesson learned is to not use antibiotics/antibacterials unless they are absolutely necessary.
  6. Ebola and other high-threat pathogens.  Highly infectious diseases are, obviously, to be avoided at all costs.  Fortunately in the US this isn't usually a problem, unfortunately, you never know where the guy in the airplane seat next to you has been and what highly communicable diseases he has been exposed to.
  7. Weak primary health care.  I'm a fan of universal healthcare because I'd rather be surrounded by health people than sick people.  Universal health care means easy access to primary care for everyone so medical problems can be caught early and fixed rather than having people wait until they are nearly dead before being rushed to the ER.
  8. Vaccine hesitancy.  Anti-vaxxers are a blight on our communities.  Vaccines work, and while there are very specific instances when people shouldn't get a vaccine, the vast majority of people are safer by being vaccinated (example here).
  9. Dengue fever.  This is fairly straight-forward for folks in the US--avoid places with dengue fever.  Dengue is very uncommon in the US but very common in many tropical countries (thus the need to avoid mosquitoes or use bug spray religiously if you will be in any of those places).
  10. HIV.  HIV has changed from a death sentence to a long-term chronic disease for the most part, however, avoiding this disease all together is the best option--use safe sex practices and avoid blood-born pathogens (don't share needles, avoid needle sticks, and make sure blood used for transfusions is safe).