Monthly Archives: May 2015

Don’t Collect Stuff Without Learning to Use It

PreppPrepared Concepting includes setting aside supplies.  But it doesn’t end there.

To be fully prepared, you need to know how to use the items you collect.  And learn many other preparedness skills besides.

For example, your bug-out bag and long-term supply should include a good, complete first aid kit.  But you can’t just buy a first aid kit and leave it in your backpack or on a shelf.  Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and learn first aid.  Know how to clean and dress a wound, and even stitch one up.  Learn CPR while you’re at it.  And find out the warning signs of a stroke and what to do if someone is experiencing them.

Do you have a fire extinguisher?  I fully recommend it.  A home fire is one of the most common emergencies that people face.  Preparing for one is wise.  Invest in a fire extinguisher, then learn how to use it.  Practice.  Using a fire extinguisher improperly can spread the fire, so be sure you know what to do with it before your home depends on it.

The same with an escape ladder.  If you live two or three stories up from the ground, an escape ladder can be a live-saving device.  One the other hand, it can also cause a fall and possible injuries if you don’t use it correctly.  To avoid that, have a drill a few times a year so that everyone in the family can practice affixing it to the window sill and climbing down the ladder.  Don’t forget that if you ever need to use it, you will be in the midst of a crisis.  You won’t want to have to stop and figure it out then.

And speaking of fire, do you know how to light one?  The time to educate yourself about it is now, when the lights are still on and the stove is still working.  Fire starters can be tricky to use and control.  Figure them out before you need to.

Are you stocking flour for long-term storage?  You definitely should.   You’ll need it to bake bread if you ever face a situation in which you can’t run to the store to buy some.  And the obvious question is . . . you guessed it . . . do you know how to bake bread?  Part of your preparedness plan should include being sure that you know how to bake bread and any other baked goods that your family enjoys.  Have recipes ready, too, and be sure that you stock the ingredients that those recipes call for.

I wish it went without saying, but for some folks it doesn’t, that if you own weapons, you should become expert in using them.  Weapons can be, if you permit me to state the obvious, lethal.  Misusing them, or using them ineptly, can cause unintended fatalities.  Far from offering self-defense, weapons can be turned against the bearer or can be used by the bearer to harm a loved one instead of an intruder.  Become an expert marksman or don’t own a firearm.

Finally, just for safety’s sake, you and your kids should all know how to swim.  Transportation for America has reported that one in nine bridges in the United States is structurally deficient.  That is, they require significant maintenance, rehabilitation, or replacement.  Yet, American drivers take 260 million trips over these bridges daily.  If your car is ever submerged due to a failed bridge (or for any other reason), you will need to be able to swim once you get out of the car.  Being a strong swimmer can help in other survival situations, too.

Preparedness, after all, is not a collection of things.  It is a sense of readiness to overcome any emergency that you may encounter.  Don’t bother collecting stuff without learning to use it.  Your stuff collection won’t make you prepared.  Invest in yourself and your skill base every bit as much as, if not more than, you invest in your supplies.

As always, I would appreciate your comments and shares to your social media networks.

Adventure Medical Kits Pocket Survival Pak Plus

Kidde 46611201 Pro Line 5 lb ABC Fire Extinguisher w/ Metal Vehicle Bracket

X-IT 2 Story (13′) Emergency Fire Escape Ladder

Do I Stay Or Do I Go?

Motion Blur of CarIn some emergency situations, you will need to bug out — that is, you will need to evacuate your home and even your city.  In other situations, you should stay home and shelter in place.  When do you bug out and when do you stay put?

In general, you should stay put if your home is unlikely to become uninhabitable and if the safety and general welfare of all members of your household are not at risk. That decision is known as “sheltering in place.”  You may face some hardships, such as lack of electricity or inability to leave the house, but if you are safe at home, you should stay there.  On the other hand, if you have lost heat during a period of seriously cold winter, your home is flooded or damaged by an earthquake or tornado, or civil unrest or another event threatens your well-being, you should evacuate.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t bug out if you can’t get to your destination safely.  That can happen due to a number of circumstances.  For example, all roads out of your town may be impassible, a chemical discharge may have poisoned the air making it dangerous to be outdoors, or you just don’t have an evacuation plan that will deliver your family safely to a previously arranged destination.

Now, that last problem is within your control.  You can start today to set out an evacuation plan that you can rely on if your family would ever be put at risk by staying in your home.

Here are the key components of a good bug-out plan.

Family Meeting Place.  The first thing to do is decide on a family meeting place.  That can be any reasonable place, from your across-the-street neighbor’s lawn, to a neighborhood diner, to the school yard.  Every member of your family should know to meet there if your home is inaccessible.  Run drills a few times a year to get everyone familiar with the location and how to get there.

Identify Multiple Destinations.  Identify a few different destinations located in different directions from your home.  You need to be able to travel in the opposite direction of the emergency event when you get out of town.  Your destinations should ideally be the homes of friends and family members.  If that’s not possible, identify several motels that are located in different directions from your home.  I always advise that, as you build your bug-out bag and gather your long-term supplies, you should also be building a cash stash.  One reason for the cash stash is to be able to pay for a couple of nights in a motel if necessary.

Whether your destinations are motels or private homes, you should be sure in advance that they can accommodate any special circumstances that you face.  If you have a baby, a disabled person, or a pet, for example, your pre-arranged destinations should be suitable for them.  You may also need to ensure that your emergency destinations are available by public transportation if you don’t have a car or your vehicle becomes disabled.

If your bug-out destination is a private home, be sure to coordinate your plans with the host family.  Offer to reciprocate for them when they are making their own evacuation plans.

Identify Multiple Routes to Reach Each Destination.  Once you have decided on your destinations, map out a few different routes to get to each one.  If one route uses an interstate highway, be sure that another relies only on city streets.  If the traffic gets bad, or the emergency event compromises one or more of your routes, you will have other options to reach your destination.

I’m a big believer in practicing your plan.  So be sure to drive each route a couple of times each year to be sure you know the tricky turns, the landmarks and the one-way streets.  Practice makes perfect.

Car Preparedness.  Because you may need to leave in a hurry if you ever need to evacuate, you should always keep your car prepared for a trip.  Never let your gas gauge fall to less than half full.  Always keep an evacuation bag in your trunk, with food and water for the family, emergency thermal blankets, paper maps and compasses, entertainment items such as board games and playing cards, and other items that you deem necessary.

Conclusion.  You may need to stay.  You may need to go.  Just make a rational decision based on your best information, whatever you decide.  And in each case, be sure to have a clear, rehearsed plan that will get you from your home to the place you want to go.

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Are You Self-Reliant In One Of The Most Important Ways?

Retirees Retirement Piggy Bank AccountNo one who owes money can really be her own woman.  If you are in debt, you are working to rake in the big bucks but have no say over how it’s spent.  People often describe debt as “crushing.”  It’s a good word for it.  Debt can crush your autonomy, your potential and your dreams.  If your goal is self-reliance, you need to get out of debt.

Here is a five-step plan to get out of debt and build a nest egg.

1.  Stop Digging The Hole.  It’s like they always say.  If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.  And if you’re in debt, stop using your credit cards.  I know it hurts.  But you need to stop.  You’ll never be able to climb out the the hole until you stop digging yourself deeper and deeper into it.

2.  Sock Away A Grand.  Give yourself the gift of a little nest egg.  $1,000 is usually enough.  This money is for emergencies.  Real emergencies.  Car repairs, medical bills, broken windows.  That kind of thing.  This money is not to be used when they come out with a new iPhone and you just have to have it.  It’s for REAL emergencies.  Use every gimmick you can think of to save this money.  Collect all your change at the end of the week and deposit it in the bank.  Ask for money for your birthday or Christmas and deposit it in the bank.  Sell your old books and DVD’s or hold a rummage sale and deposit your proceeds in the bank.  Did your heating bill go down when the warm weather came?  Deposit the monthly difference in the bank.

3.    Don’t let the credit card companies get more out of you than you already owe.  In the meantime, pay the minimum amount due of all of your credit cards on time.  By no means do you want to incur another $35 or $50 late fee.  Don’t let ’em have it!

4.  Baby steps.  Make a list of all your outstanding credit card bills, from the lowest to the highest balance.  While you are paying the minimum balance on the rest of your cards, go to war on the card with the smallest balance.  Take every extra dollar you can find and use it to pay down that debt.  And then it will be gone.  Doesn’t that feel great?  To congratulate yourself for eliminating one card balance, you should set about eliminating another one.  Then you can turn your attention to the next card on the list.  Remember the minimum amount you had to pay every month on that first card, the one that’s been paid off?  Take it and add it to the minimum amount you are already paying on the second card.  That’s right.  Double the minimum.  And then take every other dollar you can find and use it to pay down this second card.  Keep going in this way until all of your credit cards are paid off.

5.  Turn Your Debt Payments Into Savings.  When your credit cards are paid off, take the money that you were using to cover your minimum credit card payments and save it.  Build up six months’ worth of expenses in your rainy day fund.

I am not minimizing the hard work and discipline it takes to do this.  Sometimes, people build up a lot of credit card debt by being frivolous.  But more often, it’s just because they are unprepared for unexpected expenses.  They need a root canal, new tires, or a new furnace.  They don’t have the money, so they charge it.

Then, when they are trying to pay the debt off, the emergencies keep happening.  The kids outgrow their shoes, the dog needs to go to the vet, or the refrigerator goes on the blink.  Well, that’s what the rainy day fund is for.  But it sure is hard to add to the rainy day fund, keep up with the minimum payments on all your cards, go to war on the first card on your list, and deal with emergencies, all at the same time.

It may require hard and sometimes painful choices.  Stingy Christmases.  Family stay-cations.  No new iPhones even though everyone else has one.  Not fun.  Or easy.

But the long term gain is worth the near term pain.  Because once you have paid off all of your credit card debt, you will have taken an enormous step toward self-reliance.  Owning your money, instead of owing money, is one of those things that make you your own woman.

 

Prepped In A Year: My Kindle Book

rsz_preppedGetting started prepping can be an overwhelming experience.  Moving from totally unprepared to prepared for any disaster requires so much work, organization and planning that you might not know where to start.  And, worst of all, you may put off starting your prepping because it seems like so much to do.

Well, first of all, let’s adjust that way of thinking a bit.  Taking a step, any step, toward a goal is progress.  So don’t be put off by the thought that there is too much to do to get prepped.  Take your first step and you will already be better prepared than if you hadn’t done it.  Then take another step and you’re even further on your way.

But still, you’d be better off if you didn’t take steps randomly.  Your most efficient way of reaching a goal is to set out a plan and make steady and persistent progress on that plan.

When it comes to emergency preparedness, there are four different areas that your plan should include.  First, you should put together a bug-out bag, or 72-hour emergency kit, for each person and pet in your family.  Second, you need an evacuation plan.  Decide on a place to meet your family in the event your home is destroyed, and decide on how to get out of town if you need to.  Third, you will want to set up long-term food storage for a long-term emergency situation.  And, lastly, you will need to learn skills and develop habits that will enable you and your family to meet challenges that you will encounter in a disaster.

The best approach to these four areas is a systematic, month-by-month plan.  And I have written one for you.  It’s called Prepped In A Year: Your 12-Month Guide to Emergency Preparedness.  In it, I take you through a plan for each of these four areas.  By doing a little at a time every month for a year, you will get to the point where you are well prepared for any emergency in twelve months’ time.

You can find my book on Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TQIAF98.  Now, if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle reader app and read my book, or any Kindle book, on your PC, tablet or smart phone.  A download link to the Kindle reader app is on the same page as my book, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TQIAF98.

I hope that you read my book and, more importantly, put it to use.  Everyone should be a prepper.  A disaster can happen to anyone, no matter where you live, what your economic status, or what your political persuasions are.  A hurricane, a tornado, civil unrest, an economic disaster that can cause long-term unemployment, a failure of the electrical grid, an earthquake, a drought, a flood — the potential threats are endless.

I sincerely hope that all of my readers assess the possibility of a serious threat to their well-being and way of life and that they all prepare to meet the threat by being prepared.  And I hope that my book, Prepped In A Year: Your 12-Month Guide to Emergency Preparedness, will be a valuable companion on that journey.

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