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9 Ways to Survive A Heat Wave

Summer heat waves are not to be taken lightly.  There is much more at stake than comfort.  Heat waves can be deadly.  In fact, twenty years ago, in July 1995, over 700 people died here in Chicago as a result of an extended period of high temperatures and high humidity.  As I write this, India is gripped by a heat wave that has killed over 2,300 people and is not over yet.

As the temperatures are rising here in the northern hemisphere, it’s a good idea to review some ways to stay safe if you are facing a heat wave, even without air conditioning.  Here are nine methods to beat the heat.

Use fans.  At the risk of stating the obvious, use a box fan or a ceiling fan.  It may not make the air cooler, but the breeze reduces the effect of the heat.  A neat trick is to put a pan of ice water between yourself and the fan.  It will blow the cool air in your direction and cool you down nicely.

Open the windows and doors.  In the 1995 Chicago heat wave, many of the victims were reluctant to open the windows and doors because they lived in high crime areas.  Certainly, that is a serious concern.  But don’t overlook the real risk that you can face from being overheated.  Open the windows and doors to your home, at least intermittently, especially in the evening when the outdoor temperatre is likely to drop.

Drink plenty of water.  Preferably ice water.  A cold beverage in your stomach cools your body temperature.  It also gives your body plenty of fluid to sweat out, which is your body’s natural mechanism for keeping cool.

Wash down with cool water.  Take a cool bath or shower.  Sit with your feet in a cool pan of water.  Use a cool, wet facecloth to wipe your face and the back of your neck.  Hold your hands and wrists under the cold water.  Press a baggie full of ice cubes or a bag of frozen peas against your forehead.

Stay downstairs.  Don’t forget that hot air rises.  If you have a multi-level house, stay downstairs.  If you have a basement, spend some time there.

Go to air conditioned places.  Visit a museum or public library or take in a movie.  Some cities, alert to the dangers of high temperatures, make arrangements for their residents to have access to public buildings or air-conditioned buses (which may just sit immobile) to use as cooling centers.

Eat light.  There are two reasons to avoid cooking heavy meals in a heat wave.  First, the stove or oven throws off heat that will add to your discomfort.  Second, digesting a heavy meal can cause you to feel warmer.  So, when the temperature rises, eat salad or yogurt or, best of all, ice cream.

Unplug your appliances.  Left plugged in, appliances can give off heat even if they are not in use.  Collectively, the heat created by your appliances can make a difference in the heat of your home.  If you are in the habit of leaving your coffee maker, television set, computer, and lamps plugged in even if they aren’t on, consider unplugging them during a heat wave.

Be alert to heat-related illnesses and call 911 if symptoms appear.  Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are referred to together as “heat-related illnesses”.  Heat cramps are cramps of the large muscles caused by physical exertion when the temperature is high.  Heat exhaustion can be recognized by profuse sweating, weakness, nausea, vomiting, headache, lightheadedness and muscle cramps.  Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature is elevated, caused by external high temperatures.  If you are experiencing these symptoms, call 911.  Professional medical attention is indicated.

Children and the elderly are at greater risk of being seriously effected by high temperatures than others.  So if you have children or elderly people in your family or your community, check in with them.

Heat can be trapped in cities by asphalt and concrete and the wells made by highrises.  So if you can get out of the city during a heat wave, even for a few hours, you may find relief.

Treat periods of high temperatures with the seriousness that they deserve.  Heat waves can cause death.  Don’t let one cause yours.

Does Everyone In Your Family Have A Whistle?

paracord-braceletThere is a child’s toy that can save your life.  Does everyone in your family have one?

Does everyone have a whistle?

Whistles are cheap, easy to carry and easy to find. You can carry one on your keychain, around your neck, or on a paracord bracelet. You should have one in your bug-out bag, your car and the prep area of your home.  But that’s not really enough.  Really, you should carry one on you all the time.

The sound of a whistle can carry further than your voice and with much less wind power and effort.  Especially if you are ever injured, the energy required to blow a whistle for a long period of time is much less than the effort required to scream.  Your wind will last longer than your voice.

A humble, little whistle can save your life . . .

  • if you are buried in rubble after a tornado or earthquake
  • if you are being followed at night by a bad guy or
  • if lost in an isolated place.

Whistles don’t need batteries, so they will work when your cell phone won’t.  Whistles don’t take a lot of skill to operate, so even a small child can use one.  They are so lightweight and easy to carry that you will never be tempted to leave it behind.

And they don’t just alert good guys that you are in trouble and need their help.  They also alert bad guys to the fact that you are ready to fight back and call for help.  Someone is about to grab you or your purse?  Blow a whistle and they’ll flee.

If you don’t have a whistle, you should get one now.  And there’s an easy way to get one in a three-in-one preparedness tool.  This gizmo has a whistle, a fire starter and 80′ of paracord.  It’s called a FireKable and you can get one free — you just pay for postage.  But it’s only available free for a short time, so if you want one, you should get it now.

Click on FireKable to get yours free.

Does everyone in your family have a whistle?  What other safety tools do you carry every day?  Let us know below in the comments. (Or just let us know what else you are thinking.)

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Tons of Uses for Paracord

paracord-braceletWhen you are camping or hiking, or certainly if you are ever in an emergency situation in which you are fighting for your survival, you will need to make do with what you’ve got.  So you always need to be sure that you have versatile, adaptable tools with you.  One of the most versatile — and therefore most helpful — tools you can have on hand is paracord.

Paracord, or parachute cord, is a nylon rope that was developed during World War II for use as suspension lines for parachutes.  It’s lightweight, but strong.  In fact, 550 cord can hold 550 pounds.  It can be used in dozens, even hundreds of ways.  Whenever you need to tie something up, tie something down, or tie something together, paracord may be your answer.

Paracord comes in different colors, which can be helpful for color coding things or people.  And the color of the paracord will of course be crucial if you are using it for crafts instead of survival.

The real genius of paracord is that you can improvise with it to solve the problem you’ve got.  But just to stimulate your imagination, here are some uses for paracord:

Carrying, Toting, Dragging, Hanging

  • Make a lanyard to carry your keys, whistle, knife, binoculars, or other items around your neck.
  • Tie those same things to your belt.
  • Tie bulky items to your backpack.
  • Tie your food or other items to a tree to keep it off the ground and out of reach of animals
  • Tether your dog or use the paracord as a lead.  You might want to braid it to make it more comfortable to hold in your hand.  It’s not inconceivable to use the same technique on small children, but please be prudent.
  • Hang a cooking pot over a fire.
  • Tie a length around firewood or other items that you need to carry.
  • Tie your equipment or backpack to a length of paracord and lower them down the side of a cliff.
  • Tie your stuff down when a storm is threatening.
  • Hack a backpack by weaving a net and stringing a drawstring around it.
  • Use it as a tow cord.
  • Use it to tie your boat to the dock.
  • Just in general, use paracord to fix anything broken that can be repaired by stitching it up using the inner threads or by lashing it back together again using the inner threads or the entire cord.

Makeshift Shelter and Furniture

  • String paracord between two trees and drape a tarp, emergency blanket or poncho over it.
  • Lash poles together and cover it with a tarp, emergency blanket or poncho as a small makeshift tent.
  • Secure a tent.
  • Weave the paracord into a net and tie it between two trees.  Voila — a hammock!
  • Tie a log between two trees and you’ve got a bench.
  • Make a rope ladder or bridge.
  • String up a clothes line.
  • Replace broken cords on things that use cords — lights with pull strings, pull cords for lawn mowers, chain saws or other types of motors.

Clothing Fixes and Personal Care Uses

  • Use a length of paracord as a makeshift belt or suspenders, or a chin strap for your hat.
  • Use inner threads to sew up tears.  (Don’t forget to bring a needle in your first aid kit.)
  • Replace broken shoe or boot laces.
  • Replace drawstrings in hoodies, sweat pants, and backpacks.
  • Replace a broken zipper pull.
  • Use inner threads as dental floss.
  • Replace a broken watch strap.
  • Use it to tie back your hair.  Paracord comes in many colors so you can match your outfit!

First Aid Uses

  • Use it as a tourniquet.
  • Secure splints to keep a broken limb straight.
  • Use the inner threads as makeshift sutures.
  • Lash two poles together to make a stretcher.
  • Make a sling for a wounded arm or shoulder.

Self-Defense and Personal Safety

  • Create a tripwire around the perimeter of your campsite.  Tie cans or other objects to it to make noise to alert you to someone crossing it.
  • Tie someone to a chair with it.
  • While you’re at it, tie his wrists together if you don’t have handcuffs.
  • If that doesn’t work, create a whip, tying knots at the end of several cords and tying the cords together at the other end.

Hunting and Fishing

  • Use the inner threads for fishing line.
  • Make a snare or trap.
  • Make a fishing net.

Entertainment

  • Create a jump rope.  Tie some sort of small weight to the center so that the rope will swing around.
  • Make a tire swing or tie a flat board to a tree branch to create a swing.
  • Crafty folks can make key fobs, belts, dog collars, necklaces, bracelets and all sorts of things.  If you are bored, just think something up, design a plan for it and create something.

So there are tons of uses for paracord.  And, really, the best approach is just to be creative when you have a problem or difficulty.

Now, when you are carrying a tool with you, it’s always a good idea to use a multi-purpose tool if one exists.  And I’d like to recommend a tool that is a paracord bracelet combined with an emergency whistle and a fire-starter.  As I right this, it’s also free.  You just pay for postage.  It’s called FireKable. Go ahead — have a look!

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What are your favorite uses of paracord?  Let us know in the comments.

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Preparedness Essentials: Fire Starters

As part of your emergency preparedness plan, you will need to include fire starters.  To state the obvious, fires produce heat, light and a means to cook food.  All of those things are important in your emergency preparedness plan.

The first thing you should have on hand is a box of waterproof matches.  It’s possible to make your own by covering matches in paraffin and storing them in a watertight container.  I don’t bother to make my own, though.  I purchase them.  There is nothing special to know about using waterproof matches.  Simply strike them on the strike strip as you do for other matches.

You should also have a magnesium fire starter as a back-up.  This tool is made of a block of magnesium with a flint strip and a metal rod.  Use the metal rod to scrape magnesium shavings off onto your kindling.  Then strike the flint strip to make sparks, which will ignite the magnesium.

I recommend having both of these on hand in case you have an issue implementing one of them.  You will also be able to use the matches if you run out of flint in the magnesium fire starter, or use the magnesium fire starter if you run out of matches.

It’s also helpful to have fire starter nuggets on hand.  Nuggets are used instead of kindling as the first, small material that is set on fire when you are building a fire.  They can be used in fireplaces and stoves.  Although not essential for starting a fire, they sure make it easier.

As always, you should be sure that you know how to use your equipment before any emergency takes place.  Try the water proof matches a time or two, just to get familiar.  Using the magnesium fire starter actually takes some skill, so you should definitely practice using it until you can start a fire quickly and easily.

Keep these items in your bug-out bag so that you’ll have them with you when you grab your bag and go.

I can recommend the following products:

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Emergency Preparedness: Becoming Food Self-Sufficient

Vegetable gardenStoring food is a crucial part of your preparedness plan.  You need to think of two time horizons:  the first 72 hours and the long term.  Your bug-out bag should include enough food for three days.  Think of cans or pouches of tuna fish, peanut butter, nuts and dried fruits and other nutrient-dense, non-perishable food.  Most if not all of it should be ready to eat without need of cooking or heating.

Your long-term plan can include one or all of a few different approaches.

One option is MREs or meals ready to eat.  These are the same meals that the military provides to service men and women.  They are pre-packaged meals that are usually packaged with a built-in heating device that allows you to heat the meal without any fire or other equipment.  You can buy them by the box.  The advantage to them is that they provide full meals with a certain amount of variety.  It’s more expensive to buy them this way, but it’s also faster to provide for a few week’s worth of meals.  And the meals themselves require no preparation other than the self-heating mechanism.  They have a long shelf life, usually of five years or so. I can recommend Sure-Pak MRE Meal Case Packs With Flameless Ration Heater-Pack Of 12

Another option is to set a plan to collect food that you can store for an emergency.  Dried food can last indefinitely.  They also make good soups.  I stock up on dried beans, lentils and split peas.  I keep rice and pasta on hand.  I also make sure to have plenty of beef, chicken and vegetable stock, cans of diced tomatoes and cans of vegetables.  Don’t forget salt, pepper and some basic herbs and spices.  With those ingredients, you can make delicious, home-made soup exactly the way you want it.  I keep the fixings for home-made soup rather than buying cans of soup or stew because I like the variety and because I think you get less adulterated food that way.  Dried beans don’t contain chemicals, stabilizers, preservatives or large amounts of salt.

Of course, men and women don’t live by soup alone, so you’ll need to construct a plan to ensure that you have supplies to provide a full menu.

In my opinion, though, the best way to be self-sufficient in your food supply is to garden and preserve your harvest.  Start now.  Growing a garden takes time, so you don’t want to wait until the emergency is on your doorstep before you start growing your carrots.  A garden will give you organic, healthful, GMO-free fruits and vegetables for very little money.  The choice of fruits and vegetables is entirely up to you, so you can get the produce you love.  Gardening will also give you hours of peace and quiet as you work in it.

I will admit that preserving the harvest is a set of skills that I have not yet mastered.  Certainly it takes time, and some equipment.  But it is the road to self-sufficiency so I will be learning what I need to know and doing what I need to do.

Plan to become food self-sufficient.  It will see you through all manner of disasters, especially financial ones.

Are you food self-sufficient?  Share your experiences in the comments.

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What’s Your Evacuation Plan?

Firefighters fighting fireBefore an emergency happens, develop an evacuation plan.  Or rather, develop a series of evacuation plans.

Short-Range Evacuation

The first type of plan that you need is for a short-range evacuation.  Plan this for an emergency that happens to your home, such as a fire or gas leak.  Use this plan when the emergency doesn’t extend beyond your home to your neighborhood or town.  Your plan should include a spot where all family members will gather to be able to check in with each other, assess the emergency and take further action.  A neighbor’s house can be a good option, or a local place of business that is open nights and week-ends.

Medium-Range Evacuation

The second type of emergency evacuation plan is more medium-range but with the understanding that you can reach your destination on foot.  This is your plan for a fire or other emergency that extends beyond your home to other homes on the block or possibly more of the neighborhood.  It may also be necessary in times of civil unrest.  Agree to meet your family members at a location outside of your immediate neighborhood.  Plan a couple of different routes in case streets are blocked.

Long-Range Evacuation

Then, finally, make long-range evacuation plans that will get you out of town.  Rehearse with your family every step along the way.  First, you meet at the short range or medium range meeting location.  Then, once your family is together, proceed with your long-range plan.

Consider all your options.  Even if you can and would prefer to drive, research public transportation routes.  Choose two or three possible destinations.  You want to have a couple of places pre-planned in case one of them is facing the same emergency that your town is facing.  Pick homes of out-of-town family members and friends.  When you discuss your plan with those family members and friends, encourage them to make their own emergency evacuation plans and offer to reciprocate as their safety destination.

Decide on at least two alternate routes for each of your destinations.  Again, you don’t want to be trapped when a road is closed.  And don’t forget that if your town is experiencing an emergency, roads will be crowded with other fleeing families.  You should learn the routes well enough to be able to navigate them without assistance but you should still take paper maps with you in case roads are closed or you have to improvise at the last minute.  GPS systems may not work and your cell phone may go out, so be sure to have paper maps as a back-up.

Evacuation Tips

When an emergency arises, you may need to evacuate your home and move to a close-range location, evacuate your neighborhood and move to a medium-range location or evacuate your town and hit the road.  Don’t wait until the emergency arises before you decide where to go or how to get there.  Come up with alternative destinations and routes now.

Conduct drills with your family.  Drills not only teach your family what the plan is, they also help you identify deficiencies in your plan and improve it.

Get in the habit now, before there is an emergency, of keeping your gas tank at least half full.  You don’t want to have to stop and wait in line for gas and run the risk of shortages or increased prices at the moment that you need to activate your plan.

And in each case, whether short-range, medium-range or long-range, be sure to grab your bug-out bag on the way out the door.

Make a plan and work to practice and improve it.  Knowing that you can keep your family safe in an emergency brings peace of mind.

What are your experiences with your plans?  Have you made your plans, practiced them or implemented them?  Let us learn from your experiences — share them in the comments.

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