Are You Prepared?

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California. Always unique in many ways and last week was no exception.  As the headlines will tell you, we celebrated the fourth of July with a 6.4 Earthquake Rocks Los Angeles Area on Fourth of July and of course, that was upstaged by No deaths reported after 7.1 earthquake rocks Ridgecrest and California soon after.  When the ground shook near Ridgecrest in San Bernardino County it created an expected reaction from the media and the public of reminding everyone that we live in earthquake country and that means we need to be prepared for the big one which WILL happen at any time, any day any night, either a Monday or a Sunday or even during a World Series game.  So let this be yet another awake up call for those of you who just keep putting off getting that “To-Go” bag and/or survival kit assembled.

This is why I’m concerned, not enough of us are prepared and ready for that coming catastrophe.  Now would be the best time to put together that kit while it’s fresh on your mind and with the kids home from school on vacation you can make it a family project and include items that’ll keep everyone happy.  If you don’t have the time to put a kit together then sit down right now, go online and purchase a “ToGo” bag now!MintyOptimisticAsiaticmouflon-max-1mb

Some believe the aftermath will only be a slight inconvenience and that calling 911 will take care of it all your issues, that’s why we pay taxes right?  Sorry to tell you that a lot of cities, of all sizes, struggle daily with their budgets and juggling the cost of firefighters, police, infrastructure repair & maintenance, parks, and recreation, public transit, administrative staffing, courts, pensions, and lawsuits.  The level of city services is not what they once were while some large cities like NYC have fabulous central commands staffed with well-trained people directing other well trained, dedicated folks, ready and able to respond to any emergency, smaller cities do not have that luxury and even with the heroic efforts of first responders, emergency services can be quickly overwhelmed.  Immediately after a large-sized earthquake, they would be immediately tied up responding to the hundreds of calls they would receive in the first few hours.  During Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area alone, they had over 75,000 emergency calls in the first four days. 

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In my town with a population of 122,105 living within 49.5 sq. miles, on any given shift there are only 21 firefighters on duty.  That’s 21 to safely handle house fires including multi-level homes, car crashes and related injuries, medical emergencies, grass fires, hazardous material spills, and other assorted emergencies.  Throw in an earthquake and now you have 21 firefighters resorting to triage to handle the hundreds of calls that will pour into 911 making severe trauma and heavy bleeding priority and those with minor injuries will have to wait or treat themselves.  What’s worse is they can’t count on backup from the other shifts reporting in due to the possible poor conditions of the roads, bridges, and fires as many firefighters live out of town.  Mutual aid will not arrive as they’ll be too busy with their own town’s emergencies.

That’s why you need to put an emergency kit together.  Until the utilities get back online and first responders can get to you, you are on your own.  This is not just for the home but your place of work should also have an emergency kit that everyone in the facility knows about. Earthquakes have no clock.  Stock it well and keep an eye on expiration dates. FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) website says you should have enough food and water for each person for at least 3 days, but one to two weeks is advised.  So please,  don’t just nod your head in agreement.  DO IT!  If you have questions please don’t hesitate to ask, or reach out to other experts or to the FEMA website.  Oh, and by the way, as a side note, when was the last time you changed the batteries in your smoke/carbon detector?

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My Survival Chest – This is what I used and put together for our home of two adults and one dog.  I was able to purchase just about everything on Amazon.com.  Use your imagination when it comes to the container and what you want to stash for an emergency.  The Rubbermaid 50 gallon capacity container, waterproof and made of sturdy plastic, it’s durable and on wheels, in case you have to move. Yellow so it can easily be seen.  Now, what items and how much of each do you need to put into your survival chest? Base the amounts to store on a worst-case scenario for your location and take into consideration how isolated your location is.  Are you within city limits or an unincorporated area and are there bridges or tunnels to cross?  I have items for 7 days.  Next, how many people and pets are you planning for?  ie: Two adults and one dog?  

WATER – Plan on 2 gallons per person per day. One gallon for drinking and one gallon for hygiene, sanitation and other.  Multiply 2 gallons with the number of people in the home and don’t forget to include water for your pets.  I have a mixture of bottled water and packaged sterilized water.  I would also add one or two of the straw water filter tools just in case things take longer to get back to normal and you begin to run low on bottled water.   Water can be boiled to sterilize it and if a fire isn’t possible to accomplish this, keep a small bottle of bleach in your kit.  It can be used for purifying water for drinking, 8 drops for a gallon of water, shake and wait thirty minutes.

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FOOD – Any combination of prepared camping meals that you enjoy, freeze-dried fruits and canned goods (make sure to include a can opener) as well as some of your favorite snacks, power bars and chocolate which will come in handy to help with the stress.  Don’t forget to store food for your pets as well and some of their favorite snacks.

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RADIO/CHARGER/BATTERIES – There are several radio choices but my favorite are the ones that have multiple ways to recharge the battery either with a hand crank and solar-powered.  You can leave it in the sun all day to charge or use the hand crank and it also can be used to charge your phone.  The radio is both AM and FM as well as shortwave so you can listen to the latest updates.

Flashlights/batteries/Candles and matches/fire starter – With no electricity, you’ll have to rely on flashlights, candles, and lanterns to illuminate the area.  This is very important for everyone’s safety especially if there is debris on the ground.  Don’t use candles until you know the area is free of gas or other combustibles and never leave candles unattended.  Check your equipment now for the battery size requirements of all your items and store extra batteries in your kit.

 

First aid kit/nonlatex gloves – A first aid kit is a must and can help you greatly for treating minor injuries of family members or neighbors.  If you are trained in first aid then you know gloves are for your protection when treating others.

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Latrine/Outhouse – Chances are you may not have running water after an earthquake and not just due to water main breaks but the pump station may have lost power or been damaged and they will also take time to check infrastructure before turning the water back on.  One item that can help is the Backpack John which I recently added to my emergency kit.  It takes up little space and is easy to use to all ages and sizes.  

Sleeping bags/tents – It is possible that your home may not be safe for occupancy after a large earthquake.  If you have a large yard in the front or back you may want to set up a tent for protection from the elements.  Our tent can sleep 8.  Even if you can stay in your home, it would help get the kids through this by setting the tent up inside and pretend you’re on a family camping trip.  Sleeping bags to keep warm and comfy.  A tarp in your kit can help protect from rain or use to keep you off the ground or help move someone who can’t get around on their own.

Blankets/warm clothes – Natural disasters don’t care what time of year it is so be prepared and keep some extra sweatshirts, jackets in the kit along with blankets for those chilly nights.  Other items to include, nylon rope, duct tape, plastic garbage bags.

Make sure to keep an inventory of what’s in your emergency kit along with the expiration dates of those items so you can replace them when needed.   Designate a meet area so you know everyone who was in the house or apartment is out.   Phone traffic will be crazy as people call 911 for assistance, family members calling to tell others they’re fine and family members calling to find out if loved ones are fine along with the possibility of downed cell towers.  I suggest you designate a family member who lives in another state as the contact person you can call to say you are fine and then let them contact everyone else about your status.

You can get more information about how to prepare for a natural disaster or other emergencies by going to the FEMA web site at fema.gov and get stuff like an Earthquake Safety Checklist and other great information.  Check it out but don’t wait too long as it’ll be hard to research and prepare when you’re in the middle of a disaster.  Really, do it now!

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Secrets of the Professionals Revealed That You Can Use at Home.

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Companies spend thousands of dollars each year on sanitation and pest control along with thousands of hours on the training of personnel to properly handle those tasks or spend hours screening and evaluating outside contractors.  Either way, they want to provide the highest level of quality to ensure the best product produced.  The fabulous news is I’m going to share with you their secrets that you can do in your home. 

The professionals know that when the weather changes for the worse or nearby vacant fields are disturbed by construction or an idle facility comes to life, the displaced vermin will find a new place to call home and raise a family but by following these professional tips they won’t find your home a hospitable place and it all begins with the walk around.

The walk around is critical to maintaining any facility.  It’s your way of being proactive, finding what needs to be repaired and getting it done in a timely manner while getting a little exercise.  Walkarounds should be conducted consistently and once a month is an excellent schedule.  Walk the entire perimeter of your home, looking for and making note of the points of entry from the vermin’s point of view.  You are looking for small openings, any small cracks or holes should be noted to be repaired as they don’t need much room to squeeze through.  A mouse can fit through a hole as small as 2 cm/.787 of an inch. while a rat only needs a hole the size of a quarter to gain access to your home.   Also make note of any vegetation, weeds, shrubs or grass that’s abutted up to the house.   That should be cut back or removed since it’s providing cover for the critters.  Are there large gaps underneath the doors to the outside like the side door of the garage?  Is the area where your trash cans/trash bins are stored free and clear of trash, scraps, and clutter and are they sealed properly keeping trash secure from critters?  Take care of repairs right away as procrastination will set you back and create more problems.

Now you’ll do your walk around inside the home.  Again look for openings around valves and pipes under sinks, the furnace/ac, and laundry room.  If they get into the garage and the walls this is how they’ll enter your living areas.  After identifying your problem areas get the needed materials and do the repairs and hole filling immediately.

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To resolve the problem of a large gap under your side doors you can purchase and install a Door Sweep.

 

 

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Trap set by garage side door.

Now, with that accomplished, we’re going to add an extra level of protection by setting traps in different areas not just to trap those unwanted guest but also to alert you if the problem is remaining stable or getting out of hand and needs more attention.  I tried different traps and found some more effective than others.  There is one covered trap, to spare you from seeing the dead, that is the worst with a 40-50% kill rate.  The best trap I found that never missed a beat with a 100% kill rate was Ankace Power Rodent Killer.  I have 6 traps set up, one on each side of the garage roll-up door, one by the garage side door, one on the side of steps leading into the house from the garage, one under the kitchen sink and the last one in the heating/ac closet.   IMG_1818

If the idea of traps bothers you then you can buy bait traps and place those in the same locations as you would the traps and also around the outside of the house.  I have a combination of both around my house.  I also keep non-latex gloves and zip lock bags on hand for those times I have to clear a trap, which by the way hasn’t happened in quite a long time.  If you are doing everything else right you won’t be emptying traps every day and as I said before, the traps are also an alert that something has changed.  Once you have this all in place then set yourself a reminder and check the traps on a regular basis for activity, at least once a week.

The professionals use a master sanitation schedule posted for all to see so they know when what and how often something needs to be cleaned.  Next time, how you can use that at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Really Burns My Butt – DIY Safety

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Before they became popular, the only place you could find cooking or home improvement Do It Yourself shows was on Public Broadcasting channels.  They were produced with small budgets, single camera, no computer generated graphics, straight to the point, lots of explaining and very much like a lecture. Now there are not only hundreds of shows available but networks dedicated to DIY and it has become a booming business.  The shows are great for generating new ideas by featuring the latest styles, equipment, materials, techniques, colors and decor while demonstrating tiling a backsplash to a complete home remodel.
What really burns my butt is that some of these home improvement DIY shows take a juvenile approach to safety, if that much effort at all.  In fact safety is not even a consideration in some shows as they are too busy showcasing new products while the host goofs around with the homeowners and horse play ensues, reinforcing bad and dangerous safety habits to the audience.  I understand it’s tough to explain about what you are doing during a remodel job while wearing a dust mask, and it’s just not cool looking either.   The audience needs to be told that there are dangerous toxins in that dust when your tearing up a room and that’s why you need to wear a dust mask.  Be honest and tell them, you know wearing a dust mask makes me look like a dork, so I’ve instead opted not to wear one and instead inhale the silica particles but you shouldn’t do that at home.
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Todd Davis

As more an more home improvement shows are developed, produced and aired, safety continues to take a back seat.  That’s because Safety is not perceived as glamorous, or can be cute and funny and is hard to sell.  Which is not true as the networks are missing a marketing opportunity with the big home stores with PSAs on safety.  A few Saturday mornings ago, I watched a new show on the HGTV network called “Building small live anywhere” where a husband and wife team help people find and build their dream home.  The contractor half of the team, Todd Davis may be a great contractor but doesn’t demonstrate it when it comes to safety, in fact he’s clueless.  During the demolition of a kitchen and later a bathroom, he thought it was professional to demolish the counters by jumping up and down on them like a 2 year old throwing a tantrum. I can only hope there is an outtake somewhere of him falling on his ass as this is just plain immature and dangerous behavior.  He also didn’t bother to wear a dust mask during demo which you at home should do unless you want to develop COPD 20 years from now.
DIY shows are good, they really do help people but the networks need to take a proactive approach and be more responsible to reflect the safety aspects of any project and do more to demonstrate those safe techniques.  At the very least since they love to display messages at the bottom of the T.V. screen about the next or new show why not have disclaimers instead like,Todd Davis is hell bent on killing himself so please do not attempt this at home.
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As it is, there is going to be many husbands and wives this weekend, working or arguing through their home improvement projects.  It would be very nice if DIY and HGTV networks could help reduce the number of weekend trips to the E.R and future lung diseases years from now by explaining and demonstrating proper safety precautions and Personal Protective Equipment needed, like safety goggles, dust mask, gloves and hearing protection when doing a home improvement project.
What do you think?  Is it their responsibility to talk and walk safety when demonstrating home improvement projects?