Are You Prepared?

quake

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. 

firemarshalbillfire

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?

img_4036

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.

img_4037

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.

IMG_4056

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.

IMG_4768

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!

benfrankfailtoprepare

 

 

Home Safety-Escape Artist

 

houdini

Houdini was the master of escape as no straight jacket, cell, chain or padlock could keep him trapped for very long.  However, most of us haven’t mastered the skills of Houdini and look and listen as we are made aware before takeoff the location of emergency exits, just in case.  Experts will tell you that you should always have at least two ways out in the event of an evacuation and that includes leaving your home quickly in the event of an emergency like a fire. 

house-on-fire-o

I live in a one-story house so if I’m in the bedroom and have to evacuate the building I have at least four easy ways out of the house.  The front door, a sliding glass back door, garage door, and the bedroom window.  As soon as I am out of the house and headed to the predesignated meeting area, I’m dialing 911 to report the emergency.  The meeting area is critical so you know everyone got out of the house.  It is the same thing companies do when they have to evacuate and may refer to the meeting area as the assembly area.  Either way, you want to do a head count so when the firefighters arrive they know if it’s a search and rescue or just fight the fire.

safetyrollladder

In a two-story house, escape is a little more challenging.  If you are in a bedroom upstairs to exit the house you would need to come down to the ground floor using a staircase.  Not all homes have a front and back staircase to give you more than one way out so what happens if the stairs or both are blocked by flames?  Then you need to go out of the bedroom window as fast as possible.  That’s why an escape ladder is critical.  They can range in price from $35 to $100 depending on materials and manufacturer ask your insurance agent or local fire department for recommendations. It’s like insurance, you lay the money out to buy it for that peace of mind and hope you never have to use it. 

Don’t wait until an emergency to see if everyone can use the ladder.  It is highly recommended that you practice together at least once a year so everyone who may have to use the escape ladder is familiar and capable with it.  In fact, keep everyone on their toes and have an unannounced drill.  Whoever makes it to the meeting area gets pizza.  Also don’t forget to include plans to get the very young, disabled, the elderly, and pets out as fast and safely as possible.  

The best way to avoid having to evacuate in the first place is to practice good fire prevention practices in and around the home and then you won’t have to do a Houdini and escape.  If you have questions about fire safety or other safety issues in the home or workplace check out our blog archives for more articles or feel free contact us, we’re here to help.

benfrankfailtoprepare

 

Secrets of the Professionals Revealed-3

whiteglove

As we’ve learned from previous posts, we know that companies spend lots of effort and money each year to keep their facilities clean and in tip-top shape to provide you products of the highest level of quality.  Besides training, education, and scheduling these companies to have one more way to make sure they are doing things right. 

There are businesses that, very much like a mother-in-law will come to your facility and tell you everything you are doing wrong in keeping house.  Actually to conduct business with some major companies like Costco, Walmart, Whole Foods or Target your facility has to have a rating of 95 or better and for some only a 98 or better will do.  The ratings are based on the results of findings from the audit by a third party company like AIB International (American Institute of Baking) or ASI Food Safety.   Trust me, for the companies I worked where the score was important for business, the audit process is stressful and the worry endless until you get that report and rating.

auntIda

These auditors have a long list of things they look at which are the same for every facility they inspect so the scores are comparable.  The condition of the facility, cleanliness of the facility, sanitation schedule, pest control program, condition of storage containers, receiving procedures, cooler log, freezer log, the condition of the employee restrooms, the condition of the break/lunchroom, standard operating procedures and training.   It’s a thorough inspection and really keeps you on your toes but the secret to passing this inspection and getting the needed rating score is to run your facility this way year round.  Don’t get lax but keep consistent especially since once you begin justifying putting of cleaning and repairs it’ll become all too convenient to keep making excuses until it’s too late.  With that said, I worked at one company that waited until they got their notice of pending inspection, which you request in the first place and  then they’d proceed to freak out getting all the records together on pest control and training and couldn’t even tell you the countless hours of overtime for cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  Yes, it’s true, not all companies are operated the same.

Then there are a few larger corporations that have their own internal audit teams that would travel around the country and show up unannounced.  Several months after we were bought by an even bigger fish, I can still remember the look on the plant managers face when one of those teams showed up unexpectedly to evaluate our operation as well as to deem who was worth keeping. 

margecleaningcleaner

In your own home, you don’t need a team of auditors checking every nook and cranny before assigning you a score but I’m sure we all know a family member or friend who would be more than happy to do that for us.  However, it has been my experience if you keep up a consistent cleaning routine, do repairs within a reasonable time period and have good food storage habits your home will be safe even for your mother-in-law.

monkeyfallgearposter

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets of the Professionals Revealed That You Can Use at Home – 2

margecleaningcleaner

Last issue we learned how the professionals keep their facilities free of vermin and how you can implement the same practices in your own home.  Do you wonder how the large food companies keep their facilities so clean and spotless to ensure you get the highest quality product?  I don’t know about you but I don’t always remember how long ago I cleaned behind the fridge, or how often I clean the range hood grills.  Was it last month? Last year?  The professionals use a fabulous tool to track cleaning that you can as well to make sure all is done on a regular basis and it’s called a “sanitation schedule”

Sanitation Schedule

Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like.  It’s a cleaning schedule that is posted in a convenient location where everyone can see it.  It lists every component, every apparatus, every location that food touches and every other nook and cranny from receiving to production to packaging to the warehouse and finally shipping.  Also on the schedule along with each item listed is when it should be cleaned, who’s responsible to make it happen and when it did happen.  This ensures a uniform and continuous cleaning program that you can also schedule high traffic and critical areas for more intense cleaning. 

You can do the same thing for your home.  Great areas, to begin with, would be the kitchen and bathrooms.  So what do we need to clean?  Use a critical eye and look around the kitchen and break it down.  Don’t forget any surfaces.  As an example, I have behind the refrigerator scheduled as an annual chore and then for the stove vent hood, it’s done along with the grease traps and vents every other week May-Sept and then up to once a week Oct – Jan when we do more cooking and entertaining.  How about inside the refrigerator?  The door shelves, the produce storage bins, the ice bin.  All items you may miss but with your sanitation schedule, you are confident they’re clean and fully operational.  Don’t forget the pantry and other cabinets as well that you use to store food items.  When you’re cleaning them also keep an eye out for signs of infestation like mouse droppings and that food is properly sealed so it won’t entice unwanted visitors.   

Get the kids involved too by allowing them to make a  cleaning schedule for their own rooms as well as other cleaning chores you may assign them.  This is also the perfect time of year to get this started and a great habit to develop.  So get your sanitation schedule together, (please feel free to change and tailor the name to suit your needs) and then you can run your household just like a professional.

Want to learn more?  It’s easy.  You can begin by subscribing to this blog or you can also research it or google it.  Try the term HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) to get you started.  Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

benfrankfailtoprepare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

crustyclowncleaningshower

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.

doorseeep

 

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

 

 

IMG_1810

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Surefire way to improve your chances of survival – Emergency Kit

 

godzilla

It’s a wake-up call.  One humungous wet, windy wake-up call.  When hurricane Harvey blasted into southwest Texas leaving extensive damage and flooding, the scale of which is all most beyond comprehension.  Then hurricane Irma took the spotlight unleashing her fury on the Caribbean and Florida.  This is very sad and horrible on so many levels of loss and human suffering and now people who decided to ride out the storm in the keys are stranded, cut off from the world without food, water or power.  I’m sure when most of you heard that, you said to yourself, “Really need to put that survival kit together.”  A fabulous thought that will unfortunately fade along with the coverage of the epic catastrophes until it becomes “Texas, Florida a year later” and then again you’ll say, “Really need to put that survival kit together.” and then one day, the dam breaks, the fires burn rampant, the earth shakes, rattles and rolls.  No kit!!  Now, did you have a plan B?

stockedpantry

Did you notice how fast conditions on the ground changed, from dry to chest high water and did you also notice how with a slight change in direction, Irma hit areas that thought there were originally safe?  That’s how natural disasters work.  No warning, no how do you do, no pleased to meet you, just HERE!  If you think I’m going to use these disasters to motivate you to prepare and give yourself the advantage to survive something like this, well, you would be correct!  You never know when an earthquake is going to hit, you don’t know how bad it’ll flood, you don’t know where the twister will touch down, you just don’t know.  That’s why we buy insurance, hoping to never need it, but very happy that it’s there and by preparing an emergency chest/barrel/kit will give you insurance to be able to survive the first week of an event, but hope you’ll never need it.

A lot of cities, of all sizes, struggle daily with their budgets and the cost of firefighters, police, infrastructure repair & maintenance, parks, and recreation, public transit, administrative staffing, courts, pensions, and lawsuits.  The level of city services are not what they once were and that includes the number of police and fire on duty at any given time and in the event of a natural disaster they would be immediately tied up responding to the hundreds of calls they would receive in the first few hours, (In Houston area alone they had over 75,000 emergency calls in the first four days).  They will triage the calls and handle the most serious including bleeding and severe trauma first, those with minor injuries will have to wait or treat themselves.  Depending on the conditions of the roads in and out of town, additional off duty first responders could be greatly delayed if at all able to report to work in the city or town they serve. 

MintyOptimisticAsiaticmouflon-max-1mb

That’s why a survival kit comes in handy especially if you are able to stay in your home after the event.  After checking on those in the household the first thing you’ll do is a walk around your property and check to make sure it is still structurally safe to stay in and there is no smell of gas.  Now you can stay put and you have supplies to wait the few days until power and water come back online and life come back to normal.  Putting your survival kit together can be a fun family project and learning experience.  It’s also a great opportunity for a team building exercise for a company or safety committee.

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. 

img_4036

 

 

A 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 is your location, are you within city limits and are there bridges and or tunnels to cross?  Next, how many people and pets are you planning for?  ie: Two adults and one dog?  Plan on 5 – 7 days of supplies since that’s about how long it may take before all utilities and services are restored. 

 

water

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 don’t get back to normal right away and you begin to run low on bottled water.  You can also boil water to sterilize it and if a fire isn’t possible, 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.  

img_4037

 

FOOD – Any combination of what you enjoy of prepared camping meals, 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 emergency food for your pets as well.

 

 

 

IMG_4056

RADIO/CHARGER/BATTERIES – There are several radio choices but the ones that come with a hand crank/battery/solar powered are fabulous.  You can leave it in the sun all day to charge or use the hand crank.  It also can be used to charge your phone.  The radio is both AM and FM as well as shortwave.

 

 

 

 

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.  Never leave candles unattended.  Check the battery size requirements of all your items and store extra batteries in your kit.   

First aid kit/nonlatex gloves – A first aid kit can help you greatly for treating minor injuries.  If you need to treat a neighbor or stranger, the non-latex gloves will help protect you.

Sleeping bags/tents – If your home is not safe to stay in but you have a large yard in the front or back you may want to set up tents for protection from the elements.  Even if you can stay in your home, to help get the kids through this, set the tents up and pretend you’re on a family camping trip.  Also keep a tarp in your kit as well to 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 to those chilly nights.

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.  Also, designate a meet area so you know everyone who was in the house or apartment is out.  In the event of an emergency, phone traffic will be crazy as people call 911 for assistance, family members calling to say they’re fine and family members calling to find out if loved ones are fine not to mention 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!

benfrankfailtoprepare

Hanukkah Candles, Christmas Tree Lights – Festive Dangers

Hanukkahcandlesxlightsposter.png