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  • Give the Gift of Preparedness this Christmas

    Christmas RolloverHomer Robertson was driving south on Interstate 15 in Utah when he saw a minivan cross the median, hog his side of the freeway then roll over. He stopped to help and found three children and three adults, one of whom was pregnant and hemorrhaging.  Fortunately, Robertson knew emergency first aid. He got someone to call 911, then he, a nurse and a deputy who arrived on the scene treated the family for injuries and shock until paramedics took over.

    This time of year, many of us give gifts like emergency food and gear. We can give gifts of preparedness like these. And, as Mr. Robertson did, we can give gifts of our own preparation and knowledge.

    I asked several members of my extended family about gifts of preparedness they like to give and receive.

    “I like to give things you don’t normally think about, like stuff for the car,” said sister-in-law Savannah.

    She likes to give roadside emergency kits, blankets, flashlights, water, and snacks – which she said are especially useful when kids are in the car.

    Christmas

    I got jumper cables for my car while I was in college many years ago. I’ve used them at least yearly since then, through many years and many vehicles, to jump others’ car batteries. This year, they proved handy when my own vehicle’s battery died. They were a gift that continues to give.

    A first aid kit for a vehicle is another gift that can keep giving. It’s great for minor scrapes, bumps, and pain when you’re out and about, even if you never use it for a major incident.

    Robertson said when he was helping after the minivan’s accident, a deputy arrived with a huge first aid kit. The first thing the deputy did, before he approached the scene, was put on latex gloves. He asked Robertson to help treat a woman’s bleeding wrist. Robertson didn’t have gloves.

    “I look at my hands, and he says, ‘get some gloves’ [from the deputy’s first aid kit].”

    Since then, Robertson has carried latex gloves in his own first-aid kit.

    Robertson also likes preparedness gifts that stay home, like wheat grinders and grain.

    “I’d like to get into freeze-dried food, if they knock off about $550 off the equipment,” he joked.

    My sister-in-law, Stephanie, enjoys giving less-expensive preparedness gifts.

    “I think it’s fun to give [Mylar] space blankets. I don’t know if people like getting them, but they’re fun to give,” she said.

    Christmas

    I gave my son, a Boy Scout, hand and foot warmers for his winter campouts. (If you buy a bunch, hand warmers cost less at beprepared.com than at the dollar store.)

    My brother Mark gave hand-cranked flashlights to his young children. Not only are they useful in emergencies, they’re sturdy enough for the kids to play with, he joked.

    The gift of preparedness doesn’t have to be a physical item. Robertson was able to provide first aid after the minivan accident, and on several other occasions, because he took first aid classes. Consider taking a first aid course – or paying for one for someone else – through the American Red Cross or American Heart Association.

    Learn how to perform basic car repair, like how to change a tire. Learn how to sew on buttons or hem clothes, so you can help yours and others’ clothes last longer. The gift of preparedness provides endless opportunity for self-improvement – and can save you money.

    The gift of preparedness is powerful, because it allows you to serve others long after Christmas decorations are put away. Isn’t that Christmas at its best?

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner Christmas

    Mountain House and Filtered Water Bottles Gift Bundle Giveaway

  • The Burning Man Festival as an Emergency Situation Example

    Burning Man 01

     

    Burning Man Traffice - via Slate Traffic at Burning Man - via Slate

    Every year, the week before Labor Day, Black Rock City becomes the sixth largest city in Nevada. This ephemeral city, which exists solely for the Burning Man arts festival, deals with the same issues of any 70,000-person city: traffic control and traffic jams, water and sanitation, power, health care and law enforcement. It has a large central coffee house, neighborhoods and postal service, many art installations, a wooden temple and loads of bars and entertainment venues, some of which are mobile. And of course it has its namesake: a giant, wooden statue of a man that’s destroyed by fire every year.

    Its temporary residents have problems people in no other midsize city face except during a disaster. At the end of the festival, the city must disappear like it never existed. Its residents must provide their own necessities: homes, food, water, sanitation and power. In fact, the only things available to buy are coffee drinks and ice. Internet and phone service is minimal to nonexistent. The city provides portable toilets but not showers. The nearest supermarket and gas station are nine miles away and jammed. There are no trash cans. All trash – even cigarette butts and wash water – must be stored and removed at the end of the week. Every bit of infrastructure is trucked in on the narrow highway beforehand and trucked out afterward if it’s not deliberately burned during the week. (Even debris from burned installations must be removed and the ground raked over.)

    Burning Man as seen from above Burning Man as seen from above

    Access to this town 120 miles from Reno, Nev. is possible by a two-lane highway or a temporary airport. Its residents face the extreme weather conditions of the desert: temperatures that range from less than 40 degrees at night to more than 100 degrees during the day, bone-dry, shade-free landscape and windstorms of alkali silt that block the sun and hinder breathing. The alkali dust causes playa foot, a chemical burn on the skin that can cause infection, according to attendee Bee Joli Shah, writing in Allure.

    “The first thing you have to know about Burning Man is it is all about survival, both as a 70,000 person community, and as an individual. That might sound a little scary, okay, it might sound a lot scary,” wrote former attendee Jennifer Maas for Hollywood Life.

    They’ve made it work for 30 years by practicing 10 principles codified in 2004. These principles are helpful in any emergency situation and include Radical Self-reliance, Participation, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility and Gifting.

    “The Black Rock Desert is trying its best to kill you. As ‘Radical Self-Reliance’ is one of Burning Man’s core principles, it is YOUR responsibility to see to it that it doesn’t.” the Burning Man web site said.

    Check out this list of required items for Burning Man participants. Notice how closely it resembles lists of supplies for 72-hour kits. Dust masks and goggles are necessary, as is some first aid training. Those are also useful in any disaster situation.

    This year, six people were injured, and one was airlifted out, when their theme camp collapsed. More common injuries include infection, playa foot, heat illness and substance abuse.

    A really good guide for Burning Man attendees is also useful for emergency preparedness, telling, among other things, how to set up ad hoc power systems and manage water.

    Former attendees recommend wet wipes and vinegar for cleaning, because the vinegar’s acidity can cut the alkalinity of the dust. Vinegar is a good cleaning and preserving agent for an emergency too.

    burning man-exodus-2-line - via Burners Burning Man Exodus traffic - via Burners

    Burning Man organizers tell attendees to fill up with gas in larger towns and make sure their tank is mostly full before they arrive, so they won’t have to fill up during the long wait to leave. This year, attendees had to wait up to nine hours in their cars after law enforcement stopped traffic to search for a missing 17-year-old girl. Even during normal departure times, called “Exodus,” people wait six to eight hours just to leave the area, according to event organizers. Organizers have a plan that entails moving groups in hour-plus intervals and turning vehicles off during the wait period.

    “Fill up on gas frequently and consider bringing a small gas can. There are very few gas stations on the 90-mile stretch between Fernley and Black Rock City,” attendee Melanie Curtin wrote for Inc.

    The Federal Emergency Management also recommends keeping a car’s gas tank full in case of any emergency evacuation.

    A major part of Burning Man is gifting, providing gifts to anyone, without thought of recompense or the size of the gift. Participants are also encouraged to volunteer and work together. In a disaster, people who have the things they need will be able to help others.

    Burning Man attendees must be prepared, or they can be turned away, according to Maas.

    “Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise, and rely on his or her inner resources,” the organization’s web site says. “You are responsible for your own survival, safety, comfort, and well-being, and for Leaving No Trace.”

    That can be true in any place, in any life event.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner - Burning Man

  • A Prepper's Valentine: Give the Gift of Preparedness

    Valentine Flower Power Give your loved one power over emergencies this Valentine's Day

    When I was in college, every Valentine’s Day I wore a button: “Flowers wilt. Candy melts. Send money.”

    Since then, I’ve realized that money goes away even faster than flowers or candy (actually, the rate at which my money vanishes is proof of both black holes and the existence of faster-than-light travel).

    So what’s a Valentine’s Day gift with staying power? How about a gift that shows your concern for your loved one’s well-being: the gift of emergency preparedness.

    Here are some gift ideas from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Many of those ideas can be found here at beprepared.com.

     

    • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
    • Books, coloring books, crayons, and board games, so kids will have something to do.
    • Personal hygiene comfort kit, including shampoo, body wash, wash cloth, hairbrush, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant.
    • An emergency kit, like a waterproof pouch or backpack, that contains such things as a rain poncho, moist towelettes, work gloves, batteries, duct tape, whistle and food bars, as well as any of the above items.

     

    Also, when you’re having your lovey-dovey conversations, consider what readycolorado.com calls the one of the most important: developing an emergency plan for your family.

    First, develop a family communication plan. Ready.gov has templates for communication plans. They tell ways to communicate during a disaster, including family, physician and school phone numbers and out-of-town emergency contacts. Each family member should carry a copy.

    Second, identify types of disasters your household might experience, and plan emergency meeting places for each type, including by your home, in your neighborhood, outside your neighborhood and outside your area.

    Third, schedule times to practice what you’ve discussed.

    “A gift to help prepare for emergencies could be life-saving for friends and family,” said FEMA Region V acting regional administrator Janet Odeshoo in a release. “These gift ideas provide a great starting point for being prepared for an emergency or disaster.”

    So while flowers are nice and all (until they wither and die), perhaps a better way to say "I love you" is to show them how much their life really does mean to you by helping them prepare for emergencies. After all, flowers wilt, candy melts, but emergency preparedness is a meaningful, practical gift that will last much longer.

    - Melissa

     

    February - Power Banner - Valentine's Day

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