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  • 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


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  • Don't Make These 4 Mistakes While Exercising in the Winter

    I love to run and exercise outside. When it comes to exercise, I’ve managed to do most things wrong. This especially goes for winter exercising. A couple of times, I’ve exercised myself into life-threatening situations. So, based on my experience, here’s what not to do while exercising in winter.


    Error 1: Don’t dress for the weather

    Repeat after me. Cotton is bad. When cotton gets wet, it doesn’t dry. Wet clothes lose their ability to insulate, which means they can’t keep you warm.

    closeup feet group athletes running snowy path in woods

    When you exercise, wear synthetic, tight-fitting layers. On your upper body, wear a wicking bottom layer, a warm, synthetic fleece middle layer and a wind- and waterproof outer layer. Different experts estimated you can lose at least 10 percent of body heat from your head, so wear a hat and something around your neck. You can lose as much as 30 percent of body heat through your hands and feet, so wear mittens and consider two pairs of socks: an inner wicking pair and an outer wool pair. Dress for temperatures 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. If you’re warm as you begin exercising, you’re overdressed.

    Winter exercising means dealing with ice, snow, slush, and puddles. Consider wearing trail running shoes or use a waterproof spray on your shoes. If you’ll be walking or running in snow, think about something like YakTrax, a shoe equivalent of a car’s tire chains. Consider trying snowshoeing – many ski rental places will also rent snowshoes.

    I learned the necessity of appropriate dress the hard way when I went on a guided winter mountain climb. I had practically no experience with snow and no synthetic winter gear. I borrowed a nylon track suit and snow boots. However, my t-shirt and long underwear were all cotton. As I climbed, I began to sweat heavily. Every time I stopped to rest, I unzipped my jacket and pulled off my gloves to cool off.

    The year I did the winter mountain climb was unseasonably warm. The snow on the mountain was deep but soft. Every step I took I sank to my thighs. When I wasn’t sinking, I was slipping. Both the exertion and the slipping contributed to my soggy state. Soon, I was shivering and spots on my legs and hands went numb and white. I was exhausted.


    Error 2: Stay out in wet weather for too long

    One expert recommended spending no more than 45 minutes running during rain or sleet. Most advised exercising indoors on wet days. All recommended getting into dry clothes as fast as possible after exercising outdoors.

    I did a duathlon (running and biking) in icy rain. I wore the right clothes, but I was slow and ended up soaked and freezing for more than 90 minutes. I began shaking uncontrollably, I was clumsy and my thinking was muddled.


    Error 3: Don’t know the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite

    HypothermiaHypothermia occurs when a body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees, according to WebMD. It’s usually caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, but can occur in moderate temperatures if a person has certain medical conditions or is wet. Symptoms include heavy shivering, confusion, drowsiness, slurred or mumbled speech, loss of coordination and a slow, weak pulse.

    Frostbite occurs when skin and tissue freeze after exposure to cold temperatures, according to the Mayo Clinic. Frostnip is a very mild version of frostbite that can be treated with first aid. Symptoms include off-colored skin, prickling and numbness in the affected area, hard or waxy-looking skin and blisters or swelling after rewarming.

    Both on the mountain and after the duathlon, without knowing it, I developed mild hypothermia. Also on the mountain, without my knowledge, frostnip developed in my hands.


    Error 4: Don’t have a buddy

    Fortunately, both on the mountain and after the duathlon, I was with others. On the mountain, two other climbers helped me thaw frozen extremities, climb down, and get home. My future husband was at the duathlon as my cheerleader, and he helped me find dry clothes and get warmed up before driving me home. In both cases I put myself into trouble, but because of others’ assistance, I suffered no lasting ill effects.


    Winter exercising can be great. Sunshine provides vitamin D to help with the winter blues. You actually burn more calories when you exercise, because your muscles aren’t as efficient. Exercising strengthens heart muscles and, as long as you don’t overdo it, can help your immune system keep out winter bugs. But take extra precautions to make winter exercising fun and safe. Don’t learn the hard way like I did.

    - Melissa


    What are your tips for exercising outside in the winter cold?


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  • 7 Things Every New Prepper Needs to Know

    This is a guest post by J.D. Phillips of SurvivalCrackas.com


    I want you imagine a few things before we get going:

    1. Imagine if you had to learn everything about math, physics or any other subject for that matter – all on your own.
    2. Imagine if you had to do it by reading articles, watching TV shows and YouTube videos.

    It's safe that assume that you'd feel overwhelmed, right?

    These subjects are so exhaustive and extensive that you wouldn't have the faintest idea of where to start. You might click on a video about astrophysics but it would sound like Chinese to you as you're not even acquainted with basic concepts such as the law of gravity. You would feel baffled and might even feel a little....dumb!

    Three hikers watching the mapWell, that is exactly how new preppers might feel when confronted with the idea of preparing for survival. Unfortunately, schools and colleges teach us absolutely nothing about survival. Moreover, mainstream society is totally blind to the problems of the future. They are most concerned about the newest in celebrity relationships. They think that people who plan and prepare for survival are silly!

    Thankfully, there are a few resources (like this website) that educate people about survival and prepping without constantly trying to shove products down their throats.


    Here are the 7 most important things that every prepper should know.


    1) Understand that Rome was not built in a day!

    Don't try to do it all at once. No matter how hard you try – you cannot prepare for survival over the coming weekend. Prepping is not an event; it is a process – a lifestyle.

    Of course, you should try to learn as much you can, as quickly as you can. But try to build a strong foundation first. Work on your fitness, learn about survival knots, learn how to build shelters and fires, create a bug out bag, start accumulating food and water.

    Once you do this, then you can move to advanced concepts such as shooting techniques, chemical warfare survival, nuclear war survival, stealth, code language, tactical operations, and so on.


    2) Don’t forget to practice what you learn:

    The last step...For many people, learning about survival simply means watching hours of videos or TV shows. However, they never actually practice the techniques that they learn about. If things do get crazy, then you cannot rely solely on theory to help you out.

    For example: It's fine and dandy to say that if you're stranded in the wilderness, you'd just build a fire to signal for rescue.

    But have you actually tried to start a fire in uncontrollable conditions?

    Do you know the basic ground to air communication signals?

    What if people do see your fire but they assume that you're just having fun camping out in the woods?


    3) Start saving money:

    Survival does not come cheap! So you better start saving for it right now. You can easily avoid excessive expenses such as cigarettes, alcohol, etc.

    Do you really need a thousand dollar cell phone, or are you buying it just to impress your friends?

    If the idea of cutting down on expenses seems restricting, start your own home-based business or work an extra shift each week. Maybe try growing your own food!

    Look for great deals on survival goods (first aid kids, candles etc.) at garage sales and thrift shops. Buy a firearm or a GPS instead of spending money on designer clothes and electronics. Spend conservatively but don't skimp on essentials such as proper footwear, clothing, water filtration systems, etc.


    4) Try to predict the type the catastrophe that is most likely to affect you and plan accordingly.

    River FloodFor example, if you live in Texas, you are bound to experience at least one major natural disaster every year.

    • The most common mishaps in Texas are coastal hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires.
    • Florida is highly prone to flooding and hurricanes.
    • California is almost an earthquake waiting to happen.
    • New York is a major target for terrorists.
    • Detroit and St Louis have the highest crime rates in the country.

    If you're wondering where to begin, this is your answer.

    Begin by preparing for the most probable disaster in your region.


    5) Mingle with other preppers:

    Prepping is much more fun if you make friends with other people who share the same views and interests as you. If you prep alone, you'll probably become bored in a matter of days.

    Join a local group or start your own. Many groups organize educational and recreational events such as boot camps, seminars, conventions etc. These ensure that you stay interested and informed. Also, it is great to have a community or other prepared individuals to fall back upon in a survival scenario.


    6) Slow and steady wins the race:

    New preppers are very enthusiastic in the beginning. They buy stuff, talk to everybody they meet about the importance of prepping, they watch loads of Bear Grylls shows, etc.

    However, after a while – they run out of steam and lose interest.

    Like in any other field of life, you cannot accomplish much in terms of survival if you lack consistency. Develop habits that make you a better prepper.

    Buy an extra can of food every time you go out shopping. Don't just throw away empty bottles, fill them up with water and store them in your basement.

    Spend your weekends practicing survival techniques with friends – go camping instead of sitting in front of the TV or going to the mall and buying things that you really don't need.


    7) Don't live in fear.

    You're probably thinking about getting into prepping because you realize that we live in a dangerous world. However, there's really no point in being paranoid all the time.

    Do what you can and stop worrying about that what you cannot control. If anything, you should learn to treasure and savor the present even more.

    Create your own survival manual and keep updating it constantly. Throw in a copy of this manual into your bug out bag. There is no way you're going to remember everything that you've ever read.

    Good luck – enjoy your next adventure responsibly.

    OH - and Merry Christmas!

    About the Author: J.D. Phillips Runs SurvivalCrackas.com and lives with his family in Southern California. You can follow him on Facebook and download his Guide How to Build the Ultimate Disaster Kit free of charge!



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