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  • Financial Preparedness 101: Why Does Money Matter?

    Destroyed House - financial preparednessDid you know that even if your home is destroyed in a natural disaster, you still have to pay your mortgage? Did you know that even if you’re using your credit card to pay for a hotel because you’ve been evacuated, you still have to pay your bill on time?

    “Failing to remain current with your payments could negatively affect your credit at a time when you need credit the most,” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit.

    When most of us think about disaster, we think about what we’re going to do physically: how to make sure we’ve got food, water, clothing, and shelter. We don’t think about the financial aftermath.

    For that matter, an individual financial crisis is far more likely than a natural disaster. Job loss, divorce, death or illness, retirement … even a home purchase can cause significant problems if unprepared financially, said Ann House, coordinator of the Personal Money Management Center at the University of Utah.

    House suggested three ways to financial preparedness.

     

    Save and Save Some More

    First, have a short- and long-term savings and an emergency fund.

    Shopping Bill - financial preparednessKayleen Chen, a peer mentor at the University of Utah’s Personal Money Management Center, suggested the 50/30/20 rule. Fifty percent of a paycheck should go toward fixed expenses, like house payments and utilities. Discretionary expenses that can be adjusted, like grocery bills and fuel, should take up about 30 percent. Twenty percent should go toward short-term savings, an emergency fund and retirement.

    The short-term savings fund is for future expenses like holidays or a down payment. An emergency fund helps when things come up like car repairs or doctor bills, to avoid paying for them with high-interest debt like credit cards or short-term loans.

    Women should put 12 percent of their salary toward retirement; men 10 percent, Chen said.

    “The reality is that women live longer and make less income than men,” she wrote in an e-mail.

    House suggested people who want to save take savings out first via direct deposit. Then live off the rest. It’s an out of sight, out of mind thing.

    “I know if I keep extra money in my checking account, I will spend it until it’s gone,” she said.

     

    Get Organized

    Second, get organized. Know where important information is.

    “If there’s a natural disaster like a fire, do you know where your birth certificates are?” she asked.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit is a great organizational resource, she said.

    The 44-page booklet includes four sections that identify what information to collect, like social security cards, insurance policies, prescriptions and emergency contact information.

    In case of emergency, House said, “Most of us run for family pictures or a kid’s favorite toys. If we knew where (vital information) all was, if it was organized into folders and files and boxes, we could just grab it.

     

    Emergency Storage

    Third, have an emergency storage, including cash in small bills.

    “If you were out of water, and somebody came by with a water selling wagon, you might be giving the person a $100 bill for water. It’s $1 bills that are going to come in handy for emergencies,” House said.

    Other ways to prepare financially include getting out of debt and getting a credit score in order. More than 60 percent of prospective employers check credit scores so a good one could mean the difference between getting and missing out on a job. All three credit bureaus must give one free credit report per year.

    House’s father-in-law lived through the Great Depression. After his death, she said, his family found $150,000 in paper bags while cleaning out his home. She does not recommend that approach to saving.

    Life happens. To keep from being traumatized by a disaster, it’s vital to be mentally prepared. And one great way to do that is to be physically prepared.

    “The key is to keep in mind that anything can happen. Therefore, always prepare for any possible emergency! It's never too late!” Chen wrote.

     

    Do you have a financial preparedness plan in place?

     

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  • Earthquakes Swarm Under Mount Saint Helens

    The Force Volcano Awakens

    Mount Saint Helens SmokingMount Saint Helens – the volcano that blew off 1,000 feet of the mountain and darkened the skies with its ash in 1980 – is reportedly ripe with earthquakes. According to reports from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), there have been over 130 earthquake around Mount Saint Helens since March 14, 2016. That’s a lot of seismic activity!

    Fortunately, most of the earthquakes have magnitudes of 0.5 or less. The strongest recorded quake in this time period was a magnitude 1.3. Even standing directly above these tiny tremors, we still wouldn’t be able to feel them.

    These miniature earthquakes remind us that Mount Saint Helens is very much an alive and active volcano. These tremors are caused by the magma recharging and entering the volcano’s chamber, putting stress on the earth’s crust. So it’s not the shifting of tectonic plates after all; it’s the gathering of magma.

    Worried yet?

    Don’t be. Well, not yet, at least. Before the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens, there were over 10,000 earthquakes leading up to that event. The USGS released a statement in that they believe “there is absolutely no sigh that it will erupt anytime soon.”

    Basically, Mount Saint Helens is an active volcano, and an eruption will come. Scientists just don’t know when. They say it could be years – or decades – away.

     

    The 1980 Eruption

    Mount Saint Helens Eruption - USGS Mount Saint Helens eruption, May 18, 1980 - Image courtesy of USGS

    On May 18, 1980, Mount Saint Helens blew off 1,000 feet of the mountain and, according to Tech Times, “unleashed massive quantities of rock, ash and debris into the air.” The blast cause 150,000 acres of fir trees to become flattened, and “triggered one of the largest landslides ever witnessed in recorded history.”

    About 540 million tons of ash was ejected into the sky during the nine hours of violent eruptions. Two days after the eruption, ash from the blast was found in the central United States. Within two weeks, ash from the eruption had made its way around the globe. Because of all the ash, crops in Eastern Washington had an estimated $100 million in loss. Despite the losses, however, the ash was at least somewhat beneficial in the long term, due to the trace elements and minerals contained in the ash that support plant growth.

     

    Prepare for Eruption

    Still, considering the power of the blast, it wasn’t as bad as it might have been. When Mount Saint Helens erupts again, however, there will still be problems, and being prepared is something we could all take seriously.

    How does one prepare for a volcano eruption, you ask?

    Car After Eruption Photographer Reid Blackburn's car after the eruption.

    Well, just like any disaster, you will want at least a 72 hour kit. This kit should have clean water, food, gear for warmth and sanitation, and other necessities that can keep you supported and safe for three or more days. Directly following a disaster, power could be out, water could be contaminated, and food could be scarce.  As we saw from the 1980 eruption, millions of dollars’ worth of food was lost. Likewise, many roads were closed and flights were cancelled due to dangerously low visibility. These conditions could affect your local markets, making it harder to get food. That’s why having an emergency supply of food and water is always a good idea.

    Mount Saint Helens is active, and it’s setting off lots of little earthquakes underneath the ground. While it could still be decades before we have to worry about it blowing its top (again), the key to staying safe is by being prepared, and the way to be prepared is to start today.

    No matter what major event you’re preparing for, you can use that prep for anything. And by being prepared in advance, you can save yourself a lot of discomfort in the future.

     

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  • 5 Types of Base Camp Shelters

    There are many reasons to setup a base camp shelter. Whatever your motivation, make sure you design and build one that meets your requirements and anticipates your needs. From underground bunkers to pine bough lean-tos, unique base camp shelters are needed for different scenarios.

    These five shelter types will cover most of your bases. Keep in mind that each shelter meets a different need. You may require more than one type for the scenario you are preparing for.

     

    1. Bunker

    Old abandoned bunker in forest - base camp

    This hidden shelter option has many advantages. Easily defensible, concealed, and well-fortified, a bunker shelter can provide safe and secluded base camp accommodations. Long-term food storage, rations, and other supplies can be easily concealed and kept safe until you need to access them. Bunkers can be equipped with generators and electricity, secure doors, multiple rooms, and other amenities of a permanent shelter.

    The size and location of a bunker may be limited by your access to land, and the amount of funds you are able to allocate to building one. Land, excavation, materials, and utilities can require a significant investment.

     

    1. Portable

    Portable shelters provide protection from the elements while allowing users to keep on the move. Trailers, tents, tarps, and tensioned fabric structures let you set up camp without having to own land, invest in excavating and building equipment, or devote a lot of time to building a permanent structure. Portable base camps should be designed for ease of setup and take-down, as well as stability in extreme weather events.

     

    1. Permanent

    Celtic Round House Base campA permanent base camp requires access to land and a significant investment in materials. Creating a permanent shelter is one of the most expensive base camp shelter options, but also one of the most comfortable and secure. A permanent shelter is more conspicuous than a bunker or a portable shelter. This type of shelter also provides many of the same amenities of a house. A permanent shelter may have running water, electricity, heating and cooling systems, and other comforts. It is important to remember that, unlike a bunker or a portable shelter, a permanent shelter will likely require a more established access route, such as a road, driveway, or established trail.

     

    1. Emergency

    An emergency shelter is necessary for quick and easy setup. This type of shelter is often located near a survival cache, and is meant as a temporary spot to regroup on the way to a more permanent base camp. An emergency shelter may also be required in an extreme weather event, such as a rainstorm, tornado, or blizzard. Emergency shelters can be crafted from many different materials. Having a tarp can make emergency shelter setup easy. If you aren’t that lucky, tree branches, rock outcroppings, or dry cave openings may have to suffice. Emergency shelters can be dug into the side of large snowdrifts, riverbanks, or small hills.  Survival caches setup ahead of time can also store tarps, ropes, and stakes in the event that an emergency shelter is needed.

     

    1. Semi-Permanent

    SafariTent_Open_Lifestyle_Moab_MattBarr_002_Web base campMore stable than an emergency shelter, yet not as immobile as a permanent one, a semi-permanent shelter can create a long-lasting, durable base camp that can be relocated or disassembled if necessary. Tensioned fabric structures can be anchored to nearly any surface to create a sturdy semi-permanent shelter. These types of shelters may have electricity and other utilities setup in mobile or temporary configurations.

     

    ______

    Jimmy Wall is an avid outdoorsman always advocating people to get outside. Living in Washington State, he says nothing is better than a climb up Mount Rainier to Camp Muir.

     

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