• Christmas Disasters and How to Avoid Them

    By Beth Buck



    Anything that has the words “Christmas” and “Disaster” in the same breath sounds like the basis for a charming family movie with plenty of hijinks. Ah, if only Christmas disasters were solely the stuff of film! Any occasion that causes you to utter the words, “everything is falling to place and it's going to be perfect” almost guarantees that something will go wrong.

    We're only five days out from Christmas this year, so hopefully that's enough time to avert some of the more classic disasters.


    Children and Trees. I have five children, so I can say with authority that YES, when it comes to Christmas, children ARE a disaster. Any time you're doing something Christmassy with a kid and they say “uh-oh,” it is never good. Pinterest abounds with good ideas for keeping small children away from your tree. And unless they're three or four (or sometimes older!) you must keep the children away from the tree. Some people enclose the tree within a circle of connected baby gates, others don't decorate the bottom two and-a-half feet of the tree. For the last several years, my family has used a short tree and have placed it on a high table. (A more suitable tree will be forthcoming once the baby has learned not to knock things over.) And speaking of knocking things over, if you have any expensive Venetian glass ornaments in the same house with children under the age of eleven, you can just kiss them good-bye right now, because they won't last until New Year's.

    Burning Christmas Trees. Few things in life are as satisfying as a live Christmas tree. The pine smell indoors is so refreshing and “Christmassy” when it's snowing outside. Tree fires are a legitimate concern, however. If you don't keep your live tree adequately hydrated (water it every day), it can be a huge fire hazard. Also exercise caution and common sense t in regards to electrical cords and twinkle lights. Remove the tree from your home shortly after Christmas or when it becomes dry.

    Clogged Chimneys. (I'm looking at you, Santa.) Back in the day when houses were heated exclusively with coal and firewood, chimneys required regular sweeping. With the advent of gas furnaces, the wood stove has more or less fallen out of favor and fires in the fireplace are more form ambiance than for warmth. You will be able to tell if your flue is blocked if smoke is unable to vent through the chimney and instead backs up into the house. Check out this helpful tutorial on how to clear a blocked chimney on your own.

    The Dangers of Outdoor Christmas Tree Lights. What is Christmas without putting up outdoor lights? As delightful as the effect of lights on the roof may be, you can't ignore the attendant risk of falling off the roof in order to put them there. I can think of at least three charming family Christmas films that feature this very scenario as a punchline. It is less amusing when you are the one falling. Use caution when decorating your home, and be sure to get a buddy to keep your ladder steady.


    What other Christmas Disasters have you experienced? What would you tell others who are at risk for the same disaster? Let us know in the comments!


    Beth Buck HeadshotBeth Buck has been involved with emergency preparedness since her very earliest years. She enjoys hiking, martial arts, reading, and writing about food storage. Beth lives in the Intermountain West with her family.



  • 5 Tips for Creating a Miserable Disaster Experience

    By Beth Buck


    Miserable Disaster


    With Hurricane Season well behind us, we can get on with enjoying the Holiday Season and everything that comes with it. The close of the year is a good time for reflection on what we could have done better—and what we could have done worse.  If you kept track of all the natural disasters that happened in 2017 and felt disappointed to have missed out on a miserable experience, don't despair. It's never too early to think about next year.

    “2017 hasn't been half bad” you are probably thinking. “But it would have been so much better if only I had gotten stranded by flooding, without any food or water.” When you are neck-deep in a natural disaster or other emergency, you want to be sure you have the most miserable experience possible, or it's just a waste of time. But how to do it? Check out these six tips to enhance your discomfort in any emergency.


    1) Don't get a 72-hour kit. 72-hour kits are for losers. You don't want to be able to grab and go to escape a wildfire; that would be too easy. No, when the emergency evacuation order comes, you should spend twenty minutes wandering around your house like a lost soul dithering about whether to take your bowling ball or your perfect attendance trophy from 5th grade. If you have 72-hour kits, don't rotate them. There is nothing quite like eating rancid granola bars while trying to get your 5-year-old to fit into his spare size 2T clothing..


    2) Don't have any food storage. Why would you want to store a bunch of stuff like wheat berries? Wheat isn't used for anything good, anyway. It just takes up valuable room in your house that you could use for your collection of antique rake handles. If disaster strikes and you get hungry, you can always go to your next-door neighbor's house. You know for a fact he has all the rice and beans you could possibly want, plus who knows what else. Surely he'll let you crash at his place with your four kids. That is what neighbors are for. After all, you let him borrow your leaf blower last month, right?


    3) Don't evacuate. Ever. Evacuation is for quitters who can't take the heat/rain/floodwaters.


    4) If you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck and then have an unexpected windfall, absolutely, under no circumstances should you put your extra into savings. Blow it all on something shiny, like that antique collection of rake handles you've had your eye on for a while now. Or shares in a company that imports organic ice from Alaska.


    5) Never learn new skills, cultivate a garden, or do anything “preparedness-y.” That stuff is strictly for the experts, not normal people like yourself. Besides, acquiring skills takes up valuable time and that new series on Netflix isn't going to watch itself.


    Disclaimer: Because this is the internet, it is necessary to clarify that you have just read a satire. If you saw a little bit of yourself or your own attitudes in this, you should be able to see potentials weaknesses in your overall preparedness strategy.


    Beth Buck HeadshotBeth Buck has been involved with emergency preparedness since her very earliest years. She enjoys hiking, martial arts, reading, and writing about food storage. Beth lives in the Intermountain West with her family.



  • How to Keep Your Family Safe If You are Temporarily Displaced

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    Safety should never be viewed as a stationary concept. It should be mobile, shifting, and changing to adapt to whatever situation you throw at it, all the while, continuing to keep you and your loved ones as safe as possible. However, safety does not just appear readily prepared on a silver platter. It involves meticulous planning and forethought in order to ensure that every base is covered and no stone is left unturned. When it comes to your safety, it is always best to plan far in advance, and to plan for the possibility that the worst possible outcome can occur (Murphy’s law if you will). This gives you the opportunity to always be prepared and it decreases the chances of a situation getting the better of you and your loved ones.


    In the world we live in today, events of catastrophic proportions are not necessarily uncommon. There is nothing crazy about being prepared. On the contrary, it is the best thing for you. Often times, after a life-changing disaster occurs, some families are rendered temporarily displaced. For instance, there are many families that are displaced in Southern California due to the methane leakages, and even more that were displaced up north due to wildfires. There are many people who plan for disasters, but there are not many people that have plans that keep their families adequately safe while they are temporarily displaced. The fight to continue to keep your family safe does not end once you come out unscathed. The playing field merely changes.


    Temporary displacement can pose huge challenges to families even if they plan ahead for it. There are many people who wonder what exactly you need to do in order to plan for temporary displacement, and how you can stay safe during this period. Well, take your time to read through this and we will walk you through all the steps that will help you keep your family safe in the event that you are temporarily displaced from your home.



    Crafting a Safety Plan


    The first, and most important, part of ensuring that your family remains safe while they are temporarily displaced begins with crafting a safety plan. Having a well-crafted and well thought out safety plan can go a long way to determine just how safe your family remains while you’re on the go.


    The ideal safety plan for your home should cover every facet of danger that your family could face. This ranges from fire damage, water damage, earthquakes, and a host of other possible outcomes. It is imperative that your safety plan outlines how you should evacuate your home and how to remain safe while doing so. There are a few key things that need to be taken into account while you are constructing this safety plan.


    First, you want to make sure that every room in the house has at least two viable exits since this drastically increases the chances of someone getting out alive. Also, it is important to make sure that you and your family picks a central location that is in close proximity to your home to serve as a rendezvous point. In doing so, you gain the ability to make sure that everyone is accounted for.


    In addition to the steps listed above, it is imperative that you and your family members are in constant communication about the safety plans you have in place. This is especially important for children, as there are many ways kids may undermine your security. It is also a good idea to make sure that you make emergency kits, and place them where they can be easily accessed. The emergency pack should have copies of all-important documents (health information, banking info, driver’s license etc.) so that you still have access to a semblance of your life even when you are on the go. The emergency kits that you make should be stored in a safe, dry and easily reachable location, preferably not in your home so that it is still accessible if your home is compromised. It is crucial for you to only put basic necessities in your emergency kit. These necessities should include food and water supplies as well as extra cash, medication, radio (burner phones if you can afford a few), first aid kit, and other supplies that might be more specific to your family.


    Crafting a well laid out safety plan is the first step to making sure that your family remains safe at all times while they are displaced.



    Stick Together


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    It is easy for people to get lost and torn apart when disaster strikes and everything around you is moving at such a fast pace. This causes short-sightedness and forgetfulness, and it is easy to leave things behind and to inadvertently split up with people. In order to keep your family safe while you are temporarily displaced, it is important that you all stick together while you navigate your next move. However, life does not always hand us an ideal situation, so it is best to be prepared for the possibility that you might lose track of someone. In order to deal with this, make sure that each member of your family has some means of communicating with each other. Also, set up several rendezvous points that are all in close proximity to your home. This will allow your family members to meet at designated locations if you are ever split up or if there is a break in communication for a little while, which is highly possible.



    Find Shelter


    Once you have your family together, the next step of making sure that you all remain secure involves finding an adequate shelter that will house you for a while. The type of shelter that you are privy to is sometimes dependent on the nature of the disaster you are faced with, and how far reaching it might be. In some cases there is no form of alternative shelter close by. This can sometimes be camping out in a hotel room for a few days, or it can be living in a tent provided by the Red Cross. Regardless of what it is, make sure that you continue to keep your family safe. Safety will involve constant communication as well as being wary of strangers. It is important to keep your valuable items and your emergency resources well secured (this can be done by adding cable ties, padlocks, etc. to your emergency supplies) while you are away from your home, and most likely among other people who you do not really know.



    Emergency Kits and Survival Skills


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    It is extremely important for every member of your family to be adequately equipped with an emergency kit and an emergency pack of their own. In the event that you are split up for a little while this will make sure that everyone has enough resources to survive independently. It is important to keep your loved ones safe when they are right by you, but it is even more important to keep them safe when they are not around you. This means that you have to equip them with the necessary tools for them to do so. Each emergency kit should have the necessary items that will help your family member last on their own for at least 3 days. The most important part of this kit should be water, food, and first aid supplies.


    In addition to this, it is best to train your family members in basic survival skills before a disaster hits so that they are not left wanting. These survival skills should include everything it will take for them to survive on their own and the means by which they can accomplish this. These include, but are not limited to:


    • Having an attitude that will help them calmly assess and evaluate situations
    • Learning how to manage water supplies and how to obtain clean, drinkable water
    • Learning how to build a fire
    • Practicing life saving skills like Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)





    Family means a lot to people, so it comes as no surprise that wanting to keep them safe is a major priority. Hopefully, you are never faced with the grim situation of being temporarily displaced. In the event that you are, the basic steps listed above should be an amazing starting point that will help you keep your family safe while you are in this transition stage.



    Author Bio


    Ralph Goodman is an expert locksmith and the resident professional writer on locks and security over at the Lock Blog. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about keys, locks and safety. They offer tips, advice and how-to's for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.


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