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Thursday, November 12, 2009

10 Things You Can Do Today to Improve Your Chance of Survival

I am busy today. Actually I am busy most days. I think many people are like this, in a kind of fast-forward style of living that leaves little time for major projects. This is why I like my information short and concise, why I like my conversations the same way, and why I like to do a variety of very small preparedness projects (like watching a 45 minute Surviving Disaster episode while eating lunch at my desk) instead of one or two major preparedness projects. At least, I feel, I will cover the basics while completing a whole bunch of small activities that will, hopefully, cover the basics of the widest range of disasters that are likely to happen. Here's some ideas for small survival-oriented activities that you and your family can complete:
  1. Watch an episode of Surviving Disaster online. I rave about this show so much because it is the first time I have seen easily digestible survival information geared towards the average person. Not the person with extensive survival training, not the person who fancies themself the next coming of Rambo, but ordinary people--those who are most likely to encounter the kinds of disasters this show discusses.
  2. Go check your smoke detectors. Do they work? How long has it been since you changed the batteries in these devices? The average person is much more likely, odds-wise, to face something as common as a house fire than to face a tsunami, mass shooting, or other highly publicized disaster.
  3. Stop by the Dollar Store on your way home today and pick up ten cans of soup. Sounds simple but by making this small investment, you have just put together ten meals for use when the power goes out, when stores aren't accessible because of a snow storm, when you are too sick to get up and cook actual food, etc.
  4. Call up your doctor and see if your vaccinations are up to date. During a disaster, you can improvise many things but you can't improvise your way out of lock-jaw because your last tetanus shot was 20 years ago. Some vaccines you may want to update: tetanus, hepatitis A and B, influenza, possibly pneumonia, and others as recommended by your doctor.
  5. Can you make a fire? Sadly, this is a long lost skill that during a disaster, you may need to know how to do. If you were to practice for only 15 minutes a day, every day for a year, making a small fire in all kinds of weather conditions and with all kinds of materials, you would be an expert. Unfortunately this skill is lost because we don't need to "go make fire" in the normal course of our day any more, but should you become lost in the wilderness, survive a plane crash in the mountains, or not have the accouterments of modern life available after a disaster, you will be glad you now this skill.
  6. Sign up for a CPR class. There is no excuse for anyone in this entire country not to know CPR. This is such an important skill (more so now I would hazard to guess as our population ages) and the classes are so easily available in most every community, that there is no excuse not to know how to save a life with CPR.
  7. Take a few minutes to write down important numbers on a piece of paper. If your computer was dead and your cell phone was dead, would you still be able to call the gas company, your brother, your employer, etc? Most people keep all of these numbers on their cell phone, in their Outlook program, or otherwise on their computer which is not good if a disaster should strike. You need to be able to access these phone numbers with or without a cell phone or computer that works.
  8. Hold an unannounced fire drill when the family gets home tonight. Do the actual walk through of what people would do if they were awoken by the smoke alarm--crawl on the floor, check the door to see if it is hot, devise two ways to escape from each room, know where to meet up near the house after escaping from your home, etc. Although a complete drill is better than just talking about what you would do, I would caution against actually trying to escape from a second story window due to the danger.
  9. Dump out your BOB and repack it. This will take more than a few minutes to do but it is good to do this at the change of each season. Now that it is winter, are the clothes in your BOB appropriate? Do the batteries still work? How old is the food and water?
  10. Check to see if your car is prepared for winter. Again,this may take a little longer than a lunch break but since you rely on your car everyday, it is important to make it as safe and thoroughly prepared as possible. How are the tires? Winter is not the time to have bald tires. Do you know where your snow chains are? Are the emergency supplies in the car still in working order (ie: batteries in flashlights, food and water still edible, etc)?

Many of these tasks are common sense, generic survival preps that we often overlook. By taking a few minutes today, you can knock these off of your list and move forward on more intensive survival projects.