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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Battling the Green Monster - Mowing Safety Tips

Lawn mower injuries result in a multitude of injuries that include everything from deep cuts or lacerations, loss of fingers and toes, puncture wounds, broken and dislocated bones, burns, and severe eye injuries. Many of these injuries can be quite serious in nature. Anyone using a mower or who is in the vicinity of a mower while it is in operation can be susceptible to injury.

Mowing Safety Tips

1.) Use mowers that have all safety features intact that will shut down the mower if there is a loss of control.

2.) Never disconnect safety features. They are designed to protect you even if they can be annoying at times.

3.) Always supervise younger children when they are using a mower. Make sure they are capable of handling the equipment and know how to safely operate it.

4.) Always wear sturdy shoes or boots when mowing. Never wear flip-flops, sandals, or tennis shoes (sneakers).
5.) Pick up any objects that could cause injuries if struck by your mowing equipment. Rocks, wire, stones and numerous other objects can become airborne projectiles that can lead to serious injuries.

6.) Always wear protective eyewear. Even plain old dirt in the eye can cause a serious bacterial infection. Eyes that are left unprotected are vulnerable to rocks and flying debris that could cause anything from a scratched cornea to a complete loss of your eyesight.

7.) Whenever mowing, make sure others in the area are located a safe distance away.

8.) Always start and refuel mowers outdoors and never indoors in a shed or garage.

9.) Always allow the engine to cool down before refueling your mower.

10.) Never ever work on or make adjustments to mowing equipment when it is running. Make sure it is shut off and remove the spark plug wire or disconnect the battery before attempting any type of repair.
Practice a little mowing safety and you will survive the battle with the “green monster”!

Staying above the grass line!

Airguns for Survival, Jock Elliott

An air rifle or air pistol can be a really useful tool for anyone who needs to collect game unobtrusively while trying to survive.
I write a regular blog on airguns for www.airgunsofarizona.com . So here’s “Uncle Jock’s” take on why you might want to include an airgun in your survival kit.
Here’s a quick summary of the key advantages of airguns:
Tack-driving accuracy – High-end air rifles are among the most accurate projectile launchers on the planet. For example, Olympic match air rifles can literally put pellet after pellet through the same hole at 10 meters, and field target airgunners can routinely hit a dime at 50 yards with their air rifles. Some dedicated long-range airgunners report shooting sub-MOA groups at 100 yards and beyond.
Low shooting expense – Once you purchase your air rifle or air pistol, it will be superbly kind to your wallet. Depending upon which pellet your airgun “likes,” you’ll find typical shooting costs on the order of 1-3 cents per shot for ammunition. A sleeve (10 500-pellet tins) of high quality pellets will typically run around $120 plus shipping
Convenience and accessibility – Airguns can be legally shot in many places where it is absolutely forbidden to discharge a firearm. Check with your local authorities, but in many places, you can shoot an airgun in your backyard, basement or garage without running afoul of the law. That means you should be able to get in lots of practice at relatively low cost.
A neighbor-friendly report – Virtually all airguns are quieter than firearms (with the possible exception of some big-bore hunting models). In addition, it is rare for airguns to launch pellets faster than the sound barrier. Some airguns are inherently very quiet, and there are models that are virtually silent.
Some other considerations – You can spend as little or as much as you like, depending upon your tastes and your wallet. You can pick up a utilitarian air pistol or air rifle capable of bouncing soda cans around the back yard for under $50. Or you can spend thousands of dollars on the most sophisticated air rifles on the planet.
Before you select an air rifle or air pistol, you need to understand the several different powerplants used in airguns to send the pellet downrange. Here’s an overview.
Multi-stroke pneumatic (MSP or pump-up) airguns require 2-8 strokes of an on-board lever (usually the forestock) to store compressed air in the powerplant. This is the powerplant of classic Benjamin and Sheridan air riles. They are virtually recoilless and completely self-contained, so all you need for a day afield is the gun and a tin of pellets. The power can be adjusted by the number of strokes, but once the gun has been fired, it must be pumped up all over again. Another consideration: when pumped up to the max, a multi-stroke pneumatic can be loud.
Single-stroke pneumatic (SSP) airguns also use a lever to compress air in the powerplant, but – as the name implies – require only a single stroke to fully charge the gun. This is the powerplant that was used on many older Olympic 10-meter match guns. SSPs are fully self-contained, easy to cock, highly consistent and often incredibly accurate. The power and speed of these guns is usually low, shooting relatively light match-grade .177 pellets at 500-600 fps.
Spring-piston airguns – also called “springers” – use a lever (normally the barrel or a side- or under-lever) to cock a spring and piston. When the trigger is pulled, the spring is released, pushing the piston forward and compressing a powerful blast of air that sends the pellet down the barrel. Springers are self-contained, often relatively quiet and can be very accurate, but the movement of the spring and piston within the gun before the pellet leaves the muzzle makes them the most difficult airgun type to shoot with high accuracy. Nevertheless, many riflemen can and do master shooting springers.
CO2 airguns use 12-gram cartridges, 88-gram cartridges or CO2 transferred from a bulk tank to launch the pellet. CO2 airguns are recoilless, convenient, and (in target models, increasingly replaced by PCP target models) extremely accurate. Noise levels vary from model to model. Cocking effort is usually very low, making these guns a favorite for family shooting. CO2 airguns require periodic refilling and performance can vary with temperature. Velocity will drop in wintry conditions, and rise in very warm conditions.
Precharged pneumatic airguns (PCPs) are charged with air from a SCUBA tank or high-pressure pump. This is powerplant of choice for high-energy hunting guns, Olympic 10-meter rifles and pistols, and top-echelon field target rifles. PCPs are virtually recoil-free, very consistent, and often superbly accurate. But they are not self-contained – you need a SCUBA tank or high-pressure hand pump available to recharge them, and they can be noisy.
Additional Considerations
When I think about survival airguns, here are the characteristics that I would prefer (and, as you will see, they don’t always work together, so you’ll need to pick the characteristics that are most important to you):
1. Portability. That means either a pistol or a rifle than can be readily broken down. That eliminates many air rifles.
2. Self-contained. I want to reduce the need for ancillary equipment and consumables. That eliminates all CO2 airguns (which don't work well in cold weather) and pre-charged airguns which require a tank or pump for recharging.
3. Sufficient power for taking small game. Target air pistols won't get it done. Some springer pistols make 6 foot-pounds of energy, which is sufficient if you skills allow to stalk within 10-15 yards on small game. Some multi-stroke pneumatic pistols make 8-10 foot pounds of energy. Most air rifles generate enough energy to do the job. I have reliable reports of one shooter killing a feral goat with a multi-stroke pneumatic rifle, and another shooter inadvertently killing a deer with a cheap Chinese spring-piston rifle (he was trying to chase it away from the plants in his yard and caused a pneumo-thorax).
4. Stealthy report. I don't want to be noticed. Spring-piston powerplants are inherently quieter than most others because of the smaller quantity of air used to drive the pellet. Multi-stroke pneumatics tend to generate more noise than springers, but can be quieted with barrel shrouds or by reducing the number of pumps (which reduces the power).
5. Easy to shoot well. Spring-piston powerplants are the hardest to shoot well because of their whiplash forward and back recoil. Multi-stroke pneumatics are easy to shoot well.
6. Reliability. Airguns dealers tell me that springers are the most reliable powerplant. You can usually put at least a couple of thousand rounds through one before a rebuild is needed, and some are far more reliable.
7. Ease of maintenance. Spring piston powerplants usually require a spring compressor for assembly and disassembly. MSPs usually can be taken apart with hand tools.
Specific recommendations. The Mac-1 Steroid Benjamin or Steroid Sheridan is a dead reliable MSP rifle that can easily take small game out to 30 yards, is easily broken down, but is loud at full power and very difficult to silence. A modified 1377 pistol can be built up into a small, easy take-down .22 MSP rifle. It makes a bit less power than a Steroid MSP, and can be readily silenced.
The Diana/RWS LP8, Beeman P1, Browning 800, and Weihrauch HW45 are spring-piston pistols that make around 6 foot-pounds of energy, are inherently fairly quiet (but not dead quiet) and require some dedication to shoot with high precision. Nevertheless, small game has been taken with them, especially at closer ranges.
Jock Elliott, Airgun Correspondent, Precision Shooting Magazine, and author of Elliott on Airguns.

The EDC Bag

Your EDC bag is one of your most important preps. It is lightweight bag of gear to backup, support and compliment your on-person EDC. Pockets have limited space--this bag catches the overflow. It should be able to keep you going for a day or two in case you need to pick up and go, if you get stuck at work, or if disaster strikes and you need to bug out for home.

A Few "Don'ts" to Keep in Mind:
  • Don't buy an overly tactical bag that will look out of place. Multicam, magazine pouches and MOLLE panels draw attention and mark you as a "tactical" kind of guy--probably armed, too.  Don't be that tactical goober guy--save the stuff for the range or the end of the world, not your daily carry. Carry something average looking.
  • Don't overload the bag with gear--one, you'll have to haul it around. Two, you want to have extra space to add things as needed--books, a laptop, etc.
  • Don't limit yourself to a shoulder bag. Shoulder and sling bags provide easy access to their contents, but a backpack is more stable when moving and can carry more stuff.  Pick which one works best for your needs. Shoulder bags are more common in the workplace, but a nice backpack will blend in nicely in all but the most upscale offices.
  • Don't pack for war unless you are in a warzone. You don't need smoke grenades, an AK and 53 magazines or a folding katana. If you want to have a dedicated active shooter/fight your way home/anti-zombie hordes bag, that's cool. But don't make that your everday carry unless you live a really, really bad place.
  • Don't carry stuff you never use. Every few weeks, evaluate what's in your EDC bag and cut stuff that you haven't used. 
  • Don't make it just a survival bag. This is your EDC bag, so make sure you have plenty of EDC items--stuff like kleenex, phone chargers, extra batteries and so on. This is the bag that you live out of, so it should have the stuff you need everyday.
  • Don't just dump all your stuff into a bag--keep things organized so you can find them in a pinch. I like to kit things up when able.
Things to Pack in your EDC bag:
  • Water: 1L or more; I've found stainless steel water bottles to be the best, and you can cook/boil water in them in a pinch. You probably don't need water purification tabs unless you frequently travel pretty far from home..
  • Food: I carry 4 cliff bars with me; energy bars are generally a pretty good idea. Snacks, gum, mints, and your daily lunch are good too.
  • Fire: I carry two Bic lighters in my bag. Lighters are probably your best bet.
  • Cash: A few extra hundred dollars can get you pretty far in a pinch--even an emergency $20 will come in handy fairly often. Some coins for use in vending machines are also good to have.
  • Shelter: This is a bit tougher, as you probably don't want to carry around a tarp or tent every day. A mini space blanket and disposable poncho take up little space. Contractor-grade trash bags work too. As an alternative, you can pack an ultralight rain jacket--these can pack down very small. Mostly, just dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Medicine/First Aid: I carry a small bottle of Ibuprofen, Tums, extra chapstick, some small bandages, alcohol prep pads, tweezers and some super glue. A small gunshot wound kit is another good idea, especially if you carry a CCW.
  • Hygiene: Kleenex and hand sanitizer are a no brainer. A small mirror is a lightweight, often overlooked multipurpose item. I also carry a small travel pack of wet wipes for cleaning up or a quick scrub down--if you can't have a shower, this makes a big difference. I also carry a razor, a travel toothbrush and roll of floss. If you're frequently overnighting, a travel sized deodorant and shampoo don't weigh much.
  • A better flashlight. Unless I'm out after dark, I just have a small keychain light on my on-person EDC. I carry a better light in my bag. If you have a good flashlight on your on-person EDC, consider packing a small headlamp like the the Petzl e+LITE.
  • Caffiene. Good for late road trips, all-nighters, or just sleepy afternoons. Pick the form you like. I have a couple little packs of Nodoze and a few little packs of Crystal light energy drink mix. 
  • A cell phone headset. Bluetooth or the cheapo wired ones.
  • Sharpies.
  • Gorilla tape (the better duct tape). I wrap mine around old gift cards to make it flatter and more compact. A bajillion uses.
  • A bandanna (or similar). If one's not in your on-person EDC, you should at least have one here. A bajillion uses.
  • Paracord. You decide how much is enough.
  • A small radio if you don't already have one--many MP3 players and cell phones have a built in radio tuner these days. Keeping up on the news is important.
  • A small camera/camcorder, if your cell phone doesn't have one. YMMV on this one.
  • Gun stuff. Extra loaded magazines, maybe a back up gun or a full size pistol to compliment your carry gun. If you live in Mogadishu or Detroit, you may want to pack an M60 and a couple belts of ammo.
  • Zip ties. I used to carry these and ditched 'em because I couldn't find a good way to carry them and never used them. But lots of people like 'em.
  • Tools. A multitool, some small screw drivers and a little pry bar can do quite a bit.
  • Whistle or other signaling device.
  • A USB Thumbdrive or portable hard drive. With important files encrypted with TrueCrypt.
  • A spare knife. If you can legally do it and have the space to do so, a small fixed blade like the RC-3 or even a cheap Mora knife can come in quite handy.
  • A laptop and cords. This is of dependent on what you do for a living. Some people need to carry a laptop around with them, some don't. They are a major source of weight, so weigh the pluses and minuses carefully. Lightweight, durable and long battery life are the top criteria for an EDC laptop. Get a good protective case, too.
  • Electronic backups: Phone chargers, extra batteries and connector cables for your electronics. Those little battery backups are handy too, in case you aren't near an outlet or power goes out.
  • A small powerstrip/surge protector. Dependent on whether you're going to carry a laptop and what other electronics you have to charge. The Belkin is the most popular and has two ports for charging USB devices.
  • Extra clothes. YMMV on this one, although a jacket is nice to have around. If you have a messy job, frequently spill all over yourself, or often take spontaneous overnight trips, a change of clothes may keep you from looking like a complete slob.
That's a good start, I think. Again, watch the weight and bulk of your pack. Keep things organized. And carry a bag with an average, boring, "grey man" look, not one that screams "I am an action hero."

No Savings? You’re Not Alone

For whatever reason, food storage seems to get all the attention when it comes to preparedness.  Perhaps some people think that if they have just enough buckets of wheat and beans, then all will be well.  In fact, preparedness is a whole lot more than full pantry shelves.  Perhaps one of the most important ways to become prepared is financially.  Sadly, too many Americans are woefully unprepared in this category, and, in fact, are lacking even in savings for their retirement.
no money 300x200 No Savings? Youre Not Aloneimage by stuartpilbrow
Jim Wang over at Bargaineeering.com has this to say about where the majority of Americans stand when it comes to saving money.
CNN Money reported last week that 43% of Americans have less than $10,000 in retirement savings, which is a statistic provided by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in their Retirement Confidence Survey (2010 results). If that figure isn’t scary enough, it appears that 27% of workers have less than $1,000. Both figures are increases from 2009, when 39% had less than $10,000 and 20% had less than $1,000 a year ago.
While the statistics are sobering, it does show how much the recession has hurt a lot of people. If you lose your job, the first thing to go after your emergency fund is probably going to be your retirement savings. Keeping a roof over your head and food in your stomach is going to take precedence over retirement tomorrow.
Last year, Suze Orman stopped emphasizing the need to pay off debt, and, instead, now advises people to save first.  When a job is lost or hours cut, your primary concern is whether or not you can continue making the mortgage payment or rent.  The money in your savings account isn’t just a nice idea anymore. It now can mean the difference between having a home, or not, and getting a new job is more difficult than ever.
Jim goes on to say,
If you’re one of the ones with less than $10,000 in retirement savings, don’t despair because 43% of Americans are there with you. We’re going through some tough times now but once we get back on our feet, retirement savings has to become a priority. Social security and other entitlement programs aren’t going to be here forever. It’s only a matter of time before they are replaced as defined benefit (pension) retirement plans are being replaced with defined contribution (401k) retirement plans (Math doesn’t care which political party’s name is written on your voter card, the current system is not sustainable).
Actually, Jim is more optimistic than I am about our economy’s future. With leaders in Washington telling us we can expect double-digit unemployment for ten years or more, it’s not exactly reassuring.
If saving money seems a near impossibility, it’s time to evaluate your skills, knowledge, and experience and create new income streams.  Our economy may be sluggish, more or less depending on your location, but people still have needs, and the creative person can find ways to meet those needs regardless of what is happening on Wall Street or in Washington D.C.  Internet businesses are booming.  Ebay and Craigslist offer opportunities to earn some quick cash, and some direct sales businesses are flourishing.
Financial problems are both oppressing and depressing, and really, it doesn’t help at all knowing that others are in the same boat.  The only way to turn the corner financially is to cut out every extra expense you can and begin earning a little more.  Painful?  Yeah.  Easy?  Not really.  Worth it?  Definitely!
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