Gotta start somewhere!

There are many hazards that exist in everyday life. Not all accidents can be avoided. The best way to decrease the potential for accidents in your home is to develop a culture of safety in your home. This includes having a system in place that addresses both personal risk and any possible environmental hazards.  It is important that you demonstrate a “professional commitment” to safety in all areas of your home to eliminate unnecessary, foreseeable hazards.

To develop a culture of safety, you must first look for hazards in and around your home. This assessment of hazards and risks should be done to identify potential hazards in both the residential environment and the immediate surrounding area(s) to minimize the risk of having an avoidable accident.  Every household/family member should be involved in observing and identifying potential hazards in their environment, with an additional focus on the abilities and vulnerabilities of each person within the home.  The more eyes you have looking into a problem, the more you are likely to see.  This approach benefits everyone in the long run, even if some of your family will grumble about more “housework” to be done.

Hazards in the environment are certainly not limited to, but may include the following:

  • Fire-rated doors that have been propped open (building codes requires fire rated doors in certain areas for particular reasons – keeping them propped open diminishes or eliminates their effectiveness!)
  • Disabled locks or latches
  • Alarms that are non-functional
  • Buckled carpets
  • Electrical cords on floors
  • Irregular walking surfaces
  • Improper storage of and access to toxic chemicals
  • Exposure to heating unit surfaces
  • Unsafe water temperatures
  • Furniture that is not appropriate (for example, chairs that are too low or are unsteady may present a fall hazard)
  • Lighting that is inadequate or creates glare.

There are many materials in the average home that can pose a potential hazard to family members and/or pets. Toxic materials can be found in the form of solids, liquids, gases, mists, dusts, fumes, and vapors. Both humans and their pets can be exposed to toxic materials by inhaling them, absorbing them through their skin, or ingesting them.  Remember though that hazards can change over time.  Sometimes it’s a new cleanser brought into the home, or for example, there may be temporary hazards in the home, such as construction, painting, and housekeeping activities, that can affect those who dwell in your home.

The whole point of this is not that it is some sort of comprehensive list of anything and everything that needs to be dealt with in your home. Consider this the “low hanging fruit” that is easy to find and easy to remediate.  The important thing is learning to train your eye to see the hazard before an accident happens.  It takes time to learn – I’ve been doing these types of assessments in commercial buildings, hotels, health care facilities and residential homes for over a decade now and I still find new hazards because I’m attuned to it in a way I never was before.  Something might reveal itself to be hazardous only because it is somehow related to something else you discovered previously to be hazardous.  Train your eye to look for these things in your home and soon you’ll be seeing them everywhere you go, whether it’s your office or the shopping mall or during your yearly pilgrimage to Aunt Edna’s for Thanksgiving.  It will become second nature if you practice it long enough, just like anything.

In the next article, I will break down different areas of your home base, in order to provide a systematic approach to assessing your environment. While there is no perfect, all-inclusive list that will keep you safe from every possible hazard, there is a method to this madness and it will greatly reduce your personal risk if you take the time to actually get hands-on with it and it all starts with a thorough assessment.  For now, look for the low hanging fruit and start training your eye.  We’re still developing the preparedness mindset, so we’re going to move slowly and systematically to make sure we cover all the bases.

Stay safe out there!

Thanks for reading,

~J

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What am I doing here?

So, you might be asking yourself what exactly is a Prepared Home?  Well, to be sure it is a loose definition.  But to my way of thinking, it means simply that you have set yourself up to be prepared for whatever untoward events may come your way.  And when I say home, I don’t necessarily mean house or homestead.  It doesn’t matter if you reside in a house, apartment, condo, RV, Yurt, tent or even some sort of hand-built primitive shelter – for all intents and purposes of this site, your home is where you “hang your hat”, where you bed down at night.  It is your primary base of operation.

No matter what part of the country you are in, or what size, shape and composition of your home, there are some common denominators that apply to us all. We all need water.  We all need food.  We need shelter. The thing is, preparedness isn’t a linear list of things you need or skills you must learn.  Most everything in life is intertwined and preparedness is no exception.

For example, you might wonder; what does a Prepared Home have to do with, let’s say automotive repair? Well, if you are like most people (Americans anyhow) you depend on your automobile for darn near everything.  If you rely on your car to get you to work and you rely on your job to pay your mortgage or rent, when your car is out of commission it puts your very livelihood at stake.  I realize that sounds dramatic but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. This is especially true if you are like me, on a very tight budget and just getting by as it is.  “Well… cars break”, you might say, “there is nothing you can do about that”.  True, but not entirely.  You might not be able to prevent every breakdown, but with proper preventative maintenance you can reduce your chances significantly of this happening to you.  Even if you have to have the work done in a shop it will cost you less nearly every time to have something fixed before it fails completely, not to mention the possible added costs of towing and/or car rental costs.  And then there is the stress factor.  I don’t know about you, but being stranded on the side of the road with an auto that is not mobile is one of the most stressful situations I’ve ever found myself in.

Cooking is another example of something most people don’t associate with preparedness but it absolutely is a preparedness skill. If your town is under siege due to a weather event, do you want to eat cold cereal until you can get to a restaurant days later?  Or perhaps you lose power for a few days.  If all you ever do to “cook” is throw something into a microwave you are pretty hosed until the power is restored. Everyone should know how to make some basic meals from actual ingredients, not just heating something in a frozen tray.

On most of the “popular” prepping/survival sites everyone talks about needing to know how to hunt and fish and survive with nothing more than a fixed blade knife and your wits. While those are certainly valuable skills to have, for a lot of people that is a totally unrealistic approach to preparedness. I could be a highly skilled and seasoned hunter, but a fat lot of good that will do me living in suburbia with a million other people in close proximity.  Same goes for fishing – the nearest potential fishing spot from me is nearly 30 miles away.  In a true emergency situation, even if it is drawn out for days on end, I wouldn’t try to get myself that far away from my home base for the chance of catching a fish.  Learning how to trap a squirrel, as unappetizing as that may be to most people, would actually be a far better skill for me to learn than traditional hunting for no other reason than squirrels are abundant in my neighborhood.  And yes I know,   “… during the Great Depression squirrels were hunted nearly to extinction, blah, blah, blah,… “.  Don’t care.  Because I’ve assessed where I am and what is (and what is NOT) around me and I know I have a much better chance to get a squirrel than a deer or feral hog or what-have-you.  We simply do not have those critters anywhere around here.  Maybe you do, and if so hunting is a GREAT skill to learn.

There are many, many things in life that can be great preparedness skills and tools, but before you can determine what you need moving forward; you need to figure out where you are. What I’m talking about is a full blown assessment of your life and everything in it that you have control over.

This means looking at your home to determine its strengths and weaknesses, and the same with your transportation. How is your food and water supply?  What can you do to prevent fires?  How about general accident prevention? What kind of resiliency is in place for you and those you provide for, should something happen to derail your normal, everyday life?  What types of emergencies is your area generally prone to?  The U.S. is chock full of potential natural disasters, but what might affect someone in Silicon Valley will most likely not be the same thing that affects someone in the Great Plains, which will not be the same as you’d face in Florida along the coastal regions.

Nobody can prepare for every eventuality and thankfully there is some overlap; in other words preparations for one type of emergency will also be useful for others. A First Aid kit is a prime example.  But you need to be focused on probability, not possibility.  Because lets’ face it, the possibilities of calamities are infinite, from a rogue nation launching an EMP attack to an alien invasion from outer space to whatever else your imagination can conjure, but those things are NOT exactly probable.  Tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes – those kinds of things are probable everywhere in this country, but depending on where you are one or two of them are highly more probable than others.  If I lived in NYC, I wouldn’t worry myself too much with, or prepare for wildfires.  Likewise if I’m in Lincoln Nebraska, I’m not going to be really concerned with hurricanes or tsunami events.

In upcoming articles I will be breaking down assessments into bite-sized pieces and go more in depth. This piece here is really intended to set the frame of mind and hopefully calm some of the panic that a lot of people seem to be consumed with lately.  There is a famous line that says something along the lines of; “The easiest way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time” and that is what I plan to do here.  We will dig into how to and what to assess, how to put a plan together and how all these seemingly unrelated topics will actually help you become better prepared for whatever life throws at us.  Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading,

~J

What You See Is What You Get

Starting something new  can be a daunting task.  I myself  suffer greatly from  “analysis paralysis” and as a consequence I  end up talking myself out of doing something because I can’t do it exactly as I  want to at the time for whatever reason.

This blog isn’t exactly as I want it to be, but I decided that I had made enough excuses and that  this time I wouldn’t put it off until “someday”.  I figured better to start now and figure it out as I go along rather than add this project to a list of “could have…, should have…, would have..” regrets.  I’ve read enough blogs over the past few years to know what I am putting out for the world to see is rudimentary at best, but for now I will focus on content and worry about the rest when I need to.

If you’re still with me, thank you!  I want you to know that I consider this not even the ground floor, but more like the footings of the basement below the ground floor.  I’ve been fussing with the blueprint for a while now so it’s time to get to work.  I hope to build something wonderful here, but as with any learn-as-you-go project its going to be a slow build.  I’ll get the footing in, then start building up from there and see where  we go.

I expect that there will be a lot of changes  coming, and a lot of them will be temporary, as  I  don’t have it all  figured out yet and I  won’t stop messing with things until I think it’s the best I  can do, so please bear with me.  It might not be pretty at times but I look forward to sharing my experiences and ideas with you.

Thanks for reading,

~J

 

 

 

Pursuing Life, Liberty & Happiness.

 

 

Perhaps one of the most important phrases ever put to paper comes from the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

However, most people don’t know – nor did I until recently – that this was the “edited version” and that Jefferson’s rough draft included a similar, and in my opinion stronger, statement:  We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.

There are only a couple words that were changed and yet, the rough version to my mind speaks of a few very important things that don’t come across as strongly in the final version.  First, the word “undeniable”.  Sure, “self-evident” implies that anyone with half a brain in his head would know that all of us were born with certain Rights, however such a word can be – and has been- twisted to suit others whom would have us all toss those Rights out the window.  When you say we have an undeniable right to the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness, that says no matter whom you are – Senator, Supreme Court Justice, President – you cannot DENY anyone’s right to such.  Add to this “preservation” of life & liberty; to assume preservation also assumes that we already have our lives and liberty to preserve.

The second phrase I find interesting is the part that states “all men are created equal & independent”.  It’s curious that our founders chose to eliminate the independent part from their Declaration of Independence, wouldn’t you say?  I’d like to think that this change was simply for the sake of brevity, but could it be that despite the Founder’s efforts to become independent themselves, they didn’t really see that as a sustainable prospect for everybody?  That they as a new Nation sought to be independent of some other far-flung “Ruler”, but would then become the new Rulers of this Nation by default?

As much as I admire the Founders for their foresight and courage, I recognize that they were merely men, with all that entails.   Just like today, we have a great many people that have made it their life’s work to govern, to represent, to help usher in “Progress” but when all is said and done, they are simply nothing more than people just like you and I.  There is a small, very small part of me that still likes to believe some of these folks are doing it for the right reasons but I suspect the truth is far more of them enter into “Public Service” in order to enrich themselves or to push people around into their way of life.

I’m not some conspiracy theorist and I don’t think there is some over-reaching attempt to turn us all into “slaves” for the State. I think the truth of the matter is that humans are flawed.  Sure, some are power-hungry and want to be in charge no matter what they are involved in but I believe just as many are well intentioned but stupid.  Then there are those who just go along to get along and “don’t like to make waves” and will never protest something that doesn’t affect them directly.  I believe this is, above all else, because we humans are selfish.  We want what we want, and the other guy doesn’t matter all that much.  I actually have the biggest problem with these type of people.  The loud mouth that wants to run everything is easily identifiable and can therefore be avoided or taken head-on.  You know what you are dealing with. It seems that the non-wave-makers are the ones that sneak around behind the scenes and really screw it up for the rest of us.

Liberty, in its most basic definition is the freedom to think or act without being constrained by necessity or force. That doesn’t sound like a lot to ask of our country, but it is increasingly being attacked in numerous ways, and it’s more than just the Government that is doing it.  From the Occupy protestors, the BLM contingent, the LGBT coalition or whatever they are calling themselves these days         , the political hate mongers and the religious zealots – everybody is trying to push their will, their agenda onto everyone else whether we like it or not.  That is NOT liberty.

I know who I am, what I believe in and I live accordingly. The harder you try to force me to bend to your will or see “your side” the more I will resist, period.  The flip side of that is that I will not ever try to force you to do something my way, nor will I ever try to enlist any government agency or “community group” to do the dirty work for me.  If I don’t like what you’re doing, I will ignore you until your actions infringe upon my Rights.  If you don’t like what I’m doing, but I’m not hurting anything other than your precious feelings, then feel free to ignore me.  We don’t have to like each other or agree with each other but we DO need to let each other live a life of liberty.  If we lose that as Americans, we’ve lost everything.

My goal is to help people become happy and secure enough in their own lives that they won’t feel the need to lash out and try to make their neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc. as miserable as they are. I’ve seen many times in my life people trying to take control of others or of a situation simply to battle the feeling that their own life is out of their control.  Don’t be that guy.

I’m here to tell you that you CAN take control of your own life. You can let others do their own thing without it affecting you.  You can call your own shots.  It’s a wonderful thing, it truly is.  That is what I want for every single person that reads this.  I want you all to declare yourselves worthy of Liberty and get out there and pursue your own happiness and stop worrying so much about what everyone else is doing.

Thanks for reading,

~J

Taking the first step.

The word preparedness means different things to different people. For some people, remembering to grab their cell phone on the way out of the house makes them feel like they’re prepared for anything.  And if it happens to be fully charged then they haven’t a care in the world.  While cell phones these days are without a doubt amazing devices and a great tool to have on hand in an emergency, they are just that – a tool.  But, if you’ve ever known anyone that likes to tinker on things, fix things, build things from scratch you will find most, if not all of them have more than one tool available to them.  Different tools do different things and no matter what anyone says, there is no tool on earth that does everything, not even the smartest of smart phones.

To me, being prepared is more than just tools although that’s part of it.  The biggest question you have to answer for yourself when you make the decision to become better prepared is “what am I likely to face today?”  The reason you have to answer this for yourself is simple, no one else is going to have the exact same day as you and everyone has different needs.  And those needs can change daily.

For example, if you are a new mother (or father for that matter) and you are taking your new baby out into the world, you know that you need to bring a whole assortment of goodies along with you to make sure you’ve got everything on hand that you might need to keep your baby clean, comfortable and safe.  So you’ve got your car seat, your diaper bag stocked with all sorts of things, maybe a stroller or sun shade if you’re going to be outdoors, etc.  In short, you take a look at what lies ahead for your day and thoughtfully decide what you need to have with you and maybe a little extra, “just in case”.  Unless you are caught up in the most dire of circumstances, nobody would leave their house with a baby unprepared, right?  That’s just plain old common sense.  The thing is, “just in case” can apply to anyone and everyone so why would you plan so meticulously for your child, and not think about yourself and your possible needs?  After all, if you are responsible for caring for a defenseless child, shouldn’t you make sure you have everything you might need to fulfil your duties?

An acronym you will see repeated incessantly if you frequent preparedness or survival websites is EDC, which stands for “every day carry”.  Simply put, these are the items you carry with you every day, regardless of the situation. For most, this will include things like your wallet, keys, and the aforementioned cell phone.  For most folks with the prepared mindset, this is less than bare minimum.  Some other common EDC items you’ll see often are multi-tools (like Leatherman or Gerber tools), small flashlights or penlights, pocket knives and quite possibly defensive tools such as fire arms, Tasers or pepper spray.  The variations on EDC are virtually endless and really the only person that should influence your EDC is you.  After all, nobody knows your needs better than you, right?

I am without question a strong proponent of thoughtful, practical EDC although compared to most others in this realm I carry a pretty light load.  In addition to the typical wallet-phone-keys that nearly everyone keeps with them, I always carry a pocket knife and handkerchief.  The other item I never leave home without is sunglasses, regardless of the season.  This is a prime example of individual needs – most folks can get by without sunglasses, even if it’s bright out.  I can’t.  My eyes for whatever reasons are so sensitive to sunlight I’m nearly blind in the daytime without sunglasses.  For what it’s worth, I wear reading glasses too but almost never remember to take them with me “just in case” because I can generally get by without them even if it can be annoying sometimes.

Without a doubt there have been times when I thought “if only I had (fill in the blank)” but I’m not terribly comfortable walking around with ten pounds of stuff in my pockets and more stuff hanging off my belt. And frankly in my work environment, I’d be getting some pretty odd looks if I ran around with the full on Batman utility belt strapped around my waist “just in case”.  I simply carry the things I find most often needed and leave it at that.  Because let’s face it, while there are certainly times when it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it, if your EDC is heavy, uncomfortable, awkward or gets you unwelcome attention, you WILL stop carrying it.

Keep in mind that preparedness comes in layers. Your EDC is but one layer and it isn’t meant to be an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach.  This is just something that will keep you prepared for your everyday world and make life a little easier.  If you feel like you need more than a simple set up and you can comfortably carry it every day then by all means, go for it.  Likewise, if you decide to start carrying a particular EDC set up and you forget something one day, don’t beat yourself up over it.  It happens.  What you will find when you get in the habit though, is that that the things you use the most, the things you find most important, you will stop forgetting.  It will become second nature.  And don’t be afraid to experiment.  Put things in different pockets and see if it works better for your needs.  If you carry a flashlight but find it awkward, try a different size.  Perhaps you decide you need to carry a flashlight but after six months you realize you’ve never taken it out of its sheath, stop carrying it.   Some people like belt pouches, some people hate them.  Same with back packs and messenger bags, some can’t live with them while others can’t live without them.  There are many ways to carry, many ways to organize and like I said before, the variations are endless.  It’s entirely up to you to decide what your comfort level is and what your individual needs are.

A lot of people will say that preparedness is a “lifestyle” and I suppose I can agree with that to some extent. Personally I think of preparedness as more of a mindset.  Not everything I do in life has to do with preparedness, but I do my best to be prepared for whatever may come my way.  Regardless of how you look at it, I strongly recommend you take a look and asses your EDC to determine what you can do to make your everyday life a little easier.  After all, most of us do it anyway, just not in such a thoughtful way.

In future articles, I will continue to peel back the layers of the preparedness onion but EDC is as good a place as any to start. If nothing else it will put you on the path of mindset change that must come as part of the journey to self-reliance.

Thanks for reading,

~J