Tuesday, December 27, 2016

4 Ways To Protect Your Home From Intruder Invasion

It's difficult to find specific statistics regarding the precise number of home invasions that occur each day in the United States. The reason for this is that quite often if intruders are caught, they are charged with a crime such as burglary, assault or various other charges rather than their crime being recorded statistically as an invasion. There are numerous steps you can take to avoid becoming a statistic of any type of intruder invasion.

Security system

Having a security system installed, especially one with a video monitoring system is one of the best ways to prevent intruder invasion. Take time to explore the many types of systems that are available and select the best system your budget allows. Preventing intruder invasion isn't just about theft, it's also about keeping yourself and your family safe.

Keep quiet

Keeping quiet can reduce your risk of intruder invasion, especially when theft is the intruder's motive. Refrain from revealing travel plans or your daily schedule to others or as a status update on your social media networks. Don't brag about new purchases you've made, especially when they involve electronics or other items that are enticing to burglars. Revealing travel plans on the phone in a public place or putting out boxes and old equipment that indicate you've made new purchases or updated electronic equipment are two ways to make your home a target for thieves.

Seek advice

Take advantage of the resources available to you to help keep your home safe from intruders. If you know or can be directed to a person who has achieved an online degree in criminology, they can provide you with invaluable information on ways to keep your home and family safe. In the course of their study, they will have acquired knowledge regarding what burglars who have been arrested say deterred them from targeting certain homes. They will also have learned tips that they can pass onto you regarding measures you can take to make your home more secure.

Get a dog

Noise scares intruders. A large dog may provide physical protect, but a small, barking dog stirs enough noise to attract attention and discourage an intruder. Small dogs can be excellent at warning you or alerting neighbors to unusual activity around the house.

Intruders aren't always strangers. You need to be selective about the personal information you reveal to others and who you invite into your home. It's also essential that you invest in quality locks and that you be diligent about locking windows and doors in order to keep your family, and your house, protected.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

5 Easy Steps for Emergency Preparedness at Home

Nobody likes to think the worst, but being prepared can make you feel more secure about the future. These five strategies can help you deal with a multitude of scenarios.

Invest in a Security System

A security system not only deters burglars, but the company that monitors the home can alert the police and send you messages in regards to the status of your house. Invest in a security system that will provide you peace of mind in the event of an intrusion or other home front emergency. Alarm monitoring can also detect detect smoke and fire, whether they're the result of an electrical issue, a cooking mishap or a spark from a heating unit.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

An emergency kit should contain a NOAA weather radio, flashlight, cell phone, whistle, dust masks, antibacterial wipes, manual can opener, local map, and enough food and water for at least three days. Keep in mind that you’ll need one gallon of water per day per person, and don’t forget supplies for pets, if applicable. Additionally, keep extra batteries and an emergency gas shut-off wrench with the kit.

Learn Basic Emergency Skills

If you don't already have a fire extinguisher, get one and make sure to familiarize yourself with the instructions. Consider getting trained in basic first aid such as CPR. You can find classes by contacting Red Cross, a local community college or your library.

Learn How to Shut Off Utilities

If your home uses gas, familiarize yourself with the shutoff valve on the gas meter. The utility line closes when you turn the valve a quarter in either direction. The goal is to have it run crosswise to the pipe. Once the gas is shut off, only a professional can turn it back on.

The location of the valve for the waterline depends on your home and location. In warm climates, it’s usually located near the water meter. In colder regions, you might find it in the basement or near the pipe that leads to the water heater.

In regards to electricity, always turn off all individual circuits before switching off the main breaker.

Have a Plan for Pets

If you need to leave your home in an emergency, keep in mind that pets aren’t allowed in most designated evacuation shelters. Prepare for that scenario by making arrangements with a friend or family member beforehand. You should also microchip any pets and invest in a GPS tracker.

While you can’t prepare for everything, completing these steps beforehand will allow you to keep your focus when dealing with a potential emergency. Make sure that everyone in your family is on board with these steps, and discuss your safety plans regularly.

Rachael Murphey is an entrepreneur and writer on topics relating to business, personal finance, personal growth, and emergency preparedness. She currently lives in Denver, CO with her dog Charlie.

Monday, December 05, 2016

How to Keep Your Students Safe in an Era of Random Violence

An uptick in violence has taken place in the United States in recent years. With over 10 incidents of school shootings in 2016 so far and additional incidents expected before the end of the year, it's more important than ever that school staff prepare themselves for these and other so-called "random" acts of violence.

Students and adult campus visitors acquire weapons from:
  • Family members and friends
  • 3D printer designs shared freely online
  • Merchants who don't follow gun control laws
  • Domestic and international terrorist groups

To keep students and yourself as safe as possible when violence erupts, do the following at your school immediately.

Educate Students and Staff

Educating students and colleagues about random violence is critical to their safety. Speak with your school administrator about providing classes that deal with situational awareness and recognizing the signs of a potential sudden violent event, protocols for reporting these signs and appropriate reactions to violence. Run live drills involving different scenarios to help students and staff better understand what to expect so that they're more likely to remember their lessons during the real thing.

Involve Parents and Guardians

A community that works together to prevent violence has a better chance of doing so. Beyond asking parents/guardians for permission to teach their children critical survival skills, ask them to become active participants in the process. If any parents/guardians or their relatives are emergency first responders, ask them to speak at the school about their jobs and their protocols for responding to different worse case scenarios of random violence. Prepare parents/guardians for the potential questions about random violence that they might receive from their children. Additionally, talk to them about their own situational awareness and the actions they should take if they observe questionable events taking place when visiting the campus.

Take Self Defense Classes

You can't hope to protect others if you don't know how to protect yourself. Seek out a self-defense teacher who has a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice. Keep in mind that the degree is important as post-graduate studies often focus on individual and group security measures related to random acts of violence. Take notes so that you can pass the knowledge and guidance you receive from your own teacher to students, teachers, other staff members and parents/guardians.

You can't always prevent violence from occurring on a school campus, but you can help reduce injuries and deaths. Be as prepared as possible by implementing these techniques into your educational routine. Preventative safety measures save lives.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Few Items for Your Dog’s Bug-Out Bag

California Mountain Dog If you haven’t considered your pet for bug in and bug out situations, it’s about time you should. We’ve all seen videos of people caught in disasters who’re more concerned about finding their cat than they are about where they’re going to sleep at night. Besides, pets will be of immense value post-collapse when it comes to moral support. To them, all it matters is that you’re still together...

In today’s article I want to focus on dogs and their needs in bug out scenarios. Depending on its size and strength, a dog may or may not carry his own stuff. The rest will either go in your bug out vehicle’s trunk or inside your own BOB.

So let’s see some of these items that you should make part of your survival plan.

An Emergency Leash

If your dog is anything like mine, he’s going to be really, really scared if and when general panic sets in. You’re going to want to keep him on a leash at all times, particularly if you’re bugging out with your car. If you’re the one driving, you can’t afford Lucky to distract you, so have someone sit with him on the back seat.

Food and Water

Don’t pack too much, because they’re heavy. It all depends on the size of your dog. Store extra food and water in your car’s trunk and beware of high temperatures. Anything inside your car’s trunk that’s perishable should be rotated more often than what’s in your pantry or basement.

A Collapsible Dish

You can use it for other things, such as collecting rainwater or foraging. The more containers you have with you, the better. You never know what you’ll end up putting in them.

A Dog Crate... Also Collapsible

This is something you could add to your car bug out bag and even use it to store other supplies. Particularly useful if you’re going to camp in the woods, if you don’t want your dog to run away while you’re sleeping.

A First Aid Kit

You can opt for those pre-packed ones on the market or you can assemble one yourself. Just keep in mind that there’s a difference between a FAKs for people and those for dogs. If you do decide to assemble them yourself, I suggest you keep them separated.

Body Armor

Come again? Why would your dog need it? Because you’ll never know when a wild animal might attack him... or get hit by a bullet You don’t want him unprotected when he’s trying to protect you. Soft armor vests are lightweight and have lots of pockets where you can fit many of the items given in this article.

Two Inflatable Mini-Beach Balls

This may sound weird but consider the scenario where you all need to cross a large body of water. Even if your dog can swim, can he do it with weight on his back? If you add something inflatable on both sides of the backpack, it’ll be much easier. A couple of small inflatable 5” beach balls will do.

Glow Sticks

Glow sticks make great emergency lighting because they have a 5-year shelf life (so long as you don’t crack them open), they pose no fire risk and are powerful enough to light your way. Tie one to your dog’s collar to be able to see him in the dark.

A Few Ziploc Bags

They have numerous alternative uses so it’s always good to have a few. These should be in every survival bag (GHB, BOB, car BOB) and even as part of your edc – they are crucial for survival because they have so many uses.

Vaccination Records

If you can laminate them, even better. If your dog gets lost and someone finds him or if he bites someone, they might help.

Dog Nail Clippers...

...because SHTF hygiene is crucial.

Dog Boots

During a bug out, it’ll be easier for your pup to run and walk on uneven terrain. Boots don’t add too much extra weight on its back. The only thing to do beforehand is getting it used to wearing them.

A Small Toy

A toy might keep a scared dog busy. If you put it in your own bag, you can use it to make him come to you if he strays away.

A Muzzle

A scared dog is an aggressive dog, and you don’t want him biting someone to hinder your bug-out. A muzzle will also tell other people that your dog bites (even if he doesn’t), and some of them will be discouraged to attack you.

A Respirator Mask

...in case Yellowstone decides to erupt, but also useful in case of a nuclear meltdown to keep radiation particles out of his respiratory system, though these respirators aren’t bulletproof; they’re just better than nothing, for larger particles such as dust.

A Few Items for Your Own Use

If you have enough room, you might as well put things that are really for the benefit of everyone. For example, you can put some dryer lint, because it’s a great fire-starter as well as lightweight...

Now What?

One you start getting some of these things, you’ll need to get your dog accustomed to wearing boots and having a backpack on his back. Heck, you can even go as far as simulating a bug out situation just to see how much Lucky will slow you down and see how easy it’ll be to keep him near you when you’re in a hurry.

The writer of this article would like to follow his own advice and remain anonymous.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Natural Disaster Prep: Essential Supplies for a Local Emergency

A disaster caused by a severe storm, earthquake, volcano or other natural event can happen at any time. Although you should always prepare for a natural disaster based on the types of emergencies that occur in your geographic region, you should also prepare by having the following supplies in emergency kits in your home, office and vehicle:

Medical Supplies

Natural disasters often cause physical injury to people and pets. These injuries can range from small scratches and cuts to broken bones, burns, concussions and blocked airways. Set up a tote or pack with the most important common medical supplies, including bandages, antiseptic, burn cream, wraps, antihistamines, pain killers, splints, cold and heat packs, and a folded heat reflective emergency blanket. Additionally, add an emergency event common injury and treatment guide to your kit and a 30-day supply of medicines sealed in a water-proof plastic zipper-style bag.

Clothing and Blankets

Sometimes a disaster forces individuals and families to relocate at a moment's notice. Pack at least three outfits and a week's worth of underclothes and socks in your kit along with a tightly rolled up regular blanket secured with a belt. Although an emergency heat blanket is smaller and great for short-term use, it's also wise to have a non-thermal regular blanket handy for more frequent use when you're displaced from warm conditions for longer than a day. You can also use the blanket to cover the ground to create an eating area or as a privacy screen at a shelter.

Activated Charcoal Filters

Dehydration is always a possibility after a natural disaster. Although you might add bottled water to your natural disaster kit, a water purification system offers a more lightweight and long-term solution. You can easily buy activated charcoal filters to add to your emergency kit. Keep them in your kit or even a backpack to remove many types of contaminants and impurities like dirt, sand and organic and inorganic chemicals from rain barrel, stream, river, lake and other water sources.

Non-Perishable Foods

Beyond clean water, you also need to have access to nutrient-rich foods. Regularly refresh your emergency natural disaster kit with non-expired granola bars, dried fruit, vegetable chips, canned foods and other non-perishables so that you don't have to worry about dealing with low energy, poor thinking and hunger right after a natural disaster. Don't worry about the expense of creating your emergency kits. You will see that the upfront investment of time and money was well worth it when a disaster happens.

Written by Rachelle Wilber

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ways to Secure Your Home if You Can't Afford a Home Security System

Having a security system is one of the best ways you can protect your home against burglary and intrusion. However, since most of today’s surveillance systems come with expensive price tags, they aren’t always convenient to have, especially if you are on a tight budget.

If you are looking for ways to secure your home without relying on a security system, here are a few ideas you should try.
  1. Change your locks

    Traditional locks may not be enough to protect your home anymore, especially with how smart burglars are getting these days. If you can’t get a security system, you should consider changing your locks to tougher and more durable ones.

    Deadbolt locks are a great option since they are more resistant against lock picking and bumping. They extend deep into door frames which means they won’t easily get broken in case an intruder uses brute force on your door.

    Your locks, however, can only be effective if used properly. Leaving your doors unlocked most of the time only defeats the purpose of upgrading them.

  2. Get a good door

    Your door should be of the same strength as your door lock. If your lock is durable but your actual door isn’t, it can still break and give access to intruders. In finding a good door, make sure it’s sturdy and isn’t hollow.

    If you can’t get a solid door, you can reinforce its back with a metal plate. You can just paint it over to make it look more appealing. It’s a cheaper yet effective alternative to having your entire door replaced.

  3. Know who knocks on your door

    Burglars and intruders are finding more ways to access homes without getting caught or even drawing suspicion. They can wear uniforms or claim to be somebody they aren’t. If someone knocks on your doorstep, make sure to verify his identity first. It’s not enough to check his uniform and identification cards since they can easily be forged.

    In protecting yourself and your home, you’ll want to prevent an incident from happening in the first place. Before someone could hurt and attack you inside your home, you should prevent their access in the first place. Take, for example, one of the recent cases of home attack where a man was found fired, bound and beaten by a home intruder.

  4. Build a connection with your neighbors

    Your neighbors are the first people who can sense something’s wrong in your home. They are also the first people who can recognize strangers in your neighborhood.

    If your area doesn’t have an existing neighborhood watch program yet, you can try organizing one. This type of program is one of the most traditional and effective ways to secure homes. If you can’t build one, you should, at least, get to know your neighbors. You can invite them over for dinner or gift them with freshly baked cookies or your specialty dish.

  5. Secure your valuables

    Since there’s no security system to ward off burglars or notify you in case of an attack, it’s a good idea if you can keep an inventory of your valuable items. You can list them down and take pictures of them so that in the event that someone steals them, you can provide a proof that the items are yours.

    Consider getting a safe and hiding it in an area that isn’t too obvious. There are also a lot of DIY hiding spots you can make at home, such as hidden book storage, extra slot in your cabinets or little storage boxes that mimic regular wall sockets.

Author’s Bio: Rose Cabrera specializes in reviewing home security products and systems. She has covered a wide range of brands with Ezviv Mini Security Camera as one of her latest reviews.

Monday, November 14, 2016

6 Vital Emergency Kit Additions

Emergency kits contain many items that you'll need during a crisis, such as flashlights, flares, bandages, radios, and bottled water. These items are necessary staples, but there are plenty of useful items that aren't usually included in your basic kit.

Water Purifier

Bottled water is a definite necessity to include in your kit, but there's always the possibility that you will run out. Keeping a purifier on hand will allow you to purify nearby sources of water if your stock of bottled water runs out.

Vitamin Supplements

You never know when your alertness level could be the difference between life and death, so it's important that you stay awake during a crisis. Vitamin supplements can help with fatigue by giving you bursts of energy, and can also help to boost a person’s immune system when they're dealing with high levels of stress. The last thing you want to worry about is getting sick during a crisis. Pre-packaged vitamin blends often have daily essentials in addition to energy boosters.

Power Banks

You may not have cell phone service during a crisis, but you should still keep your phone fully charged. Your cell phone is your lifeline, so make sure you have a spare charger to put in your emergency kit. Power banks are more useful than standard chargers because they can charge your cell phone even if you don't have electricity. Many crises leave victims without electricity, so a power bank definitely qualifies as a necessity.

Pepper Spray

Criminal activity still occurs during natural disasters, so it's important to be prepared for it. Protecting yourself from the immediate danger should be your first priority, but that doesn't mean you need to leave yourself defenseless to other threats. Pack one container of pepper spray for each member of your home so that no one is left defenseless.

Portable Toilet

You might not have access to a bathroom during a crisis, so it's vital that you have a portable toilet to avoid any discomfort. Many outdoor retailers, like Blackpine Sports, offer high quality portable toilets for camping or emergencies. If you invest in a portable toilet, be sure to also get plenty of extra waste disposal and odor control bags to go with it to keep sanitary and comfortable.

Cash and Copies of Identification

If you're forced to evacuate your area, you'll need cash and identification down the line. Identification is especially important in the event that your home is destroyed or your property is damaged, as you may need it to present to law enforcement or your insurance company.

You can never be too prepared for a crisis. Prepare for any emergency and pack your provisions accordingly. Stocking up on necessities now is the best way to reduce your risk of danger later.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and recent graduate of the University of New Mexico. She writes for many online publications and blogs about home improvements, family, and health. She is an avid hiker, biker and runner. Contact her via twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Preparing Your Kids with Gun Safety Lessons

If society collapsed, would your children know how to handle themselves in a world where knowledge of firearms was elemental to survival? Or, in today's society, say your child visits a friend’s house when their parents aren't home and they find a gun in the closet. Would they know enough to be safe? These are questions that matter to every mother. 41 percent of Americans have a gun in their home, according to a 2015 Gallup poll, so your child is likely to be around guns at some point whether you own one or not. Here are some basics that every parent should teach their children about gun safety.

Set the Example

The most powerful lesson is a good example. If you’re well-versed in gun safety, you'll able to teach your child more effectively. Even if you’re already familiar with guns and gun safety, it’s a good idea to take a refresher course and brush up on the basics so they’re fresh in your mind when you teach your child. The National Rifle Association publishes a directory of training courses taught by qualified instructors that you can browse to find a course near you. Learn with the type of firearm you intend to use or the type of firearm you intend to get your child when they're old enough. If you're looking to save money, try browsing a wide selection of quality used firearms from a trusted online supplier.

Follow Gun Storage Safety Rules

A big part of gun safety is storing your guns where your children can’t get them. As they get older, you can take the opportunity to teach them how to properly store guns.

Project ChildSafe recommends that guns be stored unloaded and locked in a gun vault, safe or cabinet. Ideally, your storage location should not be known by your children, especially if they haven't been taught gun safety. Furthermore, ammunition should be kept in a separate location, as should keys.

For additional protection, you can use a gun locking device to prevent the gun from firing. Yet another option is to break a firearm down and store the parts separately to ensure that it won't be misused.

Guns should always be unloaded and cleaned after use and before storage. Even if you think the gun is already unloaded, double check. Sometimes ammunition remains in a gun’s magazine after it has been fired.

Teach Gun Safety Rules

Learning how to handle guns safely is another part of basic firearms safety. The most fundamental rule is to always point a gun’s muzzle in a safe direction, meaning away from yourself and other people so that if the gun were to go off, it would not harm anyone. When holding a gun at your side, make sure it points to the ground and not at your feet or another part of your body.

Another basic principle is to always assume a gun is loaded. Don’t assume a gun is unloaded just because you took it out of storage or because someone told you it was empty. You never know what someone else may have done with the gun before you had it, and you should never just assume that the magazine is empty without.

A third basic principle is to never load or cock a firearm before you’re ready to actually fire it; keep guns unloaded when not in use. Also, pick guns up with your finger outside the trigger guard rather than inside.

Teach Your Children What to Do if They Find a Gun

There's always the chance that a child will come across a gun before they're adequately trained and old enough to safely handle it. If this happens, they need to know what to do. Make sure they know that if they find an unattended weapon they should get an adult to deal with it rather than trying to handle the gun themselves. Explain that a gun can accidentally go off and should only be handled by someone capable of handling it safely. Some toys resemble guns, so teach your children to be careful about assuming a weapon is a toy and to assume it is real unless they know otherwise. Likewise, teach them to never to point a gun at anyone and to always assume a gun is loaded.

Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.

Monday, October 31, 2016

How Solar Panels Can Be a Boon in an Emergency Situation

How Solar Panels Can Be a Boon in an Emergency Situation

In an emergency situation such as a power outage, natural disaster or man-made disaster, being able to generate your own electricity can help to keep you and your family safe. One of the most cost-effective and easy to use ways to generate electricity is with solar power. Solar panels can be installed onto your rooftop, requiring as little as 12 square yards of roof surface.

Operating Heating and Cooling Systems

A wintertime blizzard, ice storm or nor'easter could result in widespread wintertime power outages. Having solar panels on your home could supply enough electricity to keep your heating system on. This would allow you to stay in your home and off the unsafe roads. A summertime severe weather event such as a derecho could also cause widespread power outages. Your solar panels could deliver enough power to keep your air conditioning working.

Maintaining Essential Appliances

If you have a medical condition such as sleep apnea or COPD that requires the use of breathing machines or other appliances, having a steady supply of electricity is crucial to your health. With solar panels in place, you would have enough energy to power these life-saving systems. The solar panels can also power a refrigerator to keep baby formula safe and can even run your hot water or oven for cooking.

Do-It-Yourself Solar Kits

Do-it-yourself solar panel kits allow you to save money on the cost of installing a solar system. A typical 4kW system can cost a homeowner about $18,000 in 2016, explains the Energy Informative. About 15 percent of that cost is the installation fees. By installing your own solar panel kit, you could save about $2,500. This level of savings shortens the payoff period of your solar system.

Security Systems

Solar panels can also help to keep your home safe in an emergency situation. The panels can be linked to an inverter that stores the energy you do not use. Some professionals, like Jeff Long, know that the stored energy can be used to power your home's security system even if the electrical grid is down. You can also use the power to charge your cellphone in order to call for help or make contact with family. Solar panels are an environmentally friendly way to generate your own electricity. The systems pay off in 18 to 22 years, but their lifespan is about 25 years. By installing a solar panel system on your home, you can be safe in any type of an emergency situation.

Written by Rachelle Wilber

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Disaster Ready: Best Ways to Insure Your Family Against the Worst

Family Being the head of a family requires taking on many different responsibilities. The most important of which should always be providing security and safety for your family. To do this, you must always plan for the worst. Below are some ways you can protect your home and family from disaster.

Homeowners Insurance

First of all, you need to make sure you purchase homeowners insurance to protect your house against a disaster or act of nature. Homeowners insurance should cover acts of nature such as lightning strikes, fire, strong winds, and hail. According to Bachus & Schanker Law, good homeowner’s insurance policy should also pay for damage done by criminals such as vandalism or burglary. Check with your provider to see what might be missing from your policy and what you should think about adding.

Earthquake and Flood Insurance

Even basic homeowner’s insurance policies won’t cover everything. In certain cases, you may need to purchase extra coverage to protect against certain kinds of disasters more likely to occur in certain areas. You may need earthquake insurance if you live near a fault line and alternatively, you may need flood insurance if you live within a flood plain. Keep in mind that even if earthquakes or flooding happen rarely in an area, it is still a possibility in many parts of the country.

Health Insurance

Not all emergencies affect your property, some affect the livelihood of your family directly, as is the case with medical emergencies. Make sure everyone in your family has adequate health insurance coverage. If you don’t receive health insurance through your employer, purchase it through a state run healthcare exchange to receive a discount from the federal government. Obtaining state healthcare insurance or federal coverage such as Medicaid, Medicare, or health coverage from the Veteran’s Administration is another good option to save money.

Legal Representation

Some injuries are the result of the negligence or malicious acts of others. You or your family members may have received a significant disability due to the action or lack of action of another party. However, health insurance may not provide for everything in this situation such as loss of income or loss of quality of life. If this is the case, it may be best to contact a personal injury lawyer in Denver or your local areas to represent you or your family members in court. Civil court exists to help correct losses brought on by the negligence of others.

These of course are only a few of the things you should do to protect your family members and home against disaster. Stay vigilant and be proactive about providing physical and financial security for your family. You’ll be able to rest much easier if you do.

Eileen O'Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Journalists in Danger: What Writers Face on the Front Lines

Field journalists are daring enough to face the reality of a situation in order to reveal the truth and get the real story. Many have fallen prey to risks that not only hinder their ability to produce a hard-hitting story, but create a situation that could threaten their very lives. It's crucial to learn what you can do to avoid these outcomes when reporting from the front lines. Here are three of the most common risks that apply to a broad base of field journalists.

Disease and Illness

When abroad, traveling journalists are at risk for mild to severe diseases after being exposed to a foreign environment. To avoid getting sick while in the field and thus jeopardizing your news story, be sure to be aware of the specific environmental risks of the location you're visiting. For intercontinental travel, this would mean researching water conditions and food quality. Even US-based journalists visiting a neighboring state must look into the local health hazards of a location. For example, that restaurant you visit for lunch could give you food poisoning, so check the Yelp reviews before putting anything in your body that may have harmed others before you.

Legal Troubles or Imprisonment

Even if you have a Master's in global affairs, there are undoubtedly some important laws you should be aware of in your new location. Do some research before risking becoming imprisoned in a foreign land. Though close to home, visiting a different state or province could be risky if you are unaware of regional laws such as speed limits, cell phone regulations, even eating while driving.

Culture Clashes

As a journalist, it's natural to want to push boundaries, but sometimes this could cause a situation that not only prevents you from getting your story, but from leaving the area safely. A lot can be avoided by respecting a region's local culture. This can come down to a question of altering your personality, such as keeping quiet when you disagree. Remember, your goal is to create a story worth sharing. Remain tactful and polite, so as not to spook the locals and spark suspicion. Before traveling, be sure you are up to speed with the local values and customs.

You may have noticed a common strain in avoiding field journalism pitfalls is research, research, and more research. Now that you've gotten some tips, it's your turn to prioritize and research the stigmas, taboos, and legal regulations of the place you're visiting. Remember, you have a greater purpose of spreading truth, so don't get in your own way.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and recent graduate of the University of New Mexico. She writes for many online publications and blogs about home improvements, family, and health. She is an avid hiker, biker and runner. Contact her via twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Off-The-Grid Food: How To Create Your Own At-Home Farm

More people are choosing to live “off-the-grid” because they feel that it gives them more freedom to live in an environment that has less government monitoring. There are no city utilities, such as water or electricity, and they even grow their own food to avoid having to purchase it from grocery stores. But while there are numerous individual residences of this style, a portion of off-the-grid establishments contain a much greater population of 20 people or more. This means that a larger number of resources are needed to provide for them all, especially when it comes to food. Because of this, a small garden plot of vegetables just won't do. Instead, an entire farm must be created.

Get Your Equipment Ready

It helps to have proper equipment and tractor care, from places like TractorTool, to help you prepare the land with if you will be farming quite a few acres. It simply takes too much manual labor to attempt to dig up so much soil by hand. Sometimes, off-the-grid communities put their money together to buy farm equipment, so they can all share it.

Prepare the Land

The soil can be tilled as soon as the last frost of the season has finished. If the ground is wet from spring rains, wait until it is dry though. Add manure from any cows or pigs that you are raising over the top of the soil beforehand. This way, it will be worked into the soil as you use the tractor.

Gather Your Seeds

It is too expensive to purchase pre-grown plant seedlings when growing several acres of crops. Seeds are a much more cost effective alternative. To determine how many seeds that will be needed, one must do some math. Calculate the amount of land that is available for growing. Then, determine how much space each type of plant will need and how many plants will fit in the area. Draw a grid out on a piece of paper that shows where each one must be planted. Add up all of the plant types too. All of this information will give you the seed volume for each type.

Plant Your Crops

Use the grid that you made to plant the seeds. Be sure to include some extra seeds in each spot in case some of them don't sprout. If space is an issue, and you are hoping for a large volume of crops, it might be tempting to overcrowd the plants. But this is actually detrimental to their health because they will not get enough sun if planted this way.

Overall, there are tons of great ways to create your own farm and grow your own crops. This is definitely a great way to have access to fresh and natural food every day.

Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Home Should Be Your Sanctuary: 4 Security Options For The Constant Worrier

The home is considered to be a place to retreat and feel safe from the outside world. Unfortunately, there's a risk of break-ins if the home isn't properly secured. To ensure that you avoid worrying about your home security and can protect your possessions, there are a few important security options to utilize.

  1. Motion-Sensor Lights

    It can be easy to worry about someone lurking in the dark outdoors late at night when you're home. Make it difficult for intruders to hide in dark corners or areas that aren't visible on the property by using motion-sensor lights. The light will make it easy to spot someone outdoors once motion is detected, which will reduce the risk of a break-in.

  2. Security Doors

    The most common place where intruders enter homes is through the front or back door on the first floor of a building. Although locks are used to secure the homes, they can easily be broken if the door is kicked down or if there's enough force on the other end. Install a custom-made security door that is extremely durable and will make it difficult to access the building with the use of Bonds Security products.

  3. Cameras

    More people are using cameras to monitor the activity on their property when they're away from the home. This makes it easy to keep an eye on different entry points and alert the authorities if suspicious activity is detected. Some security systems include cameras and will send you a photo of anyone who takes a step on the property or knocks on your door during at any time of the day.

  4. Door Stop Alarms

    Door stop alarms are an extra precaution to use to secure your front or back door. The product detects when a door is opened and will immediately alert the homeowner if someone has entered the house. The door stop is durable and portable, making it easy to use on different areas in the home or even take with you when you're staying in a hotel.

Theft and home intrusions continue to become more common, making it important to secure your home and remain safe on the property. Although it can be difficult to prevent a break-in, you can make it extremely challenging for someone to enter the property with the right tools used. You'll not only reduce the risk of a break-in but can have peace of mind while you're home.

Meghan is a freelance writer from Oklahoma. She enjoys being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise as well as researching new topics to expand her horizons.

Friday, September 16, 2016

How to Make a Trailer into a Suitable Camper

How many times have you seen a travel trailer zooming by on the interstate and thought, “Boy, I wish I could travel in one of those?” It may not be as unreachable a dream as you think. Even though most of the ‘silver palaces’ of the 1940s–1960s are gone, and modern RVs are prohibitively expensive, there is another option.

Cargo trailers, like the Endura Cargo Trailer by Hillsboro Industries, can be easily converted and customized into a comfortable tiny home on wheels.

Advantages of Cargo Trailer Conversion

  • Fully-customizable - Classic travel trailers were designed to serve a different lifestyle, and may not be suitable for modern living. Many feel like dark, claustrophobic spaces. Cargo trailers are an empty, open space, just waiting to be built to your specific needs. Straight-hitch trailers can run from fourteen to twenty-eight feet in length. Fifth-wheel models vary between fourteen and thirty-four feet. Cargo trailers come in a variety of widths and heights, unlike pre-built travel trailers, and include many options for the numbers and types of doors and windows.

  • Less expensive - Starting costs for a customized cargo trailer are considerably less than an RV.

  • New - With a brand-new cargo trailer, there are no concerns over the condition of the frame, exterior, or electrical systems. When you buy a used travel trailer, you’re never sure of the condition it’s in.

  • Lighter - Aluminum, double-wall construction is light, stronger and more durable than steel. You can control how much weight you want to add to your mobile home-away-from-home.

  • Unobtrusive - Many people prefer using a cargo trailer because it attracts less attention. Traditional RVs may be subject to restrictions on where they can be parked, but those restrictions do not apply to cargo trailers.

Things to Consider First

] The first decision that must be made is, how will the trailer be used? Do you want to live in it full-time year round, or only as an alternative to a tent when camping in the great outdoors? How much do you want to spend? How much time and effort do you want to invest in the project? What climate zones do you plan to visit in your customized RV? What functional areas are most important to have in your trailer? What conveniences do you require?

External Functionality

Most cargo trailers include a standard side door and double rear doors. However, if you want the option of an outdoor room, or you want to use your RV as a toy hauler, consider buying a trailer with a rear ramp door. If you arrange supports to lower your ramp door so that it is level with the floor of the trailer, you can create an instant outdoor deck. Some people prefer to live in a trailer with no windows, or small windows set high up along the walls. This design is optimal if being unobtrusive is an important feature. In this case, you might want to consider installing small skylights.

Insulation Is Key to Comfort

One-inch aluminum studs are readily available and would support both rigid and soft foam insulation in walls and ceiling. However, insulation in the floor will be the most important factor in keeping the heat in during the winter, and out during the summer, especially if you plan on living in the RV full-time. Installing studs and internal walls are also necessary if you wish to install plumbing, additional electrical features (like outlets and specific lighting), and propane lines for furnaces and ovens.

Many Design Options Available for Wall Panels and Flooring

Many people choose aluminum panels or 3/8” wood panels for walls, but pre-fabricated wall panels are available in hardboard, MDF, fiberglass and vinyl with almost any decorating style including brick, tile, bead board, wood planks, and 3-D textures. Subfloor panels should be at least 3/4” thick, or the floor will feel spongy when you walk on it. Once that is installed, almost any type of flooring would work well, including vinyl flooring, wood parquet tiles, or small ceramic tiles. Another quick, easy and attractive option is to paint the subfloor with a few coats of marine varnish and leave it bare.

Utilities Needed

If you plan on living in your camper full-time, you will probably want both a furnace and an air-conditioner. Choose appliances that are designed for use in an RV. Used appliances can often be found in good condition if you are on a budget. Plumbing will be crucial if the trailer is your main residence. Most campgrounds offer public showers, so you may not require one of those in your trailer, but at least one sink and a toilet are important. PVC works great in RVs, and supplies can be found at almost any hardware store.

The principles of gravity are simple and almost anyone can install their own plumbing lines. Tanks for fresh, gray and black water add weight and take up space. If you design the drainage lines at the correct angle of descent, you can avoid installing tanks altogether. Most campgrounds provide sewer and water hook-ups. Since you’ll never know the quality of the water before you arrive at a campsite, installing a small water filter is a good idea. Also, look for a water heater that is designed for RV use. If you do want a shower, you might want to search for a used one from an old RV. Installing gas lines to the propane tanks is a job best left to professionals, though, so keep that in mind.


Most campgrounds provide 120V and 240V electrical hook-ups, so once you’ve installed basic electrical wiring and outlets, you can fill your customized cargo trailer with whatever standard appliances you prefer. Small or medium-sized refrigerators, microwave and convection/toaster ovens make the most sense. Propane RV oven-stoves are also popular.

Off-Grid Living

If you don’t plan on berthing your new converted RV in a campground, there are a number of options like solar panels, chemical toilets, tent showers and other features you could install to save money and energy.

Interior Design

Once the basics are installed in your converted trailer, the real fun begins. Many people install customized shelving and platform or bunk beds. One unique idea is to use a pop-up trundle bed in conjunction with a daybed. During the day the daybed acts as a sofa. At night it converts into a king-sized bed. Not many RVs, even the really expensive ones, can support any bed larger than a queen-sized mattress. Multipurpose and convertible furniture ideas will also help make your new residence more livable.

No Limits

With the emergence of the tiny home movement and a robust RV industry, once you’ve decided to embark on the cargo trailer conversion adventure, there really are no limits as to the RV you can create. Visit a trailer dealer to see what brand-new, customizable cargo trailers are available and begin the journey.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Complete Guide to Controlling Weed Growth without Chemicals

Whether you are just beginning or are already experienced at gardening, you have probably found out how annoying weeds can be in the garden. And, while the use of herbicides and other chemicals are slowly becoming popular, it is still important to keep in mind that they kill not just the weeds but also the soil. Certain chemicals can persist in soils for up to 20 years and that is something you would surely want to reach your food, right?

In addition, exposure to herbicides can also result to devastating effects to a person, if it is continued for a long time. Immediate side effects that one will experience can be as mild as rashes, nausea and headache but it can go towards the severe end such as seizures and even death.

So, how do you prevent those annoying weeds from growing out and competing with your plants for space and nutrients?

The answer depends heavily on the type of plants that you are growing in your garden. Basically though, the best and most recommended method would be hand pulling and using pre-emergent but there are also methods that you can use. It is also important to get to know each gardening tool a little bit more as they play a role in making sure that the weeding and cleaning process goes as smooth as possible.

You will have to remember though that taking out the weeds is not just a one-time session. In fact, you might expect to be doing the same thing during certain phases of your plant’s growth. It is also important that you know a few more prevention tips to help keep the weeds out for as long as possible.

So, avoid the herbicides and keep your plants, yourself and your family chemical-free. Surely, you wouldn’t want to stop and smell the roses – and inhale those nasty and toxic chemicals, right?

Lisa Farland is a content writer in Happy to Survive – a blog that will help you thrive and survive, and offers articles about preparedness, and off-the-grid, self-reliant living. Lisa is an avid minimalist camper, prepper and survivalist.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Prepping Is Not Just for Men: How Women Can Prepare for Social Instability

The prepping movement may have a lot of men, and male preppers certainly have significant visibility, but there are plenty of female preppers out there and many reasons for women to join the prepper movement. Here are some of the reasons women should consider preparing for the social instability that is very likely in our future:

  • Women may have more safety concerns than men in an unstable environment.
  • Women with children need to be prepared to safeguard the lives and well-being of their children and other family members.
  • Single women on their own need to be able to defend themselves and be prepared to survive.

At its heart, being a prepper just means being prepared. Most women are already engaging in prepping behavior, from having first-aid kits in the home and the car, to stocking up on food items. For the woman ready to dive deeper into being prepared for disaster and social unrest, here are some ways to do so.
  1. Learn Self-defense and Get Comfortable with Weapons

    Take a self-defense class so you're prepared to defend yourself physically. Additionally, learn how to shoot a gun and consider buying one. Get a concealed carry permit and use it. There are even great options today for a stylish concealed carry purse, and being a prepper does not mean you have to give up your femininity.

  2. Learn How to Use Tools and How to Handle Various Basic Repairs

    Get your hands on some basic tools and get comfortable using them. Try learning some repair skills with your tools. From changing tires to repairing something broken in your home, if you're prepared with skills like these, you won't have to rely on others.

  3. Make Plans to Fortify Your Home

    You don't necessarily have to put bars on the windows now, but you should be prepared with what you need to fortify your home against intruders in the future. Have strong locks for all doors and windows, consider creating a safe room with extra security, and have the items necessary to defend yourself.

  4. Learn How to Grow Your Own Food and How to Store Food

    If disaster strikes and going to the grocery store is no longer an option, you need to learn how to grow and store your own food if you want to survive long-term. Start doing research by reading prepping blogs. Put what you learn into action, starting right away.

  5. Learn as Much as You Can About Potential Disasters and How to Survive Them

    The number of different potential disasters that preppers are guarding against, and they all present different challenges. Learn more about things like nuclear attacks, biological attacks, natural disasters, and major social unrest. Find out how these potential challenges are different and make a plan for how to respond to various scenarios.

  6. Teach Others

    One of the biggest strengths women have is their connectivity and community building skills. Once armed with knowledge and skills, it's your duty to share what you know with other women and the men in your life. Plus, although some people prefer to go it as a “lone wolf” in survivor scenarios, having the right allies with complementary skillsets can be a huge boon to survival efforts.

We all hope none of these disasters ever come to pass, but to ignore these ever more realistic scenarios is something no woman can afford to do. Face the possibilities and start to prepare! Whether or not you have a man by your side, you need to accept that you have unique challenges as well as unique strengths that can help ensure your survival and will even allow you to thrive, no matter what. With planning and training, you can hold your own against any man, and you can protect yourself and your loved ones against threat.

About the author: A recent college graduate from University of San Francisco, Anica loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she's used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Preppers Checklist: Everything You Need for Any Disaster

From earthquakes to fires, there are a number of natural disasters that can take place when you least expect it. Unfortunately, most people are not prepared for the worst to occur. To ensure that you have everything you need during an emergency situation, there are a few important supplies to have on hand.

Emergency Water Filter

Water is a resource that will allow you to stay alive after a disaster occurs. A compact water filter is an essential product that you can take on the go without having to carry extra weight. This will allow you to have safe drinking water to ensure that you survive.

Portable Camping Toilets

Portable camping toilets are essential for emergency situations when you need to use the restroom in a public setting. Some companies, like Blackpine Sports, know that having a compact and lightweight toilet makes it easy to take them on the go. You can enjoy using something that is easy to sit on instead of trying to find a grassy area or an empty lot.

Solar Flashlight

A solar flashlight will allow you to use a flashlight without having to use batteries to power the device. You'll have more light at night when walking on trails or trying to flag down other people. The product must be exposed to sunlight to obtain power at night and work for several hours. Magnetic shake lights are also ideal because they don't require batteries and are powered by shaking the product for several seconds.


A multi-tool will come in handy when you need to cut through rope or cut a cord. Multi-tools are a convenient item to carry with you and often include a small saw, a folding knife, pliers, a hole punch, and scissors. You can carry the product in your pocket and even survive the great outdoors while using the tools.

Lighter and Matches

Many people are cut off from gas and heat during a disaster, making it important to have a lighter and matches on hand to start a fighter when you need to boil water or want to keep warm at night. You can easily light cotton balls that are dipped in petroleum jelly, which will work as a sparking device when you need a fire.

Although no one can anticipate a disaster from occurring, there are several ways to prepare ahead of time by having the right products on hand. With the right materials, you can get through the emergency with ease.

Written by Rachelle Wilber

Monday, August 01, 2016

Three Ways To Prepare Your Finances For Disaster

Most people will experience a catastrophe in their lifetime. Beyond the emotional damage, these events can cause serious financial hardships that only prolong the pain and anxiety. Often, these hardships are the result of a failure to prepare. Simply addressing three key areas of you finances can put you in a position to protect yourself, your family, and your legacy.

De-risk Your Portfolio

Eliminating risk from your investment portfolio is no longer as easy as moving money from stocks to high quality bonds. Investments that were once considered safe now appear vulnerable.

A perfect example is American International Group. Formerly the world’s largest insurer, the once-AAA rated company nearly brought down the banking industry when it found itself on the cusp of bankruptcy.

When a crisis hits, bond and equity markets can become irrational. In order to combat this, avoid these investments and move your cash into liquid instruments like an FDIC-insured money market account. You also want to make certain that your deposit does not exceed the insurance limit.

If you have significant assets, you may find it difficult to withdraw your entire balance in cash. Many banks are only obligated to pay you an equivalent of cash. For instance, if you ask for $50,000 in cash, banks can deny your request and instead offer you the same amount in the form of a bank check.

If you believe that you’ll need hard currency, it would be wise to get a head start and accumulate funds over time.

Diversify Your Assets

One of the most overlooked aspects of financial disaster planning is diversifying currency. History is littered with examples of nations whose currency was devalued into oblivion.

Fiat money is only as strong as the government that backs it. For example, if you believe that the United States’ excessive borrowing could become a serious problem, it would behoove you to open banking accounts that would allow you to exchange your dollars for another country’s currency.

Another way to hedge yourself against a devaluing currency is to buy a hard asset that can be used as a medium of exchange, such as gold or silver coins. One thing to be cognizant of is transportability. It may be difficult to travel with significant assets across borders, especially by airplane.

If you believe that you may need to leave the country, you should open accounts abroad. Many foreign banks will allow you to open an account online as long as you can meet minimum deposit requirements and send copies of personal documents such as a valid passport.

In addition, programs like the Perth Mint will sell, store, and ship to you either your precious metals or its value.

Find a Lifeline

Disaster planning begins with creating an emergency fund. However, when the cost of an unexpected event depletes your savings, you may be left to choose between car payments, mortgage payments, and food.

The best solution to plugging a temporary gap is to utilize a financial supercenter such as Tracy Rawle’s Check City. Express cash loan centers allow you to turn future paychecks into cash today. In addition, you can use your assets or current employment as leverage to obtain short-term loans on the same day that you apply. This strategy should not be viewed in the same light as a credit card. Rather, this source of funds is an excellent way to solve cash flow issues that you expect to be resolved in the near future.

How To Find the Right Balance

Determining how to best protect your finances can be emotionally draining. Protection usually requires that you take something away from another area. It could mean saving instead of spending on a vacation, or forgoing the possibility of an early retirement by moving money out of the stock market and into safer assets.

Nothing feels better than the peace of mind in knowing that your loved ones are protected in the event of a disaster. Focusing on how you would like your family’s future to look, and that of generations to come, can help guide you in making the right decisions today.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Keeping Your Teeth Healthy While Roughing It

Good oral hygiene is no joke when it comes to maintaining your overall health, and this can be especially hard when camping or on a long outdoor trip. Tooth and gum infection can come on quickly and even cause other health problems. It does not matter if you will be out-of-pocket for a few days or years. You will never regret taking the time to discover the best ways to maintain a healthy smile when hygiene facilities are miles from your location.

Travel Size Toothbrush and Toothpaste

If you will be anywhere near civilization, these may be the best items to bring. Simply use a small amount of toothpaste and rinse. You do not even need water. Be careful not to spit the toothpaste anywhere near a campsite. Bears and other wild critters will be attracted to the smell. You could have some unexpected and unwelcome guests at that point.

Sticky Gum and Floss

Chewing xylitol gum is a great way to keep your teeth clean no matter where you end up. The gum makes your teeth slippery and harder for bacteria to stay on them. It is cheap, practical and works. Along with gum, a small roll of dental floss can be best friend. It will help pull out trapped food between the teeth. A long strand of hair works well as floss in a pinch.

Sap Gum

When convenience stores are miles away, grab a gob of sap and chew it like gum. It works just as well when there is nothing else available for miles. Chewing stimulates your salivary glands, which can help fight bacteria on your teeth and gums. American sweetgum trees has a resin you can chew on, as do pine trees. You can also chew on beeswax or bark in a pinch.

Teeth Cleaning Twig

Break off a small branch and remove the bark. Cut off a bite size piece and carefully chew it. Make sure you rotate it throughout the mouth and spit out all the wood. The abrasive actions will clean the teeth pretty well, and once the end is frayed, it acts as a brush for your teeth. You can also make your own flat end toothpick and scraper of sorts using a tiny branch. It takes very little woodworking skill with a small pocket knife to shape.

Fir Branch

Seek out a thick fir tree. The small pine needles can be trimmed down in a one-inch section and removed along a 5 or 6-inch portion of the small branch. You want a bare part of the branch long enough to firmly grasp with your hand. It will resemble a small toothbrush. It is not perfect, but if you are diligent, it works well if you have no alternative.

Baking Soda

If you are worried about a buildup of stains on your teeth bring a small bag of baking soda. Wet the tip of your finger and sprinkle on a little baking soda. Use the finger to scrub the surface of your teeth. Twice a day and your pearly whites will stay white.

Avoid High Sugar, Acids and Coffee

If you are going to be deep in the woods or on extended trips with limited hygiene facilities it is best to avoid certain foods and drinks to preserve the health of your teeth and gums. This means you need to pass on the taffy, caramel, candy bars, fruit juice, strawberries, citrus and soda. Eliminate highly processed foods from the diet. Foods and drinks with high sugar and acid content will promote thinning of the tooth enamel, which sets you up for the start of tooth decay. Drinks like coffee and tea can really stain your teeth. Avoid smoking, as it also stains teeth.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband. Dixie got information from this piece from Crest Hill Family Dental.

Friday, July 22, 2016

On the Safe Side: Tips for Teaching Your Teens Better Driving Skills

Parents and guardians often believe that teaching their teens better driving skills is as simple as riding along in the passenger seat as they practice. In today's fast-paced world, teens need a broader education that focuses more on detailed explanations, positive reinforcement, and guidance about bad personal habits that increase accident risks on the road. Modern teens also need visual and experiential learning tools that take into account the general ways they learn best. Consider these tips to teach your teens better driving skills as you get started.

Show Patience and Understanding

It is okay to point out incorrect driving maneuvers and actions, but you need to balance your critiques with positive examples, explained in a patient and understanding tone so your teen does not shut you out, or feel less motivated to listen. Whenever possible, lower stress by telling funny anecdotes about your own early driving experiences. Negativity can demotivate your teen and even result in errors caused by nervousness and low self-esteem so keep things in their court with what positive statements you say.

Record Them While They Drive

A recording always has a greater impact than words, because it shows your teen visually the driving problems you see. Ask someone to record your teen from outside of the vehicle at a distance during practice lessons so they can review it later. Set up an interior camera in the back of the vehicle that records all of your teen's physical actions while in the driver seat. They can watch and review mistakes and you can even show them through example what the right move might be in certain situations.

Show Them the Consequences

Since better driving skills include not being distracted, provide lessons about distracted driving. Show your teen statistics and videos related to distracted driving accidents. Afterward, show your teen the consequences in real life so that the experience has a greater impact on their understanding of common safety issues. Introduce your teen to injured accident victims or a Clearfield & Kofsky personal injury lawyer who can generically outline some worst case scenarios. Having a tangible result in front of them is a lot more impactful than just listing statistics.

Some of these tips may seem embarrassing or severe, but using them to teach your teen better driving skills can only make them safer. The most important thing to remember is that better driving helps prevent injuries and costly insurance premiums.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and recent graduate of the University of New Mexico. She writes for many online publications and blogs about home improvements, family, and health. She is an avid hiker, biker and runner. Contact her via twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

7 Survival Mistakes to Side-Step If You're a Newbie

If you just found out about prepping, you most likely reacted in one of two ways. You either thought the idea is silly or you started reading more and more. The more you read, the more unprepared and vulnerable you felt.

Since you’re reading this article, I’m assuming you’ve swallowed the red pill. But before you rush over to Amazon and spend all your money on gear let me tell you about some the mistakes that either I or other preppers have done. Why not learn from us so you can side-step them?

Mistake #1: Buying Low Quality Gear

If you’re like me when I started doing this, you’ll probably get the cheapest multi-tool you can find. Since you won’t be using it much, you may ask yourself: why spend money on something expensive? Well, because cheap gear can fail you when you need it most. The only way you can win with it is if nothing ever happens and you’ll never have to use it. Other than that, it’s a gamble.

You don’t need friends in the army to tell you what to get. You’ve got plenty of blogs, forums and the comments section on Amazon to make the right decision.

Mistake #2: Not Acting on the Info They Read

If all you’ve been doing is sit inside your home on the Internet, reading and buying things, you’re not as prepared as you think. Your purchases are giving you a false sense of security and that’s downright dangerous. Prepping involves activities such as:
  • getting in shape
  • going camping and/or hiking to see how you and your family like it
  • testing your weapons, tools and gear
  • inspecting and rotating your stockpile
  • taking first aid classes
  • going to flea markets to learn how to negotiate
  • meeting preppers and likeminded people
  • taking free or paid survival classes
  • making a plan of action to cover the most important scenarios they might have to face

Mistake #3: Putting All Their Eggs in One Basket

Newbies focus on having a bug out bag because it’s what most people recommend to get started. But instead on focusing on making that bag perfect, how about you start doing other things, such as stocking up on supplies in your car’s trunk or on getting a few items for your everyday carry?

The reason is, you’re more likely to need that bottle of water in your car or use a bandage than to actually bug out through the woods, as the classic survival scenario goes. Think in terms of maximizing your chances of coming out unharmed from any critical scenario and you’ll also be more likely to spend less.

Mistake #4: Talking About It

Needless to say, the less you talk, the less you reveal about yourself and your preps, so the safer you’ll be. I know you probably feel like telling everyone about this new community you’ve discovered of people who want to prepare, but just because it makes sense to you, this doesn’t mean it’ll make sense to them.

Some people get it, others don’t, so the best thing to do is to keep quiet, keep prepping and worry less about the fact that most people are severely unprepared for disasters and personal emergencies.

Mistake #5: Ignoring Mental Preparation

Have you seen YouTube videos of people in distress? Do you think you would’ve done the same if you were in their place? If you’ve never been in close combat or, at least, in the army, chances are you’re overestimating your ability to keep your cool when facing your own death.

What can you do? A few things:
  • visualize successfully escaping danger
  • watch as many videos as you can (flash floods, earthquakes, firearm assaults) and see yourself in the middle of the action
  • take a first aid course
  • start a martial art class and make it a goal to become good at it (at an amateur level, of course)

Mistake #6: Focusing On Food More Than on Water

You obviously need both but water is more important. Remember the rule of threes? You can live up to 3 weeks without food but up to 3 days without water. Besides, stockpiling food is more complicated because you need a cool, dry, dark place to maximize the shelf life of your food. You also need the right containers and preservatives (Mylar bags, plastic food-grade buckets etc.)

On the other hand, stockpiling water is easy. You still need to keep it in a cool dark place if you have large quantities but, as a newbie, you can store your bottles pretty much anywhere (except your attic). Don’t forget to keep a bottle in your car.

Mistake #7: Spending Too Much Money

Ok, this somewhat goes against what I said in the beginning, that you usually get what you pay for... but there are exceptions:
  • you can assemble your first aid kit and bug out bag instead of buying pre-made ones
  • you can start your own food stockpile instead of buying ready-made buckets
  • you can choose generic equivalent medicine instead of branded ones that do the exact same thing (full list here)
  • you can take a look inside your attic, tool shed and all your drawers to find items you haven’t used in years that might be useful

Final Word

I hope you don’t think this list of mistakes is, by any means, comprehensive. These are just a few of the most important ones that should save you some cash. You know what it would really help other readers? If you posted your own mistakes below. Let’s try to make this list bigger, share your experiences below.

The writer of this article would like to follow his own advice and remain anonymous.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Staying Cool in the Collapse: 5 Must-Haves for Every Hardcore Survivalist

Humanitarian Aid Drop DVIDS280836

There have been many warnings issued over the years about the possibility of a total collapse of the national electrical grid. Blackouts occur in some parts of the country during the summer months. They may be planned rolling ones to keep the entire system from being overwhelmed or they may be catastrophic unplanned ones. Thunderstorms or even hurricanes are additional reasons to be prepared for the unexpected havoc from weather related outages. There are several items that are a benefit to have on hand should this scenario occur for any length of time. Survivalists of all levels—especially hardcore enthusiasts—may already have them in their possession. Here is a list of five must-have products that will keep things cool during a collapse.

Golf Cart Batteries

These types of batteries power items for a long period of time in comparison to car batteries. They are similar in size, but can provide hours of use for refrigerators, fans, and medical machines. An inverter is needed to charge appliances and cell phones using a 120 volt outlet. Well pumps will also stay in operation so clean water will be available for drinking, cooking, and bathing. It is a good idea to purchase at least two or more, if budgets allow. Recharge one while the other is in use. A caveat is to keep batteries of the same age in use at all times.

Ration Protection

Having plenty of food to eat is critical, although humans can live for up to three days before symptoms of malnutrition kick in. An unbeatable option that can facilitate making ready to eat meals is sealed bags. They store a wide variety of food stuff from dried fruits, nuts, crackers, cereals, and more. This can be accomplished by using chamber vacuum sealers to seal bags for storing foodstuffs. Look for BPA-free products in several sizes such as three, four, or five milliliters that can accommodate sharp foods. Boil-able bags can withstand extended boils without losing food quality and taste, so look for this feature too. Consider zipper bags that can be resealed and those with tear notches for meat and dairy products such as jerky and cheese.

Mini-fan With Misting System

A compact and portable mini-fan is ideal for those times when a burst of cool is needed instead of using the resources of batteries or generators. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from, but look for ones with a built-in mister. The larger reservoirs will usually come with a flat-bottom so they stand upright when not in use. Lithium battery powered units last longer and perform better than those with alkaline batteries. Use the misting function sparingly to conserve its water content.

Two-Season Tent

During power outages, homes heat up almost as quickly as cars do. If there is no breeze, opening the windows will only invite the hot temperature inside. A two season tent is a great option for placing under a nearby tree. The spring and summer version is perfect especially when it has a ventilation screen to keep bugs out and let breezes in. Some may also come with poles and a hammock to enjoy in a shaded area.

Backpacks with Bladders

This is an excellent choice that can be storage for batteries, flashlights, and wick and lightweight clothes. They also come with different size water bladders and built-in cooler versatility. Fill them up with fresh water as soon as the outage occurs or ice would be a better alternative. Manufacturers include a straw for drinking or spout for pouring so there is no need to open it. This keeps the water cold and ice frozen as long as possible.

Hardcore survivalists are generally prepared for what may come in diverse scenarios, but this will serve as a reminder of what keeps them cool in extreme heat. The everyday individual will benefit from the information outlined here as well. Stocking a personal inventory of these items in advance is a sure way to mitigate the inconveniences associated with a collapse.

Emma is a freelance writer living in Boston. When she manages to tear herself away from the computer, she enjoys baking, rock climbing, and film noir.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Why Should I Learn Infant CPR?

Learning baby CPR is not just a practical thing to do when you have some spare time; it is something that should be made a priority. Thankfully, as the below guide clearly illustrates, it is not a complicated procedure. Just about anyone can learn how to perform baby CPR on a young child and the following points can give you the motivation you need to either learn or refresh your skills in this area. 

CPR Will be Vital in a Doomsday Scenario

Don't expect hospitals, doctors, nurses and paramedics to be available should a doomsday scenario occur. Such individuals are likely to be caring for their own families, fleeing danger zones, or will be so overwhelmed that they won’t be able to provide proper assistance. Knowing infant CPR can enable you to save your child's life if there is no one else around to turn to for help; what is more, you may even be able to trade this skill for food and/or other items or services you may need in a disaster scenario. 

Babies Are Prone to Dangerous Accidents

Babies grow quickly and tend to put dangerous things in their mouths, drink or eat poisonous substances and engage in other unsafe behaviors. While there are a number of things you can do to protect your little one from serious accidents, you cannot expect to be able to shield your child from danger all the time. Your child can have a bad accident when left unsupervised for a few minutes or when visiting a less than safe relative's or friend's home. A car accident could also result in serious injuries that may require your CPR skills.

Bystanders Are Reluctant to Help

It may be a simple procedure to learn, but you want to practice CPR regularly to ensure that you do it correctly in the time of need. Unfortunately, many bystanders are reluctant to help because they are afraid of doing something wrong. Don't refrain from offering CPR even if you don't remember the exact procedure or feel less than confident in your skills. In a traumatic situation, you may not remember how many compressions should be given per second, how deep the compressions are meant to be, or whether or not you should flick a child's feet first before giving CPR. However, even flawed CPR is better than none at all if there are no signs of circulation. 

Written by Audrey Jenkins

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Prepare for Disaster with These 5 Home Essentials

Though disasters like floods, earthquakes and hurricanes are rare, they can wreak havoc for whatever lies in their path. But even if your home is not damaged, the lack of electricity or functional roads can quickly cause problems. Be prepared for disaster with these five home essentials:

Nonperishable Food

Keep a sufficient supply of nonperishable food items that will last your family several weeks in an emergency situation. These need to be items that will not go bad without electricity, and they should be eatable without stove, oven or microwave preparation. Keep in mind that people need more calories than usual to recover from a disaster.

Fully Stocked First Aid Kits

Have a first aid kit that can treat most basic injuries like cuts, scrapes and basic infections. This will help keep any injuries from getting worse while emergency medical services are overtaxed by the disaster. Try to include any prescription medications that family members will need.

Clean Water

Experts recommend that families have two weeks’ worth of clean water in case of emergencies. Each person typically needs one gallon of water per person per day. If you store the water jugs in your garage, make sure that you can access them easily, especially if the power goes out. Companies like AAA Garage Door, Inc. specialize in durable garage door systems. In addition to drinking water, clean water can also be used for hygiene purposes.

Battery Operated Flashlights

This one might seem obvious, but a surprisingly high number of families do not have alternative lighting sources other than the flashlight on their smart phones. If the electricity goes out, this can be disastrous because people may be hurt while attempting to move about. Be sure to have a lot of batteries on hand too.

Communication Tools

Being cut off from the outside world can be dangerous during a disaster, so it is important to have a battery powered radio that can alert you to shifting weather patterns or other dangers. Local cell phone towers may be down, but a hand-cranked or solar cell phone charger can still be useful.

No one can really say when disaster will strike. But if you keep your family prepared and ready for anything, it won’t matter as to how and when emergencies arise. These items can be very helpful in keeping your home and family safe during a disaster. Following these guidelines will give you an advantage in disaster recovery.

Meghan is a freelance writer from Oklahoma. She enjoys being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise as well as researching new topics to expand her horizons.

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