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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Today's Emergency Preparation Task: List in Your Control Journal Where Your First-Aid Products Are

I'm not a prepping expert by any means but I do have a few skills under my belt. First-aid prepping is one of them. Hopefully you know in your head immediately where your first-aid supplies are. If you don't, go through your home today, assemble things together (like with like) & make a list of where these items are. I recommend keeping a "master list" of the first-aid items for your kit, so that if you need to replenish an item, the list can quickly remind you of what's a necessity to have on hand. If you don't own a first-aid kit, buy or assemble one. Buying a first-aid kit that is already put together, though, is usually the cheaper route than buying each item individually. Make sure that you own a thermometer that's easy to read (I prefer digital to the old-fashioned mercury glass models), as that is not an item typically included in a pre-assembled kit. If other preparedness things are needed, add them to your grocery/mall shopping list or ask people around you for emergency preparedness gifts this holiday season. It may sound lame to ask for stuff like that, but hey, most of us will need first-aid products at some time in our lives. At least we'd be getting gifts we can really use, right? If you want, you can always set up a wish list on Amazon that's either available for public viewing or can be shared via a page link for people that you want to give it to. Under that wish list you can choose EXACTLY what prepping & first-aid items you want. Research, research, research. Read negative reviews AND positive reviews of items! Don't forget to add emergency preparedness books (including cookbooks on using common foods kept for emergencies), emergency food items, emergency water packs, etc., to the list. You'll be astounded at everything available for prepping once you start looking into it.

With all of the recent & horrendous damage of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast of the U.S. (where I live), I was reminded of just how vulnerable we all are. I lost power for eighteen hours but praise God none of my family got hurt, our property wasn't damaged & no one even lost any food (we'd all stocked our freezers full of ice & old fridge full of cold water bottles, which helps keep the refrigerator temp cold for many hours). Even though my county's electric & gas companies are superb, they had to stop working the night of the storm because it was just too dangerous. My family was also thankful that it was not either a very hot or a very cold night, so our pipes didn't freeze. We weren't uncomfortable because of the house temperature. I've lived in my state thirty-two years, my entire lifetime. I could count only on two hands how many times we've actually suffered a power outage. I live in one of the safest states in the Union, disaster-wise. I felt foolish buying three new flashlights, long-burning oil candles, 50 tea lights, tons of extra non-perishable food & water late last year when I started prepping. I bought face masks, rubber gloves, extra bleach- my mother thought I was nuts. But something (a premonition, the Holy Spirit, whatever) told me to prepare for bad situations. I live in an apartment in the 'burbs. The odds of this happening are small, but nonetheless, the bad situation occurred. My mother got deathly ill & I ended up having to clean the house almost top-to-bottom with a bleach solution in order to sanitize it enough for her to come home safely. I have lung damage from three bouts of pneumonia (no, I don't smoke & no one around me does, either). Had I not had the mask & gloves, I couldn't have done the work. She got ill at a time when I was low in funds & wouldn't have had the money to spend on extra cleaning supplies. Had it'd been even one year earlier when all this occurred, I would not have been prepared. So I'm begging you- even if nothing bad has ever happened to you in a natural disaster, power outage or serious family illness, please prepare for these events. If you get that nagging little voice in your head telling you to stock up on some items for safety, listen to it. It's better you have the items & never need them than vice versa. I know that sounds counter-intuitive for a minimalist, but if you're going to hoard anything, let it be emergency preparation supplies. I want you & your family to be safe, prepared & calm even through the worst of events.

Many people living in Japan suffered far worse than even we Americans did when their dual weather disasters brought on a nuclear catastrophe in 2011. The horrible damage from Hurricane Katrina & the levee-breaking in Louisiana affects the lives of people from that area to this day. Our collective economy in the world is shaky. I'm not a doomsday prepper- I hope, pray & believe that our best days are ahead. I support our government when it's actions are righteous & believe that we can turn the economy around- it's been done countless times before & not just in America. We all have a fighting spirit & I know that when the chips are down, we'll always come together to help one another out. While we all lose faith in humanity sometimes (myself included), what we see over & over again in natural or man-made disasters is that good people all over the globe will risk life & limb to volunteer their help. People come at their own expense, risk their own safety & give of their valuable time repeatedly when something terrible occurs. These great people will give their last dollar to the poor without knowing how they themselves will get by. Medical staff comes out to work in healing injured people for free. Brave souls go out to sea or sift through ashes to try & rescue potential survivors. Unpaid helpers cook & serve meals to the poor or displaced. Many government workers go out of their way to assist mayors, governors & our President to coordinate disaster relief. I've seen people who are unemployed, not even knowing if they'll get a dime to their name come 1/1/2013 go out & buy toys for kids who don't have any parents of their own so that those children can have a great Christmas. I've seen people who might lose their home to foreclosure offer to feed others in a soup kitchen out of the sheer kindness which exists in their hearts. Instead of wallowing in their own troubles & grief, most humans will gladly answer the call of the hurting when they hear it. For every evil human being, there are probably a hundred people who'd give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. Let's stop focusing on the evil, the shallow & the sorrowful. Let's start putting our minds on rebuilding, helping & preparing good things for one another. Remember this immense goodness mankind possesses when you're preparing your household emergency supplies. Recognize it. Reward it. Thank whatever deity you believe in or thank the universe for these wonderful beings, for the ability to buy emergency supplies, for the technology & knowledge we have access to even in troubled times.

We should prepare for disasters together as a community, with love for one another first in our hearts- I know for sure that no man is an island. I do not believe we are automatically doomed as a society. Far from it. I'm just saying be prepared for all eventualities to the best of your ability & as much as your finances will safely allow. I'm not telling you to hunker down in a cave or cut off all contact with the world. I think that's probably the worst thing you could possibly do. But even things which are fairly routine events- like you going in for an outpatient surgery- can upset your household routines. The last thing you want to do after a surgery or during an illness is to have to tell people in-depth where all your stuff is. Better to just tell them in advance that you have a control journal, explain what that is & what's in it. Let them all know where the control journal is kept & let those who are healthy & able to take care of things if you cannot. I suggest keeping the control journal open in a "common space"- on your desk, the kitchen counter or on a hallway table. Anywhere you have the space to store it & a place where people can look over it or grab it quickly. Just start to keep in mind that you want to prepare for those times when you can't or won't be available to help others. Don't be the only one in your household who knows where the emergency supplies & first-aid kit are, for example. Don't think you're crazy for buying that extra flashlight & batteries. You may need it right this second but a time will come when it's needed by somebody. I believe in a bright future for all of us- but no matter how good things will be for us, little & big disasters or upsets will always occur. It's just the nature of life. Keep it all in balance & you'll be just fine.

Start with your own household's organization & go from there. When your own home is in order, you are then free to really help your community organize & prepare for emergencies, too. If you're a regular member of a church, synagogue or other community gathering place, talk to those in leadership about emergency preparedness to see if planning is needed. Some communities & establishments have already established guidelines for emergency events, but not all have. Make no assumptions. Individual Civil Defense units were common in the 1950's & 1960's for many U.S. states, but in most places they've all but disappeared. While I'm no believer in thinking gloomily about the future, it doesn't hurt to make sure our towns & cities as a whole will be able to come together during & after a disaster with preparation under their collective belt. I wouldn't mind seeing Civil Defense groups pop up again. Don't depend upon county, state & Federal government employees to do everything, or assume they've got everything in order. While that is ideally the case, we don't live in an ideal world. There have been tremendous budget cuts & layoffs in many areas of the country, which may lead to slow or non-existent services being available for help during a catastrophe.You may have other groups you get together with that can start discussing preparation for emergencies en masse- book clubs, neighborhood watch meetings, etc. It doesn't hurt to bring up the subject & you may be surprised at how receptive others are to begin planning for emergencies together. Many people are looking for guidance in this area, but don't know where to start. Don't be afraid to be the first one to speak up about this if it's a concern for you. I'm not advising people to start stockpiling weapons & spending thousands of dollars on supplies. But I do think we all can do a better job as a whole of coming together & preparing for emergencies together. We can each contribute valuable information & supplies to the cause. If certain people have a finished basement or other place which will be safer to stay in during a tornado or a storm with very high winds & possible flooding, see if they're willing to have that be an emergency meeting place for your group (should that weather event occur). Maybe one person is really good at cooking, canning foods & grocery shopping- they could be the one to handle that for a small group of preppers working together. Another person may be good at sifting through emergency preparedness books for additional knowledge & gathering prepping info on the web. You get my drift. Isn't it better to establish these solid relationships & skills before a possible disaster and not afterwards? People are going to panic far less if there's a game plan in place with lots of responsible, well-informed souls involved in getting through an emergency together.

Here is a copy of the info I posted for my own control journal. It is also available as a PDF document for you, if you decide to keep your stuff in the same places I do. The link is below.
Batteries: Spare AA, AAA & D batteries (we don't own anything that uses "C" batteries) are in a gallon-sized zippered bag in the second drawer of my computer desk, on the left-hand side.

Camera & accessories: My camera (stored in it's little carrying case), battery charger, the rechargeable battery & 4x6" photo paper is in the second drawer on the left in my computer desk, all in a gallon-size bag.

Cell phone accessories: My charger & AC adapter for the charger are in a quart-size zippered bag in the second drawer on the left side of my computer desk. The iPod charger is in this drawer, too.

Cleaning supplies: Spare old towels are on the top shelf of my mother’s linen closet. Also in that linen closet are sheets for her bed, her bathroom towels & all of our dishtowels/hand towels for the kitchen. The vacuum cleaner, Bounce dryer sheets to put in with stored items for freshness, household cleaning cloths, cleaning fluids & dusting supplies are in my bedroom closet. You’ll be able to see them easily because the closet is well-lit. Kitchen cleaning supplies are under the kitchen sink, including all-purpose cleaner for the floor, Sh-Wipes for the Sh-Mop we use (the mop is next to the washing machine), dishwasher detergent, a small bottle of bleach, a container of Comet, household cleaning cloths to wipe down appliances & counter tops, additional dishwashing liquid & wood glue. The wood glue is what I use to repair loose or broken chair legs & things like that.

Cold packs for injuries or heat stroke: An eye mask with straps around it is in the left-side crisper drawer in the fridge, in it’s own gallon-size zippered bag. Another, scented eye mask without straps is on the door of the freezer. A cold wrap is on top of that eye mask on the freezer door. Additionally, an Ace ice pack that’s blue & flat is located in the freezer, right-hand-side, in it’s own gallon-size zippered bag.

Extra blankets: An extra comforter is in my mother’s linen closet; it’s a twin-size, beige down comforter. I have a spare queen-size turquoise blanket on the right-hand top shelf in my bedroom closet, as well. A spare pillow is on that shelf, too. Another throw blanket is already out in the living room. (I also carry a silver emergency blanket made out of this special material and that is very tiny when folded in my backpack or purse when I'm away from home.  Hey, you never know when an emergency may arise.  These blankets are sold inexpensively on Amazon and most emergency supply vendors.)

First-aid supplies: My first-aid kits are in the back of my bathroom vanity on the right side. I have lots of bandages, Orajel, Neosporin, alcohol wipes, sunscreen, an instant cold compress & other emergency items in them. One kit is orange, one kit is blue. OTC meds are to the left of the kitchen stove, in the top cabinet’s left-hand side.  Also, additional cold packs are in my freezer.

Heat packs: Wraps that can be heated in the microwave- one is on top of the microwave in the kitchen & another is in it’s holder on the coat closet floor. Fold it, place it in the microwave & heat it for three minutes on high. It’ll be toasty but not so hot you can’t touch it or put it on the skin.

Household item handbooks & warranties: These are located in my file cabinet, which is in the third drawer to the left in my computer desk. The file folder is clearly labeled, and each item also has it’s own labeled manila folder. The exception is the automobile information & our apartment lease- those are in my mother’s file cabinet. This is the third drawer to the right of my computer desk- same piece of furniture the printer is on.

Mailing Supplies: My address labels, postage stamps, thank-you notes, mailing envelopes & business envelopes are in an accordian file in my filing cabinet. Greeting cards are in the front of this drawer in their own large envelope, too. [An alternative is to put these in your Office in a Bag.]

Printing supplies: Spare printer ink cartridges are located in the second drawer to the right of my computer desk. Additional printer paper is in the third drawer down in that cabinet, as well. Additional Hewlett-Packard printing supplies can be ordered from the following website (which is also bookmarked on my computer):

Spare computer mouse: I use a wireless one now, but I have a corded one in the second drawer to the left if the wireless one goes on the fritz. 
With love for all of the organized minimalists out there,

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