23 March 2017

He Lit a Crayon on Fire...You Won't Believe What Happens Next... (Spoiler: It Burns)

How do you like the clickbait title? I thought it was funny, even if I hate myself a little for it. 

    If you've ever lived on the internet, and you wouldn't be here if you haven't, you may have seen the little "emergency/survival hack" about using a crayon as an emergency candle. They say it will burn for 30 minutes. My first thought is that it would be a dirty, smelly flame and wouldn't even be worth it. Well, as I'm sure we all do when we see something on the internet, I try things out before jumping to conclusions. We all do that, right? Well, here's how it looked...

So it worked! I melted a little wax on the bottom so it would stay up, and I stuck a little bit of paper to the top to give me something to light (some people break the tip off to light it at the crayon's paper). Overall, it burned fairly cleanly. It lasted about 15 minutes. It is possible that crayons of a higher caliber will last longer, but for these run-of-the-mill cheap crayons, that's what you get. As far as emergency supplies go, I think you should pack a flashlight and battery for light, and some actual candles if you need a little fire. Even the little tealight candles can last for hours. The crayon is kind of impractical, but nice to know if you ever really need it. 

18 May 2016

Think of the Children: Emergency Kits for Kids

     We had Family Night on Monday. Each week we try to have a "Family Home Evening" and we do a song, prayer, and some sort of lesson. Often it's some story from the scriptures or an inspirational video. Sometimes we'll have an activity or do something as a family, and tie it in somehow to a principle to help reinforce whatever lesson we want to teach. This week was about preparedness, particularly for the children. My oldest is pretty familiar with the concept of emergencies. Lately she has made up some stories to tell about emergencies that never happened or she might ask for a bedtime story about an emergency I've seen, like that time Uncle Scott "breaked his leg" on the motorcycle.

Scott and Thomas
(One of her favorite stories) 

     We talk about how to handle sticky situations whenever the occasion arises, like if a car battery dies and needs a jump or if some kid drives his car off the road. We explain what is happening, what we do about it, and why we did what we did. To her, they make for cool stories, but over time, I believe it will help empower her to make a difference in her own life or someone else's when things get tough.
     While we have quite a few emergency supplies scattered throughout our house, and some that we have assembled into kits, we haven't had anything, other than a diaper bag, tailored specifically to the kids' needs. Occasionally I have added a baby or kid item to my supply, but nothing focused specifically on them. That's what we decided to work on this week. I usually have the notion that I'll "figure things out" if I need to. I consider MacGyver a role model and personal hero.

"MacGyver Multitool"
     Figuring things out is a badge of honor and I believe it is a necessary skill. However, while I am away at work a third of my life, and we have three kids to consider, that particular preparedness strategy could easily come back to bite us. The two older kids were excited to get prepared for emergencies and were about as helpful as two kids who have no idea what they are doing can be. Although at one point, my daughter yelled to me from the other room, "We need to get some food," so I think she's on the right track.
     She has this backpack that she absolutely loves. It's tiny, so it fits her, and it has some of her favorite Disney characters on it. Our next oldest isn't as tall as her yet. There's probably not a backpack anywhere that would fit him, so we grabbed a fanny pack. That, of course, wouldn't fit around his tiny waist, even if we tried to do a crazy knot in the strap, so we ended up slinging it over his shoulder. He seemed to think that was alright for now. Our daughter's backpack has some items for her brother, like a pair of clothes for him and his diapers and small packs of wipes. It also has clothes for her and a first aid kit for both of them. We gave them each a whistle...which they were able to practice...a lot. They also each have an emergency blanket, poncho, flashlight, glowsticks, granola bars, water, emergency contact information, and .22 revolvers. Okay, that last one wasn't true; it would add too much weight to the packs. I may be forgetting to list a thing or two, but you get the idea. We also plan on adding a couple comfort and entertainment items, like stickers, crayons, a small toy, and candy.
     For the wee little baby boy, we packed some emergency water, diapers, clothes, and the samples of baby formula sent to us by the formula companies after he was born. We added a couple other things, but it while it was baby-specific, he didn't actually have a hand in making it...because he's a baby. So we focused primarily on the other kiddos.
     It didn't take us long, but we have taken a small step in preparing for an emergency. It's definitely not all-inclusive for their needs, but it's all they can carry, so after that we'll probably have to take care of them ourselves...I guess. We didn't go through anything crazy to put these together. We tried to gather a few things ahead of time so it wasn't a mad dash for everything, and we focused only on the kids. We can adapt and add to our own kits any time, and on our own, but it took very little effort to do a kid-focused kit that they could have a hand in preparing. After a very short time, they were both wearing their kits, ready for an adventure.

     A while ago, when we were working on the "When Time Matters" video, we did the mad dash: 5 minutes to grab everything you think you would need if you had to leave right then. It turned out to be an interesting mess, but a fun experience. Any way you decide to start or increase your family preparedness, know that you are empowering your family to be awesome and to have peace when the world tries to introduce chaos. Crazy things happen, but we can be proactive and head them off at the pass.

10 November 2015

When Time Matters

     This idea came from the 5-minute challenge. This time, we did a side-by-side comparison of the scramble vs. being prepared. 
     This is a video we made at work for September's National Preparedness Month.
     Personal and family preparedness are so important. It take so little time to put together a few things.
     Do it now so when time is cut short, you won't have to worry about it. 

Visit http://www.ready.gov/kit for some guidelines of what you can put in a kit. 

25 August 2014

Back-to-School Safety

It's back to school time. That means your family will be going in a million different directions.

I want to talk about being prepared for something we don't like to talk about. This:


     Yeah, creepy. We don't like talking about it. No one does. I want to say just a couple things that I think can help us prepare for it.

Family Password
     Maybe this is something you've heard about before. It works like this; You and your family decide on a word or phrase that is your "family password." It could be, "porridge" or "chunky monkeys sitting on a fence."
     If any sort of weirdo or seemingly nice person approaches one of your kids, they might say something like, "Hey, your mom/dad asked me to pick you up from school. I'm a friend/neighbor/co-worker."
     You kid would then say, "What's the family password?"
     If the weirdo says, "Porridge," then you have weird friends/neighbors/co-workers"
     If they don't know the password, they might say something like, "Your parents asked me in a hurry," or "It's an emergency."
     Without a password, even with all the excuses, your kids would say no, or run, or scream if it gets scary. They would go to the principal's office, or a public place. They would let people know that someone they don't know approached them. Even if they know the person, your kids would ask them for a password, to make sure you sent them. Your kids would call you, the parents, which brings me to...

Cell Phones
     A LOT of people have cell phones, and it's possible your kids do, too. They are extremely handy when they need to call you.
     If you want, you can download GPS apps to smart phones that allow you to know where members of your family are.
    It's a great way to give your kids a heads up if someone is coming to pick them up. Here are a couple examples:


Or, for a little more information,

Remember to change the Family Password occasionally, especially if you have let someone else has heard it, so that only your family knows the password.

Home Alone
     A couple thoughts on being home alone:
     If your kids go home, and for whatever reason, there is no one else there, make sure they know what your family rules are. For example, the rule could be that they leave a note on the kitchen table, go to Mrs. Jenkins' house next door, and wait for parents to get home.
     A different option, which is more likely, is that they stay home, lock the doors, and only let people in who are members of the family or have the family password. Make sure your kids know to never tell anyone the password. It's is for others to say to them.
     A lot of kids spend time home alone, or home without parents. I think it is inevitable. Safety at home is as important as safety anywhere else.
     Communication is key, no matter where you are. Make sure members of the family are not left wondering where anyone else is, so leave a note, send a text message, or have the school's office let them know(You could even use the family password for that). If you'll be a little late, you let them know. If a child is staying after school for Chess Club, they let you know. You know, the normal stuff.

Whatever you do, remember to be safe and be prepared.

14 January 2014

Living in Tomorrow's Yesterday

     How often do you wish you had a time machine so you could go back and change something in your past? I think it would be one of the coolest things in the world. There's a chance you wouldn't change a thing, that you're happy with everything, but there's an even greater chance that, like me, you would want to change at least one thing. What would you tell your past self? Maybe it would be to invest in a certain company, learn a certain skill, study a certain subject in school, to avoid that shrimp platter at your brother's wedding, or to not steal that car and drive it off a bridge.
     Now imagine your future self; you in a year, five, twenty, fifty years. What will life be like if you run the course you're on? Now imagine that your future self is the one with the time machine.

     Your future self is the result of the path you are on. You've come back to give yourself a message. You're living in the past, and future you wants you to shape up a little bit. Future you might tell you to spend more time with your kids, to quit smoking, to get a hobby, or to write a book. Maybe future you will tell you to be smarter with your money, finish college, or choose a different career path. Future you could probably give you insight about stock trends or world events. Would you listen to future you? Would you make the choices now that will make your life better? Since right now is the past, future you is looking back wishing you had done something differently.

     There are a lot of lessons to be learned from future you. If you had that kind of insight, just imagine the choices you would make. Future you would tell you about all the wonderful things you have to look forward to, but you might also get a little heads up from future you. Future you comes back to tell you, among several other important things, that you need to be prepared.

     Let's say future you tells you that your house will burn down or that there will be a flood. Future you wants you to know that there are some things you can do to save you a lot of trouble. You need to learn CPR so you can help your dad when he has a heart attack in a few years. You need to get an emergency kit ready so you have something to take with you when that wildfire gets too close to your neighborhood and you have to evacuate. You need to learn first aid skills so that you can help a hurt stranger. You need to start putting money away for retirement. You don't have to worry about building a bunker, you are told by your future self, but you should change the batteries in your smoke detector and make sure your fire extinguisher is full.

     Future you tells you that there is no better time than the present to get things done...unless you have a time machine. That's why you've been visited now. Now is the moment in time that will make or break your future. Now is the time to decide. You've got an awesome future ahead of you, or maybe a lousy one. It's really up to you. The time machine has just arrived and it contained this message, so go out and change your future's past. What happens tomorrow is determined by what we do today.

Future you also wants you to share this blog with your friends and to like For Tomorrow We on Facebook and to ask questions about preparedness if you've got them. If I don't know the answer, I'll ask someone smarter than me, like Mr. Google, that way we can learn together.

20 October 2013

Have a Whistle While You Work

     As a society, we spend a LOT of time at work. More than half of your waking hours are often spent at work or traveling between work and home. Think about that for a minute. Well, as sad as that is, if you're living that way now, it probably won't change. It's hard to change what you will do with your time, but it's easier to change how you do whatever it is you do. Of course there are sorts of higher philosophical endeavors that we can try to accomplish with our time at work, home, or wherever else...but while we're figuring those out, we've got other things we can do. For example, if you are at work on National Talk Like a Pirate Day, then don't let it go to waste.

...I'll let you guess which one is me.
I work with a good group, and this really was a Talk Like A Pirate Day party. We even had some citrus-y drinks and some orange slices to fight scurvy, which reminds me to tell you that you need to keep foods that hold the nutritional value you will need in an emergency, especially if you are expending more energy than you normally would.
     Last week, we hadan activity that was more preparedness oriented. We participated in the ShakeOut earthquake drill, the largest ever earthquake drill involving over 18.8 million participants worldwide. One of the ladies at work, who ran the drill for us, used the PA system in the building to let us know we were having a fake earthquake. She had some information to read and we all dropped, found cover, and held on, like we were supposed to. All the while, the maintenance guy was flipping the breakers to the lights, so we would have some bursts of light, then darkness. I thought it was a nice touch, even if it was my idea. We learned a lot during this drill. One guy learned how dirty it was under his desk and immediately located a vacuum after the drill. Another realized that he didn't have enough room under his desk to allow him to take cover.
     While under a desk, you can do a lot of things. You can change your shoes, take a nap, or put on your earthquake response gear.

Sorry it's kinda blurry, it was a little...shaky.
     One of the things you can think about under your desk is what you would do if there were a real earthquake. I remember doing earthquake drills in elementary school. As I slipped under my desk I would grab a ruler from my desk so I could use it to poke rubble away from my desk. Alright, I was 9, so I didn't have the best plans in the world, but I tried. I also wondered who would come to rescue us and if there really was going to be an earthquake. Now I wonder about some of the same things. Will there really be an earthquake? Will there be a disaster of any sort? Who will come to rescue us if there is? The truth is, there may or may not be a disaster. You will have some upsets in life, so it's good to be prepared, even though you may never face the "big one." It's the little ones that are so annoying. Another truth is that there may not always be someone coming to help, at least not right away. As we grow up, some of us learn that the world doesn't actually revolve around us and that other people live here, too. It's a sad thought, but it's important. What it means is that we have to be ready to take care of ourselves and we should be willing to help others.
     While I was at work, I thought about what I would want to have with me at while I am there; things that would be handy in any sort of disaster, or any time. The first things I thought of were the things I always keep with me, then I thought that I should keep an extra set of everything at work, just in case. Most of us have an extra drawer, cabinet, or shelf that we can use to store a box or bag of a few emergency supplies.What are some of the things we could store?

A Whistle- I only put this first because the title of this post revolves around it. A whistle is a great signalling device. One of the many tools that can come in handy.

Water- With all the time you spend at the water cooler, you may think there is a never-ending supply of the stuff, but as vital as water is, it is wise to keep a few bottles packed up.

Food- Other than the fact that the mid-afternoon drag is often remedied by a snack, it's a good idea to keep some food on hand in case of an emergency.

Flashlight- Have a good flashlight and extra batteries. You could also think about glowsticks, since they don't use batteries...but they aren't as bright and they don't last as long. A wind-up flashlight is also a good idea if you don't want to worry about batteries.  

First Aid Kit- You can keep a little first aid kit, or something a bit more comprehensive, like the tackle box first aid kit. You could also pack a few things that are meant for more serious injuries.

Tools- Something like a Gerber or Leatherman multi-tool will always be your best friend. Duct tape would also be good.

Phone charger- This is important if you need to contact home. If there is no electricity, consider a charger that you can hand-crank, or even one you can plug into a 12v outlet in your car. If you have a fully charged laptop computer, consider using the USB connection to charge your phone.

Protective Gear- These are things like gloves, face masks, goggles or safety glasses, boots, a hardhat, a coat, or anything else you might want.

Knowledge- Know and understand your office emergency operations plan, including how to safely evacuate the building. Know where you can find a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, AED, ...vending machine, bathroom; you know, the important things.

Always remember to have personal needs met, like prescription medicine, glasses, or whatever else. If you have a medical condition, let others know about it and what to do to help you if you can't help yourself. If you work with someone with a medical condition, learn what you can do to help them.

If you ever find yourself stuck under your desk, make sure you're prepared. Most people are more vulnerable to disasters at work than they are at home, so try to keep ahead of the game. The work kit is usually a lot smaller than a kit you would have at home, like a 72-hour kit, and it will likely have fewer items. Just get a few things you think you could use. Take a minute and sit under your desk to think about it. It only takes a little bit of time, but could save you a lot of trouble down the road. You don't want to get scurvy or anything like that.

11 September 2013

Preparedness Fail

     There are things I do that don't always turn out right. I kind of expect this to be a recurring topic as I continue to try new things. Even if it's not a total fail, I may talk about it and what I can do to make it better. For those of you who don't follow my every move, we launched a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ForTomorrowWe - which makes it easier for you to...follow my every move. So like and share the page.
     One of the most important things we can do for preparedness is to try it out. You don't have to turn off your electricity for three days. ...  ...but no one is stopping you. We seem to think we have an idea of how things would go in an emergency or disaster. Whether you don't prepare much and think you'll be alright or you are pretty prepared and you've filled a bug-out bag with every possible item you could think of, including silver, and it weighs about 100lbs(good story-you know who you are). If you get a new gadget or make a plan, you need to make sure it works, or you're basically hoping it will. When you realize your pack is as heavy as a person, you make some changes. If you feel pretty confident that what you have will work, then you may be alright. If you buy a pair of pliers, they'll probably be alright(given you know how to use them). If you buy some food, you can be pretty sure that it's going to be good(we hope). However, if you plan on using, doing, or eating something that you don't normally use, then you should learn how or try it. Take an MRE for example; are they as bad as people say? Are they as good as other people say? What will they do to my bowels? Well, give it a try.
     Unfortunately,  not everything goes as well as we plan, even in a non-emergency, so we learn from them. In fact, the best time to learn how poorly something works is when you don't need it to work well, so don't wait until an emergency. The first thing I will show you is something that you may have seen; a paracord bracelet.
Photo: The Ready Store
     Pretty awesome, huh? I mean, how rugged and tough can you possibly be without one of these? Believe it or not, there are practical reasons for wearing one of these, all of which have something to do with the 10 feet of rope that are so intricately disguised as a bracelet. Tricky, I know. It's not too difficult to put together, you have to do a little loop-do-loo knot tying like this:

     Not too bad, right? The problem is that in order to use the cord, you have to do that in reverse. It's not a quick-release sort of thing. It makes me feel like the manliness factor of wearing this bracelet has been reduced to the fact that it's made of paracord and no other reason. It's not really good for anything, so it's just a pretty design. I kind of expected this, so I gave it a try the other day. I pulled it out, cut the cord, and slowly began unwinding it into a nice tangle like this:

After a minute I had enough to tie off what I needed, but still had most of the bracelet intact. Another problem with these is that you start with two ends so you will always have the rest of the bracelet in the middle. I decided to try things a bit differently. By doing a two strand core and weaving one cord back and forth around them, I can just cut the end and pull it right off. It seems to have turned out just fine.

      Just cut the end and it practically unravels itself. A paracord bracelet you can actually use.

     Here's a little something I tried that I showcased right here on the blog. It's my Altoids Tin Kit. You'll find these all over the internet, but to tell you the truth, it didn't really work for me. I used it quite a bit, maybe a bit too much, because this is how it ended up.

     ...all busted up with stuff falling out. I tried not to be rough on it. Maybe I overstuffed it. Anyway, if you decide to make one of these, don't keep it in your pocket. This would still work fine if you are putting it in a backpack or purse or something, since it won't get as abused there. If you make one of these, maybe you shouldn't plan on using it unless you really need to, or maybe you could just get a better container. Whatever you decide to do, learn from my mistakes.    
     One last thing: just because you can do something by yourself doesn't mean you should. What I mean is that you don't need to make everything yourself for it to be more preparedness-ish. There are some really creative ideas out there, like your own wax dipped matches. I think they would probably make a bit of a mess if they melt, like an emergency candle did once in my car(another fail). Also, there are wonderful alternatives, like lighters. It's fun to play with new things and try them out, even if you know it won't work, but when it comes to really being prepared, don't leave it to chance. Sometimes you can do it better than what you can buy, like many kits you find out there, so try it and find out.

     If you have failed at something preparedness and want to share, comment below or on Facebook, or you can send me a message on Facebook, especially if you have pictures. I know a lot of you have failed, probably miserably, and I would love to showcase some. It doesn't have to be a total train wreck, mine weren't, but it would be more interesting if they are, especially if you tried inoculating yourself against a disease like Smallpox(eradicated) by rubbing the disease into an open wound on yourself, and then died.