Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Fire Safety and Prevention

House Fire Safety, Prevention & Preparation


Although house fires have generally seen a decrease over the last decade, deaths from such fires have not slowed significantly during this period. Each year, thousands of people still perish in house fires across the nation, and negligent cooking practices remains the number one spot on the list of culprits.
Year after year, poor cooking practices and misinformation about kitchen fires is the leading causes of house fires in the United States. This year alone, news media outlets have covered 1871 house fire fatalities between January and October. Last year, official reports from the National Fire Protection Agency disclosed 1,319,500 fires in the U.S., with 3,400 civilian deaths and 14,670 civilian injuries.



The 5 Most Common Causes of Fire Injury & Death in the United States

1. Cooking
2. Candles
3. Heating
4. Smoking
5. Electrical

A fire can consume your home quickly and mercilessly. As a fire burns, it quickly turns from a bright inferno to a dark and consuming cloud of black smoke filled with toxic gasses. Fires that are burning out of control are disorienting and can quickly lead to asphyxiation.
Preparing for any disaster begins with prevention. Let's discuss how to prevent the five most common causes of a house fire now.


Cooking Safety

1. Don't cook late when you're tired or have been drinking.
2. Set multiple timers: one in the home and one on your phone.
3. Don't leave the cooking area at all when you're frying, grilling or broiling.
4. Don't assume that simmering dishes can be left unattended.
5. Keep items such as dish towels and oven mitts away from the stove top at all times.

In the Event of a Kitchen Fire:

1. Turn the heat off.
2. If a fire starts in your oven, turn the oven off and keep the door closed!

DO NOT blow on a flame

Your initial instinct will probably be to blow on a fire. But as long as the fire has a source of fuel, particularly if this is grease, you won't be able to extinguish even a small flame with your breath. Blowing on flames can cause hot liquids to spatter back toward you, causing serious second- and third-degree burns.

DO NOT pour water on a kitchen fire

Water can extinguish some types of flames, but if your fire originated in the kitchen, it's likely that it involves some type of oil or grease. Since oil and water don't mix, when you pour water on a grease fire, the grease stays on top while the water sinks to the bottom. Because the water will quickly evaporate, this process causes a kind of explosion, leading to flaming oil being spread everywhere.

DO use an ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher

House fires can be classified in one of three ways: Class A, B or C. Class A fires are the only class of
fires that can be extinguished with water. Class A fires are fueled by ordinary solid materials including trash and paper, wood and textiles.

Class B fires involve flammable liquids such as grease or gasoline. Water will spread these types of fires by scattering them, and you'll require a fire extinguisher that inhibits chemical chain reactions.

Class C fires are fueled by electricity from burning wires or energized electrical equipment, so it's important to use an extinguishing agent that isn't conductive.

An extinguisher that contains monoammonium phosphate and ammonium sulfate can be used on all three fire classes. It contains a chemical powder that breaks up the chain reaction of liquid and gas fires, and can also be used on electrical fires because it is non-conductive.

Keeping an ABC extinguisher in every major room of your home as well as in your car will prepare you properly for an emergency.


DO remove oxygen from the flame

Your home should always be equipped with a working fire extinguisher, but in case you find yourself in a situation without one, it's important to try and get your flame under control as quickly as possible using other resources.
Dump salt on a flame to smother it. If you do not have salt, cover the pan or pot with a lid to remove oxygen.

If the fire is spreading and you feel like you're not in control of the flame, leave your home immediately and call 9-1-1. Alert another nearby residents, particularly in apartment buildings, that a fire is burning.




Candle Safety


  • Use Candleholders or candle containers
  • Never leave candles unattended even for a moment
  • Keep candles clear of other items such as drapes, clothing or decor
  • Trim the wick to about 1/8th inch to ensure the candle doesn't smoke or burn too high





Heating Safety


  • Don't use space heaters while you sleep
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from materials that may burn



  • Never use accelerants to start a fireplace
  • Get your chimney cleaned regularly to avoid creosote buildup
  • Only burn dry wood, never cardboard, wrapping paper or scraps of fabric



  • Don't store flammable materials near the furnace
  • Get a professional to inspect HVAC ducts regularly



Smoking Safety


  • Don't smoke around medical oxygen
  • Don't smoke inside, and never smoke in bed or under the influence
  • Dispose of cigarettes in proper receptacles; fill ashtrays with sand




Electrical Safety


  • Clean the dryer vent once a year
  • Reduce the use of extension cords
  • Replace outdated switches and plugs
  • Hire a professional for wiring jobs
  • Don't use appliances with frayed chords
  • Check the proper wattage for light bulbs and appliances
  • Avoid running cords where they are susceptible to wear and tear



Doing your best to prevent a fire is a key element of fire safety, but it's just as important to be prepared. In the event of a fire, proper preparation will allow you to save valuable seconds where they count, giving you the best chances of escaping a life-threatening situation.



Smoke Detectors


  • Never remove batteries or disable your smoke alarm while cooking
  • Test your smoke alarm regularly, at least once every three months
  • Replace batteries when empty to stay alert during power outages
  • Get alarms that can detect both flaming fires and smoldering fires
  • Get monitored smoke alarms through a home security company



Other Recommended Fire Safety Gear


  • Get an ABC extinguisher
  • Review the Fire Safety Guide twice a year
  • A foldable emergency ladder will make escape from a second- or third-story window possible
  • Sprinklers reduce the risk of fire death by about 80 percent and significantly lower insurance premiums
  • A fire safety cabinet will keep your valuables safe, so you can focus on getting yourself and your family to safety first



Your Fire Escape Plan

Seconds count in the event of an emergency. It's crucial that you not only practice preventative measures, but plan for all possible scenarios.


  • Important items
  • Your route
  • Child safety
  • Pet safety





Important Items


  • In the event of a sudden fire, there's no time to waste. Home fires occur without warning, and you'll need to be prepared to leave all material possessions behind.
  • We recommend you store any irreplaceable valuables, including important identifying documents such as your birth certificate and passport, in a fireproof safe.
  • Remember that most things can be replaced! Don’t let the fear of losing a photograph or an important document cost you your life.


Your Route


  • As you're planning how you'll leave your home, start to consider how you will approach this scenario if your main points of access are blocked. Find and make note of two ways to get out of each room (the door and the window).
  • Ensure you can open the windows of your home and that you're able to remove or cut through any window screens
  • Practice leaving your home on hands and knees, as you would in a fire
  • Practice your escape closed eyes to simulated skewed visibility from smoke
  • If your windows are located on the second or third floor, equip your home with collapsible escape ladders to avoid becoming trapped.


  • Don't use elevators
  • If the doorknob or door are hot, find another exit
  • If your clothes catch fire, STOP DROP AND ROLL
  • Smother flames on someone else with a blanket or towel
  • To avoid smoke and gas inhalation, crawl low under the smoke to your exit with your mouth covered
  • If you're unable to escape, cover vents and door cracks with towels or tape to keep smoke out




Child Safety


  • Involve your children in your planning
  • Be real with your children and teach them proper techniques for evacuating
  • Teach children how to dial 9-1-1 and where they should go in the event of an emergency
  • Help assign positive roles to firefighters through books or movies
  • Teach children that fire is not a toy, and keep matches and lighters out of reach
  • Practice, Practice, Practice!


Pet Safety


  • Install sprinklers or monitored smoke detectors to give your pet the advantage when they're home alone
  • Test your smoke alarm with your pet in the home while providing plenty of rewards
  • Always reward your pet for coming to you
  • Ensure your pet is properly tagged or microchipped in the event they escape
  • Practice your escape plan together with your pet
  • Learn your pet's most preferred hiding places to make escape quicker
  • Affix a pet alert sticker to windows and doors to let firefighters know there's a pet inside
  • Don't light candles in homes with mischievous pets


Fire prevention and safety awareness is a valuable tool. Pass it on. Share this post with your friends and family or comment below to add your own prevention tools, tips and stories for others to hear.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Disaster Preparation for Everyone


September is National Preparedness Month, which makes this the perfect time to review your emergency plans. Even if you live in an area that is not commonly struck by natural disasters, it's still crucial that you always take a proactive approach to protecting yourself and your family. After all, the number of worldwide natural disasters has risen from less than 100 annually to approximately 400 per year during the past four decades. This means that everyone has an increased risk, regardless of where you live.
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take that will greatly reduce your odds of suffering from a personal tragedy during a natural disaster.

The Importance of Making a Plan and What To Include

According to FEMA, 80 percent of U.S. residents live within a county that was hit by a natural disaster within the past decade. Despite this, fewer than 40 percent of these households have put together an emergency plan.

Emergency Plan Steps:

1. Gather Necessary Supplies

Pack a change of clothes for everyone, spare medication, flashlights and batteries, nonperishable
food, fresh water, some cash and copies of your identification, insurance policy and any other relevant documentation. If you have a pet, be sure to pack food and water for them, along with leashes and bowls. These supplies should be packed and ready to go in easy to grab backpacks.

Be sure to rotate the food and water so that it will still be fresh when needed. A satellite phone and radio will also be useful, along with paper maps of your area. You may want to download emergency weather apps.

2. Plan Your Evacuation Route

Many areas have designated evacuation routes. Familiarize yourself with them, and also make sure to scout out alternative options. Whenever possible, leave immediately so that you can get ahead of the inevitable traffic jam.

3. Assign a Meeting Place

It's important to assign a family meeting place in case you get separated. Make sure everyone knows how to get there, and select a backup spot in case the first one isn't accessible.

4. Take First Aid and CPR Classes

You cannot rely on medical assistance to reach you quickly during an emergency. Taking a first aid and CPR class will give you a better chance of survival.

5. Practice for an Emergency

The American Red Cross recommends practicing all practical aspects of your emergency plan. This includes driving the emergency route, meeting family at the assigned gathering spot and getting out of the house in a quick, orderly manner. Every family should do this at least once per year, but you may want to start doing it quarterly if your children are too young to retain a lot of details.



How to Deal with Common Natural Disasters

Now that you understand the basics of putting together an emergency plan, let's take a closer look at a few common natural disaster scenarios.

Fire

More than 3,500 Americans perished in a fire in 2016. To cut your risk dramatically, be sure to practice what to do if the smoke detectors go off. You can also take important preventative steps, including:



  • Never leave candles unattended.
  • Always use a timer when cooking.
  • Unplug hot curling irons and other similar items.
  • Keep your chimney clean at all times.
  • Only use your fireplace if you understand exactly how it works and can monitor the fire.
  • Install smoke detectors and sprinklers; make sure to test these systems annually.
  • Keep all flammables away from the stove.


You should also make sure every family member knows how to use a fire extinguisher, call 911 and escape the home. If you have upper levels, place a window ladder in each applicable room. Include your pets in your escape plan, and consider placing a 'pet inside' sticker on your windows to help firefighters.


Flooding

In 2015, 176 Americans died in a flood. There's not a lot you can do to prevent a flood, but you can implement a property protection plan.



  • Waterproof your basement and elevate all essential utility components.
  • Keep your downspouts and gutters clear of debris.
  • Obtain a backup battery-powered sump pump.
  • Purchase sand bags.
  • Get flood insurance.


It's best to evacuate when a serious flood is imminent instead of waiting to see what happens. Go to higher ground or a designated shelter. Take your emergency supplies with you and be prepared for at least 72 hours away from your home. If you get stuck in a flood, never drive on a water-covered road; turn around, don’t drown. Go to the highest area in your home until the water recedes.


Earthquake

Experts estimate that 40 California residents die annually in an earthquake. The best way to prepare is to make your home as safe as possible.



  • Keep beds away from windows.
  • Tether appliances and bookshelves to the wall.
  • Use latches on all cabinets.
  • Buy emergency plug-in lights.
  • Never place glass objects where they could easily fall.
  • Get your home and chimney inspected for earthquake-readiness.



When an earthquake strikes, remember to do three key things: Drop, cover and hold on. Run preparedness drills with your family to ensure you're all aware how to quickly drop to your knees, cover up your head and neck and then move underneath a sturdy table. Waiting out the earthquake in that position will give you the best odds of survival. If you have to drive after the earthquake, be alert for aftershocks and damaged roads.





Power Outages

Severe weather can cause power outages, which may lead to issues with heat stroke, hypothermia, spoiled food and unsafe drinking water. To make your home safer during a power outage, you can do a few simple things:



  • Keep enough fresh water and non-perishable food on hand for 72 hours.
  • Invest in a generator.
  • Use your grill to cook.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to reduce the risk of heat stroke.
  • Wear several layers and wrap up in blankets to avoid hypothermia.
  • Have lots of batteries and flashlights available.


If possible, go to an area that has power until electricity is restored to your home. Remember to never touch any downed power lines, and don't drive through any roads that are covered with water. Most power outages are caused by severe weather, so it's also critical to keep an eye on weakened trees and other debris that could fall or get in your way while you evacuate.

With a bit of planning and regular emergency drills, you and your family can be prepared for any type of natural disaster. Don't wait; put your emergency kit and other plan specifics in place today!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

School Emergency Preparation

In any emergency, the key to your survival success is preparedness. By preparing for a range of potential emergency events and equipping yourself or your home with proper emergency essentials, you'll be able to maximize your success whether you need to evacuate your home, stay while an emergency passes, or you become trapped. You don't have to purchase thousands of dollars with of survival products to maximize success in an emergency. The foundation of preparedness is simply a plan.



You and your family may already have a plan in the event a disaster should occur and you're all at home or on the road together, however, it's just as important to have a plan should you not be in the same area. While you might initially find it difficult to begin the conversation about emergencies with our children, having these conversations early and regularly will equip them with essential knowledge for survival when you're not around.

The end of summer brings a range of changes, and one of these is the start of a new school year. Your child might be starting school for the first time or returning for his or her second, third, or fourth year already. Regardless of age, now is a good time to help your kids prepare for emergencies. Power begins with knowledge, so to start it's important to simply teach your children about disasters that could occur in your area.
Your family should already have a fire emergency evacuation plan in place at home and practice drills at school, however, many drills neglect to prepare children fully for a range of emergencies in ways that help them to think critically about their own safety or the safety of others when an event occurs.
Teach your children about natural hazards that can occur while they're at school in ways they can understand, then make a plan they can follow and practice its steps regularly. It's important not to overwhelm or frighten your children with information; break your lessons about emergencies up into small increments to help them first learn about the disaster and then how to appropriately respond to it.
There is a wide range of literature and other media available for parents and their children, including this fun game powered by ready.gov, which lets children test their natural disaster knowledge online.


Involving your children in every step of the process will allow them to feel a sense of pride and responsibility. By giving your children digestible and age-appropriate information, and allowing them to help in each step of the planning process, you will help them to act safely and responsibly should an emergency occur.
Together with your child, create an official communications plan, identify what should go into an
emergency kit and practice and revise your plans and kits to improve them along the way. Help your child create proper responses for a range of emergency cases such as fires, earthquakes or extreme weather, including how to find alternate routes for escape or what it takes to staying in place if escape isn’t possible.
A simple emergency kit such as this one provides 43 oz. of water, an emergency blanket, one glow stick, nine wet wipes and a 2,400-calorie food bar. This affordable kit can easily be stowed in a locker or desk and made accessible should an emergency occur.

Talking to your child about an active shooting scenario is an unfortunate but necessary part of today's student life. While this type of emergency situation is doubtlessly not comparable to a natural disaster and may be much more difficult to talk about, preparing for it is not dissimilar to preparing for an earthquake or a tornado. Learning about natural disasters has significant applications for managing an attack caused by humans. The key for both is to be prepared.

This situation in which your child may be locked down with other students for extended periods of time can be unsettling for children and parents. Listen to your child’s fears and validate his or her responses. Teddy is Ready provides information for parents regarding how to prepare children for active shooters.
Talk to your school about providing lockdown kits to each classroom in order to minimize additional trauma case of classroom confinement. These affordable all-in-one kits provide bathroom essentials when regular facilities are unavailable.
For any disaster, it's important to create a plan that takes various possible obstacles into account and practices a safe evacuation for each. Your plan should look at alternate routes for escape as well as safe meeting places to reunite with teachers or family. A good communications system will keep everyone updated and away from danger. Finally, discuss the possibility of sheltering in place, if evacuation isn't possible or too risky.










Thursday, July 19, 2018

Extreme Heat Safety

Proper Planning for Extreme Summer Temperatures

Welcome to Summer! With reports of heatwaves already sweeping the nation, chances are it'll be another brutally hot season. Depending on where you're located, you might already be experiencing daily highs in the mid to upper 90s or more, and as August swiftly approaches, these temperatures will only increase.
Heat safety is a serious issue that deserves your attention. Practicing proper precautions could save your life. 


Travel Safety

School's out for summer and you're ready to hit the open road. If you love big open spaces, you might not encounter a town or even another traveler for hours and sometimes even days, depending on how far off the beaten path you like to stray.
Whether you're driving a few hundred miles or a few thousand, it always makes sense to prepare for the worst. While your chances of encountering a major disaster are small, there's nothing more detrimental than finding yourself inadequately underprepared. Check out our road trip safety blog for more information on preparing your car and yourself before hitting the road.

In the comfort of your car's air conditioned interior, it's not uncommon to forget about the extreme temperatures roads can reach. The heat emitted from pavement can easily reach temperatures up to 150 F, and in many locations the night air isn't cool enough at night to provide relief.


Water

It might seem pretty obvious as you're reading it here, but bringing an adequate supply of water is often a forgotten piece of the puzzle for casual travelers.
Whether you're taking the backroads or hitting the highway, many parts of the U.S. remain unpopulated. You may therefore be stranded many miles from anywhere, in the event of a car malfunction. If you're suddenly stranded, calling a tow truck or AAA will likely result in a fairly swift rescue taking no more than a few hours. But in extreme heat, it's minutes that count. When traveling, we always recommend bringing more water than you actually think you'll need. Keep a five-gallon water storage container such as this in your car, to drink from in case you're stuck waiting for a rescue. Remember that once you're thirsty you're already dehydrated, a condition that can quickly worsen in extreme heats, leading to heat stroke and death.


 It's never recommended that you leave your car, since you'll lose shelter and visibility. With adequate amounts of water, you can easily wait with your car for days, whereas an hour in the open could kill you. Don't leave your car unless you're able to carry twice the amount of water to get you to your destination on foot -  and only if you know exactly where you're going.


Car Battery

A dead battery in summer is more common than you might think. According to the Car Council, liquids inside the battery will actually evaporate in summer, causing your car's battery to lose juice. While no battery is intended to last forever, persistent heat could be shaving years off the life of your battery.
If you live in the hotter parts of the country where temperatures commonly approach the 90s in the summer, you'll likely notice that you need to replace your battery more often than you thought. Heat can kill your battery within five years and even less, so we recommend that before hitting the road, you have your battery tested to ensure it's still capable. If you've had your battery for seven years or more, we recommend a test no matter where you reside.
A local car shop or auto supplies store such as Auto Zone will do this for free.

Tires

Most of us occasionally have our tires rotated and heed the advice of mechanics when it's time for a set of replacements, but more regular maintenance is another story. The condition of your tires plays a vital role in road safety, and this is even more true in extreme conditions such as heat.
Because heat causes expansion, your tires will be more inflated in the summer than the winter. If you've ever taken your car skiing and not used speciality tires, you likely noticed a significant drop in tire pressure or were even been surprised by flat tires in the morning.
The opposite is true for heat. It is estimated that for every 10-degree increase in temperature, your tire pressure will rise by one pound per square inch (PSI). That means you could add an additional 20 or more PSI to your tires on a very hot day. As you may have guessed, this can make a significant impact.


Over-inflation can break apart rubber polymers, causing the tire to "pop"
Over-inflation causes increased wear and tear, significantly shortening the lifespan of your tire
Over-inflation results in more friction, increasing heat and thus wear

Your initial reaction might be to simply let some air out of your tires. However, if you've been driving and your tire is hot, letting the air out could put you at risk of driving under-inflated. And an under-inflated tire is actually just as dangerous as an over-inflated one. That's because as more surface area meets the road, friction is greatly increased. This additional friction leads to heat, causing premature wear, tread separation and ultimately blowouts.
Check your tire pressure each day before you hit the road, to ensure you maintain safe PSI ranges.



 While driving on under-inflated tires is never recommended, there is one exception. If you're stuck in sand and you tires are spinning out, let some air out to create more grip. Once you're free, drive slowly to the nearest station to fill back up. The rule of thumb for driving on under-inflated tires is to never exceed speeds of 45 mph. This will greatly reduce your risk of a blowout.


Road Hazards

As we already learned when discussing tires, heat causes things to expand. This includes the pavement used to build roads. While highly uncommon on major highways, road buckling does occur and has caused accidents. It's oftentimes difficult to identify road defects in advance, since refraction from heat waves can skew your view.
Being aware of hazards is half the battle. As you drive off into the sunset, remind yourself that you could encounter any variety of road obstructions, from potholes to leaping animals. Always wear your seatbelt and drive the speed limit.




Hiking & Camping Safety

Water

Anytime you're talking about heat safety, water should be at the top of the list. Water is your lifeline in any emergency. Without it, you cannot survive more than a few days, and even less when confronted with extreme temperatures.
Just as with car travel, it's recommended that your hiking or camping trip be supplied with more water than you think you'll actually need. Running out of water in an emergency situation is detrimental. One five-gallon bucket makes an excellent backup for camping trips, and each hiker should carry at least 3 liters of water on an excursion. Carrying your water in a bag like the Camelbak provides an easy and comfortable solution.


Map & Compass etc.

Whether it's a comfortable 70 degrees or a scorching 100 F, the rules of hiking remain the same: know your trail, carry a compass and never hike alone. From snakebites and bear attacks to losing your sense of direction, hiking is filled with dangers. But you can prepare to ensure your hike stays a rewarding adventure and doesn't end in disaster.
First, never hike alone. In the event of an emergency such as an injury from a misstep or a fall, your hiking buddy could save your life.


Secondly, get a hiking map and a compass - and learn how to use these. During the course of a hike through unmarked territory, it's surprisingly easy to get turned around and lose all sense of direction. If you need additional inspiration, we recommend reading this article about an adventurous woman who took on the Appalachian trail without a compass.



Lastly, know your trail. Whether it’s your first time or you’ve hiked a particular area on previous occasions, knowing the hazards of the trail can mean the difference between a successful hike and a disaster experience.


Flash Floods

It's summer and it's dry, and when it rains, what would normally become a small puddle can turn into a torrential current. Even at low flow rates, water is capable of lifting away large objects such as cars and carrying them downstream. A flash flood will destroy everything in its path.
Flash floods can occur anywhere, and are the result of poor drainage when it rains. If you're camping or hiking in an area where the soil is particularly dry and water can't readily seep in, you should be aware of flash floods. Flash floods can happen day or night and can surprise you if you aren't properly informed.
As with anything else, it is possible to prepare for and avoid flash floods.



First, understand that just because you're not in a rainy location doesn't mean you can't be affected by a flash flood. Water travels downward and accumulates at low elevations. When setting up camp, stay above water level and secure your site. Knowing the topography of the region in which you're hiking or camping will help you to determine your escape route in the event of a flood. Discuss the escape route with your hiking or camping mates ahead of time.
Don't rely on weather forecasts. Weather can change suddenly and quickly, particularly at higher elevations. Learn to identify clouds to identify the warning signs of impending rain before it's too late, and always stay away from any flooded areas.



Pet Safety

Most of us love our pets dearly and we inherently want to protect them. Your ability to do so adequately begins with information.
Unfortunately, there are certain misconceptions surrounding pets -  dogs in particular, which can lead you down a dangerous path. Aside from providing your pet with proper shelter, food and water, here's what you should know:

While most animals can avoid overheating simply by not moving much throughout the day, your dog is your companion. He requires walks to relieve himself (and his boredom), accompanies you on car rides and provides emotional support in stressful situations.

Whether your dog is a large component in your everyday life, or he's mostly asleep on the kitchen tile, he's susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke just as much as you are.


Myth 1:
Panting = Sweating

In fact, because dogs can't sweat, they're even more at risk than you are for overheating. This surprises most people, since the general school of thought about a dog's pant is that it’s comparable to a human's sweat.


 Unfortunately for your furry companion, panting is simply not as effective as sweating. Much like sweating, panting also utilizes evaporation. But unlike sweating, which cools the skin from the outside in, panting tries to accomplish this task from the inside out. The process is less effective than sweating, leaving your dog at risk for overheating even in temperatures only reaching the mid- to upper-80s.


Myth 2:
Paws are Tough
They're tougher than certain other parts of the body, but they're not immune to injury. The paws contain a large amount of nerve endings to help your dog better navigate rough terrain and to avoid injury. In the summer when pavement temperatures can reach 150 F, paws can suffer second degree burns just like any other body part exposed to heat extremes.

Then What Can Paws Do?

Your dog is a distant relative of the wolf, who evolved to live in cold conditions on rough terrains. The evolution of the paw has ensured that the feet can absorb shock from running and jumping. This is due to a layer of fat, which also insulates the foot sort of like the blubber on a whale. That's why dogs don't need cold weather booties.

A bootie, however, can prevent abrasions and blisters, both from heat and cold weather extremes.


Myth 3:
Cracking the Window Helps

We challenge you to prove this theory by sitting in your car with only the windows cracked for even a few minutes. This horrifying myth results in pet deaths every year, and here's why:

We've already discussed how your dog's pant doesn't equate to your sweat, making him more susceptible to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. But just how hot can a car get?
Even on a relatively cool day, you'll notice a heatwave rolling out of your car as you open the door. That's because your car acts like a greenhouse, trapping temperatures inside. A cracked window will do nothing to alleviate this unless your area is experiencing hurricane-like winds.


As your car sits and collects heat, the temperature will continue to rise based on time. For example, in 10 minutes the inside of your car will experience roughly a 20 degree F rise. As you approach an hour, this number could exceed 40 degrees or more. That means, in the time it takes you to run into the store or stop for a quick chat with a friend, your car's interior could become deadly.
In the summertime, be it a relaxing 70 F or a scorching 100 F, it's never safe to leave your pet in the car - not with the windows cracked, not for only five minutes.



Kid Safety

You might hear your kids complaining about the heat, but it's more likely that in the heat of the moment, they'll overexert themselves before they stop playing. That's why it's important to use common sense, whether you're headed to the playground, the pool or elsewhere.
The good news? Children actually tend to be slightly better at staying cooler longer than adults, because have a higher surface area to body mass ratio. (For this reason, they're also more susceptible to cold.)

But that doesn't mean your kid is immune to heat exertion. Just like an adult, a child's normal temperature is about 98 degrees, which means that summertime can put them at risk for overheating.

When playing outside or traveling about with your child, exercise caution once temperatures climb into the 90s. Provide plenty of opportunities for rest, utilize shade and encourage water consumption.

What's the exception? If your baby is nursing or still consuming formula exclusively, do not provide water. The water in breast milk and formulas is enough to satisfy daily fluid intake requirements, and adding additional fluids to the mix can lead to imbalances and interfere with baby's normal appetite.

We hope you stay cool this summer. Leave us a comment below.



Thursday, June 28, 2018

Planning for Evacuation with Pets

At SOS Survival Products, our priority is helping you get prepared so you're never caught off guard when a disaster occurs. Proper preparation begins with information - about potential risks, about your options and about the products that are available to you. Armed with information, you'll be able to craft a strong plan and execute it without major hiccups when the time comes.

Each member of your family should be considered individually when creating your plan for evacuation. This includes any pets or livestock you may own. In the end, all aspects of your plan should work flawlessly together so that no one's left behind in the shuffle.


Get Informed

Better planning begins with information. Whether you're traveling or staying put, being informed about your surroundings and any potentially arising risks will help you make the best decisions for yourself and your family.


Get Informed About Natural Disasters


Start by learning which common disasters could affect your area and which seasons carry the highest likelihood for a natural disaster to occur. Use this previous blog post to help you get started.

Once you're aware of the risks around you, we recommend downloading an app such as this one to receive up-to-date weather alerts from the National Weather Service. These alerts will provide you with valuable information about weather occurrences such as hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. Apps such as these also provide safety tips and preparedness reminders about a wide range of common disasters, and will help you to locate a shelter should you need one.


Because modern technology such as 4G, Wi-Fi and satellites can become unpredictable during a disaster, we also strongly recommend adding a hand-crank emergency radio capable of receiving NOAA weather stations to your list of essential items. Use the National Weather Service website to make a note of all relevant transmitter names, call signs and frequencies in your area, and keep a list with your emergency supplies for later. 


Get Informed About Fires


No one likes to think about the potential for a house fire, but the truth is there are over a million fires in the United States each year. While a fire can occur anywhere and for a variety of reasons, an overwhelming number of fires are caused by neglectful cooking practices such as walking away from the stove or cooking while tired or intoxicated. A staggering 80 percent of fire deaths occur in the home, so fire preparation should be a top priority on your family's list.


Unlike many natural disasters, fires occur without warning. You won't have apps or radios to help you navigate to safety, so it's important to practice fire safety and plan ahead for the worst today.

The best way to ensure you remain safe should a fire occur, is to confirm that your home’s smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and sprinklers are properly maintained. You'll also need an action plan for yourself and everyone in your home, in the event that a fire forces you to evacuate.




If you live in an area known to be affected by wild fires, we recommend reading this article to help you prepare for the event of a planned fire evacuation.


Make a Plan

When planning for an emergency, it's important to consider the needs of each family member individually. Your pets are no different. Your animals depend on you 100 percent; you cannot teach them to use a cell phone or expect them to learn your family's evacuation plan. 
To begin, consider your pets' needs from start to finish.

How will you safely get your pets out of the home?
Where will you go with your pets?
What items or contacts will you need?

Under no circumstances should your evacuation plan include leaving your pets at home or in the backyard where they'll be unable to fend for themselves. A pet that's left behind is at risk for injury and death; planning each detail of an evacuation ahead of time will give you all the best chance of survival.


Leaving the Home


You may be warned to leave your home or have to evacuate very suddenly. If a sudden disaster occurs, don't panic. If your pet isn't by your side, check his or her common hiding places: under the bed, the couch or in the closet.

Reward-based training that uses foods or toys to teach your pet to respond to verbal or other audible cues can save lives and is well worth investing in. Whether your pet's escaped off the leash, slipped out the front door during a pizza delivery or is hiding away during a disaster evacuation, getting him or her to come to you on demand is a most valuable asset.


In an emergency situation, your pet may become inconsolably nervous and be unwilling to trust their surroundings. Nervous pets may not be capable of listening; if you know your pet can't calm down in a thunderstorm or during fireworks, for example, ensure you have the proper restraints available so there’s no chance of escape. Restraints could include a hard crate, a soft carrier or a leash and properly fitted harness.


You should practice getting your pet into a crate, kennel or to the car just as you'd practice an evacuation with your children. If your pet isn't normally confined in a crate, getting him or her to comply with you during an emergency can become a real struggle. If you plan to move your pet into a crate or other strange confined space in an emergency, we recommend properly introducing these items to your pet prior to an emergency using plenty of treats and praise.
Never under any circumstances, leave pets – or children – in the car alone.

Evacuating with livestock during a disaster event, while much more large-scale, is no different. In order to evacuate quickly and safely, you'll first need a plan that answers how you'll get your animals to safety, where you'll evacuate to, and what sort of items, contacts or identification you'll need once you've made it to safety.

Just like with any animal, it'll be important to get your livestock accustomed to being loaded into a transport trailer. Practice this so they’ll go willingly when the time comes. Always plan to evacuate with your animals whenever possible. Map out potential routes in advance and ensure all transport vehicles or trailers are available, up to date and fully functional.

If it's not possible for you to evacuate your livestock on your own, you'll need to decide if there's time to move the herd to a shelter or if you'll need to turn them outside.



Where Will You Go?

Your evacuation plan begins with how you'll leave and ends with where you'll evacuate to. The route you take might differ depending on the disaster, and you should practice each from start to finish in order to address any potentially unforeseen obstacles before they have a chance to arise. Your destination should be outside of the danger zone where you’ll have access to food, water and vet care.

Ensure that your animals can be part of your complete evacuation plan if you're forced into a shelter. If you find that no hotels or even shelters can accommodate your pets during an evacuation, it's time to contact boarding facilities or animal hospitals to get an understanding of their capabilities during an emergency situation.

If you're able to leave your area to evacuate to another town or another state, ensure you create a list of hotels or Airbnbs that will accept pets. If you have friends or relatives nearby, discuss your needs in the event of an emergency with them ahead of time. Update your list of contacts and pet-friendly homes or hotels once every six months.

Don't wait to have these difficult conversations until it's too late. Planning ahead for the worst-case scenario today will keep you from ending up in unforeseen yet avoidable circumstances such as being forced to remain in your home or sleep in your car during unsafe conditions. 


What You’ll Bring

When packing for yourself and your pets, it's important to adhere to a strict list so nothing important gets left behind and you don't end up with a trunk full of toys and Christmas sweaters.


Emergency Contacts 


Keep a list of contacts with your go-bag so it's always where you'll need it.

Friends and family
Hotels
Boarding facilities
24/7 Emergency vet clinics


Supplies


Water
Food
Handling equipment
Emergency kit
Medications
Identification
Shot records

Water 

Although the goal of evacuation is to escape to a destination that's capable of providing shelter, safety and other survival essentials such as water, we recommend never evacuating your home without at least some water. That’s because, depending on the severity of the disaster, it may be unlikely that you'll be able to acquire these basics for a few days. Therefore, your go-bag should contain water for three days for each member of your family - at minimum.

Don't waste water, but don't conserve it either. Drink water regularly and before you become thirsty. Once thirst sets in, dehydration has already begun. Give your pets free or regular access to clean drinking water. Plan that each member of your family, including pets, will require 64 oz. of clean water daily. 

Livestock requires much more water daily. On average, one horse will consume up to 20 gallons of water per day. You’ll need to plan for this in the event of an evacuation by bringing along adequate water to keep animals alive and healthy.


Food 

Keep at least three days’ worth of food in your go-bag. This includes food for each member of the family. Keep food in airtight and waterproof containers.

We recommend using compact, high-calorie foods with a lengthy shelf life such as the Datrex food bar. These survival bars are designed to provide ample carbohydrates, fats and proteins in affordable packages that are Coast Guard approved.

Most dry foods for dogs and cats are safe to consume for up to a year after manufacturing, while canned foods generally last slightly longer. Unopened cans of pet food can last up to five years,   depending on the kind of preservatives used.


Livestock is generally capable of surviving well without food. By providing adequate amounts of water alone, you should be able to ensure the wellbeing of your livestock for days and even weeks without access to food supplies.

Handling Equipment

Not being able to properly handle your pet or livestock in an emergency situation can result in disaster. The type of equipment you'll need will depend on the type of animal you have, but be careful to consider that a fearful animal who normally walks happily with only a leash might become panicked or even aggressive when disaster strikes.

While you cannot predict how your animals will react during a fire, a storm or an earthquake, you can prepare. There is a wide range of handling equipment available for pets and livestock.

Crates
Carriers
Leashes
Harnesses
Collars
Muzzles
Halters
Ropes
Cages
Trailers


Emergency Kit


Every family needs an emergency kit to mitigate potential injuries such as cuts and scrapes. We recommend participating in a First Aid course for children, adults and pets to adequately prepare you to properly apply bandages and splints, deal with blood loss and more.

An affordable pocket guide such as this one will provide a quick reference during emergencies to help you provide proper daily care, first aid, injury assessment and more.

Your kit should include bandage rolls, bandage tape, bandage scissors, antibiotic ointment, gloves, rubbing alcohol, saline solution and tweezers. These are minimum requirements.

Medications, Identification & Shot Records

It's absolutely vital that all animals in your care have proper identification records. This includes registration information, purchase or adoption papers and vaccination records. Your city ID and rabies tags should be attached to your pet's collar, along with any identification information such as name, address and phone number,

Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping or enrolling your pet in a national recovery database.
Whether your pet gets occasional ear infections or needs a daily insulin shot, plan ahead so that you have spare medication when you need it. Over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl may be used to calm your pet, however, ensure that you know how your pet will respond to a specific medication before administering it.

You can give your pet 1 mg of Diphenhydramine HCl (Antihistamine) per one pound of body weight. Never administer OTC pain medications to a pet. Ask your vet about which medications are appropriate to provide for pain, allergies, stomach upset or nervousness and in which dosages. Your vet is able to prescribe affordable alternatives many of the over-the-counter medications you use.


Other Items to Consider

Poop bags
Cat litter & box
Paper towels
Wet wipes
Sanitizer
Treats & toys
Blankets or bedding

Thinking about encountering potential emergencies involving your pet is difficult and scary. However, by planning ahead, you’ll be able to provide the most advanced care and best chance of survival for everyone involved. Don’t wait, plan today.





Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Camping Essentials for Beginners

Basic Camping Skills & Necessities


It's that time of year again: camping season! Before you load up the truck with snacks and smash ball, let's talk essential items. While each camping trip is different, we recommend starting each excursion with some basics.
We offer a range of high-quality camping products, whether you're headed to the mountains with friends or taking the family out for a holiday weekend. Check out our most recommended must-haves below.


Tents

We aren't worried you'll forget one, but choosing the right kind of tent for your trip will be a vital part of your overall experience. With so many kinds of tents on the market, it can be difficult to narrow down your best options. That's why we've done the work for you. We've tried and tested our products for quality and effectiveness and have concluded that either a basic dome tent or an instant pop-up tent will suit most beginner campers.

Basic Dome Tents

These tents are true to their namesake because they pop up into a dome shape. This means that, unlike with an a-frame tent, you're in for a pretty roomie experience. These tents aren't made for walking around in, but unlike some single-sleeper tents, they still offer plenty of room to breathe. At 4.5 feet high and 8 feet wide, this tent provides enough room to sleep four people, but we certainly won't judge anyone who's looking for that Weasely camping experience.
Dome tents are painless to assemble and break down, and are light and compact for easy transportation. Because these tents are free-standing, you can assemble them completely before staking them into the ground. You should stake your tent securely on all four sides to prevent it from blowing away as soon as a gust of wind comes your way.



Instant Tents

These miniature bedrooms are ideal for extended stays in one location. Setup is easy, although all
instant tents featuring an articulated frame will require more than one person. The more people you have, the easier it is to set one of these up. With the help of your family, your instant tent can be completely up and running in just two or three minutes. A tent like this will easily sleep six people.
These homes away from home are a perfect combination of comfort and the outdoor experience. At 6-feet tall, they offer enough room for most people to walk around in, and the ten by nine-foot floor space provides plenty of space for cots, mattresses, and any additional gear you might want to bring in with you.
The advantage of an instant tent is, of course, its unparalleled convenience. However, this tent will not be for you if you're looking for a backpacking experience, you're traveling alone or you're setting up in windy conditions.



Yes, you could just grab a couple of blankets out of the closet, but here's why you shouldn't:

Space

Unless you're camping in your own backyard, you'll need to pack your gear in a car or truck. As survivalists, we naturally prefer the minimalist approach, but we're sure you'll agree that having adequate seating room for everyone on your trip is ideal.
Sleeping bags are light and compact, they roll up neatly and you can squeeze them virtually into any corner of your car. Depending on how much you're willing to spend, sleeping bags easily fit into or onto your pack, giving you a hands-free experience if you're hiking to set up camp.

Temperature

At higher altitudes, summer temperatures can easily still drop into the 30s and 40s at night. Covering yourself back to front in a comfy cocoon will ensure you don't shiver through the night and wake up stiff and miserable. Choose a sleeping bag appropriate for the weather by checking its temperature rating. We offer summer, winter and three-season bags.



Moisture

Finally, a proper sleeping bag will still keep you warm even when moist or wet. Although you may not be planning on rain, when camping, it's better to be prepared for the worst-case scenario than not. Nothing will ruin a camping trip faster than being underprepared for the weather.


Butane Stove

If you're camping for more than a night, a stove like this will be an absolute essential. Unlike a camp fire, these flames are predictable and will help you prepare more than just s'mores.
If you'd planned to cook food over a fire, consider this:

Temperature control is pretty difficult with an open flame. We get it, a camp fire is one of the backbones of the experience, but we recommend saving the open flame for warmth and light. The temperature control on a portable stove will allow you to boil water to make beverages or cook rice, and it'll ensure that your entre doesn't become a charred brick as soon as you take your eye away from the kitchen for a minute or two.

A butane stove is easy to assemble and disassemble, and doesn't require any wood or other burning materials. You'll use it in conjunction with one of these disposable butane gas canisters, which can be refilled with the help of certain adaptors.
Portable stoves are easy to clean and store.




Gerber knife or Multi-Tool



Think the Swiss Army Knife on steroids. If you think you don't have a lot of use for such a complex tool, think again. While they may look like they require the handling or an expert outdoorsman, Gerber knives and multi-tools are a must-have on the campground, whether you've a professional or a novice.

Multi-Tools

Multi-tools offer a number of effective solutions to the everyday problems you'll encounter while

camping. They can look intimidating, but consider that they're great for basic tasks such as tightening a lose screw, opening a bottle, picking something out of a tight crack, measuring a space or cutting something open. You don't have to be a wilderness expert to utilize a multi-tool in this way, and it'll save you hundreds of frustrating trips to and from your car or toolbox to keep one of these in your pocket.
Keeping a multi-tool with you while camping helps you to prepare for the worst without a ton of extra equipment. These little tools can take on a variety of big jobs to save your time and sanity, and you'll be glad you have one if things ever do go wrong.

Gerber Knives


These knives are similar to multi-tools with the exception that they focus heavily on the knife-aspect of things. Knives tend to be even more intimidating than multi-tools for novice campers, but don't worry: these blades aren't intended for protection. While having a knife in a life-or-death camping situation is obviously more ideal than, say, not having a knife, we know that 99.9 percent of camping trips won't call for violence.
So why bother bringing a knife?
Knives help you to prepare and eat food, cut kindling for a fire or rope for the tent. If you plan on fishing, you'll need a knife. Is there anything a knife can't do? With a creative approach, your knife can handle anything.

First Aid Kit

Let's be real. Whether you're camping alone or with family, both are equally as likely to end with at
least one scraped knee or splinter. We recommend keeping a permanent first aid kit (along with a small fire extinguisher) in your car at all times so that no matter where you go, you're prepared for life's little hiccups.
A small fanny pack stocked with the essentials is a convenient way to keep what you need on your person without taking up extra room in your pack.
Keep a basic starter kit at the campsite or on your vehicle. Your basic kit should contain the following, at minimum:

  • Sterile gauze
  • Tweezers
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Butterfly wound closures

We also recommend carrying eyewash for those pesky dust or ash particles that are a part of every camping experience.

Become an Expert Camper & Outdoor Survivalist


If you want to take your camping or wildlife experience to the next level, you'll need more than the proper tools; you'll need proper preparation. There are plenty or websites and books on the topic of minimal and wilderness camping, but when it comes to emergency preparation, we prefer a hands-on experience.

The 2-day wilderness first aid course will teach you everything you'll need to know about making proper assessments, treating cold or heat-related injuries, taking care of broken bones or spinal injuries and more.
You'll have a superior hands-on experience and receive expert advice and answers to your questions along the way. Remember that you need to be CPR certified in order to take this course and be at least 14 years of age. We offer training classes throughout the year, or check with American Red Cross to find a class that’s starting now.
This course is based on the Boy Scouts of America Wilderness First Aid curriculum and doctrine guidelines, and uses OSHA's best practices for workplace First Aid training programs.


The Fire Starter

Ready to try your hand at an advanced skill today? The fire starter is one of our favorite camping tools because it is easy to use, affordable and small enough to tuck away in any pocket.
You learned it on Lost in Space: Magnesium burns hot and is unaffected by water! Never mind the logistics of melting ice with a magnesium fire, all you'll need for your camping trip is one block of this fire starter and, of course, your knife or multi-tool.
This little guy isn't just a cool way to impress your friends, it'll be your lifesaver in an emergency. This fire starter will let you build a fire with little other resources at hand.
If you're considering taking your camping experience to the next level, be sure you check out our article on fire safety and wildlife fire prevention.

What you'll need:

To successfully start a campfire, you’ll tinder, kindling and firewood.

Tinder is the stuff that helps you start your fire. It's super dry and will burn up quickly, such as dry leaves and dry grasses. One major advantage to using a fire starter is that it will allow you to work with damp tinder.



Kindling consists of small sticks that will help you to grow your fire. Make sure you have plenty of kindling to get a sizable fire going before laying on any large firewood.

  • Start with a small amount of tinder and surround it with a "teepee" of kindling.
  • Take your magnesium block and, using a knife, scrape off some shavings of magnesium into your tinder. These shavings are incredibly flammable and will burn very hot and very quickly once they come into contact with a spark.
  • Now, use the fire starter to create a spark. 
  • Keep adding kindling to grow your fire.
   
Once your fire is burning strong and you can feel the temperature rising, it'll be time to add larger logs one at a time.
You can continue the "teepee" method by laying blocks of wood against one another or you might prefer a pyramid approach. Don't add too much firewood at once. Making a lasting fire takes patience.


Remember that no matter where you are, building your fire safely so that it can't burn out of control should be paramount. If you don't have a fire pit to work with, you'll need to create your own. Keep in mind that you should only be building your own fire pit in an undeveloped area in case of an emergency. Build a fire to stay warm, deter wildlife or to signal for help.
Do you have a favorite camping tool or safety tip? Let us know in the comments below.