What If We Regulated Driving Like We Do Guns?

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Yesterday I shared a brief video about Washington’s I-1639 passing that seriously restricts gun ownership, and I clearly wasn’t happy about it. I’m still not happy about it passing and, like the guy said in the video, most of the law won’t directly impact me whatsoever. Regardless, it’s still the wrong way to go but first…

Today I woke up at about 3 am still thinking about it… and still upset. Then, this morning I turn on the news to hear about another shooting, this time in a California bar.

What a shame. I simply don’t understand what these shooters hope to gain by doing this; it must be the infamy of going out in a blaze of glory. Odds are this guy had mental problems that weren’t properly dealt with, but only time will tell.

The thing is that we always seem to blame the gun for such deaths, but that’s just not the case. Now, I’m hesitant to use the saying, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” but it’s true.

Saying that guns kill people because they exist would be like saying that cars kill people because they exist. Literally. But we both know that’s not true. Cars don’t actually kill people… it’s the driver’s behind the wheel who do. There may be extenuating circumstances (such as poor road conditions) but it’s still up to the driver to drive safely.

The statistics are staggering

According to these CDC stats, America averages between 30-40 thousand deaths by firearm (homicides and suicides combined) each year, give or take a few thousand, and it appears to be rising. I’ll certainly agree that’s a lot and the trend is moving in the wrong direction.

And if firearms didn’t actually exist then, yes, these deaths in this manner would not have occurred. Would they have occurred in another way, say, with suicides? Well, Japan has very strict gun laws and a relatively high suicide rate… you do the math.

What about deaths on the road? Although motor vehicle fatalities were trending lower over the past decade, the trend seems to be on the rise again, totaling as many or more deaths per year as firearms at about 37,000 per year, according to Wikipedia.

Clearly, firearm deaths and motor vehicle deaths are not equal. People certainly use a vehicle in their daily lives far more than a firearm. I get that. But the fact still remains that as many or more people die from vehicle-related deaths as they do with guns.

And if we’re truly interested in reducing preventable fatalities then we should consider all major causes of preventable death, including firearms, vehicles, drug overdoes (many of which are prescriptions and cause more deaths than either firearms or vehicles), and so on… but only firearms get vilified day in and day out.

Initiative 1639 highlights

So, what would it be like if we treated your car just like Washington state want’s to treat guns?

Let’s find out…

Washington Initiative 1639 includes quite a bit. Once enacted, the law would:

  • Raise age limits for purchasing certain firearms
  • Require waiting periods after purchasing a firearm
  • Impose additional fees when purchasing a firearm
  • Require proof of firearms safety training
  • Increase background checks before purchasing a firearm
  • Require firearms to be securely stored or disabled by use of trigger-locks
  • Require approval from local police or sheriff to own a firearm

I’m sure there’s more in there that I missed, but these are the biggest problems I see. Now, on the surface, they sound reasonable enough. But, let’s substitute the word “firearm” for the word “vehicle” and see how reasonable it would be if this were your car and your lifestyle that we’re legislating…

Raise age limits for purchasing certain vehicles

One thing the initiative does is to raise the age limit on purchasing certain firearms from age 18 to 21: “This initiative would make it illegal for a person under 21 years of age to buy a pistol or semiautomatic assault rifle. It would make it illegal for any person to sell or transfer a semiautomatic assault rifle to a person under age 21.”

What if we applied this same logic to a car? What if we said that a legal adult at age 18 couldn’t buy a sports car, such as Ford Mustang, until they were age 21 because of the perceived risk a sports car brings? Would that be acceptable?

Or, better yet, why not say they can’t buy a sports car until age 25 when insurance rates tend to drop even more? After all, young male drivers are known to be most at risk for making poor decisions behind the wheel, especially when speed is involved. A sports car surely makes it easier to speed, I can attest to that.

Why not apply the same logic to motorcycle purchases? After all, most motorcyclists I’ve seen on the road tend to speed or weave in and out of traffic, and they’re certainly more at risk of dying from an accident than the driver of a vehicle.

Let’s target SUV’s while we’re at it… most of “those people” drive poorly too, particularly in bad weather.

And if I kept trying I’m sure I could figure out how to target almost every car or group of drivers out there. Eventually nobody will be driving!

What about upper age limits?

Here’s another take that’s just going to upset quite a few people: what if we had an upper age limit on who can purchase–or even drive–certain vehicles?

What if, for instance, we said anyone who was retirement age couldn’t purchase specific vehicles or, worse, once you hit age 70 (an arbitrary number I just made up) that you couldn’t drive anymore?

Would you be fine with that? After all, older drivers may be just as much of a hazard on the road as the younger ones. Don’t get mad at me, though, we’re just trying to do everything we can to stay safe on the road!

Require waiting periods after purchasing a vehicle

Another requirement of I-1639 is to “…require a dealer to wait at least 10 days before delivering a semiautomatic assault rifle to a buyer.” Of course, this could take much longer due to background check backlogs, lost paperwork, or who knows why.

What if we did the same thing with vehicles?

What if, instead of being able to drive off the new car lot with your shiny new sports car (now at age 25) you had to wait? Possibly for weeks? You wouldn’t be very happy at all!

Now, what if we made everyone wait before they could take possession of any new car they buy, even from a private seller?

Dealerships wouldn’t be very pleased, that’s for sure. It kind of ruins their whole sales pitch and there may be a few “buyer’s remorse” returns too. That may hurt the economy a bit.

Insurance companies may not be very happy either, especially if there’s damage to a vehicle during the interim period where the dealer still holds a car due to the waiting period and when the owner takes possession. Though I’m sure they’re figure out a way around that or, more likely, they’ll charge you a “new vehicle holding” fee.

And, of course, new car owners won’t be very happy either.

Impose additional fees when purchasing a vehicle

The initiative would also “…allow the state to impose a fee of up to $25 on each purchaser of a semiautomatic assault rifle. This fee would be used to offset certain costs of implementing the initiative. The fee would be adjusted for inflation.”

Wait, we already impose new car fees, lol.

That’s just more money for the state to grab and do whatever they want with. Granted, the fees probably wouldn’t amount to very much, but it’s still YOUR money that they’re taking.

Require proof of vehicle safety training

The initiative states that: “Buyers would be required to provide proof that they have completed a recognized firearm safety training program within the past five years.”

What if we made anyone who wants to purchase a new car show proof that they completed a vehicle safety course within the past five years? Would you want to take a safety course every five years? How quickly would this become redundant? After a handful of these safety courses you could probably teach the course yourself.

Firearms are no different; once you understand the basics of firearms safety and familiarize yourself with the firearm (assuming it’s new to you) there really isn’t much else you need to reeducate yourself about. Requiring proof of training every five years is just silly.

Increase background checks before purchasing a vehicle

Continuing their intrusive behavior: “Background check and record keeping requirements that currently apply only to the purchase of pistols would also apply to the purchase of semiautomatic assault rifles. The same requirements for collecting and maintaining information on purchases of pistols would apply to purchases of semiautomatic assault rifles.”

What if dealerships were now required to pull your DMV record to determine if you were fit to drive? Would you be fine with that?

Granted, I know we have laws in place to revoke your driver’s license if you’ve had too many violations (or specific ones such as a DUI) but what if we did the same thing before purchasing your next car? Who gets to decide precisely what makes you a bad driver? And how far back to they get to look? I know I’m a very different driver today than I was in my youth; I’d suspect you were too.

Require vehicles to be securely stored or disabled by use of trigger-locks

I-1639 continues: “The initiative would create new criminal offenses for the unsafe storage of a firearm if a person who cannot legally possess a firearm gets it and uses it in specified ways. These crimes would apply to a person who stores or leaves a firearm in a place where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a prohibited person may gain access to the firearm.”

Basically, it’s saying that you, as a legal gun owner, are now responsible for the actions of another should your firearm be stolen (or taken without permission, such as by your child) and then commits a crime with your stolen gun if you failed to “reasonably” secure it.

So, what if we make the same requirement of your car? Should you be required to not only lock up your car each day at home, but to securely store it in some fashion? What about at work or while you’re at the grocery store?

Maybe you’re only required to “lock up” your keys. Would you be willing and able to do that each and every day, every time you use your car? And if you didn’t, you could be charged with a felony in some cases!

In fact, just yesterday I heard about this 11 year old kid who stole his parent’s car and led police on a high-speed chase. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured and, while they’re filing felony charges against the child in juvenile court, according to this law they may also be able to file felony charges against you in some cases when you had nothing to do with it. Is that fair to you?

What if, for instance, you locked up your keys in a gun safe like you’re supposed to, but a thief stole the safe, eventually broke into it, subsequently stole your car, and ended up getting into a fatal accident? Are you responsible then? What’s reasonable in this situation?

That said, the initiative does state that: “Those crimes would not apply if the firearm was in secure gun storage, meaning a locked box, gun safe, or other locked storage space that is designed to prevent unauthorized use or discharge of a firearm.”

We’ll see how long that wording stays in or how much wiggle room a prosecutor wants to apply to the law.

The initiative does attempt to clarify: “The crimes would not apply if the person who gets the firearm is ineligible to possess it because of age… [or] in cases of self-defense… [or] if the person who is ineligible to possess a firearm obtains it through unlawful entry, if the unauthorized access or theft is reported to law enforcement within five days of the time the victim knew or should have known that the firearm had been taken.”

Right. Like I said, we’ll see how judiciously such wording gets used and abused when there’s an overzealous prosecutor or judge involved.

Require approval from local police or sheriff to own a vehicle

“Finally, the initiative would require [law enforcement] to verify that people who have acquired pistols or semiautomatic assault rifles remain eligible to possess a firearm under state and federal law… [and] to take steps to ensure that persons legally ineligible to possess firearms are not illegally in possession of firearms.”

What if we did this with your car? What if authorities went so far as to track what car your’re driving and were able to revoke your driver’s license if they found out you were driving the wrong type of car for whatever reason?

Think this can’t happen? Nearly everything can be tracked these days, especially with the use of smartphones, GPS, and other smart devices. If they wanted to track which car you’re driving, they can figure it out.

Then it’s just a matter of tracking you down physically and revoking your license… or maybe they’ll just send you a text, lol.

Concluding thoughts

I get the purpose behind the law. I do. And on the surface it sounds like a good step towards solving the problem, but we always have to remember that criminals don’t care about the law. Initiatives such as this really only hinder law-abiding citizens.

We also need to recognize that we already have laws in place to prevent or remove access to firearms from those who are most likely to harm themselves or others, specifically the mentally ill.

Of course, there’s also the duty of gun owners to recognize situations where easy access to your firearms may be a bad idea. If, for instance, you have a teenager (especially a male teen) who is showing signs of depression, lock up your guns!

Statistics consistently show that suicides are the primary cause of death by firearms, year over year, and that firearms are the chosen tool here in America. We cannot ignore this fact. But it shouldn’t be up to the government to tell us responsible gun owners how to act.

It’s up to us to take the initiative (no pun intended) and to do the right thing where we can, and if that means locking up your firearms when you never have before because your teenage son is now moody little shit, then do it.

Bad things do happen, but they can happen a lot less if we, as law-abiding and responsible gun owners, take the initiative on our own… pun intended.

7 Reasons To Add Thermal Optics In Your Preps

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Are Thermal Imaging Scopes Useful?

Having seen the movie Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger when I was young landed me with a fascination for thermal optics. That fascination is not what led me to start considering their use today. Not only as an aid to hunting but as an option for a variety of tasks that we, as preppers, may deem important.

Recently in Search and Rescue training, we used a thermal optic to scan for lost hikers. It was amazingly powerful and successful. Even through rather dense foliage, we were able to clearly make out any presence with body heat.

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This is a very powerful utility and one that is now within the grasp of most people. Back in the 90s, even an affordable thermal optic could quickly exceed $10,000.00. I recall reading the ads for these units in several of the gun catalogs that arrived at our house and knew it was out of reach.

That has changed. Now you can get a high-quality thermal sight that is quite cost-effective.  The entire industry of thermal optics went through some growing pains early on.  This combined with their high cost has seen them mostly employed for hog hunting.

I think it’s well past time we take a hard look at thermal optics as the potential tool they could be.

A Brief Primer on Thermal Optics

To correct any possible misunderstanding, I think it’s important we spend a few brief words on what exactly a thermal optic is. It is not night vision and has a number of benefits over a standard night vision scope. I do believe night vision is a useful technology but not the equal of thermal optics.

Night vision relies on some form of illumination from an external source. That can be ambient light for some types or an IR illuminator for others. In order for something to show on night vision it has to reflect that illumination. It can not work in complete darkness and has a very limited range.

Thermal optics detect the radiation, in the form of body heat, that is emitted from a target. They can be used day or night and even in complete darkness. The range of thermal is often much farther and can easily exceed 1000 meters on some units.

All night vision is monochrome. Usually, you can pick out your target with night vision with little difficulty.  But if your target is near other reflective surfaces, it will just blend in. This is especially true of very small animals.

There is no blending in with thermal. The rainbow hues will stand out and be instantly recognizable. Even the quickest scan will show you if anything is near. From my home, I can clearly watch rats run around my barn over 200 yards from my window.

I believe the versatility and power of a thermal optic make it a far better technology than night vision for many uses.

Why a Thermal Scope?

So far, I have referred to this technology as thermal optics. So, why would I write this article about thermal scopes specifically instead of monoculars, goggles, or any of the other devices? That comes down to choosing a tool that is capable of multiple tasks.

Firstly, this is because a scope can serve as a hunting tool where other forms of thermal optics cannot. But that is just scratching the surface.

I am sure that most readers have a weapon mounted light. When there is something to investigate near our homes, many of us will reach for that weapon with its light rather than just picking up a flashlight.

The weapon mounted light serves the same purposes of a flashlight but with defensive capability.  A weapon mounted thermal optic serves the same purpose.

Because of the way that thermal works, using goggles or a monocular in conjunction with a weapon would be impossible. You would never be able to see your sights. A scope will do everything any other type of thermal will but has a weapon attached should you need it.

If you are not comfortable with carrying a gun, a scope can be detached, often with just a throw lever, and used as a monocular. A thermal scope is just the most useful format for this technology.

Thermal Optics for Hunting

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I am sure most of us are aware of the use of thermal optics in hunting. While it is worth covering briefly, it should not be the focus of this article.

Most game animals cannot be hunted after dark in many states. In my home state, only hog and coyote can be hunted after sundown. This will make hunting uses more limited for some than others.

Where and when it is permissible, hunting at night with a thermal scope is highly effective. Coyote are overpopulated in many areas, mine seems especially prone. I hunted coyote with a spotlight for several years but that method pales in comparison to the effectiveness of a thermal scope.

A bright light will scatter coyote immediately, often faster than you can get a bead on one. Thermal gives them no warning until your fire your first shot. Occasionally, that moment of panic from a loud noise can even give you time to get off a second shot.

My experience with hogs is much more limited but from my understanding, it works much the same.

Though I would hesitate to call it hunting, most of the use I get from my thermal scope is with the local vermin that like to raid my farm. I get coons, coyote, rats, and opossums regularly as they come searching for food. They are all easy prey with a thermal optic.

The one downside I have found is that the snakes they like to prey on my chickens are invisible.

Thermal Optics for Home Security

This is the one place that I feel thermal is most neglected. I have a rather large property with trees and a number of sheds and outbuildings. There are no street lights and on a new moon, it is pitch black. Thanks to the drug epidemic, home invasions and theft are prominent and a very frightening reality.

When I have an indication that something may be on my property, I want to be able to scan quickly. Sure, you can do that with a light but you give away your location. If you happen to start in the wrong spot, any troublemakers are given at least some warning to hide. This is an imperfect solution.

Night vision is a little better. You avoid giving any warning and don’t give away your location. But as we talked about with hunting, targets may not stand out, especially if they are hiding. Night vision also has a smaller field of view and limited range. I think it’s a solid tool but not one that can do everything I want.

Thermal optics give no warning, do not give you away, and make target location and identification easy. I can see to the far end of my property about 400 yards away and make out deer, dogs, and even small animals.

Even if someone were hiding with just a head poking out, it would light up in vibrant hues. Seeing through vegetation is a breeze so a person would have to be completely out of sight for them not to show up. This is by far the quickest way to scan your property with the least chance of missing anything out of place.

I could explain most of this all day but you can not experience how easy spotting through a thermal optic is until you try it for yourself. This video shows a couple of different modes available on Thermal optics.  It does not show the typical rainbow color scheme that most people are familiar with. For scanning, I prefer the rainbow mode but the white heat mode does work very well.

You could do all of this with any thermal optic. I choose a rifle scope over a spotting scope for several reasons. As I mentioned, I like having the option to attach it to a weapon. Additionally, thermal scopes often have superior run times and a greater range of magnification. This is a huge benefit, especially when trying to spot at a distance or to identify a smaller target.

The optic I have attaches with a throw lever and holds zero pretty well. Probably most of my use is ridding the farm of varmints using a .22 rifle. The remainder of the time it gets mounted on an AR-15 for larger targets. I rarely ever use it without it mounted on a gun but it could be used as just a spotter.

I would not trust it to hold a zero well enough for a 100-yard shot but most of my shots are 20 yards or less and I am within an inch or so. This is acceptable for any use I normally have. When I take it out to hunt, I do an actual zero on the rifle before I go.

The peace of mind this has brought for scanning my property has been well worth the cost!

Other Uses for Thermal Optics

As I mentioned above, I use a thermal optic for search and rescue. This is not a weapon mounted scope but a dedicated unit. I do not take a rifle with me on search and rescue. This application works well in the woods, water, and most any other environment and is the most important use I have for thermal.

I also use my thermal to keep track of my dogs after dark when they go out. It works much better than a flashlight and is good practice. But outside of the use on living things, a Thermal scope has a variety of uses. The more innovative you are, the more uses you are likely to find.

I use a thermal to check for hotspots on my wood burning chimney. This can help avoid fires and tell you when you may have a potential blockage in your chimney. While you are at it, you can use a good thermal to check your home insulation by looking for cold spots. Heating is expensive, why waste it?

I do a similar check on my HVAC system. You can easily see leaks and blockages in your system and avoid costly checks that involve taking your ductwork down. You don’t need a sensitive, purpose made unit to do this. Any thermal optic should work well enough to detect these issues.

You can check electrical problems in the same way. Check your breaker box to make sure none of your fuses are running hot before it becomes a problem. You can even check your household outlets and surge protectors to make sure they aren’t running hotter than they should be.

Hot water pipes can also be scanned to look for places that may benefit from more insulation. Check your windows to make sure you aren’t losing heat. There are a variety of uses thermal can be applied to for measuring heat loss. You should probably take it off your rifle first though.

This may somewhat piggyback off other uses but I also take my smaller thermal optic with me when camping. I like to be able to spot wildlife and watch the activities of nocturnal critters that you usually never see. You could even use it to search for Bigfoot or the Yeti if you were so inclined.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this does an adequate job of addressing some of the many uses of thermal technology. For those who seek to be truly prepared, a thermal optic is an amazing tool with so many applications in our world. For prepper types, so many of these uses are important to the way we conduct our daily lives.

The longer I have had my thermal optics, the more I have found I use them. Of course, you should match your thermal to your intended uses. That said, when it comes down to it a mountable rifle scope provides the most utility for me.

I can use it for security, safety, providing food, and even some leisure activities. They may not be a perfect technology but they are a very useful one.

BIO: Eric Patton from Scopesman

Eric grew up hunting, fishing, and roaming the hills of the Easter U.S. and has dedicated himself to becoming a well-rounded outdoorsman.  Anytime there is an opportunity for a little fishing or a morning spent hunting, you will find him in the woods.  In his off time, he teaches a variety of outdoor skills including land navigation and basic survival.  Recently a Search and Rescue member, he has begun learning the ancient art of human tracking in a variety of terrains.

How to Use a Smartphone Without a Signal

Smartphones… everyone seems to have one, yet few people choose to make use of them properly to better prepare for disasters. That’s way I wrote this book on smartphone apps for survival because your phone is a crucial, yet underutilized, survival tool that you should ensure is ready when needed the most.

What I now realize is that I didn’t fully cover how to better utilize your smartphone if/when you can’t get a cell signal at all.

Fortunately, there’s more than one way to make use of a smartphone as an actual communication device when cell towers are down. The following article discusses four ways, in particular, to make that happen…

“Communication, wherever you are, is a vital resource.

Whether you are a survivalist, prepper, hiker, hunter, or homesteader, having a method of off-grid communication is vital. Why is it important? Because when disaster strikes, an emergency happens, or when you are outdoors, too often we are left without cell phone service, and it is generally in those times that we need communication the most.

In regional areas, there is still scant phone coverage. In those circumstances, sure, we could use satellite phones, but if you have ever looked at their pricing you will know that satphones and satellite minutes can be ridiculously expensive.

With changes to technology, there are a few, much more affordable, alternative options that allow us to communicate with others. These options do not require us to use a cell phone signal, making them a way to communicate off-the-grid, so to say.

Why off-grid communication is important…”

Read the full article here

Apartment and Condo Prepping Book Now Only $0.99 on Amazon Kindle

Small Space Prepping Book

My latest book, Prepping Strategies For Condos, Apartments, and Duplex Living: How to Prepare for Emergencies with Limited Space, is currently only $0.99 on Amazon Kindle for this week only!

Inside this book I’ll show you how you can prepare yourself and your family with very little effort, minimal time, and sometimes for free… even in a small apartment or condominium.

So, if you’re at all interested in grabbing a copy, right now is a great time to do it.

Here’s What’s Covered Inside:

  • The 3 Biggest Problems With Apartments and Condos (why they’re so much trouble and what you can do about each of them)
  • 7 Sneaky Storage Solutions (so you can stockpile more supplies quickly and easily)
  • 11 Small Space Prepping Solutions (each one is designed to maximize space usage without taking over your home)
  • 7 Concerns Not to be Overlooked (condos and apartments have very specific problems that most single family homes do not)
  • 9 Additional Supplies to Include (to ensure you have everything else that needs to be covered)

… and more.

Click here to discover more and get your Kindle copy on Amazon through the 27th only.

Get Home Bag Real World Examples

Understanding the purpose behind a “get home bag” or “bug out bag” will help you decide what to include and why.

In this video, SensiblePrepper emphasizes the reasons why you should have such a bag ready at all times with several worthwhile examples.

He also briefly discusses items to include–medical items and self defense–especially the medical supplies which can be useful for helping others who have been injured after a disaster.

Clearly, there are many potential reasons why such a bag could be useful, including a personal SHTF situation, environmental disasters (e.g., tornadoes or blizzards), riots, and more.

Here’s why you need to have a get home bag or bug out bag ready…

Bleeding Control Kit

SkinnyMedic (his handle on YouTube) has created a reasonably priced bleeding control kit with the expectation that this could be used by teenagers or middle school kids to stop a severe bleeding event with some training, of course.

In this video he includes both demonstrations of children using the kit as well as a run-through of the kit contents. And, honestly, even if you didn’t choose to get this specifically for children it would certainly come in handy as anyone’s backpack bleeding control kit…

7 Shocking Truths About Living Without Electricity

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Electricity helps to keep us cool (and warm), cook our food, light up the darkness, wash our clothes and dishes, and keeps our most nutritious foods from spoiling, to name a handful of amazing uses.

The following is an honest look at how truly important electricity is to our modern lives and dives deep into seven ways that electricity–and living without it–WILL be shocking to so many people who have come to rely solely on modern society and the conveniences that it brings, especially power…

“If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live without electricity for a long time, just ask the people of Puerto Rico. Many of them lived without power for nearly a year. And according to a Harvard study, the death rate in Puerto Rico nearly doubled after Hurricane Maria do to a lack of air conditioning and medical care.

It has been estimated that if the power went out all over the United States for a full year, 90% of the population wouldn’t survive. That’s how dependent we are on the power grid, which is a scary thought considering that a cyber attack or an EMP could bring it down at any time.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the luxuries we take for granted. Here are seven things you’ll realize after the power grid goes down.

1. Climate Control is a Godsend
Most people don’t realize just how awful life can be without climate control such as air conditioning and heaters. These things really are wonderful inventions.

First let’s talk about air conditioning. For the better part of a century, people have relied upon electric climate control to keep their homes a comfy 73° F year-round. So what happens when the power goes out?…”

Read the full article here

Boxes and Bungee Cords as Earthquake Proofing?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about earthquakes again, mostly because I’ve run into various YouTube videos and whatnot talking about the “Big One” to hit the west coast, but not the one you’re thinking of to hit California… the Cascadia Event to hit the Pacific Northwest where I live. To be honest, if that one ever hits us, boxes and bungee cords won’t save us.

That said, it is possible that smaller, shorter duration earthquakes could hit us like the ones I grew up with in California. With that in mind, I’ve started to consider what problems we could run into as a result, and one of those problems is our ability egress. Here’s where I’ve started:

Boxes and bungee cords as earthquake proofing

I’ve picked the space above our washer and dryer as the place to start because, although you can’t tell, that area happens to be the main pathway between our bedrooms and the family room and front door. In other words: it’s the bottleneck for traffic in our home.

And, while there are doorways to exit each bedroom so that we wouldn’t have to go through this area (if an earthquake struck at night, for instance) odds are that we may still need to walk through the area for a number of reasons after an earthquake hit.

Now, I really should have taken a photo of what it all looked like before I started this mini project but, honestly, I wasn’t planning on writing about it until I was done. Oh, well… just picture all sorts of cleaners and glass bottles lining both shelves and you get the idea.

For months I’d walk by that area and I kept thinking to myself, “What if an earthquake struck and those glass bottles came crashing down and broke on the floor where we’d have to walk?” To make things worse, “What if the cleaners came down and spilled so that now we had a slick floor and broken glass to walk over?” There are so many homemade cleaners as well as laundry soap up there that something would assuredly spill and be a hazard.

So, the current solution was to group items together into boxes because I figured that it would take more effort for an entire box to come flying off a shelf than a single bottle which, in my opinion, increases the chances that everything will stay put.

Of course, I know that even entire boxes can come sliding off the shelves during an earthquake which is why I plan on adding bungee cords to hold the boxes in place too but, for now, I’ve just used a single bungee cord for holding the loose, large bottles in place, such as the laundry soap and vinegar you see to the left.

I might also take the boxes sitting on the top shelf and move them to the garage because most of that stuff is rarely accessed as an extra precaution.

Anyway, it’s a start. Will boxes and bungee cords do any good during an earthquake? Who knows, but I do know that I feel better about the whole situation and, at the very least, I’m beginning to be proactive again about our family’s disaster safety.

What do you think? Is this worth a darn or not? What can I do better?

Roadside Emergency Kit Review by Survival Hax

I was recently sent this Roadside Emergency Kit by Survival Hax for review. It’s all nicely contained within this handy bag:

Most items are further protected inside plastic bags which is nice and all items are easily returned to the bag after removal.

Now, the first thing I went looking for, believe it or not, was an owner’s manual (yes, I’m getting old enough to WANT one even though I don’t need it, lol) but couldn’t find anything. Oh well, no big deal.

Here’s a photo of the kit contents:

And, the contents of the first aid kit bag:

They say it’s a 96-piece roadside kit which I’ll assume is correct, but a bit misleading simply because a majority of the kit contents are small items like bandages, zip ties, and safety pins.

That said, here’s my take on what’s included, starting from the top left and working more or less down and to the right:

  • Triangle signal – Although I didn’t put it together, the item above the zip ties folds together to make a reflective triangle which can then be placed on the ground behind your car. While I would have preferred flares of some sort, this signal seems relatively sturdy and would, at least, get a passing driver’s attention when lights hit it.
  • Jumper cables – These are about as basic as you can get since they’re not heavy-duty cables. Expect charging to take longer than it should but they will eventually get the job done, I’d assume so, anyway.
  • First aid kit – You can see for yourself what’s included, but it’s mostly small bandages, gauze, cleaning pads and so on. There’s also a small mylar blanket included and few other small items which may come in handy, such as tweezers and scissors.
  • Gloves – These won’t keep your hands dry for long but they will, at the very least, keep them from getting dirty and maybe provide a bit of warmth… plus they have a gripping side which is nice.
  • Assorted smaller items – You’ll also find a variety of smaller items, such as zip ties, a candle, slip wrench, small whistle, and electrical tape. I’m not sure how useful any of this would truly be. The whistle is a good addition but not very loud, in my opinion. The candle, on the other hand, is just a fire hazard.
  • Glow sticks and flashlight – Two small glow sticks are included (I didn’t try them) as well as one of those rechargeable hand-squeezed flashlights. They’re not great for long-term use but good enough for this purpose.
  • Small utility knife – Includes various knives (which could use a sharpening to be sure), saw blades, corkscrew, etc. None of it is anything to get excited about and I honestly would have preferred a better quality single-blade knife.
  • Safety escape hammer / seat belt cutter – This tool might actually be of use but won’t do you much good unless you move it to near the driver’s seat. I would have liked to see it have a strap of some sort so that it could be attached to your seat belt to keep it from flying about the car… guess you’ll have to hope that it stays wherever you stick it.
  • Firestarter – At first glace this looks decent, though, I haven’t tried it. Honestly, I would have preferred matches or a lighter to start a fire.
  • Tow straps – I have no idea what they’re rated. Regardless, I sure wouldn’t bet my life on them and I’m not sure I would bet my car on them either. Of course, I could be wrong.
  • Emergency poncho, safety vest – The poncho is rather thin material but it should keep the rain off. The safety vest is a good addition.
  • Bungee cords – A few lightweight bungee cords are included which could prove useful somehow, I know I keep bungee cords in my cars.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t pretend to suggest that this emergency roadside kit is the best that you can get. Most of the items included are basic / starter equipment. With that in mind, if you have nothing in your vehicle for a roadside kit then this one could work as a starter kit.

With that in mind, and while you’re welcome to purchase it from SurvivalHax.com, they’re offering readers a full $25 off their purchase from Amazon with the code “OFROAD50”. Enter that where it says “enter a discount or promo code” during checkout.

FREE: The Complete Pet Safety Action Plan Book, 5 Days Only

If you’ll recall, about two weeks ago I mentioned that I was looking for Kindle book review team members because I’m now writing Amazon Kindle books.

That process has been going great and I must say “thank you” again to those who have taken the time to help out.

As a result, my first book, The Complete Pet Safety Action Plan, is available on Amazon… best of all it’s currently free for download on Kindle for a limited time. 🙂

Pet Safety Plan BookHere’s what you’ll discover inside…

  1. The Two Most Important Actions You Must Take Now Before Disaster Strikes
  2. How To Ensure You Get A “Pet-Friendly” Welcome On The Road
  3. How To Keep Your Pet Safe When You’re Away From Home
  4. What If You Can’t Take Your Pet With You?
  5. Getting Your Pet Ready At Home
  6. Getting Your Pet Ready To Evacuate
  7. What If You Must Evacuate On Foot?
  8. Keeping Yourself And Your Pet From Getting Sick During Disaster
  9. Know Your Rights: The PETS Act
  10. Advanced Disaster Considerations
  11. How To Get Supplies For Free (Or Really Cheap)
  12. General Safety Considerations

Go ahead and grab yourself a copy now while it’s still free on the Kindle platform (offer ends this coming Thursday).

The only thing I ask for in return is that you leave an honest rating on Amazon when you’re done.

Thanks!