Friday, September 11, 2015

What do you really see?

I pride myself on being fairly observant.  When called out by my children (who else…) about “never noticing anything,” my response is always that I noticed, but that I simply chose NOT to say so.  Believable or not, we often DO tick off things in our heads as “done, done and done” but may not be.

So, you think you are pretty observant?  Watch this video and see how good you really are:

Yeah, I think I am pretty smart and I only saw one thing! [And it wasn’t the bear!]  It made me wonder – do we really just SEE ourselves as prepared for [fill-in-the-blank] emergency, but aren’t?  So, in honor of September, National Preparedness Month, I am giving you a little “cheat sheet” that I used to make sure I am prepared.  How would yours go?


I know I have water
I recently counted the bottles and I have 8 full bottles
I have a first aid kit
I opened the first aid kit and placed a new box of large bandages in there
I have food
I found a half-eaten can of nuts, which I had to finish, then I put a new one in my car.
I have extra shoes
THAT’S WHERE THEY WENT!!! Put in a pair of shoes that I don’t wear very often.


I know I have water
I had 2 bottles (who drank all my water!) so I put 6 more under my desk.
I have a first aid kit
I opened the first aid kit and replaced the Avengers bandages with Star Trek. Of Course.
I have food
I had Goldfish, 4 bags of fruit snacks, 24 bars of granola bars and 9 Hershey bars. And one Ghirardelli Cherry Tango Dark Chocolate bar.  OK, now I don’t.
I have extra shoes
I liked the ones from the car better, so I switched.


I know I have water
I have two 30 gallon barrels and they need to be refilled.  Get with it, Sue!!!
I have a first aid kit
I have enough first aid material for a small mass casualty event. Bring it on.
I have food
I have lots of canned food and freeze dried fruit.  And 4 large cans of baked beans.  Note: Add Beano to the first aid kit!
I have extra shoes
I have enough shoes to make Imelda Marcos smile.  And they are everywhere it seems.  Ok.

There is much more to add to each kit, of course, but that’s it.  Just use those keen observation skills to grab all of those other items you think you might need in whatever emergency situation – from a blackout to a large magnitude earthquake.  Be prepared, my friends.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A July 18, 2015, a Los Angeles Times headline read:
“Flames sweep over freeway; motorists run for their lives.”
( You probably saw the photos of the horrific fire that suddenly blew across I-15 at Cajon Pass.  Traffic on that freeway came to a halt when a brushfire created such a dense smoke that drivers could literally not see.  And when the flames quickly followed that smoke, people panicked and ran.  For good reason.

But here is the headline that you did not read: 
“Man Saves Lives with Flip Flops.”
OK, it was not a real headline anywhere (but here), but it could have been.  Less than a half mile north of the flame-roadway intersection sat Robert Leeper.  He, his wife and two small children were headed home after a fun weekend when traffic came to an abrupt halt.  He could see the smoke and flames in the distance and determined that it was not heading their way, so he just had to wait with the hundreds of other cars as they tried to figure out a way to turn around and go back north.  That’s when he saw them coming.  Dozens of people fleeing the flames and coming his way.  Because Robert was a geologist (Cal State Fullerton grad!), had worked in law enforcement for nearly a decade and was simply a really nice guy, he intercepted many of those approaching with water, snacks and--as hinted before—flip flops.

We have all traveled this way before, right?  Driving back from Las Vegas can often be very long and boring, so you take the kids’ shoes off and maybe your own and you “veg out” until you start seeing the planes flying in and out of the Ontario Airport and civilization again.  Chances are that you ate before you piled into the car, so you “didn’t need” any food until you got home, nor, heaven forbid, something to drink because then you will have to stop three or four times…  Anyway, it is not unimaginable to find people sans food, drink or shoes in their cars – which is apparently what happened to several motorists on the I-15 freeway.

Robert was prepared.  Not necessarily for this situation, but generally for any situation.  In a big cooler, he had lots of extra water bottles and granola bars that he passed out to thirsty, hungry evacuees.  He and his family had been enjoying some water sports that weekend, so he had a few pairs of flip flops, in various family sizes, which several of the panicked souls gratefully put on their bare feet.

Robert looks at life this way:  “Any number of hazards can occur at any time, so you have to be prepared.”  He also had some good advice for anyone faced with a similar situation: Keep an emergency kit in your car at all times.  Especially if you are traveling through long stretches with no or few services, you need food, water and emergency supplies – made in an easily accessible and portable kit.  If people had just taken a moment to be calm and assess the situation, they could have grabbed those kits and improved their situations tremendously.

So, thanks, Robert, for being such a great guy and model of emergency preparedness.  To those not yet (this) prepared, you now have the gold standard.  Go be like Robert.

Monday, August 19, 2013



Has the water run dry in your emergency supply kit?  If so, it’s time to fill ‘er up!  One of the most essential components of a disaster-ready kit is water.  A well maintained kit prepares you before disaster strikes. 

After an emergency, clean drinking water may not be available if your usual water source is cut off or contaminated.  When replenishing your supply remember that individual needs may vary depending on health, age, diet and climate. As a general rule, store one gallon of water per person per day to last for at least three days.

There are several options for building your water supply. The safest and most reliable choice is to buy commercially bottled water and open it only when you need to use it. Store the containers in a cool, dark place and note the expiration date. 

If you choose to prepare your own containers of water, purchase food grade water storage containers from a surplus or camping supply store or two-liter plastic soda bottles – not bottles that contained milk or fruit juice.  Keep in mind these containers must first be properly cleaned!

To learn more about maintaining your kit, click here.  Information about water treatment is also available at

Monday, July 22, 2013

Preparedness, Fires and YOU!

This is a complete copy-n-paste from FEMA, but it is great information on how to reduce your chances of your house going up in flames!  And this is not just for wild-fire prone areas.  Any house should take these measures, as you never know where a fire will occur next!


Protecting your Home during a Wildfire

Wildfires can spread rapidly, with little-to-no warning, often going unnoticed until it is too late. These wildfires, commonly started by human error, quickly ignite and burn through tinder-dry bushes and trees, and unfortunately spread to nearby homes as well.
If you live in a fire-prone area there are various ways that you can help reduce the chance for severe damage to your home and property, by designing and landscaping your home with wildfire safety in mind; selecting materials and plants that can help contain a fire rather than fuel it.
For home design and construction:
·        Use fire-resistant or noncombustible materials on the roof and exterior structure of the dwelling.
·        Treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking, or trim with fire-retardant chemicals evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory.
·        Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees around your property such as hardwoods, and avoid more flammable pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.
For home maintenance and safety:
·        Regularly clean your roof and gutters to remove any debris;
·        Install a fire alarm on every floor in your home and test monthly;
·        Have a garden hose long enough to reach your home and any other structures on the property;
·        Ask the power company to remove any branches that are near or on the power lines; and
·        Mow your grass regularly.
A great resource for proper home and property fire prevention planning is The site contains a variety of fire safety and prevention  information designed for residents, property owners, fire departments, community planners, builders, public policy officials, water authorities and architects. To learn about Firewise’s upcoming Wildfire Education conference click here.
Should you be directed to evacuate your home due to a wildfire, follow the instructions of local officials, and be sure to take your battery operated radio, disaster preparedness kit and lock the door behind you when evacuating. If you have time to prepare the home before leaving, visit the U.S. Fire Administration website for additional tips.