Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links about all things preparedness, as well as updates on the blog. Can you believe it’s the last month of 2015? It feels like 2015 just got started, now it has flown by. It’s time to think about year-end activities again.
First the blog updates…
Health Benefits to Use Before the End of the Year Part of year end planning is to assess your health benefits and figure out what you may lose out when the year ends. Look at your health plan and review your benefits closely. A lot of people don’t use their benefits and can possibly lose these opportunities to get healthy or boost your preparedness efforts.
Medical checkups – Most health plans allow for one yearly checkup with your primary care physician. Have you gone this year? How about your spouse and kids? Now is your chance to have your health checked and make improvements. Part of being prepared is getting healthy and fit. Also if you feel your job is unstable and staff cuts are on the horizon, it is even more imperative that you use your medical benefits now while you have coverage. The same goes for the rest of the benefits outlined below.
Dental evaluation – Again, most dental plans allow two cleaning visits per year, either at no cost of low cost. Don’t miss out one getting your teeth professionally cleaned. You may also find out you have some needed dental work. This will allow you to make plans for next years’ expenses.
Flexible spending accounts (FSA) – I can write a whole post about just flexible spending accounts. They are a “use it or lose it” benefit. If you have money left over in the FSA, it does not carry over til next year. Review your balance and the covered expenses. You could potentially use any remaining dollars to boost your first aid kit: thermometers, blood pressure monitor, Ace bandages and many other items are covered.
Eye exam – Just like medical and dental checkups, many health plans also cover eye exams once per year. Have your vision checked, as well as your family’s.
Giveaways coming soon…
I finished reading Jim Cobb’s Prepper Hacks and will be posting a review and giveaway this week.
I had the opportunity to read a review copy of Survivor Jane’s latest book, What Could Possibly Go Wrong? The book is chock full of information for about all things preparedness, from preparing for pandemics, super storms, nuclear fallout and much more. Reading the book makes you feel like you are talking to your best friend who happens to know about this subject, and who also cares about getting you as prepared as possible. Yes, Jane does know of what she speaks, having lived through an attempted car jacking and other disasters.
Because it is written in a conversational tone, with lots of personal stories, you can’t help but get pulled right in. At the same time, it contains a lot of information and action steps you’ll want to follow through. Another thing I like about the book is the frank and no-nonsense tone in which Survivor Jane brings up subjects that are left out of many survival books, with lots of humor throughout. A few examples:
Should a woman learn dress like a man for safety in a TEOTWAWKI situation? Possibly, if it will help you blend in a crowd… Certainly something to think about.
How to combat intense itching from a chigger bite when you are on the move. Itching can actually become a problem in a grid down situation so this is good advice.
What to do when there is no toilet paper. If you think about it, we all rely on toilet paper, but what happens in a disaster when you run out? Again, you’ll want to find out your options.
Can you use super glue for sutures? I’ve always wondered about this.
How to get in “survival shape.” She offers some simple ideas anyone can start doing.
There are a lot more possibly survival scenarios described, but you’ll have to read about them in the book.
I recommend you get the paperback version – you’ll want to highlight all the ideas that apply to you and make some notes to yourself. It’s rare to find a book that is both instructional and fun to read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. You will too.
I work in a high rise building downtown. The other day I had the terrifying experience of getting trapped in an elevator with six other people. It was lunch time and two out of four elevators were not working. A crowd was forming to get on the two remaining elevators. When I finally got my turn, six other people came in with me. I already felt closed in, being in such tight quarters. The doors closed and the elevator proceeded to move down. The elevator suddenly stopped and everyone started looking around uncomfortably. People started shuffling their feet. It was a terrible feeling – what if this lasts a long time? The guy closest to the emergency button pressed it and a loud buzzer sounded. It felt like an eternity, but after about three minutes the elevator started moving again. I got off the next stop even though it was not my floor. I had uncomfortable shoes on, but I took the stairs 10 floors down.
This happened on a regular day, and it was scary enough. Imagine if there were an emergency, power is going on and off and everyone is trying to get off the upper floors all at once. The elevators would be jam packed and overweight, exceeding the weight limit. There would be more chances of a breakdown.
I realize even if you are one of the first to leave there are still lots of others trying to leave at the same time. People may be orderly at first, but that is until someone starts to panic. Panic spreads quickly and before your know it, chaos can ensue.
Get in the mindset to prepare in case of emergency and you find yourself at work.
1. Know where the stairwells are located and where they lead.
2. Stock your desk with bottled water and non perishable food just in case.
3. Keep a pair of comfortable shoes in your desk drawer, just in case you have to run down the stairs or have to walk home.
5. Assemble a small First Aid kit for your desk. Include personal necessities such as contact lens solution, extra pair of glasses, asthma inhaler, or other prescription medications etc. just in case you are unable to leave for a day or two.
6. Plan a walking route in case the parking lot is inaccessible and have to walk home.
7. Have alternate routes home, and paper maps to guide you if your GPS is not working. Of course, you already have a car survival kit right?
8. Be aware of what’s going on in your area – check the news on TV in the break room if you can, read the news online if you have access.
9. If there is an impending natural disaster, or bad weather has already started early in the morning, consider staying home from work and taking the day off. Sometimes the best precaution is just to stay away.
10. It is a good idea to know who among your co-workers live in your area, so you can share a ride in case of emergency.
11. Trust your gut. Don’t hesitate to leave your office if an emergency happens and your gut tells you it is time to leave.
12. Know all the exits out of your office, the building as well as parking garage exits.
Make a plan on how you would handle a disaster at work now before an emergency occurs. Thinking ahead will help you avoid panic and stay calm no matter what happens.
From time to time, helpful readers send me their best tips. I thought I would share a variety to them so everyone can benefit.
General Prepping Tips
Firestarter Source: My wife and I live in a tiny apartment with no washer/dryer. As such, we have to use the wash station in the complex. Something that I’ve done for a while now is when I open up the dryers, I clean out the lint trap (people rarely do this when that remove their clothes.) I have collected a gallon-sized bag of lint that I keep as a really good source for fire starters for when I go camping. One small spark is all it takes to light, and it gets a fire going quickly. Maybe this little apartment living specific tip would help others. -Joseph P.
Minimum Preps: I think if you live in an apartment with limited space and resources, there are two things that would be important. One, have at least one week of food, water and supplies (candles, batteries, toiletries, first aid, extra blankets, etc.) on hand, per person. You should have a source of boiling water such as a buddy burner, or BBQ, as you will need water for sanitation and heating or preparing food. You will need sanitation in case you don’t have access to running water (a 5 gallon bucket with liner). Keep these items separate and accessible, such as in a large tote. Also, one should have a bug out bag for 3 days with a change of clothes and any medication needed. I think that if you need to leave immediately or stay in place, one should have both options available and ready at a moments notice. I of course could go into much more detail about both of these, but I think you get the idea.
The other thought I have is that one should utilize all available space creatively to store food. Stock up on sales and cover that table in the corner with a floor length table cloth and stack up food or toilet paper underneath. No one will know you have cans of food under there. I have found space in my closets between towels and sheets that are great for stashing bars of soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc without trying to put it all into a box somewhere that takes up even more space. Be creative, just remember to rotate. -Rose
I always have some form of first aid available (I bought a basic Johnson and Johnson’s kit a few years ago; and now it’s time to update it), some water and basic food that I can eat. Since I am still in a mobile part of my life (recent grad), one of the first things I buy when moving into a new place is rice (about 2-3 pounds) and lentils (1-2 pounds). They keep for a good while and are pretty cheap. If I have the room, I’ll buy some spare water bottles. I also buy extra toilet paper if I have room. My criteria for buying things is 1) What is the nutritional value of food that I am buying or how will this benefit me in the long run, 2) Can I take this with me for my next move aka is it transportable and long term storage, 3) If I can’t take it with me, how much money I am going to loose aka what’s my risk investment (what food and/or water during moves, I give to my church, local food bank or to a starving collage-aged friend).
In summary, I ask and make sure that 1) do I have a first aid kit? 2) Do I have (relatively cheap and long lasting) food that will help me get through a 3 day to 1 week crisis? 3) Do I have enough water? 4) Do I have at least one alternative way to cook/prep food? (In collage I didn’t have number 4 down because that question didn’t pop in my head then.)
Living in Spain for the past 6 months has shown me how little I am prepared for anything and how much I need to prepare once I find a stable, consist income. ~Kim
I think apartment dwellers face many of the same challenges as those who live in houses. No matter where we live we all need at least a 72 hour kit, good locks/ door fortification, fire alarms and extinguishers, and a self defense tool. Like apartments, some houses can be more than 2 stories so a rope/emergency ladder wouldn’t hurt either. – C. N., Ontario, Canada
Lots of garbage bags! My tip is always have a full box of garbage bags at home. Garbage bags are useful obviously for disposing of trash, but also for acting as a disposable toilet in conjunction with a bucket, covering and protecting potted or un-potted plants during a sudden frost or storm, and for storing leftover water from the tub in an emergency situation until the water mains run out.
It can also act as a makeshift rain poncho with a few choice holes and can be cut into strips If needed to tie stakes. Stuffed with leaves it can also be used as a pillow and insulator.
Make sure to get the kind with the plastic cinch pull handles! It can also be used when the bag is used up as stake and plant ties, and also as trail markers.
Garbage bags are also cheap, picked up at any dollar tree. –Molly B.
I would think for the sake of space, invest in a food dehydrator. Also, most apartments only have one entrance door–fortify or replace (with permission) the standard entryway door. Most doors offer little or no protection: fortify the hinges, at the very least, add a peep hole and dead bolt. –Lee P.
Although I no longer live in an apartment, I think the largest challenge is growing your own food. This is a difficult skill to master, even James (The Covert Prepper) reassured me by saying it took him 3 seasons to get it right. I’m beginning my second with much excitement but also with the understanding that this is a skill, something to learn and test.
My best prepping tip for an apartment dweller would be to learn this skill and practice it at home. Try experiments with scraps, amazingly that celery grew! My cousin takes seeds from peppers she buys in the store, and plants them right into a pot in her kitchen, it works. I have also heard about a planting potatoes in a bucket, or potato tower, really quite the spatially economical way to grow. There are videos on youtube with people growing vertical window gardens using plastic bottles. For those fortunate enough to have a balcony, you can use pallets as vertical mediums, or James also recommended using eaves trough to create a garden on a wall. If you don’t have a balcony, I would suggest replacing house plants with food plants, begin with easier stuff like sprouts, radish or lettuce. With just a little bit of imagination and some practice, this challenge can be overcome, an apartment can yield a great amount of food, certainly more than the average house working to produce grass. It’s a great skill to have, and a great feeling to grow your own food, yes, even in an apartment. C. N., Ontario, Canada
Clean and completely dry some empty 2L soda bottles. Buy food in bulk and store in 2L bottles with lid. Rice, grits, sugar, salt and other course granular foods work well. Store away from direct light. You now have a waterproof, shatterproof, portable food container. –TacSKS
We lived in an apartment for several years before buying our house and I always hated the fact that the management office and maintenance employees could come in anytime they pleased. There were actually several thefts and it turned out to be a maintenance worker stealing while tenants were gone to work. In order to keep my stash of emergency food, prescription meds, money, and other prepper-type items hidden in plain sight, I would use cardboard boxes and label them with really boring titles. “Winter clothes, summer clothes, baby clotes, yard sale items, books, blankets, etc.”….basically nothing worth taking the time to rummage through when there was jewelery and electronics in plain sight.
The difficult part about prepping while living in an apartment complex, if how hard it can be to add any security to your home. You can be as prepared as possible, but if you can’t secure your living quarters from intruders, it is far too easy for them to break in and plunder your preparations.
The first point is to keep your preparations and plans to yourself. As nice as your neighbors seems, everyone gets desperate during difficult times. The fewer people living around you that know you have a stockpile of supplies, the less chance you have of them busting down you door looking for them. Another seemingly obvious point is to not rent a ground floor apartment. It may be nice and convenient to not carry your groceries up a flight or two of stairs, you get multitudes better security by living on a higher floor. Intruders will be going for the easy break ins first, leaving you much more secure on your upper floor. Not to mention, all those stairs will give you that much more exercise in preparation!
Though most all apartment owners will not allow you to modify doors, windows, etc. to improve your security, there area few things you can do to bolster your perimeter fortifications. Be sure to place a metal pole in any patio door or horizontal sliding window. Though an intruder could still break the glass and enter through, they may be
looking for a stealthier option, and move to the next apartment unit that is less secured. For vertical sliding windows, a board or piece of 3/4″ plywood can be placed in the top section of the window to keep it from sliding up.
Hopefully with this added security, you can keep control of your carefully stockpiled supplies better. -Greg Z.
KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS
1-If you were forced to relocate due to foreclosure or sale of a property you don’t own, what is a good alternative nearby?
2-Do you know where you would store your things and could you mobilize quickly?
3-What are your opsec needs? the population density changes your needs. My car is always out of gas and I am always out of food, if I am asked. secure your money/meds
4-What amenities can save you money ? free linen service? Tennis court? monthly swap meet? The mobile food pantry comes here twice a week. I have not had to touch my 3 month supply or buy paper goods at all! A. H., houdiniphile, Charlotte, NC
When prepping for an earthquake, you don’t necessary have to strap the shelf to the wall or glue the items to the shelf as suggested. Simply put all your heavier items on the bottom. In our house that meant putting all the books on the bottom & all the figurines on top. In all the years we’ve lived in California, we’ve only had 1 or 2 items fall off a bookshelf in an earthquake & these were light paper items like Christmas cards. breakable figurines & plates have stayed on the shelf! The books seem to act as a weight that allows the bookshelf to sway with the quake but not topple over, keeping it upright & your items safe!
… that being said we haven’t had anything overly strong. We lived through the Northridge quake but we were miles from the epicenter. So – legal disclaimer – this isn’t a guarantee by any means. But it’s worked at my home & at my office quite well. So to be totally safe I guess do all 3: strap the shelf, glue the items & place heavier items like books on the bottom. But places like my office won’t let you do that. So my binders & manuals are on the bottom shelf & it’s survived 2 quakes now. –Steffie
Know Your Neighbors
Get your *neighbors* to prep.
If things go sideways, you’ll be surrounded by hungry and increasingly desperate people who live mere inches away from your home and family.
The key, however, is to be low-key and not alarmist. You also don’t want tip your hand about supplies you have stored.
Strike up conversations at the rubbish bin or mailbox. “Hey, did you hear about that earthquake/flood/tornado in <wherever>? I heard that it took a week for them to get food, water, and power back. Makes one think, doesn’t it? You know… WE should store some water, food, lanterns, and candles in case the power goes out in our building!”
Follow up in a few weeks with a pamphlet explaining how to build an emergency kit. Work your way through the building. Contact the Red Cross or other organization to see if someone will come speak to your Neighborhood Watch chapter or HOA. Post notices about local emergency preparation fairs sponsored by the fire department or the city. Get them talking to EACH OTHER about preparedness.
The more people who are prepared, the better it is for all of us. — A. Prepper
I think the most important survival tip for an apartment dweller is to know your neighbors. By living in an apartment, you have limitations of what, and how much, gear, water, food, ammo, etc, you can store. You will most likely not be able to rely only on yourself. By forging some kind of bond with your neighbors, you create a sense of community that lends itself to banding together in times of need. In nonemergency times, it is still a great idea to know your neighbors. When your life is on the line, it is imperative to know who you can count on. –L. N.
Start Prepping includes many easy and doable steps to start preparing. The author included a variety of survival stories that keep the reader interested and engaged. The chapters are well-organized and the advice is solid. When I read books on preparedness and survival, I look for practical tips that anyone can follow: tips that are helpful whether a disaster happens or not.
One of the issues faced by beginning preppers is the overwhelming amount of information to sift through, which can also immobilize someone into inaction. The 10 steps to preparedness are thoroughly laid out, easy to implement and not at all intimidating.
Disclosure: This is a professional review site that sometimes receives free merchandise from the companies whose products we review and recommend. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own. Apartmentprepper.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentpreppper.com
These last few weeks, I have been seeing some dire warnings from economic forecasters, about risks of another financial disaster, in spite of good economic news from main stream sources. However, a large segment of our society still seems to be oblivious to the need to prepare. They have no clue what happens when truck deliveries stop, or when grocery stores run out of food.
This is getting very little coverage in the evening news, but people should be paying attention. Venezuela’s citizens are experiencing shortages of the most basic supplies such as milk, flour and rice. With shortages come higher prices, as demand outstrips supplies. People cannot afford to keep up with food prices that increase daily. Even if they had the money to shop, people wait in line for four or more hours just to get groceries.
Imagine not having any food in your pantry, even when you have cash to spend. People are risking their lives just to buy a few groceries. With no food to feed their families, they are getting angry and desperate. As a result, violence is erupting throughout the cities: shootings and stabbings are daily occurrences while waiting in line to get in the grocery store; looting has become widespread.
People may say, this can never happen here, Venezuela is just another poor country. Venezuela is considered a developing country, however, it has some of the world’s richest petroleum reserves, and is the largest exporter of oil in Latin America. Not too long ago, it was a thriving, prosperous country. However, government corruption and mismanagement of finances have caused an economic crisis and eroded the citizens’ faith in their government.
How do you protect yourself from a food crisis?
It doesn’t take much to interrupt the supply chain and cause food shortages. The best way to protect yourself and your family would be to have to basic food supplies on hand of foods you eat normally, as well as a small stockpile of items you use daily such as toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothpaste etc.
Resolve to pick up an extra package or two of staple foods such as rice, sugar, flour, pasta, spaghetti sauce, canned foods, on your weekly shopping trips. Keep adding a little extra each week. In a short time, you will have an emergency food stash for any emergency. Aim to have a month’s worth of food, then go from there, depending on your storage space. Keep track of what you have and resupply before you completely run out, giving yourself time to for coupons and sales.
Buy in bulk if you have a warehouse store card, or split large packages with family and friends who also want to build a stockpile.
Learn how to grow food, even if you have a small space. You can grow an herb garden in the tiniest of balconies. If you have lots of space, plant some fruit trees and grow some vegetables. Or, you can participate in a community garden near you.
Food shortages can happen anywhere and it does not hurt to be prepared. Even if nothing happens, learning to grow food will help you save money. You’ll save time as well: you’ll avoid running out of supplies and having to do those last minute trips to the store.
As I have shared previously, our area has been having a lot of rain these past two months. While I am grateful for an end to the drought, the enormous amounts of rain has resulted in flooding, and one other unwelcome effect: an explosion in the mosquito population.
Everywhere I look there are puddles and other forms of standing water: breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Just taking a half hour walk in the morning, I ended up with multiple mosquito bites on my arms. Now I apply natural repellant before I walk out the door.
If you’ve ever had a mosquito bite, you know how itchy they can get. Scratching provides momentary relief, but spread the itch even more.
Here are 10 easy remedies for itchy mosquito bites:
Miracle Salve I have found that the Miracle Healing Salve, (originally found on Backdoor Survival), works to relieve mosquito bite itching, among many other uses. I have made several batches of this salve.
Deodorant My son’s science teacher swears by deodorant to relieve itching. I’ve tried both scented and unscented, they seem to work equally well for a short time.
Adhesive bandage Mr. Apartment Prepper just places a band-aid over the bite. It prevents further irritation from brushing up against surfaces and you eventually forget that it’s there.
Alcohol Place a dab of rubbing alcohol directly on the bite – it does help.
Baking soda and water Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply directly on the itch.
Ammonia and water Mix equal parts of plain ammonia and water and apply on the itchy area with a cotton ball.
Vick’s Vapor Rub My grandmother swore by this remedy. When we were kids, she would dab a small amount of Vick’s Vapor Rub on the itchy bite.
Tea tree oil Mix five to six drops of tea tree oil with one tablespoon of olive oil. Apply with a cotton ball directly on the bite.
Recent disasters worldwide such as the Chile volcano eruption and the Nepal earthquake remind us that disasters can happen at any time. You might think, those are far away places, they can’t possibly happen to me; however, emergencies such as chemical spills, wildfires and flooding have been known to cause localized evacuations. Fires are not uncommon in apartment homes or condominiums, many residents may have only minutes to evacuate. Circumstances may force you to bug out even though you don’t want to.
It’s very hard to think about, but if you had to, can you evacuate your home in 10 minutes? If this is all the time you had what would you grab?
We had this exact discussion in our household, and we think we have a plan. I can’t tell you what your plan should be as everyone is different – you may have more or less people in your household, of varying ages; you may have one or more pets, and have a different stage of readiness.
Here are some things to think about:
Get the family together and discuss what would you do if you had to evacuate in a short amount of time. Give each able member of your household an assigned item or area to cover.
Think about the nitty gritty details such as where would you exit your home? Are your items stored within easy reach? The old saying applies- people, pets before things. But when it comes to that, what are your most valuable possessions? For some people, it may be their computer, for others it could be their firearms, jewelry, or photos.
Do you keep your wallet, keys, cell phone, glasses etc. in the same spot where you can easily grab them? Or will you have to run around the house searching for them?
After you exit your home, where would you go? It depends on the circumstances. If you live in an earthquake prone area, if there are strong aftershocks you’d want to be out in an open area, away from buildings or structures that can topple on you. If you were bugging out due to an impending hurricane you would head out of town away from the hurricane path. Now would be the time to map out routes out of town, and get in touch with relatives whom you can stay with.
You’ll need some clothes with you, otherwise you only have the clothes on your back. At least have a change of clothes, underwear, socks. If you work in an office, you should have one set of work clothes in case you have to go to work in the following days. Not all areas may be affected by the disaster, eventually, you will need to go back to work.
If you have pets, plan ahead for them as well. At the very least, you’ll need a carrier, leash, collar, food and water for them as well. Many shelters do not allow pets – but some might. These are all things to consider well ahead of a disaster.
Don’t forget your important documents. This is an easy project you can do in one weekend: build your grab and go binder so you have all your documents in one place. Even if you don’t have them all in a binder, keep all your documents together so you can easily take them on your way out. Also keep a hard copy of your contact list in your grab and go binder, in case you happen to leave your cell phone behind, or you somehow lose it.
Have a plan for your irreplaceable items such as photos, recipes, etc. Now would be a good time to back them up online or in a thumb drive. Grab your computer if you have time especially if your livelihood depends on it.
You’ll need to take cash with you in case ATMs, credit and debit cards are not working. Keep your hidden cash in your grab and go binder or bug out bag.
Lock up your home as well as you can when you leave. You’ll hopefully be returning after the emergency has passed, and some looting goes on in the aftermath of a disaster.
Review your homeowner’s or renter’s policy and be aware of your coverages. You do have coverage don’t you? Improve them now before a disaster happens. Some survivalists scoff at details like this, but to me, there is a good possibility you will be returning to a damaged home or apartment so you might as well be prepared.
I had mentioned clothing above – ideally, you would have a bug out bag. You may not have everything you’d ever want in it, but at least have the beginnings of one. Each member of the family should have one. Include special needs such as personal prescriptions, infant supplies, a child’s special comfort item such as blanket or stuffed animal. This is a good book that’ll give you all you need to know: Build the Perfect Bugout Bag
Of course, don’t forget to inform your loved ones when you have safely evacuated so they don’t come searching for you. It may be stressful thinking about this now, but think how much you’ll regret not doing anything if a disaster does happen. Make your plans now. As we always say around here, better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
Cold and flu season is in full swing and I am no stranger to the misery involved. I still have posts going up, but have been absent from social media as I have been laid up with body aches, sneezing, coughing for the last few days. Fortunately, no one else in our household has caught this. During my last sleepless night, it occurred to me a lot of people must be in the same predicament: if you are not careful, you can contaminate your entire family, and re-catch the virus yourself even as you are starting to feel better. And the cycle can restart all over again.
Here are a few ideas on How to Avoid Contaminating your Family with Colds and Flu:
Isolate yourself – If possible, sleep in a separate room. Avoid hugging or kissing anyone. This can be difficult with small kids who need lots of hugs, but you have to stay strong for everyone’s protection. Eat in a separate area if possible, or sit as far away from everyone as possible.
Wear gloves and face mask – Cold and flu germs are spread by contact with the virus, whether by air or surfaces the sick person has touched. Flu viruses live on surfaces for two to eight hours. If you wear gloves and face mask, you will avoid spreading germs all over the house.
Stay home – Stop going to work and get some rest. I have been guilty of trying to “power through” a bout of cold or flu but I have learned that this just makes you get worse. Getting a day of rest helps you recover faster thereby avoiding further spread of germs.
Disinfect all surfaces that you may have encountered. I have Lysol aerosol spray as well as Clorox wipes – no I do not own stock in these companies and am not trying to push them. Try any brand you like; just make sure you wipe down light switches, TV remotes, door knobs, refrigerator handles, faucets, toilet and bathroom.
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, using a tissue or handkerchief. Immediately dispose the tissue or wash the handkerchief. If you do not have either, turn away from everyone and sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow or shoulder.
Wash your own hands frequently with soap and water. Don’t just wash quickly and rinse – you must lather up for 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice) Get your entire family into the habit of frequent hand washing. If you are unable to wash your hands, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and the Christmas season will soon be in full swing. Theft and other crimes seem to increase when people are out and about shopping or partying and not paying much attention to anything else.
The other day the management company left a flyer on our door about a “Resident Meeting” regarding apartment safety. I was concerned enough that I attended the evening meeting after work. A couple of policemen and the building management were in attendance. The reason for the meeting was to discuss recent criminal activity in the area, and to warn residents about personal safety.
My neighborhood is in the middle of the city of Houston. If you ever visit the city, you will notice very quickly that the city does not have strict zoning laws. As a result,most areas include a mix of residential, commercial and industrial. One block could be a nice residential area, and across the street would be high rises or industrial parks, unless you live in a planned community in the suburbs. So you can live in a block with nice residences, but go two blocks and you can quickly find yourself in an unsavory looking area. Being careful and aware of your surroundings is very important. Not being critical or negative, that is just the way it is. While we carefully picked the apartment we live in, checked crime statistics and all that, crime in any area is inevitable.
Back to the meeting. Apparently, the management company decided to have a meeting due to a recent shooting that occurred in the complex. They wanted to reassure the residents that it was not a random event but a shooting between acquaintances, a “drug deal gone bad.” There were no fatalities, the shooter was arrested and the victim was shot in the leg. I was still unsettled by the incident – it is not very reassuring to hear that a resident was doing a drug deal. The resident has since been evicted; at least he is not around anymore. The cops also informed us there have been car break-ins and some theft.
Staying safe during the holiday season
This meeting has just reinforced my feeling that there is no such thing as a “safe area.” We need to be on guard at all times, and always aware of our surroundings. Always find out about what’s going on around you. Surprisingly, for a complex this large, not a lot of tenants attended the meeting, considering it was about something important.
Maintain an alert stance and scan the people around you. Thieves avoid people whom they perceived is too alert and may have already noticed them
If you start to have a bad feeling about your surroundings, stop and pay attention to these feelings, it is your intuition telling you not to proceed.
Thieves try to target people whom they perceive as more vulnerable: the elderly, women alone or women and children.
To avoid being targeted by thieves, think about what attracts these criminals: flashy jewelry, a large purse that looks stuffed with goodies, smart phones, shopping bags, etc.
Carry only what’s necessary and leave the rest at home.
When shopping, always lock your vehicle and do not leave your items in the car, lock them up in the trunk. The cop revealed that they patrol certain malls because thieves are known to “harvest” items that people leave in the cars while shopping.
Consider a protection device such as mace, pepper spray or a concealed gun if you know how to use them and are licensed in your district.
When in public, avoid being engrossed in your phone or tablet. This sounds simple, but I have seen so many people with their heads buried in their cell phones even while crossing the street.
When walking to your car, have your keys ready in your hand, no fishing around the parking lot for missing keys. Brief inattention to your surroundings can cost you your life. If leaving at night, try to walk with someone or have security escort you.
Train the kids to only open the door to family or friends who know the “password” and never open the door to strangers.
Keep your curtains or blinds closed. The more passersby see your appliances and items, the more likely a thief will get interested in you.
Consider an alarm system or a dog if your building allows it.
Make sure you always lock your doors and windows.
Look around the area before you open your door or garage, as thieves have been know to follow people in as they get home.
Be careful about announcing your activities and plans on social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook, this will give potential thieves a “heads up” that your house is available.
Before walking or driving up to an ATM machine, make a note of who is in the area. Is there a car just parked nearby? Are there a lot of bushes where someone can hide and jump out at you? If you are not sure, just bypass it and go somewhere else. The most you will lose is time and possibly gas, but at least you’ll be safe.
When in crowded shopping centers, be alert for pickpockets especially when someone bumps into yo
If you are working late, walk out with a co-worker or call security and have them walk you to your car.
If you feel you are being followed home, don’t pull into your driveway. Instead, keep driving and go to a crowded area, police or fire station.
Sorry if this article sounds a bit paranoid, but these are the times we live in. A big part of survival mentality or preparedness is paying attention to your own personal and family security.