When we are away from home we will have little more than the skills and habits we have cultivated. The items we have with us will be limited. How can we reduce the danger of emergencies? And how can we reduce the impact of something failing?
Often we are faced with problems or emergencies which need an immediate response. Without access to the tools and supplies which we normally would use, how will we respond? Traveling by plane is one example. Safety is also a continual concern. These are some preparations and precautions which can be made ahead of time. We will use these at home too. They are just basic individual preparations.
Our health is an area where we can take significant precautions, but also where skill in first aid or CPR can be a life saver. When we are faced with small health emergencies, we respond from our medical knowledge and skills. Depending on your experiences and location, you may carry some supplies that will be of assistance to you. For example, a small first aid kit, or a resuscitation mask, or a snakebite kit. Good health is, of course, a foundational preparation.
Swimming is a fun sport in our household. We don't fear water. It provides great relaxation in the middle of the summer. However, if you ever accidentally needed the skill, having it could very likely save you or someone else from drowning. I have never swum in the ocean and I probably wouldn't last long in it, however I am very grateful for the skill I do have. There is always room for improvement. It is only a matter of priority.
Some handyman skills can be a significant benefit. For fixing things and making repairs, we are also limited to our skills and ability to improvise. While Jeremiah was in Texas this was very clear. He had limited access to tools, so he had to improvise mainly with just his multi-tool. Along with perhaps a small flashlight and pocket knife, that is about the extent of what we can always have available as far as tools go. I'd like to briefly mention one more item we can carry. A cell phone can be invaluable in an emergency. As an added benefit, if the air waves are overloaded with signals (like in an emergency), a phone that can send text messages can often get through when voice cannot.
Acting in a responsible manner is very basic. Most of us practice basic safety; I just mention it here because it fits under this section. Many tools can be dangerous if treated improperly. We need to respect their power. Never underestimate it. Tools like guns are "dangerous". Very few people are hurt by them because they are treated as dangerous. Common things like cars, sticks, matches, windows (falling out), buckets (kids suffocate in them), trucks, knives, ropes, plastic sheets (suffocation of babies), water, roads (vehicles), sports, power tools, and motorcycles need more careful attention because they are not so obviously dangerous. Tremendous harm has been done by "innocent" horse play. Irresponsibility is the problem, with some ignorance also.
You should dress for the seasonal weather in your climate. This should be made a habit. It is always better to carry your jacket over you arm than to not have it when the weather changes. Very often it is good to have more than sufficient protection from the weather. As you know it can change very fast. My parents point out that "[they] have lived in a variety of areas in this country and every year in all these areas people die from exposure to the elements." Basic preparations are a must. Be sure to re-evaluate your climate's demands if you move to a new area.
Are the clothes you are wearing safe? Specifically, your shoes, do they tie or buckle onto your feet? Will they stay on as you run? Situations where rapid movement is necessary are numerous. If there were a fire, if someone were injured, if you needed to move out of the way of something or get to the top of the hill before your brother (well, ok), could you move quickly? You don't want to walk barefoot over broken glass or any debris. But you might if you wear clogs. High heels are worse and dress shoes may not be much better. What if you suddenly have to move some things? Can you work wearing that foot gear? Could you run or climb if necessary. In an emergency there could easily be liquid making the ground slick. And what about crime? Many experts recommend running very fast. Could you? You might give it a little consideration.
Situational awareness is probably worth more than all the rest of these individual preparations. At the most basic level of survival, we must protect ourselves from being physically harmed by anything or anyone. Of course this includes the simple act of looking for traffic, but much more as well. Being alert to what is going on around us can make us aware of many dangers soon enough to respond and prevent an accident or something worse. Are power lines down electrifying something? Is something in a precarious position? Will that piece of machinery move? We just need to be observant of what is going on around us and what people are dong. Yes, this includes crime. Regardless of your position on self defense, observation of what is happening around you is your main protection. Unless you know what is going on, how can you escape from crime before it happens? No matter where you are traveling, be sure to keep aware of your surroundings. Are we driving or walking into a dangerous location? The Lord has graciously protected us in several very bad situations, some of which we didn't even know were bad until afterward. Has that ever happened to you? You might want to discuss it with your family so you will all be more alert in the future. Personally, I'd rather not be robbed or mugged, so I am trying to cultivate alertness.
I have read that about 90% of the vehicles which are stranded along a highway, are stranded because of one of three things: 1) out of fuel, 2) broken belts or ruptured hoses, or 3) flat tire. Thus a few simple precautions should help with trouble-free motoring. First, keep the fuel tank over half full. It won't cost you any more. Second, replace all belts and hoses every five years or less. This cost is cheap when compared to the cost, inconvenience and potential danger of being broken down away from home. Also, a prudent driver might want to carry a quantity of each kind of fluid the vehicle needs. And third, make sure your spare is accessible and aired up, the tire changing tools are in good condition and you know how to use them. Don’t forget a couple of glow sticks (replace every two years).
I have known many mechanics in the past who have always carried a spare starter, alternator, water pump, fuel pump and tool box in their vehicle, but today's vehicles are generally harder to work on. And roadsides are not good places for mechanic work. However, in the event of a water pump failure (for example) in a remote location, the replacement part might not be readily available. However, if you have the proper one in your trunk, it might just save you a day's time in having to order one in. One of the most important safety items would probably be a cell phone. It might save your life.
Concerning accidents, driving a little more prudently could prevent many from ever occurring. And don't pretend to have more skill than you really have. If you are unfamiliar with driving conditions, go S-L-O-W. In foul weather, if you slide into something, in their report on the accident, police will say that you were driving faster than conditions warranted, even if you were only going 1 mph. Remember, it will take you more time to get to your destination if you crash (even if you're going 50 mph), than if you go slow without an accident (even if that's 5 mph). Just because you are familiar with driving in one city doesn't mean you are competent in another. In some cities high speed highways go right through the middle crossing slow busy streets, and if you don't know how to drive, consider carefully how and when you attempt it. "Discretion is the the better part of valor."
Weather precautions might include a snow shovel, a bucket of sand for traction, dry gas for the fuel tank, windshield washer solution, window scrapper and brush and even extra clothing and sleeping bags sufficient for all occupants. I have known of entire families freezing to death up north when stranded in a blizzard at night. Water and energy bars would be a welcome addition in a situation like that. And what about your footgear? Dress shoes aren’t very practical in a foot of snow, so carry them in a bag and wear weather appropriate foot gear. Consider the environment where you live. In the desert areas, a gallon of drinking water might save your life. Two more things – safety triangles and flares could prove necessary. Be sure to consider what you will be running up against in your travels and pack accordingly.
For most of us, traveling in a vehicle requires a lot more consideration than is required for just driving to town and back, but under both situations certain preparations need to be made. Of course you don't have to carry a spare alternator with you all the time, however on a trip where you will be away from the places that are familiar and may be far from any place at all, and when time is important (like it is most of the time), such an item might be worth having. Things like a spare tire which you can change yourself can improve your safety as well as reduce inconvenience. Any time you get a flat or your car breaks down for any reason, you will be exposed to more dangers from people and weather. Take a few minutes to consider what kind of preparations will place you and your family in greater safety and comfort, and be sure to implement them in your vehicle.
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