... and Keep a Good Work/Life Balance with a Busy Lifestyle
By Julie Morris
by Sean Morris
Making your home emergency-ready might seem like a waste of time; after all, how likely is it that disaster will strike? No matter the odds, preparing your home and your family for worst-case scenarios offers peace of mind knowing that you’re ready to handle whatever comes your way. Here are a few essential emergency-preparedness tips for every homeowner.
Arm Yourself with Backup Lighting
Emergencies are often accompanied by power outages. You might think that you know the layout of your home well enough to navigate in the dark, but it’s much more difficult than many people realize in the heat of the moment.
Always be prepared with battery-powered lighting such as flashlights and lanterns. Periodically check and replace the batteries as needed so that your emergency lighting is ready to go all year long. It’s also a good idea to use rechargeable batteries and store extra in a nearby and easily accessible location. You can even opt for crank-style flashlights so you’ll never have to worry about dead batteries!
Maintain Smoke Alarms and Keep Fire Extinguishers at the Ready
Keep a fire extinguisher on each floor of your home, along with an extra extinguisher in the kitchen. Fires can start in any area of your home, and the few minutes it may take to retrieve a fire extinguisher from another floor can mean the difference between a near-emergency and an out-of-control, whole-house fire.
Additionally, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are must-haves on each floor of your home, as well as near every bedroom. This helps to ensure that every member of your family will be awoken by the alarm should disaster strike, allowing you more time to get your loved ones to safety.
Keep First Aid Kits on Hand
When emergencies happen, injuries are also likely. That’s why a first aid kit is an emergency essential for every home. You can build a custom first aid kit that also includes things like medications, incontinence products, or any other items particular to your family’s needs.
Knowing some basic first aid techniques can truly be a lifesaver in the event of an emergency. CPR and basic first aid classes are often held in hospitals and community health clinics in practically every city and town across the U.S. throughout the year, and it only takes a few classes to get certified.
Be Prepared for Flooding with Sump Pump and Water Alarms
Flooding is one of those emergencies that can happen anywhere, and there are a few ways to prepare your home for flood emergencies, as well. For instance, water alarms can alert you to leaks, allowing you to rectify the problem before it becomes a true emergency. Shutoff valves for both your washer and your hot water heater are also essential for minimizing water damage.
Having a sump pump on-hand is also another good idea. Even if your area doesn’t see a lot of rain, earthquakes and strong winds can cause damage that could lead to flooding.
Protect Your Roof from Damage from Falling Trees and Limbs
If your home has surrounding trees, it’s crucial to have a tree care specialist inspect your property periodically. Trees with long limbs overhanging your roof can spell disaster in harsh winds. Tree specialists can identify these potential problems and trim your trees to eliminate the risk of heavy branches causing substantial damage to your home during storms.
Additionally, you can enlist a roofing professional to inspect your roof. These experts can point out areas requiring repair, or they may recommend a full roof replacement. Keeping your roof in good repair reduces the odds of leaks that result in costly damage to your property.
In the midst of an emergency, it’s difficult to think clearly. Preparing your home for possible emergencies before they happen means that you can focus on keeping your loved ones safe should disaster strike, instead of working anxiously to minimize damage that could have been prevented in advance.
Images via Pixabay by pixeltweaks
Sean Morris is a former social worker turned stay-at-home dad. He knows what it’s like to juggle family and career. He did it for years until deciding to become a stay-at-home dad after the birth of his son. Though he loved his career in social work, he has found this additional time with his kids to be the most rewarding experience of his life. He began writing for LearnFit.org to share his experiences and to help guide anyone struggling to find the best path for their life, career, and/or family.
Via Flickr – by EladeManu
If you don’t think you’re an energy waster, consider these eye-opening statistics:
· Americans generate 30 percent of the world’s garbage, but only make up 5 percent of the world’s population. (University of Utah’s College of Architecture and Planning)
· A 2009 McKinsey & Company study found that Americans spend $130 billion per year on wasted energy. (Energy Resource Center)
· Each day pipe leaks cause the U.S. to lose 7 billion gallons of drinking water. (ThinkProgress)
Unfortunately, simply by living in the U.S. we all contribute to pollution and energy and water waste. Even an avid recycler and self-proclaimed treehugger like myself knows I could do more to help the environment and to reduce my overall contribution to all that waste.
If you’re looking to reduce your impact on the environment, here are a few ways you can help by “greening up” your household:
Go green when you clean. The products you use to keep your house clean may actually be polluting the overall environment. As RealSimple.com notes in its article on easy tips for making a “green home,” “plant-based products from companies that have a complete list of ingredients on their labels” is the way to go. When you choose greener cleaners, you’ll put less pollutants into the air and reduce your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals.
Buy local produce. It’s probably not something you’ve thought much about, but the foods you buy have to travel thousands of miles to reach your table. As this article notes, these miles traveled require tons of crude oil and lead to green-house gasses being “spewed” into our air. It explains that when you buy locally your food doesn’t have to travel as far, which means less pollution.
Maintain your pool. There’s nothing more refreshing than a dip in the pool, but what isn’t so refreshing is how much a poorly maintained pool can contribute to water waste. As this article on reducing pool water use notes, when you fix leaks quickly, use a pool cover to reduce evaporation, and take other measures, you’ll decrease the overall amount of water your pool uses.
Use power strips. Here’s a great tip for reducing your monthly power bill: use more power strips. In its list of 70 green living tips, Prevention.com explains that even when your iPhone isn’t plugged into its charger, the charger is still “sucking energy from outlets.” By using power strips, you can turn the power supply on and off as needed.
We could all do more to help keep the planet clean and green for years to come. Thankfully, many of the ways we can reduce our own individual energy and water waste are very easy to implement. By following these and other tips, we can play a vital role in protecting the environment.
Jasmine Dyoco is a fan of crossword puzzles, gardening, books on tape, learning (anything!) and fencing. She truly enjoys the work she does with Educator Labs and hopes you’ll stop by the site to learn more!
Transition Howard County continues to grow and change the world through local action! In this past year we have accomplished the following:
Join the fun of building sustainable and resilient communities!
Our group continues to grow and work towards creating more sustainable and resilient communities in Howard County. In our second year, our group has accomplished the following:
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of Transition Howard County. Encourage your friends and neighbors to join in the fun of building sustainable and resilient communities!
Transition Howard County is about
assisting each other to chart better pathways to a healthy and
sustainable world. When it comes to fossil fuels and the corporate
infrastructure that mines and markets the Earth’s energy resources,
we are witnessing a fast approaching and unprecedented collision
course with our goals and aspirations. Our Earth’s climate is not
slowly changing. It is changing more rapidly than any known or
conjectured shift in climate swings outside the catastrophic asteroid
impacts last witnessed at the Cretaceous extinction event over 65
million years ago.
The human brain is wired to view things
in day-to-day perceptions; we really don’t grasp the exponential
shifts that are occurring all around us. Fossil fuel companies are
dedicated, with expressed promises to their investors and
stockholders to burning the maximum amount of fossil fuel in their
inventories until they run out. The only chance to slow down this
self-imposed house-burning is probably behind us. Many of us have
been telling, perhaps yelling, that we need to kick the oil and coal
habits, engage in transformative conservation behaviors and go full
throttle on renewable energy regardless of the short-term costs
because we know we cannot afford the long-term costs. Bill
McKibben’s recent book, Oil and Honey, provides a poignant
review of how the largest mobilization of environmental activists may
have hit the streets 25 years too late. The Earth is heating up
faster and the ice is melting faster than our best Earth scientists
calculated or predicted just a couple years ago. We stand at an
important crossroads looking at our own moral compasses and
contemplating what should we do and how fast should we push.
It seems for many who have been waist-deep in the Earth and climate science arena that the past years' events are happening way too fast to continue with business as usual. If the Earth’s systems are changing too fast for gas, then what should we do? Like those brave citizens who made the moral and ethical decisions to cut all economic ties with the Apartheid governance infrastructure of South Africa, in response to the clarion call for racial equality from the late great Nelson Mandela, we are faced with probably the greatest social and moral dilemma of our adult lives. How can we continue to sponsor or be part of an economic system based on fossil fuel? How can we remain tethered to a complex and powerful fossil fuel energy system that will guarantee unprecedented damage to the Earth systems bringing destruction and trauma for the majority of the planet’s most vulnerable citizens? Transition Howard County is taking initial steps to educate and engage within our communities. Soon we will need to yell “fire” in our theaters of influence to promote the requisite stampede for change. Or else we can simply ride out the most rapid shift in climate over the last few million years.
We are overdue for the Big One.
Not an earthquake, but a devastating inland hurricane, according to Rick Schwartz, author of Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic States. Over the last 400 years, these inland hurricanes have hit this region every 57 or 58 years, and the last such storm, Hazel, hit 59 years ago.
“Hurricane history is repetitive. Events of the past will be events of the future,” said Schwartz, who spoke at the quarterly meeting of the Local Emergency Planning Committee in Ellicott City Friday. He mentioned global warming only in answer to a question and didn’t seem to have factored it into his calculations. “Up to 2 years ago, I would have said there was no evidence” of global warming, he said. But after Irene, Lee, Sandy, the derecho and the snowstorms, “I’m thinking it is beginning to have an effect,” he said.
An inland hurricane typically originates in the Caribbean in September or October, makes landfall as a Category 3 or 4, travels quickly north (faster than 30 mph) and heads in a fairly straight line — straight toward Maryland. The winds, sometimes clocked at 120 mph, are on the east side, rain on the west. “A Category 1 hurricane will do what a category 3 or 4 hurricane will do in Florida,” he said, because our vegetation hasn’t evolved for the higher winds and neither have building codes and other infrastructure. Stoplights in Florida, for example, are built to withstand winds of 100 mph; in this region, they are built to withstand winds of 50 or 60 mph.
Often the “big one” is preceded by a couple other hurricanes that follow a similar straight path north, giving a clue of wind patterns and what might be coming. Schwartz, who researched these storms through diaries, newspaper accounts and other records, said these storms have hit in our area in 1667, 1724, 1769, 1775, 1821, 1878, 1896 and 1954. Because the storms happen so far apart, people tend to forget. “Without the knowledge of hurricane history, it will come as an utter shock,” he said.
A diarist recording the “Great Gust of 1896” wrote of “the abomination of desolation on all sides.” People in Catonsville fled to nearby fields, fearing the imminent collapse of their homes. Two huge gusts from that inland hurricane also destroyed the covered bridge, more than a mile long, in Columbia, Pa. “California has its big earthquakes, [the mid-Atlantic] has its big winds,” he said.
Hurricane Hazel, the last “big one,” brought wind gusts of 98 mph to DC, 84 mph to Baltimore, 90 mph to Annapolis and 112 mph at the Patuxent Naval Air Station. High winds from these storms last for several hours. “Someday, likely soon,” he said, we will have the next Hurricane Hazel.
The region also is affected by other hurricanes, he said, such as Hurricanes Sandy last year and Isabel in 2003. They can bring double-digit rainfall — as with Camille’s 27 inches of rain in 5 hours in Virginia — and tornadoes. They also tend to interact with other weather systems in the area, as Sandy did. Combustible and hazardous materials are a huge threat during these storms. Toxic materials floated from factories into rivers during Agnes, he said. (This is something to keep in mind as the state ponders fracking.)
Hurricanes run in cycles of 25-30 years, he said. We have been in an active cycle since 1995 and probably have 10 more years to go. These cycles can include a quiet year, which might happen this season — although we should not relax yet, he said. Isabel, the closest to an inland hurricane in decades and with wind gusts 50 to 65 mph, left the area with downed trees, power outages and no water in some areas. “This area cannot handle high winds and wet ground,” he said.
Only two hurricanes have made landfall on the East Coast since 2005. “How much longer can we beat the odds?” he asked. Never have so many people and so much property been at risk in this area. “The next Hurricane Hazel is due, and a period of catch-up seems likely.”
Schwartz also maintains a website: http://www.midatlantichurricanes.com/index.html
On Jan 6, 2012, Transition Howard County was officially launched with a presentation on state banks. In one short year, our small group has grown and accomplished the following:
· We formed committees on different transition topics including Health, Knowledge, Energy, Ecosystem Landscaping, Outreach, Water, and Steering
· We created a display and brochures for tabling at events such as the Climate Change Observations from Space event at Howard Community College and at Greenfest
· We started Howard County's Green Homes Now Tour
· We are a partner with the Earth Forum and kicked off the Water Challenge
· We work with local organizations such as the Climate Change Initiative of Howard County and Howard County's Local Health Improvement Coalition (LHIC)
· We are a partner with the Columbia Community Exchange, Howard County’s Time Bank
· We are listed in the Local Environmental Groups on LiveGreenHoward.com
· We sponsored presentations on local currency (e.g., Baltimore BNote), the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), and Climate Reality
· We hosted movie nights on In Transition 2.0, the Power of Community and FLOW (For the Love of Water)
· We hosted an aquaponics workshop and a rain garden planting party
· We have a twitter account
· We now have 501(c)(3) non-profit status thanks to our fiscal sponsor, Earth Party
· Our web site has had over 700 unique visitors since August
· We have a new logo
· Our email list has grown to over 140 people
It is exciting how much has happened in one year. But there is still much to do. And looking ahead can sometimes feel daunting given all of the problems we are currently facing from extreme weather to economic issues. Buckminster Fuller once said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Transition is that new model. Not just because it focuses on resilience and sustainability but because it emphasizes the importance of community. We do not know what specific problems we will face in the future. But our chances of surviving AND thriving increase when we face them together.
Tues Dec 4, 2012 - The DC Public Banking Center sponsored a talk at Busboys and Poets on “Web of Debt and Public Banking”
Marc Armstrong, Director of the Public Banking Institute http://publicbankinginstitute.org/ , talked about current campaigns to create public banks, including the campaign here in DC. And Ellen Brown, author of the highly acclaimed book “The Web of Debt, The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How to Break Free” talked about out the deception of our private money system and how we got to where we are today. She also gave examples from around the world that have worked better than our current system, including in colonial Pennsylvania.
The DC Public Banking Center has a dedicated core of folks working to create a public bank in DC. Gar Alperovitz, and both John Cavanagh and Daphne Wysham of IPS are on their Advisory Committee. I have contact info for the 2 Co-Chairs - Ruth Caplan and Steve Seuser. I will not post it to the web without their permission but just contact me (Ruth Alice) for info. You can reach me via CCIHC email - email@example.com
See file below (DC Public Banking Center.pdf for one page of informal notes from Ruth Alice.
Superstorm Sandy has been a wake-up call on the perils of living on a warming planet. We have all seen the devastation in New York and New Jersey. Had Sandy followed a different track, much of that devastation could have occurred in Maryland instead. We may have missed the brunt of Sandy, but Superstorms and other extreme weather events, such as the derecho we experienced in the summer, will happen more often as we continue to burn fossil fuels.
So how prepared are you for the next major weather event? YES! Magazine has an excellent quiz where you can get a sense of your level of resilience. As we enter into winter, let’s take a look at just one of the questions in the quiz:
I have alternative heat and energy sources (such as solar panels or a wood stove) if the power goes out or utilities get expensive.
Many homeowners found themselves without power after Sandy. While some have bought gas powered generators to deal with the increasing number of power outages, the residents of New York and New Jersey learned that generators do little good if gas stations have no power and no one can pump gas. And if there is gas shortage, then people have to wait in line for hours to buy gas for a generator. This would be extremely unpleasant when it is freezing cold outside.
So what are other solutions? For home heating, one alternative is wood or pellet stoves. You can put a wood stove in your fireplace (referred to as a fireplace insert) and convert a very inefficient fireplace into a highly efficient source of heat. I had a wood stove installed in my fireplace several years, much to the objection of my husband who thought it was a silly idea. He now concedes that this was one of my better ideas, especially on the few occasions when we have lost power for a day or more in the middle of winter. When Sandy came through we again lost power for a day, but our house was toasty warm thanks to the wood stove.
Another solution is insulation. If you want to be more resilient, insulation is critical. Many homes have insufficient insulation. A home energy audit can help you determine if/where you need more insulation. It will also identify places where you can seal leaks so you spend less money heating the great outdoors. You can get a free home energy audit from BGE. There are also many other companies that conduct home energy audits. My home was built in the 1950’s and back then insulation in walls was considered optional. And my house apparently opted out. I only discovered this fact a couple years but it explained a lot as to why the house didn’t do a good job of retaining heat. Since then we have added a significant amount of insulation in the walls and attic. The house stays so much warmer and we are saving money on home heating/cooling.
There are many other ways to become more resilient in the area of home heating. What have you done or what are you planning to do to keep your home warm in the event of a severe winter weather power outage? Please share your thoughts/comments so we can all learn from each other.