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September is National Preparedness Month, a reminder that a disaster can hit at any time, and the best way to minimize its impact is to be prepared.
During my days at the American Red Cross, I often spoke with groups about fires safety and prevention, so let’s look at simple steps you can take to keep you and your loved ones safe.
One morbid statistic, before we begin. If fire strikes your home, you have about 2 minutes to get out. That’s not much time, so being prepared pays off.
You should have one on each level of your home, in every bedroom, and in hallways outside of bedrooms. Test and vacuum them monthly — they collect dust that can impact performance — and change batteries twice a year.
Have a plan
Every household should have, and practice an escape plan. Identify two ways out of each room, as well as a meeting place outside for the family. And practice you plan. If you have young children, include them in the planning to better engage them.
Grab one to go
Make a “grab bag” for every member — human and animal — of the house. The bags stay near an exit or somewhere where you can “grab” them quickly on your way out the door in an emergency, such as fire or weather event. Include whatever you think would be needed if you have to leave home, such as:
– Emergency clothing
– List of medications
– Important phone numbers
– Flashight and batteries
– Small games to occupy the kids
– Dog food, extra collar and leash, etc.
– A book or a deck of card (in case you land in a shelter)
The list of possible items goes on — and differs for reach person. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you’d need to function if you were driven from your home.
Hopefully the only time you touch your grab bag is to dust it, but if you ever need it, you’ll be glad it’s there.
Many years ago, a speaker at a conference shared a story about working with the Dutch. He said while it’s very difficult to get them to make a commitment, once they do, they’re in 100 percent.
He paused and said, “Now, think about Americans.”
He makes an interesting point. As a culture, we don’t like to say no, and often regret saying yes too quickly. However, that often leads to overextending ourselves, and not having enough time or energy to follow through on what we promise.
Worse yet, it’s becoming harder to say no.
What’s the answer? I suspect it’s a combination of becoming better at prioritization, letting go of details that are less critical, and yes, learning to say no.
Implementing and following a solid time management system is also a big help.
Your turn. How do you manage all of your commitments and requests?
Baseball returns this week, so let’s wrap up the preseason with a look at my picks for the best baseball movies:
A League of Their Own
Gena Davis and Tom Hanks star in this terrific movie about the Women’s Professional Baseball League.
Minor league catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Kostner) tries to keep his shot at the “show” alive, while also mentoring a young pitching prospect (Tim Robbins) and trying to win the heart of the team’s biggest fan, played by Susan Sarandon.
A middle-aged fan makes a deal with the devil (Roy Walston) and becomes a major league star in this popular 1958 musical. Who said there’s no singing in baseball?
Eight Men Out
Based on the infamous Black Sox scandal that ended the careers of Shoeless Joe Jackson and his teammates on the 1919 White Sox.
Before he was Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman played Jackie Robinson, the Dodger great who broke the color barrier. An important move, and at times, difficult to watch the abuse Robinson experienced.
Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger lead the hapless Clevelend Indians from last place to first. Silly fun.
A brilliant retelling of the 1961 season, when Yankee teammates Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane) and Roger Maris (Barry Pepper), chased Babe Ruth’s single season home run record (60) amid near-constant media pressure. Directed by die-hard fan Billy Crysal. The DVD’s extras are worth a watch, too.
Robert Redford plays slugger Roy Hobbs, an aging ballplayer with a mysterious past.
High school coach Dennis Quaid promises his players that he’ll tryout (again) for the majors if the team can turn things around. Based on the true story of Jim Morris.
That’s my list — what’s on yours? Field of Dreams? The Sandlot? Moneyball?
“If I’d only known…”
Every catch yourself saying this? We all do from time to time. Imagine the mistakes we’d avoid and the time saved if we could go back in time and give advice to our younger selves.
What would you say? Study harder? Travel? Save more?
Here’s my list:
Trust your gut
That little voice inside is correct far more than you think.
Learn from your elders
They’ve been around for a while and are happy to share experiences and wisdom that they’ve picked up over the years.
There is more to life than work. Travel, spend time at the beach, and relax by doing hobbies and activities that you enjoy.
Don’t expect to have all the answers
Not sure? Say so. People generally won’t judge you for not knowing something, especially if you promise to do some research and find the answer.
Take care of your body
Now is the time to establish life-long fitness habits, but pushing too hard at this age brings aches and pain down the road.
Take calculated risks
Too much risk is bad, but so it too little.
Stick to mutual funds
Set a 60:40 ratio of stock to bond funds, and other than rebalancing your portfolio yearly, leave it alone.
Use your ears
You learn far more by listening than talking.
Find more time to volunteer. It’s really a win-win.
Ever feel like you’re on a treadmill that’s going faster and faster? That seems to be the new norm, with less downtime to just sit and relax for a moment.
As people feel the constant tug for their time and attention, the importance of clear, concise communications becomes more important.
So how do you reach someone who is reading your message while making dinner, helping the kids with homework, and answering an after-hours text message from her boss?
- Begin with your most important message.
- Use bullets. They help break up copy and make reading easier.
- Opt for simple words and avoid jargon, acronyms, and words that readers may not understand.
- Use examples to illustrate complicated points.
- Offer a contrast or comparison to create an image in your readers’ mind (“The ship is the length of two football fields.”)
- Stay away from too many fine details.
It’s been awhile since my last post. While I’d like to say that it’s because I won the lottery and took an extended trip around the world, the truth is that I had tendinitis in both wrists, which led me to reduce the time I spent typing.
Recovery was slow, and while I’m not quite 100 percent all the time, I’m back at the keyboard and ready to start blogging again.
There’s also a lesson here that I want to share with you — it’s important that we manage our screen time. Watch your posture at the keyboard, take regular stretch breaks, and if you experience pain or discomfort, speak with your physician or the appropriate safety or wellness person at your office.
It’s nice to be back, and I hope you’ll enjoy the return of my regular blog posts.
After 5 months of action, we’ve finally reached Super Bowl week. While the Broncos and Panthers go through final preparations, let’s take a short quiz to test your knowledge of the big game.
Questions (answers below)
- Which city is hosting this year’s Super Bowl?
- Who won the first two Super Bowls?
- Player on the winning teams of the first 11 Super Bowls earned $15,000. What did the Patriots players earn after winning Super Bowl 49 last year? a) $97,000 b) $150,000 c) $237,000
- This brash, young quarterback promised a Super Bowl III victory, and then delivered the upset.
- Name one of the three teams that have appeared in the most Super Bowls (8).
- Phil Simms was the first Super Bowl MVP to tell the world, “I’m going to ____.”
- This former contestant on Dancing with the Stars holds the record for most Super Bowl touchdowns. Name him. Hint: all touchdowns came on pass receptions.
- Pittsburgh holds the record for most Super Bowl victories. How many times have the Steelers won the big game?
- Of 49 games, how many Super Bowls have been decided by 3 points or less?
- Which of this year’s two teams, Carolina and Denver, has a better record in the Super Bowl?
Bonus question – 3 points
Walter Iooss will be at his 50th Super Bowl this year. Who is he?
Hint: he does what I would want to be doing.
- This year’s Super Bowl is in Santa Clara , California. Give yourself a point if you responded San Francisco or the Bay Area.
- The Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II.
- The Patriots players earned $97,000 for winning the Super Bowl 49.
- Joe Namath promised and delivered a victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl II.
- The Patriots, Steelers, and Cowboys have appeared in eight Super Bowls.
- Phil Simms was the first MVP to say “I’m going to Disney World.”
- Jerry Rice scored 8 Super Bowl touchdowns.
- The Steelers have won the Super Bowl six times, followed by San Francisco and Dallas with five victories
- Eight Super Bowls have been decided by 3 points or less.
- Denver. The Broncos have won twice in seven games, Carolina is winless in one game.
Walter Iooss is a Sports Illustrated photographer.
1-4 You watch for the commercials
5-7 All Pro
8 – 10 MVP
- Hang out with people who make you laugh.
- Try to do something active every day.
- Experience other cultures through travel, books/magazines, events, etc.
- Spend less than you earn.
- Go to bed earlier.
- Get outdoors more.
- Talk with a senior citizen.
- Eat a cleaner diet.
- Find stress management activities.
- Say hello to strangers.
- Unplug frequently.
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Do something outside your comfort zone.
- Leave the car and walk or bike to the store.
- Listen to music from your youth.
- Let people off the hook when they make a mistake.
- Take photos of things in nature.
- Say “yes” more than “no.”
- But learn how to say “no” when you feel overwhelmed.
- Clean out the clutter.
- Make new friends.
- Connect with old friends.
- Watch an old movie.
- Honor your commitments.
- Do your taxes earlier.
- Ramp up your retirement savings.
- Take all of the vacation time you’ve earned.
- Pat yourself on the back once in a while.
- Replace television time with a hobby.
- Take a class.
- Tackle that home project that’s been hanging over your head.
- Live knowing that every day could be your last.
- Tell your loved ones how you feel.
Your turn. What ideas do you have to make 2016 a great year?
Could you manage without electricity for a couple of days? What if a major storm left you stranded at home? Or worse, if a hurricane drove you from your home?
While Emergency management experts stress the importance of personal readiness, Americans are, in general, woefully unprepared for the next disaster that might lurk around the corner.
I recently appeared on Maine Watch, a news program on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network with Joshua Frances, MPH, an emergency management expert, to discuss personal preparedness, and what Americans can — and should — do to be ready when an emergency arises.
“Preparing for an emergency helps you better manage it,” says Josh, who shares the belief that personal preparedness is a civic responsibility we all share. “By preparing for a disaster, you also reduce the odds that emergency responders will be called to assist you,” he says. “This frees them up to aid those who may unable to fend for themselves and really need help — such as the elderly or those with health issues.”
So, what should you do to prepare?
Consider the possibilities
First, identify what emergencies you’re most likely to encounter in your area. For example, New Englanders should look at the possibility of an ice storm knocking power, while those in the Midwest might want to think about preparing for a tornado.
From there, consider what the impact would be, and how you could prepare for the worst. Some things to consider:
- Have a family disaster plan and have practice it. Include all family members in planning and practice.
- Have at least one member of your household is trained in first aid and CPR/AED.
A “Shelter in Place Kit” helps you ride out an event, such as a blizzard, if you decide to hunker down at home. Items to include:
- First Aid kit
- Flashlights and batteries
- Water – plan for one gallon per person per day
- Non-perishable food
Be Ready to ‘Go’
Some circumstances might drive you from your home. To prepare for these, such as home fires, make a “Go Bag,” with essential items:
- List of medications and health care providers
- Emergency contact information
- Emergency clothing
- Games for the kids
- Pet food, toys, extra leash
Note: Keep your important papers protected from the elements in a plastic bag
Pack the car
It’s also wise to keep some basic emergency supplies in your car, should you be stranded:
- Warm clothing – hats, wool socks, gloves
- First Aid Kit
- Sand (for traction if you’re stuck)
Home fires are the most common , and deadliest type of disaster, so make sure your house has working smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside sleeping areas, and on every level. While you’re at it, add a carbon monoxide detector on each level, too.
And, don’t wait until the last minute to prepare. You’ll find long lines and short supplies at the store.
Learn more about preparedness at Ready.gov
Sandy’s devastation reminds us to be prepared
Thanksgiving traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season. To begin the celebration, let’s see how well you know the holiday with a short quiz (answers below):
- While Christmas is always December 25, where can Thanksgiving be found on the calendar?
- True or false. The origins of Thanksgiving can be traced back to the 1600s?
- Who sings the Thanksgiving Song?
- Which President declared Thanksgiving a national holiday?
- The National Foot League features three games on Thanksgiving day. The Detroit Lions are one of two teams on the schedule each year. Name the other team.
- How much turkey do Americans eat on Thanksgiving?
A) 50 million pounds
B) 250 million pounds
C) More than 750 million pounds
- What is the name of the parade that takes place that day? Bonus points if you know its original name.
- Each year, the President of the United States pardons a turkey. Who started that tradition?
- When the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line opened in 1981, six people responded to 11,000 calls. How many will the call center answer this year?
- Which state produces the most cranberries? Hint: it also leads the nation in production of cheese.
- Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November.
- True. The Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in 1621. According to sources, it included 50 people who traveled on the Mayflower and 90 Native Americans.
- Adam Sandler sings the Thanksgiving Song.
- President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the fourth Thursday in November Thanksgiving in 1863.
- The Dallas Cowboys join the Detroit Lions as NFL regulars on Thanksgiving Day.
- According to the National Turkey Federation, approximately 736 million pounds of turkey were consumed in the United States during Thanksgiving in 2012.
- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was originally the Macy’s Christmas Parade.
- The origins of the Presidential Turkey Pardon are somewhat fuzzy, but Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy are both believed to have spared a turkey. The first official “pardon” was issued by President George H.W. Bush in 1989. Give yourself a point if you named any of these leaders.
- More than 50 experts on the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line will respond to 100,000 calls this year.
- Wisconsin holds the title of largest producer of cranberries, followed by Massachusetts.
1- 4 You’re at the kids table
5 – 8 You’ve earned an extra serving
9 – 10 The drumstick is yours!