Page 154

Hurricane readiness: What to do



  • Plan an evacuation route.
    • Contact the local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter, and ask for the community hurricane preparedness plan. This plan should include information on the safest evacuation routes and nearby shelters.
  • Learn safe routes inland.
    • Be ready to drive 20 to 50 miles inland to locate a safe place.
    • Have disaster supplies on hand.
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
    • First aid kit and manual
    • Emergency food and water
    • Non-electric can opener
    • Essential medicines
    • Cash and credit cards
    • Sturdy shoes
  • Make arrangements for pets.
    • Pets may not be allowed into emergency shelters for health and space reasons.
    • Contact your local humane society for information on local animal shelters.
  • Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a hurricane.
    • Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
    • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
  • Protect your windows.
    • Permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use 1/2 inch plywood – marine plywood is best – cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window.
    • Pre-drill holes every 18 inches for screws. Do this long before the storm.
  • Trim back dead or weak branches from trees.
  • Check into flood insurance.
    • You can find out about the National Flood Insurance Program through your local insurance agent or emergency management office. There is normally a 30-day waiting period before a new policy becomes effective.
    • Homeowners polices do not cover damage from the flooding that accompanies a hurricane.
  • Develop an emergency communication plan.
    • In case family members are separated from one another during a disaster (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.
    • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.


(A Hurricane Watch is issued when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours.)

  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for hurricane progress reports.
  • Check emergency supplies.
  • Fuel car.
  • Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
  • Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows. Remove outside antennas.
  • Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly.
  • Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles, and cooking utensils.
  • Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container on the highest level of your home.
  • Review evacuation plan.
  • Moor boat securely or move it to a designated safe place. Use rope or chain to secure boat to trailer. Use tie-downs to anchor trailer to the ground or house.


(A Hurricane Warning is issued when hurricane conditions (winds of 74 miles per hour or greater, or dangerously high water and rough seas) are expected in 24 hours or less.)

  • Listen constantly to a battery-operated radio or television for official instructions.
  • If in a mobile home, check tie-downs and evacuate immediately.
  • Avoid elevators.
  • If at home:
    • Stay inside, away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.
    • Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.
    • If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power “surge” when electricity is restored.
  • If officials indicate evacuation is necessary:
    • Leave as soon as possible. Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges.
    • Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve.
    • Tell someone outside of the storm area where you are going.
    • If time permits, and you live in an identified surge zone, elevate furniture to protect it from flooding or better yet, move it to a higher floor.
    • Take pre-assembled emergency supplies, warm protective clothing, blankets and sleeping bags to shelter.
    • Lock up home and leave.



  • Stay tuned to local radio for information.
  • Help injured or trapped persons.
  • Give first aid where appropriate.
  • Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  • Return home only after authorities advise that it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company, police, or fire department.
  • Enter your home with caution. Beware of snakes, insects, and animals driven to higher ground by flood water.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
  • Check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
  • Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents for insurance claims.
  • Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
  • Use telephone only for emergency calls.
    • Check for gas leaks–If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
    • Look for electrical system damage–If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
    • Check for sewage and water lines damage–If you suspect sewage lines are damaged avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid the water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

Panama: America’s new hospital


Panama_relief_1995Medicine and medical care has become exorbitantly expensive in the United States. The federal government has created a cartel of drug companies that can run up drug prices whenever they want. And Obamacare is quickly making health insurance unaffordable.

800x800-SRC-circleThe Squirrel’s Self-Reliance Tip:

If you’re finding the cost of care too expensive, the solution might be medical tourism…that is, traveling to another country where the price is lower. And the go-to destination for medical tourism is an unlikely place: Panama is becoming something of a haven for American retirees, expatriates, and medical consumers. The economic advantages of Panamanian medicine include the fact that private health insurance is available and much less expensive than insurance in the United States because:

1) doctors’ fees and hospital visits are much cheaper;

2) malpractice insurance is very low, because the laws do not allow for frivolous lawsuits;

3) the median income is around $300 a month, so healthcare cannot be expensive or no one would use it;  and,

4) prices for prescription drugs are low because manufacturers price them for the market. In addition, many drugs that require a prescription in the States are available over-the-counter in Panama.

Needless to say, you will be incurring significant risks in some foreign, non-English-speaking environments, but if you’ve run out of options or money for U.S.-based treatment, then the risks may be worth it. You can mitigate the risks by going only to facilities run by expatriates who were trained in first-class American medical schools. For instance, there’s an organization Healthbase which offers the medical tourism services all over the world. In Panama, it’s Hospital Punta Pacifica, which is linked to Johns Hopkins Hospital here in the States, and it boasts top-class medical care on a par with American treatment centers. (We’re not recommending them as we have no personal experience, but their offering is typical of many new medical tourism destinations and is certainly worth looking at.)

Dental implants, for instance, while not a life-threatening requirement, are massively expensive in the USA but more affordable in Panama. You can take a vacation and have your teeth fixed at the same time! And Panama is considered to be less of a security risk for Americans than the border towns of Mexico right now.

You may find English-speaking local physicians who are willing to provide the same-quality services more cheaply, but great caution should be taken when choosing. Remember, the care will be cheaper, but its quality won’t always be guaranteed like here in America. Try and find a physician or dentist with a professional body behind him or her.

Do you have unclaimed money from the U.S. Government?


Find unclaimed money from bank failures, matured savings bonds, pensions, mortgage refunds, and more.

What Is Unclaimed Money?

Stacks_of_money-300x273If the government owes you money and you do not collect it, then it’s referred to as unclaimed. This can also happen with banks, credit unions, pensions, and other sources.

Beware of unclaimed money scams. There are people who pretend to be the government and offer to send you unclaimed money for a fee. Government agencies will not call you about unclaimed money or assets. Learn how to spot these types of scams.

Where to Look for Unclaimed Money

Currently, the government does not have one website for finding unclaimed money by name, Social Security number, or state. To find it, you’ll need to visit each site separately and perform a search.

States’ Unclaimed Money

  •  Search by State  – Search your state’s listing of unclaimed funds and property.



Banking, Investments, and Currency

  • Bank Failures  – Search the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for unclaimed funds from failed financial institutions.
  •  Credit Union Failures  – Find unclaimed deposits from credit unions.
  • SEC Claims Funds – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lists enforcement cases where a company or person owes investors money.
  •  Damaged Money  – The Treasury Department will exchange mutilated or damaged U.S. currency.


  •  FHA-Insurance Refunds – If you had an FHA-insured mortgage, you may be eligible for a refund from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Savings Bonds


Foreign Claims – U.S. nationals can find money owed to them from foreign governments after loss of property.

Save money and enjoy peace of mind when you turn your house into a nursing home


Old ladyOne of the benefits of modern society is the convenience of elderly care. But nursing home bills can also really add up. And with the health insurance system on the verge of collapse, the infrastructure of modern elderly care may not always be there.

That’s why you can and should adapt your house or place of residence to the lives of whatever elderly person or persons need your care. Obviously you can’t turn your house into a fully-functioning nursing home with full-time staff. But there are plenty of practical steps you’ll need to take to make your home comfortable and accessible to the elderly. Depending on the design of your current house, this could very well mean purchasing some new real estate.

The single biggest obstacle for elderly people in a house is the staircase. As you age, your eyesight deteriorates and it becomes substantially harder to move around. Stairs can become very hard to use. If you live in a split-level home that requires ascending or descending stairs upon entry, you might want to consider buying another house. Split-level houses are particularly difficult for elderly people to access. If you have a spare room downstairs, consider converting it into your elder’s bedroom with an add-on bathroom. The less he or she has to use the stairs, the better. If stairs are necessary, make sure the railing and banister are firm and can support the elder’s weight. Also be mindful of steps outside on porches or decks. If necessary, install a small ramp to allow the elder easier access to the house.

Also be mindful of carpets or cords that are easy to trip on. For a senior struggling to walk, these can mean a painful fall and even an injury. Use hard floors and place casters on the bottom of your furniture. Get pesky electrical cords out of the way by fastening them to the wall with electrical staples. And try not to leave anything lying around on the floor that your senior could trip on.

Whatever bedroom your elderly charge is using, consider installing an in-room bathroom. At the very least, make sure that there is a bathroom on the same floor that the senior is living on. In general, try to minimize the distance between the bedroom and the bathroom. Make sure the bathroom has grab bars by both the toilet and the shower in case of the fall. Also consider installing a panic button in the bathroom in case the elder takes a fall in the middle of the night and can’t get up.

Also bear in mind that eventually the senior may become too immobile to use the bathroom at all, and you may need to buy a bedpan. If this becomes the case, make sure you always wear gloves and dispose of waste properly to avoid infection or illness.

In addition to diminished mobility, seniors also have diminished vision and hearing. You’ll need to accommodate them. Make sure all your rooms (especially the bathroom) are well-lit and have easily accessible light switches. Dark hallways, especially those between the elder’s bedroom and the bathroom, should have conspicuous light switches and be well-lit. You can purchase light switches that emit a dim glow – perfect for seniors who don’t want to end up groping around in the dark. Nightlights installed in bathrooms when it gets dark can also help a senior citizen find his or her way.

Finally make sure the phones in your house are functional and easily accessible. Living with an elderly person, there’s a very good chance that you’ll have to call for help at some point. The nature of this help is unclear with the looming medical collapse – you may be able to call a doctor or you may only be able to call a friend to assist you. But whatever the case, keep phones on and easy to reach for. Install a phone in your elder’s room so he or she can personally call for help if it becomes necessary. Pre-program emergency and poison control numbers into all your phones so you can immediately dial for help if necessary.

srctiny_360The Squirrel says: Many seniors aren’t huge fans of cellphones, but you should definitely teach yours to use one. Having one on his or her person (and yours) could save a life. But remember, the batteries run out and it’ll be up to you to stress the importance of ALWAYS being available through the cellphone. If they are too forgetful, invest in a Life Alert system which can detect if you’ve fallen down and will automatically dial for help. 

Your tax dollars at work- hounding snacks


KIND barI love KIND bars. They are full of seeds and nuts and fruits and assorted yumminess without many (if any) artificial  ingredients. You’d think they’d qualify as as healthy snack. But no, our insane, over-reaching U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says KIND cannot call its bars “healthy” because they contain more than 1 gram of saturated fat.

Let’s put this in perspective. A box of sugar cubes glued together with sugar would be fat-free. But it sure wouldn’t be healthy. And let’s face it, saturated fat alone doesn’t make something unhealthy.

According to, There are more than two dozen different saturated fatty acids, some of which are more nutritious than others. The saturated fat butyrate, for instance—found in fermented foods and beverages and butter—may suppress inflammation in the gut and increase insulin sensitivity (that’s a good thing). Lauric acid, a type of saturated fat found in milk (cow, goat, human) and coconut oil, is stellar at increasing levels of good cholesterol in the blood. Palmitic acid, however—found in much meat and dairy, as well as vegetable oils such as palm—tends to be linked to mostly negative health effects.

In this case the saturated fat found in KIND bars comes from nuts. How bad can it be???

This bad apparently. Here’s the letter the FDA wrote to KIND. Remember, this is the agency that claims it’s too overworked to focus on real food scandals. Instead they’ve decided to spend your tax dollars hounding a company trying to do the right thing about labeling.

It’s time for the nanny state to pack it in and leave us to make our own self-reliant decisions about the food we eat.

KIND, LLC 3/17/15

Department of Health and Human Services logoDepartment of Health and Human Services

Public Health Service
Food and Drug Administration
College Park, MD 20740


MAR 17, 2015
Daniel Lubetsky, CEO
Kind, LLC
55 West 21st Street
New York, New York 10010-6809
Re: 437043
Dear Mr. Lubetsky,
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed the labels for your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants products in August, 2014. The labels for these products direct the consumer to your website at the Internet address We examined your website in October 2014. Based on our review, we have concluded that these products are in violation of section 403 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) [21 U.S.C. § 343] and its implementing regulations found in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 101 (21 CFR 101). You can find the Act and FDA regulations through links on FDA’s home page at
The significant violations are as follows:
1.    Your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants products are misbranded within the meaning of section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 343(r)(1)(A)] because the product labels bear nutrient content claims, but the products do not meet the requirements to make such claims.
Under section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act, a claim that characterizes the level of a nutrient which is of the type required to be in the labeling of the food must be made in accordance with a regulation authorizing the use of such a claim. Characterizing the level of a nutrient on the food labeling of a product without complying with the specific requirements pertaining to nutrient content claims for that nutrient misbrands the product under section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act. Specifically:
a.    The labels of your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants products bear an implied nutrient content claim, because they bear statements suggesting that the product may be useful in maintaining healthy dietary practices, and those statements are made in connection with claims or statements about nutrients. Specifically, the labels of the aforementioned products bear the claim “Healthy and tasty, convenient and wholesome” in connection with statements such as:
  • “good source of fiber,”
  • “no trans fats,”
  • “very low sodium” [Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants],
  • “low sodium” [Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein],
  • “+ antioxidants” [Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants],
  • “50% DV antioxidants vitamins A, C and E”  [Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants],
  • “+ protein” [Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein], and
  • “7g protein” [Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein].
Additionally, your website at states, “There’s healthy. There’s tasty. Then there’s healthy and tasty” and “all of our snacks are pretty much the nirvana of healthful tastiness.” In addition, your webpage for the Kind Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein product at states “KIND Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein is a healthy and satisfying blend of peanuts and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. Each bar contains 7 grams of protein, which promotes satiety and strengthens bones, muscles and skin.”
However, none of your products listed above meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim “healthy” that are set forth in 21 CFR 101.65(d)(2).
In accordance with 21 CFR 101.65(d)(2), you may use the term “healthy” as an implied nutrient content claim on the label or in the labeling of a food provided that the food, among other things, is “low saturated fat” as defined in 21 CFR 101.62(c)(2) [i.e., the food has a saturated fat content of 1 g or less per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC) and no more than 15 percent of the calories are from saturated fat].
According to the Nutrition Facts panels:
  • The Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot product contains 3.5 g of saturated fat per 40 g of the food,
  • The Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut product contains 5 g of saturated fat per 40 g of the food,
  • The Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein product contains 3.5 g of saturated fat per 40 g of the food, and
  • The Kind Fruit & Nut Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants contains 2.5 g of saturated fat per 40 g of the food.
These amounts exceed 1 g of saturated fat per 40 g RACC. These amounts also exceed the maximum of 15% of calories from saturated fat in the “low saturated fat” definition. Accordingly, your products do not meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim “healthy” on a food label [21 CFR 101.65(d)(2)]. Your products are thus misbranded within the meaning of section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act.
b.    Your Kind Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein and Kind Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants product labels bear the term “+” (plus) as part of the product name but the products do not comply with the requirements governing the use of this term. The term “+” as part of the names of your Kind Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein and Kind Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants read in conjunction with “7 g Protein” and “50% DV Antioxidant, vitamins A, C and E,” respectively, meets the definition for a nutrient content claim because it characterizes the product’s level of vitamins and minerals, which are nutrients of the type required to be in nutrition labeling [21 CFR 101.13(b)].
The term “plus” is defined in 21 CFR 101.54(e). This term may be used on the label or in labeling of foods to describe the level of nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals) in the food, provided that:
(1)   the food contains at least 10 percent more of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) or Daily Reference Value (DRV) for the nutrient per RACC consumed than an appropriate reference food,
(2)   where the claim is based on nutrients that are added to the food, that the fortification is in accordance with the policy on fortification of foods in 21 CFR 104.20, and
(3)   the claim bears the required information for relative claims as described in 21 CFR 101.13(j)(2) and 101.54(e)(1)(iii).
However, neither product label states the identity of the reference food and the percentage (or fraction) that the nutrient is greater relative to the RDI or DRV declared in immediate proximity to the most prominent such claim. Accordingly, these products are misbranded within the meaning of section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act because they bear the nutrient content claim “plus” but do not comply with the regulations governing the use of this claim.
c.    The product page for your KIND Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein product on your website at includes the nutrient content claim “antioxidant- rich dark chocolate”; however, the product and its labeling do not meet the requirements for the use of such claim that are set forth in 21 CFR 101.54(g).
The phrase “antioxidant-rich” characterizes the level of antioxidant nutrients in the product and, therefore, this claim is a nutrient content claim under 21 CFR 101.13(b). Nutrient content claims using the term “antioxidant” must comply with the requirements listed in 21 CFR 101.54(g). These requirements state, in part, that for a product to bear such a claim, an RDI must have been established for each of the nutrients that are the subject of the claim [21 CFR 101.54(g)(1)], and these nutrients must have recognized antioxidant activity [21 CFR 101.54(g)(2)]. The level of each nutrient that is the subject of the claim must also be sufficient to qualify for the claim under 21 CFR 101.54(b), (c), or (e) [21 CFR 101.54(g)(3)]. In addition, in order to qualify for a “rich” or “high antioxidant” claim the product must contain 20 percent or more of the RDI for nutrients that have recognized antioxidant activity, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, or beta carotene (when 10% or more of the RDI for vitamin A is present as beta carotene) in accordance with 21 CFR 101.54(b). Based on the information in the Nutrition Facts label, this product contains 15% of the Daily Value (DV) of vitamin E and 0% of vitamin C and vitamin A. Therefore this product does not qualify for a “rich in” claim and the product is misbranded under section 403(r)(2)(A)(i) of the Act.
2.   Your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants products are misbranded within the meaning of section 403(r)(2)(A)(v) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 343(r)(2)(A)(v)] because the labels include the nutrient content claim “Good Source of Fiber” without including the required statement disclosing that the food is not low in total fat in immediate proximity to the claim. Under 21 CFR 101.54(d), if a product label makes a claim with respect to the level of dietary fiber (e.g., that the product is a good source of fiber) and the food is not “low” in total fat as defined in 21 CFR 101.62(b)(2), then the label must disclose the level of total fat per serving.
According to the Nutrition Facts panels:
  • the Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot product contains 10 g of total fat per 40 g of the food,
  • the Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut product contains 12 g of total fat per 40 g of the food; the Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein product contains 13 g of total fat per 40 g of the food, and
  • the Kind Fruit & Nut Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants contains 9 g of total fat per 40 g of the food.
These amounts exceed the maximum of 3 g of total fat per 40 g RACC in the “low fat” definition. Therefore these products are not “low” in total fat and you are required to disclose this fact on the labels in immediate proximity to the claims that the products are a “good source of fiber.”
3.    Your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants products are misbranded within the meaning of section 403(q)(2)(A) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 343(q)(2)(A)] in that nutrition information is not disclosed in accordance with 21 CFR 101.9. Specifically,
a.    Your labels bear a claim about fatty acids (i.e., “no trans fat”) but fail to include the levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the nutrition information as required by 21 CFR 101.9 (c)(2)(iii) and (iv).
b.    Your Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein product label includes the nutrient content claims: “+ protein” and “plus 7 g protein” on the principal display panel; however, the nutrition label fails to include the percent DV for protein as required when the label bears a nutrient content claim for protein as required by 21 CFR 101.9(c)(7)(i).

4.    Your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants products are misbranded within the meaning of section 403(e)(1) of the Act because the statement of the name and the place of business fails to completely or accurately declare the place of business as required by 21 CFR 101.5(d). Specifically, the statement “Kind, LLC, P.O. Box 705 Midtown Station, NY, NY 10018” which is provided on the label does not include the street address and the street address of your business does not appear in a current city or telephone directory. FDA is unable to determine the physical location of your firm using a city or telephone directory and the address listed on the label.

The above violations are not meant to be an all-inclusive list of violations that may exist in connection with your products or their labeling. It is your responsibility to ensure that your products comply with the Act and its implementing regulations. You should take prompt action to correct the violations. Failure to promptly correct the violations may result in regulatory action without further notice, including seizure and/or injunction.
In addition, we offer the following comments:
  • Your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants product labels bear the claim“No Trans Fats,” and we note that your ingredient statements do not include a partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient. Under section 403(r)(1)(A) of the Act, a nutrient content claim in food labeling must be made in accordance with a regulation authorizing the use of the claim in order for the food bearing such claim not to be misbranded. Although FDA has not defined the term “Contains No Trans Fat” by regulation, we announced in the Federal Register dated July 11, 2003 (68 FR 41507 at 41509) that we would likely consider exercising enforcement discretion for a trans-fat nutrient content claim that is demonstrably true, balanced, adequately substantiated, and not misleading.
Scientific evidence suggests that trans-fat acts in a similar manner to saturated fat with respect to raising LDL cholesterol. 68 FR 41445 at 41456 (July 11, 2003). Higher total and LDL cholesterol levels are associated with increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. 68 FR 41445 (July 11, 2003). Under 21 CFR 101.13(h), if a food bears a nutrient content claim and also contains more than 13.0 grams of fat, 4.0 grams of saturated fat, 60 milligrams cholesterol, and 480 milligrams of sodium per reference amount customarily consumed (RACC), per labeled serving (or for a food with a RACC of 30 grams or less or 2 tablespoons or less, per 50 grams), then the food must bear a statement disclosing that the nutrient exceeding the specified level is present in the food as follows: “See nutrition information for ______content” with the blank filled in with the identity of the nutrient exceeding the specified level.
We intend to consider the exercise of our enforcement discretion for the use of the “Contains No Trans Fat” claim on your products provided the claim includes a disclosure statement, in accordance with the requirements in 21 CFR 101.13(h). We will review such claims on a case-by-case basis. We note that your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut product contains 5g of saturated fat per 40g but does not contain the disclosure statement “See nutrition information for saturated fatcontent.”
  • Your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, and Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein products labels include the statement beginning “Allergen information: Contains…”; however, this allergen statement is not declared correctly. We note that these product labels correctly declare the allergen information in the ingredients lists in accordance with section 403(w)(1)(B)(i) of the Act, so a separate “Contains” statement is not required. However, if a separate “Contains” declaration is used, it must include all of the major allergens in the food and must use the names of the food sources as defined in sections 201(qq) and 403(w)(2) of the Act. The ingredient lists for Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, and Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein declare soy lecithin as an ingredient; however, soy is not declared in the “Contains” statement. In addition, the term “milk” must be used instead of “dairy” and the generic term “tree nuts” cannot be used in place of the names of the specific tree nuts such as almonds, coconuts, and cashews.
  • Your Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants product ingredient list does not meet the requirements in 21 CFR 101.4(b), which requires that the name of an ingredient shall be a specific name and not a collective (generic) name. This product lists the collective terms “mixed nuts,” “dried fruits,” and “vitamins” as multicomponent foods and declares the specific nuts, fruits, and vitamins as sub-ingredients. The regulations do not allow the collective listing of nuts, fruits, or vitamins.
  • Your Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein product ingredient list does not meet the requirements in 21 CFR 101.4(b)(2) because the label declares the standardized multicomponent food, peanut butter, but does not declare the sub-ingredients as required in 21 CFR 101.4(b)(2)(i). In accordance with 101.4(b)(2)(ii), if the ingredients of the standardized food are incorporated in the finished food ingredient list, then the name of the standardized ingredient must not be listed.
  • The required information that appears on the information panels of your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants product labels does not meet the requirements in 21 CFR 101.2(e) because all of the information does not appear in one place without intervening material. The paragraph describing your brand that comes between the ingredient list and the name and place of business is an example of intervening material.
  • Your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants ingredient statements declare “non GMO glucose.” This is not an appropriate common or usual name for glucose syrup or dried glucose syrup in accordance with 21 CFR 101.4 and 168.120 or 168.121.
  • The name and place of business declaration on your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants products does not include the street address as required in 21 CFR 101.5(d). The street address may only be omitted if it is shown in a current city directory or telephone directory. An online 411 search for your firm yielded several different street addresses in New York City; therefore, it is not clear which address is correct and should be considered your place of business.
  • Your Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants product labels do not include an appropriate statement of identity as required in 21 CFR 101.3.
Please respond to this letter within 15 working days from receipt with the actions you plan to take in response to this letter, including an explanation of each step being taken to correct the current violations and prevent similar violations. Include any documentation necessary to show that correction has been achieved. If you cannot complete corrective action within 15 working days, state the reason for the delay and the time within which you will complete the corrections.
You should direct your written reply to Carrie Lawlor, Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, Office of Compliance (HFS-608), Division of Enforcement, College Park, Maryland 20740-3835. If you have any questions regarding this letter, you may contact Ms. Lawlor via email at
William A. Correll, Jr.
Center for Food Safety
    and Applied Nutrition
cc: FDA New York District

Time to check the air conditioner


We just fired up the A/C in the office and four hours later we’re still melting. It made us think about getting the HVAC system serviced. 

HVAC unitWe all know that we can pay our auto mechanics a little now for routine service, or pay them a lot later for a major repair. The same idea holds true for your air conditioner or heat pump. If you don’t service your air conditioner or heat pump regularly, you’ll find yourself uncomfortable and broke.

In this article the term air conditioner will apply to a heat pump or a standard air conditioner. Both benefit equally from annual service tune-ups.

An air conditioner is a very tough piece of equipment. It is engineered to withstand all sorts of abuse and keep on running. This is great in most respects, but it can lead to complacency about maintenance. Like a car, air conditioners need regular tune-ups to run properly.

5% loss of efficiency per year
Without regular maintenance an air conditioner loses about 5% of it’s original efficiency for each year of operation. This means that the 12 SEER unit that you bought just a few years ago may be functioning like a 9 SEER unit today! The good news is that you can recover most of that lost efficiency through regular maintenance. Studies show that with regular tune-ups a unit will maintain up to 95% of it’s original efficiency. This means that the cost of an annual tune-up is recovered very quickly in savings on your monthly electric bill and reduced repair costs. A properly serviced air conditioner will also do a better job of dehumidifying your home.

Many local air conditioning firms offer special prices at this time of the year (spring and fall, when weather’s not as extreme –Ed.). Some even offer annual service programs that insure that you will be reminded of the need to service the unit at the beginning of the cooling and heating seasons.

The service check should include cleaning the condensing unit coils, checking the amp draw of the compressor, oiling the fan motors, checking that belts are well adjusted, and checking the system operating pressures and temperatures against the manufacturers specifications. One of the most important items to check is the coolant level (previously known as Freon) in the air conditioner. A system that is only 10% low on coolant will cost about 20% more to operate! The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) recommends that coolant levels be checked every year.

If your unit is low on coolant, and more must be added, there are laws governing its use. Contractors are first required to find and fix the leak in the system in case CFC gases could escape. Don’t ask them to violate this law as they may lose their license if they are caught doing this.

There are some things in addition to yearly tune-ups that you can do to help ensure a high level of comfort and proper system operation. First, buy good filters and change them regularly. Next, keep bushes and other materials away from the outside unit of your air conditioner. Another good idea is to avoid closing supply air outlets in your house. In almost all cases, closing supply outlets is harmful to the operation of the overall system.

All equipment, even the most reliable, needs routine maintenance. Complicated equipment like today’s air conditioners benefit in many ways from annual service. They recover much of their lost efficiency, they are less likely to suffer a major break down, they have a longer life span, they increase your comfort, and they operate for less money.


by Doug Garrett of Building Performance & Comfort, Inc. Mr. Garrett is an expert in buildings including the phenomenon of sick-building syndrome.

Energy security must include reliable power

Alex Mallin tweeted this photo from the White House during the April 7th Blackout
Alex Mallin tweeted this photo from the White House during the April 7th Blackout

At Self-Reliance Central we like to remind our readers that our power supply is vulnerable and fragile. Bad weather, an electrical storm or pulse, terrorists, cyber-hackers, and very poorly conceived politics threaten our power grid every day. As this article from the Heartland Institute explains, the new EPA is hell-bent on preventing improvements.

The Obama – EPA plan ensures that blackouts will be in our future

Unlike populations in most other parts of the world, we Americans take vital benefits of dependable electricity for granted. We simply plug into an outlet or flip on a switch and fully expect that our lights will go on, our computers will charge, our coffee will heat up, our air conditioners will function, and yes, our generous taxpayer subsidized plug-in vehicles will run again until tomorrow.

This wonderful, finely balanced round-the-clock empowerment required planning and development which didn’t occur overnight. The same will be true of future efforts to restore adequate capabilities after the Obama EPA’s Clean Power Plan takes an estimated one-third of all U.S. coal-fired plants off the grid over the next 5 years. This amounts to a loss of generating capacity sufficient to supply residential electricity for about 57 million people.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp, a nonprofit oversight group, emphasizes that the plan constitutes “a significant reliability challenge, given the time required for implementation.” The timeline to convert or replace a coal-fired power plant with natural gas requires years, whereby siting, permitting and development to meet EPA’s interim target would need to be completed by 2017.

Even if a state were able to submit a compliance plan by 2017 or 2018, the EPA has admitted that it swatmay take up to another year to approve it. New and upgraded natural gas plants will require additional pipeline infrastructure which may take five years or longer. More expansive transmission lines will also be required to connect that capacity to the grid, with full implementation potentially taking up to 15 years.

EPA’s latest climate alarm-premised war on coal assault calls for states to cut CO2 emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030 despite satellite-recorded flat mean global temperatures over the past 18 years and counting. This federal usurpation of state responsibility dating back to the invention of the modern steam engine in the 1880s is unprecedented.

A “finishing rule” expected to be issued in June or July will require states to meet agency carbon-reduction targets by reorganizing their “production, distribution, and use of electricity.” In complying, 39 states must achieve more than 50% of the EPA’s reduction targets by 2020.

Not only are the EPA’s mandates infeasible, they also demand that states operate “outside the fence line” to force shutdowns of coal (and eventually natural gas), establish minimum quotas for renewables (wind and solar), and impose energy conservation mandates. Never mind here that last year the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s claim of authority over “demand response” of the national energy grid.

Fortunately, while states are invited to draw up implementation plans for EPA approval, they really have no legal obligation to do so. And while the EPA can attempt to commandeer a federal plan if states resist, there are good incentives for them to band together in calling the EPA’s bluff — reasons which can otherwise bear dangerous and costly consequences.

An April 7 Washington, DC, power outage caused by a mechanical failure and fire at a transfer station temporarily disrupted electricity to the White House, the Capitol, government agencies (yes, including the Energy Department), businesses/residents, and street lights. While relatively minor, it most likely could have been avoided if a 60-year-old coal-fired plant called the Potomac River Generating Station in Alexandria, Va., which provided backup capacity to balance the grid, had not been shuttered.

It was one of 188 plant closures credited to former New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s activist “Beyond Coal” campaign which he has supported with a $80 million in donations to the anti-fossil Sierra Club.

A far more damaging 2003 Northeast blackout resulted in costs of about $13 billion. Referring to the Clean Power Plan, the New York Independent Systems Operator (NYISO) now reports that the EPA’s “inherently unreasonable” reductions “cannot be sustained while maintaining reliable electric service to New York City.” The NYISO further projects unacceptable plan consequences which “no amount of flexibility can fix.”

States should collectively heed this reality. Rather than accept the EPA’s dirty work, it’s imperative that federal hijacking of state sovereignty be resoundingly rejected.

by  Visit CFACT for all your up-to-date information on energy and politics.

So it’s up to us to protect our families from outages by every means possible. Watch this space for some stunning power-generators that you can use at home — without gas or electricity!

Doing your laundry by hand


srctiny_360The thought of having to do laundry by hand strikes terror in the hearts of launderers everywhere. The list of insecurities is understandable: Will my clothes get clean? Isn’t it a dreary chore? I haven’t the time to do this!

But doing laundry by hand is neither dreary nor time-consuming after you’ve figured it out. And stains you once thought impossible to remove will begin to fade once you start to wash manually!

Laundry soapEveryone should know how to hand-wash their clothes. To depend on any machine to take care of basic needs is foolhardy. Hand-washing is a skill that can be employed during camping trips or for small articles between loads. It’s perfect for washing cloth diapers (which, by the way, are the easiest articles to wash; jeans are the hardest!).  And importantly, leaving out electricity saves you money (minimizes environmental impact, too), and the water used can be run off to your garden to perform a second duty watering your veggies.

I wash an automatic-washer-size load in about ten minutes.  Add five minutes for hanging it out on the clothesline and it’s over.  Really, it is this simple; the secret is to soak your clothing first.

    The Basic Steps:

  1. Fill two tubs with water, one for washing and one for rinsing.
  2. Add bleach (or biodegradable hydrogen peroxide) and soap to the washtub if needed.
  3. Let clothes soak according to manufacturer’s instructions and how dirty they are.
  4. Agitate each article separately by rubbing between your hands about five times.
  5. Squeeze out excess water and throw article into the rinse tub.


Now that the washtub’s empty and the rinse tub’s full:

  1. Swish the clothes a few times to rinse them.
  2. Squeeze excess water out of the clothing and place it in a bucket.
  3. Carry the bucket of clothes out and hang them up to dry.

You might want to sort your laundry before soaking it, just as you would for an automatic washer.  This is a step I skip; throw everything into the washtub and put the dark and delicate items on the top.  That way, I can wash and remove them first, then let everything else soak for another day.


The only equipment required for hand-washing clothes is a five-gallon bucket and you.  Soaking clothes eliminates the need for soap in most cases.  If you have particularly oily or greasy clothes, you’ll want to add some soap, usually right to the greasy spot, and then soak.  Most people use way too much soap; if you can smell it on your clothes, it’s still there, ready to irritate and cause allergies for the wearer.  Plus, soap kills beneficial bacteria in the waterways it contaminates.  A much more practical solution is to get the clothes clean, then hang them on the clothesline where fresh air and sunshine will make the clothes smell as clean as they are.  And the beating of the clothes by the wind softens them; no one will ever guess that they didn’t come out of a dryer.

Pieces that are being “freshened” rather than desoiled, such as sheets and bath towels, can be soaked, rung, and hung up usually without a rinse if you leave out the soap.  Unless the water looks like an inkwell, recycle it by using it to soak more items.

As a general rule, extremely soiled clothing should be soaked at least twenty-four hours.  The minimum soak should be three hours, the exception being delicate articles.  Laces, silks, and colors prone to running and fading should be washed after fifteen to thirty minutes of soaking.  Use your judgment on how long to soak.  In plain tepid water, with no soap and little or no bleach, it should be safe to soak for at least twenty- four hours on whites, less for bright colors and delicates.

Read clothes labels for clues.  Your first few loads you’ll want to check your clothes frequently to see how they- and the stains- are holing up.  Personally, we are a farm family, and our clothes tend toward the indestructible, but my best clothes go on top of the load for a one-hour soak.

If an article is horribly stained or greasy, resort to soap or a commercial stain remover and rub it in well, then soak.  As you load your washtub, be on the lookout for these problem areas and give them an extra five or so agitations before rinsing.

The only additive I use with any regularity is chlorine bleach.  A mere capful or two will keep your wash water from smelling like it died, should you get busy and forget to wash for a couple of days.  It also keeps diapers sanitary and white.  Beware of metal tubs that could leave rust stains on your garments.

One bucket instead of two will do; you’ll simply have to empty out the used water, and then refill it to rinse.  And you’ll have to set your washed clothes aside in the sink or on a clean, flat rock as you finish the load, then empty out the dirty water, refill the bucket with clean water, and toss the washed clothes in for a rinse.  An extra bucket for rinsing lets you put the clothes right into the water so you don’t have to move them an extra time.

I never use hot water for washing clothes.  Soaking replaces the need for it, and hot water is heated with a natural resource, be that coal, wood, or electricity.  Save those resources for cooking and bathing, and let soakage battle your stains for you.  There will be less chance of shrinkage, fading, or other damage to your clothes if you leave out the assault of hot water.

srctiny_360The Squirrel says: Insist on family participation in this event. Your spouse can haul water if you aren’t washing near a spigot, the kids can hang the clothes out and bring in dry ones, and everyone can carry their dirty clothes to the soaking tub and their clean, dry clothes to their rooms. You will be richly rewarded with clean clothes, a clean environment and a family that knows the joy of shared responsibilities.


How to spot melanoma


Check your body before you hit the summer season and expose yourself to the sun. Remember, melanoma is a young person’s disease. Melanoma is not the most common form of skin cancer, but it is the deadliest. One in 50 Americans will develop malignant melanoma and around 10,000 people will die from it this year. And it’s not just a disease that affects the elderly. In fact, melanoma is the most common form of skin cancer in young adults between the ages of 25 and 29. And it grows incredibly quickly. You need to share this.

AAD illustration Facing the wall mirror, examine your face including lips, ears, and eyes. Use a flashlight to check inside your mouth, nostrils, and ears. Check your neck, shoulders, and upper chest. Women should also check under breasts.
AAD illustration Using both mirrors, check behind your ears, neck, and upper back. While parting your hair with the blow dryer or brush, use both mirrors to check your scalp—front, back, and sides. Or have a partner or family member help.
AAD illustration Check your abdomen, front and sides. Use the hand mirror to check your mid- to lower back carefully. (The back is the most common site of melanomas in males.) Use the hand mirror or both mirrors to check all areas of your buttocks and genitals, including hidden parts.
AAD illustration Raise both of your arms and check all sides of your arms and hands, including between fingers and under fingernails. Then check under your arms and the sides of your upper body.
AAD illustration Sitting on a small chair or stool, prop each leg in turn on the other chair or stool. Check all sides of your legs from ankles to thighs. Check your feet, including the tops, heels, soles, between toes, and under toenails. (Legs are the most common sites of melanomas in females.)
Illustrations: American Academy of Dermatology

The good news is that a cure may be coming down the pike. Researchers at a Utah cancer institute say they are hot on the trail to a cure for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Scientists at the Huntsman Cancer Institute are using mutated herpes viruses and injecting them directly into melanoma tumors to attack cancer cells. The treatment — a form of immunotherapy — essentially boosts the patient’s own immune defenses to fight cancer, using the herpes virus (which has been engineered to be benign) as a kind of Trojan-horse therapy. To date, 25 percent of patients who have undergone the therapy have remained cancer free.

srctiny_360Remember, the self-reliant person doesn’t tempt fate. Either use sunscreen or if you don’t like the idea of those chemicals, dress in light clothes, wear a hat and sunglasses, and watch out you don’t burn your hands, ankles and feet. 

60% of Americans not practicing for disaster


5c458bac-4242-408f-8d28-b4eaca1a77a0.HRFEMA is trying to scare people over weather-related disasters, which it claims are on the rise. But, despite our disdain for FEMA and its unerring knack of getting it wrong when it matters, we agree that everyone should practice for a weather event that threatens life and property. So kudos to FEMA for calling Thursday April 30th America’s PrepareAthon.  We all need to get our evacuation plans agreed, our shelter-in-place preparations updated (fresh water, batteries, alternate cooking method, emergency latrines, etc.)

PR Newswire – WASHINGTON, April 28, 2015 — A recent Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) survey found that nearly 60 percent of American adults have not practiced what to do in a disaster by participating in a disaster drill or preparedness exercise at work, school, or home in the past year. Further, only 39 percent of respondents have developed an emergency plan and discussed it with their household. This is despite the fact that 80 percent of Americans live in counties that have been hit with a weather-related disaster since 2007, as reported by the Washington Post. With the number and severity of weather-related disasters on the rise, the America’s PrepareAthon! is an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and communities to take action to prepare for specific hazards through group discussions, drills, and exercises.
“When it comes to preparedness, practice makes perfect,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “America’s PrepareAthon! is about taking action now to better prepare yourself, your family, and your community to be ready to respond to these events before they occur.”

America’s PrepareAthon! is a national community-based campaign that provides free, easy-to-use guides, checklists, and resources to get more people to take action to prepare every day. On April 30, individuals, families, workplaces, schools and organizations will come together to practice simple actions to stay safe before, during, and after emergencies relevant to their area. Examples include:

  1. Sign up for local text alerts and warnings and download weather apps to your smartphone.
  2. Develop an emergency communication plan for your family. This will help you be in touch if a disaster strikes and family members are in different locations.
  3. Collect important documents and keep them in a safe place. This will help you evacuate without delay and get back on track after the disaster passes.
  4. Gather emergency supplies. Pack a “go bag” to evacuate quickly and have supplies in the home to be safe without water or power.

Visit the America’s PrepareAthon! website, to take action, be counted and spread the word.

America’s PrepareAthon! was established to provide a comprehensive campaign to build and sustain national preparedness as directed by Presidential Policy Directive-8. The campaign is coordinated by FEMA in collaboration with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations. 

How to avoid these super-perceptive water predators


LeechOK, we know they can be used for good in a sterile, medical environment, but mostly we hate them. Nasty little blood-suckers.

Leeches are blood-sucking creatures with a wormlike appearance. They live in the tropics and temperate zones. Watch out for them when swimming in infested waters or passing through swampy, tropical vegetation and bogs. Leeches are primarily nocturnal, spending daylight hours under rocks, vegetation or debris.  At night, they come out and forage on insect larvae, worms and other invertebrates.

Leeches are related to earthworms and marine worms. They are easily recognized: their bodies are ringed with prominent, often circular sucker at the rear, and they have a fixed number (33) of segments. They are common inhabitants of ponds, marshes, lakes, and slow streams, particularly in the northern half of the U.S. Only a few species of leeches can tolerate pollution.

Aquatic and terrestrial leeches have incredible senses of perception. They are attracted by vibration and body heat, and have ten pairs of eyes. Only two of the 25 types of leeches in the U.S. are blood-suckers.

Check yourself frequently for leeches. Don’t burn or squeeze them; they might regurgitate and infect you with bacteria from their digestive system. Get them off by gently sliding your fingernail under the smaller end (the head) and flicking it away.

Leeches can crawl into small openings so avoid camping in their habitats when possible. Keep your trousers tucked in your boots.

Hirudiniasis is a potentially serious condition in which one or more leeches invade a body orifice – and that means all body orifices. And watch out for your air passage, where it may cause a blockage or suffocation, especially if they attach themselves in large numbers. Severe infections from wounds inside the throat or nose can develop when sores from swallowed leeches became infected. If there is a leech invading your airway and you can breath, don’t attempt to remove it—get medical help immediately. If you can’t breathe—reach for the bottle:

1. Gargle with diluted 80-proof alcohol. Most distilled liquors—vodka, gin, bourbon, Scotch—have the right alcohol content. Use a mixture of 50% alcohol, 50% water. Don’t inhale the leech (or the alcohol) as leeches can be a big problem if swallowed or eaten. Treat water from questionable sources by boiling or using chemical water treatments.

They can also live in fresh water turtles, so be careful if that’s what’s on your dinner menu!

Conserving water at home


Toilet-llqq-001You don’t have to live in a drought area like California to know that saving water in the home makes sense. Many municipalities are forcing you to have a spy-in-the-home in the form of a smart meter which allows you measure your water use BUT also allows the authorities to know as well. It’s only a matter of time before they start fining users for water use they consider excessive.


  • Flush only when necessary. Don’t use your toilet for a garbage disposal and/or trash can. Consider installing a low-flow toilet (required for replacements and new installations)
  • Install a water-saving displacement device for older toilets, or make a device that won’t harm your plumbing such as a toilet dam or weighted plastic jug full of water. Be sure that installation does not interfere with operating parts. DO NOT use a brick — it may disintegrate and cause problems.
  • Check overflow pipes to be sure that water isn’t draining. Request a leak detector kit from your local water provider or simply add dark food coloring to TANK water. DON’T FLUSH! Check water in TOILET BOWL 15-20 minutes later. Color in the toilet bowl means you have a leak.
  • If you have a big tank, consider displacing the water with a small heavy object like a brick or stone. BUT you must place it in the tank carefully as it would easily bust the tank if you dropped it.


  • Fill bowl with water instead of letting water run when you wash, brush teeth or shave.
  • Repair leaks and attend to drips promptly.   Install water saving devices. Try a faucet aerator to reduce amount of water used.

Tub or Shower

  • Take shallow baths and plug the drain before you run water. Keep showers short with pressure at low force. Re-use bathwater to water your lawn or shrubs or for heavy cleaning jobs like floors or cars.
  • Install water-saving devices. Use a low-flow shower head, flow restrictor or cut off valve (lets you shut off water at shower head while soaping up and shampooing without changing the faucet setting)


How to Save Water in the Kitchen


  • Economize. Do only full loads. Avoid using extra cycles. Choose a water-saving model. Repair leaks. Inspect all connections to make sure they are tight and dry.

Hand washing Dishes

  • Scrape dishes, but don’t pre-rinse. Soak pots and pans before washing. Instead of running water continuously, fill wash and rinse basins with water. Use minimum amount of detergent.

Garbage Disposal

  • Use sink disposal unit sparingly, (but never use without running water) or use a garbage can or compost heap instead.

Food Preparation

  • Use a brush and bowl full of water to wash vegetables. Thaw frozen food in your refrigerator, not under running water.

Drinking Water

  • Instead of cooling water by letting the faucet, keep a container of cold water in the refrigerator. Make only the amount of coffee, tea, etc. you expect to consume.


How to Save Water in the Laundry

More than 10% of all water used at home is used in the washing machine, so even small investments of time and money can pay off in the long run.

  • Use the load selector to match water level to size of load. Presoak heavily soiled items. Always use minimum amount of detergent.
  • Check faucets and hose connections for leaks. Repair or replace when necessary. Inspect pipes for pinhole leaks or leaking joints.
  • If buying a new washer, purchase one with conservation features. Choose a washer with load size selector or variable water level control.

Saving Water Outside the Home


  • Check hose and connectors. Repair or replace leaky parts or sections.
  • Use a nozzle which can be shut off or adjusted to fine spray. When finished, shut off at the house instead of at nozzle to avoid leaks. Consider a water-saving drip irrigation system which provides a slow steady supply of water to garden and shrubbery.

Lawn & Garden

  • Water slowly and thoroughly during cool, windless hours, as infrequently as possible. Let grass grow taller in hot weather. Use mulch in the garden and around shrubs to save moisture. Plant native and other shrubs that don’t need a lot of watering. Consider alternatives to big thirsty lawns.
  • Re-using water is a good idea. Some cleaning water and pool water is fine for watering lawn and garden.


  • Rinse car once, wash from bucket of soapy water, rinse quickly again. Used water is fine for chrome, hub caps, and wheels.

Driveways & Walkways

  • Use a broom or rake instead of water to remove leaves, clippings, debris.


  • Keep level low to minimize splashing. Use a cover to slow evaporation (keeps water cleaner, too).
  • Check walls, filtration systems, inlets; repair where needed.


How getting married affects health insurance tax credits


This week I answered questions from people about health insurance cost and coverage rules, including how getting married or working here as a foreign national may affect them.

Q. Last year, I had single coverage through the marketplace from January through May. Then I got married and canceled my policy because I had coverage through my husband’s job for the rest of the year. When I filed my 2014 taxes, we had to repay half of the premium tax credits for the months when I had a marketplace plan. Why? Those first five months I was single and relying on my own income. Why should my husband’s income be counted?

uninsured 570A. The Internal Revenue Service has a special rule to handle situations like yours when people get married during the tax year. Though not a perfect solution, without it, chances are you would have had to repay even more of your tax credit.

First, some background: The premium tax credits that people can qualify for if their income is under 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $46,000 for one person) make coverage purchased on the health insurance marketplace more affordable. Like you, many people opt to receive the credit in advance and have it sent directly to their insurer, which reduces their monthly bill.

The amount of the tax credit is based on your annual household income, which you estimated when you signed up for coverage. At tax time, your estimated income is reconciled against your actual income and, if the estimate was too low, you have you repay the excess, up to a cap.

That’s the situation you found yourself in. However, when people marry during the tax year, the IRS offers an alternative way of calculating household income that for many reduces the excess premium tax credit they have to repay.

Under the IRS rule, the tax credit for the months when you were single is computed as if your annual household income were half of what it actually was. So if your joint income was $70,000 for the year, your tax credit will be computed on a $35,000 income rather than the whole $70,000.

Using that alternative calculation will generally reduce how much people have to repay.

Though not a precise income adjustment, “this creates at least some rough justice, in giving people a chance to simulate what they made when they were single,” says Judith Solomon, vice president at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

IRS publication 974 has step-by-step instructions on how to do the alternative calculation, and tax preparation software generally incorporates that option.

Q. I am on a H1B visa, legally working in the United States. My employer provided my husband and me with health insurance, but it is costing us a lot. My husband is here on an H4 visa as my spouse. My question: Is it mandatory to have health insurance for him? What are my options?

A. In general, people who are living in the United States legally are subject to the health law requirement that they have health insurance. There are some exceptions for foreign nationals who are here only briefly, but as someone who is living and working here and has employer-sponsored health insurance you likely pass the IRS test for having a “substantial presence” in the U.S., says Sonal Ambegaokar, a senior attorney at the National Health Law Program, an advocacy group for low-income and underserved people.

To avoid the penalty for not having health insurance, you and your husband must have coverage unless you qualify for an exemption. Since you say that coverage is expensive, one possibility might be an exemption based on affordability, says Matthew Lopas, a health policy fellow at the National Immigration Law Center.

If the cost of your plan is more than 8 percent of your income you’d be exempt from the requirement to have coverage.

Q. If a person does not pay the premium and is charged a penalty for not having health insurance, is that penalty considered to be a partial payment of the premium and does it provide any health benefits?

A. No on both counts. The penalty for not having health insurance, which you pay when you file your federal income taxes, is completely separate from the health insurance premium you would pay to an insurer to provide coverage. The penalty can’t be applied to insurance in any way and provides no health benefits.

For 2014, the penalty is $95 or 1 percent of your income, whichever is greater. If you’re uninsured and didn’t realize you would owe a penalty for last year, you may still be able to sign up for 2015 coverage, says Cheryl Fish-Parcham, private insurance program director at Families USA, an advocacy organization. You’d still owe the fine for 2014 but you could avoid it for this year, and you’d have insurance that could provide benefits that the penalty cannot.

If this scenario fits you, better get cracking. The special enrollment period ends April 30.

By Michelle Andrews. Please contact Kaiser Health News to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.

You should know this: Where to look for drinkable water in the wild


Stranded without water? Don’t panic, it’s probably much closer than you think.

Susan Conniry 1_1By Susan Conniry, Survival Expert.


Rainwater is perfectly drinkable water as it falls from the sky. Gather it in clean containers BEFORE it touches any other surface.  After it touches the ground or dirty surface, it must be considered contaminated and you will need to go through the treatment process.

The morning dew

The morning dew is the simplest method to get perfectly drinkable water but be careful where you gather it.  The safest method is to gather dew from your lawn using a rag, a sponge or some other absorbent material and wring it into a clean container.  Tie rags to your ankles and swish them in the grass. On a heavily dew-filled morning you can collect about ten gallons of water an hour.  This water is perfectly safe, and is drinkable the way it is. However, if there is any question of contamination from any source, e.g. animal excreta or chemical residues from petrol or pesticides then you should go through the treatment process.

Using plants… 

Trees, such as sycamore, cottonwood and willow are usually good indicators of water as they need a great deal themselves and have extensive root structures to suck water from the ground.  If you see reeds you can be pretty sure water will be under them as they thrive in swampy ground.

Place a plastic bag (with no holes) around the branch of a non-poisonous plant and tie it securely to the branch with wire or string.  The plant produces water vapor, which it releases into the atmosphere. This moisture will condense on the inside of the bag. After a while a sufficient amount of water will gather in the corner of the bag.  Cut a small hole in the lowest corner and sip the condensed water.

The beavertail cactus is considered to be edible water. This low, spreading cactus with short bristles grows 6 to 12 inches high and up to 6 feet wide. The gray-green, jointed stems are wide and flat resembling the tail of a beaver. Oval in shape, the stems are 1 to 6 inches wide and 2 to 13 inches long. The stems grow in clumps with flowers from the top edge of the joints. Flowers are followed by a brownish-gray, oval fruit more than an inch long with many seeds.  Choose a robust plant.  Singe off the spines in an open flame.  Slice off the outer skin of the plant and eat the pulp.

… and animals

All animal trails lead to water.  Follow them downhill by looking for animals’ footprints, spoor, broken grasses or twigs. Watch where insects and birds are flying, they need water too.  Follow the sounds of frogs that live in creek beds and small ponds.  Look around for natural depressions and ravines that could have been created by a once great river that is now just a trickle.

In a creek bed, even if no running water is visible, damp sand or mud indicates that there is water present.  Dig down and wait for the water to fill the hole.  Water can often be found below the surface under large boulders even though the ground may appear dry.


In the outside environment you are better off dealing with running moving water than you are with anything that is stagnant, that has pooled, or just doesn’t look healthy.  Be cautious of water from a lake. By the time the water has collected in the lake, it may have collected a host of pollutants and contaminants along the way.  It is a much better idea to find the feeder stream entering the lake.  A running stream is a great source of water but it must still be considered contaminated.

water-650234_640Snow, ice, and heavily polluted areas

Though freshly fallen snow may be drinkable without treatment you should always warm and melt it before letting it enter your system.  Be aware that bacteria are very commonly found in old snow and ice so always treat it before drinking.  Do not collect water from caves, mines, agricultural areas, railroads, roadsides, timber farms and any other areas that may be heavily polluted with herbicides, insecticides and other chemicals.

Survival tip: Before you gather any water look around and check if the plants and animals nearby are healthy.


Age and safe driving: Some tips


Age and Driving

As we age, it’s normal for our driving abilities to change. By reducing risk factors and incorporating safe driving practices, many of us can continue driving safely long into our senior years. But we do have to pay attention to any warning signs that age is interfering with our driving safety and make appropriate adjustments. Even if you find that you need to reduce your driving or give up the keys, it doesn’t mean the end of your independence. Seeking alternative methods of transportation can offer health and social benefits, as well as a welcome change of pace to life.

Older drivers tip #1: Understand how aging affects driving

Everyone ages differently, so there is no arbitrary cutoff as to when someone should stop driving. However, older adults are more likely to receive traffic citations and get into accidents than younger drivers. In fact, fatal crash rates rise sharply after a driver has reached the age of 70. What causes this increase? As we age, factors such as decreased vision, impaired hearing, or slowed motor reflexes may become a problem. You may have a chronic condition that gradually worsens with time, or you may have to adjust to a sudden change, such as a stroke.

Aging tends to result in a reduction of strength, coordination, and flexibility, which can have a major impact on your ability to safely control a car. For example:

  • Pain or stiffness in your neck can make it harder to look over your shoulder to change lanes or look left and right at intersections to check for other traffic or pedestrians.
  • Leg pain can make it difficult to move your foot from the gas to the brake pedal.
  • Diminished arm strength can make it hard to turn the steering wheel quickly and effectively.
  • As reaction times also slow down with age, you may be slower to spot vehicles emerging from side streets and driveways, or to realize that the vehicle ahead of you has slowed or stopped.
  • Keeping track of so many road signs, signals, and markings, as well as all the other traffic and pedestrians, can also become more difficult as you lose the ability to effectively divide your attention between multiple activities.

You may have driven your entire life and take great pride in your safety record, but as you age, it is critical that you realize your driving ability can change. To continue driving safely, you need to recognize that changes can happen, get help when they do, and be willing to listen if others voice concerns.

Older drivers tip #2: Tips for safe senior driving

Aging does not automatically equal total loss of driving ability. There are many things you can do to continue driving safely, including modifying your car, the way you drive, and understanding and rectifying physical issues that may interfere with driving.

Take charge of your health

Regular check-ups are critical to keep you in the best possible driving shape. Other steps you can take include:

  • Getting your eyes checked every year. Make sure that corrective lenses are current. Keep the windshield, mirrors, and headlights clean, and turn brightness up on the instrument panel on your dashboard.
  • Having your hearing checked annually. If hearing aids are prescribed, make sure they are worn while driving. Be careful when opening car windows, though, as drafts can sometimes impair a hearing aid’s effectiveness.
  • Talking with a doctor about the effects that ailments or medications may have on your driving ability. For example, if you have glaucoma, you may find tinted eyeglass lenses useful in reducing glare.
  • Sleeping well. Getting enough sleep is essential to driving well. If there are problems, try to improve nighttime sleep conditions and talk with your doctor about the effect of any sleep medications on driving.

Find the right car and any aids you need for safe driving

Choose a vehicle with automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. Keep your car in good working condition by visiting your mechanic for scheduled maintenance. Be sure that windows and headlights are always clean. An occupational therapist or a certified driving rehabilitation specialist, for example, can prescribe equipment to make it easier to steer the car and to operate the foot pedals.

Drive defensively

In these days of cell phones, GPS devices, and digital music players, drivers are even more distracted than they used to be. This means you’ll want to take extra steps to drive safely, like leaving adequate space for the car in front of you, paying extra attention at intersections, and making sure you are driving appropriate to the flow of traffic. Avoid distractions such as talking on the phone while driving or trying to puzzle out a map, even if it’s a GPS on the car; pull over instead.

Make sure you allow sufficient braking distance. Remember, if you double your speed—say from 30mph to 60mph—your braking distance does not become twice as long, it becomes four times as far, even more if the road is wet or icy.

Know your limitations

If a driving situation makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it. Many older drivers voluntarily begin to make changes in their driving practices. For instance, you may decide to drive only during daylight hours if you have trouble seeing well in reduced light. If fast-moving traffic bothers you, consider staying off freeways, highways, and find street routes instead. You may also decide to avoid driving in bad weather (rain, thunderstorms, snow, hail, ice). If you are going to a place that is unfamiliar to you, it is a good idea to plan your route before you leave so that you feel more confident and avoid getting lost.

Listen to the concerns of others

If relatives, friends, or others begin to talk to you about your driving, it may be time to take a hard, honest look at your driving ability:

  • A number of self-evaluation tools are available to help. See listings in the Resources section below.
  • You might choose to brush up on your driving through a refresher course. Safety courses are offered in many communities and online.
  • Talk to your doctor. Your doctor should also be able to provide an opinion about your ability to drive safely, or refer you to a specialist for more intensive evaluation.

Getting a professional evaluation

An occupational therapist or certified driver rehabilitation specialist can provide a comprehensive evaluation of the skills needed to drive and recommend car modifications or tools to keep someone driving as long as possible. It can also help diffuse accusations from family by providing a neutral third party perspective. You can ask your medical treatment team for a referral, or visit the websites listed in the Resources section below.

Older drivers tip #3: Know the warning signs of unsafe driving

Sometimes unsafe signs can come up gradually, or a recent change in health may make problems worse. Even if the individual warning signs seem minor, together they can add up to a substantial risk. If you are concerned about your own driving or worried about a friend or loved one, keep an eye out for these warning signs:

Issues with health

Health problems don’t always mean that driving needs to be stopped, but they do require extra vigilance, awareness, and willingness to correct them. Some health problems include:

  • Conflicting medications. Certain medications or combinations of medications can affect senses and reflexes. Always check the label on medications and double check with your healthcare team if you are taking several medications or notice a difference after starting a new medication.
  • Eyesight problems. Some eye conditions or medications can interfere with your ability to focus your peripheral vision, or cause you to experience extra sensitivity to light, trouble seeing in the dark, or blurred vision. Can you easily see traffic lights and street signs? Or do you find yourself driving closer and closer to them, slowing by just to see the lights or signs? Can you react appropriately to drivers coming from behind or the side?
  • Hearing problems. If your hearing is decreasing, you may not realize you’re missing out on important cues to drive safely. Can you hear emergency sirens, or if someone is accelerating next to you, or the honking of a horn?
  • Problems with reflexes and range of motion. Can you react quickly enough if you need to brake suddenly or quickly look back? Have you confused the gas and brake pedals? Do you find yourself getting more flustered while driving, or quick to anger? Is it comfortable to look back over your shoulder, or does it take extra effort?
  • Problems with memory. Do you find yourself missing exits that used to be second nature, or find yourself getting lost frequently? While everyone has an occasional lapse, if there’s an increasing pattern, it’s time to get evaluated by a doctor.

Issues on the road

  • Trouble with the nuts and bolts of driving. Do you see yourself making sudden lane changes, drifting into other lanes, braking, or accelerating suddenly without reason? How about failing to use the turn signal, or keeping the signal on without changing lanes?
  • Close calls and increased citations. Red flags include frequent “close calls” (i.e., almost crashing), dents and scrapes on the car or on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, and curbs. Increased traffic tickets or “warnings” by traffic or law enforcement officers are also red flags.

Older drivers tip #4: Benefits of not driving

Adjusting to life without a car may be challenging at first; most likely, you’ve been driving your whole life and it feels like quite a shock. It’s normal to be frustrated, angry, or irritable. You might even feel ashamed or worry that you are losing your independence. However, it takes a lot of courage to stop driving and put the safety of yourself and others first. You may also find there are many benefits to living without a car that you may not have considered. For example, you may:

  • Save money on the cost of car ownership, including car insurance, maintenance, registration, and gasoline. These savings can pay for alternative transportation if necessary. In fact, many seniors who only used their car for short trips often find that using a taxi or shuttle service for those same trips works out costing far less.
  • Improve your health. Giving up the car keys often means walking or cycling more, which can have a hugely beneficial effect on your health. Regular exercise from walking and cycling can help seniors boost their energy, sleep better, and improve confidence. It can also help you manage the symptoms of illness and pain, maintain your independence, and even reverse some of the signs of aging. And not only is exercise good for your body—it’s good for your mind, mood, and memory.
  • Expand your social circle. While many seniors have difficulty accepting ride offers from others, this can be a good time to reach out and connect to new people. Find a way of accepting rides that makes you comfortable. For example, you can offer a friend money for gas, or trade off on other chores, such as cooking a meal in return for your friend driving.
  • Appreciate the change of pace. For many, stopping driving means slowing down. While that may not sound appealing to everyone, many older adults find that they actually enjoy life far more when they live it at a slower pace. It can also have a beneficial effect on mental health by placing less stress on your nervous system.

Know your transportation alternatives

The more alternatives you have to driving, the easier the adjustment will be. You want to make sure that you can get out not only for essentials like doctor’s appointments, but also social visits and enrichment. Feeling housebound can quickly lead to depression.

This may also be a time to evaluate your living arrangements. If you are isolated and there are little transportation options in your area, you may want to consider moving to an area with more options, or investigate senior living options.

  • Public transportation. If you live in an area that is well connected with public transportation, it can be a very handy way to get around. Check your local public transportation options and ask about reduced prices for older adults.
  • Ride sharing. Family members, friends, and neighbors may be a resource for ride sharing. Offer to share the costs or to return the favor in a different way, such as cooking a meal or helping with yard work.
  • Community shuttles/senior transit. Your local community may have shuttle service available, especially for medical appointments. Some medical facilities, such as those for veterans, also have transportation options for medical appointments. Your local place of worship may also offer transit options.
  • Taxis or private drivers. Taxis may be a good option for quick trips without a lot of prior scheduling. You can also look into hiring a chauffeur or private driver. You can go through a formalized driving service, or sometimes a family member, friend, or neighbor can help. You do want to make sure whoever is driving has a good driving record and is responsible.
  • Walking/cycling. If health permits, walking or cycling when you can is a great way to not only get around but also get some exercise. Regular physical activity lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.
  • Motorized wheelchairs. Motorized wheelchairs can be a good way to get around if you live in an area with easily accessible stores and well-paved streets.

For ways to find transportation alternatives in your area, see the Resources section below.

How to talk to a loved one about driving concerns

Driver safety can often be a sensitive issue for older drivers. A driver’s license signifies more than the ability to drive a car; it is a symbol of freedom and self-sufficiency. Understandably, driving is not a privilege that anyone wants to relinquish willingly. Still, safety must come first.

Some older drivers may be aware of their faltering ability but still be reluctant to give up driving completely. Another person’s concerns may force the senior driver to act. They may even feel relieved to have someone else help make the decision to stop driving. Some seniors may forget that they aren’t supposed to drive. If that is the case, it is even more important to remove the car or the keys to make it impossible to drive. If you find yourself in the position of talking to an older friend or family member about their driving, remember the following:

  • Be respectful. For many seniors, driving is an integral part of independence. Many older adults have fond memories of getting a driver’s license. At the same time, don’t be intimidated or back down if you have a true concern.
  • Give specific examples. It’s easier to tune out generalizations like “You just can’t drive safely anymore.” Outline concerns that you have noticed, such as “You have a harder time turning your head than you used to,” or “You braked suddenly at stop signs three times the last time we drove.”
  • Find strength in numbers. If more than one family member or close friend has noticed, it’s less likely to be taken as nagging. A loved one may also listen to a more impartial party, such as a doctor or driving specialist.
  • Help find alternatives. The person may be so used to driving that they have never considered alternatives. You can offer concrete help, such as researching transportation options or offering rides when possible. If your family member is reluctant to ask for help, it can lead to isolation and depression.
  • Understand the difficulty of the transition. Your loved one may experience a profound sense of loss having given up driving. Don’t dismiss their feelings but try to help with the transition as much as possible. If it is safe, try slowly transitioning the senior out of driving to give them time to adjust. For example, your loved one may begin the transition by no longer driving at night or on the freeways, or by using a shuttle service to specific appointments, such as the doctor’s.

When an older driver refuses to give up the keys

Sometimes an older driver has to be stopped from driving over their objections. It might feel very difficult for you to make this call, especially if the senior is a parent or other close figure used to having their independence. However, their safety and the safety of others must come first. An unsafe driver can seriously injure or kill themselves or others.

If appropriate evaluations and recommendations have been made, and no amount of rational discussion has convinced the driver to hand over the car keys, then you may make an anonymous report to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or talk to the person’s physician about your concerns. In some cases, there is a need to take further actions such as taking away the car keys, selling or disabling the car, and enlisting the local police to explain the importance of safe driving and the legal implications of unsafe driving.

Kicking that cold and stopping your runny nose


Runny_noseThe most common symptom for cold sufferers is a runny nose. A really bad runny nose can make it hard to function as you constantly reach for the tissues.

Gently blowing your nose is the first step toward making yourself feel better. You should also try placing a mentholated salve under your nose. Menthol is widely known to help open up nasal passages. It also contains a mild numbing agent which can help relieve pain if you’ve rubbed your nose raw.

Switch it up
A change in temperature can also help clear out your nasal packages. Applying a warm washcloth or a cold ice pack to the bridge of your nose can help make you feel more comfortable. Drinking warm liquids can have the same effect. A hot shower or bath will help moisturize and drain your nasal passages, while simultaneously relaxing you and making you more comfortable.

Crossing water obstacles


Some water obstacles you may face include bogs, quagmire, muskeg, or quicksand. Do NOT try to walk across these. Trying to lift your feet while standing upright will make you sink deeper. Try to bypass these obstacles. If you are unable to bypass them, you may be able to bridge them using logs, branches, or foliage.

A way to cross a bog is to lie face down, with your arms and legs spread. Use a flotation device or form pockets of air in your clothing. Swim or pull your way across moving slowly and trying to keep your body horizontal.

In swamps, the areas that have vegetation are usually firm enough to support your weight. However, vegetation will usually not be present in open mud or water areas. If you are an average swimmer, however, you should have no problem swimming, crawling, or pulling your way through miles of bog or swamp.

QuicksandQuicksand is a mixture of sand and water that forms a shifting mass. It yields easily to pressure and sucks down and engulfs objects resting on its surface. It varies in depth and is usually localized. Quicksand commonly occurs on flat shores, in silt-choked rivers with shifting watercourses, and near the mouths of large rivers. If you are uncertain whether a sandy area is quicksand, toss a small stone on it. The stone will sink in quicksand. Although quicksand has more suction than mud or muck, you can cross it just as you would cross a bog. Lie face down, spread your arms and legs, and move slowly across.


Some water areas you must cross may have underwater and floating plants that will make swimming difficult. However, you can swim through relatively dense vegetation if you remain calm and do not thrash about. Stay as near the surface as possible and use the breaststroke with shallow leg and arm motion. Remove the plants around you as you would clothing. When you get tired, float or swim on your back until you have rested enough to continue with the breaststroke.

The mangrove swamp is another type of obstacle that occurs along tropical coastlines. Mangrove trees or shrubs throw out many prop roots that form dense masses. To get through a mangrove swamp, wait for low tide. If you are on the inland side, look for a narrow grove of trees and work your way seaward through these. You can also try to find the bed of a waterway or creek through the trees and follow it to the sea. If you are on the seaward side, work inland along streams or channels. Be on the lookout for crocodiles that you find along channels and in shallow water. If there are any near you, leave the water and scramble over the mangrove roots. While crossing a mangrove swamp, it is possible to gather food from tidal pools or tree roots.

To cross a large swamp area, construct some type of raft.

Survival basics: How to start a fire from scratch


You need three types of materials to build a fire: tinder, kindling, and fuel.

Tinder is dry material that ignites with little heat–a spark starts a fire. The tinder must be absolutely dry to be sure just a spark will ignite it. If you only have a device that generates sparks, charred cloth will be almost essential. It holds a spark for long periods, allowing you to put tinder on the hot area to generate a small flame. You can make charred cloth by heating cotton cloth until it turns black, but does not burn. Once it is black, you must keep it in an airtight container to keep it dry. Prepare this cloth well in advance of any survival situation. Add it to your individual survival kit. (How to make char – see below.)

You will need some prepared tinder. This can be almost any dry natural vegetable fiber. Cotton, linen, jute (burlap), sisal, hemp, or weeds from the field all work. A mixture of two fibers kindles more easily than any one fiber. Cotton and jute is an excellent combination. You need a wad about the size of your fist. It is best shredded fine and well mixed. When we were young it was common to use dryer lint. This worked really well at the time, but can no longer be recommended. With modern synthetics, dryer lint is likely to contain at least some polyester or other plastic. The fumes from many modern synthetics are TOXIC. Holding a wad of smoldering tinder under your face and taking deep breaths to blow harder is a BAD THING if there is any plastic in the wad.

Kindling is readily combustible material that you add to the burning tinder. Again, this material should be absolutely dry to ensure rapid burning. Kindling increases fire’s temperature so that it will ignite less combustible material.

How to Make Char – Simply put, the traditional char is cloth that has been made into charcoal. It is heated at high temperature in the absence of oxygen to drive off flammable solids in the form of gas, leaving a black cloth which catches and holds a spark, smoldering with a hot ember rather than flaming. Making char cloth is not difficult. All you need is a can that won’t melt in the fire, and some cloth. I use a steel 35mm film canister, but smaller and larger ones will work quite well, anything from a lozenge box to a paint can. The lid needs to fit tightly.  Obtain a proper size can and punch a 1/16 inch hole in the lid. The best char cloth is made of heavy gauge cotton cloth, something like T-shirts, old towels, “terry” cloth and the like. Cut the cloth into squares of two inches, or so, and put them in the can loosely, not stacked tightly. Fill the can, but not so much as to compress the squares. Put the lid on and set the can in an open fire. I like to set it on coals so it will be stable. As the can heats, you will see gases or smoke begin to stream from the hole in the lid. They may catch fire, from time to time. When smoke stops coming from the hole, drag the can off and let it cool. If you open it too quickly, the rush of oxygen will cause the cloth to burst into flame, and you’ll have to start over. Once the cloth has cooled, examine it. Good char cloth is black, but still has a lot of strength. It should not fall apart from ordinary handling. If it’s more like black ash than black cloth, you cooked it too much. If the squares are brown instead of black, or if it is obvious the cloth hasn’t been heated evenly, put the top back on and cook it some more. Extra effort to make good char now will pay dividends when you put it to use.

Spark – The direct spark method is the easiest of the primitive methods to use. The flint and steel method is the most reliable of the direct spark methods. Strike a flint or other hard, sharp-edged rock edge with a piece of carbon steel (stainless steel will not produce a good spark). This method requires a loose-jointed wrist and practice. When a spark has caught in the tinder, blow on it. The spark will spread and burst into flames. Agate, carnelian, jade, bloodstone, chalcedony, quartz, and chert all work well. Any hard stone, which fractures to a sharp edge, will do the job. Keep your striker with you and when you see an interesting stone, try it.

If you like to travel prepared get a magnesium block. Here’s a picture of the emergency kit Emergency KitI carry in my purse which includes a magnesium block and a Swiss Army knife. It’s easy to scrape some magnesium off the block and use the steel strip on the side to create a spark with the penknife. It burns fast and very hot and will light dry tinder very quickly. You’ll see I also carry a flashlight and a whistle in case I need to the attract attention of someone out of ordinary earshot.

Note: I carry this set in office buildings too. I am always reminded that 9/11 caused power outages and visibility difficulties within the tower blocks. Having a flashlight with me ensures I can see my way out. The whistle is in case I get trapped and need to attract attention. It requires much less physical effort than calling out. 

Fuel in the wild is most likely to be old wood. The best is dried out. So look under rock overhangs and in sheltered places for fallen branches or old fenceposts. Wet wood is tough to build into a roaring fire so you’ll need lots of other flammable material like dry leaves to coax it into flame. Build from thin to thick wood.Expect a lot of smoke!

More than one way to skin — well, catch a rabbit!


I was talking to a young friend who is at the US Air Force Academy last night. He was telling me that his summer will involve some intensive training in survival and that one of the things he’ll be doing is trapping or catching his own food. Good luck to him! It’s tough. You need patience and skill. So if you want to start practicing , here’s how. Oh, and you might want to try the U.S. Army Handbook. It has some straightforward diagrams that will help you skin it right.

There are several killing devices that you can construct to help you obtain small game to help you survive. The rabbit stick, the spear, the bow and arrow, and the sling are such devices.

Rabbit Stick

One of the simplest and most effective killing devices is a stout stick as long as your arm, from fingertip to shoulder, called a “rabbit stick.”  You can throw it either overhand or sidearm and with considerable force. It is very effective against small game that stops and freezes as a defense. You need to practice this a lot! Get a stuffed toy and do it over and over. Then get a friend to pull it on a string as you throw (a long string will minimize law suits!)


You can make a spear to kill small game and to fish. Jab with the spear, do not throw it.Water refracts (Remember that Castaway moment with Tom Hanks where he keeps missing) so you have to adjust your throw.

Bow and Arrow

A good bow is the result of many hours of work. You can construct a suitable short-term bow fairly easily. When it loses its spring or breaks, you can replace it. Select a hardwood stick about one meter long that is free of knots or limbs. Carefully scrape the large end down until it has the same pull as the small end. Careful examination will show the natural curve of the stick. Always scrape from the side that faces you, or the bow will break the first time you pull it. Dead, dry wood is preferable to green wood. To increase the pull, lash a second bow to the first, front to front, forming an “X” when viewed from the side. Attach the tips of the bows with cordage and only use a bowstring on one bow.

Select arrows from the straightest dry sticks available. The arrows should be about half as long as the bow. Scrape each shaft smooth all around. You will probably have to straighten the shaft. You can bend an arrow straight by heating the shaft over hot coals. Do not allow the shaft to scorch or burn. Hold the shaft straight until it cools.

You can make arrowheads from bone, glass, metal, or pieces of rock. You can also sharpen and fire-harden the end of the shaft. To fire harden wood, hold it over hot coals, being careful not to bum or scorch the wood.

You must notch the ends of the arrows for the bowstring. Cut or file the notch; do not split it. Fletching (adding feathers to the notched end of an arrow) improves the arrow’s flight characteristics, but is not necessary on a field-expedient arrow.


You can make a sling by tying two pieces of cordage, about sixty centimeters long, at opposite ends of a palm-sized piece of leather or cloth. Place a rock in the cloth and wrap one cord around the middle finger and hold in your palm. Hold the other cord between the forefinger and thumb. To throw the rock, spin the sling several times in a circle and release the cord between the thumb and forefinger. Practice to gain proficiency. The sling is very effective against small game.


DIY: Care for sprains


StrainsCommon causes for sprains and strains are falls, twisting a limb, sports injuries and over- exertion. A sprain results from overstretching or tearing a ligament (fibrous tissue that connects bones), a tendon (tissue that attaches a muscle to a bone) or a muscle. A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon is overstretched or overexerted. Both sprains and strains result in pain and swelling. The amount of pain and swelling depends on the extent of damage.

Knowing, understanding, memorizing, and practicing what we’re about to teach you with this article is key because these types of injuries happen ALL THE TIME.

Not long ago, one of our writers fell down the stairs at the office. What we thought was a simple sprained ankle that we immediately iced and bandaged was still too painful for her and she went in to shock, (high body temperature and nausea). After a trip to the ER, we discovered that what we thought was a sprained ankle turned out to be a double whammy: sprained ankle AND a broken foot. Though she may not be having the best time of it, the injury taught us a good lesson: practice first aid so that when someone near you actually needs help, the only thing you can think to yourself isn’t “Damn, I read about how to fix that somewhere but now I can’t remember.” Also, even after you apply First Aid yourself, it’d be a good idea to take a trip to the hospital. If injured bones aren’t very specifically and properly taken care of, you may only be exacerbating the issue.


Common sense can prevent many sprains and strains. General safety measures to prevent slips and falls:

  • Clear porches and walkways of ice in winter weather.
  • Wear shoes and boots with non-skid soles.
  • Install sturdy hand rails on both sides of stairways.
  • Use rubber mats or adhesive-backed strips in bathtubs and shower stalls. Installing a support bar is also recommended.
  • Make sure light switches are located near all room entrances inside of the house and to entrances outside.
  • Use a night light between the bedroom and bathroom or in the hallway at night.
  • Keep stairways and foot traffic areas clear of shoes, toys, tools and other clutter.
  • Floor coverings should be kept skid-proof. Vinyl floors should be cleaned with non-skid wax.
  • Carpeting should be secured to the floor. Area rugs should have non-skid backing.
  • Be careful whenever you use a ladder. Make sure it is steady and long enough to reach the job without standing on the top three steps.

Do’s and Don’ts of Proper Lifting


  • Wear Shoes with low heels, not sandals or high heels.
  • Stand close to the thing you want to lift.
  • Plant your feet squarely, shoulder width apart.
  • Bend at the knees, not at the waist. Keep your knees bent as you lift.
  • Pull in your stomach and rear-end. Keep your back as straight as you can.
  • Hold the object close to your body.
  • Lift slowly. Let your legs carry the weight.
  • Get help or use a dolly to move something that is too big or very heavy.


  • Don’t lift if your back hurts.
  • Don’t lift if you have a history of back trouble.
  • Don’t lift something that’s too heavy.
  • Don’t lift heavy things over your head. Don’t lift anything heavy if you’re not steady on your feet.
  • Don’t bend at the waist to pick something up.
  • Don’t arch your back when you lift or carry.
  • Don’t lift too fast or with a jerk.
  • Don’t twist your back when you are holding something. Turn your whole body, from head to toe.
  • Don’t lift something heavy with one hand and something light with the other. Balance the load.
  • Don’t try to lift one thing while you hold something else. For example, don’t try to pick up a child while you are holding a grocery bag. Put the bag down or lift the bag and the child at the same time.

Treatment for sprains and strains will depend on the extent of damage done to the muscle, ligament or tendon. Self-help measures may be all that are needed for mild injuries. Severe sprains may require medical treatment. Some sprains require a cast. Others may need surgery if the tissue affected is torn.

Questions to Ask

Did the strain or sprain occur with great force from a vehicle accident or fall from a high place?

If YES- Seek emergency care and apply First Aid until professional help arrives. If NO- Consider the other factors below.

Are there any of these problems?

  • A bone sticks out or bones in the injured part make a grating sound.
  • The injured body part looks crooked or the wrong shape.
  • A loss of feeling in the injured body part.
  • Inability to move or put weight on the injured body part.

If YES- Apply First Aid and call for emergency Care.

If NO- Consider the problems listed below.

Are any of these problems present?

  • The skin around the injury turns blue and/or feels cold and numb.
  • There is bad pain and swelling or the pain is getting worse .
  • It hurts to press along the bone.

If YES- See a doctor.

If NO-Provide self-care. First Aid should be all you need.

Self-Care/First Aid

  • Stop what you’re doing. Then use R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
  • Take aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium as directed on the product label for pain and inflammation. (Take with food or milk to prevent stomach irritation.) [Note: Do not give aspirin or any medication that has salicylates to anyone 19 years of age or younger unless a doctor tells you to.] Acetaminophen will help pain, but not inflammation.

Also note for specific areas of the body:

  • Remove rings right away if you have sprained a finger or other part of your hand. (If swelling occurs, the rings may have to be cut off.)
  • Use crutches for a badly sprained ankle. Crutches keep you from putting weight on the ankle which could cause further damage. Using them will help speed healing.

DIY: Dealing with seizures

Stages 1 and 2. Protect and then put in Recovery Position

Although they aren’t terribly common, sometime in your life you may come across someone having a seizure, be it due to shock, epilepsy, another disorder, or fever.

Because of their extreme damage both to the brain and physically, you need to know how to assist the person in need. This article will teach you how to deal with someone who is seizing depending on their symptoms and a simple checklist.

A seizure is an out-of-control misfire between nerve cells in the brain. Normal brain functions are impaired with a seizure.

Things known to cause seizures are:

  • High fevers in children. This kind of seizure is called a fever fit. A temperature higher than 102 degrees F can set off a fever fit. High fevers are the most common cause of seizures in children ages six months to four years. These seizures are generally harmless.
  • Epilepsy, a brain disorder. Seizure is the most common symptom of epilepsy.
  • Brain injury, tumor or stroke.
  • Electric shock.
  • Heat stroke.
  • Poisons.
  • Infections.
  • Reactions or overdoses to medicines or drugs.
  • Reye’s Syndrome.
  • Snakebites.
  • Vaccinations.
  • Breath-holding.

Sometimes the cause of a seizure is not known.

Seizures fall in two general groups: general and partial. A partial seizure affects small areas of the brain. A general seizure affects the whole brain and can cause loss of consciousness and/or convulsions. This is the type most people associate with a seizure. This type of seizure is also called a tonic-colic or a grand mal seizure. First aid can be helpful for this type of seizure.

Symptoms of convulsive seizures are:

  • Crying out
  • Falling down
  • Losing consciousness
  • Entire body stiffening
  • Uncontrollable jerks and twitches

The sufferer’s muscles relax after the seizure. He or she may lose bowel and bladder control and may be confused, sleepy and have a headache.

Most seizures last from one to five minutes. A fever fit can last from 1-10 minutes.

Fever Fit Prevention – Usually in children

The best way to prevent a fever fit is to reduce the fever fast. This is especially important for a child who has had a fever fit in the past. He or she is more likely to have another one with future fevers. When your child has a fever:

  • Dress him or her in light-weight clothes or remove most of his or her clothes. Don’t use more than a top sheet or one blanket on your child when he or she sleeps.
  • Apply cold washcloths to your child’s forehead and neck. Sponge the rest of his or her skin with cold water. Don’t use rubbing alcohol.
  • Give the dose of acetaminophen the label states for your child’s weight or age. [Note: Do not give aspirin or any medication that has salicylates to anyone 19 years of age or younger unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Continue trying to reduce the fever until it is 101ø F or less.
  • Ask your child’s doctor about suppositories that lower fevers if your child has had a fever fit in the past. Using one at the first sign of a fever may prevent a seizure.

First Aid Protocols: Questions to Ask


Has the person stopped breathing?
If yes, seek emergency care and practice rescue breathing until they arrive, if no, consider the questions below.
Does the seizure occur with another serious problem such as?

  • Head injury
  • Heat stroke
  • Electric shock
  • Poisoning
If yes, seek emergency care. If no, check for these other signs.
Are any of the following also present?

  • The seizure lasts longer than five minutes.
  • The person has a second seizure soon after the first one.
  • The person has a hard time breathing.
  • The person is pregnant.

If yes, follow the instructions below.

Give First Aid for Convulsive Seizures and see a doctor.First Aid for Convulsive Seizures:

  • Stay calm
  • Protect the victim from injury. Cushion the head with a soft object such as pillow, coat or blanket.
  • Move sharp objects out of the way.
  • Loosen tight clothes around the neck.
  • Place the person on his or her side.
  • Clear the mouth of vomit if there is any.
  • Do not try to hold the victim down.
  • Do not put a spoon or anything into the mouth to prevent tongue biting.
  • Do not give anything to eat or drink.
  • Do not give medication.
  • Do not throw water on the victim’s face.

Note how many minutes the seizure(s) lasts and observe the symptoms that take place so you can report these to the doctor.

Also, remember not to embarrass the victim, but offer help once the seizure is over.

Children. Is this?

  • Your child’s first seizure
  • A seizure without a fever
  • A seizure in a child younger than six months or older than four years old
Give First Aid before seeing a doctor and then see a doctor.First Aid Before Seeing Doctor:

  • Prevent injury to the child during the seizure:
    • Keep the child from falling and hitting his or her head on a table edge or any sharp object.
    • Cushion the child’s head.
    • Move furniture, toys and such out of the way.
  • Make sure his or her air passage is open. Gently pull on the jaw as you extend the neck backwards.
  • Roll the child on the side to allow saliva to drain from the mouth.
  • Following the seizure, the child will likely be sleepy and not remember what has happened. This is normal. Consult your child’s doctor and follow instructions.

Dress the child in light, loose-fitting clothing and put him or her to sleep in a cool room.

First Aid – Adults

Most seizures in people who have epilepsy and in children with high fevers do not need medical care. If you see someone having a convulsive seizure without other problems, perform the actions in, “First Aid for Convulsive Seizures” listed above. (A person with epilepsy may wear a medic alert bracelet or necklace with “epilepsy” written on it or he or she may have epilepsy written on a card or driver’s license in his or her wallet or purse. Look for one.)

Also, if the seizure is due to a fever, lower the person’s temperature as soon as the seizure stops:

  • Sponge the body with lukewarm water.
  • Do not use rubbing alcohol.
  • Do not use ice because it drops the temperature too fast.
  • Do not put the person in a bathtub.

Slay your energy vampires!


Your phone charger, toaster and TV look innocent enough, but do you realize they’re robbing you blind? In fact, all of your electronics pull power even when they’re not on. Personal tech expert Carley Knobloch shares the best solutions for slaying the energy vampires in your home. This is from 2013 and the technology has moved on a little. Check out this page on Amazon for the latest equipment.

Squirrel fan tips: Caring for roses


A letter from Jim in Minnesota

roses_yellowCaring for your flower garden is a year-round job, especially if you’ve got roses! Here’s a letter from a keen gardener in MN who wanted to share some tips and techniques – and a secret recipe.

My wife and I have been looking into landscaping our back yard, and have discovered that landscape companies and professional gardeners don’t come cheap…and they are often quite busy! We had an idea of growing rose beds in the back yard, and weren’t sure if we could do it ourselves, but it turns out that there are inexpensive ways of growing roses large and beautiful, just like the “Lawn Doctor.”

First, you must choose a sunny spot, as roses that are denied sunlight wither and get fungal diseases. If sunlight is iffy in your back yard, there are various ways of helping your roses to find it. Many nurseries sell large tubs on wheels that one can drag around a yard with a rope, chasing the wandering sun, and then setting your roses where they can thrive.

However, when you decide to plant in the ground, and have found a sunny area that is well drained (to avoid drowning the roots in your plant) spade a deep hole, about two feet wide and two feet deep. This will give your rose roots lots of space, and they will “feed” better. Fill the hole with a concoction of:

1.   1/3 dirt from the hole

2.   1/3 peat moss, available at any nursery

3.   1/3 compost

Fill the hole with enough of this mixture so that the soil in the container of the bush you’ve purchased will sit level with the surrounding area.  Set the bush in the container in the hole, and add or remove soil as needed.

Secret sauce:
To add a little “zing” to your plant, there is yet another concoction.

1. A table spoon of fish fertilizer or emulsion, available at the nursery

2. A tbsp of corn syrup

3. A gallon of water

Mix this up and spray the bush with it, soaking the roots.

Squeeze the container to loosen and release your plant and place one hand over the surface and turn the plant upside down catching the bush as it slides from the container, but take care NOT to catch it by the fragile stem.

Place the plant in the hole, filling the area around it with the remaining soil mixture, patting the soil down and watering it a bit. Remember to concentrate the watering on the plant base, as it keeps the foliage dry.

Lightly water the rose plant three times a week for a month or so, and then give it a heavier soaking twice a week. Adding mulch to the rose bed helps moisturize the topsoil, and keeps it cool in the summer. Weeds find it difficult to grow through mulch, so that problem is also eliminated.

It is ridiculous to purchase over-priced mulch in those heavy plastic bags, breaking your back to haul them home from the nursery. Mulch is easily created from shredded bark, compost and various other detritus such as leaves or grass clippings.

Buy instant fertilizers, but do not use it in excess, as too much inorganic fertilizer can destroy roots and foliage. Free and quite effective fertilizer can be made from the garbage can: rotten bananas have potassium, old tea bags add valuable acids to help roses thrive, and parsley planted around the bushes increases the sweet rose smell.

Maintaining a healthy rose bush or bed is crucial. Remove dead growth and old canes, and prune branches that go toward the center of the bush for better ventilation for your roses.

Sometimes there will be ugly black spots on the rose petals. Although many experts recommend just cutting these petals away, there are safe, non-pesticide sprays that can help.


1 tbsp of baking soda

1 tbsp of vegetable oil

1 tbsp of liquid soap

1 gallon of water

Put this in a large plastic spray bottle (empty bottles are sold at nurseries) and spray the damaged blossoms about once a week.

If you wish to let your roses develop hips in the autumn, don’t do any pruning after the last bloom at summer’s end.

When winter comes, your beds must be protected. Stop cutting roses off the bushes two months before the snow and ice arrive. At some point the roses will withdraw, a process called becoming “dormant.”

As this happens, cut down on watering the plants, and clean up any stray rose petals and branches that have dropped, a natural process during fall. This is the time to clean up old mulch, as it is a shelter for harmful insects. After the ground freezes in early winter, re-mulch your roses. The frozen ground will prevent the mulch from becoming a hotel for moles and gophers.

One last tip, the “Minnesota Tip” This involves trenching the rose plant in the ground by loosening half the roots and laying the plant into the trench. Then cover the plant with straw and soil.

DIY: Homemade plant foods


Coffee_grounds_fineBypass expensive chemicals.  Here are four good fertilizers for your garden or houseplants that are probably in your kitchen right now:

1. Use a tablespoon of white vinegar per gallon of water on your houseplants. They love the minerals. Only apply once every 10-14 days.

2. Both coffee and tea are excellent fertilizers. Dilute one cup of coffee or tea in four cups of water and add to soil. You can also massage coffee grounds or used tea leaves directly into the soil.

3. Dust base of your peony plants with cinnamon to discourage fungus growth.

4. Crumble up eggshell and add them to the soil around your plants. The shells will add nutrients to the soil as they decompose.  They also repel slugs and snails from outdoor plants.

Car maintenance 101- Teach your family


Does everyone in your family know how to change a tire? They should. Especially if they’re kids. They’re the most likely to get in a beater and get stuck by the side of the road (Incidentally, AAA membership is an awesome Christmas gift for any young person.) Make sure your family members are the ones to get the kudos when they can change a tire. This video rolls into a few more teaching moments for newbies. They can quickly study how to jumpstart a car, check and change an air filter and check oil. It’s a great resource from You just have to watch through the ad first.

Check your pockets for these 10 essential items before you head for the hills


Mountain-hikingWhen in the mountains, being prepared for emergencies is critical. That means always carrying the “10 Essentials.”

These vital supplies will allow you to treat some injuries and help keep you or an injured companion alive until help arrives. Remember, even rescues in relatively accessible places take time. And sometimes, that’s not on your side.

The 10 essentials include:

Map — So you can get where you’re going or communicate your location to rescuers.

Compass — Critical for navigation and providing rescuers with your location.

Flashlight/headlamp Going for help can mean a long hike in the dark. Don’t forget spare bulbs and batteries.

Extra food — For warmth and strength.

Extra clothing — For covering an injured hiker to prevent shock, as well as for keeping warm.

Sunglasses — Eyes are especially vulnerable to the bright sunlight encountered in the mountains. These can help avoid eye damage.

First-aid supplies — A ready-made, storebought kit may prove inadequate. It is best to construct your own, based on expert advice.

Pocket knife — Can be incredibly versatile in time of need.

Matches — Being able to start a fire can be the difference between life and death. Be sure to keep them in a waterproof container.

Fire starter — A fire starter, such as a candle, kindling or chemical accelerant, increases your odds of successfully getting a blaze going.

The 11th Essential — Knowledge. Simply lugging this gear around is not enough: you must know how to use it. So take a First Aid class. Learn orienteering and map reading. Practice lighting a fire in adverse conditions. Train yourself to lift weights so you can carry your friend. Know how to tie a splint.

Oh, and never hike alone. For backcountry travel, it is best to have a party of four people. This way, two can go for help if necessary. Cellular phones can be very helpful, but don’t bet a life on them. They will not work in much of the backcountry.

Respiratory precautions against wildfire smoke


wildfire_smokeWildfire. It can happen fast. And when dry brush and fallen foliage goes up, there’s a lot of smoke with the fire. Your first priority is to get away from the fire. Run upwind (Into the wind. It should be blowing in your face not your back.) That should limit your risk of death and smoke inhalation as the smoke will be blowing away from you.

You must limit your exposure to smoke. Pay attention to local air quality reports. Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke. (Check if your community provides reports on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI).) Also pay attention to public health messages on the radio, TV and mobile phone apps, about taking additional safety measures.

Refer to visibility guides if they are available. Not every community has a monitor that measures the amount of particles that are in the air. In the western part of the United States, some communities have guidelines to help people estimate AQI based on how far they can see.

If you are advised to stay indoors, keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed unless it is extremely hot outside. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter elsewhere.

Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to reduce breathing problems. A HEPA filter may reduce the number of irritating fine particles in indoor air.

Do not add to indoor pollution. When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces or gas stoves. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.

If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your doctor’s advice about medicines and about your respiratory management plan. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.

Do not rely on dust masks.  They are not enough. Paper “comfort” or “dust” masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from smoke.  Instead, keep a wet cloth over your nose and mouth if you must go out in wildfire smoke.

Why you really shouldn’t use that gasoline generator to power your computer

Bob Bly sent me a letter after Super Storm Sandy. Here it is.

Honda_gas_generatorThis may be the most important tip I give you, and not one person in a hundred is aware of it:

If you use a gasoline generator when your power goes out, do NOT
hook up your PC to it.

Gasoline generators produce “dirty” power, meaning it fluctuates
in voltage to a level unacceptable to a PC’s sensitive circuitry.

My PC guy said that after hurricane Sandy, he had 25 clients
with PC problems, all of whom connected their computers to a
gasoline generator – including me.

I was lucky: he got my computer back online in a few hours, and
the only damage was to my back-up drive.

Every other client had severe damage, from destruction of the PC
motherboard to complete loss of data on their hard drives.

The reason I wasn’t wiped out is that the subpar current from
our gasoline generator did not allow my PC to operate steadily,
so I couldn’t even use it. Turns out this was lucky for me,
because I then disconnected the generator.

If you lose power during a storm or for any other reason, do not
under any circumstance connect your computer to your back-up
gasoline generator. You risk destruction of your PC and loss of
all your data.

Here in NJ, we got hit hard by hurricane Sandy. We lost power,
Internet, cable TV, heat, and hot water for nearly a week. The
power outage shut down my business for the week.

Our home phones didn’t work, but fortunately my office phone is
with another carrier and it did.

There are worse things than losing power for a week, but it
certainly ranks up there.

Our gas generator produces sufficient power to run appliances
other than computers, so we connected our refrigerator to it and
our food didn’t spoil.

Without TV and Internet, you feel alone in the dark, not knowing
the status of the storm. Fortunately we could plug in my little
boom box to the generator and keep up that way.

(Without a generator, we wouldn’t have even had the radio. There
had been a run on D batteries, and they were impossible to get.)

Many others in NJ were not so lucky: we saw a long line of
people at Lowe’s hoping there would be enough generators to go

Even with a gas generator, your power is not assured, because
what do you do when you can’t get gasoline? Most gas stations
had either run out of gas or had no power to pump the gas they

To conserve gasoline, we ran the generator intermittently. At
night, we could see by candle light, and we hung out in front of
a roaring fire.

We are now getting quotes for a full-house, natural-gas-fired
generator. I want to make sure my business is never affected by
a power outage ever again.

Some scientists predict these super storms will happen with
increased frequency. Our experience supports that. We used to
get one big storm here every 10 years. Now it seems to be an
annual occurrence.

I also learned something about me: if I can’t work and write
every day, I become restless and jumpy. I am only relaxed and
happy when I write every day.


Bob Bly
Copywriter / Consultant
River Vale, NJ 07675

DIY: Checking and fixing your circuit breakers


Fusebox_2After a power outage or any kind of damage to your fuse box, (especially if it’s outdoors), you’ll want to regain power. Here, we can teach you how to check the fuse box and potentially fix it yourself!

Located inside or outside of your home is a fuse box that contains a fuse for each of your home’s circuits. A fuse provides protection for each of your electrical circuits by stopping the flow of current if an overload or fault occurs. When an electrical short occurs or the load on your circuit becomes too great, the fuse on that circuit burns out and breaks the circuit; this is what is referred to as a “blown fuse.”

Before electricity can be restored, the fuse must be replaced with a new fuse. However, even before you replace the fuse, you must take steps to ensure that it is safe to do so. Turn off or unplug all of the devices that are plugged into the circuit. Make certain that no dangerous condition exists before restoring power.

Replace the fuse with a fuse that is of the proper rating for the circuit. For instance, if the circuit is rated for 15 amps, use a 15 amp fuse. Never use anything other than a fuse of proper rating.

When removing or inserting a new fuse, NEVER touch the metal parts of the fuse. If your fuse box is equipped with a master switch to cut power to the fuse box, cut the main power prior to replacing the fuse.

Electricity should now be restored to the circuit. If the fuse blows again before you have turned anything on or plugged anything in, a serious wiring fault may exist. Consult a qualified electrician immediately.

If the fuse blows after plugging in or turning on a device, that device may have a short or may be placing too much of a load on the circuit.

If no fuses were blown and you still do not have power at an outlet, the outlet may be on a GFCI branch circuit.


Electricity should now be restored to the circuit. If the fuse blows again before you have turned anything on or plugged anything in, a serious wiring fault may exist. Consult a qualified electrician immediately.

If the fuse blows after plugging in or turning on a device, that device may have a short or may be placing too much of a load on the circuit.

If no fuses were blown and you still do not have power at an outlet, the outlet may be on a GFCI branch circuit.

A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet is a device that adds a greater level of safety by reducing the risk of electric shock in locations such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and outdoors.

A GFCI outlet may be wired in a branch circuit, which means other outlets and electrical devices may share the same circuit and breaker (or fuse). When a properly wired GFCI trips, the other devices down the line from it will also lose power. Note that devices on the circuit that come before the GFCI are not protected and are not affected when the GFCI is tripped.

If you have an outlet that doesn’t work, and the breaker is not tripped, look for a GFCI outlet which may have tripped. The non-working outlet may be down line from a GFCI outlet. Note that the affected outlets may not be located near the GFCI outlet, they may be several rooms away or even on a different floor. Pressing the “Reset” will restore the circuit. If the outlet doesn’t reset, then whichever appliance that is causing it to trip, may still be plugged in. If after unplugging everything, checking the circuit breaker or fuse, and resetting the GFCI does not work, please submit a maintenance request to First Rate Property Management right away.

DIY: How to help someone who has fainted


elevated_legs_first_aidFainting is a brief loss of consciousness. Someone who faints may pass out for several seconds or up to an hour. It is important that you get to the bottom of the reason. Naturally, the person should consult a physician but in an emergency, these are the steps to follow. Keep records so that you can hand them to medical professions when the time arises. Being self-reliant means keeping tabs on everyone!

There are many reasons people faint. Medical reasons include:
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) which is common in early pregnancy.
  • Anemia.
  • Any condition in which there is a rapid loss of blood. This can be from internal bleeding such as with a peptic ulcer, or a tubal pregnancy or ruptured ovarian cyst in females.
  • Heart and circulatory problems such as abnormal heart rhythm, heart attack or stroke.
  • Heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia.
  • Toxic shock syndrome.

Other things that can lead to feeling faint or fainting include:

  • A sudden change in body position like standing up too quickly (postural hypotension).
  • Extreme pain.
  • Any procedure in women that stretches the cervix such as having an IUD inserted, especially in women who have never been pregnant.
  • Sudden emotional stress or fright.
  • Anxiety
  • Taking some prescription medicines. Examples are: some that lower high blood pressure, tranquilizers, antidepressants, or even some over-the-counter medicines when taken in excessive amounts.

Know, also, that the risk for fainting increases if you are in hot, humid weather, are in a stuffy room or have consumed excessive amounts of alcohol.

Just before fainting, a person may:

  • Feel a sense of dread
  • Feel dizzy
  • See spots before his or her eyes
  • Have nausea

Here are some dos and don’ts to remember if someone is about to faint or faints:


  • Catch the person before he or she falls.
  • Have the person lie down with the head below the level of the heart. Raise the legs 8 to 12 inches. This promotes blood flow to the brain. If a victim who is about to faint can lie down right away, he or she may not lose consciousness.
  • Turn the victim’s head to the side so the tongue doesn’t fall back into the throat.
  • Loosen any tight clothing.
  • Apply moist towels to the person’s face and neck.
  • Keep the victim warm, especially if the surroundings are chilly.


  • Don’t slap or shake anyone who’s just fainted.
  • Don’t try to give the person anything to eat or drink, not even water, until they are fully conscious.
  • Don’t allow the person who’s fainted to get up until the sense of physical weakness passes. Then be watchful for a few minutes to be sure he or she doesn’t faint again.

Questions to Ask


Is the person who fainted not breathing and does he/she not have a pulse? 

If so, seek emergency care immediately. If not, check for other signs with this list.

Are signs of a heart attack also present with the fainting?
  • Chest pain or pressure.
  • Pain that spreads to the arm, neck or jaw.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Sweating.
  • Rapid, slow or irregular heartbeat.
  • Anxiety.

If so, seek emergency care and apply First Aid. If no, keep checking for further abnormalities.

Are signs of a stroke also present with the fainting?
  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg.
  • Temporary loss of vision or speech, double vision.
  • Sudden, severe headache.

If yes, seek emergency care. If no, keep trying to figure out where the problem is coming from.

Did the fainting come after an injury to the head? 

If yes, seek emergency care while performing First Aid.

Do you have any of these with the fainting?
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Black stools.

If yes, see a doctor. If no, consider the next question.

Have you fainted more than once? 

If yes, call a doctor. If no, keep reading.

Do any of these apply?
  • You are take high blood pressure medicine.
  • You started taking a new medicine.
  • You increased the dose of a medicine you take.

If yes, call a doctor. If no, provide self-care.

Self-Care/First Aid

Do these things when you feel faint:

  • Sit down, bend forward and put your head between your knees, or
  • Lie down and elevate both legs 8 to 12 inches.

If you faint easily:

  • Get up slowly from bed or from a sitting position.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice to treat any medical condition which may lead to fainting. Take medicines as prescribed, but let your doctor know about any side effects so he/she can monitor your condition.
  • Don’t wear tight-fitting clothing around your neck.
  • Avoid turning your head suddenly.
  • Stay out of stuffy rooms and hot, humid places. If you can’t, use a fan.
  • Avoid activities that can put your life in danger if you have frequent fainting spells. Examples include: Driving and climbing high places.
  • Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation.

For women who are pregnant:

  • Get out of bed slowly.
  • Keep crackers at your bedside and eat a few before getting out of bed. Try other foods such as dry toast, graham crackers, bananas, etc.
  • Eat small, frequent meals instead of a few large ones. Have a good food source of protein, such as lean meat, low-fat cheese, milk, etc. with each meal. Avoid sweets. Don’t skip meals or go for a long time without eating.
  • Don’t sit for long periods of time.
  • Keep your legs elevated when you sit.
  • When you stand, as in a line, don’t stand still. Move your legs to pump blood up to your heart.
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements as your doctor prescribes.
  • Never lay on your back during the 3rd trimester. It is best to lie on your left side. If you can’t, lie on your right side.