Posts Tagged ‘first aid kit’

5-point Safety Checkup for Daylight Savings Time Change

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Emergency waiting to happenJust waiting for you to make a mistake!

It’s “Spring Forward, Fall Back” time here again this weekend. Along with re-setting the clocks, this time of year now has expanded to include reminders for emergency preparedness.

Of course, you know about checking the batteries in your smoke alarm. But that’s just the start! So read on, for some simple actions that if overlooked could put you in BIG trouble.

To the extent that your safety and security depend in part on your neighbors’ preparedness, be sure you share this list with them, too!

1-Change the batteries in your smoke alarm.

You should know this statistic from the National Fire Protection Association by heart: Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.  Nuff said?

And here’s a real life story to go with the statistic.

A couple of years ago on a Saturday, the local fire department, police department cadets, some EMTs, and the Red Cross, supported by our Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, installed 461 new smoke alarms in our neighborhood! (Funded by a grant, in case you’re wondering.)

The alarm packaging said, “10-year guarantee” so naturally we were all annoyed when people began reporting that their smoke alarms were “chirping.”

Here’s what we discovered about alarms chirping:

  • Nearly all people who heard the chirping incorrectly identified where it was coming from! In nearly every case, it was from an already installed OLD alarm, and not the new one.
  • The 10-year guarantee works for the mechanism. When it comes to the battery, the guarantee applies only to alarms that have sealed lithium batteries. If your smoke alarm has a replaceable battery, check it and replace it or it will surely start chirping, like ours did, in the middle of the night!
  • Every battery has an indicated life. Just remember, you may buy new batteries today but you don’t know how much of that “life” has already expired while the battery was on a shelf somewhere.

Upshot? Simply replace your alarm batteries twice a year when the time changes. A few dollars invested can save your life.

2-Change the batteries in your walkie-talkies.

Same concept: when the emergency hits, if you don’t have fresh batteries, you may have lost an important tool.

Walkie-talkies take AA or AAA batteries. Over the years we have tested different brands and over the years the “winner” in the test has been different every time!

Get the right size, get the longest life available, and TEST them regularly. Every month we catch a couple of dead Walkie-Talkies during our monthly drill. (Of course, if people forget to turn the Walkie-talkies off after the drill, the chances of the batteries going bad are about 100%.) (And corroded batteries can destroy the walkie-talkie, too.)

Don’t have Walkie-talkies for your group or family? Here’s our walkie-talkie reviews to get you started on adding some.

3-Check your fire extinguishers and replace if they have lost pressure.

Fire extinguishers can last many years, but – Do you really remember when you bought yours?

A good extinguisher has a pressure gauge to help you track its functionality. Check the gauge when the time changes, if not more frequently. Not sure if the extinguisher is any good? Get a new one.

Looking to re-charge your extinguisher? We’ve looked, and haven’t found a reasonably-priced service. Maybe you can find one, but chances don’t seem to be very good.

4-Refresh your first aid kits.

We’ve written before about the drawbacks of most purchased first aid kits.

Still, you’ll want to start with a basic kit, and add your own enhancements.

At the left is a starter kit, available at Amazon, that looks even better than ones we’ve recommended before. Click on the image to get full details, but note to start with that this kit has soft sides with pockets labeled so you can see everything at a glance.  (Most of the inexpensive kits that I see are simply a zippered container with contents thrown in.)

Any first aid kit needs customization, and that’s where a regular check-up is important. At the time change, pull together all your kits (from your cars, your Go-Bags, etc.) and look in particular for . . .

  • Small medicine bottles whose contents have dried up completely.
  • Tubes of medicine that have been accidentally crimped or punctured and are oozing gook.
  • Band aids that have torn packaging and thus have lost sterility and stick.
  • Pills that have expired.
  • Scissors or other tools that have mysteriously developed spots of rust.

Repeal and replace as appropriate!

5-Clean out coils and filters to prevent fire.

We’re talking refrigerator, heater, and clothes dryer. All these collect dust and lint in hard-to-see and harder-to-get-to places, and can overheat or even (in the case of the dryer) burst into flames.

Enlist help to move or open any pieces of equipment or access doors, and attack with the wand and the crevice tool of your vacuum cleaner.

When you’ve finished vacuuming, empty its dust container and replace the filter in the vacuum, too.

While we’re on vacuum cleaners, a couple more safety notes:

  • Don’t leave a vacuum cleaner running while you go to another room. It can overheat and start a fire! (Just go onto YouTube to see a number of dramatic examples. . .!)
  • Check the cord and plug of your vacuum to be sure they aren’t damaged or frayed. These cords get hot! (Even the cord of my quite new Navigator gets really warm, just from being in normal use.)

That’s it.

You may have discovered that your 60 minute time change job has turned into a multi-hour project!

However, once you’ve gone through the steps once, it’ll be easier next time. Also, you may be able to turn the whole thing into a family bonding exercise by delegating different jobs to different family members, and presenting it as a contest!

However you get through the 5-point list, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your home is good to go for another six months. And you won’t be caught by an emergency just waiting to happen — as represented by the eager dinosaur in the picture!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team


Safety Checklist for New Employees

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Safety Is Your Responsibility

Where's the nearest fire extinguisher?

Are you a business owner? in charge of emergency response at your work? an employee of any sort?

If you’ve been there a while, you should be able to check off every item on the Safety Checklist below. Someone new, however, will have to make an effort to figure out all the answers.

New or experienced, these are SIMPLE THINGS THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW every day they come to work!

Read below the checklist for additional commentary and links to more in-depth articles.

The 12-Point Checklist


More In-Depth Info on Employee Safety

Some Advisories with more details for workplace preparedness:

If you want a more detailed review of how to build a Simple Business Continuation Plan – download it here:

Suggested Next Steps for the Company

You can put this checklist to work in just about any workplace – office, factory, hotel, retail operation – wherever your business is located. Of course, you may prefer to use it as a sample and make your own, more customized version.

Either way, here are 3 suggestions for how to proceed:

  1. Share this article and the checklist with management. See what items they can check off; are there any items no one has thought of, or knows the answer to? Be sure you understand which items might have some liability connected to them.
  2. Decide on a plan for sharing the checklist (or a customized version) with all current employees. Turn it into a team effort, or a competition — whatever works to engage people and get them more aware of safety and their surroundings!
  3. Add the checklist to your on-boarding process for new employees. Obviously, they will need a helpful partner to be able to get through the list. I think they’ll find it to be a comforting exercise and one that will impress upon them the company’s commitment to preparedness and to safety.

Disclaimer from

This handy checklist is not meant to be a full assessment of employee or workplace preparedness. Rather, it is meant as a simple, easy tool to create more awareness among people who are working together.

If the checklist starts a conversation about what’s missing, consider it a bonus. And then, put together a plan to fill those gaps!

We are committed to a continuing conversation about being ready for emergencies. As always, the more the people around us know, the better off we ALL will be!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

First-time Driver Needs More Than Seat-time

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

Our 16-year-old granddaughter got her first car just a week ago and is nervously practicing her driving. While Joe helps her master reverse gear (one of his favorites), I am putting together an emergency kit for her. Considering her skill and experience level, it needs to be different from the usual “commuter car kit.”

Key features of Emergency Car Kit: simple and unobtrusive.

Emergency kit for new driver

Assembling the kit for my granddaughter

Our driver’s parents have always had quite new cars, so I doubt she has ever experienced a breakdown or flat tire in the light of day, much less at night! And what if she’s driving when the anticipated earthquake hits, or El Niño (also anticipated) leaves her stranded?

So, first comes the lecture about getting the car to a safe place. Then there’s the phone call to parents and/or AAA or other emergency contact.

Now for the wait for help to arrive.

Here’s where the emergency kit comes in.

So far, I have assembled these 8 simple items, with one not yet decided on.

As always, where it makes sense I am including links to typical products — and usually products that I have bought myself — at Amazon.  Yes, I may get a small commission if you buy through the link. Of course, your price isn’t affected — and if you want to shop more, just use the link to get you to the right departments.

1. Orange Safety Triangles.  If you shop for these, you’ll discover than many come packed individually. Honestly, I don’t think one triangle serves ANY purpose for an inexperienced driver, who will tend to set the triangle too close to the rear of the disabled car. So, while Orion seems to be the leader in this category, I recommend this pack from Deflecto. It has three triangles in a carrying case: Deflecto Early Warning Road Safety Triangle Kit, Reflective, 3-Pack (73-0711-00)

(I would recommend flares for an adult, but they are not simple to light and require THOUGHTFUL decision-making before deciding where to put them. I will be writing about that in another post.)

2. Flashlights. Every car should have more than one flashlight, with extra batteries stored separately. I will have to test my granddaughter to see if she can put batteries in correctly!  (She normally uses her phone as a temporary flashlight . . .)

From a safety/visibility standpoint, inexpensive LED lights seem OK, although a better-quality light (at least 400 lumens) is preferable. This is one of our favorites: Duracell Durabeam Ultra High Intensity Tactical- 500 Lumen Flashlight 2-Pack with 6 C Batteries

3. First Aid Kit.  We have written extensively about first aid kits (See links to other posts, below.) ALL inexpensive pre-built kits are lacking – get the best one you can, then go through it and add more bandages, first-aid cream, moist wipes, etc.

4. Gloves.  She may not wear work gloves very often, and perhaps never has! But in a real emergency, protecting your hands is easy and essential. I prefer leather gloves to the rough fabric ones, and I like these because they adjust to the size of the wrist: Custom Leathercraft 2055M Split Cowhide Work Gloves, Medium

5. Emergency Radio. In the case of an earthquake, storm or other widespread emergency, your driver will need to find out what’s going on  — and cellphones may not work. Our favorite battery-operated emergency radio is the Ambient Weather radio: Ambient Weather WR-090 Emergency Pocket AM/FM/WB Weather Alert Radio with Digital Tuner and Flashlight

And since our granddaughter is pretty enterprising, I might consider the Weather’s larger cousin that operates via batteries, solar or crank: Ambient Weather WR-111B Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Digital Radio, Flashlight, Cell Phone Charger with NOAA Certified Weather Alert & Cables

6. Blanket. My granddaughter seems to have several nice throws associated with various sports teams. If you don’t have any, or think your driver would like a new one, they are relatively inexpensive and easily packable. Here’s a link to where you can pick a fleece of exactly the right color!Super Soft Cozy Fleece Throw Blanket – 50×60 Fleece Blanket (Assorted Colors)

7. Water. Again, my granddaughter has plenty of plastic water bottles, and she can pick out the best one for her kit. However, I would recommend, as an emergency item, a bottle with a filter since we don’t know how long this water will remain untouched and unrefreshed. See the link below to our recent review of water bottle with filters.

8. Food. Teenagers seem to subsist on all kinds of snacks, so check with your driver to find the best combination of energy bars, dried fruit and candy for emergency food supplies. No use putting stuff in the kit that they won’t like or won’t touch.

9. Personal Safety. My granddaughter is tall, athletic and capable. I will discuss with her and her parents whether it makes sense to include any pepper spray in her kit (and it requires written permission). Waiting in the dark could be scary and dangerous; it may give her an added sense of security: SABRE RED Pepper Spray – Police Strength – Compact, Pink Case with Quick Release Key Ring (Max Protection – 25 shots, up to 5X’s more)

What to put everything in? Something unobtrusive.

All my teenaged friends seem to carry a variety of backpacks for school, sports, or just for hanging about. So, for the car emergency kit I selected a simple, inexpensive backpack that will attract no notice on the floor in the backseat or rear compartment.

Next step: Present the kit, take everything out, talk about how and when to use it, and have her repack it.

It will be a fun family activity, one I’m looking forward to!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

Here are other posts with more info about emergency kits:


My New First Aid Kit

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Last week’s article about “extra” items for a first aid kit inspired me to use the topic for our monthly neighborhood emergency planning group meeting.

The meeting turned out to be . . .

Another good meeting idea!

First Aid Kit with missing items

Here’s how it went.


  1. First, I invited our neighbor Theresa, who is a Registered Nurse, as our featured guest. She brought along her own first aid bag as a “show and tell.”
  2. Second, so we’d have something to compare it to, I bought a brand new first aid kit (cost around $10) at the hardware store down the street (photo).
  3. Third, as a reference, I printed out the Red Cross’s list of “20 basic first aid items.” Everybody got a copy.

As Theresa pulled out an item from her bag, we checked it off the Red Cross list and then looked in the kit I’d bought to see if it was included.

Results of the Comparison

Number of items

The new kit had about 60% of the items suggested on the Red Cross list.

First Aid Kit items, Red Cross list


The bigger problem: nearly everything in the kit was in miniature! Packets were tiny (one squeeze, and the ointment would all be gone), gauze squares were tiny, gloves were tiny. We all laughed, in particular, at the roll of adhesive tape. Take a look at it in the photo, bottom right. Really, it’s about as big around as a quarter and weighs less!

Missing from both the list and the kit

Here are the items that Theresa had in her kit that were not in the kit AND were not on the Red Cross list:

  1. Antihistamine ointment
  2. Liquid skin
  3. Duct tape
  4. Flashlight
  5. Plastic bags
  6. Dust mask
  7. Eyewash
  8. Phone number of Poison Control center
  9. Whistle
  10. Sunscreen
  11. List of medicines currently being taken

And finally, one last item that our group felt needed to be in there:

12. Extra eyeglasses

Shocking finale

Attendees had been invited to bring their own kits to the meeting, too. One guy had his neatly packed into a fishing tackle box. One neighbor shared her pet first aid kit.

What shocked me, however, were the people who admitted they didn’t have a kit in their car. And there were a couple of people who said they didn’t even have a kit in the house!

The reason it’s shocking is because this is our neighborhood emergency group, supposedly tuned in to being prepared!

Lessons learned

Emergency preparedness starts and continues with the basics.

  • If you have a first aid kit, check on its contents and “top it off” with more supplies. Use the lists above for suggestions.
  • If you are missing a kit, build one from scratch or buy an inexpensive one, like I did, and add more supplies.
  • If extended family members don’t have kits, buy up a supply and hand them out for Father’s Day or Mother’s Day or Christmas! Or without any explanation other than, “You need to have this!”

I looked for a better kit. I found one at Amazon that looks pretty good as a starter. I like the way its clear pockets fold out to make things easy to find. It costs about twice as much as the one I bought at the hardware store ($19 instead of $9), but instead of “77 items” it advertises “121 items.” Again, you’ll want to add some extras, but this kit would be a good start, particularly for the car.

Here’s the direct link: AAA 121-Piece Road Trip First Aid Kit

Don’t let something as simple as not having a first aid kit turn an accident into a real emergency!

“Friendly but Forceful” Action item: Take care of your first aid kit/s right away!

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. What first aid items haven’t been mentioned in this article?  Please share your recommendations in the comments box so we can all benefit.





Ouch! What I found in my Survival Kit!

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

As a part of National Preparedness Month, we’re going to be staffing a table at a neighborhood preparedness faire. So I pulled out of my car the emergency kit I had first put together after my Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.

Outdated CERT gear

Don’t use these!

Look at the photo and you’ll see some of the yucky things I found!

* Corroded batteries in my flashlight! (Upper right arrow) The kit actually has two flashlights in it. One was the high-tech model (from Sharper Image, no less) that holds AA batteries. Look closely and you’ll see the totally blown-out end of one of them! We find that batteries need to be replaced every 6 months if they are in a light or radio.

* Dried up and useless first aid items! On the left in the photo you can see the shriveled up antiseptic wipes and the stained band aid packages. Although they had been stored in a plastic bag, not one of them was usable.

* Melted and leaking pens! CERT training reminds you to have a way to write on a door when you’ve searched the room, write on a piece of tape to label someone, or write right on their skin. We assembled a variety of writing implements for these purposes, including crayons and permanent markers. Again, stored in a plastic bag, they melted and leaked. I could hardly get that one crayon out to be able to photograph it!

What’s the state of your Survival Kit? How about your CERT bag? (These are two different things, of course. Survival Kit is to help you; CERT bag is to help others.) Consider setting up a schedule to update and refresh your kits.

Use the twice-a-year time Daylight Savings Time change as an update reminder.

In addition to replacing old items, here are a couple of other suggestions for keeping your kit ready for use:

1. Best battery solution. Store batteries in a bag taped to the flashlight or radio. Whereas they seem to deteriorate quickly when stored INSIDE the device, they keep much longer when stored separately.

2. Rubber gloves. Your CERT kit will have disposable nitrile gloves — the thin rubber kind that your doctor wears – for use in an accident. These gloves are very fragile; replace every six months.

3. Environment. Think about where the kit is kept. I keep my kits in the trunk of my car – where temperatures reach over 100 degrees. Obviously, crayons aren’t going to be happy in this environment.

4. Backpack. If your kit lies in direct sunlight (in your car, for example), the duffle bag or backpack material will deteriorate over time. The first to go on my CERT kit were the carrying straps.

5. Clothing. I have a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt, and hat in my kits. While they don’t deteriorate, a wash and fluff keeps them more usable.

Reviewing and updating your kit takes only a few minutes – less time than it has taken me to write this article! You’ve made the investment – be sure to keep it tuned up.

What have YOU found in unattended survival kits that we should be warned about?  Let us know in the comment box below!

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team