Fortifying the Resiliency of NYC’s Urban Forests

When you think of forests, the largest city in the US probably doesn’t come right to mind. However, New York City is home to over 7000 acres of urban forest land — mostly found throughout its extensive parks.

The addition of trees and shrubbery to an urban setting makes the air fresher in an otherwise stagnant city setting and provides a habitat for wildlife in the middle of the urban sprawl. The Forest Management Framework for New York City has outlined several threats to these natural oases, and also examines a plan for mitigating them.

Threats to the Trees

Global warming and the intrusion of several destructive foreign species are two of the most significant concerns for the long-term wellbeing of the urban forests. With warmer, drier climates likely around the NYC area in the coming decades, some of the species that inhabit urban green spaces may have trouble surviving. Furthermore, warmer temperatures mean that new varieties of insects, fungus and other tree-munching species will likely migrate north, which presents a compound threat to the health of the trees.

Likewise, the introduction of foreign species into an isolated area can be disastrous. An insect that targets a specific type of tree, like the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, might lack natural predators or other population checks that would usually exist in nature. Further, the annihilation of one species is more impactful to a smaller, less diverse ecosystem of an urban forest.

The Plan

The Forest Management Framework project is emphasizing data-supported research and findings and will be advising other branches of the city’s extensive network of park conservancies, such as the Forest Park Trust and the Prospect Park Alliance. The ultimate goal of this 25-year plan is laid out in a one-page summary of the project and includes reducing the number of invasive species to 10 percent of their current level and boosting climate-related resiliency.

The other goals of the plan include fostering comprehensive and informed stewardship of the forest within the greater NYC community. Though not explicitly stated in the documentation, pollution is another concern facing the urban forests. These areas tend to have a disproportionate amount of traffic in comparison to natural woodlands. More people usually means more pollution and litter.

Pollution is estimated to cause up to 20,000 deaths per year. The addition of air-filtering plant life helps mitigate this. By instilling in communities a sense of the worth of forest land, this project hopes to maintain its quality.

Urban Forests

For those of us who live in cities, contributing to your local urban forest initiatives and park programs can be a fun and helpful activity. After all, all of us have to breathe the air, and adding a few trees to the urban landscape is an easy way to make that air cleaner and healthier.

Kate Harveston
Political Journalist & Blogger

Why Growers Should Transition to Eco-Friendly IPM Instead of Using Harmful Pesticides

Using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for your farm, yard or garden is a healthy and eco-friendly alternative to pesticides.

IPM is a way to control the presence of creatures we traditionally refer to and think of as “pests” that is both environmentally friendly and uses common sense. It is a multi-step process that takes into consideration all aspects of pest control to rid your farm, garden or lawn of bugs and animals that you simply can’t allow to stay there.

Every circumstance is different, so it is important to inspect, monitor and report on your situation before determining the best course of action. Below are some basic facts and steps you can take to start implementing an IPM pest control plan.

Determine What to Look Out for

We share this world with a variety of different animals and insects, and while not all of them are desirable to have hanging around in our daily human operations, they have a place and function in the environment — and they have a right to life. However, some species can cause health hazards that impact our quality of life.

It’s important to be aware of health hazards and do your best to avoid exposure to them for yourself and your workers. IPM educates workers on humane ways to avoid too much contact with these kinds of creatures.

Determine the Best Control Route

To determine what will work best for your situation, you’ll need to know exactly what types of insects and animals are present in your work area, and also what types of plants you have. Depending on what types of plants you have and what time of the year it is, there are different prevention methods for your lawn, farm or garden. For your IPM to be successful, you need to know exactly what types of creatures will be attracted to your grow area.

Prevent and Control

Once you’ve determined what creatures to be aware of, you need to determine the best way to prevent or control them. If the level of pests present hasn’t reached your health hazard level, then there are steps you can take to simply prevent them from entering your grow area. These can include steps as simple as just removing things that attract them, such as food and shelter.

Implement a plan to control these animals and bugs and give yourself time to test it out. Steps may include things like humane trapping and releasing. Keep track of what’s working and once you’ve found a perfect IPM plan for your situation, stick to it.

Don’t Spray Pesticides

Controlling bugs and rodents in your lawn, garden or farm area is an ongoing process. While it may seem easy and convenient to spray pesticides, it’s incredibly harmful to the environment and your health. Implementing an IPM and reducing the number of chemicals you use will be eco-friendly and better for your health.

Kate Harveston
Political Journalist & Blogger

Asbestos Awareness Week: The Environmental and Health Implications of Asbestos

Author: Shawn Tallet, MAA Center

       The first week of April is designated as Global Asbestos Awareness Week, a time to educate and bring attention to the dangers and pitfalls of asbestos. A known human carcinogen, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have both decreed that there is no safe amount of asbestos exposure. Every April, experts, advocates, and victims join together to bring focus to the perils that this deadly substance causes.

A Brief History

        Asbestos wasn’t always a word that alarmed homeowners and environmental activists. A naturally-occurring silicate mineral, the substance forms in crystalline structure and has been mined and utilized for thousands of years. However, asbestos use increased substantially with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, when large-scale mines were opened throughout North America. The mineral was used as an additive and fortifier in many different applications, including insulation, flooring, and roofing. Due to the material’s inherent fire resistance, durability, and strength, asbestos was a very desirable building material. It wasn’t until after builders, miners and others who worked closely with asbestos started getting sick that the mineral’s true dangers began to reveal themselves. Builders eventually found safer alternatives to asbestos, and federal regulations banned some applications of the substance and heavily regulated others.

Severe Health Risks

Exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a rare and severe cancer. The disease is the result of cancerous cellular growth after the inhalation of asbestos fragments, making old, dilapidated asbestos-containing material incredibly dangerous. After the particulate matter is inhaled, it settles in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart, where the body is unable to remove the fragments. Symptoms of mesothelioma usually manifest after an extensive latency period ranging from a decade to 50 years, and may include chest tightness, chronic cough, and fluid buildup in the lungs. Due to the commonality of symptoms with other disorders, combined with the disease’s relative rarity, mesothelioma often goes misdiagnosed until its late stages. Prognosis for the disease is grim, with most patients facing a 12-21 month life expectancy after diagnosis. Although breakthroughs in immunotherapy and other treatments have shown some promise for patients, there is currently no cure for mesothelioma.

Environmental Threats

Due to the toxicity of asbestos, improper disposal can pose serious environmental hazards as a pollutant. While there’s no surefire way to test for asbestos without a professional, most homes built before 1980 are likely to contain the substance somewhere. Asbestos-containing materials in poor condition can compromise air quality because they may release fibers into the air we breathe. If one suspects their home may be contaminated, they should call a licensed professional to test the area and determine if asbestos is present.  This is especially important to do before attempting to take on any do-it-yourself project. Furthermore, in an effort to maintain public health, there are stringent policies and requirements for proper, responsible asbestos disposal. Generally, specific landfills in municipalities are designated for discarded asbestos-containing materials. Adherence to these practices can greatly diminish environmental hazards, such as contaminated waterways and urban environments.

Global Asbestos Awareness Week

     More than 60 countries around the globe have placed outright bans on asbestos, including all of the European Union, Australia, and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Canada is currently issuing a ban which will go into effect in 2018. While asbestos usage has diminished substantially in the United States, there is still no ban in effect. The goal of Global Asbestos Awareness Week is to ultimately focus on the banning of mining, manufacturing and use of asbestos, prevent exposure, and increase compliance and enforcement of existing laws and regulations. Through education and progress, the threat of asbestos can be greatly diminished and eradicated for the health of future generations.

Tackling Climate Change as the Very Real Humanitarian Crisis That It Is

In many cases, the issues of global warming and climate change are hotly debated and contested, but science consistently backs the findings that environmental changes to our atmosphere are occurring and will continue to occur, and that these are, specifically, changes humans have accelerated and exacerbated.

To solve this crisis, we need to recognize it and implement policies of change. We don’t always think of this as a humanitarian crisis, but it is. Many people don’t realize just how vital every part of the ecosystem thriving is. We are only just recently starting to recognize this and try to find ways to deal with this issue, but more can and needs doing.

The Effects of Climate Change Will Be Felt Around the World

Climate change will have a far-reaching and deep impact on every aspect of life on Earth. It will change weather patterns. It will impact how we grow crops, raise livestock and where we live. Growing crops and raising animals is highly dependent upon the weather. Too many extremes in one form or another — too much rain or not enough — affects what crops can grow and how much yield the crops will produce at the end of the season.

The weather also affects animals. Extremes in cold or hot temperatures can impact how livestock fight off disease, how they reproduce and how much milk they produce in their lifetime. If crops or grasslands are affected by inclement weather, it may be more difficult to feed livestock since they depend on those plants to survive.

Even fisheries and other bodies of water — the ocean, rivers and lakes — will be impacted by climate change. In some regions of the world, fish is a major source of protein for many people. Changes in weather patterns, and hot and cold indexes, will impact where fish live, putting them in competition with other species for food and habitat. This could potentially kill them if they can’t find the resources they need to eat or reproduce.

Climate Change Has Already Had an Impact

Climate change has already affected some areas in this particular way, and experts believe things will only get worse. Crops have failed, leading to food shortages in numerous places around the world. Heat waves and droughts have dried up water sources in various places, forcing inhabitants to move to new areas. A large influx of people into an area with an already short supply of water and food will inevitably lead to more issues.

A few solutions that have been proposed to combat this humanitarian issue are a higher reliance on alternative energy and better management of sustainable resources. But in order to get citizens on board with these strategies, our society as a whole needs a better understanding of what exactly we’re facing.

There’s no denying that global warming and climate change will have a major impact on the world and cause a humanitarian crisis. By working together and acknowledging the threat, we can find ways to combat the issues and thrive as a species.

Kate Harveston
Political Journalist & Blogger

How to Save on Emergency Supplies – Disaster Prep on a Budget

It’s no secret the world is a dangerous place. Every day, we hear about something – whether caused by humans or nature – that’s turned lives upside down. Bad news greets us in the morning and follows us to bed at night.

What are we to do?

flooded house illustration

Fear and stress are killers. They kill us from the inside out. We must find constructive ways to defuse the situation. Faith practices, physical exercise, counseling and peer groups… all can help, but there’s one thing everyone should consider: Get prepared.

When you take the initiative to recognize potential problems and prepare to deal with them when and if they come, you not only position yourself to face those difficulties, but knowing you’re ready helps lower stress.

In this guide, we’ll talk about disaster preparedness. We’ll talk about the supplies and equipment you and your family need to weather out the storm or make it through the crisis. And we’ll suggest ways you can save money and still get high quality goods.

By getting ready now, you won’t have to worry so much about what might happen. If a news alert says severe weather is headed your way, you’ll be ready for it.

You’ll know that whatever comes down the pike, you’re not going to be joining the crowd desperately trying to find a store with something left on the shelves or wondering how in the world to live without water and electricity.

We’ve tried to keep the recommendations here in line with those suggested by the American Red Cross. Responding to disasters is a big part of what they do every day.

Most of Us Are Not Prepared for an Emergency – WHY?

Why don’t we stay ready, just in case the power goes out, the water doesn’t flow from the tap, or the grocery store has to close for a few days?

It’s a perplexing question.

We know disasters happen. We know we’re susceptible. Yet most of us are sorely unprepared.

tornado house illustration

And if we examine the usual answers to why that is, they all fail in the light of reason:

  • I don’t know how to prepare
  • We just don’t have time to figure it out
  • It hasn’t happened yet, so why worry about it?
  • I don’t have the money to get everything I need together
  • Public services like police, fire, and medical can handle any problem

According to data from the United States Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey only about one-third of American households have developed a communication plan and agreed on an emergency meeting location.

In this emergency preparedness guide, we’ll talk about the preparations you should make and suggest ways to check each item off with a minimum of expense and hassle.

After all, the best plan in the world won’t work if you don’t have the means to enact it.

Be aware of your particular situation

House fires are hands-down the disaster any of us are most likely to face. More Americans die each year, as a result of fire, than from all natural disasters combined.

According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), your chances of experiencing a reportable house fire during your lifetime is one in four.

house fire illustration

Wildfire, floods, winter storms, wind storms, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanos – all pose different problems and require specific preparations. We won’t attempt to go deeply into the variables here. Rather, we’ll provide direct references to the information you’ll need to get aware and get prepared.

Hazards vary by location. The map below is based on mortality rates due to natural disasters over a 30+ year period.

Know your immediate environment

The Red Cross suggests a “hazard hunt” in and around your home. If you use natural gas, do you know how to shut off the gas? Do you know where the water and electrical shut-offs are? Are there rickety steps, frayed wires, or overloaded outlets? Take a walk around your property with an eye towards hazard identification.

While you’re on the hazard hunt, remember to also look for hazard abatements. Where are your smoke, heat, and CO2 detectors? Are they operating properly, and are the batteries being replaced regularly? Do you have fire extinguishers? Where are they, and are they properly pressurized? Where are water outlets and hoses? Where are emergency flashlights and batteries?


To be prepared, you not only need to make sure you have the necessary tools, but you must know where they are and be able to access them quickly.

The potential hazards examples

  • Do you know how to shut down the supply?
  • Do you know where the water and electrical shut-offs are?
  • Are there rickety steps, frayed wires, or overloaded outlets?
  • Where are your smoke, heat, and CO2 detectors?
  • Are they operating properly, and are the batteries being replaced regularly?
  • Do you have fire extinguishers? Where are they, and are they properly pressurized?
  • Where are water outlets and hoses?
  • Where are emergency flashlights and batteries?

Know where to get accurate, up-to-date information

FEMA’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) is an integrated network meant “to provide the President the capability to address the American people within 10 minutes during a national emergency.” Anyone watching television or listening to a radio station will receive those messages automatically.

For mobile devices, the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WES) system provides similar notifications. To find out more about the technology and how to tell whether your phone is WES ready, go to the NOAA website, Weather Ready Nation.

emergency alerts by phone

You should also subscribe voluntarily to emergency broadcast systems. From news about severe weather conditions near you to law enforcement announcements, those channels give you an early heads-up about things you might later hear covered in scheduled news broadcasts.

Here are some of those options:

  • American Red Cross logo

    American Red Cross: This is our favorite site for emergency preparation. Go there for training, get the Red Cross notification apps, sign up for news… but don’t leave until you’ve begun the process of becoming an American Red Cross volunteer. Make a difference for others while you learn. The Red Cross offers several smartphone apps to help keep you informed about hazardous conditions of all kinds.

  • National Weather Service logo

    National Weather Service Alerts: There’s a ton of information on the National Weather Service (NWS) website. You can drill down to the specific county or region, and you can install an app on your smartphone to get mobile notifications.

    Here in the Internet Age, it’s not unusual to hear breaking news on Twitter or Facebook before it gets broadcast on traditional news channels. Early notifications can certainly help you avoid traffic jams and get ready quicker to face an oncoming emergency, but be sure to verify what you’re hearing online with official channels.

  • ready.gov logo

    Ready.gov: This is the national clearinghouse for public safety. Find out about wireless emergency alerts, the emergency alert system, NOAA weather radio, and more. Although much of the information here is duplicated on the previously mentioned Weather.gov site, Ready.gov is a prime spot for getting information on how to deal with emergencies.

Alternative alert platforms are available for specific regions, for boats and ships, for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, for those near specific potential hazards (tsunami risk areas, for instance), and more. The weather.gov website offers an expanded list of options.

Get familiar with the alert platforms you choose and be sure to learn the terminology. A perennial source of confusion is the need to understand how imminent the threat is. From less severe to more severe, here is the progression:

  • advistory iconAdvisory: Hazardous conditions are expected and may be hazardous. While there could be considerable inconvenience, conditions should not be life-threatening.
  • watch iconWatch:: Hazardous conditions of significant proportion are possible. Get ready. Conditions could be severe. There is a possibility of electrical power loss and danger to life. Prepare and stay tuned to monitor the situation.
  • warning iconWarning: A hazardous event is underway or about to begin. Take cover and stay alert.

Problems occur when multiple advisories are issued over a period of time, but conditions don’t get too bad. When the advisory changes to a watch or warning (meaning the likelihood of occurrence is now considerably greater), people are often less prone to believe the prediction, thereby leaving themselves vulnerable to the hazard. By knowing what the terms mean, you’ll be in a better position to take appropriate action.

Talk, Plan, Practice – The Red Cross Prescription

It may sound like an out-of-order sequence for teaching someone how to deliver a speech, but the Talk, Plan, Practice model promoted by the Red Cross covers all the fundamentals of emergency preparedness.

Let’s look at the components to see why.

Talk with everyone in your family and anyone who could potentially be on your team

preparedness meeting

Not only does teamwork make the work lighter, but it helps you uncover unrecognized concerns and do a better job of advanced planning. Each person can share their personal concerns, ideas, and capabilities.

One way to extend the zone of protection is to talk with neighbors. There could be someone who would need special assistance in the event of an emergency, another may have special equipment that could make hard work easier (a chainsaw, for instance), or there could be someone with medical or first responder training.

Not only does teamwork make the work lighter, but it helps you uncover unrecognized concerns and do a better job of advanced planning. Each person can share their personal concerns, ideas, and capabilities.

One way to extend the zone of protection is to talk with neighbors. There could be someone who would need special assistance in the event of an emergency, another may have special equipment that could make hard work easier (a chainsaw, for instance), or there could be someone with medical or first responder training.

Getting your neighbors involved in a community discussion about emergency preparedness will help expedite the teamwork process when it is needed. After all, you’d naturally come to the assistance of others in your neighborhood. Why not spearhead the effort to get organized before help is needed?

For sure, you’ll want to talk with the people who live with you. From the youngest to the eldest, everyone should take part in the discussion. Make a list of the resources you have available. That list will be invaluable in the next step.

Prepare a plan for dealing with all likely emergency situations

You’ve already identified the risks, and you know how to monitor them. You’ve spoken with those most likely to face an emergency with you, and you’ve prepared a list of available resources/skills.

That gives you the starting point for an informed emergency plan. You want to know who does what and how you will communicate during the event.

Who does what and how will you stay in touch?

checklist illustration

If a storm watch is issued, will dad pick up the kids from school, while mom makes a final run to the grocery store? If home evacuation is necessary, which exit will each person use, and where will you meet as a team to be sure all are clear?

Your plan will vary according to the hazard and your particular situation, so talking through each scenario and setting the plan down in writing will help clarify the responsibilities of each person. When the emergency is underway, it is critical that clear communications take place and everyone understands exactly what needs to be done and who is in charge of the task.

Neighbor Discussion Checklist

  • Special needs
  • Special training
  • Helpful equipment for emergencies
  • Contact information
  • Ideas and Questions

Prepare a contact information card that includes the phone numbers of all group members and other contacts you may need (doctor, utilities, insurance info, etc.), then laminate the cards and give one to every group member.

Ready.gov provides in-depth coverage on how to prepare your emergency communications plan. You can even get downloadable templates to fill out and print. Remember: It’s often possible to send a text message via your cell phone, even when voice calls aren’t going through.

You’ll want to identify a nearby emergency meeting place where head counts can take place, but you’ll also want to pre-plan an emergency check-in location further away from your home or business.

You’ll also want to identify and enlist the help of a third-party who doesn’t live in your neighborhood and isn’t normally nearby. That will give your team a common check-in point in case you get separated.

Be sure to coordinate with others. Get a copy of the emergency plan at the schools your children attend. If loved ones are in care facilities, get the plan and use it to inform your own plan.

Here are five special tips from the Red Cross:

  1. plus iconChoose someone out of state for your distant contact. In a disaster, it may be easier to make a long-distance call than it is to make a local call.
  2. plus icon Register on the Red Cross website that allows families or teams to confirm their situation. Here is the link for that communications tool: Safe and Well.
  3. plus iconCode emergency information on your phone by prefacing it with “ICE” (In case of emergency). That will make it easier to access.
  4. plus iconDuring disasters, landline telephones may still be in service after cellular service is unavailable. Make sure your phone is one that does not require electricity to operate.
  5. plus iconCheck your insurance policies in advance to determine your coverage for the most likely events. You may need a separate policy to cover some types of disasters.

Having the talk and preparing the plan are excellent ways to build confidence, but the real rewards come when you put the plan into action… with practice.

  • Check second hand stores for an old-style landline rotary dial phone. They are rugged and require only an active telephone landline for operation. The current price on Amazon ranges from about $35 to $70.
  • You’ll want a waterproof container for your important documents, but you don’t have to buy a special document box. Rather, you can enclose them in gallon-sized plastic bags, then place them inside a sealed plastic container. Both are inexpensive and available at any Big Lots or other discount store.
  • It’s a good idea to laminate your emergency contact phone lists. Any office supply store will carry do-it-yourself lamination sheets or pouches that will do the job just fine. You could use freezer bags, but lamination is best.

Practice your plan

If “practice makes perfect,” then emergency preparedness is something you want to be an expert at. Your plan can be the difference between a catastrophe and an exciting story, or between life and death.

Set the situation, then walk through the response. For instance, have your family members go to their bedrooms and imagine it’s two in the morning and the smoke detector suddenly goes off.

checklist illustration

What’s the plan?

We won’t cover individual responses to every possible disaster in this guide. Instead, we’ll point you to the Red Cross page that covers each in detail. We’ll assume you’ve identified the hazards and included them in your master plan.

For instance: components for fire would include pre-planning escape routes, practicing low crawling in case of dense smoke, and knowing to stop/drop/roll if clothing ignites.

The Red Cross suggests practicing earthquake and fire drills every six months at a minimum. That same twice-per-year schedule should include a full-scale evacuation of your home, along with your emergency gear and pets.

Collect Your Emergency Supplies and Equipment

Carrying out your plan can be a whole lot easier and more effective when you have the proper gear on hand – ready to use and in working order.

Smoke detectors, for instance, need a source of power. The batteries should be tested regularly. And the grocery store may run out of supplies in short order during a disaster. You’ll need to stock up in advance to be prepared.

battery illustration

Batteries can get expensive. Here are our top tips for saving money, staying safe, and choosing the best type:

  • batteryThe fewer types of batteries you need, the better. Choose your emergency gear accordingly
  • batteryNine-volt batteries are fine for smoke detectors, but you’ll get more life from AA batteries to power your lights and lamps.
  • batteryChoose alkaline over non-alkaline batteries, even if the non-alkaline are cheaper
  • batteryGeneric batteries and name-brand batteries perform and last about the same for general purpose usage.
  • batteryFind batteries on sale and buy in bulk. Store them at room temperature and humidity. Don’t freeze alkaline batteries.
  • batteryAlkaline batteries can typically last 10 years in storage. Check expiration dates on the package.
  • batterySearch Coupon Chief for deals on batteries and other emergency prep equipment.

It’s true that you can cut open a nine-volt battery and retrieve six AA batteries from the case. That could be helpful information in an emergency, but it’s not a practice we recommend.

Let’s move on to consider Red Cross recommendations for the types of kits you’ll need and the contents of each.

The minimum emergency preparedness kit

Let’s move on to consider Red Cross recommendations for the types of kits you’ll need and the contents of each.

Three things are essential: water, food, and first aid supplies.

  • waterWater: The Red Cross recommendation is for one gallon per person, per day, for a minimum of three days. You should also have a plan for what you’ll do should the water supply run out.
  • foodFood: You’ll want to store foods that don’t require refrigeration or cooking. Make sure there’s enough to feed everyone in the family for a minimum of three days.
  • first aid kitFirst Aid Kit: Bandages, antiseptics, first aid cremes, and the basic first aid supplies should be packaged together in one container. You should also be sure to keep an adequate supply of prescription drugs on hand. Don’t wait until the last day to refill.
  • You’ll need to rotate your water supply every six months. You can begin by purchasing gallon jugs of distilled water every time you go to the grocery store. While not an ideal method, it’s a quick way to get your gallon per person per day backup started. You can use the water for cooking, refilling water bottles, making iced tea, and such – meaning you’ll have a constant flow of water going out and water coming in. That ensures rotation. The downside is this method can take up considerable space.
  • Some grocery stores have water dispensing machines. Once you have a sufficient number of jugs, you can refill there to save money. Our local Whole Foods provides water refills for free. You can also check for natural springs near you and use those for refills. Check the Find a Spring website to see if that’s an option for you.
  • The optimum storage container for water is a UV-resistant, food-grade plastic container. Look for plastics identified as #1, #2, or #4. Typically, containers made specifically for water are blue (helps keep the water free of bacteria). Clean water stored properly will never “go bad.” Prices vary considerably, so shop around. Check Craigslist or other local for sale sites. Check your local outdoor stores. The big box stores like Walmart, Costco, and Home Depot are also places to find affordable pricing.
  • Your food emergency reserve can start with a 25-lb bag of dry beans and 12-lb bag of rice. Fill up a five-gallon plastic bucket (about 30 lbs) full of each and you’ll have enough food for one person to survive on for almost two months. For best results, make sure the food is sealed in plastic bags before placing in the bucket. Brown rice, because of the oils it contains, won’t keep as long as other varieties of rice. Costco and the other big box stores carry rice and beans in bulk at low prices.
  • You’d probably get a little tired of rice and beans after a while, so start collecting canned goods on your trips to the grocery store. Get in the habit of buying extra cans of the foods you like most. Keep an eye out for sales and coupons – always an excellent way to save money. The big box stores carry foods in cases, but always compare prices. Everything that comes in a bigger package is not always less expensive. Be sure to check cans and discard or return any that are dented.
  • You can purchase pre-packaged emergency food kits containing freeze-dried foods. A popular product on Amazon comes in a five-gallon bucket and contains a month’s supply of food for one person. The cost is $83.99. That can certainly be the easiest way to get your emergency food together, but it will cost more money and isn’t likely to be as tasty as the rice, beans, and canned foods you choose on our own.
  • Ready-to-go first aid kits are a quick way to get started. We recommend getting one with a durable case (you probably already have one), then checking to be sure you have the items you need. Normally, for instance, you’ll want to add extra adhesive bandages. You’ll also want to check dates on the items that expire (aspirin, cold tablets, etc.) and make sure to rotate them.

Go-bags and other emergency kits

You’ll want to secure duplicates of some of the things you use every day, then store them in a common location. This is often called a “Go bag” or “Bug out bag.” It holds the bare-bones essential items you would need for an emergency evacuation. The Red Cross calls it your “emergency preparedness kit.”

emergency go bag

Choose your own terminology, but get this kit together first. You’ll want a larger, more substantial store of goods in case you need to hunker down at home, but your go-bag will be the first substantial evidence you’re serious about being prepared.

To begin, you’ll need a bag. You may already have a backpack that would work. You want something tough and easy to carry.

Features you’ll want in your bug out bag:

  • Plenty of space and compartments
  • Durable and weather-resistant
  • Camouflage or inconspicuous appearance
  • The more pockets, straps, and loops the better
  • A tactical vest makes a good addition to your pack
  • Plenty of space and compartments
  • Durable and weather-resistant
  • Camouflage or inconspicuous appearance
  • The more pockets, straps, and loops the better

Here are examples of the types of items you’ll want to stow inside:

  • Extra batteries as needed
  • Emergency food
  • Water and storage container
  • Drinking container
  • A knife and nail clipper
  • A supply of cash
  • Water purification tablets
  • A small first aid kit
  • Fire-starting supplies
  • A poncho
  • Duct tape
  • Eating utensils
  • Candles
  • Essential medicines
  • A signal mirror
  • A signal whistle
  • A fishing kit
  • Shelter and bedding
  • Personal hygiene articles
  • A hand compass
  • A multi-purpose tool
  • A wire saw
  • Survival cord
  • Sewing kit with safety pins
  • Sturdy shoes that go above the ankle
  • Appropriate maps
  • Compact binoculars
  • An emergency blanket
  • Pen and pad
  • A flashlight and extra bulbs
  • Self-defense equipment
  • A small hand-crank emergency radio
  • A cell phone and a crank charging device
  • Protective clothing (long-sleeve shirt, long pants, gloves, poncho, jacket, wide-brim hat, cotton underwear, wool socks, neck scarf (shemagh)

Much depends on how heavy you want the bag to be and how much you have to spend. We consider the items listed above to be essentials.

Here are tips on what to look for and how to save money on your basic emergency preparedness supplies:

  • All of this gear can get heavy. Ideally, you’ll want your bug out bag, when packed, to weigh no more than about ten percent of your body weight. You can purchase bags already loaded with gear. That’s quick and easy. However, you probably won’t get the best quality and durability.To get started, you can keep your list with you and purchase the items you need a little at a time. Of course, the sooner the better.Bag selection is critical. You want it to fit you well and be comfortable. It must also be extremely durable.
  • You can shop for bags at your local sporting goods or military discount store. Once you know what you like and how it feels, you can compare prices online and check local second hand stores for a bargain find.
  • For shelter and bedding, the top end is a lightweight tent and sleeping bag. To save expense, you can use a tarp for a makeshift shelter and a wool blanket or space blanket for bedding. Check backpacking supply stores for ideas.
  • Self-defense equipment can range from a handgun to a bottle of pepper spray. Choose whatever makes you feel most comfortable, but you will want to be prepared to defend yourself against attacks from both animals and humans.
  • Satellite phones are more dependable during an emergency, but also considerably more expensive. Hand-held two way radios are another communications option.
  • Don’t forget garage sales, moving sales, and second hand stores for finding items to go in your emergency pack. Always be looking. Keep you list handy.
  • Online places to look are local Facebook groups that list things to sell, Craigslist, and Nextdoor.com. Always check for discount coupons as well.
  • It’s always quicker and easier to buy the pre-made kits for sewing, fishing , and first-aid kits. You’ll typically get higher quality products and a better price by putting your own together. That also makes you more familiar with the contents.
  • All of this gear can get heavy. Ideally, you’ll want your bug out bag, when packed, to weigh no more than about ten percent of your body weight.
  • You can purchase bags already loaded with gear. That’s quick and easy. However, you probably won’t get the best quality and durability.
  • To get started, you can keep your list with you and purchase the items you need a little at a time. Of course, the sooner the better.
  • Bag selection is critical. You want it to fit you well and be comfortable. It must also be extremely durable.
  • You can shop for bags at your local sporting goods or military discount store. Once you know what you like and how it feels, you can compare prices online and check local second hand stores for a bargain find.
  • For shelter and bedding, the top end is a lightweight tent and sleeping bag. To save expense, you can use a tarp for a makeshift shelter and a wool blanket or space blanket for bedding. Check backpacking supply stores for ideas.

Items to stow in your vehicle

If you need to evacuate, chances are good you’ll be able to take your vehicle with you. That’s why it’s wise to keep the gas tank topped off. You can either take your go bag with you when you drive, or you can create a totally separate emergency preparedness kit for your car.

gas can

If you need to evacuate, chances are good you’ll be able to take your vehicle with you. That’s why it’s wise to keep the gas tank topped off. You can either take your go bag with you when you drive, or you can create a totally separate emergency preparedness kit for your car.

Either way, you can definitely store larger items in your vehicle, and you should always take a go bag with you when you head out of town.

Here are examples of the additional items you can store in your car, but probably wouldn’t want to keep in your personal go bag:

  • Sleeping bags, blankets, pillows
  • A mechanic’s tool kit
  • A full-size tent
  • Extra tarps, gloves, and caps
  • Hiking boots

Quick-grab itemsYou’ll also want a few items by your bed for quick-grab-and-go situations. To keep it simple, just make sure you have shoes, a jacket, your glasses, and a flashlight within reach. Practice in the dark to be sure you know exactly where they are and how to get to them quickly.

Preparing a longer-term kit for hunkering down at homeWhile the Red Cross recommendations are to be prepared to go at least three days without access to the utilities and conveniences you normally enjoy, it’s possible you could face a disaster that will last longer. You’ll feel better with a 14-day or 30-day supply of food and water.

Most families have enough goods on hand to go three days without a grocery store. But what if you needed to sit out a week or more, using only the supplies you have right now? That could be tough.

You’d want to first use up the food in your refrigerator, then the food in the freezer (If the power is off, don’t open the door until you’re ready to get food out), then your emergency supplies and the food in the pantry.

For more information, see the federal CDC emergency preparedness website.

Here are some tips on where to shop and what you’ll need.

  • Canned food is excellent for long-term home storage, but not so great for your go bag. For that, your best bet is freeze-dried food.
  • Check outdoor stores and big box stores like Costco and Sam’s Club for deals on emergency meal packs.
  • You can dehydrate your own emergency supplies. With enough sun, you can do it outdoors, or you can purchase an electric dehydrator fairly inexpensively. Here again, remember to look for deals at garage sales, second hand stores, and online.
  • Getting your emergency preparedness kits together can be a fun family adventure. After you’ve collected what you need, don’t stop. Test your systems. Make sure you know how to use all of your tools. Taste the food. Have a bug out day and go camping.Make it fun!

Be Prepared: A Good Motto for Us All

Since 1907, the Scouting movement has relied on “Be Prepared” for its motto. Those two words describe the essence of identifying, monitoring, getting ready for, and facing potentially disastrous events.

The Scouts say one should be prepared in both mind and body. We’ll add to that and say one should be prepared with planning and supplies – those help ease the mind and will help protect the body.

be prepared sign

Environmental Consequences of Fishing Practices

Human beings and fish have a long history of interdependence since time in memorial. Technology has empowered man in a way that has made man to have the overwhelming ability to catch fish at a large scale. However, this has had its negative repercussions which need tremendous attention. This article is dedicated to briefly discuss the environmental consequences of various fishing practices.


The invention of new technologies has allowed fishermen to track and catch huge amounts of fish at great depths. The result has proved a great curse on the aquatic ecosystem called trophic cascade. Trophic cascade refers to the over-proliferation of prey in the ecosystem due to the removal of their predators. This has been a common consequence in different parts of the world with the most famous being the over proliferation of cownose population in the South Eastern US due to overfishing of the sharks.


There are a number of fishing practices which can be effective but have a lethal potential to destroy the fish habitat. Fishing practices like dredging and sea trawling disturb the sea floor in a way that upsets the ecosystem. These fishing practices have a common characteristic of having equipment being dragged across the sea floor for catching fish and animals occupying the sea floor. These practices disturb the sea floor and cause the sediments to occupy the water thus degrading the water quality and the integrity of the floor which negatively affects floor dwelling species that contribute to the ecosystem.


Ghost fishing refers to a phenomenon that involves other animals and fish being caught by fishing equipment that has been left in the water. When some equipment like lures and lines are left in the water, they can continue to catch fish or animals and affect animal populations.


A number of fishing methods are exceptionally effective that they extend their catch to other undesired populations.  Good examples include long line fishing and trawling. The former involves the use of long lines which have baited hooks stretching over miles. Trawling employs gill nets which are stacked on the floor. Common victims include Turtles, the Albatross bird, sharks and a numerous other sea mammals.

To sum up, these are some of the common environmental consequences of fishing practices. There seems to be a clear need of drastic measures to counter these practices in an efficient way in order to preserve the ecosystem which has sustained human life through the ages.

Bio: Rik Flaxman is the CEO & Founder of 11must.com. Writing is his hobby and he loves to visit all over the world especially USA.


7 Mental Health Tips From Therapists That Actually Work

There’s so much competing thoughts as to what works in the world of therapy, it can be hard to discern the right course of treatment for every individual situation. Certainly, there’s no rule of thumb, and therapy ought to be personally tailored as much as possible. That said, there are some good principles that most people could benefit from with regard to coping mechanisms and ways to live more positively and constructively. Here are seven tips that are guaranteed to do no harm:

1. Write Down Your Thoughts

This can be a great way to let off some pressure and organise your mind. It might even be beneficial to regularly maintain a mental health journal. As well as helping structure the way you understand thoughts and feelings, it can also help externalise these emotions and frame them as things outside of yourself and not intrinsic to your personality.

2. Exercise

This is a bit of a no-brainer and a fairly well-worn advice, but it deserves reiterating. Any level of exercise provides nothing but benefit, even if it’s something as low-key as going for a walk every day. Exercise is good for mental as well as physical health, and, done on a regular basis, has been shown to be effective at alleviating depression and anxiety. While it’s certainly not a cure-all, there are nothing but positives to integrating it into a daily routine. As much as anything else, getting out of the house can help you get out of your head psychologically, provide you with some peaceful downtime, and make you feel more in step with the world.

3. Watch the Alcohol

Drinking can be damaging mentally as well as physically. Whilst it’s possible to drink in moderation, if it starts to function as a coping mechanism, it will only prove problematic in the long term. Consider how much alcohol you consume and try to establish if it’s too much and whether you have a pathology developing around your drinking habits. If so, seriously consider cutting down your alcohol intake. It can even be helpful to record when and how you drink and how you find it impacts your emotions and behaviour.

4. Compile a List of “Your People”

One of the overwhelmingly common aspects of mental health difficulties can be the feeling of alienation and loneliness that makes a person feel helpless in the face of problems. The reality, however, is usually that there are plenty of friends, family, and loved ones in our lives who care for us and would happily drop everything if they thought they could help us with our problems. By creating a list of people you trust who you can reach by phone, text or email, you’ll feel less trapped by your problems. Even if you don’t necessarily intend to discuss the problem at hand, socialising with others can help relieve stress and make us feel part of a greater whole.

5. Meet Negative Thoughts with Positive Ones

Negative thoughts are natural and by no means necessarily a fait accompli when encountered. It’s also essential to remember that, like any thought, they are not some intrinsic part of the owner that you have to embrace. Take a step back from yourself and consider whether you want to continue paying the idea attention. By practicing mindful thinking, you can help externalise negative thoughts making them easier to negate. Try looking on the bright side of situations and affirming the positive perspectives available to you.

6. Have a Self-Care Inventory

This can be as easy as having a favourite jumper to wear, keeping a playlist of songs at hand that bring you joy or are associated with happy memories, keeping a childhood teddy bear or running a long bath. Surround yourself with things that make you happy and don’t forget that you deserve to enjoy good things.

7. Have a Bedtime Ritual

Going to bed can, unfortunately, be one of the times when anxiety or stress is likely to linger in the silence of our thoughts, that can be compounded by worries over getting quality sleep that’s important to health in the daytime. If this is a problem, try to draw a line under your thoughts and realise there’s nothing you can do about them for now. Try writing them down on a pad next to the bed so you can reassure yourself that you can attack them actively the next day. Consider putting some of your favourite essential oils on your pillow, and reading a good book to wind your mind down.

By following these simple tips, you can improve your mental health and maintain a peace of mind which is so important in the modern world.

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