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Skill sets for Emergencies

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  • Skill sets for Emergencies

    Skill sets for Emergencies
    Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes and while I truly believe a one size fits all approach to emergencies is ludicrous as well as in some instances dangerous. There are certain skills sets and habits that have helped me mitigate and/or prevent emergencies from happening in the first place. This is not offered as advice. It is only a recounting of the skills that have helped me and my family.

    Know when to call for help
    I am not a doctor, veterinarian, master mechanic, plumber, electrician or fire fighter. It is important to know when to call for professional help. If I'm unsure or know I cannot handle a problem call a professional who can.

    First Aid
    All the spiffy, expensive top of the line First Aid supplies and equipment will not help if no one available knows how to use them. My introduction to First Aid was a course offered to my Girl Scout Troop via the Red Cross more years ago than I care to admit. This education has since been augmented by life experiences such as becoming the chief care giver for the family and a barn full of livestock. It is also important that others in my family know what to do if something happens to me. The following are things I consider essential first aid skills to know. They are not in any particular order of importance.

    How to control bleeding
    How to clean, treat and bandage a wound
    Deal with most common minor injuries
    How to care for a sick family member
    How to set up a sick room and an isolation/sick room
    How to treat a choking victim and clear and keep an air way open
    How to do rescue breathing
    Knowing how to and if to immobilize and splint a fractured limb
    How to deal with a toothache until the dentist can deal with it
    How to deal with hypothermia
    How to deal with over heating
    Know how to treat minor burns including sun burn
    How to improvise first aid supplies from what is available
    First Aid for family members with special needs such as infants
    How to take pulse and blood pressure
    How to take a temperature
    How to recognize and treat dehydration
    How to get a foreign object out of an eye and when to let a doctor do it
    How to make a medical record such as noting when and what medications were taken, temperature over time, change in condition or symptoms
    Knowing how to recognize a potential heart attack or stroke
    How to clean up bodily fluids
    Knowing what foods are appropriate and how to prepare them for someone who is sick

    Safely use Emergency equipment
    We didn't buy an off the shelf 72 hour kits. We custom tailored each kit/bag to meet the needs of my family member who would be using it. They know what is in it and how to use what is in it. I try to update them seasonally, summer versus winter clothing.
    Knowing how to properly use a fire extinguisher and what type to use when
    Knowing how to safely put out a small fire if no fire extinguisher is available
    Smoke detectors: how to test and change their batteries
    How to safely use emergency lighting
    How to safely use alternative heating and cooking apparatus
    Make sure there is the proper fuel available for alternative heating and cooking and that it is properly stored
    How to safely use common tools such as: a hammer, saw, pliers, wrench, vice grips, drill, pry bar, screw driver and car jack.
    To be able to safely and correctly perform minor house hold maintenance
    Keep an emergency tool/spare parts kit in the car and know how and when to use and install the things in it
    Know how to safely and correctly perform minor car repair such as replace needed fluids or change a tire, hose, fuse or belt
    Know where there are working flash lights
    How to use alternative methods of communications

    Always having food, water and supplies on enough to handle at least a short term emergency
    Be organized. Emergency equipment and supplies cannot help if they can't be found during the emergency.
    Make sure food and drugs are in date. Use food and update stocks as needed. OTC drugs and canned food may be safe four years out of date but I would not want to be forced to find out the hard way during an emergency
    Restock first aid supplies and OTC drugs after use
    Be vigilant, know when something is wrong and needs attention. Scheduled maintenance and a fixing problems before they can become emergencies can save a lot of money and stress
    If a foreseeable major problem (not limited to an earth quake, snow storm or hurricane) is a potential reoccurring threat, prepare well in advance or get out of its way
    Replace medical/first aid equipment after use and check periodically
    Check the batteries in the smoke alarms twice a year (we do it when the clocks change)
    Check the fire extinguishers at least once a year
    Keep up to date emergency numbers next to the phone
    Refill the car gas tank when it gets below half full
    Have the car's oil changed, a lube and rotate the tires every 3000 miles
    Have the car inspected by a trusted licensed mechanic prior to any major road trip
    Discard questionable food preferable before it looks like a science experiment
    Keeping some special needs supplies stocked (like diapers)

    Knowing how to make potable water
    Know how to find an alternative water source that can be made safe to drink with available resources/equipment.
    Knowing several methods to purify water and how to use the equipment and resources to do it
    Knowing how to safely improvise a method to purify water from what is available on hand

    Know what food is safe to eat
    During an emergency it is important to know what foods are safe. This can be important when the power goes out and refrigeration stops working.
    Just because food was commercially sealed in a jar or can does not mean it is safe to eat without cooking. If the container does not say; "Ready to eat" it may not be.
    Know how to recognize signs of food spoilage
    It can also be important to know that foods can look, feel, smell and taste fine and still cause food poisoning. Knowing the food's source, how it was processed, handled, stored, prepared and hoe long it has been left out without sufficient heat or refrigeration to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria will offer clues as to a foods safety.

    Water Safety
    A life guard course in water rescue was a wonderful opportunity that I am truly grateful to have had. It is a skill I wish every parent had.
    Know how to swim
    know how to teach children to swim
    Be able to recognize unsafe water (Rip tides, strong currents etc.)
    Know what to do if caught in rip or swift current
    Know how to recognize when someone is in trouble. This may not look like many would assume.
    Know what to do in case someone is drowning
    Know how to use and improvise emergency flotation devices

    Keeping kids occupied
    Knowing how to deal with board, tired, out of sorts children. Story books, cards, puzzles, board games have helped in some situations. If all else fails here there are always chores and fire wood that needs moving.
    We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.