Friday, November 2, 2012

This Sunday marks the end of daylight savings time. Daylight Saving Time (United States) began Sunday, March 11, 2012, 2:00am, and ends Sunday, November 4, 2012, 2:00am. (Except Arizona and Hawaii) Move your clocks forward 1 hour in spring and back 1 hour in fall ("spring forward, fall back"). At 2:00 AM, most parts of the United States will “Fall Back” (turn your clocks back) to 1:00 AM, daylight savings happens every year.

Excellent Opportunity

Daylight savings gives us an excellent opportunity to do some very important things to increase our preparedness, protect our families and strengthen our communities. Along with adjusting your clocks, do these three simple checks, CCR (Change, Check & Refresh):

1.       Check & Change- Check to make sure all smoke detectors in and around your home are working. If you like in a multiple unit home (condominium, townhouse, apartment, etc…) remind your neighbors. Post signs in common areas like laundry rooms and mail boxes that its daylight savings and check/change smoke alarms. If your smoke alarm is working, but the neighbor two units away does not having a working smoke alarm…you can still be affected by a devastating fire, water and smoke damage. We must work as a team. Change you batteries in your smoke alarms. By changing the battery is all of your smoke alarms at daylight savings, you reduce the chance of smoke alarm failure.

2.       Check your GO Bags- Hey, since you are getting new batteries for your smoke alarms, why not check to make sure you GO bag has fresh batteries. Just as Hurricane/Super Storm Sandy has crippled the East Coast, disaster does not discriminate. How you will survive will definitely be decided by your level of preparedness.

3.       Refresh- Refresh your water and food supplies in your Go Bags and disaster supplies. Having fresh water and food that is safe to eat will be vital to you and your family being survivors and not victims.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fire Extinguishers and Your Preparedness Plan

One of the suggested pieces of equipment that a home preparedness plan can include is a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers come in many types and sizes and it is important to find the one that is best for you and your family. It is suggested that a well prepared home have two (2) Class A, B, C extinguishers. Each extinguisher should be located strategically for ease of use, visibility and probability of need. ( i.e., Kitchen, Garage, Storage Area, etc...).

What do the letters mean (A, B, C, D, K)?
Class A- Ordinary Combustibles (Paper, wood, cloth, etc...)
Class B- Flammable Liquids (Gas, oil, solvents, etc...)
Class C- Electrical (Do not use water on electrical fires)
Class D- Combustable Metals (metals & alloys)
Class K- Cooking Media (Vegetable oils & Animal fats)

Essentially, a class A, B, C extinguisher is filled with dry chemical, MAP(monoammonium phosphate) and is effective on ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids and electrical fires. This extinguisher gives your preparedness plan a broad range of potential fires to protect your home from. Consider the size of your home and adjust your extinguisher size accordingly.

How to use a Class A, B, C extinguisher?
When using a fire extinguisher, remember to PASS (Pull the pin, Aim, Squeeze & Sweep)

By empowering yourself with the knowledge of what to do, you minimize fear and put yourself in a position to survive and protect your family. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sending my daughter off to college

Sending Your College Student Off With The Right Tools

BY: Jayson A. Johnson

One of the most stressful yet rewarding times for many parents is sending a child off to college. I just experienced this roller coaster of emotion as I helped to deliver my daughter for her freshman year at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. While filled with pride that my daughter was taking the next step into adulthood, I also found myself questioning “have I prepared her enough?” Have I put enough tools in her “life tool box” ? Only time will tell. 

College represents many things: 
  • The achievement of graduating from high school
  • A new level of maturity
  • Starting the adult chapters of a young persons life
  • Moving away from home…for many this is a first
  • Dealing with life on life’s terms 

Many will spread their wings and soar, while others will have a more difficult path. All will discover that life is full of peaks and valleys and that while we as parents try to prepare them for the challenges that wait ahead, there are some challenges that no amount of talk can ready them for. The best we can do is to give them deep roots so that when the storms of life blow, our young adults can be in the best position to survive and recover. This article is designed to open dialog and talk about some things to help with a young adult’s preparedness and hopefully get them ready in case one of life’s storms involve a disaster.


In January of 1994, as students prepared for the spring term at California State University  Northridge, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake shook the greater Los Angeles basin to it’s core. The campus of Cal. State Northridge (CSUN) suffered extensive damage to all of it’s 107 buildings that included student housing and child care facilities. It took more then seven years to repair the San Fernando Valley campus at a cost of over 400 million dollars. Angelenos stood in line for several hours to get basic supplies like water, food and first aid. All roads and freeways in and out of the San Fernando Valley suffered major damage. People had to survive on what hey had. Is your student prepared?

In August of 2005, one of the most prolific storms hit the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Katrina would forever change how we as a country prepare, endure and recover from natural disaster. One of the often over looked components of that event was the effect Katrina had on college students who had just started their academic year. Imagine you are a seventeen-year-old college freshman who is just getting used to living away from home and you now have to make adult decisions never asked of you before. Schools like Tulane, Dillard and Xavier became flooded and could not house their student population. Would your student know what to do if this happened on their campus?  

It was April of 2007 and students on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) became the target of a lone gunman who acted out on violent thoughts and killed 32 students and faculty and wounding 17 others. While this senseless act could not have been prepared for, having the conversation of “what if” might help a young student process critical information when disaster strikes.   

Just this year in 2012, again in April, during a dark rain filled night, two students from China, who were studying in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California became victims of another senseless shooting. Again, there is no way to guarantee students do not become victims of either man made or natural disasters, but check back here next week to see some suggestions that could reduce their chances and also speed up their recovery. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

As you can see many college campuses have their fair share of disasters. Most campuses have science buildings, chemistry labs as well as storage of hazardous materials. Having an understanding of when to leave or when to stay (shelter in place) could be just the tool a student needs to survive. Here are some suggestions that could greatly reduce the impact a disaster has on your young scholar.

  1. Have a GO Bag. – A GO bag is a pre-packed backpack/duffle/tote that contains the essential items to survive a minimal of 72 hours. (Clothes, food, water, medication, money, tool, protection, first aid kit, radio, flashlight, whistle and what ever else that individual may need)
  2. Know the number to campus security/escorts – Burning the midnight oil, working, studying and visiting friends across campus causes students to relax their personal security. NEVER walk in the dark alone. Most campuses offer some type of escort service or ride system to reduce the potential for campus attacks and assaults.
  3. Register your email/Smart Phone – One of the lessons learned from the Virginia Tech. tragedy was the better use of early warning systems via technology. Most campuses have a warning registry where students can register their email address and cell phone numbers to receive emails and text messages in the event of a threat.
  4. Learn about your new area and what types of events have occurred before- My daughter goes to school in Arizona. Here are the “red flags” for the Phoenix area that I have read about: Flash floods, droughts and wild land fires. I learned that by typing in “Environmental and natural hazards of Phoenix Arizona” in my computer search engine…simple. As well, the school was more then happy to share with me how to help my daughter prepare for the Arizona environment. I made sure that she has plenty of water…2 cases of bottled water in her dorm room. (Water is like gold, especially after any disaster), we learned the location of her emergency exits of her dorm and the safe gathering area, Have a plan to reconnect…use what ever tools are available. Cell phone, text, Skype, Facebook and Twitter are just a few tools available. Having knowledge of social media and active/open accounts may allow you and your student to reconnect quicker and that speeds up the recovery process.  
  5. Scan important documents to USB drive- having your student’s important documents scanned and saved to a USB drive or to an on line host/cloud can help with the recovery process. Items such as Drivers License, Student ID, transcripts, financial aid records, birth certificate, visa/passport, Soc. Sec information, Bank and Credit Union information can be a major headache if destroyed. Having a digital copy in your cloud will be a huge help.
  6. Know the “Apps”- There’s an app. For just about anything. Here are four suggested apps that I have that you may want to download if you have a smart phone/iPad/tablet: 1.) Life360- This is an app to help you use GPS to locate family members. After Hurricane Katrina, many people could not find loved ones for weeks. 2.) American Red Cross/First Aid- I love this app. Quick and useful.  3.) FEMA- This is another great tool to have at your finger tips. 4.) Flashlight- This app. Turns my iPhone into an emergency flashlight…how cool is that?
  7. Consider a First Aid or EMT elective - Maybe your student needs to fill a general education requirement or wants to pick up a few extra units. Consider taking a health/first aid class or a pre-med EMT class. The information they learn just might save your life. They just might find a career path.

The most important thing is to have the conversation and have a plan with your student. To fail to plan is to plan to fail. Our students are in institutions to stimulate their thinking and expand their knowledge…we must do our part to support them in this process and one of the best ways to do that is to help them be prepared. Not all tests will be given in a classroom.   

Dad (me) dropping off daughter in the dorms for her freshman year. Be safe.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back to School
ABC’s of getting your family prepared.

As summer comes to a sweltering halt and armies of students across the country head back to school, the opportunity to recycle and reuse last years backpacks and turn them into “GO” bags** is a great way to get your family thinking about disaster preparedness. 
If your children are anything like my children, back to school means new backpacks. While new backpacks on the first day of school seem as natural as pumpkins for Halloween and lights during the holidays, it is just as natural to take this opportunity to not throw the old backpacks away, but rather “go green”! Recycle and reuse the old backpacks by placing in them disaster supplies for your child. Here is a suggested list of items, but feel free to be creative and add anything that you feel your child may need if they are required to stay away from home due to an emergency.
The ten suggested items for your child’s “GO” bag:
  1. Water
    2.) Food (simple foods, easy open containers, baby food is still food)
    3.) Cash & Important Documents ($20 in small bills/scan docs to USB /CD rom)
    4.) Clothes (store in air tight/zip type bad to keep dry)
    5.) Flashlights (batteries should be fresh)
    6.) First Aid Kit/N95 respirator
    7.) Medicine (children/pediatric dose)
    8.) Radio (battery, crank, solar power)
    9.) Toiletries (Tooth brush, tissue paper, hygiene products)
    10.) Tools/Toy (It is recommended that adults have a simple tool, but something like a jump rope can be used to amuse and keep a child busy as well as serve as a tool.)
** GO Bag- A GO bag is a backpack/gym bag/duffle bag that has been pre-packed and is ready to go at any time. It should be able to provide at least 72 hours of survival. Each member of your family should have a GO bag and it should be updated twice a year. Keep your GO bag someplace that you can get to it and get out quick. Each family member should be familiar with his or her own GO bag.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

M3.7 – Greater Los Angeles Area, California

What can we learn from Aurora Colorado?

In the early hours of Friday June 20, 2012 in what should have been an exciting and fun filled trip to the local movie theater to be the first to see the highly anticipated third and final chapter of the Batman/Dark Knight trilogy, tragedy struck…again. In what seems to be an all too common occurrence of self inflicted damage to civil behavior and living together in harmony, James Holmes a reported post graduate school drop out from the University of Colorado who had been an honor student and relatively model citizen acted out on what is at this time unknown reasons and killed twelve fellow movie goers and injuring a reported 59 others. Police reports have described a detailed and well-executed plan that suggests that no amount of preparedness could have avoided his wrath of hate and the deeply troubling event. We are left with that nauseating feeling, similar to the day after September 11, 2001, when we look at each other and say, “what is wrong with people?” “Who could do such a thing?” and the million dollar question…”What can I do to protect me and my family from such tragedy?” While there is no one answer that will solve this puzzle (short of moving to a deserted island and isolating yourself from any and all other human contact), here are a few suggestions of things that you and your family can do to minimize the impact of disasters to your quality of life.
  • BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS:  Just like when you park your car in an unfamiliar place, take note of where you are. If you are sitting in a theatre and waiting for the start of the movie, note the location of the emergency exits. This is true for church, concerts, sporting events…any public assemblage, know how to get out if the unexpected should occur.
  • TALK IT UP:  Whenever I go someplace with my family, before we get out of the car, I try to ask, “Where do you want to meet?” Meet at the car? Meet in front of the frozen yogurt store? Meet at the food court? Have a specific location that all family members are familiar with so that if for some reason people get separated, there is a designated meeting spot and time to come back together. This is not a reason to run off, but just in case there is separation, there is a plan. “If we get separated, I will meet you at the tire section at 2:00” You should adjust to your family and it’s specific needs.
  • THINK FAST, BE QUICK, STAY CALM: Expect the unexpected. Train your children to think fast, be quick, but to also stay calm. I can not recall any times that rushing, pushing and panic is better then fast, quick and calm. Have a “safe word or phrase” to let your family know that a situation is urgent. My son is seven and there are times that we like to play, but there may be times that I need him to listen right now. If I say: “Right Now!” my son understands that something serious is happening and that his mother or me need his full and undivided attention. I may explain later, but for now, no questions…just do.
  • TRUST YOURSELF: Listen to that little voice that sometimes says “something’s wrong”. “I don’t like this”.  “I’m not comfortable”. Some call this intuition, some call it a sixth sense, some call it common sense…Try not to put yourself or your family in places that harm has a higher chance of occurring. Telling our kids no can be tough, but as a parent, it’s our job. 
  • KNOW SOMETHING: Know how to be your own first responder. Get certified in CPR & First Aid. Learn about CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). Learn the proper use, storage and maintenance of a class A, B, C fire extinguisher. In times of true disaster, you increase your odds of survival and you minimize the impact of that disaster on your family and neighbors by being trained in the basics of first aid and knowing CPR. Communities, who prepare together, survive together.
The events that ripped through Aurora Colorado have left a community dazed and wounded. There is no explanation that will make sense of it, but the one thing I challenge myself to do and I present this challenge to you is to learn from it. Do not let the lives that we lost and the blood that spilled be for not. Let each tear drop that has been shed be a seed of hope that this will never happen again, but let it also be a reminder that we must be prepared to help our neighbor, our family…help ourselves. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Great Shake Out is coming...are you registered for 2012?

Hello Friends...I have been away for a bit, but I am back and more excited about helping my family, neighbors, friends and community get prepared in case of disaster. Something that I have learned since my last post is that the simple act of a check up with your doctor or clinic may be as profound as any disaster preparedness tips you can learn. In January of this year, I learned that I had prostate cancer. This was detected through a routine check up (kind of like the routine check up I blog about we should do twice a year with our homes, jobs and family and our "GO BAGS", escape routes and disaster supplies)
Routine check ups often find small problems and can be fixed before they become huge issues. I am happy to share that as a result of my check up, my health issue has been treated and at this point, looks to be in good places. With that being said, if you feel as though getting your home and family disaster prepared is too big of a task, then I challenge you to treat this task like any other overwhelming task..."do it one day at a time"..."baby steps". As long as you go forward, you are making progress.
Check out this web site and do something nice for your family and community...get prepared.