Gift Ideas to Help Family and Friends Prepare

While the holidays are not looming, a lot of us like to get started early looking for gifts for those on our list. This can be an opportunity to help those people be a little more prepared for what might be thrown at them. In many cases these might be family or friends that have not made plans. A thoughtful gift could ensure they are a bit more prepared and maybe cause them to think over other ways to ensure they are planned for a disaster. I am listing just a few items of the many out there
One item that I am always surprised to see people not owning is an Emergency Roadside Kit for their car. These are not just for winter either. Most of us spend a good deal of time in the car and potentially far from home. Having jumper cables have been a life saver for me a lot of times. This Kit contains some basic tools to help if you are stranded due to a stuck or dead vehicle. Of course, these could also be used to offer a helping hand to others. Plus, those tools could be helpful in emergencies not related to their vehicle. Sort of like sneaking in a bit of preparation under the radar.

Emergency Roadside Toolkit

Car Tool Kit

 

 

 

 

 

Another item that can be helpful in the car and at home is Power Pack that allows you to jump start your car, charge or run electrical devices, and even air up your tires. This could be put to use to “self-rescue” if you had a dead battery or flat tire. If you are unable to use it for that, you could charge you phone to call for help. It could even be put to use in a cheerier scenario to pump up those inflatables for the lake. The only thing that the giftee must do is to charge it periodically. While this tool would not be classified by most as “prepping”, it can very useful in short term disasters and requires very little training to use.

Portable Power Pack Jumpstarter

Schumacher SJ1332

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another very practical gift that can be given but is a more deliberate attempt to help them prepare for disasters is to give them some type of emergency food stores. These are very important in lots of potential scenarios such as blizzards, economic collapse, floods, and long-term power outages. They are even a good standby in case of potential financial issues in the household. Explaining to them that this food is aimed at a longer shelf life than their average grocery store fare can help them to start to think about rotation of stored food and having sufficient stock on hand in case resupply is unavailable. While these kits are far from a complete solution, they provide a good base to build off of.

Harmony House Trail Ready Gourmet Soup and Chili Pack

Harmony House Trail Ready Gourmet Soup and Chili Pack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Augason Farms Long Grain Brown Rice Emergency Food Storage Pail

 Augason Farms Long Grain Brown Rice Emergency Food Storage 24 Pound Pail

 

 

 

 

Augason Farms 5-20100 72-Hour 4-Person Emergency Food Storage Kit

 Augason Farms 5-20100 72-Hour 4-Person Emergency Food Storage Kit 14 lbs 7 oz

 

 

 

 

Along with this food, you might find that an alternate way to prepare it would be a good idea. I find that the best overall option for a wide variety of people is a camping stove. They are small. easy to store, easy to use, and portable. Plus, you can always use them for their intended purpose, camping.

Coleman Gas Camping Propane Stove, 2 Burner

Coleman Propane Camping Stove

 

 

 

 

Another benefit of this stove is clean and easy to use fuel.

Coleman Propane Fuel Case of 6

Coleman Propane Fuel Case of 6

 

 

 

 

Another item that is good to pair up with food and a stove is cookware that is safe to use on the stove. Lots of coated pans and pots are not suitable for this use. A good basic kit would be a great help since it is also more portable than standard pots. The stove, fuel, and this take up very little room and can be a life saver.

Camping Cookware Set

Camping Cook Kit

 

 

 

 

There are some “stocking stuffers” worth a mention in this article too. Even if someone has some of them, often they find keeping them in handy places calls for multiples of each. One in each car, one in the bedroom, one in the kitchen, and one in the garage might be a good dispersal so they are at hand.

Multi Tool

Gerber Suspension-NXT Multi-Tool

 

 

 

 

Flashlight

 

 

 

Gloves

Gloves

 

 

 

Fire Starters

 

 

 

 

Candle Lantern

Candle Lantern

 

 

 

 

Wool Blankets

 

 

 

 

Water Purification Tablets

 

 

 

 

 

Knife

Knife

 

 

 

Lastly, for those that want to give someone a prebuilt kit to have on hand, we have one of those too.

EVERLIT 250 Pieces Survival First Aid Kit

 

 

 

 

Whatever you decide to go with, hopefully it is received well and it help prepare the receiver for whatever challenges they may face,

20 Years since 9/11

Today marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11. If you are old enough to remember that day, you understand how big of a deal it is. If you are not, take a minute to familiarize yourself with the event. I am not sure there was a real way to prepare for such an event on a personal level.  We can use it as a reminder that we must have plans in place to allow us to respond to disaster when it strikes, be it natural, accidental, or terrorism.

Ground Zero – New York City

 

 

Tribute in Light – 9/11 Memorial

September is National Preparedness Month 2021

Once again, we roll around to September and the official National Preparedness Month. As we do each year, this can prompt us to reflect on what preparations we have made, which we still have on your To Do list, and any changes that may have occurred that would cause us to alter our plans. I think given that last two years, we should have a much different mindset that we would have in September 2019. Thankfully, we also seem to be in a better place now as far as access to supplies than we were in September 2020.

As it does each year, Ready.gov has posted helpful lists and documents. I am going to post some links to a few because I always feel you should use any and every resource at hand to develop the best plan possible.

One new one this year is a simple index card sized checklist. It is very general, but I like the fact that it would be easy to print and hand out to open the conversation about disaster planning. It could be used to educate people in town halls, neighborhood meetings, or church events. I think it would be good anywhere you might want to spark discussion without getting bogged down in complex detail.

Ready.gov – 12 Ways to Prepare Postcard

There is also a download centered on family communication planning. I feel in lots of cases this is a very overlooked item. Most people are so accustomed to being able to grab their cell phone and call/text/Snapchat/etc. the rest of the family that they assume that is enough plan. It is not enough based on lessons learned from past disasters such as 9/11 and Katrina.

Ready.gov – Create Your Family Emergency Communication Plan

Another list to review and refresh as lots of us return to the workplace after working from home during COVID19 restrictions is for commuters, What changes do you need to reflect on this list that are different from last year?

Ready.gov – Commuter Emergency Plan

Another form of disaster, or often a result of one, is related to finances. It often gets overlooked in many discussions, but can be more devastating that a hurricane or earthquake. Many have felt the financial crunch as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. Here is a packet of info posted that discusses this.

Ready.gov – Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK)

They even have a Rainy-Day Fund graphic.

Good luck this month as you review and revise your plans. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to contact me via the contact page or in the comments.

 

What Afghanistan can teach up about disaster planning.

Despite your opinion of whether the U. S. should have been in Afghanistan still or even in the first place, there are still lessons that disaster planners can learn from the chaos resulting from the withdrawal. I am not sure anyone would have called Afghanistan a stable country, but there was definitely some structure in place with the U.S. military on site there. Taliban forces were unwilling or unable to take over locations held by those forces. That all changed when the military withdrew. The timing and aftermath are where we can find lessons to be learned.

The first lesson is that things can happen quickly. Many areas were seemingly taken overnight by the Taliban as U. S. forces withdrew. This left those who would be targets for Taliban persecution in a panic. Many simply fled in fear for their lives. While most would say this could never happen here, you simply have to look at concrete examples that dispute that. During Katrina many who choose not to evacuate were displaced immediately. The water literally rolled in as a wave covering areas.  Another example is the occupation of the supposed “autonomous zone” in Seattle by protesters. This left anyone with homes or businesses in the area at the mercy of protestors. While luckily widespread violence did not occur, there were 4 shootings in 10 days and a large amount of vandalism and property damage. This is all while the authorities watched from a distance.  The takeaway from this is that you need to be aware of how things around you are unfolding and be ready to hunker down or move in very short order.  Speed is your friend when it means you can get out of an area before things escalate or at least ahead of the masses clogging the way.

A second lesson to learn from this is that any promised aid in the event of a disaster may never materialize. Many of those individuals in Afghanistan that assisted the military either with translation, logistics, or security were promised visas to allow them to come to the U. S. and sanctuary. Only a percentage were granted before the last military flight left. This left those depending on that trip to safety in a lurch. The same again happened in Katrina. Many were promised aid by FEMA and other organizations, but were left to fend for themselves against the elements and criminal activity in the area. The Superdome is a prime example. People were packed in there with little to no supplies and security. The supplies that did arrive were completely mismanaged and many sat unused.  This shows us why it is important to take personal control of the planning and supplies you may need in those situations.

Hopefully most in the U. S. will not need to have alternate identification or illicit routes to leave the country like many may have needed in Afghanistan. Having a full tank of gas and a packed bag of supplies ready to go would be a great idea though.  Anything you can do to take responsibility for your own safety will greatly increase your chances of surviving unscathed. Waiting and depending on someone to save you is not a proper plan.

Being Vigilant

While many of us don’t like to think about it, boring things keep us safe. Things like checking your mirrors and blind spots before you swap lanes. When you first begin driving a good teacher will emphasize this. The longer we drive though, the more complacent and distracted we can get. That is until one day we side swipe a SUV because we failed to look. The same principle applies in disaster planning. When we start, we check off all the items we bought and preparations we made. We keep up a good rotation of things like food, medicine, and batteries. The longer we go, the more apt we are to slip on that. If things go wrong that can render part or all of our plan useless.

The first item that most people refer to when talking about rotation is food. All food has expiration dates. It could be argued these are suggestions, but do you really want to gamble on that when things go wrong? It is wise to set up a rotation using a First In, First Out policy. This simply means that you use the oldest items first. This prevents some of them making it to the back of the shelf and expiring before you realize it. It is also a good idea to keep some kind of list of what you have including expiration dates. This gives you a good way to plan meals to use up items BEFORE they expire. Plus, different kinds of food have widely varying expiration periods. Some people also write the expiration dates in large clear text on the front of the container. That is much easier than reading the sometimes-tiny dot matrix style printed expiration date that is somewhere on the package. One other thing to keep in mind with food rotation is that you need to routinely look for spoilage in your stock of items. It is possible that there was an issue with the item causing it to fail, such as a can not being sealed fully and swelling or cracking open. Another possibility is that there have been pests in your supplies. Sometimes things like weevils will come in with your rice or grain. They can hatch and destroy additional supplies such as pasta. Other times you will have rodents compromise your supplies both by eating and soiling them. Finding this quickly can help minimize your losses. You can then take steps to keep it from happening again. The same precautions need to be taken with water. While it does not “expire”, it may be best to rotate it out. This prevents accidents related to degraded retail bottles and risk of contamination.

Another item that should be on rotation is medication. This applies to over the counter and prescription alike. Each has expiration dates based on when it loses potency. It is best to abide by these so you get the full benefit from them. In addition, you should review any new medical conditions that may have come up. That way you can evaluate if any new or alternate medications needed to be added. You may even find that some of your preferred OTC medications are no longer healthy for you to mix with your condition or other medications. This hopefully will assure that you have what you need when things happen.

The last item you should review is your plans themselves. Some plan and sit on that same one for years without thinking how changing conditions may affect it. Things constantly change. The plan you set up when you children are toddlers may be very different than the one you would if they are now teenagers. Things to look at can include who is included in the plan, what supplies are you including, where this plan is implemented, and when this plan should be implemented.

Let’s start with the who. Since your plan was last evaluated you may have had additions, such as new baby, or subtractions such as adult age children moving across the country for work. These not only change the number of people, but may also shift responsibility around. A new baby may mean that the person caring for them is not free to do other things. On the flip side, a child that is now a teenager may be able to take on much more responsibility than they did as a preteen. Also, anyone that is no longer part of the plan may have had skills that you depended on. You will have to decide how to deal with that.

The next thing to review is the supplies you need to include. Changes of circumstances may require alterations. In the instance above of a new baby, you may need to add formula, diapers, and baby specific medications. You may also have added someone that needs specific items such as medications or mobility aids. They could also have specific valuable skills such as ham radio you need additional equipment for. In addition, you may have things you have found that are better suited for your needs. You use them to replace whatever supplies that filled that gap before.

Third, you will need to review how your location affects the plan. Maybe you moved to a new apartment 5 miles from your old one. This might mean you have to draw up new routes for evacuation or to get home from work. There may be streets that flood in your way, where there were not any before. Your new location may also be more susceptible to certain emergencies. If you moved from Florida to Colorado, you will need to worry more about blizzards now than hurricanes. There may also be environmental changes that affect you. It is possible that the bridge you planned to use is no longer there or a new housing development near it means it is much more likely to be backed up like a parking lot. You could also have new stops to make such as picking up your child from daycare or having to go across town to the high school instead of the middle school down the road. Also, this could affect how you deal with supply storage. If you lived in a 2-bedroom apartment alone and then move to a 3-bedroom ranch with a basement with your spouse, you will be able to store far more supplies easily. If things are the other way around, you may have to get creative in order to fit the same amount of supplies. So not all changes may be negative, but you have to evaluate that routinely to keep from getting surprised.

Lastly, you will need to see if your triggers for enacting your plan have changed. This can be affected by the above items too. For example, if you now work 50 miles from work instead of 10, you may need to react much quicker in order to make it home before the 12 inches of snow come down. It could also be that you now have additional people to include, so a faster reaction ensures everyone has time to grab their gear and go. Alternately, maybe you have finally moved to your dream location with a mountain of supplies, solar and generator backup power, 10 acres of garden, and all the farm animals you could ever want. In this case, you may not need to trigger anything or go anywhere. Sadly, most of us are not in that boat and we have to walk the line between jumping for nothing and acting too late. Taking an honest calculated look at this can ensure you know when it is appropriate to enact your plan for that scenario.

So, while rotating boxes of pasta and reviewing maps may not be the most exciting thing, it can be a very vital part of your planning. By keeping your supplies and plans up to date you avoid being surprised and having everything fall apart right when you need it the most. I have often referred to this review in my September posts related to National Preparedness Month, but depending on the situation yearly may not be often enough. In the end, as with all this, you must be your own judge on this. Just don’t allow yourself to become complacent and let all your planning be for naught.

Do you need body armor?

One question that I have gotten much more frequently in the last couple years is whether body armor is a good preparation. I think this has come more to the forefront because of the social violence we are seeing in many parts of the world.  A few years ago, I might have dissuaded someone from including this in their planning unless they had most other items covered and possibly had extenuating circumstances.  While I value the safely body armor can provide, I always hope most will need things like warm blankets more than it in a disaster.

With the current state of the world, I am now more of the mindset that some people may need to procure body armor. Visions of news footage from Bosnia in the early 1990s seem all too familiar when viewed alongside some of the violence that has happened in major U.S. cities recently.  This rampant violence can happen quickly and may mean you are caught in close proximity to it. This could happen when bugging out to a new location or when trying to get back to your home location from work. If the violence is widespread and long term, it could be needed to make runs for extra supplies. At any of these times you could be targeted or even just be caught in the crossfire. Which it is will not matter if you get shot.

The first thing that a potential buyer needs to do is understand how body armor is rated.  Not all body armor is the same level of protection.  The higher the number, the more powerful of a round it will protect you from.

  • Level IIA – Tested to stop 9mm and .40 S&W ammunition fired from short barrel handguns. No rife ammunition protection.
  • Level II – Tested to stop 9mm and .357 Magnum ammunition fired from short barrel handguns. No rife ammunition protection.
  • Level IIIA – Tested to stop .357 SIG and .44 Magnum ammunition fired from longer barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection.
  • Level III – Tested to stop 7.62mm FMJ lead core rife ammunition.
  • Level IV – Tested to stop .30 caliber steel core armor
    piercing rife ammunition.

There is no way for me to tell you what level of protection you need but there are some criteria I can offer to evaluate it. The first is obviously the calibers you want protection from. The first knee-jerk reaction would be to say all, but realistically most people will not be facing .30 caliber armor piercing rounds unless things have fully gone off the deep end. If you live in a typical suburb setting, you would probably be more likely to encounter pistol fire. In a rural setting that has a high population of big game hunters, you might encounter more deer rifle caliber fire.

The second criteria to look at is weight. The most common consumer armor is made up of steel plates. Extra protection generally means heavier plates. The average person is not some gung ho operator, so wearing an extra 25 pounds or more of armor is going to wear on them. This might be a reason to go for a lower level of protection or lighter armor as a compromise. There are other options besides steel plates for armor too. There are ceramic and soft body armor. These each have their own pros and cons. Ceramic armor is typically lighter and protects better, but can be damaged with rough handling. It also has a shorter suggested life span due to it possible degrading over time. Soft body armor is the lightest of all, but does not come in the higher protection levels. It also costs more than the same level steel plates.

The third criteria is cost. The better protection armor provides, generally the more it costs. That is understandable. Plus, the lighter options of the same protection level will cost more. Each person has to evaluate how much you can afford to budget to preparation as a whole and what subset of that can be put aside for body armor, if any. It may not serve you well if you have armor, but only a single day’s worth of food on hand.

Another thought to keep in mind when buying body armor is how you want to present yourself. Are you going for a gray man look where you can move about mostly unnoticed, or are you more worried about having your body armor set up with magazine pouches and such to assist you in a firefight? There is no right answer here, but it is a consideration. A fully loaded out set of body armor is not going to hide easily under even the largest coat. Plus, it is going to get you much more scrutiny from law enforcement in a middle level emergency.  In a full blown SHTF scenario though, it might be very useful. On the other hand, armor meant for concealment or even just a slimmer type that can be covered by a heavy sweatshirt or such, might allow you to go about your business without anyone batting an eye. Well, since the armor is not COMPLETELY invisible, your neighbors might ask if you have gained weight, but you can always tell them you are feeling cold.

So how do I evaluate who is more likely to need  body armor even in less that SHTF emergency? My thought process is a sliding scale based on population density. I feel that the denser the population where you live, the more chance you will need body armor. Why? Well this is simply based on the fact that you have a much higher possibility to encounter other people while moving around. Each  encounter raises your chance that one will involve violence toward you or others around you. It is about odds. I know that you might live in the middle of nowhere and only come across one person and still get shot at, but it is much less likely. Another part that increases your odds in a denser population is that you have many more people seeking resources and that can cause anger and desperation.  Angry and  desperate people often act irrationally. This mode of evaluation is by no means scientific, but I feel it is a good rule of thumb to go by.

I have just covered the tip of the iceberg in this post, but I hope it gives you the information to begin researching and making your own decisions about body armor.  While I hope you never need it, if you do, very little can be used in its place.

Special Note: When researching armor also please review the legality of body armor in your area. I am not a legal expert and laws vary widely across the U. S. and world. 

Learning from COVID19

The global pandemic of Covid19 has been a mixed blessing. Many have lost their lives or at least their health. but it has brought about a much wider understanding of how fragile our supply chains and support systems can be. I mean in no way to diminish the pain and suffering of those that have fought COVID19 or the loved ones that have buried those that lost the fight. I simply want to examine that in a sense we are “lucky” to have only experience this level of pandemic. I say that because it could have been MUCH worse. If COVID19 had shown its same infection rate but a fatality rate the same as, say Ebola, which is up to 90%, we would be in a very different outcome. So let us use this as a learning tool to help us not only reduce the risk of future pandemics, but also to improve the resilience of our supply chains and support systems such as hospitals.

In normal times Just-In-Time inventory works both for the business and the consumer. It allows the business to reduce the inventory cost on its books, lessen the chance of damage or spoilage while being warehoused, and reduce the cost of warehouse space. From the business side this is a very attractive way to do inventory. From the consumer side, again in normal times, it works well also. It helps to keep prices down and if you buy all the widgets the store has today, then more than likely they will have more tomorrow. So there is no need to worry. What we saw during COVID19 was that this system is easily broken and can take a very long time to recover.

There are 3 major factors that affected the inventory supply. The first is panic buying or hoarding. For a multitude of personal reasons people became afraid and bought items in large quantities. Some examples were toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes.  Some of this was purely psychological and based on seeing others buying large quantities of the same stuff. In some cases, people ended up with 3000 rolls of toilet paper, but only a few days of food, and possibly even less water.  This sudden bulk buying drained the store shelves and whatever small on-hand back stock they had. Since the panic buying lasted more than a few days, stores ramped up ordering from either their central warehouse or suppliers. In some causes the automated store inventory systems made these orders. All of those orders came into the warehouses and were filled from stock on hand there. Within a short time the warehouse stock, which is based on normal demand,  was depleted by all of the increased ordering.

These warehouses then reached out to the production facilities and requested more stock.  This is where the second factor comes in. Whereas stores having to order more stock might have delayed the shelves being stocked by a few days, this bottleneck caused a much longer delay. The production facility might be running near 100% production capability for its normal ordering quantities. Idle machines and workers cost money, so most facilities do not want them setting around. So the production could not be ramped up quickly to restock the warehouses. In fact, due to workers being out with COVID19, most actually fell to a lower production rate. Hiring fill in workers and adding machinery needed to up production takes time.

The third factor is the distance from the production site to the store shelves. Some of these goods are made in other parts of the world and then shipped, more than likely by container ship, to the U. S. The average shipping time via container ship from China to the U. S, is 20 to 30 days. This meant that any increased production that could be done would lag behind by 30 days. The same was true of the machinery needed by the production sites to increase the production.  Unfortunately, just like the manufacturing facilities, the shipping and dock sectors took a large hit due to worker illness. This lead to shipments sitting while they waited for a ship to transport them and ships full of containers waiting much longer than normal for their turn to dock and be unloaded.

Some of these same things worked against the medical sector as they tried to care for all the patients coming in with COVID19. Due to cost most hospitals are sized and staffed based on “normal” patient load.  Remember,  most hospitals are part of a for profit business, just like the widget factories. With the massive increase in inbound patients, they began to run out of beds, ventilators, or at least the staff to take care of those patients. They found that when they ordered more ventilators, beds, and supplies that they were stuck in the same production nightmare as everything else. So they saw lack of stock, a fixed production capacity, and long leads times to get the items to them. In addition to the supply issue, medical facilities saw a decrease in staff as some of them fell ill. Something different here is that due to the stress of the situation and fear for their own health, some additional staff simply quit. It is hard to blame them after all they see and are asked risk. Then you had those that took advantage of the situation and moved to other facilities that were paying incredible wages to attract more staff immediately just to keep their door open. In the end everywhere ended up with patients lining the halls and far too few staff on hand to care for them as usual. Honestly, most did their best to give every patient good care, but obviously it was a very strained existence at that point.

Taking a look back at what has happened, we can use these events to focus our planning. First, we can see that just having a plan and some supplies set back put us way ahead of many. Still, stuffing some ramen in the cabinet next to a bottle of water and aid first aid kit is not enough. We really must sit down and analyze what we use and what of that we need or want when things go bad. What gets used in an average week? That will give you a baseline to look at. Food, paper goods, hygiene items, and medications are a beginning. Having this evaluated we can know what we need instead of madly loading buggies down with toilet paper at the last minute.

Secondly, we need to evaluate what skills we have or can lean that can be put to use in bad times. I am not talking about gardening or blacksmithing at the moment. In the short term things like basic medical skills can be very helpful. At the height of COVID19, going to the emergency room was very risky and it could take hours to get care. So being able to deal with minor medical issues at home is very valuable. Things ranging from minor burns and simple cuts can be taken care of with minimal supplies and skill. I know most people can deal with the most minor ones, but evaluate if you could put in 3 stitches to close  up a cut. What about setting a broken bone? Know your limits and you can make a clear line in the sand as to when you need to look for outside care in troubled times. Unless all medical facilities are totally offline, there are things you are just not ever going to be equipped to handle adequately at home.

Third, evaluate the resources in your area so you know where to go in the event you do need last minute items or care. When panic buying started, pictures from Sam’s Clubs and Costcos across the U. S. showed huge crowds all rushing to clear out the shelves. While these might have been the place to buy the bulk packs of items, they were also the first places with bare shelves. So these places might have not been the best to use as a go to for topping off your pantry.  One personal example is that my household needed a few items we do not use a lot normally, but had ramped up since we were all home full time. Instead of rushing off to Sam’s Club, which was already reportedly empty, I stopped by the out of the way Dollar General in my area. Things that coworkers supposedly could not find, were on the shelf. No huge packages, but smaller ones, many with no limit. So take a look at the places that might have the supplies you need and make a list. Then think outside the box about places that are either off the beaten path or would be overlooked because their main business does not deal with what you are looking for. These places may just be where you find the items. For example, if paper towels were cleared out in most grocery stores, do you know Advance Auto Parts carries them? They just call them shop towels and they are blue. They are more expensive, but also are much better than the $1 rolls you might normally buy. The same thought can be applied to medical care. If you must go in, you might find the local ERs and large walk-in clinics packed to the gills. There may very well be small independent doctor’s offices in the area that would treat you. They might not be “in network” on your insurance, but in an emergency I would rather be treated in 30 minutes at a higher cost , than wait 5 hours just to get the budget rate. You also risk being exposed to other diseases in the larger setting.  Knowing these places ahead of time will allow you to get in and out before the crowds spill over to them.

So I hope you can see that we have lessons to learn that can better prepare us. So take a look at what plans you already have set forth. Does anything that has happened expose a weak point in them? Do you see supplies you need to add? If not, that is great, but I am betting you are in the minority.  I am not saying it is possible to cover EVERY contingency, but we may better cover for things we have never seen as issues before. So many things have happened in the last year that none of us have had to deal with in our lifetimes.

Stay safe out there and take the precautions seriously. Hopefully we will be out of all this sooner than later.

Happy Holidays!

Here is hoping that anyone that reads this is well prepared, safe, and happy in this holiday season.

We have snow which makes the first white Christmas in a long time. That adds an extra bit of cheer.