Friday, November 13, 2009

How you can reduce your own vulnerability

In the part about risk assessment you can get some basic ideas of how to identify and categorize different form of possible crisis and survival situations. This part will be a general guide to what can help you to reduce your own vulnerability to this kind of events. Most survival handbooks focus on water, food, shelter and fire. It’s my belief that you’re true capacity to survive and cope with a crisis depends on more factors than that.

Health
Health is in my opinion the most important aspect of your life. Your diet, your exercise, your physical and psychological wellbeing is the most fundamental for your survival. This is a part of your life that you have to keep working on all the time. Think about what you eat and try to eat as healthy as you possibly can. Cut down on sugar, fast food and sweeteners. You don’t want overweight or diabetes in your normal life or in a survival situation. In a long term survival situation diabetes can be a lethal condition if the access to insulin disappears. Your teeth are also a critical part: Take good care of them, use floss and fluoride. This may seem as boring aspects of crisis preparedness or survival but in a real survival situation a damaged tooth can become a lethal infection: If you have any problems with your teeth go to a dentist and get them fixed. Try to exercise at least three times each week.

Another important part of your health is stress management. If your level of stress is too high the effect might be a stroke or heart attack. Modern life is stressful so you must find ways to cope with it. Get a hobby to help you relax and think about something else for a while. Find something that you like to do, no matter if it’s hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, climbing, kayaking, skiing, dancing, sports or meditation. The important part is that it works for you. And don’t try to skip this part of your health; you won’t save time by burning yourself out.

Knowledge, Experience and Skills
Knowledge and skills is something that you will always carry with you, you can have the best equipment that money can buy, but if you don’t know how to use it – it’s useless. One of the skills that I think is most important is some basic medical skills like first aid and CPR. Take a course and bring your friends or family, it’s just as important that they can help you. This kind of skills need constant refreshment: Try to take a course once every five years. What other skills that’s important depends on your particular situation but the ability to make fire, collect and purify water and make shelter is a good start. Don’t forget to include skills that can help you in your everyday life or help you get a job. Make a list of what skills that would be useful and what skills that you always wanted to learn and start working from there.

Equipment and Gear
Some basic equipment in combination with skills can make a huge difference in a crisis or survival situation if you know how to use and have the ability to improvise. I have some basic suggestions in the blog post Get The Ability To Cope With A Crisis and the blog post Equipment List For Your Home - Checklist.

Your Social Network
Your social network is one of the absolutely most important parts of your personal security. You can have perfect health, knowledge and skills and all equipment you could ever need – but if you don’t have someone that can help you in time of need your vulnerability in a crisis situation or survival situation is much higher. Your friends, partner and family is the most natural part, but people from works and other contacts is also very important.

Your Geographical Setting
Your geographical setting is also a very important part, some parts of the world has a higher degree of natural disasters than others. If you live in a area where natural disasters is a common problem you can reduce the consequences of a natural disaster by choosing a place where you live that offers the maximum amount of protection possible. For example: If you live in a area where flooding can be a problem, try to find a place that is located high enough so it won’t get affected. If storms are a common problem find a place where the surrounding area gives some protection against powerful wind. The very house where you live is also a important part, a stone structure is much less likely to be damaged than a fragile mobile home. The coast line offers a great view, but remember that the coast regions often gets hit hardest from hurricanes and other extreme weather.

Your Economical Situation
Your economical situation is also a critical aspect. Very few people have the economical resources or income that gives them the possibility to buy everything they want and still have money over. The first thing I recommend you to do is to start saving money. I suggest that you try to put keep about 20% of your income every month: 5% into a emergency situation fund that you don’t use unless there really is an emergency, 10% as investment fund that you can use if a good opportunity to buy something really useful for a good price would come along and 5% for vacations and entertainment. The last part is an important part of your health: You need the opportunity to relax and recharge your batteries, don’t just spend your money on equipment and physical objects. I suggest that you might invest some of the money in your emergency fund into gold or silver.

Start to keep a record off what you are buying and how you are spending your money, do that for three months and you will start discovering things about yourself that may not have been aware of. This also gives you an idea about where you can save money and how can plan your economy better.
Unemployment is a real risk for most of the population and if you find yourself in this position you want to have the best possibilities that you can to get a new, or even a better job. First off all: Take your job seriously and work hard. Don’t be a slacker, you want everybody you ever worked with to get such a good impression of you that they would recommend you for a job. Try to learn new aspects of your job, ask for some extra responsibility and take courses that give you even more knowledge about what you do. If you can I recommend that you start taking courses after work or get an extra job. Even if there is people at work you don’t like, treat them right and try to get know the people you work with: They are an excellent resource for future possibilities. Never stop learning.

Understanding The Risks In Your Everyday Life
The most common risk that you face is dangers in your everyday life. Traffic accidents are one of the worst killers, when you get out into traffic use your seatbelt and focus on what you are doing. It’s very easy to get distracted or wondering of with your mind. Don’t talk on the phone or send text messages and keep the volume on your stereo down so that you can hear what’s going on around you. The number of dead from all terrorist attacks is nothing compared to the deaths in traffic. If you ride a bike: Use a helmet and make sure that you can be seen at night.

Fire is another big danger: Make sure that your home is as safe as it possibly can be, get a fire alarm, make sure that you have a exit strategy and train this strategy with your family. It’s just like in sports or the military: practice makes perfect. If you get the opportunity I strongly that you take a course and learn how to use a fire extinguisher and how to extinguish a burning person with a blanket. And when you have done this: Get a fire extinguisher for your home. If you have many family members take the course together, you are a team.

It’s also important that you start thinking about risks that you accept as a part of normal life. Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is directly bad for your health and in combination with a activities like driving or water sports they may be lethal. Alcohol and different drugs are a part of everyday life for most people, but it’s important that you keep your using of them on a reasonable level and don’t get into dangerous activities when you’re under the influence. Other simple thing like spending too much time in the sun can cause skin cancer: Use sun screen and cover up. For more information see the article about Risk Assessments.

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