Archive for October, 2009

It’s Halloweening time again, folks. I thought I’d share a few tips for keeping yourself, and the little ones safe on this annual night of spooks, goblins, tricks and treating. Seems that every year it gets worse and worse with the problems that we encounter. By pausing long enough to think through the event(s) you can develop a strategy that will keep everyone safe and secure.

Kids and trick or treating;

  • When it comes to costumes, make sure you pick one for your child that has eye holes big enough that they can see clearly all around them. Many costumes have narrow slits, and that may work well on a pigs mask for a policeman’s uniform, or maybe make your kid look more sinister, but that can be dangerous. Also, make sure that the costume doesn’t impede their walking ability, or doesn’t hang down long enough for them, or someone else to step on it. Also make certain the costume is made of fireproof material.
  • If they have a costume that uses some sort of object like a knife or cleaver, get one that is made of soft rubber so no one gets hurt when they wave it around. It’s par for the course to have two boys, or girls, have a sword fight when they get together. It may be a good playtime activity, but those hard plastic props can sting pretty bad with enough force applied, unintended or otherwise.
  • Make sure your kids do not eat any of the candy they collect until you can inspect it. If anything appears tampered with, toss it out. Really suspicious items should be given to the local police for investigation. Apples have been a standard item of risk as needles and razor blades have a reputation for winding up inside of them.
  • Make sure your kids do not talk with strangers or get into any cars, unless it is yours.
  • Give your kids a flashlight, and carry one for yourself as well. Reflective strips on costumes and clothing can make them more visible to oncoming traffic as well. There are glow sticks on the market that give quite a bit of illumination that you can buy. I’ve heard that some of these have been recalled, so be careful of which ones you buy.
  • Have them use extreme caution when crossing the street, and they should be utilizing crosswalks when available.
  • Make sure that an adult accompanies them, and it’s better if a bunch of kids go together as a group. Know the route ahead of time, and make sure everyone sticks to it.
  • Secure all candles, whether in a holder or in a pumpkin. It doesn’t take much to knock one over and start a fire. If you can, it’s better to use those little disposable lamps that operate on battery power in place of a candle.

Your front yard;

  • Make sure you have a clear path to your front door. Toys and bicycles should be picked up and put away before darkness sets in.
  • Light the walkway with either a sidewalk lamp, or get those solar powered lights that simply push into the ground. It is safer if you can see where you are walking.
  • Don’t have any loose extension cords or wires dangling around your displays. There is always some eager trick or treater who will cut across the yard without wasting time on the sidewalks.
  • Don’t put up displays that are broken or have sharp edges.
  • Music and sound effects should be at a reasonable volume so as not to annoy the neighbors or distract people from what they are doing.
  • Keep your animals inside for the night. A dog running around the yard may get too excited and bite someone.

Jack-o-lanterns;

  • When cutting a pumpkin with your youngster, always use a dull edges cutting tool. There are cutters on the market with safety in mind, and they have blade guards and serrated edges to make cutting easier.
  • As I mentioned, try to use the battery operated lamps instead of a candle when illuminating the jack-o-lantern.
  • Make sure your kids understand that tossing and breaking anyone’s pumpkin is not a right thing to do. They may end up breaking a window or hitting and hurting another person.
  • If you must put your pumpkin where there is a lot of dry foliage and leaves, try to place it in a flat container filled with sand, and rake up around the spot before lighting the candle.

Misc;

  • Drive slower than normal, and keep alert to little folks jutting out into the street.
  • Have a meet up place that everyone knows about. If problems arise tell them to make a beeline for that meet up place.
  • Carry a fully charged sell phone in case you have to call for assistance.
  • It might be a good idea to take all the kids to dinner before trick or treating. That way they’ll not be hungry and be tempted to eat any candy before it can be inspected. Of course, temptation is tough for any kid to resist, so that’s not a fool proof plan.
  • Minimize, or abstain from using alcohol. Even one drink can slow your reflexes and thought processes down, and a tragedy could result from that.

Whether you go door to door or just take in a party, your kids should have a good time, and so shouldn’t you. It’s a great time to dress up and spend some good quality time with your children. Enjoy the evening, and don’t get sick on the candy, please. These are just a few tips, and with a little thinking and digging you can come up with a lot more. If you have any you’d like to share, email them to me at editor@survivingmaine.com. And by the way-BOO! Are you scared yet?

Christmas trees have become a time honored tradition around the world. They signify the season and give us a place to gather with family and friends, if you have any. Or a place to sit by if you are alone so you can dream of others. But they have also become a time honored tradition of calling out the firefighters and watching your home burn down. With care and attention you can prevent this aspect of Christmas from happening.

Trees have a habit of needing water to survive, and as soon as you cut the tree down, it begins to die. The tree doesn’t fully realize this of course, so it continues to draw water from the ground, even though there is no ground. The process of a plants drawing water from the ground is a pretty simple arrangement, needing only its blood vessels to suck up the old H2O through what we call capillary action. This process will continue until the tree is dead, but if we stop the action somehow, like cutting it down, the tree will die faster because of lack of nourishment. When the tree dies it becomes dried out, and becomes very flammable, and that is not a positive thing, and is very dangerous.

So, here’s a list of tips for keeping your live Christmas tree safe for the holiday’s;

  • Never, ever, burn candles on a tree in your home. It’s a quaint old tradition, but is it really worth the risk? Today there are all kinds of low voltage lamps you can get, and now we are starting to see energy efficient LED lamps that give out next to no heat at all.
  • Wait as long as possible to get your tree, and take it down as soon as your Christmas holiday is over. The shorter the time span that the tree is allowed to remain in your home, the better the odds of it not drying out or having other problems with it. In fact, perhaps the best thing to do would be to utilize a tree farm where you can cut your own tree. Sometimes trees are cut weeks, if not months before showing up on a lot, and by then it is too late to prevent the tree from drying out completely.
  • Always make sure you have the tree well watered. Use a stand that has a big bowl for filling, and fill it every day, or more often if it needs it. Use plastic stretch wrap to cover the bowl and reduce evaporation of the standing water. It’ll also help keep the cat out of it. If you’d rather not deal with the wrap at every filling, simply place a funnel or tube through the plastic wrap.
  • Keep the lighting to a minimum to avoid heat from the lamps from drying portions of the trees limbs prematurely.
  • Inspect all of the lamps wiring for fraying and loose connections before placing them on the tree. Test the bulbs before you put them on the tree as well. It’ll be easier to change the burned out bulbs that way. If in doubt about any string of lights, throw it away. It doesn’t cost much to replace lamps today, and it’s not worth the risk.
  • Don’t hang anything small from the lower limbs if you have little ones around. Many of today’s decorations look like candy and can be a pretty enticing treat if you aren’t watching them.
  • Don’t put up a tree unless it can be stabilized. If it is too big for your stand, get a bigger stand. If the tree cannot stand straight then it will likely fall down causing injury, damage and/or fire..
  • Make sure the tree is sufficiently anchored in place. sometimes a stand alone may not be enough
  • Throw away any cracked glass or plastic ornaments. Someone may get cut on the rough edges, especially the glass ones where they would be more liable to further breakage with handling.
  • Make sure there are no frayed or otherwise damaged wires on any electric or electronic decorations you put on the tree. Replace those that look suspicious.
  • Never overload your electrical service, and never plug more cords into a receptacle than the manufacturer says to use.
  • Always use a properly grounded circuit breaker strip to plug your cords into.
  • Never cut the grounding plug off of an extension cord. It’s there for a reason, and that reason may just save somebody’s life. Of course, if it isn’t there, somebody could get killed.
  • Vacuum around the tree daily to prevent an accumulation of dried needles.
  • Try not to pile too many gifts under the tree. Allow a sufficient flow of air around the tree at all times.
  • Keep the rooms temperature on the coolish side. High temperatures will make the tree dry out that much faster.

These are just a few tips to get you going. As time goes by I will be adding to all of my tip lists to try to give you a comprehensive listing. Have a safe and Merry Christmas! By the way, the American Family Association is running a drive to get the Merry Christmas message out to the public again. We seem to have forgotten that Christmas is God’s gift to us over the years, and even many retailers are refusing to use the term Merry Christmas in their advertising and greetings. Click onto the image or follow this link to go to the AFA store and learn more about this campaign.

With a little bit of effort we can work together to return this nation to where it belongs, in the bosom of the Lord, instead of some ash heap of degenerate paganism. I think it is a shame that this season has become so commercialized, and even though my paycheck comes from the retail sector, I have to say that I pray that many changes are overturned and that we can go back to the way some things were. Take the Blue Laws, for instance. I really dislike the idea of major stores being open on Sunday’s. I can see where some may be needed, such as small grocers, C stores, and smaller pharmacies, but not everybody. It helps to eliminate the presence of Christ from that day. It’s amazing how many people can go to church in the morning, and then turn around and go shopping the rest of the day. That really helps to nurture the requirement that we use the Sabbath as a day of rest.

email any tips and hints you’d like to share to editor@survivingmaine.com.

Surviving the Christmas Shopping Rush…

You’ll notice that I have changed to a Christmassy theme on the blog already, and that’s because I happen to think we should spend more time celebrating Christmas. Not in the commercialized way that has become fashionable, but as a way to commemorate the birth of Christ. A lot of people seem to have changed the holiday into an excuse to celebrate paganism, and in part they are correct in that the date falls close to the winter solstice and was a high holy day for the Druids and other pagan religions. In truth, Jesus Christ was more likely born around the time of the end of October or early November, I’ve been told. But whenever it was He was actually born, Merry Christmas to all!

If you haven’t heard yet, I have decided to build upon this blog and started a website regarding survival and preparedness at www.survivingmaine.com. It is in its infancy and I need to do a lot of work on it, but check it out sometime.

But as to the headline, Surviving the Christmas Rush, I would like to take a moment to discuss some tips and strategies to make it through the shopping frenzy that we experience most years. This year will probably be much different than in years past. Major retailers have less stock on hand reflecting their lower sales, and because of that will probably resort to either having some really good deals as loss leaders to drag folks into the store, or they will run some mediocre sales events. But I am betting the crowds will be just as big, but they won’t be spending as much. The growing problem of unemployment and lessening of credit availability will be cutting Christmas budgets to the bone is some cases, and eliminating Christmas shopping in others. And that is where you will start to see an increase in danger while shopping.

I believe we will be seeing a huge increase in the holiday crime rates as pick pocketing, theft, assaults, fraud and other crimes become more and more commonplace. This being the case, here are a few tips you can use to keep yourself safer at the mall. There are many more things to consider, but there isn’t room for them all, so I’ve listed a few general tips covering several areas of safety while shopping

  • Try not to go shopping when there are massive crowds in the stores. Pick times when there are fewer people around, such a afternoons and early mornings. The problem with crowds is that it becomes easier for a thief to pick your pocket or steal your purse. It’s also great time for some lunatic to kidnap your child. There will be lots of people around, but no one will see anything but the crowd.
  • Try to avoid carrying a purse if you can. Dangling pocketbooks make for tempting targets. If you must carry a purse, make sure it has a strap long enough so that you can wear the strap across your chest, keeping the purse next to your body, rather than dangling loose off of one shoulder making it easier to grab. One trick some grabbers use is to carry a sharp knife so they can cut the strap and grab your purse in an easy fluid motion. If your purse is clearly made of a thick, tough material, the grabber will look for an easier prey, like someone wearing an expensive designer bag with thin straps.
  • Pickpockets like people who carry lots of cash, and they will hang around checkout areas scoping out potential victims. Don’t carry all of your cash in one pocket, nor in a pocket in your jacket, where you will not feel the light brush of the pickpockets touch. Wear pants or slacks with pockets big enough to hold a small wallet in more than one pocket. The same thing goes for your credit cards. Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket, as they say.
  • Be aware of what is going on around you at all times while shopping. Pay attention to people whom you may observe in several stores as you shop. They may be following you, or someone you are with.
  • Park your car only in well lighted areas. Crooks like the dark.
  • Don’t leave presents and electronics where they can be seen by passersby. Put them in your trunk, or make sure you have a roll up cover in the back of your wagon. It only takes a moment for a pro to smash your window and grab your purchases, but if they can’t see what you have, they’ll move on to a more beneficial target. If your trunk is too full and you have to put your purchases on the seat, go home and empty your car. You can always go shopping again.
  • Don’t put your bags down in a crowd if you can avoid it. If they are too heavy, you need to get rid of them. Take them to your vehicle or in some cases malls have storage lockers you can rent. Get one of those if you have to, but never carry more than you can easily handle.
  • Always try to go shopping with a friend or family member. There is always safety in numbers.
  • Don’t put your credit card receipts in the bag with your purchases. There are sometimes ways a thief may be able to use the information on those cards to hack into your accounts. The identity theft instances are increasing in number as it is easy to hack into a system and steal your data. The information that may be on some receipts, especially the older styles that are still used by smaller shops can make that easier for them. Fold the receipts up and put them in a secured pocket.
  • Limit your sell phone use. Talking on the phone while shopping is on the one hand rude and ignorant to those around you, but on the other, it distracts your attention, and by listening in on what you are saying, a good thief knows what your plans are. He can tell what kind of valuables you may be carrying when you describe what you’ve bought and so forth. Keep the cell phone in its holder, and be safer for it.

These are just a few tips, as I said, and I’ll be back with more as the season progresses, so stay tuned and keep safe!

Driving in Maine’s winter weather…

Well, we had what I have been told our first snowfall here in Maine this past weekend, although I saw none of it, and I felt it would be a good time to address surviving a winter auto emergency and a few driving tips. We all know here in Maine that the highways in winter here can be treacherous, even on a nice sunny day, and an accident or other problem can waylay the best laid plans, possibly stranding you on a lonely stretch of road when surviving is an iffy thing at best. For those who live in the big cities, like up in Bangor or down in Portland, there is little worry of the worst case scenario occurring if you simply break down.

But for those of us who live out of town, and in the hinterlands of Maine, the story can take on a decidedly different picture. My gas lines froze once while driving to a service call trough the western mountain regions. Three and a half hours later the temps climbed high enough that I was able to start the truck and get rolling again. Not one vehicle passed me the whole time I was on the side of the road, and I had no cell phone back then. Not a big deal and little more than a distant memory today, but it illustrates that there is much more to winter driving than making sure you have an ice scraper in the front seat.

The temperature here in Maine fluctuates quite a bit from one section of Maine to another, so we really should take care to be prepared for almost any kind of emergency, from breakdowns and accidents to a surprise blizzard that may strand you in the middle of the interstate system. To better prepare yourself, and your car, there are some basic things you should do to get ready.

  • Inspect your tires, and change them over to all season or snow tires if you can afford it. Also make sure that the tire pressure is maintained to recommended pressures. If I lived in the northern part of Maine I would use nothing less than a real life, honest to goodness snow tire. They have a more aggressive tread than the all seasons do. I would also consider putting studs on as well if you live in the out of the way areas of Maine.
  • Check your antifreeze and make sure that it is good for the lowest possible temperature rating. This usually means that the fluid in your radiator should consist of equal parts antifreeze and water.
  • Replace your wiper blades with new winter grade wipers.
  • Make sure all of your lamps are working properly. Many people forget to check their driving/fog lamps and emergency flashers, as well as any lamps that may be on your doors. These are all important and may help avoid an even greater catastrophe if they all work, especially during a snow storm.
  • Check your car battery and make sure it is up to par. If it is at least five years old it may be a good idea to replace it if you can afford to do so.
  • Ethanol is required in all gasoline in Maine now, and that causes what is known as phase separation more rapidly in colder temperatures. Make sure your fuel tank is kept filled, and try not to go below a half tank unless you are on a long trip. the excess water in your fuel will cause the lines to freeze up quicker. It would also be a good time to replace your fuel filter as well. Don’t succumb to the pressure to add what is called fuel dryer to your tank. This stuff contains alcohol and makes the process of phase separation leading to too much water in your fuel occur even more rapidly.

When driving the highways you should always be aware of the temperature and learn to be extra careful when the temp dips below 35 degrees. Even on a clear sunny day you may encounter black ice unexpectedly, causing you to lose control of your car. Bridge decks are also a high risk area as they freeze quicker than the pavement does since there in no ground under the bridge for insulation. Also make sure you have a pair of good no glare sunglasses in the car at all times. Squinty driving can be hazardous.

If you find yourself skidding out of control, gently steer into the skid to avoid making the car go even further out of control. Ease up on the brakes and if you can, shift into neutral when safe. Turn your flashers on as well to alert oncoming motorists of the danger. If you do get into an accident, remember to follow the same guidelines as you would at any other time of the year. Stay in your car if safe to do so, and turn the flashers on and alert the police to your accident. Having a cell phone with a charger is vital this time of year. Make sure you check for any leaking fluids before allowing the car to run for heat while you wait. If you see anything dripping from the car, don’t take any chances. It is better to be cold than burned to a crisp because of a leaky fuel tank, ain’t it?

Always drive at or below the posted speed limit, according to the conditions you encounter. If it is snowing, it is a good idea to drive about ten miles an hour under the posted limits on the main roads such as the state and interstate highways. Maintain more distance than normal between cars when the weather is inclement. Never jam on your breaks. Gently pump them to come to a controlled stop. If you have ABS on your car simply apply pressure to the brake pedal and let the computer do the work. Drive with your headlights on at all times.

Checklists for winter driving needs…

I have a little checklist of supplies you should have in your car while traveling out of town, or even in town. The list is divided into two parts. The first part is of things your should always have in your car, and the second part is of things you should keep in a bag, and bring into your house when not travelling to avoid freezing.

  1. Always in your car…
    1. Steel shovel, small enough to fit in your trunk. The plastic ones have a tendency to crack and break when you least desire that to happen.
    2. Ice scraper and snow broom.
    3. Jumper cables. Get at least a ten gauge wire with heavy duty clips and at least twelve feet long. A pair with side terminal adapters is a good option to have.
    4. Tow rope. Get a pre made rope at least fifteen feet long with steel hooks on the ends, if you can.
    5. Blanket. Get a real blanket, not a cheap five dollar throw that won’t cover you completely. I would recommend one of those orange and silver rescue blankets as the silver will reflect your own body heat. Get one for everyone that may be traveling with you.
    6. First aid kit.
    7. Empty fuel can. Unless you have an open bed pickup it is dangerous to carry fuel with you. The fumes could build up in your car and kill you in many ways.
    8. Siphon tube and pump. Sucking gas out of a car looks good in the Hollywood blockbusters, but it’s actually a pretty unhealthy thing to do, especially with the ethanol added to the gas now.
    9. Telephone numbers for the police, road service company and your insurance company.
    10. Flashlight or trouble light.
    11. Reflector triangles that you can put out as warning signs. There are some models that fold up into a self contained carry case.
    12. Wheel chocks. These will keep your car from rolling if you have to change a tire.
    13. Salt and sand. I carry one bag of salt and one bag of sand when the snow starts flying. If you get stuck these will help get you unstuck much quicker because of the extra traction they give.
    14. Tire chains. Learn how to use them before the snow falls. There are many versions on the market, so it would be a smart thing to familiarize yourself with them when dry weather is available.
  2. In a carry bag…
    1. Water
    2. High calorie food bars
    3. Flashlight with extra batteries, or a wind up flashlight. Solar flashlights are fine if there is sunlight to charge them with, but we get many winter days when there is insufficient sun to charge those batteries.
    4. Cell phone and charger
    5. Extra trash bags for when you just can’t hold it any longer.
    6. A book or some games if you have kids in the car.
    7. Any medication you (or someone with you) may be needing in the event of an extended trip.

That’s just a few ideas. As usual I encourage you to get the mind working and think the issue of winter driving through your head. Equip your vehicle as suits your needs and pocketbook and learn more about the risks of winter driving, and ways to avoid those risks. Remember to be prepared means having to live with a survival mindset. If you are always prepared for the unexpected, the unexpected will never happen. And make sure you always dress warmly for these winter road trips. A nice warm coat, hats and gloves or mittens won’t do you any harm, even if it is a nice day when you first set out on your drive. You never know when the weather will turn brutal here in the Maine winters as we survive the coming times.

Preparedness has many different connotations, but only one definition. Preparedness means to prepare. That is why, I feel, that there are so many ways to look at the coming times, and observe the many complications that keep us from preparing in the way that we should. In case you haven’t noticed, I write this blog directed towards the true believers of Jesus Christ. There are many today who claim to be Christian, go to church every Sunday, prayer meetings on Wednesday, walk around thumpin’ their Bibles and all that, but they are not true believers. They preach a message of brotherly love, and talk about how we should accept all people into our hearts and yada yada yada. But do they really embrace the message of the Cross? The message of salvation?

Not really. When we see headlines about one church or denomination accepting the ordination of gays into the clergy, many say ooh, isn’t that sweet of them. They are so loving and accepting, they must be followers of Christ! These folks are going to be in for a big surprise come judgment day. But while the headlines are full of the controversy surrounding this issue, and the question of whether gays should be allowed to have the right to call their sinful unions marriage, we do not see in the mainstream media any real coverage of what is really going on between those who are true believers, and those who hate Christianity.

One of the things we need to be prepared for in the United States is the growing persecution of true believers. As we, as a nation, continue to increase our embrace of the Muslim faith, and the world of the Antichrist, we see more and more acts of violence and persecution being committed, but not reported. We also see the increasing tendency of people to believe that what is wrong is really acceptable. We believe because the press tells us it is OK. They tell us it is OK because they fail, or refuse to report truthfully and objectively.

Take the article in today’s Lewiston Sun Journal, Episcopal bishop says gays pushed out of society, where an openly gay Episcopalian was ordained as a bishop. A person in a position of authority over a body of supposed Christians. The bishop, Gene Robinson, is actually an Apostate of the church. He preaches a belief that is wrong. To sum up the argument, Leviticus 18:22 says You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Plain and simple from the Law of God. You Shall Not. Need I say more? There are other passages that say the same thing, but I am not a preacher, so enough said. But the point is that all of this desensitizes us to what the Word is really saying, and because of that we fail to properly prepare.

We need to be ready for the coming times, and the persecution that will be coming with them. In fact, the carnal world is already intensifying its attacks upon Gods children. Read these stories for more:

SOMALIA — Christian Leader Killed

On Sept. 28 an Islamic extremist shot and killed Mariam Muhina Hussein, an underground church leader, after discovering six Bibles in her possession, according to Compass Direct News. The day before the shooting, a leader of the Islamic extremist group al Shabaab reportedly sent his wife to visit Hussein’s home in Marerey villange. She pretended she was interested in learning about Christianity…
Read the full story here

INDIA — Pastor Attacked

On Oct. 4, Pastor Prakash was attacked by 25 Bajrang Dal extremists while he was ministering in Kaiwara village, Bangalore Rural District, according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts. The extremists assaulted the pastor and accused him of cheating people. After the attack, the pastor was questioned and held on complaints of “illegal activity.”
Read the full story here

Russia: Pastors fined for Worship; Recently, two Baptist pastors in Russia’s Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad were fined 2,200 rubles (US $75) after their community “sang psalms and spoke about Christ” on the street, according to…  View Story

Colombia: Pastor Martyred; On Sept. 21, Pastor Manuel was shot and killed by The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas in San Jose del Guaviare, Colombia, according to The Voice of the Martyrs…  View Story

India: Relief Camp Bombed; On Sept. 27, four believers were injured when a Christian relief camp in Nandarigi village, Orissa state, providing temporary housing for Christians who fled anti-Christian, was bombed by suspected…  View Story (we will eventually see similar camps here in the United States, by the way.)

That’s just a few stories from one site, www.persecution.com. There are many more out there, but the MSM fails to let America know what is going on in the world beyond the latest Hollywood sound bites. They true believers of this nation are now seeing a growing trend towards this persecution in that many true Christians are criticized and ridiculed for their beliefs and their way of life. In part this is because of the way that many who claim to be believers, such as the Rev. Robinson. Their behavior suggests that the Bible really isn’t the living Word of God, but merely an anthology of old stories and superstitions, and not meant to be adhered to.

But this is just another thing that we must be prepared for, persecution. I would suggest that in addition to much of what I have already posted about that you also begin t find like minded people and form communities where you can help each other in the coming times. Not only should we be laying up stores of long term food storage, fuels and the like, we need to be laying up seeds and tools to grow our own food, maybe cattle for meat and milk. We should be loading up on the tools and parts to repair these tools when they break. We will be tried by the fire and if we truly embrace Salvation and the message of the Cross, we will come through that fire unscathed, to everlasting life.

But in the meantime, we should also be helping our fellow believers by supporting them financially and through prayer for their continuing efforts as they spread the message of Christ’s salvation around the world. And be ever vigilant, for we know not when that final hour may come.