Sunday, May 13, 2012

This is not an emergency.


Emergencies are times of action, where you respond to a specific threat. No time for thinking, priorities, or negotiation, just action. But now, before any emergency, is when you can prepare.
First things first: Avoid emergencies. Some advice from a self-defence instructor applies here: Don't be there when the fight happens, then you won't get hurt.
Strangely, the more prepared you are for emergencies, the less likely you are to encounter one.
Communicate with your tribe ahead of time about potential issues and solutions.
The communication in advance about what to do in an emergency can be vital when communication is cut off. 'Hey everybody, if the house is on fire, get out and meet by the mailbox' can eliminate a lot of uncertainty.
If the only vehicle available to get someone to a hospital in an emergency has a key stashed in the toolbox, make sure several people know about it.
If you're hiking, tell people where you're going and when you're going to be back, and then let them know you got back safely. If you don't return, they're your best shot at rescue.
Some emergencies are unavoidable so you'd best be ready, because the only time you can prepare for emergencies is in advance.
There are two basic kinds of solutions: skills and resources.
In an health emergency the skills that come with first-aid training are essential for handling the emergency successfully. Consider some first-aid training, and be ready to call an ambulance.
If you find yourself in a self-defence situation, you need the skills now, not in a few minutes.
Some problems don't need skills, they need resources. Put together a household emergency kit that could keep you going in the house without power, heat, water and television for at least 72 hours.
Details for what a good kit needs are available at www.getprepared.gc.ca. What a better way to celebrate Emergency Preparedness Week (May 6-12) than by getting a kit together with your family.
Some emergencies can only be fixed with a specific resource: money. Broken furnace? Money. Lost your job? Money. Cellphone fell in the lake? Money. Get at least $1000 into an emergency fund as soon as possible, then grow it until you can handle anything life throws at you.
Practice the skills you'll need, communicate in advance and stash the resources to endure an emergency. Hopefully it won't be necessary but if it is you'll be glad you're ready. In the meantime, enjoy the peace of mind.
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Secondary markets: Save money, save space.


Maybe someone else will want this.

Take advantage of the secondary market. If you buy new stuff it's used once you get it home anyway. Buying used will build community connections and give someone their space back, without needing to use the resources to have something new manufactured.
By selling your stuff you can recoup space in your house, pocket some money, and help someone who's looking for just the thing you want to be rid of. If one man's trash is another man's treasure we just need to connect the dots.
People often look at used for houses and cars, but it can work for smaller items too. 
New is easy, shiny and expensive. It typically means fresh materials The secondary market takes a little more energy, but has payoffs beyond simply buying less expensive stuff.
Cheap acquisition: The things you buy in the secondary market are cheaper, sometimes significantly so, than buying something new from the store. If someone's selling something, they're usually eager to part with it and reclaim the space. Even though it's probably going for below market value it's still a win-win.
All that clutter carries a mental burden, and some of that stuff is certainly under-utilized, and you could part with it and reclaim the space. Even if you're not on the short list for an episode of 'Hoarders' you could probably do with less clutter.
If you don't need it, you don't have to store it. You can sell it instead.
Open space is valuable. Sometimes empty space is worth more than the thing you have filling it. There was a story about someone who parked his vehicle in airport parking, flew across the country, rented a car for a week there, then returned, discovering that parking his car cost more than the rental car did. The empty space where you could put a car was worth more than the use of a car.
There are social and environmental benefits of the secondary market too.
Buying and selling within the community is one way to build the social connections that help a community thrive. The trust, the spirit of helping out your neighbours makes life a little better within the community.
Environmentally, getting the benefit of someone's gently used couch, baby clothes, decorations or what have you means that new ones don't need to be manufactured to fill that need. That's less resources harvested to provide the same benefit.
Community resources like the Habitat for Humanity Restore, thrift stores, Freecycle, for sale or want-ads in the classifieds, or electronic listings like Facebook groups or Kijiji can facilitate these secondary market transactions.
If you need it, why not get it used? If it's in your way, why not sell it to someone who wants it?
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