Build a Kit – Dust Mask – Week 10

Build a kit - dust mask

We will be adding a dust mask to our preparedness kit this week. Having worked on different types of home improvements over the years, I already knew there were several types of masks available. I’ve used one like the mask in the photo above when I was sanding drywall. But when I was pregnant and painting, I used a different type that was more of a respirator so I could get a better seal and filter out any harmful vapors.

For our kit, I could grab the respirator we already have. But that will only take care of one person, and we have eight of us. So I’m going to buy something simpler than the respirator we already have, but more protective than the mask like the one in the photo. In researching what to get, I found the CDC has a listing of NIOSH-Approved Particulate Filtering Facepiece Respirators .  These are categorized based on how much and what type of filtering is provided by each. The site also lists certified brands.

After reviewing the different types and seeing what is available to me locally, I am leaning towards buying the 3M N95 Model 8511. But I’m going to wait to make my final selection once I get to the store, because I need to buy the M/L size, and I’m not sure if they will have that model in that size. I also need to buy at least one small size because we have a child.


As a side note, throughout this series of posts about getting prepared, I may mention certain products, services, agencies, etc. At no time is it my intention to promote a specific product or service or agency. Each is mentioned only for informational purposes.  Of course as a government employee, I do receive a salary from the government for the time I work on my job, but I don’t receive any compensation from any commercial entities I mention or include in these posts.

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Helping People Navigate Government Services

 

Navigating government services can sometimes feel like finding your way through a forest

Years ago a coworker who lived in a large city in the United States told me a story about how he needed to get a permit from the city’s building department to make improvements at his home. He said he tried for a very long time, but had no luck getting the permit in a timely manner. He felt his application had dropped into a black hole. According to him, many had the same experience. So much so that there are people who hang out at the city building offices in the hall who you can hire to advocate on your behalf with the city staff to review and issue your permit. They have a relationship with the staff and know well how to navigate the system. As soon as he hired one of these people, he got his permit.

I don’t have any personal knowledge of this situation so cannot verify my coworker’s story, although there seemed to be no reason for me not to believe it is true. Also, there have been studies showing it can be difficult for the average citizen to navigate government services or know how to work within the system to have their issues addressed in a timely manner. A few years back, GSA published this study, “Expectations and challenges, Informing the future of the Federal Front Door,” which looked at understanding the public’s overall experience interacting with government. The study revealed people primarily depend on their family and friends for help with navigating government services. They also don’t understand many of the processes involved with providing those services. While the study didn’t seem to ask if people understood which level of government delivers which services, I believe that can be an issue for people too. The study did report that sometimes people are also not sure if a service is provided by government or a private entity which leads to more misunderstanding.

So what can be done to improve people’s understanding of government services and how to best navigate the system? It seems in that one city, people have stepped in to help others, although they only do so for a fee. Instead of taking that approach, it made me wonder if it would be possible to take advantage of the knowledge and skills of retired government workers. If a non-profit organization was set up with retired government workers as members who are interested in volunteering their time, could this serve as a resource for people to turn to? There are a lot of retired folks who are looking for volunteering opportunities and the skills retired government workers bring are wide-ranging and at an advanced level.

While there is no such volunteer organization available now, I came across a site, CoachMeFree.com which seems like it could help out.  It’s a site for people who are willing to offer free coaching in a multitude of topics as well as a site for those looking for some free coaching. The site does suggest to coaches not to offer too many free sessions because if you are a professional coach, it can devalue your services. But I was thinking a lot of time average citizens who need help with government are usually only looking for help with one or two issues. So if you are an experienced government worker or one who is retired and looking for ways to help others understand and navigate government, this site might be a place where you can offer your expertise.

 

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Build a Kit – Buy a Whistle – Week 9

 

Build a Kit - Buy a Whistle

While initially I thought this would be an easy week since the goal is to buy a whistle, I started realizing, I’m not sure I know where whistles are even sold. Of course to find out I just went to Google and searched. It looks like Walmart sells standard silver whistles like the one shown in the photo. I can buy a group of four of them for only a few dollars.

What I didn’t realize is just how complicated whistles can be. There are many different types of advanced models which of course cost a little more than the standard whistle. As an example, here is a link to a whistle by FutureSteps at Amazon which includes the following features:

  • 105 Decibels
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Low air flow required to activate
  • Can be used to deter coyotes

I guess I never really thought about it before, but having a whistle with me if I am hiking, running, or just off on my own is probably a good idea. We will buy one for the kit, and if I like it, I’m getting another one to just keep with me.


As a side note, throughout this series of posts about getting prepared, I may mention certain products, services, agencies, etc. At no time is it my intention to promote a specific product or service or agency. Each is mentioned only for informational purposes.  Of course as a government employee, I do receive a salary from the government for the time I work on my job, but I don’t receive any compensation from any commercial entities I mention or include in these posts.

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Build a Kit – First Aid Kit – Week 8

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is always a good thing to have on hand. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a citizen preparedness guide: Are You Ready? with a checklist of suggested First Aid Supplies. They include:

  • Adhesive bandages, various sizes
  • 5” x 9” sterile dressing
  • Conforming roller gauze bandage
  • Triangular bandages
  • 3” x 3” sterile gauze pads
  • 4” x 4” sterile gauze pads
  • Roll 3” cohesive bandage
  • Germicidal hand wipes or waterless, alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Pairs large, medical grade,
  • non-latex gloves
  • Tongue depressor blades
  • Adhesive tape, 2” width
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Cold pack
  • Scissors (small, personal)
  • Tweezers
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Cotton balls
  • Thermometer
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other
  • lubricant
  • Sunscreen
  • CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield
  • First aid manual
  • Aspirin and non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid (for stomach upset)
  • Laxative
  • Vitamins
  • Prescriptions
  • Extra eyeglasses/contact lenses

The guide also suggests having on hand the following:

  • Washcloth and towel
  • Towelettes, soap, hand sanitizer
  • Tooth paste, toothbrushes
  • Shampoo, comb, and brush
  • Deodorants, sunscreen
  • Razor, shaving cream
  • Lip balm, insect repellent
  • Contact lens solutions
  • Mirror
  • Feminine supplies
  • Heavy-duty plastic garbage bags and ties
    for personal sanitation uses and toilet
    paper
  • Medium-sized plastic bucket with tight
    lid
  • Disinfectant and household chlorine
    bleach
  • A small shovel for digging a latrine
  • Toilet paper

I’m not going to suggest where to buy the best kit because there are just so many places to get one. I would suggest when shopping for one, have the list above handy, and based on your budget, pick one which you can afford which offers the most items in the list above.

Fortunately for our family, we bought a first aid kit last year when I was getting ready to travel outside the country. So for this item, we won’t need to purchase anything extra. And we can collect the other items like garbage bags from the extra things we have around the house.

Going forward, from time to time, we will need to go through the first aid kit to make sure we keep supplies up to date also since some have an expiration date.

 

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Noncompliant ADA Facilities – Playground Access – How would you fix it?

Noncompliant curb ramp at a park

The other day I was visiting a community in Illinois for the day and met a local person  who was very excited about the new playground equipment being installed in his neighborhood. He encouraged me to check it out since he said it was the first time the community had upgraded the site since his children, who are now adults, had been little. So I took a walk to the park only to find unfortunately we are still not constructing ADA compliant facilities decades after laws and guidance have been in place to assist us in these efforts.

Noncompliant curb ramp at a park

I’ve included the photos I took of the site showing the designer seems to have intended to install two accessible points off the shared use path running adjacent to the playground (the skidsteer is parked on the path). As you can see in the photos, one ramp, in the photo directly above and below, has side slopes down to the ramp which are not compliant with the 10:1 slope. The other is a ramp, shown in the very first photo, which has side slopes leading down from the ramp at an angle which are much steeper than the 10:1 ratio. This ramp also seems to have a much steeper running slope than 12:1 slope at the very end for the last 6 to 12 inches. Each ramp as constructed has areas where a wheelchair could tip due to the steep slope.

Noncompliant curb ramp in the park

I first thought perhaps the designer was worried putting in the required 10:1 slopes (see image below showing standard) could cause the ramp to be moved over and conflict with a swingset. So I asked myself, how would I have designed it, and how would I fix this now? I like asking this when I see something I think is noncompliant because sometimes achieving compliance can be a real challenge – sometimes there is not always an easy solution. Understanding how others have approached design challenges helps me become a better designer.

Curb ramp side slopes from ADA Standard 2010
Curb ramp side slopes from 2010 ADA Standards

However, at this particular site, I believe there is a much better design that would be a lot safer and provide even more accessibility. Once I realized this, I wondered why the original designer had not just done it that way in the first place since it seemed a more obvious solution than what had been chosen. And while some of the completed work would have to rebuilt to incorporate my redesign, it would definitely be worth fixing it now before the project is finished if this will be in place for another 20+ years.

I was going to describe what I came up with, but rather than explain what I would have designed, I was curious, what would be your fix?

 

 

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Build a Kit- Flashlight/Batteries – Week 7

Build a Kit - Flashlight - Week 7

Last week, the weather radio we purchased came with a flashlight so we would not need to go out and get another one for our kit. We also all have flashlights on our phones. But with eight people, we figured it couldn’t hurt to get a standard flashlight for our kit. Plus Menards has a nice flashlight – a Rayovac® 3-LED Industrial-Grade Flashlight – for only $6.99. It comes with batteries, but we will also pick up a pack of D batteries to throw in the kit.


As a side note, throughout this series of posts about getting prepared, I may mention certain products, services, agencies, etc. At no time is it my intention to promote a specific product or service or agency. Each is mentioned only for informational purposes.  Of course as a government employee, I do receive a salary from the government for the time I work on my job, but I don’t receive any compensation from any commercial entities I mention or include in these posts.

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