Friday, November 23, 2007

ICE NEWSLETTER - Template Available NOW!

ICE4SAFETY ICON - Universally More Recognizable

Hard to argue that amongst all the myriad of confusing or hard to recognize symbols applied to various commercial products the ice4safety icon stands out the best. We have looked at them all and for one reason or another they attempt to emulate the original NHTSA "Star of Life" emblem - some with downright infringement - others with poor color choices.

Worst part? You can't use them unless you buy something! We'll keep coming up with more ideas on how to do it yourself.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Preparedness Tip - Flashlights Part 1

Depending on what your plan of action is in case of an emergency and where you might be at the time and where you plan on going - if you can do so, having a dependable light source is essential. Most commercial "survival kits" found online are just garbage with 50 cent flashlights.

Let's try and drill down here so you don't waste a lot of time and effort in acquiring the wrong tools and ending up in a world of poo.

Keep in mind that every item you acquire for the purpose of being prepared should have more than one use - same with flashlights. That said, if you have more than one type of light and they use more than one type of power source (other than say crank powered lights) you need to reassess. If you live in cold climates and need a reliable light it must be powered by batteries that work in and can be stored in cold temperatures without loss of charge.

Remember batteries work by a controlled chemical reaction...the colder it is the less reaction is going on. Lithium and lithium -ion batteries work down to 40 below and can remain charged up to 10 years ( I have some still charged going on 17 years!) There are some batteries that will not work until they are twisted to start up the reaction (Code Red) and these can store 20 years. But to keep it simple (KISS) having a light that requires little effort to turn on is best - you may be injured and have limited use of your hands.

Large deer jacking spotlights with cords or 6V lantern battery lights are heavy and while provide large amounts of light, are simply too big. Old fashioned 2 cell D lights and bulbs are out as well - too fragile. Miniature know the answer - with the exception of Innova MicroLights and Princeton Tec key chain lights or a Princeton Tec Blast Light....carry them always.

Rechargeable lights are great tools for cops and fire/ems as they need them every day. Maglite, Streamlite, Laser Products, Pelican are some well made (and expensive) lights. Innova Lights are hard to break and offer economy and performance using lithium batteries and LED's that will last forever. Some lights are waterproof and others weather resistant...make sure you know what you want...and are willing to pay for. Cheap imitations are just imitations and when you really need them...they generally fail. Carrying spare bulbs can add weight as they require protective containers to store the bulb and reflector as one unit. LED's are permanent.

Rechargeables usually last about an hour to an hour and a half unless you pay a lot more for heavy units that can last up to 5-6 hours....firemen carry these. Laser products offers plenty of models in small sizes and also lithium models that are pretty much top of the line - I have had the original 6P model since they came on the market in the 80's and it still uses the original bulb. The military and police services use these a lot as well. Drawbacks - battery drain is high and if you are not disciplined in using the light you will have a dead lamp real soon.

You can choose to carry a lot of CR123 photo batteries - and they are cheaper now....and the batteries come in a rechargeable RCR123 charging can take some time (especially in the northeast) and there is weight again...but may prove useful if you use this in conjunction with a RCR123 powered UV Steripen for water purification....don't rely on multiple battery platforms or you will go crazy trying to keep them all powered.

First Choice.....Innova 5 LED Lithium powered lamp at about $34 average at Brigade Quartermaster or Target stores. They have a lanyard so you can hand in a shelter and will last 20 hours on one set of batteries - plenty for a 3 day bug out. You can get a case of twelve CR12 Batteries for about $20 or less....Carry one in your car(s) and purse and bug out type bag with some spare batteries wrapped in a paper tube or suitable--- protection so you can find the batteries and use the paper to start a fire or write a note. The light is bright enough especially in total darkness but it is not a spotlight. Carry on your belt or in a pocket.

Need a spotlight using halogen lamps...then spring for the Surefire 6P or G2 Nitrolon in Polymer -$36. Get the Yellow colored version so you can find it after you drop will drop it... There are high output bulbs for the Surefire lights that only work for about 20 minutes on a set of batteries - don't get those. Maglite and Streamlite make a stun strobe light that is super bright but good only for police work or home defense. Let's not be dreamers here thinking we will be lighting up the Super Dome.

Gadgets cost money and take up space and are heavy.

Remember you want a light that is unobtrusive, durable and can work for long periods of time.
Always have a key chain light on your key chain or bag...they have 2 light levels and a strobe...imagine that. You will use these all the time once you have them. Good.

If you opt for something different...a headlamp is a good idea. You can power these in a variety of ways...AAA, CR123's, AA, is on your head so think about weight. Belt power packs are too cumbersome. 1 Watt LED bulbs are plenty bright. Black Diamond, Princeton Tec , Petzyl, are good brands. Brigade has some good lamps ...

In summary: small, durable,LED, Lithium powered, simple on/off with push button. More later.

Read About ICE4SAFETY from Around the World

Some Quick Links from the USA and Europe about ICE...more to come...

Italian Red Cross Website

How about the North River area near Chicago supporting ICE

Boca Raton Florida support of ICE

Munson Health Care, Traverse City, MI

Delaware Citizen Corps

Sites You'll Like

Traverse City Record-Eagle

Midlothian Texas - DFW's Southern Star - Free ICE Stickers at City Hall


Chesterton Health Info

Skokie Valley Power Squadron - Running Lights Newsletter

Rocket Madness Motorcycle Gear

More to Follow....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Programming ICE - Cell Phones - Detailed Advanced Lesson

There have been many requests for information on how to program your cell phone and what other options might be available to people wanting to be prepared. You can copy and paste this info to help others or read it and do it.
In the safety biz it is called a "Tool Box Talk"... so consider it so.
If you are not a tech-savvy problem...we can take this in small doses....
Many new phones that you receive from the major carriers or large stores offer a variety of services you may not want or ever use that can get in the way of making a simple phone call!
Phones now have at least two places where information can be stored. Some basics.
One storage device is a SIM CARD (subscriber information module) found on today's mostly GSM Phones- a little plastic device that normally resides under the battery and is about the size of a fingernail.
Each provider "locks" their phone so only their SIM works with their phone. Phones can be "unlocked" so you can use a SIM from any provider in any phone. Why you might need this tidbit of info is because you might want to change phones or SIM's and find they don't work and may be wondering why.
(Find out more about SIM cards and locked phones in greater detail at: )
You can store about 250 phone numbers there. Your phone will allow you to save your phone numbers here so that if you decide to change phones at some point - you can remove the card and plug it into another phone and not lose the phone numbers. Convenient.
Additionally, you can opt to save phone numbers (your "address book") in your cell phone memory itself - sort of like the hard drive of your phone. Is there an advantage to this? Yes. If your card fails or it is lost due to accident or dropping (it could happen) or you forgot to put it in your phone because for some reason you change phones (yes, that happens too) then you will have a back-up (like that hard drive again) of the important phone numbers - like ICE CONTACTS resident on your phone's memory! Not sure if it will be able to access the service but the contact info will be on board still.

Okay, is there a third storage method - yes....a small SD Card might reside in your phone to help you store pictures taken with your phone camera (more on that in a second) and video and music downloads. You can store data here and pictures/video and music...but it is generally too difficult for someone to find Emergency Contacts needed in a hurry....please remember that point and the KISS principle in play here. What we can do with this feature if you have it is to store a picture of yourself there and label it "PHONE OWNER" in case the phone is lost or stolen.
You can also take a picture of yourself and use it as the background display for your phone - in some situations like a job site where English is a second language it may be practical.... Some phones have video capability as you could create a short video that someone could view -but in an emergency it won't happen...later on it might be possible but the likelihood is low. An option certainly...but as a first responder I won't be looking at it - no way.
Another good idea is to upload the ICE graphic and use this as a background display and one that displays on the phone cover during opening and closing. Can't problem if you have a camera then take a picture and import it as your display does work when you open the phone - voila' there is ICE. This is another way to increase the chances someone looking in your phone will know it is ICE'd !
If you really want to keep it simple and don't think programming is for you then you could look into a Jitterbug Phone - 3 buttons 911/Tow/Operator......yes, an you remember them? Go to and get more info. These phones are louder and have bigger buttons and simple controls for making phone calls.
Back to the complex stuff again....we will save Blackberry type phones and the newer I-Phones for another day. You may hope that those helping you are savvy enough to use your phone - if not you might better carry and ICE is great but when things go bad - simple rules!
Okay, so now you know you can program phone numbers into both the SIM Card and the Phone Memory and use picture and videos to store info about yourself on your phone and set the background to show your face or the ICE icon and a start up message that says "EMERGENCY CONTACTS IN PHONE" which will pop up when the phone is turned are on your way.
All phones being different, you will want the ICE Contacts to show up first and foremost when the phone address book is accessed.....if you list as ICE MOM or ICE will have to access the "I" part of your phones address book.....try listing this way:
AA ICE EMERGENCY - this will show up on top and scroll across the screen. An icon will tell you that it is stored into either the SIM CARD or the Phone Memory (or both - you want both remember) don't assume everyone knows what ICE means - they DON'T....yet.
You can store more than one number in a group titled as Emergency Contacts or list them separately in order of importance (like who would be more likely to be available).
AA1 ICE EMERGENCY will place this ahead of others then use AA2 ICE Emergency etc....
Another way is to use a symbol like an asterisk (*) in front of the text entry which dictates it goes to the front of the address menu. It works but if you can store the above text - do it...remember in an emergency people are rushed and confused or in might be YOU using your own phone...maybe you are having a psychological issue and not a medical one and need help...try not to let others dictate, pigeonhole or limit the potential of this concept - you will see this from the usual outlets of marginal info. Not here.
Don't forget to let your contacts know about their being on your contact list and just what that do you have a DNR Order on file or are you an organ donor or you have certain medical conditions or religious practices you want adhered to.
Okay, let this suffice for today and I am sure someone might have more ideas and a trip to the Verizon or AT&T store will reveal new products with contact options built in ...Hope this helps everyone with a cell phone.

Monday, November 19, 2007

ICE - Start Your Own Emergency Vial Program

Using the ice4safety VersaCard you can create your own Emergency Medical Information Program for Seniors, Nursing Home Safety Programs and Shut Ins if a large Drug Chain isn't subsidizing an ad campaign to get more business in your area. Even if they are you can do it yourself.

Remember ICE is a free DIY concept.

You can use the ice4safety VersaCard on your home or apartment entry doors and then place an ICE Medical Card on your person or even stick it to the refrigerator door....maybe you prefer EMS not go through your refrigerator unless they need to retrieve some medications.

Meal on Wheels Programs are a good way to distribute these stickers and people can be set up in mere minutes. The picture here shows an ICE Medical Card front and back in a side by side Clear Vinyl Stick on Envelope.

This can be stuck on your wall or refrigerator or on your wheel chair or walker if need be.

Not sure on how to get started...send an email and we can get you going in a snap....more ideas on the burner awaiting time to enter in the blog.....plenty of nursing homes have contacted to get info and CD's to start their own programs.....just takes a moment. Still free....

Sunday, November 18, 2007

ICE - Winter Ski Safety

Let's talk briefly about ski safety today...

130,000 kids are injured every year in snow ski related accidents and most deaths while skiing can be attributed to head injuries....Lesson 1....Wear a Helmet.

Skiing injuries are on the increase, but by using a helmet you can reduce your rate of injury by about 53% say the experts...Lesson 2..... Wear a Helmet. Check out Lids on at for more info on this important topic.

Most if not all ski areas are in more remote locations and have volunteer ambulance corps that respond to emergencies...some mountains might have professional crews on site already during peak times....some mountains may have more extensive first aid capabilities....some may not.

When was the last time you sent your kid off skiing/boarding assuming emergency crews or hospital ER staff knew how to contact you or another relative in the event of a serious injury? Sometimes the nearest hospital itself may be 30-60 minutes out....if you are still thinking about it, you might recall from earlier blogs that on average it takes 5 hrs and 51 minutes for someone (you) to be notified in the event of an these folks on ski patrols are a pretty sharp bunch no doubt...and are there in a snap doing what they train repeatedly to do and are right there skiing on the mountain....but they could also benefit from your being more prepared.

If your school ski program has you fill out a liability waiver and emergency medical/contact info sheet that someone else inevitably carries with them on the ski trip...wouldn't it be a better idea to have each child also carry ICE info on their person?
If the school monitors are out of communication ( real easy) with the ski patrol or the lodge office when they find your child...why waste time? Got special medical needs....maybe your child has an alert bracelet that requires you to call an 800 number...more delay....RFID chips?....okay you have them built into your North Face Jacket but that's great if you are lost in an avalanche....not too many of those out east....and if they work.....

Lesson 3 ....Get you school ski club or ski hill to Sponsor ICE and give out the stickers and cards so everyone is on the same page - like how much is this going to cost.....about 20 cents each. Add in a few lessons about the National Ski Patrol's Resonsibility Code at
For sure...take some time and get more acquainted with your school's safety procedures while on the mountain and how those entrusted with your child's safety are trained to respond in an emergency.....and learn more about the relationship between the mountain and the Ski Patrol itself.....or become a Ski Patroller - an investment in time but a good one (if you like to ski).
Plenty of time left this season....have some fun knowing you're a bit more prepared.....In Case of Emergency.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Preparedness Tool Box Talk - Public Utility Shutoffs

Okay, another simple tip here....water lines and gas lines to your home (if you own a home or live in one) in most parts of the country are underground. The shutoffs to these lines are usually located underground and adjacent the roadway as well.

That being the case for many, you can reduce your chances of your house being flooded or filled with gas doing some advance preparation. Instead of waiting for the water utility person (on call) in your area to show up when your incoming line is broken or your internal water shutoffs don't work to contain a leaking water pipe, get to know where the external shut offs are located.

Mark them as would the underground utility locator would (picture) with the APWA Uniform Color Code colors. Learn to recognize what they stand for. That will help the utility folks find them if they get there before you do! Also note that if your shutoff is located with your meter outside your home at the foundation or on your front lawn....get yourself a wrench that specifically fits over the shutoff valve. Teach your family where it is and how to use it. Locate the wrench prominently in a place marked to contain emergency equipment (there's that ICE idea again...). Paint the valve using the appropriate color code above.

Your utility company might stop out free if you request them to "work" the valve by closing it off and on a few times if you haven't done this in recent memory. That way if you have to do in an emergency it will work and it will lessen the chance of you forcing the valve and breaking it - making your problem worse. You can work it yourself periodically to make sure it works easy when needed.

The underground gas shutoff is fairly easy to access. If you improved your landscaping and covered the shut off...find it and mark the location...the valve itself is down in a small shaftway and it might be covered with dirt and debris...use a flashlight as the shut off is reflective. If you can't see it then you need to clean out the access to the valve....don't think it is going to be easy to fix when there is an emergency and maybe your house is going up in flames. A strong vacuuming may just do the trick.

Building a shroud around the shut off if it is below grade may be in order....some PVC with a cap and colored yellow would work...keep it below the lawnmower blade or you will have created an unsafe condition.

Underground water valve wrenches can be obtained at plumbing or hardware supply stores or even Lowe's. Gas shut off's for underground may have to be crafted from a water shutoff because no one want to sell you an underground shutoff. Certainly not the utility as they are afraid you would turn the gas back on after you failed to pay.....

If you have a propane tank outside make sure everyone at your home knows how to shut off the valve and any heaters you have that vaporize the fuel. Some folks use reclaimed water in their neighborhoods....find out more about where they are located and how they are used.
If you have sewer lines in your area that rely on pumps to move the effluent....ask what would happen if those pumps failed for a long period of time...maybe it will be a localized overflow or a major to know ahead of time for a variety of good reasons. Crews with generators that show up at sewer pump stations or manholes when the power goes out would indicate an important (and maybe large) conduit for sewage is traveling nearby.

Both tools might cost about $10 although I got one for 99 cents on clearance. Get your measure out and see if you have the correctly sized tool. Yeh, it could be a pain, but so would shoveling up or sopping up all your burnt belongings....

Friday, November 9, 2007

Minimalist Preparation Tip - Kit in a Can

Some skeptics think they will never find themselves in a predicament they couldn't overcome.....they have watched all the Survivorman episodes on TV and are all set. We all know one or more of these people and they may even be close relatives....well the folks at Coghlan's must know them as well because they put this mini kit together in a sardine can.
Give or take about 28 items in this lightweight and compact kit. If you really hate the thought of assembling or carrying anything larger - maybe your spouse or kids hate it as could potentially have them "hold" this for you next time you venture outdoors...or leave it in their glove box, console or purse....about $12 in stores or from Camping Survival online as well...
TSA won't let you carry this onto the don't try it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Vehicle Safety - Emergency Flares - Prep Tip 1

So, how many of you reading this can actually say you have a set of road flares in your vehicle? Not many I will venture. If you did would you know how to use them? Are you familiar with setting up a pattern behind your disabled vehicle?
We have had these spectacular items in our vehicles for 6 months now ...they are the modern equivalent of a road flare - minus the burning, smoke, burnt pants and fingers....if you have set up a lot of flares on the highway you know what I mean.
These little LED lights are bright and have magnets so they can attach to your vehicle in a variety of configurations if you are broken down along the highway. They are amber or red and are powered for 20 hours (versus 30 minutes max for a road flare) in the flashing mode and 6 hours of steady-on mode by only 2 AA batteries.
Some people insist on leaving their car flashers on before they take a hike to a service station or exit only to find that upon returning they now had to deal with a dead vehicle battery.
I recommend using lithium batteries to power the flares as they will remain viable for up to 10 years - maybe longer than your car or SUV. They are designed to be set up on the roadway as well and are crush resistant.
They are called FlareAlert and can be purchased in many auto parts, marine and truck part stores or online at We have seen them priced from $6 to $15. You will note the sticker over the battery compartment indicating a vehicle registration they can be traced back to you by the police if they choose to return any you may have left behind. If you can get them on clearance - get 6 for your car.
A more expensive police version of these are TurboFlare 360's but they cost $35 each. At that price, I'd feel bad if someone "borrowed" these from the scene.