Smart gun: Armatix iP1 Limited Edition Set (Image source: Armatix)
There is increasing talk about smart guns being sold in the US lead by New Jersey lawmakers. The main arguments used for the smart gun are to reduce accidents and suicides. The idea of a smart gun that can only he fired by an authorized person sounds great on paper, but there are many questions that make this idea not so smart.
What happens if it gets wet?
How do the electronics handle dust and dirt?
How is it known if the battery fails before the gun is needed?
Can the smart gun be disabled by an electromagnetic pulse?
How are software bugs dealt with?
And many more
Even with the unlikely guarantee of 100% reliability and none of the above will ever be an issue, there is one question without a satisfactory answer and it’s both the selling point and the biggest flaw of the smart gun. How will someone who’s trying to help me, bypass the security to save my life and possibly others? If it works the way it should, it’s not going to work for an unauthorized lawful user either.
Guns are mechanical and most common issues are easily fixed in the field. Mechanical things can stay in working order with regular cleaning and lubricating. This is true for current guns as well and machinery. High tech devices stop working randomly and require time to troubleshoot and test fixes (I just spent 2 days fixing a brand new, fresh out the box, Microsoft Surface Pro 4).
Introducing high technology to a mechanical process is great and is often welcomed when it makes things easier and more efficient. In some cases, it interferes with the process. Firearms fall into this category because of its purpose. Smart gun technology is designed to interrupt the mechanical process and adds a potential point of failure.
There are times when we don’t know our devices aren’t working right until we try to use a specific function. A smart gun failing will more than likely happen when the user is trying to defend himself, and there’s no tech support in a gunfight.
In April, an Uber driver reportedly stopped a mass shooting when he shot and wounded the assailant before he could kill anyone. Two months later, Uber officially prohibited anyone using the service, both drivers and passengers, from having a firearm in the vehicle under the guise of making everyone feel “comfortable.” Days after that policy change, another driver shot and wounded a passenger who was allegedly choking him. That driver has since been removed from the service (fired). A month after that, another driver pulled a gun on the passenger who grabbed him and refused to leave the car. That driver too was removed.
This past Friday, October 30th, an Uber driver became frustrated with a drunk passenger when, after repeated attempts, the passenger failed to give a coherent destination or directions. The driver, Edward Caban, ended the ride and asked the passenger, Benjamin Golden, to get out of the car. Golden then proceeded to hit Caban in the head and face. The two struggled until Caban was able to retrieve pepper spray and give Golden a few sprays. Golden was arrested and charged with public intoxication and assault.
Caban was prepared for something like this happening and was able to meet force with force. Uber drivers are assaulted and abused on a regular basis, as well as some passengers. Companies like Uber and Lyft have policies that equate to gun-free zones that limit how a driver can defend themselves in their own car. But as Caban shows, being in a gun-free zone doesn’t have to mean defenseless. Caban’s pepper spray was enough to stop the threat, which is the same end result we try to achieve with the use of a firearm.
It will be interesting to see Uber’s response to this as they have a track record of restricting and penalizing the victims.
As a mother of three children, who breastfed two of them, I consider myself pretty well versed in breastfeeding. I did not breastfeed my oldest at all. I received Enfamil in the hospital and did what any other new mother without background information would do. I sterilized bottles, filled them with formula and put cereal in the bottle to “help her sleep.” I wasn’t educated on the benefits of breastfeeding before I went in to give birth and the hospital didn’t offer any breastfeeding information. This was in the late 1990s and since then many policies and procedure in hospitals have changed.
Since that time, I have breastfed one child until two years old and currently breastfeeding a toddler. With both of these pregnancies, I researched and read medical articles and made sure that I had any and all the information I needed to successfully breastfeed. Both times, I was able to designate before giving birth that I did not want my babies to receive anything but breast milk. That included water and pacifiers. By this time in my life, I knew that breastfeeding is more than just a way to feed your children.
Honestly, breastfeeding is hard work. There are times when you are just tired. Tired of having milk come in, tired of having a baby hanging from your chest, tired of always having to make sure you are wearing something that can be lifted or unsnapped. However, all those feelings are ok and they eventually pass. Everyone has bad day. You keep going because you know that feeding your baby this way is the best thing for both of you.
As to the benefits of breastfeeding – first, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) all recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed for at least the first 6 months. They also recommend that breastfeeding continue until the child is at least 2 years old or beyond if both mother and child wish to continue. Breastfeeding has benefits for both baby and mother. Breastfeeding has been shown to protect against infections and illnesses, reduce infant mortality, and reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancers. I have chosen to practice what is known as baby led weaning where I let the child decide when she is done breastfeeding. That is my choice. Naturally, you have to decide what is best for you and your family.
How does this tie into prepping? In an emergency, you might not have access to clean water to sterilize bottles, or to add to powdered formula. Infant formula has to be prepared a certain way or it will harm the baby. In an emergency, water would be used for cleaning and sterilization of bottles instead of consumption. Breastfeeding eliminates the need for bottles and sterilization. As long as you stay hydrated, your baby will be able to breastfeed and have its nutritional needs satisfied. Your baby will also have the comforting benefit of being close to you in the emergency, which will help to keep him or her calm.
Some quick facts about breastfeeding in an emergency:
Emergencies are often stressful. Although a woman may be under stress during an emergency, she can still breastfeed. This is where a support system in your family or others who are around can help. Providing the breastfeeding woman with a relaxing place (as relaxing as possible given the situation and/or environment) to breastfeed will help relieve some of the stress.
In a prolonged emergency or in a situation where food for the mother has not been available for a period of time, breastfeeding is still possible. A woman who is malnourished can still breastfeed. We may not have an emergency that puts us in a position where we are malnourished but it is important to know that breastfeeding is still possible when a woman is suffering from malnutrition.
In addition to being able to breastfeed even if she is malnourished, it is possible for a woman who has previously stopped breastfeeding to relactate and breastfeed again. If an emergency arises, a woman can latch the infant onto her breast and begin the process of relactation to feed the infant. This may become necessary if you are unsure of the safety of the water in the area or if you have a formula supply that will not last through the emergency.
There is a plethora of information on the internet about the benefits of breastfeeding. Some reputable organizations are United States Breastfeeding Committee (usbreastfeeding.org), La Leche League (lll.org) and Kelly Mom (kellymom.com.)
For any mother, breastfeeding is a powerful tool to have in an emergency.
A Legionnaire’s disease outbreak in the South Bronx has been linked to the death of ten people and sickened approximately 100 others.
Legionnaire’s disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the naturally occurring bacteria Legionella. The bacteria is usually found in warm water. Legionnaire’s disease is contracted when water vapor or mist containing the bacteria is breathed in, but is not spread from person to person. Exposure to the bacteria does not mean you will become ill.
Symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease include headache, cough, shortness of breath, high fever and muscle aches. Treatment requires antibiotics and often hospitalization. Those most at risk for contracting Legionnaire’s disease are older persons, smokers or former smokers, and people with compromised lung function or immune systems. The disease typically has an incubation period of up to 10 days so symptoms may not appear until days after infection.
Legionnaire’s disease can be prevented by maintaining any water systems – cooling towers, hot tubs, fountains and even drinking water systems – with disinfectant and regulation of pH levels.
In response to this latest outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council plan to introduce legislation to identify buildings with cooling towers in order to assess how many towers in the city may be affected.
Efforts to identify and disinfect the sources of the outbreak are underway.
Protecting the home and family should be the top priority for everyone, not just those who call themselves preppers. A home that isn’t secure is a danger to family, property and resources. While some things can be replaced, it’s more important to prevent their loss in the first place. There are no fool proof, one size fits all plans, but there are common basic steps that can be taken that would increase home security. The most basic steps fall into 4 categories: detect, deny, delay and defend.
Below is a video of a home invasion in Bradenton, Florida where a couple was killed while 5 children in the house slept. The police were notified of a problem after the alarm monitoring company contacted them when there was no response from the victims. Although this couple was killed, we should look at the video as a lesson in how we can protect our home. The video doesn’t contain the actual murders, it’s just of the intruders gaining entry.
Hindsight is 20/20 and we often look back at things and think what we should or could have done differently. When given the opportunity to examine someone else’s actions or scenario, we should take advantage of it to strengthen ourselves. When analyzing the video, there are a number of red flags that are raised and we should consider them when looking at our own security.
The three security measures that we know the victims had in place did little to actually save their lives or deter the intruders. The security camera, alarm system and locked door may offer piece of mind, but they don’t offer protection by themselves and are minor obstacles to a determined intruder. The security camera doesn’t do anything other than record what happens. It doesn’t secure, protect or alert. An alarm monitoring system is great for alerting the police of an intruder, but if the intruder’s motive is murder, it may not stop them. In this situation, the intruders didn’t have to worry too much about the locked door because the doors had large glass windows that were easily broken, allowing them to reach inside and unlock the door; 10 seconds and they were in. The last thing of note was that the light in the home appeared to be on. This allowed the intruders to clearly see what was going on in the house. It’s very important to learn from this incident. If it happens to us, we can’t go back and “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”
It’s not enough to have a security camera if you can’t instantly monitor it. Having a recording is great to see who stole your package left by FedEx, but there should be monitors that show you what’s happening in real time. One of these monitors should be in the bedroom and can be turned on instantly, no warm up period, and clearly shows all cameras. Being able to quickly detect intruders will give you time to react and take the appropriate steps to ensure your safety. Fumbling with your phone to open an app to view your cameras takes up valuable time in an emergency. From the time the glass was broken to the door opening was 10 seconds. If the intruders had predefined roles and were in position, they could have entered the home within 5 seconds. After the glass was broken, four to five seconds were spent getting someone to put their hand inside to unlock the door, and two to three more were spent trying to open the door using his shirt. Imagine hearing a noise, waking up, getting your wits about you to find and see your phone in the dark and launch your camera-viewing app in less than 5 seconds.
An intruder should not be able to gain access to your home in less than 5 seconds. Large glass panels on doors or windows next to doors are security risks. For doors with glass, having a wire mesh embedded in the glass that extends into the door will make the glass less likely to shatter and prevent the intruder from reaching inside without considerable effort. For existing doors and windows, a security film that covers the glass may be the best solution. While the film prevents the glass from shattering and is puncture resistant, after repeated attempts it will eventually give way. It will significantly delay the intruder’s advancement and allow for defensive actions to be taken. In addition to securing all glass with the film, doors should have a secondary lock that cannot be reached through the glass on the door or a window. If there are stairs directly in front of the door, a security bar can be wedged between the door and steps. I’ve heard many times that fastening the door chain is useless. Everyone I’ve heard that from had no experience with it. I’ve witnessed someone having to repeatedly kick in the door because the door chain was fastened. It may not keep out a determined intruder, but it will slow their advances and alert the occupants. Installed correctly and securely, it will give an intruder a hard time.
In this situation, after the intruders gained entry, we don’t know exactly what happened in the house. We don’t know if the victims were armed or if they were initially aware of the intruders. It’s easy to speculate, but we should be more focused on what we can do to protect ourselves if we are ever in a similar situation. When faced with armed intruders, we too should be armed. When faced with unarmed intruders, we should still be armed. It’s better to assume an intruder is armed and be prepared to face that threat than to be caught out there unarmed. Having a firearm doesn’t mean it has to be used, but it will give you the advantage or at least level the playing field. And it’s not enough to just have a gun. You should know how to use and care for it. Appropriate training, target practice, planning and drills (with mock firearms) are a must. Drills should never be conducted with a loaded firearm, accidents happen. Without practice, dangerous flaws in a plan may be exposed when it comes time to execute it.
As for the lights being on at 3 o’clock in the morning, this is more my personal preference than a set rule, I think it causes an issue with safety. In the video, we saw the guy closest to the door looking in before the rock is thrown. With the lights on, an intruder can clearly see into the home before entering, once they get in, they can freely move within the well-lit home. You may easily see the intruder, but the same holds true for the reverse. A darkened house will hinder the intruder’s visibility and mobility while maximizing your home field advantage. Some may argue that having the lights on at that time may deter an intruder looking for an easy score; giving the impression of someone being awake. Every situation is different, as is every setup. If you prefer the lights on, ensure someone can’t see in. If you prefer the lights off, ensure you can easily move about. Your plan should take this preference into account and should be part of your drill. If it doesn’t work in a drill, assume it’s not going to work in practice.
A determined intruder is not easily deterred, delaying their advancement gives you valuable time to react. Always make sure you lock doors and windows. Sometimes you may be too tired to do the walk around and since nothing happened last night, we think skipping one night won’t hurt. Always remember, we are safe until something happens. We live in a society where we have to take our security into our own hands. Depending on someone else to protect and save us is the biggest mistake we can make. I’ve personally seen a police response time of over 1 hour after an ADT intruder alarm. Although it was a false alarm, it shows the level of police involvement in some communities. While this is a topic for another discussion, it bears mentioning; it has been argued and ruled in favor of numerous times, police have no duty to protect the individual, only the public at large. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s where we are as a country. They are under no legal duty to help if we are in need of it, even if they are witnessing the crime. You have to help yourself.
In May of this year, Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation to update New Jersey’s laws regarding child safety seats in vehicles. The legislation takes into account the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
The revised law is effective September 1, 2015, and says, in part, that infants and toddlers must remain rear-facing until age 2 and weigh at least 30 pounds. When the child reaches 30 pounds, they can then be changed to a forward-facing, five-point harness car seat. Children ages 2 through 4 must be in a car seat. Children ages 4 through 8 must be seated in a five-point harness car seat, or a booster seat until they are 8 years old or they are 57 inches in height.
Beginning September 1, the fines for violating the new car set law range from $50 to $75.
I previously shared my personal story regarding my diagnosis with Sickle Cell. With that in mind, I thought I would discuss the things I learned from that experience. What can we do to take control of our health to live our best lives and be prepared for any emergency situation? Clearly, there is nothing I could have done to avoid having Sickle Cell Disease, but there are things that I realize I didn’t do that would have given me more control over my health and the care I was receiving. Looking back on the experience, I was a backseat passenger regarding my own health. I was unaware of my most basic health information, which left me at the mercy of the doctors and nurses at the hospital who were unfamiliar with me or my medical history. I think a good portion of my ignorance regarding my own health and medical history stems from not being involved as a child, even into my teen years. I went to the doctor when my mother told me to, did what the doctor said and that was it. Even into my teenage years, I didn’t get any information about my health or have conversations with my parents about it.
As someone who believes in preparedness (general and emergency), here are some things I learned to do:
Get Familiar With Your Doctor
Finding a doctor can be very difficult. There are many factors that go into finding a doctor – what insurance you have, what area you live in versus where the doctor’s office is located, and the doctor’s credentials, among other things. When researching a doctor, be sure to gather some information about the doctor to determine whether he or she is a good fit for you before scheduling an appointment. You shouldn’t just know your doctor’s name and office address. Do you know what they specialize in, are they Board Certified? Having this basic background information will help you decide whether you are seeing the right doctor for your needs. Once you find a doctor, you have to assess whether the doctor’s bedside manner is a good fit for you. My experience has taught me that the relationship you have with your doctor is very important. Being able to discuss one of the most personal aspects of your life – your health – is very important. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing your health with a particular doctor, it is important that you find a doctor who you can work with to take care of your health. Not being able to talk to your doctor only hurts you. This is not to say that you have to invite your doctor to Thanksgiving dinner but you should be able to truthfully discuss any and all health issues you may be experiencing. Continue reading →