Kay's Picks

    ↓ WHY I USE iHerb ↓

    Wonderful Readers!


Thursday, September 30, 2010


Bookmark and Share
Personal safety has a lot to do with not taking unnecessary risks. While there’s no guarantee that you will never be in an emergency situation, you can take steps to discourage attackers and make rescue more likely. This is an abbreviated list of some things you can do to stay a little safer as you move from place to place.

• Leave written details of your travel plans with two trusted friends who will notify searchers if you deviate from your itinerary.
• Carry a noisemaker like an electronic device, personal alarm or a whistle. If you have one, use the car alarm button on your key chain.
• Carry a heavy duty flashlight, pepper spray, or even a walking stick. Check laws in your area. In the event of an attack, be prepared to use your choice of device or it could be used against you.

• Avoid carrying a purse or wallet. These are targeted by thieves.
• Use several front pockets for valuables to avoid total loss if robbed.
• Keep emergency money in unexpected places such as shoes, bra, money belt, etc.
• Carry purse or backpack on arm opposite the roadway to make it more difficult for a motorist or bike rider to grab.

• Walk with confidence keeping your head up, eyes at nose level, alert and with purpose. Attackers look for easy, fearful targets.
• Don’t engage in conflicts that can escalate into physical contact. Criminals sometimes work in packs and try to manipulate someone with a quick temper into striking first. Later, they claim that their assault on your person was self-defense. When you have the option, walk away rather than fight.
Don’t travel alone. Have at least one other person for a walking partner.
• Treat people with respect. Arrogant strutting alienates people that could help you.
• Be willing to learn. Ask questions, seek advice from locals.
• Express gratitude. Say thank you.
• Don’t wear expensive clothing and jewelry unless necessary.
• Avoid drawing attention to breasts, belly or thighs by wearing garments that expose them. Wise clothing choices keep you from being overly attractive to predators and give you freedom to access more locations that may have a dress code. Collared shirts (not sleeveless) and long pants are a good choice for men.

• Be aware of your surroundings. Dark lonely places are best avoided. Stay in well lit, populated areas. This is a safer route, even if it takes a bit longer.
• If you see criminal activity occurring, leave the area. Some authorities arrest everyone and ask questions later.
• Public transportation and crowded areas require heightened awareness. These places allow people to jostle and bump into you – perfect opportunities for a thief.
Don’t tune out. Wearing a headset cuts you off from your surroundings, making it easy for an attacker to sneak up on you. When walking alone, don’t listen to electronic devices.

• Learn some simple, easily performed defense tactics. You don't need to know how to beat an attacker, only how to buy yourself enough time to get away.
• MAKE NOISE if assaulted. Attackers hate attention-making noise. Don't underestimate the power of one person who may come to your aid if they hear you.
Practice yelling at top volume. Tell what is happening, give lots of details and describe your attacker while yelling “Call 911!” Repeat these as often as possible as a command. Witnesses don’t always know what to do and are more likely to respond to instructions than to pleas for help. Your assailants may be so stunned to hear you describe them that they run away.

These short videos below feature Captain Steve Pearl
who elaborates on more safety measures that anyone can employ.


Sunday, September 5, 2010


Bookmark and Share
Magnesium fire starter sticks can help you get a fire going, even in wet conditions. The shavings burn hotter than 1,000°F. This tool is small enough to be kept on a key chain and weighs less than 2 ounces. Similar motor skills as those required to strike a match are all that the user will need to get a spark. Magnesium fire starters respond well to a light touch and finesse rather than blunt force. If the first effort fails, enough magnesium remains on the stick for a few hundred more tries. For these reasons, I think it is an ideal tool for women and children as well as men.

There are three basic components to a magnesium fire starter stick: magnesium, flint and carbon steel. The large, light grey portion is the magnesium. The narrow dark cylinder embedded in one side of the magnesium is the flint rod. The third part of the tool is a separate piece of carbon steel that resembles the blade of a jig saw.

To get a fire started, use the toothed edge of your saw to peel some shavings onto the finest fibers in your tinder nest. Try not to gouge chunks out of the bar. The thinner the shavings are, the easier they are to ignite. Work in an area protected from gusts of wind as these shavings are feather light. If using a knife, utilize the back edge so that you don’t dull the blade of an important tool.

Some instructions recommend creating a dime-sized pile of shavings, but with a well constructed tinder nest, you’ll likely need less. A pile of shavings equal to the size of a pencil eraser may be enough. I recommend that you start with the smaller size and add more shavings if necessary. In this way, you are able to extend the life of your tool.

Hold the magnesium starter in your less dominant hand with the dark flint bar turned upward. Hold the saw blade in your dominant hand, pinching the flat of it between your thumb and forefinger. The narrow edge of the blade will extend just beyond your fingers. Run the short side of the carbon tool across the flint in a downward stroke towards your tinder nest and magnesium shavings. You should immediately see sparks. If they don’t immediately catch, move your hands closer to the magnesium shavings so that there is a better chance of ignition. Hesitate long enough between strikes to check your tinder for a flame.

Another way to coax a spark is to hold the jig blade steady and pull the flint towards your body as you scrape it across the blade, directing the sparks into your tinder bundle. Experiment with both methods to see which is most comfortable and effective for you.
Neither shaving the magnesium nor striking the flint will require you to etch deeply into your tool. If you aren’t having good success and notice that there are deep gouges or an edge that’s worn flat, try a lighter touch.

Don’t risk holding the tinder nest in your hands when striking a spark with magnesium. It burns so hot that a flaming piece of magnesium could easily burn through human skin all the way to the bone. Instead, allow the magnesium shavings to flare and catch the tinder. THEN you can hold the nest and gently blow, feeding the flame vital oxygen.

Remember, the adrenaline rush of urgent circumstances can decrease fine motor skills, so take the time to get familiar with your fire stick before there is an emergency. Magnesium fire starter sticks can be found at most outdoor retailers for $2 or less. Purchase two of them and practice with one until you are comfortable with it. This small investment of time and money has the potential to save your life.

Here’s a video demonstration of how to start fire using a carbon steel knife with a magnesium fire starter. I don’t recommend gouging at the magnesium in this way, but the process is forgiving and worked for him.


Kay is . . .

a perpetual student of things I find interesting and (I hope) helpful to others. Feel free to use and apply all information with a healthy dose of common sense. :-)

Search By Category

References & FUN




No Greater Joy!