How to Prepare for a Disaster

cobs-emergencyWe all know a natural or man-made disaster could strike at any moment, yet most of us don’t do the things that are necessary to be prepared in the event something does happen. This past year has been chock-full of disasters that in many cases have resulted in areas that are still without basic services like electricity and clean water. In other areas, the services may be restored but due to the nature of the destruction and loss, it has forced people to re-build their entire lives. They have had to re-locate, look for new employment (because their former place of employment was destroyed), purchase all new possessions, at the same time as dealing with the frustration, grief, and fear of their losses.

A couple of real life examples for 2017 that are close to us, are the fires that took place in Santa Rosa, California and the surrounding areas. We live about 3 ½ hours north and many of us have friends and relatives who live and work here. We were constantly in contact with these folks as they were repeatedly evacuated. Many of the places we’ve shopped and frequented over the years are no longer standing or are in complete disarray not sure if they’ll be able to recover. The one thing that we’ve heard many times was how important their radio was in these situations. The folks who were able to monitor the status of where the fire was and how quickly it was changing were in a more confident position on making a decision of what to do next.

Another example, is the Virgin Islands and all others down island along the Caribbean Coast that were affected. We have a new team member who comes to us from St. John, USVI who got hit the hardest of the 3 US territories during Irma.  9 miles long of destruction with loss of power poles, cell towers and Internet connection. She evacuated and relocated back here to her home town after 10 years of the Caribbean life. Along with her home and most of her possessions being destroyed, thousands of islanders quickly became unemployed such as her former workplace at Caneel Bay Resort which was decimated.

So how do you prepare? There’s no one size fits all approach. Each individual and family has different considerations based on their family size, age, etc. along with the type of disasters they or their loved ones are most likely to encounter. As a basis being prepared with not only food and water but with a battery operated radioflashlight and extra batteries will be your safety net and lifeline. You may not know, but a radio with an active NOAA Weather Alert feature can alert you up to 30 minutes prior to a major storm. That’s enough time to gather what you need and hurry to shelter or to at least get out the flashlights and shut the windows.

Here are some tips for safety and to help get you better prepared – preparation will vary based on the types of disaster you’re most likely to encounter. Knowing your area and what kinds of disasters you are most likely to encounter will help you make the best plan for your environment.

  • Create a preparedness kit that will last at least 72 hours for each person in your household. Include in your kit- canned food (don’t forget the can opener), bottled water, battery operated radio, flashlights, batteries, blankets, clothing and shoes, first aid kit, money (make sure it’s cash – ATMS need power too), duct tape, survival knife with fishing kit, trash bags, zip ties, sewing kit, tarp, wet wipes and specialty items such as medications (both prescription and non), infant food and pet food. Many sites we visited recommend at least one week’s worth of water.
  • Other possible items that may be needed based on the type of emergency: Specialty rated filtration masks, water pump filter, rain and camping gear
  • Write out your most important contacts – if you have extended power outages you may not have a charged phone that has your contact information saved
  • Consider purchasing a camping stove and extra propane
  • Camera for photos of any damage
  • Flash drive with all important docs and pictures backed up
  • Playing cards or a frisbee – something to help keep you occupied if you’re waiting for extended periods of time
  • Stay home and off the roads if appropriate.
  • Use phone lines for emergency calls only to keep lines open for emergency services

Bob’s tip for potable water – A good source for drinking water in your home is your hot water heater. It can provide you with much needed clean drinking water when your local water services have been disrupted. You should filter the water to remove any contaminates present. You can drain the water using the valve on the bottom of the tank. Be sure to turn the gas or electric supply to the water heater off before draining it.

Will your Mom or Dad or Grandparents be prepared for disasters?  The stress of aging parents living far enough away that you can’t easily get to them is compounded in an emergency situation.  Making sure that they have a good radio to access information will bring peace of mind to you both.  This is particularly important when older adults are usually the higher percentage of victims, as in the case of Hurricane Katrina according to the Huffington Post article.

If you have faced a disaster with your emergency kit, what item would have helped that you did not have?

Additional resources for preparation:

https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit 

https://www.cdc.gov/phpr/areyouprepared/index.htm

http://www.searchseniorliving.com/articles/disaster-preparedness-for-seniors/

Solutions for the Sleepless

PS3-PILLOW-ls-332ed3

We’ve all been there. It’s bed time and you look at the clock and 15 minutes have passed but you’re still wide awake. Tick-tock, tick- tock, you look at the clock again…..10 minutes have passed and you’re no closer to sleep. Now you’re getting frustrated and anxious. You need to fall asleep and the more you think about it the less likely you are to nod off . You know your partner is unknowingly rubbing it in by being sound asleep, but you decide to start World War Three by turning on your radio (or Kindle or iPhone) so you can distract your thoughts and finally get some much-needed sleep.  Sound familiar?

If so, we have some solutions for you.

Our first option is the SoftSpeaker Pillow Speaker – This little device is also known as the marriage saver.  It is soft enough that you can lay directly on the plush covered speaker or you can place it under your pillow. Plug it directly into the headphone jack of your device and you can listen to whatever you want without waking your partner.  Now you’ve avoided World War Three and you’ve gotten to fall asleep (or at least learned something interesting) making tomorrow a much better day than it would have been otherwise. We have this version of pillow speaker available with a volume control.

Our newest solution in the struggle for slumber is the Amplified Pillow Speaker.  We created it based upon feedback from users of the original SoftSpeakers and it is designed to overcome limitations with newer technology. We’d heard from many of our customers that the devices they were plugged into such as iPads, Kindles, iPhones, Chromebooks, etc. were “too quiet” or “barely audible”.  This has even been a problem for some radio listeners. This prompted us to create an amplified version to allow you to listen at a volume that works for you, even when the device you’re using wants to limit the loudness. Whether the issue is your device or the fact that your ears don’t work the way they used to, the Amplified SoftSpeaker Pillow Speaker will allow you to get rid of the earbuds and the frustration of getting tangled up and enjoy your audio books, Netflix or radio show at the volume you prefer.

If you aren’t sure which solution is right for you, please call us and we’d be happy to walk you through making a selection.

Getting a good night’s sleep may be more important than you think.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are many negative health effects from inadequate sleep ranging from unsafe driving to heart disease. Listening to 45 minutes of music before falling asleep relaxes your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body relax. Sleep is such a hot topic, Oprah’s O Magazine had an entire section dedicated to it in January’s issue.

Enter to win! Do you listen to something to help you fall asleep at night? Please tell us in the comments below and be entered to win the Pillow Speaker of your choice. Drawing to be held February 20th. Please one entry per person.

A Hacker’s Guide to Alexa

FM Transmitter 2 with Amazon Alexa Echo DotAnother meaning of “hacking” is to “clear a path”. In this case I want Alexa to perform the way I want. I warn you I’m the guy who disabled the annoying “Bixby” button on my S8 android phone by gluing it down with two small dabs of clear silicone. This glue can be removed in the event of some incredible cosmic event where Bixby has something to offer me. Smart phones are only tools.

I am also completely uninterested in smart speakers including Alexa’s even with its extensive abilities except one . . . radio. I have seen oral navigation to a favorite radio station end up in terse arguments with a robot which keeps adding perceived insults to the request. The app that downloads to your phone is a not bad as long as you are willing to press the button a few times until it makes a selection. You can scroll through your history to find your favorite station without opening your mouth. This is particularly good when changing stations in the middle of the night. We keep the Alexa mic off after reflection of some of our home discussions. Question:  Can two people download the Alexa app and control one device?

I tried plugging Alexa close to my CCRadio 2E so I can plug it into the “audio-in” port. Unfortunately, the Alexa’s switching power adapter destroyed AM reception. I prefer over the air radio when I can get it because internet radio advertising is many times more repetitive and demeaning (IMHO). Plugging Alexa into another circuit about 25’ away solved the noise problem. Using an FM transmitter from Alexa to my CC Radio solved the transmission problem and gave me audio clarity I enjoy and an expanded radio dial that has infinite possibilities. There are a few potential obstacles to be aware of before you try an FM Transmitter.

  1. Some locations have a full dial of strong FM stations. You can check https://radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/vacant for a vacant station slot or tune the dial for dead air.
  2. The FM Transmitter-2 is low power so it only goes a maximum distance of about 45 feet line of sight with no obstructions.  In my location I was getting less. You can search “FM transmitter 2 mod” for user solutions if you’re not getting the range you need.

My predominant source of enjoyment is news (BBC), podcasts and late night radio, but I do love good movies and books too. I don’t think I am the only one who has shut off their cable after realizing all they want is keep your eyeballs looking at a screen any way they can in exchange advertising dollars.

Enter to Win: Do you have a smart speaker? If so, which one and how do you use it most? Have you found any useful tricks? Please answer in the comments below and be entered to win the FM Transmitter 2. Drawing to be held February 9th. Thanks! Please only one entry per person.

Congratulations to Charles Arneson on winning the FM Transmitter 2!

A Quick Way to Start Listening to SSB

SSB-REFLECT-4BOX-R4-1500Single Sideband is a comparatively unknown, interesting and important radio format that takes a special radio for listening and a little time to learn.

If we start an hour after sunset, on a weekend, it is easier to pick up your first station. Attach and stretch out your portable shortwave antenna to the CC Skywave SSB™ and select the SW band. “SW” will show on the display. Push in on the tuning dial so that it steps 1 KHz at a time. “SLOW” will show on the display. Tune between 7125-7300 KHz until you hear a modestly strong distorted voice. Now press the SSB key and let the SSB circuit download. Then press the Fine Tune Key (both key lights be on) and turn the tuning knob up and down until the voice becomes legible. Most likely you will be listening to a ham talk to his friends. It normally takes a few successes to get the basic swing of it. You can look up call signs at QRZ.com, (you have to register) and find out who and where people are talking from. The University of Alabama has a great website on which ham bands are currently active: http://dxdisplay.caps.ua.edu/.

Note: Radio conditions on shortwave change every day like the weather. Sometimes you may hear many stations on the air, and sometimes just a few or even none. Evenings and weekends tend to be the best times to listen. There is more to learn by searching the web for “ham radio”.

Generally higher frequencies work better during the day and lower frequencies at night.

Listening suggestions:

  • Daytime – try: 7125-7300kHz (LSB), 14150-14325kHz (USB) or 21200-21450kHz (USB)
  • Nighttime – try: 3600-4000kHz (LSB) or 7125-7300kHz (LSB)

Please see What in the world is SSB? Part 1 from the hams at C. Crane.

12 Days of Give Aways!

1dayofgiveaways

Today’s giveaway:
$150 Gift Certificate for C. Crane Merchandise

For a chance to win, all you have to do is comment on today’s question.

Today’s question: What is your favorite unique or local holiday tradition?

Congratulations richard t on winning this day’s give away! Thank you to everyone who participated we love reading everyone’s responses. 

The winner will be selected in a random drawing and will be announced on 12/26. One entry per person, per day please. Shipping only to the 48 contiguous states. Good luck and thanks for participating!

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12 Days of Give Aways!

2days

Today’s giveaway:
CCRadio 2E Enhanced AM/FM/Weather/2-Meter Ham Band Portable Radio also available in Titanium color

For a chance to win, all you have to do is comment on today’s question.

Today’s question: What’s the one thing that means Christmas or holidays to you?

Congratulations to dutchr the winner of this day’s give away!

The winner will be selected in a random drawing and will be announced on 12/26. One entry per person, per day please. Shipping only to the 48 contiguous states. Good luck and thanks for participating!

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12 Days of Give Aways!

3days

Today’s giveaway:
CC WiFi Internet Radio

For a chance to win, all you have to do is comment on today’s question.

Today’s question: Where do you get your most informative news (newspaper, online, radio, television, etc.)?

Congratulations to Henry the winner of this day’s give away!

The winner will be selected in a random drawing and will be announced the following business day. One entry per person, per day please. Shipping only to the 48 contiguous states. Good luck and thanks for participating!

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12 Days of Give Aways!

4days

Today’s giveaway:
CC Skywave AM, FM, Shortwave, Weather + Alert And Airband Portable Travel Radio

For a chance to win, all you have to do is comment on today’s question.

Today’s question: Do you subscribe to any magazines? If yes, what is your favorite?

Congratulations Sharon Deters winner of this day’s give away!

The winner will be selected in a random drawing and will be announced the following business day. One entry per person, per day please. Shipping only to the 48 contiguous states. Good luck and thanks for participating!

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12 Days of Give Aways!

5days

Today’s giveaway:
CC Pocket Radio with AM/FM/Weather, Weather Alert and 55 Presets

For a chance to win, all you have to do is comment on today’s question.

Today’s question: Do you prefer a “real” book, e-book (such as a Kindle or other e-reader), audio books or I don’t read?

Congratulations Terry L Story on winning this day’s give away!

The winner will be selected in a random drawing and will be announced the following business day. One entry per person, per day please. Shipping only to the 48 contiguous states. Good luck and thanks for participating!

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12 Days of Give Aways!

6days
Today’s giveaway:
CC Solar Observer AM/FM/Weather Windup Emergency Radio

For a chance to win, all you have to do is comment on today’s question.

Today’s question: Do you watch or listen to sports? If yes, which ones?

Congratulations Dave Westerhold winner of this day’s give away!

The winner will be selected in a random drawing and will be announced the following business day. One entry per person, per day please. Shipping only to the 48 contiguous states. Good luck and thanks for participating!

Posted in Blog. 84 Comments »