Thursday 02/03/17

Sunday 12/02/17 was a day everyone living on the east coast of Australia will remember. The temperature at my house was 46.5 degrees Celsius, the wind was blowing at 25km/h with regular gusts of 33km/h, and the relative humidity was barely reaching 15%. In addition to the heat, nearly half of New South Wales had a Fire Danger Rating of either Extreme, or Catastrophic. In other words; welcome to the inside of your oven.

Everyone has a tale of how they spent the day. Some selflessly fought bushfires or cared for heat-stressed wildlife. Others did their best to hide from the sun and keep cool. The less intelligent spent all day at the beach then complained about how badly they got sunburnt. Fans and air conditioners were tested to their limits. Unfortunately; so was the electricity grid. At 1900hrs, a little after sunset, just as people turned on lights and started cooking dinner, the power grid failed, plunging more than half the town into darkness.

We quickly grabbed the nearest torches, then collected the candles and wind-up lantern from our emergency supply box. After we were safely set-up, I went outside to make sure nothing on my property required my attention, and to check on my neighbours.

I was greeted by darkness and silence. Other than my house, only my neighbours and one room in an apartment building up the road had any lighting. Every other building remained in darkness. Blackouts aren’t a difficult situation to prepare for, but almost nobody on my block had bothered. Curiosity forced me to wait outside to watch how people coped without electricity. Eventually, people resorted to using the torch app on their mobile phone to provide them with emergency lighting. Using your mobile phone as a torch isn’t a problem if you’re only going to use it for a couple of minutes. ; but it chews through your battery very quickly. If you rely on your mobile phone as your only source of light you could find yourself with a dead battery and no way to call 000 if you need the police, ambulance, or fire brigade.

Chemical glow-sticks are an ideal emergency lighting alternative for those of you who are pyrophobic (or live with people who can’t be trusted with a naked flame). The down side is they can only be used once, but the positives aspects include: a longer shelf-life than batteries (for your torch), and they won’t burn the house down if they’re left unattended.

How would you cope if your house were plunged into darkness right now? Do you have some way to produce light for you and your family? Do you at least own a decent torch? (A good quality torch doesn’t have to cost you $200, but you shouldn’t entrust your safety to a $2 torch).

The next time the power grid in your suburb fails I hope you took my advice and purchased a few basic supplies for your house. As always, please share this information with your friends and family on social media.


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Thursday 02/02/17

Welcome to my 76th blog post. When I began writing my blog in September of 2014, I never imagined that it would have lasted for so long, or that I would have gained so much by sharing my knowledge and experiences with you. Over the last two and a half years I have received some fantastic feedback from some of my readers, letting me know how my various blog posts have helped to get them out of trouble, or to avoid trouble all together. I want to thank everyone who have not only taken the time to visit this page, but to read and share the information with their loved ones.

But fear not! I will continue to share my stories in my blog. Topics will still include self-defence, disaster preparedness, home security and camping tips; but I will also include interesting anecdotes from daily life (and funny stuff other people have done in front of me – I will change the names of the guilty, mostly because I don’t want to get sued).

Please be sure to check back regularly for future updates.

Thursday 05/01/17

An often overlooked part of self-defence is learning to fall safely. Sure, it still hurts when you hit the ground, but you are less likely to be seriously injured. A bruise on your back is exponentially preferable to a broken arm, or a fractured skull.

A safety fall (or break-fall, as my instructors called it) isn’t only useful in your self-defence training, it can easily be used in contact sports, during an altercation, or during the course of your everyday life. Slips and trips can result in some very unpleasant injuries. Over the years I have lost my footing a few times, but managed to avoid some serious injuries because I didn’t panic. I let my training take over. Remember, skulls and cement sidewalks don’t mix.

Unfortunately, you can’t learn how to break-fall from a book. This is one of those skills that requires hands-on instruction from a competent teacher.

At this point, you may still be thinking “I don’t want to pay someone to throw me on the ground. It’s going to hurt”. Well, if you are still debating whether learning to break-fall is necessary, I’ll share a little secret with you. In the medical industry, there is a very common injury called FOOSH (Fall Over, Out Stretched Hands). This incident usually results in broken bones in the hands/wrists/forearms.

“So what? A broken bone isn’t going to kill me!” I hear you reply. Sure, you could probably cope quite well with one arm in a cast. But what would you do if you broke both wrists? Have you given any thought to who you want wiping your bum for the next six to eight weeks while your arms are in matching casts?

That’s a comforting thought, isn’t it?

So, do you still think learning to break-fall is a waste of your time?

If your self-defence school doesn’t teach break-falls, or if you participate in a sport like boxing that doesn’t allow ground fighting, you need to find someone who will teach you. You can start by asking your instructor if they would consider getting a guest instructor to teach a one-off seminar at your school. From there you can practice at home, or in the park; the only gear you need is a solid surface to fall on.

If you don’t attend any sort of self-defence training, you might consider approaching the head instructor at your local judo / jujitsu / ninjutsu / aikido school to ask if they would accept you as a short-term student, just to learn the fundamentals of break-falls and tumbling.

If you ever find yourself approaching the ground at rapid speed, I hope you took my advice and learned how to break-fall. As always, please share this information with your friends and family on social media.