Thursday 04/12/2014

People like to personalise their cars, I have advised you on several occasions of items you should have in your car. Your car, like your home, was an expensive purchase and it's only natural that you would want to make minor alterations to help match your car to your needs and your personality. You might put in some new seat covers, a DVD player in the back seat for the kids to use on long trips, or even a satellite navigation unit for the driver.

Decals on the windows are common too; famous landmarks, expensive theme parks, your favourite sports team, or your favourite band. All of these are fine (as long as they aren't blocking the driver's view). My concern is the current trend of the Stick Figure Family. Yes, those funny little cartoon families that appear on the rear windows of so many people's cars.

"How can a sticker be dangerous?" you ask. The sticker itself isn't the problem; it's the information the sticker conveys. If the assembly of Stick Figures on the back window of your car accurately portrays your family unit, you are publically broadcasting a lot of valuable, personal information to criminals and other predators. You have just told everyone who has seen the back of your car how many children are in your house and how many adults are there to keep an eye on them; and your marital/relationship status.

I'm pretty sure you wouldn't walk up to complete strangers and tell them about your family situation. These cute little stickers are doing exactly that; they're telling complete strangers about your family situation.

Your vehicle also tells other people a lot about you and your financial status. A few weeks ago I saw the vehicle that inspired this week's blog; a $120'000 luxury SUV with an innocuous Stick Figure Family on the window (this is why it caught my attention, such an expensive vehicle with window decals). The stickers on the back window were of an elderly lady and four cats. The owner of this vehicle was inadvertently telling complete strangers three facts about her home life:

  1. She was elderly,
  2. She lived alone,
  3. She had a lot of money.

These aren't details I would be sharing with the world.

You might think I'm being overly cautions, but why draw unnecessary attention to yourself? As Benjamin Franklin once said; "An ounce of precaution is worth a pound of cure".

Thursday 27/11/14

In my younger days, after I'd finished school and entered the workforce, several of the older men I worked with had an expression I didn't have the wisdom or experience to fully appreciate. After we'd said our goodbyes on a Friday afternoon, the last thing they said to me was "Nothing good happens after midnight".

I wasn't a wild party animal, but I always adhered to this rule. I was always home before midnight. As the years passed I began to realise that midnight was the "line in the sand" for normal folk to be home in bed. Anyone still out after this time was either looking for trouble, or likely to become a victim.

After midnight, you are more likely to become a victim of crime for several reasons;

  • You have had a few drinks, impairing your motor skills and reducing your situational awareness (I keep returning to this basic concept). Both of these mark you as an easy target.
  • Predators are either; bored, angry or desperate for fun. If they see you in your current condition, you'll definitely attract their attention.
  • It's night, so the visibility of potential witnesses is drastically reduced in both distance and clarity.
  • Taxis are already busy taking other people home; leaving you to sit and wait for who knows how long.
  • There are very few people around to help you if you do get into trouble, and most of them aren't going to be able to help you because they're intoxicated too.

Over the years I've heard plenty of unpleasant stories of bad choices and unfortunate results from friends, family, colleagues and training partners. The common factor of many (not all) of these stories is they were still on the street after midnight. That's not to say you won't become a victim of violent crime (or your own bad choices) before midnight, but at least you'll reduce your chances of an unpleasant incident.

My older work colleagues have long since passed away, but their advice is just as relevant today as it was in my youth.

Nothing good happens after midnight.

Thursday 20/11/14

Summer is here and our native animals are definitely on the move. Accidents happen, especially in cars. If you are involved in an accident with one of our native animals, this week's blog will give you a little guidance about what to do and hopefully keep you safe while doing it.

If you hit a native animal, or find an injured native animal, don't just drive off. That animal needs your help. Too many animals suffer a long and painful death because people are either scared; or just don't know what to do. First and foremost, DON'T PANIC. The outcome of this situation relies on you keeping a level head.

Your first priority is to find somewhere safe to park.

  • YOUR safety is paramount. Don't go running across the road into oncoming traffic, no animal is worth your life.
  • Check both ways before crossing the road (a little elementary, but people can be careless when they panic). Remember, you're there to help the animal, not become a road statistic yourself.
  • Is the animal actually injured, or just stunned?
  • If you ascertain that the animal is injured, use a blanket or a towel to cover the animal's head. Don't worry about suffocating the animal, if you can breathe through it they can too. Covering the head keeps the animal calm and makes sure they can't see where you are to bite you. The animal isn't being nasty. Under normal circumstances they aren't used to being handled by people and these aren't normal circumstances. This animal is now injured, scared, in pain, and being picked up by a bigger animal (namely, you).
  • If the animal is bleeding or seriously injured, use compression to stop bleeding. Yep, this is one of those occasions where you get to use your First Aid training. Hopefully, you'll have someone else with you, so you can keep pressure on the wound while your friend drives you to the nearest vet ASAP. So far, no vet has charged me a fee for dropping off an injured native animal at their surgery (and no, I haven't run any over, I go out on rescues).
  • If the animal is not bleeding but is injured, ring your local native animal rescue.
  • It is important to keep them dark and warm to help prevent them from going into shock.
  • DO NOT FEED THEM! Only give them water if they are visibly distressed.

Hopefully I've given you something to think about and the knowledge to provide help if it's needed. Below, I've provided a few links to Australian animal welfare organisations. I can't list them all, so I encourage you to look up the contact details of similar organisations in your own area and familiarise yourself with their advice.