Saturday, November 1, 2014

Daily Briefing for Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fall Back

DST ends Sunday morning at 2 AM.  This means we will "fall back" and gain an hour.

Fire preventionists suggest we change the batteries in our smoke alarms when changing to or from DST to ensure they are fresh....or do they?  FEMA recommends once a year, while the National Fire Protection Association has no recommendation on its website

I gleaned other guidance in my research.  One fire chief indicated that those smoke detectors with lithium batteries only needed to be tested while those 9 volt batteries needed to be replaced.

I'll be testing mine tomorrow at a minimum. 

Today At The Local Food Bank

Kendel and I did a shift at the local food bank, helping process donated food to be routed to families in need.  The folks at the Capital Area Food Bank do a fantastic job taking a bunch of volunteers who have never worked a shift before and turning them into a productive work force in a matter of minutes.

The preparedness community can learn a lot from working at a food bank.  For example:

  • If you ever wanted to know what kinds of dented cans are and are not acceptable for consumption, you will learn that in your shift.  Food bank staffs see it all - dents, scratches, torn boxes - you name it.  Given the tremendous data set they have to work with (our half day shift alone processed 6,600 pounds of food; over a week's worth of shifts, that comes out to over 79,000 pounds of food a week), they have learned what container damage is cosmetic and what is disqualifying. 

    Further, the food bank regularly donates food that has passed its "best by" date.  The general rules are that canned foods within three years of today's date are acceptable, except for tomato based products, for which one year of today's date is acceptable for usage.  The only food they require to be within the best by date is baby formula.
  • You learn about the circumstances of those in need.  Often when we try to decide on what's the right public policy position on remedies for poverty, we are content to simply look at lots of data.  Don't get me wrong - the data is crucial for good policy planning.  For example, most people are unaware that the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program - SNAP - is the successor to the food stamp program.  Even if we take Mother Jones at her word (which is hard for me to do, given their track record on a number of issues), SNAP consumes about five percent of the federal budget - not as much as many people probably believe.

    Understanding the circumstances the recipients find themselves in not only improves our humanity, it better enables us to understand the nature of the problems our country is facing.  That's not to say we'll all rush out and demand our politicians double the SNAP budget or increase other welfare program budgets, but it is to say we'll have a much better understanding of the issues so we can make informed decisions and comments about the subject.
  • You learn more about the food bank's efforts before and during disasters.  Our food bank played a critical role in feeding Katrina refugees as well as those displaced by the wildfires of 2011.  Those of us in the preparedness community need to understand what happens to those who do not have plans or resources after a disaster, regardless of whether you feel charitable towards them or not.  It's good intel to know where the local food distribution points are. 

    One thing I want to explore more at our food bank is its efforts in the area of disaster preparedness for low income individuals.  Their website makes mention of its efforts in this field, but there's not much there in the way of details.

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