What can I learn from disaster?
October 7, 2010 7:52 PM   Subscribe

What steps can I take to reduce the risk of, or prepare myself for, common disasters in life? The first time my hard drive crashed, I learned to back up my data regularly; when a friend's dad had a heart attack when I was younger, I learned how to eat healthily and exercise; it took a root canal for me to realise that brushing my teeth isn't enough. I've also learned the hard way that just because a young woman asks you out, doesn't mean that you can skip the step where you ask, "Hey, uh, you don't have a boyfriend, do you?" I'd like to learn more of these vital lessons without having to go through the disaster part first. Have you learned things from surviving a disaster, that you can pass on? I'm most interested in things that happen to nearly everyone: having a hard drive crash, losing your parents, stuff like that, but if there are other things I should know, I'd like to hear those, too.

By the way, don't worry, I'm not someone who sits around worrying about terrible things happening to me. It was just that I realised over the last couple of years that many of the most life-changing lessons I've learned, came as a result of some rather dramatic experiences.

Thanks a lot.
posted by surenoproblem to Education (51 answers total) 157 users marked this as a favorite
Never get a credit card. Or if you do pay it off every month. If you can't pay it off every month don't use it until it is paid off.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:01 PM on October 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

It's good to have enough accessible money stowed away to pay rent/eat for several months if you should suddenly become unemployed.

You should keep a list of everything you keep in your wallet, your credit cards' 1-800 numbers, and the numbers for the major credit agencies handy for when your wallet gets lost/stolen.
posted by phunniemee at 8:03 PM on October 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

Get renter's insurance or homeowner's insurance - whichever is applicable to your living situation.
posted by AMSBoethius at 8:04 PM on October 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

Car disasters - it's good to have in your car
- can of fix a flat
- spare oil
- spare blanket
- spare snacks
- duct tape
- jumper cables
- AAA card
- spare water [for drinking or for radiator]
- charged cell phone
It's good to know how to change a tire, how to figure out where you are, and what the weather is and is going to be.

Home disasters - it's good to have in your house
- first aid kit
- phone number of local doc/vet/friend/poison control/ICE info [in case you have pet/house sitters]
- a spare jug of water or two [if you're not into the whole "go bag" thing]
- plunger/drain snake
- duct tape
- WD-40
- fire extinguishers and knowledge of how to use them
- flashlight/candles and knowledge of where they are
- power/water/gas shut off locations

Identity/Personal disasters
- have a photocopy of all your credit cards front and back in case your wallet gets stolen, stored someplace safe
- have some way to get your passwords to important things to your loved one/executor/whatever if something terrible happens to you.
- make sure someone knows where all your digital content is buried
- make sure you can contact friends/family in a power/internet outage [i.e. not just with a method but that you know their contact info]
- know your parents' insurance/bank/will information
- make sure your insurance and banking and credit card information has up-to-date personal contact information attached
posted by jessamyn at 8:06 PM on October 7, 2010 [37 favorites]

Wear your helmet when you are biking or snowboarding. I have broken helmets both ways, and who knows what my life would be like had I not been wearing them.

Wrap that rascal.
posted by procrastination at 8:06 PM on October 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

After nearly 50 years I'd say nothing teaches but experience, be suspicious of advice, and most importantly (I know it sounds strange) if you're not having disasters you're not living.
posted by larry_darrell at 8:06 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have car insurance, because while you might be a great driver, most on the road are not.

Have health insurance, because accidents happen anyway and unforeseen problems can come up.

Put together a will, because while it might be morbid to think of, it's good planning for when you aren't able to plan anymore.

Have insurance for your stuff.

Unless it's of value, wherein writing or modifying it would ruin any future intrinsic value, put your name in your books, on your DVD cases (and DVDs if you're of the mind), any CDs you have, and other media (gamer?). When you're a good person and freely let others borrow your things, those things can be lost in their household shuffle through no purposeful intent of the borrower. Or if it is purposeful, you can go to your friend's house and easily pick it up without any trouble.
posted by DisreputableDog at 8:12 PM on October 7, 2010

Store your pictures and precious memories in a watertight case. Floods happen for lots of different reasons and the really irreplaceable stuff should be watertight.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:14 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Keep a couple hundred bucks somewhere in your house, like in a book, for emergencies.

Likewise, keep some money in your car, stored in the glove compartment or under the seat, etc. Just 50 or 100 bucks. Might save your bacon one day, and it won't be enough to matter if it gets stolen.

Also, don't believe everything you read on the Internet. ☺
posted by zachawry at 8:18 PM on October 7, 2010

I also like keeping 10 or 20 bucks in various jacket pockets, camera bags, backpacks, etc.

Distributed resource storage is a good idea, even if you aren't a squirrel.
posted by zachawry at 8:20 PM on October 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

People can tell you all the good advice in the world, but it won't do you much good (or you'll just disregard it) until you've actually experienced it.

Always check your blindspots.
posted by robotot at 8:21 PM on October 7, 2010

Always wear sunscreen.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:27 PM on October 7, 2010

First aid classes. They'll help you to keep your cool in a medical emergency and might even save someone's life.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:29 PM on October 7, 2010

Jessamym hit most of the high points.

Add to it:

* number of a lawyer (follow-on: know your rights and etc). AskMeta is not a lawyer.
* learn all about your house and car that you can find out and what you can do yourself. Find out what is a proper and good cost for fixing xyz and don't get ripped off.
* KNOW YOUR LIMITS and don't try to exceed them too much at once (grow yourself, but in a safe controlled manner).
* Buy a *good* tire pressure gauge and check your tires monthly. Don't rely on the sensor light in your car or how the tire looks.
* Take pictures of your stuff that you want/have/need insurance on, and keep copies of them somewhere safe.
* Practice safe sex.
* If symptoms persist, see a doctor. AskMeta is not a doctor.
* Know when to DTMFA and de-friend them.
* Have an escape plan for when things go to pot and you need to get out of town, fast.
* KEEP YOUR RESUME UPDATED!!! Always assume you're going to get fired/layed off/outsourced at any moment and make sure you know where to jump to next.
* Do proper financial planning - make a budget, try to stick to it 95% of the time, and try to keep at least 6-9 months of savings/accessible money to pay off reoccurring bills (rent/mortgage, gas, electric, phone - that's your baseline, food is above that).
* Keep at least a $20 bill in your wallet folded up so you have at least cab fair.
* Keep your cell phone charged!
* Update the panel box on your circuit breakers so you know which room is what; and do the reverse and label the outlets in each room, too (inside the plate is what I do). Amazing how this saves headaches.
* Get your home re-appraised on occasion so you know what it's worth. Keep it in good shape in case you need to GTFO and sell it.
* Get a good plunger and tell the other family members not to flush feminine products please.
* Do try to keep good with the parents, no matter if mom is a crazy bat, so you have a place to go if everything falls apart.
* Read the map and plan ahead and arrive early.
* Don't speed and drive aggressively, you'll have less problems with things like accidents, police, worn tires, transmissions, etc.
* Have spares of anything important handy (shirts, undies, socks) at the office. Coffee happens.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:33 PM on October 7, 2010 [10 favorites]

Make sure you know how your cellphone or smartphone reacts when you dial 9-1-1. Mine went into "emergency mode" which had to be exited before I could choose "call 9-1-1" from a menu. Figuring this out took forever. No one was harmed, but they easily could have been.

When removing a window a/c unit, collapse the accordion sidebits first, and then get someone with great upper body strength to hug/support/pull in the heavy external part of the a/c before you even begin to open the window. Bad news bears, otherwise, especially if your apartment is above a busy street.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:43 PM on October 7, 2010

Know at least three of your nearby neighbours so you can use their phone/fill your water jugs/whatever other small favours you need, in a pinch.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:45 PM on October 7, 2010

Prepare for your own death so someone else doesn't have to deal with that particular disaster. Get your affairs in order, make a will, etc.

When my father in law died we basically had to sign a piece of paper. He even had his own obituary written, we just filled in the dates. It was the greatest gift he could possibly had given us. We were able to grieve without having to think about anything else.
posted by bondcliff at 9:00 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Never get a credit card. Or if you do pay it off every month. If you can't pay it off every month don't use it until it is paid off.

The first sentence of this is glib advice that can actually do more harm than good. If you don't get a credit card you won't have access to credit when you want or need it. What you should do is get a credit card and build up a credit history by always paying off the entire bill every month.

My father applied for credit cards in my name when I was an infant, made small purchases every so often, and then paid off the balance. As a result I have decades of good credit history that will up my credit score when I apply for things like a car loan or a mortgage. They also throw very high credit limits at me whenever I apply for cards; I'm responsible and live within my means, but if I ever get sick I'll have access to credit.
posted by gerryblog at 9:02 PM on October 7, 2010 [9 favorites]

I saw a nasty accident on the highway, and a semi driver had pulled over to help. He was putting out the fire that the car had become. I now carry a fire extinguisher in the car, too, along with myriad other stuff.

I have a first aid kit that travels with me. I started keeping that when I sliced my finger open big time in the middle of a talk. Heh. Oops. I keep antibiotic ointment, gauze pads, band-aids, calamine lotion, ace bandage, cold/flu remedies, and a couple other things in there. I keep it in my car, but pack it with me if I fly or travel without my own car.

I have ICE numbers in my cell phone and also a very visible "IN CASE OF EMERGENCY CALL" set of numbers on a card in my wallet, positioned so it's the first thing you see when you open it. I've got a cardiac disorder and worry about people being informed if something happens when I'm not at home. But anybody can be seriously injured in a car accident or something, with no warning.

The time for counseling is when you realize there's a problem, but before it becomes a crisis.
posted by galadriel at 9:10 PM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have always kept an emergency $20 bill in my wallet since I was old enough to regularly carry a wallet. The key is knowing what constitutes an emergency and replacing it as soon as you've used it (and yes sometimes an emergency takes the form of a cash-only diner at 2am).

This is not applicable to most people, but when I moved to New Orleans two months before a mandatory evacuation, I learned to never drive around during hurricane season with less than half a tank of gas.
posted by mostly vowels at 9:20 PM on October 7, 2010

Have insurance for your stuff.


Homeowner's or Renter's insurance, as needed. First, for renters, your landlord does not have insurance that will repair or replace your belongings. At most their insurance will cover repairs to the building.

Second, you probably have way more things then you realize, and the cost of replacing them all at once can be huge. A good insurance policy will help cover related things, like repair or cleaning of recoverable items, temporary housing while you need it, and moving costs. After a major event like a fire, natural disaster, or burglary, you'll be under a lot of stress. Insurance helps prevent having even more stress.

Third, you can look into specific insurance for things like electronics.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:27 PM on October 7, 2010

This is not applicable to most people, but when I moved to New Orleans two months before a mandatory evacuation, I learned to never drive around during hurricane season with less than half a tank of gas.

I do the same during winter. A half tank is a good rule for many situations - civil emergencies, hours long traffic jams, etc....
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:29 PM on October 7, 2010

Seconding the advice to ALWAYS have a credit card, for an additional reason. Hotels, some gas stations, and other places will put holds (or "blocks") on the card you give them (debit or credit) that tie up access to your money/credit line--could be $75 to several hundred dollars at a time.

You don't realize it's happening unless you read the fine print, and there's usually nothing you can do about it. And if you have $300 in your bank account, a $200 hold by a hotel for incidentals, and a $120 power bill auto-debiting right now, you will overdraft. Hasn't happened to me, but I've heard of it happening to people.

If you have a credit card, use it when appropriate, and pay it down regularly, this doesn't happen.
posted by SuperNova at 9:42 PM on October 7, 2010

In a strange environment (theater, hotel, plane, etc.), take note of the exits and the routes to them. Count rows of doors or seats or whatever between your location and the exit, so that you can feel your way there if need be.

Keep a bag of kitty litter in the car trunk in winter. If you get stuck in ice or snow, sprinkle for traction.

Keep a spare set of keys with someone you trust.

Keep a copy of your most crucial computer files off-site, in case of fire or flood.
posted by bunji at 9:49 PM on October 7, 2010

Recognise when to run. Understand that there is no shame in running very, very fast to somewhere safe, especially when the other person is bigger than you or has a really good uppercut. Ego is not worth the dentist bills.

Know where you live well enough so if ever needed, you can accurately and quickly give your location to a 911 dispatcher.

If you have elderly relatives with degenerative disease, make sure all their affairs are in order while they're still coherent, able to make their own choices and decide what they want for themselves. This may seem heartless, but the alternative (manipulative family members, extreme personality loss) can be much, much worse, from an emotional standpoint and a legal one.

When traveling, make sure you have enough money/a credit card on you for a flight back home in the event badness happens. Nothing sucks more than the helpless feeling of being stranded x amount of miles away from loved ones when an act of God occurs.

Learn CPR/first aid - at least know your way around chest compressions, how to properly open up the airway and recognise what all the buttons on an AED do. Even if you're not the one providing support, having a little knowledge can help the person actually doing it.

Less disaster-y (well, in comparison):

Keep tampons/pads/product-of-choice handy - if you have a current girlfriend/partner/wife, you will make her a very happy woman in the event unexpected menses occur. If you're female yourself, well - wobbling down a workplace hallway holding a binder behind your ass is not something that works for everyone. (I have done this.)

Wear a freaking helmet on a motorcycle. For that matter, wear freaking armoured boots. Once you've dropped a bike on an innocent foot, you will never forget to protect those tootsies. (I have also done this. Never have I been so motivated to quickly and efficiently move 400 pounds.)
posted by zennish at 9:51 PM on October 7, 2010

Never make a big decision on impulse, no matter how desperate your situation feels.

Never take for granted your most valued relationships.

Never accuse anybody of anything.

Before you take anybody's advice or make a decision based on something someone says, consider the source.

Get your pet(s) microchipped. Look for lost pets immediately and do not despair. Rather, enlist the whole neighborhood, or you will be forever wondering, what if I had just tried a little harder?
posted by serena15221 at 9:55 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

When someone sticks a gun at your head and says, "Give me your wallet," give that person your wallet. If you live in a dangerous area, carry a "throw-down wallet" to surrender if mugged.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 10:38 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Never mow the yard with small children around. The lawn mower can throw rocks and sticks.

Always stop and take the time to apply compression to a wound to stop the bleeding. You have up to six hours to get the stitches. Stop the bleeding, then decide if you need to go to the ER.

Never leave a baby or toddler unguarded around any amount of water. Babies can drown in a mop bucket or even the toilet.
posted by tamitang at 10:39 PM on October 7, 2010

-Carry water
-Know where you are
-Know how to use a compass
(Getting lost in the desert and trying to find your way to camp by shouting isn't very fun at night...)
posted by shinyshiny at 10:58 PM on October 7, 2010

get things in writing when it involves money. Write up a good contract. Take deposits, before starting any work. don't deliver the finished product until you've received the final payment. Make sure the contract has a clause that says any work performed after the terms have been reached will be billed for $xx/hr charged in 30 minute increments. this will cut down the naggy little questions you would otherwise be bombarded with.

never let your passport and/or drivers license expire (and renew the passport when it has less than 6 months validity)

Don't loan money that you can't afford to give away forever. Don't loan money to a friend and expect to get it back, ever. Along that same line, don't do for-money work for friends if you want to stay friends. Nor should you ask friends to do work for you where there's money involved.

an extra set of spare keys hidden in a waterproof container of some kind, within a 20-minute walk from your house is a lot cheaper and a lot faster than calling a locksmith. (why so far? even if someone finds them, they'll never match they keys to your house)

if you have a car, sign up for AAA and maintain your membership... but I've discovered that you can call them from your cellphone and they'll sign you up on the spot for an annual membership, and they'll send someone over right away.

when you are even slightly concerned about something being safe to eat, DON'T eat it. many foodborne toxins are tasteless/odorless/colorless.

know what the natural disasters are for your area are, and pack a go-bag that accommodates those things. Include a few rolls of small change. Even if the ATMs work they spit out $20's, they don't give you money that can work in most vending machines.

when storing a flashlight, take the batteries out and tape them to the outside of the flashlight.

That's an initial brain dump. I realize a lot of those things sound like i've had pretty horrible interpersonal relationships, but most of those aren't from my personal experience, i REALLY REALLY like learning from other people's mistakes and i've heard a lot of shitty stores about those things.
posted by ChefJoAnna at 11:22 PM on October 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

Absolutely sign up for something like AAA. But don't just leave the card in your car like jessamyn suggests- keep it with you all the time. I have used my AAA membership just as many times when I was with a friend and we got stranded somewhere or they locked their keys in a running car as I have when my car wasn't working.

Also, always check that you have your keys before you leave your car. It sounds like common sense...until you freak out on the way back to your car after being in a meeting for 2 hours because you can't find your keys, then find out that you left the car unlocked, running, with all the lights, air, and radio on for that entire 2 hours.
posted by kro at 12:13 AM on October 8, 2010

When someone sticks a gun at your head and says, "Give me your wallet," give that person your wallet. If you live in a dangerous area, carry a "throw-down wallet" to surrender if mugged.

Seconding this. I ended up having a "throw-down wallet" sheerly by accident once in college -- I'd just bought a new wallet that afternoon and put cash in it, but hadn't yet moved my ID/credit cards/license/etc. out of my old wallet -- and got mugged THAT EVENING on the way home from class. So I just gave them the new wallet which had only a ten-dollar bill in it and they ran off, and I still had my ID and everything.

Also -- I'd expand that to "When someone SAYS they have a gun in their pocket pointed at you and says 'give me your wallet,' even if you are 99.9 % it's their finger, assume it's a gun anyway and still give them the wallet."

You also don't say what gender you are; speaking from personal experience, if you get a scary and threatening obscene phone caller, try acting vaguely annoyed, like it's a friend who's just interrupted you in the middle of something, and stall a little while you check all the doors and windows are locked before IMMEDIATELY hanging up and then dialing 911. This will keep you from freaking out and panicking (which is probably what he wants anyway). Odds are he's also not in your area anyway, but checking all the doors and windows are locked before hanging up is good on the off chance he IS in the area.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:29 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Don't just learn things, practice them.

Go to a parking lot and put your spare tire on. You did get a full size one, right? Run your battery down and learn to jump it.

Bucket flush a toilet to establish to your satisfaction that it works. Boil water on the BBQ before the big power failure.

Twenty bucks in your wallet is good. Five twenties is better - that's a hotel room and a box of granola bars. Or a new set of clothes. Or five gallons of gas in a local apocalypse like a hurricane or an earthquake.

Improvise when you don't really need to so you are better at it when you need to.

Find out what disasters your area are prone to and come up with a plan. Know backup routes. There was a river between my old job and my pregnant wife. I knew three different ways to get across it and get home, which came in handy when a guy blocked the main bridge threatening to jump. The secondary route was crowded and I went straight to the tertiary route, getting home less than an hour behind schedule.

Buy spares. I wear glasses and, thanks to Zenni optical, have a spare at home, at work and in each of the family cars. I do the same thing with swiss army knives.

Talk to people who have had to deal with a dead relative or bail someone out of jail. Who did they call? What do they wish they had known? These are things on my to-do list.
posted by codswallop at 1:37 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

You know the pull out method?

It doesn't work.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:39 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Wear a seatbelt.
posted by Kerasia at 1:42 AM on October 8, 2010

Take an emergency first aid course. Do whatever top-up courses they recommend at the appropriate intervals.

Have a pension and make regular contributions.

Make a list of all the phone numbers to ring to cancel your credit cards if you lose your wallet.

If you use contact lenses, carry a spare pair in your bag.

Find a plumber you trust and put his/her number in your phone.

If you're driving over the hills in winter, carry a shovel, some cat litter, jump leads and enough supplies to sleep in your car in the cold. If you do this often, put them all in a "winter bag" and leave it in your car in winter.

If you're driving anywhere in bad weather, wear or carry enough clothes to sit outside the car waiting for the AA in reasonable comfort. This should include some shoes that are not high heels.
posted by emilyw at 1:54 AM on October 8, 2010

* If you ever walk into your home and there's reason to have a "something's not right" moment (water on the floor, door is slightly open, something smells like gas, etc.), stay outside and take a few minutes to regroup before you jump in to figure out what's going on.

* In all relationships, when you have that "this doesn't feel right" little voice, just listen to it. It's always right.

* If you're a parent, it's better to have a stressless cereal/pizza delivery dinner with the family than a parent-is-tired-and-now-has-to-sigh-heavily-while-stressing-to-cook-a-balanced-meal sit down.

* That little pain that's not getting better? Just go to the doctor already.

* If someone dies and somehow you end up responsible for making arrangements, don't use your own credit cards to pay for food for visitors, burial costs, etc.
posted by dzaz at 3:09 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Imagine what it would be like to lose the important people in your life. Picture yourself coping when your brother/sister/mum/dad/partner/friend/dog dies.

I occasionally imagined how I would react if my parents died, and it turned out to be really good practice for the day I was woken at 5am to find out my dad was dead. Of course I was a wreck... but I knew what to do. (My dad did not die after a long illness, in fact he appeared to be fighting fit right up until the moment his heart blew itself to bits, so his death would have been an even more major shock had I not visualised the possibility before).
posted by autocol at 5:57 AM on October 8, 2010

Here's one for the women that I learned the hardest possible way, through my sister's death:

No matter how young you are, if you have a lump in your breast, go to the doctor immediately. Insist that he or she deal with it immediately. It doesn't hurt to get it removed even if it turns out to be benign. You are not overreacting -- you have to be your own advocate.

I will always wonder if the many weeks waiting for a biopsy (after the radiologist had told her that the lump looked benign) could have made a difference for my sister's very aggressive cancer.
posted by cider at 6:02 AM on October 8, 2010

Just slow down when you're driving. No meeting or work shift or dinner date or doctor's appointment is worth the hassle of a speeding ticket or worse (much worse.) Your life, your passengers' lives and the lives of other drivers are worth a lot more than saving 10 minutes on your commute.

Less seriously, never store sentimental items (like high school yearbooks) in cardboard boxes on the floor of your basement during the rainy season.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:19 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Regarding what SuperSquirrel said about slowing down: also consider getting up/going 10 minutes earlier. For a long while, I would say to myself "I'd be less stressed/worried/behind if I only had ten more minutes." Then I started getting up 10 minutes earlier or doing 10 minutes less web surfing or what have you. And I was less stressed.

As a matter of fact, I have to leave right now!
posted by aureliobuendia at 7:55 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you don't plan on taking out any new loans for a while (for example, if you already own your own home, have a credit card, etc.), consider putting a freeze on your credit reports. This will prevent other people from checking your credit/taking out loans in your name, and you can unfreeze when someone needs to run a credit report on you, i.e. if you were to refi. There are small fees associated with freezing and unfreezing, but in my mind, well worth the peace of mind knowing no one can check your credit without you first agreeing to it.
posted by snowymorninblues at 9:56 AM on October 8, 2010

Do not type through the pain. It feels like muscular pain, but it's not: it's RSI taking hold.

If you regularly spend more than 4 hours at the keyboard without breaks (mostly programmers and authors) you're at risk. Read everything you can on RSI prevention, and be kind to your body. No deadline is worth busting your wrists.

This is my RSI story, and this is my RSI advice.
posted by gmarceau at 10:53 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

If you own a weapon, make 110% sure you know how to use it. Properly use it. In a way that, ideally, won't get you arrested. If you own a weapon, make 210% sure it is secure.

Don't panic, and always have a towel.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me three times.... stop it!

Deal with problems early, before they become big problems.

Take time to deal with personal issues/character flaws, etc. You are worth investing in.

Love your family.
posted by Jacen at 11:00 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Don't soldier on through a prolonged period of stress and anxiety. Choose to alter the circumstances, or your body will make that decision for you. You may have to abandon ship, and that won't feel good, but your mental and physical health are not, not worth the price of staying the course.
posted by kitcat at 6:30 AM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Never fry chicken while naked.
posted by ouke at 4:43 PM on October 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Don't believe it when you are told that the prognosis is very good; don't believe that you will be better able to spend time with the sick person once they are better and not in intensive treatment any more. Big mistake. Huge.

On a very different note: three times on separate occasions in the past three years, I have smelled something and thought, "that's (natural) gas." The first two times, other people told me I was mistaken; the third, it was faint enough that I told myself I was mistake. On all three occasions, it was a gas leak. If it smells like gas, assume it's gas until you've sniffed all your gas pipes and/or gotten the gas company out there.

(Once, a pipe had loosened in our basement, we think because of a freak earthquake. The second, our friends had had their furnace worked on (and had a whole party of people saying "it's gas!" and they insisted it was sealant or something.) The third, the lead to our meter was broken, because of subsidence due to a major drought.)
posted by endless_forms at 9:59 AM on October 10, 2010

Cycling: Wear a helmet. A helmet turns an awful life altering accident into a couple of scrapes. Keep a mini pump on your bike, and a tyre puncture kit and spare tube in your saddle bag.

Travelling: Nthing the 'throw down wallet'. This has worked when I've been mugged. Email yourself scans of all your important documents (passport, licence, plane tix..etc), so you can access them if you lose all that stuff - I used to keep a photocopy of these in each bag, but the internet has made that redundant.

If you wear contacts, carry your glasses with you in cae you lose a contact or your eyes get sore.

Get one of those keyring microtools (i.e., Leatherman Micra) and a keyring torch. it's amazing how many situations having a decent blade, screwdriver and torch can get you out of.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:31 PM on October 10, 2010

Have a living will, and make sure that the people who will have to make decisions for you understand it completely and have quick access to it. Force your loved ones to do the same.

When you need that information, you really need it.
posted by punchtothehead at 7:03 AM on October 11, 2010

Carry a keychain LED flashlight always, especially during times when it will be dark out for most of the day. Having to find a dropped precious item, animal, etc. will be much easier. You can use it to signal for help. There are many uses. Same goes for a multitool, either keychain or in the car.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 10:29 PM on October 11, 2010

If you are the executor of someone else's will, the first thing you should do after they die is CHANGE THE LOCKS to make sure nobody takes anything. Taking stuff may seem entirely justified -- perhaps the deceased was senile and promised the same vase to seven different people, and there may be numerous keys floating around. Securing the property until everyone is on the same page and the will is read can prevent years of bad blood.
posted by benzenedream at 6:48 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

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