Emergency & Survival Preparation Guide

STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION

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SURVIVAL Preparation Tips

How To Prepare Your Own Emergency Survival Kit

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In An EMERGENCY…

Are You Prepared?

Fire Prevention & Safety Tips

How Much Do You Really Know About Earthquakes?

How To Prepare Your Own Emergency Survival Kit

Steps You Can Take To Be Fire Safe At Home

Wildfire Dangers: What You Can Do To Reduce The Risk

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Earth Day 2010: The 40th Anniversary

April 22, 2010

Today is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

Happy EARTH DAY to everyone!

If you haven’t already been actively participating in doing your part to improve life here on our planet, it’s definitely time to think about contributing to the bettering of our wonderful Planet Earth — you could actively be doing more recycling, composting, planting something “green” (such as a tree, plants or maybe a sustainable garden), changing to more energy efficient light bulbs, picking up trash in the neighborhood, or simply enjoy the benefits of being more active by getting out and enjoying nature more by hiking, cycling, jogging, etc.

Today would be an ideal day to learn more about what you can do to improve your environment and be more aware of the world around you. Here are a few resources that you can look into for more information:

  • Try visiting Earth 911 — which covers real-time events around the world plus local recycling and environmental information services, the latest “green” tips and business solutions
  • Join the Earth Day Revolution by visiting the Earth Day Network Action Center — covering core issues and actions being taken dealing with Advocacy, Climate Change, Conservation & Biodiversity, Energy, Food & Agriculture, Greener Economy, Green Schools, Recycling & Waste Reduction, Sustainable Development & Clean Water
  • Or how about viewing Rising Sea Levels — which show animations of the effects of ice melting on a large scale around the world
  • Check out NASA Earth Day Photos — As part of Earth Day, NASA released their top ten favorite photos taken by the crew from the International Space Station.
  • See how the first Earth Day came about by the founder of Earth Day, the former Senator Gaylord Nelson, in his own words at this EnviroLink

Always Remember the Five ‘R’s’…..

Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Replenish – Restore


Fun Family Attractions In British Columbia

Are you looking for some fun adventures or activities to enjoy with the whole family when boredom strikes or on you next excursion, vacation, weekend getaway or day trip in British Columbia? There is definitely no shortage of things to do in the lower BC mainland or Vancouver Island that the whole family can enjoy together. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, you’ve come to the right place for a preview of what’s out there to enjoy with the kids.

With Spring just around the corner as well as Spring Break just ahead, temperatures are on the rise and families are now beginning to plan ahead for the warmer months of stuff to do and places to go with the kids and family. Here you will find a fairly comprehensive directory and guide to family oriented adventures, amusements and fun attractions in British Columbia. The following listings include, but are not necessarily limited to, amusement parks, family fun centers, water parks, wildlife parks, zoos, aquariums, guided tours, “hands-on” interactive children’s museums, kid activity centers, family-oriented museums , exceptional parks, go-karts, train rides, miniature golf, larger arcades, ticket redemption centers, “soft-play” (bounce house type) play centers, a few lazer tag arenas, a few exceptional paintball arenas, a few aquatic centers that feature waterslides or water features, caverns that offer tours, winter resorts that offer snow-play attractions, and also unusual or unique attractions that may be geared towards kids or those that may appeal to all ages within the family or group. I’m also fully aware that there are bound to be additional attractions out there that I may not be aware of yet but would appreciate your input in letting me know those favorites of yours that I haven’t included yet. None-the-less, this should give you a decent selection of  places to check out before planning your next weekend getaway, road trip or family vacation.

I strongly encourage you to check out the individual attraction’s websites before planning a visit as quite a few of these listings are seasonal and subject to reduced hours  or days open – also there are a few requiring appointments or reservations in advance. Most will charge an admission or entrance fee… bearing in mind that virtually every one of these do have overhead expenses that keep them in business, or operating properly – while some are non-profit and depend upon public support (suggested donations) or funding of some sort to keep their doors open.  A few are even free of charge or have discounted admission days or times.

This will be an on-going update for the next few weeks… or longer… as time allows for me to continue verifying information and adding more.

Any omissions you may find or suggestions are welcome and encouraged as this will be continuously updated for quite some time yet.

Get out there and enjoy some of these with your family and/or friends! :)

* You should find these to be quite accurate and up-to-date (as of  March/2010) as I have personally verified each and every website individually before their inclusion in this post.

BC Mainland Attractions (Southern BC)

Planet Lazer – Laser Tag Play Centers located in Abbotsford, Burnaby, Kelowna, Langley, New Westminster, Richmond, and opening soon in Surrey and Victoria

Vancouver Island Attractions

Northern BC Attractions

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*** More attractions are always being added so keep checking back from time to time. Also, your suggestions about missing or left-out “family-type” amusements and attractions are always welcome. Please drop me a comment.

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More Fun Family Attractions can be found in the link(s) below:

Includes family attractions in the states of Oregon, Washington & Idaho


Does Your State Have Money That Belongs To You?

How would you feel if you found out your state owes you money?

It’s a pretty good feeling to realize that you may just happen to have money out there that you’re unaware of — in your name — at the State Controller’s or Treasurer’s Office — even more so in these tough economic times when money is so tight and most of us are trying to be so frugal.

There are actually quite a few people out there who do have money – with their name on it – listed, for example, on the California State Controller’s Office Web site under the “unclaimed property” section. The office’s website states that it’s currently in possession of over $5 billion in unclaimed property that belongs to about 11.6 million California residents, businesses and organizations. And that’s just in California alone — now consider what may be hiding in the other 49 states treasury vaults in unclaimed money and property.

At any given time, research shows that state governments are holding more than $10 billion in unclaimed money as well as other properties. Banks, insurance companies, utility companies, government agencies and other entities across the nation are believed to still be holding at least this amount. Some 30 million Americans are believed to have unclaimed money owed to them, just waiting to be discovered first, then recovered. Here you will find state government resources for searching data bases, finding and then submitting a claim to collect some of that unclaimed money and property.

In California, State Controller John Chiang commented that, until a few years ago, state legislation didn’t allow staff to notify nearly 80 percent of it’s residents about their unclaimed ‘goods’. Now that just recently changed in 2007 when newly signed legislation allowed the controller’s office to send notices to residents when their unclaimed money is about to become the state’s property.

Think Back

Have you ever moved without getting your utility deposit back, or forgotten about an old checking or savings account? That money is still yours and you can get it from your state’s government office.

According to the United States Treasury Department, there is no centralized, government-wide database from which information on unclaimed government assets may be obtained. Each individual Federal agency maintains its own records and would need to research and release that data on a case-by-case basis. Each and every state handles the reporting and collection of unclaimed property and each state has its own laws and methods for recovering unclaimed property.

What is Unclaimed Property?

Unclaimed property can be any financial asset or sum of money that appears to have been abandoned by the owner.

Some typical types of unclaimed property include:

  • Utility deposits, credit balances, store refunds
  • Uncashed dividend, payroll or cashier’s checks
  • Stock certificates or accounts,
  • Bonds, mutual fund accounts
  • Life insurance policy proceeds
  • Undistributed wages
  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Gift certificates
  • Traveler’s Checks
  • Safe deposit boxes
  • Royalty payments
  • Court payments or deposits

State laws require financial institutions, public utilities, and various other entities to report personal property considered abandoned or unclaimed. The account or property must have been inactive for a period of time specified by state law, and the whereabouts of the owner must be unknown.

You might have unclaimed property in any state where you or your relatives have ever lived or done business.

You Might Have Unclaimed Property If…

  • You have moved — with or without — leaving a forwarding address. Moving is the main source of abandoned utility deposits and bank account balances.
  • You have retired, been reassigned, or laid off from a job
  • You have not made a transaction on your checking or savings account for over three years
  • You have stopped payments on an insurance policy
  • You have an uncashed check made out to you more than 3 years ago
  • You regularly throw away your mail without reading it.
  • You have noticed that regular dividend, interest, or royalty checks have stopped coming
  • You have settled a deceased family member’s estate

What About Paid Property Search Firms?

There are quite a few firms that advertise that they will “go out” on your behalf and search for unclaimed property that may belong to you. While many of these firms may be honest and offer decent services, you need to be aware and watch out for firms that have already found unclaimed property belonging to you and want to charge you to recover it.

Many states require search firms and so-called ‘heir-finders’ to be licensed or registered and impose legal limits on how large a percentage of the value of the claimed property they can legally charge.

Be sure to always check with the unclaimed property department within your state government before signing a contract with a property search firm if you care to go that route.

Doing it yourself is very practical and quite simple in most cases — If you can find it through the easily searchable databases, and prove that it’s yours, you can claim it yourself at NO CHARGE or FEE and by using the online claim forms which you simply print out, follow directions and mail.

Locate unclaimed money online, get claim forms and information. Remember that you might have unclaimed property in any state where you or your relatives have ever lived or done business.

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So……….

The question is asked……….

What would you do with money you never knew you had?

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How To Find Your Unclaimed Property

All 50 states have a Department of Revenue and Unclaimed Property or some similarly named division. This is the office responsible for maintaining the missing money and processing claims for it. Some states have limitations on how long they keep abandoned property before turning it over to state coffers, however they are still obligated to keep it indefinitely.

You’ll need to check with your individual state to find out what their procedures are. If you think you may have missing money held by your state, your first step is to contact the proper state agency (the links below will help get you to the right department) to find out whether your name, or in the case that it may be the estate of a deceased family member, that their name is on the list. Each state maintains a publicly available list of abandoned property holdings. If you or the person you represent is on the list your next step is to file a claim and return the form with the required identification or proof of ownership.

Requirements for proving ownership will vary from state to state, based on the amount of the claim (other factors may also come into play). Acceptable forms of identification may include a copy of your driver’s licenses, state ID card, military ID card, a current passport, utility or insurance receipts, social security card, bank account numbers, savings passbooks, checking account and bank statements, or other notarized documents. Speculation is that possibly 10% of the U.S. population is owed money from abandoned property. The state departments do not have the resources to investigate every case….. therefore much of it goes unclaimed.

Wondering if your state has money in your name?


Check out your state’s link below…..

Links to Each State’s Claim Division

Canadian Province Links

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Additional Resources:

Missing Money.comDatabase of governmental unclaimed property records

Unclaimed.org – National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators [NAUPA]

Bank of Canada/Unclaimed Balance Search – National Database of Bank of Canada

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Fun Family Attractions In The Pacific Northwest

Are you looking for some fun adventures or activities to enjoy with the whole family when boredom strikes or on you next excursion, vacation, weekend getaway or day trip in Oregon, Washington or Idaho? There is definitely no shortage of things to do in the Pacific Northwest that the whole family can enjoy together. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, you’ve come to the right place for a preview of what’s out there to enjoy with the kids. Here you will find a fairly comprehensive directory and guide to family oriented adventures, amusements and attractions in the Pacific Northwest. The following listings include, but are not necessarily limited to, amusement parks, family fun centers, water parks, wildlife parks, zoos aquariums, guided tours, “hands-on” interactive children’s museums, kid’s activity centers, family-oriented museums, exceptional parks, go-karts, train rides, miniature golf, larger arcades, ticket redemption centers, “soft-play” (bounce house type) indoor play centers, a few laser tag arenas, a few exceptional paintball arenas, a few aquatic centers that feature waterslides or water features, caverns that offer tours, winter resorts that offer snow-play attractions, and also unusual or unique attractions that may be geared towards kids or those that may appeal to all ages within the family or group. I’m also fully aware that there are bound to be additional attractions out there that I may not be aware of yet but would appreciate your input in letting me know those favorites of yours that I haven’t included yet. None-the-less, this should give you a decent selection of  places to check out before planning your next weekend getaway, road trip or family vacation.

I strongly encourage you to check out the individual attraction’s websites before planning a visit as quite a few of these listings are seasonal and subject to reduced hours  or days open – also there are a few requiring appointments or reservations in advance. Most will charge an admission or entrance fee… bearing in mind that virtually every one of these do have overhead expenses that keep them in business, or operating properly – while some are non-profit and depend upon public support (suggested donations) or funding of some sort to keep their doors open.  A few are even free of charge or have discounted admission days or times.

This will be an on-going update for the next few weeks… or longer… as time allows for me to continue verifying information and adding more.

Any omissions you may find or suggestions are welcome and encouraged as this will be continuously updated for quite some time yet.

Get out there and enjoy some of these with your family and/or friends! 🙂

*You should find these to be quite accurate and up-to-date (as of mid-February/2010) as I have personally verified each and every website individually before their inclusion in this post.


Idaho – Fun Family Attractions

Oregon – Fun Family Attractions

* Oregon Skateboard Parks – Skate Oregon

Washington – Fun Family Attractions

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*** More attractions are always being added so keep checking back from time to time. Also, your suggestions about missing or left-out “family-type” amusements and attractions are always welcome. Please drop me a comment.

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More Fun Family Attractions can be found in the link(s) below:

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How To Get A Real Human On The Phone When You Need Customer Service

Have you ever gotten so upset or frustrated when you need help regarding a billing matter, tech support, or another service related problem and all you get are automated messages, voice prompts, or seemingly endless wait time by not being able to get a hold of a real living, breathing, LIVE human voice, such as a customer service representative or (better yet) a supervisor?

Tired of having to deal with a voice activated computer or being lead around in circles by voice prompts, none of which pertain to the reason why you called in the first place?

There are a couple of very helpful websites out there that may be able to help you out and get you through all that red tape a lot easier or quicker. It’s absolutely ridiculous to have to go through a dozen or more voice prompts just to get through to a representative that MIGHT be able to help!

GetHuman and Get2Human are two websites dedicated to telling frustrated consumers the right buttons to push on a telephone to reach a human in the customer service department at hundreds of companies.

Check them out using these 2 links below…..

PS – I absolutely love this Translation Interpretation Guide to messages that the automated phone systems generate. Check this out here.

Continue reading more on this situation as well as solutions on a previous post I made on this site by clicking below …..

Charities Accepting Donations For Haiti Earthquake Relief

As news of the recent devastating earthquakes in Haiti quickly spread across the Internet, many folks started looking online for ways in which they could help or donate money to the rescue and recovery efforts. And, as you might expect, scammers look for ways to seize upon the opportunity to take advantage of search engine trends by setting up fake charity sites and sending out spam soliciting donations that will go anywhere but Haiti.

Protect Yourself From Scammers — Read On!

Scammers inevitably pop up anytime something significant happens, such as natural disaster or the death of a major celebrity, and attempt to redirect users to their ‘just-registered’ domains to infect people with malware. Disasters such as the Haiti quakes, though, have the added benefit of concerned citizens wanting to donate money. As we learned during Hurricane Katrina, large numbers of un-savvy Internet users were duped by fake donation sites and ended up sending their hard-earned money to those with ill intentions instead of charities that could actually help those in dire need.

This time around, a number of organizations have issued warnings urging those looking to donate to do their research and choose reputable charities. For example, the Better Business Bureau has a quick guide on what to look for when donating money to Haiti recovery efforts. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also has a fraud alert on its site, warning people to be wary of unsolicited e-mails, those soliciting on social networking sites, and those who claim to be making donations to a charity on your behalf. The clear message from both the BBB and the FBI is to only donate to charities that you know and trust, and if you need help, there’s a list where you can research relief organizations that are accredited by the BBB.

If you don’t have the time to do the research yourself, here are a few suggestions. The most obvious choice is to donate to the Red Cross, which has stated to numerous news sources that they have already exhausted all of their supplies in Haiti and that there are far more people still in need of assistance. However, the Red Cross website isn’t the only place you can donate anymore — the organization says you can donate a quick $10 just by texting the word “Haiti” to 90999. There’s also Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, an international organization created by doctors that provide relief efforts around the world.

There are a number of other entities spreading around Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites that ask you to SMS something to a particular phone number to donate $5 or $10. We caution you, however, to be wary of these unless you hear it directly from a reputable organization (such as the Red Cross, as mentioned above)—there’s no telling how much you’re actually charging back to your own phone bill or what services you may inadvertently sign up for.

While waiting for your donations to go through, you may want to check out Google Maps to catch updated satellite images of the destruction areas. Google is also offering a KML overlay for Google Earth as part of its partnership with GeoEye.

Google Imagery Maps of Haiti Destruction Zones

Missing Persons Finder/Information On Someone Found

Keep Updated With Google News Feed Re: Haiti Earthquake

Links to Reputable Charities

Charities Providing Haiti Earthquake Relief

The list below identifies national charities that are seeking to provide assistance in response to the earthquake in Haiti. This list only includes those charities that meet the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance’s Standards for Charity Accountability.  Click on each of the names to access a BBB charity report on the organization.  Further information about other charities is available at http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/

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Hope For Haiti Now

A Global Benefit For Earthquake Relief

— Donations accepted here also —

This is directly related to the Hope For Haiti International Telethon that will be broadcast across several television broadcast networks as well as several cable channels featuring an all-star lineup from TV, motion pictures and the music industry on Friday, January 22. Networks showing the telethon are ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, BET, the CW, HBO, MTV, VH1 and CMT… and will run commercial-free. It will also be shown internationally.

Haitian-born entertainer Wyclef Jean will helm the show from New York while George Clooney will host the Los Angeles part. CNN’s Anderson Cooper will be in Haiti. MTV says there will be musical performances and celebrity appearances, though no other talent was announced.

Donations made to “Hope for Haiti Now” will benefit these nonprofit organizations to provide Haiti earthquake relief:

The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund: http://www.clintonbushhaitifund.org
United Nations World Food Program: http://www.wfp.org
Oxfam America: http://www.oxfamamerica.org
Partners in Health: http://www.pih.org or http://www.standwithhaiti.org
Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org

UNICEF: http://www.unicef.org Yele Haiti Foundation: http://www.yele.org

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