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Thread: Just moved off the grid--need safety advice

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    Default Just moved off the grid--need safety advice

    I recently moved from Anchorage to a small but brand new cabin off the grid about 30 miles from Glennallen. I'm about a mile off the highway system. Basically, I was wondering if any of the posters here had any advice when it comes to safety issues. What are the biggest safety lessons you have learned during your years of living off the grid in a cabin? Even if it's real obvious stuff, please feel free to mention it. Any help would be appreciated.

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    Always cleat the legs to your ladder. Keeps it from sliding out from you while climbing.. experiential knowledge going on here. Think twice every time you do something when by your self. Finding the safest way, being in a hurry to get the job done will mostly cost you pain...

    George

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Think before you do anything.Let nothing become mundane. Know your nearest neighbor and habits.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    +1 on just always being mindful of what you're doing and what's going on around you. There's a great book called 'Shadows on the Koyukuk' about the life of native leader Sidney Huntington; it tells how when he was a small kid in the Interior, his mom died of eating spoiled fish at their remote trading post. Him and his two baby siblings survived for weeks by eating candy until someone found them. Later in life he lost an eye from a flying chip while chopping firewood. To make a long story medium, stuff can happen fast, be prepared for the worst if it does strike. Have first aid gear and a way to communicate handy. If you go into the backcountry, leave a travel plan and expected return date with someone. Don't burn green wood, and clean your chimney before winter. Have a cache nearby, like a fuel drum with sleeping bag, food, etc. if your cabin does burn down some winter night.
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    This from another thread, but I thought is applicable :
    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    When you live in a very small cabin with a wood stove.......and you eat baked beans for breakfast with beer.........you go out side to fart, for fear for the entire cabin exploding.

    +1 to Shadows on the Koyukuk. Excellent book.
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    Can't offer much other than to reiterate what others have said and that is to be careful. Don't cut corners, you might do something the "unsafe" way 100 times, but it only takes once. Always think about that one safety item that you are supposed to do, but nobody usually follows.

    +1 on the proper chimney maintenance. And always wear a safety rope of some sort while climbing on the roof.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    Thanks for all the advice and please keep it coming. Here is some more info about my situation. I'm not on the road system, there is a fairly well maintained driveway the first half mile off the road, then you have to walk or snowmachine another half mile. I had one neighbor and one neighbor only but his cabin just burned down this week. Chimney fire. That was an eye opener to me because of his vast experience living out here. So now I am by myself. After that happened to my friends cabin, I did nothing but study my owners manuals. The manuals for the chimney, wood burning stove, generator, propane heater, etc..

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    Safety..whether climbing the ladder..chopping firewood, chainsaw work, or whittling a piece of wood..looks like your pretty close and you obviously can probabl drive to the main highway..so that is good. Sure you phone works there...with that in mind probably got the emergency thing figured out.

    Food and trash would be second..fires, animals, patterns noticed by animals in the area and people. As mentioned earlier..not sure if the neighbors are friendly..most are there because of why your there...and they enjoy it. At least introduce yourself and get a feel for them. never know..might need some help in the future.

    If you leave the cabin in the winter, ensure all fires, stoves etc are out and been out for sometime..keep the area clear of trees close to the cabin or high dry grass in case a fire breaks out..I heard the insurance companies recommend or jack up the price of insurance if the trees or grass is witihin a certain distance from the structure.

    have fun..enjoy life and live.
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    tigerfan3,

    Some people wonít even use a chainsaw when they are alone. If you cut your femoral artery, youíll likely bleed out before you could help yourself.

    I know a professional tree cutter who has been cut by a chainsaw. He said they cause very ragged and painful wounds. At least one time in his 30-year career, his chainsaw chaps saved him. The fabric almost instantaneously gets tangled up in the chain and stops it before you can be cut. Itís amazing material.

    I had a neighbor who was cutting down a large standing tree. A high branch broke loose, fell, and struck him on the crown of his head. It nearly killed him. Now he has a big scar and a deep divot in the top of his cranium. He wasnít wearing a hard hat. A hard hat can also save you from a bad kick-back. A fellow ought to wear eye protection while chainsawing. Ear protection too, If you want to have the possibility of hearing birds chirp when youíre an old man.

    Take your time with a chainsaw and donít let yourself become too fatigued. If youíre stumbling or loosing balance on uneven terrain or in a tangle of branches, thatís a danger sign. Take a short break and/or figure out a way to improve your footing. Make sure none of your body parts are in the way when the saw cuts through.

    I can think of at least four events in which wearing eye protection probably saved me from a serious eye injury. One event was a flying wood chip that struck so hard, my eye teared up for a couple minutes despite the protective glasses. Iíve had nails ping off my glasses two separate times while hammering.

    An old army pilot once told me why he always wore safety glasses when he mowed his lawn. He said his eyes were his meal ticket, and he couldnít afford to loose one.

    Once, I was investigating a yellow jacket nest I had found in my back yard shed. Since I had just been mowing the lawn, I was wearing a pair of shooting glasses. As I slowly opened the door, the wasps became agitated and started buzzing around the door hinge in a small cloud. Then, faster than I could blink, one of them came out of the cloud and straight at my face. It pinged off the center of the right lens of my shooting glasses. Yellow jackets are generally pretty good fliers with pretty good vision. I think it meant to get me in the eye.

    A pair of shooting glasses are worth wearing if youíre bush-wacking off-trail in dense brush. I wear them when Iím swinging an ax, a maul, a pick, or a hammer.

    The best defense against chimney fires is a chimney brush used frequently. Avoid green wood and lazy, smokey fires.

    When youíre able, an extra smaller cabin with its own wood stove could be used for guests, storage, or refuge.

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    I really like rifleman's post. Ounce of prevention advice.

    I also would get serious about first aid supplies. Think serious lacerations, deep punctures, etc. Have sutures and needles, and know how to use them. Injection anesthetics from the 'caine family, with needles and syringes, and know how to use them. Heavy gauze sponges, wraps, and small to large butterfly bandages, and serious tapes. Wound cleaning liquids and antibiotics. Convince a doc you can be trusted with prescription first aid supplies that reflect the true risks inherent in isolation and aloneness. Yes they will expire but think of it as a catastrophic insurance plan.

    And remember: long before stumbling or slurring or not seeing straight, the first and most dangerous impairment from alcohol is judgment. Stay clear or pick your moments with care. Maybe get your own breathalizer if you are a user, and set your limit and stick to it.

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    Along the lines of first aid equipment. It could be worth looking at those Medcall Assist bags. Sounds like they come with some perscription type stuff and a 24-hour hotline to talk to a medical professional. IIRC they're only $200-$400.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

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    SPOT emergency satellite GPS?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CinANC View Post
    SPOT emergency satellite GPS?
    +1 what he says

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    Please include QuikClot productsin your first aid kit.There are several sizes to chose from, but all will stop bleeding.
    When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.
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    If you choose to include quickclot in your first aid kit, be aware that it has issues of it's own that can cause problems. I'm pretty sure it has been removed from most of the US mil first aid kits.
    It works as a sort of chemical cauterization and it does stop the bleeding but every bit of it has to be removed and the only way to do that is by removing the flesh it has touched. I think the term the surgeons use is debriding.
    Another problem with the stuff is it's not selective about what liquid activates it- the powder can be hard to control, especially one handed or in any wind. If you get it in your eyes you have big problems. Just getting it on a bloody hand that was applying direct pressure can cause burns.

    As a last chance method to control bleeding I would have it in my bag of tricks, but direct pressure or a combat tourniquet will stop 99% of the wounds you can treat yourself. Be aware of the consequences/hazards of using quickclot.

    If that isn't enough to change your thoughts about the stuff consider this- in almost 400 casevac missions in the Helmand last summer I never saw or heard quickclot used.

    Also, if you are going to have a thorough first aid kit know how to use it. That includes generic instructions on syringes and dosages. Get with an EMT or your doc to have them give you the quick and dirty on trauma med.

    Two more cents...

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    AKCub makes some good points on the Quickclot.. i used it in Iraq and Afghanistan on Soldiers. It works great..but does have it sides effects to be dealt with. Doctors dont like it and it can provide issues if you will need surgery. They now issue it in T-Bags if you will verses the powder substance. Works much easier and if wrapped with Kerlix or dressing..it is great.

    Nothing is better to control bleeding than a direct pressure, pressure dressing and applying a tourniquet..in that order. If one does not stop the bleeding go to the next.

    Medical equipment and supplies are off the charts on price. Be selective and only buy what you think you will need. Stay away from the "consolidated kits" Allot of those supplies you will never use in a real emergency or trauma situation. Most you can get pretty cheap from your local stores and over time consolidate a great kit.

    Remember that medical kits add additional weight to your pack..so be selective in your picking what you think you might need in regards to where you are going and what animal you are chasing.

    Also dont forget about pain meds, antibiotics etc. The faster you start fighting the infection the better.
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    You need help in a bad way, it ain't something you can pull out of your bag
    Any EMT or military medic will tell you their first line of treatment is a radio...
    when doing CPR, first step, "call 911"

    Then you get down to training/equipment

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    While the OP was referring to a more remote/semi-remote situation, I think alot of the advice offered here still pertains to those of us who live in town or close enough to be on the "grid". Such tidbits like situational awareness, chainsaw saftey, wearing safety glasses, having a good first aid kit on hand etc. No reason why we can't strive to be as safe as possible even if emergency services are close at hand. I know for myself personally, one thing I always strive to do when working with power equipment is to always wear sturdy boots, safety glasses, hearing protection and appropriate clothing for the job at hand. Not sure if it was already mentioned or not, but another easily forgotten safety habit is to always wear a life vest when in any sort of boat. I was at an outdoors store the other day and they had a pack rafting video playing. I was disappointed to see that these experienced outdoorsman had neglected to wear or bring (didn't even see one strapped to the boats) a PFD. Seems like such a simple thing to do that could prevent a terrible tragedy. Ok, sorry for the long post, no trying to hijak.....back to the original topic.

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    I've been thinking the exact same thing throughout this whole thread bairdi. Doesn't matter where you are in most areas of this state. If you mess up, you're dead. I am very close to local medical services but if I go out back to cut some wood right now I could be toast very easily. All of the suggestions here will work for all of us.

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    Redundancy- Buy two of everything and buy another when one of the two breaks down.
    Keep your vehicle maintained and ready to go in emergency.
    Church- You are close enough to the road system to go to one of the local churches. This is just to keep you from going bonkers. Most churches are simple affairs in that country but they are important.
    Bar- Just as important. You don't even have to be a drinker but pick one bar in the area and go there at least once per two weeks. Don't be a trouble maker or a whorehound-but a trip to the bar lets you communicate and know the folks on the other side of the tracks. Don't take up gambling at the bar- They play pinochle for money just go so that they know that you are around.
    Get a good collection of books and share. Believe it or not those who don't return a book most often aren't the best people to trust.

    Get out and explore. There are more people who live in a type of purgatory. They live out in beautiful country but they don't have the financial resources or the initiative to go very far back into the country. As soon as people find out about you heading in country the real ones will start inviting you to come over.

    Best,
    Maybe I'll see you out there after this teaching thing finishes up.

    Sincerely,
    Thomas

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