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Prepare with a Toilet Kit

One of the most neglected but perhaps most important in preparing for disasters is personal hygiene and toileting. There are many common and preventable diseases spread from feces not handled properly. If the water supply is limited or not available, the decision on water use for drinking or handwashing becomes apparent. Following a natural disaster (hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes) the leading causes of illness and death are diarrheal and respiratory infections. Infections spread rapidly when there isn’t adequate waste disposable available.

During a major disaster, basic services such as electricity and water service are likely to stop. Sometimes these services stop or are severely disrupted for extended periods of time.

Hurricane Fiona, which has plunged Puerto Rico into darkness and no water is a recent example of a natural disaster. As of this writing 760,000 residents are either without water or suffering significant disruptions of running water. This is a human disaster of epic proportions.

When being forced to decide between using water for personal hygiene or drinking, the answer becomes very apparent. We need daily intake of clean water to survive.

Set up buckets

Before the disaster: Remember, when preparing, 2 is one and one is none. Also be aware that it is wise to have 2 buckets ready in case someone does become ill while waiting for services to be restored.

  • Have a ready set up 2 5-gallon buckets with lids attached. These set ups are easily found at your local Walmart, camping store and even some hardware stores that carry camping supplies. Inside each bucket place:
    • A ziplock bag with several pairs disposable gloves
    • Personal wipes or baby wipes
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Toilet paper
    • Large towels to place under buckets
    • Several heavy duty 13 gallon bags that can line the bucket for safe disposal after use. Double line the buckets.
    • Pine shavings for odor control, these can be found in feed stores. Put a large handful in several ziplock bags
    • I have experience with the pooh bags and deodorizers sold in camping stores and online. These are a good choice for temporary camping outings. The bags are usually biodegradable, and they do fall apart if left for any amount of time. For extended periods of service disruptions using pine shavings and regular, disposable kitchen garbage bags work a lot better.
  • If privacy is an issue, purchase a pop-up shower privacy tent. Set up one of the portable toilets in it. Place a towel or small rug inside on the floor, to avoid movement.

Set up double bagged buckets, apply a handful of shavings to the bottom. Have a box with the other supplies in it readily available. After each use apply shavings on top of the waste. When halfway full, put on gloves and securely tie up the waste and dispose. Remove gloves, use hand sanitizer or if available thoroughly wash hands with clean water and soap.

A 1:10 bleach 1 part bleach to 10 parts water solution to clean the bucket and lid  between uses is a good practice.

 

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Massive Bread Recalls

“Make Your Own Bread”

 As we continue our preparedness series, learning to cook from scratch is one of the most important skills you can have. To begin with, there are many less ingredients needed to produce the same product. It is cheaper and you and your family eat healthier, resulting in overall increased health benefits.

Along with many other recalls this year alone, from meat to eggs to processed foods, ice cream, cheese, and on and on and on, I came across a massive bread recall, affecting 37 different types of bread. All types of bread, from dinner rolls to Hawaiian sandwich bread among others were in the recall.  The bread has potentially been infected with one of two bacteria- The two bacteria that have caused the recall were Cronobacter sakazakii and Clostridium botulinum.

Cronobacter sakazakii, recently linked to the recall of infant formulas symptoms vary widely. At risk groups- infants and the over 65 age population and those with compromised immune systems can cause severe blood infections and meningitis. Infections are rare, with only2-4 cases each year are recorded.

Clostridium botulinum,C. botulinum spores are often found on the surfaces of fruits and vegetables and in seafood. The organism grows best under low-oxygen conditions and produces spores and toxins. Symptoms of C botulinum are The first symptoms). These are followed by neurological symptoms: visual impairments (blurred or double vision), loss of normal throat and mouth functions (difficulty speaking and swallowing; dry mouth, throat, and tongue; and sore throat), general fatigue, lack of muscle coordination, and difficulty in breathing. Gastrointestinal symptoms may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation. Death is usually caused by respiratory failure and airway obstructions. When the diaphragm and chest muscles become fully involved, breathing is affected and results in death from asphyxia.

Other reasons to make your own bread

  • Unwanted commercial food additives, such as caramel coloring, dough risers, and many more ingredients have been linked to health issues. The USDA has a list of ingredients on their website that they consider “GRAS” generally accepted as safe for many products, not just bread. However, some of these products considered GRAS have been linked to diabetes, cancer and heart disease. (scroll to bottom of linked page for references)

(You may want to read about the 11 banned ingredients still allowed in the US)

  • More economicalThe average person in the US consumes 53 pounds of bread a year. That adds up to 212 lbs of bread a year. At $2.50- $4.00 a loaf at the supermarket that can add up to between $530 and $848 a year. To make a loaf of bread will cost between 80 cents and just under 2 dollars, depending on how and where you buy your ingredients and type of bread you are making.
  • Safer– You are less likely to need to throw out a single ingredient to make the bread than the entire loaf in the case of recalls.
  • A new skill learned. For those of you on the road to self-sufficiency, there are many cooking classes online to start learning the basics of the different types of flour and how they are used.
  • Sourdough, the original bread, before the adoption of dry yeast is more nutritious than standard bread. Pro Home Cooks has a playlist to help get you started if you are so inclined.
  • Either way (using dry yeast or sourdough), making your own bread helps cut the apron strings of dependence on the system.

For those with wheat sensitivities and other allergies I will be writing a post on this soon. (I have firsthand knowledge on this and can offer lots of tips and strategies to negotiate eating out, cooking, etc.)

 

 

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Are Your Pets Ready for an Emergency?

Your pets are an important part of your family! When preparing for an emergency, it is important your furry friends be included in your emergency plan as well. 

Natural disasters and emergencies can happen at any time, it is important to have a plan in place before these occur so you will have less stress and worry, if or when the time comes. 

PLANNING AHEAD

  • Know what to do with your pet during an evacuation. If it is not safe for you to be in your house, it isn’t safe for your pet either. Many hotels and public shelters do not allow pets, so plan ahead for where you will take your pet if needed.
  • Have a buddy system with friends, family or neighbors. Plan ahead with others to make sure your pets can be evacuated or cared for if you are not able to get to them or are unable to care for them.
  • Have your pets documents and microchip information available. Make sure you have copies of all important medical and vaccination records, microchip info, and emergency and vet contact information available. You may also want to have these available electronically as well.
  • Know how to contact your local emergency management, animal shelter, or animal control office. They can be helpful if you do get separated from your pet or need additional information in an emergency setting.
  • Take a selfie with your pet. If you become separated from your pet, this can help others identify your pet and be proof of ownership.

Next, build an emergency kit for your pet. Depending on where you live, you may want to have a lightweight kit that is available if you need to evacuate quickly, or a larger kit if you need to shelter in place.

ITEMS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR PET KIT:

  • Food and water: Keep several days’ supply of food and water for each person in your family, including each pet. Store food in an airtight and waterproof container.
  • Medicine: Keep an extra supply of medication your pet takes in an airtight and waterproof container. 
  • First aid kit: Ask your vet about common medical supplies to have on hand for your pet’s emergency needs.
  • Collar with ID tags, harness or leash
  • Crate or sturdy carrier for each pet
  • Grooming items: Shampoo, brush, etc just in case your pet needs to be cleaned up.
  • Elimination needs: Include litter box, litter, newspaper, paper towels, plastic trash bags, or whatever else you may need when your pet goes to the bathroom.
  • Familiar items: If there is room, put some favorite toys or bedding in your kit. This can help reduce stress for your pet.

 

If you have livestock animals, it is even more important to make sure you have a secure plan in place because moving these animals takes much longer and typically requires more equipment and planning.

  • Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
  • Evacuate early whenever possible. Consider multiple different routes that can accommodate trailers or whatever equipment is needed for your animals.
  • Make sure there are available trailers for transport. Make sure there are qualified handlers and drivers as well.
  • Make sure your destination has food, water, veterinary care, and handling equipment.
  • If evacuation is not possible – take a minute to decide if you will move animals to a barn/shelter or turn them loose outside.

 

 

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Are you Prepared for a Head/Brain Injury?

Brain injuries affect more than 2.8 million people each year, according to the Brain Injury Association of America, and they are a leading cause of injury-related deaths.

What is a head/brain injury?

 A head or brain injury is any type of injury involving the head or face. This includes lacerations, impact injuries (fall off bicycle not wearing helmet, for example, motor vehicle collisions and sports injuries.

There are many causes of head injury in children and adults. The most common head injuries are from motor vehicle accidents-driver, passenger or pedestrian, along with violence, falls, or as a result of shaking a child (as seen in cases of child abuse).

What are the major types of head injuries?

There are many types of head injuries. Some injuries are quite obvious to spot, others may not be so obvious and may even take a day or so for symptoms to emerge.

Note: If the victim is unconscious or has sustained obvious injuries to the head, neck or spine do not move the victim and call 911. Cover them to avoid shock.

Laceration

 Lacerations of the head can bleed quite profusely. This is because the head has a tremendous amount of blood vessels surrounding the skull. It can be quite disruptive and even frightening to see a head injury bleed if the onlooker/ caregiver is not aware of this.

Concussion

 Concussions are usually caused by a blow to the head. Violently shaking of the head and upper body also can cause concussions. Loss of consciousness is rare. Falls and contact sports such as football

  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.
  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.
  • all are the most common causes of concussions.

Please watch this video on delayed concussion symptoms

Skull fracture

 A hard blow to the skull may cause a crack in the bone. If the bones do not shift, they will heal properly with time.

Diffuse axonal injury

 is the shearing (tearing) of the brain’s long connecting nerve fibers that happens when the brain is injured as it shifts and rotates inside the bony skull. DAI usually causes coma and injury to many different parts of the brain.

Hemorrhage

 Bleeding may occur when a blood vessel tears due to head trauma. The blood can accumulate in different spaces, causing a subarachnoid hemorrhage, subdural hematoma.

When does a head injury require medical attention?

If the head injury is a laceration, depending on how the injury was sustained you may be able to just clean the wound and apply first aid ointment and bandage. If the injury was from fall or any sort of impact, evaluate the injury.

How to evaluate a head injury

For concussions, Cleveland Clinic has a series of tests that can help you evaluate whether to seek medical attention

Here is one of their tests, please follow the link above for further tests

Concussion assessment tools

Warning: Assessment tools for concussions are not a substitute for medical evaluation. No youth athlete (under the age of 18 years) who has taken a blow to their head or has a suspected concussion should ever return to sport the same day. They should be removed immediately until a medical provider feels it’s safe for them to resume their sport. In all 50 states, it goes against state law for an athlete to return to a practice/game without first being assessed by a medical professional for clearance.

SAC test

People use the standardized assessment of concussion (SAC) test on the sidelines and at the emergency room test to assess the immediate mental status of athletes. This test checks the athlete’s orientation, immediate memory, concentration, and delayed memory. SAC takes about five minutes to complete. Test questions include:

  • Stating the date, month, year, day of the week and current time.
  • Memorizing a list of words then recalling them.
  • Repeating a sequence of numbers backward.
  • Saying the months of the year in reverse order.

In conclusion-If you haven’t already taken first aid training now is the time to do this. Our unstable economy, along with medical staff and supply shortages are the perfect recipe for not having readily available help as many of us are so used to. Please get your preps , skills, books, supplies together. We are running out of time.

 

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Are you Prepared for Poor Air Quality?

Wildfires and Respiratory Issues

According to the National Interagency Fire Center there are currently ninety-one large fires and complexes that have burned 854,587 acres so far this season. The result is poor air quality from these fires.

The air quality index, (AQI)is a yardstick that runs from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. For example, an AQI value of 50 or below represents good air quality, while an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality.

The EPA establishes an AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act. Each of these pollutants has a national air quality standard set by EPA to protect public health:

  • ground-level ozone
  • particle pollution (also known as particulate matter, including PM2.5 and PM10)
  • carbon monoxide
  • sulfur dioxide
  • nitrogen dioxide
Daily AQI Color Levels of Concern Values of Index Description of Air Quality
Green Good 0 to 50 Air quality is satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
Yellow Moderate 51 to 100 Air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, particularly those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
Orange Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 101 to 150 Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is less likely to be affected.
Red Unhealthy 151 to 200 Some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
Purple Very Unhealthy 201 to 300 Health alert: The risk of health effects is increased for everyone.
Maroon Hazardous 301 and higher Health warning of emergency conditions: everyone is more likely to be affected.

Oregon, Washington state, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana all have air quality alerts due to the wildfires. East-central California and western Nevada have issued special advisories for poor air quality due to the smoke. The smoke has migrated all the way to the East coast.

Identifying at risk groups

An at risk/ sensitive groups that would be most affected by poor air quality are small children, pregnant women, asthmatics and other respiratory diseases, those with heart and lung conditions (emphysema, COPD, etc)

Tips to stay safe during air quality alerts

  • If in doubt check your local area for air quality using the EPA AirNow website. Just enter your zip code for up-to-date information for the air quality in your area.
  • Poor air quality can also be from dust storms, excessive humidity, and air pollution. Take these factors into consideration before heading out to exercise or work.
  • If you or a loved one are in an at-risk group, consider purchasing a portable hepa filter. These units are ideal for reducing mold, smoke particulates and dust in the rooms. Make sure windows are closed, wipe down all baseboards and windowsills, wash bedding if used in the room. These units can take several hours to effectively clear the air, allow them to continuously run even once in the room.
  • Make a DIY air filter- easy and inexpensive, according to this video:
  • Air conditioners utilize filters before air enters room, especially HVAC systems. Make sure your air filters are changed and clean periodically
  • Make sure you and your loved ones have adequate medications and inhalers on hand and readily available, especially if venturing outdoors
  • Don’t exercise during air quality alerts. If you must be outside (to walk dog, etc) keep physical activity to a minimum.

Lifesaving Medications

Everyone should be empowered to care for themselves and their loved ones during the unexpected.

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Our mission is to help you be more medically prepared. Join our newsletter and follow us on social media for health and safety tips each week!