Personal Hygiene and Family/Community Health Reply

 

Medical Team 01A message from one of our 36READY team doctors:

During an emergency situation a few very simple precautions may keep you and your family healthy. This is critically important.  Remaining in good health will not only help you cope, it is essential for peak performance during high-stress or dangerous situations.  It’s a simple truth that healthy people can respond more effectively to a disaster situation.  Moreover, when health risks are greater and medical care more difficult to obtain, hygiene and sanitation mistakes can produce disastrous consequences.

 

Personal Hygiene.  Personal hygiene and cleanliness is a serious challenge during many disaster situations.  Unless you have adequate clean water, hand washing and bathing and other activities of hygiene may be difficult or impossible.  Unfortunately, dirty bodies are breeding grounds for microbes.  As a result, emergency situations where there are limited bathing opportunities can be expected to bring additional health challenges.

Even small cuts, blisters, thorns, insect stings and minor burns can become infected and lead to serious complications, additionally so if they are not cleansed and treated quickly.  Be aware of even minor injuries.  Anytime the skin is penetrated, take steps to clean and protect the skin in that area.

 

Hand Sanitization.  Numerous medical studies have proven that the most effective way to prevent the spread of contagious diseases is very simple—wash your hands.  Avoid touching your mouth and rubbing your eyes with your hands.  Scrub your hands for at least 30-seconds (sing the “Happy birthday” song twice) with antibacterial soap and hot potable water after every trip to the latrine, after contact with someone who is ill, before food preparation, before touching clean cooking utensils and water purification equipment, and of course, before eating.  This is vitally important.

If you can’t scrub with soap and hot water, at least cleanse your hands with a hand sanitizer or wipes.  Since pure water may be in short supply and reserved for drinking, stockpile a quantity of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.  For your GO-Bag, include a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

 

Dental and Oral Health.  Oral hygiene remains important, even in a disaster situation.  If regular tooth brushing and flossing is not possible, and a toothpick and mouthwash aren’t available, after eating use a clean handkerchief to rub your teeth and tongue.

Now, in advance of a disaster, keep up to date with your 6-month dental checkups and teeth cleaning.  If your dentist finds a problem such as a cavity, cracked tooth or a loose filling, get it fixed right away.  Problems which are simple to fix today might become debilitating in the future.  If a problem develops during an emergency situation it will diminish your ability to cope with the problems you need to face.

Keep a dental-emergency kit in your GO-Bag, and a more complete kit with your other emergency supplies.  You can build your own kit with the help of your dentist.  Or, at the very least, purchase an inexpensive basic kit such as the one produced by Adventure Medical Kits.

 

Sneezing and Cough Hygiene.  Many communicable diseases are transmitted by airborne (aerosolized) pathogens.  A simple way to prevent the spread of these diseases is to insist that everyone always cover their mouth and nose any time they sneeze or cough.  Turn your head and cough or sneeze into your shoulder, rather than covering your mouth with your hand.

Those who have a contagious illness, like the flu, must wear a mask.  Their caregivers must also wear a mask, as well as eye protection (wrap around inexpensive plastic safety glasses are effective).  Caregivers must always sanitize their hands after contact with the patient, as well as bedding and other items that their patients have touched.

Medical masks are best, but inexpensive masks like those available from hardware stores, can be very effective.

 

Family and Community Health:  Safe disposal of human waste is one of the top needs during any disaster situation.  Moreover, after some disasters, a previously safe water supply may have become compromised.  Don’t assume tap water is safe to drink.

 

Toilet:  If plumbing doesn’t work, create a latrine outdoors.  Fecal material should be buried, ideally after sprinkling a spade-full of lime over the excrement.  The deeper the hole the better, as the same hole can be used repeatedly.  Remove a toilet seat from the house and use it to build a makeshift seat over the hole.  Dig the hole at least 100-feet away from creeks, rivers, lakes, water-well heads and food-growing gardens.  (Do not use human excrement as fertilizer for growing food as it can contain harmful pathogens that can be transferred to growing food.)  Locate your makeshift latrine in a place which affords privacy, and where prevailing winds will not send odors into living space. Covering it with a canvas tarp or old sheet can diminish the inevitable annoyance of flies and other flying insects.  If toilet paper is unavailable, use paper napkins, book pages, and other sources of non-glossy paper.  (Newspapers are less than ideal as the ink is often water-soluble and can become messy.)  Pioneers used fresh grass and tree bark.  

 

Sanitization of Counters, Toilet Fixtures, Furniture, Toys.  A 10% solution of plain (no additives like scents) household bleach (Chlorox) is an excellent disinfectant for bathroom surfaces, kitchen counters where food is prepared, children’s toys (as possible), as well as objects in the “sick room” where a patient is recuperating.

* This solution is not recommended for disinfecting skin or open wounds.

 

Quarantine and Isolation.  Even if no one in your group is currently ill, make plans for a place where you can effectively quarantine individuals who become ill.  In the no-so-distant past, epidemics of influenza (“flu”) killed many people—especially children, the elderly and the infirm.

These higher-risk groups will generally be more susceptible to secondary serious complications.  This is because their immune systems are not as effective as that of healthy, young adults.

If an outbreak of a contagious disease occurs in your group, the individual and their immediate caregivers must be immediately isolated from the group.  In advance, consider now how you will accomplish this task.  To reduce resistance, make sure that each member of your group understands this policy prior to the need for implementation.

If multiple individuals are sick, if possible, isolate them in separate rooms.  If this isn’t possible and you have to place two or more individuals in a single room, erect a barrier between their beds (folding screen, hang a tarp or blanket, etc.).  This will help prevent the patients from passing infectious agents back and forth when they sneeze or cough.

During   pandemics, such as the “Spanish flu” outbreak in the early 1900’s, patient beds were organized so that the position of each patient’s cot was alternated; the head of each patient was at the feet of the patients on either side of him/her.  This helped as a coughing patient projected their infected aerosol toward the adjacent patient’s feet rather than their eyes, nose or mouth.

 

Medical Readiness: Proactive Personal Responsibility Reply

Prevention is KeyA message from one of our 36READY team doctors:  Whether your focus is preparing for a major natural disaster or one that is human caused, too many of us focus on two or three areas of preparedness while ignoring or putting off other important issues.  As a friend recently reminded me, “We tend to prepare most vigorously in the areas of our interest.”  Very true.  When we concentrate on one, or just a few facets of preparedness we are often neglecting others which are also critically important.  These deserve our attention, too.  We cannot afford to be myopic when it comes to preparedness.

Medical readiness is such a topic.  Unless your career or vocation is in some aspect of medicine or public health, your medical preparations are probably inadequate.  Having a well-stocked first aid kit is not enough.

Be proactive.  Be thorough.  Make preparedness a lifestyle of readiness.

 

Prevention is the first step in medical preparedness.

Safety Precautions.  During an emergency situation you will likely engage in activities, and use tools, that are not part of your typical life.  Simple precautions such as properly handling a knife, hammer, chain saw, ladder and other tools which can inflict injury, are a must.  During an emergency situation, medical care may not be readily available, so even simple injuries can become serious as a result of inadequate treatment or infection.

Relatively minor injuries like a twisted ankle can disable you, or reduce your effectiveness at a time when you need every ounce of your physical abilities.  Be safe.  Wear safety glasses, gloves, toe and ankle-protecting boots, as well as and other activity-specific safety gear.  Safety is your #1 priority during an emergency situation.

Expect fatigue.  Stress and physical exertion will increase fatigue, and the onset of fatigue.  Fatigue mixed with hazardous activities, tools and equipment is a situation ripe for disaster.  When possible, frequently rotate heavy physical work among several individuals.  This will delay the onset of fatigue and help heighten attentiveness.

 

Stay Hydrated.  As the tagline of the most popular water bottle/bladder manufacturer reminds us, “Hydrate or Die.”  This isn’t an empty slogan.  After air, your next priority for survival is to drink water.  Generally, at least 100-oz of water per day for an adult, much more as the temperature or exertion increases.

Adequate hydration is critical for your health, additionally so if you are engaged in manual labor, hiking, or operating in a hot climate.  Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very dangerous but entirely preventable conditions.  The likelihood of either condition can be significantly decreased with frequent rest breaks and adequate water (and mineral) intake

Naturally, the water you use must be potable (i.e. safe for drinking, cooking and brushing your teeth).  Unsafe water can kill you.  If it doesn’t kill you, it can make you extremely ill with diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

During periods of exertion or high temperature, add to your water a Gatorade-like sports-drink powder product that is high in electrolytes.  Recipes for homemade electrolyte-replacement powders can be found on the Internet.  They typically include Kool Aid for flavoring to make it palatable to children, sugar, electrolytes and salt.

 

Get Physically Fit.  Strength and stamina may be life-saving attributes in an emergency situation.  With almost any disaster your physical abilities will be taxed.  Moreover, those who are physically fit and suffer an acute illness or injury almost invariably recover more quickly, more completely and with less medical intervention than those who are physically unfit.

Fitness requires consistency, time, perseverance during fatigue, and a mindshare commitment.  With your physician’s approval and guidance, setup a slowly graduated program to improve your overall fitness.  If you have not been getting exercise, start with a daily walking program or other aerobic exercise, alternating days with resistance (weights) training.

Many of us know how and what to do, yet we fail to consistently apply our knowledge. If you don’t know what to do, get your physician‘s help or find a certified trainer with a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) degree.  Private gyms are oftentimes better than big chains.

The time is now.  Add exercise to your daily schedule as if it is an important appointment.  It is.  Recruit a friend to join you; together you can help each other remain consistent.  You are more likely to faithfully exercise if you are doing it with someone.

 

Lose Excess Weight. Morbid obesity is a common and serious medical disorder involving excessive body fat, but simply being overweight by 15-20 pounds can also create health risks.  Excess body weight increases the risk of other health problems.

Stress and new levels of exertion during an emergency situation can be deadly for an overweight person.  Excess weight also interferes with basic physical activities such as breathing, sleeping and walking.  It will be a serious handicap in a scenario where everything is being accomplished by strenuous physical activity.

Those who are significantly overweight are at much greater risk for developing other serious disorders, too.  This can include health problems such as:  diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, chronic heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux disease), gallstones, degenerative arthritis, and even stroke and many types of cancer.  Medical conditions such as these can reduce your survivability during even a minor disaster, so do what you can now to improve your health.

Ask your physician for help in maintaining a 2-3 month supply of the medicines you need.  This may be a life saver during a disaster.  Notwithstanding, if your medicine is left behind or damaged as a result of a disaster, or the situation is protracted and you don’t have access to a pharmacy, your health problems may proliferate explosively.  Weight loss is a simple way to mitigate these potential problems.

Excess weight isn’t just a health risk; it may also reduce your ability to respond to the disaster.  Moreover, as your family and friends try to help you, it may increase their risk, too.

If you are overweight, schedule a doctor visit and start dealing with this problem today.  Lose the weight.  It can save your life and maybe the life of your loved ones, as well.

 

Eat Right.  Our bodies require high quality nutritional sources to run all of our bodily systems.  Even if you are typically health conscious about diet and nutrition, you may not have access to the foods you normally eat.  A change in diet can cause stomach upset, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea.  Keep medicines for these ailments with your food supply.

It is difficult, but nevertheless important to be nutrition-aware during an emergency situation.  Read food product labels, be aware of calorie intake (a minimum of 1,200 calories for most adults), and do what you can to maintain a balanced diet that includes fiber (and plenty of water).  You may ordinarily avoid fats and sugar, but these may be advantageous if your situation involves stress or exertion.  Alertness and good decision making are aided by a balanced diet.

An extended period of dietary deficiency can also produce serious illnesses.  The classic example is scurvy, a disorder that was literally killing British sailors who were at sea for extended periods.  Scurvy, caused by a lack of vitamin C, was easily prevented once sailors were given citrus fruits and other foods high in this vitamin. (For British sailors, a daily ration of limes was added to their diets.  As a result, the “Limeys” no longer suffered from scurvy.)

 

Take a Multivitamin.  Consider taking a daily multivitamin, now, and rotate a supply through your Emergency Supplies Kit and GO-Bag.  Since vitamin products degrade quickly when exposed to heat, light and moisture, keep this in mind when you select your storage method and location.

It’s not just advertising “hype” that multivitamins can enhance health, particularly for those who don’t eat nutritionally well-balanced meals.  Keep in mind, too, that people have different nutritional needs.  For example, growing children have different nutritional needs than adults, as do pregnant women and women in their reproductive years.  Seniors need age-specific multivitamins or supplements.

Though some physicians and dieticians dismiss the need for vitamins and supplements, most people find them helpful.  Today, most of our foods are over processed or prepared in a way which significantly decreases their nutritional value, so taking vitamins and selected supplements seems to provide some added “nutrition insurance”.

With the help of your physician or a competent advisor, decide what multivitamin is best for you; your health needs and your environment.  Since many major brands are useless because they fail to dissolve fast enough to be absorbed by your body, test each vitamin and supplement you are considering.  To test absorption, put the vitamin or supplement in a glass of room temperature water and wait 30-minutes.  If the pill has not dissolved in the glass, it may not dissolve in your stomach.

* As with medicine, protect children from unauthorized access to vitamins.

Selection of Vitamins and Nutritional Supplements.  If you and your physician think that it is safe to take these products, do your own research.  The websites for manufacturers of effective vitamins and nutritional supplements will contain more than marketing hype.  For example, the website for “Life Extension” (www.lifeextension.com) includes information on clinical research conducted using their products, blood testing services, articles on specific health concerns, a helpful online magazine which includes erudite articles, and evidence that their products are routinely referenced in independent medical and health journals.

Vitamin and Supplement Details:  Multivitamins can be a cost effective way to cover all the basics, but you may also want to include nutritional supplements for specific health goals.  The following information is for an adult, and is provided only as an example.  We include it here to help you formulate your own plan.  What you take, and the dosage, should be determined as a result of your own research, and validated in consultation with your physician.

Vitamin C, 1,000 mg/day.  Vitamin C boosts the immune system and promotes rapid healing of connective tissue injuries (cuts, sprains).  Some nutritionists advocate much higher doses, especially during a disaster scenario.  However, with a normal diet that contains vitamin C (citrus fruits especially), 1,000 mg/day is generally considered adequate.

Zinc, 50 mg/day.  Reported to be a significant immune system booster.  Do not exceed a dose of 50 mg per day as a higher dose can produce adverse effects.

Magnesium, 500 mg twice or three times per day.  Magnesium helps to keep blood pressure normalized.  It also helps decrease the risk of stroke and heart attack and helps prevent muscle cramps.

Fish Oil, 2000-8000 mg/day.  Fish oil is an effective anti-inflammatory, and also has effects similar to mild blood thinners.  These two beneficial effects may help decrease the risk of heart attack and brain attack (stroke).

Other Popular Supplements:  Green Tea Extract, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine).

Top-10 Medical Preparedness Questions to Ask Your Doctor Reply

Medical-QuestionsAt 36READY we are thankful to have a team of volunteers that are medical doctors and emergency medical care specialists.  We are using this opportunity to highlight the top-10 medical preparedness questions that we receive from those who are preparing for, “When there is no doctor” and “When there is no medical care” situations.  

This article is not medical advice, it is solely to help you prepare your own questions for your personal physician.

 

Question #1:  

What can the responsible individual do to minimize the adverse impact of no modern medical care for himself and his family?

Doctor:  In my research I came to realize that there are numerous medical conditions and events that we can avoid or mitigate with the proper preparation NOW.  Even those without any medical training can learn enough first aid and rudimentary health and sanitation principles to make a life or death difference for their loved ones.  This preparation will require the same diligence that we use in any other area of preparedness.

 

Question #2:

I have no medical knowledge or background, so what can I do to prepare medically for me and my loved ones?

Doctor:  Let’s be clear.  It will take diligence and a serious commitment of time and effort to be an effective caregiver for your nuclear group.  Set realistic goals for yourself.  Unless you decide to go to medical or nursing school you won’t get that level of knowledge and experience.  However, basic and advanced first aid can be learned by almost anyone and can be a lifesaver.  But to be proficient you will have to read, study, take courses and gather materials.

 

Question #3:

In addition to gaining knowledge, what practical things can me and my loved ones do now to begin to prepare for a medical emergency?

Doctor:  Start today, and begin the process of assembling three (or four) medical kits.  Though we often own many first-aid products, very often we can’t quickly find what is needed.  Change that today.

First, develop a small first aid kit that can be carried on your belt (or in your GO-Bag).  After you’re satisfied with the contents of this first small kit, make a duplicate for each family member’s GO-Bag.  Second, pull together a more complete medical bag to keep at home.  You can use this at home if needed, but it is designed as a self-contained multipurpose kit to grab if you ever need to evacuate (bug-out).  Design your third kit to be routinely carried in your vehicle.  The contents of this shoulder-bag size kit should be oriented toward traffic accidents and other serious injuries.

Fourth, if you are preparing a ‘safe haven’ retreat as a destination for evacuation, you will want to have heavy-duty plastic bins filled with all sorts of first aid and medical supplies.  In addition to quantities of first aid bandages and related gear, these bins of supplies should also include prescription drugs needed for you and your family, and nonprescription medicines for routine ailments.  In addition, these bins should have sanitation gear and other health care goods that might be needed for your family / community.

For the first three types of kits, use soft-sided bags.  This makes them easier to carry, transport, and easier to cram into limited space.  If you don’t currently have something suitable, don’t let that stall your implementation.  A cardboard box works fine as a container to start the process. 

Inventory what you already have, and make a list of what you need.  To save money, basic bandages can be obtained at a Dollar Store or Wal-Mart, while other items can be purchased online or at a medical supply store.  If you are planning for a protracted emergency situation, you will want a lot more in the way of medical supplies. 

At the very least, you and each adult and teen in your family should obtain formal first aid training.  The American Red Cross and other organizations offer courses such as, ‘Wilderness and Remote First Aid.’ This particular class was developed cooperatively between the Red Cross and the Boy Scouts, so you will probably find this type of medical training more helpful than just a basic first aid course.  Though not as practical as the hands-on classroom version of this course, this class is also offered as an online 16-hour course. 

The “Emergency Reference Guide” for this Wilderness and Remote First Aid class can be downloaded for free from the Red Cross website.  Print or buy a copy of this 121-page handbook and keep it in your larger medical kits.  Inside this Guide you will also find a list of items to include in your first aid kits.  In my view these lists are far from complete, but it is a good place to start.  Also, if you have a smart phone or tablet device, purchase a first-aid app or an e-book on wilderness medicine and emergency first aid.  That way you’ll have these reference materials handy.

In addition to these medical kits, review my responses to the below questions.  This should spark other thoughts regarding what you can do to prepare for a medical emergency. 

  

Question #4:

My doctor recently talked to me about having elective surgery.  I’m not sure I want to do it, but I realize that this could become a problem, especially during a protracted emergency situation when there is limited (or no) access to competent medical care.  

Doctor:  If you or your physician know that an “elective” procedure will need to be done at some point—do it now!

Doctors use the word ”elective” in two entirely different ways.  A truly elective procedure is one which is not essential to good health but is desired by the patient.  Examples of truly elective procedures might be plastic surgery for breast implants or a face lift.  These are certainly worthwhile procedures if they are important to the patient but they will have little or no impact on enhancing survival.

Doctors also use the term “elective” to describe medical abnormalities that do not have to be fixed right now but should be taken care sometime in the future.  These medical abnormalities will likely cause a problem at some point.  I strongly urge you to get these procedures done now!  Right now modern medical treatment is available. Safe, effective anesthesia can be administered by experts.  This ideal situation will not be available in a meltdown scenario.

 

Question #5:

What are the medical procedures that are important to deal with right away?

Doctor:  Repair of hernia (herniorraphy), removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) if it has ever been symptomatic, removal of hemorrhoids (hemorrhoidectomy), sinus surgery for serious recurrent sinus infections, knee or hip replacement, herniated disk surgery, carpal tunnel release and removal of tonsils (tonsillectomy) for recurrent serious throat infections.  If you have decided that you don’t want children then you might consider a vasectomy (males) or women might consider having their fallopian tubes tied now.

One additional comment is needed regarding gallbladder removal.  At the present time just the presence of gallstones is not considered justification for removal.  At the present time and with the medical resources currently available I concur with that guideline.  However, the question is will your gallstones at some future time (when modern medicine may not be available) cause a blockage of the duct?  I can’t answer that and neither can anyone else.  Gallbladder “attacks” are painful, accompanied by nausea with or without vomiting and may produce a serious condition called pancreatitis (inflammation and damage of the pancreas).  The pancreas secretes the enzymes we need to normally digest food. It is also the organ that manufactures insulin for control of our blood sugar levels.  Another consideration– if you have gallstones and have never had symptoms from them it is likely that your medical insurance will not want to pay for the surgery.  It’s an issue that you will have to decide for yourself with the input of a trusted personal physician.

 

Question #6:

My best friend visits her demonologist twice a year.  Is this really necessary?  What is the likelihood that a skin problem would develop so quickly, that it would become a problem during an emergency situation?

Doctor:  I think it would be prudent to have a competent dermatologist perform a careful examination of your skin to identify any premalignant or cancerous skin lesions.  The vast majority of these skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).  If caught early they are easily treated and completely curable.  These two skin cancers almost never spread to other areas of the body but if left untreated they can become very destructive leading to open wounds that are disfiguring and subject to secondary infection.

 

Question #7:

I’m a father of adult children, and am wondering if there are any special medical tests I should undergo as part of being prepared for an emergency situation?

Doctor:  Is it time for your colonoscopy?  I urge you to get it done so that any benign polyps, precancerous lesions or other abnormalities can be dealt with now.

Chronic Conditions:  If you or your loved ones have any chronic diseases you will need to prepare for their long term care.  This will require careful thought and planning.

Start by making a list of every disease or condition currently affecting each individual. If a medical person is available in a societal collapse environment, just having this information could be lifesaving.  By having a detailed list of medical problems, the medic can do a brief survey physical exam and probably be able to quickly determine the cause of the current acute problem and deal with it.

You also need to have a complete list of all vitamins, supplements and medications being taken by each individual to provide to the medic.  Be sure to include the dose (amount), the frequency with which the medicine is taken and how it is taken (by mouth, by suppository, etc.).  Drug interactions can mimic medical conditions and complicate diagnosis.

 

Question #8:

Obviously we may not have access to medical clinics, medical tests, and hospitals during a serious disaster.  Should I somehow get some antibiotics or other prescription medicines in case they are needed?

Doctor:  If possible, start to accumulate “extra” medications that are needed for each individual.  This is going to be hard to do because most medications are now fully or partially paid for by insurance companies.  Understandably, these companies are unwilling to pay for more than is needed for a given period of time (usually a 30 or 90 day supply).  So try to always get a 90 day prescription from your physician, so that if the “balloon goes up” tomorrow you will have that three month supply instead of just one month. 

If you want more of a medication than your medical insurance allows, then you will have to pay for it.  There are ways to get around medical insurers’ limitations but to do so is dishonest.  Don’t go there; honesty is important.  Cheating a medical service provider or an insurance company is not just illegal, it’s dishonest and unethical.  If you want more than your insurance company will provide, pay for it yourself out of your own pocket.

There are other, honest and legal, ways to accumulate prescription medications.  For example,  Do not discard old medications that weren’t completely used.  Pain pills that were prescribed for treatment of pain after a dental or surgical procedure, can be used by that individual in the future.  But be sure you know what you are doing.  Improper treatment can create more problems than they solve, and even be life threatening.  A doctor spends years in school to make sure he prescribes the appropriate treatment, don’t assume that you can do this with no training. 

In any case, if you were given a five day supply of pain killers but you only used it for two days, you have the option to save the extra.  Many preppers are doing this to make sure they have it available during an extended emergency situation. 

* If this is what you choose to do, be sure these medications are stored in a safe place, where children and unauthorized people can’t access them. 

 

Question #9:

What about the expiration date on medications?  Can they be used safely after that date has passed?

Doctor:  Although every medication has an expiration date, it has been scientifically proven that most medications (if stored correctly) are still effective for years (in some cases even decades) after that date.  Besides, even if an expired medication isn’t at full strength, in a situation where no medical care is available and you won’t have access to care for a long time, past-date medicines may be far better than nothing. 

 

Question #10:

I’ve heard that it’s possible to order medications online, from other countries, without a prescription.  Is this true?  Is it legal?

Doctor:  In some locales, another way to legitimately accumulate your prescription medications is to ask your care provider to write an identical, additional 90 day prescription for you. These patients don’t turn this second prescription in to their local pharmacy.  They use the first prescription to legitimately obtain their medications locally, using their medical insurance pharmacy plan.  The second prescription is used to order additional medication online, at their own expense. 

If this is what you would like to do, you will need to see if this is legal in your location.  If it is legal, be sure to ask friends for reliable vendors, and undertake your own online research.  Many people have successfully used Canadian mail-order pharmacies as well as those based in other countries.  However, there are multitudes of scammers and unethical vendors who are taking advantage of those who seek offshore medical supplies.  So, use caution.

 

DISCLAIMER ON CONTENT AND THIS DOCTOR’S VIEWPOINT

This is only a conversation; we are not providing medical advice in this article.  We are only sharing general information to help you develop questions to ask your own doctor, so that you can better prepare for a situation when you cannot get medical care.  It is essential that you seek advice on these issues from your personal health care provider.  DO NOT act on this information without the corroboration of that licensed medical professional.

Doctor:  Although I am a physician, I am (obviously) not your personal or family physician.  So please understand, the purpose of this article is to respond to general questions, and share my thoughts and personal opinions.

As I consider the needs of my family and friends who are preparing for a “When there is no hospital or clinic” situation, I feel compelled to offer my opinions.  None of this should be considered a treatment plan, or medically directed advice.  It is solely for a “When there is no medical care for months” circumstance.

To be clear:  These responses are provided solely for those individuals who do not have access to medical care, and circumstances in which you have no choice but to handle medical care situations on your own.  Since I don’t want to leave you stranded, I have responded to these questions with the specific understanding that your circumstance is that no medical care will be available to you for many months.

Post Script:  I must confess that initially I was discouraged thinking about all the medications and technology I won’t have available to me in a societal meltdown situation.  But as I continue to study what can be done in such a situation, I became excited about the very real difference that we can make in the lives of others during a time such as this.  What an incredible opportunity to show the love of Jesus to those who will be desperate for help.

 

THIS ARTICLE SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED MEDICAL ADVICE.  CONSULT YOUR FAMILY DOCTOR BEFORE YOU MAKE DECISIONS REGARDING ANYTHING CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE.

 

High Demand for Potassium Iodine Reply

Potassium-Iodine-65mgWhen this current flap dies down, consider buying potassium iodine as a just-in-case drug for your emergency medical kit.

The current rush to purchase (by civilians) is likely due to Japanese nuclear debris which is now washing up on the beaches of the west coast of the United States.   This development, combined with the U.S. government’s huge order for an unspecified purpose in the same time frame, demonstrates that existing stockpiles will instantly disappear if this emergency drug is ever needed; thus the need to maintain your own supply.

Liquid potassium iodine which is often sold for this purpose, is generally inadequate to the task.  If you don’t have medical expertise to guide your purchase selection, you may want to follow the U.S. government specs which are included below.

A U.S. government purchase solicitation recently posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, indicates that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has sought an emergency purchase of  potassium iodide tablets, 65mg each, packaged in unit dose packages of 20 tablets.  This DHS purchase was for 700,000 packages (of 20s), for a total of 14 million tablets.  The supplier must deliver these packages of medicine before February 2, 2014.
Drug Purpose:  Potassium iodide helps block the absorption of radiation by the thyroid gland which is easily damaged by exposure.  These tablets will not stop severe radiation poisoning, but they may reduce the damage to a human body which has been, or may become exposed to lower levels of radiation.  
These tablets have traditionally been used to aid victims of nuclear accidents, and proactively by members of the military and emergency workers who may become exposed to radiation in the near future.  
Under current regulations, U.S. state governments which have populations living within 10 miles of a nuclear plant, are encouraged to maintain a supply of potassium iodide.  However, this is not a federal mandate.  

The current purchase quantity by DHS of these tablets is unprecedented in recent years and reflects a perceived need for this drug domestically.  (

DHS does not stockpile supplies intended for military use.)  Information regarding the size of the U.S. military’s inventory and recent purchase activity which may have been made by the Department of Defense, is not available.

Water Purification: Simple and Inexpensive Methods Reply

Pure_Water-LittleGirl-GlassIn a disaster or emergency situation your source of drinking water may become contaminated, so it is important to know how to purify it before drinking, brushing your teeth, and before rehydrating or cooking food with water.

After an earthquake, major storm or flood, even if you still have running tap water it may have become contaminated.  Even bottled water which has been in flood water, or exposed to high temperature or frozen, may have become contaminated.

When in doubt, purify.  Even pristine-looking mountain water, river water, and crystal-clear lake water usually contains giardia, a protozoa which can make you violently ill.  This article will provide you with what you need to know to purify your water quickly, and inexpensively.

First, it is important to understand that most water filters do not purify water, they only clean it.  And clean water isn’t enough.  It must be purified because even clean-looking water may be contaminated with illness-causing bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants.

You need to both clean your water, and purify it.

An expensive purification system isn’t necessary.  You can make your water 99.9% safe by following this simple 2-step process:

Step-1:  Clean Your Water.   Step-2:  Purify Your Water.

If your water is already clean looking and clear, start with Step-2.

Contaminated-Faucet-WaterStep-1:  Clean Your Water

If your source of water is cloudy, off color, dirty, or might be contaminated with effluent (sewage, factory waste, animal excretions, etc.), or fertilizers or pesticides, you need to do what you can to clean it before you attempt to purify it.

Even if you have a household water filter such as a Brita, Pur, ZeroWater, or Clear2O (best of these four), these are not adequate for the task of purifying your water.  But they are helpful for cleaning water prior to purification.

Notwithstanding, since water filters are quickly clogged, water which is dirty or colored should be pre-filtered using one of the below methods.  It is desirable to use a household-type water filter for an additional level of cleaning, but the below water-cleaning process should be used first, so that your household-type water filter will have a longer useful life.

Wash-Bucket-FirstClean Your Water Containers:  If your canteen, water bottle, or container for storing drinking water might be contaminated, wash it – including the lid/top/cap, with soap and water before use.  Even if the water you are using for cleaning is contaminated, the soap will make the container safer than an unwashed container.

To clean the container, wash it thoroughly with soap and water, and then let it air dry, or dry it inside and out with a clean cloth.  If you are not able to dry it before use, wash it with fresh soapy water a second time.  If you will be using a funnel or some other object to transfer water from your boiling pot (or treatment container) to your drinking-water container, be sure to wash it, too.

filter-sock-200-micronMake a Water Filter:  There are all sorts of methods which can be used to filter water, but this is perhaps the simplest.

Put the foot of a fine-mesh nylon stocking or pantyhose inside a clean white athletic sock, and slowly pour the untreated water into the opening, positioning it so that the filtered water drains slowly into your clean water container.  If you don’t have a fine mesh nylon stocking and white athletic sock, use a combination of several layers of clean cloth or clothing items to accomplish the same filtering purpose.. You can use a paper coffee filter to filter the water again, to achieve better results.

Reposition your filter periodically so that the water is always flowing through clean fabric.  Keep the sock-filter from coming into contact with the cleaned water, and make sure that dirty water does not overflow your sock-filter and foul the water which has already been filtered.

If necessary, repeat this process until the water looks reasonably clear.  If you don’t have access to something which can be used to filter the water, draw water from the top of the water source, so that contaminants which have settled to the bottom can be avoided.

If your water source is a pool, pond or puddle, the surface water is usually cleaner, but the surface of stagnant-water source may contain oil or insect larvae, so use your best judgment.  A dish pan or bathtub can be used to temporarily store water, so that sediment can settle, before drawing out the surface water for filtering.

Purify_Your_Water-2Step-2:  Purify Your Water

The best purification method is to boil the water, or use a high-quality water purification filter system such as the Katadyn Pocket Water Filter ($370).  However, chlorinating the water with inexpensive household bleach or chlorine tablets is nearly as effective.  Other purification methods are generally less practical, but are included below in case they are needed.

Note: Neither the popular Chlorine or Iodine treatment methods will kill Cryptosporidium (aka/ Crypto), a common microscopic parasite that causes diarrhea. Boiling the water, or a filter designed for this level of purification, is required to neutralize difficult purification problems such as Crypto.

TOption “A”: Boiling to Purify Water

Cleaned water should be brought to a boil, and kept at a rolling boil for a minimum of 1-minute.  Boiling time should be increased for higher altitudes.  Since water boils at a lower temperature at higher elevations, it becomes less effective for purification, particularly if you are above 2,000 feet in elevation.  We recommend that you add another minute of rolling-boil for each 1,000 feet of elevation above sea level.  (At 5,000 feet of elevation, 5-minutes at a rolling boil).  And, that you consider using a second purification method as well, to provide more reliable results.  You don’t want to get sick.

Even a mild case of diarrhea can lead to serious dehydration problems.  Any illness during a disaster or emergency situation can render you incapable of performing essential activities, so it is important to exercise uncommon care to avoid illness and injury.

When you are boiling water, use a kettle or put a lid on your pot.  This will help keep the heat in, and make the water come to a boil faster, and you will use less fuel in the process.  If you don’t have a teapot or a lid for your pot, use another pot or tinfoil as a lid.

Exercise caution with this process.  Hot lids, your heat source, the pot used for boiling, steam or the boiling water itself, can obviously all cause serious injury if hot properly handled.  During an emergency situation it is important to exercise additional caution even with mundane tasks.  It may be difficult or impossible to obtain medical attention, so even a small injury can magnify your problems.

After boiling, let the purified water cool sufficiently before drinking.

Be sure to avoid contaminating the top of your water container when you transfer the purified water from the pot to your water container.

Note:  Since this method requires a stove and fuel, scarcity of fuel and the need for fire may make this method impractical or undesirable. But you have other options…

clorox-bottles-2-Yes_NoOption “B”:  Using Bleach or Chlorine to Purify Water

Stores such as REI (www.REI.com) sell small bottles of Chlorine Dioxide tablets, such as those made by “Potable Aqua” (20-tablest for $10, sufficient to treat 20-quarts of water).  Approximate Cost: $ .50 per quart of purified water.

These tablets are a compact and easy off-the-shelf method to purify water.  But after dropping a tablet into your water bottle, it takes 4-hours for the tablet to fully dissolve and treat one quart of water.  Be sure to shake or stir the water to speed the process of dissolving the tablet.

Liquid bleach is nearly as simple, and treatment is much faster.

Liquid bleach such as used for laundering clothes, is simple to use for water purification, and far less costly than chlorination tablets.  At less than 1-cent per quart of treated water, and ready in only 30-minutes, it is one of the most cost efficient and fastest water purification methods.

However, it is important to use “regular” bleach for water purification.  Scented bleach (lemon, lavender, etc.), “color-safe” bleach, and bleaches which contain additional cleaners or other additives, should not be used to purify drinking water.

A bottle of “Regular” bleach typically contains these ingredients:  water, sodium hypochlorite, sodium chloride, sodium carbonate, sodium chlorate, sodium hydroxide, and sodium polyacrylate.  If the front of the label indicates “regular” bleach, and does not tout other features such as scents, color boosting or added cleaning capabilities, it’s probably okay.

Bleaches which are labeled as “concentrated” are sufficiently similar to regular strength bleach (5.25 to 6.0 % sodium hypochlorite) that the below ratio of bleach-to-water remains the same.

Clear, clean-looking water 1-quart/liter(32-ounces) 2-drops
1-gallon(4-quarts, or 128-ounces) 6-drops
Slightly off-color or slightly cloudy water 1-quart/liter(32-ounces) 4-drops
1-gallon(4-quarts, or 128-ounces) 12-drops

How to Use:  After adding bleach to the water, stir the water (or cap and shake a not-quite-full bottle of water) to thoroughly mix the bleach with the water.  Then, let it sit for 30 minutes. After the waiting period, the odor of Chlorine should be detectable when you sniff the water.  If not, add a second dose (same quantity of bleach as previously used), and wait another 30-minutes.  If the water still does not smell like chlorine, discard the treated water and find a new water source.  If there is no other source, try improving your Step-1 water cleaning method, and try again.

Shelf Life:  An unopened bottle of Potable Aqua has a shelf life of 4-years if stored in a cool, dry place, and the bottle is unopened.  An unopened bottle of bleach under the same conditions has a shelf-life of 1-year.  A glass eyedropper bottle which has been completely filled with fresh bleach can have a shelf life of 1-year, whereas a plastic eyedropper bottle will generally only provide 6-month shelf life.

Safety Considerations for Bleach:  Carefully read the manufacturer’s safety and usage information which is on the bleach bottle label.  Bleach is not safe to drink except in the extremely diluted quantities as specified in this article.  Keep bleach and other chemicals away from children.

For Travel or For Use in a GO-Bag:  Fill a 2-4 ounce glass bottle, which has a glass eyedropper, with regular household bleach.  Be sure to label the bottle, and seal it tightly.  A dark colored bottle which keeps out light will help keep the bleach fresh, longer.  Old bleach can still be used to purify water, but the treatment dosage will increase with age.

Dry Chlorine:  More accurately called calcium hypochlorite, is commonly used for swimming pools, and has a longer shelf life than liquid bleach or liquid chlorine.  If kept dry, cool, and in a dark place, Dry Chlorine can retain most of its potency for nearly 10-years.  It is readily available from swimming pool supply stores, but since the strength varies by manufacturer, extra care must be used to determine the proper dose.  Also, since many pool products have additional additives, it is critically important that the right product is selected for the purification of drinking water.

For chlorinating water in rain tanks, first-time chlorination is often accomplished by adding as little as 7-grams of dry chlorine (1/4 ounce by weight) or 40ml (1.35 ounces) liquid pool Chlorine for 1000 liters (264 gallons) of untreated tap water.  Mix thoroughly if possible, or at least agitate the water to aid the mixing process.  Let the water stand for at least 24-hours before drinking.

To maintain safe levels of chlorination:  In a 1,000-liter (264 gallon) tank, each week add 1-gram dry (.035 ounce by weight) or 4ml (.135 ounces). Stir.  Let the water stand for two hours after treatment, before drinking.

Caution:  Proper dosage differs depending on the form and strength of the chlorine being used.  Calcium Hypochlorite is the solid form of pool Chlorine, and typically is 65% strength.  Sodium Hypochlorite is the liquid form of pool Chlorine, and often is sold in strength of 12.5%. Household bleach is Sodium Hypochlorite (NaHOCl) and typically ranges in strength from 5.25-6%.

Potable_Aqua-IodineIodine-Potable_Agua-n-PAPlusOption “C”:  Iodine to Purify Water

Tincture of Iodine (2% solution) and Iodine tablets are a water purification method that has been used for many years.  Do-It-Yourself enthusiasts often make their own inexpensive Crystalline Iodine solution.  But just like Chlorine bleach, Iodine is not effective against Cryptosporidium.  Chlorine bleach is slightly more effective than Iodine, but neither is adequate for reliably killing Cryptosporidium.

Caution:  Water that has been disinfected with Iodine should NOT be consumed by pregnant women, people with thyroid problems, or those with known hypersensitivity to Iodine.  Also, Iodine treated water should not be used continuously for more than a few weeks.

Hydrogen_Peroxide-bottleOption “D”:  Hydrogen Peroxide to Purify Water

Similar in effect to Chlorine or household bleach, Peroxide has a somewhat similar ability to purify water.  However, since Peroxide degrades very quickly, especially if the container has previously been opened, its primary benefit is that it might be available in an emergency situation when other purification methods are not.

Since the strength of Peroxide declines quickly even if the container is unopened, it is impossible to provide reliable dosing information.  Therefore, if Hydrogen Peroxide is all you have, the best option may be to dose the water with twice the amount of Peroxide than would be used for bleach, shake or stir, and then wait 30-minutes.  If there is a slight odor of Peroxide to the water, it is probably safer to drink than untreated water.  If there is no Peroxide odor for the water, repeat the process.  After the additional 30-minute wait, if there is still no Peroxide odor to the water, the treatment may not have provided a substantial purification effect.  However, the treated water will likely still be safer to drink than untreated water.  Do not drink Hydrogen Peroxide straight, even if the strength is negligible.

Specifics on Hydrogen Peroxide Water Treatment:  If one cup of water has 20 parts per million ‘bugs’ in it, the disinfectant dosage needs to be at least 20ppm but no more than 25 as more than this can produce negative health effects from chemical contamination.  If your supply of water is limited and you can’t afford to discard the over-treated water, set the uncapped container aside for several hours to let the Peroxide escape into the air.

If you have access to water testing equipment:  Peroxide dosage of 23ppm (of the active chlorine component) will show a 3ppm free residual while showing a 23ppm total chlorine level (if the background is zero). Peroxide would potentially have the advantage of breaking down to oxygen and water, but its use is also made more difficult by that fact when measuring reacted components. A quick calculation to use daily is the required dosage in parts per million, times the volume treated in gallons, divided by 120,000 (which is a constant). This calculates the number of pounds needed to give that dosage. Unfortunately there is no simple answer to dosage if you do not have access to test equipment.

Note:  The type of Iodine used for water purification tablets is not the same as the Iodine used for protection against radiation sickness.  Do not consume Chlorine or Iodine Water Purification Tablets like a pill.  For safe use, they must be properly diluted in water.

Stabilized_Liquid_Oxygen_Drops-3Bottles-4ozEa-bOption “E”:  Stabilized Liquid Oxygen (Activated Oxygen) to Purify Water

The chemicals Chlorine and Iodine both create health problems if used for an extended period of time, whereas Stabilized Oxygen has no such undesirable side effects.  An additional benefit is that Stabilized Oxygen does not adversely affect the taste of the water as do chemical treatments.

Dosage:  Use the manufacturer’s recommended dosage.  If not available, purification dosage is typically 10 – 40 drops of liquid Stabilized Oxygen for 16-ounces of clear water, shake or stir and then cap the container.  Let stand for 5-minutes before consuming.  For powders such as Katadyn Micropur and Micropur Tank Clean, use one gram of powder to treat 1-liter of water, dissolve thoroughly and then wait 5-minutes before drinking.

For short-term water storage, treat 1 gallon of already-chlorinated water by adding 10 drops of stabilized oxygen. For tap water which is to be stored long-term, add 20 drops.  For 55 gallon drums, use 55 ml or 1,100 drops.  Store stored water in a cool location, away from direct sunlight.  Keep your bottle of Stabilized Oxygen tightly capped and away from heat and sunlight.

The use of Stabilized Oxygen for water purification is a lesser-known treatment method.  It can be hard to find locally, except perhaps in health food, vitamin, or homeopathic stores.  It may be more expedient to shop for it online.  Commonly found brand names of Stabilized Oxygen are:  Aerox, Aerobic Stabilized Oxygen (formerly Aerobic 07), Aerobic Life, and Aquagen, Dynamo 2, Dexterity Health, and Genesis 1000, Katadyn Micropur.

RedWine-Camaraderie_CellarsOption “F”:  Using Wine to Purify Water

Since ancient Bible times, water was often insufficiently pure to drink untreated. By mixing 1-part red wine to 3 parts water, a limited level of purification was achieved. In modern laboratory tests, bacterium was in fact killed using this method.

In these laboratory tests, red wine ranked 3 to 4 times more effective than alcoholic beverages such as tequila. It is believed that wine is more effective due to the phenol compounds in the red wine, which are enhanced by the charred wood used in some wine-aging casks. This factor is important, and additionally noteworthy as phenol compounds may be related to the basic sulfur drugs historically used in early antibiotics. (Source: Dr. Trichopolou, British Medical Journal discussing the Greek Villager’s Diet.) The full article is here. Do not assume this method kills Giardia and Cryptosporidium, etc. View this treatment as a last-resort method which may be better than no treatment at all.

Emergency-Water-DesalinizationOption “F”:  Salt Water – Desalinization or Distillation to Make Pure Water

Do not drink saltwater.  If seawater or saltwater is your only source of water, the salt must be removed, and the water purified, before drinking it.

If you don’t have equipment designed for this purpose, this can be accomplished by boiling salt water, capturing the steam, and then letting the water condense into liquid water as the steam cools.

How To:  To accomplish this, use an oversize lid or tinfoil over the boiling pot to capture the steam, and provide a method for the steam to cool and transition back into water, and devise a plan to collect this distilled water.

Perhaps the simplest method is to extend the lid over the side of the pot, use tinfoil to direct the escaping steam, and more tin foil to form a trough to let the condensed water flow into a second, clean container.  Be sure to let the water cool before drinking.

If this is accomplished using a sterile container and sterilized tinfoil, this water is also suitable for medical use such as cleaning wounds.

Note:  Even expensive water purification filters will not remove salt from water.  Salt can only be removed by using some method to convert the water into steam, and then back again into liquid water; or, by using desalinization equipment such as found on some yachts and sailboats.

Distilled water is not healthy for long term use as drinking water.

Additional Helpful Information About Water Purification and Related Topics

Water-Filter-System-KatadynWater Purifying Filters and Devices

Advanced filtration systems capable of filtering water at the 1-micron level, can be a great alternative to the Step-2 methods described above.  Ultraviolet (UV-C) light devices for water purification, such as the SteriPEN ($70+), are also useful as they can purify 32-ounces of water in just 90 seconds.  However, since batteries are required and electronic devices are prone to damage, we do not consider Ultraviolet devices to be unsuitable as a sole source of water purification.  A SteriPEN-type ultraviolet purification device is an excellent device, but it is essential to have another method(s) available to you as a back-up.

Purification filters are far more expensive than chemical methods ($70-500), but these units are far better choice for long-term use.  Notwithstanding, even if you have a high-quality purifying filter, chemical purification methods should still be available to use as a second treatment for water which is suspected to be highly contaminated, and as a back-up to filters which can clog and mechanically operated filters which can break.

The greatest degree of safety for long-term use is provided by using a combination of a high-quality water purification filter PLUS an ultraviolet purifier.  For example, a Katadyn Pocket Water Filter ($370) PLUS either a SteriPEN Defender designed for use by the military ($129), or a SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Water Purifier with Solar Charging Case ($150).

A vendor such as REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc. – http://www.REI.com) can help you select a suitable water purification filter, such as those used for backpacking.  Since portable purification devices are very specialized and must be selected with great discernment, they will be the subject of a separate article.  Caution:  When shopping for this type of device, be sure that it is capable of removing or destroying protozoa, bacteria, and viruses.  The manufacturers of the most popular water purification filters are:  Katadyn, Sawyer, and MSR.

Look for a filter that has a pore size of 1 micron or less. This will remove microbes 1 micron or greater in diameter (Cryptosporidium, Giardia). There are two types of these filters — “absolute 1 micron” filters and “nominal 1 micron” filters but not all filters that are supposed to remove objects 1 micron or larger from water are the same. The absolute 1 micron filter will more consistently remove Cryptosporidium than a nominal filter. Some nominal 1 micron filters will allow 20% to 30% of 1 micron particles (like Cryptosporidium) to pass through.

NSF-International (NSF) does independent testing of filters to determine if they remove Cryptosporidium. To find out if a particular filter is certified to remove Cryptosporidium, you can look for the NSF trademark plus the words “cyst reduction” or “cyst removal” on the product label information. You can also contact the NSF at 789 N. Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48113 USA, toll free 800-673-8010 or 888-99-SAFER, or visit their website:  www.nsf.org/certified/DWTU/. At their Website, you can enter the model number of the unit you intend to buy to see if it is on their certified list, or you can look under the section entitled “Reduction claims for drinking water treatment units – Health Effects” and check the box in front of the words “Cyst Reduction.” This will display a list of filters tested for their ability to remove Cryptosporidium.

Because NSF testing is expensive and voluntary, some filters that may work against Cryptosporidium have not been NSF-tested. If you chose to use a product not NSF-certified, select those technologies more likely to reduce Cryptosporidium, including filters with reverse osmosis and those that have an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller.

Crypto-Parasite-02Cryptosporidium, aka “Crypto”

Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. Both the parasite and the disease are commonly known as “Crypto.”

There are many species of Cryptosporidium that infect humans and animals. The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very tolerant to chlorine and iodine disinfection.

While this parasite can be spread in several different ways, drinking water and recreational water are the most common method of transmission. Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States.

Reverse osmosis water treatment and water purification filters which are labeled as providing “absolute 1-micron” filtration are the only reliable consumer-level methods for minimizing the risk of Cryptosporidium contamination.

Water-Heater-Drain_edited-1Often Forgotten Sources of Water Which Are Inside Your Home or Office

Sources of reasonably-clean water within a home are your water heater, ice in the refrigerator, swimming pools, fish tanks, and your water pipes (if you have turned-off the water at the point where it enters the house).  Once the outside water has been turned off, put a clean container under the lowest water faucet in the house (basement, if you have one), and open that faucet.  Then, go to the highest water faucet (top floor, or a physically higher faucet if it is a 1-story house, and open that faucet to eliminate the natural vacuum which exists within your plumbing system.  Any remaining water in the pipes should immediately start draining into the container.  Return to the low faucet and switch containers as needed, or be prepared to turn off the faucet so that you don’t waste water. Toilet tanks also store water, but are unreliable in regard to water quality, but this might also be a source of water that can be used for the purification process.

Soft_DrinksSoft Drinks, Carbonated Beverages, Fruit Juice, Alcoholic Beverages, and Other Canned or Bottled Drinks

Soft drinks, flavored and sugar drinks, and those containing caffeine, can be counterproductive in an emergency situation.  Drinks labeled as containing salt or sodium chloride, can increase thirst.  Liquid Gatorade and sports drinks can be useful, but may upset the body’s electrolyte balance if consumed in quantity.  These liquid sports drinks may also bring on nausea or an upset stomach if consumed in combination with foods not usually eaten, or when the stomach is empty.

Gatorade-Powder-bImproving the Taste of Chemically Treated Water (By Masking)

Powdered Gatorade “Thirst Quencher”: The powdered sport drink Gatorade is useful for masking the taste of water treated with Chlorine or Iodine, as well as for restoring the body’s electrolyte balance after a prolonged period of strenuous exertion, heavy sweating, or an extended time in a high heat environment. When used simply to improve the taste of purified water, use ¼ strength, or just enough to distract you from the unpleasant taste of the water.  Improving the taste of treated water can be particularly important with children who may not drink sufficient water to maintain health because they don’t like the water’s strange taste.

Water-TasteImproving the Taste of Chemically Treated Water (By Treatment)

Anti-Chlorine and Stabilized Oxygen:  Packaged under a number of different names, anti-Chlorine treatments and Stabilized Oxygen can be used to neutralize residual chlorine which remains in the water.  However, since these additives remove the Chlorine and its beneficial ongoing purification properties, it is best to use anti-Chlorine treatments just prior to drinking the water.  Since Liquid Oxygen and Activated Oxygen powder purity water, these can be used to improve the taste of stored water.  Commonly found brands:  Katadyn Micropur Antichlor MA and Potable Aqua PA-Plus Neutralizing Tablets.

Contaminated-PondRadiation, Heavy Metals, Farm Chemicals, and Manufacturing Waste in Water

If your water source is contaminated with radiation or heavy metals you will not be able to clean it using these cleaning and purification methods.  However, these methods will still be helpful, particularly if the source of water has set undisturbed for several days.  (Some of these contaminates will settle to the bottom of the container, so if this type of contamination is a concern, carefully remove the surface water so that contaminates at the bottom of the container are not re-mixed with the water.

Shelf Life of Water Purification Products

When stored at room temperature:  Bleach in a sealed container has a shelf life of 1-year.  Chlorine and iodine tablets have a shelf life of 4-years if unopened, 1-year if the contents has been exposed to the air.  Water which has been chlorinated according to the above storage method has a shelf life of up to 1-year if stored in the dark or in a container impervious to light.  The effective life of filters depends primarily on the clarity of the water being filtered.  If water is pre-filtered until it is clear, most purification filters will last for several years of modest use.  Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions, and purchase additional filter elements if extended use is anticipated.

Expiration Dates:  Unfortunately, Chlorine and Iodine tablets are not required to have an expiration date, so these products should be purchased direct from the manufacturer, or from a trusted retailer which turns over its inventory quickly.  Some manufacturers, such as Potable Aqua, print a code on the bottle which they use to track the manufacturing date and lot number.  You can use this code to decipher the age of the product.  For example, Potable Aqua code:   1 13 01

The code is generally a five or six digit number. The first digit(s) represent the month of manufacture. The next two digits represent a two-digit year, and the last digits represent a batch number for that month and year. Using the code example above, the product was manufactured the 1st month of the year 2013 and was the 1st batch of product made that year.

If in the field, check the tablets appearance to determine if they are still effective. If the tablets are gray or dark brown in color, they are likely still effective. If they are light green or yellow, they are probably not effective. If you have no other method for purification, use 2-4x the standard dosage.  If the treated water has an unusually strong odor after adding the tablets, discard the water and try again using fewer tablets.

Water-Tanks_ArrayTreating Tap Water or Pure Water for Storage

Be sure that the water you are treating is drinking-quality water to begin with. To treat water for storage, use liquid household chlorine bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use bleach with soaps or scents added. Add the bleach according to the table below, using a clean, uncontaminated medicine dropper.

 4 drops bleach per quart or liter container of water
 8 drops bleach per 2-quart, 2-liter, or ½ gallon container of water
 16 drops bleach, or 1/4 teaspoon, per gallon or 4-liter container of water

When treating larger quantities of water, use the following table to convert drops to standard measuring units.

  8 drops = 1/8 teaspoon
 16 drops = 1/4 teaspoon
 32 drops = ½ teaspoon
 64 drops = 1 teaspoon
 192 drops = 1 Tablespoon
 384 drops = 1/8 cup which is equal to 2 Tablespoons

Stir the water and allow it to stand for 30 minutes. Chlorine should be detectable by odor after the 30 minute waiting period. If the water does not smell like chlorine at that point, repeat the dose and let it stand another 15 minutes. Place caps on containers and attach labels describing the contents and when each was prepared.

Water stored in metal containers should not be treated, prior to storage, with chlorine since the chlorine compound is corrosive to most metals. Therefore, only very pure water should be stored in metal containers.

Water-Barrels-2Water Storage in 55-gallon Drums & Storage Tanks

If you intend to utilize 55-gallon drums for water storage, first be sure that they are food-grade plastic or metal containers with a food-grade liner or treatment.  If purchased as a previously used product, make sure that the container has not been used for something other than food, and that the contents did not contain a food product which will transmit flavor, odor, or otherwise taint your water.  Suitable “used” containers can often be purchased for $20-50 from a local bottler of Coca Cola or Pepsi products.

Liquid or powder Chlorine, such as obtained from a swimming pool supply store can be used to purify water, but the dosage is far different from that which is listed above for purifying water using household bleach.  Since different Chlorine products contain this chemical in various strengths, you need to check with a knowledgeable source for specific recommendations.  For water storage in drums and tanks, a “test kit” is essential.  Your local water authority, or even a knowledgeable pool supply owner, can help you select the best chemicals and test equipment for treating and testing drinking water.  Fortunately, these items are relatively inexpensive.

Click Here to download a flier containing instructions for “Katadyn Mircobox”, a simple water treatment method for 55-gallon drums and small water tanks.  http://katadynch.vs31.snowflakehosting.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/katadyn_products/Downloads/3-step_Flyer_Microbox_English.pdf

Additional Warnings:

  • Crystalline iodine 4-8 grams used in a stock solution constitutes a human lethal dose if accidentally swallowed in a single dose. Keep this and all chemicals out of the reach of children.
  • Water that has been disinfected with iodine is NOT recommended for pregnant women, people with thyroid problems, those with known hypersensitivity to iodine, or continuous use for more than a few weeks at a time.

Disclaimer:

Though we believe that the information contained here is accurate, it is only a compilation of information assembled from sources we believe to be reliable.  This is not medical advice, and it is your responsibility to validate the accuracy of any information used.  Below you will find links to sources which we have used, which might also be of value to you.

Bibliography (Partial List of Resources Used):

U.S. Center for Disease Control

Source:  http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/travel/emergency_disinfection.html

Source:  http://www.cdc.gov /travel/page/water-treatment.htm

Source:  http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/water-treatment.htm

U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Source:  http://www.ready.gov/managing-water

Source:  http://www.fema.gov/pte/foodwtr.htm

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Source: http://water.epa.gov/drink/emerprep/emergencydisinfection.cfm

Red Cross

Source:  http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety/water-treatment

Source:  http://www.clorox.com/products/clorox-concentrated-regular-bleach/faq/

King County Public Health Department, Washington State

Source:  http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/preparedness/disaster/SafeWater.aspx

Source: http://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/EmergencyPreparednessandResponse/Factsheets/WaterPurification.aspx

USA Today

Source:  http://traveltips.usatoday.com/long-boil-water-purification-62933.html

Survival Blog

Source:  http://survivalblog.org/water-purification-with-household-bleach/

Health Risk: West Nile Virus 1

Dark green indicates concentrations of reported cases of the West Nile Virus.  Source: U.S. Government, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the last decade more than 30,000 Americans have become ill, and 118 have died as a result of the West Nile Virus.  This problem is growing and spreading, and has now become a serious national health threat.

Infected mosquitoes are spreading this disease which can cause death and serious life-altering effects.  In the United States, two-thirds of the cases have been reported from six states: Texas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Mississippi, Michigan, and Oklahoma, and 40 percent of all cases have been reported from Texas.  However, even if you live in a State other than these, it is now prudent to take precautions as the disease is quickly spreading.  It is time for everyone to take prevention seriously.

How-To Protect Yourself

To reduce the risk of contracting this West Nile Virus, follow these simple steps:

1. Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, as these are the times of day when mosquitoes are most active.

2.  When going outdoors, dress in clothing that is loose fitting and covers as much skin as possible.  Shirts should have long sleeves, and pants should be long enough to cover shoe tops.  Light-color clothing may provide some additional protection.

3.  When going outside, defend yourself against mosquitoes by using an insect repellant that contains a high percentage of DEET (50-99%).  Or, less effective but still helpful, are commercial or home-made repellants which contain picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.  For outdoor living, mosquito traps can help, and some report a reduction in the number of mosquitoes by burning citronella candles.  However, these typically have no favorable effect unless the air is totally calm.

4.  Drain standing water in your yard and neighborhood.  Stagnant water is a prime breeding area for mosquitoes.  Swimming pools, rivers and creeks with moving water are usually not a problem.  The problem is stagnant water; water that is not flowing or moving.  Even small areas of stagnant water are a problem, such as:  stagnant ponds, flower pots, water dishes, bird baths, wading pools, and even potholes and tire ruts which have collected water.  These are a problem and should be drained.

Though it can be somewhat effective to add a few drops of oil to the surface of a stagnant pond, sufficient to form a sheen on the surface, this is not good for the environment.  Nor is it good for fish, frogs, birds, and other small creatures which might drink from the pond.  Though the oil may create a somewhat effective barrier against mosquito breeding, it is far better to drain the water rather than try to treat it.

Insect-Repellents, click on the text to the left to download a CDC 2-page PDF document, written by Centers for Disease Control staff, which describes the effectiveness of different insect repellent products for use on skin and clothing.

Insect-Repellents-TopRated, click on the text to the left to download a PDF product review of the most popular grocery-store variety of insect repellents.  This review was conducted by an independent consumer agency.

 

Symptoms of West Nile Virus

Those infected with the West Nile Virus may not experience any symptoms at all, but generally there will be flu-like symptoms plus some of these additional conditions:  High fever, extreme headache, severe neck pain, slurred speech, lack of coordination (dropping things more often than usual, stumbling, balance problems, etc.).  If you are experiencing some of these conditions in addition to flu-like symptoms, visit your doctor or hospital emergency room.

Animal Infections

Animal infections have now been reported in all 50 States, so the spread of this disease to humans in other North America locales is eminent.

Non-human Infections: West Nile Virus infections have been reported to CDC ArboNET from the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Human Infections:  2,963 human West Nile Virus infections have been reported to CDC ArboNET from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Statistics on the West Nile Virus

Source of All Statistics Cited:  U.S. Government, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.CDC.gov.  Unfortunately, we do not have reliable statistics for Mexico, but for information on the spread of this disease in Canada, visit:  http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/wnv-vwn/index.html

How long can you store bottled water? Reply

Fuji Bottled WaterHow long can I store bottled water?

Unopened bottled water products can often be safely stored for years, provided the bottles are kept in the proper environment, and the plastic material of the bottle is BPA-free.  When in doubt, discard or treat bottled water which is more than 6-months old.

Water is also available in aluminum cans and foil pouches, but since these products cannot be inspected prior to purchase or use, there is little opportunity to evaluate the contents.  For water stored in these containers, it is essential that you know the water is from a reputable source, and that it has been properly transported and stored.  If the container does not have a “bottled-on” date or “use-by” date, the contents should be purified before use.

Water provided by a government agency, or well-known relief organization, which is contained in a soft drink (soda) can (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Sprite, etc.) may be totally acceptable, as these large soft drink distributors are often called upon to can water during times of disaster or other emergencies.

Always store bottled water away from chemicals, such as cleaning compounds, paints, or gasoline.  And, keep the bottles on pallets or shelves, and off of concrete or other flooring which might leach chemicals into the bottles.  Don’t store bottled water in a garage, storage shed, or other location which will expose the water to temperature extremes.  Don’t store bottled water in direct sunlight for an extended period of time.

Bottles which have been exposed to very high or low temperatures (freezing) will likely lose their structural integrity, and may leak or become contaminated.  If you suspect any of your stored bottled water has become contaminated (smells funny, has a plastic taste, shows signs of algae growth, fogging, leaking, particulate matter floating in the water, etc.), discard or boil it for 5-minutes before using it, even in an emergency.  Becoming sick from water-born contaminants will make your situation much worse.  Don’t take chances.

Many experts tout Fuji bottled water as the best, but regardless of whether or not it deserves this high distinction, the square-ish shape of the Fuji bottles makes storage and transport easy, as the bottles pack tighter.  A less expensive option includes brands such as Dasani bottled water, a company which uses plastic bottles which are much stronger than the budget brands.  The added bottle strength is significant for emergency use and transport.  The 24-bottle packages of Dasani are also wrapped in heavy plastic wrap, a factor which makes transport and handling easier, as the packages are less likely to break-open and dump the bottles.

For a list of NSF Certified bottled water brands, visit:  http://www.nsf.org/certified/consumer/listings_results.asp