Wednesday, February 29, 2012

10 Quarantine Care At Home Epidemic Disaster Preparedness

 If you live in an area that is experiencing a disease epidemic, then you and your family members have a chance you might get the disease. That means preparedness must include how to take care of a family member with a contagious disease. This is not a bad idea to know even if you are merely experiencing a bout with something like childhood diseases.

Here is some basic information from the Human Health Services site:

Caring for Someone with the Flu

Keep the sick person comfortable and follow the recommendations of his or her health care provider. Keep others in the home healthy by washing hands and household surfaces frequently.
  • Ensure the sick person takes all medications as directed.
  • Put the sick person in a separate space from other members of the household.
  • Everyone in the home, including the sick person, should clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub frequently.

How do I care for the sick person?

Make sure the sick person follows any instructions given by his or her health care provider and takes all medications as directed. You can make the sick person more comfortable by following our treatment recommendations.
Get immediate medical care if the sick person experiences:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Purple or blue discoloration of the lips
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

How do I keep myself and others in the home from getting sick?

Keep the sick person away from other people as much as possible, especially those who are at high risk of complications from the flu. You can do this in your home by creating a sick room. Keep the sick person in a room away from common areas of the house. If you have more than one bathroom, have the sick person use one and well people use the other. Clean the sick room and bathroom daily with household disinfectant. The sick person should not have visitors other than caregivers. An email, text message, or phone call is safer than a visit.
Take these additional steps to protect yourself and people in your home from getting the flu.
  • You and all healthy people in the house should clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub frequently, including after every contact with the sick person, the sick person’s room or bathroom, or items used or touched by the sick person.
  • Remind the sick person to cover coughs and clean his or her hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub often, especially after coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid being face-to-face with the sick person and, if possible, have only one adult in the home take care of the sick person. People at increased risk of severe illness from flu should not care for the sick person.
  • Hold small children who are sick with their chin on your shoulder so that they will not cough in your face.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if well people in your home—particularly those contacts who are at increased risk of severe illness—should take antiviral medications to prevent getting the flu.
  • Maintain good ventilation in shared household areas (keep windows open in restrooms, kitchen, bathroom, etc.).
  • Follow proper cleaning and disposal procedures:
    • Throw the sick person’s tissues and other used disposable items in the trash.
    • Keep surfaces clean (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, doorknobs, phones, and children’s toys) by wiping them down with an approved household disinfectant.
    • Clean linens, eating utensils, and dishes used by the sick person thoroughly before reusing. You do not need to wash items separately.
    • Wash linens (such as bed sheets and towels) with laundry soap and tumble dry on a hot setting. Avoid “hugging” laundry to your body before washing it to prevent contaminating yourself.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

8 Preparing For An Epidemic Anthrax

I worked in the Post Office in the USA during the first set of anthrax incidents in the 1970s. 

The general idea that anthrax is not a danger we need to worry about is wrong, because we have had three major sets of anthrax incidents in the USA since the 1970s. It is only a fluke that we did not get a pandemic out of one or more of them.

Anything, like anthrax, that you can put in an ordinary envelope and send through the mail with an expectation that it could spread an epidemic throughout an entire nation, is something to consider for disaster preparedness. 

No matter whether your area is safe from tornadoes, hurricanes, or tsunamis, you can be hit by anthrax. If you want to prepare yourself for emergencies, anthrax should be on your list.

I am going to give you the tools to work with to be prepared for an anthrax emergency. It is up to you whether you choose to use them or not.

Here is a fact sheet offered by the Center for Disease Control on anthrax:

Anthrax: What You Need To Know

What Is Anthrax?

Anthrax is a serious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a bacterium that forms spores. A bacterium is a very small organism made up of one cell. Many bacteria can cause disease. A spore is a cell that is dormant (asleep) but may come to life with the right conditions.
There are three types of anthrax:
  • skin (cutaneous)
  • lungs (inhalation)
  • digestive (gastrointestinal)

How Do You Get It?

Anthrax is not known to spread from one person to another.
Anthrax from animals. Humans can become infected with anthrax by handling products from infected animals or by breathing in anthrax spores from infected animal products (like wool, for example). People also can become infected with gastrointestinal anthrax by eating undercooked meat from infected animals.
Anthrax as a weapon. Anthrax also can be used as a weapon. This happened in the United States in 2001. Anthrax was deliberately spread through the postal system by sending letters with powder containing anthrax. This caused 22 cases of anthrax infection.

How Dangerous Is Anthrax?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies agents with recognized bioterrorism potential into three priority areas (A, B and C). Anthrax is classified as a Category A agent. Category A agents are those that:
  • pose the greatest possible threat for a bad effect on public health
  • may spread across a large area or need public awareness
  • need a great deal of planning to protect the public’s health
In most cases, early treatment with antibiotics can cure cutaneous anthrax. Even if untreated, 80 percent of people who become infected with cutaneous anthrax do not die. Gastrointestinal anthrax is more serious because between one-fourth and more than half of cases lead to death. Inhalation anthrax is much more severe. In 2001, about half of the cases of inhalation anthrax ended in death.

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms (warning signs) of anthrax are different depending on the type of the disease:
  • Cutaneous: The first symptom is a small sore that develops into a blister. The blister then develops into a skin ulcer with a black area in the center. The sore, blister and ulcer do not hurt.
  • Gastrointestinal: The first symptoms are nausea, loss of appetite, bloody diarrhea, and fever, followed by bad stomach pain.
  • Inhalation: The first symptoms of inhalation anthrax are like cold or flu symptoms and can include a sore throat, mild fever and muscle aches. Later symptoms include cough, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, tiredness and muscle aches. (Caution: Do not assume that just because a person has cold or flu symptoms that they have inhalation anthrax.)

How Soon Do Infected People Get Sick?

Symptoms can appear within 7 days of coming in contact with the bacterium for all three types of anthrax. For inhalation anthrax, symptoms can appear within a week or can take up to 42 days to appear.

How Is Anthrax Treated?

Antibiotics are used to treat all three types of anthrax. Early identification and treatment are important.
Prevention after exposure. Treatment is different for a person who is exposed to anthrax, but is not yet sick. Health-care providers will use antibiotics (such as ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, doxycycline, or penicillin) combined with the anthrax vaccine to prevent anthrax infection.
Treatment after infection. Treatment is usually a 60-day course of antibiotics. Success depends on the type of anthrax and how soon treatment begins.

Can Anthrax Be Prevented?

Vaccination. There is a vaccine to prevent anthrax, but it is not yet available for the general public. Anyone who may be exposed to anthrax, including certain members of the U.S. armed forces, laboratory workers, and workers who may enter or re-enter contaminated areas, may get the vaccine. Also, in the event of an attack using anthrax as a weapon, people exposed would get the vaccine.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have Anthrax?

If you are showing symptoms of anthrax infection, call your health-care provider right away.

What Should I Do if I Think I Have Been Exposed to Anthrax?

Contact local law enforcement immediately if you think that you may have been exposed to anthrax. This includes being exposed to a suspicious package or envelope that contains powder.

What Is CDC Doing To Prepare For a Possible Anthrax Attack?

CDC is working with state and local health authorities to prepare for an anthrax attack. Activities include:
  • Developing plans and procedures to respond to an attack using anthrax.
  • Training and equipping emergency response teams to help state and local governments control infection, gather samples, and perform tests. Educating health-care providers, media, and the general public about what to do in the event of an attack.
  • Working closely with health departments, veterinarians, and laboratories to watch for suspected cases of anthrax. Developing a national electronic database to track potential cases of anthrax.
  • Ensuring that there are enough safe laboratories for quickly testing of suspected anthrax cases.
  • Working with hospitals, laboratories, emergency response teams, and health-care providers to make sure they have the supplies they need in case of an attack.
Here are some pictures from the Center for Disease Control of Anthrax:
This female patient is shown here on the 5th day of a Bacillus anthracis infection involving her left eye.
Photo ID# 4504
This female patient is shown here on the 5th day of a Bacillus anthracis infection involving her left eye.

Photo ID# 1801
Anthrax, skin of right forearm, 7th day.

The link to the CDC follows. There are more links on their site to more pictures of anthrax if you want to see them.

Monday, February 27, 2012

7 Preparing for an Epidemic Quarantine

You need to know what is on this fact sheet to deal with an epidemic. There is a lot more you will need to know. Since this particular disaster is just waiting to happen anywhere in the world, that includes you. This post is not enough information, so I have posted and have more yet to post about preparedness for epidemics.

You don't need to read all of them or learn it elsewhere, unless you want to live through an epidemic. If you are ok about dying when an epidemic hits your area, feel free to go on your way and ignore it. If that is the case you don't really need to prepare at all, because other disasters can include epidemics. Just pick where you want your headstone. You might end up in a mass grave elsewhere, however.

In case you want to live through an epidemic read on:

Understand Quarantine and Isolation

Fact Sheet
American Red Cross logo Modern quarantine is used when:
  • a person or a well-defined group of people has been exposed to a highly dangerous and highly contagious disease,
  • resources are available to care for quarantined people, and
  • resources are available to implement and maintain the quarantine and deliver essential services.
Modern quarantine includes a range of disease control strategies that may be used individually or in combination, including:
  • Short-term, voluntary home curfew.
  • Restrictions on the assembly of groups of people (for example, school events).
  • Cancellation of public events.
  • Suspension of public gatherings and closings of public places (such as theaters).
  • Restrictions on travel (air, rail, water, motor vehicle, pedestrian).
  • Closure of mass transit systems.
  • Restrictions on passage into and out of an area.
Modern quarantine is used in combination with other public health tools, such as:
  • Enhanced disease surveillance and symptom monitoring.
  • Rapid diagnosis and treatment for those who fall ill.
  • Preventive treatment for quarantined individuals, including vaccination or prophylactic treatment, depending on the disease.
Modern quarantine does not have to be absolute to be effective. Research suggests that in some cases partial quarantine (that is, quarantine of many exposed persons but not all of them) can be effective in slowing the rate of the spread of a disease, especially when combined with vaccination.
Modern quarantine is more likely to involve limited numbers of exposed persons in small areas than to involve large numbers of persons in whole neighborhoods or cities. The small areas may be thought of as "rings" drawn around individual disease cases. Examples of "rings" include:
  • People on an airplane or cruise ship on which a passenger is ill with a suspected contagious disease for which quarantine can serve to limit exposure to others.
  • People in a stadium, theater or similar setting where an intentional release of a contagious disease has occurred.
  • People who have contact with a infected person whose source of disease exposure is unknown—and therefore may be due to a covert release of a contagious disease.
In the aftermath of a disease outbreak or biological attack, there may be dozens of small "rings," each one including the people exposed to a single case of disease.
Implementation of modern quarantine requires the trust and participation of the public, who must be informed about the dangers of contagious diseases subject to quarantine before an outbreak or intentional release of biological agents, as well as during an actual event.

I am sorry if you are bored with reading about epidemics. If you want to live through one, keep reading or find the information elsewhere, the Center for Disease Control, for example.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

6 Sheltering In Place Schools

You are not likely to need to know how to shelter in place in a school unless you work in one. More people are likely to have children in schools, than people are likely to work in schools. This is posted for the benefit if the people with children in schools. 

I think that it will relieve stress on you in an emergency if you know what is being done in an emergency to keep your children safe by sheltering them in place in their school.

Learn How to Shelter in Place

American Red Cross logo
At School
The appropriate steps depend on the emergency situation. If you hear a warning signal, listen to local radio or television stations for further information. You will be told what to do, including where to find the nearest shelter if you are away from your "shelter-in-place" location.

Check with the school or day-care center to learn their plans for dealing with a hazardous materials emergency. Their "shelter-in-place" plans should include the following:
  1. Close the school. Activate the school's emergency plan. Follow reverse evacuation procedures to bring students, faculty and staff indoors.
  2. If visitors are in the building, provide for their safety by asking them to stay.
  3. Ideally, have access to the school-wide public address system in the room where the top school official takes shelter.
  4. Have at least one telephone line under the school's listed telephone number in one of the shelter rooms available for a designated person to answer the calls of concerned parents. If time permits, it is not possible for a person to monitor the telephone and the school has voicemail or an automated attendant, change the recording to indicate that the school is closed and that students and staff are remaining in the building until authorities say it is safe to leave.
  5. Classrooms may be used if there are no windows or the windows are sealed and cannot be opened. Large storage closets, utility rooms, or meeting rooms could be used. A gymnasium without exterior windows would also work well. Access to bathrooms is a plus.
  6. Have all children, staff and visitors take shelter in pre-selected rooms that have phone access and stored disaster supplies kits and, preferably, access to a bathroom. Shut the doors.
  7. Have all shelter rooms closed. Lock all windows, exterior doors and any other openings to the outside.
  8. If told there is danger of explosion, make sure window shades, blinds or curtains are closed.
  9. Turn off heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems. Systems that automatically provide for exchange of inside air with outside air must be turned off, sealed or disabled.
  10. If instructed by officials, use duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal all cracks around the door(s), windows and vents into the room. As much as possible, reduce the flow of air into the room.
  11. If children have cell phones, allow them to use them to call a parent or guardian to let them know that they have been asked to remain in school until further notice and that they are safe. This may reduce the potential number of incoming calls.

  12. Schools should assign one or two people to collect information on who is in the building when an emergency happens so that first responders can know everyone is be accounted for, if necessary.
  13. One teacher or staff member in each room should write down the names of everyone in the room and call the school's designated emergency contact to report who is in that room.
  14. Everyone should stay in the room until school officials, via the public address system, announce that all is safe or say everyone must evacuate.
  15. Once the word has been given that all is safe, everyone should go outside when the building's ventilation systems are turned back on. Follow any special instructions given by emergency authorities to avoid chemical and radiological contaminants outdoors. (And bio-hazards.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

5 Shelter in Place Workplace

Most people spend a third of their lives in their workplace, so you have a good chance of being there during an emergency. Whether you are the boss there or not, it is a good idea to know what to do to shelter in place there during an emergency. If you are not the boss, it will definitely be harder to prepare for workplace emergencies. 

If your boss has not made any preparations for sheltering in place during emergencies, perhaps you could pick some material from my blog posts to share with them. 

This post is based on CDC information about sheltering in place and mentions radiation and chemical reasons for sheltering. Most of it would apply to bio-hazards as well. I do not feel competent enough in these areas to tinker with this post much. You will have to use your own judgement for now.  Once I have read a lot more on these subjects or find something more specific to sheltering in place in the workplace for bio-hazards, I will post it.

As with the posts on sheltering in place at home or in a vehicle, this one was taken from the CDC and is obviously taken by them from the Red Cross:
Learn How to Shelter in Place

In the Workplace

  • Español (Spanish)
  • --> American Red Cross logo The appropriate steps depend on the emergency situation. If you hear a warning signal, listen to local radio or television stations for further information. You will be told what to do, including where to find the nearest shelter if you are away from your "shelter-in-place" location.
    Check with your workplace to learn their plans for dealing with a hazardous materials emergency. Their "shelter-in-place" plans should include the following:
    1. Employers should close the office, making any customers, clients or visitors in the building aware that they need to stay until the emergency is over. Close and lock all windows, exterior doors and any other openings to the outside.

    2. Avoid overcrowding by pre-selecting several interior rooms with the fewest number of windows or vents. The appropriate location depends entirely on the emergency situation. If a chemical has been released, you should take shelter in a room above ground level, because some chemicals are heavier than air and may seep below ground. On the other hand, if there are radioactive particles in the air, you should choose a centrally located room or basement. 

      Knowing what to do under specific circumstances is an important part of being prepared. (This part of workplace emergency preparedness is something you can do whether your boss wants to prepare or not.) The rooms should have adequate space for everyone to be able to sit, including an estimated number of visitors. Large storage closets, utility rooms, pantries, break rooms and copy and conference rooms without exterior windows would work well. Access to bathrooms is a plus. It is ideal to have hard-wired telephones in the rooms you select; use cordless phones (but not cell phones—the system may be overloaded in an emergency), if necessary. The rooms should be equipped with a disaster supplies kit.
    3. A knowledgeable person should use the building's mechanical systems to turn off all heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems. The systems that automatically provide for exchange of inside air with outside air, in particular, need to be turned off, sealed or disabled. (You can interview the maintenance personnel to find out this information. If access or tools are not available to you, perhaps you can persuade your boss to do that much preparedness and let you know how or where, etc.)
    4. Unless there is an imminent threat, employers should ask employees, customers, clients and visitors to call their emergency contacts to let them know where they are and that they are safe.
    5. If time permits and it is not possible for a person to monitor the telephone, turn on call-forwarding or alternative telephone answering systems or services. If the business has voicemail or an automated attendant, it should be switched to a recording that indicates that the business is closed and that staff and visitors are remaining in the building until authorities advise it is safe to leave.
    6. If you are told there is danger of explosion, close any window shades, blinds or curtains near your workspace.
    7. Take your workplace disaster supplies kits and go to your pre-determined sheltering room(s) and, when everyone is in, shut and lock the doors. There should be radios or TVs in the room(s).
    8. Turn on the radios or TVs. If instructed to do so by officials, use duct tape and plastic sheeting, such as heavy-duty plastic garbage bags, to seal all cracks around the door(s) and any vents into the room. Seal any windows and/or vents with sheets of plastic and duct tape. (Hardware stores sell multiple packs of plastic paint tarps that are very inexpensive.) As much as possible, reduce the flow of air into the room.
    9. Businesses should assign one or two people to collect information on who is in the building when an emergency happens so that first responders can know everyone is be accounted for, if necessary.
    10. One person per room should write down the names of everyone in the room. Call your business-designated emergency contact to report who is in the room with you and their affiliation with your business (employee, visitor, client, customer). (This item of preparedness is free, so may be easier to persuade a reluctant boss to cooperate with. This is especially true if you volunteer to find a designated emergency contact.)
    11. Keep listening to the radio or watching TV for updates until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate.
    12. When you are told that all is safe, open windows and doors, turn on heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems and go outside until the building's air has been exchanged with the now-clean outdoor air. Follow any special instructions given by emergency authorities to avoid chemical or radiological contaminants outdoors.

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    4 Shelter In Place Vehicle

    Since we never know when a disaster will happen, it is possible that you could be in your vehicle when you are told that you must shelter in place. During many emergencies you will not have time to go somewhere else before you shelter in place. That could mean that you will have to shelter in place in your vehicle.

    Part of your emergency preparedness means preparing your vehicle. This information on shelter in place in a vehicle came from the CDC, but they seem to have gotten it from the Red Cross (I have slightly revised it to make it easier to understand):

    Learn How to Shelter in Place

    In a Vehicle
    American Red Cross logo Taking shelter in a vehicle may be an uncomfortable experience, particularly in hot 
    or cold weather. It beats exposing yourself to chemical or radiological contaminants outside your vehicle. Having a portable disaster supplies kit in your vehicle could make the experience less unpleasant.

    The appropriate steps depend on the emergency situation. If you hear a warning signal, listen to local radio or television stations for further information. You will be told what to do, including where to find the nearest shelter if you are away from your "shelter-in-place" location.
    1. If you are very close to home, your workplace or a public building, go there immediately and go inside. Follow the "shelter-in-place" recommendations for that location. (I just posted about sheltering in place in your home and sheltering in place for your workplace is next.)
    2. If you are unable to get indoors quickly and safely, then pull over to the side of the road. Stop your vehicle in the safest place possible. If it is sunny outside, it is preferable to stop under a bridge or in a shady spot to avoid being overheated.
    3. Turn off the engine.
    4. Close windows and vents.
    5. If possible, seal the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning vents with duct tape or anything else you may have available. (That means stuff them with tissues or paper if that is what you have.)
    6. Listen to the radio periodically for updated advice and instructions. (Modern car radios don't take much battery power and should not affect your ability to start your car later.)
    7. Stay where you are until you are told it is safe to get back on the road. Be aware that some roads may be closed or traffic detoured. Follow the directions of law enforcement officials.

    Supplies for your vehicle could include:

    • Bottled water and non-perishable foods such as granola bars. (The special emergency rations bars are pretty awful to eat, kind of like sugary sand.)
    • Seasonal supplies: Winter - blanket, hat, mittens, shovel, sand, tire chains, windshield scraper, florescent distress flag; Summer - sunscreen lotion (SPF 15 or greater), shade item (umbrella, wide brimmed hat, etc). (Don't forget any other seasonal weather gear for your area.)
    • Flashlight, extra batteries, and maps.
    • First aid kit and manual.
    • White distress flag. (Those "Need Help" windshield covers are good too.)
    • Tire repair kit, booster/jumper cables, pump, and flares. (I think you need something to keep yourself occupied like knitting, games or reading material. It will help save your sanity. Sitting with nothing to do but worry, cooped up in a vehicle doesn't strike me as a good way to spend your time.)

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    3 Disaster Supplies Kit - Red Cross

    I have already posted a Red Cross list of suggested

    emergency  supplies, but people have not been

    finding it. (I added notes at the bottom that you

    need to read.) Here it is again, since you will need

    it if you plan to shelter in place:

    Disaster Supplies Kit (Red Cross)
    A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items that could be needed in the event of a disaster.
    Assemble the following items to create kits for use at home, the office, at school and/or in a vehicle:
    • Water—one gallon per person, per day (3­day supply for evacuation, 2­week supply for home)
    • Food—non­perishable, easy­to­prepare items (3­day supply for evacuation, 2­week supply for home)
    • Flashlight
    • Battery­powered or hand­crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
    • Extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Medications (7­day supply) and medical items
    • Multi­purpose tool
    • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
    • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
    • Cell phone with chargers
    • Family and emergency contact information
    • Extra cash
    • Emergency blanket
    • Map(s) of the area
    Consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:
    • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
    • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
    • Games and activities for children
    • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
    • Two­way radios
    • Extra set of car keys and house keys
    • Manual can opener
    Additional supplies to keep at home or in your kit based on the types of disasters common to your area:
    • Whistle
    • N95 or surgical masks
    • Matches
    • Rain gear
    • Towels
    • Work gloves
    • Tools/supplies for securing your home
    • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
    • Plastic sheeting
    • Duct tape
    • Scissors
    • Household liquid bleach
    • Entertainment items
    • Blankets or sleeping bags

    Pack the items in easy-to-carry containers, label the containers clearly and store them where they would be easily accessible. Duffle bags, backpacks, and covered trash receptacles are good candidates for containers. In a disaster situation, you may need access to your disaster supplies kit quickly - whether you are sheltering at home or evacuating. Following a disaster, having the right supplies can help your household endure home confinement or evacuation.
    Make sure the needs of everyone who would use the kit are covered, including infants, seniors and pets. It's good to involve whoever is going to use the kit, including children, in assembling it.

    (My comments on quantities needed for your emergency supplies, etc.)
    I do not know why the Red Cross keeps telling people to store amounts that will not be enough to hold people until they get help  in emergencies. Katrina showed that is a big problem. It is better to store supplies for longer than official estimates tell you to do. 

    Katrina was so big that it overwhelmed resources that usually provide help. Weather is setting new records all over the world and then the new records get broken. 

    Even a "minor" pandemic will easily overwhelm available resources and all the stores get emptied out by people during initial panic. Plan your supplies for longer than official estimates. If you are sheltering in place during an epidemic of disease, the last thing you want is to have to go out foraging for food, etc. in the middle of it.

    If storing extra is an economic hardship for you, store as much as you can afford and gradually add to it. Please do not waste your food storage. Pick food that you like to eat all the time for your storage and rotate it into your daily meals and replace it as you use it. This also provides a buffer against rising food prices. It can also give you a way to wait for sales to cut costs.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    2 Epidemic Disaster Preparedness Shelter In Place - Home

    This blog post is to help you know what to do during an epidemic where you are told to "shelter in place". The first place I will tell you about to shelter in place is your home. Most of these shelter in place instructions will apply to most disasters, besides epidemics.

    During an epidemic emergency as with any other emergency, you need to know about it. In the United States there are emergency broadcast system tests that annoy radio and television listeners and viewers periodically. They will tell you during a real use of the emergency broadcast system where to tune in to find out what to do next.

    One of the things you may be told to do when you tune in to an official emergency broadcast is that you need to shelter in place. I will tell you later about sheltering in place in a vehicle, a workplace, or school. 

    Learn How to Shelter in Place
    At Home (This came from the CDC site, but they were apparently quoting the Red Cross here.)
    American Red Cross logo The appropriate steps depend on the emergency situation. If you hear a warning signal, listen to local radio or television stations for further information. You will be told what to do, including where to find the nearest shelter if you are away from your "shelter-in-place" location.
    If you are told to "shelter-in-place," act quickly. Follow the instructions of local authorities. In general:
    1. Bring children and pets indoors immediately. If your children are at school, do not try to bring them home unless told to. The school will shelter them.
    2. Close and lock all outside doors and windows. Locking may provide a tighter seal.
    3. If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.
    4. Turn off the heating, ventilation, or air conditioning system. Turn off all fans, including bathroom fans operated by the light switch.
    5. Close the fireplace or woodstove damper. Become familiar with proper operation of flues and dampers ahead of time.
    6. Get your disaster supplies , and make sure the radio is working.
    7. The room should have 10 square feet of floor space per person in order to provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide buildup for 5 hours. In this room, you should store scissors, plastic sheeting pre-cut to fit over any windows or vents and rolls of duct tape to secure the plastic. Access to a water supply is desirable, as is a working hard-wired telephone. Don't rely on cell phones because cellular telephone circuits may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency. Also, a power failure will render most cordless phones inoperable.
    8. Take everyone, including pets, into an interior room with no or few windows and shut the door.
    9. If you have pets, prepare a place for them to relieve themselves where you are taking shelter. Pets should not go outside during a chemical or radiation emergency because it is harmful to them and they may track contaminants into your shelter. The Humane Society of the United States suggests that you have plenty of plastic bags and newspapers, as well as containers and cleaning supplies, to help deal with pet waste.
    10. If you are instructed to seal the room, use duct tape and plastic sheeting, such as heavy-duty plastic garbage bags, to seal all cracks around the door into the room. Tape plastic over any windows. Tape over any vents and seal electrical outlets and other openings. As much as possible, reduce the flow of air into the room.
    11. Make sure all family members know what to do in an emergency whether they are at home, school, work, or outdoors. This includes knowing the number of an out-of-town friend or relative who has agreed to serve as an emergency contact. It can be easier to reach someone out of town during an emergency than to reach someone locally, including family members. The contact can collect the information on where and how everybody is and help reassure and reunite families.
    12. Call your emergency contact and keep the phone handy in case you need to report a life-threatening condition. Otherwise stay off the phone, so that the lines will be available for use by emergency responders.
    13. Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Do not evacuate unless instructed to do so.
    14. When you are told that the emergency is over, open windows and doors, turn on ventilation systems, and go outside until the building's air has been exchanged with the now clean outdoor air. Follow any special instructions given by emergency authorities to avoid chemical or radiological contaminants outdoors.

    ABC News:
    Pick up the Habits of Healthy Behavior (Slightly paraphrased)

    The habits that can help keep you healthy in an outbreak are the same good health habits that can keep you from catching the common cold: maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly and get enough rest. Especially in a flu outbreak situation, it will be important to wash your hands thoroughly and often, reminding loved ones -- especially children -- to do the same. Always be careful about covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, teaching any children in your family to do the same. Also teach children to stay away from others as much as possible if they are sick and stay home from work or school if you are sick. 

    (Me, winging it:)
    Train yourself and your family members not to touch your face unconsciously. This is particularly so for your eyes, nose and mouth. Your body is especially vulnerable to catching disease in these areas.  Wash your hands as soon as you get home from a public place or public transportation. 

    I believe a steamer is a good tool for everyday use, but is especially so in the event of an epidemic. For everyday, you and household members will catch and transmit less disease by using a steamer. Use it to clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches and plates, cabinet knobs and appliance and entertainment system knobs. 

    It is a good idea to find out whether your electronics can be harmed by steam cleaning their knobs before you do it. Removing the knobs and cleaning them may work better. 

    Since some kinds of bacteria have become immune to alcohol, alcohol wipes and that sort of thing, are no longer useful for cleaning. Steam cleaning gives us a way to stop the diseases we can not combat with alcohol cleaners.

    The CDC goes into great detail on specific diseases and how to deal with each one, including recognition of symptoms. Anthrax is one of these.
    I found that especially interesting because I worked for the Post Office during the Anthrax poisonings in Post Offices. 

    I heard more than I ever wanted to know, during that time, about Anthrax. This threat has not gone away. We could be dealing with this one at any time again. Bioterrorism weapons are being researched by governments all over the world, including the USA. Some of the anthrax used in the United States was said to have come from the USA weapons research programs. Since this is such a serious threat, I will cover Anthrax and what you need to know and do about it in a separate post.

    I have been studying how to filter air and clean it so you can have fresh air in your home during an long shelter in place emergency without directly breathing outside air. I am not ready to write a post about it, but if you are impatient, you can research it yourself.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    1 How To Prepare For Epidemic Disasters Quarantine And Isolation

    I think the Center for Disease Control might be a good place to give you a clue on how to prepare yourself to live through an epidemic.

    The Center for Disease Control mentions ways to keep disease from spreading. These ways are called quarantine and isolation.


    [kwawr-uhn-teen, kwor-, kwawr-uhn-teen, kwor-]  noun, verb, -tined, -tin·ing.
    1. a strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease.
    2. a period, originally 40 days, of detention or isolation imposed upon ships, persons, animals, or plants on arrival at a port or place, when suspected of carrying some infectious or contagious disease.
    3. a system of measures maintained by governmental authority at ports, frontiers, etc., for preventing the spread of disease.
    4. the branch of the governmental service concerned with such measures.
    5. a place or station at which such measures are carried out, as a special port or dock where ships are detained.


    [ahy-suh-ley-shuhn, is-uh-] 
    3. the complete separation from others of a person suffering from contagious or contagious or infectious disease
    (These definitions are from

    Here are the CDCs definitions of:

    Infectious disease: a disease caused by a microorganism and therefore potentially infinitely transferable to new individuals. May or may not be communicable. Example of non communicable is disease caused by toxins from food poisoning or infection caused by toxins in the environment, such as tetanus.
    Communicable disease: an infectious disease that is contagious and which can be transmitted from one source to another by infectious bacteria or viral organisms.
    Contagious disease: a very communicable disease capable of spreading rapidly from one person to another by contact or close proximity.

    "The difference between quarantine and isolation can be summed up like this:
    • Isolation applies to persons who are known to be ill with a contagious disease.
    • Quarantine applies to those who have been exposed to a contagious disease but who may or may not become ill.

    (This is more from the CDC, slightly paraphrased)

    When would quarantine and isolation be used and by whom?

    If people in a certain area were potentially exposed to a contagious disease, this is what would happen:" 

    You would be told by government officials that you may have been exposed to a disease you could get. They would tell you to go to a doctor, clinic or hospital and find out if you have the disease.

    They would tell you to stay at home so you won't pass the disease on to others. It is rare for government officials to officially order quarantine or isolation. 

    The government officials may make you stay quarantined or isolated as well as let you do it voluntarily. There are legal reasons why they think they can do this. They put it this way: 
    "It derives from the authority of state governments granted by the U.S. Constitution to enact laws and promote regulations to safeguard the health and welfare of people within state borders." 

    The CDC goes on to say, ' "Further, at the national level, the CDC may detain, medically examine or conditionally release persons suspected of having certain contagious diseases. This authority applies to individuals arriving from foreign countries, including Canada and Mexico, on airplanes, trains, automobiles, boats or by foot. It also applies to individuals traveling from one state to another or in the event of "inadequate local control." '

    The CDC says that we have only had small quarantines since the big one of the "Spanish Flu" pandemic of 1918-1919. They keep an eye on people coming into the country, for disease though.

    The CDC doesn't think that federal authority to impose involuntary quarantine would arise much, only for someone who posed a threat of causing an epidemic and refused to cooperate voluntarily.

    The CDC has directions for sheltering in place for home, vehicle, workplace, and school. I will put up all four on my posts on this blog, even though I don't think you directly need the schools one. I think you will feel better during a school quarantine if you know what is happening to your children at school.

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Alcohol Resistant Viruses Protection From Epidemic

    Read this, because it could save your life and the lives of your loved ones much sooner than any of us would like. 

    I received an alarming email that viruses have evolved immunity to alcohol, including hand sanitizers. It means we just lost one of our better tools to keep from getting diseases and spreading them. The alcohol resistance clearly rates a new and improved post on epidemics. 

    Yesterday's post was a chart of epidemics from the Center for Disease Control that listed epidemics since 2000. 

    I did not go into detail about how bacteria and viruses manage to become immune to whatever we are doing to kill them and protect ourselves. Educated and savvy people do not usually know what they need to about how bacteria and viruses work. You need to know enough to stay alive.

    Living things with a shorter life span and that reproduce rapidly in large numbers have a big survival advantage over other living things that live a long time, reproduce slowly and in smaller numbers. Viruses and bacteria have humans beat in all those departments. There is a kind of bacteria that lives for about 20 minutes. This is its "life cycle", if you could apply the term to it. 

    There are other bacteria that live much longer, but we can compare human reproduction to bacteria replication. Bacteria divide in two when they make more bacteria. If we assumed that those bacteria split in two every minute, we would have almost 43 million bacteria in less than ten minutes. During that time two humans might start a life or maybe even octuplets, but that wouldn't result in any human babies for nine more months. 

    If only the strongest bacteria of those 43 million bacteria survived, we could have body builder type bacteria kicking sand in the face of that one human baby in no time. And that is what we get. They have to keep making new flu vaccinations because the flu bugs keep getting resistant to the old flu vaccinations.

    Hah! And you think that's bad? Bacteria do something that is even worse news for us humans. They do something called packet swapping. It is a way that bacteria and even viruses can pass along helpful genetic material, like antibiotic resistance to other bacteria. They don't even have to pass the genetic material to the same kind of bacteria. 

    Now we know what the problem is. We are going to get epidemics. The germs that make us sick evolve faster than we can make new ways to deal with them.

    I can see at least one post in our future about what to do about preparing for epidemics.

    I had some hand sanitizer in my go bag as a substitute for soap and water. Bad idea! I will now carry a little extra water and soap.

    Fun With Disaster Preparedness

    Since so few people are making use of the information offered in my blog I might as well have some fun. Any idiots reading this post might as well have fun too. I hope you at least have the brains to get a little prepared for disasters so you can make it at least five minutes or so before you stick your head under the covers and die.

    I might even do that myself. 

    You might like to know that emergency first responders, like paramedics, police, and firemen are among the most ill-prepared people there are for disasters. Sure their fire trucks and ambulances are all stocked up in alphabetical order, but at home, zip. Nada. Nothing.

    In that glorious tradition I have the honor to partake of such stupidity myself. I have a wonderful selection of stuff ready for general emergencies and a great pack ready to go with first aid and related items, but the few items in my actual go bag are kinda lonely. (I have been improving this situation lately, and now have a much better equipped go bag.)

    I recently added a box of chocolate granola bar things that an appalled friend foisted on me. She decided to reciprocate my nagging about preparedness. What are friends for if not to nag you back?

    My latest preparedness acquisition is a Dutch oven. I suspect the people in Holland do not know this item by this name, so I will describe it.  A Dutch oven is the American name for a heavy cast iron cooking pot with a matching lid. It causes convection currents inside it which cook the food inside more rapidly than a regular pot. You can bake bread in them too. 

    I decided that a Dutch oven is a good combination with a rocket stove for emergency preparedness. I do not plan to reserve it for emergencies, however. I intend to go out in the boonies here in Alaska and use it daily. I mean use the Dutch oven and rocket stove combination.

    The disasters facing the human race as a result of our communal stupidity look pretty appalling to me. It looks unlikely that people will have much of a chance to survive unless they prepare for that freight train of disasters lined up, heading our way.

    I am planning to bug out early and beat the rush. I want to have a reasonably self sufficient homestead operating before we get hit by too many disasters. 

    This is going to be a tall order to manage if people are right about the cataclysm scheduled for next December 21. I really really hope they are at least a little early with that. I would like it even better if they are way early. I could use the extra time.

    Finding a place, buying it, cutting down enough trees, and building a cabin before next winter hits isn't going to be easy. Sigh.

    I received a semi-indecent proposal from a nice Mormon guy lately. He offered to make me his wife and his wife agreed about it. I thought it was rather generous of her and flattered that I met her criteria. 

    A nice thing about Mormons is that they are mostly  prepared for emergencies. It is part of their religion to do this. Unlike some others, Mormons actually practice their religion in many respects, including preparedness.

    It makes me wish other religions would add preparedness to their requirements. It would make sense. A religion is not going to last long if the people who belong to it all die in emergencies. Whether your religion tells you to prepare for emergencies, it might behoove you to do so anyway. You could start any time. Like now.