The War Against Germs; Introduction to Biological Preparedness

Mycobacterium tuberculosis Bacteria, the Cause of TBOne common thread among those who prepare is the concern about biological warfare as a world changing event (WCE).  People most concerned with germ warfare have products and plans in place if such an event should occur.  But, that does nothing to stop any “normal” germs that might enter your home or may already be there.  And, let’s face it, no one should live in a germ free environment unless he has a compromised immune system.  For the normal person, a normal cleanliness regimen and proper housekeeping should be okay for the everyday germs.

Still, no one wants to get a nasty case of the trots or another serious illness because they used a modern product when an antique product would have worked much better in a society where there is no electricity.  Let’s consider the many who plan to revert to the ways of  our ancestors during the years 1850 – 1900.  However, they will continue to do things using modern methods and products.  They will raise and prepare meat and produce at home or trade among their small community of like-minded members.  This is all well and good, wonderful!  Unless they didn’t think ahead and learn the skills they will need to remain free of nasty germs that could put an end to their community before it has a chance to recover from the WCE.

It is important to also note that modern times has brought many micro-organisms that didn’t travel at the same rate in the 1800s, as well as the mutations over time.  Communities were much more closed then they are today.  Even so, how were people in those times able to keep themselves from getting so many nasty illnesses as those which so easily span the globe now?  How were they able to prevent food borne illnesses?  Truly, there are some mirco-organisms that should cause concern.

It is with these thoughts in mind that this series, The War Against Germs, is created.  Each week we will post a new article covering one of the many important topics about pathogens that may already live in our environment.  We hope you find it useful when you consider how you prepare for a WCE.

Ebola and Other Considerations

This frightening little creature could easily be found on the television show "Monsters Inside Me".
This frightening little creature could easily be found on the television show “Monsters Inside Me”.

We have been quiet until now about the Ebola cases in the United States.  Let’s face it.  None of us are surprised it found it’s way here.  Most of us wonder what took it so long.  We have been expecting the appearance of the dreaded virus since the 1970’s.  The wonder isn’t how it got here, but what took it so long to get here.

We didn’t jump on the bandwagon to post about it for this amount of time because we wanted to see exactly how it would effect our society from government response to citizen reaction and action.

It’s been six months, and as with all things, the outbreak came and went.  During that time, mass news media enjoyed the flurry of actually being watched for the latest news and bloggers went wild posting their two cents worth of commentary and second guessing.

For the most part, we saw exactly what the government feared would happen.  People who were sick or knew they had been exposed chose to travel regardless of the risk to others.  The needs of the one outweighed the needs of the society, and indeed, the globe.  Fortunately, the number of people who were infected in the U.S. was very small.  Nevertheless, some of those citizens still chose to do whatever they wanted to do regardless of the cost.  Armed guards had to be placed at doors where people had been quarantined.  The occupants refused to remain inside because they felt like they were “prisoners” and were worried about “losing their jobs” and other financial considerations.  The rest of society continued to live their daily lives, waiting to find out if their city was going to be next.

Those people were receiving assistance both financially and fresh food was delivered to their homes every day.  They were getting free medical care.  They had internet, cable TV, and all the other amenities living in the U.S. provides.  Still, they behaved exactly the way Sci-Fi novels and movies said they would.  These are the reasons FEMA has so much power when it comes to such incidences.

The CDC and the WHO had been keeping Ebola under wraps for decades.  Not really secret, but not something they wanted to alarm the American public about.  They’ve been hunting, battling and studying Ebola since it first poked it’s head out of the caves of Africa.  Those are not the only organizations that have worked relentlessly to keep the disease from becoming a pandemic.  Various Christian ministries and charitable organizations have been in Africa taking great risks every time an outbreak occurred.  Through it all, they created a battle plan should such outbreaks come to the United States.  When the day came, they followed through with their plan and it worked.  Imagine how much worse it would have been had no plan been made and people wandered around the country sick and continued to spread the virus without notice.  Those who had been exposed, or gotten sick would have spread the disease, and the cycle we see in Africa would be present here.

In the meantime, as the prepared, we keep vigilant and prepare for these events.  This won’t be the last time we have to be ready for such instances.

Here’s what we do know:

  • It’s transmitted by touching body fluids.
  • Body fluids can become airborne, such as coughing and sneezing.
  • The exact moment when a person becomes contagious is not known.
  • Fever indicates viral load.
  • In Africa, it has been statistically shown that each person who has the disease will infect two more.
  • About half the people who get the disease in Africa die.
  • Dead bodies spread the disease.
  • The viability of the virus outside a living host is not determined.  There is debate ranging from a few hours up to a week.
  • There has been no public discussion about how long a dead body may harbor live virus.
  • United States and Canadian residents likely will fare better because health care and food supplies are more accessible.
  • We quarantine in patients’ homes, whereas in Africa both the infected and undetermined status persons are quarantined in camps.  Home quarantines are most comfortable for patients and reduces the spread of the virus to healthy persons.
  • In the United States, food and necessary supplies are now delivered free of charge to those in quarantine.
  • In America, we have the ability to use special ambulances equipped for safe transport of patients with level four contagions.
  • Americans avoid locations where an infected person is reported to have been.  So much so that one hospital became a ghost town and the mayor of New York City had to ride the subway just to prove it was safe.

We know all of this and still we took a look at our pantry and said to ourselves, “Are we really ready if something were to happen?”.  At first, when the news broke about an Ebola case, then possibly two more, were in Dallas concerned us.  We looked in the cabinets and the freezer and was satisfied that we would be fine if the disease were to make the long drive to our town.  If we were to remain in our homes because other people in our town were passing around a disease, we could do it.

At least, we thought we could.  Therein lies the difficulty.  Can you really afford to quit your job?  Taxes and health insurance don’t pay for themselves.  The only way to fully guarantee that no one will bring the contagion into a home is that no one ever comes inside the home.  Consider how many hundreds of people were being monitored or quarantined as the result of one person coming into our country with the disease.  Are you financially prepared should such an event happen?  This incident lasted a few weeks because of the swift and sure actions of all health care providers involved.  You’ll need the amount of money saved that you would need every day, but you will also need additional funds for the things you don’t expect.  Emergency situations, no matter how well prepared you are, need contingency funds and contingency plans.

For us, it’s time to reconsider how we do things.  Not because we are fearful, but because it is the right thing to do.  All households should be prepared to shelter in place should it come to your neighborhood.  The less you need, the more help medical and relief workers will be able to provide those who are in real distress.

What do you say when people think you’re crazy for being a Prepper?

We hear, all the time, we are crazy for preparing for hard times ahead. Many people believe because we live in the best country in the world nothing, as bad as we think, will ever happen here. When we disagree, they look at us like we grew two heads. They think we’re lunatics and need to be locked up in the looney bin. So, what do you say when people think you’re crazy for being a prepper? How can you get them to consider we might be right?

First, no amount of explanation can get through to the really stiff neck people who simply refuse to accept all the signs of decay in our country. For these people no amount of reasoning will persuade them. However, if you mention our fears concerning where our country is headed and the person seems to listen…you might be able to plant seeds of understanding by telling them what you believe and what you are doing to prepare.

Tell them about our loss of freedoms little by little through the years and the intrusion of the government into our daily lives. Ask them how we are supposed to sustain the increase of national debt and how long can we continue to over spend?  How long can a decreasing amount of working people support and increasing amount of people who don’t work and expect increased welfare and support? Never in the history of our country has there been more people collecting support from the government than those working and paying taxes. This alone can damage an already weak economy, much less all the other problems.

Next, we have a group of activists, raised in our country, who wish to bring us down to the level of third world countries. They believe Americans have too much and our lives are too cushy. They push the idea of equality for all people and put down the wealthy…even those who worked to build their businesses through hard work and fortitude. They want everyone in the world to live the same…except them of course. They want to rule the world from their lofty places and fancy mansions.

Add the above problems to the fact, whether we want to accept it or not, there are people in our world who hate us and want our country to fall. They hate our free market system, our freedoms and most of all our faith. These people have vowed to destroy us and our way of life. Many of them already live in our country. We never know when they will decide it’s time to push their beliefs and begin our destruction.

Anything could tip the scales and bring devastation in our nation. If or when any major event happens, our country could totter. From there it wouldn’t take much to make it collapse. If that happens, even those of us who have prepared will have a difficult time. Those who have not will suffer greatly and many will die.

If people will listen at all, tell them your preparations. Most are practical things everyone can do to make themselves more independent. Share the idea of heirloom seeds, canning more of their own food and raising a vegetable garden. Having three to six months or more of food is a great start. It’s important to gather seeds, canning jars and lids, gardening needs, along with medical supplies, guns and ammo, etc. while we can.

Most of all, encourage them to prepare their hearts. We must come to realize we cannot help everyone. That in itself will be challenging. But knowing you may have to defend yourself from those who would steal your provisions will be very hard. However, it could make the difference between life and death for you and your family. You must be prepared to make the difficult decisions. Being a Prepper is challenging, but we are sure you’re up to the task.

You can visit us at: FleetotheMountains.com

Faith and Preparedness

The motto of the Boy Scouts of America is “Be prepared.”  Be prepared for what, you might ask.  And the answer would be to be prepared for anything.  While this has long been the motto of the scouts, the idea goes back much further than this.  God wants us to be prepared as well.  And just as with the scouts, we should be prepared for anything.

Jesus often told parables – short stories with a point – in order to illustrate a particular idea that he was trying to convey.  Rather than just issue a command, he would communicate the idea in a story that was memorable.  In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of ten virgins who were awaiting the arrival of a groom.

Five of the virgins were prepared for a delay in the groom’s coming while the other five only thought of the moment and did not bring needed supplies in case things took longer than expected.  Each had what they needed for the moment – a lamp to light their way – but only the five wise virgins planned ahead for what may come later.

At midnight, the call came that the groom was coming and the virgins should get ready to go.  But only the five wise virgins had enough oil with them as they had brought extra in case of a delay.  The foolish virgins had to go in search of more oil and were not back in time for the arrival of the groom.  He took the five wise virgins into the wedding banquet and the unprepared ones were shut out.

Biblically speaking, this parable is about the return of Christ and how no one knows when it may be so every Christian should live their life prepared for it to happen at any time.  There is a broader application to this story however and it teaches us about preparedness.

We may think we know what may happen in our life.  We make plans based on our goals and what we anticipate will be required to meet those goals and we even may make contingencies if those goals don’t come to fruition as expected.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that Jesus taught us to do this as well.

Luke 14:28 says “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”  When you make those plans, you do so in faith that you’ll be able to complete the project.  As much as you plan, you also know that you cannot control every contingency.  There is a certain amount of faith that is involved with even the best laid plans.  You do your part and then trust God to handle the rest.

There’s also a broader issue of faith that comes into planning.  While we say that we should be prepared for anything, we know that’s technically impossible.  A healthy 30 year old does not make plans for a cancer diagnosis nor could anyone possibly plan how to deal with the loss of a child.  It is at this point that there can be no plan and the only thing left to cling to is faith.  Trials bring out the best and the worst in people.  While we plan in faith for as much as we can, when the unplannable occurs, we will only have faith to rely on.  These events will truly show the strength of one’s faith after all of the planning is accounted for.

Don’t Count on Shellfish as Part of Your Emergency Food Supply

The Japan nuclear melt down is to threaten most of the Pacific Ocean’s sea life.  There is controversy about how much contamination is “safe”.  Predictions about how fast the sea life will be decreased or depleted range from a few months to a few years.  Some species of sea life or plants might not be directly effected by the contamination, but humans may find it not fit for consumption.

Either way, it’s not good.  What species do survive might not be what we want to eat.  Not to mention the upset in the ecological balance of the oceans for the next 100 or so years.  Even if the predictions of U. S. waters and fishes being contaminated don’t come true, it gives one pause to think about what would happen in a world changing event.

Even without the contamination possibilities in the back of our minds, we already have plenty to think about in terms of the current state of the coastal waters and the food supply some people might have in their emergency plans.

Oyster bed on the Cape Fear River, Wilmington, North Carolina

The United States’ east coast Atlantic ocean is already polluted and many fish and shellfish are not edible or are going extinct from the waters.  The loss of oyster beds along both the east and west coasts leaves the only good oyster beds left in the Gulf of Mexico.  Now, most oysters and shellfish consumed in the U.S. and around the world are from Asia.

There are efforts in all areas of coastal waters to increase oyster beds and make better conditions for other coastal shellfish.  If the prepared are planning on those resources it needs to happen quickly.

 

Mapping the Water Supply

Securing a safe water supply is important to every entity in the world.  With changing weather patterns bringing droughts to regions normally the best farmlands, it is getting more frustrating for cities and states as they try to find water sources and negotiate prices and methods to transport water.

Coastal states have the ability to build desalinization plants, but landlocked states must rely on rivers, lakes and aquifers.  To this end there have been many man-made lakes and rivers dammed up for both water and electricity. 

Even after some rains, aquifers remain at levels below 50% or less in some areas of the United States, and around the world.  It takes many days of rain to replenish the water supply both above and below ground.

Because of this, it is important to know where water can be accessed and to keep up with the status of those locations on a weekly basis.  Aquifers serve not just one well but instead wells for entire cities, your wells may have water this week, but not have water next week under severe drought conditions.

One thing you can do is pay attention to EPA, state, and local water authority reports which list where contaminated ground water is already found.  Knowing water is already contaminated and what the contaminants are is a step in the right direction when choosing which places to eliminate as possible sources of fresh water in the future.

Mapping safe and unsafe water is an important part of being prepared.  Keep your map Map of the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, and the Arkansas Territory.up to date since water wells that are clean today may be contaminated next week; and contaminated wells today may be safe next year.  Similarly, it is important to realize that if your well is contaminated, it is possible that those adjacent to yours is contaminated too.  Generally, water wells within cities are likely contaminated with any number of lawn and garden, industrial or other chemicals and not fit for human or animal consumption.

Another thing important is to recognize what a water well looks like.  They are not all like the picturesque open top well, nor are they marked with rustic hand-pump wells.  Some have signs on them that read “city of $%^ pumping station” or “city of $%^ well”.  Some wells, particularly those in colder regions use submersible pumps and therefore may not have a cap visible from a distance.  Instead they are  capped with a slab of concrete or some other structure to keep people from falling inside.  In warmer climates, often there is a tank visible next to the well.  Many people decorate these with cute fake wells. Taking note of where these wells are could be important.  

One easy way to keep your map up to date is to laminate a map and use dry erase markers to make notations and changes.  Label the wells with the notations about the type of of contamination and what is required to make the water potable.  When the time comes that you need to take your water map with you, simply snap a picture of it with your tablet or cell phone, then when time permits, can use your photo to transfer it to a permanent map.  

Here are two links to get you started:

http://watersgeo.epa.gov/mwm/

http://www.epa.gov/region6/water/npdes/

Stocking Stuffers or Gifts Preppers Give; Part 2

How many of you are like us?  We hate shopping.  Period.  We do almost all our shopping online, mostly at Amazon.  Seriously.  The only other stores we enter are farm stores, hardware stores for home maintenance, grocery stores (there’s only two to choose from), and sporting goods stores (for camping and outdoor stuff).  We’re just not shopping types.  So when the holidays roll around, we either give gift cards, cash, or order something online and have it delivered.  Mostly it depends on the desires of the gift recipient.  All that’s left is the stocking stuffers, and they are super easy too!

A previous article, Disaster Recovery or Gifts Preppers Give; Part 1 about gift giving was important because everyone needs to be prepared, even those who don’t believe in “prepping”.  That book offers up a way to get them thinking, and maybe get their brains working in that direction.

Another way to help the unprepared prepare in a kind way would be to give them stocking stuffers or small gifts that will be perceived as thoughtful, kind or silly, rather than pushy.  Who doesn’t want someone to care about them at the most important level?

The important thing about all these gifts is that they will get your reluctant preppers to think about things in a different way. Many of the items they will use up right away. Even so, likely they will buy more of them and will have them on hand. When a world changing event does happen, they now have a different way of thinking and will grab those items on their way out the door.

Here is a list of stocking stuffers and small gifts we will be including this year for family and friends.

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Radiological Contamination, Water Treatment and the Water Well

Well water is subject to contamination from above and below ground contaminants the same as surface water.  Agricultural and residential fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides are regularly found in ground water.  Industrial chemicals sometimes contaminate ground water and surface water.  Radiation and toxic chemicals found in water wells can be caused by the currently popular fracturing (fracking) process used by some oil and natural gas companies.  

Just as you can’t tell by looking if the water you wish to drink is contaminated with chemicals, bacteria and viruses, you can’t tell if it is contaminated by radiation.  Certainly you will need special equipment for that.  As stated in the article about purifying water, be on the look out for dead things in, on, or near the water source before approaching, touching, or using it.

Observing surface water is easier than observing ground water.  Plants and animals lying dead all around a stream or lake is a sure sign something is wrong.  Radiation contamination doesn’t kill instantly.  The animals may drink the water and go a long distance away from the source before they die.  When observing surface water, pay attention to more than the shores and banks.

Ground water is another matter completely.  While there may be chemicals and bacteria, there won’t be animals standing around the well dead or dying.  Instead, there might be people living in the area who can tell you about families who used a certain well or wells, who got sick and/or died from it.

But, let’s suppose you are in a world changing event and need to know if water is safe.  You’d get out your handy water test kit to check for chemicals.  Wait.  If the water is contaminated with radiation, you may have already contaminated yourself, simply by touching anything the well water may have touched.

Instead, when approaching a water well, get out your handy Fluke radiation detector (charged by your solar powered charger) to find out if there is radiation present on the ground or surfaces of the interior of the well. Once you have safely approached the well, be careful about how you get the water out of the well.  If the water is contaminated, breathing it’s fumes or touching it may likely will contaminate you.  If you are going to sample the water be sure to wear protective gear and use protective equipment if at all possible!

Once you have determined that the water is contaminated with radiation, it’s up to you to decide if the risk of contaminating yourself is worth the reward of cleaning the water.  Seriously, the only way most people would think the risk is acceptable is if there were absolutely no alternative sources of water and they were going to die before any other source of water can be found.

Major water purification systems designed to purify water for entire cities can’t even remove all the radiation contamination.  Since using a source of water contaminated by radiation will be difficult to purify, will ruin any filters and utensils, may contaminate you during the process, and still may not be safe to use, one would only consider this under the most dire circumstances. 

Right now, before some world altering event happens is the time to have your well water tested by professionals.  It should be tested frequently since changes can happen without warning signs.

 

Referenes:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/02/fracking-radioactive-water-pennsylvania/2904829/
http://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/faqs/radiationdetection.html

Disaster Recovery or Gifts Preppers Give; Part 1

What gifts do you want for the holidays?  More importantly, which gifts do you want to give to your family and loved ones?  What do you mean it’s not even Halloween yet?  It’s never too early to start planning the gift giving for the year.  Especially if you have a large number of people on your list.  What if you considered giving a gift just outside of normal gifting habits?  If you care enough about someone to buy a for them, shouldn’t that gift make a difference in their life?

This is the first gift item we are planning to give every person on our shopping list:

This book, Disaster Recovery, by Sean M. Scott, is an essential for making sure you have thought of everything and are prepared for any disaster.  You might think I’m exaggerating.  Not so.  Even with the experiences of being prepared for just about anything and having lived without telephone, no indoor plumbing and other “old ways”, this book still had information to offer.

It made me think of things I could do that I had not done, as well as things that inspired me to do that I otherwise would not have thought about.  For instance, the information got me to thinking about contractors that would offer services after a disaster.  Of course we already know it is important to be careful about who you hire and to check for the legitimate business licenses.

What the book inspired me to do was to put together a list of contractors who already do business in the region and their reputations.  This is important because after the disaster so many companies “spring up” to “help” those afflicted with the disaster.  Unfortunately, in a disaster zone it may be difficult to gain the information needed in a timely manner.  Having this list will help me determine who I will hire to help our family recover from the disaster.

After the list is completed, I’m considering contacting each of the contractors to meet them personally, hopefully to make an arrangement with them in advance of a disaster that puts us close to the top of the list of people the contractor will help.  This makes us think of contractors differently.  On any normal day, a contractor is someone who hopes to be chosen by you for a job.  After a disaster, that same contractor is someone you hope will choose you.

Ladies and gentlemen, that was just from a tiny portion of chapter one.  There is so much more information in each chapter there isn’t space here to tell you.  Each chapter is well written, compact, and to the point.  You won’t be able to find “unnecessary” words as with so many other books.  It has information for every member of the family.

This book changes the way you think about all things disaster related.  For the unprepared it’s a wake up call.  For the modestly prepared, it is mental check on what needs improvement.  For the full grown prepper, it is a breath of fresh air in the face of people who think “prepper” is a four letter word.  Our extra copies will be for gift giving and stowed in the vehicles and camping gear.

Note:  We posted this because we truly believe in the mission of this book.  This inexpensive award winning book can save lives, save homes, and save families hundreds of thousands of dollars after a disaster.

Chemical Purification of Fresh Water

Luckiamute Falls

Our packs are packed, kayaks and fishing gear ready, and our camping supplies are always ready. It’s not only in case we have to evacuate, but also to take planned or unplanned trips.  Part of those supplies include water purification systems.

While we won’t swim where we know we can’t drink the water, it is nice to know that should public water sources not be available, we can still enjoy the great outdoors.  Even during a world changing event, being prepared for the worst will make camping with our family and friends seem less traumatic and stressful for everyone.  Distillation is our preferred water purification method, having the proper water purification chemicals will go a long way towards providing peace and security if you can’t use your stove.

If you plan to use freshwater sources not part of a public water supply, be sure to contact your local fish and game department or department of state parks to find out which lakes and rivers are closed to swimming or fishing.  Chances are you won’t want to use the water for drinking either.  Some times part of a lake is closed due to algae blooms or other reasons.

It is impossible to tell by looking if water is contaminated. Water purification tablets can be used as a last resort, for a few days, when other methods are not available. Chemical purification systems are used to kill bacteria and viruses in drinking water, especially giardia and cryptosporidium. Use chemical purification tablets when no other method is available and for no longer than five days.

The two chemicals most people choose are:

  • Chlorine dioxide tablets (or droplets)
  • Iodine tablets (or droplets)

These chemicals are cheap to purchase and light weight to carry in a pocket or backpack.

Choosing the freshwater source:

Water should be moving, as in a stream or river.  Or, in the case of lakes or ponds, examine it carefully.  If a lake or pond might be unsuitable in one location, try another location.  The larger the body of water, the more likely at least some part of it will be suitable for chemical purification.

Never use water from any source with dead fish or animals, any odor coming from the water, and algae blooms. The water must not be stagnant nor have a foamy surface. These waters may not be suitable for chemical purification systems.

How to use chemical purification systems:

Follow package instructions at all times.  Failure to follow the instructions exactly as listed could lead to severe illness or death.

Pour clear water into your container.  If you have to use muddy water, strain through fabric until it runs clear.   Add chemicals according to package instructions. For maximum effectiveness, the ideal water temperature is 80ºF. If using chlorine dioxide, wait at least four hours, longer at temperatures below 62ºF. When using iodine, use a dark container and do not use under 68ºF, wait 30 minutes. Chemical purification is completely ineffective near 35ºF.

Pros and cons of  each chemical system:

Chlorine dioxide is most effective against cryptosporidium. The municipal water taste dissipates when left open for an additional 30 minutes.

Iodine does not kill cryptosporidium, and leaves a foul taste to be neutralized with vitamin C.

Women over 50 and persons with certain allergies and health conditions should not use iodine.  Consult your physician for your situation.

Iodine has a long shelf life.

Shelf life of products:

Chlorine dioxide has a long shelf life. Once opened, chlorine dioxide tablets lose potency within a few days. Visually examine previously opened tablets before use. Gray or brown discolored tablets may retain some effectiveness. Tablets with a green or yellow discoloration should not be used. Some brands of chlorine dioxide tablets are packed in waterproof foil sheets.

Store chemical purification systems under controlled temperatures between 68°F and 86°F. Protect them from light or replace yearly. Check with the manufacturer for information about how the production date is displayed on the package before purchase.