A natural disaster can disrupt the lives of average citizens, and having the right supplies when it hits can mean the difference between life and death. Assembling these supplies in advance is the key to success.
If you’ve ever lived in a community that was in the path of a hurricane, you’ve seen the empty shelves and crowds at local supermarkets. Panic buying is a poor alternative to an organized plan of action, with many supplies unavailable by the time you get to the store.
But where to start? Lists of recommended items are long and sometimes so detailed that you mind just explodes at the thought of gathering it all. You can’t finish if you don’t start, however; begin to accumulate a few items each month and you’ll be much more likely to weather the storm.
I split my personal supplies into three types: short-, medium-, and long-term. A typical short-term event would be, say, a blizzard or other event that takes you off the grid for just a few days or not at all. A medium-term event could be the aftermath of a major hurricane, where weeks may go by without electricity. A classic long-term event would be an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), where years may go by without power.
Preparing for any emergency involves knowing who you will be responsible for. If you have family with special needs, consider extra supplies tailored for them. Infants and children require even more thought when gathering supplies, like formula and diapers. Older members of your family may need items to keep them safe and healthy, like extra medications, adult diapers, or walkers.
The categories of items you’ll need (called “preps”) don’t really change with the length of time off the grid, but the quantities and variety do. The amount you stockpile depend upon what event your community is most at risk to experience.
Just the mere fact of not having enough drinkable or “potable” water puts you and your family in danger. Knowing how to turn unsafe water into drinkable water may save your life. Knowledge is the greatest power, but having supplies will make that knowledge work much better.
A way to disinfect water is imperative
If you need to leave your house, consider making “go bags” for each member of the family, including pets. Keep them lightweight and easily carried. Look for compact items, like energy bars and small water filters (Lifestraw and Mini Sawyers are examples).
Here’s a list of useful items grouped by category:
Water: Just the mere fact of not having enough drinkable or “potable” water puts you and your family in danger. Knowing how to turn unsafe water into drinkable water may save your life
To avoid dehydration, have at least 1 gallon of drinkable water per person, per day. Have a way to store water and methods to make water safe to drink through filtration, and purification. You can use plain, non-scented, household bleach, at 12-16 drops per gallon, to help purify water (filter first if needed). Be sure to wait 30 min for the bleach to take effect, then shake to aerate which makes it taste better.
Food: Most municipalities recommend you have at least 3 days of food. This is somewhat arbitrary; I suggest at least 7-10 days, as loss of power can easily last longer. Get non-perishable food and have a manual can-opener. Some freeze-dried foods come in packets that last for 15-30 years and only require boiling water to prepare.
Warmth and Shelter: Have ways to start fires (outside only) to stay warm, cook food, and boil water. Get tents, tarps, rope and paracord. Learn how to make shelters and seal off roof or window leaks. Have extra plywood for doors and windows in case of a hurricane; taping windows is no longer recommended.
First Aid: Have at least a basic first aid kit and OTC medicines to deal with common injuries and illnesses seen in the aftermath of disasters, such as cuts, bleeding, sprains and strains, diarrhea, pains and aches, colds and flus, etc. Don’t forget prescription medications for those with chronic medical issues.
Hygiene: In order to stay healthy, you must keep your family clean. Get extra toilet paper, paper towels, buckets for washing, moist towelettes, feminine supplies, and supplies for waste disposal (like garbage bags and ties).
Lighting: Have ways to light up the night. Get flashlights, of course extra batteries (rechargeable are better), solar lights, crank powered lights (power discussed later). The medic should consider a head lamp to keep both hands free.
Whistle or Loud Sound Producing item: Have a method to make a loud noise to alert emergency response personnel to your whereabouts.
Tools: Get multiuse tools, like the Swiss army knife and Leatherman. Have a wrench to turn off utilities, some duct tape, an axe, and a saw. If you are in a flood zone, place the axe and saw in your roof space to aid you in escaping to the roof.
An escape ladder may be necessary if you are getting out of a roof or higher than a 1-story building. Make sure you know where the fire extinguishers are and that they are not expired.
Communication: Text messages will be delivered easier than voice in some circumstances. A CB radio, Ham radio (you need a license), and two-way radios are good to have. To keep updated on the news and emergency bulletins, have a battery and hand-crank radio with NOAA Weather tone alerts. Don’t forget the extra batteries.
Power: If the electricity is out, you will need a way to recharge batteries and other items. Solar panels along with a solar storage “battery” can help. There are several on the market. Small solar charged battery storage products are lightweight and can recharge a cellphone or power a radio. These may be best for your “go bag”.
Generators that use gasoline must be outside and far away from open doors and windows, to avoid being overcome by fumes.
ID and Important Document Storage: Back-up all computers on external hard drives (more than one). Put important scanned documents on an icloud account (which you can then access anywhere later), and on memory USB sticks (several).
Place them in different locations like a water/fire-proof safe, in a bank safety deposit box and mail to a trusted relative). Store documents in small waterproof containers for your “go bag”. Include insurance policies, driver licenses, passports, birth certificates, and photos of every room of your house (for insurance purposes).
You can also email these scanned documents to yourself for later printing. Don’t forget ID and passwords for accounts, I write mine in a way only I can interpret (for safety).
Money: When we talk about a power outage, there may be another loss of power: purchasing power. If the electricity is out stores will not be able to process credit cards or make change. Have cash on hand in small denominations. Keep small bills and coins in a waterproof case/bag, and consider a little silver as well.
Evacuation: Your GPS may not function, so have maps and a compass to help guide your escape. You may end up in an area you are not familiar with.
Plan routes of escape for fires and flooding and make sure each family member practices drills and has a specific meeting point. As mentioned earlier, each person should also have their own personal “go” bag with appropriate items, including the kids and pets.
Writing Tools: You may want to document events or communicate with others, so having pens, pencils (and a sharpener) and notebooks should be considered.
Distractions and Fun: Stress is not good for people long-term. Get some playing cards and a book with rules for lots of different ways to play games. Put an extra toy or favorite stuffed animal in your child’s “go bag”. Get some board games, puzzles and hobby craft supplies. (Don’t focus on the disaster and all the horrible details with your children; keep it light if you can.)
Consider the needs of kids and pets
Pets: Have extra pet supplies including food and medications. Have a way to get them out of the house safely if needed. Few people know that hotels cannot refuse to rent you a room during officially-declared states of emergency just because you have a (small) pet, but don’t expect them to let your family goat or chicken in the room. Have a plan for larger pets if possible.
Knowledge is power, but having supplies will make that knowledge work much better! Have a survival library in print books (not digital) with the knowledge you don’t have right now; A flashlight or fire is all you will need to read them in the dark.
Guest Post: Tampons as Survival Item?
November 10, 2017
Thoughts on Tampons as Survival Medical Items
(Joe Alton MD says: Today we have a guest post by Eric Richard, Registered Nurse, former Army Combat Medic, and founder of Medical Survivalists Facebook Group. Tampons are commonly on survivalists’ lists of survival medical supplies as a way to stop bleeding; but are they really effective for anything more than the purpose for which they were manufactured? Eric gives his opinions below:)
So I’m still seeing posts and comments about tampons as wound dressings. I’m going to try my damnedest to nail it home why this is a incorrect assumption. First off let me say I’m an Army Combat Medic of 8years, now a Registered Nurse who’s been working in a Level one Trauma Center for going on 10years, I got a pretty good idea about what I’m talking about.
A tampon is designed to be inserted into the vagina of a woman in order to absorb menstrual fluids, which are discharged over the course of a few days. Now menstrual fluid is made up of roughly 40-50% actual blood, and then several other types of tissues, such as lining of the uterus, unfertilized eggs that have been broken down, some excreted hormones, and possibly vaginal secretions. None of these fluids are pressurized, like arterial blood, is throughout the body. Last time I checked menstrual fluids weren’t pressurized or required to sustain life to other organs of the body, like the brain for instance.
Now let’s look at a tampons packaging for a minute, in a high-stress event trying to open, deploy, and apply such a small device with limited fine-motor-skills due to an increase of adrenaline is going to prove to be difficult. You have to open the package three times before you can even use it, for me that rules it out alone right there. Some come in plastic or cardboard applicators that can be confusing as hell, even for a grown woman who has been doing this her entire adult life, let alone a grown man trying to plug bullet holes with them while in a environment like a gunfight.
Another thing to mention is tampons are not sterilized when they leave the manufacturer, and there really is not a need for them to be.
When using a wound packing from QuikClot, Celox or otherwise, it is pretty damn obvious that a tampon doesn’t remotely come close to filling a ballistic wound cavity.
Now let’s talk about the type of bleeding one might come across from a single gunshot wound. Arterial blood is made up of oxygen-rich pressurized blood that transports minerals, vitamins, nutrients, and all sorts of other good stuff the body and its organs need in order to function. The brain requires several of these things in order to keep the rest of the body alive. This is why we assess and treat injuries in the order of Circulation, Airway, Breathing (CAB), or Major hemorrhage, Airway, Respirations, Circulation, Head (MARCH). The point is that we have to control the bleeding first, in order to ensure blood circulation. That way the brain can continue working and keep the rest of the body going, which is ultimately what you’re trying to achieve.
Modern-day pressure dressings are in fact designed to treat penetrating traumatic injuries related to austere or combat environments. They are designed from the ground up to control moderate to severe bleeding, including pressurized arterial bleeding. Pressure dressings like the Olaes from Tactical Medical Solutions are packaged for field-like environments. Most manufacturers use gamma irradiation to sterilize their pressure dressings.
Ask yourself: “What are you preparing for, just a gunshot wound, or are you preparing for as many different penetrating traumatic injuries as possible with this one bandage?” Most of us are far more likely to come across penetrating wounds and various lacerations resulting from a motor vehicle accidents (MVA) than we will from bullets.
Now let’s take into account the size difference between a real pressure dressing and a tampon. I’m not going to get into the anatomy of a ballistic wound cavity, at least not yet anyway. But let me say that a single tampon is not my “go-to” bandage for wound packing in a three-dimensional cavity that is bleeding profusely in the middle of a Combat setting, in the freezing rain, immediately following an attempted car-jacking/murder where a gunfight broke out and now my loved one is sprawled on the pavement bleeding out of the middle of their right thigh and left armpit. But hell if you want to count on “improvising, during such an event……good luck with that.
(Dr. Bones says: Thanks to Eric, who makes a lot of good points in his post. There are a lot of different types of wounds with various shapes and sizes. It would be a very rare circumstance, in my opinion, for a wound to be exactly the size and character where a tampon would apply any effective pressure on an arterial bleed.)
The recent shootings in diverse settings greet Americans with tragic news on a regular basis. Gunmen identify soft targets in diverse settings, from concerts in Las Vegas to church services in small towns.
it should be clear to you that there is no place safe from the bad intentions of the deranged, disgruntled, and politically-motivated. Vehicular attacks, bombings, shootings, even stabbings indicate that we’re likely to be in for a rough ride in the future.
You might think that the “successes” achieved of late by active shooters are random occurrences. New records for casualties, however, show there is a blueprint that is being refined to deadly effect.
The selection of soft targets is becoming a science, and is leading to higher numbers of deaths and injuries. If those with bad intentions are getting better at creating mayhem, it stands to reason that our society must get better at thwarting those intentions. Here are six ways that would, in my opinion, decrease the number of shooter incidents (and casualties):
Improve security in areas at risk. I would define an “area at risk” as just about anywhere where a crowd of people would gather. Better protection at malls may be a matter of hiring more trained personnel, but establishing a safety team in other places, such as a church or workplace, can increase the level of vigilance and identify threats early.
Establish volunteer safety officers in rural areas and small towns where there may not be law enforcement and emergency medical personnel just around the corner. These persons should have training in security, firearms, and first aid for bleeding wounds. If there are volunteer fire departments, while not trained volunteer safety departments?
Instill a culture of situational awareness in our society. Situational awareness is a state of calm, relaxed observation of factors that might indicate a threat. These are called “anomalies”; learning to recognize them can identify someone who may have bad intentions. Situational awareness also involves always having a plan of action when a threat occurs, even if it’s as simple as making a note of the nearest exit at a concert. Seems like common sense, but in these days of smartphone distractions, many are oblivious of their surroundings.
Teach our citizens to avoid the natural paralysis that occurs in an unexpected event. This paralysis occurs as a result of “normalcy bias”, the tendency to discount risks because most days proceed in a certain standard manner; we assume that today will be the same. By teaching simple courses of action such as the Department of Homeland Security’s “Run, Hide, Fight” triad, the decision-making process may be more intuitive and more rapidly implemented. This is more effectively taught and ingrained at a young age.
Teach our students simple first aid strategies to stop bleeding, the most likely cause of death in these scenarios. Rapid action by bystanders is thought to decrease the number of deaths from hemorrhage. Add “Reduce” hemorrhage to “Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic” as part of school curriculum, and lives might be saved.
Provide first aid kits for bleeding in public venues that can be accessed by those at the scene. With supplies, the Good Samaritan will be more likely to save a life. I predict that these kits, already on the market, will be fixtures on the wall next to the fire extinguisher in the uncertain future.
Despite the above recommendations, our response as a nation has been to do little to correct the problem. I say that era must end. Let’s stop being “soft” targets. We must forsake the notion that shootings are just part and parcel of the New Normal, and begin the process by which we change our attitude and level of vigilance, not in isolated cases, but as a society.
I’m not an official with the Department of Homeland Security, but I know that there are more active shooter events in our future. A prepared nation wouldn’t be invulnerable to attacks, but its citizens would have a better chance to survive them.
Survival Medicine Hour: Active Shooters, Respiratory Infections, More
November 10, 2017
Survival Medicine Hour: Active Shooters, Respiratory Infections
Curbing the active shooterThe shooting at a Texas church came fast upon the Las Vegas shooting and the shooting at a church in Tennessee. it seems like you can’t get away from headlines about some deranged, disgruntled, or politically motivated person out to do harm to innocent people. Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP discuss some common sense tips for average citizens and some advice for our society to prevent becoming soft targets.
Also, Dr. Alton goes through various respiratory infections so that you can identify, treat, and prevent infections. Different infections require different treatments, from the common cold to strep throat to influenza to pneumonia. Plus, how infectious diseases spread from person to person to cause an epidemic.
All this and more on the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy.
In the typical zombie apocalypse movie or TV show, you’ll see gunshot wounds and broken bones. Off the grid, however, minor conditions can be a major detriment to the performance of many activities of daily survival. One of these is the ingrown toenail, also known as Onychocryptosis.
You rugged individualists out there might think toenail problems are no big deal, that is, until you have one. When you have to be at 110% efficiency just to survive, you don’t want to be in pain every time you take a step. In the worst scenarios, ingrown nails can cause skin ulcers, blood infections (also called “septicemia”), or even total loss of circulation (“gangrene”).
Your fingernails and toenails are made up of a protein called keratin. It is the substance that forms the claws (and covering of horns and hooves) of animals. When we refer to issues involving nails, we refer to it as “ungual” (from the latin word for claw: unguis).
The nail consists of several parts. They include:
The nail plate: this is the hard covering of the end of your finger or toe; what you consider to be the nail.
The nail bed: the skin directly under the nail plate. Made up of dermis and epidermis just like the rest of your skin, the superficial epidermis moves along with the nail plate as it grows. Vertical grooves attach the superficial epidermis to the deep dermis. In older people, the nail plate thins out and you can see the grooves if you look closely. Blood vessels and nerves run through the nail bed.
The nail (or “germinal”) matrix: the portion or root at the base of the nail under the cuticle that produces new cells for the nail plate. You can see a portion of the matrix in the light half-moon (the “lunula”) visible at the base of the nail plate. This determines the shape and thickness of the nail; a curved matrix produces a curved nail, a flat one produces a flat nail.
An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the nail grows downward and into the skin of the toe. It can occur for a number of reasons, but poorly fitting shoes and poorly trimmed toenails are the most common causes. The big toe is usually affected, but any toenail can become ingrown.
Symptoms of an Ingrown Toenail
The skin along the edge of a toenail that is ingrown may appear:
Warm to the touch
These are signs not only of pressure on the skin, but also the beginning of an infection. If not treated, the condition worsens, possibly even leading to the drainage of pus.
Ingrown Toenails and Your Shoes
Shoes that are either too tight or too loose can cause ingrown toenails. If too loose, it causes continual pounding of your big toe against the inside due to movement within the shoe as you walk. With shoes that are too small for your foot (or even high heels), extra pressure is placed on your toes which prevents normal nail growth.
Nails that are not trimmed properly can also cause ingrown toenails. This happens when your toenails are trimmed too short or you cut your toenails in a rounded fashion instead of straight across. Rounded cuts are appropriate for fingernails, but not toenails. The edges of the nails will tend to curl downward and grow right into the skin.
While the above problems can be rectified, some less avoidable factors like heredity, injuries, or medical conditions may also cause ingrown toenails. Some people are born with nails that are curved and naturally tend to curve inward. Injuries to the nail bed can also cause ingrown toenails, especially if it affects the germinal matrix, the living part of the nail that produces new cells.
People with diabetes or other illnesses that cause poor circulation are also at higher risk for these problems. A diabetic, for example, may experience nerve damage and not realize that excessive pressure is being applied to the toes by ill-fitting shoes. They may not even notice that the nail is growing into the skin.
Badly ignored ingrown nail
Of course, in normal times, there are doctors like podiatrists or orthopedic specialists you should visit to deal with the problem. Off the grid, however, here’s some tips on how to treat an ingrown nail:
Soak the foot in warm water with Epsom salts 3 to 4 times a day. In between soaks, keep the toe dry.
Use an antiseptic to decrease the bacterial count in the area
Place a small piece of moist cotton, waxed dental floss, or other material under the nail to help it grow away from the skin.
Consider wearing sandals until improved.
conservative management of ingrown toenail
At some point, you may have no choice but to intervene more aggressively. In these circumstances, you may have to remove the offending segment of nail.
Wedge resection of Ingrown Toenail
Take the ingrown curved side, about 1/5 of the nail plate width or less. You may have to cut all the way down to the base in some cases. This procedure is more easily done after injecting some numbing medicine into the area, such as lidocaine. Avoid lidocaine with epinephrine; it may compromise the circulation and possibly lead to gangrene. If you have plain lidocaine, consider establishing a “digital block”, seen below:
After Ingrown Toenail Removal
If the toe is infected, antibiotics might be appropriate. Triple antibiotic ointment may be helpful here, but oral antibiotics, such as Keflex (fish-flex), Clindamycin (Fish-Cin) and Amoxicillin (fish-mox forte) may be necessary. For more information about antibiotics, go here for the first of a 4 part series.
If a portion of the nail is cut off, patience is required as it will take months for the nail to regrow. If you have a genetic tendency toward ingrown toenails, be prepared to deal with recurrences.
Wearing properly-fitted and protective shoes, managing medical conditions, and teaching appropriate foot grooming methods will make sure that the steps on your journey to medical preparedness won’t be painful ones.
FDA Tries Again To Ban Natural Pain Herb
November 15, 2017
FDA Tries Again To Ban Kratom
Last year, I wrote about the Food and Drug Administration’scampaign to ban the Asian herb Kratom, a non-opiate option for those with chronic pain, anxiety, and drug dependency issues.
As someone interested in medical strategies for disaster or remote settings, I was considering the herb as an option in circumstances when modern medicine isn’t available. The FDA, however, set a date for late 2016 to rule Kratom a Schedule I drug (the same category as heroin) and eliminate its access to the average citizen.
Then an extraordinary thing happened: A public outcry from tens of thousands of citizens that also included dozens of members of Congress. In response to the pressure, the proposed ban was cancelled. Now, a persistent FDA is once again pushing to prevent the sale and use of Kratom in the U.S.
Kratom (scientific name Mitragyna speciosa) has long been used in Southeast Asia for various medicinal purposes, including pain, anxiety, and depression. The chemical compounds in Kratom, (scientific name Mitragyna speciosa) are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These substances act on opioid receptors in the brain, just like heroin and morphine do, to eliminate pain. Despite this, Kratom is not an opioid; It’s actually a member of the coffee family. Therefore, using it doesn’t cause respiratory depression, which is how most opioid overdoses die.
A non-opioid alternative to Heroin? Sounds like a reasonable option to pursue, but FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb says: “At a time when we have hit a critical point in the opioid epidemic, the increasing use of kratom as an alternative or adjunct to opioid use is extremely concerning.”
I can understand not wanting it to be an adjunct (medical-speak for adding Kratom to your drug intake), but not even as an alternative to Heroin? I think almost anything would be a welcome substitute for Heroin or prescription opioid abuse.
In the U.S., Kratom has received many testimonials as to its success in helping those addicted to opioids “kick the habit”. On the other side of the coin, however, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb claims there is no hard data for Kratom’s effectiveness and that there is a “deadly risk” to using the herb. Indeed, some states, and even some countries, have outlawed its sale or export.
The FDA uses several hundred reported cases of Kratom “poisoning” and 36 deaths “involving” Kratom over the past few years as reason enough to deny access to it. But Kratom is rarely the only drug found in the systems of these cases; some mix it with OxyContin and other drugs. In the meantime, the number of deaths from Heroin overdose in 2015 alone was more than 13,000, with 15,000 prescription opioid deaths in the same year.
Given those numbers, you would think that the government would want to do further research on Kratom before dismissing it as Heroin-class dangerous. Some of the research, reported in Scientific American as well as by Columbia and other universities, favors further evaluation before placing Kratom on the list with the bad-guy drugs.
Columbia University pharmacologist Andrew Kruegel says keeping Kratom legal may help develop better pain meds: “Those compounds alone may already be superior to codeine and oxycodone. At a minimum, if you can get rid of respiratory [problems] then you can save thousands of lives…if the research were able to legally continue.”
However, the FDA was stung by the pressure to reverse its decision last year, so it persists in its mission. Is it so certain, however, that it won’t drive Kratom users to more clearly dangerous drugs by banning it? Perhaps the devil you know (Heroin, prescription opioids) is better than the devil you don’t (Kratom), but in this case, I doubt it. Don’t act hastily to prohibit Kratom.
Here’s a sobering video by Navy veteran Andrew Turner, who uses Kratom to deal with a nerve condition called Meige’s syndrome, as well as his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and pain issues. You see him both before and after taking the herb:
Even with modern medical technology, few can avoid the occasional respiratory infection. Viral illnesses like colds and flus are common issues even for those who are in prime physical condition. Human illness involves the respiratory tract more commonly than any other organ system. Influenza is particularly contagious as germ-laden droplets are expelled during coughs and sneezes, entering the nose, mouth, or eyes of others.
You can expect influenza viruses to hit your part of the country anywhere from late fall to early spring, and most people weather their illness just fine. Some folks, however, especially the very old, very young, and those with chronic medical conditions, may not survive. Because of this, influenza-related pneumonia has earned the title “the old man’s friend” (because it ends their suffering).
The flu may not be life-threatening in normal times, and you might (foolishly) not take measures to prevent it. Survival scenarios, though, are a different story. 100 years ago, a flu epidemic ran rampant throughout the world, killing 50-100 million people. In a survival setting, we’ll be thrown back medically at least that far back.
Without strict adherence to hand washing and respiratory hygiene, it would be very easy for your entire community to become ill, and the physical stress associated with activities of daily survival might lead a weakened respiratory system to allow secondary infections like pneumonia to cause major trouble. At the very least, influenza can affect work efficiency at a time when everyone must be at one hundred per cent. If you’ve had the flu, you know what I mean.
influenza came lead to pneumonia
Influenzas are usually caused by Influenza type A (the most common) and Type B viruses. They are classified according to the proteins that exist on their surface. These are called Hemagglutinins (HA) and Neuraminidases (NA). There are more and more different HA and NA subtypes discovered every year. The Swine flu, for example, is H1 N1. The flu this year is thought to be H3N2.
Symptoms of influenza begin anywhere from one to four days after exposure. They include:
Severe muscle aches
Colds will resolve themselves over a week or so, but influenzas may last longer. The flu could weaken you enough that secondary bacterial infections will set in. Indeed, these secondary infections are the most probable causes of death related to flu cases. If this happens, you’ll notice that you are getting worse, not better, over time despite the usual treatments.
The old man’s friend?
These include medications like ibuprofen for muscles aches and fever, decongestants for nasal congestion, expectorants to thin out phlegm, cough suppressants (although they should be used only when there is difficulty breathing or sleeping) and others. As the flu is a viral illness, it’s important to know that antibiotics will be ineffective.
There are, however, a few anti-viral flu medications such as Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or Zanamivir (Relenza). These drugs will shorten the course of the infection if taken in the first 48 hours after symptoms appear. After the first 48 hours, there’s less medicinal effect.
Therefore, you might consider asking your doctor in normal times for a Tamiflu prescription at the beginning of every flu season, since it might be hard to get an appointment on short notice. For a caregiver with a number of flu patients to treat, taking a half dose daily for five days may decrease your chances of catching it.
The CDC recommends the flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age, but it’s important to know that the effectiveness of the vaccine may be less in years when the current virus is different from the previous years. Therefore, it’s important to take measures to prevent the flu and to isolate those who are infected from those that are healthy.
face masks may help decrease contagion
Other actions you can take to decrease the chance of getting or spreading the flu are:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
If no tissue is available, cough or sneeze into your upper arm, not your hand.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects, like doorknobs, that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
Establish an effective “survival sick room” that will decrease the chances of spread throughout the entire family or group
Use face masks when sick or around others who are.
Wait 24 hours after the last episode of fever before exposing yourself to others.
The flu may be a bump on the road in your survival journey, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the road.
We’ll talk about natural remedies in the near future.
G.E.R.D. (Severe Acid Reflux) Off The Grid
November 24, 2017
Acid Reflux Off The Grid
In this high-stress world, you probably know someone who suffers from G.E.R.D. (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). “Gastro-“ refers to your stomach; “-esophageal” refers to the tube that runs from it to your throat. Acid “reflux” is essentially acid that escapes the stomach and can go all the way up to your throat. G.E.R.D. is a severe form of acid reflux that can ruin a person’s quality of life.
Normally, an area called the “lower esophageal sphincter” (LES) is what separates the contents of the very acidic stomach from entering the esophagus. In G.E.R.D., the LES allows food to enter the stomach but fails to close tightly enough to keep juices from going back up, causing what we call “heartburn” and other symptoms.
Up to 20 per cent of the U.S. population suffers from some form of G.E.R.D., which means that it’s likely that the medic will eventually encounter this issue in a remote setting or survival scenario. Off the grid, we won’t have the stress that goes with the modern rat race, but there will be more basic issues just as concerning like “where’s my next meal coming from?”.
G.E.R.D. may occur in those with a “hiatal hernia”. This condition occurs when the top of the stomach moves up through a weak area in the diaphragm (the muscle that separates chest from abdomen and helps you breathe). As such, acid can more easily leave the stomach.
Although the stomach has a lining that can handle acidic environments, the esophagus becomes inflamed when exposed to too much. The lining becomes weakened and can erode, a condition known as an “ulcer”. Ulcers can occur in the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine.
To make the diagnosis of ulcer or acid reflux disease as opposed to, say, chest pain from heart issues, the timing of the discomfort is important. Ulcer and acid reflux discomfort occurs soon after eating but is sometimes seen several hours after a meal. It can be differentiated from other causes of chest pain in another way: it gets better by drinking milk or taking antacids. As you can imagine, this wouldn’t do much for heart problems. Also, it often worsens when lying down or eating acidic foods. In the worse cases, such as with ulcers, blackish stools may be seen or vomiting may occur that looks like coffee grounds. This is a sign of bleeding high up in the GI tract.
Certain lifestyle changes are often helpful for people with G.E.R.D. Eating smaller meals (say, 5 a day) and avoiding acidic foods before bedtime may help prevent reflux. Give your stomach at least 3 hours to empty before you lie down or add a pillow or two behind your shoulders, head, and neck.
You would think chewing gum would increase stomach acid; chewing gum, however, produces saliva: Saliva acts to buffer acid. Also, you swallow the saliva, which might force some of that acid further down the esophagus.
Spicy foods may worsen G.E.R.D. (image by pixabay)
Your patient may benefit from avoiding certain foods. These commonly include:
Acidic fruit (for example, oranges or other citrus)
Medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, and others may also cause stomach issues. As well, smoking is thought to worsen G.E.R.D.
One thing about milk: although it may be helpful as a treatment, avoid regular milk intake and stick with low-fat, as high levels of fat ingestion may actually increase stomach acid. Obese individuals seem to suffer more from this problem: Excess abdominal fat can press against the stomach, forcing acids up into the esophagus. Weight loss may help, something that’s likely in survival scenarios.
Medications that commonly relieve acid reflux include calcium, magnesium, aluminum, and bismuth antacids such as Tums, Maalox, Mylanta or Pepto-Bismol, as well as other medications such as Ranitidine (Zantac), Cimetidine (Tagamet), and Omeprazole (Prilosec). These medications are available in non-prescription strength and are easy to accumulate in quantity.
In modern times, G.E.R.D. can be definitively identified by procedures such as upper G.I. endoscopy, X-ray tests like an upper GI series, and other high technology. Of course, off the grid, these aren’t an option.
There are many alternative remedies reported to be helpful to deal with G.E.R.D. Home remedies for acid reflux include:
–Organic apple cider vinegar: Mix one tablespoon in four ounces of water, drink before each meal.
–Aloe Vera juice: Mix one ounce in two ounces of water before a meal.
–Baking soda: Mix one tablespoon in a glass of water and drink right away when you begin to feel heartburn
–Glutamine: An amino acid that has an anti-inflammatory effect and reduces acid reflux. It can be found in milk and eggs.
–Melatonin might be useful for some (more study is needed on this one).
I’m sure you have some home remedies of your own.
Off the grid, many stoic individuals in the preparedness community may be unlikely to tell the medic about something they consider trivial, like heartburn. Someone in pain, however, loses sleep and work efficiency. Always question these people to find out what their symptoms are. You might be able to help.
Survival Medicine Hour: Natural Burn Remedies, Ingrown Nails, Lone Wolves
November 25, 2017
Survival Medicine Hour Podcast #365
Does the “lone wolf” have an advantage or disadvantage in situations where you’re knocked off the grid and long term survival is not a sure thing? Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP discuss the importance of community in tough times, even if it’s just an extended family.
3rd degree burn
Plus, after discussing first and second degree burns last week, Dr. Alton, aka Dr. Bones, tackles third degree burns, a difficult challenge for the survival medic, as well as natural burn remedies that might help speed recovery for some of the injured.
off grid ingrown toenail strategy
Lastly, minor conditions like ingrown toenails may not seem like much to those who watch The Walking Dead, but they’re a major impediment to work efficiency. Not being able to take a step without pain isn’t likely to increase your chances for survival. Dr. Alton talks about what can be done to prevent and treat this condition off the grid.
Survival Medicine Hour: Acid Reflux, Colds vs Flus, Medical Barter Items, More
November 30, 2017
Survival Medicine Hour #366
Colds vs. Flus
Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, discuss a number of topics, including honey as a treatment for burns, how to tell colds vs. flus, medical barter items, acid reflux, using glues to close wounds, and much more!
Honey, if raw and unprocessed, has antibacterial effect and may be useful to treat burns in situations where modern medical care is not a possibility.
Honey as a treatment for burns
Do you have a cold or the flu? Here’s some tips on how to tell the difference.
Most survivalists consider ammunition to be the most important barter item, but how about items that could heal, instead of cause, wounds? Dr. Alton bets that medical supplies would be important barter items in a post-disaster economy.
Glue in place
Medical glues and even Super-glue, may be valuable items for closing wounds. Here’s how to use glue to close a wound (remember, that it’s more important to know when a wound should be closed and when it should remain open!).
How many people do you know that have problems with stomach acid? In a disaster, those people will still be there, and they need your help. Dr.Alton tells you everything you need to know about gastroesophageal reflux disease (G.E.R.D.).
In a long-term disaster setting where you are knocked off the grid, medical supplies expended and medicines dispensed over time may not be easily replaced. When confronted with dwindling access to the tools needed by the survival medic to keep people healthy, it becomes clear that knowledge of natural remedies is important.
Every medic must determine whether they believe a long-term survival scenario is a possibility. If this is their concern, they must not only have a sizable amount of supplies and medicine, but also a realization that they eventually must turn to the plants in their own backyard that may have medicinal benefit.
For long term storage, the preparedness community has turned primarily to essential oils as a natural alternative. These are, indeed, some of the best natural products the medic can stockpile due to their longevity. Producing new supplies of them, however, is problematic. Without distilling equipment and a large amount of plant material, you will not be able to replenish oils in any significant quantity.
It takes a lot of lavender to make an oil
A more realistic option for sustainable herbal medicines is using fresh or dried plant materials in teas. These require little more than a garden and some knowledge regarding each herb.
It should be noted that the term “tea” is incorrect: The word actually refers to various drinks made from the leaves of one species, Camellia sinensis. Green, black, white, and oolong teas are made from the same plant; only the processing differs. The proper term for a drink made by steeping herbs in hot water would be an “herbal infusion” or “tisane”. For simplicity’s sake, though, we’ll call them teas.
Standard teas from Camellia Sinensis, like green, black, white, and oolong, are high in antioxidants with many health benefits ascribed to them for various medical issues. These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, liver dysfunction, and more.
Making a tea is one of the simplest ways to prepare medicinal herbs. If you can boil water, you can brew tea. You just:
Bring some water to a roiling boil in a pot or other container. Crush the herb leaves, roots, and/or flowers.
Pour the boiled water over 1 teaspoon of herbs and let steep for about five or ten minutes
Keep a cover on while steeping.
Unless using a tea bag or “bob”, place a strainer over a cup, and pour.
Use honey or lemon to add flavor if desired.
A tea doesn’t have to be ingested to be of benefit: Some may be used as an eye wash, an irrigation solution for wounds, or in cold or warm compresses.
There are many herbs that can be made into a tea. Although some of the information below lacks hard scientific data, these are just some of the teas made by your ancestors for medicinal purposes.
Alfalfa: The seeds and leaves contain vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as calcium, phosphorous, iron, and potassium. It has been used as a diuretic to help urine flow and for upset stomachs. There are claims that it helps arthritis pain and may lower cholesterol. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried leaves, steeped in 1 cup of boiling water, for 10-20 minutes.
Burdock: The dried root has been used in teas to help clear acne and to treat psoriasis. Use 2 tablespoons of fresh grated root or 1 tablespoon of well-dried root in 3 cups of boiling water.
Catnip: Leaves and flowers are used to treat intestinal cramping, indigestion, diarrhea, and other stomach ailments. Also thought to treat respiratory infections like the common cold. A substance in catnip called nepetalactone is thought to produce a mild sedative effect. Use 1 teaspoon of dried leaves or 1 tablespoon of fresh leaves per cup.
Chamomile: This popular tea contains the amino acid Tryptophan, which gives it a sedative and relaxing effect. As such, it may help treat anxiety and insomnia. Antioxidants in chamomile may help slow down progression of visual, kidney, and nerve damage in diabetics. Use 2-3 teaspoons of dried flowers per cup.
Chicory: When supplies of coffee ran out, soldiers in the Civil War used the root of this common plant as a substitute. It doesn’t have caffeine, though, and has more of a sedative than stimulant effect in large amounts. Chicory root has an effect against intestinal worms, and has been shown in animal studies to improve calcium absorption and bone mineral density. Scrape the “bark” off the root before drying; use 1 teaspoon to 1 cup of water. Tea made from leaves has a laxative effect.
Dandelion: You might be surprised to know that the common dandelion contains vitamins and minerals. Indeed, it’s thought to have more beta-carotene than a similar serving of carrots. Young flowers and leaves make a good tea for constipation (steep for 20 minutes). Roasting the roots produces a coffee-like drink; use 2 teaspoons of dried chopped root in 1 cup of water.
Echinacea: Well-known to decrease the duration of colds and flus, Echinacea boosts the immune system and may have some antiviral activity. Steep 1-2 teaspoons of leaf, flower, or ½ teaspoon of root to 1 cup of boiling water.
Elder: Elderberry flowers make a tea that is used for many upper respiratory infections such as sinusitis, colds, flus, and laryngitis. Applied in a compress, the tea may be helpful for wound healing and some skin conditions.
The blue or purple berries are high in antioxidants and may be made into a juice or syrup: Put two pounds of elderberries and four cups of water and bring to a boil, then simmer for a half hour. Use a fine mesh strainer to press out the juice. Sugar may be added under medium heat to make a syrup.
Eucalyptus: Tea made from eucalyptus leaves offers relief from asthma as well as respiratory infections, mostly by opening airways and loosening thick mucus. It may have antibacterial and antiviral effects. Steep ½ teaspoon of dried or fresh leaves in 1-2 cups of water.
Ginger: The underground stems, or rhizomes, of Ginger are used to treat nausea of all types from morning sickness to motion sickness. Slice one inch of the rhizome into small pieces and simmer in two cups of water on low heat for 15 minutes. Then strain. ¼ – ½ teaspoon of ginger powder is another option.
Ginseng: Both Asian and American Ginseng root can be made into herbal teas that are thought to lower blood sugar levels, a useful benefit for those with diabetes. Simmer three to six teaspoons of the root for 45 minutes in three or four cups of water, then strain.
Lavender: Used in aromatherapy, lavender may improve nausea and other digestive symptoms when drunk as a tea. It’s thought to decrease migraine headaches and possibly limit convulsions and muscle spasms. Use 1 tablespoon of dried herb in 1 cup of water.
Lemon Balm: An herb with antiviral effects, it’s a member of the mint family. A tea made from lemon balm leaves and flowers was used in the past to treat mouth, throat, and dental infections like gingivitis and herpes sores. It’s also thought to decrease anxiety, aid sleep, and may help improve intestinal spasms and nausea. Add 1 teaspoon of dried herb or 5-6 fresh leaves to one cup of boiling water.
Licorice: Better known as an ingredient in candy, its coating properties may help with sore throats, coughs, and heartburn. Licorice can, however, raise blood pressure and should be avoided during pregnancy. Add 1-2 teaspoons of chopped root to 2 cups of boiling water. Drink ½ cup at a time.
Passionflower: Tea made from passionflower has a beneficial effect on anxiety and may serve as a sleep aid if taken regularly. Boil 1-2 teaspoons of herb (avoid the root) in 2 cups of water for 5-10 minutes.
Peppermint: A long-standing herbal remedy, tea made from peppermint calms the stomach and helps Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but can worsen heartburn. The tea helps thin respiratory mucus and relieves nasal congestion. Put 1 teaspoon of dried herb or 6-8 fresh leaves over 1 cup of boiling water.
Rose: Rose “hips” make a tea with vitamin C, as well as calcium, selenium, zinc, manganese, and others. It boosts the immune system and is thought to be beneficial for the adrenal gland, responsible for the stress hormone cortisol. Boil 1 teaspoon of dried rose hips in water and steep for 20 minutes.
Sage: Sage leaf tea is a time-honored remedy for sore throat as well as the common cold as a tea or gargle. It may also aid digestion, decrease cramping, and may even improve memory. Steep 1 teaspoon of dried leaves in one cup of water.
Stinging Nettle: Stinging nettle root is thought to have benefits as a diuretic to improve urine flow, even in those with enlarged prostates. The leaves may decrease the pain of arthritis in joints. Use 1 teaspoon dried leaves in 1 cup boiling water or boil 5 grams of dried root in 2 cups of water for 5-10 minutes.
St. John’s Wort: One of the few herbs that has known activity against minor depression, it has been called “herbal Prozac”. Beware of interactions with prescription drugs, however. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of herb.
Thyme: Teas made from thyme will loosen thick phlegm and may help coughs. It’s known to inhibit bacteria, viruses, and fungi, including many that cause respiratory infections. Steep 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried leaves in 1 cup of water.
Turmeric: This herb contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound that may treat Crohn’s disease and other digestive tract issues. As well, it may have beneficial effects on joint pain due to rheumatoid arthritis and other disorders.
Valerian: The dried roots of this plant have been utilized for centuries to deal with anxiety and insomnia. It may even decrease the frequency of seizures in patients with epilepsy. Its mild sedative effect eases pain and promotes sleep. Avoid taking with alcohol or sedative drugs.
Willow: The green underbark of willow trees contain salicin, the original ingredient used to produce aspirin. It is especially useful for muscle aches and joint pain. Simmer 1 teaspoon of bark in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes.
There is much research to be done to confirm all of the effects of these plants, and there may be other benefits not mentioned. Many other plants have medicinal effects other than the ones in the list above. These, however, are easily made into teas that can be produced even while on the move.
I’m sure you have your own herbal teas that have helped with various medical issues. The bottom line: Learn how to grow your own medicinal herbs. You may find they are all you have to keep people healthy in the long run. Using all the tools in the medical woodshed will make you a more effective medic.
Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse Events
December 6, 2017
We live in the shadow of the sun, which gives us, well, shadows, but also bathes us in huge amounts of electromagnetic radiation. Luckily for us, the earth has a magnetic field as a shield against cosmic rays; thanks to it, the human race survives solar storms and other cosmic phenomena.
The sun is a natural source of electromagnetic radiation, but there are un-natural sources as well. The proliferation of nuclear weapons has given us the potential for ending society, not just from physical blasts, but also from electromagnetic pulses.
A nuclear electromagnetic pulse (NEMP) is a burst of radiation created by the detonation of a nuclear weapon high in the atmosphere. Higher up, there are less blast effects on humans but more severe effects on certain equipment. The flood of electromagnetic energy can produce surges that instantaneously damage electrical grids and electronics, perhaps permanently.
What experience do we have with nuclear electromagnetic pulses? Precious little. In 1962, the U.S. tested a 1.4 megaton device 240 miles over the South Pacific (“Operation Starfish Prime”). It unexpectedly affected street and traffic lights 1000 miles away in Hawaii. There were other surprises, as well: 6 satellites were damaged by the radiation, which spent months in space due to the high altitude of the detonation. All eventually became inoperative. Concern over these effects resulted in the 1963 ban on nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere.
The military has since taken measures to “harden” strategic defense systems against NEMPs; little has been accomplished, however, to protect civilian infrastructure in a nation increasingly dependent on the grid and delicate electronics.
The consequences of a successful nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack could, therefore, be devastating, knocking millions off the grid in an instant and causing widespread chaos. Even though a detonation 300 miles up in space won’t kill people from the blast, you can imagine the challenges related to keeping society stable and people healthy in the aftermath.
Once upon a time, a nuclear EMP was considered to be an event with a very low likelihood of occurrence, but recent advances in weapons technology by the saber-rattling regime of Kim Jong-Un in North Korea begin to make even skeptics realize that NEMPs may become a major concern in the near future.
The rogue nation is now able to send an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as far as the U.S. capitol. Although they are not yet perfected, these missiles carry a significant payload and have the capacity to deploy decoys that might confuse our missile defense systems. In addition, North Korea has been successful in launching satellites that currently fly over U.S. territory every 46 minutes. At the rate that they are advancing, North Korean satellites with the ability to carry low-yield nuclear weapons may soon be a possibility.
To be honest, we don’t have a clear picture of the effects of a NEMP on heavily populated areas. Some believe that the risk to the electrical grid and electronics is overblown. Others, however, feel that an unprotected grid struck by an electromagnetic pulse event could take years to restore in worst-case scenarios, and cause widespread civil unrest and panic even if a limited event.
Who’s in charge of protecting the grid?
Regardless of your estimation of the severity of NEMP attacks, you probably would agree with me that there should be someone in charge of protecting us against them. Despite this threat, and 15 years of recommendations from a national EMP commission to harden civilian infrastructure, we still have no definitive oversight body with any real regulatory or funding power to protect the grid. What we’ve done instead is disbanded the EMP commission entirely, allowed needed legislation to die in committees, and left our energy corporations and utilities to make their own decisions. These organizations, and the private North American Energy Reliability Corporation, are more concerned with protecting the grid from the more common natural disasters than nuclear ones.
The EMP commission estimated that it would cost at least 20 billion dollars to harden our civilian infrastructure against EMP attacks. I believe it’s money well spent, but funding alone isn’t enough. Responsibility for grid protection must be assigned to a single body; one that can oversee, not only security, but also recovery in the aftermath of an attack.
We tend to react to disasters after they happen rather than take measures to prevent their consequences. This is bad policy for the medic, and worse national policy when it comes to hurricanes and wildfires; it’s disastrous when it comes to EMPs.
Recently, I wrote an article about the use of herbal teas for their medicinal benefits. For the medic who is concerned about long-term survival scenarios, a hard reality is that stored pharmaceuticals will run out over time. This leaves them with only natural options, such as the plants that grow in their own backyard. These were used with skill by our ancestors, who had little else to treat sickness and injury.
While teas are the simplest way to utilize your medicinal herbs, many swear by essential oils as a storage option with other medical supplies. These items have much more longevity than fresh plants and can include those that don’t naturally grow in the area.
Essential Oils Contain Various Compounds
An essential oil is distilled from whole plant material, not a single ingredient; therefore, each one has multiple compounds that might be medically useful. To take an example, English lavender has about 20 different chemicals, including esters, ketones, and terpenes. These combinations make each oil unique. Oils may be produced from leaves, bark, flowers, resin, fruit or roots. For example, Lemon oil comes from the peel, Lavender oil from flowers, and Cinnamon oil from bark.
Although you might not realize it, you’ve been using essential oils all your life in soaps, furniture polishes, perfumes, and ointments. Previous generations of conventional physicians commonly included them in their medical bags. Indeed, many standard medical texts of the past were really instruction manuals on how to use these products.
One Way To Make Essential Oils: Distillation
Essential oils aren’t easy to produce without distillery equipment. Although it only takes a few leaves of peppermint to make a tea, you would need 5 pounds of leaves to make 1 ounce of essential oil. One source states that it takes an entire acre of peppermint to produce just 12 pounds of oil. The same source says that 12,000 rose blossoms are required to produce a tablespoon of rose oil. These concentrated versions are the ones you see marketed in small, dark bottles. Unless you intend to buy distilling materials, you should accumulate essential oils in quantity but use them sparingly.
The strength or quality of the oil is dependent on multiple factors, including soil conditions, season harvested, subspecies of plant, rainfall, and, in some cases, even the time of day. This is akin to the conditions that determine the quality of a particular vintage of wine. It also explains the significant variance you’ll see in the effects of the same oil from year to year.
You might be surprised to learn that the Food and Drug Administration only requires 10% essential oil in the bottle for it to be marketed as “Pure Essential Oil”. Beware of claims of FDA certification; the FDA has no certification or approval process for these products.
Making Essential Oils
The manufacture of essential oils, known as “extraction”, can be achieved by various methods:
Distillation Method: Using a “still” like old-time moonshiners, water is boiled through an amount of plant material to produce a steam that travels through cooled coils. This steam condenses into a “mixture” of oil and water from which the oil can be extracted
Pressing Method: The oils of citrus fruit can be isolated by a technique which involves putting the peels through a “press”. This works well only with the oiliest of plant materials, such as orange skins.
Maceration Method: a fixed oil (sometimes called “carrier” oil) or lard may be combined with the plant part and exposed to the sun over time, causing the fixed oil to become infused with the plant “essence”. Oftentimes, a heat source is used to move the process along. The plant material may be added several times during the process to manufacture stronger versions. This is the method by which you obtain products such as “garlic-infused olive oil”. A similar process using flowers is referred to as “Enfleurage”.
Solvent Method: Alcohol and other solvents may be used on some plant parts, usually flowers, to release the essential oil in a multi-step process.
As each essential oil has different chemical compounds in it, it stands to reason that the medicinal benefits are also different. An entire alternative medical discipline has developed to find the appropriate oil for the condition that needs treatment. The method of treatment may differ, as well. Common methods are:
1) Inhalation Therapy: This method is also known as “aroma- therapy”. The simplest way to perform direct inhalation therapy involves putting 2 or 3 drops of essential oil on your hands, rubbing them together, and inhaling.
Steam inhalation therapy utilizes the addition of a few drops of the essential oil in a bowl of steaming water (distilled or sterilized), which is then inhaled. This method is most effective when placing a towel over your head to catch the vapors.
Many people will place essential oils in potpourri or use a “diffuser” to spread the aroma throughout the room. This technique probably dilutes any medicinal effects, however.
2) Topical Application: The skin is an amazing absorbent surface, and using essential oils by direct application is a popular method of administration. The oil may be used as part of a massage, or directly placed on the skin to achieve a therapeutic effect on a rash or aching muscle.
It’s wise to always test for allergic reactions before using an essential oil in this manner: Even though the chemical compounds in the oil are natural, you could still exhibit an allergy to it or be irritated by it (case in point: poison ivy).
A simple test involves placing a couple of drops on the inside of your forearm with a cotton applicator. Within 12-24 hours, you’ll notice redness and itching if you’re allergic. Mixing some of the essential oil with a “carrier” oil such as olive oil before use is a safer option for topical use. Another concern, mostly with citrus oils applied to the skin, is “phototoxicity” (an exaggerated burn response to sun exposure).
Although we have seen many sources recommend applying essential oil over the location of an internal organ, some reservations exist about whether such an application will really have an effect on that organ. It is much more likely to work on skin issues or, perhaps, underlying muscle tissue.
3) Ingestion: Direct ingestion is unwise for many essential oils, and this method should be used with caution. Professional guidance is imperative when considering this method, except for a very few instances. A reasonable alternative to consider is a tea made with the dried herb. This is a safer mode of internal use, but the effect may not be as strong.
Hard Data on Oils is Not Always Easy To Find
Essential oils have been used as medical treatment for a very long time, but it’s difficult to provide definitive evidence of their effectiveness for several reasons. Essential oils are difficult to standardize, due to variance in the quality of the product based on soil conditions, time of year, and other factors that we mentioned above.
In addition, there are many subspecies of plants that may differ in their effects. An essential oil of Eucalyptus, for example, may be obtained from Eucalyptus Globulus or Eucalyptus Radiata; these plants may have their own unique properties. These factors combine to make scientific study problematic.
In most university experiments, a major effort is made to be certain that the substance tested caused the results obtained. As essential oils have a number of different compounds and are often marketed as blends, which ingredient was the cause of the effect? If the oil is applied with massage, was the effect related to the oil itself or from the physical therapy?
The majority of studies on essential oils have been conducted by the cosmetics and food industries. Others have been conducted by individuals or small companies with a vested interest in the product.
Definitive studies of possible medicinal benefits are usually performed in universities sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. Unfortunately, they generally have little interest in herbal products because they are hard to patent. Therefore, serious funding is hard to find because of the limited profit potential.
Commonly Used Essential Oils
There are many types of essential oils
Despite the lack of hard data, essential oils have various reported beneficial effects, mainly based on their historical use on thousands of patients by generations of healers. Although there are many essential oils, a number of them are considered mainstays of any herbal medicine cabinet. Here are some of the most popular:
Lavender is a very popular oil
Lavender Oil: An analgesic (pain reliever), antiseptic, and immune stimulant. It is thought to be good for skin care and to pro- mote healing, especially in burns, bruises, scrapes, acne, rashes and bug bites. Lavender has a calming effect and is used for insomnia, stress and depression. It has been reported effective as a decongestant through steam inhalation. Lavender oil may have benefit as an antifungal agent, and has been used for athlete’s foot or other related conditions.
Eucalyptus Oil: An antiseptic, antiviral, and decongestant (also an excellent insect repellent), Eucalyptus oil has a “cooling” effect on skin. It aids with respiratory issues and is thought to boost the immune system. Consider its use for flus, colds, sore throats, coughs, sinusitis, bronchitis, and hay fever. Eucalyptus may be used in massages, steam inhalation, and as a bath additive. Although eucalyptus oil has been used in cough medicine, it is likely greatly diluted and should not be ingested in pure form.
Melaleuca (Tea Tree) Oil: Diluted in a carrier oil such as coconut, Tea Tree oil may be good for athlete’s foot, acne, skin wounds, and even insect bites. In the garden, Tea Tree oil is a reasonable organic method of pest control. In inhalation therapy, it is reported to help relieve respiratory congestion. Studies have been performed which find it effective against both Staphylococcus and fungal infections. Some even recommend a few drops in a pint of water for use as a vaginal douche to treat yeast. Tea Tree oil may be toxic if ingested or used in high concentrations, around sensitive areas like the eyes.
Peppermint Oil: This oil is said to have various therapeutic effects: antiseptic, antibacterial, decongestant, and anti-emetic (stops vomiting). Peppermint oil is claimed to help for digestive disorders when applied directly to the abdomen. Some herbalists prescribe Peppermint for headache; massage a drop or two to the temples as needed. For achy muscles or painful joints, massage the diluted oil externally onto the affected area. As mentioned previously, definitive proof of topical application effects on deep organs is difficult to find.
Lemon Oil: Used for many years as a surface disinfectant, it is often found in furniture cleaners. Many seem to think that this disinfecting action makes it good for sterilizing water, but there is no evidence that it is as effective as any of the standard methods, such as boiling. Lemon oil is thought to have a calming effect; some businesses claim to have better results from their employees when they use it as aromatherapy. Don’t apply this oil on the skin if you will be exposed to the sun that day, due to increased likelihood of burns.
Clove Bud Oil Is A Dental Anesthetic
Clove Oil: Although thought to have multiple uses as an anti-fungal, antiseptic, antiviral, analgesic, and sedative, Clove oil particularly shines as an anesthetic and antimicrobial. It is marketed as “Eugenol” to dentists throughout the world as a natural painkiller for toothaches. A toothpaste can be made by combining clove oil and baking soda. When mixed with zinc oxide powder, it makes a temporary cement for lost fillings and loose crowns. Use Clove oil with caution, however, as it may have an irritant effect on the gums if too much is applied.
Arnica Oil: Arnica oil is used as a topical agent for muscle injuries and aches. Thought to be analgesic and anti-inflammatory, it is found in a number of sports ointments. As a personal aside, we have tested this oil on ourselves and found it to be effective, though not very long lasting. Frequent application would be needed for long term relief. Although some essential oils are used as aromatherapy, Arnica oil is toxic if inhaled.
Chamomile Oil: There are at least two versions of Chamomile oil, Roman and German. Roman Chamomile is a watery oil, while German Chamomile seems more viscous. Both are used to treat skin conditions such as eczema as well as irritations due to allergies. Chamomile oil is thought to decrease gastrointestinal inflammation and irritation, and is thought have a calming effect as aromatherapy, especially in children.
Geranium Oil: Although variable in its effects based on the species of plant used, Geranium oil is reported to inhibit the production of sebum in the skin, and may be helpful in controlling acne. Some believe that it also may have hemostatic (blood-clotting) properties, and is often recommended for bleeding from small cuts and bruising. When a small amount of oil is diluted in shampoo, it may be considered a treatment for head lice.
Helichrysum Oil: Thought to be a strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory, Helichrysum is used to treat arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fibromyalgia as part of massage therapy. It has also been offered as a treatment for chronic skin irritation
Rosemary is a versatile oil
Rosemary Oil: Represented as having multiple uses as an antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic, Rosemary oil is proven to control spider mites in gardens. Use a few drops with water for a disinfectant mouthwash. Inhalation, either cold or steamed, may relieve congested or constricted respiration. Mixed with a carrier oil, it is used to treat tension headaches and muscle aches
Clary Sage Oil: One of the various chemical constituents of Clary Sage has a composition similar to estrogen. It has been used to treat menstrual irregularities, premenstrual syndrome, and other hormonal issues. Sage is also believed to have a mild anticoagulant effect, and may have some use as a blood thinner. Clary Sage also is thought to have some sedative effect, and has been used as a sleep aid.
Neem Oil: With over 150 chemical ingredients, the Neem tree is called “the village pharmacy” in its native India. Many Ayurvedic alternative remedies have some form of Neem oil in them. Proven as a natural organic pesticide, we personally use Neem Oil in our garden. Reported medicinal benefits are too numerous to list here and seem to cover just about every organ system. It should be noted, however, that it may be toxic when the oil is taken internally.
Wintergreen Oil: A source of natural salicylates, Wintergreen oil is a proven anticoagulant and analgesic. About 1 fluid ounce of Wintergreen Oil is the equivalent of 171 aspirin tablets if ingested, so use extreme caution. It may also have beneficial effects on intestinal spasms and might reduce elevated blood pressures.
Frankincense Oil: One of the earliest documented essential oils, evidence of its use goes back 5000 years to ancient Egypt. Catholics will recognize it as the incense used during religious ceremonies. Studies from Johns Hopkins and Hebrew Universities state that Frankincense relieves anxiety and depression in mice (we’re unsure how, exactly, this was determined, but it probably involved a cat). Direct application of the oil may have antibacterial and antifungal properties, and is thought to be helpful for wound healing. As a cold or steam inhalant, it is some- times used for lung and nasal congestion.
Blue Tansy Oil: Helpful in the garden as a companion plant for organic pest control, Blue Tansy is sometimes planted along with potatoes and other vegetables. The oil has been used for years to treat intestinal worms and other parasites. One of its constituents, Camphor, is used in medicinal chest rubs and ointments. In the past, it has been used in certain dental procedures as an antibacterial.
Oregano Oil: An antiseptic, oregano oil has been used in the past as an antibacterial agent. It should be noted that Oregano oil is derived from a different species of the plant than the Oregano used in cooking. One of the minority of essential oils that are safe to ingest, it is thought to be helpful in calming stomach upset, and may help relieve sore throats. Its antibacterial action leads some to use the oil in topical applications on skin infections when diluted with a carrier oil. Oregano Oil may reduce the body’s ability to absorb iron, so consider an iron supplement if you use this regularly.
Thyme Oil: Reported to have significant antimicrobial action, diluted Thyme oil is used to cure skin infections, and may be helpful for ringworm and athlete’s foot. Thyme is sometimes used to reduce intestinal cramps in massage therapy. As inhalation therapy, it may loosen congestion from upper respiratory infections.
“Thieves’ Oil”: Many essential oils are marketed as blends, such as “Thieves’ Oil”. This is a combination of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils. Touted to treat a broad variety of ailments, studies at Weber State University indicate a good success rate in killing airborne viruses and bacteria. Of course, the more elements in the mixture, the higher chance for adverse reactions, such as phototoxicity.
I’m sure I missed some of your favorites. There are as many oils as there are species of plants.
Many oils aren’t proven safe in pregnancy
Some important caveats to the above list should be stated here. Many of the essential oils listed are unsafe to use in pregnancy, and some may even cause miscarriage. Also, allergic reactions to essential oils, especially on the skin, are not uncommon; use the allergy test we described earlier before starting regular topical applications.
Even though essential oils are natural substances, they may interact with medicines that you may regularly take or have adverse effects on chronic illness such as liver disease, epilepsy, or high blood pressure. Thorough research is required to determine whether a particular essential oil is safe to use.
Having said that, essential oils are a viable option for many conditions. Anyone interested in maintaining their family’s well-being, especially off the grid, should regard them as another weapon in the medical arsenal. Learn about them with an open mind, but maintain a healthy skepticism especially about “cure-all” claims.
Published on Dec 12, 2017
The threats to our electrical grid is real and we are not implementing enough safety measures to protect it. The consequences would be beyond our imagination and cause widespread disruption of life as we know it. We need to demand protection. Hosted by Joe Alton, MD of
Published on Dec 16, 2013
The Golden Hour - US medics face a perpetual job of trying to keep casualties alive in the first vital hour after being wounded by the Taliban. Subscribe to Journeyman here: http://www.youtube.com/subscription_c...
In the heart of Taliban territory, a talented and youthful team of medics race against the clock to save a constant stream of casualties, bracing themselves for the bloody consequences of the imminent 'surge'.
Welcome to M*A*S*H 2010, where a brave medical team are on 24 hour alert. "We're the busiest Forward Surgical Team in Iraq and Afghanistan". In the next moment, the alarm sounds and the medivac helicopter is taking off. "Is it a US...an Afghan...a child?", asks the pilot, as a giant smoke cloud from an exploded mine-resistant vehicle comes into view. Two American soldiers have been killed and three wounded by an IED. All are loaded onto the helicopters and the golden hour in which they can be saved, begins..."We provide 21st century intensive care", shouts Major Bryan over the blood-curdling screams of the injured. Yet behind the brave faces, doubts and fears creep in. Arm wrestling and watching DVD's, don't relieve the combat stress of soldiers who have served in Iraq before this. "It's not clear to me that we have an overall endpoint that makes sense", says Major Hueman. In just 10 months this small tented hospital has received a staggering 600 trauma cases. It's about to get a lot busier.
Both the Altons and Mr. Furey are concerned about the risks associated with electromagnetic pulse attacks, when a nuclear weapon is detonated high in the atmosphere. Once thought to be the stuff of post-apocalyptic fiction, North Korea has recently acknowledged the usefulness of such an attack against the United States, and they ability to initiate the event.
Plus, wildfires in California are devastating a quarter million acres of forest, as well as destroying homes and causing casualties. What would you do in a wildfire, and can your home be saved? Is there any way to defend against it meanfully?
All this and more in the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP! To listen in, click below:
Burn Injuries On and Off The Grid
December 20, 2017
second degree burn
Whether caused by a raging wildfire or due to an accident while preparing food, burns are a major challenge both on and off the grid. Injuries from burns that require medical help top one million each year in the United States, with thousands of deaths reported. These numbers are alarming, given the fact that, in modern times, few are us are exposed to fire as often or directly as our ancestors were. Despite this, only a small percentage of families have formulated and practiced an escape plan for their own homestead.
33 per cent: scalds caused by exposure to hot fluids (50 per cent of burns in children)
9 per cent: contact with a heat source
4 per cent: electrical burns
3 per cent: chemical burns
7 per cent: miscellaneous causes
Of course, anyone who sustains a serious burn should be transported immediately to a hospital, preferably one with a dedicated burn unit. After a disaster, however, these facilities may be inaccessible or overwhelmed by a large number of casualties. Therefore, it is possible that the average citizen may be required to provide burn care in disaster settings.
Off the grid long-term, the risks are even greater. Without power, we will be cooking over fires more frequently. The potential for significant burn injuries will rise, especially if small children get too close. It’s important for the “medic” to have a working knowledge of burns and their treatment.
Rule of 9’s: percentages slightly different in babies
The percentage of body surface area is often used to determine the severity of injury. A system known as the “rule of 9’s” is thought to give a rough estimate of the risks involved. Any burn covering more than the size of, say, your palm is serious enough to be medically evaluated. In survival settings, the general health (not to mention work efficiency) of a group member already under stress may be impacted.
(Note: Normally, the palm area measure is used only for burns that are more than superficial, but I believe that all burns this size or greater should be brought to the attention of the medic.)
Off or on the grid, burns are best categorized by “degrees”, a measure related to the depth of penetration. The deeper the burn damage, the graver the consequences for the victim.
1st degree burn (sunburn)
FIRST DEGREE BURNS: First-degree burns affect the epidermis, the topmost layer of the skin. A typical example would be a “sunburn”. These burns appear red, warm, and dry, and are painful to the touch. Mild swelling may occur. Dry, dead skin will cause itching, but peels off after a period of time. No scarring is expected.
Although most first-degree burns are minor, extensive ones must be watched closely. They can cause dehydration and even enough heat loss to cause hypothermia.
Treating a first-degree burn: Treatments for a first-degree burn include:
Cool water soaks for five to ten minutes (many make the mistake of running cold water over the burned area for only a few seconds). Avoid ice, which traumatizes already-damaged skin by decreasing circulation to it.
Pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). After a day or so, the pain will subside.
Anesthetic ointments and burn gels containing aloe vera.
Antihistamines for itching.
Expect complete healing in a week or so.
second degree burn
SECOND-DEGREE BURNS: Second-degree burns, sometimes called “partial-thickness” burns, affect the deep layer of the skin (the “dermis”). You will see areas that are painful, swollen, and appear moist rather than dry. The area will have a tendency to weep clear or whitish fluid. These injuries often have a number of blisters of various sizes.
Treating a second-degree burn: Treatment for a second-degree burn should be quick and intensive. The faster treatment is begun, the faster the recovery. Consider:
Running cool water on the burn for 15 minutes or longer.
Quick removal of rings, bracelets, and necklaces due to rapid swelling that occurs.
Bandaging the wound with non-stick dressings like Telfa pads. Avoid the use of cotton balls as dressings due to the sloughing off of fibers that can increase the likelihood of infection.
Using specialized burn dressings like Xeroform; similar dressings can be improvised using gauze and petroleum jelly.
Giving pain medicines as needed.
Applying antibiotic cream to blisters to prevent infection.
Blisters may be numerous, but should be broken only if very large or it is clear they would break during normal activity or in bed. The “Popping” of blisters may increase the risk of infection. If you feel it’s necessary, puncture with a sterilized needle at the base and leave the skin covering the raw area.
Keeping the area protected from infectious organisms is important; dressings should be changed at least daily. Most second-degree burns heal in 2-3 weeks without thick scars, but may leave the skin darker than its original color.
THIRD-DEGREE BURNS: A severe type of burn injury, third-degree burns damage the full thickness of the skin and, often, deeper structures like the nerves and blood vessels below the skin. Once the damage goes through the skin, you have lost your body’s “armor”, causing the rapid loss of fluids and ensuing dehydration. Loss of body heat is also a major issue.
Third-degree burns can vary in appearance based upon the type of burn incurred. They may appear white and waxy, charred brown, or black. The area may feel stiff or “leathery”.
Treating a third-degree burn: Start by following the steps for a second-degree burn. Long-term care is much more complex, however. The skin lost in an injury is normally replaced by new skin cells produced by the dermis. The dermis, however, has been destroyed in a third-degree burn, so skin can only grow from the edges of the wound. This not only takes more time than the patient has, but also results in thick scarring.
Sometimes, skin edges have dead tissue which must be cut away so living tissue behind it can grow; this (sometimes painful) process is known as “debridement”.
In normal times, gaps left by extensive burns are treated by “skin grafting”. A skin graft is skin taken from an uninjured area and placed on the site of the burn. Skin taken from the injured person is less likely to be rejected than if taken from another individual.
Of course, the technology needed for skin grafting won’t be accessible off the grid. The best that might be done in a remote setting would be covering the area where skin no longer exists with products like honey or aloe vera gel. A non-stick covering is then applied for protection. Celox hemostatic gauze, when wet, makes for a serviceable burn bandage. Dressing major burns, however, can compromise blood flow as swelling occurs. As such, these wounds shouldn’t be wrapped tightly, if at all. Vigilance is needed to keep the wound clean so as to prevent infection.
Expect these wounds to require a very long time to heal. Often, a “contracture” will develop as a result of scarring. This is a condition where deformity or loss of movement occurs in joints due to the stiffening of muscles and other tissues. The result, at the very least, is loss of range of motion.
Fourth degree burn
FOURTH-DEGREE BURNS: Once considered just a severe case of a third-degree burn, the damage extends down through subcutaneous fat to muscle and bone. The tissue appears dark, dry, and “crispy”. Third and fourth-degree burns are often described as painless, as the nerve endings have been destroyed. These burns, however, often have second-degree and first-degree components at their peripheries, which can be very painful.
Treatment for Fourth-Degree Burns: Even in the most advanced settings, treating fourth-degree burns is complex and may even involve amputation of an affected limb. Without a modern burn unit, the survival rate for third- and fourth-degree burns covering any significant portion of the body will be very low. This is due not only to destruction of tissue; the inability to replace fluids rapidly in these patients and the high frequency of infection will be factors, as well.
COMMON MISTAKES WHEN TREATING BURNS
-Failing to run cool water on the burn for the time recommended.
-Using ice on burnt skin.
-Ignoring airway burns. With smoke inhalation, airways may swell rapidly and cause breathing difficulties. Signs include severe coughing, hoarseness, black-specked sputum, and facial burns.
-Popping blisters unnecessarily. Intervene only when they are very large or interfere with function.
-Assuming a burn is less of an issue than it is. Even a first-degree burn, like an extensive sunburn, can be dangerous if steps aren’t taken to avoid further exposure and keep up the level of hydration.
-Using lard or butter as a home remedy. These substances can trap heat in and cause a delay in healing. Other home remedies, like aloe vera, are more preferable.
Toddlers and Campfires = Burns
Burn care in an off-grid setting is difficult, so it makes sense to do everything possible to prevent these kinds of injuries. As your people may be performing activities of daily survival to which they are not accustomed, perhaps the most important advice is to be certain that they are wearing appropriate personal protection like gloves, masks, goggles, and footwear. Any burn injury prevented is one less headache (and perhaps, heartache) for the medic. Other considerations:
never allow children to be unsupervised near a campfire or wherever food is being cooked or water boiled.
Don’t let kids play with matches or lighters.
Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply frequently.
Avoid cooking if you are impaired by exhaustion (or alcohol/drugs).
Avoid smoking inside your shelter or anywhere there are flammable materials (or maybe not smoke at all).
Keep firewood and other flammables away from buildings.
If you have power, be wary of space heaters; leave a good space between them and anything combustible.
Avoid using frayed electrical cords.
Learn how to recognize gas leaks.
Have and know how to use fire extinguishers.
Have functioning smoke alarms.
Last but not least, have a plan of action for a fire at your homestead, and practice drills so that family members will know exactly what to do. This includes a method of communication and a place to meet in the event that you are separated from each other.
The risk for burn injury exists even in the best of times. Off the grid, they represent a major challenge to the caregiver. The ability to recognize and treat different degrees of burns will be an important skill for the medic in tough times.
In future articles, we’ll review electrical, chemical, scalds, and other burns, as well as ways to recognize and treat them effectively. We’ll also discuss some natural remedies that will work to help speed recovery from burn injuries.
Survival Medicine Hour: Cellulitis, Spirituality of and Realities for the Medic, More
December 23, 2017
SURVIVAL MEDICINE HOUR #369
spirituality and survival
In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP discuss the role of spirituality in survival, and the role hope plays in keeping people resilient in the face of adversity. Also, some hard realities the medic must confront in long-term survival scenarios and the role natural plant products will play in keeping people healthy when the medications run out.
Cellulitis: An epidemic off the grid?
Plus, a discussion of one of the most common issues that will attend injuries in survival settings: cellulitis, or soft tissue infections. People performing activities of daily survival get injured and those injuries can get infected. How do you recognize these infections, and what can you use to treat them?
All this and more in the Doom and Bloom(tm) Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton!
Published on Dec 14, 2017
Many people's premiums have become unsustainable. Still others are having their insurance cancelled at the end of the year. How do we care for our family in the beauracratic nightmare that is our current system?
Published on Jun 9, 2016
Advanced Combat Casualty Care (ACCC) is a new course of instruction from Talon Defense & Ditch Medicine. It's a combination of injured shooter techniques and emergent tactical medicine. Your ability to fight with only one hand is pushed way past your comfort level in drills and scenarios that are more than just difficult. The scenarios set before you are large and unfold over a protracted period of time. This is not a “slap a TQ on it, and let’s go” class. This is the sort of class where you’re challenged with questions such as “why is he not breathing, and how do you manage his airway?” All of this while being required to accurately fire your weapons and clear instructor induced malfunctions. Talon Defense & Ditch Medicine work seamlessly to present a comprehensive, skill based course that is tactically and technically challenging. This is one you don’t want to miss. This video contains Team Bravo's Alpha's Run. Team Bravo is on the second video.
If you guys are interested in training with Talon Defense or Ditch Medicine check out their websites and tell them Abner Miranda (Tier 1 Citizen) sent you.
Acute Mountain (Altitude) Sickness
December 26, 2017
Acute Mountain Sickness
Altitude SicknessThe journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) reports that 33.5% of the population lives below an elevation of 100 meters above sea level. That means that, in any major disaster, getting out of Dodge often means heading for the hills.
There’s a possibility that we might have to abruptly relocate from a home at sea level to a “bug-out” location in the mountains. Many people adjust to changes of climate and altitude easily, but others don’t; the rapid change in elevation may cause a condition known as Altitude Sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).
A certain amount of oxygen is needed to maintain the body physically and mentally. The availability of this oxygen is less as air pressure decreases at higher elevations, leading to “hypoxemia”, a major issue in mountain sickness. It occurs most commonly at elevations of 8,000 feet above sea level or more, although some experience symptoms somewhat lower.
At present, there is little hard data that predicts exactly which flatlander in your party is most likely to develop symptoms. The speed of ascent and the altitude reached (8000 feet or greater) are general factors.
The effects of altitude sickness are more noticeable with the exertion caused by traveling up mountainous terrain by foot. Although most will improve with rest, complications can develop that rapidly become life-threatening.
Identifying Acute Mountain Sickness
Monitor for early symptoms
The typical victim of altitude sickness will present to you with (hopefully) mild symptoms, often within 8 hours or so of ascent. They will resemble someone with a hangover or a case of the flu without the associated fever. You can expect to see:
Nausea and Vomiting
Lack of appetite
Tachycardia (fast heart rate)
“Pins and Needles” sensations
Shortness of breath
A percentage of these sufferers will progress to a more severe state. You will notice:
Chest congestion (but not nasal)
Worsening shortness of breath
Confused and apathetic behavior
Cyanosis (a blue or gray appearance of the skin, especially the fingertips and lips)
Loss of coordination
Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
Loss of consciousness
The severe cases are characterized by the accumulation of fluid (known as edema) in certain organs. In altitude sickness, this may occur in the lungs (“high altitude pulmonary edema or HAPE”) or brain (“high altitude cerebral edema or HACE”), either of which can be life-threatening.
Treating Acute Mountain Sickness
Exertion can worsen altitude sickness
In most cases, the treatment of altitude sickness is simple: The patient requires rest, if only to stop further ascent and allow more time to acclimate. Wiser still would be to descend to a lower elevation.
If a lack of available oxygen is the problem with rapid rises in altitude, it makes sense to have a portable canister as part of your medical supplies. In climate-controlled studies, a small amount of supplemental oxygen had the result of reproducing the effects of descending to a lower altitude.
A medication commonly used for both prevention and treatment is the prescription drug Acetazolamide (Diamox). It has a “diuretic” effect, which means that it speeds the elimination of excess fluid from the body by urination. Therefore, it will help prevent the accumulation of fluid in the lungs or brain.
Acetazolamide is superior to many other diuretics in that it also forces the kidneys to excrete bicarbonate. By increasing the amount of bicarbonate excreted, the blood becomes more acidic. Acidifying the blood stimulates ventilation, which increases the amount of oxygen in the body. This effect may not be immediate, but will speed up recovery.
It should be noted that Acetazolamide is a prescription medication, but physicians shouldn’t have problems prescribing it if you let them know you’re planning a trip to high altitude areas. Your doctor should also be able to determine the right dosage, usually ranging from 125mg to 1000mg (average 250 mg twice daily). Some side effects include a strange taste and tingling of the fingertips.
Other medicines known to have a beneficial effect include other prescriptions meds like the blood pressure drug Nifedipine and the headache med Sumatriptan (Imitrex). Ibuprofen 600 milligrams three times daily was found to be effective for mild cases in a study done in 2012. The strong steroid Decadron is used for those with edema in the lungs and brain.
Once down to more reasonable altitudes (immediately essential in HAPE or HACE) or with oxygen and acclimatization, you can expect symptoms of ACS to subside over one to two days in most cases.
Prevention of Acute Mountain Sickness
Other than using meds like Acetazolamide for prevention, there are simple strategies that will help decrease the risk of altitude sickness. Choose your route to your retreat so that the ascent is as gradual as possible. Do not attempt more than 2,000 feet of ascent per day. Ensure that your personnel do not become dehydrated as they ascend, and, especially, avoid the consumption of alcohol.
If there is no choice but to make a quick ascent, it’s important to monitor members of your party for their hydration status and response to exertion, as well as the symptoms and signs described above.
There is some evidence that Gingko Biloba may be helpful in the natural prevention of altitude sickness. A small amount of an extract of this substance has been shown to allow the brain to tolerate lower oxygen levels. More research is needed to determine the appropriate amount for the desired effect.
What You're Not Being Told About Lyme Disease (ENCORE) | Dr. Jay Nielsen, MD Reluctant Preppers
Published on Dec 31, 2017
This ENCORE Presentation of one of our all-time most-popular interviews is for the benefit of our recent subscribers. Please SHARE THIS with family and loved ones! Blessings -DK
If you or anyone you know suffers from fatigue, unexplained aches, brain fog, memory lapses, neck & joint stiffness, sleep troubles, night sweats, or heart palpitations.. did you know the #1 contracted pest-borne illness in the US is Lymes disease, and today’s Lymes has become a more virulent and destructive strain that can wreak havoc on your body and mental faculties while hiding from your immune system and remaining severely undetected and under-diagnosed using conventional medical tests? Worse yet, Lymes can spread to your spouse and even babies in the womb!
What can you do to get aware and protect yourself and your family from this real and present epidemic? Off-Grid doctor Jay Nielsen, MD returns to Reluctant Preppers to lay out the hard-hitting truths and ground-breaking protocol capable of achieving real healing - and you won’t hear this from most conventional doctors. Don’t delay while real damage is done: get aware and start on the road to healing today!
Survival Medicine Hour: Surviving Building Fires, Truths About Medical Preparedness, More
December 30, 2017
Survival Medicine Hour #370
surviving a building fire
12 people die in an apartment house fire in New York City, despite the presence of outdoor fire escapes on each floor. Winter is associated with the cold, but the heat from a fire is also part of it, as gas leaks and frayed electrical heating wires combust and cause major damage. Dr. Alton discusses 6 important things to know about the behavior of fire, and just what to do to get out of that burning building alive.
Plus, many folks are well-prepared with regards to extra food and water, but relatively few are medically prepared. Why are the Altons still just starting to get people involved in putting together medical supplies. They make their case for being medically prepared in this episode.
All this plus updates on the California wildfires, and a welcome to radio station KYAH in Utah, the latest network to carry the Survival Medicine Hour!
6 Important Things To Know To Help You Survive A Home Fire
Apartment house fire
At least 12 people, including four children, were killed, with several others injured, in a massive apartment building fire in the Bronx, NY this week. Although the circumstances are unclear, it appears that it was started by a child playing with a stove.
170 firefighters were dispatched to the four-alarm fire, located in a five-story walk-up in the Bronx, just a block from the world-famous Bronx zoo. The crews (the first of whom arrived in three-five minutes) worked to control the blaze in 15-degree temperatures.
Having written about the recent wildfires in California, the story made me think about what you should do to protect your family from becoming victims of a building fire.
New York City, which has many older buildings, has been the site of winter fires causing multiple casualties in the past; I wrote about one in 2015. Gas leaks and frayed wiring are often the culprits, as well as inappropriate use of space heaters.
6 Things To Know About The Nature Of Home Fires
The nature of fire in buildings
Every year, millions are at risk for, and thousands of people are killed or injured by, fires in the U.S. Many of these deaths and injuries can be prevented with some knowledge of the nature of fire. You must understand the following six points:
1) Most people who die in fires don’t die because of burns as much as from asphyxiation (suffocation). Fire consumes available oxygen that you need to breathe, and produces harmful gases and smoke. Inhalation of even a small amount of these can disorient you and affect your ability to respond appropriately. Even if there is little smoke, some poisonous gases are invisible and odorless. Some people who die in bed appear to have not woken up at all, most likely a result of toxic inhalation. That doesn’t mean the bodies can have burns on them, but they are often not the cause of death.
2) Fire spreads rapidly. A small fire can go out of control in less than a minute if not extinguished rapidly. Many house fires occur at night when everyone is asleep, making it possible for smoke and flames to engulf the entire building before you are even aware of it. Sometimes, rooms can combust all at once, a phenomenon known as a “flashover“. Opening hot doors can cause a fire effect called a “backdraft“, which appears similar to an explosion.
3) The environment in a fire is likely to be dark, not bright as you might think. Black smoke can easily make it impossible to see clearly as well as cause eye irritation. This leads to confusion as to where the best avenues of escape might be.
4) Heat from a fire can burn you, even if you’re in a room that isn’t on fire itself. Breathing in super-heated air can burn your lung tissue and is more lethal than burns on the skin.
5) Hot air rises. Most people understand this concept, but not the extremes you’d experience in a fire. Air that is just hot at floor level becomes much hotter at eye level. This is why you should stay close to the floor as you make your way out of the building.
6) Fire needs fuel (and oxygen) to survive and grow. People unwittingly feed fires by keeping all sorts of flammable clutter around the house. Don’t collect old newspapers or other combustibles, especially near heaters or stoves.
What To Do In A Fire
A plan of action made before a fire occurs will greatly increase the chances for survival. Here are some important considerations:
Make it clear to everyone that there’s a fire. Hit the fire alarm or loudly yell “Fire!”. You should have previously identified at least two exits and conducted fire drills with your family so that they know exactly what to do.
Get the heck out of there if it’s clear the fire isn’t the kind that can’t be doused easily by your fire extinguisher (you should have more than one placed in susceptible areas). Don’t wait to grab personal items, you might have only seconds to safely leave.
Get down low and crawl to an exit to be least exposed to heat and smoke. Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth if possible. Authorities often suggest wetting it, a good idea if you can do it quickly without delaying your leaving the building. Covering your body with a wool blanket is an option, but don’t use a wet one; when wet, wool will conduct heat more quickly and cause burns.
Once you’re at the exit, touch the doorknob or the door itself before opening. If very hot, leave it closed and pick another exit. If the door isn’t hot, open it slowly; close it if fire or heavy smoke is present.
Call 911 as soon as you exit the house. If you are missing someone, tell the firefighters where they might be located in the building. Same with pets. Returning to a burning building to search for someone may be heroic, but it is also extraordinarily dangerous. One person was killed when he re-entered the building in the Bronx fire to look for more victims.
If someone catches fire: stop, drop, and roll. Stop them immediately, drop them to the ground, and roll them until the fire is out. Smother the flames with a thick towel or blanket if available.
Trapped in the Building
Trapped in a burning building
Many peoples’ worst nightmares involve being stuck in a burning building. There are a number of things, however, that you can do that will give you time until help arrives.
First, stay calm. People who are agitated may panic and make decisions that lead to very bad outcomes.
Do everything possible to let rescue personnel know you are there. If you can communicate with firefighters, let them know where you are, using either your cell phone or by signaling for help from a window. If possible, hang a sheet out to make it obvious where you are.
Speaking of windows, tear off any window treatments, like curtains. They are flammable and might prevent you from being seen. Make sure that your windows are not secured in a fashion that prevents opening them in an emergency.
If there’s a bathroom or sink, fill it with cold water and soak whatever cloth items are available. Use them to block the ventilation duct (turn the system off) and the spaces under and around doors. If you’re in a bedroom, soak the mattress and put it up against the door; secure with a chair.
If there’s a bathroom, there’s likely to be an exhaust fan. If it works, you can clear some smoke with it.
If you still can’t get out of the building and smoke is building up, wet a towel and cover your nose and mouth with it. Grip the towel with your mouth and breath through your nose (it’s a longer route to your lungs). Get down low to the ground, as mentioned above.
Many deaths and injuries from fires are preventable with a little planning and quick action. Be aware of fire hazards in your home and work to eliminate them before a disaster strikes.
Joe Alton MD
P.S. I have great respect for the firefighters who fought this huge blaze is such difficult conditions. They are true heroes.
Why Are Flu Vaccines Sometimes Ineffective?
January 2, 2018
Why Are Flu Vaccines Sometimes Ineffective?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are reporting that 36 states are in the midst of widespread influenza outbreaks. It appears that this flu season might be a bad one, but why? And will the usual vaccines be effective in preventing you for getting the flu this winter?
You might think that, okay, I got the vaccine, so I can’t get the flu this winter. You might be surprised to know, however, that the CDC shoots for about 40-60% vaccine effectiveness in preventing the illness, not the 100% you expected. In fact, last year’s vaccine was 42% successful (less against H3N2), on the low end of the CDC’s target, but in 2014-2015, the prevention rate from the flu vaccine was about 19%.
(Note: This is neither an anti-vaccine nor pro-vaccine article. It is simply a discussion as to why influenza vaccines seem to be less effective in preventing disease in recent years.)
Influenza vaccines produced in a particular year are derived from certain proteins found in last year’s virus. The CDC makes a determination about what virus they expect to be dominant in the coming year, and companies base their production on those predictions. If you have the material from last-year’s flu, why are vaccines sometimes so ineffective in achieving their purpose? Mainly because of two concepts we’ll discuss today: Antigenic Drift and Antigenic Shift.
Antigenic Drift: Viruses are notorious for their ability to mutate, but fortunately their mutations rarely make a major change in their genetic makeup. When the changes are so small that the current virus going around is essentially the same as the previous one, it is called antigenic drift. In this circumstance, vaccines are more effective; that is, they reach the CDC goal of 40-60% prevention rate because they are fighting essentially the same virus.
mutations caused Ebola to be transmissible from bats to humans in West Africa
Antigenic Shift: Sometimes, a virus undergoes a major mutation or two viruses combine to make a significant change in the nature of a virus. For example: If the Ebola virus primarily lives in fruit bats in Africa, some mutation along the way made it able to live in human beings. Perhaps another mutation made it more easily passed along to other humans in bodily secretions. These significant changes in the genetic makeup are called antigenic shifts. With antigenic shifts, all bets are off with regards to predicting the success of a vaccine in preventing disease. To take an extreme example, if the Ebola virus mutated to make it easily transmissible via airborne droplets, we’d be in a lot of trouble.
Classifying Influenza Viruses
The dominant virus causing this year’s influenza cases in the H3N2 Type A virus. Influenza viruses are classified according to the proteins that exist on their surface. These are called Hemagglutinins (HA) and Neuraminidases (NA). There are more and more different HA and NA subtypes discovered every year. The Swine flu, for example, is H1 N1.
Why is flu vaccine less effective against influenza A(H3N2) viruses?
The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that last year’s vaccine’s ineffectiveness occurred as a result of an antigenic shift in the H3N2 virus. Indeed, the flu vaccine seems to be generally less effective against influenza A(H3N2) that other viruses. Why? This from the CDC:
“While all influenza viruses undergo frequent genetic changes, the changes that have occurred in influenza A(H3N2) viruses have more frequently resulted in differences between the virus components of the flu vaccine and circulating influenza viruses (i.e., antigenic change) compared with influenza A(H1N1) and influenza B viruses. That means that between the time when the composition of the flu vaccine is recommended and the flu vaccine is delivered, H3N2 viruses are more likely than H1N1 or influenza B viruses to have changed in ways that could impact how well the flu vaccine works.”
In other words, H3N2 tends to develop mutations more often and faster than other common influenza viruses.
The CDC goes on to say: “Growth in eggs is part of the production process for most seasonal flu vaccines. While all influenza viruses undergo changes when they are grown in eggs, changes in influenza A(H3N2) viruses tend to be more likely to result in antigenic changes compared with changes in other influenza viruses. These so-called “egg-adapted changes” are present in vaccine viruses recommended for use in vaccine production and may reduce their potential effectiveness against circulating influenza viruses.”
Therefore, the flu vaccine as currently produced is less effective in its purpose than we would like. More research is necessary to produce a vaccine that we can depend on to prevent the disease, and to make it safer for those opting to take it.
In the meantime, ask your physician for an anti-viral med (not an antibiotic!) that may decrease the duration and severity of the disease, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). As these drugs are more effective in the first 48 hours of symptoms, you should have these on hand, just in case your doctor isn’t able to see you quickly. I recently received an official CDC health advisory emphasizing the increased importance this year of these medications due to the issues related to the H3N2 virus. It also stated that early treatment may decrease the risk of hospitalization.
When you talk Medical Gear, first and foremost, we want to push Tourniquets. The best way to prevent Hypovolemic Shock, is to keep those Red Blood Cells inside the body. I want that last sentence to sink in… The best way to prevent Hypovolemic Shock, is to keep those Red Blood Cells inside the body. Imagine, middle of the gun fight, you see your buddy lying there bleeding bad. You are 50 feet from good cover. How long would it take you to drag him 50 feet over rough terrain? How long would it take you to scoop him up and “Fireman’s Carry” him 50 feet? Now, as fast as you think you are, it’ll probably take twice that long real world. Next question: How long would it take for him to bleed out 2 liters of blood from a major injury? I say 2 liters, because that’s all it takes to push someone into Uncompensated Shock. So, what do we do about it? We put Tourniquets on ASAP, before we drag him to safety. As a Special Forces Medic (18D), I was taught to clamp bleeders and all kinds of other great ways to stop bleeders. We were taught that Tourniquets were a last resort. We were taught WRONG. This little 15 year war (thanks politicians) has cost us thousands of lives, and has been a great case study on the treatment of trauma on the modern battlefield. We now teach TOURNIQUETS IMMEDIATELY. Once you put it on, leave it on. Don’t worry about damaging the limb or crushing injuries. The doctors have protocols for dealing with tourniquets and their removal. Let the Docs in the hospitals remove the tourniquets. I know you internet ninjas want a shooting video every week. Here at Tactical Rifleman, we cover everything involved with “Shoot / Move / Communicate.” Medical is a big part of that, and Tourniquets is a big part of Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC). I encourage everyone to attend a good TCCC course, like the ones taught at Tier-1 Group (t1g.com). Thanks for watching. Strength & Honor, TR
As such, the CDC is planning a teaching session about nuclear war after officials took part in radiation drills last Spring. This time, they are planning to target medical professionals, including veterinarians, and the local agencies that would lead immediate responses to a nuclear event.
This from the CDC: “Despite the fear surrounding [a nuclear] event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness. For instance, most people don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation.” (more on why later in this article)
The classic image of a nuclear attack is the detonation of a nuclear bomb on a heavily populated city, as was done to Japanese cities during World War II. The age of long-range bombers approaching a country’s air space with intents to drop the Big One may be over, but nuclear submarines and container ships have the capability to launch missiles with much shorter notice.
In addition to the classic image of cities demolished by nuclear explosions, there is the possibility of an electromagnetic pulse event (EMP) caused by a nuclear detonation high up in the atmosphere. This wouldn’t cause massive devastation (at first), but could knock out the electrical grid we depend on for just about everything. In short order, the citizens would be causing the massive devastation as food becomes unavailable and the rule of law collapses.
CAN YOU SURVIVE?
Stay in place or hit the road?
You might consider a nuclear attack to be hazardous to your health. Indeed, if anywhere near ground zero, you’re probably right. However, a suburbanite’s chances of surviving a blast that hits downtown might be better than you think.
In Shane Connor’s excellent article “The Good News About Nuclear Destruction”, he says that the vast majority of families will survive, especially if they makes some basic preparations before the event.
In his article, he takes 2004 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calculations using a 10 kiloton bomb detonation at ground level in Washington, D.C. The DHS estimates 15000 immediate deaths from those close to ground zero, and another 15000 from explosion and thermal effects and massive radiation exposure. While this seems like a lot of deaths, it only represents 1% of the city’s population. Of course, the rest of the city (hundreds of thousands) would be at risk from radioactive fallout.
DUCK AND COVER
Duck and cover
You may have seen old films showing children hiding under school desks to escape the wrath of a nuclear explosion. Like me, you may have found these “Duck and Cover” films quaint (and perhaps silly) to think that you can survive a blast by just getting down and covering yourself with, in this case, some wood and metal. Yet, placing a shield between you and the effects of the detonation is the basis for the “bomb shelter”.
Although “Duck and Cover” won’t prevent incineration for those very close to ground zero, it can prevent severe injuries from broken glass. In the Chelyabinsk meteor explosion incident in 2013, 1500 people suffered from lacerations due to flying glass from the shock wave. If those people had hit the deck as soon as they heard the meteor explode instead of going to the window to have a look, much fewer casualties would have been recorded.
Chelyabinsk meteor event
THE EFFECTIVE FALLOUT SHELTER
In the DHS’s Washington, D.C. scenario, hundreds of thousands were at risk for radiation sickness. Yet, fallout drops 99% by 48 hours after a blast. If citizens would just remain inside or, better, in a planned-out bomb shelter, the chances for survival are much greater. Having four walls and a roof is helpful, but more can be done to enhance the protective effects of a shelter, both against radiation and blast effects.
The more material that you can use to separate yourself from fallout, the less likely you’ll suffer ill effects. Barrier effectiveness is measured as “halving thickness”. This is the thickness of a particular shield material that will reduce gamma radiation (the most dangerous kind) by one half. When you multiply the halving thickness, you multiply your protection.
For example, the halving thickness of concrete is 2.4 inches or 6 centimeters. A barrier of 2.4 inches of concrete will drop radiation exposure by one half. Doubling the thickness of the barrier again (4.8 inches of concrete) drops it to one fourth (1/2 x 1/2) and tripling it (7.2 inches) will drop it to one eighth (1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2), etc. You’re shooting for ten halving thicknesses (24 inches of concrete), which would drop the total radiation exposure to 1/1024th that of being out in the open.
Here are the halving thicknesses of some common materials:
Lead: 4 inches or 1.02 centimeter
Steel: 1 inch or 2.54 centimeters
Concrete: 2.4 inches or 6.09 centimeters
Soil (packed): 3.6 inches or 9.14 centimeters
Water: 2 inches or 18.28 centimeters
Wood: 11 inches or 27.94 centimeters
By looking at the list above, you can see 1 centimeter of lead gives the same radiation protection as 6 centimeters of concrete.
You might consider the 1950’s “Duck and Cover” to be pretty anemic as a civil defense measure, but it’s more than is practiced today with regards to preparing people for nuclear attacks. So little emphasis is placed on this kind of preparedness that few citizens have even thought about it, or even understand the term.
Civil defense is the organized effort to protect the citizens of a state from military attack. We don’t even have a nuclear civil defense agency, as it is now the purview of the Department of Homeland Security. Lately, “civil defense” efforts have instead been targeting natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and the like.
We certainly need to plan for natural disasters, which will occur much more commonly in the future than nuclear explosions (I hope). Utilities are considering what to do about rogue squirrels more than they are considering rogue nations.
We need, however, to put together a national plan for nuclear attacks that don’t just include the protection of high-level government officials. We need to formulate a strategy that will give the average citizen the best chance of surviving the aftermath as well.
Despite the risks, we are doing less today to counter the consequences of nuclear attacks than before, especially when it comes to EMPs. The Department of Defense recently allowed the funding for the national EMP commission, headed by Dr. William Graham and Dr. Peter Pry, to lapse. This effectively disbanded the only body that was responsible for advising the government on how to protect the populace against nuclear electromagnetic pulse attacks.
There’s still time to harden the grid and encourage Americans to put together a plan of action in case of nuclear attack. Hostile actions by the world’s bad actors can easily hit home, and every citizen is at risk. If we put together a national strategy to cope with the consequences, we’ll be better prepared to deal with whatever challenges face us in the uncertain future.
Southern California can’t catch a break. Enjoy a sunny climate, get wildfires. Wish for rain, get mudslides.
After record-setting wildfires that lasted all the way to late December, the first rain in Southern California in months caused a major mudslide that killed more than 15 people, injured others, and destroyed several dozen homes. Rescue teams are still searching for survivors in the wreckage.
I probably should write more about landslide events. We live part-time in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, with a mountain home overlooking town and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As such, we live on a slope. How much of a slope? Let’s just say you wouldn’t want to take a dive off our deck.
A mudslide, sometimes called a “debris flow”, is a landslide with a high water content. Mudslides act like a river that, if the mud is thick, has the consistency of wet concrete. Mud, rocks, trees, and other large objects are carried along and can cause homes to collapse and a huge amount of traumatic injury to residents.
Another type of landslide is a “mud flow“, which is characterized by a very rapid flow of water and debris. A mud flow is more “liquefied” due, at least partially, to a lot of rain in a short period of time. A third of the rainfall in Southern California when the rains finally came occurred in five (yes, five) minutes.
In the U.S., 25-50 deaths occur on average as a result of landslides.
Mudslides occur for a number of reasons: Periods of heavy rainfall or snow melt saturate the ground and cause instability in sloping areas. Areas prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters are especially susceptible. In the case of the California mudslide, soil which had been charred by recent fires made the it less absorptive; as such, water that couldn’t get through hard earth quickly formed a flash flood that cascaded down slopes, picking up soil and debris to become a mudslide.
CAN YOU PREVENT A MUDSLIDE?
Humans contribute to the risk of mudslides by planning poorly: Roads cut into hills and mountains and scenic mountain homes make mudslides more likely. River retreats at the base of a hill or mountain (in the “holler”, as we say in Tennessee) are also vulnerable.
Once you’ve built that home on a hillside, there’s a limited amount of preventative measures that can be undertaken. It’s a different story, however, when planning out that dream home:
-Beware of steep slopes, natural or man-made runoff conduits, or eroded areas.
-Have the county Geological Survey specialist assess your property for possible mudslide risk.
-Consider flexible pipe fittings (installed by pros) less prone to gas or water leaks.
-Consider building a retaining wall in likely mudslide channels.
-Avoid areas that have experienced mudslides in the past.
-Plan out an evacuation route.
-Have a battery-powered NOAA weather radio.
-Have a medical kit with items to deal with both traumatic injury and water sterilization.
WARNING SIGNS OF A HOME AT RISK
Sometimes, pressure from unstable earth may give you a hint that trouble is on the way and give you time to evacuate. Mudslide prone areas will begin to show signs of strain:
-Cracks develop in walls, flooring, paving, driveways, or foundations.
-Outside structures (for example, stairs) begin to separate from buildings
-Doors and windows start becoming jammed.
-Utility lines start breaking.
-Fences, trees, and utility poles start tilting.
-Water starts accumulating in strange places
-Roads and embankments along slopes start breaking off at the edges.
-The Terrain starts to “bulge” or starts slanting at the base of the slope.
DURING THE EVENT
-Turn on the NOAA radio and listen to warnings as they are reported.
-Warn your neighbors!
-If a mudslide is imminent, get out of Dodge if at all possible, with the understanding that roads may be washed out. Stay away from mudslide areas; new mudslides may still occur.
In some mudslides, as in Southern California, things happen very quickly and you don’t have time to evacuate:
-If you stay home, get to the second story if you have one.
-Watch for and avoid downed power lines.
-As the slide passes through, get under a table and curl into a ball, protecting your head.
-If you’re trapped in the mud, survival rates go up if you can form an air pocket around you.
-it’s a good idea to carry a cell phone with you at all times in case you are trapped in the house.
Mudslides, like wildfires, leave scars on the land but are part and parcel of living with Mother Nature. Plan before you build, know the danger signs, and hit the road if at all possible in the face of an imminent threat.
Survival Medicine Hour: Mudslides, Antibiotics, EMPs
January 13, 2018
SURVIVAL MEDICINE HOUR #372
Aftermath of a mudslide
In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, Joe and Amy Alton discuss California’s double whammy of drought wildfires, then mudslides and flash floods when the rain finally comes. A mudslide can be like a river of wet concrete, is there any way to survive one? If you know the signs, maybe, and is plan out that mountain retreats with mudslides in mind, definitely.
Dr. Alton, aka Dr. Bones, also gives you some common sense advice about the use of fish antibiotics, and tells the story of how he came to be the first medical doctor to write about them as a tool in the survival woodshed. More to come about individual antibiotics in future shows.
the wise use of antibiotics
Also, Anthony Furey comes back to discuss the risk of an electromagnetic pulse attack on the United States by saber-rattling North Korea or another irrational regime. His book “Pulse Attack” is in bookstores across North America.
Diseases Caused By Food And Water Contamination
January 16, 2018
Even healthy-looking fruit can contain contaminants
The primary necessity for survival is the availability of air. Once you have air to breathe, water, food, and shelter become the next requirements for your continued existence on the planet; that is, clean water and properly prepared food.
Even in normal times, there are many instances where an outbreak of infectious disease occurs due to water of poor quality. Ingesting food that was incompletely cooked caused the deaths of medieval kings in medieval times and may even have sparked the Ebola epidemic in 2014.
Epidemics caused by organisms that cause severe diarrhea and dehydration have been a part of the human experience since before recorded history. If severe enough, dehydration can cause hypovolemic shock, organ failure, and death. Indeed, during the Civil War, more deaths were attributed to dehydration from infectious diseases than from bullets or shrapnel.
More soldiers died from infectious disease than from bullets or shrapnel in the Civil War
Off the grid, water used for drinking or cooking can be contaminated by anything from floods to a dead opossum upstream from your camp. This can have dire implications for those living where there is no access to large amounts of IV hydration.
Therefore, it stands to reason that the preparation of food and the disinfection of drinking water should be under supervision. In survival, this responsibility should fall to the community medic; it is the medic that will (after the patient, of course) be most impacted by failure to maintain good sanitation.
Many diseases have disastrous intestinal consequences leading to dehydration. They include:
Cholera: Caused by the marine and freshwater bacterium Vibrio cholera, Cholera has been the cause of many deaths in both the distant and recent past. It may, once again, be an issue in the uncertain future.
Cholera toxins produce a rapid onset of diarrhea and vomiting within a few hours to 2 days of infection. Victims often complain of leg cramps. The body water loss with untreated cholera is associated with a sixty per cent death rate. Aggressive efforts to rehydrate the patient, however, drops the death rate to only one per cent. Antibiotic therapy with doxycycline or tetracycline seems to shorten the duration of illness.
This is the bowel movement of someone with Cholera
Typhus: A complex of diseases caused by bacteria in the Rickettsia family, Typhus is transmitted by fleas and ticks to humans in unsanitary surroundings, and is mentioned here due to its frequent confusion with “Typh-oid” fever, a disease caused by contaminated, undercooked food.
Although it rarely causes severe diarrhea, Typhus can cause significant dehydration due to high fevers and other flu-like symptoms. Five to nine days after infection, a rash begins on the torso and spreads to the extremities, sparing the face, palm, and soles. Doxycycline is the drug of choice for this disease.
Typhoid: Infection with the bacteria Salmonella typhi is called “Typh-oid fever”, because it is often confused with Typhus. Contamination with Salmonella in food occurs more often than with any other bacteria in the United States.
In Typhoid fever, there is a gradual onset of high fevers over the course of several days. Abdominal pain, intestinal hemorrhage, weakness, headaches, constipation, and bloody diarrhea may occur. A number of people develop a spotty, rose-colored rash. Ciprofloxacin is the antibiotic of choice but most victims improve with rehydration therapy.
Dysentery: An intestinal inflammation in the large intestine that presents with fever, abdominal pain, and severe bloody or watery mucus diarrhea. Symptoms usually begin one to three days after exposure. Dysentery, a major cause of death among Civil War soldiers, is a classic example of a disease that can be prevented with strict hand hygiene after bowel movements.
The most common form of dysentery in North America and Europe is caused by the bacteria Shigella and is called “bacillary dysentery”. It is spread through contaminated food and water, and crowded unsanitary conditions. Ciprofloxacin and Sulfa drugs, in conjunction with oral rehydration, are effective therapies.
Another type is caused by an organism you may have read about in science class: the amoeba, a protozoan known as Entamoeba histolytica. Amoebic dysentery is more commonly seen in warmer climates. Metronidazole is the antibiotic of choice.
Traveler’s Diarrhea: An inflammation of the small intestine most commonly caused by the Bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli). Most strains of this bacteria are normal inhabitants of the human intestinal tract, but one (E. coli O157:H7) produces a toxin (the “Shiga” toxin) that can cause severe “food poisoning”. The Shiga toxin has even been classified as a bioterror agent.
In this illness, sudden onset of watery diarrhea, often with blood, develops within one to three days of exposure accompanied by fever, gas, and abdominal cramping. Rapid rehydration and treatment with antibiotics such as Azithromycin and Ciprofloxacin is helpful. The CDC no longer recommends taking antibiotics in advance of a journey, but does suggest that Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate (Bismuth Subsalicylate), two tablets four times a day, may decrease the likelihood of Traveler’s Diarrhea.
Campylobacter: The second most common cause of foodborne illness in the U.S. after Salmonella, this bacteria resides in the intestinal tract of chickens and causes sickness when meat is undercooked or improperly processed. It’s thought that a significant percentage of retail poultry products contain colonies of one variety, Campylobacter Jejuni. It is characterized as bloody diarrhea, fever, nausea, and cramping which begins two to five days after exposure. Although controversial, Erythromycin may decrease the duration of illness if taken early.
Trichinosis: Trichinosis is caused by the parasitic roundworm Trichinella in undercooked meat, mostly from domesticated pigs. Trichinosis causes diarrhea and other intestinal symptoms, usually starting one to two days after exposure. Fever, headache, itchiness, muscle pains, and swelling around the eyes occur up to 2 weeks later. Recovery is usually slow, even with treatment with the anti-helminthic (anti-worm) drugs Mebendazole and Albendazole (Albenza).
Giardiasis: The most common disease-causing parasite in the world is the protozoa Giardia lamblia. It has even been found in backcountry waters in many national parks in the U.S. Symptoms may present as early as one day after exposure, although it more commonly presents in one to two weeks. Patients complain of watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, violent (often called “projectile”) vomiting, and gas. Metronidazole is the drug of choice in conjunction with oral rehydration.
There are many other pathogens that can cause life-threatening dehydration if untreated. Although we have mentioned common antibiotic treatments where applicable, most of the above will resolve on their own over time with strict attention to oral (or intravenous) rehydration. Many antibiotics (Cipro is an example) are associated with adverse effects that can be worse than the illness they’re designed to treat, so use judiciously.
It should be noted that some of these illnesses may be mimicked by viruses that are completely unaffected by antibiotics, such as Norovirus. Norovirus has been implicated in many of the outbreaks you read about on cruise ships.
Air, food, water, and shelter is necessary for survival. Bad air, food, water, and shelter leads to the next requirement, and that is medical supplies. Have a good medical kit and know how to use all its components. If you can accomplish this goal, you’ll be an effective medic if things go South.
Survival Medicine Hour: Sleep Deprivation, Flagyl in Survival, Eye Injuries, Face Masks, More
January 20, 2018
Survival Medicine Hour #372
Sleep deprivation is part and parcel of any post-apocalyptic setting, and you’d better know how to recognize it and deal with the issue in times of trouble. We discuss diagnosis, treatment, and use of natural remedies to help your anxious and depressed people stay work-efficient.
Plus, eye injury questions from a Survival Podcast listener, and a discussion of how to recognize and treat pneumonia off the grid, and a discussion of the basics of the use of face masks in the survival sick room.
Also, a discussion of the popular antibiotic Metronidazole, also known as Flagyl, and its possible uses as the fish antibiotic Fish-Zole in long-term survival settings.
All this and more in the latest survival medicine hour with Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy!
Survival Medicine Hour: James Rawles, Staph, Chest Trauma, More
January 26, 2018
Survival Medicine Hour #373
Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy discuss chest trauma, including rib fractures, ballistic and projectile trauma, and pneumothorax. Plus, an interview with Survival Blog’s James Rawles on a book he wrote about a hypothetical Christian homeland in his novel “Land of Promise”.
James Rawles’ Land of Promise
Plus, a series of listener questions about things like Staph infections, food-grade diatomaceous earth, and much more!