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When putting together a disaster plan, it’s important to prioritize human needs in the way that you prepare. To put together a solid short-term survival plan, you need only to address the most basic of human necessities: water, shelter, food, and security, but as short-term survival transitions into “well I guess this is what’s left of the world now,” it’s important to have a plan in place that can help you get by a bit longer than just the first few days after a disaster.
While ensuring you have adequate food and water will prevent death from hunger or dehydration, it’s important to remember that those are often the very easiest forms of death to avoid. We worry about supply lines drying up after the collapse of our infrastructure for good reason, but humans have been surviving without grocery stores and running faucets for millennia… what tends to kill us in such situations often isn’t a lack of food, but rather a lack of hygiene.
Enter my favorite survival item: hydrogen peroxide. Most of us are familiar with the brown bottle of bubbling goodness from our childhoods, when our mothers would pour a bit of the elixir onto our scraped knees to disinfect it before armoring the wound with a Batman band-aid and providing an emergency booboo-kiss for pain relief. While wound care is certainly one of the things hydrogen peroxide is good to have around for, it’s far from the only thing.
In order to discuss some of the other important uses for the magic brown bottle, I’m going to have to delve into some of the health issues that may impact a person in an extended survival scenario; some of which are likely to sound gross, but it’s important to plan for potential health hazards other than gunshot wounds and zombie bites, because dying of an infection all by yourself will leave you just as dead as the sexier alternatives we see on TV.
Hydrogen Peroxide for Mouth Care
I’m not normally one to close my eyes during a rough scene in a movie – but watching Tom Hanks remove an infected tooth with an ice skate in “Cast Away” was tough for me. I don’t like going to the dentist, let alone the idea of serving as my own using bits of trash I found on a beach, but I have to credit the movie for including an element of survival that is often ignored in movies and television: dental hygiene.
An infected tooth is a serious issue. If left unchecked, and infection can spread throughout your body, possibly even killing you without antibiotic treatment. Beyond that, an infected tooth can make eating an excruciating endeavor and can serve as a serious distraction when you need to keep your wits about you. If at all possible, one should avoid having to do their own oral surgery, and hydrogen peroxide can help.
That same brown bottle you use on cuts and scrapes is also a FDA approved mouth wash. Pouring a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water into your mouth and swishing it around once in a while may not give you the same fresh breath you’d get from a tooth-brush and a new tube of Crest Whitening, but it could keep the bacteria in your mouth from going rogue and rotting you from the inside out. Keeping your teeth intact will keep you eating, and hydrogen peroxide can help stave off infections and even cavities.
Hydrogen Peroxide to Fight Fungus
Athlete’s foot and other fungal infections of the hands and feet can be serious trouble for the long-term survivor. The reduction in available means of hygiene that may come after a disaster could leave you more vulnerable to this sort of ailment, and yet again, hydrogen peroxide can help kill the fungus causing itching and burning on your extremities.
Perhaps more important though, is hydrogen peroxide’s ability to combat yeast infections. While we tend to think of such things as a uniquely female issue, and in today’s world, we even see it as more of an inconvenience than a matter of life and death, developing a yeast infection in a survival setting is bad news and must be addressed.
Hydrogen Peroxide is safe to be used as a douche for women suffering from a yeast infection after the stores have long stopped stocking Monistat, and can be used externally for men suffering from the same ailment. Didn’t know men could get yeast infections? They absolutely can – and the resulting itching, burning and open sores could lead to any number of further infections, or simply leave you too distracted to handle your day-to-day survival needs with the level of focus they require. Hydrogen peroxide will not work as well as traditional anti-fungal medications, but as a multi-use tool, it’s good to know that you can keep the swamp-rot off your fingers and toes as well as out of your underoos with the same bottle you keep around for wound care and oral hygiene. I’d just recommend cleaning the spout before switching between uses (just kidding, do not put the spout inside any part of you, use a different means of application).
Hydrogen Peroxide for Cleaning (everything)
If you wear contact lenses, hydrogen peroxide and water can be used to clean them between uses – extending the life of your contacts and possibly your ability to see if you don’t have access to your glasses. It can also be used to clean food containers and utensils, water carriers, or even cooking surfaces to kill things like salmonella.
You can also use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water to clean and disinfect your clothes. A clean pair of undies may not sound like the most important thing after the end of the world, but remember, we haven’t evolved to prefer the smell and touch of clean things for no reason. Cleaning your clothes will help prevent skin irritations and even infections. In fact, using hydrogen peroxide to clean your underwear could prevent you from having to using hydrogen peroxide to treat a yeast infection in the first place.
Hydrogen Peroxide for Farming
In a long-term survival situation, cultivating your own food may be a necessity, but if you weren’t blessed with a green thumb, you’ll likely need all the help you can get in order to turn your little garden into something that’ll feed your family. Believe it or not, hydrogen peroxide can also help you start to grow your own food.
Adding a small bit of hydrogen peroxide to the water you pour on your plants can help fertilize the soil, prevent mold and mildew from developing, and even help an ailing plant regain its health. Soaking seeds in water that contains a small amount of hydrogen peroxide will even make them germinate faster. It’s important to use the correct amount of hydrogen peroxide however, otherwise it could kill your plants before they have a chance to grow. Check out this chart to help you determine how much peroxide you should mix with water for various agricultural needs.
These handy uses for the old brown bottle in your medicine cabinet are far from all of the ways hydrogen peroxide can benefit a disaster victim attempting to transition from short-term to long-term survival. I highly recommend doing some research and attempting to use hydrogen peroxide for things like oral hygiene once or twice before the world comes crashing down on you.
And maybe grab an extra bottle or two of the stuff the next time you go shopping. Just in case.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Hollings served as an active duty Marine for six and a half years before being medically retired from service. As an athlete, Hollings has raced exotic cars, played Marine Corps football and college rugby, fought in cages, and even wrestled alligators. As a scholar, he has earned a master’s degree in Communications from Southern New Hampshire University, as well as undergraduate degrees in Corporate and Organizational Communications and Business Management.
By Kylene and Jonathan Jones
The cold, hard fact is that it is almost impossible to store enough nutrient rich foods to survive a long term event. Yes, you might be able to stockpile 30 years-worth of wheat, rice, beans, dehydrated foods, and other foundation grains if you have enough room. However, you cannot stockpile fresh fruits and vegetables which provide optimal health, nutrition and go a long way toward improved immune function and disease suppression.
You might think that your next best bet would be to count on identifying edible plants in the wild to supplement your diet. After a taste-test tour eating wild plants, we immediately went and bought more food storage. Edible? Yes. Tasty and filling, not even close. We burned more calories finding the plants than we received by eating them.
According to Marjory Wildcraft of www.thegrownetwork.com, it is just too land intensive to realistically support a family on the hunter-gatherer system. She states: “Let’s start first off with the almost magical dream of the pure hunter/gatherer. I often hear this one from those concerned about a collapse of civilization. Just how much land does it take to support you without destroying all the wildlife and plant populations? How much area do you need in order to live sustainably as a hunter/gatherer? Since there are so few actual hunter/gathers left alive on the planet, and the few places where they do still exist tend to be jungles which look nothing like anything in North America, we will turn to anthropological data. The quick and easy answer is that traditional peoples used on average, about 10 square miles per person. Ten square miles is 6,400 acres – that is for one person.”
So what’s the answer? It just might include creating your very own self-sustaining food supply. Call it survival landscaping, permaculture, sustainable agriculture or whatever you like. The goal is to work with nature to create a truly sustainable system. A garden paradise that requires little or no human intervention once established. Due to the “natural looking” nature of this type of landscape most individuals would never suspect the amount of life-saving food growing in the tangle. Thus protecting your food supplies in plain sight.
The objective is to create an environment which requires very little human intervention once it is established.
The ideal permaculture design produces food year after year without weeding, pruning, tilling, fertilizing or using pesticides and herbicides. The system is perfectly balanced for the local climate. It is possible to accomplish permaculture landscape on a half-acre city lot as well as in a more spacious country environment. Permaculture takes many years to establish and become resilient to changing conditions.
Selection of plants is critical to take best advantage of local climate conditions, ensure natural balance and to extend the harvest throughout the entire growing season. There are a growing number of great reference books to guide you through the process. Many of the authors recommend a more “natural or wild looking” landscape which is perfect for a remote bug out location, but may not be welcomed in a gated community.
Delightful results can also be achieved by applying permaculture principles on a small urban lot that has a more trimmed and controlled appearance. Food does not have to be grown in an orchard or in neat weed-free rows. Even annual vegetables can be creatively interspersed with landscape to create a unique functional beauty. Limited space requires creative solutions. Consider vertical growing possibilities such as arbors, trellises and arches. Permaculture designs allow grapes or other vines to grow right up tree trunks. Container plants can extend your growing area to decks and patios. Use your imagination to produce a stunning, productive yard.
Strategically plant fruit and nut trees. Apple trees come in miniature dwarf, semi-dwarf and standard sizes. There is the perfect size to fit your landscape. Depending on the type and size of the tree, an apple tree can produce hundreds of pounds of apples each year to be stored, dried, or bottled as needed. A walnut tree is a wonderful large shade tree producing up to 150 pounds of nuts annually, providing needed fats, protein and calories. Fruit and nut trees are a long term investment and would supplement your diet and extend your food stores during a prolonged disaster scenario as well as enriching your diet today.
Consider what resources you currently have growing in your yard. Would it be possible to plant grape vines or berry bushes in with your current landscape? Remove a non-productive shrub and replace it with a life-saving nutritional plant? How about including some medicinal or culinary herbs? Those dried beans are going to taste a whole lot better with a few spices. If your current lifestyle does not allow time to harvest your bounty, don’t worry about it. Healthy soil is critical for a successful survival garden. Compost whatever you don’t use along with grass clippings and leaves to build your soil for a time when you might be dependent upon what you can produce on your own land for survival.
As you prepare for the challenges in our future, consider investing in living food sources in addition to your long term dry food stores. The security a full pantry and productive garden provide are worth the time and resources required to achieve them.
-Photo found at Google Images
(Source – CDC and Ready.gov)
Biological agents are organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and crops. A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick. However, in nature there are many items that can prove to be harmful and in some cases these can be seeded by terrorists.
These include but are not limited to:
- Various strains of Influenza
- Yellow Fever
- Chicken Pox
Actions to Take:
- Take vaccinations that may be offered. If you are unsure as to your status check with your doctor to ensure all required or suggested immunizations are up to date. Children and older adults are particularly vulnerable to biological agents.
- At all times one should maintain a high level of personal hygiene. This is especially critical before, during, or following a biological attack. Wash hands frequently, shower, clean surfaces using sanitary wipes, be aware of your surroundings and distance yourself from individuals coughing, sneezing, or secreting other bodily fluids.
- Avoid large and small animals such as mice and wildlife, insects (mosquitoes, ticks, etc.), birds, especially bats, and unknown domestic pets (cats and dogs, etc.).
- If you believe you have been exposed to a biological agent, take off and bag your clothes and other personal items. Wash, wear a facemask, or if not available, make a mask out of two or three layers of material.
- Most biological agents can be filtered using home HEPA (High Efficiency, Particulate Air) filters in the air intakes. These filters are capable of filtering most biological agents that are typically larger than 3 microns.
- In a declared biological emergency or developing epidemic, there may be reason to stay away from crowds where others may be infected.
- Since biological agents and diseases exhibit varying incubation periods, usually measured in days or even weeks, biological agent attacks are not as noticeable initially. The more serious phases of the disease will occur several days after the disease has been contracted.
- It is important that you only seek medical attention when you are certain you are ill. It is likely that the medical care system will be overwhelmed and the “worried well” will exacerbate that problem if they seek care when they do not need it. Your local medical experts will inform you of the symptoms that indicate you may be ill. Many symptoms do overlap, so ensure you don’t seek care until you need it.
By Jim Rawles
We’re sharing an article from our Journal of Civil Defense a few years back – originally found on Survivalblog.com
A couple of years ago I was watching a commercial on television that showed two young men as they stood in a check-out line at a grocery store with a 6 pack of beer, a bag of chips and a package of toilet paper…when the young men found that they had only enough money for two of the three items, they chose the 6 pack of beer and the chips. When asked by checker “Paper or plastic?” the decision was unanimous, “Paper!”
This stark reality of such a simple decision led me on a journey that would involve many years and begin my search for the answer to the question of how much is enough toilet paper and where do I store it. I never really understood just how important TP was and the impact that it could have on our daily lives until that commercial was played out. Oh sure, like many deer hunters and fishermen or any outdoor type, we all have had our moment where our lack of preparedness has caused us great concern and given us an opportunity to experience the humility of mother nature without TP and all that it encompasses.
The necessity of toilet paper and the amount of storage room necessary for a one to two years supply and the quest to keep it dry, even in our homes, is sometimes a task that has caused me great concern and some sleepless nights to say the least. With a family of seven (who will most probably come home in an emergency) and no way to transport two years of their own TP supply plus their family and their gear, I had to find a way to simplify this dilemma. The one thing that I have learned in the past 28 years is that the simplest ideas most always end up being the best…with that being said, I find myself writing about one of the simplest ideas that my wife has produced for our family, and has ended my search for the perfect ending to the mystery.
Just a short piece of history, first: About five years ago, we were on a two-week camp out when a sudden and unforeseen four days of rain descended upon our group of 18 families, who were camped in a narrow canyon with restroom facilities about ½ mile from our camp. Even though we have our own toilet facilities, we decided to use the restroom facilities provided even though we knew we would have to plan our walks for the sake of nature very carefully. We found that in this situation of being away from these very useful luxuries (our portable outhouses), the trek of ½ mile in wet and cold conditions early in the morning or late at night, with a roll of TP tucked under our jackets was sometimes a daring adventure. I lost count of the times a roll of TP was dropped onto the wet ground or in a puddle of water making it completely useless, and of the nature walks that ended half way to the desired destination. And of the rolls of TP that were found early in the morning, standing silently alone atop the picnic table, dripping wet, after someone forgot that TP and rain don’t mix.
The use of toilet paper in very damp conditions led many of our group to wonder out loud about ways to solve this problem. The storage of large amounts of TP seemed to be a major concern for the whole group. Keeping it dry usually came up as well – the room necessary to store such was vast, to say the least, when you consider a one or two year supply of this basic luxury. I know that many folks on other blogs and survival sites are stacking phone books to use, or they are storing boxes and boxes of TP and to be quite honest, a phone book or a catalog is not quite the best choice of clean wipe tissue if you have ever tried it, and as my wife discovered, the cost of baby wipes was out of the question and our tries at making our own baby wipes (with environmentally safe soap) were discouraging simply because we knew that eventually we would run out of paper towels. We needed a solution to a problem that everyone will face someday – paper, plastic, a leaf, or well … let’s just say any port in the storm, whatever it came to, we still had a choice: find a solution or suffer someday.
They say that every problem is nothing more than a solution in waiting. Being born in the 1950s, I remembered what many of you may not – it was called the diaper pal and was as common as toothpaste for families with babies. A closed plastic container would hold about 10-15 dirty diapers and, if kept clean (which my mother and other moms demanded), would wait patiently until Saturday morning when the pal was drained into the toilet and the cotton diapers were placed in the washing machine, to be cleaned with bleach and Tide and hung on the clothes line to be sun dried and returned to the diaper basket where, once again, the cycle would continue.
The solution to my problem was as simple as looking to the past for an answer to the future. Why not use cotton diaper material, cut into 4 x 9 inch sections, and then sown around the edges of the material with a zig-zag stitch to prevent the edges from unraveling? My wife and some of her friends chose a Saturday afternoon, had the men load their sewing machines into the truck and carted them over to a local church where an assembly line soon formed; men setting up sewing machines, women cutting material, and other women sewing the edges, after which we men would then package them in bundles of 50 – a finished product that every man and women took special care not to lose. We all enjoyed the Saturday, we have a product that we are comfortable with now, and we have no fear of it being destroyed by rain or muddy puddles, left outside in the morning dew, or blown off of a table top. We can store 5,000 reusable sheets in a medium cardboard box.
My cost in time and material was around 20 cents per sheet if we figured $10 per man-hour to complete the task. Then again this was five years ago, but the benefits have outweighed our investment ten to one! The material was purchased at a local box store but as many of our women discovered, their mothers had a lot of diaper material stored in boxes in their basements and were grateful to have it put to good use. We have found that it took a few times to get use to not depositing the wipes into the toilet facility, but with practice and a few reminders the system works.
The results of our efforts became a very useful item that we now carry in all of our backpacks or bug out packs, stored in freezer bags (but we don’t care if they get wet, as they are still usable) and stacked neatly in our portable toilet’s cabinets in plastic containers right next to our regular TP that we still use while we can.
I have been able to find diaper pails at yard sales and in some stores, and I have found some that would have really made my mom sit up and take notice; they have two-way entries and are very insect proof. We have found that this cotton TP also serves as a wound dressing when two are sown together with a famine napkin in between, as a washcloth, a sweat rag, as a feminine pad (also when sown together with a sponge material in between) in an emergency situation, and other ways that we are finding each and every trip into the wilderness and around our home. As a student of outdoor survival and family preparedness for 28 years, I have found that each and every bit of information received, is another thread of the tapestry that will assist us in the days of uncertainty that lie ahead, and that will greatly add to our chances of survival in the world in which we will soon find ourselves.
Note from TACDA: Microfiber material may be an option to cotton. It dries quickly, and is very absorbent.
- Be a safe swimmer. Water sports and fireworks are two of the biggest pastimes for Fourth of July celebrations, and these are both linked to numerous deaths and injuries each year. Never swim alone, and make sure that kids’ water play is adequately supervised at all times. Many drownings occur when parents and other adults are nearby, so always have a designated chaperone for water play and don’t assume that others are watching the kids. Statistics show that most young children who drown in pools have been out of sight for less than five minutes. Related articles:
- If fireworks are legal in your community and are a part of your celebration, be sure to store and use them safely. Keep the kids away from the fireworks at all times, and keep spectators at a safe distance. Attending fireworks displays organized by professionals is always safer than trying to put on your own show.
- Use alcohol responsibly. Alcohol and fireworks can be a hazardous and dangerous combination. Also, have a designated driver to bring partygoers home from the festivities. Remember also that alcohol and swimming can be as dangerous as drinking and driving.
- Lakes, waterways, and seas will be crowded with boats. Review safe boating practices, and don’t drink and drive your boat. Alcohol consumption while operating boats or other motorized water vessels is illegal, and you can be arrested for a BWI (boating under the influence!). Be sure that you have an adequate number of life preservers on hand for extra guests. Become familiar with the boating laws in your area.
- Cover food and beverages outdoors to discourage bees and wasps from attending your party. If someone is allergic to insect stings, you should have an emergency anaphylaxis kit on hand. Wearing shoes, long sleeves, and long pants outdoors and avoiding fragranced body products, bright colors, and sugary drinks can also help prevent bee stings.
- Apply sunscreen both before and during an outdoor party. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause both premature aging and skin cancer in the long term, and a painful burn the next day. Even those with darker skin should use a sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15, according to recommendations from the American Academy of Dermatology.
- Check prescription medications you are taking to assure you will not have a sun-sensitizing drug reaction to the medication.
- If you’ll be hiking or camping in an area where ticks are abundant, wear long-sleeved, light-colored shirts and long pants tucked into socks or boots to protect yourself from tick-borne diseases. For your skin, you can use a tick repellent with no more than 30% DEET according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Products containing DEET should not be used on children less than 2 months of age and should not be applied to the hands or face of young children. Check yourself (and your pets) for ticks at the end of the day.
- Spend adequate time indoors or in the shade and drink plenty of fluids to avoid heat illness in extremely hot climates. The risk of heat illness is increased when participating in strenuous activity or sports, and those with chronic medical conditions and the elderly are also at an increased risk of heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke. Alcohol consumption can also promote dehydration and increase the risk.
- Keep children away from campfires and grills. Gas leaks, blocked tubes, and overfilled propane tanks can be a cause of grill fires and explosions.
- Don’t leave the picnic spread out all day. Allowing food to sit in outdoor temperatures can invite foodborne illness. The U.S. FDA suggests never leaving food out for more than one hour when the temperature is above 90 F and not more than two hours at other times. Foods that need to be kept cold should be placed in a cooler with plenty of ice or freezing packs and held at a maximum temperature of 40 F. While mayonnaise and other egg dishes are often associated with food poisoning, any food can potentially become contaminated. Adequate hand washing and food preparation can also help prevent food poisoning.
(Article found at http://www.MedicineNet.com)
Dr. Joan Lelach says, ragweed pollen will likely join grass pollen to create a second Pollen Vortex for allergy sufferers this summer
Allergy sufferers hoping to survive a perfect storm of elevated tree and grass pollen during the next several weeks, aka the “pollen vortex,” need to prepare for a second wave of overlapping allergens coming later this summer, according to a leading immunologist.
“Nobody’s talking about this yet, but based on the way the climate has been behaving, we’re likely to experience a second pollen vortex when the grass pollen and the ragweed pollen begin to overlap, starting late July and August,” says Dr. Joan Lehach, an integrative medicine physician specializing in allergy, asthma and clinical immunology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. “Because ragweed pollen creates such a strong allergic reaction, many people are going to get really sick, much worse than with pollen vortex 1, when these two pollens overlap.”
Dr. Lehach offers a few suggestions on how those with pollen allergies can breathe a bit easier during the next few months and survive pollen vortex 1 and pollen vortex 2:
- If you live in a suburban area, keep your grass short and have someone else mow it. If you are going to do yard duty, wear a well-fitting allergy mask.
- Do not hang your wash to dry outside, because, pollen bonds to fabric, like your bed sheets and T-shirts, and that pollen on the fabric will have you sneezing and wheezing all day and all night.
- Pollen counts are the highest very early in the morning, between 5-and 10-a.m., so if you do outdoor activities like jogging, it is better to jog in the evening or after 10 a.m.
- Rootology, a mixture of Chinese herbs, can be used to restore free breathing and reestablish nasal-and-sinus health in less than 20 minutes. I recommend that my patients take two capsules of this fast-acting supplement whenever pollen counts rise to uncomfortable levels. Rootology can be taken along with your current allergy meds to boost their effectiveness.
- Pollen tends to stick to hair, so wash your hair more frequently during pollen season.
- Keep your car windows and your windows at home closed and put the air conditioner on. Use the ‘re-circulate’ button on your air conditioner, because, then you are not bringing pollen in from outside.
- Beware of fruit. Because the proteins are similar, your body can mistake fruit for pollen and create some mild local reactions. I tell those who are allergic to trees to avoid apples, peaches and pears. I tell those with an allergy to grass to avoid melons, celery and kiwis, because, they can trigger an itchy mouth and throat. Eating an apple is not going to kill anyone, but people will get itchy mouths and they will be constantly clearing the back of their throat.
ABOUT JOAN LEHACH, MD (www.joanlehachmd.com)
Dr. Joan Lehach has 27 years of experience treating patients in the New York City area and is currently an attending physician at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. She is an integrative medicine physician specializing in allergy, asthma and clinical immunology and has the largest solo asthma and allergy practice in the Bronx. Dr. Lehach was named one of the top physicians in New York by “US News and World Report,” has helped design asthma protocols for a number of health plans, and lectures extensively on allergy and asthma.
(Tip was shared with TACDA from Michelle Tomao – email@example.com)