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My disaster preparedness secret weapon: Hydrogen Peroxide

hydrogen peroxide

BY ALEX HOLLINGS

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.

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Christmas Safety Tips

Christmas house 2012 010

The staff and volunteers at the Red Cross offer these safety tips to help keep the season safe, happy and bright.

1. Prepare your vehicle for traveling to grandmother’s house. Build an emergency kit and include items such as blankets, jumper cables, road maps, shovel and extra clothing.

2. Drive your sleigh and reindeer safely. Avoid driving in a storm. If you must travel in bad weather, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to arrive.

3. Help prevent the spread of the flu. Stay home if you’re sick. Wash hands with soap and water as often as possible, or use an alcohol-based hand rub.

4. Follow Santa’s fashion lead — dress in layers. When it’s cold outside, layered lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat.

5. Use a trained baby sitter when attending holiday festivities. Red Cross-certified baby sitters learn to administer basic first aid, properly hold and feed a child and monitor safe play.

6. Avoid danger while roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.

7. Be a lifesaver during the holidays. The Red Cross recommends that at least one person in every household have first aid and CPR/AED training.

8. Designate a driver or skip the holiday cheer. Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired.

9. When the weather outside is frightful, heat your home safely. Never use your stove or oven to heat your home. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. Install smoke alarms!

10. Cut down on your heating bills without being a Grinch. Get your furnace cleaned and change the filters. Make sure your furniture isn’t blocking the heat vents.

11. Going home for the holidays? Travel safely. Give your full attention to the road — avoid distractions such as cellphones.

12. Resolve to Be Red Cross Ready in the New Year. Get ready now for emergencies in the coming year.

Shared from: http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/local/2014/12/22/safety-tips-christmas/20748435/

What To Do Before an Earthquake

earthquake kitchen

A close family friend recently posted this picture on Facebook.  This is what her kitchen looked like following the recent 6.0 earthquake in Napa, California.  I decided it would be a good idea to do a series of posts about Earthquake safety as a reminder for those who may live in or near areas where an earthquake is a potential threat.  (polly – blog administrator)

(Most of this material has been taken from the FEMA website, www.fema.gov 2006)

Before an Earthquake

Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. Repairing deep plaster cracks in ceilings and foundations, anchoring overhead lighting fixtures to the ceiling, and following local seismic building standards, will help reduce the impact of earthquakes.

 Six Ways to Plan Ahead:

  1. Check for Hazards in the Home
  • Fasten shelves securely to walls.
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
  • Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks.
  • Secure a water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
  • Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.

 

  1. Identify Safe Places Indoors and Outdoors
  • Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
  • Against an inside wall.
  • Away from where glass could shatter around windows, mirrors, pictures, or where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.
  • In the open, away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways.

 

  1. Educate Yourself and Family Members
  • Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on earthquakes. Also read the “How-To Series” for information on how to protect your property from earthquakes.
  • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
  • Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.

 

  1. Have Disaster Supplies on Hand
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit and manual.
  • Emergency food and water.
  • Non-electric can opener.
  • Essential medicines.
  • Cash and credit cards.
  • Sturdy shoes.

 

  1. Develop an Emergency Communication Plan
  • In case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster.
  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

 

  1. Help Your Community Get Ready
  • Publish a special section in your local newspaper with emergency information on earthquakes. Localize the information by printing the phone numbers of local emergency services offices, the American Red Cross, and hospitals.
  • Conduct a weeklong series on locating hazards in the home.
  • Work with local emergency services and American Red Cross officials to prepare special reports for people with mobility impairments on what to do during an earthquake.
  • Provide tips on conducting earthquake drills in the home.
  • Interview representatives of the gas, electric, and water companies about shutting off utilities.
  • Work together in your community to apply your knowledge to building codes, retrofitting programs, hazard hunts, and neighborhood and family emergency plans.

 

 

Water in, Water out – Tips

iStock_waterfaucet

(Courtesy of Bank of America)

Water and sewage problems can be costly and inconvenient to repair. That’s why proper maintenance to prevent problems is so important. Here are some tips you may want to consider:

Plumbing
• Periodically check the main water supply and fixture shutoff valves to ensure they are not stuck in the open position. Both these valves must be operable so water can be turned off in an emergency or when plumbing repairs are necessary.
• Annually inspect distribution and drainage pipes for leakage or signs of weakness. Look for rust, corrosion, greenish deposits and mineral deposits around fittings, valves, fixtures and along the length of the pipe. (Note: Water from small holes can evaporate before a drip forms, leaving only a telltale whitish or colored deposit.)
• Repair leaking faucets as needed. If faucet is a washer-type, replace washer and check washer seat for roughening; smooth if needed. If faucet does not have a washer, consult an installation manual or your local plumbing or hardware store for replacement procedures.
• In the fall, remove garden hoses from all outside faucets to prevent the valves from freezing and bursting during winter months.

Well
• If you have a well, the water should be analyzed for bacterial contamination and chemical pollution every three to five years, or more often if water becomes discolored, has an unusual taste or an odor problem occurs.
• You should also have the well pump serviced annually to ensure the motor is clean and in good working order and that the water level in the well has a sufficient water table to use.
Septic tank
• As a rule, septic tanks should be inspected and pumped every three to five years to help prevent costly replacement of the filter field. If a garbage disposal is connected to the septic tank system, it may require more frequent cleaning.
• Do not depend on chemical compounds or septic tank cleaners poured down drains to eliminate the need for periodic cleaning.
• In the spring, inspect the leaching field of the septic system for strong odors or frequent wet spots, which may indicate that the soil field is unable to absorb the septic tank effluent.

Consult a professional to have a perk test performed if the condition persists or reoccurs regularly.

When it comes to home maintenance, a little prevention can save you time and money. I hope you find these tips to be helpful. Please keep me in mind if someone you know is considering refinancing or purchasing a new home. I can provide the information needed to help them choose a home loan that’s right for their situation.