Who Was Our First President? No, Really.

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President John Hanson

 

It’s Presidents’ Day in the U.S., and we celebrate the 44 men who have held the office, beginning with George Washington.  However, was George Washington really the first President?  Seems like the simplest question that even a child could answer, but it’s not exactly as clear-cut as you’d think.

(As an aside, Donald Trump is the 45th president, but the 44rd man to hold the office, as Grover Cleveland’s two terms were not consecutive, making him both the 21st and 23rd President.)

The United States declared its independence in 1776, but George Washington didn’t take office until 1789!  So who was in charge of running  the country until then?  Naysayers say no one, but there were a number of patriots who had the title of president.  The big question is, president of what?

There were a number of Presidents of the Continental Congress, beginning with the man who signed his name in large script, John Hancock.  But were the thirteen colonies now one country on July 4, 1776?  Not officially.  It wasn’t until the Articles of Confederation were signed in 1781 that we could say that the thirteen colonies were a new unified nation, the United States of America.

The first man elected president under the Articles of Confederation (who didn’t resign immediately, at least) was one John Hanson of Frederick County, Maryland.  Who?

Like many of our Founding Fathers, John Hanson (and the eight men who served as President after him) have been relegated to the dustbin of history.  Many prominent patriots don’t have statues  dedicated to them in Washington, D.C.   In fact, a lot of them died penniless and uncelebrated.  For more info, see my article:

Fate of the Forgotten Founding Fathers

Once the signing of the Articles of Confederation took place in 1781, a President was needed to run the country. John Hanson was chosen unanimously by Congress (which included George Washington). As the first President, Hanson had quite the shoes to fill. No one had ever been President of the United States; the responsibilities were vague and ill-defined, but there were issues to be settled.

As the war for independence wound down, continental troops were demanding back salaries. Many of them were not in favor of the new government and even considered installing George Washington as King.  John Hanson was responsible for quelling this discontent and held the rickety congress together.

Hanson is also responsible for ejecting foreign troops out of the new country.  This wasn’t easy, as many of our allies felt they had a claim to special privileges due to their aid for the American cause.  Among other things, he also established the Treasury, War, and Foreign Affairs departments.  All of this in a term of office that lasted only one year.

After him, the following men were elected as President of congress:

  • Elias Boudinot   1782-3
  • Thomas Mifflin 1783-4
  • Richard Henry Lee 1784-5
  • John Hancock 1785-6 (elected but could not serve due to illness)
  • Dr. David Ramsay (Nov 23, 1785 – May 12, 1786)
  • Nathaniel Gorham (May 15, 1786-Nov. 5, 1786)
  • Arthur St. Clair 1787-8
  • Cyrus Griffin 1788-9

So why don’t we recognize these patriots as our first Presidents?  Because we didn’t yet have a constitution that gave the federal government any significant power.  As such, they served as President of Congress more than as leader of a united country.

Therefore, George Washington was the first president to serve under a firm constitution that established the United States that we know today. The first 9 presidents?  They have faded into history, but let’s not forget their service to a fragile new entity that became a great nation.

Joe Alton, M.D.

AuthorJoe

Joe Alton, M.D.

You won’t learn about American presidents in the third edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, but you’ll learn a lot about how to deal with medical issues in disasters and epidemics!

Survival Medicine Hour: Anaphylaxis, Ear Infections, Hemorrhage

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Ear Anatomy

The Survival Medicine Hour, hosted by Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy of https://www.doomandbloom.net/ brings you a few topics, including ear infections, bleeding control and the final part 3 of the allergy series: anaphylaxis. Monday, February 20, 2017 is President’s Day, but do you know about the pre-George Washington “Presidents”? Do you also know who held the presidential office twice, but not with consecutive terms?

anaphylaxis

signs/symptoms of anaphylaxis

Severe allergic reactions may cause body-wide reactions called anaphylaxis that can be life-threatening. Although few die from simple allergic reactions, anaphylaxis is much more severe and, without quick intervention, the victim can die from respiratory or cardiac arrest. Having an epi-pen handy is advisable, although you can learn how to dose with epinephrine solution from a sterile vial.

 

Ear infections are fairly common in babies and children, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep your ear canal as dry as possible during and after swimming. Feed babies in a head-up position, to prevent formula or milk from entering the passages into the ear. Beware of early warning signs before the ear infection becomes severe, such as: pain and itching, drainage from the ear canal and redness and swelling in the ear canal. babies may tug at their ear.

 

Plus, an introduction to hemorrhage and its effects on the human body.

 

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/02/17/survival-medicine-hour-ear-infections-bleeding-anaphylaxis

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

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The Altons

Allergies: What You Need To Know, Pt. 1

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allergies: What You Need To Know

Allergies are reactions caused by a hypersensitivity of the immune system to a substance ingested or in the environment (an “allergen”). These substances may cause little or no effect in most people, but a percentage of the population may experience significant symptoms that can affect quality of life, or even threaten life itself.

A SHORT HISTORY OF ALLERGIES

If you told a doctor a little more than a hundred years ago that you had an allergy, he/she wouldn’t recognize the word. “Allergy” was coined in 1906 by an Austrian pediatrician and immunologist named Clemens Von Pirquet. The word is derived from the Greek allos meaning “other” and ergon meaning “reaction”.

 

Von Pirquet and his associates noted that certain people who received a variety of smallpox vaccine had more severe reactions than most. Another scientist, Charles Mantoux, used this knowledge to develop a test for tuberculosis where an allergic skin reaction to a substance isolated from the microbe revealed previous exposure. A form of this test is still used today.

The worst allergic reaction, known as anaphylactic shock, was discovered by a french physiologist Charles Richet, who with his partner Dr. Paul Portier, injected the venom of a sea anemone into a number of dogs. Hoping to find some substance that would protect humans (called prophylaxis) from jellyfish stings, they instead found that a second injection killed many of the dogs. Since this was the opposite of protection, they termed it anaphylaxis.

HOW ALLERGENS CAUSE REACTIONS

Common allergens to which people are exposed include pollens, metals, insect stings, medications, and certain foods. There are also internal factors such as age, sex, race, and family history. How do these all combine to cause the physical symptoms of an allergy?

Put simply, an immune reaction against an allergen occurs when it’s encountered for the first time; let’s say it’s a bee sting. Cells in the body called “T-cells” identify the bee venom and interact with other cells called “B cells”. The B cells, in turn, produce certain antibodies called “IgE”. IgE attaches to the surface of cells called “basophils” and “mast cells”. These cells are now “sensitized” to the venom. No physical effects are usually noticed at the time by the victim beyond the sting itself.

When a second exposure to the allergen occurs, however, it’s a different story. The sensitized mast cells and basophils are activated and produce a large amount of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals. The flood of these into the system can cause possibly severe physical reactions.

SYMPTOMS OF ALLERGIES

bee

Toxin Allergies

Allergies may appear in various forms, from mild to life-threatening. These conditions include hay fever, food allergies, local skin reactions (called “atopic dermatitis”), drug/toxin reactions, and allergic asthma. Common symptoms include red eyes, itching, nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, and swelling. In the worst situations, a body-wide reaction called “anaphylaxis” causes rashes, major swelling, and difficulty breathing to the point of suffocation.

Hay Fever:  Hay fever is a (usually) seasonal reaction to high pollen counts in the air from certain plants. People with hay fever won’t likely have a fever, but they will have sneezing from a runny, clogged nose, red, itchy, watery eyes and “postnasal drip”, a condition where a cough is caused when mucus runs down the throat from the back of the nose.

Different grasses, trees, and flowering plants will release pollens at different times of the year, and it is often difficult to identify what allergen is causing the symptoms.  Skin “patch”, scratch, or blood tests may determine if a particular substance is causing the sensitivity.

Atopic Dermatitis: Most people who have atopic dermatitis have had allergies before or a family member with similar problems such as hay fever or asthma. Common allergens include animal dander, dust mites, exposure to certain foods, stress, and dry, cold weather.

The condition usually starts with itchy, dry skin.. Scratching causes inflammation, swelling, and redness, and may initiate an infection in the area. Small, oozy blisters sometimes occur that crust over with time. Although mild versions cover small areas and are improved with lotions, severe versions require more intense therapy.

Rashes may recur over the same area time and again, leading to toughened, thick skin that appears darker than other areas. These areas are usually on the scalp and cheeks of infants but may be seen on the baby’s knees or elbows. Other areas may be affected with age, such as the ankles, wrists, legs, the buttocks, and the nape of the neck.

Food Allergies: Four or five percent of the population is allergic to some kind of food. In children, eggs, milk and peanuts are often responsible; in adults, shellfish, nuts from trees (for example, walnuts), milk and eggs are common triggers to a reaction. It should be noted that an allergy to milk is different that intolerance caused by a deficiency of the enzyme needed to digest it (otherwise known as “lactose intolerance”.

Drug Allergies: A drug allergy is caused after repeated exposure to a medicine. Some of the most common include Penicillins, Sulfa Drugs, non-synthetic Insulins, seizure meds, and those containing iodine.

Drug allergies are often confused with what are called “adverse reactions”. An adverse reaction is a known ill effect that can occur with the use of a medication. For example, if a drug is known to cause nausea in some patients, that is considered an adverse reaction as opposed to an allergy.

Despite this, many will report an allergy to a particular drug to their healthcare provider. Some of the reasons that people will write “allergic” on their medical interview sheet include:

  • The drug causes symptoms that makes them feel unwell.
  • A family member has a history of an allergy to the drug, and they assume that the same goes for them.
  • An incident in their childhood resembled an allergic reaction, so better safe than sorry.
  • Negative comments online or elsewhere cause reluctance to take the medicine.
  • Philosophically opposed to a particular type of drug (antibiotics, psychotropics).
  • An actual allergy.

Note that a true allergy is placed last on this list; the World Allergy Association reports that less than 10% of reactions to medications are actually allergies caused by an immune response. Most symptoms that people get after taking medicine are, instead, adverse or “side” effects. It may not always be easy to tell the difference, but a true drug allergy will show immune-mediated symptoms such as hives, itchy skin or eyes, rashes, lip and tongue swelling, and wheezing. Blood pressure may drop precipitously in some cases.

Toxin Allergies: It’s common to have local redness, discomfort, itching and swelling when a toxin, such as bee venom, is introduced into the body. Your immune system, however, may respond strongly in the form of an allergy. Common insects involved are bees, wasps, hornets, and fire ants.

When the immune system gets involved, the reactions may be more severe, with hives, redness and swelling affecting large areas of skin. Swelling may extend to the tongue, throat, lips, and elsewhere. Stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea are common. The effects may take days to completely resolve.

DRUG TREATMENT OF ALLERGY SYMPTOMS

Allergies, when mild, are treated with medications that help relieve the specific symptoms.

Antihistamines in oral, intranasal and ophthalmic (eye drop) form are useful to deal with the sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes associated with hay fever. Nasal decongestants like oral pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and the nasal spray oxymetazoline (Afrin, Dristan) are useful drugs to have in the medicine cabinet. It should be noted, however, that the nasal sprays are addictive when used for more than three days. That is, if you stop using them, your nose will become stuffy again.

Others like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) may help, but are prone to causing drowsiness in higher doses. Longer term therapy with intranasal steroids like Atrovent (ipratropium) or NasalCrom (cromolyn sodium) is another option. These drugs are best for long term therapy, however, as the effects are not felt immediately.

In the worst cases, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) is necessary as an injectable to improve symptoms that affect the entire body. A future article will discuss this type of event in detail.

NATURAL TREATMENT OF ALLERGY SYMPTOMS

neti-pot

Neti Pot

Many experience relief from allergies when they use an item known as a “Neti pot” to relieve congestion and pressure. The Neti pot essentially looks like a version of Alladin’s lamp, and allows the delivery of sterile solutions into the nasal cavity.

Neti pots work by thinning out mucus. The hairs in the nose, called “cilia” are aided in their attempts to eliminate mucus and allergens by the flushing action of the sterile saline solution delivered by the Neti Pot.

Some may have doubts about the effectiveness of the Neti Pot, but research backs up the benefits of nasal “irrigation” to relieve some allergy symptoms. Nasal irrigation via a Neti Pot may help decrease the need for drugs.

One concern related to Neti pots, however, is the importance of ensuring that you are using sterile solution when you irrigate. Non-sterile solutions, even tap water, may transmit infections directly into the body; two deaths in Louisiana were attributed to Neti pot use of contaminated water. Neti pots also must be washed after every use, as you would wash your dishes after every meal.

A natural remedy getting some serious attention lately is Butterbur. In a recent British Medical Joural study, butterbur extract (ZE 339) four times daily equaled the effects of a popular antihistamine–without causing drowsiness!

Goldenseal, Nettles, Resveratrol, Quercetin, and Vitamin C as well as saline spray may be helpful. Ragweed sufferers, however, should realize that some plants commonly used in herbal remedies, like Chamomile and Echinacea, might cross-react in hay fever sufferers to make symptoms worse.

You might be surprised to know that acupuncture has some evidence for effectiveness against certain allergies. acupuncture. Based on the idea that stimulating certain points on the body can cause effects inside, a study of 26 hay fever patients found in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine and described in WebMD appeared to improve symptoms in all without adverse effects. Another experiment eliminated allergic symptoms in half the patients studied.

Allergies can be nuisances or they can be life-threatening. In situations where we might spend a larger part of our day outdoors, as in survival, it’s important to know the signs, symptoms, and treatments when our immune systems go into overload.

Joe Alton MD

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Joe Alton, MD

Hey, Find out more about allergies and over 150 other medical topics in times of trouble with our 700 page third edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way. And for your medical storage, there’s no better place to get a good medical kit than at Nurse Amy’s store!

 

Survival Medicine Hour: Allergies, pt.2, Water Issues

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Safe Water

The Survival Medicine Hour this week, with your hosts, Joe Alton MD, aka Dr. Bones, and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy, discusses water pollutants and part 2 of the series on Allergies. Your hosts request feedback on the show and other topics you may like to hear in future episode. They would also like to have any suggestions you might have about outdoor sport or activity first aid supplies and what you might experience as first aid incidents during those activities. Write to drbonespodcast@aol.com anytime!

 

Water contaminants are many and are reviewed in this episode. A guest post at https://www.doomandbloom.net/guest-post-10-things-you-didnt-know-were-in-your-drinking-water/ , by Jennifer Moran from https://theberkey.com/ is discussed and expanded upon in detail. Pollutants like lead, fluoride, BPA (Bisphenol A), iron and arsenic are just a few covered during this show.

 

In this part 2 series on allergies, Dr. Alton reviews a few allergies from the last show and continues with drug allergies, atopic dermatitis, food allergies, and toxin allergies. Helpful medications that relieve specific symptoms can include Afrin (beware of too much, and you will learn why), antihistamines, and oral meds.  A few natural remedies to relieve symptoms, like a Neti Pot, are reviewed. One important hint when using a Neti Pot, always make sure the water or saline is a sterile solution, or you could get sick from the contaminated solution.

 

To Listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/02/10/survival-medicine-hour-water-pollutants-allergies-pt2

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Amy and Joe Alton

Amy Alton Everglades Close up 400 x 600

Amy Alton, ARNP

 

Learn about allergies, water safety, and 150 more topics in off-grid settings with the 700 page Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way. You’ll be glad you added it to your survival library.

 

Hey! Like board games? Well, check out our fun survival board game SURVIVAL! at survivalboardgame.com!

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Doom and Bloom’s SURVIVAL! board game unboxed

Guest Post: 10 Things You Didn’t Know Were in Your Drinking Water

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water

What’s in your water?

 

(Dr. Bones says: From time to time, we accept submissions from promising writers in the field of preparedness. Today’s post comes from TheBerkey.com’s social media manager Jennifer Moran. In this article, Jennifer discusses some substances that you might not expect to be in your drinking water. Thanks to Jennifer for her submission.)

 

The most common substance in this world is water and therefore it is essential that we could say by default it is greatly important! We learned that only 1% of the Earth’s water is suitable for drinking, 97% of it is ocean or sea and where does the 2% go? It is unusable, it’s frozen. Now, we always wanted what is best and safe for our drinking water. As a matter of fact, Americans drink more than a billion glasses of tap water per day.

 

Your day has been sluggish and you die to drink that glass of water even from the tap just to quench you. But do you really know if whether or not it’s secure for your family? Or let me be more direct, do you even bother to know what’s on it? No matter how we can say that that water is clean by just basing it from your bare naked eyes, there are things in there that might not be good for you.

 

Here are some surprising substances that you didn’t know might be in your drinking water.

 

 1. Lead

Just like any stubborn bad guy, this colorless, odorless and tasteless metal can leach from lead pipes and plumbing fixtures will definitely go undetected.  Excessive amounts of lead place adults at higher risk for cancer, stroke, kidney disease, memory problems and high blood pressure. At even greater risk are children, whose rapidly growing bodies absorb lead more quickly and efficiently. Just because your home is less than 20 years old doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lead-free. Just ask the people of Flint, Michigan.

 

2. Fluoride

Fluoride develops naturally in water; though rarely at the optimal level to protect teeth. Many assume that consuming fluoride is only an issue that involves your dental health. But according to a 500-page scientific review, fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that can affect your bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugar levels. More people drink fluoridated water in the US alone than in the rest of the world combined. In Western Europe, for instance, 97% of the population drinks non-fluoridated water. Adding fluoride is definitely a forced medication.

 

3. Iron and Manganese

Iron and Manganese are non-hazardous elements but can be a nuisance to your drinking water. They are similar metals and can cause similar problems: offensive taste, appearance, and staining. When the water is aerated they are oxidized, which creates significant discoloration and turbidity. Iron is frequently found in water supplies. Manganese is often found in water that contains iron.

 

4. Perchlorate

Perchlorate is a man-made chemical primarily used in the production of rocket fuel, missiles, fireworks, flares, and explosives. It has been found in drinking water and surface waters in the United States (at least 26 states) and Canada. Although it is a strong oxidant, perchlorate is very persistent in the environment. At high concentrations perchlorate can interfere with the production of thyroid hormone.

 

5. Bisphenol A

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an important chemical building block and additive in a wide variety of plastics. It is manufactured worldwide for approximately 3.2 million metric tons/year. This can be found in some plastic water bottles and the dangerous part is that it can leach into food and drinks. According to National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, it may acquire health risks, especially to infants and children. One good thing: there are quite a number of BPA-free bottles that are available now. However, you still have to be extra careful: NPR reports that some BPA-free plastics may leach unwanted chemicals into your water when exposed to sunlight, microwaves or dishwashers.

 

6. Arsenic

Arsenic is a natural element that is tasteless and odorless; you wouldn’t be able to distinguish that it’s in your water. It is found widely in the earth’s crust and may be found in some drinking water supplies, including wells. Research shows that exposure to high levels of arsenic can cause health effects, even cancer.

 

Bacteria rods

bacterial contamination

7. Pathogens

Bacteria are a natural part of life; in fact, there are many forms and functions of bacteria we couldn’t live without. Coliform bacteria may not cause disease but can be indicators of pathogenic organisms that cause serious diseases. It can cause intestinal infections, dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid fever, cholera, and other illnesses. Luckily, these pathogens are much better controlled today than they once were. We just have to be practical on having our water tested but definitely the best strategy is to get rid of these pathogens.

 

8. Agricultural chemicals

Agriculture is heavily dependent on fertilizers and pesticides that boost crop production. The major contaminant here is nitrate, found in both fertilizer and animal waster. Nitrates and other chemicals end up in our water resources, and can cause health risks. One example is methemoglobinemia, sometimes called “Blue-Baby syndrome”, in those infants under 3 months of age that are bottle-fed.

 

9. Chlorine

Chlorine is effective as a disinfecting treatment in killing off most microorganisms in the water. As a matter of fact, it is a powerful oxidant added to the water by several municipal water systems to control these microbes.  While learning that the United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world because of this disinfecting agent, it is also appropriate to check it once in a while. It can be absorbed through physical consumption as well as through your skin while bathing and can severely dry skin and hair. It can also cause irritating effects to your eyes and nose.

 

10. Mercury

This silvery heavy metal can be found in various natural deposits. Mercury can flow into water supplies from improperly discarded devices containing it, as runoff from landfills & farm land, dumped by factories, or from natural deposits. With this being said, this extremely toxic liquid metal must be precaution in handling or disposing of it. Being exposed to high levels of mercury over time can cause kidney damage.

 

 

Water can be purified of many contaminants if treatment facilities are available, but supplies must be monitored so that contaminants can be properly identified in the first place. The safest way to ensure that these toxins do not make it into your body is to have your water tested to determine which contaminants your tap water may contain. Once you have identified the contaminants present, you can select a water filtration solution that is best for you.

 

Jennifer Moran

(When she isn’t glued to a laptop screen, Jennifer spends time playing tennis, practicing yoga, and trying very hard not to fall sleep during meditation classes. If you have questions for Jennifer, contact her at Jennifer@theberkey.com.)

 

 

13 Tips on Surviving a Protest

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closed fist protest

Anti-Free Speech?

As a Free Speech advocate, I support the people’s right to protest and make their opinions heard. Unfortunately, demonstrations in the U.S. these days are becoming more frequent and violent. From what I saw happen at UC-Berkeley, I expect them to become more extreme as times goes on.

 
I haven’t been at a protest since the Vietnam era, and that was just on the way to class. Back then, I was fit enough to hightail it out of there when the pepper gas flew. However, there is so much civil unrest in the news these days that it’s a good idea to have a riot survival strategy, whether you’re involved or just a bystander. It goes without saying that your objective should be to stay away from the where the violence is occurring.

 
Of course, if you walk smack dab into a demonstration, things can get dicey pretty fast. I’ve written a lot about situational awareness, and that mindset will serve you well. Here are some simple tips that will help you avoid injury at a protest:

 
1. Always be in a state of “Yellow Alert”. Yellow alert simply means being aware of your surroundings and the people around you. When people are behaving strangely, take note and avoid them.
2. Always mentally map out routes of escape as you walk along. Where’s the nearest side street? Is there a building or subway entrance that will get you off the street? If you don’t know the area, move away to where you know the lay of the land.

 
3. If you have to make your way through the crowd, stay on the fringes. Don’t get caught in the masses of people surging away (or towards) the violence. If you do, they are deciding your movements, not you.

 
4. Avoid confrontation with protesters. In other words, take off your “Make American Great Again” hat if it’s an anti-Trump demonstration. At Berkeley, things like this got women pepper-sprayed and men beaten.

 
5. Have a bandanna handy. This essential survival supply isn’t a gas mask, per se, but it works at riots when tear gas is sprayed. Some advocate the soaking of the cloth with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Avoid black bandannas, though; at Berkeley, organized masked “ninjas” in black caused most of the damage. You don’t want to be confused with one of these people.

 
6. Wear sneakers or other footwear that will allow you the most mobility. The only women wearing heals are reporters. Make sure you’re well-clothed so that your skin is protected. You’ll need to wash clothes thoroughly that have been exposed to tear gas, or throw them away.

 
7. Be aware of the movement of law enforcement officers, but don’t approach them. Their job is tough enough, and they won’t be able to hear you above the roar of the crowd.

 
8. Don’t run if you can help it. Unless everyone else is running, you will attract unwanted attention. Walk fast and purposefully around a corner, to higher ground, or other safe spot.

 
9. Be inconspicuous. This may be difficult if you’re 6 foot 7 inches tall, but otherwise, do you best to be “the gray man”.

 
10. If you’re with friends, stay together. If you can’t, agree on a meeting place beforehand in case you get separated moving through the crowd.

 
11. Avoid being caught against walls, fences, blockades, or other solid objects. People can get crushed by masses of protesters.

 
12. Carry some water, milk, or diluted liquid antacid (like Maalox) in a container if you know you’re heading into a protest area. If sprayed with tear gas, move quickly into an area of fresh air and pour the liquid on your face (especially your eyes). Drink it if sprayed in the mouth. Milk or liquid antacid are thought by some to work better than water, but there’s no hard data one way or another. The effects of the tear gas will resolve over a relatively short time in most cases.

 
13. If you’re involved in a protest, carry a basic medical kit that will help to treat injuries and stop bleeding.

 
It’s likely you’ll never get caught in civil unrest, but having a solid plan of action in these troubled times just makes common sense. We must be prepared for man-made disasters just as we should be prepared for hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes.

 

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones

Survival Medicine Hour: Protest Survival, Capsizing, Allergies, Pt.1

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closed fist protest

Surviving a Protest

The Survival Medicine Hour with your hosts Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy discuss Protest Safety, How to survive a capsized boat or cold water immersion, and part one of a series on allergies. Our website https://www.doomandbloom.net/ is a source for these and other topics.

 

Getting caught in the middle of the crowd in the frenzy of protesting could be dangerous, especially if you are wearing anything that identifies you as their “enemy., Knowing how to extricate yourself and be the “gray man” can help you stay safe. Don’t approach lines of police officers in riot gear, they are focused on getting the crowd under control and could mistake you for a rioter. Try to stay with friends and escape as quickly as possible. Many more tips!

H.E.L.P.

Strategies for capsized boats or other water immersion

 

If you find yourself in the water due to a capsized boat or other water incident. the first step is to try and stay calm. Always wear a life jacket if possible while boating, which enables you to stay warmer since you don’t have to kick or try to swim to keep your head above the water. If any debris is nearby, try to elevate some of your body out of the water. These and more mportant steps to take are presented in the show today.

 

In an introduction to allergies, an immune reaction against an allergen occurs when it is encountered the first time, and may cause little to no reaction at all. The second exposure to this allergen is when the allergic cascade of symptoms and reactions are seen. Allergic reactions may appear in various forms. Part one of this allergie series is discussed on today’s show.

 

All this and more in the Survival Medicine Hour! To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/02/03/survival-medicine-hour-protest-safety-capsize-allergies-pt1

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Amy and Joe Alton

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Amy and Joe Alton

Guest Article: Homeopathy and Preparedness

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homeopathic meds

Nurse Amy and I are conventionally trained medical professionals that incorporate an integrative philosophy into our writings. We don’t know everything, however (far from it), and sometimes find writers on specific topics that are outside of our wheelhouse and cannot speak to authoritatively. Here’s an article by Becky Rupert, a board-certified homeopath, to introduce you to her field:

 

When preparing for any emergency, we all know it is a good idea to have basic things on hand such as first aid kits, bandages, extra medications, analgesics, essential oils, herbs, wraps, blood stop powder, and all of those things to help us when we have minor injuries or emergencies.  It is also a good idea to have extra skills such as how to make tinctures, or herbal products, or the many wonderful first aid skills taught at organizations such as the Red Cross.  Suturing skills are a plus, as well as classes in nursing or EMT classes.  These are wonderful adjuncts to your preparedness portfolio!

 

However, I think there is one more thing that is incredibly useful to add to your “tool kit”.

 

What I am going to teach you about today is a form of alternative medicine that is easy, safe and very effective in an emergency when you have no access to standard medical care.  You can use this method with little cost input to start, and you can use it right now for your family in acute situations such as:

 

  • colds
  • flu
  • sprain
  • strain
  • injuries

You can start learning now to give remedies in acute situations so that you can understand how to give remedies in situations where there is a dire need, so you can help family and friends with a safe, holistic healing method.  It is not difficult to do, and it is very rewarding.  It can require a shift in how you think about healthcare. Homeopathy is quite different from what you may be used to.

 

First, some background:

 

Let’s first talk a bit about what homeopathy is, what it is not, and how it can help your family!  Homeopathy is a 200 year old system of medicine created by a physician and chemist, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann.  In his time, physicians used toxic crude substances which had many side effects and harmed more than healed.  Dr. Hahnemann devised a way of using dilutions of substances to help the body heal without the toxic effects, even if the original substance was toxic.

 

Homeopathy means “similar suffering”.   Remedies are made from just about anything from plants, to animals, to minerals and each has a specific pattern of symptoms associated with it.  Right now there are about 5,000 remedies and more are being made every day.  They are sustainably sourced and they are “FDA approved drugs”.  Some are over the counter, and some are prescription based.  In fact, Samuel Hahnemann wrote the good manufacturing practices that are still in use today.

 

Homeopathy is not herbalism, although we may start with an herbal “mother” tincture at the base of the remedy, we often use the entire plant, something that herbalists rarely do because at times the parts of a plant may not have therapeutic value or may be toxic.  In the homeopathic remedy, there are  no molecules of the original substance left once you go above 12c (explained below), which renders them non toxic and safe for infants, animals, or the elderly.

 

Homeopaths don’t use machines, muscle testing, herbs or supplements.  We (generally) don’t make remedies ourselves (there are special pharmacies for that).  Constitutional Homeopaths also don’t give you more than one remedy at a time, and we don’t use machines to figure out what remedies you need (with the exception of a computer program to go through all of your symptoms).  The pellets we use are small, pleasant tasting and dissolve under the tongue.  Children readily take them and usually respond quickly, as do animals.

 

What do the numbers and letters mean on a homeopathic remedy package?

 

The remedies all have latin names, such as apis mellifica (honey bee) and the number tells you how many times the remedy was diluted, the “C” stands for the amount of water it was diluted in, in this case, 99:1=100 (99 parts alcohol and water to one part mother tincture).  If you remember your roman numerals, you will see they are common in homeopathy.  There are also “X” potencies, that is 1 in 9=10.

 

C potencies last longer than X potencies, but all you really need to know is to stick with 12c or 30c if you  can, for best results.  There are situations that 6c, or 200c is much more preferred, and if that’s the case, I will let you know.  Generally, you can’t go wrong with a 12 or 30c.  That is a great potency for beginners and they are readily available, and in the common remedy kits for home use.

 

How does it work?

 

We don’t know the exact mechanism of action of the remedies.  We know they are not placebo, because they work on infants and animals very well.  If you have the wrong remedy, nothing happens and there are no side effects or unwanted symptoms.  There are instances when people can be sensitive to remedies and if you are the type that is very sensitive to everything around you, then I would consider having someone walk you through the process so you know how to take remedies.  Sensitive folks can aggravate which means that the symptoms they already have get worse before they get better.  This is rather unusual but does happen on occasion, and usually sensitive people are sensitive to so many other things such as medications, perfumes, everything sets them off.  This is not to say that chemically sensitive people shouldn’t use homeopathy, I have lots of clients who are environmentally sensitive and they are often fine with remedies. We often need to dilute them a bit in about 4 oz of water.

 

The wonderful thing about homeopathy is that it works to heal the entire person, mentally, emotionally, physically, all at the same time.  We do not have one remedy for asthma and one for headaches, and one for eczema and one for autism, we see the person as a whole and give a remedy and potency based on that person’s unique set of symptoms.  Homeopathy is so safe, you can give it during labor and delivery.

 

We recommend that home prescribers use remedies for acute situations (self limiting situations such as colds, flu, injuries, sunburn), and leave the chronic situations to the professionals.  Chronic symptoms are symptoms such as PMS, fatigue, headache, asthma, autism, eczema, etc.

 

My clients come from all over the US and abroad and I teach them to be able to care for themselves during acute situations.  I see people for acute situations and chronic ones and some people want to learn everything they can and some just want me to fix it!  Either way is fine, but here we’ll get your feet wet so you can learn more.  Even if the only thing you do is use arnica for bumps and bruises, that’s a step in the right direction.  Carry arnica with you wherever you go and you’ll be amazed at how it stops pain fast!  Learn to give some remedies in a few situations and soon you’ll be learning more and more.

 

Homeopathy is a wonderful addition to your medical kit or bug out bag.  Remedies are easy to use and pretty forgiving.  Dosing depends on the individual, the amount of pellets is not based on body weight or age.  In homeopathy, frequency of dose is what is important.

 

The most important thing to remember is:

 

  • Give the remedy as needed, not on a schedule. If you have an aggravation from a remedy DO NOT REPEAT, wait and watch, usually this is minor and improvement will follow; then repeat as needed by putting a pellet in 4 oz of water and sip only as needed.
  • Give the remedy 2 doses before moving on to the next remedy if nothing happens… unless you are very sensitive.
  • Most people in an acute situation will know how often to take the dose, their symptoms relapse after improvement. If you have hit yourself with a hammer, and you take hypericum, the pain will come back and you will know when to repeat, more is not better!
  • In a situation like a cold, you may need 3 doses in one day to determine if you should switch to another remedy.
  • Remedies come in different pellet sizes, large pellets like the decorating balls for cookies – you can use one at a time, tiny, poppy-seed sized pellets, the dose is about 5 pellets. Generally, the amount of pellets is not important, the frequency of dose is.
  • In critical situations such as shock, you may need a stronger dose or the remedy may be needed more frequently then you expect, don’t be surprised if the remedy lasts for minutes or a half hour and you need to repeat. The doses should start lasting longer and longer until the problem resolves or you get help
  • Try to get help if the situation is beyond your skills or training
  • If there is a very high fever (104 or above), you may need to seek out care or diagnosis. Obviously, use your judgement, but some of the scenarios in this article are for those who can’t get to medical care.  Medical care is important in a critical situation, if you are having a heart attack, get help if you are able.  It sounds silly but people have called me in the middle of a heart attack!

 

Bumps, Bruises, Head injuries, Fractures, etc.

 

Arnica Montana:

Everyone should have arnica on hand for emergencies, it a wonderful first aid remedy and often the one that people pick up whenever there is an injury.  Especially useful for bruising and head injuries, I use 200c for head injuries and 30c for minor bruising.  This remedy is often useful to help heal damage from surgery.

 

(Dr. Bones says: I don’t have a lot of experience with some of the substances mentioned in Becky’s article, but can vouch, from personal experience, for the effectiveness of Arnica in alleviating pain from injuries.)

 

Bellis Perennis:

Bellis is in the same family as arnica and is useful for deep muscle trauma, deep incisions or heav blows when arnica doesn’t offer much help.  I use 6c three times a day until it is no longer needed.

 

Ruta Graveolens:

Ruta is wonderful for ligament and tendon injuries or sprains and strains.  I use 200c followed by 6c three times a day until unnecessary.  I found that sprains heal in half the time with ruta.

 

Symphytum Officionales:

The best remedy for fractures, It is used after being set to knit bones quickly.  I use 200c for pain if arnica doesn’t help and then 6c three times daily for 3-6 weeks.  Also very useful for eye injuries at the same potencies.

 

Staphysagria:

Useful for healing cuts and knife wounds after stitching or approximating wounds.  For a deep wound may need 200c one dose or 30c three times a day for 2 days.

 

Calendula Officionales:

Used in tincture or potency this is excellent for skin abrasions and can also be used diluted 1:10 parts water in eye infections, abrasions, or as eyewash.  This can be also used as an antibacterial for wounds or lacerations, but some homeopaths also like Echinacea tincture for this purpose as well.

 

Silica:

This remedy is often used to expel splinters or foreign material embedded in skin.  I use 6c or 30c three times a day for 2 days.

 

Cantharis:

This remedy (like all others) has many uses, but is very useful for burns and scalds, and can also be used for urinary tract infections with a great amount of burning with urination.  I use 30c as needed for pain control.  For sunburn I prefer sol 30, but it can also be used for sunburn.

 

Apis Mellifica:

One of the best remedies for bee or wasp stings or even anaphylactic shock, apis has redness, edematous swelling and heat.  It is also used for cellulitis.  If you have severe allergies it is a good idea to have epi pen around but if you don’t have one, apis may be a lifesaver.  It is always a good idea to have other alternatives such as Benadryl just in case!  A 30c of apis may not be strong enough of a dose, so I recommend having a 30c and 200 on hand.

 

Fevers/Infection/Shock:

 

Pyrogenum:

I have used pyrogen 1M potency for tooth infections with great results, it is also generally used for septicemia.  At this high of a dose, it is given only as needed for fever or pain control.

 

Belladonna:

The most used homeopathic remedy for fever, it is useful in high fevers of many kinds.  The skin is usually hot and dry, and it has been used for decades for scarlet fever.  Useful in situations where there are delusions or hallucinations with fever.  Belladonna is very violent and sudden and is also used in heat stroke or heat exhaustion.  Symptoms tend to be hot red and violent and tend to be right sided.  Aggravation time is often 3 AM or PM and can be used for childhood ear infections of sudden onset when these symptoms match.

 

Ferrum Phos:

Often useful in situations where there are mild symptoms and you aren’t sure which remedy to give, ferrum phos has vague symptoms and is often given at the beginning of an illness to stop it before it starts.

 

Aconitum Napellus:

Aconite is incredibly useful in shock and there can be fright or anxiety and restlessness.  There is a sudden onset of symptoms like in belladonna.

 

Phosphorus:

This is a remedy that is often useful in hemorrhaging, and nosebleeds, which are often left sided.  I usually use 30c in minor cases and would use 200c in severe cases.

 

(Dr. Bones says: With regards to significant hemorrhage, it’s always important to know appropriate first aid techniques like you’ll find in many of my articles on this website.)

 

I hope this helps you get your feet wet with what homeopathy can do.  I recommend that people use Homeopathy in every day acute illness such as colds, flu, or minor injuries to see how remedies are used.  Don’t keep them on a shelf, becoming proficient with their use helps so when you really need them you will know how to use them.  A side benefit is that they last forever unless they are exposed to extreme heat so you can store them long term without expiration.  These are the remedies that are very useful for a bug out bag or emergency kit and can be used for the barnyard or home.  We offer kits with 40 remedies for those who are interested.  I hope you never have to use a kit in an extreme emergency, but I personally feel better knowing they are around if I need them!

 

I wish you good fortune on your journey to health…

 

Becky Rupert, ND, CCH

Board Certified Homeopath

Becky has been homesteading for 20 years while practicing and teaching homeopathy to laypeople to help themselves, their families and their animals.  She consults with people all over the US and abroad and can be reached at beckyrupert@frontier.com or by phone EST at (419) 853-3805. Please address any of your questions to Becky.

 

Survival Medicine Hour: Expiration Dates, Face Masks, More

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N95 mask

This episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, with your hosts, Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy, discusses the significance, or sometimes, the lack of significance of expiration dates when it comes to medicines in pills and tablets. Also, face masks as a medical supply, all you need to know about this important piece of medical protection. Also, some tips on medical storage of drugs.

Antibiotics

expiration dates

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/01/27/survival-medicine-hour-expiration-dates-masks-and-med-storage

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton

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Video: Surviving a Building Fire

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Joe Alton, MD’s latest video discusses some tragic building fires, especially in public venues. He examines what happens in a fire, how fire behaves, and what you can do to increase your chances of surviving the conflagration.

 

To watch, click below:

 

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe Alton, MD

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Find out more about house fires, wildfires, burns, and much more in Joe and Amy Alton’s Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, available at Amazon.

Survival Medicine Hour: Hypothermia Pt. 3, Frostbite, Winter Hazards

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frostbite2

Frostbite with gangrene

The Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy discusses altitude sickness, winter car survival, falling through the ice or into very cold water and more. Car Survival equipment should include wool blankets, instant hand warmers, flashlights and extra batteries (fresh), small tool with blade, screwdrivers, pliers etc, foldable shovel, sand or rock salt, flares and reflective large triangles, tow chain or tough rope, jumper cables, water and food, a first aid kit (Doom and Bloom makes a grab and go bag), tarp, noisemaker and more.

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Winter car survival

To increase your chances of survival in cold water you should wear a life jacket whenever you are on a boat. It enables you to stay alive longer by keeping you afloat without burning too much energy. A built-in whistle is a great item to have on the life jacket also. Keep your clothes on while you are still in the water. Button or zip up to retain some body heat. The layer of water between your clothing and your body is slightly warmer and will help insulate you from the cold.

 

To listen in, click the link below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/01/20/survival-medicine-hour-hypothermia-pt3-frostbite-winter-hazards

 

Wishing you all the best in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

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Fill those holes in your medical preparedness with Nurse Amy’s kit and individual supplies at store.doomandbloom.net!

 

 

Video: Cold Prevention Myths and Facts

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colds

In this video, Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones, discusses some common misconceptions about colds and how to prevent them. Companion video to a recent article.

To watch, click below…

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

 

 

drbones-nurseamy

Car Survival in Winter

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carsinsnow

It’s predicted to be another harsh winter and, for most in the U.S., this means trouble if someone gets stuck out on the road during a blizzard or other extreme conditions. Hypothermia (the effects on the body from exposure to cold) may occur on the wilderness trail, but also right in the driver’s seat of the family car. It’s important to have a plan in case you are stranded in your vehicle.

 

Your Car

 

Winter conditions don’t just affect people, they affect cars as well. Cold affects rubber and metal; it even decreases the battery’s efficiency. Tires become stiff and flat for the first few hundred yards. Your oil and other lubricants become thicker at cold temperatures. This makes the engine work harder.

 

Therefore, vehicles that will be doing duty in extreme cold should be “winterized”. This involves switching to a lighter viscosity oil, changing to snow tires, and choosing the right (anti-freeze) ratio of coolant to water. Gas tanks should never be less than half full.

 

Your Life 

 

You’re not a bear, so you can’t hibernate through the cold weather; you’ll have to live in it, so take measures to avoid becoming a victim of it. Many deaths from exposure are avoidable if simple precautions are taken.

 

The first question you should ask before you get in the car in cold weather is: What’s the forecast? Is it possible that you’re driving straight into trouble? Checking the weather beforehand is a lot better than finding out about it on the road.

 

The second question should be: “Is this trip necessary?” If the answer is “no”, you should stay home. For most people that work, however, the answer is “yes”. If you have no choice but to hit the road during a winter storm, drive as if your life depends on it (because it does). Brush ice and snow off windshields, side mirrors, or anywhere your view might be blocked. Don’t speed, tailgate, or weave in and out of traffic. Make turns slowly and deliberately; avoid quick stops and starts.

 

Notify someone of your travel plans before you head out, especially if you’re in rural areas. Take your cell phone with you but save it for emergencies. Your focus has to be on the road, not on texts from your friends.

 

Stranded!

 

If you live in an area that routinely has very cold winters, you may not be able to avoid being stranded in your car one day. Your level of preparedness will improve your chances of staying healthy and getting back home. So what should your plan of action be?

 

  1. Stay calm and don’t leave the car. It’s warmer there than outside and you have protection from the wind. Having adequate shelter is one of the keys to success, whether it’s in the wilderness or on a snow-covered highway.
  2. Ventilation is preferable to asphyxiation. Crack a window on the side away from the wind for some fresh air. People talk about water and food being necessary for survival but, first, you’ll need air to breathe. Wet snow can block up your exhaust system, which causes carbon monoxide to enter the passenger compartment. Colorless and odorless, it’s a deadly gas that kills in enclosed spaces without ventilation. Clearing the exhaust pipe of snow and running the engine only ten minutes or so an hour will help prevent monoxide poisoning.
  3. Group Hug. If you’re in a group, huddle together as best you can to create a warm pocket in the car.
  4. Keep Moving. Rub your hands, put them in your armpits, or otherwise keep moving to make your muscles produce heat.
  5. Don’t overexert yourself. If your car is stuck in the snow, you’ll want to dig yourself out. A lot of sweat, however, will cause clothing to become wet. Wet clothing loses its value as insulation and leads to hypothermia.
  6. Let others know you’re there. If you have flares, use them. Flashing emergency lights on your vehicle will drain battery power, so use them only if you think someone might see them.

The Winter Car Kit 

caraccidentwinter

If you’re going to travel in very cold conditions, there are a certain number of items that you should keep in your vehicle. This is what an effective winter survival car kit contains:

 

  • Wool Blankets. Wool can stay warm even when wet.
  • Spare sets of dry clothes, including socks, hats, and mittens.
  • Hard warmers or other instant heat packs (activated, usually, by shaking, they’ll last for hours)
  • Matches, lighters and/or firestarters in case you need to manufacture heat.
  • Candles, flashlights (keep batteries in backwards until you need them).
  • Small multi-tool with blade, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.
  • Larger combination tool like a foldable shovel (acts as a shovel but also an axe, saw, etc.)
  • Sand or rock salt in plastic container (to give traction where needed.)
  • Tow chain or rope.
  • Flares.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Water, Food (energy bars, MREs, dehydrated soups, candies).
  • Baby wipes for hygiene purposes.
  • A first aid kit.
  • Medications as needed.
  • Tarp and duct tape (brightly colored ones will be more visible and aid rescue.)
  • Metal cup, thermos, heat source (to melt snow, make soup, etc.)
  • Noisemaker (whistle)
  • Cell phone and charger

The items above will give you a head start in keeping safe and sound even if stranded. With a plan of action, a few supplies, and a little luck, you’ll survive even in the worst blizzard.

 

Joe Alton MD

AuthorJoe

Dang, It’s Cold! Treating and Preventing Hypothermia

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hypothermia (and bad judgment)

This winter has already seen deadly cold snaps where people have found themselves at the mercy of the elements. Whether it’s on a wilderness hike or stranded in a car on a snow-covered highway, the physical effects of exposure to cold (also called “hypothermia”) can be life-threatening.

 

Hypothermia is a condition in which body core temperature drops below the temperature necessary for normal body function and metabolism. Normally, the body core is between 97.5-99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (36.0-37.5 degrees Celsius). Cold-related illness occurs once the core temperature dips below 95 degrees (35 degrees Celsius).

 

When it is exposed to cold, the body kicks into action to produce heat. Muscles shiver to produce heat, and this will be the first symptom you’re likely to see. As hypothermia worsens, more symptoms will become apparent if the patient is not warmed.

 

Aside from shivering, the most noticeable symptoms of hypothermia will be related to mental status. The person may appear confused, uncoordinated, and lethargic. As the condition worsens, speech may become slurred; the patient will appear apathetic, uninterested in helping themselves, and may lose consciousness. These effects occur due to the effect of cooling temperatures on the brain: The colder the body core gets, the slower the brain works. Brain function is supposed to cease at about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, although there have been exceptional cases where people (usually children) survived even lower temperatures.

 

Prevention of Hypothermia

 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To prevent hypothermia, you must anticipate the climate that you will be traveling through; include windy and wet weather into your calculations. Condition yourself physically to be fit for the challenge. Travel with a partner if at all possible, and have more than enough food and water available for the entire trip.

 

It may be useful to remember the simple acronym C.O.L.D.  This stands for:  Cover, Overexertion, Layering, and Dry.

 

Cover. Your head has a significant surface area, so prevent heat loss by wearing a hat. Instead of using gloves to cover your hands, use mittens. Mittens are more helpful than gloves because they keep your fingers in contact with one another, conserving heat.

 

Overexertion. Avoid activities that cause you to sweat a lot. Cold weather causes you to lose body heat quickly; wet, sweaty clothing accelerates the process. Rest when necessary; use those rest periods to self-assess for cold-related changes. Pay careful attention to the status of the elderly and the very young. Diabetics are also at high risk.

 

Layering. Loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in layers trap pockets of warm air and do the best job of insulating you against the cold. Use tightly woven, water-repellent material for wind protection. Wool or silk inner layers hold body heat better than cotton does. Some synthetic materials, like Gore-Tex, work well also. Especially cover the head, neck, hands and feet.

 

Dry. Keep as dry as you can. Get out of wet clothing as soon as possible. It’s very easy for snow to get into gloves and boots, so pay particular attention to your hands and feet.

st. bernard

Pet the Dog, Skip the Booze

One cold-weather issue that most people don’t take into account is the use of alcohol. Alcohol may give you a “warm” feeling, but it actually causes your blood vessels to expand; this results in more rapid heat loss from the surface of your body.

 

Alcohol and recreational drugs also cause impaired judgment. Those under the influence might choose clothing that might not protect them in cold weather.

 

Treating  Hypothermia

 

If you encounter a person who is unconscious, confused, or lethargic in cold weather, assume they are hypothermic until proven otherwise. Immediate action must be taken to reverse the ill effects of hypothermia. Important measures to take are:

 

Get the person out of the cold. Move them into a warm, dry area as soon as possible. If you’re unable to move the person out of the cold, be sure to place a barrier between them, the wind, and the cold ground.

 

Monitor breathing. A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious. Verify that they are breathing and check for a pulse. Begin CPR if necessary.

 

Take off wet clothing. If the person is wearing wet clothing, remove gently. Cover the victim with layers of dry blankets, including the head, but leave the face clear.

 

Share body heat. To warm the person’s body, remove your clothing and lie next to the person, making skin-to-skin contact. Then cover both of your bodies with blankets. Some people may cringe at this controversial notion, but it’s important to remember that you are trying to save a life. Gentle massage or rubbing may be helpful. Avoid being too vigorous.

 

Give warm oral fluids if awake and alert. If, and only if, the affected person is alert and able to swallow, provide a warm, nonalcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage to help warm the body. Coffee’s out, but how about some warm apple cider?

 

Use warm, dry compresses. Use a first-aid warm compress (a fluid-filled bag that warms up when squeezed), or a makeshift compress of warm, not hot, water in a plastic bottle. Apply to the neck, armpit, and groin. Due to major blood vessels that run close to the skin in these areas, heat will more efficiently travel to the body core.

 

Avoid applying direct heat. Don’t use hot water, a heating pad or a heating lamp directly on the victim. The extreme heat can damage the skin, cause strain on the heart, or even lead to cardiac arrest.

 

Joe Alton, MDAuthorJoe

Find out more about cold-related injuries in our Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook, now at 700 pages! Also, fill those holes in your medical supplies at Nurse Amy’s store at store.doomandbloom.net. You’ll be glad you did.

Survival Medicine Hour: Hypothermia, Pt. 2, Avalanches, Blizzard Survival

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In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton: Bees are having a hard time these days and new attention is being given to their plight. The Fish and Wildlife Service have added the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee to the endangered species list, which join seven species of the Yellow-Faced bee that were added in September.

 

Hypothermia (part 2) is discussed regarding treatments including: getting the person out of the cold or sheilding them from the weather as much as possible, monitoring their breathing, begining CPR if needed, warming them up with your body heat or warm dry compresses and more. Keep a Winter Car Survival Kit and supplies handy to help when disaster or accidents happen.

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Avalanches are dangerous, but only a small percentage of victims die from hypothermia, most perish due to traumatic injury or suffocation before they freeze to death. Snow slides are part and parcel of the winter wilderness experience and it pays to know what to do if you’re caught in one. Blizzards occur every year in the United States, and cause fatalities among the unprepared. In these storms, 70% of deaths occur due to traffic accidents and 25% from being caught outside during the blizzard. Learn safety tips to prevent these deaths and keep you and your family safe and healthy during the winter.

 

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/01/13/survival-medicine-hour-hypothermia-pt2-avalanches-blizzards

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

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The Altons

Hey, are you prepared to deal with medical issues in the uncertain future? Find out more about 150 topics as they relate to survival in our new Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way.

Video: Norovirus, the Stomach Flu

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hot-dog-stand

In this video, Joe Alton, MD discusses a recent experience with the stomach flu on a trip to New York. Norovirus is the most common cause of the “stomach flu”, a debilitating and dehydrating intestinal illness that affects millions every year throughout the world. Often caused by contaminated food on cruises, 800 students at a high school in Illinois were recently affected, presumably due to cafeteria issues. Learn more about the norovirus and what to do if you or a loved one comes down with it.

 

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe Alton, MD

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Choosing Sutures

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As we go around the country teaching the art of suturing pig’s feet to aspiring porcine podiatrists, we are often asked about how to choose the appropriate suture needles and material for different types of injuries.  There are a wide variety of choices and, today, we’ll discuss what is available and what is most effective for different types of wounds.

 

First, let’s identify some of the qualities of the optimal suture.  The suture should:

 

·        Be sterile

·        Be easily worked with

·        Be strong enough to hold wound edges together while they heal

·        Be unlikely to cause infection, tissue reaction or significant scar formation

·        Be reliable in its everyday use with every type of wound

 

It is rare, if not impossible, to find a single suture type that meets all of the above criteria, but there are many that will serve if chosen properly.

 

In the United States and many other countries, a standard classification of suture has been in place since the 1930s.  This classification identified stitches by type of material and the size of the “thread”.  Suture diameters most commonly used in humans (and pigs, I would think) is measured in zeroes, much like buckshot.  2-0 (00) suture, for example, is thicker than 5-0 (00000) suture. The more zeroes, the finer the “thread”. Finer sutures have less tissue reaction and heal faster, but are more difficult to handle for those without experience.

 

In addition to size, sutures are classified as absorbable and non-absorbable.  An absorbable suture is one that will break down spontaneously over time but not before the tissue has had sufficient time to heal.  Absorbable sutures have the advantage of not requiring removal after healing has taken place. This type of suture is commonly used in deep layers, such as muscle, fat, organs, etc.  A classic example of this is “catgut”, actually made from the intestines of sheep or cows.

 

(Aside: Catgut was once also used in the manufacture of stringed musical instruments and tennis racquets.)

 

Catgut is usually found in “plain” and “chromic” varieties. When dipped in a chromic acid salt solution, catgut lasts longer in the body while remaining absorbable.

 

Although still popular, catgut has been replaced by synthetic absorbables for many applications. examples of synthetic absorbable suture include “Vicryl” (polyglycolic acid), “PDS” (polydiaxanone), and others. These tend to last longer than catgut sutures, but will eventually be absorbed by the body.

suturenylon

Nylon suture package depicting size, needle shape, and length of “thread”

Nonabsorbable sutures are those that retain their character for a very long time, and will stay in the body until removed.  As such, normal immune response will cause the development of scar tissue, sometimes called “encapsulation”, around these sutures if used in internal body structures. 

 

Nonabsorbable sutures are best used in skin closures and situations that require prolonged tensile strength. They include monofilaments (such as “Nylon” and “Prolene”) and braided multifilaments (such as ”Surgical Silk”). Monofilaments like Nylon are useful because of less likelihood of harboring bacteria, whereas braided multifilaments have nooks and crannies for these organisms to hide. Monofilament also glide more easily through tissue. In trade, braided Silk is somewhat easier to handle than Nylon for many and often used for teaching purposes.

 

I recommend Nylon in most survival situations, with 2-0 or 3-0 Nylon ideal for those new to the suturing skill.  This size “thread” is easy to handle and useful for aspiring medics to learn surgical knot-tying.

 

The size of the “thread” you’ll use depends on the area of the body being repaired. Slowly healing tissues such as skin and tendons require nonabsorbable sutures; wounds in rapidly healing areas such as the inside of the cheek and vagina (childbirth) are best repaired with absorbables. 

 

In survival settings, cosmetic results are less important, but surgeons generally use smaller sutures in delicate areas such as areas on the head and face.  5-0 or 6-0 Nylon would normally be the choice here, but require more skill in handling.  Skin sutures should be placed, in my opinion, about 1/2 inch or so apart in most instances. This will allow drainage while keeping the wound together.  Areas over joints or other moving parts should be closer together. In wounds not near joints, say, the forearm, the sutures may be further apart and could be interspersed with Steri-Strips or butterfly closures.

suture needles

typical suture needles (chromic catgut)

 

The type of needle is also an important factor in choosing suture material. Needle that are less traumatic to sensitive tissues, like the lining of the bowel and other deep structures, are round on cross-section. These are known as “atraumatic” or “tapered”. Needles that are best on tough areas like skin are triangular in shape on cross-section and are referred to as “cutting” needles. Most suture needles that are useful for skin form a 3/8 circle; needles for deep work are often ½ circle in shape.

 

Having said all of the above, the choice of suture needles and material will vary depending on the user. Each surgeon will have his or her preferences based on their experience.

 

How long skin sutures remain in place before removal is dependent on the body part repaired.  Face wound sutures are usually removed relatively soon (5 days) compared to, say, a forearm wound (7-10 days).  Thicker skins, such as the sole of the foot should stay in somewhat longer.   Sutures placed over the knee or other joints should remain in place longer, 2-3 weeks, in my opinion.

 

Remember that the act of suturing is more traumatic than using butterfly closures, Steri-Strips, surgical glue, and others due to the fact that you are making more punctures in an area of skin already injured.  Each extra “hole” you create could allow the entry of bacteria into the wound. 

 

One last relevant point:  When you practice suturing on your pig’s foot, you are learning a skill, not a trade.  The practice of medicine without a license is illegal and punishable by law; as long as modern medical care exists, seek it out.

 

We’ll talk about staples, medical glues, and Steri-Strips/butterfly closures in future articles.

 

To see me suture in real time, here’s my YouTube video:

Joe Alton, MD

joealtonlibrary4Find out more about wound closure and 150 other topics in our 700 page Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way“. Find suture kits and individual sutures at Nurse Amy’s store.

Survival Medicine Hour: Hypothermia, Nightclub Terror

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hypothermiaoldmanincoldwater

It’s January, and a cold blast from the North is hitting parts of the Deep South. Hypothermia is a big issue for those not prepared for cold weather, and a number of people die every year from being unready to deal with Nature’s challenges. Find out about hypothermia, how the body loses heat, and some strategies for prevention this winter.

 

Also, the Turkish nightclub shooting almost exactly duplicates the blueprint established by last year’s Orlando Nightclub shootings. Along with vehicular terror, Dr. Bones makes the argument that this strategy is going to be repeated again and again, and tells you what you have to do to survive such events.

 

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/01/06/survival-medicine-hour-hypothermia-nightclub-terror-shootings

 

Follow us on twitter @preppershow

Follow our Youtube Channel at DrBones NurseAmy

Follow us at Facebook at DoomandBloom or join our Survival Medicine group at Survival Medicine DrBones NurseAmy

 

All the best for a happy and healthy 2017!

 

Joe and Amy Alton

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Video: Vehicular Terror

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vehicular-terrorism

In this companion video to a recent article, Joe Alton, MD discusses the wave of terror events using a car or truck to run down innocent citizens. From Nice, France to Berlin, Germany to Ohio State University, terrorists are figuring out that it’s a lot easier to own, rent, or steal a truck or other vehicle than to build a bomb. Find out more about this new blueprint for terror and  how you can use situational awareness to your advantage to stay safe.

To watch, just click below:

Wishing you the best of health in 2017,

Joe Alton, MD

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Is Broken-Heart Syndrome Real?

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debbie-carrie

image by telegraph.co.uk

The death of famous actress Debbie Reynolds one day after her famous actress daughter Carrie Fisher makes one wonder how the effect of grief can cause serious physical consequences.

 

Carrie Fisher, 60, famous for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies, passed away shortly after suffering a massive heart attack and subsequent cardiac arrest on a plane. The day after she passed away, her mother, Debbie Reynolds of “Singing in the Rain” and many other movies was killed by a massive stroke at the age of 84.

 

Debbie’s son, Todd Fisher, commented that “She wanted to be with Carrie”.

 

From time to time, you’ll hear reports about a person who experienced the death of a loved one (usually a spouse) dying of “grief”. Is there, indeed, a “Broken-Heart Syndrome”?

 

Yes, there is. It’s a well-known medical issue called stress-induced cardiomyopathy. Stress-induced cardiomyopathy is more common in older women and not always fatal. The death of a loved one isn’t always the cause. It could be any other stressful event: Getting bad personal news, a major financial setback, or even having to speak publicly could precipitate symptoms.

 

What happens physically in these circumstances? It’s not completely understood, but high levels of stress hormones called “catecholamines” like epinephrine (adrenaline) could possibly cause significant physical symptoms. One of these is an inability of the heart to effectively pump blood. If blood remains in one place for too long, it clots. The clot may travel to the brain, with a stroke as the end result.

 

Although “Broken-Heart Syndrome” occurs most often in those with healthy hearts, those with coronary artery disease may be at special risk. High amounts of stress hormone might cause plaques that partially block a blood vessel to break free. Complete blockage of a coronary artery may occur, leading to a heart attack.

 

Other factors in play include the increase in blood pressure that occurs in stressful situations. A very high blood pressure is a common cause of strokes, where a clot or hemorrhage in the brain stops blood flow to the organ. Heartrates also rise in the face of an unexpected event; abnormally fast rhythms may cause medical issues.

 

Depression also has a role in “Broken-Heart Syndrome”. The grieving survivor might begin to neglect their own health, failing to take prescribed medications or not keeping up with food and fluid intake. Dehydration, loss of control of diabetes or hypertension, and other issues may arise. The shock of a loved one’s death might cause a person to not seek prompt, life-saving medical care.

 

I, myself, was in this situation with my son, who was fading after 2 years of dialysis from severe type 1 Diabetes. I found myself less concerned with my own health and was beginning to feel the effects of situational depression. Luckily for both of us, he was able to receive a kidney and pancreas transplant at the last moment, and I was spared Debbie Reynold’s prospect of burying a child.

 

Family members who have a death in the family (say, a parent) should watch for physical signs and symptoms in the surviving parent or other affected loved ones. These include chest pain, fast heart rates (also called tachycardia), depression, and lack of attention to hygiene and medical conditions. All are important signs that the grieving party needs extra help staying healthy and some emotional support.

 

I can’t say if Debbie Reynolds had other medical problems that contributed to her death. At 84 years old, it might be just a coincidence that she passed away so soon after her daughter. But “Broken-Heart Syndrome” exists, and the importance of family and friends’ roles in providing vigilant support can’t be underestimated.

 

Joe Alton, MD

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Survival Medicine Hour: Vehicular Terror, Hangovers, RP Ruggiero of Brushfire Plague

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The Survival Medicine Hour, with Joe Alton,MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP aka Nurse Amy, wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year on this last day of 2016. With holiday parties all around us, some will find themselves with a celebration full of alcohol and perhaps a hangover to remember the night before. Before you attend that party, you should listen to this podcast for tips to both prevent and cure that aweful hangover.

Amy Alton, ARNP, interviews the author of the Brushfire Plague Trilogy series after he has recently completed the third book. Mr. R.P. Ruggerio lives in Colorado with his wife and two sons, and spends as much time outdoors as possible. He strives to live by Robert Heilein’s credo ” Specialization is for insects.” The Brushfire Plague trilogy are novels grounded in neighboorhood defense duringa devastating plague. Brushfire Plague, according to R.P., “also has useful lessons about the value of being prepared for possible disruptions to our normal way of life woven into the fabric of the story.  One unique aspect I focus on is the interpersonal dynamics one will be forced to deal with in any crisis situation.  This adds a lot to the drama and storyline and enhances the realism of the novel.”

Vehicular terror is the new blueprint for those wishing to cause mass casualties. Simple to obtain compared to guns and bombs, we can expect more events like the Berlin Christmas Market truck attack. Find out what you need to know to stay safe in these troubled times.

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/12/30/survival-medicine-hangovers-rp-ruggiero-vehicular-terror

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Joe and Amy Alton

JoeAmyPortrait2013

See more information about RP Ruggiero’s books at http://brushfireplague.com/? and at Amazon http://amzn.to/2ilH0e7?.

Don’t forget to follow us on our store, facebook, and twitter:

Store: http://store.doomandbloom.net/

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Surviving A Hangover

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hangover-the_tower-1

In normal times or times of trouble, New Year’s Eve is a time where many break out the Smoky Mountain Moonshine and end up regretting it the next morning. For you teetotalers, a hangover is a group of symptoms that occur in many people after a night of drinking. Hangovers vary in appearance and severity, but one thing is sure: You’d rather not have one.

 

A study in college students found that and 29% reported (not to their parents, though) losing school time for hangover recovery. Close to 10% of American workers report having gone to work with a hangover; Lost work days run in the millions.

 

What Causes Hangovers?

 

Despite thousands of years of people having hangovers from drinking too much alcohol, the process which causes the condition isn’t very well understood.  Dehydration, sleep disturbances, lack of food intake, low blood sugar, the presence of certain by-products of alcohol in the body and other factors are likely involved.

 

Substances known as “congeners” found in alcoholic beverages may play a role; one of these, methanol, is metabolized to toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and formic acid. Other congeners, like acetaldehyde, are much more toxic than the alcohol itself, acting like an “anti-antioxidant”.

 

Symptoms of Hangovers

 

Each person’s hangover is a little different, but you can expect to see some of the following symptoms:

 

  • Headache due to blood vessel expansion (called “vasodilation”)
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Tremors (possibly due to low blood sugar, or “hypoglycemia”)
  • Dizziness
  • Malaise (general sensation of feeling ill)
  • Irritability, depression, and/or difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach discomfort (alcohol increases stomach acid)
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Thirst
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid heartbeat

Symptoms begin when the alcohol level has dropped down to zero, usually the morning after a bender. They can last several hours, or in the worst cases, a couple of days.

 

Treating a Hangover

headachebarbie

 

Doctors actually don’t spend a lot of time researching hangover remedies, simply because they consider hangovers as effective deterrents to frequent alcohol abuse in many people. Although there is no certain cure for hangovers (other than time), there are a number of treatments; some of these have basis in scientific fact and some, well, not so much.

 

Consider these options as you try to pick yourself off the floor:

 

Drink some fluids.   You’re dehydrated, and some water, Gatorade, or juice (without alcohol, please) will help you recover faster. Skip acidic juices like orange juice; they won’t help your upset stomach.

 

Go back to bed. The more sleep you can get, the more you’ll sleep through some of the worst part of a hangover

 

Take a headache medicine. Ibuprofen can help your headache, but it can irritate your stomach. Tylenol might be a better choice, but is associated with liver disease if you’re a heavy drinker.

 

Eat something. You might be nauseous, but a little chicken broth and some crackers will help settle your stomach and give your blood sugar a boost. Some prefer dry toast with a little peanut butter. Pepto-Bismol (Bismuth Subsalicylate) isn’t a bad idea to deal with that stomach upset as well.

 

Home Remedies for Hangovers

 

The above measures are thought to be of likely medical benefit for hangovers, but there are a lot of home remedies that people swear by. Below are just a few.

 

Ice:  An icepack to your throbbing noggin might just be the thing to help that headache. A cold, moist washcloth will work just as well.

 

Bananas. Bananas are a good source of potassium, something you might be low on after a night of drinking.

 

Ginger:  Ginger root is a time-honored natural remedy for nausea and vomiting, and many people feel seasick when they have a hangover. Ginger Ale is the easiest way to ingest some, but a ginger tea may be even better.

 

Honey and Lemon: Ingredients of a hot toddy (hold the alcohol), mixing some honey and lemon will boost your blood sugar.

 

Vitamin B: A 1973 study found that Vitamin B6, in very large doses, can improve a hangover. Later studies, however, found no such benefit and possible risks to the liver and pancreas. Vitamin B-complex, a combination of B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), folic acid, B6 and B12 has also been proposed as a cure. It isn’t, but a dose of a vitamin supplement probably won’t hurt you.

 

Vitamin C: A popular ingredient and antioxidant in commercial “hangover supplements”, there’s little scientific data backing up any significant effect on a hangover. Like Vitamin B, however, there’s no reason to think it would hurt to take some Vitamin C.

 

Coffee: People like to think that some coffee will help their hangover, and it may do something for your headache. But caffeine is dehydrating, something that’s isn’t helpful when you’re already low on fluids.

 

Tomato Juice: While acidic and not so helpful for upset stomach, a non-alcoholic Bloody Mary is thought by some to metabolize alcohol from the body more quickly.

 

Exercise: If you can’t even move after a night of drinking, how can you exercise? Some feel, however, that sweating out the toxins will help a hangover. If you do decide to exert yourself, hydrate well beforehand and keep it to low-impact activities or you might be worse off than before. How about trying a walk around the block first?

 

Oxygen: Those with access to O2 canisters tout their benefits with regards to hangovers, but little evidence exists to support it.

 

The Prairie Oyster: V8 juice with Worcestershire and Tabasco, a little salt, a little pepper and a raw egg stirred together makes a Prairie Oyster, long thought to be a cure for a hangover. Little hard data confirms this concoction works, however, and eating uncooked eggs carries a risk for certain infections. Cooked eggs, however, contain taurine and cysteine, two substances that might help detoxify you. A number of other esoteric elixirs combining several incongruent ingredients also exist, but none have been scientifically shown to work. They will likely help raise your blood glucose, but you’re probably better off with a sports drink to get sugar, electrolytes, and hydration.

 

Hair of the Dog: Hair of the Dog is just another name for drinking more alcohol. It works because a hangover is essentially a form of alcohol withdrawal. Getting your drink on again, however, is the worst idea of all in the long run.

 

PREVENTION

 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is the honest-to-God’s truth when it comes to hangovers. Make sure to:

 

Eat before you drink: Drinking on an empty stomach equals big trouble. Beer has calories, but it’s not dinner. Having a full stomach before drinking may help you keep your blood alcohol level down.

 

One alcoholic drink, one non-alcoholic: Matching one Old-Fashioned with one glass of water will help keep your alcohol intake down and decrease your chances of a hangover in the morning.

 

Pick the right poison: If you’re not picky about your poison, try to stay away from dark liquors like, say, bourbon. These have more congeners and are more likely to cause hangovers than clear liquors like vodka. Clear liquors are less associated with severe hangovers.

 

Be Bubble-Free: Alcohol in carbonated drinks, like Champagne, may be absorbed more quickly and lead to worse hangovers.

 

Head it off at the pass: Take two aspirin with a full glass of water before going to bed. Fatty acids that reduce inflammation in aspirin can avoid a bad hangover.

 

Abstain: Do I really have to say why? If you really don’t want a hangover, don’t drink. Be the designated driver.

 

I’ll bet you have a tried and true method to deal with hangovers. If so, let us know on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/doomandbloom/ or our Facebook Survival Medicine Group page.

 

Joe Alton, MD

joealtonlibrary4

 

Surviving a hangover may not be true survival medicine, but you’ll find over 150 medical issues for disasters and epidemics in our 700 page Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way.

Using Epinephrine in Vials

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epipen

The EpiPen

 

We’re in the midst of an epidemic of allergies in the U.S., and severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis could be life threatening. Epinephrine is used For the emergency treatment of allergic reactions to stinging or biting insects, foods, drugs, and other allergens, as well as exercise-induced anaphylaxis; yes, you can be allergic to exercise, but don’t use that as an excuse to be a couch potato!

 

Epinephrine is most commonly used these days in an autoinjector that’s fast and easy to use. In the United States, one brand of autoinjector, the EpiPen, manufactured by a subsidiary of Pfizer pharmaceuticals, and marketed by Mylan corporation, is considered the gold standard. Annual sales of all epinephrine autoinjectors were about $200M; EpiPen had around 90% of the market; in 2015 the market size grew to $1.5B and epipen still has the lion’s share. Well, in a move that some might describe as profiteering, Mylan raised the U.S. price from around $100 for a package of two EpiPens in 2007 to around $600 in 2016, although it’s still less expensive in the UK and Canada. The devices, by the way, deliver about $1 worth of drug.

 

In a public relations move, Mylan made savings cards worth up to $300 available to some patients to purchase EpiPens, Unfortunately, these can only be used by a small number of people who need the drug, and doesn’t seem to include people on Medicaid. The high prices paid by insurers, however, haven’t changed and they pass the cost onto consumers in the form of higher and higher health insurance premiums every year.

 

(update: Mylan recently released a half-price generic version of the Epi-pen in response to the widespread resistance to their price increase.)

 

So what’s your best option if the Epipen is now outside of your financial reach? It might be using vials or ampules of epinephrine, small syringes, and some antiseptic wipes. The 1:1000 epinephrine ampules are 1 ml and contains enough for a one-time use of up to 2 doses. The same concentration vials are usually 30 ml and made for multiple uses. Here’s how to use epinephrine that’s packaged this way :

 

epinephrine-vial-epipen-substitute

1:1000 epinephrine in vials (from WebMD)

1:1000 epinephrine solution contain 1mg of drug per milliliter or cc of solution. For a person weighing 30 kg, 66 pounds, or greater, give 0.3 to 0.5 mg (0.3 to 0.5 mL) into the anterolateral thigh about the level of the bottom of your Jeans pocket. Repeat the dose every 5 to 10 minutes, alternating left and right thighs until improvement is noted. Remember that epinephrine will cause a fast heartbeat, nervousness and, perhaps, a number of other side effects. Of course, in normal times, get the victim to modern medical care as soon as possible, especially if more than 2 doses were needed.

 
For children weighing less than 66 pounds, the formula for anaphylaxis is 0.01 mg/kg, so a small child weighing 10 kg, or 44 pounds, would receive 0.2 mg, that’s .2 ml if you use 1:1000 epinephrine solution. The maximum pediatric dose is up to 0.3 mg, that’s 0.3 ml of epinephrine (1:1000).

 
This might seem complicated, and indeed, it does take longer to deliver the product than with an autoinjector like the Epipen unless you keep some small syringes prefilled with the medication. In a 2010 article in the ASIAN PACIFIC JOURNAL OF ALLERGY AND IMMUNOLOGY, manually prefilled syringes were recommended as a way to keep ready to use epinephrine available at all times, and it appears that the medication remains potent and uncontaminated by bacteria or fungus for 3 months. After that, it changes color and all bets are off. This also assumes that the syringes are stored at room temperature, as high temperatures will affect potency considerably over time.

 

(This article can be viewed in video form HERE)

 

 

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

Dr. Joe Alton

 

Learn more about allergic reactions, anaphylactic shock and 150 other topics related to survival in good or bad times by  getting a copy of the 700 page Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way, now available at Amazon.

Survival Medicine Hour: Holiday Blues, More

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The Survival Medicine Hour, with Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones, and Amy Alton, ARNP aka Nurse Amy, wish you and your family a wonderful Merry Christmas. May 2017 bring you a multitude of blessings and good health. About 16% of our population is alone and lonely during the Christmas holiday.

This special episode will help you and others find ways to be a part of this joyous time of year. Helping others, being a listening ear, making home-made presents, visiting the less-fortunate or sick, or joining a helpful cause are just some of the advice to help you and those around you feel more Christmas spirit. Christmas is not about store-bought presents. Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2017 to you and yours.

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/12/23/survival-medicine-hour-lonely-christmas-survival-tips

 

all the best,

Joe and Amy Alton

corgi-christmas

 

Surviving Vehicular Terrorism

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vehicular-terrorism

CNN reports that a man in Berlin used a truck to plow through a group of people at a Christmas market, killing 9 and injuring 50 more. The tractor trailer appeared to deliberately ram through several stalls at what is estimated to be 40 miles per hour; German authorities are treating the incident, at present, as a terror event.

The attack appears to parallel the cargo truck killing of 86 people and the wounding of 434 others in Nice, France during a fireworks display on a national holiday. On a smaller scale, a Somali student at Ohio State University recently ran down a number of people before leaving his car and stabbing several others with a large knife. A pattern seems to be emerging where a vehicle is used to cause casualties in public spaces.

Ordinarily, terror attacks are associated with guns, but these items are difficult to come by in most countries. Bombs, another preferred terrorist weapon, require expertise to assemble safely. Owning or renting a vehicle, however, is much more common and requires little skill to operate. Trucks and cars can cause mass casualties if wielded as a weapon; obtaining one elicits no suspicion.

Therefore, would-be terrorists now have a new blueprint for causing mayhem among an unsuspecting public. There are few who pay much attention to traffic unless they’re in a vehicle themselves or crossing the street. The speed at which a vehicle can accelerate and turn into a crowd leaves little time for reaction. Hence, the “success” rate of this type of terror event may surpass even a gunman’s ability to cause deaths and injuries.

The increasing number of terror events around the world underlines the increasing need for situational awareness. Situational awareness is the mindset whereby threats are mentally noted and avoided or abolished. Originally a tool for the military in combat, it is now a strategy for the average citizen in these uncertain times.

The situationally aware person is always at a state of “Yellow Alert” when in crowded public venues. By that, I mean a state of relaxed but vigilant observation of what is happening around him or her. When an action or behavior occurs that doesn’t match the surroundings and situation, it’s an anomaly.

When a vehicle moves erratically or leaves the normal pattern of traffic, it’s an anomaly that requires rapid action. Mentally noting routes of escape whenever you’re in a crowd will give you the best chance of getting out of the way. Just as knowing the location of exits in a mall or theatre is good policy, a heightened awareness is now important at any outdoor event or popular public area near roadways.

For vehicular terrorists, the target will be crowds of people near the street. Their objective is mass casualties, and those pedestrians nearest the curb will bear the brunt of the attack. Consider walking on the fringe of a crowd away from the road to give yourself the most options. In the center, the masses, not your own good judgment, will dictate your movement. Take a walk along Times Square and you’ll see what I mean.

bollards

Retractable Bollards

Municipalities can protect their citizens by constructing barriers known as “bollards” which would stop vehicles from entering pedestrian areas. These can be seen outside many government buildings and airport terminals. Expanding their use to areas that attract crowds would be an important consideration for the future.

I’ll admit that the likelihood you’ll be in the path of a terrorist using a vehicle, or any other weapon, is very small. Panic isn’t the answer, but these are troubled times; the more situationally aware you are, the safer you’ll be.

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

For more information on surviving terror events, see my other articles:

https://www.doomandbloom.net/situational-awareness-could-save-your-life/

https://www.doomandbloom.net/how-a-fighter-pilots-strategy-could-save-your-life-the-ooda-loop/

Survival Medicine Hour: Norovirus, Cold Myths, Man Flu?

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virus

Norovirus: The Stomach Flu

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, a bout of acute gastroenteritis, also called “stomach flu” caused by Norovirus sends Nurse Amy to urgent care. Find out about the microbe that sends two million victims to their doctors every year in the U.S., how to prevent it and some other important advice to stay healthy this winter.

colds

Also, top ten myths people believe will prevent a cold. We know there’s one or two in there you think are true! Also, why do men seem to have worse symptoms than women when they get the flu or other viruses? Is there such a thing as the Man Flu?

All this and more on the latest episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton, ARNP. To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/12/16/survival-medicine-hour-norovirus-cold-myths-man-flu

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad, and Merry Christmas!

Joe and Amy Alton

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Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

The “Stomach Flu” Virus

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oysters

Oysters may harbor norovirus

We often write about disaster situations that we personally experience. We’ve been through hurricanes, tornadoes, and epidemics, just to mention a few. Recently, our home in Gatlinburg, Tennessee was threatened by the wildfires there, which killed 14 and wiped out more than 1700 buildings and over 100 on the mountain where the house is located.

 

We’ve written about a number of medical issues that we’ve experienced as well. For example, I converted to positive for Tuberculosis during my work with Cuban refugees during the 1980 Mariel boatlift. I still carry a small walled-off nodule on X-ray, even after months of multi-drug therapy.

 

On a recent trip to New York City to visit our daughter, we both experienced a medical issue so common that it surprised us that we haven’t yet written about it: acute gastroenteritis, or the “Stomach Flu”. When this infection hits you, it makes even the healthiest individual miserable. Nurse Amy required an urgent care visit, no small issue in a strange and heavily-populated city. She was just one of nearly 2 million outpatient visits caused by norovirus in the U.S. every year.

 

Norovirus is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans. It was originally called “Norwalk Virus”, after the area where it was first identified in the 1960s. Since then, it’s been blamed for 50% of all gastroenteritis in the U.S. Worldwide, there are more than 200 million cases of norovirus infection a year. It affects people of all ages, but it’s particularly dangerous in the elderly, the very young, and those with weakened immune systems. Winter is the most common time for outbreaks.

 

Norovirus is very contagious (just 5-20 viral particles can cause illness) and is easily transmitted through contaminated food or water, close personal contact, and by air droplets from vomit, contaminated food counters, and even toilet flushes. Infection can be passed from person to person for a time even after apparent recovery.

 

Here’s how contagious the norovirus is: In one outbreak reported in 1998, 126 people were dining at a restaurant when one person vomited onto the floor. Despite a rapid cleanup, 52 fell ill within three days. More than 90% of the people who later dined at the same table reported symptoms. More than 70% of the diners at a nearby table got sick; at a table on the other side of the restaurant, the rate was still 25%.

 

Norovirus is a hardy microbe, and is known to survive for long periods outside a human host. It can live for weeks on countertops and up to twelve days on clothes. It can survive for months in still water. Disinfectants containing chlorine, however, like bleach will quickly eliminate it, as will sufficient heat.

 

The symptoms of the stomach flu include nausea and vomiting, watery diarrhea, and (sometimes severe) abdominal pain, usually within 12 to 48 hours of exposure. Along with this, muscle aches, headache, and fever may be seen. Luckily, life-threatening illness is rare, with dehydration being the main danger in those infected with the virus.

 

Unlike some viruses, immunity to norovirus is only temporary, maybe six months, after recovery.

 

Outbreaks of norovirus infection often occur in closed spaces such as cruise ships, nursing homes, schools, camps, and prisons. Shellfish, such as oysters, and salad ingredients are the foods most often implicated in norovirus outbreaks. In our case, it might have been a kiosk advertising “the World’s Best Hot Dogs”.hot-dog-stand

As is the case with most viruses, there is no cure for norovirus infection. Antibiotics will not be effective, as they are meant to kill bacteria, not viruses. Treatment involves staying well-hydrated. Dehydration can be noted by these symptoms:

 

  • ·        Dry mouth

  • ·        Decrease in quantity or dark color of urine

  • ·        Dizziness when standing up

  • ·        Decreased elasticity of skin (it “tents” when pulled)

  • ·        No tears when crying or unusual irritability in infants

Using antidiarrheal meds like loperamide (Imodium) and anti-vomiting drugs like Ondansetron (Zofran) may also help.

 

A cure may not be available but prevention is another issue. To decrease the chance of norovirus infection:

 

·        Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (norovirus is relatively resistant to alcohol), especially after using the restroom or handling food. Be especially sure to do this for 2 weeks after becoming infected (yes, you can be contagious for that long).

·        Wash food before cooking; cook shellfish thoroughly

·        Frequently disinfect contaminated surfaces with a bleach solution (the EPA recommends 5-25 drops of bleach per gallon)

·        Keep sick individuals away from food preparation areas

·        Avoid close contact with others when you are sick, and don’t share utensils or other items

·        Wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items

·        Immediately remove and wash clothes that may be contaminated with vomit or feces. Machine dry if possible.

 

It may be difficult to completely eliminate the risk of norovirus infection, but careful attention to hand and food hygiene will go a long way towards avoiding the stomach flu.

 

Joe Alton, MD

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 Check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits and individual supplies at her store at store.doomandbloom.net.

 

Zika Defects More Common Than Previously Thought

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microcephalic infant

A recent U.S. study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that 6% of 400 babies infected with Zika virus born here had one or more related birth defects. The study pales in comparison, however, to a Brazilian study of 125 women just reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. In that study, 46% of babies had abnormalities or did not survive the pregnancy. Previous studies had shown a risk of defects of 1 to 13 per cent.

Troubling evidence has now emerged that suggests that babies may still develop issues even as they approach their first birthday. Previously, it was thought that all damage occurred while still in the womb. Now scientists are asserting that the virus may continue to destroy nervous tissue for a time after birth.

The timing of the infection seemed to have an impact, with 11% of U.S. pregnancies diagnosed with Zika in the first trimester yielding babies with birth defects, less in mid- or late-pregnancy. Although Zika virus lasts only a short time in the blood, it appears to possibly last for months in brain tissue. The overall incidence of 6% in the U.S. was the same for women who experienced symptoms of Zika illness and those who were asymptomatic.

Most cases in the continental United States were diagnosed in women who had traveled to the epidemic zone, although an epidemic of more than 30,000 locally transmitted cases was seen in Puerto Rico and a local outbreak of more than 200 cases was noted in South Florida. More recently, a case of local transmission was reported in the Brownsville area of Texas.

Zika virus is known to cause increased numbers of newborns with microcephaly, an abnormality of growth in the brain and fetal head normally seen in less than 1% of all births. In the lab, Zika has been shown to kill brain cells. Other defects in sight, hearing, joints, and elsewhere have also been detected, according to Margaret Honein, lead author of the U.S. study and head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

Another troubling aspect is that the Zika virus is completely asymptomatic in 80% of those infected. This means that the actual number of cases may be five times the recorded numbers. Additionally, it is unknown what developmental milestones may be delayed over the first few years of life, and whether school performance may be affected.

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The best way to prevent Zika virus is still to prevent mosquito bites by wearing appropriate clothing and using repellent when in at-risk areas (or avoid travel there altogether), Pregnancies should be delayed for 8 weeks in women who have had the virus or traveled to the epidemic zone. Men shouldn’t attempt to impregnate their partner for at least 6 months.

 

Joe Alton, MD

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Get a copy of our 700 page third edition of “The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way”, available on this website and also at amazon.com.

It’s not too late to get a copy of the premiere board game of the preparedness community “Doom and Bloom’s SURVIVAL!” as a Christmas gift! Find out all about it at survivalboardgame.com.

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Survival Medicine Hour: Pneumonia, Natural Remedies

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The Survival Medicine Hour, with Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP aka Nurse Amy, bring you a tremendous amount of information today. Are you going to be the medic or caretaker in a disaster or survival situation?  Our mission is to help put a medically prepared person in every family for any disaster.

Pneumonia is an infection affecting the aprt of the lungs that absorbs oxygen from the atmosphere. Pneumonia may be viral, bacterial or fungal infection. The infection usually starts by affecting a portion of one lung (a “lobe”) before spreading to the entire organ. If enough fluid clogs the air clogs the air sacs (alveoli), it’s possible, while listening to lung sounds, you actually won’t hear any sounds at all.

Natural remedies are available for help with respiratory infections to reduce symptoms and build a person’s immunity. Antioxidants, like Vitamin C and Vitamin E and other antioxidants taken regularly are supposed to decrease the frequency and severity of respiratory infections.

Some of the best essential oils for symptoms are Lavender, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Peppermint and Geranium. Herbal teas such as Stinging Nettle, Licorice Root, Peppermint, Anise Sage and Dandelion are all made better with a bit of raw, unprocessed honey and fresh squeezed lemon.

Joe Alton, MD

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Joe Alton MD

Oakland Warehouse Fire: Surviving in a Crowd

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The fire in an Oakland warehouse that was a refuge for artists and a venue for dance parties has now claimed 36 lives with several persons still missing. In the past, I’ve written about safety in wildfires and also in homes over the years; this time, I’ll explore the issue relating to fires in public venues like concert halls.

Concerts and theatres have long been areas at risk for fire. In 1903, Chicago’s Iroquois theatre was the site of an inferno which caused 600 deaths. In 1942, the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston claimed 492 lives. In 2003, 100 perished in the Station nightclub in Warwick, R.I. during a concert by the rock band Great White.

Most public venues have important fire protection strategies such as sprinkler systems, fire exits, and fire extinguishers. Indeed, fire codes have evolved to make most of these places quite safe.

The phenomenon of “flash concerts”, however, places crowds of people in locations without these safeguards. This puts the onus on concert-goers to become more situationally aware, something few patrons of these events even think about.

What is situational awareness? Situation awareness involves understanding what’s going on in your immediate vicinity that might be hazardous to your health. I don’t mean second-hand smoke here; I’m talking about knowing what dangers may exist that you can avoid or abolish with your actions. Especially important for soldiers in a combat zone, it’s now become just as important for the average citizen in any large crowd.

The situationally aware person is in a constant state of what I call “Yellow Alert”, a relaxed awareness of their surroundings. At Yellow Alert, a concert-goer has a much better chance to identify threats than someone with their nose buried in their smart phone. Although many might enjoy the use of recreational drugs, like marijuana or ecstasy, it’s much safer to have your wits about you at these events. Mentally marking nearby exits, fire extinguishers, and alarms when you first arrive will allow you to have a plan of action if the worst happens.

A good spot at a concert is front and center, but you might be safer at the fringe of the crowd. In the center, your choice of escape route is governed by the crowd rather than good judgment.

Who’s at fault? Although Derick Almena, the manager of the Oakland warehouse, was understandably distraught during an interview with the TODAY show, he must bear responsibility for the conflagration, as must the owner, Chor N. Ng (whose daughter claims, says the LA Times, that he didn’t know people lived in the building). Here are some reasons why:

·        The 10,000 foot warehouse, also known as the “Ghost Ship”, had no sprinkler system nor fire alarms. No word on the number of fire extinguishers, if any.

·        Piles of discarded furniture dotted the interior.

·        Staircases were partially supported by wooden pallets.

·        Construction and electrical work was performed on an impromptu basis, often without permits or proper inspections.

·        A number of recreational vehicles, presumably with gas in the tanks, were in the warehouse.

Oakland city officials, however, are also culpable. The LA Times reports that, since 2014, several complaints were lodged for building and fire code violations without apparent action by the city after investigation. The Fire Marshall blames severe understaffing for the shortcomings, the responsibility for which must also be borne by Oakland’s city government. Zac Unger, an official with the firefighter’s union, was quoted as saying “Had a fire inspector walked into that building and seen the conditions in there, they would have shut the place down.”

Unfortunately, the responsibility for your safety may ultimately lie with the average citizen. Incorporate situational awareness into your mindset when in any public venue, and you’ll stand the best chance to avoid and escape becoming a casualty of a fire or any other calamity.

For more information on becoming situationally aware and how to deal with building fires, read my articles “How a Fighter Pilot’s Strategy Could Save Your Life: The OODA Loop” and “Surviving a House Fire”.

Joe Alton, MD

When to Close a Wound

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There are many injuries that a medic will face in a survival scenario, and a common and potentially life-threatening one occurs whenever the skin is broken. Your skin is your body’s armor; when it is breached, infectious organisms enter a highway which can transport them to just about any part of the body. Therefore, it makes common sense that you’d want to close that breach to speed healing and lock out infection. Indeed, that’s exactly what happens thousands of times daily in emergency rooms in normal times.

The off-grid medic has a dilemma, however: Most wounds in survival will be dirty, and providing a sterile environment for a surgical procedure is a difficult challenge. You could make the work area as clean as possible, but sterile? Not likely. As such, you should wisely choose what wounds should be closed and what wounds should be left open.

Many medics can’t imagine not closing a tear or cut in the skin (called a “laceration”), but it’s a reasonable way to deal with contaminated wounds in situations where you can’t assure a sterile, or even clean, field on which to work. Lacerations that are kept open must be dressed and cleaned regularly until they’re fully healed.

Open wounds heal through a process called “granulation”, where new tissue forms at the base and sides until the defect in the skin is fully healed. Essentially, “from the bottom up”. This tissue is somewhat granular in appearance, hence the name.

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To Close or Not to Close?

To paraphrase Hamlet, “To close or not to close? That is the question!” To answer this questions, we must examine what our goals are in closing a wound. Among other reasons, you close wounds to:

  • Repair the defect in the body’s armor, thus preventing infection in a clean wound.
  • Accelerate the healing process. Wound edges that are touching heal faster than those that aren’t.
  • Decrease scarring. Scarring is less of an issue in survival, unless the scar would, say, limit the range of motion of a joint in extremity.

A note about bleeding: Although closing a wound may apply pressure to bleeding areas, it is not a substitute for hemorrhage control, also known as “hemostasis” before closure. Consider the application of direct pressure first on the bleeding area, a method that succeeds in many cases. Also, for major blood loss, have tourniquets, hemostatic agents like Celox or Quikclot, and pressure dressings as part of your medical storage.

So what factors come into play when deciding to close a wound or to keep it open? Consider keeping the wound open in these circumstances:

The wound is dirty. Are the circumstances suspicious for contamination? In survival scenarios, the answer is often yes. In austere environments, even WHO (the World Health Organization) agrees that the safest course of action is to keep it open.

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Candidate for closure IF clean

Here are some circumstances where wounds should be kept open:

  • The wound is infected. Infected wounds have a certain appearance: They are red, swollen (sometimes appearing “shiny”), warm to the touch, and may drain pus.
  • The wound is colonized (infected but not yet showing signs). Even the air has bacteria; you can expect a wound to be colonized within 6-8 hours or so.
  • There is dead tissue in the wound. This tissue won’t bleed when it is cut and often appears discolored or black. No closure should be performed without removing dead tissue first (a procedure known as “debridement”).
  • Puncture wounds, especially from mammalian (including human) bites have lots of bacteria and shouldn’t be closed. Interestingly, snake bites become infected less often than, say, cat or dog bites, but don’t close them either.
  • The wound edges are so far apart that closing them would cause undue pressure. This occurs with injuries like “avulsions”, where entire areas of tissue are missing.
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wound infection

Here are situations where you should consider closing the wound:

  • You’re certain the wound is clean. This usually requires witnessing the injury as it happens.
  • The wound has been open less than 6-8 hours.
  • The laceration is long or deep enough to penetrate the entire thickness of the skin. A deep wound would allow you to see underlying tissue such as subcutaneous fat.
  • The wound is located over a joint. A moving part, such as the knee, will constantly stress a wound and prevent it from closing in by itself.
  • The wound gapes open loosely, suggesting that it can be closed without undue pressure on the skin (and won’t close at all without your intervention).

In future articles, we’ll explore wound closure materials, techniques, and theory.

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Joe Alton, MD

Learn all about wound care and wound closure methods via our DVD or in the Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way.  View our entire line of medical kits and supplies at store.doomandbloom.net

Survival Medicine Hour: Gatlinburg Fires, Stress, More

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On this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, your hosts, Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy discuss the devastating wildfires that have damaged or destroyed more than 400 structures and taken the lives of at least 13 innocent people, with more than 80 injured seeking help at local hospitals. The severity of the entire disaster is still unknown right now, and we will give you an update on the status of our own house in Gatlinburg. We live in South Florida so it has been a maddening few days to find out the results of the fires that spread up Chalet Village and Ski Mountain areas. Please donate to Red Cross to help fund those who need it so desperately and have lost their primary residence. There are so many without so much. Our prayers are with those who need it right now.
Christmas is almost upon us and the pressure to shop is causing some stress in shoppers. Dr. Alton discusses ways to decrease your stress levels and still have a fun-filled time during the holiday season (one tip: don’t be afraid to ask what they want!). Nurse Amy shares what she wishes for Christmas and what we all really want inside (hint: love, family and kindness). Relax and enjoy your Christmas with friends and family, we are all lucky to be on this beautiful earth together.
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Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,
Joe and Amy Alton
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Wildfire Preparedness and Our Gatlinburg Home

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2015 Birdhouse Inn Mountain Paradise View!

The view from my home as I’d like to remember it

It’s been a very busy year for firefighters, with heat waves, drought, and human malice or carelessness causing large areas to burn from Canada to California. You may have heard me say that you probably won’t  be affected by a disaster today, tomorrow, or next week. Over a lifetime, however, the chances aren’t quite as small. Add in your children’s lifetimes, and their children’s, and the odds are greater still. I’ve personally been through hurricanes, tornadoes, civil unrest, and the Mariel Boatlift unscathed other than for some missing roof tiles and a conversion to positive for tuberculosis (thanks, Fidel). We were even stranded in Europe due to a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

And now wildfire. A particularly intense one recently struck a place I know and love: Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Home to the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I’ve had a vacation home there for 20 years and spend Spring and Fall there. I love hiking in the backcountry, and if I cannot say that I’ve walked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, I can say I’ve walked its entire width.

With multiple fires spreading through the popular resort town, the mountain that my house is situated on lit up like a match.  In the dry, windy conditions, hundreds of homes were burnt to the ground. As of this writing, I have not yet heard of the fate of the home in which I’ve accumulated 20 years of memories. The likelihood is that it no longer exists. Much more importantly, homes of many permanent residents have been destroyed, leaving them homeless; the businesses that employed those people were incinerated.

Putting my feelings aside for a moment, let’s talk about what you can do in the face of an irresistible force like a wildfire. How can you protect your property (and yourself) from being devastated by fire? Two main principles for property defense are 1) vegetation management and 2) creating a “defensible space”. The main strategy for personal defense is “Get Out Of Dodge”.

An important factor in wildfire preparedness is what we call “vegetation management”. With vegetation management, the key is to direct fires away from your house. There are several ways to accomplish this, all of which require vigilance and regular maintenance. 

You’ll want to clean up dead wood and leaf piles lying within 30 feet of your building structure. Pay special attention to clearing off the roof and gutters. Although you may have spent time and money putting lush landscaping around your home, you may have to choose between attractive, yet flammable plants and fire protection.

You’ll want to thin out those thick canopied trees near your house, making sure that no two canopies touch each other. Any trees within 50 feet on flatland, or 200 feet if downhill from your retreat need to be thinned, so that you’re pruning branches off below 10-12 feet high, and separating them by 10-20 feet. No tree should overhang the roof. Also, eliminate all shrubs at the base of the trunks.

Lawns and gardens should be well-hydrated; collect lawn cuttings and other debris that could be used as fuel by the fire. If water is limited, keep dry lawns cut back as much as possible (or remove them).

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From a wildfire perspective, a defensible space is an area around a structure where wood and vegetation are treated, cleared, or reduced to slow the spread of flames towards a structure. Having a defensible space will also provide room to work for those fighting the fire.

The amount of defensible space you’ll need depends on whether you’re on flat land or on a steep slope. Flatland fires spread more slowly than a fire on a slope (hot air and flames rise). A fire on a steep slope with wind blowing uphill spreads fast and produces “spot fires”. These are small fires that ignite vegetation ahead of the main burn, due to small bits of burning debris in the air.

Woodpiles and other flammables should be located at least 20-30 feet away from structures. Gardening tools should be kept in sheds, and those sheds should be at a distance from the home.  Concrete walkways and perimeter walls may serve to impede the progress of the fire.

Attic and other vents should be covered with screening to prevent small embers from entering the structure. Additional strategies for the home can be found at firewise.org.

Of course, once you have created a defensible space, the natural inclination is to want to, well, defend it. Unfortunately, you have to remember that you’ll be in the middle of a lot of heat and smoke.

The safest recommendation, therefore, would be to get out of Dodge if there’s a safe way to leave. It’s a personal decision but realize that your family’s lives may depend on it. If you’re leaving, have a bag already packed with food, water, extra clothes, batteries, flashlights, and more. Don’t forget to bring your cell phone, any important papers you might need, and some cash.

As an added precaution, make sure you shut off any air conditioning system that draws air into the house from outside. Turn off all your appliances, close all your windows and lock all your doors. Like any other emergency, you should have some form of communication system established with your loved ones in case you’re not together.

Medical kits should contain masks, eye and hand protection, burn ointment (aloe vera is a natural alternative) and non-stick dressings. Specialized burn dressings are available that incorporate both. Gauze rolls and medical tape can be used for additional coverage. Round out your kit with scissors, cold packs, and some eyewash (smoke is a major irritant to the eyes).

If your routes of escape are blocked, make sure you’re dressed in long pants, sleeves, and heavy boots. A wool blanket is very helpful as an additional outside layer because wool is relatively fire-resistant. Some people think it’s a good idea to wet the blanket first: Don’t. Wet materials transfer heat much faster than dry materials and will cause more severe burns.

If you’re inside a building, stay on the side farthest from the fire and with the least number of windows (windows transfer heat to the inside). Stay there unless you have to leave due to smoke or the building catching fire. If that’s the case and you have to leave, wrap yourself in the blanket, leaving only your eyes uncovered.

If you’re having trouble breathing because of the smoke, stay low, and crawl out of the building. There’s less smoke and heat the lower you go. Keep your face down towards the floor. This will help protect your airway, which is very important. You can recover from burns on your skin, but not from major burns in your lungs.

As of this writing, I’m still waiting for public access to my part of the mountain in Gatlinburg to be reinstated. If my home survived, it could have been due to the principles I’ve followed above, but it could also be just the wind direction or some timely rain. I’d like to believe it’s the former, but, heck, I’ll take the latter.

Joe Alton, MD

Please take a moment to include firefighters, medical personnel, and the citizens of Gatlinburg in your prayers. Also, a donation to the American Red Cross can be sent to First Tennessee Bank to aid fire relief efforts. The Johnson City Press reports that the First Tennessee Foundation will match donations up to $50,000. Send a check for any amount payable to the American Red Cross to:

First Tennessee Bank              

P.O. Box 8037

Gray, TN 37615

attn: Ms. Teresa Fry

Survival Medicine Hour: Respiratory Infections, pt. 3, Foot Care, More

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Respiratory Infections

The Survival Medicine Hour, November 25, 2016, with Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones, and Amy Alton, ARNP aka Nurse Amy explore various respiratory infections and their symptoms. We classify respiratory infections as upper and lower. Upper respiratory infections invlove the troat, nasal passages, sinuses and larynx. Lower respiratory infections invlove the trachea (wind-pipe), bronchi and lungs.

Discover the common treatments and medications commonly used to treat these infections, and some special tips to help prevent them. What do you do with your toothbrush after you recover from a respiratory infection? Are you still using anti-bacterial soap to wash your hands? Find out what you should be doing to stay healthy and why.

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Pick the right shoes!

Christmas holidays are the time for shopping and lots of walking. Wear the wrong shoes and you may be in a world of hurt. Nurse Amy shares some good advice on what kind of shoes to wear on long walks and how to pick the right shoes for your feet.

To Listen in, Click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/11/25/survival-medicine-respiratory-infections-pt3-foot-care-happy-thanksgiving

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton, MD

 

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Doom and Bloom’s SURVIVAL! board game

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game miniatures (an added bonus!)

Video: Storing Medications

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Storing Meds

In good times or bad times, having a strategy for the proper storage of medicines will help preserve their potency for when they’re needed. Here’s a video by Joe Alton, MD about the factors to consider when putting away those needed medications for later use. Companion video to a recent article.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe Alton, MD

 

 

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You’ll need more than just medicine to get you through a disaster, so check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical supplies at her store at https://store.doomandbloom.net/    You’ll be glad you did!

Sleep Deprivation

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sleep deprivation

In our roles as preparedness experts for disasters and epidemics, we’re often asked to come on various media outlets to give our opinion, mostly on medical issues. Occasionally, we get the interview request that seems to be a medical topic but has obvious political overtones. Just yesterday, a radio station asked me to comment, as a doctor, on whether Donald Trump’s 4-hour a night sleep habit impacts his ability to make rational and sound decisions.

As for my opinion on this particular question, I’ll refer you to americansurvivalradio.com, but suffice it to say that he’s actually in pretty good company with regards to sleep habits.  Five hours was reported as a good night’s sleep for Bill Clinton while president. Winston Churchill liked naps but slept little at night. Martha Stewart is just one of many business leaders that get less than the recommended 7-8 hours per night. There are, in fact, quite a few highly successful folks who seem to do just fine with little shut-eye.

Sleep deprivation is a pretty serious issue: Some researchers believe that it can carry a mortality risk approaching that of cigarettes or heart disease. Indeed, sleep deprivation has been used as a torture method in interrogations. The CDC estimates that up to 50-70 million Americans suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. In the aftermath of a major disaster, you can imagine that issues with sleep deprivation will only increase.

How does sleep deprivation decrease your chances of succeeding in times of trouble? Not getting enough sleep can significantly impair your brain’s function. The parts of the brain involved in alertness and attention (the thalamus) and the area that controls many higher-level thought processes (the prefrontal cortex) are especially vulnerable.  If the brain doesn’t get enough rest, you may become incapable of putting events into the proper perspective and taking appropriate action, a pretty big issue whether you’re president of the United States or the survivor of a major disaster.

Scientific studies bear this out. Indeed, The British Medical Journal equates the effects of 17-21 hours without sleep as the equivalent, in terms of affecting behavior, of having a blood alcohol level close to the legal limit of intoxication. A number of articles that evaluated the performance of medical residents show that those getting less than 4 hours of sleep made more medical errors that residents who slept 7-8 hours a night.

What about the elderly? Don’t older people naturally sleep less hours and less deeply? Studies show that that the elderly do get less sleep, but it’s not necessarily because they need less. Sleep could be affected for all sorts of reasons: sleep apnea, arthritis pain, heart issues, etc. Those in their later years also might develop something called “advanced sleep-phase syndrome”. These folks’ bodies want to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier but their minds (and HBO, I expect) keep them from getting to sleep at a reasonable hour. Result: Sleep Deprivation.

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In addition to what’s happening in your brain, the failure to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night causes a whole set of symptoms, none of which are particularly good for a survivalist. Here are just some:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Bloodshot, puffy eyes
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Muscle aches
  • Hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms
  • Ill effects on control of diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Blackouts lasting up to 30 seconds (also called “microsleeps”)

There are a number of people that seem to function just fine with less than the average number of sleep hours. No one is quite sure why this is so, but it appears to involve about 5% of the population and may be related to genetics. For the rest, it rapidly becomes clear that they need more sleep.

There are things that you can do to get a few more hours of shut-eye each night. The best start is to consider a concept we’ll call “sleep hygiene”.  Sleep hygiene involves adjusting your behavior to maximize the amount of restful sleep you get.  Consider:

  • Sticking to a standard bedtime and wakeup time
  • Making your nighttime environment as comfortable as possible
  • Avoiding Nicotine, Caffeine, and Alcohol before going to bed.
  • Staying awake from heavy foods for at least 2 hours before going to sleep
  • Exercising regularly, but not right before going to bed
  • Eliminating as much light as possible in the room at bedtime
  • Keeping your mind clear of stressful issues at bedtime

After a disaster, many of the above strategies are difficult to implement. Of course, there are drugs like Ambien and Halcion that you can use, but a better alternative to start with might be some form of natural sleep aid.  Some of the common alternative remedies for sleeplessness include the following teas:

  • Chamomile
  • Kava Root
  • Lavender
  • Valerian Root
  • Catnip

Good nutrition is important for general health, but some foods are also thought to be helpful in promoting a good night’s sleep.  They contain sleep-inducing or muscle-relaxing substances like melatonin, magnesium, or tryptophan. Some examples:

  • Oatmeal – melatonin
  • Milk – tryptophan
  • Almonds – tryptophan and magnesium
  • Bananas – melatonin and magnesium
  • Whole wheat Bread – helps release tryptophan

Yoga, massage, meditation, sound machines, and even acupuncture might also be effective ways of dealing with sleep deprivation.

Staying healthy in normal times or in the aftermath of disaster involves, not only maintaining good physical hygiene, but maintaining good sleep hygiene as well. To be at 100% efficiency, get some rest!

Joe Alton, MD

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Joe Alton, MD

Survival Medicine Hour: Respiratory Infections, Part 2, Effects of Stress, More

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medicaltent

This week on the Survival Medicine Hour, Joe Alton, MD aka as Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP aka Nurse Amy, November 19, 2016, discuss some tips to help “survive” the possibly stressful Christmas shopping experience. Ebay did a study that found 88% of shoppers had elevated heartbeats similar to an athlete running a marathon. What are the effects of a rapid heart rate on the body, and learn why you feel so exhausted after an anxiety attack.

The latest update on Zika theories about why some countries are experiencing a higher rate of birth defects than others. What is going on with the progress of a Zika vaccine and a breakthrough medication to limit the ill effects of the virus on unborn babies.

Respiratory infections affect millions of people each year. Knowing how to tell the difference between different types will help you, as the survival medic, determine the best treatment plan. Colds vs flus, how to tell the difference, and more…

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/11/18/survival-medicine-hour-respiratory-infections-pt2-effects-of-stress-and-morehttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/11/18/survival-medicine-hour-respiratory-infections-pt2-effects-of-stress-and-more

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

AmyandJoePodcast400x200

The Altons

 

Why The Disparity In Zika Affected Newborns?

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zika virus

Zika Virus under the microscope

Zika virus hasn’t been on the front page much lately, but case numbers continue to rise in many countries. The World Health Organization stated recently that Zika infection has been documented in 75 countries throughout the globe.

One of the many unusual aspects of Zika virus is that Brazil has, far and away, the most cases of babies born with birth defects. The most prominent of these is microcephaly, a condition where the brain fails to grow normally, causing a striking appearance where the head is much smaller than normal. Brazil has about 2000 cases of this abnormality, while Colombia has the second highest with only 57; the U.S. is third with 31 cases, including miscarriages. Within Brazil itself, the Northeastern part of the country has the highest number of infants affected by the debilitating effects of the virus.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine, in its annual meeting in Atlanta, discussed this disparity, which has fueled a hotbed of speculation about the disparity.

A  Brazilian health official, Pedro Fernando da Costa Vasconcelos, suggests that vaccination against  Yellow Fever, a virus in the same family as Zika, may be a factor. In Northeastern Brazil, few receive this vaccine compared to other parts of the country. It’s possible, he says, that the vaccine may give some cross-protection against Zika.

A number of other theories exist, including effects on humans by certain pesticides used in the epidemic zone and, perhaps, contaminated lots of vaccines. However, no hard data has, as yet, implicated these and other possibilities as part of the equation.

Another factor may be the growing tendency of women to terminate their pregnancies in the face of a diagnosis of Zika infection. Still another, according to Albert Ko, a Yale professor, relates to the difficulty tracking numbers of abortions for this reason and the fact that many never know they had the infection at all. Zika has no symptoms whatsoever in 80% of patients. The rest experience fever, joint aches, rashes, and eye redness.

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Microcephalic Infant

What is obvious, however, is that there are wide variations in the percentage of Zika infections to birth defects. Puerto Rico recently reported its first case of microcephaly in a newborn, but has catalogued  more than 30,000 people infected with Zika.

Professor Ko says that a new large-scale study will follow thousands of pregnant women with Zika diagnoses. Genetics, prior viral infections, and even the mosquitoes that transmit the virus will be evaluated. It’s possible that, with this information, a more definitive picture of factor involved in Zika-related birth abnormalities will emerge.

An issue not commonly considered is what effect Zika infection may have long-term in apparently unaffected infants. Will they reach normal milestones like walking and talking at the appropriate time? Down the road, will they perform adequately in school? It will take years to find out.

Meanwhile, cases continue to accumulate, mostly travel related. A total of close to 36,000 cases have been documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. New cases are still being reported in Florida by the Department of Health, which says that 1,165 total cases (153 in pregnant women) exist in the state as of November 11, 2016. Of these, 225 were transmitted by local mosquitoes.

Some good news: A vaccine called Zika Purified Inactivated Virus, or ZPIV, seems to be showing promise in research conducted, and human trials have begun at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. In addition, Dr. Michael Diamond of the University of Washington has identified an antibody that might protect the unborn fetus against the effects of the Zika virus on nervous tissue. Research is ongoing on these and other fronts in the battle against what has become a worldwide epidemic.

Joe Alton, MD

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Dr. Alton

 Find out more about the Zika Virus in Joe Alton, MD’s book “The Zika Virus Handbook“, available at amazon.com

 

 

Survival Medicine Hour: Storing Meds, Respiratory Infection, Pt. 1

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antibiotics1

How to store meds

The Survival Medicine Hour (November 11, 2016) exposes the issues we all face when looking at an uncertain future. If you prepare for long-term survival due to man-made or natural disasters, one looming problem is how to keep your much needed medications in the best condition possible. Nurse Amy. aka Amy Alton, ARNP and Dr. Bones, aka Joe Alton, MD cover some techniques and methods to help you solve this medication storage problem.

Part 1 of respiratory infections is also covered in this episode, plus a discussion of the reappearance of the respiratory virus that originates in the intestine, Enterovirus D68.

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Medic Memorial

On this Veteran’s day, Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy want to say thanks to all of our military staff new and old; we greatly appreciate your service to our country!

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/11/11/survival-medicine-hour-storing-medications-longterm-respiratory-infections-pt1

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

 

AmyandJoePodcast400x200Find out more about medical issues in times of trouble with the Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way, available at Amazon.com.

Storing Medications

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medicines

Storing Medications

Being prepared for disasters means storing food, but it also means putting together a stockpile of medical supplies. While bandages and instruments may keep acceptably in a variety of environments, medications are another story.

How medicines are stored can affect their potency over time. To maintain the effectiveness of the drugs, there are several factors that deserve your attention:

Heat: Most medications are meant to be stored at room temperature. Insulin and some antibiotic elixirs are an exception, and should be stored in the refrigerator. A good rule of thumb is that, unless the bottle contains labeling that says otherwise, it’s unnecessary (and in many cases, harmful) to freeze or otherwise diverge from the advice given by the manufacturer.

Excessive heat is another factor in losing drug potency. Given the choice, somewhat cooler is probably better than hotter. It’s thought that drug effectiveness fades twice as quickly if stored at 90 degrees Fahrenheit than if stored at 50 degrees.

Moisture: Most folks store medications in the bathroom medicine cabinet, but you might be surprised to know that the moisture from showers and baths can degrade the drug significantly. Instead, consider a high shelf in a closet or a dedicated storage box.

Light: Much like excessive exposure to the sun could damage skin, light sometimes could have an ill effect on certain drugs. These meds are commonly stored in brownish-colored bottles. Keep all medicines in their original containers. It might be a good idea, however, to remove the cotton ball commonly placed with the drug as it could pull moisture into the container.

Many times, it might be hard to tell if a drug has been affected negatively, but some others are pretty obvious. Aspirin pills, for example, can develop a vinegar-like smell (even before the expiration date). Besides smell, a change in color or consistency may signal that a medication has degraded. If pills or capsules are harder or softer than normal or stick together, be wary.

Some people get their meds through the mail. If so, choose overnight shipping whenever possible to avoid prolonged travel time. ABC news reported recently that a 1995 FDA study found that a standard black mailbox can reach 136 degrees in the summer heat. Excessive time in the hot sun or extreme cold for a long period of time causes drug deterioration. A better alternative may be to send them to where you can take possession personally and immediately. For many, this might be their workplace as opposed to their home.

One of the questions I’m often asked is whether drugs will benefit from vacuum sealing. Although you’ll find opinions everywhere, there doesn’t seem to be any hard data on the issue. I would expect that more drugs would be vacuum packed by the manufacturer if it was that important to maintain potency. Having said that, pharmaceutical companies want you to discard older meds so they might not be motivated to do so.

Vacuum packing would affect moisture but wouldn’t affect important preservation aspects like temperature or light. As meds do best in their original containers, it seems that, with the possible exception of powder packets, it wouldn’t be an essential storage method.

So, consider storing all meds in cool, dark, dry conditions. It’s especially important to be sure that all medications are kept out of the reach of children. Childproof lids are meant to help you achieve this goal, but consider a storage box with a lock as well.

The wise family will keep a good medical kit and a supply of over-the-counter and needed prescription medicines stored safely in their home. In a disaster, attention to proper storage methods might just save a life.

Joe Alton, MD

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Dr. Alton

Besides medicine, you’ll need a variety of medical supplies to deal with medical issues in times of trouble. Check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits at store.doomandbloom.net.

Video: Fish Antibiotic Update

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2015 Birdhouse Inn Mountain Paradise View!

Mount LeConte at sunrise, Great Smokies

In this video, Joe Alton, MD addresses the concerns of those in the preparedness community who store veterinary equivalents of human antibiotics for use in post-apocalyptic scenarios. The FDA’s upcoming Veterinary Feed Directive has cast the availability of these items in doubt for 2017. As the first physician to write, years ago, about the utility of these products to save lives in long-term survival, Dr. Alton has evaluated the FDA’s action and knows their goals. He discusses how this affects, if at all, the future of fish/bird antibiotics’ availability for your survival medicine cabinet. Companion video to a recent article on the same topic.

This video has as its backdrop Mt. LeConte, highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

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Joe Alton MD/Amy Alton ARNP

Find out more about antibiotics, infectious disease, and many other medical issues in disaster settings by getting a copy of our 700 page (!) Third Edition of “The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way, now available on this website and also at Amazon.

 

Medical Supplies for the Homestead

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image by pixabay.com

If you’re a homesteader, you’ll want to be ready for any eventuality. In a remote location or austere environment, the importance of medical self-reliance can’t be overemphasized. Injuries and illness can happen anytime due to a storm, wildfire, earthquake, or other disaster.

Medical strategies abound for these mostly short term scenarios that are both reasonable and effective.  An entire medical education system exists to deal with limited wilderness or disaster situations. This system is served by a growing emergency supply industry and, in some cases, supported by federal taxes.

When you happen upon a victim in normal times, your goal is to:

  • Evaluate the injured or ill patient.
  • Stabilize their condition.
  • Transport them to the nearest modern medical facility.

This series of steps couldn’t make more sense; you’re not a physician, after all.  Somewhere, there are facilities that have a lot more technology than you have.  Your priority is to get the patient out of immediate danger and then ship them off to a higher medical resource.

It seems reasonable for the average citizen to expect the rescue helicopter to be on the way. But what if it isn’t? Some homesteads are far from the nearest hospital. When modern medical help isn’t at hand, quick action on your part may be necessary to save a life.

You never know when you might be the medical “end of the line” in the uncertain future. To be effective in that role, you need supplies.

Prepper Medical Supply Kit

Family Medical Kit

The availability of medical supplies may just save a life in troubled times, but without an idea of what medical items should be stockpiled, your effectiveness as an emergency caregiver may be compromised. Not having the right equipment at hand is like trying to eat a steak with a wrench and a screwdriver instead of a knife and fork. Purchasing these items all at once would be hard on the wallet, so the best strategy Is to slowly stockpile the medical supplies you need.

This article is meant to be a guide to which supplies would help you become an effective caregiver as opposed to being an in-depth discussion of how to use each one. To help you become a well-equipped homestead caregiver, we’ll list common medical issues and what items you’ll need to deal with them.

PERSONAL PROTECTION 

N95-Surgical-Mask

N95 mask

To begin with, however, let’s talk about personal protection.  No, I’m not talking about condoms, although they can be important additions to your storage. I’m not talking about firearms, either, although military medics are now usually armed.  I’m referring to protecting yourself and others from injuries and infectious disease.

Don’t ignore the power of prevention. In any remote environment, you will be performing daily activities that carry risk of injury.  Chopping wood for fuel would be one example. Eye and hand protection in the form of goggles and work gloves could prevent various injuries. Here are some other items that would be protective:

Gloves: I recommend nitrile gloves due to the increasing number of latex allergies reported recently. I would use size 8 or “large”, as gloves that are too small tend to break.  Gloves come in both sterile and non-sterile varieties.  Get lots of the non-sterile for everyday work, but don’t fail to have some sterile pairs as well.

Face Masks: These can be simple ear-loop versions or could be more advanced in the form of N95 and N100 “respirators”. These are masks that block out 95 or 100% of airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns.

Coveralls, Boots, and Headgear:  In mosquito-infested areas, there are special coveralls and headgear made from netting that are lifesavers. In epidemics of infectious disease, however, hazardous material suits that cover the body, head and feet are more pertinent for the person in charge of the sick room.

General items: Some items are of good general use for medical issues.  One of my favorites is the “EMT shears” or “bandage scissors”.  This is a special scissors meant to allow you to cut through clothing so that you can accurately assess the level of injury that you’re dealing with.

Another general item that would be highly useful would be a headlamp.  Injuries can occur at night as well as during the day. Using a headlamp frees up both hands to better handle emergencies.

A good supply of antiseptics will be important to keep your people healthy. Antiseptics are germ-killing substances that are applied to living tissue, usually skin, to reduce the possibility of infection. Antiseptics are different from antibiotics, which are meant to destroy bacteria within the body, and disinfectants, which destroy germs found on non-living objects, like kitchen or survival sick room surfaces.

I consider household bleach to be the simplest disinfectant for cleaning sick room work surfaces, but it’s too strong to apply to living tissue. Instead, consider Betadine (Povidone-Iodine solution), Chlorhexidine (Hibiclens), Alcohol , Benzelkonium Chloride (BZK), or Hydrogen Peroxide.  These can be found in small bottles, gallon jugs, and in wipes impregnated with the antiseptic.

Some of the most important medical supplies you’ll accumulate will be those used to deal with injuries. Let’s outline what you’ll need in your role as a homestead medic:

MINOR INJURIES

In an austere environment, it might be difficult to get through the day without some minor injury, such as a burn while cooking, blister while hiking, or a splinter from hauling wood. The average person has, over the course of their lives, dealt with more than one of these. Helpful items to have include:

  • Soap and water and antiseptics: To clean out minor wounds. Antibacterial soap is not necessary, however. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) determined that it doesn’t give additional protection against infection.
  • Adhesive Bandages: various sizes and shapes to protect a scratch or abrasion from getting worse.
  • Moleskin: Have a supply of these to deal with common blisters on areas that receive friction.
  • Tweezers: With a magnifying glass, these will be useful to remove splinters or other small foreign objects.
  • Styptic Pencil: Although most minor bleeding stops with direct pressure, a styptic pencil can be used for razor cuts and is a helpful addition to your kit. For a natural alternative, Cayenne pepper powder is reported to have similar effects on minor bleeding.
  • Eye wash, cups, and patches: For minor eye irritation and injuries.
  • Gauze packing: for nosebleeds.  Dental cotton rolls and tampons are alternatives.
  • Burn Gel or Aloe Vera: To apply to small burns.

ORTHOPEDIC INJURIES

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The popular SAM Splint

Few of us, even couch potatoes, have avoided the occasional sprain or strain.  In situations where we are exerting ourselves, these will be more common, not to mention the possibility of fractures. You should have available:

Cold Packs:  These are available commercially or can be made with ice.  Cold packs help reduce the swelling often seen in sprains and strains, as well as provide some relief from pain.

Elastic Wraps: Elastic “Ace” wraps help stabilize an injured joint and decrease the chance of re-injury. Use compression in tandem with cold to decrease pain and swelling.  Don’t forget to elevate the injured limb above the level of the heart. Elastic wraps can also be used to cover bandaged wounds and to secure splints in place.

Slings: Commercial triangular bandages or improvised bandannas both are well suited to make a sling, these are useful to stabilize an arm or shoulder injury. The commercial versions usually come with safety pins.

Splints: Commercial “SAM” splints are flexible and can be cut or shaped to immobilize a sprain or fracture.  These vary in size to fit anything from a finger bone to a thigh bone. You can improvise with sticks and strips of cloth or even a folded-over pillow and duct tape.

Anti-inflammatory medications:  Ibuprofen is an over the counter medication to reduce swelling and pain in orthopedic injuries, and can be accumulated in bulk.  Salicin from the green underbark of willow trees is helpful for pain and, incidentally, was the base substance for the first aspirins ever made. Natural remedies such as Arnica salves are useful to decrease bruising, swelling, and pain (use on intact skin only).  Various anti-inflammatory medications also come in patches that can be applied to the back or other strained areas.

Heat Packs:  These won’t reduce swelling much, but can be used during recovery from an injury to help relax and loosen stiff tissues. They also stimulate blood flow to injured areas.

HEMORRHAGIC WOUNDS

expose-wound-to-see-the-full-extent-of-the-injury

EMT shears or bandage scissors can help expose a bleeding wound

The injury that non-professionals fear most is the bleeding wound.  With the right supplies, however, even heavy bleeding can be staunched successfully.  In addition to a blunt-edged scissors to expose the injury, the well-prepared medic will have:

Gauze: Bulk non-sterile gauze (some of our kits carry bricks of 200 at a time) is valuable as a medical storage item to apply pressure to bleeding areas.  Even one hemorrhagic wound could require you to use all the dressings that you had accumulated over years of stockpiling,  so get plenty.

Dressings come in squares of varying sizes and shapes. Roller bandages wrap around the area, and non-stick pads of various sizes (not technically “gauze”) are good for burns and other injuries. Carry a variety to increase the versatility of use.

Although I recommend storing tampons, it is more for its traditional use than to treat gunshot injuries, which vary in size (especially exit wounds). A tampon would not always be the right size for the cavity created by the projectile; they are best used for nose bleeds combined with compression.  Maxi-Pads, however, are excellent items for your medical storage.

Specialized Pressure Dressings:  It’s difficult to keep pressure on a wound with your hands without becoming tired, so special dressings like the Emergency Bandage™ (aka the “Israeli Battle Dressing”) allow you to wrap wounds that have the tendency to bleed.  These are an absorbent pad attached to an elastic bandage that comes with a “pressure applicator”. Used correctly, each turn of the wrap increases the pressure on the wound, which can help control bleeding.

Tourniquets:  In circumstances where bleeding can’t be stopped with pressure alone, a tourniquet may do the job. Tourniquets can be improvised with a bandanna and a stick or they can be high-tech commercial items such as the CAT or SOFT-T tourniquet.  Some tourniquets, like the SWAT, can serve double duty as a tourniquet, back-up tourniquet, or pressure dressing.

Blood-Clotting Powders/Dressings:  Also known as “hemostatic agents”, these are effective and easy to use. Available as a powder or powder-impregnated dressings, Celox™  (the most popular brand) is made from Chitosan, a component of crustacean shells. Celox™ will even stop bleeding in patients on blood thinners.  Although it is made from shrimp shells, the company states that can be used on people allergic to seafood.  Hemostatic agents are useful but expensive items. Remember, however, that they might save a life.

OPEN WOUNDS

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Dealing with open wounds in a remote setting requires good judgment as well as supplies. Most of these wounds should be kept open, but there are various supplies to help you close a wound as well as supplies that allow you to care for an open wound until it closes on its own by a process called “granulation”. In a remote homestead or survival setting, you never know when or if help will be on its way. You’ll need to be ready to care for that wound from beginning to end.

Antiseptics and sterile gloves:  As mentioned earlier in this article.

Sterile Gauze: Although non-sterile gauze is often used to stop hemorrhage, sterile dressings are best to use in open wounds as they heal. With commercial sterile saline or water solutions (or even boiled water), you’ll provide the type of environment that newly forming cells need to fill in a wound.  Dry sterile dressings to cover the moist dressing in the open wound will help keep the area clean. Some call this technique “wet to dry”.

Certain dressings, such as “Telfa™”, are non-stick and especially useful for burns or other injuries where removal might be painful. Some burn dressings like “Xeroform™” are dipped with petrolatum to protect healing areas where the skin was damaged or burned off. Alternatively, petroleum jelly could be added to improvise a similar item. Honey has also been used for this purpose, but make sure to get the raw, unprocessed version.

Wound Closure:  Closing a wound is risky (most wounds acquired outdoors are contaminated) but there are circumstances where it may be appropriate. Always start with the least invasive method such as Steri-Strips or even duct tape fashioned as butterfly closures. Sutures and staples can form a strong closure, but they also add more punctures to the skin that could become infected. Super glue is a safe method unless you happen to be allergic to the chemical (Cyanoacrylate). It is used in some underdeveloped countries without incident.

Additional Supplies:  Dry sterile dressings to cover the moist dressing in the open wound will help keep the area clean. Medical tapes to hold everything in place are helpful and come in cloth, self-adhesive, and paper (least allergenic).  Tincture of Benzoin is an adhesive liquid that comes in ampules that will help secure the tape. Triple antibiotic ointment and oral antibiotics are likely to be needed to prevent and treat infected wounds.  Consider having a thermometer to determine whether a fever is present.

I’ll bet you can think of other useful items that you’d want to keep in that homestead medical cabinet. We haven’t discussed, for example, the medications and natural remedies you should have on hand. We’ve addressed these before on this website, though, and will update in a future article.

HOW MUCH TO HAVE?

I commonly see books that give you numerical amounts of medical items to have if you’re the caregiver in an austere environment or in a long-term survival scenario.  My opinion is simple:  You can never have too many of any medical supply.  They are expended more quickly than you think. If you’re in a remote location or other austere setting, have as much as possible in your storage.

A parting thought: You can have all the beans in the world and all the bullets in the world, but it won’t amount to a hill of beans and you’ll just shoot yourself in the foot, if you don’t have the bandages.

Joe Alton, MD

joealtonlibrary4

Whether you’re a homesteader or a city dweller, you need medical supplies to deal with injuries and illness in the uncertain future. Check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and individual items at store.doomandbloom.net. Also, keep a copy of our brand new Third Edition of “the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way” in your survival library.

 

Portions of this article were first published in Backwoods Home magazine.

Survival Medicine Hour: Giardia, Bear Safety and more

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black bear

American Black Bear

In this episode of The Survival Medicine Hour, Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP discuss the hazards of trail blazing in Gatlinburg Tennessee, such as Bear Safety. Walking with a sturdy stick, making noise and keeping up situational awareness are all part of bear safety tips. Bears hibernate less deeply than some animals and can be found walking around even in the deep snow of winter. Always keep an eye out and learn all about bear safety.

giardia

Giardia lamblia

 

Recently, Dr. Alton talked about parasitic worms in survival scenarios, but there’s a more common parasite that infects our streams, waterways, and, unfortunately, intestines! Giardia Lambia is a common cause of severe diarrhea and is transmissible all sorts of ways. Find out more about this parasite and what fish antibiotic would be most effective to have in your medical storage.

Ways to prevent Giardia are covered in this episode and include strict and proper handwashing. Just a couple of the ways to avoid getting this parasite, as well as many others, include washing fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking, and using bottled water to brush your teeth if the water is suspect. Nurse Amy recommends demanding daycare workers use gloves when changing your infant or toddler’s diapers. Unfortunately, this is not a Federal regulation and is only a requirement in a few states, which are listed in this episode.

Even though a lot of us may severely disappointed come Tuesday evening’s election results, the earth is not going to end the next day. It may just feel that way.

Life is short, learn Nurse Amy’s secret motto for happiness. Hint: It isn’t a material thing.

All this and more on the Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Hour!

Our books and custom hand-packed medical kits can be found at: https://store.doomandbloom.net

Here is the link to listen to this week’s episode. Don’t forget to subscribe to our Blogtalkradio Channel for updates

The Future of Fish Antibiotics in Survival?

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Betta-Fish-Nurse-Amy

Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens)

As the first physician to write, years ago, about aquarium and avian antibiotics as a survival tool, I’ve long realized their utility in preventing unnecessary deaths in true survival scenarios (in normal times, seek modern and standard medical care). Lately, I’ve received a lot of mail asking about the upcoming FDA Veterinary Feed Directive. Does it mean the end of the availability of fish and bird meds for placement in disaster medical storage?

To understand what the Veterinary Feed Directive is and what it means for the preparedness community, we should first describe the problem that the Directive aims to correct: Antibiotic resistance. There is an epidemic of antibiotic resistance in this country, and it exists, not because of pet bird or fish antibiotic use, not because “preppers” might put them in a disaster medical kit, nor even primarily from the overuse by physicians. It is due to the excessive use of antibiotics on livestock. About 80% of antibiotics used in the United States are given to food-producing animals.

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The definition of a “Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) drug”, according to section 504 of the FD&C Act (21 USC 354) states that it is “[a] drug intended for use in or on animal feed. The CDC’s goal #1 of decreasing the emergence of antibiotic resistance and preventing the spread of resistant infections has three objectives (see page 33):

1       -“Implement public health programs and reporting policies that advance antibiotic resistance prevention and foster antibiotic stewardship in healthcare settings and the community. “

2       -“Eliminate the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals and bring other in-feed uses of antibiotics, for treatment and disease control and prevention of disease, under veterinary oversight. “

3       –“Identify and implement measures to foster stewardship of antibiotics in animals.”

As you can see, 2 of 3 of the above relate specifically to animals. Why are so many antibiotics given to livestock? It’s not, primarily, to treat infections that they may have. It’s actually because, for reasons that aren’t completely clear, it seems to speed their growth and gets them to market sooner. In other words, the profit motive. This is standard practice here in the U.S., but some countries, like Denmark, have banned the use of antibiotics on livestock unless they need them to treat disease.

The FDA and CDC are concerned about the excessive use of antibiotics in general and, in particular, on the animals that produce our food. CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden mentioned some months ago that an increased “stewardship” (in other words, control) of these meds was indicated to decrease the development of antibiotic resistance. The Veterinary Feed Directive is part of that response.

What are the drugs affected by the Veterinary Feed Directive? Here they are:

Established drug name Examples of proprietary drug name(s)
chlortetracycline Aureomycin, Aureomycyn, Chlora-Cycline, Chloronex, Chlortetracycline, Chlortetracycline Bisulfate, Chlortet-Soluble-O, CTC, Fermycin, Pennchlor
erythromycin Gallimycin
gentamicin Garacin, Gen-Gard, GentaMed, Gentocin, Gentoral
lincomycin Linco, Lincomed, Lincomix, Lincomycin, Lincomycin Hydrochloride, Lincosol, Linxmed-SP
lincomycin/spectinomycin  Lincomycin S, Lincomycin-Spectinomycin, L-S, SpecLinx
neomycin Biosol Liquid, Neo, Neomed, Neomix, Neomycin, Neomycin Liquid, Neomycin Sulfate, Neo-Sol, Neosol, Neosol-Oral, Neovet
oxytetracycline Agrimycin, Citratet, Medamycin, Oxymarine, Oxymycin, Oxy-Sol, Oxytet, Oxytetracycline, Oxytetracycline HCL, Oxy WS, Pennox, Terramycin, Terra-Vet, Tetravet-CA, Tetroxy, Tetroxy Aquatic, Tetroxy HCA
penicillin Han-Pen, Penaqua Sol-G, Penicillin G Potassium, R-Pen, Solu-Pen
spectinomycin Spectam
sulfadimethoxine Agribon, Albon, Di-Methox, SDM, Sulfabiotic, Sulfadimethoxine, Sulfadived, Sulfamed-G, Sulforal, Sulfasol
sulfamethazine SMZ-Med, Sulfa, Sulmet
sulfaquinoxaline S.Q. Solution, Sulfa-Nox, Sulfaquinoxaline Sodium, Sulfaquinoxaline Solubilized, Sul-Q-Nox, Sulquin
tetracycline Duramycin, Polyotic, Solu/Tet, Solu-Tet, Supercycline, Terra-Vet, Tet, Tetra-Bac, Tetracycline, Tetracycline Hydrochloride, Tetramed, Tetra-Sal, Tetrasol, Tet-Sol, TC Vet

“Note: apramycin, carbomycin/oxytetracycline*, chlortetracycline/sulfamethazine*, streptomycin, sulfachloropyrazine, sulfachlorpyridazine, and sulfamerazine/sulfamethazine/sulfaquinoxaline* are expected to transition to Rx status, but are not marketed at this time. If they return to the market after January 1, 2017, they will require a prescription from a veterinarian.”

If you look at the list above, you’ll see no mention of the common aquarium/avian antibiotics used in the pet industry. Fish-Mox (Amoxicillin) is not included in the list. Neither is doxycycline, metronidazole, nor others that I’ve recommended for disaster storage. Some first-generation drugs, like Penicillin and Tetracycline, are mentioned but not any of the proprietary names related to the ornamental trade. That doesn’t mean that they might not include them at some point. As the earliest antibiotics, they have been subject to significant resistance, and might not be the best choices for survival storage in any case.

At present, Thomas Labs, one of the largest distributors of fish and bird antibiotics for the pet trade, has not visibly changed any of its policies regarding sale of these products. Their labeling clearly states “Not for Human Use”, and many sites that sell their products  include this statement:

“…Thomas Labs sources it’s (sic) antibiotics from the same USP grade manufacturing as antibiotics used for humans, but we and Thomas Labs are not doctors and do not deal in human health problems, or prescription medications.  Only a doctor can correctly prescribe antibiotics for specific need in humans.  We strongly discourage anyone who wants to take Fish Antibiotics for themselves…”

It seems clear that the Veterinary Feed Directive considers livestock and not hobby fish and birds to be the highest priority targets. If they did,  the pet trade might cease to exist.

The Veterinary Feed Directive may, indeed, decrease the incidence of bacterial resistance in the U.S. So will the wise use of antibiotics by the nation’s physicians. Hopefully, one day food livestock will be raised antibiotic-free; some companies are already taking this step.

From a preparedness standpoint, I still believe that having antibiotics in your medical kit will save lives in a long-term disaster or survival setting. The ones I have written about over the years are still available, at least for the time being; those medically responsible in times of trouble will find them to be useful tools in the medical woodshed.

 

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Joe Alton, MD is a physician, author, and medical preparedness writer for disaster and long-term survival scenarios where medical help is not available for the foreseeable future. For more information on these and other topics, see the Altons’ #1 Amazon bestseller “The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way“.

Survival Medicine Hour: Ron Melchiore on 36 Years of Living Off the Grid

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Survival Medicine Hour

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, Nurse Amy Alton interviews Ron Melchiore, who with his wife Joanna, has lived for 36 years off the grid in Maine and, now, Northern Saskatchewan. Amy finds out all about what Ron’s life as a self-reliant “pioneer” has been like, and how he’s put it all in his book “Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness“. Ron has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and has ridden a bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

Ron talks about power issues, experience with local animals, wildfires, and other challenges he and his wife have faced in their long-term adventure in the woods. Ron currently lives at a homestead only reachable by float plane, with trips to get supplies twice a year.

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/10/28/survival-medicine-hour-interview-with-ron-melchiore-author-off-grid-and-free

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

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Amy Alton ARNP

All About Giardiasis

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giardia-lambia

giardia (aren’t you glad it’s microscopic?)

Recently, I wrote about a relatively unusual medical issue for developed countries: parasitic worms. Problems related to poor hygiene and sanitation, chronic issues in many countries, cause parasites to reach epidemic status.

There are other types of parasites, however, that are more common in local water sources than worms, and they can have dire consequences. One of these is Giardia, a family of parasites that is found in just about every region on Earth. The most common species to affect North America is Giardia lamblia, sometimes called Giardia intestinalis.

A parasite feeds off another organism to survive, and Giardia prefers mammals, including humans. Giardia is a hardy bug, though, and can live for long periods of time in moist soil or water. Infection, known as “giardiasis”, occurs as a result of ingestion of food or water contaminated with feces. Once a person or animal becomes infected with Giardia, it inhabits the intestines and is passed in excrement.

The most common cause of giardia transmission occurs from person to person. Poorly prepared food, unsterile water, and improper bathroom hygiene accounts for the majority of cases. Despite this, the clearest streams in the Colorado backcountry may be contaminated by Giardia, causing it to be an issue for wilderness hikers who don’t pay strict attention to water disinfection and frequent hand-washing.

Mothers and child care workers who fail to adhere to strict hand washing while changing diapers of infected babies are also at risk.

SYMPTOMS OF GIARDIASIS

The symptoms of Giardia don’t often appear immediately. They can begin as early as 2 days after infection. As an intestinal infection, you can expect to see significant watery diarrhea interspersed with soft, greasy stools. Other symptoms include:

  • bloating
  • excessive gas
  • abdominal cramps
  • upset stomach
  • nausea
  • weight loss
  • fatigue

You might not consider the above all that severe, but in many cases, the symptoms last for weeks and may lead to severe dehydration, a common cause of otherwise-avoidable deaths in earlier times, and a serious issue today anywhere advanced care isn’t available. Children are especially prone to malnutrition and, if chronic, may experience stunted growth and development.

TREATMENT OF GIARDIASIS

Severe symptoms can be treated with hydration and antibiotics like Metronidazole (aquarium equivalent: Fish-Zole) or anti-worm drugs (also known as “anti-helminthics”) like Albendazole.

Many less severe giardia infections may resolve without treatment after a few weeks. It’s thought, however, that some people may develop a “carrier” relationship with giardia; symptoms become less noticeable with time, but the carrier can transmit the infection to others (even sexually through oral-fecal routes).

PREVENTION OF GIARDIASIS

There is no medication or vaccine that will prevent Giardia infection. There are, however, a number of precautions that will minimize your risk of infection:

  • Wash your hands. Hand washing after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, and before/after the preparation of food. Use alcohol-based sanitizers if soap and water aren’t available.
  • Disinfect questionable water. Avoid drinking untreated water from lakes, rivers, creeks, and springs unless you filter it with products like the Lifestraw, Mini-Sawyer, or Berkey.  Alternatively, bring water to an active boil for 1-5 minutes first. Add 1 minute for every 1000 feet of elevation (water boils at lower temperatures higher up). It should be noted Giardia is relatively resistant to bleach, a commonly-used water disinfectant.
  • Travel concerns: Use bottled water wherever water is of dubious quality, even for brushing teeth. Avoid putting ice made from local water in drinks. When swimming, keep your mouth closed.
  • Wash food before you eat it. Wash raw fruits  and vegetables before adding them to your meals.
  • Practice safe sex. Sexual intercourse, especially anal sex, can transmit Giardia. Avoid this method or use a barrier like a condom.

The smallest organisms can cause major medical issues in good times or bad. Pay careful attention to sanitation and hygiene, and you’ll keep it together at home, on that wilderness hike, or abroad.

Joe Alton, MD

joealtonlibrary4

 

(Thanks to Dr. Pam Hendrix for suggesting this topic for an article)

Find out more about giardiasis and many other survival-related medical issues in our brand new 700 page Third Edition of
The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is Not on the Way, available at Amazon or on this website.

Parasitic Worms

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parasitic worm

It’s important to realize that there are infections not commonly seen today in developed countries that may become major issues if a disaster throws you off the grid. Knowing which disease-causing organisms exist in your area, even if they are not major problems today, will be important to keep your loved ones healthy.

The word “parasite” comes from the Greek word Parastos, meaning “someone that eats at someone else’s table”. When we think of para- sites, none give us the creeps more than having worms.

Parasites like ticks, fleas, mites, and lice live on our skin or just beneath; these are called ectoparasites. Worms, also known as helminths, are endoparasites. They live deep in our intestines or other core organs, often gaining sustenance by sharing our partly-digested food. They are also egg-laying machines, with some depositing tens of thousands a day into their host.

Many different worms are known to infest the human body: nematodes, trematodes, flatworms, and flukes, are just a few. The diseases they cause are a major health issue in underdeveloped countries due to difficulties with sanitation. Even in developed nations, any disaster that impairs access to safe food and water could cause cases of parasitic worms to skyrocket.

Worm infestation is usually caused by ingesting soil that contains their eggs. While this may seem an unlikely happenstance to you, areas where people defecate openly and fail to wash their hands leads to contaminated soil. Some of this soil ends up on people’s hands, and then goes to their mouth when they touch their face.

Parasitic worms range in size from microscopic to very long, depending on the species. The most common infection we’ll see in the U.S. is the tiny Pinworm, which causes anal itching in 40 million Americans. However, almost a quarter of the world’s population has some type of worm infestation. Children are especially vulnerable and may experience stunted growth and developmental problems as a consequence.

Worm eggs or larvae enter the body through the mouth, nose, anus, or breaks in the skin. Amazingly, many helminths actually require human stomach acid to dissolve their egg shells to allow them to hatch. Once hatched, the acid-immune larvae travel from the stomach and attach themselves to the walls of the intestinal tract. Some species infest the liver and lungs as well.

SYMPTOMS OF WORM INFESTATIONS

Colonization by worms may be asymptomatic or, as in the case of pin- worms, just involve some itching in the anal area. With some species, however, a large concentration of organisms can cause serious problems.

Each type of worms cause different symptoms, but you should suspect their presence in otherwise-unexplained cases of:

  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Abdominal swelling or gas
  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Constant urge to have a bowel movement.
  • Unexplained skin rashes or sores.
  • Anal itching
  • Constant fatigue.
  • Chronic muscle and joint aches.
  • Malnutrition

The above represents a broad array of symptoms, and makes me wonder if the number of cases of worm infestation is underestimated, even in countries with modern infrastructures.

CONSEQUENCES OF WORM INFESTATIONS

In rare cases, the population of internal parasites is so high that it causes an obstruction of the bowels. Worm species that invade the liver or lungs can cause respiratory distress or a weakened metabolism. All of these complications may result in the death of the patient.

Your body knows when it has been invaded and sets up an immune response against the worm. Success is limited, however, and all the energy put into defense may weaken the ability to fight“secondary” infections that may occur. The more issues the body has to deal with, the less effective it is in fighting them.

Some worms actually compete with your body for the food that you take in. A species known as Ascaris, for example, will attach to the wall of your intestine and eat partially digested food that comes its way. This competition prevents you from absorbing nutrients effectively, and malnutrition results.

TYPES OF WORMS

There are numerous types of helminthic infections based on the species involved. Infections are often named for the species with the suffix “-asis” (for example, ascariasis), as opposed to other infections/inflammations, which often end with the body part affected and the suffix “-itis” (for example, tonsillitis).

Although there many worms that infect humans, some of the more common types are

 

Pinworms

pinworm-cycle

Pinworm life cycle

Pinworms are a type of nematode called a roundworm. Reaching only 1/3 inch in length, they lay eggs around the host’s anus, usually at night. This leads to an itching sensation which can become severe. Pinworms are the most common parasitic worm infection in the United States

A cycle then develops where contaminated fingers from scratching come in contact with the mouth. This transports the eggs inside the body where they hatch.

You can test for pinworms simply by placing adhesive tape on the anal region of the patient. Inspect the tape for worms (eggs may also be seen with a low-power microscope) after a few hours or the next morning.

 

Hookworms

1982 Dr. ?? This enlargement shows hookworms, Ancylostoma caninum attached to the intestinal mucosa. Barely visible larvae penetrate the skin (often through bare feet), are carried to the lungs, go through the respiratory tract to the mouth, are swallowed, and eventually reach the small intestine. This journey takes about a week.

hookworms

Hookworms are another roundworm and one of the most common helminth infections worldwide. The parasite feeds on blood from vessels in the intestinal walls. Hookworm infestation is sometimes asymptomatic, but can cause anemia as well as abdominal symptoms.

Occasionally, a larval (juvenile) hookworm that uses a non-human host may penetrate the skin of a human. Although it can’t go into the organs, it can cause a skin disease called “Larva Migrans”, once known as “creeping eruption”.

With Larva Migrans, you can see serpentine vein-like lesions with itching in the skin. As the larva move, areas where they previously were may become crusty and very itchy.

 

Ascaris

parasiticworm

ascaris super-infestation

The largest intestinal roundworm, reaching 14 inches, is known as Ascaris. It is thought that there are 2 billion people that carry this worm, mostly in poorly developed countries.

Ascaris eggs, when ingested, become a larvae that enters the blood- stream through the small intestine. It reaches the lung, where it leaves the circulation and is eventually coughed up, swallowed, and goes back to the intestine, where it matures. Once mature, the female worm can produce up to 200,000 eggs a day.

Ascaris effects may include bloody phlegm, fever, cough, and abdominal symptoms. If the concentration of worms is high enough, they may begin to leave the body through the anus, nose, or mouth.

 

Tapeworms

tapeworm

tapeworm with 12 inch ruler at bottom for comparison

Tapeworm is a type of infection caused by a flatworm that lives mostly in Asia and Africa. The worm is, indeed, flat. Tapeworm eggs can form
walled-off areas called “cysts” in body tissues and organs. If larvae are ingested, however, they will mature into adult tapeworms in the intestines. The adults are segmented and reach prodigious lengths up to 55 (!) feet long.

Symptoms are typical for other helminth infections but symptoms related to the infested organ may also be seen.

TREATMENT OF WORM INFESTATIONS

Medications that can kill parasitic worms are called “vermiculicides” or “vermicides“. All are prescription drugs, although persons with travel plans to underdeveloped countries shouldn’t have trouble getting these from their physician.

Albendazole (brand name Albenza for roundworms) 400 mg once or twice.

Mebendazole (only available in generic form; most specific for pinworm infestation) 100 mg twice a day for 3 days or 500 mg

Pyrantel pamoate (common ingredient in heartworm meds for dogs) 11 mg/kg once, some species once daily up to 3 days.

Praziquantel (brand name Biltricide for tapeworms, various dosages depending on worm species)

Dosing may vary with some of these medications dependent on the type of worm. A second course of therapy is administered if the patient is not cured in 2-4 weeks.

Naturally anti-helminthic plants also exist. Garlic, ingested fresh and raw, is thought to be an effective way to eliminate worms. Wormwood, Clove, Papaya, Pineapple, Cinnamon, Turmeric, and Plumeria have all been reported to be helpful. Interestingly, some believe that tobacco may help eliminate worms.

Careful attention to hygiene, wearing shoes when outside, and, among medical providers, strict glove use will decrease the likelihood of passing worms or their eggs from person to person. Hand washing, especially before preparing food, is considered especially important in preventing  community-wide outbreaks.

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Dr. Alton aka Dr. Bones

 

Video: Hurricane Tips (With Winds in the Background)

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Hurricane Safety Tips

In this companion video to a recent article, Joe Alton, MD goes into his own backyard while Hurricane Matthew’s winds start coming in, and describes 28 different safety tips regarding food, water, shelter, evacuation, and much more for any major storm. One of Dr. Alton’s most comprehensive videos on storm preparedness so far.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

JoeAmyPortrait2013

 

Survival Medicine Hour: Dan O’Hara of Gateway Prepper Expos, More

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cincy-expo

Maybe you haven’t had the opportunity to go to one Dan and Kit O’Hara’s Gateway Prepper Expos, in which case, you’ve missed out on an opportunity to meet a lot of awesome, like-minded folks who are preparing for the worst, while hoping for the best. In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy welcomes good friend Dan O’Hara to the show and gets a real insight on what these shows are all about, and the thinking behind putting these events out to the  public. Plus, Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones, gives you an update on the latest news reports on the East coast after Matthew, and much more!

Amy Alton Everglades Close up 400 x 600

Nurse Amy

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/10/08/survival-medicine-hour-dan-ohara-interview-cincy-expo

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

AmyandJoePodcast400x200

Joe and Amy Alton

Video: An Alternative to Epi-Pen

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bee-sting

bee stings can cause severe allergic reactions

In this video, Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones, discusses the recent scandal where Mylan corporation, the company that markets the life-saving autoinjector “Epi-Pen“, raised prices on a pack of two from $100 in 2007 to $600 today. Although the company has given out some savings cards for up to $300, only a certain few are eligible and definitely not if you’re on Medicaid. Indeed, now it appears that Mylan had been gouging the federal government as well, and is being investigated. Guess that’s proof that all publicity isn’t good publicity.

Joe Alton looks for an alternative and one option is to get vials of 1:1000 epinephrine, insulin syringes, and some alcohol wipes. In the video, Joe Alton describes the process for using prefilled epinephrine for a severe allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock, and the formula for adult and pediatric use.

Adult dose from drugs.com for anaphylaxis: “30 kg (about 66 pounds) or greater: 0.3 to 0.5 mg (0.3 to 0.5 mL 1:1000 epinephrine solution) of undiluted drug IM or subcutaneously into anterolateral aspect of the thigh; repeat every 5 to 10 minutes as needed. Maximum dose per injection: 0.5 mg (0.5 mL of 1:1000 epinephrine solution).”

Pediatric dose from drugs.com for anaphylaxis: “Less than 30 kg (about 66 pounds): 0.01 mg/kg (0.01 mL/kg) of undiluted drug IM or subcutaneously into anterolateral aspect of thigh; repeat every 5 to 10 minutes as needed. Maximum dose per injection: 0.3 mg (0.3 mL of 1:1000 epinephrine solution).”

To take an example, a 20 kg child (about 44 pounds) would, using the 0.01 mg/kg formula would need 0.2 mg, which translates in a 1:1000 epinephrine solution to 0.2 ml injected in the anterior/lateral aspect of the thigh.

There’s more to know, though, so check out Dr. Alton’s video. To watch, click the image below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton

JoeAmyPortrait2013

 

 

28 Sensible Tips To Get Through A Hurricane

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storm surge

Hurricane Matthew is slowly churning it way towards the U.S. with sustained winds of 140 mph or more, and the potential for major damage and loss of life exists for many coastal areas.

Hurricanes can certainly be dangerous, but they don’t have to be life-threatening for those who prepare.  Unlike tornadoes, which can pop up suddenly, hurricanes are first identified when they are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.  We can watch their development and have a good idea of how bad the situation might be and how much time we have to get ready.

Even before it’s clear that your area is in danger of being hit by the storm, you should have considered factors like food, water, power, and shelter. By having a plan of action beforehand, you’ll decrease the risk to your family significantly.

Here are a few (actually, 28!) tips to help those preparing for the worst, while hoping for the best:

HITTING THE ROAD

1.Make a G.O.O.D. (Get Out Of Dodge) decision: Rugged individualists may want to ride out the storm, but some coastal residents would be best served by hitting the road. When the authorities say it’s time to evacuate, you should be ready to go. Don’t forget to turn off the power, gas, and water before you leave.

2.Head inland: Hurricanes gain their strength by warm ocean waters, and lose strength quickly as they get further into the interior. If you’re escaping the storm, the further inland you go, the safer you’ll be. If there isn’t time, most coastal municipalities will have designated a sturdy building as a hurricane shelter.

3.Have a “GO” bag: Always have a set of supplies ready to take with you on short notice. Non-perishable food, bottled water, extra clothing, flashlights and batteries, a NOAA weather radio, medicines, and a first aid kit are just a few of the items that will ensure your survival. Although you’ll see recommendations to have a 72 hour supply, this figure is arbitrary, and a week’s worth would be even better.

4.Have a cell phone charger: Communication is key. Many cell phone chargers can be plugged into the car where the cigarette lighter used to be.

5.Have cash on hand: Power for credit card verification could be down after a hurricane; if you don’t keep some cash on hand, you’ll have a power shortage: Purchasing power.

Let’s say you haven’t received an evacuation order, and you’re going to ride out the storm in place. Here are some considerations you want to take into account:

FOOD

6.Keep it Cold: Have the refrigerator and freezer down to their coldest settings so that food will take longer to spoil.

7.Collect Ice: Collect ice in plastic bags and place them throughout to prolong freshness. If there are open spots, fill Tupperware containers or plastic soda bottles/milk jugs with water, freeze them, and place them in the spaces. The fuller the fridge is, the longer the items in it will stay cool.

8.Wrap It in Foil: Wrap food items in aluminum foil, eliminating air pockets, and cram the foil packs together as closely as possible.

9.Cook ‘Em and Freeze ‘Em: Cook meats before the hurricane gets close and freeze them. As cooking requires fuel, have some full propane tanks or charcoal briquettes in your supplies for when the power goes out.

10.Eat the Perishables Now: Eat the perishables first, canned foods later.

11.Keep It Closed: Don’t leave the refrigerator door open while deciding what food to take out. Visualize where a particular item is and then open the door. Close it as quickly as possible.

WATER

12.Water, Water everywhere: Have a stockpile of 5 gallon bottles of water or a plentiful supply of smaller bottles.

13.Fill the Tub: Fill all bathtubs with water. You might think this is overkill, but every member of your family needs 1 gallon of water per day. It goes fast.

14.Drink the Melted Ice: As refrigerated ice in containers melts, don’t waste it. Use it as an additional source of drinking water.

15.Hot Water Heaters Hold….Water!: Hot water heaters have gallons and gallons of drinkable water; don’t hesitate to raid them if you get low. First, turn off the electricity or gas. Attach a hose to the drain valve and release the vacuum in the tank by opening a hot water faucet. There might be some sediment at the bottom that should be drained out first.

16.Sterilize it: Have some household bleach available to sterilize questionable water (like from the water heater). 12-16 drops per gallon should do the job. Wait 30 minutes before drinking.

17.Have a water filter: handheld filters like the Lifestraw or Sawyer Mini, or larger ones like the Berkey can be useful to deal with cloudy water.

SHELTER

18.Put Up The Shutters:  If you have hurricane shutters, put them up at least 24 hours before hurricane landfall. It’s no fun to have to stand on a ladder in gale force winds and pouring rain to install them. Been there, done that.

19.Move Furniture/Plants Inside: Move the patio furniture and potted plants indoors. If you can’t for some reason, chain them together against an outer wall downwind from the direction of the storm.

20.Prune Trees: Prune all trees near your home so that wind can easily flow through the crowns. Otherwise, expect some to be downed by the storm. Branches, fruit (in South Florida, coconuts!), and other debris can act as missiles in high winds.

21.Pick a “Safe Room”: Choose a room in the interior of the home, preferably one without unshuttered windows.

22.Place candles in pans: Candles can be knocked over by winds and cause fires. If you must use them, stick them in a pan with shiny sides that would be deep enough to cover the flame.

23.Have Tarps at the Ready: Large tarps can be used to cover windows and, after the storm, to cover any areas of the roof that might have been damaged.

OTHER IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

24.The Kids: Have board games, toys, and books to keep the children’s minds off scary winds. If you’re evacuating, let kids bring their favorite stuffed animals, blanket, or pillow to keep them calm.

25.Your Other Kids: Don’t forget to take into account the needs of your pets. Have food, water, and their favorite toy available, whether you leave or stay at home.

26.Your Other, Other Kid: Make sure your car is in good working order and filled with gas. Having some spare gas cans will be useful in case of a shortage at the pumps, and can be used to run generators (although never inside).

27.Your documents: Place important papers like birth certificates, passports, insurance documents, and others in waterproof containers. Scan them and send them in an email to yourself.

28.Keep your radio on: A NOAA weather radio, battery-powered or hand-cranked, will be an important source of information on the progress of the storm, and for community updates.

Being prepared for a hurricane can make sure that the storm will be just a bump in the road, and not the end of the road for you and your family. Have a plan of action, get some supplies, and you’ll join the ranks of the few, the proud, the prepared!

Joe Alton, MD

 

joealtonlibrary4

Joe Alton, MD

 

Find out more about hurricane preparedness and many other natural disasters in the new Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide For When Help is Not on the Way, available on this website or at amazon.com.

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Would You Survive A Hurricane?

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hurricane satellite image pixabay

The “eye” of a hurricane

After more than a decade without a major hurricane, South Florida faces the possibility of a glancing blow from powerful Hurricane Matthew. Are you ready, Floridians and East Coasters? Matthew was downgraded to a very strong category 4 storm recently but is thought to still pack winds of 150 mph.

It doesn’t take very long for people to forget the devastation that previous hurricanes have caused in the United States. Hurricanes are one of the few disasters that advanced weather forecasting can predict well ahead of its arrival. The National Weather Service puts out regular advisories for upcoming storms. Despite this, few are prepared to handle the dangers to life and property that can occur.

Hurricane Matthew is a high level storm with winds of up to 150 mph. Hurricanes are graded into 5 categories by the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The scale uses maximum sustained winds as a measure:
Category 1: 74-95 mph winds

Category 2:  96-110 mph winds

Category 3:  111-130 mph winds

Category 4:  131-155 mph winds

Category 5:  >155 mph winds

Although hurricane season starts in June, most major storms in the Atlantic seem to hit in August, September, and October. Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey shore in late October. Category five hurricanes Katrina and Andrew (2005, 1992) hit in late August.

hurricanepalms2

Coconuts? You mean missiles…

Are You Ready?

Hurricanes can be dangerous, but they don’t have to be life-threatening for those who prepare.  Unlike tornadoes, which can pop up suddenly, hurricanes are first identified when they are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.  We can watch their development and have a good idea of how bad it might get and how much time we have to get ready.

An effective plan of action takes into account factors like shelter, clean water, food, power, and other important issues.  By planning before a hurricane threatens your area, you’ll avoid the mad rush for supplies that leaves supermarket shelves empty.

Perhaps your most important decision might be:  Should you get out of Dodge? You can actually outrun one of these storms if you get enough of a head start. At present, for example, Hurricane Matthew is plodding along at about 7 mph.  If you live on the coast or in an area that floods often, there will be rising tide waters (known as the “storm surge”) that might cause impressive flooding. Indeed, flooding is the leading cause of deaths due to hurricanes.

The National Weather Service keeps a close eye on hurricanes and issues two types of warnings:

Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible within a specified area.

Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are expected somewhere within a specified area.

In many cases, the authorities will issue an order to evacuate areas that will be hardest hit. If such an order is broadcast, you should leave. If you live near the coast in pre-fabricated housing, such as a trailer, it’s wisest to hit the road before the storm makes landfall. Alternatively, many municipalities will designate a hurricane-resistant public building nearby as an official shelter.

If you do choose to leave town, plan to go as far inland as possible.   Hurricanes get their strength from the warm water temperatures over the tropical ocean; they lose strength quickly as they travel over land.  It might be a wise move to make reservations at a hotel early if you don’t have a place to go; there will be little room at the inn for the latecomers.

A good idea is to always have a set of supplies ready to go for any emergency. This kit is called a “Bug-Out”, “Go”, or “GOOD” (Get Out Of Dodge) bag. Although most survivalists recommend packing for 72 hours off the grid in case of a disaster, that number is arbitrary; be prepared to at least have a week’s supply of food and drinking water, as well as extra clothing and medical supplies.

storm surge

storm surge

Riding Out The Storm

If you decide to weather the storm at home, have an idea of what your home’s weak spots are.  What amount of sustained wind your structure can withstand?  Most homes are built to withstand 90 mph winds, but when South Florida was devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, new homes in South Florida were mandated to be able to withstand 125 mph winds. If the coming storm has sustained winds over that level, you may not be able to depend on the structural integrity of older homes.

Where is the best place in the home to serve as a “safe room”?  It should be in the part of the home most downwind of the direction from which the hurricane is hitting you. Be certain to plan for any special needs that family members (and pets) may have.  You may wind up taking care of more people that you expect, so have more water and non-perishable food than you think you’ll need (1 gallon/day per person minimum). Filling bathtubs with fresh water would give you a reasonable supply.

Outdoors

Unsecured objects can become missiles in a hurricane. Outdoors, move all patio furniture and potted plants either inside the house or up against the outside wall, preferably secured with chains. Put up hurricane shutters if you have them.

One special issue for South Floridians is coconuts:  They turn into cannonballs in a hurricane.  Cut them off the tree before the winds come.  Interestingly, the palm trees themselves, as they don’t have a dense crown, seem to weather most high winds without a problem.  Trees with dense crowns, however, should be pruned to allow wind through and all dead branches removed.

Roof shingles are often casualties of the storm, so have some waterproof tarps available. Roofers are going to be pretty busy after a major storm and might not get to you right away.  In South Florida after Wilma (2005), there were still tarps on roofs more than a year later.

Indoors

Indoor planning is important as well.  Communications may be out in a major storm, so have a NOAA weather radio and lots of fresh batteries. Turn refrigerators and freezers down to their coldest settings, so that food won’t spoil right away if the power fails.  Coolers filled with ice or dry ice will extend the life of some of your more perishable items. Don’t forget a hand-operated can opener.

Fill up gas and propane tanks early in every hurricane season. Make sure that you know how to shut off the electricity, gas and water, if necessary, and perhaps consider getting a generator and some extra gas cans. Never use gas grills or generators indoors, though, as the fumes may be life-threatening.

There’s another kind of power you should be concerned about. In the aftermath of a storm, credit card verification may be down; without cash, you may have no purchasing power at all.

What About The Kids?

If you’ve hunkered down in your home during the storm, make sure that you’ve got books, board games, and light sources for when the power goes down. Kids (and most adults) go stir crazy when stuck inside, especially if they don’t have TVs or computers in service.

Take time to discuss the coming storm in advance with the whole family; this will give everyone an idea of what to expect, and keep fear down to a minimum.  Give the kids some responsibility, as well.  Give them the opportunity to pack their own bag or select games to play.  This will keep their minds busy and their nerves calm.

Be Smart

It’s amazing how thrill-seekers will go out in the middle of a storm; people seem to be enthralled with hurricanes, and will go out in dangerous winds to take selfies or do other foolish things. This is a recipe for a bad outcome, and some avoidable deaths will occur as a result. Several were killed during Hurricane Sandy because of their zeal to go out during the worst part of the storm. Take hurricanes seriously; there’s danger from flooding, flying debris, falling trees, and much more.

After the Storm

Some items will be useful in the cleanup after the storm.  You’ll need work gloves, plastic garbage bags, duct tape, insect repellent, and even tweezers to deal with the splinters that inevitably are part and parcel of moving a lot of debris.  A chain saw might be needed as well.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, cell phone service may be down due to the huge volume of calls. Texts may be possible, however, even if voice calls aren’t.

By planning early to get your home and family prepared for a hurricane, you’ll have the best chance of .

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

Joe Alton, MD

 

always have some medical supplies available for your GO bag to deal with injuries caused by violent storms, and what better place to find kits and supplies than by checking out Nurse Amy’s often-imitated but never-equaled entire line specifically meant for disaster and homestead settings. Find them at store.doomandbloom.net!

Survival Medicine Hour: Epipens, Hurricanes, Kratom, Chamomile

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epi-pen
The Survival Medicine Hour hosted by Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Nurse Amy, are bringing you another episode of exciting and thrilling (well very entertaining and useful at least) survival information. Don’t miss out! Folks we have another hurricane on the horizon, Matthew is churning up the seas and is now a level 3 Hurricane with the possibility of hitting the USA in a few days time. Get prepared and learn what you need to do now to stay safe. Storm safety for all kinds of storms is vital knowledge.
What’s up with the Epipen crisis? What will you do if you don’t have or can’t afford the epipen, or even the still expensive ($606 for 2 pack) generic version? Dr. Bones shares a method of administering an alternative in the face of an emergency.
Kratom is being made into a schedule 1 drug, which is the same level as Heroin. This herb is blamed for 15 deaths, but only one of those deaths was the person found with only Kratom onboard. Many Kratom users herald it as the reason they were able to stop using other drugs, like heroin and pain meds. The users and their families contacted their congress members and a call to delay the change of Kratom to a schedule 1 drug has been made by the supportive congress members. More research should be done to accurately determine the effects of Kratom before a hastily decision is made. We discuss this issue and give you the 411.
Chamomile is a wonderful herbal medicine. It has been used safely for thousands of years. It is know to calm digestive issues and calm nervous disorders. Nurse Amy discusses this awesome herbal remedy and how to use it.
To listen in, click below:
Joe and Amy Alton
Amy Alton Everglades Close up 400 x 600

Amy Alton, MD

 

Find out how to deal with medical issues in disaster/survival settings with the brand new 700 page Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The essential guide for when medical help is not on the way.

50 Congressmen Ask DEA To Hold Off On Kratom Ban

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kratom

Mitragyna speciosa (Kratom)

In a rare bipartisan effort, 50 members of Congress have asked the DEA to hold off on the upcoming ban on the active ingredients in the plant Kratom (Mitragyna speciose). Kratom, a member of the coffee family, is used by many Americans as a substitute for opiates.  A plethora of testimonials exist online by former users of Heroin and other drugs that the plant has “saved their life”. 130,000 people signed a recent White House petition to protest the DEA’s actions.

 
Politicians aren’t the only officials that suggest that the DEA’s decision might have been arrived hastily. Academicians at Sloan Kettering and Columbia suggest that the plant may have properties that could be harnessed into useful non-opioid painkillers.

 
On August 30th, the DEA banned, for a period of two years, the two active ingredients mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, categorizing them as Schedule I drugs, the same category as Heroin and LSD. The ban is effective September 30th, 2016. Schedule I drugs are thought to have no medical use and present a major risk of addiction. This action means that even possession of the plant may be considered illegal and subject to prosecution.

 
The DEA considers Kratom to be an imminent public hazard, but some members of Congress disagree. In a recent letter to all representatives, Congressmen Mark Pocan (D- Wisconin) and Matt Salmon (R- Arizona) wrote “It (Kratom) binds to some of the same receptors as opioids, providing some pain relief and a calming effect, but not the same high. And the chemical doesn’t cause the same, sometimes deadly side effects as opioids, such as respiratory depression.”

 
This statement from the DEA: “… Kratom is abused for its ability to produce opioid-like effects and is often marketed as a legal alternative to controlled substances. Law enforcement nationwide has seized more kratom in the first half of 2016 than any previous year and easily accounts for millions of dosages intended for the recreational market, according to DEA findings. In addition, kratom has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. These three factors constitute a schedule I controlled substance according to the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress in 1970.”

 
DEA statistics show more than 600 poison control calls relating to Kratom in the five year period from 2010 to 2015. Fifteen deaths have been attributed to Kratom use, although closer inspection reveals that fourteen of those deaths were also associated with other drugs. In contrast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 8,257 heroin-related deaths in 2013 alone.

 
Having said that, some countries where Kratom grows naturally have imposed a ban on export and, sometimes, use. This includes nations like Thailand and Malaysia.

 
Kratom is, indeed, a drug and should be regulated, but abruptly naming it a Schedule I substance similar to Heroin will discourage research into its properties and potential for use in cases of drug addiction, depression, PTSD, and chronic pain.

 
Once Kratom is off the market, will users return to opiates like Heroin? If they do, how many deaths will occur as a result? More than one, I would guess. Kratom may have addictive potential, but so do cigarettes and alcohol, which are responsible for many more deaths.

 
Should Kratom be regulated? Absolutely. As things stand now, there is no accepted dosage amount of Kratom and commercially-available products are widely variable in the amount of mitragynine and 7-hydroxy-mitragynine in them. Find and standardize an appropriate amount for safe use. This is a better option than taking it off the market altogether.

 
It’s a stretch to argue that Kratom is as bad as Heroin; the last thing we want is users to switch to substances that are more clearly associated with death.

 

 

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

Dr. Joe Alton

Joe Alton MD is a medical preparedness writer for disasters and epidemics, and looks for ways to use both conventional and alternative methods to deal with scenarios where help may not be on the way. Check out his brand new 700 page Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook for over 150 medical issues that you might encounter in disaster situations.

7 Sensible Ways To Get Your Kids Dirty (and Healthy)

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mud-play

image by publicdomainpictures.net

I have, on many occasions, written about the importance of good hygiene and sanitation on the chances of a family or survival group succeeding, even when everything else fails. That’s all well and good, but what can be done before a disaster to impart a resistance to infection in the next generation?

In modern times we have, as a matter of “good parenting”, made every effort to keep our children with their noses wiped and their hands clean. Indeed, these are the basics of respiratory hygiene to prevent things like colds and flus. However, are our kids too clean? In our never-ending battle to keep them shiny and bright, have we, instead, made them more prone to the very microbes from which we want to protect then?

Many scientists and physicians think so. In 1989, researcher Dr. David Strachan suggested the hypothesis that the failure of children to be exposed to infectious bugs and parasites may be responsible for the epidemic of allergies and allergic conditions like asthma. This was called the “Hygiene Hypothesis” and the lack of exposure to microbes was, later, more broadly applied to other diseases ranging from hay fever to diabetes to multiple sclerosis.

The theory is based on the thought that avoidance of common germs suppresses the development of a normal immune system. In addition to microbe-avoiding practices like staying inside and not getting dirty, just the fact that modern families are smaller than those 100 years ago results in less passing-around of common infections. This, in turn, leads to the failure to develop immunity against them or the

tolerance that would prevent allergic reactions.

Later studies suggest that some of the skin, gut, and respiratory germs we try so hard to avoid are actually “old friends” that have been with us since ancient times, and lack of exposure to them doesn’t allow our immune systems to develop nor function appropriately. Researchers like Dr. Graham Rook compared the immature immune system to a computer; it has many programs, but needs “data” in the form of diverse germ exposures to allow the “program” to identify those that are harmful. The fetus receives some of this data even as it passes through the vaginal canal during birth.

pixabay-old-farm

old farm via pixabay images

When most of us lived on farms or in less-than-pristine cities, we were exposed to plenty of germs from a young age due to time spent outside with animals or with lots of other people. Now, unless they’re playing Pokemon Go, the majority of kids aren’t motivated to go outside or, certainly, get dirty. In the final analysis, never getting dirty as a child may be hazardous to your future health.

Having said all this, most parents will have trouble throwing their kids in the nearest pig sty or making mud pies with Rover’s, um, poo. There are still disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites out there that you’d like to avoid. Is there a middle ground?

Here are some things you might consider:

Avoid antibiotics: The medical profession may have been remiss in over-prescribing antibiotics, but there are antibiotics in food as well. Indeed, 70-80% of antibiotics are given to livestock, not to treat infection, but to make they grow faster and get them to market sooner. Stick with antibiotic-free eggs, milk, and meats.

Avoid anti-bacterial soaps: Triclosan, the active antibiotic ingredient in many brands, has recently been banned by the FDA due to the risk of antibiotic resistance and the lack of evidence of any medical benefit. Use regular soap and water for washing.

Tailor Handwashing Strategies to the Situation:  If you’re in a city where open sewers run through the streets and people are tossing buckets of excrement out the window, have your kids wash their hands conscientiously. In clean environments where there isn’t a raging epidemic, however, don’t freak out over dirty hands.

Don’t Bathe Every Day: Not only should your kids be exposed to dirt to develop their immune system, but bathing too often might do more harm than good. Daily showers removes protective skin oils and causes drying and irritation. You’re also washing away the good bacteria that lives on your skin.

dog-and-kid-pixabay

image by pixabay.com

Get Your Kid a Pet: Not every kid has the good fortune of living on a farm, but they’ll benefit from a furry pet. Dogs seem to give more resistance to colds and allergic skin conditions like eczema than cats, but early cat exposure might give more protection against asthma. Why not have both?

Be Sensible About Animal Droppings:  Yes, I know that you can’t avoid trace amounts of animal excrement in your kids’ environment, but don’t let them play in the cat litter and you should remove pet and wild animal excrement from play areas.

Get your kids outside when they’re young: In these days where we have legitimate concerns about children’s safety, you might be reluctant to let your kids go outside by themselves. Here’s an idea: Go out with them, to parks, wilderness areas, and other places where both adults and kids can reap real benefits.

The more you encourage outdoor activities early, the more they become part of the next generation’s culture; let the kids get a little dirty, and you might give them a healthier future.

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Fill those holes in your medical supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kit and individual items at store.doomandbloom.net!

Survival Medicine Hour: Larry Keilberg of SelfDefenseFund, Diabetes, More

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Legal Self Defense (pictured: Amy’s Gunshot Kit)

Survival Medicine Hour, September 23, 2016, with Joe and Amy Alton. We discuss the prevalent market on Ebay for fake C.A.T tourniquets, and a couple things to look out for. The increasing epidemic of diabetes, and what the world might look like if we make changes and if we don’t. The World Health Organization announced a 4-fold increase in the number of diabetic diagnoses in the past 35 years.

If you plan to defend you or your family from harm, through self defense, using ANY item, whether gun, knife, a lamp or even hands, this interview with Larry Keilberg may provide your best protection from going to jail. When force is used, deadly or otherwise, the police and court systems are not always quick to render you innocent. Long trials and expensive defense teams can ruin your life. The SelfDefenseFund.com offers a very reasonable policy to cover you and family members in the case of self defense. From expert testimony, top lawyers and a team of defense planning, you will be defended by the best. Larry Keilberg is a founding member of The National Association for Legal Gun Defense, and is an excellent source of information. Don’t miss this interview.

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/09/23/survival-medicine-hour-larry-keilberg-of-selfdefensefund-diabetes-more

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

joe and amy radio

Fill those holes in your medical supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical kits and supplies at AltonFirstAid.com!

Kratom, Natural Pain Reliever, Lost to FDA Actions

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kratom

Mitragyna speciose (Kratom)

One of the questions we’re often asked is what to do about chronic pain and drug addiction if some disaster occurs that knocks you off the grid, maybe for good. Certainly, pharmaceuticals would cease to be manufactured and whatever pain med you use or opiate drug you may be addicted to will become, very likely, unavailable, leaving you or members of your group high and dry. In these circumstances, you have to look toward natural sources of compounds that could help; things that you might even be able to grow in your survival garden.

Some states approve the possession and sale of marijuana  for medical and recreational use, but there is little true opioid effect to it, and recent studies show that it has a slight effect against pain, but mostly has a sedative effect that makes the pain more bearable. the Canadian Medical Association journal tested marijuana on a number of people who had chronic pain, and compared it to people who took a placebo, essentially a sugar pill. Those on the placebo rated their pain as a 6.1 out of 10 and the marijuana group rated their pain as 5.4.  A small difference, but a difference nonetheless, so it’s an option.

Another plant that has promise for chronic pain is called Kratom. Kratom is a herb that has been in widespread use in Southeast Asia for centuries; it is chewed for to increase stamina, induce gentle euphoria and relaxation, and relieve pain. Many testimonials exist as to its success helping people kick their addictions to opioid painkillers. On the other side of the coin, Kratom appears to have addictive potential itself, and several hundred cases of poisoning have been recorded, although many of the most severe cases seem to have mixed it with other recreational drugs. Use and/or export of Kratom has been outlawed in some countries where it grows naturally.

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. Kratom, however, is not an opiate. It’s actually a member of the coffee family. In any case, Kratom has been used by many people who swear by its effect on pain or used it to replace heroin and other street drugs.

Now, in a recent decision, the FDA has (abruptly) chosen to classify the active compounds in Kratom as Schedule I substances. Schedule 1 drugs include heroin and LSD, things determined to have no acceptable medical use and/or high addictive properties. Kratom now joins their ranks. The Drug Enforcement Administration announced that it would, for a period of two years, effectively ban Kratom,. By prohibiting the possession and use of mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, the DEA can make it illegal to even have the plant on your property.

This action probably stems from a report by the CDC that Kratom “intoxication” caused 600 calls to poison control centers over the last five years. This despite the claim from proponents of the plant that the number of “poisonings” are small compared to the number of people damaged by many other, even legal, substances. I found little scientific evidence of any lethal effects from using Kratom.

In any case, the FDA has taken up an anti-Kratom stance after several states banned the plant.

In the end, the Department of Health and Human Services is involved in studies on Kratom and its final determination will decide if the plant is banned forever.  

What does this mean? Well, that outlawing Kratom may turn its users to things like heroin. Results might be an increase in opiate overdose deaths, something already at epidemic proportions throughout various parts of the country. Secondly, it takes away an natural alternative for the homesteader or off-grid medic to deal with addiction issues or with significant chronic pain in austere settings.

It seems to me that there has been a rush to judgement when it comes to Kratom. Hopefully, the DEA will see the light as to the realistic uses and potential risks of the plant, and allow at least limited access to what might be a very valuable survival medical tool. Don’t hold your breath, though; it’s not likely that, once a substance is controlled by the government, that you’ll be able to get or grow it in the future (marijuana being the rare exception).

You still have until the end of September 2016 to get some plants or supplements. The plants are going out of stock quickly, but there are still supplements available at various online sites. Check out the American Kratom Association for more information. I’m not telling you to break the law, just to do your own research and reach your own conclusions.

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoeFind out more about natural alternatives for pain and other medical issues in the brand new Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way.

 

Lessons That Could Save Your Life in a Terror Event

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bombingvictim

I’ve written quite a bit lately about shooting and terror events, but recent events highlight the fact that gun violence isn’t the only way that a terrorist can fulfill their mission of making casualties out of decent citizens. Clearly, bombings, stabbings, or shootings can occur literally anytime and anywhere in the U.S.: at churches, clubs, holiday parties, schools, the mall, at 2 in the morning or in the middle of the day. They’re part of what I call the “New Normal” and we have to be prepared to act if we’re caught in one of these events.

Although I write mostly about disaster medical preparedness, a terror event is a different kind of disaster. It’s one where you can prevent becoming a casualty if you simply know what to do when danger presents itself.  Indeed, if you don’t train yourself to anticipate these events, it could be hazardous to your health and that of your family.

I’ve mentioned the concept of “situational awareness” as a way to decrease your chances of becoming a victim in future terror attacks. In these days of Pokemon Go and other smartphone distractions, you’re seeing more and more people not paying attention to their surroundings. In the past, this might get you a bump on the head for walking into a lamp post. In today’s world, however, it could cost you your life.

Situational awareness involves understanding what’s going on in your immediate vicinity that might be represent a threat to your well-being. I don’t mean second-hand smoke here; I’m talking about knowing what immediate dangers may exist that you can avoid or abolish with your actions. Especially important for soldiers in a combat zone, it’s now become just as important for the average citizen in any public space.

In an area at risk (anyplace where multitudes of people gather), simple things might save your life. Things like not having your hoodie up, which can be like blinders on a horse. Things like making a mental note of the nearest exit at the mall. Things like looking around for people who are acting strangely or, perhaps, dressed too warmly for the weather.  Someone who might be paying too much attention to an everyday object, such as a trash can (which might contain a bomb).

Behaviors normal in some settings might be an “anomaly” in others: Hopping up and down and screaming may be normal behavior at a rock concert, but not at the local mall.  By looking for anomalies in what should be normal behavior in a situation, the situationally aware person will have the best chance to plan an escape when an attack occurs. 

To do this effectively, you should always be in a state of what I call “Yellow Alert”. You’re calm and relaxed, but taking in your surroundings: Always observing how people behave, where the nearest exits are, and formulating a plan of action if you’re in a crowd or other at-risk scenario.

In the case of the terrorist who stabbed nine people in Minnesota, it’s likely that he was in a state of agitation, his hands constantly touching the pocket where he kept his weapon. These are anomalies; things you should watch for whenever you’re in a public place.

In a crowd, it would pay to be at the fringes and not in the middle. Having a wall to your back would eliminate a danger that might come at you from behind. Indoors, for example, in a movie theatre, you want a view of the exits as well as the screen. If someone is behaving strangely, move away from them. If someone is screaming at the employee at the local burger joint (I said NO CHEESE!), maybe you should leave and order a pizza instead.

Air Force Colonel John Boyd devised a situational awareness strategy, called the “OODA Loop”, originally meant for aerial combat. It has practical applications, however, for everyday life. The components of the OODA Loop as it pertains to terror events are:

Observe: Stay at Yellow Alert whenever you’re in a public place where groups of people gather.

Orient: Identify behaviors that are not appropriate for the situation. These anomalies will tell you who and what to keep an eye on.

Decide: Determine the best course of action that will allow your escape or might eliminate the danger altogether.

Act:  Initiate the plan of action and commit to those actions.

It’s difficult to instill a culture of situational awareness in a population, but doing so would save lives. Teaching your kids the basics can help keep them safe, especially if you start early. When you’re out with the kids, tell them to pay attention to what’s going on where you are. Once the family has left the area, ask them how many people were there, what they were wearing, or other details. Ask them what they would have done if something happened. Do this often enough, and it will, hopefully, become common practice. They’ll learn to pay less attention to their smartphones and more to their surroundings.

It would also benefit society if the next generation is taught what to do to help those wounded in a terror attack. In this scenario, law enforcement must pass the wounded by until the terrorist is neutralized. It may surprise you to know this, but there’s someone out there making more casualties, and the police, first and foremost, must abolish the threat. Yet, it’s thought that 1 in 5 deaths from hemorrhage might be avoided with the quick action of bystanders.

It may be time to add a fourth “R” to education. In addition to Reading, (w)Riting, and (a)Rithmatic, Reducing hemorrhage might be a useful thing for kids to learn once they reach a certain age. Indeed, I predict that there will come a time when first aid kits will occupy a space on the walls next to the fire extinguishers and automated defibrillators in schools and other public places.

All this attention to detail may seem paranoid to you, but it’s time to realize that these are dangerous times.  Incorporate situational awareness into a calm, observant mindset and you’ll gain those extra seconds that could mean the difference between life and death in troubled times.

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Learn about active shooters, stab wound management, and mass casualty events in the new 700 page third edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Help is Not on the Way.

Survival Medicine Hour: Kratom Ban, Dental Trauma, Medical Uses for Rosemary

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kratom

Kratom

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy (Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP), Dr. Bones discusses the upcoming ban on the useful but, perhaps, addictive herb Kratom, a Southeast Asian herb used for centuries to treat chronic pain and depression, and used by some today to replace addictions to opiates. Also, Nurse Amy discusses the many medical uses of Rosemary, and Dr. Bones discusses dental trauma, and what to do about that loose or knocked-out tooth in a survival setting.

dental-trauma

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/09/16/survival-medicine-hour-kratom-ban-dental-trauma-rosemarys-uses

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

batman and robin

The Dynamic Duo

Video: The OODA Loop of Situational Awareness

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crowd

Are you safe here?

In this companion video to a previous article, Joe Alton, MD, aka Dr. Bones, discusses a fighter pilot strategy that might save your life in a terror event. Originally meant for aerial dogfights, the OODA loop was developed by Colonel John Boyd and has been used in everything from business to active shooter scenarios. Incorporating the OODA loop into your mindset will help instill the culture of readiness that is so important in the New Normal of the uncertain future.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of help in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

AmyandJoePodcast400x200

The Altons

Zika: 10 Things to Worry/Relax About

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Aedes Albopictus Mosquito

Zika virus has been in the news since the beginning of the year, and there’s a lot of information out there; some of it is reassuring and some, well, not so much. Here’s some things you should know that will make you worry/not worry about this infectious disease that’s been reported worldwide. 

1.

Worrisome: Reported cases of Zika in the U.S. and its territories will soon hit 20,000. The number of Zika cases IN THE U.S. and its territories reported to CDC’s Arbonet (ARthropod-BOrne virus) national registry has risen to almost 19,000. With some researchers suggesting infection in one quarter of the population of Puerto Rico before the end of 2016, 20,000 cases might be a gross underestimation.

Reassuring: While the Zika epidemic rages in Puerto Rico, the continental U.S has reported a total of 2,964 cases of mostly travel-related Zika virus illness (out of a population of 320 million).  South Florida is the only area in the continental U.S. where local mosquitoes are confirmed by authorities to have spread the disease (about 50 cases).

The number of U.S. Zika cases are updated weekly by the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/united-states.html.

 

2.

Worrisome: The actual number of Zika cases is probably close to 5 times the number of reported cases. Zika virus causes relatively mild symptoms like rashes, fevers, joint pains, and reddened eyes, and even then in only 20% of cases. 80% have no symptoms whatsoever, which means that the actual number of cases is probably 5 times greater. This doesn’t count people who wouldn’t go to the doctor for a mild fever or a rash, so it might be even more.

Reassuring: Even if case totals are, in fact, much higher than reported, the virus leaves the bloodstream after a week or so in most people. It can, however, last for months in seminal fluid or, perhaps, the eyes. Once you have recovered from the acute infection, you receive immunity from the antibodies produced by your immune system. Future pregnancies won’t be affected.

,

3.

Worrisome: Zika is a bona fide pandemic. A pandemic is a widespread occurrence of a disease not normally seen in a place that spreads across different regions. Zika has now been identified in close to 70 countries and has been referred to as a pandemic by the National Institute of Health since at least January 2016.

Reassuring: Despite concerns raised by many health officials, athletes and tourists returning from the Olympic Games don’t seem to have sparked significant new outbreaks in their home countries.

microcephaly-reuse-wiki

microcephalic infant

 

4.

Worrisome: Newborns with Zika infections can have multiple abnormalities, not just microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where a small brain leads to poor head growth. Beside this, however, other evidence of brain damage, deformed joints, and vision or hearing impairment may occur.

Reassuring: The percentage of abnormal newborns in Zika-infected mothers isn’t as high as you think. Statistics for the rate of birth abnormalities in newborns have ranged from 1% to 13% in Brazil and 1% in the previous outbreak in Polynesia in 2013-4, according to a CDC report released last May. There are no numbers that say a Zika-infected mother’s chances are very high of having a baby with microcephaly or other defects.

 

5.

Worrisome: We can’t say for sure that Zika-infected babies born looking normal will be unaffected by the virus. Zika is shown in lab studies to kill brain and other nerve cells. What if the number of cells damaged is not enough to make the baby appear abnormal at birth but enough to cause delays in milestones like walking or talking? What if these infants end up having learning disabilities once they’re old enough to go to school? We won’t know for years.

Reassuring: Although our research into the effects of Zika virus is in its infancy, no hard evidence exists that a baby from an infected mother will have later developmental deficits.

 

6.

Worrisome: Zika virus may be passed through from human to human through seminal fluid, vaginal secretions, blood, and now, tears. Researchers are finding more and more ways that Zika might be transmissible from human to human. A study from Washington University in St. Louis reports that tears of mice carried parts of the Zika virus.

Reassuring:  The vast majority of Zika infections are still transmitted by mosquitoes. Sensible actions like the use of mosquito repellents, the wearing of long sleeves/pants, and drainage of nearby standing water are still the best way to prevent an infection.

 immunity

7.

Worrisome: There is more than one strain of Zika, and there may have been mutations. Zika, like many viruses, exists in different subtypes (at least two) that could mutate from time to time. This fact might explain why a virus originally identified in 1947 only started causing community-wide outbreaks in 2007, and no reported cases of abnormal babies before 2013. A mutation that increased the severity of effect on humans (at least, newborn ones) may have occurred.

Reassuring: It’s possible that Zika just had never been exposed to such large populations without natural immunity. Researchers haven’t yet reported if the strain spreading rapidly in Singapore is the same one as that in Brazil.

 

8.

Worrisome: There may already be more than one locally-transmitted outbreak in the U.S. Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor’s College of Medicine, suspects that there may be more areas of local Zika transmission than just the one in Miami. The Guardian reports that he said, “…I think there’s not just Zika transmission going on in Miami, it’s going on all up and down the Gulf Coast and in Arizona, it’s just that nobody’s looking.” The CDC, although it stops short of predicting an epidemic of Zika, believes clusters of cases may still appear in warm-weather states.

Reassuring: Future local outbreaks are likely to be minor in the U.S.  A number of states, like Louisiana and other Gulf and East coast states, are recovering from floods dues to storms and Hurricane Hermine. Cases of Zika virus, however, don’t seem to be arising out of standing water there that would be excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Cities, like Houston, with low-income areas that harbor abandoned buildings and trash, also provide possible sites for the next generation of mosquitoes; Zika virus doesn’t seem to have taken hold there either.

dead bees

dead bees

 

9.

Worrisome: Aerial Spraying with chemical pesticides like Naled may affect honeybees and even humans. Use of pesticides that are neurotoxic might have ill effects on important pollinators like bees, or even human beings. It might be safer to use methods that kill mosquito larvae instead.

Reassuring: Aerial spraying is an effective way to eliminate large populations of adult mosquitoes quickly and rarely affects humans. Naled is a shorter acting pesticide than some others, and when used correctly (before sunrise or after sunset), is unlikely to cause major damage to pollinators, which mostly forage during daylight hours. The recent bee die-off after spraying in Dorchester County, S.C., was due to spraying which occurred at 8 a.m.

singapore-pixabay

Singapore’s next for Zika (image: pixabay)

                                                                                                                                                                                

10.

Worrisome: A new local Zika outbreak is spreading throughout Singapore in Asia. The location is important because Singapore is an important financial hub for the region. Travel-related cases already have been reported in Malaysia and the Philippines from returning travelers. Given the widespread commercial travel to Singapore, where 300 cases have been reported in 10 days, the entirety of Asia may be affected in the near future.

Reassuring: Here in the U.S., the coming fall and winter seasons will decrease mosquito populations significantly throughout most of the country. USA Today reported in July that Brazil was recording fewer cases of Zika as the Southern Hemisphere entered its “winter”.

 

So, it’s your choice: You can decide either to go look for your worry beads or, instead, cover your eyes with your hat and order another pinacolada. Just don’t forget the mosquito repellent.

 

Joe Alton, MD

 

 

 

The Coming Bee-Pocalypse?

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dead bees

dead bees

You may or may not be an environmentalist, but a part of nature that everyone should support is the honeybee. It’s thought that every third bite of food that you take is there because of pollination by bees. Honey, when raw and unprocessed, is a versatile product that may even be used as a wound covering for burns and other injuries.

In the last decade, bee colonies are reported to be experiencing die-offs that have taken out a significant percentage of all the colonies in certain areas.  I found this alarming, but a review of recent articles, however, revealed this idea to be a matter of debate. Opinions on the state of the bee nation seem to go along with the political bent of the author; if you’re liberal, the “bee-pocalypse” has arrived; if you’re conservative, bees are thriving and it’s all a bunch of “junk science”. Which do you “bee-lieve”?

As a conservative environmentalist (am I the only one?), it’s all pretty confusing. I tend to think that bees, like a lot of critters in today’s densely populated world, are in trouble, and there are multiple factors to blame. Some of these factors are, indeed, due to human actions.

These actions could be very isolated, like the truck that overturned in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, taking out most of the 430 beehives that were being transported to farming areas without enough pollinators (a question: Why is this a thriving business if there are plenty of bees?).

Human actions may be more coordinated, however, than  a truck overturning. Our growing concerns about the Zika, West Nile, and other mosquito-borne viruses have led to the institution of mosquito control programs in many towns and cities in the U.S. One effective means of eliminating adult mosquitoes is aerial spraying with an organophosphate pesticide called Naled. Unfortunately, the use of Naled has caused collateral damage to many beneficial insects; the honeybee is one of them.

A recent series of aerial sprayings in Dorchester County, South Carolina, has killed millions of bees. Although relatively short acting, Naled is lethal to bees and daytime spraying has decimated the local population of these important pollinators. The chemical is not meant to be used between sunrise and sunset, when bees are out foraging. It seems the Dorchester County officials didn’t read the directions.

The inappropriate timing of the pesticide spraying has “nuked” the colonies of many Dorchester County beekeepers. Dead worker bees were found in large clumps at hive entrances; one beekeeper lost 46 hives.

Although the county claims to have given advisories of the spraying via email, many local beekeepers claim they didn’t receive the notice. Mosquito control is normally conducted by trucks in the county, and the aerial sprayings came as a (very bad) surprise. With warning, the beekeepers could have shielded the hives.

All this is happening at a time when another pesticide used to control pests is (apparently, another controversial statement) devastating bee populations in other areas.

Here’s a story that was reported some time ago: Customers at an Oregon Target store arrived to see tens of thousands of dead and dying bumblebees in the parking lot.

An investigation the day before revealed that a pest-control company had sprayed insecticide on surrounding trees due to an aphid infestation. Of course, bees don’t read warning signs and 300 colonies were destroyed. That’s a lot of lost pollinators.

The pesticide used is known as a neonicotinoid, popularly called a “neonic”. It was developed by Bayer a decade ago and differs from other pesticides, like organophosphates, in that they clear from the air a lot slower.

Many crops are treated with neonics. The chemical works like this: once sprayed on the plant, it is absorbed by the plant’s vascular system. This makes it poisonous to bugs that eat the leaves, nectar, or pollen. Sometimes the soil is treated as well, with the same absorption effect that makes it deadly to pests. Unfortunately, it’s kills good insects, as well.

When a Bayer neonic doesn’t kill a bee, it can damage its immune system and even affect its ability to navigate. It becomes lost and can’t find the hive. This phenomenon is sometimes known as “Colony Collapse Disorder” and it appears as if the bees have magically disappeared. Although not proven to be the cause in all cases, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to implicate the pesticide as a factor.

Now, a new study indicates that neonics harm drone bees’ sperm, killing close to 40 per cent and causing a condition called “queen failure”. A queen failure is when queen bees fail to have live offspring. A queen failure is a hive failure.

Of course, there are a lot of other reasons that a hive can fail. Parasites, disease, and many other factors may come into play besides chemical pesticides. But given the stress that our nation’s bee population is already under, what will be the straw that breaks the (bee’s) camel’s back?

To be banned, a chemical has to be proven dangerous in the U.S. Although Bayer is a German company, you might be interested to know that, at present, you can’t use neonics in Germany. Too dangerous. In the U.S., however, neonics are widely used and the bees pay the price.

Some areas in the U.S. are taking action. Eugene, Oregon has forbidden the use of this pesticide and the state of Maryland has followed with a ban to begin in 2018. Environmentalists urge action by the federal government to ban neonicotinoids and mandate wiser use of organophosphates like Naled (following the directions would be a good start).  Meanwhile, others are complaining, even in Europe, of pests invading crops and want freer use of neonic and other pesticides.

Our bees are an important natural resource, not just for beekeepers, but for farmers and for all Americans. If you’re a consumer, you should be invested in this fight regardless of your political stripes. I’d like to Save the Whales, but it’s just as or more important to save the bees.

Joe Alton, MD

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Joe Alton, MD

The brand new Third Edition of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” is now available at Amazon.com! It’s the essential guide for disasters and epidemics when help isn’t on the way.

 

Survival Medicine Hour: Hurricanes, Zika Update, Bee Deaths

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zika virus

Zika Virus

In this episode of the Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP, a Florida landfall occurs for a hurricane for the first time in more than a decade. Were you ready? What should you do to prepare for the next one? Plus, Dr. Bones discusses new tragedies for the native bee population in the U.S. What will be the straw that break’s the bee’s, I mean, camel’s back? With every third bite of food you put in your mouth coming as a result of some bee pollinating a plant, you should be invested in this topic!

storm surge

A hurricane’s storm surge

Plus, we haven’t talked about Zika for a while, but that’s not because there hasn’t been a lot of news about it. Nurse Amy and Dr. Bones follow the globetrotting pandemic to a new outbreak in Singapore, talk about outbreaks that might not be reported due to lack of testing, and the effects that could occur on zika-infected newborns that are born looking perfectly normal.

bee1

More bad news for bees

All this and more on the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy!

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/09/04/survival-medicine-hour-more-bad-news-for-bees-hurricanes-and-a-zika-update

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton

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Are You Ready For A Hurricane?

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hurricane satellite image pixabay

image by pixabay.com

As Hurricane Hermine makes landfall in the Florida panhandle, I realized that I haven’t written an article on hurricane preparedness since Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey coast in 2012. Florida, usually considered the most hurricane-prone state, has been extraordinarily lucky until now, with Hurricane Wilma in 2005 (the same year as Katrina) hit South Florida.

It doesn’t take very long for people to forget the devastation that previous hurricanes have caused in the United States. Hurricanes are one of the few disasters that advanced weather forecasting can predict well ahead of its arrival. The National Weather Service puts out regular advisories for upcoming storms. Despite this, few are prepared to handle the dangers to life and property that can occur.

Hurricane Hermine is, as hurricanes go, a lower level storm known as a “Category 1” with winds of 74-95 mph. Hurricanes are graded into 5 categories by the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The scale uses maximum sustained winds as a measure; stronger storms are categorized as follows:
Category 2:  96-110 mph winds

Category 3:  111-130 mph winds

Category 4:  131-155 mph winds

Category 5:  >155 mph winds

 

Hurricane season starts in June, but most major storms seem to hit in August, September, and October. Sandy hit the U.S. in late October. Category five hurricanes Katrina and Andrew (1992) hit in late August.

Are You Ready for a Hurricane?

Certainly, hurricanes can be severe, but they don’t have to be life-threatening for those who prepare.  Unlike tornadoes, which can pop up suddenly, hurricanes are first identified when they are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.  We can watch their development and have a good idea of how bad it might get and how much time we have to get ready.  An effective plan of action takes into account factors like shelter, clean water, food, power, and other important issues.  By planning before a hurricane threatens your area, you’ll avoid the mad rush for supplies that leaves supermarket shelves empty.

storm surge

the “storm surge” is responsible for many hurricane-related deaths

You can outrun one of these storms if you get enough of a head start. That’s actually one of your most important decisions:  Should you get out of Dodge?  If you live on the coast or in an area that floods often, there will be rising tide waters (known as the “storm surge”) that might reason enough to leave. The storm surge, combined with heavy rains, can cause impressive flooding, and is the leading cause of deaths due to hurricanes.

The National Weather Service keeps a close eye on hurricanes and issues two types of warnings:

Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible within a specified area.

Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are expected somewhere within a specified area.

In many cases, the authorities will issue an order to evacuate areas that will be hardest hit. If such an order is broadcast, you should leave. If you live in pre-fabricated housing, such as a trailer, or near the coast, it’s wisest to hit the road before the storm makes landfall. Alternatively, many municipalities will designate a hurricane-resistant public building in your own community as an official shelter.

If you do choose to leave town, plan to go as far inland as possible.   Hurricanes get their strength from the warm water temperatures over the tropical ocean; they lose strength quickly as they travel over land.  It might be a wise move to make reservations at a hotel early; there will be little room at the inn for the latecomers.

A good idea is to always have a “GO” bag ready for any emergency. Although most people pack for 72 hours off the grid in case of a disaster, that number is relatively arbitrary; be prepared to at least have a week’s supply of food and drinking water, as well as extra clothing and medical supplies.

You should have an idea of what your home’s weak spots are.  Do you know what amount of sustained wind your structure can withstand?  Most homes are built to withstand 90 mph winds, but when South Florida was devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, new homes in South Florida were mandated to be able to withstand 125 mph winds. If the coming storm has sustained winds over that level, you may not be able to depend on the structural integrity of your home.

Riding Out The Storm

If you decide to weather the storm at home, designate a safe room somewhere in the interior of the house.  It should be in a part of the home most downwind from the direction the hurricane is hitting you. Be certain to plan for any special needs that family members (and pets) may have.  You may wind up taking care of more people that you expect, so have more water and non-perishable food than you think you’ll need (1 gallon/day per person minimum). Filling bathtubs with fresh water would give you a reasonable supply.

Outdoors

Unsecured objects can become missiles in a hurricane. Outdoors, move all patio furniture and potted plants either inside the house or up against the outside wall, preferably secured with chains. Put up hurricane shutters if you have them.

One special issue for South Floridians is coconuts:  They turn into cannonballs in a hurricane.  Cut them off the tree before the winds come.  Interestingly, the palm trees themselves, as they don’t have a dense crown, seem to weather most high winds without a problem.  Trees with dense crowns, however, should be pruned to allow wind through and all dead branches removed.

Roof shingles are often casualties of the storm, so have some waterproof tarps available. Roofers are going to be pretty busy after a major storm and might not get to you right away.  In South Florida after Wilma (2005), there were still tarps on roofs more than a year later.

Indoors

Indoor planning is important as well.  Communications may be out in a major storm, so have a NOAA weather radio and lots of fresh batteries. Turn refrigerators and freezers down to their coldest settings, so that food won’t spoil right away if the power fails.  Coolers filled with ice or dry ice will extend the life of some of your more perishable items. Don’t forget a hand-operated can opener.

Fill up gas and propane tanks early in every hurricane season. Make sure that you know how to shut off the electricity, gas and water, if necessary, and perhaps consider getting a generator and some extra gas cans. Never use gas grills or generators indoors, though, as the fumes may be life-threatening.

There’s another kind of power you should be concerned about. In the aftermath of a storm, credit card verification may be down; without cash, you may have no purchasing power at all.

What About The Kids?

If you’ve hunkered down in your home during the storm, make sure that you’ve got books, board games, and light sources for when the power goes down. Kids (and most adults) go stir crazy when stuck inside, especially if they don’t have TVs or computers in service.

Take time to discuss the coming storm in advance with the whole family; this will give everyone an idea of what to expect, and keep fear down to a minimum.  Give the kids some responsibility, as well.  Give them the opportunity to pack their own bag or select games to play.  This will keep their minds busy and their nerves calm.

People are enthralled with hurricanes, and will go out in dangerous winds to take selfies or do other foolish things. This is a recipe for a bad outcome, and some avoidable deaths will occur as a result.

Some items will be useful in the cleanup after the storm.  You’ll need work gloves, plastic garbage bags, duct tape, insect repellent, and even tweezers to deal with the splinters that inevitably are part and parcel of moving a lot of debris.  A chain saw might be needed as well.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, cell phone service may be down due to the huge volume of calls. Texts may be possible, however, even if voice calls aren’t.

By planning early to get your home and family prepared for a hurricane, you’ll get through the storm in the best shape possible.

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Dr. Alton

Video: Wildfire Safety Tips

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wildfire

Wildfire Safety

The West coast has been in the grip of several wildfires that have caused millions in damage. In a companion video to a recent article, Joe Alton, MD discusses strategies that might save your home (and your life) in a wildfire.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe Alton, MD

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Get medical preparedness tips for any disaster by checking out Joe and Amy Alton’s brand new third edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Help is Not on the Way.

How a Fighter Pilot’s Strategy Could Save Your Life: The OODA Loop

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fighter plane jet

image by pixabay.com

It’s pretty clear in these uncertain times that there’s a New Normal out there. There will always be the possibility of a terror event or shooting whenever crowds of people gather. Almost daily, a terrorist or madman causes death and destruction somewhere. If you learn to be situationally aware, you won’t be a soft target for these savages.

ooda loop graphic

the OODA loop

 

The basics of situational awareness are described in what is called the OODA Loop. It was first devised by Air Force fighter pilot Colonel John Boyd. Originally meant to help in an aerial dogfight, it’s useful in all sorts of settings. The four steps of the OODA Loop are: Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. It’s a loop because you go back to the observe step after you act, to determine if the situation has resolved or if further action is needed.

 

Observe: Yellow Alert

yellow alert image

Stay at Yellow Alert when in crowds

You’ve heard of red alert, but let’s go to yellow alert as our stance in most cases. Yellow alert is best described as “relaxed awareness.” you have your head up and scanning the surroundings with all your senses. Most people associate situational awareness with what they can see, but you also learn a lot from the sounds (or lack thereof) and even smells in the environment.

 

It’s important to stay relaxed. Staying relaxed ensures that you remain focused on the important aspects of the environment, but not to the exclusion of new factors that might arise.

 

Put yourself in a position for optimal observation. You need to be able to take in as much of your surroundings as possible. When you enter any environment, place yourself so that you can see as much of the area in question. If it’s a restaurant, have a view of the exits (maybe a table by a wall). You might not be able to choose which table to sit at, but you can pick a chair which gives you the best view of what’s going on.

 observe view ooda

Orient: Baselines and Anomalies

 

Being observant, however, isn’t enough. You have to know what you’re looking for and then put that information into context. The Orient step establishes baselines and anomalies for a particular environment and the human behaviors that match it or don’t.

 

Whatever setting you’re in, establish a baseline. A baseline is what’s “normal” in a given situation, and it’s different for different instances. For example, the baseline at Starbucks is people reading books working on their computer, or talking with friends. The baseline at a rock concert would be loud music and people jumping up and down and shouting. If someone is jumping up and down and shouting at Starbucks, that’s what we call an anomaly.

 

Anomalies are things that should happen in a situation but don’t or things that do happen but shouldn’t, and are what we need to focus on. Questions you might ask yourself in a crowd: What’s the general mood? How should people be behaving? Who is doing something that’s different from the norm?

 

For example, is someone acting in an aggressive manner? Most people are in submissive mode normally. We all want to get along, after all. If someone is at a burger joint, screaming at the guy behind the counter “I said no cheese, you idiot!”, that’s someone to keep an eye on.

 

Is someone acting too interested in something that ordinarily wouldn’t catch their attention? If you see a guy staring at the garbage can in your workplace, that’s an anomaly. If they’re too uninterested, though, that’s also something that’s not normal. Say there’s a ticking suitcase in the middle of the mall, and only one person isn’t paying attention to it, that’s an anomaly.

batman and robin

Gee Whiz, Batman! That guy looks like an anomaly!

Perhaps the most significant anomaly is someone that’s acting uncomfortable in a place where everyone is relaxed. People appear uncomfortable in many ways. One of them is constantly checking their “six”; that is, always looking nervously behind them. If someone is constantly looking over their shoulder, that’s an anomaly and deserves your attention. That’s not to say that everyone who’s uncomfortable is a threat. They might be late for work, for example, or just had an argument with a significant other. Still, you might want to keep an eye on them.

 

On the other hand, someone who’s comfortable when others are in a panic, such as videos of the Boston Marathon bombers showed, could be someone who expected the disaster to occur.

 

You might take a look at what people are doing with their hands. Law enforcement often wants to see the hands of someone they’re suspicious of. People who are constantly patting a pocket or reaching inside a jacket, especially if a jacket isn’t warranted for the weather, could be concealing a weapon or worse.

 

Decide and Act

 

Once you decided that there’s an anomaly that might represent a threat, have a plan of action to counter it. If a guy with a gun shows up at your workplace, the best course of action might be to hoof it out of there. If he’s right next to you and escape is unlikely, however, your best choice might be to act to incapacitate him.

 

To recap: Observe the situation. Orient to establish baselines and look for anomalies. Decide on an action. Act.

 

All this attention to detail may seem paranoid to you, but it’s time to realize that these are dangerous times. Incorporate a constant state of Yellow alert by putting away those smartphones and incorporate the OODA loop whenever you’re in a crowd. Do this and you’ll be situationally aware enough to gain extra time that could mean the difference between life and death.

Joe Alton, MD

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Joe Alton, MD

Survival Medicine Hour: Earthquakes, Epi-Pens, More

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epipen

The Epi-Pen

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP discuss some general thoughts on the nature of survival medicine that you might not have taken into account in making your preparedness plans. Also, Epi-Pens, indispensable products for anaphylactic shock, go beyond the financial wherewithal of most Americans. What’s going on, and is this something that we can accept? If so, kids are going to die from allergies of bee stings and other allergens. Also, the earthquake in Italy kills 300 and injures hundreds more. Could you survive an earthquake? What should be your plan of action in case of tremors?

earthquakedamage

earthquake safety

All this and more in the latest Survival Medicine Hour! To listen in, click here:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/08/27/survival-medicine-hour-earthquakes-epi-pens-more

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times and bad,

 

Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP

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Could You Survive An Earthquake?

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earthquake

earthquake preparedness

A 6.2 magnitude earthquake has struck central Italy, killing at least 250 and injuring hundreds more throughout the region.  More than 200 aftershocks have been recorded by seismologists since the major quake hit August 23, 2016 at 3:36 a.m. local time.

The area, part of the Apennine mountain range that forms the central “spine” of Italy, is no stranger to seismic activity, with deadly quakes most recently in 2009 and 2012. This time, the tremors occurred only 65 miles Northeast of Rome.

The United States, especially (but not exclusively) the West Coast, is also susceptible to natural disasters like earthquakes. The West Coast and some areas of the Midwest are located over what we call “fault lines”.  A fault is a fracture in a volume of base rock. Movement of the earth releases energy, which then causes major surface disruptions. This movement is sometimes called a “seismic wave”.

The strength of an earthquake has been historically measured using the Richter scale.  This measurement (from 0-10 or, theoretically, more) identifies the magnitude of tremors at a certain location.  Quakes less than 2.0 on the Richter scale are common occurrences unlikely to be noticed by the average person. Each increase of 1.0 magnitude, however, increases the strength by a factor of 10. The highest-intensity earthquake ever recorded was The Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960 (9.5 on the Richter scale).

Although most people are aware of the Richter Scale, a newer measurement, the Moment Magnitude scale, is thought to be more accurate for higher intensity quakes. The Moment Magnitude scale calculates each point of magnitude as releasing more than 30 times the energy of the previous one.

If the fault lines shift offshore, a “tsunami” or tidal wave may be generated.  In Fukushima, the earthquake (8.9 magnitude) spawned a large tsunami which caused major damage, loss of life, and meltdowns in local nuclear reactors. Tsunami warning were issued for both the Japanese and Ecuadorian earthquakes reported this week. 

AN EARTHQUAKE SURVIVAL PLAN

A major earthquake is especially dangerous due to its unpredictability. Although researchers are working to find ways to determine when a quake will hit, there is usually little warning. This fact makes having a plan before an earthquake hits a major factor in your chances of survival.

This plan of action has to be shared with each family member, even the children. Unless the earthquake happens in the dead of night, it’s unlikely you will all be in the house together. You might be at work and the kids at school, so making everyone aware of what to do will give you the best chance of gathering your family and surviving the earthquake together.

To be prepared, you’ll need, at the very least, the following supplies:

  • Food and water
  • Power sources
  • Alternative shelters
  • Medical supplies
  • Clothing appropriate to the weather
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Means of communication
  • Money (don’t count on credit or debit cards if the power’s down)
  • An adjustable wrench to turn off gas or water
  • Copies of important documents, including insurance policies

In areas at risk for earthquakes, the school system and municipal authorities usually have formulated a disaster plan. They may even have designated a quake-proof shelter. If possible, this may be the best place to go. Make certain to inquire about your town’s precautions in case of a seismic event.

Besides the general supplies listed above, it would be wise to put together a separate “get-home” bag to keep at work or in the car.  Some food, liquids, and a pair of sturdy, comfortable shoes are useful items to have in this kit.

Home Earthquake Safety

In the home, it’s important to know where your gas, electric, and water main shutoffs are.  Make sure that everyone of age knows how to turn them off if there is a leak or electrical short.  Know where the nearest medical facility is, but be aware that you may be on your own; medical responders are going to be overwhelmed and may not get to you quickly.

Look around your house for fixtures like chandeliers and bookcases that might not be stable enough to withstand an earthquake. Placing heavier objects on bottom shelves will make cabinets more stable.

Flat screen TVs, especially large ones, could easily topple.  Be sure to check out kitchen and pantry shelves, and the stability of anything hanging over the headboard of your bed.

When The Earthquake Hits

earthquake drop cover hold on

What should you do when the tremors start?  If you’re indoors, get under a table, desk, or something else solid and hold on. This strategy is called “Drop, Cover, Hold”. Dropping to your knees will prevent a fall from causing injuries. Cover may protect you from falling objects. Hold on tight. If cover isn’t available, stand against the corner of an inside wall.

While the building is shaking, don’t try to run out, especially if you’re on an upper floor; you could easily fall down stairs or get hit by falling debris.  Don’t try to use elevators. You should stay clear of windows, shelves, and kitchen areas.

It’s often taught that you should stand in the doorway because of the frame’s sturdiness. It turns out, however, that in modern homes, doorways aren’t much more solid than any other part of the structure. Even if sturdy, you could still get hit by falling objects.

Once the initial tremors are over, go outside.  Once there, stay as far out in the open as possible, away from power lines, chimneys, and anything else that could fall on top of you.

You could, possibly, be in your automobile when the earthquake hits.  Get out of traffic as quickly as possible; other drivers are likely to be less level-headed than you are. Don’t stop your car under bridges, trees, overpasses, power lines, or light posts. They’re likely to topple in a major quake. Stay in your vehicle while the tremors are active.

After The Earthquake

Even after the tremors stop, there are still dangers. One issue to be concerned about is gas leaks; make sure you don’t use your camp stoves, lighters, or even matches until you’re certain all is clear.  Even a match could ignite a spark that could lead to an explosion.  If you turned the gas off, you might consider letting the utility company turn it back on.

Buildings that have structural damage may be unstable or have loose concrete which could rain down on the unsuspecting. Falling stone from damaged buildings killed rescuers in the Oklahoma City bombing and the World Trade Towers collapse.

Don’t count on telephone service after a natural disaster.  Telephone companies only have enough lines to deal with 20% of total call volume at any one time.  It’s likely all lines will be occupied.  Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to apply to texts; you’ll have a better to chance to communicate by texting than by voice due to the wavelength used.

That cell phone will come in handy if you’re trapped under rubble after an earthquake. Even if voice calls won’t work, texts might. Text to loved ones, social media, anyone that can let people know you’re trapped. If you live in quake country, you might consider a whistle on your keychain. It’ll last longer than your voice will as a signal for help. Don’t give up; people can live several days without water, and much longer without food. With any luck, rescuers will find you.

Joe Alton, MD

 

Video: Flood Safety Tips

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car driving in flood

Less than 2 feet of moving water can lift away a vehicle

In this companion video to a recent article, Joe Alton, MD discusses the different causes of floods and some important tips for before, during, and after the disaster. To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

JoeAmyLabcoatSMALL300x300

The Altons

Flood preparedness is just one of the new topics you’ll find in the brand new Third Edition of “The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way“. You’ll find it at Amazon.com

Survival Medicine Hour: Natural Pain Relief, Super Lice, Floods

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car driving in flood

Flood Safety

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, tell you about the recent deadly floods in Louisiana and offer some tips on how to keep your family safe during and in the aftermath of the disaster. Also, Dr.Alton tells you about some mutant lice that seem to have replaced normal head lice in most parts of the country. The downside: They’re resistant to most over-the-counter lice shampoos and lotions. What to do? You’ll find out here.

licenit1

Nit (Lice Egg)

Also, Nurse Amy continues her series on alternative pain relief, with a number of natural substances you might not know have analgesic action!

 

All this and more on Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy’s Survival Medicine Hour!

To Listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/08/18/survival-medicine-hour-flood-safety-natural-pain-relief-super-lice

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

joe and amy radio

Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy

Could You Protect Your Home/Family in a Wildfire?

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wildfire21

Wildfire

 

It’s been a very busy year for firefighters, with heat waves, drought, and human carelessness causing large areas to burn from Canada to California.

 

A particularly intense wildfire is raging 60 miles from Los Angeles, spreading from 6 to 30,000 acres in 24 hours. 82,000 residents have been evacuated and a number of buildings have been destroyed. At the present time, the fire is considered out of control. It’s just one of several in a state that usually has its worst months for wildfires in October.

 

Many people are concerned about disasters that threaten their way of life, and wildfires should be high on the list in many areas. But how can you protect your property (and yourself) from being devastated by fire? Two main principles are 1) vegetation management and 2) creating a “defensible space”.

 

VEGETATION MANAGEMENT

wildfire1

Blue Cut Fire reaches 80 feet high

An important factor in wildfire preparedness is what we call “vegetation management”. With vegetation management, the key is to direct fires away from your house. There are several ways to accomplish this, all of which require vigilance and regular maintenance.

 

You’ll want to clean up dead wood and leaf piles lying within 30 feet of your building structure. Pay special attention to clearing off the roof and gutters. Although you may have spent time and money putting lush landscaping around your home, you may have to choose between attractive, yet flammable plants and fire protection.

 

You’ll want to thin out those thick canopied trees near your house, making sure that no two canopies touch each other. Any trees within 50 feet on flatland, or 200 feet if downhill from your retreat need to be thinned, so that you’re pruning branches off below 10-12 feet high, and separating them by 10-20 feet. No tree should overhang the roof. Also, eliminate all shrubs at the base of the trunks.

 

Lawns and gardens should be well-hydrated; collect lawn cuttings and other debris that could be used as fuel by the fire. If water is limited, keep dry lawns cut back as much as possible (or remove them).

 

DEFENSIBLE SPACES

 

From a wildfire perspective, a defensible space is an area around a structure where wood and vegetation are treated, cleared, or reduced to slow the spread of flames towards a structure. Having a defensible space will also provide room to work for those fighting the fire.

 

The amount of defensible space you’ll need depends on whether you’re on flat land or on a steep slope. Flatland fires spread more slowly than a fire on a slope (hot air and flames rise). A fire on a steep slope with wind blowing uphill spreads fast and produces “spot fires”. These are small fires that ignite vegetation ahead of the main burn, due to small bits of burning debris in the air.

 

Woodpiles and other flammables should be located at least 20-30 feet away from structures. Gardening tools should be kept in sheds, and those sheds should be at a distance from the home.  Concrete walkways and perimeter walls may serve to impede the progress of the fire.

 

Attic and other vents should be covered with screen mesh to prevent small embers from entering the structure. Additional strategies for the home can be found at firewise.org.

 

ESCAPING A WILDFIRE

 

Of course, once you have created a defensible space, the natural inclination is to want to, well, defend it. Unfortunately, you have to remember that you’ll be in the middle of a lot of heat and smoke. Therefore, you’re probably not going to be able to function effectively unless you’re an Olympic athlete. It stands to reason that most of us will not be up to the task.

 

The safest recommendation, therefore, would be to get out of Dodge if there’s a safe way to leave. It’s a personal decision but realize that your family’s lives may depend on it. If you’re leaving, have a bag already packed with food, water, extra clothes, batteries, flashlights, and more. Don’t forget to bring your cell phone, any important papers you might need, and some cash.

 

As an added precaution, make sure you shut off any air conditioning system that draws air into the house from outside. Turn off all your appliances, close all your windows and lock all your doors. Like any other emergency, you should have some form of communication system established with your loved ones in case you’re not together.

 

Medical kits should contain masks, eye and hand protection, burn ointment (aloe vera is a natural alternative) and non-stick dressings. Specialized burn dressings are available that incorporate both. Gauze rolls and medical tape can be used for additional coverage. Round out your kit with scissors, cold packs, and some eyewash (smoke is a major irritant to the eyes).

 

TRAPPED IN A WILDFIRE

smoke

smoke inhalation

If your routes of escape are blocked, make sure you’re dressed in long pants, sleeves, and heavy boots. A wool blanket is very helpful as an additional outside layer because wool is relatively fire-resistant.

 

If you’re inside a building, stay on the side farthest from the fire and with the least number of windows (windows transfer heat to the inside). Stay there unless you have to leave due to smoke or the building catching fire.

 

If that’s the case and you have to leave, wrap yourself in the blanket, leaving only your eyes uncovered. Some people think it’s a good idea to wet the blanket first, but don’t; wet materials transfer heat much faster than dry materials and will cause more severe burns.

 

If you’re having trouble breathing because of the smoke, stay low, and crawl out of the building. There’s less smoke and heat the lower you go. Keep your face down towards the floor. This will help protect your airway, which is very important. You can recover from burns on your skin, but not from major burns in your lungs.

 

Wildfires and other catastrophes, whether natural or man-made, can threaten your life and the lives of your loved ones. Planning before the event will give you the best shot at surviving in the best shape possible.

 

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

Joe Alton, MD

Find out more about wildfire, flood, and other natural disaster preparedness topics in the brand new 700 page “Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way“.

13 Safety Tips For Floods

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Mid Atlantic Coast Prepares For Hurricane Sandy

Storms often bring flooding

The recent Louisiana floods which claimed 11 lives and damaged 40,000 homes show how easily low-lying areas can be devastated by bad weather. Floods can occur even in normally dry areas and are so common that they represent 75% of presidential disaster proclamations. They are often seen in conjunction with other disasters like hurricanes and other storms.

 

You’d have to live on a mountaintop to avoid a flood but, even then, you’re still at risk for mudslides as a result of heavy rains. In view of this, we recently added flood and mudslide preparedness as chapters to the new Third Edition of “The Survival Medicine Handbook”. Clearly, floods are a disaster that can happen, and you should know how to keep your family safe.

 

TYPES OF FLOODING

 

A flood is defined as an overflow of water that submerges land which is normally dry. In the United States, there are various causes for flooding, including:

 
Flash Floods: Flash floods usually develop shortly after a nearby heavy rain. I say nearby because it doesn’t have to be raining at your location for rising water to endanger you. These floods create a rapid rise of water, especially in low-lying areas like floodplains. Causes of flash flooding include heavy rain, ice jams, and levee or dam failures. This is especially common in the western United States where normally dry areas next to steep terrain might fill with rushing water.

River Flooding: River flooding can be caused by heavy rainfall, dam failures, rapid snowmelt and ice jams. Normally flow can become turbulent rapidly as in a flash flood. In other cases, water levels may rise slowly but steadily. Either way, the result threatens structures and populations along its course.

Storm Surges: Tropical (or even non-tropical) storm systems can bring heavy winds, but most damage occurs as a result of flooding due to the storm surge. Storm surge is the rise in water generated by the storm above normal tide levels. When the storm approaches the coast, high winds cause large waves that can inundate structures, damage foundations, and cause significant loss of life.

Burn Scars: The Western U.S. has had significant wildfire activity, most recently in California. After a fire, the bare ground can become so hardened that water can’t be absorbed into the ground. This is known as a “burn scar”. Burn scars are less able to absorb moisture, leading heavy rains to accumulate water wherever gravity takes it.

Ice Jams: Northern areas of the continental U.S. and Alaska may have flooding as a result of ice jams. When moving ice and debris are blocked by an obstruction, water is held back. This causes flooding upstream. When the obstruction is finally breached, flash flooding occurs downstream. Many ice jams occur at bends in a river.

Snowmelt: Snowmelt flooding is common in mountainous Northern U.S. states. Snow is, until temperatures rise above freezing, just stored water. When it gets warmer, the snowmelt acts as if it were rain and flooding can occur.

Barrier Failures: When a dam or levee breaks, it can be due to excessive rainfall, erosion, landslides, earthquakes, and many other natural causes. Some dams fail as a result of man-made issues, such as negligence, improper maintenance, and even sabotage. As a result, water level can overflow the barrier or water can seep through the ground.

 

 

FLOOD PREPAREDNESS



Most people have heard of hurricane or tornado watches and warnings, but the U.S. weather services also tries to warn the populace of flooding. A “flash flood watch” means that flash flooding is possible in the near future; a “flash flood warning” means that flooding is imminent in the area.

 
If you live in a low-lying area, especially near a dam or river, then you should heed warnings when they are given and be prepared to evacuate quickly. Rising flood waters could easily trap you in your home and you don’t want to have to perch on your roof waiting for help.

 

FLOOD SAFETY TIPS

floods_02

Flood water may not recede quickly

 

To make it safely through a flood, consider the following recommendations:

 
Hit The Road Early
Make the decision to leave for higher ground before flooding occurs and roads are blocked. Having a NOAA weather radio will keep you up to date on the latest advisories. When the authorities tell you to leave, don’t hesitate to get out of Dodge.
Be Careful Walking Through Flowing Water
Drowning is the most common cause of death during a flood, especially a flash flood. Rapidly moving water can knock you off your feet even if less than a foot deep. Most vehicles can be carried away by water just two foot deep.
Don’t Drive Through a Flooded Area
In a flood, many people drown in their cars as they stall out in moving water. Road and bridges could easily be washed out if you waited too long to leave the area. Plan before a flood occurs to see if there is a “high road” to safety.

Beware Of Downed Power Lines
Watch for downed power lines; electrical current is easily conducted through water. You don’t have to touch the downed line to be electrocuted, only step in the water nearby. There are numerous instances of electrocutions occurring as a result of rescuers jumping into the water to try to save victims of a shock.
Don’t Drink The Water
Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink: Flood water is not clean water. It is contaminated by debris and water treatment plants may even have been compromised by the disaster. Have a reliable way to purify water and a good supply of clean water stored away. 12-16 drops of household bleach will sterilize a gallon of water (a teaspoon for 5 gallons), but a filter might also be needed to eliminate debris. Wait 30 minutes after sterilization to drink.
Have Supplies Handy
Flood waters may not recede quickly. Besides water as mentioned above, have non-perishable food, bottled water, heat and light sources, batteries, tools, extra clothing, a medical kit, a cell phone, and a NOAA weather radio among your supplies.
Turn Off The Power

If you have reason to believe that water will get into your home, turn off the electricity. If you don’t and the water reaches the level of the electric outlets, you could easily get electrocuted. Some warning signs might be sparks or strange sounds like crackling, popping, or buzzing.

Beware of Intruders
Critters that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Snakes, raccoons, insects, and other refugees may decide your residence is now their territory. Human intruders may also be interested to see what valuables you left behind.
Watch Your Step
After a flood, watch where you step when you enter your home; there will, likely, be debris everywhere. The floors may also be covered in mud, causing a slip-and-fall hazard.
Check for Gas Leaks
Don’t use candles, lanterns, stoves, or lighters unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area is well-ventilated.
Avoid Exhaust Fumes
Only use generators, camping stoves, or charcoal grills outside. Their fumes can be deadly.
Clean Out Saturated Items Completely

If cans of food got wet in the flood, their surfaces may be covered with mud or otherwise contaminated. Thoroughly wash food containers, utensils, and personal items before using.

 

Don’t use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have completely dried. You might have to take some apart to clean debris out of them.

 

Use Waterproof Containers for Important Stuff

Waterproof containers can protect food, personal items, documents, and more.  If your area is at risk for flooding, have the important stuff protected by storing them correctly.

 
Floods are just one of the many natural disasters that can endanger your family and turn your home into a ruin. With planning and some supplies, however, you’ll be able to keep your loved ones safe and healthy.

 

 

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

Dr. Alton

Flood and mudslide survival are just some of the new chapters in the 700 page new Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide For When Help Is Not On The Way. Get a copy for your survival library!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Bad Outcomes For Zika Newborns?

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arthrogryposis clubfoot

arthrogryposis (deformed joints)

As we continue to learn more about the effects of Zika on the newborn, a new series of abnormalities are making clear the implications of infection for pregnant women.

 

Zika is a member of the Flavivirus family that includes Yellow Fever, West Nile, and other mosquito-borne illness. The main concern is Zika’s predilection for attacking brain cells, causing some infected fetuses to have poor brain development and head size. The condition, known as microcephaly, can cause lifelong disabilities costing millions of dollars in care over a lifetime.

 

Now, a new study from researchers in Brazil suggests that Zika causes damage to other nerve cells as well. Seven babies born with microcephaly were studied. Six of these were found to also have a rare condition called “arthrogryposis”.

 

Usually seen in only one of 3000 births, arthrogryposis causes multiple malformed, stiff joints. The abnormalities may be caused, not by damage to the joints themselves, but by weak nerves that don’t allow passion flexion and extension during the pregnancy. The joint then becomes fixed and deformed, a condition known as a “contracture”.

 

Damage to the nerves that control vision and hearing are also thought to occur as a result of Zika infection in the womb.

 

The news comes as the 25th case of locally-transmitted Zika infection is reported in South Florida, where warm weather allows a robust population of Aedes mosquitoes, the species most associated with transmission of the disease. State health officials also announced 14 new cases of travel-related Zika, bringing the total in Florida to 382, of which 57 are pregnant women.

 

Aerial spraying of an area north of Downtown Miami is the latest effort on the part of the state of Florida to combat spread. Storm drains are also being targeted as possible hotspots for mosquito breeding activity. Although the insecticide Naled appears to be lowering the mosquito count in traps set in the neighborhood, it is also a possible danger to honeybees and other natural pollinators.

 

A separate local case was reported further north in Palm Beach County, but it’s uncertain at present whether it represents the beginning of a second outbreak.

 

In other news, a baby born in Texas has died from Zika-related complications, including microcephaly.

 

Despite the concern of health officials about the virus, a recent WaPo-ABC News poll finds that less than half of Floridians and Texans consider themselves worried about Zika. Apathy may stem from the fact that the acute illness itself is mild, with only 20 per cent reporting symptoms such as fever, joint pain, rashes, and sometimes, red eyes. Another factor may be that Zika is mostly a major issue only for pregnant women or couples that are considering pregnancy.

 

Protecting against mosquitoes is just common sense. In addition to Zika, West Nile virus, Yellow Fever, Dengue fever, and other diseases are risky. Wearing light-colored, long pants and sleeves while outside and using mosquito repellent is good policy.

 

EPA-approved products contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. When using mosquito repellent, don’t forget to:

  • Only use small amounts, but reapply if you’re sweating heavily, swimming, or outside for extended periods.
  • If you’re using sunscreen and mosquito repellent, apply the sunscreen first. Wait 20 minutes before applying mosquito repellent.
  • Avoid spraying near eyes and mouth; spray on your hands and apply. Do the same for children.
  • Avoid applying on cuts or areas of skin inflammation.
  • Wash the repellent off treated skin once you’ve gone inside; especially, wash your hands before touching food.

 

DEET, the most common ingredient, should not be used in infants 2 months old or younger.

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

Joe Alton, MD

List of Bad Zika Outcomes Expanding?

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aedes mosquito pixabay

Aedes mosquito courtesy of pixabay.com

As we continue to learn more about the effects of Zika on the newborn, a new series of abnormalities are making clear the implications of infection for pregnant women.

Zika is a member of the Flavivirus family that includes Yellow Fever, West Nile, and other mosquito-borne illnesses. The main concern is Zika’s predilection for attacking brain cells, causing some infected fetuses to have poor brain development and head size. The condition, known as microcephaly, can cause lifelong disabilities costing millions of dollars in care over a lifetime.

Now, a new study from researchers in Brazil suggests that Zika causes damage to other nerve cells as well. Seven babies born with microcephaly were studied. Six of these were found to also have a rare condition called “arthrogryposis”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Club foot may occur in babies with arthrogryposis (wikipedia image)

Usually seen in only one of 3000 births, arthrogryposis causes multiple malformed, stiff joints. The abnormalities may be caused, not by damage to the joints themselves, but by weak nerves that don’t allow passion flexion and extension during the pregnancy. The joint then becomes fixed and deformed, a condition known as a “contracture”.

Damage to the nerves that control vision and hearing are also thought to occur as a result of Zika infection in the womb.

The news comes as the 22nd case of locally-transmitted Zika infection is reported in South Florida, where warm weather allows a robust population of Aedes mosquitoes, the species most associated with transmission of the disease. State health officials also announced 14 new cases of travel-related Zika, bringing the total in Florida to 382, of which 57 are pregnant women.

Aerial spraying of an area north of Downtown Miami is the latest effort on the part of the state of Florida to combat spread. Storm drains are also being targeted as possible hot spots for mosquito breeding activity. Although the insecticide Naled appears to be lowering the mosquito count in traps set in the neighborhood, it is also a possible danger to honeybees and other natural pollinators.

A separate local case was reported further north in Palm Beach County, but it’s uncertain at present whether it represents the beginning of a second outbreak.

In other news, a baby born in Texas has died from Zika-related complications, including microcephaly.

Despite the concern of health officials about the virus, a recent WaPo-ABC News poll finds that less than half of Floridians and Texans consider themselves worried about Zika. Apathy may stem from the fact that the acute illness itself is mild, with only 20 per cent reporting symptoms such as fever, joint pain, rashes, and sometimes, red eyes. Another factor may be that Zika is mostly a major issue only for pregnant women or couples that are considering pregnancy.

Protecting against mosquitoes is just common sense. In addition to Zika, West Nile virus, Yellow Fever, Dengue fever, and other diseases are risky. Wearing long pants and sleeves while outside and using mosquito repellent is good policy.

mosquito repellents

various repellents

EPA-approved products contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. When using mosquito repellent, don’t forget to:

  • Only use small amounts, but reapply if you’re sweating heavily, swimming, or outside for extended periods.
  • If you’re using sunscreen and mosquito repellent, apply the sunscreen first. Wait 20 minutes before applying mosquito repellent.
  • Avoid spraying near eyes and mouth; spray on your hands and apply. Do the same for children.
  • Avoid applying on cuts or areas of skin inflammation.
  • Wash the repellent off treated skin once you’ve gone inside; especially, wash your hands before touching food.

DEET, the most common ingredient, should not be used in infants 2 months old or younger.

 

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

Joe Alton, MD

Find out more about Zika virus in Joe Alton MD’s book “The Zika Virus Handbook“, available at Amazon.com

The Formula For Penicillin

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madscientist

The Penicillin Formula

As you might know, I write mostly about how to deal with medical issues in situations where modern medical facilities and care don’t exist. Accumulating medications for disaster settings may be simple when it comes to finding aspirin and other non-prescription drugs, but prescription drugs will be hard to get for those who can’t write their own prescriptions or don’t have a relationship with an understanding physician.  Antibiotics are a case in point.

I consider this a major issue because there will be a much larger incidence of infections when people have to fend for themselves. In a long-term survival setting, they will perform activities to which they are not accustomed and injuries are likely.  Simple cuts and scratches from, say, chopping wood can begin to show infection, in the form of redness, heat, and swelling, within a relatively short time.

The History Channel, some years ago, aired a special called “After Armageddon”, where a family gets out of Dodge after a collapse-level catastrophe and eventually makes their way to a village of survivors. Integrating into the community, the father (a paramedic) takes to gardening and other survival-type activities. He suffers a cut which quickly becomes infected. Unfortunately, no antibiotics are available and he slowly succumbs to the infection despite knowing exactly what’s happening to him.

Treatment of infections at an early stage improves the chance that they will heal quickly and completely.  However, many rugged individualists would most likely ignore the problem until it gets worse. This is unwise, as an infection can become life threatening if not treated. Having antibiotics readily available would allow them to deal with the issue until medical help (if available at all) arrives.

ANTIBIOTIC OPTIONS IN SURVIVAL SETTINGS

Years ago, I wrote the first physician article about aquarium and avian antibiotics as a way to stockpile medications for the uncertain future.  Since the only ingredient in certain of these medications is the antibiotic itself, it’s a reasonable alternative. There are some veterinary antibiotics, like Fish-Mox, that are only produced in human dosages and appear identical to human pharmaceuticals, down to the identification numbers on the capsules. For more information, see my series of articles on the subject.

This is not to say you should treat yourself in normal times. When modern medical care is available, seek it out. The practice of medicine without a license is illegal and punishable by law.

Once in a while, I get someone who wants to know how to make penicillin (isn’t it just bread mold?).  It’s true that penicillin is a by-product of a fungus known as penicillium, which, indeed, grows on bread and fruit.  It was originally discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1929. In 1942, a moldy cantaloupe in Peoria, Illinois was found to have a strong version of it.  Most of the world’s supply of penicillin in the 1940s came from cultures of the fungus on that cantaloupe.

There is a formula for making penicillin at home. It’s next to impossible, honestly, to get all the chemicals needed to produce it safely. Besides the legal issues, home laboratories are dicey at best (just ask a local Meth dealer). To illustrate a point, however, here it is:

THE FORMULA FOR PENICILLIN

penicillin mold

Penicillium Notatum mold

Penicillin is a by-product of the Penicillium fungus, but the thing is, it’s a by-product of a Penicillium fungus that’s under stress.  So you have to grow the fungus, and then expose it to stresses that will make it produce Penicillin.

First you need to produce a “culture” of the penicillium fungus. – A microbiological culture is a method of multiplying microscopic organisms by letting them reproduce in a certain environment under controlled conditions.

One of the most important things to know is that it is easy for other microbes to contaminate your penicillium culture, so use sterile techniques at all times or you will likely wind up with something entirely different (and, possibly, harmful).

NIH penicillin process

general penicillin production process (from NIH)

STEP 1

Expose a slice of bread or citrus peel or a cantaloupe rind to the air in a dark place at 70 deg. F until a bluish-green mold develops.

Cut two fresh slices of whole wheat bread into ½ inch cubes and place in a 750ml Erlenmeyer flask with a non-absorbent plug. One thing you might not know is that a lot of bakeries put a substance called a mold inhibitor on bread.  This suppresses fungal growth so you should probably use bread that you baked yourself.

Sterilize the flask and contents in a pressure cooker for at least 15 minutes at 15 psi. An alternate method is to place in an oven at 315 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.

In a sterile fashion, transfer the fungus from the bread or fruit peel into the flask containing the bread cubes. Allow the cubes to sit in the dark at 70 degrees for 5 days. This is called incubation.  That’s the easy part.

STEP 2 

This is where it gets complicated. Prepare one liter of the following solution:

Lactose Monohydrate                    44.0 gm

Corn Starch                                      25.0 gm

Sodium Nitrate                                3.0 gm

Magnesium Sulfate                         0.25 gm

Potassium MonoPhosphate          0.50 gm

Glucose Monohydrate                   2.75 gm

Zinc Sulfate                                      0.044 gm

Manganese Sulfate                        0.044 gm

You’ll obviously need a scale that measures very small amounts. These are called gram scales and you can find them online.  The above ingredients can be found at chemical supply houses, but you’ll have to buy a significant amount.

Dissolve the ingredients in the order listed in 500ml of cold tap water and then add more cold water to complete a liter (1000 ml).

Adjust the pH to 5.0-5.5 using HCL (hydrochloric acid). You’ll need a pH test kit like those found at pet shops and garden supply stores. Fill glass containers with a quantity of this solution. Only use enough so that when the container is placed on its side the liquid will not touch the plug.

Sterilize the containers and solution in a pressure cooker or stove just like you did before. When it cools, scrape up about a tablespoon of the fungus from the bread cubes and throw it into the solution.

Allow the containers to incubate on their sides at 70 degrees for seven days. It’s important that they are not moved around.  If you did it correctly, you’ll have Penicillin in the liquid portion of the media. Filter the mixture through a coffee filter or something similar, plug the bottles, and refrigerate immediately.

STEP 3

To extract the penicillin from the solution:

Adjust the cold solution to pH 2.2 using (.01 %) HCL. Mix it with cold ethyl acetate in a “separatory funnel” (that’s a funnel with a stopcock; you can find all these items at chemistry glass suppliers) and shake well for 30 seconds or so.

Drain the ethyl acetate (which should be on the bottom) into a beaker which has been placed in an ice bath and repeat the process. Add 1% potassium acetate and mix. You want the ethyl acetate to evaporate off. This can be induced by a constant flow of air over the top of the beaker, say from a fan.  When it dries, the remaining crystals are a mixture of potassium penicillin and potassium acetate.

There you have it, you have put together a laboratory and made Penicillin!  You are now officially a mad scientist.

REALITY

It’s clear that making penicillin at home is beyond the ability of non-chemists.  However, it does make a point.   If there’s a major long-term disaster, there isn’t a way that anyone will be able to produce reliably safe and effective antibiotics at home. You might read about producing penicillin teas, but the issue is that you might have contamination by other molds that could be hazardous to your health.

If you are concerned about a collapse-level event, it may be wise to consider stockpiling some veterinary equivalents. At present, no prescription is necessary nor is there a limit to quantities purchased. This may eventually change as the CDC has declared that an increased “stewardship” of animal antibiotics will be necessary to combat the issue of antibiotic resistance. This is a reasonable concern, but restrictions will probably involve drugs for food animals first.

You can find lists of useful antibiotics, their veterinary equivalents, and much more in The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, now in its 700 page Third Edition. The book is available on Amazon or at DoomandBloom.net.

If you don’t want to buy fish medicine, at least grow plants that might have some antibacterial action. Garlic, for example, has scientifically proven antibacterial properties, as do some other herbs.  Honey, in its raw and unprocessed state, is also consider to be antibacterial. More on various herbal options in a future article.

Joe Alton, MD

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Dr. Alton

 

Survival Medicine Hour: Pain Relief, Risks in Rio

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Pain-Meds-ftr300

pain relief

In this episode of The Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, the discussion turns to pain relief in survival setting and what options you have in terms of prescription and non-prescription drugs, as well as the beginning of a series of natural alternatives for pain by Nurse Amy. Also, Dr. Bones talks about 5 ways that being in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympics is hazardous to your health, plus how to stay safe and healthy if you’re going to the Games.

serbian rowers

Serbian rowers capsize into Rio microbe-infested “waters”

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/08/07/survival-medicine-hour-pain-relief-risks-in-rio

 

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

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Joe and Amy Alton

Hey, fill those holes in your medical storage by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of specially designed survival medical kits! You’ll be glad you did!

Video: Latest Zika News

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asian-tiger-mosquito

Aedes Albopictus mosquito

In Joe Alton, MD‘s latest video, he discusses recent updates by the CDC on the Zika virus, now with 15 or 16 locally transmitted cases in Miami, and closing in on 2000 travel-related cases in the U.S. Puerto Rico has it even worse with close to 6000 cases, almost all locally transmitted, on the island. Several hundred pregnant women are being followed for signs of microcephaly and other birth abnormalities (12 on U.S. soil so far).

Don’t panic, though, there may be clusters of cases in the U.S. this year, but the CDC stops short of predicting an epidemic.

To get all the latest on this worrisome virus, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe Alton, MD

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Joe Alton, MD

Super Lice Now in 48 States

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licehead1

head lice (pediculus humanus capitis)

It’s August, time to get the kids ready to go back to school. A bunch of children together in class means a lot of close contact, and one of the issues you might have to deal with is head lice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that 6-12 million children contract head lice in the U.S. every year.

Head lice (pediculus humanus capitis) are parasitic wingless insects that feed on blood which they obtain by biting the scalp. Their presence causes irritation and itching in many, although 50 per cent of kids don’t seem to notice them. Lice are, generally speaking, species-specific: You cannot, for example, get lice from your dog like you could get fleas. You get them only from other humans.

Lately, evidence has emerged that the average head louse has mutated into a “super” louse which is relatively immune to common over-the-counter treatments like pyrethroids. While pyrethroids were successful 100 per cent of the time in 2000, in 2013 the success rate dropped to 25%, due to a new trait called “knockdown resistance” (kdr).

According to a March 2016 study in the Journal of Medical Entomology, kdr lice have been identified in 48 states and Canada, up from 25 states a year or so ago. In 42 states, mutant lice with the resistance trait comprised 100% of the infestations.

This means that currently recommended products by the CDC to eliminate head lice, like Rid, Licide, and Triple X will likely be ineffective in most of the U.S.  So how to identify and treat super lice?

HOW TO IDENTIFY HEAD LICE

licenit

Nit (lice egg)

Super lice look like regular head lice (other than the cape, of course). They’re greyish or yellowish-white as adults and can reach the size of a small sesame seed. Infestation with lice can cause itching and, sometimes, a rash. Unlike body lice, however, this type of lice is not a carrier of any other disease.

With their less developed immune systems, kids often don’t even realize they are infested with lice. Adults, however, are usually kept scratching and irritated unless treated. An interesting fact is that those of African-American descent are somewhat resistant to head lice, possibly due to the shape and width of the hair shaft.

The diagnosis is made by identifying the presence of the louse or its eggs, also known as “nits”. Nits look like small bits of dandruff that are stuck to hairs. They are more easily seen when examined using a “black light”. This causes them to fluoresce as light blue “dots” attached to the hair shafts near the scalp.

A fine-tooth comb run through the hair will also reveal the adult lice and nits. These special combs are used to remove as many lice as possible before treatment and to check for them afterwards. The diligence required to do this eventually led to the coining of the term nitpicking.

You will find the nits firmly attached to the hair shaft about ¼ inch from the scalp. They will appear yellowish-white and oval-shaped. The application of olive oil to the comb may make them easier to remove. Many prefer the metal nit combs sold at pet stores for animals to plastic ones sold at pharmacies for humans.
TREATING SUPER LICE

Dr. Kyong Sup Yoon, a researcher involved with the recent studies, believes that the only way to be sure to eliminate the super lice is to use stronger “pediculicides”. These are available by prescription only, so he recommends a visit to the doctor first. Dr. Robin Gehris of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh suggests that using the usual treatments and repeating in a week might work. Some believe that home remedies like olive oil, coconut oil, or mayonnaise could suffocate the pests.

The sharing of personal items can also lead to louse infestations. Clothing, combs, bedding, and towels that are used by multiple individuals are common ways that lice spread from person to person.

Be sure to wash and, more importantly, dry all clothes in hot temperatures (130 degrees Fahrenheit) or, alternatively, place them in the freezer for two or three days.

Another option is to place clothing and personal items (like stuffed animals and toys) in a plastic bag for two a week or two and then shake outside. Adult head lice usually only live a few days off the host.

Over-the-counter products that normally kill lice include:

  • Pyrethrins (brand name Rid shampoo, a natural product for adult lice only also found in chrysanthemum flowers)
    Permethrin 1% (brand name Nix lotion, a synthetic pyrethrin that kills lice and their nits)

These would likely require more than one treatment to get “Rid” of resistant lice. For super lice, consider these prescription products available through your physician:

  • Lindane Shampoo (prescription brand Kwell; avoided in kids because it’s known to cause neurological side-effects)
    Spinosad (brand name Natroba, a natural insecticide derived from soil bacteria – only for head lice in children 4 year or older)
    Ivermectin 0.5% (brand name Sklice, also from soil bacteria and only for head lice in children 6 months or older)

Here’s the procedure:

  • Start with dry hair. If you use hair conditioners, stop for a few days before using the medicine. This will allow the medicine to have the most effect on the hair shaft.
  • Apply the medicine to the hair and scalp.
  • Rinse off after 10 minutes or so.
  • Check for lice and nits using a comb in 8 to 12 hours.
  • Repeat the process in 7 days

Combs and brushes should be placed in alcohol or very hot water after treatment. It would be wise for any item that might have been exposed, even if it belongs to unaffected family members.

Want to take chemicals out of the process altogether? Some centers like Lice Clinics of America in Denver, Colorado use heat in special hair dryers about triple the strength of your home unit. This dehydrates the adults and their eggs over a 30 minute period. They also ask that you vacuum the house thoroughly to prevent recurrences.

Although crowded, unsanitary conditions may cause infestations to occur, the cleanest children can be affected if exposed. Treating aggressively and being “nitpicky” will help get rid of super lice.

Joe Alton, MD

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Joe Alton, MD

Learn all about lice, ticks, and other infestations and a whole lot more about medical issues that could affect you in normal times or not-so-normal in the brand new Thrid Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is NOT on the way, now available at amazon.com

Save the Whales, I Mean, Bees

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bee

typical honey bee

You may or may not be an environmentalist, but a part of nature that everyone should support is the humble bee. It’s thought that every third bite of food that you take is there because of pollination by bees. Honey, when raw and unprocessed, may even be used as a wound covering for burns and other injuries due to its antibiotic effect. Honey has a lot of other benefits, as well.

But bees are in big trouble, and we still don’t know all the reasons why. In the last decade, bee colonies are experiencing die-offs that affect a significant percentage of all the colonies in various areas. From April 2015-April 2016, our beekeepers lost 44% of their colonies.

Why is this happening? A new  reason is becoming apparent, but first a sad tale: Some time ago, customers at an Oregon Target store arrived to see tens of thousands of dead and dying bumblebees in the parking lot.  An investigation the day before revealed that a pest-control company had sprayed insecticide on surrounding trees due to an aphid infestation. Of course, bees don’t read warning signs and 300 colonies were destroyed. That’s a lot of lost pollinators.

The pesticide used is known as a neonicotinoid, popularly called a “neonic”. It was developed by Bayer a decade ago and differs from other pesticides, like organophosphates, in that they clear from the air a lot slower.

Many crops are treated with neonics. It works like this: The chemical, once sprayed on the plant, is absorbed by the plant’s vascular system. This makes it poisonous to bugs that eat the leaves, nectar, and pollen. Sometimes the soil is treated, with the same absorption effect that makes it deadly to pests. Unfortunately, the pesticide kills good insects, as well.

When a Bayer neonic doesn’t kill a bee, it can damage its immune system and even affect its ability to navigate. It becomes lost and can’t find the hive.

Now, a new study indicates that neonics harm drone bees’ sperm, killing close to 40 per cent and causing a condition called “queen failure”. A queen failure is when queen bees fail to have live offspring. A queen failure is a hive failure.

Of course, there are a lot of reasons a hive can fail. Parasites, disease, and many other factors may come into play. But given the stress that our nation’s bee population is already under, could this be the straw that broke the camel’s back?

Once a chemical has been approved in the U.S., it has to be proven dangerous to be removed from the market. Bayer is a German company, and you might be interested to know that you can’t use neonics in Germany or anywhere in the European Union. Too dangerous. In the U.S., however, neonics are widely used and the bees pay the price.

Some areas in the U.S., however, are taking action. Eugene, Oregon has forbidden the use of this pesticide, and others should follow. We need to encourage others to follow their lead and urge action by the federal government to ban neonicotinoids from use.

Our bees are an important natural resource, not just for beekeepers, but for farmers and for you, the consumer. Big agriculture’s chemical branch is big and influential, but if an entire continent like Europe can outlaw neonics, why can’t we?

Unless you’re one of those people who don’t eat food, you should be invested in this fight. I’d like to Save the Whales, but it’s just as important to save the bees.

Joe Alton, MD

AuthorJoe

joe alton, md

Going to the Olympics? 5 Risks To Plan for

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zika virus

Zika under the microscope

Every day, more news about Rio’s woes regarding the upcoming Olympics is published online. It’s become clear that going to the games, as an athlete or a spectator, just might be hazardous to your health.

 

 

The dangers include a raging Zika epidemic, water contamination, air pollution, and security concerns. Despite the calls to cancel the Olympics for these reasons, Brazil and the International Olympic Committee say the show must go on. What precautions, then, should be taken by the competitors and tourists to stay safe and healthy?

 

 

1. ZIKA VIRUS

 

 

As the CDC learns more about the Zika virus, obviously a mutated version of the original, there are more and more concerns: More species of mosquitoes that might carry it, more types of sexually activity that could spread it, and the unknown long-term developmental effects on infected infants, even those that are born appearing normal.

 
Athletes and tourists should:

 
• Stay indoors whenever possible
• Use mosquito repellent whenever outside or in any areas without screens.
• Avoid areas with standing water
• Wear long pants and sleeves
• Treat clothing with permethrin, a long-lasting pesticide
• Use pesticide-treated bed netting if not staying in air-conditioned hotels
• Use condoms (standard issue for this year’s athletes) or abstain from sex

asian-tiger-mosquito

2. OTHER DISEASES

 
Zika virus isn’t the only infection that visitors to Brazil should be concerned about. Malaria, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A and B, Dengue, and Typhoid fever are some of the other diseases found in the region. Some of these are spread by mosquitoes, others by food and water contamination, and some by sexual activity.

 
Vaccines exist for a number of these issues, such as Hepatitis and Yellow Fever. Others can be prevented by medications, such as malaria. Every athlete and visitor To Brazil should contact their physician to see what precautions are appropriate for the trip.

 
3. WATER CONTAMINATION

dirty water
The waters of Guanabara Bay and other venues for sailors, kayakers, canoers, and open-water swimmers in the Rio Olympics are notoriously filthy due to raw sewage that is constantly released into them. Bacterial and viral counts performed by researchers, including a study commissioned by the Associated Press, found quantities that might be considered a natural disaster in the U.S. The adjective used for the amount of viruses was “astronomical”.

 
The old saying “Don’t drink the water” goes double, no, triple for your trip to the Rio Games. It’s thought that drinking just three teaspoons of the water has a 99 per cent chance of causing an infection. Dr. Valerie Harwood of the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida, goes as far to say “Don’t put your head under water.”

 
Among the germs is rotavirus, the most common cause of gastroenteritis. In last year’s Junior Rowing Championships, a dozen U.S. team members got sick.

 
This year’s team will be protected with a newly-designed anti-microbial training suit. If you’re just an average tourist at the beach, however, even wet sand has high levels of microbes.

 
Drink only bottled water and, if you’re going into the water, put that bottle in a plastic bag first. The outside of the bottle could become contaminated if it becomes wet. Have hand sanitizers available and wash wet clothing. Don’t forget to use bottled water when brushing your teeth. Ask for your drinks with “no ice”.

 
4. AIR POLLUTION

facemaskschina
The air quality in Rio isn’t as bad as it was in the Beijing Summer Games, but it’s unacceptable by U.S. standards and much worse than any other Olympics. Particulate matter from the many vehicles in the city is often at dangerously high levels, and responsible for more deaths there than the water.

 
When you’re not in an air-conditioned building, you might consider wearing a face mask to avoid the pollutants. If you’re a Westerner, you might not be accustomed to this practice, but it’s common in many Asian countries.

 
5. SECURITY ISSUES

 
A striking scene recently greeted arrivals to Rio’s airport: A group of law enforcement officers with a sign that read “Welcome to Hell, whoever comes to Rio De Janeiro will not be safe.” Indeed, Rio de Janeiro is a hotbed of crime, with entire favelas (low-income neighborhoods) completely under the control of organized gangs. Brazil’s financial woes have caused funding problems for local police, although the city says that it’s added much more security for the Games.

 
Despite this, be situationally aware. That means keeping an eye on unusual activity or individuals not acting normally. You might consider carrying a small flashlight; some have a strobe function that emits a bright flashing light which might discourage the opportunistic criminal. In any case, have a plan of action in case of trouble.

 
The CDC recommends, among other things, that you:

 
• Avoid travel at night
• Keep your hotel room locked
• Don’t wear fine jewelry
• Avoid risky areas
• Always travel with a companion
• Carry copies, but not originals, of important documents when you travel outside

 
Still going to the Olympics? Some might say that you’ll never have to prove your courage in any other way, but with a few precautions, you can stay healthy and safe.

 

 

Joe Alton, MD

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Dr. Alton

 

We’re learning more about Zika virus every day. Check out Joe Alton, MD’s book “The Zika Virus Handbook” for the important information you need to keep your family healthy

American Survival Radio #18

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American Survival Radio

American Survival Radio is Joe and Amy Alton’s second and latest podcast, focused on current events, health, and politics. It is separate and distinct from The Survival Medicine Hour, which continues as before focused mostly on health issues as they pertain to preparedness and survival.  If you’re interested in Survival, your own and that of your country, we bet you’ll like both!

In this episode of American Survival Radio, Joe and Amy Alton discuss the just completed Republican convention, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Also, Zika virus throws health officials some curves with cases of female-to male transmission, caregiver infections, and possibly local infections being reported. A total of 400 U.S. pregnancies infected with Zika virus have been identified, with 12 babies born with birth defects so far. An equal number are being followed in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Plus, Dr. Alton talks about the truck attack in Nice, France, and how being “situationally aware” may save your life in a terror attack. What do you have to do to change your mindset and instill a culture of readiness, not victimization, in the general public and, especially, our next generation?

All this and more in (click to listen) American Survival Radio #18!

Joe and Amy Alton

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Prepping With Prescription Dependencies, Guest Post by Cory Thomas

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shutterstock_89589424

(Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones says: We support the efforts of aspiring writers in survival medicine, and you’ll occasionally see a guest post on our website. This time, our guest author is Cory Thomas, editor at survivethewild.net. His article relates to preppers’ options with regards to their meds in a survival setting. Guest posts are the opinions of their authors and not necessarily that of Doom and Bloom.)

 

When preparing for an emergency, you immediately think to store food and water. You may consider different routes to a bug-out location or whether you should carry a weapon. But what about the things you depend on someone else to give you, like prescription drugs? If your doctor is unavailable, if you’re in an unusual location, if your town and its pharmacies are flooded, or if the economy has tanked and money doesn’t mean what it used to, having a supply of prescription drugs or drug alternatives will be paramount. It won’t matter if you have three months’ food supply if you don’t have necessary insulin or heart medication to keep you alive along enough to eat it. Here are some ways to avoid trouble in the event of an emergency or event:

 

Go Off Your Meds
Not possible in all scenarios, stopping medication is sometimes a viable option. While medications may sustain life, others make life easier. One person may be able to go without anti-anxiety medication and still make it through while another needs the medication for survival. Some pain medications may fall into this category as well. If you choose to stop using any medication, know the procedure in advance. Some medications can cause your condition to worsen if stopped suddenly.
Use Your Three-Month Plan
Many insurance companies offer a mail-order plan allowing you to get three months’ worth of prescriptions at once. Of course, as you near the end of those three months, your stockpile will dwindle, but it’s an easy way to get started.
Ask Your Doctor
Depending on your doctor’s attitude towards prepping, timing can be everything here. It may be best to ask your doctor if she has samples so you aren’t without medication immediately prior to hurricane season or if you may get snowed in over the winter. There’s no need to mislead your doctor, but it is good to have a specific concern. Let her know that you are stocking your emergency supplies and would like to include necessary prescriptions. If samples are unavailable, consider asking for an extra month’s prescription. You may not be able to bill it through insurance, but you’ll know you have it. Over time, you’ll be able to build up a decent supply of medicine.

 

Maintenance and Storage

 

Bugging In
If you’re sheltering in place, you’ll have your medicines with you, but should take extra care in storing them. Most tablets and capsules should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place, and if you’re without your usual heating and cooling system, you’ll need to ensure they’re safe. A dry basement or root cellar may be an ideal location, but an interior closet can be utilized as well.
Some medications require refrigeration, so make sure you have a generator or other power source available to keep these medications cool. A dorm-sized refrigerator takes less power to run than your normal fridge, so consider getting one to store your stockpile as well as for use during an outage.

 

Bugging Out
If you have to leave your home, be prepared to take your medication with you. Maintain all of your medication with its proper labeling in the event you are stopped or questioned. You should also have copies of recent medical records which will provide evidence that you’re not doing something nefarious with the drugs. Keep shelf-stable medications in the coolest space available in your vehicle while traveling, and take care to store them properly once you are at your destination.
If you must travel with refrigerated medications, have an appropriately-sized cooler prepared and necessary ice packs ready at all times. It is best not to keep your medication and food in the same cooler if possible, to avoid cross-contamination in case of breakage or leaks. Consider a cooler that will plug into your vehicle’s charger, particularly for longer journeys, and ensure that your destination has available refrigeration. Transfer medications to standard refrigeration as soon as possible.

 

Rotate Your Stock
This is vital for prescription medications, which may not show their age like food does. The tablet may look the same, but if it’s out of date it could have unexpected results. If you’ve gotten samples, go ahead and take them, allowing your regular prescription to become your stockpile. Every time you refill the prescription, take the medicine from your stockpile and replace it with the new stock.

 

Know Your Options

 

Plants Are Your Friends
Find a naturalist or herbalist to help you find ways to treat your condition without prescriptions. Not all conditions can be resolved naturally, but knowing what you can do before emergency strikes is important. Essential oils of bergamot and cinnamon may help to lower blood sugar, allowing some diabetics to reduce the amount of insulin needed. Hibiscus tea can be used to treat moderate cases of high blood pressure. Aromatherapy and meditation can do wonders for anxiety and depression. Work with these things while you have prescriptions available and can do the proper testing so you are never over-medicated or without a back-up while you figure out what works. Remember that when you don’t have a steady supply of medication, using natural methods to simply decrease your dose may be as helpful as having a greater supply.

 

Alternative Practitioners
Alternative treatments beyond herbs or oils may also be helpful. Talk to a chiropractor, acupuncturist, or other alternative therapist for suggestions. Research therapies online or at the library. Learn to do what you can on your own, whether that means taking some online classes or just figuring out how to use a manual blood pressure cuff (sphygmomanometer). Again, this is best accomplished ahead of time when you have more options available.

 

Prepping with prescriptions doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can take time and attention to detail. Planning now may save your life, or just make it a little easier if disaster strikes.

 

Cory Thomas

SurviveTheWild.Net

 

CDC Expands Zika Guidelines

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zika virus

CDC: Females can transmit Zika

In a recent update, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now state that Zika virus is transmissible through any type of sexual activity that involves exposure to genital secretions. Previously thought to be sexually transmitted by males to their partners, a recent case in New York City showed that the infection could be passed from a female to a male.

Zika virus carries a risk of severe birth abnormalities in a fetus when infection occurs during a pregnancy. Chief among these is microcephaly, a condition where head growth is decreased as a result of damage to brain tissue. The virus is responsible for at least 1600 abnormal newborns in Brazil and 12 in the United States.

The significance of the new findings regarding sexual transmission is that the population at risk for spreading Zika has now increased considerably. In a revamp of its official recommendations, the CDC now advises against unprotected sex with any person, male or female, who has traveled to or lives in an area with Zika. This includes female-female through vaginal secretions as well as male-male through seminal fluid.

The CDC also released new data that suggests Zika may exist in a pregnant woman for longer than the week or so previously thought. Testing should be performed up to two weeks from exposure or the appearance of symptoms. The CDC stated, “”Expanding the use of the Zika-specific test could provide more women with Zika virus infection a definite diagnosis and help direct medical evaluation and care.”

The CDC also recommended testing all pregnant women in at-risk areas or with possible Zika exposure. These include Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) and IgM antibody studies. Previously only available at the National Institute of Health, CDC, and certain state labs, Zika tests are now more widely available through state and commercial labs.

Acute Zika virus infection causes mild symptoms (fever, rash, joint aches, red eyes) in 20 per cent of cases, but 80 per cent show no symptoms at all. While this fact may appear comforting to some, it means that there is the possibility that an asymptomatic pregnant woman may not learn she was infected until her fetus is found to be abnormal on obstetric ultrasound. Often, serial ultrasounds over time are needed; confirmation of an abnormal head growth pattern may not occur until late in the pregnancy.

Official CDC recommendations for those planning to get pregnant in the near future are as follows: “Women who have Zika virus disease should wait at least 8 weeks after symptom onset to attempt conception, and men with Zika virus disease should wait at least 6 months after symptom onset to attempt conception.” The longer period for men reflects that ability of the virus to remain active in seminal fluid for three months or more.

Zika virus is also thought to be transmissible through blood transfusions and even menstrual blood. A case in Utah where a family caregiver contracted the infection suggests that handling bodily fluids, such as blood, urine, or feces might be a risk factor.

asian-tiger-mosquito

Aedes mosquito

Despite this, the grand majority of infections occur due to bites from infected mosquitoes. Controlling mosquito populations by draining standing water and other methods is considered the most effective way of decreasing Zika cases in an area. Individuals should wear loose, light-colored clothing and use mosquito repellent whenever outside in at-risk areas.

Expect CDC guidelines regarding Zika virus infection to change as more is known about the Zika virus.

Joe Alton, MD

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Joe Alton

 

 

Survival Medicine Hour: Snakebite, Bee Sting, Heat Waves, Zika in the US?

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bee-sting

bee stinger in a sting wound

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton, MD (Dr. Bones) and Amy Alton, ARNP (Nurse Amy) tackles a bunch of topics. First, new cases of Zika in Florida may not be related to travel outside the country. Until now, all cases were from people who returned from the epidemic zone in the Caribbean and Latin America. Puerto Rico now has 4000 cases, almost all locally transmitted, and the CDC thinks we’ll have some clusters of local cases in the continental U.S. as well.

snakebite ankle with bruising

snakebite wound

Also, summer is here and a murderous heat wave has gripped the Nation’s East, Midwest, and Southwest, causing at least 6 deaths and cause the heat index to feel like 100 degrees or more in locations that are used to much milder weather. Heat stroke is a major risk and you need to know how to identify and treat it.

heat dome reuse

the “heat dome”

Plus, out in the woods you’ll encounter a lot of critters. Last week, we talked about bites and attacks from warm furry ones, this weeks it’s snakes and bees/wasps. Learn all the latest about how to deal with a snakebite when modern medical help is not available, plus how to use an epi-pen to treat severe allergic reactions like anaphylactic shock.

All this and more on the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Joe and Amy Alton! To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/07/25/survival-medicine-hour-snakebite-bee-stings-zika-in-the-us-heat-waves

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

Joe and Amy Alton

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The Altons

 

Video: Situational Awareness in Terror Attacks

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Terror events: Part of the New Normal

In this companion video to a recent article, Joe Alton, MD tell you how being “situationally aware” could save your life in a terror event. It seems that a day doesn’t go by without some heinous action by terrorist cells, and this video discusses how we can replace a culture of victimization with one of readiness for any disaster. We now know that terror events can happen anywhere, anytime: Malls, schools, nightclubs, holiday celebrations, and more. Throughout the world, no one who ventures into a crowd is safe anywhere. It pays to be aware of your surroundings. Situational awareness could save your life.

To watch, click below:

Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,

 

Joe and Amy Alton

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Joe and Amy Alton

American Survival Radio #17

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American Survival Radio is Joe and Amy Alton’s second and latest podcast, focused on current events, health, and politics. It is separate and distinct from The Survival Medicine Hour, which continues as before focused mostly on health issues as they pertain to preparedness and survival.  If you’re interested in Survival, your own and that of your country, we bet you’ll like both!

In this episode of American Survival Radio, Joe and Amy Alton welcome economic trend forecaster Gerald Celente for a discussion of what to expect from the U.S. and global economy in the coming months. If you want more evidence that we’re circling the drain, this interview is it. Plus, Joe Alton goes back in time to his article from 2012 which wondered if any Republican will ever be elected president again in the foreseeable future. Changing demographics in the U.S. have made formally red state a bright purple now, and the failure to attract Latino voters is only part of the reason. Also, the Democratic Party Platform for 2016 includes the usual concerns about climate change, but the U.S. is only responsible for 16% of carbon emission production. Our inability to control growing economies like China and India guarantee that they’ll be using fossil fuels until they reach our standard of living. Is there really anything we can do about it, with developing nations saying “Oh, so you were able to use coal and oil for 150 years to become the world’s superpower, but we can’t? Doesn’t seem fair….”

All this and more in American Survival Radio #17 with Joe and Amy Alton.

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