Video: Volcano Preparedness?

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Video: Volcano Preparedness?

VIDEO: VOLCANO PREPAREDNESS?

Being prepared certainly increases your chances of surviving and staying healthy in a lot of disaster settings, but can you prepare for a volcanic eruption like we’re seeing at Mount Kilauea in Hawaii? A volcano can form a river of lava, molten rock at 750-1250 degrees, plus shoot out rocks the size of boulders onto the landscape. Over time, falling ash can cause roofs to collapse. Sure, most of the country isn’t at risk for a volcanic eruption, or is it? Yellowstone National Park is home to a huge “caldera” where superheated gases cause geysers like Old Faithful. It exploded 640,000 years ago, and we’re due, some geologists say, for another event (in the next 40,000 years or so).

While you can’t protect your home from a wall of lava, there might be some actions that could give you a fighting chance to survive the event. In this video, Joe Alton, MD explores your options and offers some thoughts on what might make a difference and what might not for a volcanic eruption.

To watch, click below:

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

Joe Alton MD

Learn more about natural disasters and medical issues you might confront in one in the award-winning Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way.  Also, check out some of Nurse Amy’s medical kits for off-grid scenarios at store.doomandbloom.net.

Can You Prepare For A Volcano?

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Can You Prepare For A Volcano?

Can You Prepare For A Volcano?

Uh oh...

Uh oh…

There are a number of disasters, natural or man-made, where a great deal of preparation greatly increases your chances of survival. Then there are others, like volcanic eruptions or asteroid strikes, where your option are, to say the least, more limited. You might not consider a volcano as the most likely event to ruin your day, and you’d be right. Still, it makes sense to know about them and what you might be able to do to prevent being a victim of one.

A volcano is a rupture in the crust of the earth which allows lava (molten rock at 750-1250 degrees Fahrenheit), ash, and gases to escape from deep below the surface. The violence of volcanic eruptions is so great that boulders can come raining down from the sky to flatten houses and, perhaps, you.

Most have the impression that a volcano is a conical mountain with smoke and fire spewing from the top, such as you see today in Hawaii. In actuality, however, most volcanos can be active without displaying physical signs for thousands of years.

Volcanoes can also take a number of forms: In Yellowstone National Park, a huge dormant super-volcano looks more like flat land than a cone. Indeed, it takes some observation to know you’re walking on top of it. Geysers like ‘Old Faithful” exist as evidence that there’s still a great deal of pressure and molten rock below the surface.

Old Faithful Geyser

 

One doomsday scenario includes the eruption of this huge land feature, which is called a “caldera” (meaning “cauldron” or “cooking pot”). This disaster last happened 640,000 years ago, but it’s thought to be an event that is likely to occur again “soon”. In geologic time, “soon” means in the next 40,000 years or so.

If you live in a volcanically active area, there are a few things that you can do to decrease the chance of becoming a victim. Monitor volcanic activity reports via NOAA radios and evacuate the area if authorities believe an eruption is imminent. Have a plan in place to get the family together via texting, email, social media, etc.

Know several routes out of the area; roads may be blocked by fire, thick ash, or lava flows. Visibility and breathing might become difficult, so respirator masks and goggles should be worn by every member of the group.

That's not snow, it's volcanic ash!

That’s not snow, it’s volcanic ash!

Ash can also damage engine parts and stall escape vehicles, so be prepared to go on foot if necessary. Any equipment with moving parts that must remain outside as your evacuate should be covered with tarps.

The most intelligent decision is to hit the road, Jack, and take a good amount of supplies with you. There are circumstances, however, where you might be unable to leave your home. While you can’t expect even the most solid house to be much protection from a wall of lava, you might still be able to achieve protection from volcanic ash:

·       Close all windows and doors

·       Block chimneys

·       Stay under the sturdiest part of the roof (ash can be very heavy)

·       Have food and water stored in quantity

It imperative to have at least several days supplies packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. I call this a “G.O.O.D.” bag (Get Out Of Dodge!).

It’s also important to have a good kit to deal with medical issues. You’ll need materials that that treat burns and orthopedic injuries as well as masks, goggles, and flashlights for every member of the family. You might not consider these items to be medical in nature, but they’ll help you breathe and see even if the ash is falling thickly, and you’ll be in better physical shape and more likely to survive.

Masks

Masks

No masks and no shelter? Place a damp cloth over your nose and mouth and cover your skin as much as possible. Of course, protection in the form of work gloves, sturdy high-top boots, and head coverings (a hard hat even seems prudent here) will decrease your chance of injury as you escape the area. Avoid low-lying areas that might be a natural conduit for lava. Stay clear of areas downwind of the volcano; ash and flying debris will be thickest there.

Don't let this happen!

Don’t forget the pets

Don’t forget your pets: Have a “G.O.O.D.” bag for them as well. Here’s the Red Cross’s recommendations for emergency pet kits and a plan of action that will increase your animals’ safety in times of trouble:

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/pet-disaster-preparedness#Pet-Emergency-Kit

You might not always have a lot of options in a disaster, but you can always improve your chances of surviving even in the worst situations.

Joe Alton MD

Dr. Alton

Dr. Alton

Find out more about disaster preparedness and 150 medical topics you might face off the grid in the award-winning Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way. Plus, fill those holes in your medical supplies at store.doomandbloom.net!

Third Edition

Third Edition

ASIDE: Can you stop a lava flow? Here’s some ways they’ve tried:
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/people-have-tried-to-stop-lava-from-flowing-this-is-why-they-failed/ar-AAwVk3t?ocid=spartanntp

Burn Injuries On and Off The Grid

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second degree burn

second degree burn

BURN INJURIES

 

burn injuries

burn injuries

Whether caused by a raging wildfire or due to an accident while preparing food, burns are a major challenge both on and off the grid. Injuries from burns that require medical help top one million each year in the United States, with thousands of deaths reported. These numbers are alarming, given the fact that, in modern times, few are us are exposed to fire as often or directly as our ancestors were. Despite this, only a small percentage of families have formulated and practiced an escape plan for their own homestead.

There are different types of burns. the American Burn Association’s statistics show their relative frequencies:

  • 44 per cent: burns from flames
  • 33 per cent: scalds caused by exposure to hot fluids (50 per cent of burns in children)
  • 9 per cent: contact with a heat source
  • 4 per cent: electrical burns
  • 3 per cent: chemical burns
  • 7 per cent:   miscellaneous causes

Of course, anyone who sustains a serious burn should be transported immediately to a hospital, preferably one with a dedicated burn unit. After a disaster, however, these facilities may be inaccessible or overwhelmed by a large number of casualties. Therefore, it is possible that the average citizen may be required to provide burn care in disaster settings.

Off the grid long-term, the risks are even greater. Without power, we will be cooking over fires more frequently.  The potential for significant burn injuries will rise, especially if small children get too close.  It’s important for the “medic” to have a working knowledge of burns and their treatment.

Rule of 9's: Front torso 18%, back 18%

Rule of 9’s: percentages slightly different in babies

The percentage of body surface area is often used to determine the severity of injury. A system known as the “rule of 9’s” is thought to give a rough estimate of the risks involved. Any burn covering more than the size of, say, your palm is serious enough to be medically evaluated. In survival settings, the general health (not to mention work efficiency) of a group member already under stress may be impacted.

(Note: Normally, the palm area measure is used only for burns that are more than superficial, but I believe that all burns this size or greater should be brought to the attention of the medic.)

burn degrees

burn degrees

Off or on the grid, burns are best categorized by “degrees”, a measure related to the depth of penetration. The deeper the burn damage, the graver the consequences for the victim.

1st degree burn (sunburn)

1st degree burn (sunburn)

FIRST DEGREE BURNS:  First-degree burns affect the epidermis, the topmost layer of the skin. A typical example would be a “sunburn”. These burns appear red, warm, and dry, and are painful to the touch. Mild swelling may occur. Dry, dead skin will cause itching, but peels off after a period of time. No scarring is expected.

Although most first-degree burns are minor, extensive ones must be watched closely. They can cause dehydration and even enough heat loss to cause hypothermia.

Treating a first-degree burn: Treatments for a first-degree burn include:

  • Cool water soaks for five to ten minutes (many make the mistake of running cold water over the burned area for only a few seconds). Avoid ice, which traumatizes already-damaged skin by decreasing circulation to it.
  • Pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). After a day or so, the pain will subside.
  • Anesthetic ointments and burn gels containing aloe vera.
  • Antihistamines for itching.

Expect complete healing in a week or so.

second degree burn

second degree burn

SECOND-DEGREE BURNS:  Second-degree burns, sometimes called “partial-thickness” burns, affect the deep layer of the skin (the “dermis”). You will see areas that are painful, swollen, and appear moist rather than dry. The area will have a tendency to weep clear or whitish fluid. These injuries often have a number of blisters of various sizes.

Treating a second-degree burn: Treatment for a second-degree burn should be quick and intensive. The faster treatment is begun, the faster the recovery. Consider:

  • Running cool water on the burn for 15 minutes or longer.
  • Quick removal of rings, bracelets, and necklaces due to rapid swelling that occurs.
  • Bandaging the wound with non-stick dressings like Telfa pads. Avoid the use of cotton balls as dressings due to the sloughing off of fibers that can increase the likelihood of infection.
  • Using specialized burn dressings like Xeroform; similar dressings can be improvised using gauze and petroleum jelly.
  • Giving pain medicines as needed.
  • Applying antibiotic cream to blisters to prevent infection.

Blisters may be numerous, but should be broken only if very large or it is clear they would break during normal activity or in bed. The “Popping” of blisters may increase the risk of infection. If you feel it’s necessary, puncture with a sterilized needle at the base and leave the skin covering the raw area.

Keeping the area protected from infectious organisms is important; dressings should be changed at least daily. Most second-degree burns heal in 2-3 weeks without thick scars, but may leave the skin darker than its original color.

third-degree burn

third-degree burn

THIRD-DEGREE BURNS:  A severe type of burn injury, third-degree burns damage the full thickness of the skin and, often, deeper structures like the nerves and blood vessels below the skin. Once the damage goes through the skin, you have lost your body’s “armor”, causing the rapid loss of fluids and ensuing dehydration. Loss of body heat is also a major issue.

Third-degree burns can vary in appearance based upon the type of burn incurred. They may appear white and waxy, charred brown, or black.  The area may feel stiff or “leathery”.

Treating a third-degree burn: Start by following the steps for a second-degree burn. Long-term care is much more complex, however. The skin lost in an injury is normally replaced by new skin cells produced by the dermis. The dermis, however, has been destroyed in a third-degree burn, so skin can only grow from the edges of the wound. This not only takes more time than the patient has, but also results in thick scarring.

Sometimes, skin edges have dead tissue which must be cut away so living tissue behind it can grow; this (sometimes painful) process is known as “debridement”.

In normal times, gaps left by extensive burns are treated by “skin grafting”. A skin graft is skin taken from an uninjured area and placed on the site of the burn. Skin taken from the injured person is less likely to be rejected than if taken from another individual.

Of course, the technology needed for skin grafting won’t be accessible off the grid. The best that might be done in a remote setting would be covering the area where skin no longer exists with products like honey or aloe vera gel. A non-stick covering is then applied for protection. Celox hemostatic gauze, when wet, makes for a serviceable burn bandage. Dressing major burns, however, can compromise blood flow as swelling occurs. As such, these wounds shouldn’t be wrapped tightly, if at all. Vigilance is needed to keep the wound clean so as to prevent infection.

Expect these wounds to require a very long time to heal. Often, a “contracture” will develop as a result of scarring. This is a condition where deformity or loss of movement occurs in joints due to the stiffening of muscles and other tissues. The result, at the very least, is loss of range of motion.

Fourth degree burn

Fourth degree burn

FOURTH-DEGREE BURNS: Once considered just a severe case of a third-degree burn, the damage extends down through subcutaneous fat to muscle and bone. The tissue appears dark, dry, and “crispy”. Third and fourth-degree burns are often described as painless, as the nerve endings have been destroyed. These burns, however, often have second-degree and first-degree components at their peripheries, which can be very painful.

Treatment for Fourth-Degree Burns: Even in the most advanced settings, treating fourth-degree burns is complex and may even involve amputation of an affected limb. Without a modern burn unit, the survival rate for third- and fourth-degree burns covering any significant portion of the body will be very low. This is due not only to destruction of tissue; the inability to replace fluids rapidly in these patients and the high frequency of infection will be factors, as well.

COMMON MISTAKES WHEN TREATING BURNS

-Failing to run cool water on the burn for the time recommended.

-Using ice on burnt skin.

-Ignoring airway burns. With smoke inhalation, airways may swell rapidly and cause breathing difficulties. Signs include severe coughing, hoarseness, black-specked sputum, and facial burns.

-Popping blisters unnecessarily. Intervene only when they are very large or interfere with function.

-Assuming a burn is less of an issue than it is. Even a first-degree burn, like an extensive sunburn, can be dangerous if steps aren’t taken to avoid further exposure and keep up the level of hydration.

-Using lard or butter as a home remedy. These substances can trap heat in and cause a delay in healing. Other home remedies, like aloe vera, are more preferable.

BURN PREVENTION

Toddlers and Campfires = Burns

Toddlers and Campfires = Burns

Burn care in an off-grid setting is difficult, so it makes sense to do everything possible to prevent these kinds of injuries. As your people may be performing activities of daily survival to which they are not accustomed, perhaps the most important advice is to be certain that they are wearing appropriate personal protection like gloves, masks, goggles, and footwear. Any burn injury prevented is one less headache (and perhaps, heartache) for the medic. Other considerations:

  • never allow children to be unsupervised near a campfire or wherever food is being cooked or water boiled.
  • Don’t let kids play with matches or lighters.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply frequently.
  • Avoid cooking if you are impaired by exhaustion (or alcohol/drugs).
  • Avoid smoking inside your shelter or anywhere there are flammable materials (or maybe not smoke at all).
  • Keep firewood and other flammables away from buildings.
  • If you have power, be wary of space heaters; leave a good space between them and anything combustible.
  • Avoid using frayed electrical cords.
  • Learn how to recognize gas leaks.
  • Have and know how to use fire extinguishers.
  • Have functioning smoke alarms.

Last but not least, have a plan of action for a fire at your homestead, and practice drills so that family members will know exactly what to do. This includes a method of communication and a place to meet in the event that you are separated from each other.

The risk for burn injury exists even in the best of times. Off the grid, they represent a major challenge to the caregiver. The ability to recognize and treat different degrees of burns will be an important skill for the medic in tough times.

In future articles, we’ll review electrical, chemical, scalds, and other burns, as well as ways to recognize and treat them effectively. We’ll also discuss some natural remedies that will work to help speed recovery from burn injuries.

Joe Alton MD

Dr. Alton

Dr. Alton

Find out more about treating burns and 150 other medical issues in disaster settings in the 700 page Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide For When Medical Help Is Not On The Way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Survival Medicine Hour: Acid Reflux, Colds vs Flus, Medical Barter Items, More

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Survival Medicine Hour #366

Colds vs. Flus

Colds vs. Flus

Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, discuss a number of topics, including honey as a treatment for burns, how to tell colds vs. flus, medical barter items, acid reflux, using glues to close wounds, and much more!

Honey, if raw and unprocessed, has antibacterial effect and may be useful to treat burns in situations where modern medical care is not a possibility.

Honey as a treatment for burns

Honey as a treatment for burns

Do you have a cold or the flu? Here’s some tips on how to tell the difference.

Most survivalists consider ammunition to be the most important barter item, but how about items that could heal, instead of cause, wounds? Dr. Alton bets that medical supplies would be important barter items in a post-disaster economy.

Glue in place

Glue in place

Medical glues and even Super-glue, may be valuable items for closing wounds. Here’s how to use glue to close a wound (remember, that it’s more important to know when a wound should be closed and when it should remain open!).

acid reflux

acid reflux

How many people do you know that have problems with stomach acid? In a disaster, those people will still be there, and they need your help. Dr.Alton tells you everything you need to know about gastroesophageal reflux disease (G.E.R.D.).

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/11/30/survival-medicine-hour-acid-reflux-medical-barter-items-colds-vs-flus-more

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

Joe and Amy Alton

The Altons

The Altons

Follow us on twitter @preppershow, Facebook at Doom and Bloom(tm), and YouTube at DrBones NurseAmy channel.

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

 

 

 

 

Survival Medicine Hour: Natural Burn Remedies, Ingrown Nails, Lone Wolves

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Survival Medicine Hour Podcast #365

lone wolf

Lone Wolf?

Does the “lone wolf” have an advantage or disadvantage in situations where you’re knocked off the grid and long term survival is not a sure thing? Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP discuss the importance of community in tough times, even if it’s just an extended family.

3rd degree burn

3rd degree burn

Plus, after discussing first and second degree burns last week, Dr. Alton, aka Dr. Bones, tackles third degree burns, a difficult challenge for the survival medic, as well as natural burn remedies that might help speed recovery for some of the injured.

off grid ingrown toenail strategy

off grid ingrown toenail strategy

Lastly, minor conditions like ingrown toenails may not seem like much to those who watch The Walking Dead, but they’re a major impediment to work efficiency. Not being able to take a step without pain isn’t likely to increase your chances for survival. Dr. Alton talks about what can be done to prevent and treat this condition off the grid.

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/11/25/survival-medicine-hour-natural-burn-remedies-ingrown-nails-lone-wolves

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

Joe and Amy Alton

The Altons

The Altons

Hey, follow us on twitter @preppershow, YouTube at DrBones NurseAmy channel, and Facebook at Doom and Bloom. And check out the Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook on Amazon!

Third Edition

Third Edition

 

 

 

 

 

Survival Medicine Hour: Labor and Delivery, Wildfire, More

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off grid labor and delivery

off grid labor and delivery

In any long-term survival situation involving a group or community, eventually the issue of pregnancy and childbirth arises. The medic for the group should know basics about pregnancy and childbirth. Childbirth is a natural process that usually doesn’t require a doctor or even a midwife to manage, as long as some simple steps are followed. Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, take you through a typical labor and delivery process.

Calilfornia wildfires

Calilfornia wildfires

Also, wildfires are raging through Northern California, with 40 killed and hundreds unaccounted for. What should you do to prepare for wildfires from both a personal and a property perspective? Dr. Alton gives you some common sense recommendations that could save life, limb, and location in a conflagration.

All this and more on the latest Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP!

To Listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/10/13/survival-medicine-hour-labor-and-delivery-wildfires-more

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

Joe and Amy Alton

the Altons

the Altons

Find out more about wildfire safety and much more with the Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way, 2017 winner of the Book Excellence Award in the medical category.

Plus, don’t forget to check out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and supplies at store.doomandbloom.net.

Types of Nuclear Weapons and Their Effects

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TYPES OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND THEIR EFFECTS

Ground Blast with Fireball

Given the fragile state of affairs on the Korean peninsula, fears of a nuclear incident are higher than at any time since the Cold War. With good reason, most people associate use of nuclear weapons with devastating outcomes. Few, however, know much about the different types and their actual effects.

(by the way, It’s pronounced “noo-clee-ar”, not “noo-cu-lar”)

TYPES OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Until the recent missile launches by North Korea, most people were concerned about the use of “dirty bombs“ by terrorists. A dirty bomb is not technically a nuclear weapon. It uses conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material in the general area. Usually, the effect of the explosion causes more damage and casualties than the radioactive elements.

Our concept of an “atomic bomb“ as developed by the Manhattan Project in the 1940s is one that uses “nuclear fission”. The explosion is caused by a chain reaction that splits atomic nuclei. The result is a wave of intense heat, light, pressure, and kinetic energy equaling thousands of tons (also called kilotons) of TNT. This is followed by the release of radioactive particles in a cloud that resembles a mushroom (if a ground blast). Mixed with dirt and debris, the particles fall back to Earth, contaminating crops, animals, and people. This will happen in the area of the detonation, but will also be blown elsewhere by the prevailing winds.

Atomic bombs gave way to hydrogen bombs, which are best described as “thermonuclear” weapons due to the generation of extreme heat during detonation. H-Bombs use a process known as nuclear fusion, which takes two light nuclei and forms a heavier one, using variations of hydrogen atoms called “isotopes”. This fusion process requires high temperatures and usually involves a fission reaction as discussed above to initiate. H-Bombs don’t just generate power in the kilotons; they can reach levels in the megatons (millions of tons) of TNT.

Another type of thermonuclear weapon is the “neutron bomb“, which generates much less kinetic energy and thermal damage, but much more radiation. Enhanced radiation weapons like the neutron bomb generate a fusion reaction that allows neutrons to escape the weapon with only a limited blast. Originally designed by the United States to counter massive Soviet tank formations, the neutron bomb is an example of a tactical nuclear weapon. The effect is to leave infrastructure mostly intact while wiping out human targets due to massive radiation.

Blast and Heat Waves cause more % damage than radiation in a fission bomb detonation

DAMAGE CAUSED BY A NUCLEAR ATTACK

The impact of a nuclear bomb is dependent on its “yield”, a measure of the amount of energy produced. The Hiroshima A-Bomb had a yield of 15 kilotons, while the “Tsar Bomba” detonated by the Russians in 1961 had a yield of 51 megatons (51,000 kilotons!). Most of the weapons stockpile of the U.S. and Russia consist of bombs in the 100 to 500 kiloton range, much stronger than Hiroshima and much weaker than Tsar Bomba. This is because they are meant to be fired at major cities in clusters rather than one large bomb, which would be easier to intercept than, say, 20 smaller ones.

Damage is caused by:

  • Blast effects (kinetic energy) – damage due to the explosion and resulting shock wave
  • Heat (thermal energy) – damage generated by extreme heat
  • Radiation (initially and later via fallout) – both local and, later, far-reaching
  • Electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) – disrupts telecommunications, infrastructure

You can expect a generally circular pattern of local damage, but various factors come into play besides the yield of the weapon. The altitude of the explosion, weather, wind conditions, and nearby geologic features play a role. The U.S. government estimates the distribution of damage for fission bombs to be distributed in the following manner:

  • 50% shockwave
  • 35% heat
  • 5% initial blast radiation
  • 10% fallout radiation

Hiroshima Burn Victim

(Note: I don’t have the data in front of me, but it stands to reason that H-bombs would likely cause a higher percentage of heat damage while Neutron bombs would cause more radiation damage than the above model for a standard fission bomb.)

The atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 flattened buildings over a roughly 4 square mile area and killed 60,000 people immediately. Another 90,000-140,000 succumbed later to injuries and radiation exposure. Although this represents a total of 150,000 to 200,000 fatalities, the entire population did not perish. At the time of the explosion, there were about 350,000 people in Hiroshima, including 43,000 soldiers. This shows that, although horrific in its effects, that distance from ground zero and other factors play a role in a nuclear weapon’s lethality, as does the power of the bomb itself.

A 50 megaton H-Bomb like the Russian “Tsar Bomba“, however, would cause a much larger circle of devastation than the Hiroshima bomb, with widespread fatalities at least 20 miles from ground zero and third-degree burns 50 miles away. Windows were reported shattered from the test detonation as far away as Norway and Finland.

You might think there isn’t anything you can do in a nuclear attack, and if you’re at ground zero at the moment of detonation, you’re right. But your chances of survival, given some time, distance, and protection, may be better than you think. Well talk about’ what you can do to increase your chances of survival in future articles.

Joe Alton MD

Joe Alton MD

 

Find out more about disasters (natural and man-made) with the 700 page Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way. And don’t forget to fill those holes in your medical supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and supplies at store.doomandbloom.net.

Doom and Bloom(tm) Med Kits

What is Radiation from a Nuclear Blast?

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TYPES OF RADIATION FROM NUCLEAR BLASTS

radiation meter

In my last article, I discussed the various aspects of radiation sickness, but haven’t yet defined just what radiation is. The quick definition of radiation is energy given off by unstable matter in the form of rays or high-speed particles. Some basic chemistry paraphrased from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (US NRC): All matter, including you, is composed of atoms. Atoms are made up of various parts; the central nucleus contains minute particles called protons and neutrons, and the atom’s outer shell contains other particles called electrons. The nucleus has a positive electrical charge, while the electrons has a negative electrical charge. Neutrons are, well, neutral.  These entities work within the atom toward a stable balance by getting rid of excess atomic energy (called radioactivity). Unstable nuclei want to become stable, and may emit  energy; this emission is what we call radiation.

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All matter is composed of atoms. Atoms are made up of various parts; the nucleus contains minute particles called protons and neutrons, and the atom’s outer shell contains other particles called electrons. The nucleus carries a positive electrical charge, while the electrons carry a negative electrical charge. These forces within the atom work toward a strong, stable balance by getting rid of excess atomic energy (radioactivity). In that process, unstable nuclei may emit a quantity of energy, and this spontaneous emission is what we call radiation

Put simply, radiation is divided into “ionizing” and “non-ionizing”. We are bombarded daily by radiation from multiple non-ionizing sources: the sun’s visible light and heat, microwaves, radio waves, radar, and others. This type of radiation deposits energy in the materials through which it passes, but doesn’t break molecular bonds or destabilize atoms. These effects, however, can be caused by ionizing radiation, where the atom becomes charged and unstable, not a healthy state for living cells.

There are several types of radiation given off by a nuclear weapon: Alpha, beta, and neutron particles, and gamma and X-rays. All are caused by unstable atoms, which, in order to reach a stable state, must release energy in the form of radiation. Atoms can do this by , for example, shedding election, which causes them to become ionized.

penetration power of different radiation types (image by NRC)

Alpha radiation occurs when an atom undergoes radioactive decay, giving off an alpha particle. Due to their charge and mass, alpha particles only travel a few centimeters and don’t even penetrate the outer layer of skin. If ingested, inhaled, or somehow injected, however, alpha particles are capable of causing considerable damage to living cells.

Beta radiation takes the form of particles. Due to the smaller mass, it is able to travel further in air than an alpha particle, but can be stopped by a thick piece of plastic, a stack of paper, even clothing. It can penetrate a short distance into exposed skin, though, causing “beta burns“ which may require treatment. However, the main threat is from ingesting it, perhaps from crops growing in fallout areas.

Gamma and X-rays, unlike alpha or beta, are two types of radiation that do not consist of any particles at all, but instead, pure electromagnetic energy. Think of gamma rays as X-rays on steroids. Gamma radiation can travel much farther through air than alpha or beta particles (which have mass) and is responsible for the most ill effects on humans after a nuclear explosion. It can, however, be blocked by various materials. The thickness required for each material depends on the density; you’ll see various shielding options and thickness requirements described in our articles and videos on radiation sickness.

(Note: Examples of elements that are gamma ray emitters include iodine-131, cesium-137, cobalt-60, and radium-226.)

Lastly, Neutron radiation consists of high-speed particles with high penetrating power. Neutron particles travel further in air than other forms of radiation, but can be blocked by materials that contain hydrogen, such as water (H20) and concrete.  When neutron particles are absorbed into a stable atom, they make it unstable and more likely to emit radiation. Therefore, it’s the only type discussed here that can turn other materials radioactive.

More damage is caused by the blast and heat waves than radiation effects

Although radiation is a major issue after a nuclear blast, it should be noted that most damage from such weapons are the result of massive amounts of the energy generated by shock and heat waves. The blast kills people close to ground zero, and causes major trauma much further away. Flying debris and falling buildings account for more casualties. The heat is so intense that almost everything close to ground zero is vaporized. At a distance, the extreme heat still causes severe burns and starts firestorms.

You might think that missile defense systems will protect us, and perhaps they would if someone targeted us with one huge 50 megaton bomb. Unfortunately, what will happen is that large cities will be hit with clusters of smaller bombs, but still 10 times larger than the bombs that hit Japan in 1945. We might be able to intercept one, maybe several, incoming missiles, but all of them? I’ll let you answer that question.

 

Joe Alton MD

Dr. Alton

Find out more about survival medicine with the 700 page Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way. And don’t forget to fill those holes in your medical supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and supplies at store.doomandbloom.net.

Some of Nurse Amy’s Medical Kits and Supplies

Survival Medicine Hour: Survival at Sea, Pt.2, Radiation Sickness, More

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SURVIVAL MEDICINE HOUR #352

Burn victim of Hiroshima detonation

In this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour, Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy discuss the recent saber-rattling from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, our responses, and what to do if your area is hit by radiation from an atomic blast (or a nuclear reactor meltdown). Dr. Alton also talks about what to do if you’re lost at sea: How to get food and water, protection from the elements, and even a little about shark attacks!

Solar Still

All this and more on the Survival Medicine Hour with Joe Alton MD and Amy Alton ARNP.

To listen in, click below:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2017/08/11/survival-medicine-hour-survival-at-sea-pt-2-radiation-more

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

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

Nurse Amy and Dr. Bones

Find out more about radiation sickness, survival at sea, and 150 other medical topics with the 700-page Third Edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Medical Help is Not on the Way. And don’t forget to fill those holes in your medical supplies by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of kits and supplies at store.doomandbloom.net.

 

Safe Summer Camping

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SAFE SUMMER CAMPING

 

Camping Safety

 

The kids are out of school, the weather’s great, and families are planning this summer’s camping trip. Camping is a great way to create bonds and memories that will last a lifetime. A poorly planned outdoor vacation, however, becomes memorable in the worst way, especially if someone gets hurt. A little planning will make sure everyone enjoys themselves safely.

KNOW YOUR LIMITS

Not the best choice for a family camping trip

If you’re not a veteran camper, don’t start by attempting to climb Yosemite’s El Capitan. Start by taking day trips to National Parks or a local lake.  Maybe you could start using that firestarter tool, setting up your tent, and making a campfire in your backyard to get through the learning curve. See how things work out when you don’t have to stay in the woods overnight. If the result is a big thumbs-up, start planning those overnighters.

Whatever type of camping you do, you should always be aware of the capabilities and general health of the people in your party. Children and elderly family members will determine the limits of your activities. The more ambitious you are, the more your plans may be beyond the physical ability of the less fit members of your family. This leads to injuries as the end result.

PLANNING

An important first step to a safe camping trip is knowledge about the weather and local terrain you’ll encounter. Talk with park rangers, consult guidebooks, and check out online sources. Some specific issues you’ll need to know:

  • Temperature Ranges
  • Rain or Snowfall
  • Location and Status of Nearby Trails and Campsites
  • Plant, Insect, and Animal Issues
  • Availability of Clean Water
  • How to Get Help in an Emergency

COMMON MEDICAL RISKS 

hypothermia polar bear club

Probably Not Dressed for Success in the Snow

A very common error campers make is not bringing the right clothing and equipment for the weather and terrain. If you haven’t planned for the environment, you have made it your enemy.

Although Spring and Fall have the most uncertainty with regards to temperatures and weather, storms can occur in any season. Conditions in high elevations lead to wind chill factors that could easily cause hypothermia. Here’s the thing with wind chill: If the temperature is 40 degrees, but the wind chill factor is 20 degrees, you lose heat from your body as if the actual temperature were 20 degrees. Be aware that temperatures at night drop precipitously. Even summer rain can lead to a loss in body temperature if you get soaked.

In cold weather, you’ll want the family clothed in layers. Use clothing made of tightly woven, water-repellent material for protection against the wind. Wool holds body heat better than cotton does. Some synthetic materials work well, also, such as Gore-Tex.

That’s all well and good in cool temperatures, but if you’re at the seashore or lakefront in the summer, your main problem will be heat exhaustion and burns. Have your family members wear sunscreen, as well as hats and light cotton fabrics. Sunscreen should be placed 15 minutes before entering a sunny area and re-applied to skin that gets wet or after, say, a couple of hours.

If you don’t take the environment into account, you have made it your enemy

In hot weather, plan your strenuous activities for mornings, when it’s cooler. In any type of weather, keep everyone well-hydrated;  dehydration will cause more rapid deterioration in physical condition in any climate.

The most important item of clothing is, perhaps, your shoes. If you’ve got the wrong shoes for the activity, you will most likely regret it. If you’re in the woods, high tops that you can fit into your pant legs will provide protection against snakebite and tick bites. Tick populations are on the rise in the Northeast and Midwest, so beware of signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease. If you choose to go with a lighter shoe in hot weather, Vibram soles are your best bet.

Special Tips: Choosing the right clothing isn’t just for weather protection.  If you have the kids wear bright colors, you’ll have an easier time keeping track of their whereabouts. Long sleeves and pants offer added protection against insect bites and poison ivy.

YOUR CAMPSITE

Real estate agents’ motto is location, location, location and it’s true for camping safety too. Scout prospective campsites by looking for broken glass and other garbage that can pose a hazard.

Look for evidence of animals/insects nearby, such as large droppings or wasp nests/bee hives. If there are berry bushes nearby, you can bet it’s on the menu for bears. Berries that birds and animals can eat are often unsafe for humans to eat. Advise the children to stay away from any animals, even the cute little fuzzy ones. Even some caterpillars are poisonous.

bear poop

Bear Droppings! Camp somewhere else!

Learn to recognize poison ivy, oak, and sumac.  Show your kid pictures of the plants so that they can look out for and avoid them. The old adage is “leaves of three, let it be”. Fels-Naptha soap is especially effective in removing toxic resin if you suspect exposure. The resin can stick to clothes, so cur chips off and use for laundering.

Build your fire in established fire pits and away from dry brush. In drought conditions, consider using a portable stove instead, like the EcoZoom.  In sunny open areas, the Sun Oven will give you a non-fire alternative for cooking. About fires: Children are fascinated by them, so watch them closely or you’ll be dealing with burn injuries. Food (especially cooked food) should be hung in trees in such a way that animals can’t access it. Animals are drawn to food odors, so use re-sealable plastic containers.

If you camp near a water source, realize that even the clearest mountain stream may harbor Giardia, a parasite that causes diarrheal disease and dehydration.  Water purification is basic to any outdoor outing.  There are iodine tablets that serve this purpose, and portable filters like the Lifestraw and the Mini-Sawyer which are light and effective.  Boiling the water first is a good policy in any situation, although time-consuming. Remember to add one minute of boiling for each 1000 feet of elevation above sea level. Water boils at lower temperatures at higher altitudes, and takes longer to kill microbes.

GETTING LOST

Glen Martin’s Book on Navigation

Few people can look back to their childhood and not remember a time when they lost their bearings. Your kids should always be aware of landmarks near the camp or on trails.  A great skill to teach the youngsters is how to use a compass, a skill you can find in Glen Martin’s new book “Prepper’s Survival Navigation“. Besides a compass, make sure children have  a loud whistle that they can blow if you get separated.  Three consecutive blasts is the universal distress signal. If lost, kids should stay put in a secure spot instead of roaming about. Of course, if you have cell phone service….

INSECT BITES

Even if you’ve clothed the kids in protective clothing, they can still wind up with insect bites.  Carry a supply of antihistamines, sting relief pads, and calamine lotion to deal with allergic reactions.  Asking your doctor for a prescription “EpiPen” is a good idea if anyone has ever had a severe reaction to toxins from insect bites or poison ivy.  They’re easy to use and effective, and few doctors would refuse to write a script for it.

Citronella-based products are helpful to repel insects; put it on clothing instead of skin (absorbs too easily) whenever possible. Repellents containing DEET also can be used, but not on children less than 2 years old. Don’t forget to inspect daily for ticks or the bulls-eye pattern rash they often cause.  If you remove the tick in the first 24 hours, you will rarely contract Lyme disease.

YOUR CAMPING FIRST AID KIT

Get a Medical Kit!

Besides appropriate clothes, insect repellants, and a way to sterilize water, you will want to carry a medical kit to deal with common problems.  This should contain:

  • Antiseptics to clean wounds (iodine pads are good)
  • Bandages of different types and sizes: butterfly, roller, pads, moleskin, elastic (Ace wraps)
  • Cold packs to reduce swelling
  • Splints (splints and larger conforming ones)
  • Burn gel and non-stick dressings like Telfa pad
  • Nitrile gloves (some people are allergic to latex)
  • Bandannas or triangular bandages with safety pins to serve as slings
  • A bandage scissors
  • tweezers (to remove splinters and ticks)
  • topical antibiotic cream
  • Medications:

Oral antihistamines (such as Bendadryl)

Pain meds (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Aspirin, also good for fever)

1% hydrocortisone cream to decrease inflammation

BZK (Benzalkonium Chloride) wipes for animal bites

Your personal kit may require some additional items to handle special problems with members of the family that have chronic medical issues.  Take the above-listed  items and add more to customize the kit for your specific needs. Maybe adding a tourniquet, hemostatic gauze, and an Israeli dressing for more significant injuries? Perhaps some antibiotics for longer backcountry outings?

In an emergency, the most important thing to do is to simply stay calm. If you have the above supplies, you can handle a lot of medical issues in the wilderness. Gain some knowledge to go along with those supplies, and you’ll have the best chance to have a safe and fun outing with your family.

.

Joe Alton, M.D., aka Dr. Bones

AuthorJoe

Joe Alton MD

Are you ready to deal with medical issues when the you-know-what hits the fan? You will be, if you get a copy of our #1 Amazon Bestseller “The Survival Medicine Handbook”.

The Survival medicine handbook Third Edition 2016

The Survival Medicine Handbook Third Edition

The Power of herbs for Prepper’s series “Marshmallow Root”

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The Power of herbs for Prepper’s series “Marshmallow Root”
Marshmallow root a powerful demuculant that soothes the membrane walls of organs , intestines, throat, stomach and urinary tract. It is also said to have some germ fighting properties and inflammation relieving phytochemicals as well as compounds that stimulate the immune system. It possess’ high concentrates of mucilage and pectin which are the powerhouses of aid in the irritated membrane walls.Its spongy, gummy mucilage soothes sore membrane walls and beginning the healing process. The concentrates of pectin found in this herb is a soluble fiber that keeps the gastrointestinal system running regularly and helps tame blood sugar.

The Mucilage becomes gel like when mixed with a little water use it in a poultice on inflamed or bruised skin as needed. Also you can use the gel to calm and heal irritated areas around your mouth during the winter month from wind burn especially.
A few Good Uses for Marshmallow root are (but not limited to):
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Sore Throat
  • Uriart tract infection
  • diabetes 
  • Gallbladder problems 
  • Bronchitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Respiratory Problems
  • Sores
  • Wounds Ulcer
  • Toothache
  • Burns
  • arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • cystitis
  • colitis
  • crohn’s disease
  • sunburn
  • inflamed tonsils
  • veracious veins
  • carbuncles
  • boils

Dosage:(ADULT)
Roots: 1/8 to 1/3 cup of marshmallow roots daily
Tea: 1 teaspoon of dried leave or roots in 8 ounces of boiling water steeped for 15 to 20 minutes daily.
Extract: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon 3 times daily
Syrup: 1/2 to 2 teaspoons daily
Tincture: 1 to 1 tablespoon 3 times daily

Notes: Due to the high levels of mucilage and pectin present it may effect the rate of absorption of other medications. Also discoloration of urine is common 
A powerful Marshmallow root Syrup to aid soreness, sooth inflammation and has antibacterial and anti viral properties
You will need:
  • 2 tablespoons of dried marshmallow root
  • 1 teaspoon of chamomile flowers
  • 1 /2 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 2 cups of distilled water
  • 1 cup of honey

Directions: bring 2 cups of distilled water to a hard boil then add all dried herbs, Cover and bring to a low simmer, simmer for 15 minutes or until reduced to half. The cover allows any essential oils present to remain in the concoction( base liquid of syrup) let cool  and strain and press in a potato ricer add honey and use for 
Burns, Eczema, insect bites, heat rashes, sunburn skin inflammations and irritations; 
Use as needed EXTERNALLY.
For internal Use  Adults use 1 tablespoon twice daily
This is good for tonsillitis, sore throats, inflamed larynx, hemorrhoid, anal flares, upset stomach, 24 hr, bug, inflamed intestines due to food allergies.
A Powerful Burn wash:
You will need:
  • 2 tablespoons of dried marshmallow root
  • 3 tablespoons of  dried tea tree leaves
  • 3 teaspoons of lavender flowers
  • 3 teaspoons of chamomile flowers
  • 4 cups of distilled water

Directions: bring 4 cups of distilled water to a hard boil then add all dried herbs, Cover and bring to a low simmer, simmer for 15 minutes or until reduced to half. The cover allows any essential oils present to remain in the concoction
Note: For severe sunburn or sun poisoning add 1/4 cup of PURE aloe vera juice( not the juice you drink as a snack) to the concoction AFTER IT HAS BEEN STRAINED< PRESSED and COOLED and mix well refrigerate and shake well before each use.
Dosage:
USE AS NEEDED TO EFFECTED AREAS EXTERNALLY ONLY

Sulfa as a Survival Antibiotic

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Fish Sulfa Forte = Bactrim/Septra

In survival settings, it’s reasonable to assume that you’ll be performing activities that aren’t part of your routine in normal times, like, say, chopping wood for fuel. When you’re doing chores to which you’re not accustomed, injuries can occur. Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Using protective eyewear, gloves, and boots may prevent an injury that could become life-threatening off the grid.

It might be difficult to envision that a simple cut could turn lethal, but in survival, many of these wounds are “dirty”; that is, they’re contaminated with bacteria or other microbes. Today, the use of drugs called antibiotics can nip infections in the bud. in any situation where modern medicine isn’t available, however, these wounds can become problematic. If an infection enters the bloodstream (a condition called “septicemia”), things can go downhill quickly.  

A while ago, I did a series of articles and videos on antibiotics, and talked about popular drugs like amoxicillin, doxycycline, Cipro and others that you can find in aquarium and avian versions. Available in capsules and tablets that are essentially identical to those provided for human use (even down to identification numbers), the wise medic should have some of these tools in the medical woodshed for when the you-know-what hits the fan.

Quick disclaimer: This doesn’t mean that you should be using them in normal times. Remember that it’s illegal and punishable by law to practice medicine without a license. If modern medical professionals exist, seek them out.

Today we’ll talk about a family of antibiotic called sulfonamides, or sulfa drugs. Sulfonamides act to inhibit an enzyme involved in folate synthesis, an important part of the production of bacterial DNA. Sulfonamides are bacteriostatic, which means that they don’t directly kill bacteria. They do, however, significantly inhibit growth and multiplication, which leads to eventual elimination of bacteria from the body.

Sulfonamides were available even before Penicillin, and are credited with saving the lives of tens of thousands during WWII, including that of Winston Churchill. Soldier’s first aid kits even came with sulfa pills or powder.

bird sulfa

Bird Sulfa

A specific version, Sulfamethoxazole 400mg/Trimethoprim 80mg (veterinary equivalent: Bird- Sulfa or Fish-Sulfa) is a combination of two medications in the Sulfa family. This drug is well-known in the U.S. by its brand names Bactrim and Septra. Our British friends may recognize it by the name Co-Trimoxazole. The two antibiotics work synergistically, which means that, together, they are stronger in their effect than alone.

Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim is effective in the treatment of the following:

·        Some upper and lower respiratory infections (chronic bronchitis and pneumonia)

·        Kidney and bladder infections

·        Ear infections in children

·        Cholera

·        Intestinal infections caused by E. coli and Shigella bacteria (a cause of dysentery)

·        Skin and wound infections, including MRSA

·        Traveler’s diarrhea

·        Acne

The usual dosage in adults is sulfamethoxazole 800-mg/Trimethoprim 160mg twice a day for most of the above conditions for 10 days (5 days in traveler’s diarrhea).

The recommended dose for pediatric patients with urinary tract infections or acute otitis media (ear infection) is  40 mg/ kg sulfamethoxazole and 8mg/kg trimethoprim per 24 hours, given in two divided doses every 12 hours, for 10 days. 1 kilogram equals 2.2 pounds. This medication should not be used in infants 2 months old or younger.

In rat studies, the use of this drug was seen to cause birth defects; therefore, it is not used during pregnancy.

silvadene

Silvadene cream

Another sulfa drug, Sulfadiazine, is combined with Silver to make Silvadene, a cream useful for aiding the healing process in skin wounds and burns. Cover completely twice a day.

Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim and other Sulfonamides are well known to cause allergic reactions in some individuals. These reactions to sulfa drugs are almost as common as Penicillin allergies, and usually manifest as rashes, hives, and/or nausea and vomiting. Worse reactions, however, can cause blood disorders as well as severe skin, liver, and pancreatic damage. Those with conditions relating to these organs should avoid the drug.

Although an allergy to Sulfa drugs may be common, it is not the same allergy as to Penicillin. Those allergic to Penicillin can take Sulfa drugs, although it’s possible to be allergic to both.

It’s important to understand that antibiotics aren’t candy: they must be used wisely and only when absolutely necessary. The overuse of antibiotics (mostly in livestock) is responsible for an epidemic of antibiotic resistance. Having them in your medical storage, however, can prevent the medic from experiencing headaches, and heartaches, if things go South.

Joe Alton, MD aka Dr. Bones

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Joe Alton, MD

Learn more about antibiotics and 150 other medical topics related to survival by checking out 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.

The Survival medicine handbook Third Edition 2016

The Survival Medicine Handbook 2016 Third Edition

Oakland Warehouse Fire: Surviving in a Crowd

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wildfire

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

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.

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.

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

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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“.

Preparing For Wildfires

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wildfire

Wildfire

After experiencing a hellish wildfire season last summer and fall in the U.S., a huge conflagration in the Canadian province of Alberta has us thinking again of wildfire preparedness. The wildfire in our northern neighbor’s territory has burned 400,000 acres so far and destroyed or damaged 1600 buildings. Two have died in a car crash while attempting to escape the flames, which has caused the evacuation of 100,000 people. The grid is damaged, the water undrinkable, and even local firefighters are seeing their homes burn to the ground.

In a news conference today, authorities state that, although the spread has slowed, the fire might continue to burn for months and threatens the neighboring province of Saskatchewan. The region affected is the heart of Canada’s oil industry, with the third-largest reserves in the world. A quarter of the country’s oil production has been suspended, leaving questions about the effect the natural disaster will have on Canada’s economy.

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 from being devastated by fire? Two main principles are 1) vegetation management and 2) creating a “defensible space”.

 

VEGETATION MANAGEMENT

wildfire1

vegetation management is key to fire protection

 

An important factor in protecting your home 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 on the ground close to your buildings and off the roofs and gutters. Although you may have spent time and money putting lush landscaping around your home, you may have to remove some of the vegetation close to the structure. Some people place thorny bushes by windows to deter home invaders, but these would have to go if your concern is 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 needs 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.

 

If you’re building a home in an area where wildfires are common, consider the materials that your retreat is made of. How much fire resistance does your structure have? A wood frame home with wooden shingles will go up like a match in a wildfire. You should try to build as much flame resistance into your forest retreat as possible.

 

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 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 out. It’s a personal decision but your family’s lives depend on it, so be realistic. If you’re leaving, have that bug-out bag already in the car, as well as any important papers you might need to keep and some cash.

 

Before leaving, 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 established with your loved ones so that you can contact each other. Make sure your medical kit contains some eyewash; smoke is a major irritant to the eyes.

 

TRAPPED IN A WILDFIRE

 

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 don’t have wool blankets, this is a good time to add some to your storage, or keep some in your car.

 

If you’re in a building, stay on the side of the building farthest from the fire 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 that blanket, leaving only your eyes uncovered. 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 having trouble breathing because of the smoke, stay low, and crawl out of the building if you have to. 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. For some more information about smoke inhalation, click this link to a short article: http://www.doomandbloom.net/smoke-inhalation/

 

BUILDING A FIRE-RESISTANT HOME

 

If you’re building a home in an area where wildfires are common, consider the materials that your retreat is made of. How much fire resistance does your structure have? A wood frame home with wooden shingles will go up like a match in a wildfire. You should try to build as much flame resistance into your forest retreat as possible.

 

You might consider building with Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs). These are polystrene blocks made to fit together. Filled with concrete, ICFs create solid insulation that locks out sound, weather, and gives some fire resistance. Mostly used in commercial buildings and schools, constructing a home with ICFs cost a little more, but is superior to wood.

 

Flame-resistant roofing and siding is important, also. Asphalt shingles are used in most roofs, but there’s a fiberglass variety that offers better fire resistance. Decking can also be fire-resistant if constructed with Class A composite materials made from PVC and wood fiber. Windows using heat-reflective glass reduce the  heat that  enters your home in a wildfire. The heat-reflective coating acts to reduce up to 90 percent of the heat. Metal or fiber cement siding is superior to wood or vinyl products. As you might imagine, all these fire-proofing strategies come at an increased cost.

 

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 getting through them in the best shape possible.

 

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4
Learn more about wildfire safety plus how to deal with many other events that threaten your survival with The Survival Medicine Handbook, with 300 5-star reviews on Amazon!

Survival Medicine Hour: Sleep Deprivation, Burns, Zika, More

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sleep1

In survival, getting sleep is important to keep you sharp and make sure that appropriate judgements are made and actions taken. Learn about sleep hygiene from Joe Alton, MD, plus a new study tells you what states in the U.S. are the most sleep-deprived. Also, Dr. Alton discusses first and second degree burns, the difference between sunscreen and sunblock, and what the SPF rating system means. Also, how to identify and treat these common injuries in disasters or other situations where medical help isn’t on the way. Nurse Amy and Dr. Bones also discuss the latest about Zika virus, plus how the Army is so lacking in medical providers that they are offering a rapid path to citizenship for foreign medical graduate volunteers. All this and more on the Survival Medicine Hour with Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy.

burnseconddegree

 

To listen in, click below:

 

 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2016/02/20/survival-medicine-hour-burns-sleep-deprivation-more

 

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

 

Joe and Amy Alton

joe and amy radio

How To Treat A Burn Victim In A Survival Scenario

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The danger of getting burned is ever-present in our day to day lives. Whether we’re talking about a minor burn caused by carelessness or a severe degree burn caused by an unfortunate event, it’s important to know how to react in such a situation. Most of us have already dealt with burning injuries at least once in their lifetime, so the sensation and the gravity of the matter is known to most people. We’re not lacking in the health department in this day and age; there’s plenty of doctors and clinics out there that are able and equipped to deal with burn victims. Even if they’re not immediately available, medicine is widely available and many people already have their stock set aside for darker days. But what happens in TEOTWAWKI situation, when medical care and supplies won’t simply be available anymore? In this case, it’s important to know how to treat a burn victim and to improvise as best as we can in order to save one’s life.

The first thing we’ll need to asses in a burning accident is how much of the overall body surface has been affected by the burn. People that have less than 20% of their body’s surface affected by 2nd and 3rd  burns are not facing direct life threats (although the danger of infection and complications is still present); 1st degree burns do not pose a life threat, as the skin is not significantly affected. But those who have suffered. This is easily calculated by using the rule of nines, according to whom the surfaces on the human adult body are as follows: head = 9%, chest (front) = 9%, abdomen (front) = 9%, upper/mid/lower back & buttocks = 18%, arms (each) = 9%, palm (each) = 1%, groin = 1%, legs (each) = 18% (front = 9% + back = 9%).  For children, the numbers are as follows: head = 18%, chest (front) = 9%, abdomen (front and back) = 9%, upper/mid/lower back & buttocks = 18%, arms (each) = 9%, palm (each) = 1%, groin = 1%, legs (each) = 14% (front = 7% + back = 7%).

After the affected surface area has been determined, it’s imperative to understand what degree of burn you’re dealing with. As an international convention, burns are split into three distinctive categories:

1st degree burns or mild burns are what happens in the best case scenario. The injury is superficial and the skin is not completely affected. A good example of a 1st degree burn is a nasty case of sunburn. It requires a lesser form of treatment and it’s not life-threatening

2nd degree burns are much more serious and pose a greater threat to general health. They are far more painful as the affliction penetrates far deeper into the skin. If this is the case, it’s recommended you seek medical help, if available.

3rd degree burns are the most severe types imaginable. Because the injury goes so deep into the skin, the pain receptors can be completely destroyed, so they victim might not feel pain at all. If the affected area gets swollen, turns leathery or black, you’re dealing with a 3rd degree burn; as a mentioned before, pain is no longer an indicator. This is an emergency, and you should seek professional help if it’s available, if not, turn to your medical kit.

Before you start applying a treatment, you’ll need to determine the nature of the burn. Various types of burns require different treatments. These are some of the most common causes when it comes to burn injuries and how you should deal with them:

If the victim has been subjected to a flame source, the first step is to take the person away from the fire source and to extinguish his clothes if they’re on fire. Water is the best choice, as this will not only put out the fire, but it will also wash away any remaining pieces of charred clothing. Cold water will cool the burned areas and sooth the pain. Next, remove the clothes, gently tap with a dry and clean piece of cloth and apply any treatment available.

Treating electrical burn victims requires a different approach. In this case, the insides are just as damaged (if not more) than the outside. Electrical current takes a toll mostly on the heart, so before treating burns, check the patient’s vital signs first. You might need to perform CPR before anything else. Once the victim is stabilized, you can proceed to treating the burns.

Chemical burns are also a hazard to take into consideration. Treating skin that’s been exposed to corrosive substances requires a lot of patience. The burned area should be washed with water for about 30 minutes before proceeding to apply any type of ointment. If the area is not cleaned perfectly, the remaining substances will continue to destroy skin cells. After the area has been cleaned, you should double check that the ointment you’re about to apply won’t react with the chemical residue found in the burn.

If medical help is not available and if your personal survival medical kit is depleted, worry not. Luckily you can still improvise burn treatments out of everyday household items. Here are some of the things found around the house that can do wonders in case you’re dealing with burns:

  1. Honey is a fantastic first aid solution when it comes to treating burns. It can also work as a permanent solution, provided you’re in a survival scenario and you happen to have some honey lying around. You should cover the affected surface in honey completely. Next cover the area in a plastic warp. Honey will prevent bacteria from reaching the wound and keep the risk of infection to a minimum. Check the wound daily and apply as much honey as you can spare.
  2. Vinegar can also be used for cleaning the burned area, as it can be used as an antiseptic. Because it’s an acid, the vinegar will sting and add to the burning sensation, but in the process it will clean and sanitize the burned area, killing of any unwanted pathogens that might lead to severe infection. Diluted vinegar is the way to go.
  3. Baking soda works perfectly for treating a burned area. Just add water, turn it into a paste and apply it gently over the burned area. The baking soda will help reduce the swelling and the pain sensation. You can add it to any type of burns EXCEPT chemical burns. It may give an unwanted reaction with the chemical that caused the burn, so avoid using it in this case.

Aiding a burn victim in no easy task, and you should take it seriously. Educate yourself in the field before taking on such a task, as the wrong move might have unwanted consequences. There are many popular treatments that do not give great result, quite the opposite. Burns should be cleaned with cold water, but never ice water. You might have been told at some point to press something cold next to a burn, but you strongly advise you not to. The surface you might be pressing into the burned area might be carrying pathogens that will cause infection. Also egg whites and oil do not work either, so don’t bother. If your hands and fingers have been burned, remove rings and jewelry asap, because burned areas tend to get swollen. Nasty burns will most likely result in enormous blisters; do not pop them! They’re helping the healing process. Popping them may result in infection, pain and permanent trauma.

 

By Alec Deacon

 

 

 

 

 

The post How To Treat A Burn Victim In A Survival Scenario appeared first on My Family Survival Plan.

Survival Medicine Hour: Amputation, Insomnia, more

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fracture

 

What if you were the medic in a long-term survival scenario and came upon an injury that won’t get better with the usual treatment? What if you had to make an extreme decision like whether to perform an amputation? Joe Alton, MD steps out on a limb to talk about considerations that would be necessary in these circumstances. Also, Amy Alton, ARNP, discusses a common problem and how to deal with it: Insomnia! All this and more in the latest Survival Medicine Podcast.

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To listen in, click below:

 

 

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/survivalmedicine/2015/09/28/survival-medicine-hour-amputation-insomnia

 

 

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

 

 

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

JoeAmyPortrait2013

Celox and Quikclot to Control Bleeding

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medic-in-action

 

No matter what survival scenario you envision, few come without a real risk of major trauma, and with it, bleeding. One of the most important medical supplies to have on hand in times of trouble would be those items that can help you control hemorrhage. In studies of casualties in the recent wars, 50% of those killed in action died of blood loss. 25% died within the first “golden hour” after being wounded. Indeed, with many injuries, a “platinum 5 minutes” may determine life or death.

 
The battle to prevent deaths from hemorrhage has been waged throughout history. The Egyptians mixed wax, barley, and grease to apply to a bleeding wound. The Chinese and Greeks used herbs like bayberry, stinging nettle, yarrow, and others for the same purpose. Native Americans would apply scrapings from the inside of fresh animal hides mixed with hot sand and downy feathers. These treatments would sometimes save a life, sometimes not.

 
In modern times, the control of major hemorrhage rightly belongs to the emergency physician, paramedic, trauma surgeon, and other trained medical personnel. Our focus, however, is when you find yourself without access to modern medical care. In these circumstances, you may be the highest medical asset left, and it pays to have some tools that will help you stop bleeding. In a recent article, we discussed one of these tools: tourniquets and their use in survival situations. Today, we’ll discuss compounds produced specifically to produce clotting.

 

 

HEMOSTATIC AGENTS

 

CeloxHemostatics

 

In the last decade or so, there have been advancements in clotting agents (also known as “hemostatic agents”). Knowledge of their appropriate use in an emergency will increase the injured patient’s chance of survival. These products are used in conjunction with direct compression on the bleeding wound. Ideally, a hemostatic agent should:

 

 

  • Stop a major hemorrhage within two minutes of application
  • Be applicable through pools of blood
  • Be packaged ready to use
  • Simple to use
  • Store well for extended periods of time
  • Be affordable
  • Have little risk of infection or embolism (blood clots that travel to other areas of the body)

 
Although there are a number of hemostatic agents available on the market for your medical storage, the two most popular are Quikclot and Celox. They are two different substances that are both available in a powder or granule form and a powder-impregnated gauze.

 

quikclot
Quikclot originally contained a volcanic mineral known as zeolite, which effectively clotted bleeding wounds but also caused a reaction that burned the patient and, sometimes, the medic. As a result, the main ingredient was replaced with another substance that does not burn when it comes in contact with blood.

 
The current generation of Quikclot is made from Kaolin, a naturally-occurring mineral that was the original ingredient in Kaopectate. It does not contain animal, human, or botanical components.

 
Contact between kaolin and blood immediately initiates the clotting process by activating Factor XII, a major player in hemostasis. The powder or impregnated gauze is applied directly to the bleeding vessel along with pressure placed on the wound for several minutes. Quikclot is FDA-approved and widely available; the gauze dressing is easier to deal with than the powder, but can be relatively expensive. Quikclot has a shelf life of 3 years or so, less if the packages are left out in the sun. It’s uncertain exactly what effect the passage of time has on the product.

 
One negative with Quikclot is that it does not absorb into the body and can be difficult to remove from the wound. The material is known to become hard when left in too long and bleeding may restart when removed. This occurs less often if you use the gauze dressing.

 
In the The Journal of TRAUMA® Injury, Infection, and Critical Care , (Volume 68, Number 2, February 2010), the kaolin gauze was found to be as safe as standard surgical gauze.

 

celox

Celox is the other popular hemostatic agent, and it is composed of Chitosan, an organic material taken from purified shrimp shells. Despite this, the manufacturer states that it is safe to use in those allergic to seafood. This product is made up of high surface area flakes. When these tiny flakes come in contact with blood, they bond with it and form a clot that appears as a gel. Like Quikclot, it also comes in impregnated gauze dressings, which are, again, relatively expensive.

 
Unlike Quikclot, Celox will cause effective clotting even in those on anti-coagulants like Heparin, Warfarin or Coumadin without further depleting clotting factors. Chitosan, being an organic material, is gradually broken down by the body’s natural enzymes into other substances normally found there. Like Quikclot, Celox is FDA-approved. This study by the U.S. government compares Celox favorably to some other hemostatic agents: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18211317

 
Both Quikclot and Celox gauze dressings have been tested by the U.S. and U.K. military and have been put to good use in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US Department of Defense’s Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) has added CELOX™ Gauze to its guidelines for control of hemorrhage as approved hemostatic agents for military use. The Rapid version significantly cuts down the amount of compression time required. Expiration dates are similar to Quikclot.

 
One additional benefit of Celox gauze is that it serves as a reasonable gel-like burn dressing when moistened with water or saline solution.

 
To see both Quikclot and Celox in action (warning: graphic in nature):

 

 

“Celox demonstration”

 

 

“Quikclot demonstration”

 
Although effective, you shouldn’t use these items as a first line of treatment in a bleeding patient. Direct pressure, elevation of a bleeding extremity above the heart, gauze packing and tourniquets should be your strategy here. If these measures fail, however, you have an effective extra step towards stopping that hemorrhage. Be sure to include one or both in your medical supplies.

 
It’s important to make certain to avoid getting hemostatic powders into a patient’s eyes or airways. Also, removal from the wound  is usually recommended no longer than 24 hours after application.

 
Let’s not forget natural remedies that may help stop mild-moderate bleeding. Certainly, if a disaster has long-standing consequences, the supply of commercial hemostatic agents will diminish, and it’s important to know what plants may provide medicinal benefits.

 
Cayenne Pepper powder at levels above 35,000 Scoville (heat) Units has a coagulant (clotting) effect, although it may cause a burning sensation. Too much stronger, however, and it can get into the medic’s eyes and cause irritation. Black pepper has also been used in the past to help control hemorrhage. Apply either of these in a good quantity to the bleeding area and apply pressure with a gauze dressing. For major hemorrhage, however, the commercially produced products like Celox or Quikclot are superior.

 

 

The medic is most effective when they have the right tools. Accumulate a supply of hemostatic agents now and you’ll succeed, even if everything else fails.

 

 

Joe Alton, MD

JoeAltonLibrary4

Get YOUR medical supplies in gear by checking out Nurse Amy’s entire line of medical supplies at http://store.doomandbloom.net/

 

 

Guide to Treating Burns in the Field

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Burns are a common but serious injury, requiring immediate medical attention. When out in the field, immediate precautions must be taken to stop the burn from spreading and preventing others from becoming burned. In order to provide proper treatment, you must first identify the cause of the injury and type of burn.

Identify the Class of the Burn

First degree burns look like a sunburn, often maintaining the shape of the heated object that they came in contact with. This heat has only penetrated the outer layers of skin. Treating a first degree burn is primarily about providing comfort. Second degree burns have blisters in addition to skin redness. Third degree burns have penetrated the layers and skin to reveal fatty tissue, muscle or bone underneath. These are extremely dangerous, and the patient might not understand the severity of their injury since their nerves may have been damaged.

Thermal Burns

Thermal burns refer to all injuries caused by heat whether open flames or heated objects. Check for any flames present on the victim’s clothing and put them out immediately. A specialist from The Garmon Law Firm says burn injuries can lead to scarring and long-term emotional distress, so it’s important to treat even minor burns as soon as possible. Even if you think the burn isn’t serious, do your best to ensure the victim receives proper medical attention.

Electrical Burns

Electrical burns are blisters caused by electric currents coursing through the body. Touching an electrified person can send the current coursing into your body as well. Assume all wires in the victim’s vicinity are active and check to see if any wires are currently touching the victim. If possible, turn off all electrical switches in the area. If the victim is currently laying on an active wire, use a piece of wood or non-conductive clothing to lift them off.

Chemical Burns

Chemical burns are identified by skin contact with dangerous materials, such as quick-lime or ammonia. Liquid chemicals need to be diluted and washed away as soon as possible with copious amounts of water. If the chemical was a dry powder, do not immediately clean with water. First brush off as much as the chemical as possible with dry cloth.

Treating a Burn

After removing the cause of the burn, begin treating the wound. Expose the burned area but leave any clothing or material sticking to the wound in place. Remove any of the victim’s jewelry that might cut circulation should the area swell. Use clean cloth to cover the wound completely without breaking any of the blisters. Do not apply any topical medications to the area and seek immediate medical help. Supply the victim with water to drink to replenish their fluids.

Burns can quickly become open wounds that require medical attention to avoid infection. By following these steps, you can help avoid escalating the injury.

Emma is a freelance writer living in Boston. When she manages to tear herself away from the computer, she enjoys baking, rock climbing, and film noir.