Eww … think about where that thing has been!

February 25, 2013

Here’s a Monday morning musing…

Before you set your purse, backpack or briefcase on your kitchen table or countertop … think about all the places you put it during the day!!!

According to an ABC News article… Microbiologist Chuck Gerba researches where organisms that make us sick lurk and lately he says he has found that germs gather on the outside of a woman’s purse, especially on the bottom.

“We found fecal bacteria you normally find on the floor of restroom,” he said. “We found bacteria that can cause skin infections on the bottom of purses. What’s more amazing is the large numbers we find on the bottom of purses, which indicates that they can be picking up a lot of other germs like cold viruses or viruses that cause diarrhea.”

portable hook to keep purse off the floorConsider getting a portable purse hook to keep it off the floor of restaurants, public restrooms, etc.

And put several sturdy hooks near your door at home for everyone’s handbags and backpacks to keep those cooties off your tables, counters and other places around your home.

Also check out a video by Dr. Oz with some findings and tips about germs and handbags.

Have a great week! 🙂 j & B

Friday Fotos: Amazing Military Working Dogs (MWDs)

February 22, 2013

This week we are paying tribute to an elite force of warriors bravely serving our country.

According to ForeignPolicy.com , dogs have been fighting alongside U.S. soldiers for more than 100 years, seeing combat in the Civil War and World War I. But their service was informal; only in 1942 were canines officially inducted into the U.S. Army. Today, they’re a central part of U.S. efforts in the Middle East — as of early 2010 the U.S. Army had 2,800 active-duty dogs deployed (the largest canine contingent in the world) — and currently there are about 600 military working dogs (MWDs) working with troops in Afghanistan.

Navy SEAL dogs are highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated special ops experts, able to perform extraordinary military missions. In fact, only one of the 81 members of the super-secret SEAL DevGru unit (the commando team that killed Osama bin Laden) was identified by name: Cairo, the war dog.

Cairo Navy SEAL K9

Cairo, like most canine members of the elite U.S. Navy Seals, is a Belgian Malinois. While German Shepherds are still used in the military, the lighter, stubbier Malinois is considered better for the tandem parachute jumping and rappelling operations often undertaken by SEAL teams.

SEAL Cairo military working dog

SEAL dogs are even trained parachutists, jumping either in tandem with their handlers or solo, if the jump is into water. Last year canine parachute instructor Mike Forsythe and his dog Cara set the world record for highest man-dog parachute deployment, jumping from more than 30,100 feet up – the altitude transoceanic passenger jets fly at. Both Forsythe and Cara were wearing oxygen masks and skin protectors for the jump. Here’s a photo from that jump, taken by Andy Anderson for K9 Storm Inc.

SEAL dog Cara jump

K9 Storm Inc. has a deserved worldwide reputation for designing and manufacturing probably the best body Armor available for police and military dogs.

K9 body armor for police and military dogs by K9 Storm

Below is one of our favorite MWD pics: A U.S. Army soldier with the 10th Special Forces Group and his military working dog jump off the ramp of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment during water training over the Gulf of Mexico. DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez, U.S. Air Force.

military working dogs = no fear

We are not sure who to credit for the next 2 photos but they are both really cool shots…

military working dogs helo drop

military working dog jump out of aircraft

Last night (21-Feb-2013) Animal Planet aired Glory Hounds introducing viewers to several military working dogs and their handlers on the front lines. It was a two-hour, first-of-its-kind special with AP’s filmmakers and embedded camera crews having unprecedented access to MWD teams in some of the most volatile regions in Afghanistan.

Glory Hounds special on military working dogs or MWDs

AP Glory Hounds special on military working dogs

Learn more about Animal Planet’s Glory Hounds documentary and these amazing MWDs at http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/glory-hounds

Stay safe and have a great weekend! 🙂 j & B

Dealing with a crappy situation (sanitation tips during an emergency or disaster)

February 20, 2013

carnival trash cans for sanitationLast week the media reported ad nauseum about the stranded Carnival cruise ship that caused thousands of passengers to endure several days with little to no power or heat, no running water and very few working toilets.

Passengers said Triumph’s staff were handing out “poop bags” and telling people to “pee in the showers”.

Yes, it was a nasty situation for the folks stuck on the “floating petri dish”, but some of the headlines and bylines on photos ranged from dramatic to comical.

One described “trash cans and sinks of human waste, feces-smeared walls and mushy floors inside the ‘Hunger Games-like’ Carnival cruise ship”. Another was simply called “Holy Ship!”

red bags for sanitationAnd the UK’s Daily Mail described this red bag photo …

“Disgust: Guests were forced to defecate into plastic bags and place them outside their rooms after toilets on board the Triumph became blocked following the electrical failure.”

Hmm … well, we guess the editor who was appalled by the thought of being “forced” to “defecate into plastic bags” has never been in a disaster situation where there is no water, toilets or power. And he/she probably has never been camping in the backcountry where you use a bag or just aim for a hole in the ground (and watch out for creepy crawlies, wild critters and poisonous plants when squatting in the wild.)

But anyway … this crappy situation seemed like a great reason to dust off and post some poop tips from our IT’S A DISASTER! book.

Sanitation Facts

The following statistics came from the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council.

Did you know…

2.6 billion people – or about 40% of the world’s population – do not have access to basic sanitation?!

one gram (0.035 oz) of human feces can contain 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts, and 100 parasite eggs?!

… more than 5,000 children die every day from diarrhea making it one of the biggest killers of children under five worldwide accounting for 17% of deaths in this age-group.

…sanitation and hygiene could also prevent most of the 130 million annual cases worldwide of serious worm infestation. This matters since worms can divert up to one-third of the food a child consumes, and malnutrition is at the root of 50% of childhood illness.

Sanitation Tips

In disaster situations, plumbing may not be usable due to broken sewer or water lines, flooding, or freezing of the system. To avoid the spread of disease, it is critical that human waste be handled in a sanitary manner!

If toilet okay but lines are not…

If water or sewer lines are damaged but toilet is still intact, you should line the toilet bowl with a plastic bag to collect waste… but DO NOT flush the toilet!! After use, add a small amount of disinfectant to bag, remove and seal bag (with a twist tie if reusing), and place bag in a tightly covered container away from people to reduce smell.

If toilet is unusable…

If toilet is destroyed, a plastic bag in a bucket may be substituted. Some companies make plastic buckets with a seat … or you could use the toilet seat from a commode and lay it on top of a bucket for a more comfortable experience. After use, add a small amount of disinfectant to the bag, and seal or cover bucket. Tip: Placing the bucket inside a plastic crate can help make it more stable.

Disinfectants – easy and effective for home use in Sanitation of Human Waste.

Chlorine Bleach – If water is available, a solution of 1 part liquid household bleach to 10 parts water is best. DO NOT use dry bleach since it can burn you, corrode or dissolve things so not safe for this kind of use.

Calcium hypochlorite – (e.g. HTH, etc.) Available in swimming pool supply or hardware stores and several large discount stores. It can be used in solution by mixing, then storing. Follow directions on the package.

Portable toilet chemicals – These come in both liquid and dry formulas and are available at recreational vehicle (RV) supply stores. Use according to package directions. These chemicals are designed especially for toilets that are not connected to sewer lines.

Powdered, chlorinated lime – Available at some building supply stores. It can be used dry and be sure to get chlorinated lime – not quick lime.

Some other alternatives to use in emergency potties are kitty litter or sawdust. There are also several types of camping toilets and portable toilets that range from fairly low dollars to hundreds of dollars.

Make sure toilet is near the air-exhaust end of the shelter and keep it tightly covered when not in use. Cover with a plastic bag too to keep bugs out and help reduce smell a bit. And consider hanging a sheet or blanket in toilet area for some privacy, if possible.

Also (if possible) consider digging a waste-disposal pit about 3 feet downwind from your shelter if hunkered down for an extended period of time.

Puking may also be an issue during a long-term shelter-in-place situation without power. Nerves, anxiety, a change in diet, and the sight and stench of pee, poop and puke may make others throw up. Having plastic bags, placed throughout a shelter, are the best means to catch puke and keep it off the floor. Buckets, pots, or a newspaper folded into a cone also work.

Some sanitation items for kits…

  • Disinfectant for human waste (see above)
  • Bottles of household chlorine bleach (regular scent)
  • Personal hygiene items (toothbrushes, toothpaste or baking soda, brush, comb, deodorant, shaving cream, razors, etc.)
  • Plastic garbage bags with twist ties and small plastic grocery bags
  • Plastic bucket with tight lid (several would be wise esp. if you can use one for poop and one for pee – see below)
  • Soap, liquid detergent, hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol), moist towelettes or sanitizing wipes, hydrogen peroxide, etc.
  • Toilet paper and baby wipes
  • Paper towels, dish towels, rags, etc.
  • Feminine supplies (tampons, pads, etc.)
  • Diapers (infant, toddler and adult sizes if needed)
  • Disposable gloves
  • Wash cloths, hand and bath towels
  • Small shovel

PHLUSH Twin No Mix poop pee buckets for sanitationPublic Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human, or PHLUSH (an all-volunteer advocacy group based in Portland, Oregon) has a great idea for dealing with sanitation. Use 2 separate buckets (one for pee and one for poop) as explained in their “DIY Christchurch Twin” post.  Or download PHLUSH’s 2-page PDF with more information and instructions about using the 2 bucket system.

Also consider packing all your sanitation items and supplies inside your clean bucket so it’s easy to take with you during an evacuation.

Reduce the spread of germs

Germs and diseases can create major problems and illness in confined quarters so try to reduce the spread of germs and infectious diseases…

  • Wash hands often using soap and water or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol in it) to reduce the spread of germs. But keep in mind sanitizers don’t work against some bugs so it’s best to wash up, if possible.

handwashing tips

  • Try to avoid exposure to others’ bodily fluids like blood, pee, poop, spittle, etc.
  • Sick people should cover mouth and nose with tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, wash hands often, and wear a face mask around others (if very ill).
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered until healed.
  • Clean counters, doorknobs, fixtures, linens, etc. often with a bleach solution.
  • If possible, don’t share silverware, razors, towels, or bedding and wash objects with soap and hot water.

Again these are just some basic things to plan for dealing with human waste and cooties during shelter-in-place situations so there are other items to consider. Add your thoughts or suggestions in the comments below. Stay safe, j & B

Friday Foto: Tucson Moonrise from Kitt Peak

February 15, 2013

Arizona gets breathtaking views of our night skies so we wanted to share a gorgeous shot of the moon rising above the Rincon Mountains as our Friday Foto.

This spectacular photo was taken by Emily Berkson, Kitt Peak Visitor Center Staff. Kitt Peak National Observatory is about 56 miles southwest of Tucson on the Tohono O’odham Nation.

According to Kitt Peak National Observatory’s Dec. 4, 2012 facebook post that accompanied photo…

Cannon 500D T1i
300mm lens
Two exposures, stacked in Photoshop:
City of Tucson – 4 second exposure
Moon – 1/50 second exposure

KPNO also explained “…yes, photoshop was used, but only to keep the Moon from being over exposed or the city lights under exposed. Both shots were taken on the same night, from the same location.”

Kitt Peak is home to twenty-four optical and two radio telescopes representing eight astronomical research institutions. The Kitt Peak National Observatory Visitor Center is open to the public daily and they offer Guided tours. Plus you can stargaze at Kitt Peak with their Nightly Observing Programs, or spend the night at a telescope with the Advanced Observing Program. Learn more

Stay safe and have a great weekend! 🙂 j & B

Friday Fotos: The Magical Frozen Bubble Lake

February 8, 2013

Today’s Friday Foto comes from Abraham Lake located on the North Saskatchewan River in Alberta, Canada. This beautiful man-made lake at the foot of the Rocky Mountains creates spectacular frozen methane gas bubble formations each winter.

So where does the methane come from? NPR explains it beautifully…

“…Methane gas comes from leaves (and trees and grass even dead animals) dropping into the water, where they sink to the bottom and get munched on by bacteria that poop out methane, producing that familiar “marsh gas” smell. Some gas is much older, squeezed out of ancient oceans or from deep down near the Earth’s mantle. When that older methane rises to the surface and bumps into freezing lake or ocean water, it fuses into a hard white substance called methane hydrate, a white, pasty rock. As long as it’s frozen at the lake bottom, the gas is trapped, but when it warms, the gas fizzles out of the rock or mud, forming these lava lamp clumps that float up in six, seven, ten foot columns. …”

Check out some stunning photos of Canada’s magical frozen bubble lake…

Alberta frozen bubble lake
Above photo by Emmanuel Coupe

Sources: WhereCoolThingsHappen.com and NPR

Stay safe (and warm) … and have a great weekend! 🙂  j & B

Winter Driving Tips

February 7, 2013

Officials typically encourage people to stay off the roads as much as possible during major winter storms (especially when there is a freezing mix of ice, sleet and/or snow), but if you must travel, be prepared in case something goes wrong.

Driving – If you must travel, consider public transportation. Best to travel during the day, don’t travel alone, and tell someone where you’re going. Stay on main roads and avoid taking back roads.

Winterize car – Make sure you have plenty of antifreeze and snow tires (or chains or cables). Keep gas tank as full as possible during cold weather.

Winter Kit – Carry a “winter” car kit in trunk and throw in…

  • warm things – mittens, hat, emergency blanket, sweater, waterproof jacket or coat
  • cold weather items – windshield scraper, road salt, sand
  • emergency items – bright colored cloth or distress flag, booster cables, emergency flares, tow chain, rope, shovel
  • miscellaneous – food, water, radio, etc.

Stranded– If you get trapped in your car by a blizzard or break down…

  • get off the road – if you can, drive car onto the shoulder
  • give a sign – turn on hazard lights and tie a bright cloth or distress flag on antenna, door handle or hang out the driver side window (keep cloth/flag above snow so it draws attention)
  • stay in car – stay inside until help arrives (your Car Kit can provide food, water and comforts if you planned ahead)
  • start your car – turn on car’s engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour (open window slightly for ventilation so you don’t get carbon monoxide poisoning)
  • light at night – turn on inside light so crews or rescuers can see you
  • if you walk – if you walk away from car, make sure you can see the building or shelter (no more than 100 yards/10 m)
  • exercise – DO NOT overdo it, but light exercises can help keep you warm
  • sleeping – if others are in car, take turns sleeping so someone can watch for rescue crews
  • exhaust pipe – check exhaust pipe now and then and clear out any snow buildup

Watch for signs – playing, working or getting stranded out in the snow can cause exposure so look for signs of…

  • frostbite – loss of feeling in your fingers, toes, nose or ear lobes or they turn really pale
  • hypothermia – start shivering a lot, slow speech, stumbling, or feel very tired

For more safety tips about winter storms and severe weather, download our free ebook and to learn more about our customizable products and funding programs at fedhealth.net.

And feel free to share your driving tips or stories below for others. Stay safe (and warm) out there! j & B

Friday Fotos: Awesome Volcanic Eruptions (and links to our As the Earth Hurls series)

February 1, 2013

A few years ago Twisted Sifter compiled some incredible photos of volcanic eruptions so we wanted to share some of our faves in today’s Friday Foto post. We’re also including some links to our “As the Earth Hurls” series we did back in 2010 for APN.


Chaiten Volcano, Chile – May 2, 2008

lightning and eruption at Chaiten Volcano Chile


Mount Rinjani, Indonesia 1994

Lightning and eruption at Mount Rinjani volcano in Indonesia

Photograph by OLIVER SPALT

Eyjafjallajokul Volcano, Iceland – April 17, 2010

volcanic eruption and lightning


See more volcanic eruption pics and stats and check out our 3-part “As the Earth Hurls” series from 2010 on the American Preppers Network blog — shortly after Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull (a.k.a. Eyjafjöll or Eye-Eye) eruption.

Part 1 of 3 – Iceland  (one of the most geologically active places on the planet)

Part 2 of 3 – Supervolcanoes

Part 3 of 3 – Safety tips  (things to do before, during and after a volcanic eruption)

Stay safe and have a great weekend! j & B


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