Use this time to learn some preparedness, self-reliance and other life skills

April 6, 2020

While most people feel they are “stuck” at home due to the COVID-19 craziness, this is actually our preferred daily lifestyle.

“Social distancing” has been our norm for 20+ years since we’ve worked from home every day with our businesses (Fedhealth and now FSC), and volunteer with the U.S. First Responders Association.

We might go out once a week or so for supplies or to visit Bill’s doctors as needed, and like to piddle around the yard and garden over past few decades.

After we came back to Texas, we got to help Mom with her chickens and gardens, and enjoy having fresh eggs and veggies. Even though the chickens are gone now, we still enjoy fresh eggs from our local feed store.

With Bill’s various health issues (including celiac disease) we don’t go out and eat so we cook everything from scratch. We buy food and supplies in bulk breaking them down into smaller amounts, and rotate things out constantly so stuff doesn’t get outdated.

And since we fulltime in our motorhome we can relate to those of you with limited space, but we try to keep at least a month or 2 of supplies on hand at all times.

Something this pandemic showed everyone is food, toiletries and supplies run short during a crisis so consider using this time off to learn some preparedness and other life skills.

For example…

  • Download a portion of our preparedness and first aid manual and sit down with loved ones to make a family plan, disaster kits for home and vehicles, learn what to do before and during certain types of disasters (e.g. floods, hurricanes, wildfires, etc.), find some business continuity tips and more at Fedhealth.net
  • Take an online introductory course about CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) covering basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations) on fema.gov
  • Check out some Educational and fun preparedness links and resources for families & kids on our blog
  • Learn how to cook using tips from Cooksmarts.com and Sheknows.com and find some recipes on USFRA.org’s Let’s Eat group
  • Find tips about dehydrating foods here and here
  • Grow sprouts (and put sprout kits in disaster kits as a food item) – more at Sproutpeople.org
  • Plant a garden outdoors and indoors using tips from Almanac.com and WindowFarms.org and Lifehacker.com
  • Learn how to can and store foods for short or long term storage from Millers Grain House and Preparednessmama
  • Learn how to sew and maybe start with making DIY cloth face masks – more on CDC.gov
  • Read more about preparedness, gardening, homesteading, tools, gear & more from…
    • PREPARE magazine and blog posts (we’ve contributed articles over the years that appeared in both free digital and paid print issues – join to gain access to their archives and other features at www.preparemag.com )
    • The Survival Mom has great, uplifting blogs, videos, webinars and free resources for moms and families (plus Lisa has a great book called How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios) at http://thesurvivalmom.com
  • Gaze at the night skies and find the Milky Way, specific stars and constellations (esp. if you have a telescope) – NASA.gov and Space.com have some great resources to get started
  • Snoop at beautiful views and critters at our National Parks using NPS’ virtual park finder site

If possible, limit news and focus time and energy on positive things (esp. if you have 2 and/or 4-legged kids!)

Read, color, play board games or cards, play in the yard or take walks, build indoor forts, organize closets and drawers, learn skills, pray or meditate, enjoy nature and this precious time with family as much as possible.

And one final and very important note …

THANK YOU first responders, military, healthcare workers, farmers, truck drivers, grocery, big box store and restaurant workers, delivery people, and everyone else across the public and private sectors who continue to keep our supply lines open and support those in need during this coronapocalypse!

We’ll get through this together and all be stronger for it.

Share your preparedness and homesteading tips, photos and resources in the comments below and stay safe and healthy out there ~ j & B


Things you can do to reduce foodborne illnesses

October 13, 2013

Did you know the CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick from contaminated food each year?

Most people will recover without a problem, however 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases annually. And for some the effects of food poisoning can have long-term health consequences.

For the past few weeks there has been an ongoing Salmonella outbreak associated with raw chicken products produced by Foster Farms at three facilities in California. According to Wired.com there are seven strains of Salmonella circulating within this outbreak and four of the seven strains are drug-resistant.

The CDC reports 1,000 or more reported outbreaks that happen each year in the U.S. reveal familiar culprits—Salmonella, E. coli and other common germs. And health experts know (and people need to learn) that reducing contamination works.

foodborne illness-chicken-smDuring the past 15 years, a dangerous type of E. coli infection, responsible for the recall of millions of pounds of ground beef, has been cut almost in half. Yet during that same time, Salmonella infection, which causes more hospitalizations and deaths than any other type of germ found in food and $365 million in direct medical costs annually, has not declined.

Each year, 1 million people get sick from eating food contaminated with Salmonella. Applying lessons learned from reducing E. coli O157 infections could help reduce illness caused by Salmonella.

But realize more than 250 different foodborne diseases have been identified and described on record. Most of these diseases are infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be foodborne.

These different diseases have many different symptoms, so there is no one “syndrome” that is foodborne illness. However, the microbe or toxin enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract, and often causes the first symptoms there, so nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea are common symptoms in many foodborne diseases.

Common myths about food safety at home

Myth: It’s OK to thaw meat on the counter. Since it starts out frozen, bacteria isn’t really a problem.

Fact: Actually, bacteria grow surprisingly rapidly at room temperatures, so the counter is never a place you should thaw foods. Instead, thaw foods the right way.

Myth: I don’t need to wash fruits or vegetables if I’m going to peel them.

Fact: Because it’s easy to transfer bacteria from the peel or rind you’re cutting to the inside of your fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash/scrub all produce, even if you plan to peel it.

Myth: To get rid of any bacteria on my meat, poultry, or seafood, I should rinse off the juices with water first.

Fact: Actually, rinsing meat, poultry, or seafood with water can increase your chance of food poisoning by splashing juices (and any bacteria they might contain) onto your sink and counters. The best way to cook meat, poultry, or seafood safely is to make sure you cook it to the right temperature. 

Myth: Marinades are acidic, which kills bacteria—so it’s OK to marinate foods on the counter.

Fact: Even in the presence of acidic marinade, bacteria can grow very rapidly at room temperatures. To marinate foods safely, it’s important to marinate them in the refrigerator

Myth: Once food has been cooked, all the bacteria have been killed, so I don’t need to worry once it’s “done.”

Fact: Actually, the possibility of bacterial growth actually increases after cooking, because the drop in temperature allows bacteria to thrive. This is why keeping cooked food warmed to the right temperature is critical for food safety.

Things you can do to reduce food borne illnesses 

  • Clean. Wash hands, cutting boards, utensils, and countertops. To clean everything effectively use a mixture of 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart/liter (or gallon/4 liters) of water. Also wash cooking utensils used to handle raw meats before you use them to remove cooked food stuffs. And always wash your hands [and under fingernails] after cracking open eggs and handling raw meats of any kind.
  • Separate. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods. If possible, use different cutting boards for meats and veggies (or at least always use 1 side for meats and the other for produce) … and wash it with a mixture of water and bleach (see above) to remove germs before turning it over since meat juices can spread. Also use separate plates or dishes for raw versus cooked meats.
  • Cook. Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature: 145°F (63°C) for whole meats (allowing the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming), 160°F (71°C) for ground meats, and 165°F (74°C) for all poultry.
  • Chill. Keep your refrigerator below 40°F (4°C) and refrigerate food that will spoil.
  • Report suspected illness from food to your local health department.
  • Don’t prepare food for others if you have diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Be especially careful preparing food for children, pregnant women, those in poor health, and older adults.

Visit FDA’s Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill pages to see the most effective ways to help keep your family safe from food poisoning or learn more on www.foodsafety.gov or www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/. Take care, j & B

Save


Study finds choking on food still common among kids (plus tips on how to help a choking child or adult)

July 29, 2013

Here’s an interesting Monday musing…

Did you know about 34 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms every day for choking on food, according to a new report?!

According to U.S. News, Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, looked at a national database, comparing the numbers of choking injuries year by year.

In 2001, about 10,400 U.S. children were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal choking on food. From 2001 through 2009, the annual estimate of non-fatal injuries was about 12,400 children, aged 14 and under, Smith found.

The average age of the children treated was 4.5 years old, and the age group of children from newborns to 4 years old accounted for about 62 percent of the episodes.

The top 5 foods involved in choking incidents were candy, meat, bone, fruits and vegetables. Hot dogs made the list but they were #11 according to MD Mama. Read more about the new study online and in the August print issue of Pediatrics.

So … would YOU know what to do if you see a child or adult choking..?

Things to watch for…

  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing or choking for several minutes
  • Gripping the throat with one or both hands
  • High-pitched wheezing
  • Bluish color of skin, lips, fingertips/nails, and earlobes

NOTE: There are TWO separate “What to do…” parts here… one for ADULTS & CHILDREN and one for INFANTS!

choking adult heimlich maneuverWhat to do… for ADULTS & CHILDREN (Children over age 1)

  • Tell victim to try and cough it out. Ask “are you choking?” If victim nods yes, tell him/her you are going to help. (Be prepared to do the Heimlich maneuver.)
  •  Stand behind victim, wrap your arms around him/her and place your fist (thumb side in) just above victim’s belly button well below the breastbone.
  • Grab the fist with your other hand and give quick, upward thrusts into their abdomen.
  •  Continue giving thrusts until the object is coughed out and victim can breathe, cough or talk or until he/she stops responding or passes out.

If ADULT or CHILD stops responding or passes out:

Yell for help, check breathing, and position victim on a flat surface so you can begin CPR (30 compressions and 2 breaths) – or do Hands-only CPR – to help force object out.

choking-infant-backslapsWhat to do… for INFANTS (Newborn to age 1)

  • If infant stops breathing, have someone call an ambulance.
  • Turn infant face down on your forearm and support its head with that hand — hold at angle so it’s head is lower than chest. (May want to brace arm holding infant against your thigh.)
  • Give 5 back blows between infants’ shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand.
  • If no object comes out, turn infant over so it is facing up on your forearm (still at an angle so head lower than chest) — use your first two fingers to find the center of the breastbone on infant’s chest.
  • Give 5 thrusts to infant’s chest using only 2 fingers! (Each thrust should be 1½ inches [3.81 cm] deep!)
  • Repeat steps until infant can breath, cough, or cry or until he/she stops responding or passes out.

If INFANT stops responding or passes out: 

Place infant on a firm, flat surface above ground (like on a table or counter) so you can begin Infant CPR.

Additional Resources:

Learn more about CPR from the American Heart Association or find a CPR class near you … or contact your local Red Cross about their First Aid and CPR courses.

And visit the Child Injury Prevention Alliance for some choking prevention tips.

Stay safe out there, j & B


%d bloggers like this: