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Monthly Archives: October 2012

  • Communicating During and After a Disaster

    Even though we can’t prevent earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, or other disruptive events, learning what communication options are available during and after a disaster will help you better protect yourself and your loved ones. Establishing a meeting place where family members will gather in an emergency is vital. You may want to select a local school or church. You should also have a communication plan in case you can’t meet. An out-of-state contact can be key to sending and receiving messages during an emergency. This should be a friend or relative designated to handle messages if you can’t call or locate your local family members. While most local private phone lines may be out of order for hours after a disaster strikes, long distance lines are usually operable much sooner. The out-of-state contact can receive and relay messages from family members so you will know they are safe.

    FEMA recommends using text messaging, email, or social media for non-life-threatening emergency communications. They also recommend calling 9-1-1 only in life-threatening situations . In situation when power is out for extended periods of time or you need to evacuate the area, a solar battery charger like the GoalZero™ Nomad 7m Solar Panel will charge your cell phone and other battery-powered devices.

    Tips for Communication

    Establish who your out-of-state contact will be ahead of time.

    Family members should carry cards in their wallets or backpacks with the following information: (1) emergency meeting place with the address (outside the home); (2) alternate meeting place and address (outside the neighborhood); and (3) name plus day and evening phone numbers of out-of-state contact. Make sure you inform your children’s teachers, baby sitters or daycare, and parents of friends about the out-of-state contact, so they can communicate with you if you can’t contact them directly. Each family member should carry a phone card or enough change for several phone calls if there are pay phones in your area.

    It may be helpful to find out in advance if you have a ham radio operator in your area. They are very helpful and can deliver messages from both private and community sources during and after a disaster. If a pay phone isn't available, and your out-of-state contact is several states away, you can communicate using this type of relay system. Your local ham can contact another ham that will contact another ham, and so on, until they find one within your out-of-state contact's area. The ham operator closest to your contact can then phone the contact and deliver any messages.

    A battery-powered or hand crank radio is helpful in monitoring the status of the disaster. Be sure to keep a fresh supply of batteries on hand. Check expiration dates on the batteries and rotate them regularly. Do not keep batteries inside the radio because they expire more quickly and may leak.

    When charged, most cell phones are able to call 9-1-1 even when they are not active. It is wise to have a cell phone (even not activated) when traveling or for emergency use.

    Remember that preparation brings confidence. When planning for an emergency, don’t forget that communication with your family members will be especially important. The tips provided in this article will assist you in creating a plan to contact loved ones during unexpected events.

  • Preparing by Developing Your Skills

    Use the variety of resources available to you to increase your preparedness skills

    By learning some basic and needful skills, you can become your own best resource in an emergency situation. Keep in mind that not all emergencies are major natural disasters. Smaller but significant personal difficulties such as job loss, greatly reduced income, loss of transportation, being snowed in, having a broken-down washing machine, loss of electrical power, or having a health need when far from medical care are just a few examples of emergencies that many of us face at one time or another. Having emergency supplies is great; we also need to know how to use them. It’s important that all members of the family (as appropriate for age) acquire skills. Here’s a list of emergency skills that could help you better deal with an emergency situation:

      1. Filter and treat water to make it drinkable
      2. Meet your daily drinking, cooking, and sanitation needs with one gallon of water per day
      3. Perform basic first aid or CPR
      4. Make a fire without matches
      5. Cook outdoors without electricity
      6. Set up a tent or tarp shelter
      7. Evacuate home on foot
      8. Change a flat tire
      9. Make bread from scratch
      10. Make “wheat meat”
      11. Heat an MRE
      12. Have your child open a Calorie Food Bar or water pouch without help from an adult
      13. Entertain your children without modern technology
      14. Plant a garden
      15. Can fruits and Vegetables at home
      16. Wash clothes by hand.
      17. Repair or make clothing for your family
      18. Light and/or heat your home
      19. Use a bucket toilet
      20. Use cloth diapers

    How do your skills measure up when you look at the above list? If you feel helpless and horrified at the idea of needing to use these skills, how can you develop such skills? What resources are available? Fortunately there are several cookbooks and preparedness manuals available. It would be a wise choice to collect a small library of these helpful books.

    It’s best to learn skills hands-on from a knowledgeable teacher (especial those related to first aid), but you can learn a lot on your own. Excellent free articles are available at BePrepared.com and BePrepared.com/blog. Watching online tutorial videos is another way to educate yourself. Emergency Essentials has its own YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/EmergencyEssentials.

  • First Aid for Wounds

    For most people, the sight of blood coming from a wound, whether it is yours or someone else's, can be very upsetting.  To prepare for this possibility, it’s wise to study first aid in advance, so you can stay as calm as possible and take proper action if the need arises.  It’s also wise to keep your first aid kit well stocked at all times.  The following are some basic guidelines for different types of wounds.

    For more information on first aid for wounds, see the book First Aid: First on the Scene by St. John Ambulance.

    Minor Cuts and Scrapes

    Wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water, removing any foreign material such as gravel or dirt, which can cause infection.  Cover with a sterile dressing and bandage, and keep it clean and dry at all times.  Wash the affected area daily (without scrubbing) and reapply a clean dressing until it is completely healed.  Sponge the area lightly with disinfectant to keep it clean.  Some experts feel that applying products like hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and iodine directly onto the site may delay healing of the affected tissues.  Use your judgment and if you are hesitant, you can swab the area surrounding the cut instead.

    Puncture Wounds

    Usually caused by a sharp, pointed object, such as a nail or needle, puncture wounds can be serious.  Punctures are usually small, yet deep and microorganisms can be pushed into the wound with the puncturing object.  Puncture wounds are difficult to clean.  If the object has penetrated the bone, it can abscess.  A common type of puncture wound is a nail in the foot.  This is especially risky if a nail has gone through a tennis shoe.  The foam in tennis shoes is known to harbor a type of bacteria called pseudomonas, which can cause infection of the tissues.  To treat, flush the area thoroughly with water, cleaning well.  Elevate the foot, and if signs of infection manifest (redness, swelling, persistent pain, pus, or fever), contact a health professional (these signs of infection apply to any type of wound).  Wear a clean sock and shoe to protect the area while it is healing.  Make sure you are current on your immunizations against tetanus (lockjaw).

    Major wounds

    For severe bleeding, apply constant pressure to the wound with a sterile dressing, if available.  Hold for up to twenty minutes.  If there is a foreign object in the wound (such as glass) don't press directly, but apply pressure along the wound area.  If broken bones or dislocations are suspected, do not move the affected limb.  Immobilize it by a splint, if possible.  If you’re sure there are no breaks, you can gently elevate and support the part while keeping pressure on it.  This action should minimize bleeding.  Dress the wound with sterile non-sticking material as soon as possible and obtain professional help.

    For large, open wounds:

    • Contact a health professional immediately.  Surgical sutures may be required to close the wound.
    • Check frequently for signs of infection, as outlined under “puncture wounds.”
    • Keep emergency phone numbers by each phone in your house
    • Review first aid procedures with family members on a regular basis
    • Keep first aid supplies well stocked in your home, as well as your car.

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