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Monthly Archives: September 2013

  • Be CERT-ain you're Prepared with CERT

    CERT stands for “Community Emergency Response Teams.” The program was first developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985 to train civilians and private or government employees to be able to help in case of earthquakes. It was successful, and in 1993 it was made available nationally. Since then, all states plus Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands have CERT programs. The Emergency Management Institute and the National Fire Academy adopted and expanded the CERT materials so that they now apply to all types of disasters, natural and man-made.

    CERT Volunteers carrying an injured person

    Emergency Essentials wants you to be prepared to help yourself. We also encourage you to get involved in your community and help those around you prepare. (We also sell CERT gear, so once you're CERT-ified you can get everything you need.)


    What is CERT’s present purpose?
    CERT exists to educate people about disaster preparedness with particular attention to hazards that might exist in their area—and to train them in basic response skills, so that they can jump in and help until professional responders can get there. In any disaster, professional responders can be overwhelmed with calls for help, and their efforts are often complicated by blocked roadways, communications breakdowns, and the sheer number of injured people. People will need to help each other, and CERT is designed to prepare them to do just that.


    Who conducts CERT training, and how is it given?
    CERT teams, fire departments, emergency medical technicians, FEMA workers, or anyone who has been “CERTified” can provide the training from approved materials. The training is given in seven 2 ½-hour sessions, once a week, including classroom teaching as well as practical experience and drills. There are classes especially for teens, and online CERT classes as well.


    Who can participate in CERT training?
    Anyone who is interested can sign up to participate. The FAQ on FEMA's CERT page says, "Naturals for the training are neighborhood watch, community organizations, communities of faith, school staff, workplace employees, scouting organization and other groups that come together regularly for a common purpose. CERT skills are useful in disaster and everyday life events."

    Check in your area to see if you think joining a CERT team would be a good fit for you.


    What exactly is included in CERT training?
    Following major disasters, volunteer rescue efforts can help save hundreds of lives. Sadly, it's also true that volunteers without adequate training have lost their own lives in their efforts to save someone else. Such a high price is preventable through training in proper emergency response—and that is one of the factors that CERT training addresses. CERT aims to:

    1. Train people in what to expect after various types of disasters
    2. Teach them their responsibilities in mitigating damage and preparing to help
    3. Train them in lifesaving skills, with emphasis on decision-making, rescuer safety, and on doing the greatest good for the greatest number
    4. Organize teams to be an extension of the corps of first responders, able to give immediate aid without doing harm to themselves or others until the professionals arrive.


    What are the seven topics covered in the classes?

    • Disaster Preparedness (localized information) plus CERT concept and organization
    • Disaster Fire Suppression
    • Disaster Medical Operations I—diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding, and shock
    • Disaster Medical Operations II—head-to-toe assessment, basic first-aid, sanitary procedures, and establishing a treatment area for the injured.
    • Light Search and Rescue Operations—planning, size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques, and rescuer safety
    • Disaster Psychology and Team Organization
    • Course Review and Disaster Simulation


    Where can I learn more about CERT programs in my area?
    Go to www.citizencorps.gov/cc/listCouncil. To start a CERT training program in your community, here are the steps:

    1. Identify the program goals that CERT will meet and see what resources are available to conduct the program in your area. (You will need trained responders to teach the course.)
    2. Gain approval from elected and appointed officials to conduct the training.
    3. Identify and recruit potential participants. Contact community groups, hospitals, business and industry workers, local government workers and church groups.
    4. Train a cadre of CERT instructors who are already first responders
    5. Conduct CERT sessions (the 7-week course)
    6. Offer CERT refresher courses, drills, and exercises to keep trained “graduates” on their toes.


    To pique community interest in CERT, you can sponsor events such as picnics, barbecues, community clean-ups, simulated disaster drills, or a disaster education fair. Make the program as desirable and interesting as possible to encourage participation, and advertise widely.

    CERT publishes an online national newsletter with tips and updated information. To search for CERT materials and information, go to www.citizencorps.gov. (Don’t confuse this with www.US-Cert.gov, which stands for United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (formed to improve our country’s cybersecurity!)



    Source: www.citizencorps.gov

    Image source: FEMA News Photo

  • 5 Myths about Water Storage


    Since storing water is very different from storing food, there are a few things you should consider if you’re new to water storage. Water storage needs to be protected against viruses, contamination, and bacteria. So you must take different measures to protect your water from these threats than you would with food.

    Here are 5 common myths and facts about water storage that you’ll want to consider as you start your water storage reserves.

    Myth #1: Water can expire.

    Fact: Water does not expire. It can become contaminated (chemically or biologically), but it doesn’t “go bad.” Water can have a stale taste, but that taste can be eliminated by rotating your water and purifying it. If a water storage source is in ideal conditions (it started out clean and was stored in a dark, cool area, not directly on concrete or near harsh fumes and chemicals), it technically can store indefinitely. Rotate water for peace of mind or if there is a risk of contamination.

    Myth #2: It’s fine to store water in any type of plastic container I have at home.

    Fact: Water should be stored in a UV-resistant, food-grade plastic container or in metallized bags. Traditionally, water storage barrels are blue. This color limits light exposure and biological growth (bacteria and algae) and also signifies that what is stored in the container is safe for human consumption (for example, gasoline is stored in red containers).

    The safest containers to hold water in are polyethylene-based plastics, or plastics #1, #2, and #4. Our water barrels are made out of plastic #2 and, unlike some other companies, have never been used to store other items before they are sold to you. This type of plastic is good for long-term storage and is BPA-free.

    You can figure out the number of plastic by looking for this symbol on the bottom of containers:



    Other helpful tips for storing water in plastic containers:

    • Don’t use milk jugs for water storage. Since milk jugs are biodegradable, they will break down over time. Also, any live cultures in the milk that remain in your jug could make you ill if you store drinking/cooking water in milk jugs.
    • Disposable water bottles are not great for long-term storage. Water can be stored for long-term use in re-useable Nalgene bottles.
    • Soda Bottles and Powerade/Gatorade bottles can be used for long-term water storage. However, it’s important to remember that plastics absorb flavors, so your drinking water may have a cola taste. If you store water in soda or Powerade bottles, don’t use the water for cooking or else your soup might taste like cola!

    Myth #3: If I have a water barrel, I’m set for every emergency I’ll encounter.

    Fact: You can’t solely rely on the barrel for all the situations you may encounter. If you have to evacuate, you won’t be able to carry a water barrel with you. Also, if you only have one barrel or one water source you may run out of water given the number of people in your family and the number of days that you will be without water. Remember that the average amount of water to store is one gallon per day per person for a 2 week period.

    Store water in various sized containers and plan for different situations (grab-and-go, shelter-in-place, extra water for cooking, etc.). You can siphon the water from your barrel into other containers and refill it before emergencies arise.

    Myth #4: To save space, I can stack water barrels on top of each other.

    Fact: Most water barrels are not built to stack on each other. If you want to stack your water because you don’t have room, use water containers with grooves on the bottom for stacking like our 160 Gallon Water Reserve, Aqua Pak or Aqua Tainer.

    Water barrels are safest if they are stored standing. However, do not store your barrel directly on cement or on the floor in your garage. Plastics absorb flavors and odors from gasoline, liquids spilled on the floor, and chemicals used to create the concrete. These chemicals and odors will make the taste of the water unbearable to drink. Instead, place your water barrel on top of a wood board or cardboard so that odors and chemicals do not leach in.

    Myth #5: If I have a water purifier, I don’t need a filter.

    Fact: Water purifiers like Chlorine Dioxide will kill 99.9% of all microorganisms (like protozoa, bacteria, and viruses) in your water. Chlorine Dioxide is excellent for sheltering-in-place, and also great for treating water from your barrels or water you collect from streams or rivers while hiking.

    However, purifiers alone won’t remove turbidity (dirt, silt, “floaties,” and chemicals) from your water, so we recommend using a purifier and filter together to make sure your water is clean (especially if you are collecting water for drinking and washing, but turbidity is ok if you use soap while washing.)

    If you’re a first time barrel buyer remember that you’ll want to buy a water storage combo. Each combo includes a bung wrench, replacement bung (a bung is the white cap on top of your water barrel), siphon hose, and water purifiers for maintenance.


    These are just 5 myths about water storage. But if you’re new to water storage and want to learn more, check out these articles for more tips:

    "Not all Barrels are Built the Same

    "Water Storage Overview

    "Water Storage Options

  • Making Water Drinkable: Ways to Filter and Purify Water You Have on Hand


    Water is so vital to our lives and well-being that it’s a number-one concern during emergency situations. It's even more important than food for the first few days when dehydration could set in and cause illness, confusion, and even death.

    You may know this and have emergency water storage. But maybe you have some old stored water that has a strange odor to it—or maybe you aren’t sure that your city’s water supply is really clean. You may have to get your water from an untested source such as a private well or spring, or bring water from a lake or river into your home during an emergency.

    So what are the dangers of drinking untreated water and how can you be sure it’s safe?

    What could be in the water?
    Out hiking or camping, we may come across a cold, running stream with clear, sweet water; it’s safe to drink, isn’t it? Well, it may be—or not. We can’t always see, taste, or smell the tiny pollutants that may be present. There could be anything in the water, from mud and chemicals to animal waste and decomposed matter to microorganisms like viruses, harmful bacteria and protozoans. Many a camper has brought home Giardia as a souvenir from a camping trip, and suffered from the severe digestive upset that results. So how can we avoid getting sick from questionable water sources? There are several ways to filter and purify water that can give you peace of mind about the sources you have access to at any given time.

    Often when a community water supply has been compromised, officials will issue a “boil order,” advising everyone to boil water (a full, rolling boil) for at least one minute before using it to drink, cook, wash dishes, wash the face, or brush teeth. Boiling water from a natural source is effective, too, killing both bacteria and viruses. (This can take longer in high elevations where water boils at a lower temperature.) If you don’t have gas or electricity, either in an emergency or on a camping trip, the boiling can be done over an open fire, on a grill, with a Kelly Kettle, or even in a solar oven set in bright sunlight for six hours.

    There are filters and then there are microfilters—and it’s important that you know the difference. A regular filter blocks the larger (but still tiny) impurities in water, improving the taste and color—but a microfilter can block both impurities and microorganisms that cause illness.

    Katadyn Vario Water Filter from Emergency Essentials


    Filters are commonly made of three materials:

    • Ceramic—filters out impurities of 0.2 microns or larger
    • Pleated glassfiber—filters out impurities of 0.3 microns or larger
    • Activated carbon (or charcoal)—which filters out impurities of up to 2 microns.

    For perspective, consider that a human hair has a diameter of about 100 microns, so we’re talking really tiny (but powerful) particles!


    There are two basic methods of purifying water—UV Purification and Chemical Purification.

    • UV Purification works by killing the microorganisms with shortwave germicidal ultraviolet light. This light (invisible to us) works by disrupting the DNA of the little pests so that they can’t cause illness. UV purifies 99.9% of all microorganisms in just seconds. See our Steripen™ Ultra purifier and our Steripen™ Sidewinder purifier for a couple of great purification options.
    • Chemical purification also kills 99.9% of microorganisms, but it takes a while longer—about four hours. Chlorine Dioxide is the preferred chemical for water purification. Pure chlorine does not kill Cryptosporidium in amounts that would allow the water to be drinkable, nor does iodine, as the Crypto organism is iodine-resistant—but Chlorine Dioxide takes care of it, and improves the taste of the water. (Iodine, even if it worked, would give the water a foul taste.)


    What are the specific microorganisms to worry about, and what works to get rid of them?

    • Viruses (Hepatitis A, Norwalk, Rotavirus) are the smallest particles to worry about (.018 microns); they need purification, not just filtration. They are less common in U.S. natural water sources than in other parts of the world, but they can exist here.
    • Bacteria are .5 microns and up, and include such “bugs” as E. Coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. Either microfiltration or purification is effective in getting rid of these.
    • Protozoans range from 2 to 15 microns and include Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Both filtration and purification are useful against these. The EPA reports that 95% of the world’s natural water supply contains protozoan cysts.
    • Turbidity is the name for “gunk” in the water—floaties, waste, insect, dirt, silt, and chemicals. These affect the taste and the drinkability of the water. Filtration is the method to remove the first five, and activated carbon can remove some chemicals, but not all—so that it’s always important to find the cleanest source of water you can before treating it.


    Not only is it important for you to store good, clean water, but also to know how to and have the means to filter or purify the water you have at your disposal at any given time, be it from your tap or from a natural source such as a river or spring. Learn more about water filtration and storage in our Water Storage Insight Articles.



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