• Salmonella: The Outbreak that Just won't Quit

    Over the last couple of months, we’ve been warned about possible outbreaks of measles and MERS; norovirus on cruise ships and at resorts; and strains of Ebola spreading through Africa and worrying health officials. So, this headline should make us all feel better:

    U.S. salmonella outbreak widens, 574 now sick from Foster Farms chicken

    Yeah, remember that salmonella scare from last March? Turns out that hasn’t actually ended yet. At the end of May, the outbreak was still rampant. Fortunately, the year-long outbreak hasn’t resulted in any fatalities, but that doesn’t make me any less wary about the disease—especially this particular strain, which is proving resistant to drugs and increasingly leading to blood infections.

    An AP article, “5 Things to Know About Salmonella in Chicken,” outlines the current situation (including an explanation of why the CDC doesn’t seem to be able to get this in hand), describes the symptoms, and reminds us of the number one preventative practice: cook your chicken.

    And, not to pile it on here, but did you know that chicken is not the only carrier of salmonella? According to the CDC, just about any raw dairy, meat, fruit, or veggies can be contaminated; so can water sources that come into contact with human or animal waste, as well as certain domestic animals themselves. In fact, an info sheet from Utah’s Bureau of Epidemiology reports “Utah as well as the rest of the U.S. has seen an increase in Salmonella infection as the result of increased ownerships of exotic animal species such as reptiles.”

    Okay, yuck!

    So, besides sealing myself in an anti-septic bubble for the rest of my life, what can I do? The CDC’s “Salmonella Prevention” page has a comprehensive list of tips to keep from contracting the bug (my favorite: “Don't work with raw poultry or meat, and an infant [e.g., feed, change diaper, etc.] at the same time.” I mean, I know we moms gotta multitask, but really?).

    Another helpful resource is “How to Prevent a Salmonella Infection,” from about-salmonella.com. And if you’re worried about your own water sources (either at home or on the trail), read through our article, “Making Water Drinkable: Ways to Filter and Purify Water You Have on Hand.”

     

    Be prepared to stay healthy, and jump into the discussion here to share your best prevention tips!

     

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: First Aid, Current Events, health and wellness, health

  • Tornadoes In Gold Country

    California can’t seem to catch a break this year! From droughts to floods, the Golden State and Mother Nature are going through an especially rocky patch… but tornadoes?!

    Believe it or not, the last days of March saw a handful of tornadoes touch down in Northern California, damaging as many as 20 homes, according to an AP report. Thankfully, no injuries or displacements were reported, but residents are learning hard lessons about expecting the unexpected.

    According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, and their super-cool maps, tornadoes are relatively uncommon along the West Coast. "The tornadoes which do occur,” explains a lead meteorologist from the Weather Channel in the report above, “are created by systems coming off the Pacific and are generally much weaker than those experienced by the Plains.”

    While California’s twisters may not be the same caliber as those that plagued the Midwest last year, residents whose roofs and fences will have to be replaced—or those who watched barbeque grills and other debris rain down on their property!—are still feeling the shake-up of disaster narrowly avoided.

    At the beginning of March, we re-posted an article from the archives--“How to Prepare for a Tornado”--which includes a fantastic video tutorial series from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for preparedness “before,” “during,” and “after” tornado. The article also includes links to other helpful resources, like our blog post “Tornado Preparedness” and FEMA’s “Developing an Emergency Response Plan for Tornadoes.”

    The lesson we keep learning over and over again is there’s no perfectly safe set of circumstances—no region and no season is free from the threat of natural disasters. However we may classify our risk, we’re all better off if we’re prepared.

     

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized

  • Veggies on the Fire Escape: Starting your Small-Space Garden

    As I sat down to write this post, my four-year-old expressed some interest in what I was doing. I explained that some people don’t have grandmas with lots and lots of land where they can plant gardens (like my four-year-old does). Some people don’t even have backyards. So where, I asked him, do you think those people could plant gardens?

    “They could build a planter box. And put it in their bedroom.”

    Um, sure.

    But assuming your bedroom doesn’t get a full six hours of sunlight (or that you don’t want your tomato pots draining onto your carpet) is there a solution for yard-less would-be gardeners? You bet, says BuzzFeed’s Rachel Sanders, in her aptly named article, “How to Grow Herbs and Veggies on Your Fire Escape.”

    Sanders’ article takes small-space gardening to the next level, telling us where to put and how to arrange those containers, as well as what and when to plant for maximum yield. Divided into 17 handy tips, her list includes considerations that commonly get overlooked—everything from “does my landlord allow plants on the balcony?” to keeping mint from staging a hostile takeover of your property. (Heads-up: she also talks about squirrel-proofing your garden, which accounts for the naughty word in the article.)

    Not yet convinced that there’s such thing as an urban green thumb? We’ve written here before about container gardening and ideas for re-purposing junk as garden real estate.

    And here are a few more resources that will have you fairly running to your nearest home and garden store.

    Before you start your fire escape garden, make sure that it is legal to do so in your city. Several cities have fire codes and laws prohibiting fire escape gardening.

    Whether your backyard looks more like Green Acres or Eva Gabor’s beloved penthouse view, you can grow a lovely and tasty garden this season!

    -Stacey

    Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed.com

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: gardening, gardening tips

  •  Lost in the woods? Find your way using these unbelievable navigating tools

    A recent article from the UK’s Daily Mail leads off with a common has-this-ever-happened-to-you scenario:

    “What started out as a bracing country walk has degenerated into a grim ordeal.

    “You are in the middle of nowhere, it’s bucketing down and visibility is shrinking. You had been heading west towards the setting sun, but now you have no clue where you are.

    “Your smarty-pants mobile phone has neither a signal nor battery power.

    “It never occurred to you to pack a compass, and now you have no idea in which direction to walk. What do you do? Shout for help? Flip a coin? Start arguing about whose stupid idea this was?”

    All those seem like viable courses of action to me. However, the article—intriguingly titled “Lost? Forget Google maps.  Follow the butterflies and satellite dishes”—preaches a better way.

    It seems that one Tristan Gooley, a former travel agent and lifelong explorer/adventurer, has compiled something close to 1,000 commonly overlooked clues provided by nature to answer everything from “Which way is north?” to “Will it rain today?” to “How far into the Arctic Ocean have I drifted and when will I see land again?” (Cause you never know when you’ll need that one.)

    Gooley, who has written four books on the subject and teaches courses and seminars to survival experts, bases his information on both ancient wisdom and practical experience. As a sample, he explains that rusty orange patches on tree bark is a moisture-loving algae—an info nugget that could help determine north in the situation described above. As a Brit, a few of Gooley’s tips are a tad regionally specific (gorse bushes and wandering flocks of sheep are scarce in my area, for example), but the principle is important.

    Check out more of Gooley’s Tips by reading the UK’s Daily Mail article.

     

    Part of preparedness is having the right gear on hand. But another big part is having the know-how to survive if you find yourself without the gear. Do you think you could? What are your best tips for finding your way, sans compass?

     

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized

  • As we've just stepped into summertime, we want to make all your barbecues, camping adventures, and other activities fantastic. What better way to do that (and celebrate the warm weather) than to offer a Volcano Collapsible Stove Combo...for FREE! Just take the quiz below to learn a little bit about the Volcano Collapsible Stove Combo and you'll automatically be entered to win!

    Entries accepted until June 30, 2014, 11:59 pm MST. Winner will be chosen within the following week. Official rules available within the contest quiz.

    For Mobile users, follow this link to take the quiz:

    http://bit.ly/1qnCY2L

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: giveaway, giveaways and contest, free

  • Did you know tornadoes can come in pairs?

    The Instagram photo below shows the devastation that occurred on Monday, June 16th when twin tornadoes touched down in Pilger, Nebraska. At least 70% of the town was heavily damaged or destroyed. Twin tornadoes are very rare and very dangerous.

    twin tornadoes touch down in Nebraska

    Photo Courtesy of WeatherChannel.com

    According to the Weather Channel’s severe weather expert Dr. Greg Postel, “the twister was on the ground for more than an hour . . . And storm chasers in the area described the damage as ‘catastrophic.’” Two people died as a result of the storm—one a 5-year-old girl, and the other a resident from a nearby county four miles east of Pilger. At least 19 people were injured.

    Officials evacuated residents and took them to a Red Cross shelter in Omaha, Nebraska. Once evacuated, Governor Dave Henieman declared a state of emergency, calling the National Guard into the area to begin recovery efforts.

    To learn more about the recent twin twisters in Nebraska, check out these articles from the Weather Channel and CNN:

    Pilger, Nebraska takes Heavy Hit from Tornado . . .

    Twin Tornadoes Tear through Nebraska Town . . .

    To learn more about tornado preparedness and what you can do before, during, and after a tornado, check out our Insight article, Preparing for a Tornado.

    We send heartfelt wishes of recovery to the residents of Pilger, Nebraska, and the surrounding areas.

    --Angela

     

     

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: natural disaster

  • Pet Prep in the News Again

    Most of us know that more than 1,800 people died in Hurricane Katrina almost nine years ago. What we may not know are the circumstances surrounding each individual casualty. For example, Fox News reports that more than sixty of those 1,800 people perished because they wouldn’t leave their pets behind.

    But casualty counts like the one above only tally up human victims. According to one estimate made by Marty Pagliughi, Director of Emergency Management for Cape May County, New Jersey, something like 100,000 household pets were lost in the flooding and destruction of Katrina.

    The Fox News article, “Beachside County Builds Hurricane Shelter to Save Pets, Encourage Evacuations,” is the second pet-related story I’ve come across in the last month or so (read the first, “Is Your Pet Safe?” an inspiring story of a former firefighter turned emergency pet rescuer).

    This recent Fox News article involves a county office in New Jersey that saw a problem to be solved in the numbers reported above. As the report puts it, “officials realized the absence of pet-friendly shelters was putting their residents in potentially life-threatening situations.”

    Cape May County’s solution? Dedicated mobile shelters equipped with power, water, heat, air conditioning, and space for 120 animals. The county currently has two of these facilities available and operating, and stations them near existing emergency shelters so owners can be near their pets.

    Other cities are recognizing the same need and putting facilities and programs in place. And in case you missed the previous pet post, here are a handful of helpful resources for your own emergency pet prep:

     

     

    Do you know what your city or county has available for its four-legged residents? What steps have you taken to ensure your pets’ safety in an emergency?

     

    -Stacey

    Editors note: Error in the statement in the first paragraph. More than 18,000 people did not die in Hurricane Katrina. The statement has been corrected to say "more than 1,800 people died in Hurricane Katrina."

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: pet preparedness

  • Survival Test: Can You Bug out with Your Bug Out Bag?

    A few weeks ago, I went on a hike in Southern Utah. It was a warm day, but not unbearably hot. I carried nothing but my cell phone. The hike was only about three miles, but by mile two I felt like I was going. to. die.

    It didn’t help that half of the hike was through a sand wash (I had to empty my shoes at least four times because they were too full of sand for my feet to fit!), or that the steepest hill was toward the end of the hike. Either way, it got me thinking: What if an emergency had happened unexpectedly and I’d been forced to “hike” my way to safety in those same conditions, but carrying a 20, 30, or 40-pound bug-out bag?

    I’d say I don’t want to think about it, but I have to think about it—partly because it’s my job, and partly because I really am invested in getting prepared. I hate to think that in spite of all my other preparations, skills, and gear, I’d be up a creek without a paddle simply because I’m not fit enough to hike to safety while carrying my emergency kit.

    So, I’m committing to a series of survival tests this summer: once a month I’ll do the same hike (one that’s more local) with my survival pack on my back, and I’ll see how far I can go.

    Between tests, I’ll be working to build endurance and strength so I won’t have to worry about “getting out of Dodge” if or when the time comes.

    How about you? Have you ever done a test run with your emergency pack on? Care to join me?

    If you’d like to join me for my Bug-Out Survival Tests throughout the summer, watch the blog and our other social media channels for announcements, and use the hashtag #eesurvivaltest to share your photos and experiences.

     

    Until next time.

     

    --Urban Girl

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: emergency kit, Survival, evacuation, bug out bag

  • Friday the 13th is a day of spooks, thrills, and unusual occurrences, and this Friday is no exception.

    In fact, NOAA and NASA have predicted that this Friday the 13th, a major solar flare, triggered by a “coronal mass ejection,” could create a shockwave, causing blackouts and disruptions to GPS and communications signals.

    Over the past few days, ABC News reported that three major solar flares have happened on the sun’s surface that already caused “brief blackouts in high frequency communications.”

    Check out NASA’s photo of the recent solar flares below. To see more pics, check out the ABC News article, “Solar Flare Could Send Shockwave on Friday the 13th.”

     

     HT_solar_flare_jtm_140611_16x9_608

     

    If a solar shockwave hits, make sure you know what to do in case of a power outage or communications failure. Check out these articles to help you prepare:

    Preparing for and Responding to a Power Outage

    Who Couldn’t Use a Faraday Cage? (Plus how to make one)

     

    Even if Friday the 13th comes and goes without incidence, it's still a good idea to prepare. Are you prepared for a mass communications failure? What have you done to prepare?

    -Angela

     

     

    Sources

    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/solar-flares-disrupt-communications-on-earth-could-send-shockwave-on-friday-the-13th/blogEntry?id=24095969&ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.drudgereport.com%2F

    Posted In: Uncategorized

  •  Grizzly Details: A Bear Attack Survivor Speaks

    Do you remember our article from last month, “The Bear Necessities: Resources for Surviving a Bear Attack”? And remember what we said about playing dead only being a good idea in certain situations? Well, the unfortunate woman who was attacked by a bear in Alaska shortly after that post was published has told her story, and guess what? It worked!

    Jessica Gamboa spotted a brown bear cub during a neighborhood jog, and when the nearby mama bear went into defense mode, Jessica went limp. While Jessica did end up with plenty of cuts and a few broken bones, the bear eventually lost interest and left before the mauling turned fatal. Read the whole store here: “Jogger Survives Vicious Bear Attack”.

    According to the expert quoted in “How to Survive a Bear Attack”, “[the] only time playing dead works as a survival technique is if you’re dealing with a brown bear whose attack was a defense—maybe it’s guarding its cubs or food…Simply stop moving and the bear will stop attacking.”

    Good thing Gamboa knew her stuff!

    Another headline from just a few days ago reports, “Montana hunter in serious condition after grizzly bear attack.” While bear attacks are rare, Backpacker Magazine names grizzlies at the top of their danger rating scale, reminding us (oh-so-helpfully) of the animals’ weight (up to three quarters of a ton!), bite force (1,200 lbs), and claw length (more than three inches). If you want to scare yourself in a good way, check out their map of the US divided by each region’s deadliest predator.

     

    ‘Tis the season for close-up wildlife encounters (I found an ant in my bathroom sink just this morning). Brush up on your survival skills before you head outdoors!

     

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Survival, survival skills

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