Possible Ebola victim in Dallas TX.

September 29, 2014

This is not to cause panic but to give you a heads up that Ebola may already entered the States.

“Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas has admitted a patient into strict isolation to be evaluated for potential Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) based on the patient’s symptoms and recent travel history. The hospital is following all Centers for Disease Control and Texas Department of Heath recommendations to ensure the safety of patients, hospital staff, volunteers, physicians and visitors. The CDC anticipates preliminary results tomorrow.” http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2014/09/29/north-texas-hospital-evaluating-patient-for-potential-ebola-exposure/

You need to start practicing your sanitation “rituals” and make them habits. Things like wiping down grocery cart handles and the seat that hold young children is one item to do if you don’t already wipe them down. Most of the larger stores in my area provide a handy wipe for their grocery carts.  Have some of the handi-wipes, tissues, masks and some disposable gloves in the car should be added to the  glove box.  Start using arms and elbows to open any push doors and at every chance wash your hands with soap and water.  Stay clear of those air driers as there are a few studies that state they may blow liquids around rather than just drying hands, use paper towels.  Start watching yourself and your family and how many times they touch their face. This is something I have a really hard time controlling. Now is the time to learn not to touch your face with your hands or at least use a tissue.

I had already planned on getting more of the Tyrex suits from Amazon as well as adding the bagged respirator. Getting N95 or even N100 masks locally is not a problem at Home improvement or the local farm stores.  Simple masks, safety glasses/goggles and disposable gloves can be bought at your local dollar store. I don’t have a problem using the Latex gloves but I prefer the vinyl gloves. Some people prefer Nitrile gloves that can be more expensive but even Wal-mart’s website has those gloves for $9.24 per 100. If you are allergic to latex get a different glove as you don’t want a skin rash that gives any virus an entry way through the skin.  I’m always finding a new use for these gloves around the house especially in the kitchen handling hot peppers!  These gloves work great in the car if you need to pump gas or check the fluids and want your hands to stay clean.

Cleanup and disposal of sickroom items. Bleach has shown to be a  virus killer as well as a great sanitizer. To make a disinfectant solution with bleach, mix 1/4 cup of bleach in a gallon of water. Pour some of the mixture into a spray bottle or use directly from a bucket with a clean sponge/white cotton towel. I like using several Bar Towels tossed in a bucket with this mix. Adding more bleach than this ratio will not make it work better so don’t add more bleach to the water!  Let the area air dry naturally or leave the are damp for a couple of minutes and wipe dry.  Bleach will lose effectiveness over time so figure about 24-48 hours in an open bucket and around 7 days for a spray bottle full. Wash any cloth from the sickroom in a bleach solution and hot water. Big advantage for white cotton as it does not discolor when bleached. Now acid based  like vinegar also clean but they do not sanitize as well as bleach. I use an Acid base cleaner for beer making that works great but I’m not sure if I would count on it for Ebola!  Buckets with lids and a lot of garbage bags on hand for anything that touches the patient and needs to be disposed of such as paper plates, cups, utensils and anything that may have been touched by body fluid via a cough, sneeze, blood, urine or sweat. Bag it in a bucket and have a lid for the bucket before it is disposed of properly. Same for any cloth that needs washing that is dropped in your bleach water bucket.  Buckets and garbage bags are cheap your life is not so if you don’t have extra buckets get some and remember these do not have to “food grade”. If you don’t have to use the buckets in the sick room they will still be handy to have and they don’t take a lot of room when stacked.

Now for some good news:  Ebola is a tropical disease and it may not be as virulent in a temperate climate. So called “room temperature” in Equatorial Africa is quite a bit higher than most northern areas of the USA, Europe and Asia.  Municipal Sanitation standards tend to be much higher outside of  Equatorial Africa. With basic sanitation and support of a patient I think  the fatality rate would drop to about 30% rather than the 50% we are seeing in Africa. A one in three fatality rate is still darn nasty to contemplate and deal with but it’s not TEOWAKI.

I don’t blame the average person in Africa as they tend to be ignorant but not necessarily stupid and the local PTBs would much rather line their pockets, rather than build basic sanitation projects or even educate the people. Some of these people are literally throwing away bars of soap because they have been taught to be  suspicious of the west, with their history I can’t say that I blame them.  Then again, soap does not take a hi-tech society to make.  I think there is also a bit of blame that needs to be acknowledge at a local level as well.  Honestly after watching “Occupy Wall Street” I can see how stupid the average American is about sanitation. I am quite fearful if basic sanitation breaks down in the states, I figure we would also see many “filth diseases”.

You have time to prepare for the 2- 21 day incubation period as well as have a sickroom in place and stock up on the basics that someone living on $2.00 a day could never get in place.  I want you to consider how you would survive if your home was Quarantined for about 3 months to make sure the patient,  home care giver and everyone in the home could not leave for any reason and either would die or emerge alive with no help from the outside?  I personally would have a very difficult time being stuck for 3 months in a house with small children.  Hopefully the Quarantine would be for just my home and city lot so I could get wood to stay warm. Remember in that situation keeping the healthy people safe is paramount, not taking care of sick people!

Prepare Accordingly, remember at the end of July the CDC said “There is nothing to worry about this Ebola Outbreak”.  If you are prepared for something as nasty as Ebola you are prepared for almost every other communicble disease and have most of the items in place for any bio-weapon. Most bio-weapons are at best area denial weapons and work very poorly in cold or very hot weather. If You have plastic sheeting for windows and can make a containment area and clean room you should be somewhat safe.


Good day to fix the PC and clean the desk area

September 27, 2014

It was cool and rainy so I worked on getting my old desktop PC up and working. The old 8800 nvidia video card bit the dust a while back so I got a small GT 610 video card to replace it a couple of months ago but I couldn’t get the PC to power up. I had my laptop to use as a backup so I just left the desk top sit for awhile as I had many other jobs that seemed more important to get done besides fussing with a PC.  I figured out I also had a bad memory stick that kept the PC from booting and got that tracked down, thankfully no cost involved just sort of annoying.  I also got a software update finished that was a real pain before, but today went smooth as silk.  It’s always good to remember that electronics is related to physics which is related to mama nature and sometimes “Mama” likes to mess with you!  I have to say it is very nice to have a faster machine while cruising the Internet.

While I was putting with the PC I got my battery backups all powered up and plugged in my printer and router. These are small wattage backups so if main power goes down I can use the laptop with the router and printer at least for a short time.  I also killed a few dust bunnies and found some power and other cables to remove that were not in use.   My cords always seem to breed if I don’t watch out and keep them seperated ;) It looks much cleaner and I have freed up a lot of  desk real estate getting things cleaned and organized.

I’m keeping an eye out for some of the larger uninterruptible power supplies at yard sales. Those UPS-es are expensive to buy new.  Just another battery powered layer to add for any short term power outages and I can use this battery power to top off the cell phone or the kindle.  I’m sort of the poster child for starting off small and cheap and them building the next layer.  Once you build up whatever system you are putting together  you can move the  “starter items ” into the barter bin so you are not wasting any money or resources.

I took Mom to the Doc about her knee and she has to spend a few more weeks in the brace. At least she can take off the brace while sleeping and she was able to take her first real bath since August last night. While Mom is a bit miffed about keeping the brace on at least she is making some progress. I’m thankful I got to drive her around as I don’t think the snack packs of jello/pudding for the sickroom would have entered my mind without the idea of the mini-van picnic/food box.  I guess that is why I always enjoyed the TV show Connections with James Burke as my mind works with one thing and then sort of goes off on another tangent.

I want to thank all of you who sent your prayers and we even got a couple extra donations for Phelan to start on the stove pipe. If anyone wants to ask about going grid down for months on end Phelan is your girl on just about everything related to that and keeping a family functioning.


Experimenting with food for the GHB/BOV, 1st aid and a helping hand for Phelan

September 25, 2014

One thing about getting most of prepared meals is they lean heavily towards pasta. If you have someone that is not so keen on processed flour and pastas it makes it tougher getting your little BOV food box filled up.  I tested out a couple of the single serving mashed potato cups to add  a little variety and overall they were okay. The potato cups are made to be microwaved but you can make do by adding some boiling water and letting them sit for a minute or two. These cups are also a little expensive for a side dish item rather than a meal but you don’t have to clean anything but your spoon after you finish with it.  I decided to go with a larger four serving pouch of potatoes because of the lower cost and the package takes up less space. It is easy to guesstimate the amount of potato needed for a single serving or two, so nothing goes to waste.  I found a store brand (Everyday Essentials) of soup that comes in a box like stocks for soups and the ingredient list is actually surprising good for processed soup. These soups have a best use by date a year out and a square box stores in less space than a round soup can so they will work for packing in the mini-fridge.  Ritz crackers in snack pack size were on sale and make a nice addition for the soups so the only thing left is some salted peanuts vacuum sealed in jars and my little picnic/BOV food box is complete.  I tried to keep the size of the food box small so I can slide it away under a seat.

I found some very colorful plastic table cloths for the sickroom and one clear tablecloth protector at the dollar store. These will be easier to sanitize than regular fabric table cloths, cut down on laundry and can be thrown away as  needed.  I got a big bag of Styrofoam cups  for soups/stock and teas for disposable dishware to cut down on water use and or extra work sanitizing dishware.  I need to add more of the clean suits,  N95 masks and gloves but it will take some time and money to build up those stockpiles as I did not anticipate the open border or the virulence of the diseases a person might have to deal with this year.  One thing I’m not seeing in most of the pictures of these out breaks is the patients are not masked at all. So I stocked up on a lot of the simple face/surgical masks that will be used on the patient and save the more expensive N95 masks for the care giver.  I can’t build a fully isolated bio-containment room, but I can afford to keep adding extra layers of protection. It looks like burning any contaminated waste is the best option for destroying any viruses on sickroom items. So I’m working on a “burn barrel” as a possible project next month.  Trying to build all of these items up is not cheap or fast but once you have these items on hand you can use them for multiple disasters that might be rare (biological attack) or even some DIY jobs like adding insulation or a great Halloween costume :)

I have been reading Phelan at http://a-homesteading-neophyte.blogspot.ca/ for a few years. What got me was her description as  “I am a death metal homesteader” You got love that for originality!  She in her family have had a run of bad luck and she has been a successful homesteader in Kansas, the ‘holler” has been very challenging for her this year. As in “But other than that Mrs. Lincoln, How was the play?” sort of challenging!

http://www.gofundme.com/e8g26c has met the goal of $1000.00 to run a power line to her place but a little extra would really help replace the stove pipe that exploded.  Yes, you read that correctly the stove pipe exploded but at least that was outside the house and there wasn’t any fire! Send your prayers and send what money you can afford to get the stove pipe fixed.  I know how hard it was going 5 days without tap water and she has been cooking, canning and doing laundry over an open fire for many months for her Hubby and 3 growing boys!  She has enough experience being grid down she needs a little break and learn about how wonderful electric power is again! I will be adding her to the blog roll as I sort of missed her site when I changed over to wordpress. Go read her blog and I bet she can teach you something. I know she has taught me a thing or two.


Compost pile is working, pudding snacks and the chimney is clean

September 23, 2014

Added some kitchen scraps and coffee grounds to the compost pile and it was literally steaming inside.  The temperature gauge reads 140 degrees F. so it is hot enough to kill off weed seeds. I am surprised by how quickly the pile generated heat now that I have mixed it and got the ratios of browns and greens correct.  I’m not sure how much help adding the burlap to the pallets and to cover the top is doing but, I can water and test the temp of the pile without removing the cover and it sort of  keeps the flies down.  It was a lot of work for me (approx. 3 hours)  getting compost mixed, adding the proper ratios and watered down but it was worth the effort.

My pudding and jello packs in the mini-van got used already and it was something I never considered in my Bug out/patient support ideas.  A very nice guy works one of the kiosks in the mall where Mom and I walk and he’s been getting some dental work done and had a “dry socket” so eating and drinking was a painful challenge. Jamie to the rescue with a little cup of jello and pudding to get him through until he could get something easy for him to eat.  It got me to thinking about dental work if you don’t have a dentist or even sore throat or an upset stomach that require soft food and these little cups are perfect for that and require no refrigeration or even boiling water to make.  So I stopped by Big Lots and grabbed a couple more packages for the sickroom shelf.  I know these “snack paks” are not the best thing nutritionally, but for someone fighting an illness that makes it hard to eat.  Getting calories and keeping up morale in a patient is very critical for healing. How can you make jello if you don’t have refrigeration?  For a dollar you get 4 little snack paks and the best used by date is over a 12 months out, you can’t really beat that cost for your BOB/BOV or your sickroom.

The chimney is clean and inspected and Dr. Soot I used here in the valley did all the things a good sweep does  like spreading out tarps, having a vacuum and doing a very thorough cleaning. She also answered all my questions as well as giving me advice for keeping the wood stove working. I have to say I’m very pleased with the work done and $85.00 was very reasonable for my straight shot chimney. She also said the installation was very well done and other than the spark arrestor screen and cap I had no creosote build up. Heck she said wanted to send people my way for all the basic safety equipment and tools to have on hand. Another nice thing to learn is the Pacific Energy stoves don’t build up creosote except around the Chimney cap and are very safe compared to many stoves for chimney fires. The chimney and stove needed cleaning but it’s soot in the pipe that brushes out easily unlike creosote that is a tar like substance and must be scraped out.  Another thing I liked  is she answered my questions about my parent’s fireplace insert and what should be done to clean it out properly.  One other thing that helped the sweep was having the installation and parts breakdown so she could work with the “baffle” that Pacific Energy stoves use to make sure everything was re-installed correctly after cleaning.

I loved to see people that take pride in their work and really care about the customer. When I get it a good price it is even better and I’m happy to give them some props as well as some word of mouth advertising/recommendations.  I maybe frugal or even cheap but all to often I see people that will step over a dollar to pick up a dime when it comes to having work done or getting stuff.  There is a case made for being cheap if those Hanes t-shirts cost $50.00 at Macy’s or under $10.00 at K-mart.  Quality can cost but you can’t afford to buy the name and not investigate if you can get a better price or service. Always remember the cost/benefit ratio and be prepared to get burned even if you do your research. Always prop up those folks that give good value for your money.  One thing I have found is starting off cheap and then adding to any of my projects always make me  better at recognizing a bargains and I’m not “panic buying” for any situation because I have some of the basic on hand to get by in any situation.

I spent a lot of money to have that wood stove installed rather than having it be a DIY project. So far it seems to be worth the initial cost and in another year the stove will be paid off and everything after that is me banking my savings. If the PTBs don’t screw up the economy and we can get by with no major blow ups.  I will take the money from the stove payment and start working solar power big time and rain water storage.  It’s possible we have a couple of years to add to our preps. I am terrible about calling the time frame of the collapse as I thought 2011 was the year.  Thankfully my gift of prophesy sucks! Don’t panic but keep working your plan to take advantage of what is happening around your area. Once you get your basics in place and know how to use them it does get easier to plan and not panic via any  minor disaster. I am getting better at some simple plumbing jobs as it is less expensive to buy tools and parts compared to calling a plumber. Plus I am learning some basic home repair skills.

Don’t get me wrong on DIY projcts. They are great  if want  to do the work and have tools/knowledge for the job. With my disability and lack of knowledge and tools, installing a stove myself was not doable for me. If you can do the work and be safe as a DIYer, have at it. But don’t be stupid and not admit you just don’t know. The beginning of all knowledge is to say “I don’t know”.  Screwing up just to save money can be very expensive so take your time and make sure it is done right!

 


Yard cleanup, fixing the compost pile and I love my Roku

September 21, 2014

I got the lawn mowed and used the weed eater to get a few spots a little more under control. The two biggest jobs were the compost pile and tilling the water main dirt again. It seems that my compost pile ratios have been off and I need to do a better job of keeping it damp and mixed. So today I  used my wheel barrow as a sort of holding area and then took all of the compost and moved all the top stuff to the bottom, mixed in more browns and gave each layer I mixed together a good spray down with the hose. I made my pallet compost bin with two main areas with a smaller  third spot for the finished compost.  My plan is once a week for the mixing is move the stuff from the top of one bin to other bin, that should give the pile a good mixing and I can make sure I’m watering the pile enough.  I added a few of those burlap bags  stapled to the pallets and one to cover the pile. That should help the pile retain heat but it can still breathe and use any rain that comes my way.

I have to say that I thought a compost pile would be easy! Just like anything it takes time for you to figure out what works best for you and what you are physically able to do.  I can say that building the compost pile out of pallets gives me much easier access to mixing and watering my pile plus I can make a much bigger pile compared to one of those little store bought plastic boxes I used that did not work for me.  There will probably be more tweaking to be done of my compost system in the future but I’m learning and on the right track.

Rototilling the water main area was needed to give the grass seed better soil to grow. The soil is improving but it needs more work to make it a good for growing. The areas where I put down some of my early compost is getting richer and more of a dark brown rather than the very dusty tan color I started with in the water main soil. My backyard also has some low spots that seem to accumulate the alkali from the soil.  There was some good looking compost at the very bottom of the bin so I added it to the water main area after raking some of the brown soil into the low spots. Having the wheelbarrow to move that compost around rather than using buckets made that job much easier.  Improving the soil this way is sort of slow but it is also cheap. I seem to be learning and getting a better feel for the soil and how it should look as well as watching what is growing and if it is healthy growth or just a few weeds barely hanging on to life. The soil has a lot of potential it just needs some help to make it really bloom and produce and that takes time.

The neighbors stopped by and since they don’t have TV so to speak we all just sat around and watch some of the old Carol Burnett show skits and out takes.  One of the nicest things about Roku is you can stream Youtube onto your TV with a wifi network.  My TV watching is free since I cut off Dish sat. and paid for the Roku and my Amazon Prime account compared to paying $30.00+ per month to dish.  About the only thing I don’t like is if I lose access to the Internet I lose my “home phone” via magic jack and my Roku programming. I do have battery backups but it is still a single point of failure that can screw up several things. I think it is worth the risk because #1 I save a lot of money each month and #2 if the Internet goes down, not watching a TV show will probably be the least of my problems!  I have my Ham radios for backup comms and plenty of  DVD’s to watch if I can generate power to run the TV.  I have found I don’t really miss not having cable/sat. TV and sitting down to watch a show is a treat rather than background noise. I am a big reader of books and there is always something to be done around the house so I don’t miss not having TV that much. Now going without the internet is a whole ‘nother animal and I would really miss not having it, but I think I can go without it and not suffer too much withdrawal.

 


1st aid supplies, sickroom setup and Mom is driving again!

September 19, 2014

The Tyrex suits and respirator masks arrived today. The suits look and feel like they could stand up to a hand washing and/or being sprayed with a sanitizing agent at least a few times. I want to get a few more on hand before I sacrifice a suit for testing but overall I’m well pleased with the purchase. The CPR/air respirator masks look good for both infants and adults for rescue breathing and the mask can be hooked up to an Oxygen supply. The package the mask comes in has a pair of  gloves and an alcohol pad for sanitizing as well as basic instructions for use. The mask has a one way valve that should offer some protection to the care giver but, if I had to deal with an infectious disease like TB, pneumonia or ebola I would not feel very comfortable depending on that little valve.  I’m looking to add one the respirators that have a squeeze bag for giving oxygen and they are only about $15.00 at Amazon. For that price I can see getting it, as it is safer and you avoid the hyperventilating problem of rescue  breathing.

Some times I think this house was built with the idea of a sickroom in mind. I have been in many of the neighbor’s homes most were built in 1910-1940s and all seem to have at least one or two bedrooms that can be easily blocked off from the main living quarters. Many of the homes have been updated or renovated but the basic bones of the house are easy to see and I think the folks of that time did think of a sickroom and planned for it.  I maybe wrong but the area for my sickroom is very to set up and block using a little bit of plastic around doorways and I can create a double barrier between the sickroom and main living quarters.  I have nice set of shelves that I used as a linen closet that also work great for sickroom supplies and the big bathroom can handle most of the basic sanitation needs for a sickroom. I can close off the sickroom form the supplies and bathroom. Add another bit of plastic barrier between the sickroom and main living quarters but I can use the bathroom for basic cleanup and have a good place for storing sickroom supplies without walking through the main living quarters. I suppose a few folks may think I’m over reacting or that my OCD is kicking into high gear but I like to think that I’m being prudent in anticipating and preparing for the worst that can happen.  At the end of July the CDC said there was nothing to worry about Ebola and now they are expecting over half a million cases as of this week.  The Entrovirus D68 has been confirmed in over 16 states and is suspected in many more. Over 700 children and newborns  were exposed to TB by a health care worker in El Paso Texas and the list goes on and on!  I don’t think I’m over reacting by getting things on hand that can help with any illness that I might have to deal with and I find being proactive is a better plan than hope no one gets sick!

Mom drove today to our walk at the Mall. She has moved to using her pain meds just to sleep so she feels competent to drive as she is not under the influence of drugs. We hit a couple of yard sales and I got a nice carpentry saw for $3.00 and a battery powered pepper grinder that will work great for making my spice blends. This pepper grinder has a large area for holding spices and while I can use my manual pepper grinder and have coffee grinder I use for big batches of spices. This battery power grinder gives me the the option of using power without using electricity or muscle power.  The carpentry saw gives me something for a finer cut compared to my bow saws and a a good saw costs quite a bit so finding one at a yard sale cheap is a real score. I’m still hoping to score a good vice and table grinder for my basic shop tool setup but overall I’m in good shape for muscle, battery and electrically powered tools.  There is nothing wrong with gas power tools as gasoline is a great energy dense fuel. It is also one that is dependent on a working infrastructure and one of the first items that runs out in a disaster. Having alternate energy backups is critical for any prepper!

 


Hit Big Lots, the dollar store and a local farm today

September 18, 2014

I used up the magic eraser type sponges I like using for cleanup in the bathroom as they are awesome for cleaning any bathtub ring. Big Lot’s has the sponges $1.80 for 4 sponges and they last for a couple of months of cleaning the bathroom or kitchen areas.  I got a pack of 7 sponge/green scratch pads at the dollar store so I think I’m in good shape for sponges at least!  The local Dollar Tree had a great buy on Progresso soup 18 oz. cans so I got 5 for making  a quick meal. At Big Lot’s they had some of the Jello and pudding snack packs for a dollar and I added a couple of those to the Mini-van quick and easy meals. I was very surprised that these little snack packs have a best used by date of over 12 months without refrigeration.  These items could  be a great morale booster if you have to bugout quickly as well as a snack when caught in traffic or your car gets stuck. I also added a small packet of “dry toast” and left some room in the little 12 volt therm o-electric fridge/warmer to add some protien and dried fruit and veggies. It’s a little crazy at times to realize that with my GHB and my “emergency car kit”  my mini-van, I carry every day,  is actually better prepared for a disaster than at least 50%-75 % of most folks in the USA.

I  found this local farm while looking for an organic seed provider here in Canyon county and these guys have couple of green houses and have done great produce for reasonable prices.  The farm did not have the little Sugar baby watermelons but Mom and I got some nice large melons for about $3.00 each. Mom grabbed some Eggplants and I got some peppers and since we have become somewhat regular customers and pay cash we got a heck of a deal of $4.00 dollars each. I like growing a garden and I think it is a great thing to do in spite of the costs but I love that Idaho is an agricultural state and you can get plenty of bargains if you are willing to shop.

My timing is off a bit this year because I was worried about cash on hand for Diana.  While I”m saving cash it’s darn tough when you think something will bite ” you in the butt”. Stay calm and evaluate your position without being emotional if you can and make a plan for your money.  I know it is darn hard to stand back and be logical when folks are hurting, but it is critical you learn that skill now as things probably will  get harder emotionally. At least think about what you can do, what you will do and what you can’t do in a disaster situation.

In Sierra Leone they are shutting done for 3 days and all people must stay at home and be inspected for harboring any Ebola victims. That means all markets will be shut down and since these folks live on about $2.00 per day and lack refrigeration to store any food this is a big deal as  local markets will lose income that supports their families so they can buy the basics.  How would you do if you lost 3 days of wages or could not shop at your local mega-mart until next Monday?


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