Keeping warm in cold weather without electricity may mean burning wood. This can be done in a fireplace directly or by using a wood burning stove. These are designed to safely burn wood fuel and provide heat for your shelter. They are connected to chimneys responsible for removing the by-products of combustion, including smoke, gases, tar fog, and water vapor, among other things. As the combustibles exit through the cooler chimney, they condense on the inside. This residue is know as creosote. It is very combustible and when ignited will burn at extremely high temperatures and may damage the chimney, spread through mortar cracks into the
wooden structure of your home, and even spew sparks igniting the roof. To avoid a home fire disaster, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) offers the following safety tips:
- Get your chimney checked and cleaned annually to reduce the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisonings due to creosote buildup or chimney obstructions.
- Keep overhanging tree branches at least 15 feet away from the top of chimney.
- Install a chimney cap to keep debris and animals out.
- Choose well seasoned wood, split for at least 6 months. Store it in a covered and raised location, away from your home foundation. Do not burn Christmas trees, cardboard, wrapping paper.
- Keep the area around your hearth clear. Keep furniture at least three feet away from the hearth.
- Install a metal mesh screen in front of fireplaces that do not have glass doors. This controls sparks.
- When building a fire, place the firewood or fire-logs in the back of the fireplace on a supporting grate. Leave air space when stacking multiple logs, so the fire can breathe. Use kindling or a commercial fire starter to ignite your fire. Never use flammable liquids. Build smaller, hotter fires that burn more completely and produce less smoke.
- The by-product of burning wood is ash. Softwoods make more ash than hardwoods. Leaving a one inch layer of ash in your stove will make it easier to build and maintain a fire. Hot coals nestling in the ash add more heat to the fuel and reflect heat back into the fire. Ash also protects the floor of your firebox. Do not remove hot ash from you firebox and put it into a paper bag or any other flammable container. Take all ash outside. At the end of heating season, ash should be removed to reduce moisture absorption, which rusts metal parts. Save the ash to add to your garden next spring.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Place detectors in several locations throughout the house, putting one outside your bedroom door. Check these batteries twice a year. Over 200 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by problems in the venting of toxic gases, produced by heating systems. (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission). This number may be much higher because the symptoms of prolonged, low-level carbon monoxide poisoning mimic other common winter ailments (headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and seasonal depression). Too much carbon monoxide in your blood will kill you. The protein, hemoglobin, in our blood will attach a carbon monoxide molecule and ignore an oxygen molecule. This attachment causes cell suffocation. Even low-level exposure can cause permanent brain and organ damage. Infants, those with blood or heart disorders, and the elderly are the most susceptible.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Learn how to keep your wood stove fire burning during the night.
- If you have a chimney fire, discontinue use of your chimney until it can be inspected and deemed safe to use.
When you are planning a trip in your auto, take time to check your vehicle. In addition to cleaning out the trash, check the windshield washer fluid, oil, water/anti-freeze level in the radiator, and tire inflation. Remember to double check your emergency car kit, updating food and water and adding extra clothing based on the type of weather you expect to travel through. If you have a cell phone, pack it and the charger. Check your wallet for cash and any roadside emergency membership card you may have. Always maintain a half-full tank of gas. Before you leave, contact someone at your destination to let them know your estimated time of arrival.
Once you are on the road, pay attention to your vehicle’s performance, listening for any odd sounds and look for any odd emissions. Once I was traveling home late. I noticed white smoke coming from my exhaust and looked down at the dash to see the temperature needle pegged to overheating. The radiator hose had burst.
If you have a breakdown, use the car’s momentum to get it off the road safely. Try to get over as far as possible to remove your vehicle from on-coming traffic. Put on the emergency flashers. Exit the car from the passenger side door. If you can’t get off the road, set up any warning signals you have, like flares or hazard triangle, as far behind as practical to give other motorists notice to get around you.
Raise your vehicle hood and leave it up, Get out your HELP sign or white cloth. Place it in the window. Use your cell phone, if you have one with service, to contact law enforcement. Calling 911 will put you in contact with help. Your cell phone may or may not have a GPS tracking device installed, so you will need to be able to tell the 911 operator where you are. A mile marker or landmark is helpful.
Stay with your vehicle, if possible, especially at night or in bad weather. Wait for a uniformed law enforcement officer to arrive. Rely on the items in your road-side emergency kit to keep you hydrated, warm and entertained while you wait for assistance to arrive.
Keep doors and windows locked. If someone stops to assist you, crack the window and ask them to contact law enforcement. Use your best judgment accepting help from strangers.
When help arrives, if you are out of your vehicle discussing details, be sure to stand away from the vehicles, not in between them. Many people have been injured or worse when another driver has hit the back vehicle, driving the two together, crushing or amputating legs.
If you must walk, write down your name, date, time you left the vehicle and the direction you were going. Leave it on the dash. Walk facing traffic, if there are no sidewalks. If you accept a ride from a stranger, write down the plate number of the vehicle, a description of the driver and vehicle, in addition. Leave this information on the dash. As soon as possible notify law enforcement of the location and condition of your vehicle.
Holidays are the time of year when much long distance traveling is done. Going home to visit families, often leaving after work in the dark, and frequently encountering bad weather, can put travelers in jeopardy. Add to that the fact that tires can get punctures, gas tanks can get empty and engines can overheat when you least expect it. Having a road side emergency kit in your car at all times will often save you time and money, and may even save your life. We’ve expanded Edmunds.com’s extensive list of items to keep in your vehicle. Make sure that you include items to keep you and your passengers warm in case your break down leaves you stranded in the cold. Some of the basic items include:
- 12-foot jumper cables
- Four 15-minute roadside flares
- Two quarts of oil and Gallon of antifreeze
- First aid kit (including an assortment of bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic cream, instant ice and heat compresses, scissors and aspirin)
- Wool blanket or sleeping bag
- Extra clothes and boots/shoes (for winter: coat, hat gloves and scarf)
- Extra fuses
- Flashlight and extra batteries, lighted headband or lighted brimmed cap
- Tools to include:Flat head screwdrivers, Phillips head screwdrivers, Pliers, Vise Grips, Adjustable wrench
- Tire inflator (such as a Fix-A-Flat) and Tire pressure gauge
- Rags and Roll of paper towels
- plastic garbage bags for trash and to help insulate feet
- A couple of old newspapers to use for insulation under coats
- Roll of duct tape and Roll of reflective tape for visibility
- Windshield washer fluid and Anti-freeze
- Ice scraper and kitty litter or sand for tire traction
- fire extinguisher (5 pound, A-B-C type)
- tow rope or chain
- Whistle, compass and Road maps
- Dollar bills and quarters, dimes and nickels
- Toilet paper and paper towels
- gas can, 2 gallon size plus funnel & short hose for siphoning
- hand warmer packs
- Pen and paper and Help sign or strip of white cloth
- Cell phone & charger
- Granola or energy bars – dried fruit, peanut butter crackers, canned goods; remember a manual can opener and basic eating utensils
- Bottled water – a case or a gallon as fits
- Book, puzzle or other non-battery operated item to pass the time
- Heavy-duty nylon bag or two to carry it all
The most important tip is to familiarize yourself with all the items in your car road-side emergency kit, how you have them arranged, and how to use them properly.
Everyone should know what to in an Emergency. Whenever there is an emergency, use the following tips to help decide if you should call 9-1-1 (or local emergency number) for an ambulance.
911 should be called IMMEDIATELY for any emergency which is threatening to life, health, safety, or property. This includes crimes in progress, medical problems, suspicious persons or activities. Fire emergencies, criminal offenses, drug activity, and domestic problems should also be promptly reported to 9-1-1.
Non-emergency requests for service should be directed to an administrative number. Add your local number to your emergency contacts. Listen to the recorded options and select the line # for non emergency. Stay on the line until a dispatcher answers.
Call if victim…
… is trapped
… is not responding or is passed out
… is bleeding badly or bleeding cannot be stopped
… has a cut or wound so bad and deep that you can see bone or muscles
… has a body part missing or is torn away
… has pain below the rib cage that does not go away
… is peeing, pooping or puking blood (called passing blood)
… is breathing weird or having trouble breathing
… seems to have hurt their head, neck or back
… is jerking uncontrollably (called having a seizure)
… has broken bones and cannot be moved carefully
… acts like they had a heart attack (chest pain or pressure)
… If you call 9-1-1 there may be a recording or delay while your call is being processed. DO NOT HANG UP — wait for a 9-1-1 dispatcher.
When you talk to 9-1-1 or the emergency number…
… try to stay CALM and describe what happened and what is wrong with the victim
… give the location of the emergency, your name and the phone number you are calling from
… follow their instructions in case they tell you what to do for the victim
… do NOT hang up until the 9-1-1 operator tells you to.
Since you are calling from a cell phone, your call may be disconnected if the signal is lost. Be sure to call back if you are cut off.
… When calling 9-1-1 on a cellular phone, be sure to stop if you are in a moving vehicle. It is difficult to obtain all of the information needed if you are getting further from the emergency.
… Your call may need to be transferred to another agency because cell phone calls are sent to a 9-1-1 answering point based on cell radio coverage. Cell coverage areas don’t always match political boundaries, so most calls are routed to a 9-1-1 answering point that serves the majority of the area.
Reproduced with Permission:
http://www.ItsaDisaster.net from “It’s a Disaster …and what are YOU gonna do about it?”, by Bill and Janet Liebsch
Morgan County, TN ”911 Tips” version of above
TIPS ON GOOD SAMARITAN LAWS
The definition of a “Samaritan” is a charitable or helpful person. Most states have Good Samaritan laws that were designed to protect citizens who try to help injured victims with emergency care. If a citizen uses “logical” or “rational” actions while making wise or careful decisions during an emergency situation then they can be protected from being sued.
To learn more about your state’s Good Samaritan laws, check with your local library, search the web or contact an attorney.
Whenever you perform first aid on anyone, there is always a chance of spreading germs or diseases between yourself and the victim. These steps should be followed no matter what kind of first aid is being done — from very minor scrapes to major emergencies — to reduce the risk of infection.
BE AWARE…this is an emergency situation – you could be putting yourself in danger!
… Try to avoid body fluids like blood or urine (pee).
… Cover any open cuts or wounds you have on your body since they are doorways for germs!
BE PREPARED…Stay calm and Think before you act
… Wash your hands with soap and water before and after giving first aid. If using hand sanitizer, rub hands for at least 15 seconds.
… Have a first aid kit handy, if possible.
… Put something between yourself and victim’s body fluids, if possible
… Blood or urine – wear disposable gloves or use a clean dry cloth
… Saliva or spittle – use a disposable Face Shield during Rescue Breathing
… Clean up area with household bleach to kill germs.
… and… HAVE A PLAN! Check the ABC’s, call 9-1-1 and help victim
Airway. Open the airway by tilting the head back, gently lifting the jaw up, and leaving mouth open.
Breathing. Place your ear over victim’s mouth and nose. Look at chest, listen, and feel for breathing for 3-5 seconds.
Circulation. Check for a pulse using fingertips (not your thumb) in the soft spot between throat and the muscle on the side of the neck for 5-10 seconds.
Before giving first aid, you must have the victim’s permission. Tell them who you are, how much training you’ve had, and how you plan to help. Do not give care to someone who refuses it – unless they are unable to respond. Reproduced with Permission: http://www.ItsaDisaster.net “It’s a Disaster …and what are YOU gonna do about it?”
Did you know that most deaths due to winter storms are indirectly related to the storm? People die of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. They also die in traffic accidents on icy roads.
You may be familiar with the terms frostbite and hypothermia, but it’s important to be familiar with the warning signs of each.
Frostbite is damaging to body tissue caused by that tissue being frozen. Frostbite causes loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately. If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm affected areas. However, if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities.
The warning signs include:
• Uncontrollable shivering
• Memory loss
• Slurred speech
• Apparent exhaustion
If you notice any of the warning signs, start by taking the person’s temperature. If it’s below 95 F (35 C), immediately seek medical care. If medical care is not available, begin warming the person slowly. Warm the body core first. If needed, use your own body heat to help.
Get the person into dry clothing, wrap them in a warm blanket, covering the head and neck. Do not give the person any hot beverage or food; warm broth is best. Do not warm extremities first, as it can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure.
TIPS TO STAYING WARM
Wear a hat or wool stocking cap, because more than 50% of the body’s heat is lost through the head or neck area.
Keep your feet dry by wearing a thin pair of polypropylene socks underneath heavy wool socks. The wool socks will wick moisture away from your feet.
Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Also, mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.
THE C.O.L.D. RULE
When dealing with winter survival, the C.O.L.D. acronym can help you stay safe and warm.
• Keep your body and clothes Clean
• Avoid Overheating
• Dress in loose Layers of clothing that will trap body heat
• Keep clothes Dry
November, 2011 Every Needful Thing Jason M. Carlton
Red Cross can help families “Get Trained”
One quarter of Americans say they’ve been in a situation where someone needed CPR. If you were one of them, would you know what to do?
Studies have shown that being trained in hands-only CPR can make the lifesaving difference when someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest.
Join the millions of people we train each year by taking a 30-minute Citizen CPR class at your local Red Cross chapter. The course teaches how the hands-only technique can save a life.
Download the Hands-only CPR Ready Reference sheet depicting the steps of this technique in English and Spanish.
The Red Cross also offers courses that certify people in first aid, full CPR and using Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs).
What is hands-only CPR?
Hands-only CPR is a potentially lifesaving technique involving no mouth to mouth contact. It is best used in emergencies where someone has seen another person suddenly collapse.
The hands-only technique increases the likelihood of surviving cardiac emergencies that occur outside medical settings.
How is full CPR different from hands-only CPR?
Full CPR combines rescue breaths with chest compressions and is the best option in some emergencies, including those involving infants and children, drowning victims, or people who
collapse due to breathing problems.
How else can I get involved?
The American Red Cross wants to educate 5 million people about hands-only CPR. Will you help us spread the word about this lifesaving technique?
Click below the graphic below to access additional information about American Red Cross classes in your area.
October, 2011 Every Needful Thing Jason M. Carlton
Understanding the dangers of Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Monoxide, known by the chemical formula “CO”, is a poisonous gas that kills approximately 534 people in the United States every year. Of that number, roughly 207 were killed by CO emitted from a consumer product like a stove or water heater. You can’t hear, taste, see or smell it. It’s nicknamed the Silent Killer because it sneaks up on its victims and can take lives without warning.
CO is a by-product of incomplete combustion, and its sources often include malfunctioning appliances that operate by burning fossil fuels. When these malfunctioning appliances aren’t adequately ventilated, the amount of CO in the air may rise to a level that may cause illness or death. Other CO sources include vehicle exhaust, blocked chimney flues, fuel-burning cooking appliances used for heating purposes, and charcoal grills used in the home, tent, camper, garage or other unventilated areas.
When victims inhale CO, the toxic gas enters the bloodstream and replaces the oxygen molecules found on the critical blood component, hemoglobin, depriving the heart and brain of the oxygen necessary to function.
The following symptoms of CO poisoning should be discussed with all members of the household:
• Mild Exposure: Flu-like symptoms, including headache, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
• Medium Exposure: Severe throbbing headache, drowsiness, confusion, fast heart rate.
• Extreme Exposure: Unconsciousness, convulsions, cardiorespiratory failure, death.
Young children and household pets are typically the first affected. Carbon Monoxide alarms are intended to signal at CO levels below those that cause a loss of ability to react to the danger of CO exposure.
CO detectors are not a replacement for proper use and maintenance of fuel-burning appliances.
CO Safety Precautions
Install a CO detector in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home and make sure it cannot be covered up by furniture or draperies.
• NEVER burn charcoal inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
• NEVER use portable fuel-burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle, or tent.
• NEVER leave a car running in an attached garage, even when the garage door is open.
• NEVER service fuel-burning appliances without proper knowledge, skills and tools.
• NEVER use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers for heating your home.
• NEVER operate unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room with closed doors or windows, or in any room where people are sleeping.
• NEVER use gas-powered tools and engines indoors.
October, 2011 Every Needful Thing Jason M. Carlton
Have you checked the prices on various emergency preparedness items and been discouraged by the price tag? If so, you wouldn’t be alone.
Rather than giving up on your efforts to be prepared, you can usually gather a couple of neighbors together and organize a group buy on various items – water barrels, 72-hour kits, and even Sun Ovens.
By organizing a larger buy, the company often provides a volume discount, which saves the buyer anywhere from $10 to $50, depending
on the item and quantity. The best way to know how many items you would need to buy in order to make it worth the effort is to do a little research.
The Internet provides valuable information on organizations, and something as simple as a phone call can be very helpful.
With the holiday season quickly approaching, group buys may be an excellent way to gather various presents for extended family members, and that may also allow you to take advantage of seasonal sales and promotions, too.
Thinking about doing a Sun Oven group buy? Click here.
October 2011, Every Needful Thing Jason M. Carlton
We’re three-fourths of the way through our series on preparing to execute an emergency preparedness drill in your neighborhood. We hope you are taking this information to your neighbors and encouraging them to be prepared, too.
The adjacent article talks about using radios in an emergency, but the best way to know how to use your radios is to do just that – Use it.
My neighborhood conducts a weekly radio check, which lasts only a couple of minutes, but serves as an opportunity for neighbors to practice using their radios, so in a disaster, they don’t have to try and learn.
Every Sunday at 8:30 p.m. on channel 8, subchannel 1, our communication specialists welcomes everyone to the call and invites them to check in by stating their name.
Once everyone has checked in (which is usually 3-7 people), we open it up for conversation about any topic on preparedness.
These scheduled radio checks keep radios charged and used, so in an emergency, my neighborhood understands how to use them, which gives me a lot of peace of mind. Jason M. Carlton
Did you play with walkie-talkies as a child? Did you ever think that one day you would be using them as a means of communicating in a disaster? Well, if phone lines and cell towers are damaged in an emergency, a set of Family Radio Service (FRS) devices can help your neighborhood mobilize and communicate faster than boys on bikes.
In order for this tool to work most effectively, members of your neighborhood would need to have, and know how to use, FRS radios. Here are two things to consider when selecting the one that’s right for you:
1. The longer the range on your radio, the better you will be able to communicate throughout your neighborhood. FRS radios are line-of-sight transmissions. So if you have a lot of houses and trees between you and the person on the other end, communication may be difficult. For example, a radio that boasts 32 miles, may only provide two-miles in a populated neighborhood.
2. Many radios come with non-removable, rechargeable packs. These can wear out over time. The recommendation is to go with a radio that can also have this rechargeable pack replaced with AA batteries, which may help strengthen the signal when needed.
3. FRS radios contain channels, as well as subchannels. Make sure your radio has subchannel capabilities; otherwise you may be able to hear your neighbors, but not have the ability to communicate back to them.
These radios offer multiple channels that can be used in an emergency, so if your neighborhood needs to communicate, you must coordinate a channel on which all communication will take place. For example, your neighborhood can plan to communicate on channel 8, subchannel 1, while the neighborhood adjacent to yours can take channel 9, subchannel 1.
Another best practice is to designate a communications specialist for your neighborhood who can direct all radio traffic. This person will keep things orderly when crisis strikes and help those seeking to identify families’ needs obtain the information vital to responding.
October, 2011 Every Needful Thing Jason M. Carlton