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
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
In my role as an emergency preparedness coordinator for my neighborhood, I have had the opportunity to plan and execute a few neighborhood communication drills. The lead article is the first in a series of articles related to organizing a neighborhood in such a way that a full-scale emergency drill can be executed.
In each of the neighborhood exercises I have been a part of, I have learned something that helps me to refine my own neighborhood’s communication plan.
Here is a list of the articles that you will read in upcoming issues:
1. Organizing blocks & captains
2. Color-codes of emergencies
3. FRS radio protocol
4. Executing the drill
By the end of 2011, we hope to provide you with the information necessary to better organize your neighborhoods so you can test this organization through a communication drill and customize it to better prepare your neighbors and friends for anything that may come your way.
Jason M. Carlton
How often do you see a news story about a disaster that occurred and sent the city into panic and disorganization? Having a practiced and refined emergency preparedness plan in place can help reduce the panic in your own neighborhood.
It would be naive to say that in an actual emergency, your plan will go exactly as planned and practiced – every disaster may warrant different circumstances. But if the residents feel confident that a plan is in place, and has been practiced before, the level of panic will remain much lower.
If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Don’t let this be your neighborhood.
STEP 1: Identify a block captain
Block captains are volunteers assigned to a designated collection of houses and who help gather the information necessary to identify and address the needs of that given neighborhood.
Ideally, the block captain should be able to stand in front of their house and see the houses to which they have been assigned. In the corresponding graphic, a few examples of block organizations have been identified, with the block captain’s home identified in white.
STEP 2: Provide basic training
When asking a neighbor to “volunteer” to be a block captain, it is important to be able to provide them with an understanding of what their role is in an emergency.
Layton City (Utah) prepared a PowerPoint presentation for block captain training and has made it available on their Website. You can access the PDF file with this link:
Organization will be key. It may take some time to organize the block captains, and they may change as time goes by, but this is the first step in preparing your neighborhood for an emergency.
Family Supply List
Family Supply List
Water, food, and clean air are important things to have if an emergency happens. Each family or individual’s kit should be customized to meet specific needs, such as medications and infant formula. It should also be customized to include important family documents.
Recommended Supplies to Include in a Basic Kit:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First Aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Infant formula and diapers, if you have an infant
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
Clothing and Bedding:
If you live in a cold weather climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that the power will be out and you will not have heat. Rethink your clothing and bedding supplies to account for growing children and other family changes. One complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person, including:
- A jacket or coat
- Long pants
- A long sleeve shirt
- Sturdy shoes
- A hat and gloves
- A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
Below are some other items for your family to consider adding to its supply kit. Some of these items, especially those marked with a * can be dangerous, so please have an adult collect these supplies.
- Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book or a print out of the information on www.ready.gov
- Rain gear
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
- Cash or traveler’s checks, change
- Paper towels
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container*
- Signal flare*
- Paper, pencil
- Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies
- Household chlorine bleach* – You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Medicine dropper
- Important Family Documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
Electricity is often one of the first services households lose in severe weather or a natural disaster. What are you planning to use to be able to see and what are the benefits/dangers of each option? Here is a closer look.
Candles are fairly inexpensive and can be easily lit in an emergency. But if it gets knocked over, it can create an even bigger problem. The best advice is to not leave a candle, or any other open flame, burning without someone attending to it. Set them in a bowl of sand to reduce the dangers of hot wax.
Flashlights come in many different shapes, sizes and brightness. It’s portable and is not a fire hazard. However, do you have enough batteries to outlast the need? Do you have the right size of batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, etc.)? Some flashlights are self generating, which means there is no need for a battery, and LED flashlights consume less electricity than your standard-bulb flashlight. Consider all of these elements as you purchase flashlights and store them in a very accessible spot in your home.
If you search for generator options, you’ll find gas-powered generators or products like the Duracell Powerpack. The costs in both options range from $100 to $600+, but the gas-powered option requires a storage of gasoline, and some local laws prohibit large amounts of fuels to be stored in a home. They can also be noisy and emit carbon monoxide from the spent fuel, so it should not be run inside a closed room to avoid poisoning.
Regardless of the type of generator you have, strands of LED christmas lights can be very illuminating and consume very little amounts of electricity (plus it adds a little festive atmosphere to the situation!).
While each option has its advantages and disadvantages, having options to choose from in an emergency, including redundant options, will be a handy convenience.
July, 2011 Every Needful Thing
Jason M. Carlton
Running of Fumes
The ever-fluctuating, and often rising price of gasoline, is causing people to stretching the life of their gas tank to a maximum. But in an emergency, a nearly empty gas tank can create some real challenges.
When natural disasters hit, such as flooding, hurricaines or landslides, people often need transportation to flee the area and find safety. A gas tank less than half full may not allow you to travel as far as necessary, and could place you in a more challenging situation if you run out of fuel and end up on the side of the road.
Get Peace of Mind
Encourage your family, friends and neighbors to keep their gas tank above half. While this requires more frequent stops at the gas station, it can provide peace of mind.
July 11, 2011 Every Needful Thing
Jason M. Carlton
Include Over-the-Counter Medications
There are thousands of over-the-counter medications used to treat an unlimited variety of ailments. This can make stockpiling medications difficult. Every health care professional has their personal recommendations, but the following are the five OTC items that should be bought in bulk. They are cheap, effective, and each covers a wide range of potential maladies:
Can be used to relieve pain, relieve inflammation, thin the blood and lower fever (do not take on an empty stomach)
2) Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
Can be used to treat itching, rash, allergic reactions, and is the most common ingredient in over the counter sleep aids (will cause drowsiness)
Can be used to treat indigestion, nausea, heartburn and diarrhea.
Antibiotic ointment for cuts, scrapes and burns
5) Primatene Mist
The only over the counter inhaler capable of minimizing the symptoms of or stopping an acute asthma attack.
No first aid kit is complete without those five. – LA, R.Ph . SurvivalBlog.com
October 2013, Every Needful Thing Billie A. Nicholson, editor
Water Has Healing Properties
Did it ever occur to you that if we make the best use of water, we could reduce the amount of sickness and death in the world? From microbes to soap, contaminated water is a major source of diarrhea. An important part of its prevention is to purify water used for drinking and preparing foods. Boiling and filtering water will help make it safe to use.
If cooking fuel is limited, pasteurization (using the WAPI kit in a Sun Oven®) will make water safe for consumption. Hand washing with soap and water before eating or preparing foods and after defecation is important.
Babies are especially susceptible to diarrhea. A common cause of death in babies and small children, is severe dehydration. By giving the infant or child plenty of water, this can be prevented, even if given a spoonful at a time.
Making a Rehydrating Drink
A rehydration drink made with half a teaspoon of salt and 8 teaspoons of sugar per liter (~32 oz.) combined with half a cup of fruit juice, coconut water, or mashed banana will replenish the electrolytes. This should be given often in small sips, every five minutes, until the person begins to urinate normally.
Additional uses of purified water include bathing skin infections, washing wounds, lowering high fevers, hot water vapors to loosen mucus and using hot and cold compresses. When water is used correctly, often medicines are not needed, and the body will heal itself. (“Where There is No Doctor,” Hesperian Health Guides.)
Searching for a Shelter?
To search for an open shelter, use your cell phone and text SHELTER and enter a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA). The Red Cross will have shelters after a disaster, too. You will be able to search online: Local Chapter. Red Cross also has an iphone Shelter Finder app available in the iTunes Store. They have a website where you can register first and last names and a brief message. Concerned family members can check this site to learn if you are safe and well.
What Do You Need to Know about Shelters?
When you arrive at a public shelter, there are some things you need to know. First of all, make up your mind to be one of the good guys. Every person in the shelter is a refugee, some in better condition than others. Mass sheltering puts many people in a small space, so your part will be limited. Respect the rights and privacy of others. Most public disaster shelters can provide some water, food, medicine and basic sanitary facilities. Keep your emergency kits with you, and in your immediate control, so you will have the specific supplies you need.
Requirements at the Shelter
You will be required to sign in before being admitted to any shelter. The name and contact information of a “next of kin” not in the shelter is required. You will sign an agreement to abide by the shelter’s regulations, which means you will be required to stay until an authority determines it is safe to leave. You will be responsible for your personal belongings. Keep valuables locked in your car or with you at all times, as the shelter will not be responsible for lost, stolen or damaged items. Begin making alternative plans to leave as soon as you are settled.
If you are part of a family in the shelter, plan to take turns on watch duty to make sure your belongings don’t grow legs. Keep your supplies contained and concealed. You will decide if you are willing to share. If you know other families in the shelter, team up to help one another.
Prohibitions in a Shelter
No weapons will be allowed, except those carried by security personnel. No alcohol or illegal drugs are permitted. Parents are responsible for controlling the behavior and location of their children at all times. Keep your space in the shelter clean and organized. Noise levels must be kept low. Quiet time is observed after 11 PM. Be sure to tell the shelter registrar if you have any medical condition that needs attention. You will be referred to a paramedic for treatment.
The amount of time you need to be in a public shelter may be short or long, depending on the conditions that brought you in. Take turns listening to radio broadcasts to stay informed.
Semper Paratus – Always Ready
This Latin phrase is most well known as the motto and the official marching tune for the United States Coast Guard. Perhaps it should become the motto of the emergency preparedness and food storage specialists as well. In the September issue we discussed the basic needs of preparedness. This month, we will continue this conversation beginning with what to do when we have to evacuate. What reasons would cause you to leave your shelter? Make your list of top 10.
When Sheltering in Place is Not Possible
When sheltering in place is not possible and you know you must go, there are some steps to take to secure and minimize future damage to your property.
Assuming that you have already prepared your evacuation kits (each family member has one), often referred to as “bug out bags,” get them into your escape vehicle, which you NEVER , EVER let the gas tank drop below half full.
Identify where you are going, get the address, and look at your maps to determine alternate routes to the shelter before you get on the road. Take the maps with you.
Remember to take your stash of cash. Hopefully, you have small bills and some coins, too, in case you need to have exact change in vending machines.
Grab your important papers, including emergency contact telephone numbers, extra glasses, medicines and any supplies for children and pets. And don’t forget to pack the children and pets.
Secure the following items:
- Find your main electric breaker and turn off the main power switch.
- If you have city water, find your water meter. The shut off valve will be there. This can be a handle (move it perpendicular to the pipe) or a knob (turn it clockwise to close). If you have a well, shutting off the electric will suffice.
- Turn off any natural gas valve. This will be at the gas meter. May need a wrench.
- Secure outdoor furniture so they do not become missiles.
- Lock all doors and windows.
October 2013, Every Needful Thing Billie A. Nicholson