“Beaver Fever” – Avoid it like the Plague!

I’ll never forget my first backpacking trip into the Wind River mountain range of Wyoming.  It was a week long trek covering over 100 miles of the most pristine, beautiful, high-mountain trails and seldom seen or fished lakes.

I’ve never caught and released so many large rainbow trout and never lacked for my fill of trout for dinner.  Many of the lakes were tucked away in high-mountain box canyons or very remote areas where the snow never completely melts all year.  These lakes are fed by pure mountain water, mostly from the melting snow.

We didn’t give much thought or concern to purifying our drinking water as most of the time we were above the tree line and we felt comfortable the water running off the snow melt was clean and pure.

As we would hike from one lake to another, we would keep our sierra cups hooked on our belts so we could easily grab it and reach down in a stream we were crossing and get a cold drink of water.

As our backpacking trip neared its end, we began hiking at lower altitudes, down in the trees.  That’s where I was foolish enough to continue scooping water out of the streams for a quick drink.  As a result, I was contaminated with “beaver fever”, also known as Giardia, known to be especially abundant near beaver dams.

Luckily, this happened on the last day of our trip so the full effect of Giardia didn’t hit me until after I returned home.  What a blessing!  Had I experienced the full effect of Giardia in the middle of our trek, they would have had to bury me in a shallow grave along the way.

I was so sick and weak as well.  I had to crawl to the bathroom over and over again.  It was an absolutely terrible 10 days!  I never want to repeat that experience again!  Now days, I make absolutely certain I always take an approved water purifier with me whenever I hike in the mountains.  Experience is a great teacher – unfortunately, the lessons can be very costly.

What is Giardia?

Giardia lamblia is a protistan. That makes it a single-celled organism, similar in size to one of your cells. This protistan lives in the intestines of mammals. Many of the microbes that live in our guts are harmless, but this one provokes diarrhea, gassiness, and other gut malfunctions.

It not only reproduces itself in the gut, but can form cysts.  Cysts are basically the hibernating form, much tougher than the active microbe but not able to do anything until it goes active again. Giardia cysts are shed in feces, and when swallowed by a different mammal they can go active once they reach the lower gut.

Giardia can form cysts, which is an inactive form that can survive a long time in water and re-activate when it’s swallowed.

How does one get Giardia?

Drinking water with Giardia cysts is the usual way to get the infection.  Some people have gotten it by swimming in infected waters; but they were very small people and may not have been careful to not drink the water.

The insidious part of it is that it takes very little fecal contamination of water to make it infective. It can be a clear mountain stream, melting off a glacier just half a mile away, but if an infected marmot or raccoon or person pooped by the streamside last week, drinking the water may earn you a Giardia infection.

Giardia occurs in most states too. Nor is it limited to the United States; Giardia infection is one of the most common parasitic infections worldwide.

In the cyst form, it persists somewhere from months to days, depending on temperature, etc. It lasts better in cool, moist conditions.

How does one “not” get Giardia?

Consistently purifying drinking water is a great protection from Giardia. Yes, there have been cases from more casual contact, but they are far more rare.

The good news is that being a protist, Giardia is pretty big. Any filter of reasonable quality will remove it. All the other standard water purification methods such as boiling and various chemical treatments do it too. That’s no accident: Giardia is so widespread and common that you could hardly call something a general water purification method if it didn’t catch Giardia.

How do you know if someone’s got Giardia?

If a person develops yellow, bad-smelling diarrhea that is frothy (with bubbles) but without blood or mucus probably has Giardia. The diarrhea may be a constant thing or may come and go. The person’s likely to be bloated and gassy too, and the gas will smell and taste like sulfur.  Weight loss and lethargy show up after a while, to no one’s surprise.

The most reliably occurring symptoms are abdominal pain and cramping (usually without fever). Since that’s true of most gut disorders, it’s not terribly helpful for diagnosis.

Sometimes people or other animals will have and spread Giardia without showing any symptoms themselves, as well. Their immune systems are controlling it well enough to keep them functioning, but not to eliminate the parasite. Such cases are relevant because of their ability to spread the disease, and because they can develop symptoms at a later time when something else interferes with their immune systems or their gut function.

Fecal smears looking for cysts are effective and pretty easy. However, most preppers won’t have the means on hand; and due to fluxes in microbe populations and such, any given smear from an infected organism is only about 70% likely to show positive though, so persistence might be required.

What can you do about it if someone’s got Giardia?

Most doctors suggest metronidazole (trade name Flagyl). If it’s a recent infection, it’s given 3 times a day for 5 days. People over 8 yrs old get 250 mg (1 tablet) per dose; children 3-7 half that; younger children 1/4 of a tablet per dose. It’s not suitable for pregnant women, especially in the first trimester, and breastfeeding women on high doses shouldn’t give their babies their milk for 24 hrs after a dose.

Giardia infections that have lasted six months or longer should be treated with doses three times as big for 10 days; and quinacrine as well.

Quinacrine (brand name Atabrine) is another option, but not as good because it can cause headaches and vomiting. It’s given as 3 100 mg doses (1 tablet each) per day for a week. Half the dose size for children under 10. If it’s being used for the long-standing infection with the metronidazole, use the same dose but give it for 2-3 weeks.

If you don’t have these … well, the person’s immune system sometimes wins without chemical help against Giardia. Good nutrition will help.

Pets get Giardia too

Many kinds of mammals get Giardia; both suffering symptoms and spreading the microbes. Dogs and cats are at higher risk than people … ever try to stop a dog from taking a lick at a stray puddle when he’s thirsty? Cattle and other food animals also have problems with it, and it can spread very well in their shared water sources.

Symptoms in dogs are very like those in people. Treatment with metronidazole is used for dogs as well as people, and fenbendazole is used in dogs too.

The Bottom Line

Take my word for it – it’s not worth the risk.  Don’t ever drink from any mountain stream or lake without the use of a good water purifier.  Giardia is not something you ever want to get!


Werner, D. 2011. Where There Is No Doctor: A village health care handbook. Hesperian Health Guides, Berkely, CA. Available for download from https://theboatgalley.com/where-there-is-no-doctor-free-download/

Ventura, L. L. A., Oliveira, D. R., Viana, J. C., Santos, J. F. G., Caliari, M. V., & Gomes, M. A. (2013). Impact of protein malnutrition on histological parameters of experimentally infected animals with giardia lamblia. Experimental Parasitology, 133(4), 391.

Ehsan, M. A., Akter, M., Ahammed, M., Ali, M. A., Ahmed, M. U., Leveck, B., & Claerebout, E. (2017). prevalence and clinical importance of cryptosporidium and giardia in human and animals. Bangladesh Journal of Veterinary Medicine, 14(2), 109.

Ward, E. (n.d.) Giardia in dogs. VCA Animal Hospitals. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/giardia-in-dogs

CDC. 2015. Giardia & Pets. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/giardi…trol-pets.html


More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

What Happens When You Run Out?

Recently, during a strenuous long hike, I caused a stress fracture in my left foot.  It wasn’t severe enough that I couldn’t finish my hike but by the next day, it swollen and very painful.  After x-rays and the doctor’s confirmation that it was a small fracture on the outside of my foot, I was told to just try to say off of it, keep it elevated and take ibuprofen to address the pain and inflammation.

This was a real inconvenience and the pain was no fun but I knew I need to do everything I could to try and speed along the recovery process.

The ibuprofen was especially helpful when I went to bed as the pain was intense enough that it would keep me awake.  Then one night, I was in trouble.  I had run out of ibuprofen!  I tried Tylenol but it just didn’t do the trick.  I could hardly wait for my wife to go to the store the next day and pick up some more ibuprofen.

But what if the circumstances were such that there wasn’t a store to go to?  What if we didn’t have access to the typical over-the-counter medications we’ve all become so accustomed to?

Luckily, there are several alternatives to such medications that we most likely have in our kitchens or bathrooms right now.  In fact, more and more people are turning to home remedies rather than using pharmaceutical medications that may contain harmful ingredients and synthetic chemicals.

Some of these remedies might seem very strange to you, especially if you’re used to popping a pill for every ailment, but people have been using them for decades–in some cases, centuries–to great effect.

Before you laugh at these home remedies and consider those who use them crazy, try them out for yourself. You’ll quickly discover that they really work! Here’s a list of unusual remedies and how to use them.

Hydrogen Peroxide for Ear Infections

Ear infections are painful and disruptive, but hydrogen peroxide can help clear up the infection. Lie on your side and pour a cap full of hydrogen peroxide into your ear. Let it sit and bubble in your ear for 5 to 10 minutes. It feels strange, and you’ll hear popping sounds.

The popping you hear is the peroxide softening the wax and killing bacteria in your ear. Place a tissue on your ear and let the hydrogen peroxide drain out. Earwax will easily come out with a Q-tip. You can use this remedy just to clear out your extra earwax, but the hydrogen peroxide works quickly to remove any bacteria or stop a virus from growing.

Lemon Balm Tea for Cold Sores

Lemon balm contains antiviral properties that can help cure cold sores that are caused by the herpes virus. You can make lemon balm at home with some dried lemon balm.

All you need to do is add 2 to 4 TBSP of dried lemon balm herb to a cup of boiling water. Let it cool a bit, and then dab the cotton ball into the tea. Apply it to your cold sore several times per day.

Sugar for Hiccups

Hiccups aren’t bad for you, but they’re really annoying! They’re caused by a spasm in your diaphragm. A simple, but unusual, home remedy is to swallow a teaspoon of sugar.

Scientists don’t know exactly why this works so well, but it’s speculated that sugar affects the vagus nerve which connects your brain and stomach, stopping the diaphragm from spasming. Now every time you get the hiccups, you’ll have an excuse to eat pure sugar!

Yogurt for Bad Breath

Halitosis is the official name for bad breath, and no one enjoys it. Believe it or not, the cure isn’t chewing on a pack of gum – it’s yogurt. You need at least two servings per day of yogurt because it contains probiotics, but make sure you purchase yogurt that doesn’t contain sugar.

Eating yogurt will change the environment on your tongue so that bad bacteria doesn’t continue to grow and stink.

Baking Soda for UTIs

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are painful, and it’s best to cure them sooner rather than later. A UTI can turn into a bladder infection. Baking soda is a home remedy because it makes the bladder environment more alkaline, which prevents bacteria from multiplying.

Simply mix 1/4 TSP of baking soda into an 8-ounce glass of water. Drink this solution as soon as you notice the starting symptoms of a UTI.

Olives or Lemons for Motion Sickness

Motion sickness, or any nausea, leads to the extra production of saliva, which makes you feel even more nauseous. If you notice motion sickness, eat a few olives.

It works because the tannins in the olives stop nausea by drying out your mouth. Lemons are a quick fix for motion sickness as well.

Olive Oil for Eczema

Eczema can cause you to itch and feel uncomfortable, and it can flare up anywhere on your body, even your hands! Olive oil is an ingredient in many skin creams and products, and it’s full of antioxidants.

All you have to do is rub the olive oil on the area of your body with the eczema flare up. Olive oil is wonderful for many ailments.

Chocolate for a Cough

Finally, a reason to eat more chocolate! Dark chocolate can help you stop coughing if you’re having a coughing spell.

2 ounces of dark chocolate contains theobromine, the same ingredient found in OTC cough medicines. Theobromine relaxes the nerves that are responsible for the cough reflex.

Garlic for Allergies

Garlic is one of those things every home remedist knows is a godsend. Instead of using OTC antihistamine medication, you can use garlic to eat and cure up allergy problems.

It works because garlic contains a lot of the antioxidant quercetin, which is said to reduce allergy symptoms. Onions work as well.

Cloves for Cuts

Cloves are a fantastic home remedy for tooth pain, but did you know that cloves can help heal cuts and skin wounds?  Sprinkling clove powder over the cut can stop the spread of bacteria.

Another option is to apply clove oil to the wound. This remedy works because clove oil has high levels of eugenol, which is pain-relieving and has antiseptic properties.

Honey for Chapped Lips

Raw honey belongs in every home remedy kit because it contains dozens of healing properties. If your lips are chapped, don’t turn to Chapstick! Instead, dab a bit of raw honey on the chapped area.

Make sure you rub it on just like you would Chapstick. It will nourish and hydrate your lips, plus everyone loves the taste of honey. Make sure the honey you select is raw and organic.

Duct Tape for Warts

Wrapping warts in duct tape is one of the best ways to get rid of them.  Make sure you clean the area well and put a slightly bigger piece of duct tape over the wart.

Remove the tape every three days. Remove any dead skin with a nail file or pumice stone. Keep repeating this procedure until the warts are gone.

Vinegar for Swimmer’s Ear

Ear problems can ruin your day because the pain radiates into your jaw and throughout your entire head. You will want to get rid of swimmer’s ear quickly. An old home remedy for swimmer’s ear is to put a drop or two of vinegar into your ear.

Grandma will swear to you that this remedy works because the acidic properties inside of vinegar can kill off the bacteria inside your ear. To use this remedy, you need to dilute white vinegar in distilled water. Then, add three drops into the ear giving you problems three times per day.

Pine Syrup for Sore Throats

Making pine syrup is easy, and it works wonders for sore throats. All you need to do is gather up a cup of freshly-washed pine needles and blend them. While you’re doing that, boil some water, corn syrup, and a bit of salt. Mix in the needles and let them steep for a few hours.

Make sure to keep it in the fridge for at least a month. Then, you will have it when you need it.

Beets for Constipation

You’re probably thinking this remedy seems a bit far out there, but give it a try. Take some fresh beets and steam them. Then, eat them when you feel constipated. Don’t drain the water you used to steam the beets. Instead, drink the water because it contains vitamins that help your body process out the waste.

Just be aware that it’s possible your urine or stools may turn bright red. That can be scary if you aren’t expecting it! It’s nothing to worry about; it’s just the natural dyes in beets.

Toothpaste for Bug Bites

Bug bites are itchy and annoying. One simple home remedy is to put a small amount of toothpaste onto the bug bite. Toothpaste has a cooling effect because of the peppermint oil that lessens the pain and inflammation. You can also try applying peppermint oil to the bug bite if you don’t want to use toothpaste.

Unusual home remedies are worth a try, especially because you’re used to pharmaceutical medications. These remedies might seem strange, but they work really well!

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Treating Wounds without Antibiotics

Should the time come that requires evacuating one’s home for an extended period of time and living off-grid, there are a myriad of potential health issues that could become as deadly as any gunshot or knife wound.  One of the greatest killers of all time is that resulting from untreated infections.

It’s hard to imagine with today’s medical treatments, medicines and antibiotics that basic wound infections could be any kind of threat.  But, remove your access to such treatments and antibiotics, a simple cut on your hand or leg, once it becomes infected, can kill.

Penicillin was discovered by Scottish chemist Alexander Fleming in 1928.  It’s estimated that penicillin has save the lives of more than 200 million across the globe.  It saved the lives of 12 to 15 percent of Allied Forces during WWII.  Since that time there have been many additional antibiotics discovered that have equally saved the lives of many hundreds of millions around the world.

So what does one do when antibiotics are not available?  Are there any alternative treatment methods that could save lives and eradicate wound infections?

Treating wounds using alternative healing methods will become a vital skill when there is no doctor around.  Besides providing you with the much-needed food, your pantry also holds two items that will help you treat wounds:  honey and sugar.  These two ingredients are beneficial for cleansing and healing traumatic wounds.  Treating wounds with honey and sugar is an ancient method of healing that has been tested over time.  The ancient Egyptians were the first to document this process.  The healing proprieties of sugar and honey are mentioned even in the Bible, Koran and Torah.

People around the world have used honey and sugar to cleanse and heal traumatic wounds; in particular gunshot wounds and battle injuries where a loss of flesh leads to infections.

How does honey and sugar work for treating wounds?

Sugar is a short chain, soluble carbohydrate composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.  It has many names and it’s also known as glucose, dextrose, fructose, galactose, sucrose, maltose, and lactose.  Sugar has high osmolality, and it’s able to draw fluid out of the wound.  It reduces water content in the injury and inhibits the growth of bacteria.  It is also helpful in removing dead tissue while preserving the tissue that is still alive.

Honey is a viscous, hyper-saturated sugar solution made from 75-80 percent sugar and 20 percent water.  It is very effective at killing staphylococci, including the community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, within a few hours.  Honey also has anti-inflammatory activity and its ability to absorb water provides antiseptic action.  Scientists believe that the healing proprieties of honey are derived from its ability to produce hydrogen peroxide from the glucose oxidase enzyme found in its composition.

Treating wounds step by step

You first have to make sure the wound has stopped bleeding and that it’s very clean.  Cayenne pepper can be applied to stop the bleeding, but I must warn you that it will sting like hell.  You will then have to clean the wound with a mild soap and warm water or a saline solution.  Pat the area dry until there is no moisture inside the wound.  Honey and sugar react and bind with calcium and if calcium is not available because of bleeding, no clot can form.

Pour granulated sugar directly on the wound and make sure it gets down as deep into the wound as possible.  The sugar shouldn’t just be sprinkled on the surface and outer rim of the wound. If the wound is too large, you need to apply honey first and then add sugar on top (you can mix sugar and honey until you make a thick paste).

Cover the wound with a clean bandage and secure it with tape. The dressing will prevent the honey and sugar from leaking out and it will keep the wound protected from external debris and bacteria.

Change the bandage and repeat the cleaning and sugar application once a day. You will have to do it more than once per day when you notice the bandages are wet from the removed fluid.

Alternative to using honey and sugar

Although there are many reasons one should store honey, the chances are that not everyone has this fantastic food at hand. There is an alternative to honey for treating wounds and it involves using cooking oil.

You will need to combine three parts of powdered sugar and one part of cooking oil and mix the ingredients until the mixture is uniformly smooth.  A thick layer (1/2 inch) of this mix will have to be applied directly to the wound. This alternative works just as well and science backs it up.

Sugar will dehydrate all bacteria and prevent it from reproducing.  If the bacteria die, no infection can occur.  The oil coats the outer bacterial membrane and prevents water and foodstuff from entering the cell.  It also prevents egress of cellular waste products.  As a result, the bacterial cell withers and dies.

A few words of advice:

1)  CAUTION – This is a homemade remedy.  Therefore I recommend you should research anything you read.  You will be assured of its use and the accuracy of the information provided.

2)  Commercial honey is not as effective at treating wounds as raw honey.

3)  If you apply cayenne pepper to the wound to stop bleeding, be prepared to experience pain.  It does sting and some people cannot tolerate this pain.

4)  Manuka honey is the best type of honey that one can store and it’s even being used by the New Zealand army forces.

5)  You should avoid using this treatment for infants as they can develop botulism from honey.

Mixed together, honey and sugar or sugar and cooking oil can provide a healing alternative that is available for anyone.  The paste resulting from mixing these ingredients can be applied directly to an open wound.  It is a healing method guaranteed to stave off infection and hasten the healing process. This healing method has been used for centuries and it won’t fail you when the need arises.

Source:  http://prepperswill.com/treating-wounds-with-honey-and-sugar-an-easy-healing-method/

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

My Feet are Killing Me!

I love going backpacking, especially long backpacking trips that last a week or so.  Even before the actual adventure begins, there’s a lot of challenging aspects of trip prep that can at times be frustrating as well as rewarding when solutions are worked out.  Making sure essentials are packed without taking any more than is necessary can be a real challenge.

There have been times when I though I only packed the essentials and ended up with a backpack that weighed 70 lbs.  Hiking up to 20 miles a day with a backpack that heavy truly takes the fun out of the adventure and one learns very quickly that there are certain items that were once thought of as essential that indeed can be left behind.

I’ve learned by sad experience that there’s one specific category that one cannot afford to skimp on, ever! That’s the topic of foot gear and proper attention paid to avoiding blisters.  There is not a “one size fits all” approach to this critical aspect of proper foot care – there are many conditions and factors to consider based on the type of terrain one is covering.

There have been several trips I’ve been on where my feet were constantly wet.  Crossing river after river often times up to my waist, made it virtually impossible to keep my feet dry.  There are other times when I’ve hiked through narrow canyons for many miles where the only route is hiking in the water running down the canyon.  One such trip was hiking 16 miles down Zion’s Narrows where the entire stretch was like walking on greased bowling balls.

So based on the specific conditions of your planned hike, having proper foot wear is absolutely essential unless you want to be held up with major blisters and open sores that are so painful you may not be able to walk for a period of time.  If one ever needs to bug out on foot, the last thing one would wants to deal with during such a difficult time is painful, blistering and possibly infected feet.

Here are a few tips that should help you properly prepare and avoid the debilitating pain of blistered, infected feet.

Tip 1. Find the Right Shoes to Prevent Blisters

Your shoes are often the source of your blisters. You get a blister due to friction where your toes, heels, and the sole of your foot rub against the shoe. Everybody has feet of different shapes and sizes, and there is no single shoe will be right for everyone. Getting the right size and shape of shoe can help prevent blisters.

New Shoes: If you take new shoes out for a long walk, you may get a blister as it rubs different areas than the last pair of shoes. Any shoes can give you a blister in its first few wearings before your feet have grown accustomed to them.  So take it slow and only go on short walks with new pairs of shoes, even if they are same brand and model you have been wearing.  Build up your mileage and speed in each pair of shoes.

Cramped Shoes: With a cramped toe box, your toes rub against sides or end of shoes. This can even lead to blackened toenails or losing the toenails after a long walk. Your walking shoes should have a finger’s width of length between the end of your toe and the end of your shoes to allow your feet to expand while walking.  Select shoes of the proper width for your foot so that toes have enough room. Do you need bigger shoes?

Feet Sliding Around in Shoes:  If your shoes have a sloppy fit and your feet slide forward and back within the shoe with each step, you are adding extra blister-causing friction. You may also get a black toenail.   You want your feet to have enough room to expand when you walk, but not enough to slide around. Wear a thicker sock to take up some of the extra space. Learn how to lace your shoes to keep your heel in the heel cup with each step rather than sliding forward. If you still seem to have too much space, buy shoes that fit better.

Rough Edges in Your Shoes: The seams and the edge of the insole can rub against your foot or toes.  You can change styles of shoes or insoles.  Some shoes are designed to be seamless inside. But, generally, the solution will be to lubricate or cover the area that is getting rubbed.

Tip 2. Prevent Blisters by Toughening Your Feet

They don’t call a newbie a tenderfoot for nothing!  Your soft, pink feet will have fewer problems with blisters if your skin gets a little tougher.

Calluses are your friends:  As your feet get more of a workout, they build up calluses. These are your friends. You want calluses, which act as a natural pad against the friction that forms blisters. Do not give in to beauty and shave off or pumice down the calluses—at least until after the long walk.

Tannic acid to toughen:  Marathoners and long distance walkers may want to toughen the feet with 10 percent tannic acid or a tea soak (tea contains tannins).  Apply the tannic acid to your feet, or soak in strong tea, twice daily for two to three weeks.

Moisturize Away Heel Cracks:  To keep your calluses from drying out too much and developing painful cracks, moisturize your feet after each bath or shower with a good foot cream or hand cream.

Tip 3. Prevent Blisters by Wearing the Right Socks

Forget the cotton socks, stick with synthetics.  That’s what the experts say when it comes to preventing blisters.  Cotton retains your foot sweat, which then softens the skin and leaves it more prone to breaking with friction, and blisters form.

Wick it Away:  Synthetic socks made of acrylic, polypropylene, or CoolMax fabric wick moisture away from the foot, keeping it dry. These are available at sports stores.

Double layers:  Double-layer socks may be the answer to preventing blisters. The inner layer should be of a wicking fabric. The two layers work to prevent friction on the foot itself.  Some double layer socks, such as WrightSocks, even come with a no-blister guarantee. You can also wear two pairs of socks.

Padded Socks vs. Thin Socks:  From a blister standpoint, experiment with the thickness of your socks. If your socks are so thick that your toes have no room, you need bigger shoes or thinner socks. When having shoes fitted, bring along the thickness of sock you plan to wear to ensure a correct fit.

Change Your Socks En Route:  Many marathoners recommend changing your socks whenever your feet get wet due to rain, or at the halfway point of a marathon.

There’s the Rub:  Check where the sock seams are hitting your toes. Is that where you are getting blisters? Some running socks are specially designed to keep the seams away from the feet. Tube socks are not recommended as your feet are not tube shaped, and they simply won’t fit right.

Socks as an Investment:  With some athletic socks running from $7 to $20 a pair, it can be painful to stock up. But good socks can last much longer than the cheap ones and save you money in the long run.

Tip 4. Prevent Blisters by Lubricating Your Feet

Friction—the rubbing motion between foot, sock, and shoe—creates heat and tearing forces, which make the skin prone to blisters. Reduce the friction, reduce the blisters. One way to reduce friction is by lubricating your feet so they slide rather than rub.

Petroleum Jelly:  Vaseline or generic petroleum jelly is an inexpensive lubricant. It’s one that has been recommended for marathon runners and walkers and it is even offered on the course of some races. The cautions are that it won’t easily wash out of your socks, and it makes the dirt cling to your socks. That can mean there is more grit in your shoe to irritate your foot, which could, in turn, cause more blisters.

AD Ointment:  This preparation is thicker than petroleum jelly, yet still available wherever baby diapers are sold. It’s another inexpensive way to lubricate your feet.

Body Glide, Run Goo, Sports Slick, Sport Shield:  These products can be found at running stores and go on like a stick of deodorant, or come in a handy tube. They vary in their formulations, with some of them being petroleum-free. Most of them are less likely to gunk up your socks permanently compared with petroleum jelly. It would be a good idea to re-apply them during the walk. But keep these around to use to prevent chafing of other body parts.

Teflon:  Some socks are incorporating Teflon to prevent friction.

Tip 5. Prevent Blisters by Keeping Your Feet Dry

Keeping your feet dry starts with wicking socks, but you can also use other strategies.

Corn Starch and Talcum Powder:  First, plain old corn starch (yep, just like you use in cooking) in your socks and shoes can keep your feet dry. Reapply it at least once in a long distance event. Baby powder or talcum powder both smells nice and also acts to keep the feet dry.

Antiperspirant:  A military study showed that using a special heavy-duty antiperspirant on the feet reduced the incidence of blisters. While regular antiperspirant is less concentrated, it might be worth trying.

But Drink Up:  Keep your feet dry, but don’t let the rest of you get dehydrated. Keep drinking water for the first hour, then a sports drink with electrolytes (salts) to keep your body fluids in balance.  Getting dehydrated can contribute to blisters.

Tip 6. Cover the Problem Spots on Your Feet

If you have a spot that is prone to blistering, or have developed a hot spot while you are out walking and running, covering it can help protect it. There are several options, including sports tape, moleskin, gel bandages, and special patches. In a pinch, you might even put duct tape to work. See a variety of solutions for blister bandages and cover-ups.

The drawbacks of covering the area is that often these bandages and pads don’t stay where you’ve put them, especially as you continue walking or running. You may have to try various kinds to find the one that sticks best for you.  As always, prevention is the best solution for a blister.

Tip 7. Stop and Readjust When You Feel a Hot Spot

You will often feel a hot spot developing that can turn into a blister.  While you may want to keep going, the best thing to do is stop immediately.

If you are carrying a blister kit, place a blister bandage or other cover over the spot.  Readjust your socks and shoes to try to eliminate places where your socks may have become bunched up.  If your socks are damp, change to a dry pair if you can.

While it’s best to just end your walk or run when you get a hot spot, these tactics might keep a blister from developing if you have to keep going.


American Academy of Dermatology. How to Prevent and Treat Blisters. https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/injured-skin/blisters

Hoffman MD. Etiological Foundation for Practical Strategies to Prevent Exercise-Related Foot Blisters.

Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2016;15(5):330-335. doi:10.1249/jsr.0000000000000297.

Knapik JJ. Prevention of Foot Blisters. J Spec Oper Med. 2014 Summer;14(2):95-7.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Battle of the Bugs

I love the summer time and being outdoors in the mountains.  Unfortunately, one of the sad consequences of being in the wild is dealing with the ravenous flying, stinging and biting bugs that can drive you crazy!

I remember being on a hunting trip in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico on horseback one summer and I thought I would literally lose my mind.  Especially in the evening, the mosquitoes were so thick it was ridiculous!  The only thing we could do as we rode through the hills was to break off a quaky branch that had lots of leaves and constantly swat ourselves all over in an attempt to keep the critters from devouring us.

It’s not that the actual mosquito bite is painful in any way – in fact, it often happens without you even knowing about it.  It’s the after effect that will drive you crazy.  And if you cave in to the itch and scratch the bite, it only makes things worse.  And as the itch intensifies, even brushing against your bed sheets as you try and sleep will wake you up wanting to scratch the itch in a futile attempt to alleviate the non-stop announce.

I learned a simple trick to take away the itch of a mosquito bite for several hours.  Heat up a cup of water and dip a spoon in the hot water.  Then press the hot spoon against the bite and hold it there for 15 seconds.  You want the spoon to be as hot as you can stand it without actually burning your skin.  I wasn’t careful enough with one particularly annoying bite on my ankle and still sport the burn scar today from using too hot of a spoon.

Your best bet is to do all you can to avoid the bite in the first place.  There are many home remedies and repellents that have been tried and successfully used over the years.  To help determine what might work best, it’s helpful to first review what attracts mosquitoes in the first place.

Mosquitoes are attracted to:

●  Lactic acid
●  Type O Blood
●  CO2
●  Metabolic rate (high resting metabolic rates are more attractive)
●  Heat
●  Movement

Drinking alcohol and exercising both raise metabolic rate and make you more attractive to mosquitoes. Movement and sweating will make you more attractive to mosquitoes.  But have no fear, there are a number of ways to prevent bug bites in the wild. Here’s a list of a few.

1)  Avon’s Skin So Soft with an active ingredient called IR3535, is considered a biopesticide repellent by the EPA. It works, but in most cases will only provide protection for about twenty minutes.

2)  Don’t Eat Bananas female mosquitoes bite and they love sugar. It’s said that when the body processes bananas it attracts the mosquitoes.

3)  Eat Garlic to repel ticks and mosquitoes.

4)  Lemon Eucalyptus Oil can help ward off ticks and mosquitoes. It’s a very effective chemical. Not safe for kids under 3 years of age. Can cause skin irritation and problems with vision so keep away from eyes.

5)  Seek Shelter or Keep an Insect Net in your bug out bag to keep mosquitoes from being able to get to you. Exercise indoors and shower before going outside.

6)  Deet Repellents of at least 15% DEET will provide protection from insects for about 90 minutes.

7)  Avoid Scented Hygiene Products as some people believe that smelling like flowers will attract bugs that are attracted to flowers.

8)  Catnip Oil was proven to work 10 times better than DEET as an insect repellent according to a study done in 2001.

9)  Citronella Candles work only for short periods of time. It’s the smoke from the candle that keeps mosquitoes away.

10)  Get Your Vitamin B to alter your scent and keep mosquitoes away. The Mayo Clinic suggests that 75|-150 mg of Thiamin (Vitamin B-1) could be enough to get mosquitoes to leave you alone.

11)  Find the Breeze (Use a Fan) and point it in your direction. Mosquitoes cannot fly in breezes over 1mph. In the wild of course you’ll need a solar powered fan.

12)  Protective Clothing can keep mosquitoes off of you or at least prevent them from biting if they land on you. Wear long sleeves, pants, and socks to cover exposed skin. Light colored clothing will blend into the surroundings and make you less noticeable to mosquitoes. Clothing should be tight not loose and should be smooth, breathable fabrics that are tightly woven. You can also buy clothing treated with permethrin which is a proven insect repellent. Look for brands such as Nobitech and Insect Shield. Or buy permethrin spray and treat your own clothing.

13)  Use Soybean Oil Repellents which work a little better than products containing 7% DEET but not as well as products with 15% DEET. The difference is that soybean oil repellent is all natural and much safer.

14)  Avoid Mosquito Havens when you are camping or in the wild. Things such as areas with standing water where female mosquitoes (the ones that bite) lay their eggs. Around your home, empty standing kiddie pools, tires, buckets, or anything else that has filled with water. Avoid bushes, long grasses or tall weeds.

15)  Times of Day can also affect mosquito behavior. They generally feed as the sun is rising and just before it sets in the evening. This is because humidity goes up and the breeze dies down, perfect flying weather for mosquitoes.

16)  Mosquito repellent plants are one of the ways to prevent bug bites. Basil is said to be toxic to mosquito larvae. Rosemary can be burned, and the smoke will help repel mosquitoes. Lavender repels flies, moths, and mosquitoes. Peppermint kills some bug larvae and repels adult mosquitoes. Marigolds work to keep mosquitoes and aphids away. Marigold roots are believed to repel a type of roundworms called Nematodes.

17)  Bat Boxes are one of the great ways to prevent bug bites. Bats eat bugs and can be very helpful in keeping the bug population low. Bat boxes can be built around your home or property to encourage bats to live in the area.

18)  Vicks Vapor Rub when rubbed on exposed skin can be very effective at repelling mosquitoes. The only problem with this method is that the smell of menthol may be unpleasant for you and those around you. If

19)  Cinnamon Leaf Oil has been said to be a natural insect repellent. Combine cinnamon leaf oil with a small amount of water and spray or apply to the skin. Most bugs don’t like the smell at all. If they do land on your skin, the oil can be deadly for certain insects.

20)  Vanilla Extract (Clear) and Olive Oil combined into a spray can be effective in repelling mosquitoes and it’s an all-natural method.

21)  Citronella Soap used when bathing or showering can help give you an odor that will repel mosquitoes instead of attracting them.

22)  Picaridin is similar to the chemical compound found in pepper. More natural than DEET. Levels of about 20% picaridin should be effective.

23)  Make Your Own Insect Spray by combining lemongrass oil, vanillin, citronella, and peppermint oil. It’s safe and can be more effective than products with 100% DEET.

 How to Treat Bug Bites

Although many of the ways to prevent bug bites in the wild are effective, chances are one of the little buggers will get to you at some point. Fortunately, there are a number of great ways to treat bug bites too.

You can use a variety of different natural herbs and plants such as lavender, aloe vera, cinnamon, tea tree oil, calendula, and basil to treat the itchiness. You can also use heat or ice to ease the swelling and pain of bug bites or stings. Witch hazel combined with baking soda can be effective as a treatment for bug bites as well.

No matter where you are, you can prevent bug bites fairly effectively if you plan ahead. With the list of ways above, you should be able to find something that can keep the annoying little pests away from you, so you can either enjoy that backyard picnic or focus on accomplishing the survival tasks you need to get done in the wild outdoors.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Is One First Aid Kit Enough?

One of the most important parts of preparedness is having the right first aid supplies. Because food storage and bug out bags always seem to steal the show, first aid sometimes gets overlooked. Having at least one first aid kit around the home is great, but if a disaster strikes, you may find yourself wishing you had spent more time and effort preparing with the right kinds of first aid equipment and supplies.

You should always have some sort of medical kit with you at all times, and that includes your family members.  We should all have first aid kits in our cars, our bug out/in bags, as well as in the home.

Our children need to know how important it is to properly prepare and it’s not a bad idea to give prepper gifts for birthdays and Christmas.  Not only does this make gift giving decisions easier but you will also be giving a gift that has real value and can even save a life.

The Basic First Aid Kit

Here is a list of the basic first aid supplies from the Red Cross that you would want in every kit.  After you have these, you will need to customize your first aid kits. What you add to them will depend on where they will be used, who will be using them, and their skill level.

2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
1 Tube Silvasorb Jel
5 antiseptic wipe packets
1 bottle of aspirin/Advil
1 blanket (space blanket)
1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
1 instant cold compress
1 box of non-latex (Nitrile) gloves
2 hydrocortisone ointment packets
Scissors & Tweezers
2 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
10 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
2 triangular bandages
First aid instruction booklet

Your Skills Will Determine Your Supplies

Before you begin to customize these first aid kits, you need to think about your skill-set first.  There is no reason to spend money on chest seals and tourniquets if you don’t know how to use them.  This doesn’t mean forget about them, it means learn how to use them.  If you are like me, you see all these trauma supplies and say, “I need/want this, I need that, I gotta have that too!” Along with having those supplies comes the responsibility to learn how to use them correctly.

First Aid Kits at Home

The first aid kit in your home should contain the bulk of your supplies.  This kit should be able to cover a wide range of injuries that could occur.  Because the size of your kit isn’t as much of a factor in the home, you should add all the extras you might need.

Extra supplies to practice with.
Less typical items like Steristrips, Mastisol and Xeroform.
Specialty dressings such as Medihoney and Mepilex. [Read More Here]
Tapes & Wraps such as Vet Wrap, Ace Wrap, Hypafix tape etc.
OTC Medications.
Prescription Medications.

First Aid Kits at Work

Most of us spend 8 hours a day at work, and depending on your job, some accidents are more likely than others. Having a first aid kit at work isn’t for minor injuries, that’s what workman’s comp is for. Your first aid kit would be for larger events like active shooters, terrorist attacks and earthquakes.  It should have supplies that could help until the medical professionals arrive.

Most places of employment have basic first aid kits. Because sometimes these get ransacked and never restocked, it might be a good idea to have your own. Check your work’s first aid kit and see how well it’s stocked, and what you might need.

First Aid Kit’s For Your Car

The average American spends around 2 hours per day in their car. Injuries while driving are likely to be more severe than injuries working around the home.  As you are thinking about what to add to your car first aid kit, think about likely injuries from a car accident.

You might want more trauma supplies (if you know how and when to use them) in your car kit. Broken bones and severe bleeding are common in car accidents. Having 100 band aids in your car would be unnecessary, but having SAM splints, extra gauze and dressings would be.

There are items you wouldn’t think are first aid supplies, nevertheless are important to have as part of your kits. Note pad and a pencil, road flares, a heavy duty solar blanket, regular blankets for comfort, headlamp, etc.  It’s very important to note, NEVER do anything you aren’t ABSOLUTELY positive about. Always wait for the medical professionals when available.

Don’t forget about putting first aid kits in your children’s cars as well. This is something our kids just don’t think about until it’s too late. Unless your child it training to become an EMT, a basic kit will work. If they are training to be a first responder, they probably know what to do anyway.

Too Much is Never Enough

We hear the saying all the time that 2 is 1, and 1 is none. With first aid supplies it should be 10 is 1, and 1 is none.  In most trauma situations, you are likely to use far more supplies than you thought.

Most first aid supplies have a very long shelf life, and some can even be used after expiration. The last thing you want is to run out of gauze or dressings when you are trying to stop severe bleeding.

Is There a Place For Pre-made Kits?

Unfortunately, most pre-made first aid kits are a waste of money.  They are typically filled with just band aids, gauze and tweezers.  For this reason, for the most part, I would say steer clear of pre-made kits. You can put together a much better kit yourself than most of the generic pre-made first aid kits.

A “quality” pre-made first aid kit would be good for putting in your children’s cars, and even a jump start first aid kit. You could take the items out you didn’t want, and add the supplies you need. Some people get these kits and use the supplies to practice with, and use the bag or container to build their own kit.

There are some websites that put together good first aid kits but make sure they use good supplies, and it has what you need in it. Keep in mind, a good kit with 100 items is going to be far more than $25. A 100 item kit for $25 probably has 75 band aids in it.

What to Store Your Kits In

Not all of your first aid kits need to be in bags or containers designed specifically for first aid. I would however make sure they are clearly labeled, or it’s obvious what it is. You want these supplies to be readily available, without having to search through boxes to find what you need.  Here are a few ideas that we have used to store first aid supplies in…

My main first aid kit is in a red backpack
Small cardboard boxes for extra supplies (labeled)
Old plastic bins
Old tool box
Sterilite bins with drawers
Ziploc Bags
Old cordless tool cases
Tupperware containers
And anything else laying around the house you can put stuff in.

The bottom line – don’t scrimp when it comes to your first aid kits.  Just like having extra food on hand in the event of an emergency, having extra first aid supplies on hand can literally save lives.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Are You Prepared for a Medical Emergency?

I’ve always loved shooting guns and archery.  I was a lot like Ralphie on “A Christmas Story” where all I wanted for Christmas was a BB gun.  I tried every strategy I could come up with but unfortunately, my mom trumped them all.  There was absolutely no way she was going to allow me to pack a BB gun – she just knew I’d shoot my eye out or possibly someone else’s eye.

My first real gun was a Remington bolt action .22 rifle.  My dad gave it to me when I was 10 years old and if my parents would have let me, I would have slept with it.  I loved shooting that rifle and still have the gun today.  It’s one of the most accurate open-site rifles I’ve ever shot.

As much as I loved that rifle, I was only able to shoot it when we went to the mountains and that just wasn’t anywhere often enough.  Luckily, I had received a 30lb. fiberglass recurve bow for Christmas (and yes, I still have the bow as well).  Since I didn’t have a BB gun, I’d take my bow and a few wooden arrows lizard hunting with my buddies.  We’d walk through the mesas near our home in Albuquerque kicking up blue tails and horny toads from the tumble weeds.  I learned quickly that I just wasn’t fast enough on the draw to actually hit a running lizard.

I was determined to improve my hunting abilities so I would practice in the back yard shooting cardboard boxes.  The arrows I was using were nothing like the aluminum of carbon fiber arrows of today.  They were very basic wooden arrows with a metal field tip crimped on the end.  I only had three arrows and they were really showing the signs of wear.  What I didn’t realize was just how worn they really were.

One of my arrows had developed a crack about six inches in front of the fletching.  I could easily see the crack but just didn’t think anything about it until I learned a very painful lesson.  I nocked the cracked arrow, drew it back and sighted in on my cardboard box target.  I released the shaft and everything seemed to slow down as if I was watching the arrow leave my bow in slow motion.

As my bow string pushed against the nock at the back of the arrow, the force caused the arrow to bow and split right where the crack was.  The front part of the arrow flew away from my bow totally missing the target.  The back end of the arrow ended up driving through my left index finger just in front of my first knuckle.

I didn’t feel anything at first and remember just staring at it wondering what to do.  I then decided I better go inside and see if I could somehow remove the arrow.  I came into the kitchen from the garage and went to the knife drawer.  I decided the best course of action was to cut through the flesh on top of the arrow so I could just lift the arrow straight up rather than pulling it out.  This was my first encounter with just how tough human skin really is.  I had unfortunately (on second thought, fortunately) chosen a fairly dull knife.  As I began to saw on my skin, I was surprised I still couldn’t feel anything but was upset that the knife was not slicing through the skin as easily as I had anticipated.

I quickly decided to abandon this approach and knew I needed help to fix this problem.  I could hear my sister in the living room with her boyfriend and decided to walk in there to get help.  My sister first though I was somehow faking it but on closer inspection realized this was real.  I have to clarify one important point here – my parents, especially my dad seldom felt a doctor was needed to address a wound.  If this happened today, I would rush my kid to the emergency room – not the case when I was growing up.

I told my sister how I’d tried to cut the arrow out and she commented on the folly of my attempt.  She explained that the arrow would need to be pulled out and I definitely was not excited by this revelation.  She told me to look away and on the count of three, she would pull the arrow out.  I reluctantly agreed, turned my head and heard my sister begin counting.  One. Two. Then a quick jerk of her hand pulled the arrow right out of my finger.  She totally faked me out and pulled on the count of two!  I’ve still not forgiven her for this.

I never got stitches and pulled out slivers from the wound for several days thereafter.  Somehow, I survived.  It might have gotten a little infected but nothing I couldn’t handle with some antibiotic cream under the Band-Aids.  I still have the scar today and can even see the cut mark where I tried to slice the skin to remove the arrow.

Now, the facts are – I was very lucky.  Had such an accident happened in the wild, I could have died with an infection.  It really is easy to take for granted the extraordinary medical care available to all of us by simply walking into an Emergency Room.  But what if all that was unexpectedly taken away?  Are you prepared to handle more than applying a Band-Aid?

Most first aid kits are really not much more than Band-Aids, gauze and medical tape.  If there is any antibiotic ointment, it’s probably very limited in quantity and does have an expiration date.  The bottom line, most first aid kits are woefully lacking in real world needs.  In addition, there may be specific medical needs for members of your families that cannot be ignored.

So what should you have in a comprehensive first aid kit?  The options are almost limitless and you could spend close to a thousand dollars so you’ll need to decide what would make sense for your personal and family needs.  There are several companies that specialize in very comprehensive first aid kits that can at least serve as a resource, listing the types of items you may want to consider in your own kit.

Here is a link to a kit that has over 700 items – too many to list in this post but may provide a good working list for your own kit.

The Medic | First Aid Kit

I personally own this first aid kit and have added several additional items to customize it to my family’s needs.  Please don’t neglect this part of your preps – your health and well being are far too important.  You never know when a bizarre accident may happen and the option of heading to your local hospital emergency room may not be an option.

More than 35 years experience in the Preparedness Industry

Compression-Only CPR

Recent research has shown that compression-only CPR or hands-only is just as effective as traditional CPR, if not more so. New statistics from The Journal of the American Medical Association show that bystanders who perform compression-only CPR instead of conventional CPR do, in fact, save more lives. Adults who experience cardiac arrest are 60% more likely to survive if they receive compression-only CPR instead of traditional CPR or no CPR at all. Hands-only CPR is more beneficial because it eliminates the need to interrupt chest compressions with rescue breathing, which can inhibit blood flow.

Hands-only CPR is easy to learn and remember. During a five-year public awareness campaign which focused on hands-only CPR,  rates of compression-only CPR increased from 19.6 percent to 75.9 percent. Traditional CPR courses focus on the ratio of chest compressions to breaths, cycles of CPR per minute, and time between breaths. That is a lot of information to remember and think about during an emergency situation. Compression-only CPR is much easier to remember and perform. Untrained individuals can use chest compressions to save a life.

Compression-only CPR is widely accepted. Those without medical experience are more willing to perform hands-only CPR since it doesn’t require mouth-to-mouth contact. Rescue breathing masks are available, but you might not always have one with you when you are faced with an emergency situation. Hands-only CPR eliminates the need for breathing masks. Since only 6 percent of people who experience cardiac arrest outside of the hospital survive, teaching the public about compression-only CPR could double or even triple their chances of survival.

Hands-Only CPR

  • Call 911
  • Get directly over the chest. Remove clothing with buttons or zippers for better access to the chest area
  • Start chest compressions
  • Place the heel of one hand in the center of the chest. Place the other hand on top of the first interlacing the fingers together.
  • Push hard and fast in the center of the chest. Compress the chest 100 to 120 times a minute.
  • Sing Staying Alive by the Bee Gees to keep the rhythm of compressions going. This song has a 103 beat-per-minute rhythm, helping you maintain the correct compression rate until you can be relieved.
  • Maintain compressions until medical help comes. If needed, switch off between other people to maintain energy.

Source: http://www.emccprtraining.com/blog/emc-news-and-updates/compression-only-cpr/the-benefits-of-compression-only-cpr-and-why-it-should-be-performed

Common Household Hazards

When thinking about emergency preparedness, we often focus on major weather events, seismic activity, or even terrorist attacks.  All too often, we completely overlook events that are much more commonplace, and can be equally as dangerous.  One area that I believe every family needs to think about is the dangers of chemicals that are readily accessible in our homes.

Continue reading “Common Household Hazards”