Tuesday, 30 October 2012
The aftermath of Sandy is going to take some clearing up, anybody can work that out, but aside from the seawater damage, blown electrics, downed trees and all the visible damage that needs to be sorted there's a great deal you might not see right away that will need your attention.
Wildlife will be on the move in every area that has been inundated. Spiders, snakes, rodents and insects will all make their way, quickly to higher, drier ground. In addition the the obvious, bites from these creatures some of them, namely rodents, will bring with them diseases that can have an effect on humans. Rats, mice, squirrels and a myriad of other small furries will be in closer contact with humans and domestic pets giving rise to an inevitable increase in the diseases they carry. These range from leptospirosis to bubonic plague. These animals will move into areas where they can make a dry nest and find food. Exercise care when putting out and clearing garbage, an animal that feels threatened will attack. When clearing up make sure you wear protective clothing, particularly on you hands and feet, to act as a barrier for the viruses and bacteria you will most likely be coming into contact with.
There is likely to be animal carcasses in rivers and streams and ALL water supplies that are not potable should be treated with suspicion in these circumstances. It should be boiled and chlorinated regardless of how reliable the supply was prior to the flooding. In addition animals that have not made it will be left on roads, gardens etc when the flood recedes and they should be handled with extreme caution.
Colds and flu will spread easily through groups of people in shelters, community halls etc. those who have been evacuated to any kind of mass centre should wash their hands frequently and limit contact with those outside of their immediate group. Supplied cutlery etc should be wiped prior to use, as should the edges of cups and glasses. If possible eat pre-packed sandwiches that have not been handled by anyone at the evacuation centre, and for things that can be eaten cold direct from a can, it's advisable to do so.
Areas without power may also have no municipally treated water. Diseases such as typhus spread easily after disasters, the lice that cause it are present all the time in some sectors of the community and if water for washing and laundry is limited these lice will spread easily through the wider population. If you find any lice in your clothing bag all the clothes you are wearing and tie it up tightly. It needs to be left for seven days, preventing the lice from feeding. Get yourself into a shower at a community centre or shelter that has water and avoid scratching any bites. The bites themselves are not likely to cause typhus, it's the transfer of infected faeces around the bite into the open area that triggers infection and this happens when you scratch.
Any sign of fever after a disaster such as this should be taken seriously, particularly if you have had to move through the floodwater and if you have access to medical professionals you should consult them as soon as possible. Flood water is likely to be contaminated with human faeces, particularly in the city where the sewerage and drainage systems have failed to cope. Its obvious that this water should be avoided where possible. If you do have to wade through it cover all scratches and cuts with waterproof dressings, and put plastic garbage bags over your feet, taping them high up on your legs before putting on boots and shoes. Wash your hands thoroughly before putting fingers anywhere near your eyes nose or mouth, this is very important in the elderly, children and those who are generally debilitated as their immune system is not as strong as it would be in a healthy adult.
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
I've been quite unwell for the last couple of weeks. Not hospital admitted, seriously ill type of unwell, just some kind of bug that dragged away every last bit of my energy and filled me not only with an aching that extended from the tips of my hair to my toenails, but with an irresistible urge to sleep, some days for 18-20 hours.
For five days I could barely put one foot in front of the other, quite literally I was barely able to stand up. Getting through the school runs was agonising as my aching body lurched from temperatures so high you could feel the heat radiating from me a good foot away, and shivering bouts so forceful my entire body shook.
The worst has passed now, just a snotty nose and a need to go to bed a couple of hours earlier than I usually would do. So, what was this awful thing that laid me so low? An emerging disease with an unpronounceable name? An exotic disorder not seen before in the UK?
No, it was flu, a common variety I assume as I had no major respiratory issues and I lived to tell the tale.
Unusually for me I am not going to tell you about a new killer strain found in a llama somewhere in the Peruvian mountain's that may be a threat to mankind...none of that today.
What did cross my mind about my brush with this very common ailment was how I would have coped, indeed would I have coped at all if this had happened during or post-collapse?
If I hadn't have been able to turn the heating up and down instantly.
If I had not had paracetamol (acetaminophen) to control my temperature.
If I had HAD to stay awake to ensure the safety of my child and myself.
What would I have done? Well, the heroine in me says I would have pushed it to the back of my mind and carried on regardless. The reality was I was hoping to God there wasn't a house fire as I doubt I would have gotten out. I know we all react differently in life threatening situations, the will to survive is greater than almost anything life can throw at us, but sometimes, just sometimes you find yourself in a situation that makes you wonder, what if?
Threats to our safety in a post-collapse world will come in many forms and we should all endeavour to make sure we don't overlook the common everyday threats whilst preparing for the less common once in a lifetime events. The risk of something such as circulating flu triggering a terminal event, even an indirect one, post-collapse is far higher than it would be under normal circumstances.
Having the over the counter medications that we all store up for such events helps us feel better, they keep us comfortable, but they can't chop the wood, keep the fire going and do the thousands of other things that will be required of us post-event. Those of us that are alone with kids need to think far more closely than those in larger groups about just what our children are capable of to keep things going, even in a rudimentary fashion should we be laid low for a few days.
It's not a pleasant thought imagining a situation where something so simple could undo years of preparation and planning but it's something that should be considered. Relegation of minor tasks to even quite young children is something we seem to have moved away from which in many ways is a negative thing. Giving children small responsibilities fosters independence and in an emergency situation will save vital energy that you can expend on more important issues.
Whilst not advocating slave labour but getting them used to it now will mean things work much more smoothly later on. They will feel 'part of the team' and any skills they are able to accomplish for themselves will put them in good stead for the very uncertain future we all face.