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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Planning Rehearsals

I received this e-mail from "John":

"Urbanman, like your info. me and my friends discuss prepping all the time. We have five of us in our hunting and survival group, but of course we expect to have all sorts of relatives bust our group when the time comes.

That's cool, because we're ready for it. We have a farmhouse belonging to one of guy's grandmas about a mile and half out of town. That's are meeting point and security point. We plan on staying here as long as we can maybe forever because we have woods and two water ponds. After we hunt or shoot we have a practice of discussing scenarios.

The last one was two weeks after SHTF. If we go into town to see what is going on, or maybe look at a couple of spots where solar panels. It's a no brainer if we have cell phone service, but may not so we may have to go into town to look around and see what's available plus the solar panels would come in handy. What do you think? Call me John if you write this."

UrbanMan replies: John, thanks for writing. It's a good routine to get into talking about scenarios with your group. It can help identify areas where you disagree and need to come to a resolution about plans and protocols. It can also help identify equipment, material and even skill sets gaps that can be fixed before you are doing it for real.

This game of "what if'ing" is called war gaming If you were leaving your secure site to conduct a patrol into town, you would need to have clear cut objectives,...a mission if you will. Such as making contact with selected town residents to get an situational update; procure any needed items, especially food and fuel. And even if you are only going 1.5 miles, you need to plan at least the primary route using the terrain to your advantage for cover and concealment.

Some considerations for your patrol planning checklist, be it the scenario into town or a longer security or forage type patrols:

Control: Sometimes simplicity is the key to controlling a patrol and the actions. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for patrolling, arms and hand signals, reaction drills, crossing danger areas, and more, helps the patrol operate as one team and make control easier.

Security: During a patrol, security is achieved through choosing routes that provide cover and concealment, especially on approach to the target or the tentative observation/listening post. Good employment of light, noise and litter discipline also helps the patrol stay undetected.

Communications: This covers radio communications to visual signals. Consider recognition signals and distress or duress signals, and code words. Use brevity codes for radio communications. Have scheduled communications contacts or windows, however even at only a mile and a half, FRS/GMRS type radios will not have the range.

PlanningThink contingencies,...contingencies,.....contingencies,...use PACE planning. Ensure everyone, even the guys remaining, know all contingency plans,...situations like if the patrol is ambushed or the secure site is attacked.....where you emergency rally point is,....this list is endless but needs to be considered so the patrol operates with backup plans.

As far as the solar panels. I am not advocating conspiracy to commit theft, but in a very decayed world without law enforcement or order of any type, I too would consider "requisitioning" available solar panels to hook into my home power grid.

Urban Man

Friday, September 4, 2015

EMP Threat Scenario

Here is a good short video on the dangers that the US is facing from a possible and likely EMP scenario. If our country does not get its act together and protect its citizens, we may be facing this one day.

Urban Man.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chapter 30- Coping Without Running Water

Every Prepper worth their salt stores water and lots of it.  Not only that, they store one, two, three or more ways to purify water.  That is all well and good because you never know when a disaster or other disruptive event may occur and those water resources will be called upon for drinking, cleaning, hygiene, and sanitation purposes.

Recently, my number came up and I was the one without water during a short term, personal water apocalypse.  Now really, that may be a bit dramatic because I was simply without running water. This was caused by a break in the line from the water main at the street to my home.  All told, I was without running water for 12 days.

To be honest, I was quite relaxed about the ordeal.  After all, I had cases of bottled water for drinking, and a 55 gallon water barrel holding purified water.

Still, being without running water brought up issues I had not considered. Albeit water-ready, the reality of not being able to turn on the tap and have fresh, and especially hot, water was a new experience.

Today I learned more tips from Urban Man for coping without running water so that you can be better prepared if something similar happens to you. Below are 17 tips to help in this situation.

17 Tips for Coping Without Water:

1. With advance notice of a water shutoff, fill the bathtub and as many spare jugs and buckets as you can round up. In addition, fill the Berkey, if you have one and all of your sinks.

2. Double up on hand sanitation.  Fill a spray bottle with liquid castile soap, water, and a copious amount of tea tree or other anti-bacterial essential oil. To wash you hands, spray with a generous amount of your soap/tea tree mixture then rinse with water from a filled sink or a container of water set next to the sink.  Follow-up with commercial hand sanitizer.

3. Know the location of your preps!  In my case, I had two camp showers that could have been used for taking hot showers after heating water on the stove.  Could I find them?  Nope.

4. No mater how many buckets you have, you need more.  In addition, make sure the buckets you have are manageable, weight wise, when filled with water.  Remember, water weighs 8.35 pounds per gallon.  My buckets were re-purposed 2-pound buckets obtained for free from a local cafe and were small enough for me to handle comfortably when filled.  A water filled 5 gallon bucket would have been a problem.

5. When using the toilet, flush liquids daily but solids upon each use.  I had two toilets in use so it was easy to abide by this formula.  I did not, however, flush TP (see below).

6. Dispose of toilet paper into a wastebasket and not into the toilet.  This will prevent your toilet from backing up because it is crammed with paper!  Been there, done that.  Do, however, be mindful of the smell and dispose of the contents of your wastebasket daily.  Baking soda helps control odors if you can not dispose of soiled TP often enough.

7. When it comes time to flush, fill the tank with water and use the handle on the toilet to flush.  This uses less water than dumping water into the bowl.

8. Stock up on disposable plates, cups, and eating utensils.  Cleaning up after meals will be a challenge and will use a lot of water.  Save the water you have for cooking utensils and use disposables for everything else.

9. Clean with cloths and rags not sponges.  Without proper cleaning, sponges will become very unsanitary quickly.  Gross even.  Use microfiber cloths or cleaning rags made from discarded tee shirts or towels.  They can be washed using a Mobile Washer, tossed in the garbage, or laundered when things return to normal.

10. Learn to take “sponge baths” using a washcloth and soap.  Your spray bottle of castile soap will come in handy for this.  Better yet, lay in a supply of No-Rinse Bath Wipes (my favorite), homemade wipes (something I still need to learn to do), or baby wipes.

11. Have at least one way to filter and purify watered gathered from the outdoors.  See How to Use Pool Shock to Purify Water.

12. Learn to hook a hose up to your water heater so that you can use its water in an emergency.  It is a good idea to turn off the electrical breaker or turn off the pilot light first.

13.  Plumbers may not always be available so learn minor plumbing repairs yourself.  When the water came back on, one of our toilets failed, probably due to the back flow of gunk.  Repairs were easy with a backup tank repair kit.

14. Get to know which neighbors have what home repair and handyman skills.  Let them know about your own skill-set so that there is reciprocity and you can help each other out when something goes wrong and needs fixing.  Everyone knows how to do something, right?

15. Keep basic tools on hand, including shovels, axes, saws, hatchets, and other manly-man items.  Just because you are a woman does not mean you should not have basic tools!

16. Maintain a good sense of humor. Treat the experience and a learning experience as well as a grand adventure in self-reliance.

17. Purchase 30 gallon and 55 gallon water barrels for storing water at your home. I would recommend a minimum of 4. Learn to check and keep the water purified. Rotate water every 4 months by using the water to water your survival garden and yard, wash your car, etc. Purchase hand pumps to make removing the water easy.

The Final Word

Regardless of how much you drill for disruptive events, having something happen for real will open your eyes to considerations that were unplanned.  With camping, backpacking, and boating, you know in advance you will not have running water and can plan accordingly.

No running water at the drop of a hat is another story completely.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Maggots Use In Medicine

Ancient therapy making comeback as wound-healing option

These aren't your grandfather's maggots.

Maggot, or larval, therapy has been around since ancient times as a way to heal wounds. Now, the method has gone high-tech--in some ways--and it's being tested in a rigorous clinical trial at the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Gainesville, Fla. Recruitment is now underway.

The study involves veterans with chronic diabetic ulcers on their feet. The maggots feasting on the dead or dying tissue in their wounds--and eating germs in the process--have been sterilized in a pristine, pharmaceutical-grade lab. Instead of roaming free over the wounds, they are contained in fine mesh bags, and removed after a few days.

Welcome to maggot therapy, 2015.

"There's an eight-step quality-control process to how these medicinal maggots are produced," notes lead investigator Dr. Linda Cowan. "Every batch is quality-tested."

Cowan has a Ph.D. in nursing science and is a wound-care specialist with VA and the University of Florida. She has studied maggots in the lab, combed through the available research on them, and seen firsthand what they can do in wounds.

"As a clinician, I was very impressed by the literature on larval therapy. And sometimes we would have patients come into the clinic with what I call 'free range' maggots--they're not sterile, they're not produced specifically for medicinal purposes--the patients got them at home, unintentionally. But they really clean out the wound nicely."

Cowan, like other researchers, tends to prefer the scientific term "larvae" over "maggots," but they mean the same thing. The whitish worm-like creatures are young flies, before they mature into pupa and then into adults. For therapy, in most countries, the green bottle fly is the insect of choice.

Co-investigator Dr. Micah Flores, whose background is in entomology--the study of bugs--admits that "maggot" does have a negative connotation for most folks. "It can be a scary word," he says.

Cowan points out that in the study's recruitment flyer "we use the term 'medicinal maggots.' We want people to know these are not home-grown on somebody's windowsill."

The VA study will involve up to 128 Veterans. It's comparing maggot therapy with the standard of care for diabetic wounds--a treatment called sharp debridement, in which a health care provider uses a scalpel, scissors, or other tool to cut or scrape away dead or unhealthy tissue. The procedure promotes wound healing.

Nearly a quarter of VA patients have diabetes, and about a quarter of these will have foot wounds related to the disease. In many cases, the hard-to-heal ulcers worsen to the point where gangrene develops and amputation is required.

The Gainesville researchers will examine how well the wounds heal in each study group. They'll also look at maggots' effects on harmful bacteria. In addition to clearing out dead tissue, maggots disinfect wounds by ingesting bacteria and secreting germ-killing molecules. They also eat through biofilm--a slimy mix of micro-organisms found on chronic wounds.

Turn back the clock about 90 years, and there was a researcher who grew maggots on a hospital windowsill, as unscientific as that sounds. Dr. William Baer had treated U.S. soldiers in France during World War I and noticed that large, gaping wounds that were swarming with maggots--sometimes thousands of the creatures--didn't get infected, and the men survived.

Baer came back to Johns Hopkins University and experimented with the therapy, only to realize that maggots could spread disease as they devoured decaying tissue. Two of his patients died of tetanus. He made some progress with using sterilized maggots, but soon antibiotics would come on the scene and maggot therapy--with its high yuck factor--fell into disregard.

"Antibiotics were the new cure-all, and so we didn't need the maggots around too much anymore," says Cowan. "But they've never gone away completely."

A few studies took place in the U.S. in the ladder half of the last century, including some at the VA Medical Center in Long Beach, Calif. But it wasn't enough to place maggots in the pantheon of modern medical miracles. Meanwhile, the therapy continued to attract interest in the United Kingdom, where a game-changer occurred a few years ago. A Wales-based company called BioMonde came out with the bag concept, which caught Cowan's attention right away.

She had been interested in studying maggot therapy. But she also realized that many clinicians, as well as patients--and their caregivers at home, who would have to change dressings--might have a hard time warming up to the idea.

"When we started talking about doing this study," says Cowan, "we were interested in the yuck factor. One of my concerns was other clinicians. They have to deal with this. They may be turned off by what I call the squirmy wormies."

Cowan recalls one nurse colleague who would recoil when patients showed up in the clinic with wounds that had attracted a few maggots.

"She just had an aversion to larvae of any kind. When a patient would come in, and they would have these free-range maggots, she would not want to deal with them. She would come and get me, and I would take care of it.

"I realized she wouldn't be the only clinician out there who would feel like this. So I thought this product would really make a difference."

That said, Cowan believes many patients are undeterred by the insects, bags or no bags. She tells of one veteran who has been struggling with a non-healing diabetic ulcer for three years. "He said he is willing to try anything that might work."

That attitude is not uncommon among those with diabetic sores, says Cowan, although she senses that veterans, as a group, may be a bit less squeamish than the general population, and thus even more receptive to the therapy.

"When we go through the informed consent form with them, we explain the study and we tell them they could be randomized to the 'sharp' group, which is the standard of care, the same kind of debridement they've gotten in the past--or they could get the maggot therapy. We've done about 21 informed consents so far. Overwhelmingly, people have been disappointed if they weren't randomized to the maggot group."

BioMonde, the company sponsoring the trial, has said it will provide maggots for up to two weeks of treatment for any patient who did not receive the therapy during the study but wants it, and whose physician believes it would be appropriate.

Both groups in the study will receive treatment over the course of eight days. Along with studying the veteran patients and their wounds, the researchers will survey their caregivers and clinical providers. "One thing we want to find out," says Cowan, "is whether this yuck factor is really an issue. And who is it the greatest issue for? Patients? Clinicians? The wife or husband who has to change the dressing?"

To examine the main study outcome, the team will photograph each wound before and after each treatment. Then, wound-care experts who are blinded to which therapy was used--maggots or sharp debridement--will visually assess how much viable versus non-viable tissue remains.

Just as important, the team will study the therapies' effects on biofilms. A biofilm is not a movie about someone's life--it's a soupy mix of bacteria and other germs that resides on or in a wound. Experts believe it may be part of why some wounds--such as diabetic ulcers--are so difficult to heal. Cowan's group has studied biofilms in the lab, grown on pieces of pig skin, and she says the maggots are the only therapy that appears to completely eradicate them.

"A biofilm is a party of poly-microbial organisms," explains Cowan. "It could be bacteria, fungus, virus--all of them. They spit out a protective coating that protects them from things you would put on the wound, like an antiseptic gel. Also, it protects them from things you might take inside the body systemically, like antibiotics. So it's tough to get rid of these biofilms.

"You can debride with a scalpel, and you can cut away what looks like dead or unhealthy tissue, but you can't see biofilm. And if you don't completely get rid of a biofilm growth, within 24 to 72 hours it can completely regenerate, with its protective coating."

Cowan collaborated with Dr. Gregory Schultz on numerous studies involving biofilms at UF's Institute for Wound Research.

"Both independently and collaboratively, we tested quite a number of products," says Cowan. "We tried all kinds of expensive things. There were some that were more promising than others. We would get some good, favorable results. But there was nothing that was getting rid of everything--until we tested the maggots."

The group published a 2013 study in the journal Ulcers that included before-and-after pictures, taken with an electron scanning microscope, attesting to the maggots' handiwork.

"The results were mind-blowing," says Cowan. "The photos show the difference with the larvae at 24 and 48 hours. At 24 hours there were hardly any [bacteria] to count, and at 48 hours the biofilm was completely gone. Not one organism left."

She points out another benefit of the maggots, versus drug treatment: "It's hard for bacteria or other organisms to develop a resistance to something that's going to eat them." Drug-resistant bacteria are a huge problem in U.S. heath care.

Flores, the entomologist, wants to peek inside the maggots, to see what they've ingested. After they are removed from a wound, the bagged maggots are being frozen for later analysis. (Not in the same freezer where the lab crew keeps their Haagen-Dazs, by the way.)

"My background is studying insects--flies in particular," says Flores. "So I'm very interested in what's inside the larval gut, what they've been feeding on. Are they picking up the same organisms we're seeing growing on the wound? Does it match up?"

Flores and Cowan say theirs is the first study to do this type of analysis. And there should be plenty to look at: Between dead tissue, bacteria, and biofilm--an all-you-can-eat buffet for maggots--they take in enough grub to noticeably blow up in size.

"They do a great job," says Cowan. "They plump up to the size of a small jelly bean, whereas when they go in, they're smaller than a grain of rice. So it's pretty impressive."

The team is also looking at biomarkers of wound healing as another study outcome. Enzymes known as MMPs, for example, rise in response to inflammation. Levels drop as a wound heals.

Pending the study results, Cowan hopes to see maggot therapy catch on in the U.S. as an evidence-based way to treat wounds--not just diabetic ulcers, but other types as well. One example might be deep skin wounds in combat veterans. She's already gotten calls from plastic surgeons interested in the therapy.

"If the maggots can clean up a wound, they can possibly make advanced therapies more effective so you don't have to repeat them. For example, if you take a skin graft from the leg and put it on the belly, if that wound has a chronic biofilm, that graft is not going to take. But if you clean it up and then do the skin graft, it may take. What a win-win that would be."

[Source: EurekAlert, The Global Source for Science News, 17 August 2015]

"Comment:  I found this article to be very interesting. I have heard of this being done before and see it in a lot movies. This is some good information to retain, as I have a feeling we may be needing to use it in the future." 

Urban Man~