What I Did This Week To Prep

We had our first ‘lights out’ drill this week. Unfortunately I can’t call it a success, other than in the sense that we learn from our failures (hopefully).

Coming off the successful test of powering the deep freezer (for over four days), using the batter bank and inverter – I was ready to take the next step. This one was to see how the battery bank would do powering devices inside the house we would like to be able to use during a power outage.

My goal:

  1. Power two lamps, to light the living room / kitchen area, each with two CFL bulbs (compact fluorescent lamp – low energy)
  2. Power our 29 inch TV (older cathode ray tube type) and DVD player
  3. Charge the cell phones
  4. Use the microwave for limited cooking

Outcome:

  1. Batteries were discharged after about 1 1/2 hours of watching the movie (The Sting), and having the lamps on
  2. I forgot to charge the cell phones
  3. The microwave tripped the breaker after less than two minutes

What I learned:

  1. LED flashlights are great; I love our new Duracell Daylite LED two D cell flashlights
  2. Thoroughly check, and be familiar with, your equipment – before the incident
  3. Ensure the battery bank is fully charged
  4. The inverter shuts itself off when the batteries reach 10.50 volts
  5. Buying a quality system and running it through a cheap circuit breaker is dumb

What went well:

  1. Storing the main extension cord near the battery bank (14 gauge, 50 foot)
  2. Taking the opportunity to teach Ryan about the circuit breaker box
  3. Having plenty of accessory extension cords
  4. Once lamps were on (from batteries), putting the flashlights in a central place (easy to find in the dark)

If the power had really been out, we would have fallen back on our redundancy planning and gotten out the lanterns and candles.

The biggest mistake was assuming that since the battery bank, through the inverter, had been plugged in for almost a week that the batteries would be fully charged – so I didn’t think to check first. Yesterday (several days after the drill) I discovered the circuit breaker (a cheap plastic one)–between the batteries and the inverter–had failed and wasn’t allowing the batteries to charge. After seeing that I realized that during our drill our batteries probably weren’t fully charged (likely very low charge to begin with).

I rewired the batteries directly to the inverter (there’s still the inverter’s internal circuit breaker, the external one was a backup) and the batteries immediately began recharging. I’ll order a higher quality circuit breaker this weekend. When the breaker arrives, I’ll do an unofficial drill during the day and see how long the fully charged batteries will run the lamps, TV and DVD player. (Buying stuff is easy, this testing and figuring out is a pain…)

We also transplanted our pepper plants (one jalapeno and one habanero) from the garden into pots so we could bring them into the house for the winter. I hadn’t known until recently that peppers, in their natural habitat, are perennials; we think of them as annuals because our winters get too cold for them to survive. Next year we’ll just put the pot outside for the summer. So instead of starting with brand new plants again, we’ll have mature ones and see how they do. As a baseline, this year we got three, very mild, jalapenos and no habaneros at all.

Lastly, we had budgeted money for buying fish antibiotics this month. So I ordered AQUA-MOX (amoxicillin 500 mg, 100 capsules), AQUA-FLEX (cephalexin 500mg, 100 capsules) and AQUA-ZOLE (metronidazole 250mg, 100 tablets). I stored them away in a cool, dry, dark location in their original containers.

What did you do?

(Monday: The Hassles of Storing Gasoline)

(10/30/11)

Antibiotics In Your Preps?

“The first rule of antibiotics is try not to use them, and the second rule is try not to use too many of them.” – Paul Marino The ICU Book 2007

Cellulitis

Last week in Soap and Water I posted about the risk, in a collapse situation, of an infection–from minor cuts and scrapes–known as cellulitis. I linked to Dr. Bones Doom and Bloom blog post, Cellulitis: An Epidemic in a Collapse. Here’s another good article by Dr. Bones, A Doctor’s Thoughts on Antibiotics, Expiration Dates, and TEOTWAWKI. For additional perspective about antibiotics before and during a collapse I recommend comments by Dr. ‘Walker’ on TSP forum. Additional, non-prepper/collapse, antibiotic information can be found at eMedicineHealth.com.

I need to state, though I was previously certified and worked as a paramedic for almost ten years, I am currently not a medical professional of any type; thus I am not giving any professional medical advice. All the information in this post is from open internet sources. As Dr. Bones states “. . . [these] are hypothetical strategies for a post-apocalyptic setting. They are not meant to replace standard care and advice when modern medical technology and resources are available.” And always remember, the practice of medicine or dentistry without a license is illegal and punishable by law.

So with all the caveats stated:

Antibiotics refer to a substance that kills, slows or disrupts the growth of:

  • bacterial infections: caused by a pathogenic (a ‘germ’/microorganism that causes disease) bacteria
  • protozoan infections: caused by a parasitic disease, i.e. giardia which occurs through ingestion of infected fecal contaminated water or food

Antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses, such as: colds, flu, most coughs, and most sore throats (unless caused by strep).

Much of my information comes from Dr. Bones. I trust his advice. I applaud him; he is a medical doctor who is willing to say what he believes will save lives in a collapse situation. But as he clearly states, “[This] advice is contrary to standard medical practice, and is a strategy that is appropriate only in the event of societal collapse. If there are modern medical resources available to you, seek them out.”

As discussed in Soap and Water, describing a collapse situation, there are several things that will aggravate the chances of getting an infection: 1) We will be doing more ‘dirty’ jobs, 2) We will be doing a lot more manual labor and other activities that can easily lead to cuts and scrapes, and 3) Clean water and basic hygiene will not be as accessible or convenient. So a relatively minor wound that is ignored while you continue working gets more contaminated; then the wound isn’t thoroughly washed out because clean water is saved for drinking. In a short period of time that wound can develop a serious infection.

Dr. Bones states in Fish Antibiotics in a Collapse, “These injuries can begin to show infection, in the form of redness, heat and swelling, within a relatively short time. Treatment of such infections, called “cellulitis”, at an early stage improves the chance that they will heal quickly and completely.  However, many rugged individualists are most likely to “tough it out” until their condition worsens and spreads to their blood.  This causes a condition known as sepsis; fever ensues as well as other problems that could eventually be life-threatening. The availability of antibiotics would allow the possibility of dealing with the issue safely and effectively.”

Having antibiotics available in a collapse situation will be very important, even lifesaving. The question is how can we as preppers obtain a stockpile to be used if other ‘medical resources’ are no longer available?

Dr. Bones continues, “After years of using [antibiotics] on fish, I decided to evaluate these drugs for their potential use in collapse situations. A close inspection of the bottles revealed that the only ingredient was the drug itself, identical to those obtained by prescription at the local pharmacy. If the bottle says FISH-MOX, for example, the sole ingredient is Amoxicillin, which is an antibiotic commonly used in humans.  There are no additional chemicals . . .”

So it seems that fish antibiotics are the same drugs as used in human antibiotics. I believe that adding fish antibiotics to my preps is a sound strategy. They are available, without a prescription, through many fish supply websites. I have purchased, or plan to purchase, the following:

  • Fish-Mox Forte (amoxicillin 500mg): used to treat infections of the ears, nose, throat, urinary tract, skin, pneumonia, and gonorrhea
  • Fish-Flex Forte (cephalexin 500mg): used to treat infections of the bone, ear, skin, urinary tract, and pneumonia; it has very low side effects, (it is typically safe for those with penicillin allergies)
  • Fish-Flox Forte (ciprofloxacin 500mg): used to treat infections of bones and joints, sinuses, skin, urinary tract, gastroenteritis (stomach ‘flu’), typhoid, plague, and anthrax
  • Aqua-Doxy (doxycycline 100mg): used to treat infections of the sinus and respiratory tract, skin (staph), urinary tract, intestines, chlamydia, anthrax, Rickettsia, Lyme disease, plague, and cholera
  • *Fish-Zole (metronidazole (Flagyl) 250mg): as an antiprotozoal, used to treat giardia and dysentery

For any medication you choose to stock (antibiotics or otherwise) print out the entire drug card and keep that information stored with the drug; a good online source of drug information is the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Also it’s always best to store them in the original package and, like food storage, keep in a dry, dark, cool place.

If you choose to add antibiotics to your preps it is your responsibility to be thoroughly educated about their usages, contradictions, doses, and side effects. This is something you can’t just buy and figure you have it if you need it. Obtain additional medical publications such as the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) or Delmar Nurse’s Drug Handbook*. Antibiotics are drugs, taking an antibiotic is a medical treatment, do not take this lightly. When I was going through my Army medic training one of my instructors said, “Every medicine you put into the body is a toxin, be sure the benefits outweigh the risks.”

(Wednesday: Expired, or Not Expired; That Is The Question)

* There are many other good references available, these are just two examples. There is no reason to buy a current edition; older editions are much cheaper and have essentially all the information a layperson would ever need.