Thursday, January 18, 2018

Winter Preparedness


The first few weeks of a new year can feel like the start of something fresh and exciting, but for many U.S. residents, this is merely the halfway point. Winter is just beginning, and several states have already seen record-breaking low temperatures.
Meanwhile, the West Coast has been rocked with wild fires, mudslides, earthquakes, and drought.
We recommend reviewing your emergency preparedness plan often, particularly with changing seasons that can bring extreme weather conditions. Let's examine some steps you can take to keep you and your family prepared this winter.


Winter Storm Planning

When extreme weather is in play, there's no such thing as over-preparedness. Facing conditions below freezing can mean the difference between a snow day and a disaster situation, particularly if other factors such as power outages are involved.

In general, winterizing your home keeps energy costs low, but in the event that you've lost power, the additional insulation adds vital protection against the cold.
Keeping a small generator on hand – and the fuel to run it –  will allow you to power a space heater, the effect of which can be amplified through the use of cheap solar blankets. If your home has a fireplace, use it. However, ensure that you know how to build and tend a fire in advance. If you plan on using a fireplace or wood burning stove, make sure that it’s clean and ready for use. Never leave a fireplace unattended.
Ensure your car is stocked with antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, oil and gas, and that everything in your car is working as expected. If you don’t already have winter tires, then it’s time to upgrade them.
Don't leave pets outside under any circumstance.


Checklist:


  • Winterize your home & car.
    • Cover windows.
    • Store additional fuel.
    • Invest in a windshield scraper.
  • Keep a battery-powered weather radio on hand in the event you lose power.
  • Map out and practice your safety evacuation route. 
    • Consider marking a map with a preferred and secondary route as well as safe locations.
  • Keep your emergency kit fully stocked.
  • Ensure you have alternatives such as firewood or a generator for keeping warm. A small heater such as this uses a propane tank and can accommodate a 100 sq. ft. area.
    •  Fuel
    • Generator
    • Solar blankets
  • Make extra blankets and warm clothes readily accessible.
  • Bring animals indoors and provide adequate shelter and blankets to livestock.

General Planning

Not all parts of the country are affected by extremely low temperatures. For any emergency situation, you and your family should have a plan of action in place. For example, determine who is going to carry important documents, how you'll load the car and which route you'll be taking in case of an evacuation. It’s important that in addition to your own family plan, you are also aware of your town’s evacuation plans and routes.

Checklist:


  • Sort out the chain of command, meeting places, and other important details for ensuring your family sticks together. 
  • Run practice drills with your family, particularly if you have younger children.
  • Keep a list of important contacts and other information readily available for any disaster situation. That includes the police, fire department, insurance, utility service companies, and loved ones. 
  • If you or anyone in your family takes medication, be sure to keep a detailed list of what they take, how much, and why.
  • Make sure that important documents, like birth certificates and property deeds, are kept in a fireproof safe so they can survive any disaster.
  • Keep your emergency kits stocked and go-bags ready and up to date. 
    • Stock at least three gallons of water per person.
  • If you have pets, make sure you create an emergency action plan to ensure their safety  in case of a disaster. Account for additional water your pet will need. 
  • Stay up to date on weather alerts with local stations or an emergency weather radio.


Earthquake Planning

If you’re one of the tens of millions living in an earthquake-prone area, we recommend practicing readiness frequently. Earthquakes can escalate quickly, causing heavy objects around you to fall. It’s as important to avoid these spaces during an earthquake as it is to secure items prior to such an event.
Practice drills are vital when preparing for an earthquake. Find safe places in each room of your house.
Be prepared for how you’d react to an earthquake in your workplace, at a friend’s house or in public, and talk to your children about what they should do away from home.

The CDC recommends that you drop to your hands and knees immediately if an earthquake starts. Crawling is safer than running as it eliminates falls and potentially serious injuries.
Once on all fours, move to cover. For example, crawl under a strong, sturdy desk or table.  The
stronger the shelter you find to hide under, the better.

Checklist:


  • Before an earthquake, take precautions by protecting your home by securing heavy items that could topple over.
    • Reinforce lighting fixtures.
    • Consider organizing your shelves so that larger, heavier, and breakable items are closest to the floor.
    • Secure items on your walls, such as pictures or mirrors.
    • Install latches on cabinet doors.
  • Know how to shut off your gas valve.
  • Keep a flashlight ready. 
    • Every person in your home can benefit from a flashlight by their bed at night.
  • Stock an emergency radio to keep you updated in the event of a power failure.
  • Map an evacuation route and practice evacuating with your family.
  • Keep an emergency kit stocked and on hand.
  • Establish your safe places for cover at home, workplace, and/or school – practice DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON in your safe places.


Wildfire Planning


Checklist:


  • Ensure you have home insurance protecting your assets. 
  • Regularly trim foliage and other flammable objects around your property. 
    • Clean your gutter and roof of dried leaves or anything that might work as kindling.
  • Consider building walkways and other “fuel breaks” to stop wildfires from spreading to your home.
  • Set aside any tools that could be used to help extinguish a fire. This includes rakes, shovels and buckets.
  • Water down your roof so it’s less likely to catch fire.
    • Keep an extra-long garden hose around that can stretch to any part of your house and property.
    • Fill garbage cans, the bathtub, and any other large container with water. 
    • If you can afford to, consider installing a pool or pond in your yard – any extra water source will help protect your home. 
  • Keep your windows, doors, and vents closed. 
    • Shut off anything pulling air in from the outside so that the air inside stays clear of smoke and dust.
    • Shut fireplace screens and open the dampers if you have a fireplace.
  • Stay tuned into your radio for updates. 
  • Evacuate if you're advised to.
    • Make sure that your car is ready for an evacuation – the tank is full, there’s an emergency kit, and extra clothes in the car.
  • Check appliances that could be explosive when exposed to fire and take the necessary precautions.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Emergency Preparedness Kits

SOS Survival Products offers a wide range of emergency preparedness packs. We recommend an emergency preparation kit for every home, office and dorm room. Here, we'll break down four of our most popular kits and their purpose.

Basic Emergency Survival Kit

This survival kit is intended to sustain one person for three days. This kit does not contain first aid management products. It is ideal for situations where a person may become stranded without access to clean water, food or shelter. We recommend every home stock at least one of these affordable packs for every individual in the household.



Included in this basic kit is one Mylar thermal blanket, 2,400 calories of food and just over three cups of individually packed drinking water satchels. The food and water in this kit have a 5-year shelf life, giving you long-lasting assurance whether at home or away.




How do I use this kit?

Drink water regularly to ensure dehydration does not occur. Eat if you are hungry.

A Mylar blanket's reflective silver side can be turned inward or outward to offer protection in hot or cold conditions. You may use it to reflect heat toward you or away from you. Wear the sheet like a blanket, tucking in loose ends, make a makeshift shelter to keep out rain or sun, or cover your home’s or car’s windows.


1-Person Deluxe Emergency Survival Kit

This kit contains nearly ten cups of water, 3,600 calories and an emergency blanket. This is a more robust and complete 1-person solution to basic emergency preparation, whether at home or on the road. In addition to food, water and shelter, this kit also includes a variety of first aid products to stop bleeding and infection. This kit also includes emergency lighting, a whistle to help you get noticed, an emergency radio to help you receive important updates, rain gear, a knife, heavy-duty gloves and more. This selection of vital emergency products is stored neatly and conveniently in a bright red Everest backpack. Keep it in your trunk or under the bed for easy access no matter where you are.

This kit is also available for two or four people.



Pet Emergency Kit

We strongly recommend that your emergency stock includes enough supplies to support each member of your household for three days. In an emergency situation, when you may have no access to clean drinking water, you shouldn't have to face difficult choices like how to divide your resources appropriately.


This pet emergency kit gives you the peace of mind you'll need should disaster strike. Each kit contains 100 ounces of clean, individually-packaged drinking water, a dish, universal lids for canned food (you supply your own favorite brand), can opener and emergency blanket. Additionally, your pet kit supplies a variety of first aid products for minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes or splinters.

Pro Tip
In an emergency situation, you want each member of your family to feel as comfortable as possible. We recommend speaking to your vet about a carefully dosed NSAID you can add to your pet’s emergency pack. Never administer medications intended for human consumption.



5-Person Trauma First Aid Kit

This kit is a perfect addition to your family’s three-day food and water emergency preparedness kit. This 5-person bag provides a variety of products to clean, treat and bandage wounds ranging from eye injuries to bleeding. This pack contains everything needed for first response, but also offers an excellent solution for family homes or small businesses. The included first aid manual provides instructions and information to help remind you how to provide basic first-aid in the event of an emergency.

When disaster strikes, knowing the basics can be the difference between life and death. This emergency pack and its handbook are designed to help you put to use the skills you've already learned during an emergency course. We recommend preparing yourself for a real-life emergency with a hands-on course in first aid, CPR or both. If you reside in the Van Nuys area, check out our upcoming schedule for classes in first aid, pet safety and outdoor survival.

This kit is also available for 15 people.











Friday, November 17, 2017

Protecting Yourself & Your Family from the Flu

What is the flu?


Influenza, also known as the flu, can be caused by three types of upper respiratory viruses: Influenza A, B and C.

Influenza A

This is the most complicated of the flus because it has more than 30 known subtypes that can infect animals as well as humans. Currently, only two of these subtypes circulate the human population, however, because subtypes are constantly undergoing small genetic changes, Influenza A has the potential to lead to worldwide outbreaks known as pandemics. One of the Influenza A subtypes transmissible to humans is H1N1, the flu you likely remember as "swine flu". In 2009, an epidemic of swine flu affected large portions of the United States. Epidemics like these occur when flu subtypes undergo unpredictable mutations.

WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference & Research on Influenza

The most common Influenza A virus known today is subtype H3N2. If you've had the flu recently, it's highly likely that H3N2 was to blame.

The Centers for Disease Control carefully monitor these small genetic changes in viruses across the globe, constantly keeping an eye out for any indication that a mutation we don't already know about has occurred.

Influenza B

The Influenza B virus is just as capable of making you sick, but with no subtypes to account for, this flu is much more predictable. Influenza B also undergoes small genetic changes responsible for various "strains" of the virus, however, because Influenza B only affects humans and mutates at a rate two to three times slower than Influenza A, it cannot result in a pandemic.

Influenza C

Influenza C is an extremely mild version of the flu. This type of flu has never been responsible for an epidemic and could easily be mistaken for a nasty cold.


What are the symptoms of the flu?


The flu is most commonly associated with muscle aches, coughing and fever. Other flu symptoms include chest tightness, congestion, sneezing, headache, fatigue, sore throat and shortness of breath. Although some people experience intestinal discomfort or vomiting while sick with the flu, there is no such thing as a "stomach flu" or "stomach virus". Similarly, any flu-like symptoms lasting only 12-24 hours are not the flu.

The flu will last one week or longer once symptoms begin to show. However, you're contagious up to two days prior to any symptoms.




How is the flu transmitted?

The flu is transmitted easily in water droplets from coughs, sneezes and even talking. You can catch the flu from doorknobs, handshakes, and being confined with others in indoor spaces.


How can I prevent the flu?

Because the flu is highly contagious and can be transmitted before symptoms occur, it's important to take extra precaution during flu season, which generally lasts from October to January.

• Don't share drinks or utensils
• Wash hands often
• Use disinfectants in high-traffic places such as schools, work, public transport or the supermarket
• Vaccinate

The CDC recommends being vaccinated against the flu no later than October, and earlier if a vaccine is available. However, it’s never too late to get the flu shot.

The current 2017/2018 flu vaccine is designed to protect against the three most common flus: H1N1, H3N2 and Influenza Type B. The CDC currently does not recommend nasal vaccinations as these have not been as effective in the past.


How effective is the flu shot?


Flu shots are developed using data from more the 100 influenza centers all over the world. These centers keep an eye on flu trends year-round in order to
predict the flu strains of the coming season. Twice a year, the centers collaborate to select the strains to grow for vaccination. Flu vaccines develop antibodies that keep you protected should a flu virus find you, but they do not contain a live virus and therefore cannot make you ill. Since the seasonal flu originates in Southeast Asia, scientists can predict the efficacy of flu vaccinations based on the types of strains most commonly seen there. Once a virus has been isolated, it is grown inside of a chicken egg. People with chicken egg allergies are not candidates for the traditional flu vaccine but can use Flublok, which is not grown in this manner.

Once the flu shot has been administered, it takes about 2 weeks for your body to form the antibodies it will need to protect you.


Why do I need to be vaccinated yearly?


The small genetic changes, also known as antigenic drift, that occur in the flu virus, make you susceptible to the flu every season. Although these strains are very similar, last year's vaccine cannot protect you from this year's flus.


Who isn't a candidate for the flu shot?


• Babies under six months
• People with severe allergies to vaccination ingredients

What should I do if I get the flu?


• Don't take antibiotics
• Take painkillers
• Stay at home
• Drink fluids
• Rest


When should I see a doctor?

Some individuals are at higher risk for complications from the flu. Because influenza are upper respiratory illnesses, persons with asthma, heart disease, bronchitis or emphysema should be watched closely. Additionally, babies younger than two years old and those older than 65 are considered high-risk individuals. A weakened immune system due to illness or cancer treatments also poses a risk for additional complications. Pregnant women or those who have recently given birth should consider themselves at higher risk, and should see a doctor if they suspect the flu.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Hurricanes

Where Do Hurricanes Occur


Hurricanes are a threat to those living along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts in the South and, less often, along the Northeast coast. Hurricanes that affect the United States develop in the Atlantic Ocean, travelling at roughly 15 miles per hour across the sea. These windstorms can be several hundred miles across and often pass through a number of Caribbean countries before making landfall.

According to CNN, 117 hurricanes have touched down in Florida there from 1851-2017. That's almost twice as many as the second state on the list: Texas (64). Third and fourth on the list of most frequent hurricane hits are Louisiana (54) and North Carolina (51).


Every state that borders the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico, with the exception of Delaware, was affected by at least two hurricanes during the surveyed period.


Anatomy of a Hurricane

Hurricane winds move around an eye, the central part, in a counter-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and a clockwise direction in the Southern Hemisphere. This occurs because air moves from high-pressure areas to low-pressure areas.

Once a hurricane hits land, it begins to decrease in strength because its source of fuel, warm and moist air, is diminished. However, a hurricane's damaging winds can be powerful enough to cause significant damage even hundreds of miles inland.


Types of Damage

In addition to heavy rains and winds, hurricanes cause storm surges. The storm surges caused by hurricanes usually cause the most damage because of the amount of flooding that can result. Storm surges result from winds pushing seawater to much higher levels than normal, similar to how a tsunami causes immense waves.




How to Prepare

First, stay alert to news and emergency broadcasts for the latest forecasts and warnings. Ensure that you know right away whether government officials have made any evacuation orders; if you are asked to evacuate, do so. 



Have a go-bag ready if you do need to evacuate. This can include:

  • Water 
  • Medications 
  • Flashlight 
  • Batteries 
  • Radio 
  • First aid supplies 
Prepare your home or place of business for the hurricane. 


  • Trim nearby trees that could fall on the property
  • Bring in any potential projectiles such as trashcans and patio furniture
  • Ensure that rain gutters are clear of debris to minimize water damage
  • Use permanent storm shutters or board up windows

If you are remaining in the area, be prepared for power and water outages.

  • A portable generator can keep food cold and provide a light source
    • Keep it at least 20 feet from all doors and windows 
  • Turn your refrigerator on the coldest setting possible and keep it closed once the power goes out 
    • Keep a supply of non-perishable foods
  • Don't attempt to drive or walk anywhere until roads are cleared
    • Never drive through moving floodwater


Evacuating with Elderly or Immobile Persons & Pets 

  • Prepare essential medications
    • Utilize a cooler if any medications need to be stored cold
    • Transfer prescriptions refills, if necessary
  • Ensure hotels offer easy disability access & are pet-friendly
  • Remain calm and positive 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Road Trip Tips, Advice & Safety Checklist

Hitting the open road is as exciting as it gets, but the thought of venturing through countless miles of unknown terrain in a less-than-perfect vehicle can be more than a little intimidating. If you want to enjoy the ride without obsessing over every silly little thing that can go wrong, you need to heed one important word: preparedness.

Before you fire up that car or RV, here are some essential road trip safety tips.



Stock Up

Do you have a road trip checklist? If not, you should. We won’t dive into everything you need, but here are just a few essentials that will ensure a safer trip:

• Your passport and driver’s license – A driver’s license may be sufficient if you’re not crossing national borders.
• Spare cash – Don’t keep it all in one location.
• Extra bottles of water – If you break down, you don’t want to be without these.
• A first-aid kit – Like this fannypack
• Any essential medications – Make sure you have enough for the entire trip.
• An extra tire, lug wrench and jack – You can’t always rely on your Auto Club membership in the middle of nowhere.
• Engine coolant – And other assorted engine fluids.
• Vehicle phone chargers – These can be found at most electronics stores.
• Maps or a GPS device – Don’t rely solely on your phone.
• Season-appropriate clothing – Check the weather of all cities and regions you’ll be traveling to.
• Flashlights – Preferably strong LED flashlights, like the Streamlight Stinger DS LED Rechargeable Flashlight.
• Road flares – These are essential for emergency situations.

Depending on where you’re traveling to, you might also need other incidentals like high-grade sleeping bags, mosquito nets and bear spray. Make sure to research all the routes you’ll be traveling along and then pack accordingly.


Prepare for a Tire Blowout

The dreaded tire blowout is one of the most common road-trip hazards. If it happens to you, slowly coast to a safe location and stop the car. Don’t brake or swerve abruptly. With the car stopped, turn on your hazard lights and activate the emergency brake. Then exit the vehicle, apply wheel wedges to your wheels (to further prevent rolling) and remove any hubcaps. If you don’t have wheel wedges, large stones should do the trick.



Loosen—but do not remove—your lug nuts, and then use your jack to raise the vehicle. The jack should be situated alongside the flat tire just beneath the vehicle frame. You want to raise the vehicle about six inches. Unscrew the lug nuts and then slowly remove the flat tire and replace it with your spare or extra tire. You’ll want to ensure that your spare is firmly mounted to the lug bolts.

With the new tire in position, place the lug nuts back in their original position and tighten them by hand. Then lower the vehicle and finish tightening them with your lug wrench. At this point, the wheel should be touching the ground but still be elevated enough so that the vehicle’s weight is somewhat off the tire. With the nuts tight, finish lowering the vehicle and remove the jack. Replace the hubcaps, check the tire pressure, and continue on your journey. If you’re using a spare tire, head immediately to the nearest tire replacement center.


Keep Your Cool in a Disaster

When you’re driving through different climates, elevations and road conditions, you have to be prepared for the types of emergencies that might not be common back home. Here are a few protocols to keep in mind when you encounter some of the more common hazards:

Flooding – Turn on your headlights at the first sign of heavy rain, and leave extra room between your car and the car in front of you. If you receive a flood warning, try to move to higher ground. If flash flooding begins, slowly pull over to a safe spot on the side of the road and stop the car. Do not under any circumstances attempt to drive through water. Wait for the flood to subside or help to arrive.

Tornadoes – If you can see the tornado and it’s far off in the distance, get out of its path by driving
away from it at a right angle. Then seek shelter in a nearby sturdy building until it passes. If you’re already caught up in the wind in debris, stop the car, put on your seatbelt, and place your head down low, beneath the height of the window. If possible, cover your head with a blanket or jacket. Make sure your other occupants do the same. Wait for the tornado to pass.



Sandstorms – If you’re driving through the Southwest, you may encounter a sandstorm or dust storm. If this happens, first pull off the road completely, then stop by putting your car into “Park”. Never stop in a roadway.
To avoid other motorists from mistakenly using your vehicle’s lights to try and drive through the storm, turn off your lights and keep your foot off the brake. Stay buckled.



Know Your Rest Stops

Rest stops are essential for road-trippers. You can easily search maps and online databases to find a list of rest stops along your route, but finding safe rest stops is a bit trickier. After all, you don’t want to bring your family to a seedy location for R&R. With that in mind, look for rest stops that are well-lit and well-populated. When doing your online research, make a list of rest stops that have onsite security. Finally, don’t spend the night. A rest stop is a great place to recharge your batteries, but a prolonged deep sleep leaves you more vulnerable.


Be Proactive About Your Safety on the Road

It’s important to ensure that your vehicle is in excellent condition before you hit the road. Get the oil changed, make sure you’re up to date on the servicing, and replace any hoses that are leaking or corroding. To prevent overheating, make sure that your engine has the recommended amount of coolant and avoid running your air conditioner while ascending steep grades. If your car does overheat, pull over and stop. Open the hood and let the engine cool off naturally. Refill the radiator with water as a last resort to help you get to a location where your car can be properly serviced.


If you run into any sort of emergency, pull over to the side of the road and turn off your vehicle. Turn on the hazard lights and use any warning signals that you have available, such as road flares. While waiting for help to arrive, remain inside the vehicle with the doors locked. If you don’t have some type of roadside assistance coverage, now is the time to sign up.

Don’t let your fun be ruined by the faint possibility of an emergency. As long as you’re diligent and prepared, your upcoming road trip can be one of the best experiences of your life.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Basic Safety Preparation for Everyone

No matter the size of your household, whether you have children, pets, both or neither, basic preparation and emergency planning are always advisable. In this post, we'll outline some of the bare essentials every person should equip themselves with for everyday safety.

When we think of preparedness and planning, we most often consider the major disasters; floods, earthquakes and fires tend to be in the forefront of the planning mind. We'll discuss planning for disasters like these a bit later on, but first let's talk about the five major offenders of accidental death and injury.

According to the National Safety Council, accidental deaths and injuries most commonly include poisoning, vehicle crashes, falls, choking/suffocation and drowning.

Poison Safety

In recent years, poisoning has become the leader of accidental deaths, surpassing vehicle accidents for the first time ever, due to the availability of opioid drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl.
To learn more about this epidemic and how to prevent it, visit this link.

The Basics

  • Take medication only as prescribed
  • Never share medication
  • Store addictive substances safely

Advanced



Car Safety


According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, Over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year, 1.3 million people worldwide. The National Safety Council reports that about one-quarter of car crashes are attributable to using phones while driving.

The Basics

  • Don't drive impaired or distracted
  • Adhere to posted speed limits
  • Wear a seatbelt

 
Advanced


Falling Accidents


A fall can affect anyone, no matter what age. However, according to the CDC, falls affect one in three adults over the age of 65. Most often, falls occur at home and can be prevented.



The Basics

  • Declutter walking spaces
  • Secure carpets
  • Add non-slip adhesives and non-skid matts

Advanced

  • Install hand railings
  • Replace lighting to create more visibility
  • Adjust cupboards and appliances to eliminate the need for ladders


Suffocation & Choking Accidents


The Basics

  • Know the risks
  • Recognize the hazards

The most common risks for choking are eating too fast or too much at once. Suffocation occurs most commonly in children under one year of age. Choking occurs most commonly in adults over the age of 80.


The most common food hazards include:

  1. Hot dogs
  2. Meat and cheese
  3. Whole grapes
  4. Hard candy
  5. Popcorn
  6. Bagels
  7. Peanut butter

Advanced

  • Learn the Heimlich Maneuver
  • Learn CPR


Drowning Accidents


According to the National Safety Council, 10 people drown every day and most will be under the age of 15.

Children drown most often in:
  1. Pools
  2. Bathtubs

    The Basics

  • Don't leave kids unattended even for a moment to answer the phone or grab a towel
  • Don't let kids play near water
  • Teach kids about the dangers of water

Advanced

  • Enroll kids in swim lessons
  • Install safety fencing
  • Install door alarms
  • Learn First Aid & CPR

Adults can drown, too. For more information about water safety for everyone, visit this page.

Being prepared for everyday risks provides a great foundation for awareness and safety in more difficult scenarios.


Fire Safety


Accidental fires are the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. More than three-quarters of fire deaths occur at home when residents walk away from the stove, leave candles unattended or smoke inside. For more information about fire risk, safety and prevention, check out this post.

The Basics



Advanced

  • Invest in monitored smoke detectors
  • Install a sprinkler system

Natural Disaster Safety


Natural disaster safety encompasses a wide range of topics including preparedness for earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. Your chances for encountering one of these types of disasters will depend on where you are located. For more information about which disaster you're most likely to encounter and how to properly prepare yourself for these, check out this post.

The Basics

  • Keep a flashlight and radio handy
  • Download a mobile weather app for warnings and alerts
  • Know your safe place and escape route

Advanced



SOS Survival Products provides a variety of affordable safety training courses including CPR, First Aid, Fire Safety and general preparedness. For more information, see our schedule.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Beat the Heat


 

Summer's heating up and for many places across the country, that can mean extreme daytime temperatures. Depending on the air's humidity, even temperatures below 100 degrees can become downright dangerous.

The way that humidity changes the temperature feel is referred to as the “heat index”, or sometimes the "apparent temperature". It is the temperature our bodies feel when evaporation is impeded due to the moisture already in the air.


Our bodies are covered in sweat glands, which help us to perspire. Perspiration is unfortunate when it happens in an interview or on a date, but it is absolutely vital to survival otherwise.

When your body's temperature rises, whether from exposure to heat or from exercise, your nervous system sends a signal to your glands produce sweat. As sweat reaches the surface of your skin, it evaporates to cool your body.

This effect can also take place through artificial methods such as spritzing yourself with a water bottle or applying a wet towel.

Drink Water

It's obvious but it has to be said: Sweat consists mostly of water and it must be replaced. In order to sweat properly and avoid dehydration, it's important to drink plenty of water every day.
Your body uses two to three liters of water to perform its basic functions, on average; in the summer, your body might require twice that depending on your activity level. When you aren't hydrated enough, you'll find that your urine is more yellow and your sweat more salty.

Understand Diuretics

The most common diuretics include alcohol and caffeine. When you consume a diuretic, your nervous system becomes confused and believes that you're retaining too much water. As a result, you run to the bathroom a lot more often than you normally would.

Don't confuse your frequent trips to the John and your clear urine with hydration. Once the effects of caffeine wear off, your body will realize its mistake and you'll find yourself with a dry mouth, dry bladder and potential head and body aches.

The dehydrating effects of caffeine can't be avoided, but you can curb them by understanding them. Be aware that just as with sweat, your body's precious water resources need to be replenished as your body loses them.

Don't Wait Until You’re Thirsty

When your body signals thirst, it's likely due to a fluid imbalance that increases the salt concentration in your cells. Because you are already sweating more, it can be much more difficult to correct the imbalance than to keep it from occurring in the first place.

Drink a few ounces of water every hour to ensure your body's cells remain hydrated. However, avoid drinking extreme quantities of water at once, especially after sweating excessively. Just as your cells can become unbalanced with salt, they can become saturated and unbalanced with water. Both can have deadly consequences.

Use a Fan

Because your body always loses tiny amounts of water through its pores, evaporation happens around the clock. Air conditioning is an ideal way to keep your home cool, but you can up the comfort level without upping the energy costs with the simple use of a fan. Whether you opt for a basic box fan or go with a fancy solution, the outcome will be the same. As air moves across your skin, hot and humid air is displaced and evaporation occurs. In the wintertime, you know this effect as the "wind chill".

Children & Babies

You may notice that children tire less quickly in hot conditions. They'll happily run on the playground without pause while you're chugging away on ice water in the shade of the trees nearby. Why?
Because kids have a higher surface area to body mass ratio than adults, the relative area where heat dissipation can occur is larger. Generally speaking, this means that children are better at staying cooler, especially in low-humidity climates.

However, it doesn't mean that children are immune to the effects of heat. Like adults, they do sweat and can become dehydrated, and extensive stints in the sun can absolutely cause heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Use Common Sense

If it feels unnaturally hot, don't risk it. During the daytime hours between 11 am and 3 pm, the sun's UV effects are normally the most intense. During this time, heat builds up, oftentimes peaking around 5 pm in the summertime.

Let your kids play outside in the morning hours before 11 am or in the evening when the sun has made its descent.

Don't Forget Sunscreen

Swimming can provide hours of fun and exercise without the risk of overheating. But did you know that many adults are still confused about sunscreen? We can’t blame them – sunscreen’s application instructions are vague at best, and cosmetic companies haven’t made education a priority.

It’s important to note that sunscreen isn't a one-and-done deal. In order for it to be effective, it must be applied liberally and often. The term "liberally" can be subjective, but the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you use "the equivalent of a shot glass (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to the exposed areas of the face and body – a nickel-sized dollop to the face alone."

The sunscreen you choose should be labeled "broad-spectrum", which means it doesn't just block the rays that cause you to burn but also those which can cause skin cancer later. It should list zinc oxide as an active ingredient - the higher the concentration, the more effective its sun-blocking powers. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside, and every hour after that.

Finally, skip the spray sunscreen since it is oftentimes not applied properly or liberally enough, and it can be easily inhaled.

Don't Give Water to Babies

We are 60 percent water, and in babies, that concentration is even higher. So it only makes logical sense to drink water often and regularly. However, babies don't require additional water. The water contained in breast milk or formula satisfies all of their fluid needs, and adding additional liquids to the mix can cause imbalances, interfere with the absorption of nutrients and curb baby's appetite.
If your child is under six months, we recommend avoiding the heat as much as you can so that baby doesn't sweat unnecessarily.

Dogs

Unlike humans, dogs don't have the ability to sweat all over. While dogs do have some sweat glands in their noses and on their feet, they rely mostly on their lungs to evaporate moisture and produce cold air. This is why dogs pant.

Although this is an effective solution to the problem of heat, it doesn't mean that your dog is immune to heat-related illnesses. In fact, some dogs are much more prone to overheating than you are. Short-nosed breeds such as bulldogs and pugs have compromised airways because of their genetic makeup, which is why many of them snort, snore or pant excessively even in cool temperatures.


This above chart from gopetplan.com allows you to see how even moderate temperatures can affect dogs. Dogs are at higher risk of heat-related illness when they are very young, very old, have short snouts or are large or overweight.

Exercise

If you find that your dog is lagging behind, even at a slow pace, don't push it. Read your dog's body language and understand that when he pumps the brakes, so should you. Reserve long walks for early mornings or late nights, and keep your pup inside during the day.

Don't Give Your Dog a Summer Cut

If your dog has an undercoat, a summer cut will compromise his ability to regulate his own body temperature. You can easily recognize the undercoat by running your hand backward through his fur. An undercoat will be shorter, sometimes differently colored and feel different from the top coat.

Common dog breeds that have undercoats include the Husky, Chow, Sheep Dogs, Pomeranians, Collies, Corgis, German Shepherds, Golden Labs, Retrievers, most Spaniels and Terriers, Schnauzers, Shih Tzus and longhaired Dachshunds.

Watch the Pavement

We've all walked across the pavement barefoot only to end up in a panicked run when the realization of just how hot things are sets in. The darker the pavement, the more heat it'll absorb, but even lighter colored sidewalks can heat up to uncomfortable temperatures. According to this data, the surface temperatures of asphalt can reach 158 degrees during the summertime with concrete hovering around 120 degrees.


While the pads of your dog's feet are tougher than human skin, the extreme temperatures of asphalt during the summer mean you should take special precautions. If the pavement you're walking on feels too hot to you, use your judgment; it's likely to be uncomfortable or painful for your pup.

Stick to unpaved areas and move your walks to cooler times of the day before the sun's come up and after the sun's gone down.

Heat Kills

You've heard it before: Don't leave dogs in cars. If you've ever gotten into your car on a warm day, you know that the indoor temperature of your vehicle does not reflect the outside, even with the windows down. Let's break down how this works.

Whether it's 100 degrees outside or 65, a car will effectively become a greenhouse over time. In the sun, the temperature inside a vehicle will rise almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. In 25 minutes, the rise in temperature reaches nearly 30 degrees. In an hour, the temperature inside your car will rise over 40 degrees.

That means that in the time it takes you to buy a pack of gum at your local corner store, your vehicle's internal temperature can rise from 100 to 120 degrees in the summertime. No matter the breed, age or size of your dog, temperatures above 90 are unsafe.



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