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By Kellene Bishop

Germ Warfare. Photo c/o positivepsychologynews.com

Germ Warfare. Photo c/o positivepsychologynews.com

Yes, you do have a right to be a fanatic. When it comes to war, any war, the winner is always the one who never assumes they are safe. These same tactics must be applied to germ warfare as well.

There just had to be a Part II to my previous article on Germ Warfare. After writing the first article, I kept being mentally nagged by other danger zones I had left out. In some instances, I believe these germ danger zones may be more nefarious than some of those listed in my original article. So read on, and prepare to change some more of your life’s habits.

Soda pop and other canned goods—The other night while I was teaching a class on quarantine/pandemic ironically, a free can of soda pop was offered to everyone in the room. As I watched everyone happily opened their can of pop and drank from it. I on the other hand washed mine at the sink, wiped it off with a sani-wipe and then drank from it—simply because I couldn’t find any straws. Remember, you have absolutely NO idea what rodents the cans were exposed to at their original warehouse, as they were transported, or as they were housed at the retailer you purchased them from. Hanta virus is still a viable concern even if you have no rodents in your own home.

According to a new study, steering wheels have twice as many germs as toilet seats. Photo c/o autoexpress.co.uk

According to a new study, steering wheels have twice as many germs as toilet seats. Photo c/o autoexpress.co.uk

Steering wheel—Even if I avoid the fact that many people have questionable hygiene habits when they are in their own little world in their car, the fact of the matter is, you don’t exactly turn your head away from your steering wheel when you sneeze, cough, etc. Your steering wheel gets the brunt of all that nature expels from your mouth and nose. PLEASE be sure to clean it off regularly with sani-wipes. (If you haven’t picked up on it yet, manufacturers of sani-wipes may be a hot stock pick right about now. :))

Get your drinks WITHOUT ice—I know that’s unfathomable to most of you. But here’s an eye opening statistic. You have a 70% chance of having MORE e-coli (which comes from feces) in your ice than is in the toilet from the same restaurant, airline, hotel, etc. Yes! Not just a 70% chance of finding e-coli there. But a 70% chance that your ice will be MORE contaminated than the toilet water! Studies showed that the number of stars a restaurant or hotel had made no difference in the quality of water in most cases. E-coli is introduced into the water by the water source used to make the ice, bare hands used to load the ice (instead of the scoop) and the fact that the lines to the ice machines are virtually NEVER cleaned out. 

Lemon wedges—avoid them in your drinks. I loathe the taste of tap water but I simply mask the taste by requesting a lemon wedge. Alas, I won’t be doing that any more. Lemon wedges have a 77% chance of being contaminated with e-coli, staph infection, or a myriad of other infectious bacteria. The only good thing you’ve got going for you is the fact that lemon juice is a natural anti-bacterial and disinfectant agent. *whew* Lemons are usually put into your drinks by bare hands despite the fact that they’re supposed to be handled with gloves. However, most restaurants leave it up to the servers to put them in your drinks. Having them placed on your dinner plates should be safe though as that’s usually done by a food handler in the kitchen.

Beware of gas pumps! Photo c/o blog.foreignpolicy.com

Beware of gas pumps! Photo c/o blog.foreignpolicy.com

Gas pumps—If I had to give an award for the LEAST amount of cleaning on a public item ever, gas pumps would win hands down. Think about it. When have you EVER seen someone clean those? When you pump your gas, use a paper towel that the station usually has on hand or at least sanitize the heck out of your hands before you touch ANYTHING else—including your keys.

Last but not least is a stern word of warning about playgrounds. Those bouncy houses that your kids play in NEVER get sanitized. They get vacuumed sometimes, but never fully cleaned. The ones containing the bouncy balls are a cesspool of germs of the grossest kinds. When have you ever seen a school janitor clean the chains on the swings or the bars on the monkey bars or the handles on the teeter totters? How about the playground equipment such as balls, jump ropes, etc? It’s imperative that you teach your kids to SANITIZE their hands after recess or after using such equipment on any occasion.

Bottom line, you have EVERY right to be fanatical about your health care. This is your life we’re talking about here. You MUST be in a heightened state of awareness in order to prevent you and your family from getting unnecessarily ill. One touch is all it takes folks, so be mindful. You wouldn’t take your kid down a dark alley in the middle of the city at 3:00 a.m. Making contact with e-coli or the Hanta virus or the H1N1 virus isn’t any less of a gamble. So start putting the odds in your favor. This is called germ warfare for a reason. Position yourself to win every battle.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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This blog has moved. Please visit us at www.preparednesspro.com.

By Kellene Bishop

germ-cartoonSalt and pepper shakers, currency, and microwave touch pads are the enemy—at least if you’re trying to keep your family healthy and well—especially during the flu season.

We really do take cleanliness and sanitation for granted, folks.  I think the only reason why some things are on my radar is the result of my time spent living in the Philippines. So for that, I’m grateful!

Let’s talk about some major germ spreaders we encounter in our home and out in public.

  • Public—Salt and pepper shakers. Think about it. Have you EVER seen someone cleaning them? I’ve worked in restaurants plenty in my life, including as a manager, and I can tell you that I’ve never cleaned the outside of those. Refilled them, yes. Sanitized the outside, no. You’ve got artifacts younger than the germs on those things.
  • Public—Condiment jars. Same with the salt and pepper shakers, although errant kids are less likely to stick their dirty fingers inside and play with them. So if you do use the jars at your table, use a napkin on your hand to protect yourself from the germs. And please, don’t use the same napkin to wipe your mouth.
  • Public—Door handles. Again, you simply don’t see those ever get cleaned. Sure the glass gets wiped down periodically. But the door handle to any mall, office, etc. is a festering pool of germs just waiting for you to
    Photo c/o dsc.discovery.com

    Photo c/o dsc.discovery.com

    give them a good home. So, what do you do? Well, ideally make use of someone else opening the door whenever possible. If that’s not available, I always tuck my hand under my shirt and grab the door handle that way. Yes, I did say “always.” I am especially adamant about doing this in the restrooms as well, even when I go into a stall. I KNOW what someone was doing before they touched that handle. I’ve never seen someone clean the handles specifically. And even if they did, they get nasty each time they are touched. (Am I starting to sound like a germ-ophobe?) So, when I go into a stall, I use my shirt to close/latch the door. When I leave the restroom, I use the paper towel that I just dried my hands with. In those pesky restrooms which only give you the option of “blowing your hands dry” I still use my shirt on the handle.

    Speaking of restrooms, when a sink has handles that you have to turn on and off yourself, it kind of defeats the purpose of cleaning your hands when you have to touch the same handles that everyone has touched right after they’ve done their business. So if it’s not an automatic water flow, then use a paper towel or your elbows if necessary. (It’s not quite as bad as being a contortionist.)

  • Public—Shopping Carts. I’ve started seeing more and more grocery stores offer sani-wipes at the entrance of the store for customers to use to clean off their shopping cart. Question: Do you take the time to use them? Even if all you’re going to pick up is a few things, don’t lift that basket handle without cleaning it.  I’m all for cute babies and kids. But I’ve seen what they put on their hands. This gets on the handles. You wouldn’t pick up someone else’s poo with your bare hands, so why would you put your bare hands on that shopping cart? Sorry folks, but yes, it is indeed very much the same thing.
  • Photo c/o esquire.com

    Photo c/o esquire.com

    Public—Currency. Believe it or not, money is the WORST offender in spreading germs. I’ve heard of money launderers, but I don’t think they are actually cleaning the money. Your only defense is to make sure that you sanitize your hands whenever you touch it. This is one reason why I prefer to use my debit card instead of cash. I rarely have cash in my wallet. Now my husband knows why.

  • Public—“Sign here, please.” Those pens and signature utensils that are used at the check stands are rife with germ invaders. Again, have you EVER seen those cleaned? This is why I always have my own pen with me to sign documents, etc. And yes, I do clean it regularly. For the credit card processing machines, I either use my own pen with the ink retracted, or my finger on the screen.

Whether you’re a clean freak or not, you still have a great deal of germ farms in your home. Be mindful of keeping the cupboard handles, door handles, microwave touch pads, table edges, and toilet lids clean.  Ignoring that pesky bathroom carries more with it than just seeing the dark ring develop in the tub. That dark ring is also full of dead skin particles and old germs that are living it up in a warm, wet location. If nothing else, spray your tub down regularly with a daily bathroom cleaner. And by all means, wash your hands before you eat–pah-leeze!

Germs Are Not for Sharing illustration by Marieka Heilen

Germs Are Not for Sharing illustration by Marieka Heilen

While this all may seem excessive to some, keep in mind that germs grow and become more powerful when they are allowed to flourish. Yes, some germ exposure for our bodies is good in order to build up our immune systems. But unfortunately, a lot of the germs we’re exposed to nowadays are from feces. (I know. Gross, right?) I have yet to find even a back jungle culture that exposes their members to feces germs in order to make a man stronger. It’s great if you are mindful of sanitation. But unfortunately others simply are not. Even if they wash their hands after using the restroom, they are still inevitably exposing themselves to the germs of others who do not. I’d much rather be safe, rather than sorry, wouldn’t you?

As you may have guessed by now, I carry with me hand sanitizer as well as my own pack of sani-wipes for those instances in which they aren’t available. Start thinking like a germ and you and your family may actually ride out the flu season unharmed.

Well, gotta go. I just had a sudden urge to go clean the handles all over my home.

Germ Warfare – Part II

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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You may think that my top 7 handy dandy preparedness “tools” are an unusual list for emergency preparedness supplies, but I’m quite certain that you will find them invaluable under the right set of circumstances.  I love discovering and using items that serve a dual-purpose, especially when those purposes are compounded substantially.  If I have something in storage, chances are it serves more than one purpose. Whether it be medical supplies, seeds, a heater or wood, virtually everything I relegate space to store has multiple uses that I familiarize myself with so I get the most use out of my space.  Without further ado, here is my Seven Handy Dandy “Tool” list.  

 

1)    duct-tape-bumper Duct Tape: We have an entire case of duct tape in our basement.  You can use it medically as well as to fix leaking or broken items.  It’s even viable to use to mend clothing or shoe, too.  It’s also affectionately called the “100 mile per hour tape.”  When I was in my early 20’s I was in a car accident and “needed” the insurance money to live off of.  Consequently, I used duct tape to reattach the bumper and away I rode… for another year and a half until I bought a new car.  While I never went 100 miles per hour—not that I’m willing to admit, anyway—it worked just fine in keeping my car together.

2)     Super Glue: Yet another case of supplies occupying our storage area.  This can also be used in lieu of minor stitches as well as prolonging the life of items that may break down.  In an emergency, you may very well have to rely on yourself for such instances as opposed to a professional “fix-it man” or medical personnel.

3)     bounce-dryer-sheets1Bounce Dryer Sheets: Ah hah.  I knew I’d get raised eyebrows on that one.  Here’s just a few ways that your dryer sheets will be useful to you.  They repel insects, including yellow jackets, bees, ants, and mosquitoes.  All you have to do is loop it through a belt loop, and voila, you are a walking citronella candle.  They also repel mice.  Simply lay them down around an area that you are trying to protect, and you’ve scared little Mickey away.  You can also use them to dissolve soap scum (just wet and scrub), prevent sewing thread from tangling (rub on a strip of thread prior to use) and removing baked-on foods from kitchen items (simply soak with a sheet in it and it comes off).  Not to mention the everyday uses it provides you with such as cleaning blinds, eliminating static from your computer and TV screens, deodorizing shoes, books, and photo albums.  It will truly serve as a duplicitous ally when you’re “roughing it.”

4)     Tarp, Tarp, and More Tarp: We buy the blue tarps from Costco and have a small stack of them in the basement.  They are sturdy, water proof, and priced much better than even one good quality tarp elsewhere.  In the event of nuclear fall out, roof damage, window damage, freezing temperatures, and a myriad of other instances, I find that this is one product that makes sense to have on hand.  In fact, even if my tents were to fail to provide me with shelter, I can always combine the tarps with my duct tape supply and have suitable protection from the elements. *wink*

5)     Foil: In addition to the regular, everyday uses of foil, you can also use it for emergency signaling, cooking and insulating.  You can even put water in a well made foil and duct tape “pan,” let it sit in the sun during a warm day and have distilled water at the end of the day.

6)     lemon-juiceLemon Juice: We’ve got a great supply list for this, too.  Lemon juice is great as a:

a.      Deodorizer

b.      Sanitizer

c.       Antiseptic

d.      Disinfectant (even for medical uses)

e.      Dandruff treatment (add 1 T. prior to shampooing, then 2 T. diluted with water after rinsing)

f.        Laxative—without the usual side-effects

g.      Relief for a sore throat or hacking cough

h.      Itch and pain reliever from poison ivy

i.        Yummy flavoring

j.        Blemish treatment (when mixed with honey)

k.      Substitute for buttermilk (mix 1 T. with 1 cup of milk)

l.        Tarnish remover

m.   Bleach substitute in laundry. 

I could share more with you, but since I’m certain I’m listed as a “right wing extremist”, I won’t egg anyone on talking about the self-defense measures that can be realized with lemon juice as well J

7)     Salt: You’ve heard biblically of salt being a critical component.  Perhaps after seeing all of these uses you’ll understand why I always take advantage of sales on simple table salt.  In addition to all of the ways salt can be used, it’s also a necessary nutrient that many underestimate.  Salt can also help:

a.      saltPrevent lettuce from wilting

b.      Repel ants

c.       Prevent food from sticking to your griddle (just rub it in)

d.      As a wood preservative (boil your clothespins in them and they will last a LOT longer)

e.      A boiling water accelerator (faster boiling means using less fuel)

f.        Remove mildew (when used with lemon juice)

g.      Remove stains (even works on grape juice in your carpet—but hey, who’s going to really care about the carpet in an emergency, right?)

h.      Kill weeds

i.        Prevent your laundry from freezing when you hang them out to dry in cold weather

j.        Make your milk last longer with a dash of salt

k.      As a plaster substitute (when mixed equally with starch)

l.        Substitute for toothpaste (with equal parts of baking soda)

m.   Relieve sore eyes (when rinsed with salt water)

A pinch of salt also improves the flavor of a lot of items that may taste stale otherwise such as cocoa, gelatin (it sets more quickly as well), fruits (when putting them in also water—this also prevents them from turning yellow), tea, cooking apples and warm milk (makes it more relaxing as well).  Also, egg whites and whipping cream whip up faster with a pinch.  And last but not least, when you soak your shelled nuts in salt water overnight, all you have to do is gently tap the edge gently and they will easily come open, providing a whole nut instead of crumbles that you have to hunt to find among the shells!  

 

In addition to all of these items, I would also recommend you Google multiple uses for vinegar, wheat, rope, isopropyl and rubbing alcohol and apricot seeds, among other things.  Obviously it doesn’t cost you any money to at least gain this knowledge. And you may end up being a real, live MacGyver in the end.

Copyright 2009 Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.  All rights reserved.  You are welcome to repost this information so long as it is credited to Preparedness Pro & Kellene Bishop.

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