Archives : 2012 : November

CERT: Another Part of Emergency Preparedness

November 28th, 2012

Recent events like Hurricane Sandy have shown us that a disaster can strike at any time and it is important to be prepared so that you can be self-reliant during an emergency situation. If you have read our advice about emergency preparedness and take this topic very seriously, you probably are in the process of putting together an emergency preparedness kit. Even if you have a water filter, food supplies, and emergency essentials, you may not be completely ready for any type of crisis situation yet. What if you need help suppressing a small fire or searching for loved ones, and emergency responders have no way of getting to you for several hours or even days? You may want to consider training to be on your local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) prior to any disaster.

Humans naturally have a way of coming together in a time of crisis to help one another. CERT, a partner with the federally funded program Citizen Corps, builds on this concept of neighbors helping neighbors. The CERT training program provides emergency response training for groups like community organizations, neighborhood watch, communities of faith, scouting organizations, and workplace employees. The training is typically given in seven weekly sessions with each session lasting about 2 ½ hours. The sessions cover the following topics.

  • Disaster preparedness: Participants learn about actions to take before, during, and after a disaster. They also learn the types of disasters that may potentially affect their community and the laws that apply to volunteers in the area.
  • Fire Suppression: Participants learn how to assess a fire situation, control utilities, properly use a fire extinguisher, and suppress a small fire. Participants will also receive basic training on hazardous materials and fire hazards.
  • Medical Operations: This topic is broken into two sessions. The first session focuses on rapidly diagnosing and treating the “three most common killers”: airway obstruction, shock, and bleeding. The second session teaches participants how to set up a medical treatment area, assess an individual, and provide safe and sanitary first aid.
  • Light Search and Rescue: Participants learn about planning a search and rescue operation as well as search and rescue techniques, with a primary focus on rescuer safety.
  • Disaster Psychology and Team Organization: This topic helps participants understand how victims and workers react emotionally to disasters. Team organization and management principles are also covered.

The last session involves a take-home test and a disaster simulation so the participants can practice the skills they learned throughout the course.

Currently, there are more than 1100 CERT volunteers in the US. Some of these groups were utilized during Hurricane Sandy. For instance, CERT volunteers assisted the Red Cross in staffing a regional shelter in Camden County, New Jersey and groups in Virginia helped provide sandbags to residents. During previous disasters, CERT volunteers have assisted in countless other ways as well.

You never know what can happen in a disaster situation.  Do not be unprepared or the consequences may be quite severe.  Prepare an emergency preparedness kit and consider CERT training.  If you are part of a group that would like CERT emergency response training, you can search for CERT programs near you on the CERT website.

 

Improve Your Thanksgiving Dinner with Clean Water

November 20th, 2012

This Thursday, millions of Americans will gather around the dinner table to celebrate Thanksgiving. If you are hosting a dinner, you will likely spend the entire morning and early afternoon painstakingly preparing the turkey and other main side dishes. Like any host, you will labor over all of the details, from the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes to the napkins on the table, so that your guests can have the perfect Thanksgiving experience. As a Berkey Filter user who is concerned about your water quality, you obviously will serve filtered water as a beverage option. In addition to drinking water, there are even more ways that you can utilize your purified water to enhance your Thanksgiving dinner. So before you begin the preparations for the big day, take a moment to discover the many of uses of clean water.

Drinking water

Offering your guests clean drinking water is the most obvious way to use your purified water. Both tap water and private well water can have a variety of contaminants including heavy metals, petrochemicals, pesticides, disinfectants, and if you are extremely unfortunate, pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Even if chemicals or disease-causing organisms are not present at harmful levels, the thought of contaminants in your water is less than appetizing. Since your guests will probably prefer to cleanse their palates with clean drinking water as opposed to a contaminant cocktail, make sure to have plenty of purified water ready. It only takes about an hour to make a fresh batch of purified water but you can also filter extra water in advance and store it in a beverage dispenser or your refrigerator. Don’t forget to make purified ice using ice trays!

Rinsing food

If you plan to prepare a turkey for dinner, one of the first things you will do with your thawed turkey is rinse the outside of the bird as well as the cavity. The goal is to “clean” the turkey and then coat it with your choice of seasonings. While sage, thyme, or other herb is a seasoning of choice, contaminants are not. Rinsing with unpurified water leaves a residue on the surface of the food which can influence taste. For example, water containing chlorine, the most common disinfectant in water systems, oftentimes has a bleach-like or medicinal taste. The residue left from rinsing with chlorinated water may impart the same unwanted taste in your turkey. This unappetizing aftertaste may occur when you rinse your fruits and vegetables as well so remember to use the purified water.

Boiling water for cooking and preparing hot beverages

As you prepare your side dishes, you will likely boil potatoes, rice, or pasta. This is another step of the food preparation process that can use a little help from your purified water. Just as with rinsing your turkey, fruits, and vegetables, boiling your side dish ingredients in unpurified water will leave a less than palatable residue behind. You may also boil water for tea, coffee, or other hot beverage. Keep in mind that boiling water actually concentrates contaminants like heavy metals. So if you live in an old house with lead pipes or copper pipes with lead solder joints, your plumbing may contribute lead to your drinking water. In this situation, it is advised that you only use cold water for cooking and that you run the tap water for at least one minute prior to use. These extra precautions are time-consuming when you are already in a rush to finish cooking. And then you will worry that you are giving your guests a higher than normal concentration of lead because you had to boil water for tea! Reduce unnecessary worry and stress by boiling only purified water.

Berkey saves the day!

Whether you realize it or not, water is a large part of your dinner preparations for Thanksgiving or any other meal, for that matter. Using water that is contaminant-free not only prevents the consumption of unwanted contaminants but also helps to enhance the flavors of the meal. Before the food preparation frenzy begins, be sure to filter a large amount of water so that you have enough available for cooking as well as drinking. When the festivities begin your guests will enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving meal and you can sit back, relax, and be thankful for your Berkey Water Filter.

 

What is BPA?

November 14th, 2012

It seems that in recent years the chemical “BPA” has become a big concern. Many companies that sell products like water bottles, for instance, now boast that their products do not contain BPA. When we are shopping, many of us check the tags of food-related plastic products for the words “BPA free” but we don’t even know what this phrase really means. So what is BPA and is it a chemical of concern or not?

Where is BPA found?

The abbreviation BPA stands for Bisphenol A. This chemical has been used since the 1960s to produce epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics. Epoxy resins are typically used to coat metal products like bottle lids, canned foods, and water supply pipes. Polycarbonate plastic, which is a hard, clear plastic, is used in many items especially water and infant bottles, food storage containers, tableware, and even compact discs and medical devices. A product that has a recycle code of 3 or 7 may be made with BPA if it is a polycarbonate material.

How are you exposed to BPA?

Although BPA can be found in many common household items, humans are primarily exposed to BPA when it leaches from products into food and beverage items. While polycarbonate plastic is very durable, repeated exposure to high temperatures causes the plastic to break down and release the BPA. This can occur when you repeatedly heat food in BPA-containing plastics in the microwave or pour hot liquid into a plastic container that is composed of BPA. If the container is scratched, it may cause more BPA to be released when heated.

How much BPA are you exposed to every day?

Currently there is controversy over how much BPA we ingest daily. A 2003-2004 CDC National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey detected BPA in 93% of urine samples taken from a study group of 2,517 people aged six years and older. This raised many concerns about BPA and led to a study by the National Institute of Health’s National Toxicology Program (NTP) in 2008. This study tried to determine daily intake levels in various age groups and estimated that infant daily exposures range from 1 to 13 micrograms of BPA per kilogram bodyweight (µg/kg bw) while children up to the age of six can range from 0.043 to 14.7 µg/kg bw. Adults were estimated to only have a daily intake ranging from 0.008 to 1.5 ug/kg bw.

The FDA however disagrees with these estimates, claiming that they are too high. Since 2008 there have been more studies about BPA exposure and the FDA reports that average daily intake for infants is more likely to be 0.2 to 0.4 µg/kg bw while children and adults both share an average daily intake of about 0.1 to 0.2 µg/kg bw. The FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research also developed a mathematical model of what happens to BPA inside the body. Apparently, it is not like other toxins that remain in the body tissues for long periods of time. BPA is quickly metabolized to an inactive form and eliminated in both children and adults. If this is true, it is good news because it means the BPA does not have as much time to cause long-lasting effects in the body.

What are the possible effects of BPA exposure?

According to the scientific studies, adults will not likely experience effects from BPA exposure. On the other hand, both the NTP and the FDA recognize the fact that infants, in particular, may have a greater risk of effects from BPA. Infants may not be able to metabolize and eliminate BPA as fast as children and adults since their liver, the organ that detoxifies the body, is still developing. Their neurological and endocrine (glandular) systems are also still developing and might be affected as well. Therefore, NTP and FDA believe there is some concern that infants may experience effects on the brain, prostate or mammary gland, and females may experience early puberty due to the alteration of hormones.

It is important to keep in mind that there is a lot of uncertainty concerning the studies conducted thus far. For instance, most experiments were performed using rodents or primates but not usually humans, making it difficult to know exactly how humans are affected. Also the studies use different experimental designs, meaning that the studies differ in how the test subjects are exposed and how the effects are measured. This lack of consistency between studies makes it difficult to compare the results. Uncertainties such as these mean that we need to be cautious that we are not underestimating or overestimating the risk of exposure and effects from BPA.

Err on the side of caution

FDA recognizes that there are many uncertainties that need to be clarified by more research. In the meantime, the FDA is trying to reduce exposure to BPA by supporting the development of BPA-free linings in infant formula cans as well as other food can linings. The FDA also encourages major manufacturers to stop selling infant bottles and feeding cups that contain BPA.

If you would like to limit your entire family’s exposure, it is recommended that if you purchase products that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 make certain they are not made of polycarbonate. If you use plastic containers made with BPA, do not put hot or boiling food or drinks into them and do not heat them in the microwave either. Remember to always discard plastic containers that have scratches or pits as these can potentially release more BPA when heated.

As a concerned consumer, it is important for you to stay on top of this research so that you know how to best protect you and your family. The FDA provides a Consumer Updates page and can even email you with recent consumer updates as well.

 

Election 2012: The Berkey Filter is the Right Water Filter for You

November 5th, 2012

On Election Day, you will be making decisions that you hope will have a positive impact on the country. During this time of great decision-making, take a moment to consider something else that is just as important. It is neither a political office nor legislation but is something that you take for granted every day –and that is clean water. This substance is vital to life on earth and is undeniably a part of your daily activities. Water is so very important but is it as pure as you would prefer, or do you need to improve your water quality? Wouldn’t you like to have a water filter that you can use on a daily basis as well as in the event of an emergency to provide you with healthy water that won’t make you sick?

There are numerous water filters on the market but we are convinced that the Berkey water filter is the right choice for you. Below are the reasons why the Berkey should get your “vote”.

The Berkey filter has your best interests in mind.

Its Black Berkey Purification Elements remove contaminants like bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, and chlorine but leave the healthy minerals in your water so that you can enjoy the nutritional benefits.

The Black Berkey Purification Elements will be with you for possibly four years or longer.

Each element has a lifespan of 3000 gallons. If you are using a unit with two elements and use 4 gallons per day (the average daily amount used for a family of four) you can expect the elements to last for about 4 years!

The Berkey filter will not require you to spend all of your hard-earned money.

Since the purification elements have such a long lifespan, the majority of your expense is the initial purchase of the unit with occasional replacement of the elements. No one likes debt whether it is on the national or personal level. Avoid a debt crisis by investing in a cost-efficient Berkey filter.

The Berkey filter is able to meet the varying needs of the people.

The seven model sizes vary from a 1 quart to a 6 gallon storage capacity and most of the units allow for variable element configurations. For example, the Crown Berkey can be run with as little as 2 elements but can accommodate up to 8 elements giving you an unbelievable 24,000 gallon lifespan if all are used at the same time! Using this maximum configuration, the Berkey unit will filter 26 gallons per hour!

The Berkey filter has an excellent reputation in “foreign relations”.

The Berkey has traveled the world with missionaries, world explorers, and many other types of Berkey owners. You do not have to worry about your water quality when the Berkey filter is with you.

The Berkey Filter has a dependable “team of advisors”.

The Berkey Filters Customer Service Team will not let you down. They are available Monday through Friday, 9AM to 5PM, to provide you with excellent support services concerning unit preparation and assembly, troubleshooting, sales, or any other issue.

 

We all can admit that Berkey filters are very attractive filtration units, whether they have a stainless steel or blue co-polyester housing, but do not simply choose the Berkey for this reason alone. Make a conscious decision to improve your water’s taste, your health, your well-being, and your level of preparedness for any emergency. You deserve the best water filter available. Purchase a Berkey filter today and have hope for a positive future with contaminant-free water!

 

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