Archives : 2013 : March

Survey Results Indicate Americans Use Mobile Apps in Emergencies

March 21st, 2013

A survey conducted by the American Red Cross in June 2012 reveals that mobile apps for emergency purposes are increasing in popularity. The survey results indicate that approximately 20% of Americans use mobile apps to get information about an emergency situation like a hurricane or tornado. Of course, the major communication channels like TV news, local radio stations, and online news are still the most popular sources of information. When the current survey results are compared with those from 2011, however, the reliance on these traditional communication channels have decreased by about 10% in each category while mobile apps usage for emergency purposes has remained constant at 20% and may very well increase in the near future.Mobile Phone

There are several Red Cross mobile apps available which include the First Aid, Shelter Finder, Hurricane, Tornado, Earthquake, and Wildfire Apps. According to the survey, the most popular type of emergency app is weather forecasting, with more than 80% of mobile users preferring this feature. Fortunately, location-based weather alerts are a feature of several of the Red Cross mobile apps. Another important feature of the Hurricane, Tornado, Earthquake, and Wildfire Apps is the one-touch, “I’m safe” messaging. With the touch of a button, users can notify their family and friends that they are safe via social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. This is a worthwhile feature since 76% of the social media users that were surveyed said that if they saw emergency information posted on a social media site their first action would be to contact friends and family to see if they were safe.

Mobile apps can provide a large amount of essential information during an emergency. In addition to providing information and tools for survival, the Red Cross staff also believes the emergency mobile apps provide emotional support in a very stressful situation by allowing the user to stay connected with others during an emergency. Though the Red Cross still encourages individuals to first dial 9-1-1 in an emergency, the mobile apps now play a role in preparing for and surviving an emergency.


Kidney Health and Drinking Water Contaminants

March 15th, 2013

When consumed, drinking water contaminants can harm the body in many different ways. Some effects are acute, meaning that they occur within days of ingesting the contaminated water. Chronic effects, on the other hand, occur after several years of exposure to the contaminant. The kidney is one organ that frequently suffers chronic effects from long-term exposure to contaminants. Since March is National Kidney Month it seems appropriate to discuss the types of contaminants that can affect kidney health.

The Kidneys

Since the main purpose of the kidneys is to filter the blood for toxins and other impurities, it is not surprising that many contaminants can easily damage this very important organ. These contaminants can be released into your drinking water from a variety of different sources. Below is a list of the drinking water contaminants that can damage the kidneys. The contaminants are grouped by their primary source.

Water Disinfection Byproducts

Total Trihalomethanes


Discharge from Factories

1,1,2 – Trichloroethylene












Runoff from Petroleum Refineries


Ethylene dibromide


Herbicide / Insecticide Runoff







Corroded Plumbing Systems





In addition to the chemical contaminants listed above, a particular strain of the biological contaminant, E. coli (O157: H7), can lead to kidney damage as well. The bacteria infect the gastrointestinal system which causes premature destruction of red blood cells. These red blood cells clog the kidneys which can result in kidney failure, especially in children.

The Solution

In order to maintain good kidney health it is important to limit your exposure to any of the above contaminants that might be in your drinking water. The Berkey Water Filters are very effective at removing or reducing nearly all of the drinking water contaminants that can potentially damage the kidneys. If there is a chance that any of these drinking water contaminants could be in your water, consider purchasing a Berkey Water Filter. It will not only benefit your kidney health but your overall well-being as well.


Prepare for a Possible Disaster on Vacation: Make an Emergency Travel Kit

March 7th, 2013

We all look forward to a vacation whether it will be an adventurous journey or a relaxing getaway. While packing, most people do not plan for any type of emergency situation yet recent events have proven that vacations can quickly turn disastrous. Just in February, for example, an engine fire caused the Carnival cruise ship Triumph to be without electricity or water for five days. The passengers suffered through less than optimal sanitary conditions and food rationing. Fortunately the ship was brought to shore before disease could spread or dwindling supplies would run out.

Vacation Disaster

Being stranded on a ship is not the only disaster one might face while on vacation. Catastrophic events like hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes can also occur. In addition to these hazards, international travelers may also find themselves in an area with a disease outbreak not common in the United States. Since spring break and the summer travel season are quickly approaching, it is important for travelers to think about preparing an Emergency Travel Kit. These travel kits will help to survive any disaster and are definitely worth the small amount of time necessary to prepare.

The travel kit should consist of emergency supplies, medications, and contact information. Some suggested items are provided below.

Emergency Supplies:

  • Water: This can include bottled water or a portable water filter which is a convenient alternative to traveling with heavy containers of water.
  • Snacks: Non-perishable items like dried fruit and crackers are light-weight and easy to pack.
  • First-Aid Kit: This includes items such as bandages, disposable gloves, and a thermometer.
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries


Medications (based on the CDC Travel Health Kits recommendations):

  • Prescription medications: Keep in clearly labeled, original containers. Pack an extra supply in the event the return from the trip is delayed.
  • Destination-related medications: Anti-malarial drugs, for example, should be taken to areas where this disease is prevalent.
  • Drugs to treat ailments such as:
    • Pain / Fever (i.e. aspirin)
    • Stomach Upset / Diarrhea (i.e. antacid)
    • Throat / Respiratory Conditions (i.e. decongestant)


Contact Information for:

  • All members of the traveling group
  • Family member or close friend at home
  • Health care provider at home
  • Medical insurance
  • Hospital or clinic at vacation destination
  • Hotel or other lodging

Though some people may be prepared for an emergency at home, a disaster that occurs while on vacation may be more difficult to endure since it is likely an unexpected hazard in an unfamiliar area. Take the time to make an emergency travel kit and be better prepared for any disaster that may strike while on vacation.