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Tuesday, March 9, 2010


"Asthma doesn't seem to bother me any more unless I'm around cigars or dogs. The thing that would bother me most would be a dog smoking a cigar."-Steve Allen While researching first aid stations for a Cub Scout activity, I realized that I know very little about Asthma and how to respond. After looking at a dozen medical websites I still know very little about what to do. The sites describe Asthma, its symptoms, its triggers, its medical treatment, but very little about instructions for Asthma attacks. The usual language is “See your doctor for an Asthma Action Plan.” Very little advice for Scout Leaders with an Asthmatic hiker.
So what have I learned? During the asthma attack, the lining of the airways and lungs become swollen or inflamed and thicker mucus -- more than normal -- is produced. This causes coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness as breathing becomes more difficult and less effective. Symptoms include:
· Severe wheezing when breathing both in and out
· Coughing that won't stop
· Chest pain or pressure
· Tightened neck and chest muscles, called retractions
· Difficulty talking
· Very rapid breathing
[DANGER signs, call 911]
· Extreme difficulty breathing
· Rapid pulse
· Pale, sweaty face
· Blue lips or fingernails
· Anxiety or panic over inability to breathe
· Severe drowsiness or confusion
With mild asthma attacks the airways open up within a few minutes to a few hours after treatment. Severe asthma attacks are less common but last longer and require immediate medical help. If a mild attack is not treated and becomes severe, the lungs may tighten so much that there is not enough air movement to produce wheezing. This is called a "silent chest,"; it is a dangerous sign and requires immediate medical attention before the victim dies from lack of air. Unfortunately, some people interpret the disappearance of wheezing as a sign of improvement and fail to get prompt emergency care.
Asthma attacks can be triggered by cold-air, too much exercise, stress, pet dander, dust, mold, pollen, and tobacco & wood smoke. Asthma cannot be cured but you can keep the body health and strong, avoid the asthma triggers, and follow a two pronged medical regimen.
1. Long Term Medications to reduce the likelihood of attacks. These include corticosteroids, bronchodilators, Leukotriene inhibitors, and others.
2. Emergency Medications used during an attack.
a. Short-acting bronchodilators (inhalers)
b. Corticosteroids injected directly into a vein during a severe attacks

Asthma suffers can monitor their state of health with a breathing apparatus that measures “Peak Flow” of how much air they can take in. There is a Green Zone of 80-100% flow, a Yellow caution zone of 50-80% and a Red danger zone of 50% Peak Flow capacity.
Bottom Line
What can I do to help during an Asthma attack?
- If feasible, move them out of a trigger area (away from smoke, cold air, pet dander)
- Sit the person comfortably upright – do NOT have them lie down.
- Stay calm and soothe the victim. This may help him or her relax and breathe more easily.
- Have the victim use their inhaler as instructed by their doctor
- Coach the person to breathe steadily with pursed lips (puckered or "fish" lips), especially on the exhale. Breathe with the person, helping them focus on you.
- If the victim has no inhaler or no history of Asthma before, call 911.
- If the inhaler is not helping, call 911
- If the victim passes out, begin rescue breaths and, if necessary, CPR.

- Asthma attacks are NOT “cured” by drinking large amounts of liquids
- Non-prescription medicines such as antihistamines or cold remedies apparently have no effect in controlling asthma.
Asthma Resources
First Aid

FEMA Tip of the Week

"Over half a billion dollars a day is being spent by FEMA" - Thad Cochran Recently I discovered that FEMA offers a Tip of Week site. I've been on a FEMA email list for ages and somehow managed to miss this fact. Check out: http://www.fema.gov/privatesector/tips.shtm
Recents Tips include:
Bottom Line
Check out the tips. You'll be glad you did.

Could you Survive?

Most people spend a majority of there time away from home, yet very few prep for survival outside the home. To be able to survive means preparing for every possible situation.
Here’s the scenario…..  disaster hit’s your 30 miles from home, access is completely cut off  and there is no hope of being able to get back to your main preps.
Could you survive with what’s in your pocket?
What do you carry with you when your away from home?

Light Backpacking: Tarp vs. Tent

Wanting to make light backpacking more your style? It’s a solid idea that should be strongly considered. But, where should you start?
Should you trade in your tent for a lighter tarp? Maybe you should and maybe you shouldn’t.

A large internal frame backpack
Image via Wikipedia
Here’s an article that might be useful for helping you decide: Backpacking Gear Narratives.
Clunky backpacking, light backpacking or ultralight backpacking. It’s your choice, but I recommend taking incremental steps towards lighter.
Richard Davidian
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DPT--A Clever Idea for a Power Outage

A friend was without power for a few days. His wife has a beautifully decorated yard with a whole bunch of those small lights that rim the yard and come on at night to light up the place. During the day, the tiny solar panels on the lights charge up the batteries in order for the lights to run all night. During the power outage, he went out in the evening, snapped the lights off of their bases, and placed them all over his home, lighting up the house (when everyone else was in the dark) just like they had never lost power. In the morning he replaced them so they could re charge then in the evening, he went out and got them again for use in the house. Good idea!