Sunday, August 31, 2014

Aluminum Cased Ammo

 Once every couple of weeks when I pass through a city or suburb, I stop at a Wal-Mart, usually a super center.  I pick up some fresh fruit, some dog and cat food, paper for the printer, and then I check out the ammo. Wal-Mart is very interesting in this regard.  Some Wal-Marts have no ammunition section at all.  Others have a small glass enclosures with ammo in the sporting goods section. Once in awhile, there is one which has quite a selection, including 556, 7.62x54, 380,  7mm. etc.  They do stock some of the cheaper rounds, but they also stock some unusual things you would think they might not have.  Yesterday, they had three different calibers of Federal brand aluminum jacketed ammo. Fifty rounds of aluminum jacketed was just under fifteen dollars.  I bought some and hope to target shoot with them this weekend.

This is a Sig Sauer P226, in 9mm


       As you might guess from the price, aluminum ammo is much cheaper to produce than brass jacketed varieties.  Aluminum is also one third of the weight of brass.  This can be important if you need to carry a fair amount of ammo. Of interest to me primarily is the lower cost which makes my practicing on the farm much more possible.  Some of the people I know really like aluminum ammo.  Others don't like it as much. However, the military actually considered commissioning and replacing their brass ammo with aluminum in order to save money. No one knows why this wasn't done, but it's likely a combination of their not really needing to save money, after all, they have ours, and in part, due to a strong brass lobbying body who doesn't want to see brass prices diminish when demand decreases. Copper is stronger than aluminum initially, but in a Univ. of Ohio study, aluminum was 32 times stronger, and copper softened sooner than aluminum.

     Others have also said that aluminum is not as heat stable as these other metals. For most of us with standard pistols this should not be a problem.   The one clear negative is that unlike brass, the aluminum casings cannot be reloaded.    Still, buying cheaper ammo that we collect and don't reload is of interest to me.  Aluminum should not be a problem for your weapon either, and is not considered to be dirty ammunition.

         To make sure you don't have any problems, you should always inspect all ammo for deformities before loading them in your magazine.   Clean your weapon after each use to avoid the build up of any coatings that could "gum up" the internal workings of your weapon.  If you shoot at a gun range, make sure they allow aluminum cased rounds. Most ranges collect the brass casings for reload and don't wish to separate them from aluminum. They want to make a bit more money  after you leave.

  Read more about this at:

Considering the Denial Bubble

ISIS has committed war crimes that make Genghis Khan look like a boyscout.  (Photo: RT)

    I try to be a calm and a positive force for good, here on the blog.  I do this because I think that the truth is often the less alarmist path, and also because in the US, people are so deluged by bad news from all sides that they have developed an ability to discount or set aside bad news entirely.  This means that a lot of people who really need to make emergency plans or to be ready to shelter in place, use their energies to box up the bad news they have heard, rather than actually making the plans in which they need to make, and then to follow through.  It takes energy to live in a bubble of denial, yet many people do.  It's been difficult in the past few months not to continually post world news which is very somber. I have tried to balance positive things with which we have power, while interspersing the things we should talk about, that are decidedly bad news.

                I have friends from my time in Russia who are wonderful generous people, but just as Barack Obama does not speak for me, Mr. Putin often does not speak for them.  I personally disapprove of Mr. Putin's quest to enter the sovereign nation of Ukraine. As I type, armored Russian units press deeper into Eastern Ukraine where there is already an humanitarian crisis. Mr. Putin himself denies that this is happening. There is also deep concern for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, as the leader of Russia considers Ukraine's borders to be of no consequence to him.  Mr. Putin, a former leader of the KGB, has paid off Russian debt, and sharply upgraded all manner of military supplies and equipment.  There is also a mandatory military service for each young Russian, so there are plenty of young people to send in a larger scale war with Russia wherever it is fought.    There is also a propaganda machine gearing up as if to go to war.  Russia Today is wholly subsidized by Putin's war machine, and justifies all of Mr. Putin's actions.  I listen to RT daily and the chasm between BBC, DW, NHK, Arirang, and Euronews is now ever widening.  Mr. Putin has often said that the" greatest loss of the last century was the break up of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" . It does not take much imagination to see that he may be trying to reassemble it during his tenure. No less than seventeen people who have stood in vocal opposition to Mr. Putin have died under unusual or quite ghastly circumstances. (One of the most notable, Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who was a specialist in organized crime, was killed using polonium laced tea while at home in London.  The polonium used was traced to Russia by Britain.). Mr. Putin is a strong leader who has championed the Russian Orthodox Church at home,and talks a good deal about ethics and morality, but this has not make him a positive force. He will apparently do anything to shape the world as he wishes in the name of the Russian Federation.  Sometimes, I wish we had a leader half as committed to our own nation, as Mr. Putin.

             Meanwhile, the US continues with an ineffectual leader who ignores the looming world on fire, and makes sweeping changes to American life while completely ignoring the US Constitution. This furthur provides unique opportunities in which to gain ground for Mr. Putin.  ISIS, who is more violent than Al Queda thinks is necessary or desirable, is gaining ground in Iraq and in Syria. 

            Here in the US, Rome burns while Nero golfs.  The US porous Southern border lets in countless illegal aliens, some of whom are extremely likely to be representatives of ISIS here on specific missions.
This week Judicial Watch, one of the best government watchdogs in the US, announced that high level US governmental forces have received information that an attack on the US through our Southern borders is imminent.    Rather than protecting us through this, many of us believe that the present Obama administration will likely use this to furthur strip our own personal freedoms and find ways to take our guns and ammunition. Increasingly, it seems that the broad arming of much of our citizenry might someday be all that prevents a foreign takeover of our nation and its remaining resources.

           ISIS has promised that we, the United States, will bathe in our own blood.  With a history of sexual violence which makes many of history's prior groups look like boyscouts, we have no doubt as to their intent.

         The world is moving in a very negative direction for most of us.  It is clearly time to make preparations necessary in order to stay home and eat there for an extended period if necessary. Be prepared to render normal and expected first aid/medical care as needed at home. Get CPR certified.  Take a concealed weapons course, if you haven't already. Take advantage of the present sales of freeze dried food.  Stock vinyl gloves should Ebola or other illnesses become an issue in your area. Learn to grow whatever you can, to eat. Take a look at the prior posts which cover a wide variety of preparedness subjects and were written at a rate of one every several days since 2011. You might want to follow this blog.  You can also buy a copy of my book on preparedness, the link is above.    I don't need you to be frightened, but I do need you to spend less energy and resources on the maintenance of a denial bubble, and more resources on making personal plans to keep yourself and your families safe throughout some difficult times, which look to be just up ahead.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Attending a Gun Show

Both our own, and the guns for sale, are well secured.


        Welcome to the large numbers of visitors to this blog that have been logging on from Ukraine, Turkey,  and also from Sweden !     Thank you for reading, and best wishes to all of you.  I hope that the information in this blog contributes positively to your preparedness levels.   

           I spent a couple of days last weekend at a gun show.  It was an excellent and interesting experience from a number of standpoints.   Yes, there were sellers of both used and new handguns and rifles. They are required to run an instant background and criminal check in this state, just as they would if I had been interested in buying one of the firearms at a conventional gun shop.  There were also several police officers walking around, as visitors on entering the building must remove their ammo from their weapons, and have a temporary plastic tie placed through their weapon in order to prevent any unexpected discharges while showing their weapon during the event.   It was  great to see so many accessories, such as magazines for rifles and semi-automatic handguns, rails for weapons, scopes, and every conceivable type of holster known to man.  Magazines for semi-automatic handguns do age and do malfunction on occasion, and so it is smart and necessary to have plenty of spare magazines for any weapon you own. You never really know if in the future, that particular type will be hard to locate. Gun shows are great places to pick up lots of magazines, and often, they will be very fair prices.

            One place with an awful lot of stock was:

     Quantico Tactical

                         There were also a number of tables of a variety of Pro Second Amendment organizations.  The NRA is not the only horse in the shed now. Some of these groups are more conservative than the NRA and report that they are continuing to see proposed legislation on the state level that continues to infringe upon the legal right to bear arms (if of course, you are not a  person being treated for a mental illness or a former felon.)  On such organization that was quite impressive was

                The National Association of Gun Rights

                 This year, a number of people whose products fall squarely into the preparedness and survivalism category came to the show.   One couple was selling custom "concealment" furniture.  It was gorgeous furniture with a hidden compartment for either a shotgun or for a handgun.  The work was stellar, and unless you knew the trick to opening the compartment, there was no way in which you were finding it. It is made by Amish craftsmen in Ohio.

              Secret Compartment Furniture

Anyone would be proud to have this quality furniture in their home.

                There were several sellers who sold excellent preparedness medical supplies, fairly reasonably.   Israeli dressings, complete new first aid kits for expeditions, and some EMT supplies were abundant.      There were several vendors selling #10 cans of freeze dried food,  MREs and a variety of other emergency foods.   I love it when the sellers rehydrate and cook their hot foods and them provide samples a la Sam's Club.   I tasted some freeze dried reconstituted barbecued chicken which I thought would likely be horrible, but it was excellent. The chicken was tender and the barbecue sauce was mild.  I also learned through sampling, that Legacy brand freeze dried banana really does taste like banana.  Often, dehydrated or other brands of freeze dried banana are hard and unpleasant and we worry about sugar being added or breaking a tooth.  The Legacy brand was simply bananas, with the slightly crunchy consistency of a marshmallow found in a box of Lucky Charms cereal.   Of course they sold out of that wonderful canned bacon, by Yoders.  With some skill and the correct paper, you really could can your own lean bacon, but I really do love the Yoders.  Our family has had BLTs through power outages during hurricanes, cooked on the gas grill thanks to them.

        One good source for medical supplies for preparedness who attended was:

     The Source Inc.                   Emergency, Medical, Survival Supplies

               There was another couple selling beef jerky and jerky with cheese inside that they make themselves and sell online.   I sampled some of their product, and it was delicious.

                There were many sellers of signs and bumper "snickers"   I liked the signs which said

               There was also a couple of book sellers who had a fair number of preparedness books for sale.  He had a couple of copies of my friend Jim Cobb's first preparedness book.    If you have a chance to attend a regional gun show, preparedness expo, etc.  take the drive and spend the time.  I came away with a number of great business cards and some new ideas.

There is also an intangible benefit to attending a gun show.  Sometimes a spouse who was lukewarm about spending money on preparedness, will go to a gun show and will see the large numbers of vendors who are concerned with preparedness, and this will inspire them. Sometimes, seeing so many businesses devoted to different aspects of preparedness and home defense helps them to see that many, many intelligent people are concerned about being, and staying prepared.   
If you get a chance to attend such an event, please try.   It was a very interesting weekend.

 Other great suppliers where I spent time:

              Remora Holsters

The company selling these at the show was Hillman Sales


      Bullseye Holsters        Leather, kydex and hybrid


This was the man with the Legacy bananas, and other tasty samples.   This food was excellent.

 Greg and Barb Smith
 1.800.406-7040                      Chesapeake, VA     also   757-389-8691

 They specialize in quality long term storage foods

  Ash Tactical

Armor,  Gun Accessories, Kydex Holsters, Survival Products, and Class 7 Firearms Manufacture

Store address: 4733 Jefferson David Highway, Fredericksburg, VA 22408    540-860-0274


    Strong's Camera Services

 This company has a drone which can take fantastic pictures of your farm for video or brochure purposes which can be very useful when it's time to sell.

They do new system design, installation, repair, upgrades, integration for video monitoring of your property or store.  They specialize in offsite viewing, phones, laptops, computers and Ipads integrated into your security.

Owner:  Jeff Strong         804-539-0101

 7436 Southwind Drive, Chesterfield, VA 23832


  Patriot Services, Inc.

     Purchase and liquidation of estates, firearms, military items, fast free appraisals, small and large quantities.

 Jim Jarrett    804-272-6748

8949 Brucewood Drive, North Chesterfield, VA, 23235


 And this I will mention because the quality was superb.

This seller manufactures custom vehicle emblems primarily for military and former military.

USCG,  USAF,  NAVY,  ARMY,  USMA,  USMC  ,          540-582-2227
 and Firefighter


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Todays San Francisco Earthquake


    This morning, the most severe earthquake in 25 years hit the San Francisco/Napa Valley area of California.  The 6.0-6.1 magnitude quake was centered in American Canyon, California. It shook San Francisco violently, and was felt all over Central California.  More than 170 people have been injured. Six people have been critically injured.  One child was hospitalized after a fireplace collapsed over him   The quake occurred after 3 am, Pacific Standard Time.

              Many buildings have been declared uninhabitable.  There are at least six significant fires which occurred following quake related natural gasline ruptures.  Hardest hit in San Francisco, Solano, Sonoma and Napa Counties.  There have already been greater than sixty aftershocks. Schools in the region will be closed on Monday.

              Please check on any relatives you have in Central California.    Although California plans for such occurrences, and construction requirements consider such things, injuries, property destruction, fires, and service disruptions are a serious matter.

              For the rest of us, this is a warning.  There has been an increase in the past year, of seismic activities in many areas, in many places in the world.   In Central Virginia, even three years after a 5.9 earthquake destroyed an elementary school and a high school, the rebuilding of the high school is not yet complete.  Earthquakes can be a significantly destructive and disruptive force.

           In 1906 an earthquake in this region decimated San Francisco, and created fires which contributed to the deaths of  many.  I remember that there is an account in the papers of my grandfather of the 1906 quake. He was visiting San Francisco from Merced Falls at that time.

Prior posts on this blog which concern Earthquakes and Earthquake Preparedness:         


Saturday, August 23, 2014

What is a Ram Jack ?


        In many places, foundations and concrete walls in houses, schools and commercial buildings crack.
This doesn't necessarily mean that the concrete or brick work was faulty.  Sometimes, it means that your area was seismically more active than was realized.  Sometimes it means you have something called shrink swell soil, and this was not realized or compensated for before the structure was built.  Whether you are in Colorado, Florida, or South America, foundational cracks occur and must be dealt with in some fashion. First. a structural engineer must determine whether these are cosmetic cracks which can easily be repaired and are of no lasting consequence, or whether there is true structural significance in need of an important repair.
               Today, I wish to introduce our readers to something called the Ram Jack.

This is from the Ram Jack Page:

Our foundation repair methods and unique piling solutions provide the strength and stability that can only be found in the best American steel. The result is a lasting foundation, and the peace of mind of knowing you’re on solid ground for the life of your home.

Driving Head     The Ram Jack® driving head delivers rapid power to long sections of piling for faster installation and a stronger pile.

Hydraulic Rams     The Ram Jack system incorporates dual rams that drive deeper into permanent strata.

Guide Sleeve      Variable-length guide sleeves, which are preferred by engineers, are designed to stiffen the piling in less-compacted surface layers.

With 19 patents for advanced designs over the last 25 years, Ram Jack gets foundation repair methods. We also get the fact that no one wants to fix the same problem twice. That’s why we get the job done right the first time – every time.


Ram Jack can use a number of different strategies and methods in order to stabilize the foundation of a home before the structural damage and cosmetic repairs can take place.

   This is a video which helps to explain the principle involved:

 This is another which explains other aspects of a project:

A final word from Jane:

I have known people who have used this and other foundational or slab repair services. The key is to find a company with an excellent reputation who is affordable. In addition, you should have a plan for remediation that has been created and reviewed by a structural engineer. The most important message is that a house that is really in trouble can be repaired to continue to be a lovely home for its normal and expected "lifespan."

      Ram Jack is actually a franchise, and so there are different offices in the United States,   To find an office near you, or to find someone who can do a similar repair in your nation, you can contact one of these offices who should be able to help you.

Ram Jack Systems Distribution
 13655 CR 1570, Ada, OK 74820

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Denver, Houston, St. Louis, We Have a Problem


When did police start looking like this ?     In April, 2011, at Virginia Commonwealth University ,police used teargas on students at a game.  There were injuries of students who were simply present, by teargas.  Our family no longer attends anything there.


                    It would be unwise and inappropriate for me to comment specifically on the shooting of the eighteen year old man in Ferguson, Missouri.  It's always sad when the police shoot and kill anyone.  The investigation is simply beginning, and believe me, this particular case with its racial overtones will be exhaustively  investigated with a fine tooth comb.  The release of the officer's name prior to the conclusion of such an investigation now makes it unsafe for he and his family to work or live anywhere near that town, whether he acted improperly or not involved in a supposed altercation with a storekeeper during a robbery, I will comment that the release of this officer's name, and the release of the video showing the man who was shot, seem premature to me.   There will also be a federal investigation, and one can bet that the results will be massaged to benefit the present regime and its agenda. Who knows, perhaps they intend to take the firearms of police as well as our own.

                         In a few prior posts I have made the observation that in the US, in my lifetime, we have gone from police officers who predominantly saw themselves as public servants who were primarily focused on the motto, "to protect and to serve", and by golly, this is what they did, to a more militarized unit, with the dress, equipment and more of the procedures of a SWAT team or special forces unit. Dress an officer like an officer and he will conduct himself as one.   Dress him as an elite force soldier and he may well act like one too.  Two counties over from me, our local tactical shop which opened to provide weaponry to be shipped to their son's unit in Iraq,and others like it,  now sells upgraded tactical equipment and weaponry to county police from far and wide.  Apparently, local police are gunning up, and getting better equipment than is provided in their home counties. I don't begrudge a law enforcement officer having the best equipment.  However, we have now crossed over from our being citizens of the United States who pay taxes in order to be protected, to being viewed too many times, as enemy combatants.    Each year, there are cases of people who suffocate when the police sit on their chests or backs during an arrest.  There are people who are shot to death when they didn't have any type of weapon.  There are diabetics who died in a drunk tank when the officers were not trained well enough to realize that they were in trouble with regard to their diabetes.  There are people who are tazered and who die from a resultant disturbance in heart rhythm (arrhythmia).  There have been people who died of internal hemorrhage after several police officers beat them during an arrest, when they were already cuffed and could not protect their abdomens during a beating.
                    I would also like to say that I have many friends who work in different levels of law enforcement.  Some of them are my closest friends, and I know that they would never use force or lethal force unless warranted. Many of them decellerate dangerous situations with great skill.   The two sheriff's deputies who were first on scene when my youngest son died,  took over CPR for me, and performed admirably..  My DEA friends are law abiding decent family people.  There is exceptional police talent out there. There are also excellent police investigators who work tirelessly to solve crimes. We do however, seem to have some problems.

                    Most police officers are intelligent, well trained, calm and reasoned individuals who are very clear on how to decellerate a dangerous situation.  Most of them know how to decellerate a situation using a firearm as a last resort.    However, we do have a number of issues which seem to be creating some problems.    First, the training of police is changing.   The days of their being taught that 90% of people are good and would even aid an officer in trouble, are over.   They are now being taught that ten percent of people are good. Ten percent are very bad, and everyone else could go either way given the circumstances.  Some of them are quite jumpy and a bit paranoid.   Thus far I have not been stopped and treated like a criminal, however several of my friends with concealed weapons permits viewable on an onboard computer check when an officer pulls you over, have been.    My daughter has been pulled over a couple of times and asked questions which seemed inappropriate.   "Where are you going ?" during rush hour seems a little strange when she is dressed for work.   It turned out that someone they were watching had her model of car.
In a county nearer Richmond, where I no longer visit, there is probably a ticket quota.

                    Since President Kennedy's day, a number of mentally ill people were released from mental hospitals, and became homeless. Then, most of the mental hospitals in the US were closed "in order to give opportunities in the community for the mentally ill".   The reality is that if the patient was never taught to rent a room, obtain a job, hold one, manage money, then many of them can't do it, and they remain homeless and often unable to continue whatever medications allowed them to live safely.    A percentage of homeless people are, mentally ill.   When they encounter police they may not understand or respond as quickly to orders as you or I might. They are often extremely tired, as they may not be sleeping regular hours.   Sometimes, when a police officer barks an order, we might question or ask for clarification.  We might want to explain ourselves.  It's very important that police officers have excellent discernment skills.   They need to be able to detect mentally ill, intellectually impaired,demented,  drug impaired or sick people with at least as much skill as I do. Nurses manage this population of patients on first contact all the time, and if we do it without a firearm or tazer, then they certainly can do it skillfully with these items.

             The problem is that not only does our military make gifts of military supplies to police stations when they are finished with them, but police training has changed.  The valued officer used to be the good communicator who inspired compliance by his communication.  He needed to appear human, and most importantly, he needed to see the public as neighbors, friends, cousins, or sons like his.   Now, the training of police is more likely to focus on physicality, basic training, militaristic assessment, detachment, and getting the qwelling of any potential threat completed in record time by taking control with a minimum of communication.
This is a dangerous turn for police training to have taken.  This change in police training  will result in the shootings and death of retarded adults, young adults with mental health issues which make self control difficult, diabetics with transient problems, and even those of us who carry concealed weapons completely legally.     A failure of the member of the public to be instantly compliant does not constitute a threat. It may require additional communication.  A deficit in communication with a police officer should not be a death sentence. Patrolmen also need to have a certain intellectual standard.  Most do, but sometimes, a few men and women get through who do not have the intellectual skills to do the job as safely for the public as they should.   Usually, these officers are weeded out, but there can be a death before this happens.  One young state police officer here in Virginia watched one driver after another drive an icy exit and crash.  It never occurred to her to close the exit. She had simply found a way to write a number of tickets that day, for one thing or another.

           We need to reexamine the manner in which we train police officers.  We need to reexamine police guidelines for when a SWAT team is called.  We need to reexamine police protocols for when and why a simple contact with the police accellerates to a lethal force conflict.  Our police need to know our rights under the Constitution better than anyone, because we are their brothers, sisters, children, wives, cousins, friends, and parents. We can't gloss over the rights of anyone and then expect them to apply to our own families !

           This is not really a racial issue.    African Americans are particularly sensitive to their relationship with police because historically, they have not always been treated well by them.  However, the deterioration of police training and the new value sets of what constitutes a great patrol officer now, threatens everyone.  This is a concern which needs to be addressed.  Without it, a coming police state will make gatherings for our children, schools, motor vehicle accidents, any gatherings of human beings much more dangerous for both police and citizens alike. This is a problem whether you are blonde, Asian, Finnish, Muslim, African American, Chinese, West African, German, or anything else !

          Lastly, police officers need not only to do the right thing, but they need to avoid the appearance or the perception of impropriety.    If a percentage of Americans cease to see them as "here to help" and they are seen as "predators who exist to write tickets" or to "harass the people in our neighborhoods" then we will avoid them, cease to communicate with them, and crimes will simply not be solved.  When the public no longer feels safe providing information to the police, then we have lost our country's ability to solve crime.  This will open the gates for vigilante justice and "justice by perception" which is exactly one of the things the US Constitution was written to avoid.   The police are already suspected of wrongdoing in some cities in our country.   We must examine why some groups of the public fear or suspect the police as quickly as possible.  Without this, we all lose.


My prior post on this and related subject:


Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Value of Diphenhydramine (in the US, Benadryl)

This is a generic packaging of adult dosed diphenhydramine.

           Other than aspirin, there are few drugs that are as valuable to us in preparedness,  as Diphenhydramine. This drug has existed as a prescription drug since 1943.    My very first encounter with Diphenhydramine came in the 1970s.  I developed a significant sunburn rather quickly on my back one day, and over a few days it developed into large blisters. The area was not only painful, but areas of the lesions itched intensely.  It was difficult to sleep and I was in great discomfort.   This became one of my few trips in my youth to a hospital emergency room. Given the severity of the burn, the physician ordered an oral antibiotic, some silver based cream which I wasn't able to easily apply to the worst regions, and a prescription for Diphenhydramine for the itching and discomfort.  In the 1970s, Diphenhydramine was a prescription drug.  According to drug references, Diphenhydramine became an over-the counter drug in 1985, but I had thought it became OTC in the early eighties.  (This article has  a listing of drugs which have made the transition in the US to OTC)    This can a powerful and effective drug when used within dosage guidelines, and has multiple uses.   In the United States, Canada, and South Africa, this drug is marketed most often under the name Benadryl.  Generic preparations, simply called diphenhydramine, are also available and are just as effective, and may well be less expensive. Physicians and nurses are also able to give injectable preparations of this drug, which is not available to you OTC at home.  The drug does burn on injection.
                My first use of this drug was for intense itching, and for this it is quite effective.  It leaves most people slightly drowsy, and extreme caution should be used before driving or operating machinery until you know exactly what Diphenhydramine will do to your awareness and sensorium.

                 It can be extremely useful following everything from a beesting, a spider bite, a contact dermatitis, or swelling.
                Those who have severe reactions,such as anaphylaxis.   These are rapid and severe allergic reactions which manifest in wheezing and can move on to swelling so severe as to cause respiratory arrest and death.  Patients who have had severe reactions which include severe swelling, asthma or wheezing in response to a sting or allergen should see their physician in order to get an an emergency epinephrine injection device.
                Those of us who are not known for anaphylaxis reactions, can probably take diphenhydramine within dosage guidelines in order to avoid the worst symptoms from beestings, poison ivy, other contact allergens, spider bites, etc.

             .   Another common use for Diphenhydramine is as an antihistamine. Many people can bypass not only their allergic symptoms by using this drug, but bypass the bulk of the drowsiness by taking it at bedtime. For a percentage of patients, one dose daily will go a long way to limiting nasal, sinus, eye, and skin allergies, especially if they are generally transient or seasonal.

                 In hospitals sometimes, we need to give someone a sleeping pill, and especially with an elderly person, some of the newer medications may make them drowsy and a little confused the following day.  Sometimes, a 12.5 mg liquid dose, or a 25 mg. dose is enough to induce sleep for that person, without risking the use of a more dangerous drug.  This can also be true of those of us living at home who don't have an only rarely used sleeping pill.

                In an absolute disaster or emergency when a person becomes hysterical, and one has nothing else. Once the person has been evacuated from the immediate danger and is not needed to hike or escape from a dangerous area, one dose of diphenhydramine can be used to calm a person in such an emergency.

               There are cautions I need to give you, which was a large part of my writing this post.
In the 1980s, a few pediatricians were advocating very tiny doses of liquid diphenhydramine, that they calculated for you, in order to reverse "wake sleep disturbance of infancy."  A healthy newborn who has his days and nights confused can be given a teeny syringe measured dose of diphenhydramine three nights in a row at bedtime, and the majority of them will then sleep through the night, and be awake (as much as newborns generally are) during the day.  The practice worked well, but is now frowned upon as a percentage of parents did not adhere to the strict dosage guidelines provided by the pediatrician, and overdose injuries did occur.   This practice should not be done without dosage oversight by your pediatrician and a good reason for doing so.
             Secondly, a woman in Virginia, who apparently really needed her young son to sleep gave him liquid diphenhydramine which exceeded dosage guidelines, and accidentally killed him.  She is serving a prison sentence now
            Diphenhydramine is an effective drug for a multitude of emergency uses, but as anything with powerful positive effects, inattention to dose details, sloppiness, the repetition of doses without physician or pharmacist guidelines can cause complications, or death.  It should therefore be administered with extreme care and with great attention paid to dose guidelines.  I also recommend that the liquid drug be used with children, and the dose drawn up from the bottle using a (needleless) oral syringe, available from your pharmacy.    The drug is also a bit caustic and so it should be diluted a little using juice, for children.

This is an example of the liquid preparation which can be used for children or elderly adults.

           As a family interested in preparedness, you should have a suitable diphenhydramine preparation available for each age range within your family.  Young children should have diphenhydramine liquid and an oral syringe in a kit bagged together for allergic emergencies. Children aged 10-12 may use diphenhydramine chewable tablets. Each tablet is usually 12.5 mg.  Adults can use capsules or tablets which are 25 mg. per tab.  A small adult may take one tablet every four to six hours.  Larger adults may take two 25 mg. tablets every four to six hours.  If the drug piles up and the patient is excessively drowsy, then decrease the dose the next time the drug is due.  Follow guidelines carefully.

           This drug may also be used for other reasons.  It can be used in mentally ill patients.  It is sometimes used to decrease vomiting.  (Although should not be used in pregnant women without a specific order from her physician.)  It also has some benefit for motion sickness. It has been used to potentiate the effects of narcotics.  (It can lengthen the time a patient benefits from narcotic pain relief in the hospital setting, etc.)

             This drug has some sweeping potential positive benefits and strong effects against some serious problems.  However, I have always been a little surprised that it was made over-the-counter in the US.  This is a powerful but not an innocuous drug.   In Zambia for example, this is a controlled drug and one should not bring this drug into the country.   Potential side effects can include dizziness, excessive drowsiness, disruption in heart rhythm (aggravation of undiagnosed long qt syndrome, which can lead to sudden death),  tremors, seizures, difficulty in establishing a urinary stream, stomach pain, and sometimes there are people who become euphoric or hyperactive on it. If you have lost a relative to a sudden arrhythmic death (SADS) or a child to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) then I would use this drug, particularly in babies or children, only with extreme caution, and when clearly needed.

            I am not saying that we should not use this drug.  I am saying that it should be available in your home for emergency indications in its various dosages for age and weight, and that it can be used when extreme attention is paid to dosage guidelines.  It should be locked up or well secured in order to avoid accidental poisoning of children or adults with dementia.

For most people, particularly when dosing guidelines are strictly followed, the drug is quite safe and its use may be safer than allowing an evolving or chronic allergic reaction to continue unbridled.

            Delaware Pediatrics has provided an excellent page on weight and dosage guidelines for children.

Dosage chart including pediatric doses  

Dosage guidelines, particularly for pediatrics patients

Other great references on Diphenhydramine: