Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Forest Fire at Shenendoah National Forest

This photo was taken by the National Park Service.

          The next time one of you tells me that you are ready to shelter in place for anything and that you don't need a family and animal evacuation plan, I would like you to consider this.

                 Over the last several days, the Shenendoah National Forest has been experiencing a wildfire. Thus far, 2000 plus acres have burned.  Heavy smoke is causing problems for anyone with respiratory history as far away as thirty miles from Richmond.   Charlottesville, Staunton and Harrisonburg have heavy smoke and a haze is obvious over the mountains.  Yesterday, at DMV in Charlottesville, people could not stop coughing due to the smoke outside, despite the fact that the air conditioning and filters in the building were going at full tilt.
              As of yesterday, parts of the Appalachian Trail are closed. Skyline Drive is closed from Swift Run Gap to Loft Mountain.  Nicole Mittendorf, a firefighter, was in the park and is presently missing.  Please click the link for full details, if you have been in the park recently.

 Also, according to local news, this fire is visible from space.

Photo NPS Alan Williams

              Anyone with a history of respiratory chronic illness, whether they are young or old should have an evacuation plan, which may need to be activated at a moment's notice.  Even if the fire itself does not reach your own farm or property, such heavy smoke can be dangerous not only for those with respiratory illnesses but for those with cardiac issues as well.


                Thus far, the first has not yet been extinguished and we are not expecting even the possibility of rain until the weekend.  Thus far, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

            Don't let the fact that you have created a safe haven for most disasters prevent you from formulating a viable evacuation plan for yourself, your family and your animals. The life you save could be your own.

Alerts and Conditions from the Park

This is the Smoky the Bear Large Fire Incident Map

UPDATE:   According to Richmond Times Dispatch today, the fire has now consumed almost 3000 acres

  UPDATE:  April 22, 2016
The body of a young woman believed to be Nicole Mittendorf has been found in a rocky region of the Shenendoah National Forest.  Police are declaring the death a probable suicide. A medical examiner's report is pending.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Let's Discuss Elizabethkingia


This is Elizabethkingia Anophelis in a culture.


  Elizabethkingia is a gram negative bacterium which only rarely sickens humans. It is named for Elizabeth O. King, who discovered this organism.   It can cause a cellulitis, or a respiratory infection. Fever and chills may be the first symptoms. The causative organism is most correctly Elizabethkingia Anophelis. I am mentioning it here today because surprisingly, very recently there has been an outbreak of the illness in both Michigan and Wisconsin, and now Illinois.  It is an organism that may be present in some species of fish and some frogs. It has been demonstrated to survive cleaning with alcohol and it can survive in alcohol. It is also resistant to a fair number of antibiotics. Before this most recent three state outbreak, outbreaks were rare and small and occurred most often in compromised patients in a health care setting.

              There are four species of this organism

 E. anophelis 
E. endophytica 
E. meningoseptica 
E. miricola

  It most often impacts those older than 65 and those with at least one other pre-existing illness.  Don't let this make you too comfortable because the organism can afflict anyone, and it can mutate as it wishes. Recent cases in the two aforementioned states took 20 lives, and there were 61 confirmed cases. There are several other cases under investigation. There are likely to be many more. Death when it occurs, is usually due to sepsis.  Although this organism is found in dirt, no one yet knows the commonality by which all these cases are connected. The personal products of all of those afflicted are being cultured to see how these cases may have been connected.
                This disease killed yet another person as few as three days ago, and we still have no idea as to how it is spreading.

                This is a public health issue which demands our attention.  All that we can do presently, is the following:

1. Keep any and all known chronic illnesses under control.  Diabetes with hyperglycemia, COPD poorly controlled, and other chronic issues leave the patient vulnerable to infections from all sources.

2. Although I realize that good hygiene is boring, and makes most of us think of the nineteen thirties, it works. Hand washing with regular soap, before eating, before handling food, after using the bathroom,after handling pets, being obviously soiled, and on coming home after being out or outside, goes a long way to preventing sickness from organisms with which we come in contact. I don't usually use anti-bacterial soaps as a strategy of avoiding resistant organisms, although I have used them for specialized purposes occasionally.

3. Any child under two who develops a fever greater than 101F needs to see a physician. Children dehydrate quickly and may become septic more quickly than older children.

4. Anyone over 65 who develops a fever and chills with a temp of 102F or higher should be seen that day by a physician.

5. Get enough sleep. Our immune systems work best if we are optimally rested.

Please keep alert to any additional happenings with regard to this infection.



Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Trip to Cabela's


   A few years ago, my eldest son and I were headed to Nova Scotia via car.  On the way back from our blighted trip, we stopped at a Cabela's in Pennsylvania.  Wandering through Cabela's allowed us to do most of our Christmas shopping there before returning to Virginia.   Many times since then, my son and I have said to one another, "I wish we had a Cabela's in Virginia !"   Effective this week, we do.  My son has not yet had a chance to visit, but my husband and I made it to the Virginia Cabela's this week for the Grand Opening festivities.
      The Cabela's just West of Richmond, Virginia is a large structure, like many of the other branches. This one has a room for recreational boats. It has a sandwich shop and cafe. They have a fireplace in the entryway so tall that it is reminiscent of one of the grand hotels outside the Grand Canyon.  It has a room called the "gun library" which sells all manner and type of consigned handguns and rifles. I was pleased to see Sig Sauer well represented.  This is quite near the section which sells new handguns.  There was, hands down, the largest selection of varied and unusual types of ammunition I had seen anywhere, and this includes the Richmond Gun Show. There were also packages of large amounts of ammo. Some of these were not cheap, but some rounds were also not as expensive as you thought they might be when sold in a retail establishment.  I spent a lot of time in gun accessories, which is impressive.  There is a knife department, a bow and arrow section, a dog section, climbing section, shoe, coat, clothing section, etc. There is the largest fishing section I have ever seen anywhere, and I go to a fair number of sporting goods shops with all my sons.  There is also a communications or walkie talkie section. There are sections for dehydrating your own food on a small scale, and for sausage making.  There were also sections with electronics that would be of particular interest to preppers.  There is also an entire room of reduced or "only one left" items at the back of the store, yes, even in a store that just opened.  There are also the very expensive light weight sleeping bags and tents you would expect to find at both Cabela's and places like REI.  The outdoor clothing, shoes and boots are quite expensive, but of exceptional quality. I still have a jacket I bought from Cabela's in Pennsylvania which is holding up well even after rather hard use on my part.  Cabela's is not the place to go for many of the least expensive items you might need for prepping, however, it should be somewhere you visit.  Cabela's not only is the gift center for men and teen boys, but their product range is so broad that simply by seeing some of these items you can organize preps in such a manner that you may solve problems you did not yet realize you had !

This is an actual Cabela's display from their store in Alaska.  There were similar displays in Richmond.

        I returned later in the week when the crowds were fewer.  Children will especially enjoy the museum quality taxidermy displays of animals and the giant sized fish in a huge aquarium, and the unusual snacks and candy.  Cabela's is definitely a place you should visit, wherever you are.

           I don't receive any benefits from advertising Cabela's.  In fact, I am not even a card carrying member of their discount system.  I do think that you should take a trip to Cabela's whenever you can though. Have a great time.