Local version of the Cocoon Grid-It

Are you looking for something similar to the Cocoon Grid-It to organise your EDC items or emergency tools? Here’s something I found in Blade. They have different sizes that sell for between P200 and P400. Continue Reading

Automatic earthquake-activated cabinet door latch

This looks like a useful device for helping to earthquake proof your home: “The Seismolatch reacts to even the smallest seismic movement, including rolling, shaking, and jolting. Before any cabinet door would open, the latch activates and secures the door.” http://seismolatch.com I wonder if there will soon be a Philippine-based supplier. Continue Reading

Is there truth in the portayal of the mindless crowd?

For crowd-control specialists, law enforcement, city admin and emergency response groups. Study: contrary to popular belief, crowds are not mindlessly irrational but act with intent based on shared identity. In other words, groups of strangers cooperate when faced with adversity. Cooperation can be peaceful or violent, depending on the stimulus. Police reacting heavy-handedly can provoke riots due to a shared grievance while natural disasters foster a sense of community. This article does not address the issue of crowd stampedes. During a stampede, a different part of the brain is activated. The 'lizard brain' which is responsible for individual survival takes over. The intimacy of crowds at Aeon Magazine. Continue Reading

Water treatment methods

Outbreaks of waterborne illnesses are one of the biggest risks after a calamity. It's vital that survivors have access to clean water for drinking and washing. As a general guideline, America's ready.gov website recommends households store at least 4 liters (1 gallon) of water per person, per day and and have a minimum of three days supply per person. These figures are likely to be too low for a country like the Philippines with its tropical climate and scattered islands. No matter how much you store, supplies may eventually run low before infrastructure is restored or relief arrives so it's important to know how to treat water before drinking. Here's a summary of a few simple methods that use equipment or ingredients accessible to most Philippine households.


Many of us, especially those who have spent time the provinces, may remember our parents and grandparents boiling water for drinking. It's still the safest method of treating water but it does consume fuel. To boil water for drinking:
  1. Put some water in a pot or kettle. Make sure the water has been filtered of debris, sediment and has not been contaminated by chemicals.
  2. Boil the water until it's bubbling vigorously for one full minute.
  3. After boiling, let it cool before drinking.

Chlorination with household bleach

  1. Add approx. 2-4 drops of bleach per liter of water (approx. 16 drops per gallon).
  2. Stir and leave it for 30 minutes.
  3. The water should have a slight bleach smell after 30 minutes.
  4. If you don't smell any bleach, treat the water again and wait an additional 15 minutes.
  5. Do not use the water if it still doesn't smell of bleach after the second treatment.
Make sure you use a new bottle of plain household chlorine bleach (5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite) with no additives. Opened and older bleach bottles may have lost its potency over time. More information: FEMA and American Red Cross guide: Food and Water in an Emergency (PDF download).

Solar water disinfection (SODIS)

Solar water disinfection, or SODIS is a new method that's starting to gain acceptance in tropical countries. It's simple, free and uses low-tech, easy-to-find materials. The World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and the Red Cross recommend the SODIS method for treating drinking water in developing countries.
Pictogram showing the SODIS method
Pictogram showing the SODIS method by Samuel Luzi, Fundacion SODIS
See related article: A cheap and effective way to disinfect water in tropical countries.

Other water treatment methods

There are many other methods you can use to create potable water for your family. However, they need more research, practice or require equipment or supplies that aren't so readily available.

Chemical contamination

Most of these methods work by killing disease-causing micro-organisms in the water. Unless you distill the water or use an appropriate filter, any chemical contaminants will remain in the water. It's therefore important to stay way from water that may have been fouled by dangerous chemicals. Continue Reading

Don’t have time to can? Try the refrigerator pickle method

If you don't have time to get into canning, try the refrigerator pickle method. I've made some nice atchara, pickled peppers and pickled onions this way. In my experience, they last much longer than a month and get sweeter as they age. I usually do this whenever we get more veggies than we can finish. It's a good way to quickly preserve food that would otherwise spoil. Here are a few starter guides:
  • http://misswish.com/pickle-recipe
  • http://www.marthastewart.com/317530/refrigerator-pickles
  • http://www.organicgardening.com/cook/refrigerator-pickles
After you've tried it a few times, do a web search for some recipes and start experimenting. The great thing about refrigerator pickles is that special canning equipment isn't necessary. You can boil the brine in a small pan and reuse old leftover jars from supermarket-bought items. Continue Reading

The warning signs of drowning

The Philippines is a nation of islands yet many children do not know how to swim. Aside from teaching our children to swim, we should also look out for the warning signs of drowning because as this article says, drowning doesn’t look like it does in the movies.
[Drowning] is the No. 2 cause of accidental death in [American] children, ages 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents)—of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In some of those drownings, the adult will actually watch the child do it, having no idea it is happening. Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:
  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs—vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder
Read the full article: Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning. Continue Reading

Beware of food borne illnesses from reusable grocery bags

Research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania Law School has found that emergency room visits and deaths spiked by at least one fourth when plastic bag bans went into effect in California. The culprit: food borne illnesses from bacteria like E. coli growing in reusable grocery bags. The study revealed:
  • Coliform bacteria were found in 51 percent of the bags tested.
  • E. coli was found in 8 percent of the bags examined.
  • Most people did not use separate bags for meats and vegetables.
  • 97 percent of individuals indicated they never washed their reusable grocery bags.
I wonder how many of our politicians who enforced plastic bag ban ordinances in their jurisdictions have thought of the unintended consequences of such a policy. Personally, I'm not convinced that plastic bag bans will have a positive impact on the environment. In fact, paper bags actually have an overall worse impact than plastic. Now we're also discovering a serious negative impact on human health in the affected community too. With plastic bag bans gaining momentum in the Philippines, we could be setting ourselves up for an unseen public health predicament. Regardless of what you believe, just remember to extend your basic food sanitation practices to your reusable grocery bags:
  • Use separate bags for raw meat and fish, vegetables, packaged food and dry goods.
  • Mark the raw meat and fish bags and make sure you don't use them for any other type of product.
  • Do not store the reusable bags in your car trunk as the research paper found that this drastically increased bacteria growth.
  • The raw meat and fish bags especially should be washed after every use to eradicate dangerous bacteria.
  • To kill the bacteria when washing, you need to get the water up to 60°C/140°F or use chemicals.
Also keep in mind that if you have house helpers who do your shopping, they must also be taught these food safety practices. Continue Reading