Tag Archives: Amy Alton

Flood Safety

storm surge

Reading about the flood in San Antonio that took the life of 2 women, I realized that I hadn’t written an article about flood safety, other than discussing storm surges during hurricanes.  Yet floods count among the disasters most responsible for loss of human life, both during the event and from the effects of the aftermath.

The definition of a flood is an overflow of water that submerges land which is normally dry.  Flooding may occur as an overflow of water from water bodies, such as a seacoast, river or lake, in which the water runs over or breaks levees, resulting in the escape of large amounts of water into populated areas. It may also occur due to an accumulation of rainwater on saturated ground.

Some floods develop slowly, while others (called “flash” floods), can develop in a very short time and affect areas where it wasn’t even raining.  As a result, it often catches the population downriver by surprise, causing severe damage and loss of life

There are several types of floods:


Floods can happen on flat or low-lying areas when the ground is saturated and water cannot run off quickly enough to stop accumulating. This may be followed by a river flood as water moves into local waterways. Floods related to rainfall can also occur if water falls on an impenetrable surface, such as concrete, asphalt paving or frozen ground, and cannot rapidly be absorbed into the ground.  In urban areas, it usually takes at least 1 inch (25 mm) of rainfall per hour to start significant ponding of water on impermeable surfaces.


Floods happen in rivers when the flow rate exceeds the capacity of the river channel, particularly at bends in the waterway. These are some of the most dangerous, as people tend to live and work by rivers due to access to fertile soil, irrigation, and trade routes.

River flows may rise to floods levels at different rates, from a few minutes to several weeks, depending on channel width and the source of the increased flow.

Slow rising floods most commonly occur in large rivers, like the Mississippi, that have large catchment areas. The increase in flow may be the result of sustained rainfall, rapid snow melt, monsoons, or tropical storms.


Flooding on the coast is commonly caused by a combination of sea tidal surges caused by winds and low barometric pressure. Coastal areas may be flooded by storm events, such as hurricanes, resulting in waves over-topping seawalls and levees.

johnstown flood

Aftermath of dam collapse in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1889

Failures of infrastructure such as the collapse of a dam may cause catastrophic flooding, as in the
Johnstown, Pennsylvania event in 1889 that took 2,200 lives. Major flooding may also be caused by the effects of an earthquake or volcanic eruption. These events often occur at sea hundreds of miles from the area affected, but result in tidal wave floods called Tsunamis. The penetration of salt water causes widespread failure of fresh water delivery systems and may make farmland unusable, sometimes for many years.  More on tsunamis in a future article.

Flooding often causes a failure of the power grid. Once this happens, the aftermath
of the disaster may have more severe effects than the flood itself. These effects include loss of the water supply due to contamination by sewage. As a result, water-borne illness such as diarrheal disease may take a major toll on the population. Cholera and Typhoid are just some of the diarrheal/dysenteric diseases which may be life-threatening. Other issues include the inability of aid to get to flooded areas and the inundation of farmland causing loss of entire crops.  Some industries may fail, leading to depression in the affected area. Once water and food shortage combine with the inability to receive help and/or make a living, economic collapse and civil unrest are likely to follow.

The scenario above is not purely hypothetical: Disasters related to flooding have sometimes caused millions of short- and long-term casualties. In both 1887 and 1931, major flooding of the Yangtze river in China ended up costing 1-2 and 3-4 million lives, respectively.  If you take out war, famine, and pandemics, flooding is, undeniably, the deadliest of human tragedies.

Most people have heard of hurricane or tornado watches and warnings, but the U.S. weather services also tries to warn the populace of flooding. A “flash flood watch” means that flash flooding is possible in the near future; a “flash flood warning” means that flooding is imminent in the area. Many people ignore these warnings at their own peril.

If you live in a low-lying area, especially near a dam or river, then you should heed warnings when they are given and be prepared to evacuate quickly. Rising flood waters could easily trap you in your home,and you don’t want to have to perch on your roof waiting for help.

Here are some flood safety tips:

Get Out Early

Make the decision to leave for higher ground before extensive ponding occurs.

Be Careful Walking Through Flowing Water

Drowning is the most common cause of death during a flood, especially a flash flood. Wilderness experts know that rapidly-moving water can knock you off your feet even if not that deep.

Don’t Drive Through a Flooded Area

As many people drown in their cars as anywhere else. Cars stall and roads/bridges could easily be washed out. Try to figure out now if there is a “high road” to safety, before a flood occurs.

Beware Of Downed Power Lines

Electrical current is easily conducted through water. Watch for downed power lines; you don’t have to touch them to be electrocuted, only step in the water they’re in.

downed power line

Turn Off The Power

If you have reason to believe that water will get into your home, turn off the electricity. Don’t use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have completely dried. You might have to take some apart to clean debris out of them.

Watch Out For Intruders

Critters that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Snakes, raccoons, and other unfriendly creatures may decide your home is now their territory.  Human
intruders may also be interested in your property.

Look Before You Step

After a flood, watch where you step; there is debris everywhere. The floors of your home may be covered in mud, causing a slip-and-fall hazard.

Check for Gas Leaks

Don’t use candles, lanterns, stoves, or lighters unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area has been well-ventilated.

Exhaust Fumes Can Kill!

Only use generators, camping stoves or charcoal grills outside. Their fumes can be deadly.

Clean Out Saturated Items Completely

Floodwaters are not clean! Don’t use floodwater as drinking water or to cook food unless you have thoroughly sterilized and filtered it. Make sure you have food storage in waterproof containers.

Floods are just one of the many natural disasters that can endanger your family.  Pay close attention to storm and flood warnings and you’ll have a head start on keeping them safe.

Dr. Bones

The Original Article may be found here: http://www.doomandbloom.net/flood-safety/

Can also be viewed here:  www.modernhomesteaders.net

This is a guest post by Joe Alton, M.D., and Amy Alton, A.R.N.P., aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy of www.doomandbloom.net


The Collapse of Civilization: A Doctor’s Thoughts

After gathering food and building a shelter, most people in the preparedness community consider personal and home defense to be the next priority in the event that our civilizationcollapses.  Certainly, defending oneself is important; you will have to be prepared to defend your life, but have you thought about preparing to defend your health?

When a civilization goes the way of all flesh, the technologies that supported it tend to go with it. This is particularly true of medical care delivery systems. A lot of us can troubleshoot our computer, but how many can construct a stretcher from scratch? Our reliance on technology has stripped us of even the most basic skills that came as second nature to our ancestors.

Many consider my concerns about the decline of civilization to be the ravings of a drooling geezer.  Granted, I may drool on my shoes occasionally,  but think about all the possible causes of a life-changing catastrophe:  economic collapse,  natural or man-made EMPs,nuclear meltdowns or, worse, nuclear war, civil unrest, super-storms; the list goes on.  It stands to reason that any ONE of these events may have a small chance of occurrence, but what is the chance that NONE of these events could occur to some degree at some point in your lifetime?  Your children’s lifetimes?  You decide.

A sign of the waning of a civilization is when it can no longer reproduce the technological accomplishments of its own past.  This happened with Rome, for example.  Let me ask you:  Are there space shuttles in orbit over our planet?  Is there a realistic chance that we will land men on the moon anytime in the near future?  We may have the technology, but we’re broke as a society.  Like the Romans having the knowledge but not the wherewithal to construct new aqueducts, we just don’t have the funds to keep moving forward in some areas.

In a situation where power might be down and normal methods of filtering water and cleaning food for the table don’t exist, your health is as much under attack  as the survivors in a zombie apocalypse movie!  Infectious diseases, such as dysentery, will be rampant in situations where it will be a challenge to maintain sanitary conditions.  Simple chores, such as chopping wood, may lead to minor cuts that could get infected and, if left untreated, become life-threatening.  In the Civil War, a lot more soldiers died from infectious diseasethan battlefield wounds.  Paying attention to sanitation and hygiene will do more to keep your people healthy than anything I can do as a physician.

Don’t you owe it to yourself and your family to devote some time and effort now to obtain medical knowledge and supplies?  The issues you’ll have to deal with in a grid-down situation could easily put you at risk for sickness or injury. You’re going to deal with accidents and pneumonia more frequently that gunfights at the OK corral.   Some say “Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids”, but the doctor in me says “Beans, Band-Aids and Bullets”. If you plan now, the medical supplies will be there if the unforeseen happens, and the knowledge you gain will be there for the rest of your life.

These days we can purchase insurance for our health, our life, our car, and just about everything else.  If you make the commitment to learn how to treat medical issues and to store medical supplies, you’re purchasing another type of health insurance:  One that’s more tangible, and much more likely to help you keep it together if things fall apart.

It’s important to know that there are illnesses that will be difficult to treat if modern medical facilities aren’t available.  It will be hard to do much about those clogged coronary arteries; there won’t be cardiac bypasses performed.  However, by eating healthily and exercising, you will give yourself the best chance to avoid or minimize some major medical issues.  In a collapse situation, an ounce of prevention is worth, not a pound, but a ton of cure.  That goes for dental health, too.

When I say to obtain medical knowledge, I am also encouraging you to learn about natural remedies and alternative therapies that may have some benefit for your particular medical problem.  I cannot vouch for the effectiveness of every claim that one thing or another will cure what ails you; suffice it to say, that our family has an extensive medicinal herb garden and that it might be a good idea for your family to have one, also.  Many herbs that have medicinal properties don’t need full sun or premium soil; most of them grow like weeds, so a green thumb is not a prerequisite for success.

I’m not asking you to do anything that your great-grandparents didn’t do as part of their strategy to succeed in life.  If things go South, we’ll be thrown back (in a sense) to their time and we should learn some lessons from their way of life.  Add to that today’s knowledge of the importance of sanitation and good hygiene, and you’ll have a head start on keeping your family healthy.

Some (non-prepper) members of my family ask me why I make the effort to try to prepare people medically for a societal collapse.  They tell me that I can’t turn everyone into a doctor, so why should I try?

Am I  really trying to turn you all into doctors?  No, there’s too much to learn in one lifetime; even as a physician, I often come across things I’m not sure about.  That’s what medical books are for, so make sure that you put together a few so that you can refer to them when you need to.  I AM trying to turn you into something, however:   I’m trying to make you a better medical asset to your family and/or survival community than you were before.  If our civilization collapses, it will be people like you that will help rebuild it.

Dr. Bones

The original article my be found here: http://www.doomandbloom.net/2012/10/the-collapse-of-civilization-a-doctors-thoughts.html

This is a guest post by Joe Alton, M.D., and Amy Alton, A.R.N.P., aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy of www.doomandbloom.net

Can also be viewed here: http://modernhomesteaders.net/2013/04/30/the-collapse-of-civilization-a-doctors-thoughts/