Are You Prepared for a Cyber Attack?

Are You Prepared for a Cyber Attack

Years ago, I watched the movie Live Free or Die Hard which dealt with the hero, John McClane (Bruce Willis) versus a team of cyber criminals who were trying to bring down the country’s financial, transportation and power infrastructure.  At that time the idea was scary but seemed farfetched;  these days, it seems a lot more plausible.  Cyber attacks are increasingly common these days, from almost daily reports of department stores being hacked to a massive breach of security of a major motion picture company.  Many tech experts predict an ever increasing likelihood of cyber attack.

Although economic collapse is still high on the list of possible risks, I now believe the risk of cyber attack crippling or at least hampering an area of people’s lives is highly possible.  When personal financial information was stolen during the recent Target breach, a lot of people found their accounts frozen and inaccessible.  Many were unable to use their credit or debit cards for several days.  If you had all your accounts in one place, you could potentially be denied access to your own money for several days.  The threat could be even worse should the power grid be compromised.

No one can foresee the scale that a cyber attack could take:  it could be on a personal scale, where only select accounts are targeted, or large scale where infrastructure is targeted.  I don’t have all the answers, and hope nothing happens, but hope to mitigate some of the risks by taking a few steps:

Financial

  1. Use cash instead of credit or debit cards.  I know this sounds inconvenient, and almost sounds ancient, but to me, cash is still king – your personal information won’t be breached, and your purchases are not tracked if you went back to using cash.  Plus, since you only have a certain amount, you will not be likely to overspend.
  2. Use an RFID blocker  Because a lot of our information are stored in RFIDs, your cards can be stolen from afar using RFID readers.  These cards block RFID readers from scanning your driver’s license, debit or credit cards other RFID cards.
  3. When shopping online, use a credit instead of a debit card.  Credit cards offer more protection than debit cards if your information is stolen and you have to deny the fraudulent charges.
  4. Have a cash emergency fund in a safe place.  Find ways to increase your fund. Tell only people you trust, but don’t mention it to anyone else.
  5. Have a backup way to pay bills.  If you pay bills online, double check a few days after you set up payments to make sure the payments went out without any problems.  If your payments did not go out properly you cannot use the “bank glitch” as an excuse.  You may have to mail your payments late or pay at authorized payment centers such as the grocery store’s customer service center or the utility offices.
  6. Keep a book of stamps, as well as extra checks in case you do have to mail checks.  Many households no longer use checks but do everything online.
  7. Guard your passwords carefully and do not store them online.  Periodically change your passwords using more complex combinations of characters instead of easy ones.
  8. Avoid giving out your social security number and other personal identifying information unless absolutely necessary.  Every doctor’s office asks for it, but they don’t need it – most health plans have their own policy and group numbers.  Politely decline and insist they use the card number and not your social.  Every cashier tries to ask for a phone number even on a cash transaction.  I always refuse nicely.
  9. Do not click on unsolicited email links, attachments etc.  If you receive email from your financial institution, do not click on the link within the email, instead, log in directly to their website, or call the 800 number to find out the issue.

Office

  1. Have a plan on how to get out of your building.  I’ve been in the office when power went out and I got stuck in a crowded elevator for several minutes.  It is not an experience I’d care to repeat.
  2. You need alternate routes to get home in the event of an emergency.
  3. Backup your projects on a regular basis.
  4. Have an office emergency kit in your desk:  water, food, first aid kit, cash and comfortable shoes are a few items you can start with.
  5. Follow your office’s IT protocols regarding online security and confidentiality – you don’t want to be the one that inadvertently contributed to a data breach.

Home

  1. Store a minimum of two weeks worth of water and food.  Even if you lose access to your bank accounts, your family will survive.
  2. Prepare for a power outage.
  3. Have a backup source of power such as a generator, solar chargers, and backup cooking alternatives.
  4. Backup your documents and photos – don’t store everything online.  You can store your documents in your Grab and Go Binder, I know photos are too numerous to have hard copies of all of them, but you can keep copies of the precious ones, but back up the rest in a flash drive or an external hard drive.
  5. Backup your cell phone contact list in a hard copy.  If you are not able to access your phone contacts for any reason, you can still contact them via a land line, by mail or another network.
  6. If you live in an apartment building, know alternate ways to get into your unit if the remote control garage or gate opener does not work.
  7. If you have a newer TV that is connected to the internet, you need to be aware that information goes back and forth.  Your TV could be watching you and collecting data about you without your knowledge.
  8. Consider alternate methods of communication such as ham radio

As with other emergencies, there is no way to predict when a cyber attack will occur.  All you can do is be prepared for emergencies.

 

 

Shop for gifts


 

Best Preparedness Gifts

Best preparedness giftsLast week the city of Detroit experienced a huge power outage that lasted for several hours and took a lot of people by surprise.   Many public buildings, office buildings and schools lost power.  This incident reminded me that emergencies can happen at any time and anywhere.   It is easy to forget or dismiss the idea of being prepared until something happens and you wish you had done something about it.

We all have family and friends who are not really into prepping, or who mean to but don’t get around to it.  Since we’re giving gifts anyway, might as well give them something to help them prepare for an emergency.

Here are a few ideas for preparedness gifts for various budgets:

Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger
Weather radio and cell phone charger
Priced around $32

Fold’n Go 2-Burner Stove
Fold and go stove
Priced around $70

Solar Watch
Solar watch
Priced around $32

Red Pepper Spray with Dye


Priced around $9

Good Grip Can Opener

Can Opener
Priced around $14

Swiss Army Pocket Knife

Priced around $20

AA and AAA Solar Battery Charger

Priced around $20

Door Stop Alarm

Priced around $12

16 GB Flash Drive

Flash drive
Priced around $10

Paracord Bracelet

paracord bracelet

Priced around $20

Essential Oils 4 Pack:  Lavender, Lemon, Tea Tree and Peppermint 

Essential Oils-4 PackPriced around $18-Get 10% off use code APARTMENT PREPPER

These preparedness gifts will get a lot of use.  Some useful items like my favorite, the can opener, can be used daily, and not just in an emergency.   But wait, it’s not all about giving “stuff.”  If you prefer, you can still give the gift of preparedness by helping someone accomplish a chore that they never get around to doing:

  • Back up documents and photos for a close relative
  • Share some skills that you have as knitting, canning, yogurt making, breadmaking or even a free cooking lesson.
  • Print up PDF files for an emergency binder
  • Make water proof matches or firestarter with household items such as cotton balls and petroleum jelly and packaging a handful in a jar labeled Emergency Fire Starter, with instructions.

Sharing your knowledge and time is just as valuable as giving an item.  We all want to help our loved ones prepare and Christmas is a great time to spread the “joy of preparedness” in subtle ways.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy ThanksgivingThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

When you first realize you need to be ready for emergencies and adopt a preparedness mindset, you become very aware of all the things that can fail and go wrong.  Suddenly, you realize that threats abound and you try to minimize them as best as you can.

This Thanksgiving let us take the time to be grateful that things have not failed.  We still have a roof over our heads, the lights are on, water comes out of the faucets and we are able to enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving meal with family and friends.  Let’s not take these blessings for granted.  In spite of current problems, I am thankful we live in a great country and still enjoy many freedoms that are denied in many countries.

I also want to express my appreciation to all my readers; writing and interacting with you brings me joy.  I’d also like recognize our sponsors-thank you for your support.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

 

Monday Musings: 11/24/2014

Monday Musings 11032014

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com
Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links about all things preparedness, as well as updates on the blog.

First the blog updates…

We’ve had back to back giveaways so I haven’t posted Monday Musings in a while.  But this week you will get double the links because I saved them up.

Black Friday Giveaway coming up!  Check back with us this Friday 11/28 for a great giveaway we have planned with our sponsor, The Berkey Guy - it’ll be worth your while to stop by!

Food Storage Entree tryouts  I mentioned a while back that we have been cutting back on the food budget and using some up of our food storage items.  Some of our old favorites are as good as ever – Mountain House Noodles and Chicken stands out.

Wise Food Beef Stroganoff

Wise Co. Beef Stroganoff

But some do not work out such so well.   I had a packet of Wise Co. Beef Stroganoff.  I followed the package instructions and gave it enough time to cook.  The result was more like a soup than anything else.  I was not expecting soup for a Beef Stroganoff entree.  To remedy the situation, I used a colander to drain out the excess sauce.  Maybe it’s a personal preference but I didn’t care for the mushy taste and texture.  When trying out food storage I always consider whether I’d think differently if I were starving in a survival situation.  I am sure I’d be grateful to have food at that point.  So if you have it for food storage, hang on to it.  I still ate it for lunch, but this not one I’d eat for everyday meals.

 

Now for the links…

Intel boss’ warning on cyber attacks no joke, say experts

100+ Non Food Items to Have in Your Emergency Supplies

Rich Becoming Overlords, Poor Becoming Serfs: “We’re Approaching a New Middle Ages in America”

4 Life-Saving Tips for Vehicle Preparedness

20 Mason Jar Gift Ideas

A Lady and a Gun

Gravity water filter scientific test results released by Natural News: Big Berkey, ProPur, Zen Water Systems and more

15 Organic Fruits & Veggies That Aren’t Worth Paying More For in 2014

Gag Gifts for Preppers – The 2014 Holiday Guide

5 Beauty Products to Stop Buying and Start Making at Home

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

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20 Tips on Staying Safe During the Holiday Season

20 Tips on Staying Safe during the Holiday SeasonThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and the Christmas season will soon be in full swing.  Theft and other crimes seem to increase when people are out and about shopping or partying and not paying much attention to anything else.

The other day the management company left a flyer on our door about a “Resident Meeting” regarding apartment safety. I was concerned enough that I attended the evening meeting after work. A couple of policemen and the building management were in attendance. The reason for the meeting was to discuss recent criminal activity in the area, and to warn residents about personal safety.

My neighborhood is in the middle of the city of Houston. If you ever visit the city, you will notice very quickly that the city does not have strict zoning laws. As a result,most areas include a mix of residential, commercial and industrial. One block could be a nice residential area, and across the street would be high rises or industrial parks, unless you live in a planned community in the suburbs. So you can live in a block with nice residences, but go two blocks and you can quickly find yourself in an unsavory looking area. Being careful and aware of your surroundings is very important. Not being critical or negative, that is just the way it is. While we carefully picked the apartment we live in, checked crime statistics and all that, crime in any area is inevitable.

Back to the meeting. Apparently, the management company decided to have a meeting due to a recent shooting that occurred in the complex. They wanted to reassure the residents that it was not a random event but a shooting between acquaintances, a “drug deal gone bad.” There were no fatalities, the shooter was arrested and the victim was shot in the leg. I was still unsettled by the incident – it is not very reassuring to hear that a resident was doing a drug deal. The resident has since been evicted; at least he is not around anymore. The cops also informed us there have been car break-ins and some theft.

Staying safe during the holiday season

  1. This meeting has just reinforced my feeling that there is no such thing as a “safe area.” We need to be on guard at all times, and always aware of our surroundings. Always find out about what’s going on around you. Surprisingly, for a complex this large, not a lot of tenants attended the meeting, considering it was about something important.
  2. Maintain an alert stance and scan the people around you.  Thieves avoid people whom they perceived is too alert and may have already noticed them
  3. If you start to have a bad feeling about your surroundings, stop and pay attention to these feelings, it is your intuition telling you not to proceed.
  4. Thieves try to target people whom they perceive as more vulnerable: the elderly, women alone or women and children.
  5. To avoid being targeted by thieves, think about what attracts these criminals: flashy jewelry, a large purse that looks stuffed with goodies, smart phones, shopping bags, etc.
  6. Carry only what’s necessary and leave the rest at home.
  7. When shopping, always lock your vehicle and do not leave your items in the car, lock them up in the trunk. The cop revealed that they patrol certain malls because thieves are known to “harvest” items that people leave in the cars while shopping.
  8. Consider a protection device such as mace, pepper spray or a concealed gun if you know how to use them and are licensed in your district.
  9. When in public, avoid being engrossed in your phone or tablet.  This sounds simple, but I have seen so many people with their heads buried in their cell phones even while crossing the street.
  10. When walking to your car, have your keys ready in your hand, no fishing around the parking lot for missing keys. Brief inattention to your surroundings can cost you your life. If leaving at night, try to walk with someone or have security escort you.
  11. Train the kids to only open the door to family or friends who know the “password” and never open the door to strangers.
  12. Keep your curtains or blinds closed. The more passersby see your appliances and items, the more likely a thief will get interested in you.
  13. Consider an alarm system or a dog if your building allows it.
  14. Make sure you always lock your doors and windows.
  15. Look around the area before you open your door or garage, as thieves have been know to follow people in as they get home.
  16. Be careful about announcing your activities and plans on social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook, this will give potential thieves a “heads up” that your house is available.
  17. Before walking or driving up to an ATM machine, make a note of who is in the area.  Is there a car just parked nearby?  Are there a lot of bushes where someone can hide and jump out at you?  If you are not sure, just bypass it and go somewhere else.  The most you will lose is time and possibly gas, but at least you’ll be safe.
  18. When in crowded shopping centers, be alert for pickpockets especially when someone bumps into yo
  19. If you are working late, walk out with a co-worker or call security and have them walk you to your car.
  20. If you feel you are being followed home, don’t pull into your driveway.  Instead, keep driving and go to a crowded area, police or fire station.

Sorry if this article sounds a bit paranoid, but these are the times we live in. A big part of survival mentality or preparedness is paying attention to your own personal and family security.

 

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 



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How to Keep Your Apartment Warm

Staying Warm in a Drafty ApartmentThis post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

This week, a cold front, AKA polar vortex is coming to town.  Indeed, it was much colder getting out of work this afternoon than it was early this morning.

Our apartment windows are very flimsy.  They are single paned aluminum windows that let in the frigid air.  You can really feel the cold air seeping in as you get closer to the windows.  We had to come up with ideas to keep the apartment warm without doing any major work.  These are the options we considered:

Option 1:  Install window films.

Because we rent, we cannot do anything that involves major alterations, and we want to make sure we get our security deposit back if we move.  Window films are hard to remove, and after pricing them out, we found that window films were also far above the budget.

In a pinch, you can try using clear plastic wrap- just stick it around your windows to keep the draft out.

Option 2:  Plastic Trash Bags

On the opposite side of expensive, some people use plastic trash bags to line the cracks and the windows.  Sounds like it can work, but that would be too unsightly.  It is our windows after all, and I don’t think I want to look at plastic trash bags for several days.

Option 3:  Bubble Wrap

We opted for the middle ground:  bubble wrap insulation.  It is temporary but not so ugly.  Please keep in mind this works because there’s trapped air between the bubble wrap and the window.  If the window is leaking around the frame, this will not work and the window would need caulking instead.

If you are planning to do a project like this, please research the various options carefully.  I am not an expert in insulation or window reinforcements, so your results may vary.  You may find something else that works better in your situation.  Just sharing what worked for us.

Here is how we did it:

We went to the home improvement store and bought several rolls of bubble wrap.  We spent about $28 total for 2 large rolls of bubble wrap and a couple more dollars for painters tape.  Upon returning home, we raised the blinds and started lining the windows with bubble wrap.  We then taped the bubble wrap to the window sill with the painters tape.  We lined each window of the bedrooms with the bubble wrap, making sure the drafty crack between the windows and window sills were covered.

The result was great!  You can really tell the difference in the room temperature.  The cold air stays out, and you can no longer feel the temperature drop and you approach the windows.  From the outside, the bubble wrap does not look obvious so the apartment management won’t notice anything odd.  As you can see from the photo above, the downside is, you can’t see the outside too clearly.   This is only temporary though.  In a few weeks, normal warm temperatures should come back, and the bubble wrap insulation will come off.  Then I can recycle the bubble wrap as packing material.

What are other ways to keep your apartment warm?

  • Space heater.  A small space heater may help, if you set it up in the room you are in.  If you are worried about heating when there is no power, a good possible choice is a propane heater such as Mr. Heater.  However there are precautions that need to be taken when setting it up.  I have not tried it personally, so I can’t tell you how well it works, but see this review from TacticalIntelligence.net.
  • Dress in layers.  When it’s this cold, and I have to go outside, I wear a tank top, a T-shirt, a turtleneck and a jacket.  Am I bulky?  You betcha!  But it works and I don’t like to be cold so I put up with it.
  • Rearrange your sheets.    Cotton sheets are meant to keep you cool, but that is not what you need in a cold snap.  Place the fleece or micro fiber blanket closest to you.  It really works.  Flannel sheets work just as well.
  • Warm up your bed before getting in Use a blowdryer and warm up your bed right before getting in.  If you have a dog or a cat have them snuggle in the foot of your bed – they help keep you warm as well!
  • Hang old comforters or quilted blankets  Readers have suggested hanging comforters or quilted blankets as curtains.
  • Set up a warm room  If you have no power, it’s best to congregate in one room and make it the warmest one.  Set up tents and sleeping bags in the middle of the room.
  • Layer on the blankets.  We place several blankets in addition to the comforter on all the beds in the house.
  • Drink warm liquids.   Sip some herb tea and warm up.  Make a nice pot of soup.
  • Rice heating pad.   Just pour uncooked rice into an old sock, sew it closed.  Microwave it until hot and use it as a warmer.
  • Run electric appliances during the day.  Run the dishwasher, cook and bake during the day.  They all help warm up the house.

Caution:  Always make sure your room is well ventilated.  Always have a carbon monoxide detector.  Never turn on gas stoves for heat.

Each winter, I receive emails from apartment dwellers asking for ideas on warming up their space during a cold snap.  Hopefully the tips above help out.  Stay warm!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

Substitutes for Toilet Paper

Substitutes for Toilet Paper

I recently posted about being off-grid for 48 hours, and using a lot of baby wipes due to the lack of water during our adventure.  One thing that would run out quickly in a survival situation if you did not have a huge stockpile would be toilet paper.  Not having a lot of space we have about three months worth on hand right now, but that can run out quickly.  Also, a large stockpile of toilet paper is not portable in a bug-out situation, and in a shelter in place scenario, the TP supply is bound to run out.

Space saving tip:  Remove the cardboard insert and flatten the roll and you can fit more rolls in a small space.

What are some substitutes for toilet paper?

Back in ancient times, the Romans used a sea sponge on a stick.  They would clean themselves with it, rinse it in the running water (public bathrooms had them on the floor) and leave it soaking in salt water in between uses.

In colonial times, people used corncobs, and later, old newspapers and catalogs were used in outhouses.

Here are a few ideas:

1.  Wet wipes or baby wipes

These would work just like toilet paper, but again, a large stockpile would have to be accumulated.

2. Paper Substitutes

Newspaper may work, but the ink would turn everything black.   I read other people prefer The Yellow Pages but these days, a lot of people don’t keep phone books around.  Store catalogs may be more common, and flimsy pages instead of high end glossy paper would work best.  Just crumple up the sheet until it softens up, then wipe.

3.  Cloth

Cloth, such as wash cloths, terry cloth or  cloth diapers can be used as toilet paper substitutes.  You can even cut up old, soft t-shirts into squares.  If you want to make reusable cloth wipes, this article from Food Storage Moms has good instructions.  The method would be to wet the cloth, wipe, then launder the cloth.  Supporters of this idea feel that most people would have nothing against rewashing cloth diapers, therefore personal washcloths should be okay.  I would think it would be a good idea to throw the soiled wash clothes into a bucket of water with some bleach before washing.

4.  Plant material

Sage leaves are said to be soft and fragrant enough to use, some say banana leaves would work too..  You must have some knowledge about which plants are safe; you would not want to use something like poison ivy, poison oak or sumac by mistake!   Remember: Leaves of three – let it be!

5.  Water

Many countries already use a spray water fountain called a “bidet” as part of their bathroom facilities.  Since this is being considered in an emergency scenario, we would need an alternative to that too.  In many countries, use of the left hand in combination with pouring water in a pan or small bucket with the right hand is the way to clean up.

Possible water carriers:

Fill any of these containers with plain water, add a drop of essential oil for fragrance and wash up.  (Don’t use mint or and don’t overdo the quantity of drops, or you may irritate those sensitive areas.)  After washing, dry the area with a clean towel that can also be reused.

To avoid disease, one would have to wash the hands well with water or antibacterial gel right after.

I’m not ready to give up toilet paper but you gotta do what you gotta do to stay clean.   In an emergency, the water route seems like the most likely one to try.  I may try making those clothes one of these days.  We will keep stockpiling toilet paper for now, and store them efficiently by flattening them for maximum use of space.   Another idea would be to decrease the use of toilet paper by combining with the methods above, thereby extending the life of the stockpile.

Toilet paper shortages sounds unlikely, but it has happened:  a year or so ago, Venezuela faced a toilet paper shortage and the government had to take over a toilet paper factory.   Before I got interested in preparedness, I can recall snagging the last package of toilet paper and waiting in a long line right before a hurricane.  Toilet paper is one of the first items to disappear if a disaster disrupts supply deliveries.  It’s good to know some alternatives just in case.

 

Monday Musings: 11/3/2014

Monday Musings 11032014

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links about all things preparedness, as well as updates on the blog.

First the blog updates…

I haven’t written a Monday Musings post in a while, since we had giveaways the last two weeks.  Next week we will have another one on Nov. 10th, and I don’t mind telling you we are planning a big one for Black Friday, November 28th.

Sponsor update:
A big “Thank You!”  to LPC Survival Home of the Berkey Guy for renewing with us.  They’ve been with Apartment Prepper since the early days.  Please visit our sponsors – they help keep the lights on around here!  Thank you!

Freedom Prepper Magazine – free trial!  One of my articles is featured in this month’s Freedom Prepper Magazine’s special ebola alert issue, available for I-Phone of Google Apps.  Apartment Prepper readers can try Freedom Prepper magazine for free for 30 days.  Note:  I do not have a financial relationship with Freedom Prepper, nor am I trying to influence you in any way.   This is just a freebie that is available so I am passing it along.  Here are the links if you are interested:

Now for the links…

13 REAL Survival Uses for Altoid Tins – You Can Easily Make One Today!

85 Ways to Eat More Fermented Foods

Pushing Past the Terrifying Dip in Motivation

33 Ways to Maximize a Small Living Space on a Budget

We Prep for Ebola Because of Irresponsible People Like Kacie Hickox

Nutritious Acorns Don’t Have To Just Be Snacks For Squirrels

5 Tips for Correctly Using Hand Sanitizer (From a Nurse Who Knows)

Hackers Probing Financial System’s Defenses Show Why Everyone Should Worry

Take care and have a great week everyone!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

 

 

What if Your Apartment has Ebola?

What if Your Apartment has Ebola

There are still a lot of worries about the Ebola virus right now, with the latest one being the doctor in NYC who tested positive for the virus after having returned from treating patients in Guinea. Before being diagnosed, he visited a coffee stand, a restaurant, took three subway lines, ran in a park and went to a bowling alley. Officials are saying these places have been cleared and are safe.

It was mentioned in the news his apartment units had to be locked down. Similarly, the other patients in Dallas also lived in apartments and their units were disinfected by teams in hazmat suits. I can only imagine what the neighbors must have felt as they witnessed the heavily suited teams, or getting a phone call such as the one described in “Hello. Your Neighbor Has Ebola.” The neighbors received flyers providing information about Ebola and risks of contracting it. Assurances were given that their neighborhoods are safe.

I am seeing a lot of nervous comments on social media, and see a lot of people searching for what to do if about Ebola comes to their towns. Since I write about apartment prepper issues, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least discuss the possibility.

What if your apartment has an Ebola victim?

First of all you need to be observant and aware of what’s going on in your immediate vicinity. If an area is cordoned off, don’t jump to conclusions that it’s Ebola. It could be just a normal activity such as a spill or repairs being done. However, if you see hazmat suited individuals, you will know something is going on. Read information left on your doorstep – a lot of people throw them away without even reading.

We’ve all heard the way to contract the disease is through contact with bodily fluids, and how the virus is not airborne. I am not telling anyone to panic – that would be counterproductive. But if you just have a twinge of concern that what you are touching may have germs, then keep reading.

Common areas

Be careful what you touch in all common areas such as the gym, business office, club rooms, vending machine room, coffee room.

  • If you must visit these areas, avoid coming into contact with surfaces where germs may live. If you are extra worried, wear disposable gloves when touching any surfaces such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, gym equipment etc. If you find yourself without gloves, use a thick paper towel or several paper towels when flushing the toilet, turning on faucets, lights or opening doors.
  • Do not touch your eyes, face, mouth or nose with you gloved hands, or even with your own hands unless you have thoroughly washed or disinfected your hands.
    · When removing disposable gloves remove them without your skin coming into contact with the outside of the gloves.
  • After removing the gloves, wash your hands with soap and water as soon as possible.

These are reasonable steps that don’t go overboard – at the very least you will also protect yourself from germs such as the common cold, flu etc.

Can you catch Ebola from using the swimming pool?

Chlorine bleach is used to sanitize surfaces in hospitals, and chlorine is present in pools. According to a pool website, as long as your pool has chlorine bromine levels in the 1.5ppm-3ppm level there would be no way to ever catch Ebola from being in a pool. Of course your pool would need to be well-maintained at the proper levels to be certain it is within this guideline.

However, viruses can live for a long time on hard surfaces such as pool chairs, shower handles etc. According to the CDC website, “Ebola dried on surfaces such as doorknobs and counter tops can survive for several hours; however, virus in body fluids (such as blood) can survive up to several days at room temperature.”

I would suggest avoid sitting down on the pool deck, patio chairs and using outside barbecue facilities until you know everything has been disinfected. You should bring your own folding chair if you wanted to sit by the pool.

And I can’t stress it enough: Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and use disinfecting solutions.

What if someone vomits outside?

The most simple thing to do is avoid the area of the vomit. Do not let your kids play near there, and do not walk your dog in that area. Vomit from an Ebola patient is highly contagious and contact with any fluids must be avoided. If someone else stepped on it, they would track the germs with them.

A good way to avoid bringing germs inside is to take your shoes off before entering your home. Wear sandals or flip flops that are strictly for inside your home. When I lived in Hawaii many years ago, I noticed that most households practiced leaving shoes out in the porch. I thought it is a good way to keep your home clean.

What about the dumpster?

Every apartment has a dumpster area where all the tenants throw out their trash.
If using the dumpster, wear disposable gloves and don’t forget to throw out the gloves after one use. Do not reuse these gloves or and remember not to touch anything else especially your own face, nose, eyes, mouth or skin.

Disinfecting

Here is a good article regarding disinfection with bleach:
Ebola Virus Disinfection with Bleach

Don’t panic

At this point in time, both of the nurses from Dallas have recovered. The lab worker who self-quarantined in the cruise ship turned out to be negative for the virus. So there have been some good news. There is one patient in NYC, and we are keeping our fingers crossed no one else gets infected. As I mentioned in What would do if Ebola were to spread in your city you will need to decide for yourself and your family at what point you would go on lockdown or leave for a few days.

Read this good article on Ebola from The Survival Doctor:
Sensation-Free Ebola Facts: What We Know and What We Don’t

This book also gives some straightforward information: Ebola: Understanding and Preparing for an Outbreak by Alex Smith

Stay informed about any developments and be discerning about whom to believe. We pray this passes soon and no other new cases pop up.

© Apartment Prepper 2014

Reader question: How Do you Protect your Emergency Supplies from Pests?

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Photo provided by reader “S,” used with permission

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

I get a lot of emails on Apartment Prepper, and I always respond to readers’ questions.  Here is an excerpt from a recent email from reader “S.”  (I have removed any personal references.)  “S” provided actual photos.

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Emergency bag, eaten through by mice. Photo provided by reader “S,” used with permission

I had some bad luck recently. My car broke down coming home from work.  As a result I had to leave the car at a mechanic for a week to fix a now bigger problem & figured it was wise to move my earthquake emergency bags from my trunk to my living room floor while the car was being fixed so that no one would be tempted to “borrow” from my supplies while fixing the car.

While that was happening, a restaurant next door started to be remodeled & I had to go out of town with a relative for several days. Since that relative had their own earthquake bags in their trunk I left mine at home over the trip so we’d have room for the suitcases.

I came home to my apartment & discovered something had eaten through the bags to get at the trail mix inside & had even ripped open a bag of store self tuna but decided it didn’t like it so the house smelt of rotten fish!! I had never had anything other than ants, spiders & crickets in the apartment before for years so this was a completely new experience for me!

So my question is, how do you keep your supplies safe from pests?

Reader “S” described a common problem among apartment dwellers.

She mentioned there was some remodeling going on next door.  Pests do travel from one unit to another.   I have noticed whenever someone moves out nearby and the unit is fumigated, there is an uptick in pests trying to come into our area.  That’s because the pests are driven out of one unit and they try to invade nearby units if you let them.

Preventive measure:  If you see movers, spray insecticide along entrances as well as corners of shared walls.  This should help prevent them from trying to come to you.  However this works on insects, but not mice.  We have discussed insects in a previous post, but today we are looking at rodents.

How do you protect your emergency supplies from pests such as mice?

To protect your emergency food, store them in food grade 5-gallon food buckets.  Mice or rats cannot chew through the plastic of the 5 gallon bucket.   Reader “S” has ready to eat items such as trail mix, granola bars and packaged tuna – these could all go in the 5-gallon bucket.  Place the sealed bucket in your closet.  Make sure the lid is super secure.  Hang your bug out bag (with non food items) in your closet.  In the event of an emergency and you had to leave, take the food from the bucket and transfer them to your bug out bag – this should only take 5 minutes before you run out the door.

If you are storing bulk food such salt, sugar, flour etc. for long term storage, here is a link to simple instructions: Repackaging salt for long term storage

Sometimes you can get food grade 5 gallon buckets for free.
How to Get Free Food Grade Buckets for Long Term Storage

Natural repellants for mice:

Thoroughly clean and sweep your areas, and remove any food.  Cover all trash cans so they don’t try to go in.  If you are already using 5 gallon buckets for your emergency food, make sure you are protecting your every day food as well – do not leave anything edible on counters.

There are commercial repellants available such as Rodent Defense  Spray in the areas frequented by rodents to keep them away.

Other natural repellants I have heard about but have not tried:

  • Peppermint Oil: Saturate cotton balls with peppermint oil and leave them around the areas you where have found droppings.  This is said to repel mice, sending them elsewhere.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar:  Clean floors, the insides of cabinets and countertops with 50% apple cider vinegar (does not have to be organic) and 50% water.  Mice will avoid the area and leave.
 © Apartment Prepper 2014