Scientists have been telling us about global warming for a while now and the fact that large chunks of the Antarctic ice cover are melting. This means more water mass, which affects the jet stream and causes it to intensify. What used to be “normal” storms in the past can become overwhelming “superstorms” like Sandy. In the last year, we’ve seen unprecedented extremes of weather resulting in triple digit heat waves, droughts and fires, tornadoes and hurricanes with the loss of human life, livestock, crops and natural resources. This, scientists tell us, is what global warming looks like. Let me tell you more about how the extremes of weather can impact your health and some guidelines to follow that can help protect you and your family.
Extreme Weather and Your Health
The Natural Resources Defense Council tells us that the year 2011 through 2012 were the hottest 12 months ever recorded. In 2011-2012, climate-related heat exhaustion accounted for 280 deaths. Higher temperatures also cause an increase in ozone and smog, which increases the occurrence and severity of respiratory diseases like asthma and COPD, as well as heart conditions.
You may also remember this past year’s dramatic increase in West Nile Virus infections and deaths since it first appeared in the U.S. in 1999. The mild winter of 2011 and early high heat of 2012 spring and summer with storms and flooding that left standing pools of water, allowed for the massive proliferation of West Nile carrying mosquitoes.
As reported in the Huffington Post [Hurricane Sandy Could Displace Rats, Spread Infectious Disease, Oct.29], flooding can also result in the rise of many other infectious diseases like dysentery and hantavirus from human and animal waste and urine getting into flood water. In addition, bugs like typhus, salmonella, even the plague, from water-displaced city-dwelling rodents can become a problem in flooded urban areas.
Not only displaced city creatures can cause health issues. Other living things get displaced from their forest homes, like snakes and wash in from the ocean in Hurricane conditions. One photo taken during Superstorm Sandy showed what appeared to be a small thresher shark swimming around water-flooded porch steps of a New Jersey home!
Add the impact of weather coming from solar flares to the effects of global warming and the warming trend is compounded. Although we experience moderate class C thru M level solar flares all the time, in the past year, we’ve been hit with many serious X level solar flares.
As reported in a recent Fox News story [Sun Erupts With Strongest Summer Solar Flare Yet, July 2012], X level flares are the strongest solar flare possible. Their geomagnetic activity can knock out satellites and communications indefinitely and also severely impact the weather. The week of October 22, 2012 started off with another major X level solar flare. This was soon followed by the west coast earthquake and tsunami scare days before Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast. NOAA officials say that there are strong solar flares predicted for the earth throughout 2012 and 2013.
Protecting Your Health In Extreme Weather
You can’t control Mother Nature but there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your family’s health from the consequences of these extreme weather outbreaks. Here are some general guidelines to remember:
Water Danger: Where flooding exists, be very careful wading through flooded streets, mindful of any creatures that might be sharing that water with you, especially if you are in ocean flooded areas. Keep in mind that raw sewage may be in flood waters, so do not drink it. Downed electrical wires may also be buried or touching flood water and hidden in fallen trees. Be sure to survey the area for any lines, or conduits to them, before stepping into water to avoid shock.
Food/Food Preparation: Emergency preparedness officials recommend that you keep 4-6 weeks of food items on hand that don’t need to be cooked, as well as water. These should be stored in an area of your home that you can easily get to should power go out or flooding becomes an issue. If you are unsure about your drinking water, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of pure chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) bleach to 1 gallon of water to kill any organisms before drinking. Small Hibachi type grills can be used to cook food outside if there is no flooding and there is a safe place to do it. A gas generator is helpful in a power outage, but if there is flooding, or furious winds and rain, you should not run it. Never run a generator in your home.
First Aid/Survival: If you have a chronic disease like diabetes or asthma that requires frequent medication usage, keep extra medication on hand in a refrigerator and/or First-Aid box. Stock up on bandages, hydrogen peroxide (to kill germs), over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or naproxen, multivitamins, as well as items for a make-shift splint and sling in case someone suffers a fracture. Enough flashlights, batteries, and an emergency radio are also important. Storing plastic gallon bottles of water to flush toilets with is a good idea for power outages.
Stress/Evacuation: Many people don’t believe that repercussions from storms will be so bad that they must leave their home. This can be a foolish decision especially for older people with chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart conditions. If a mandatory evacuation is in place for your area, take heed. You can always rebuild your house. Stress from trying to stop your house being attacked during extreme storms can also bring on a heart attack or stroke. Severe depression from loss should also be expected where homes were destroyed, family members and/or pets lost. Red Cross centers often have counselors available.
Scientists have predicted that global warming will occur on Earth due to the changes brought on by carbon dioxide emission. Cycles of the sun and its intensifying solar flares add to the warming trend causing unprecedented weather extremes. Take precautions now to help minimize any health damage, or loss of life, to you or your family should a natural disaster occur where you live.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News
Hurricane Sandy Could Displace Rats, Spread Infectious Disease, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/hurricane-sandy-flood-rats-disease-new-york_n_2041474.html
Extreme Weather, Climate Change, http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/climate-change-impacts/?gclid=CL-0_fuPrrMCFQpgMgoda2wAtw
Superstorm Sandy: Basic Health and Safety Tips, http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/10/30/how-to-survive-hurricane-sandy/
Sun Erupts with strongest summer solar flare yet, http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/07/09/sun-erupts-with-strongest-summer-solar-flare-y
photo credit: rff.org