Category Archives: Health & Disease

Health and Disease as they relate to Emergency Preparedness | Hygiene | First Aid | Food Security | Waterpurification

Cold Wave – beyond Cold Weather Action to Personal Preparedness

Have you seen some of the lovely snow and ice pictures floating around on social media since yesterday? This blog about Cold Weather Preparedness is the exact opposite from my earlier post on Heatwave – beyond Heat Health Watch to Personal Preparedness back in June. Since we are pretty firmly on a path where we need to Prepare for a world that’s more than 2°C warmer  which translates into more frequent and severe weather events, personal preparedness really does make a lot of sense. You can take pro-active steps to be better prepared and stay well and healthy also with regards to being #WinterReady.  So….

What is personal preparedness for a cold wave?

First, it’s about being informed which then means you can get better prepared. Let’s break this down and a good example here is this post from the Northamptonshire Emergency Planning Team. Take a closer look at the graphic:

The UK’s MetOffice issues Cold Weather Action alerts as part of ‘Cold Weather Health Watch’.  This system operates in England from the 1 November to 31 March every year and runs in association with Public Health England. Currently there is a level three AMBER warning in place which for the authorities means that social and healthcare services must execute specific actions with regards to high-risk population groups such as the very young, the elderly or those with certain chronic health conditions. What exactly happens on the government side, you can find out on the Cold Weather Plan for England. Importantly, you can take personal steps to be better prepared. Cold weather can mean snow and ice which, if you’re out may look like this

Naturally, it makes a lot of sense to prepare yourself and your vehicle properly before setting out. Stay updated on the weather and road conditions and allow for plenty of time. This blog, naturally, recommends proper winter driving preparedness, for example:

Personal #Preparedness matters | #HealthandSafety #WinterReady #car #travel #weekend #driving #snow #ice #RTC #crash #delays #weatheraware #prepared

— EVAQ8 Emergency Kits (@EVAQ8_news)

… and listen to Dave, he has excellent advice for the enthusiastic:


In addition, preparing properly for a Cold Wave also concerns your home; for example see our info page on severe winter preparedness.  Keep in mind that freezing temperatures, snow and ice have other consequences, such as power cuts  which may also impact your home food safety .  Therefore, you may want to consider some basic shelter-in-place measures and stocking the right emergency food which you can prepare and enjoy even when utilities become disrupted.
Keeping warm is key during a cold weather alert. There are easy and simple steps you can take to stay safe at home and when going out:

  •  keep your main rooms heated, use extra blankets
  •  take extra care with electrical items and be #FireSafety aware
  • dress in layers and keep active
  • take extra care when out and about to avoid accidents
  • stay #weatheraware, have the right kit and supplies

Finally, a super

TOP TIP for Cold Weather preparedness

… and you will laugh for it’s a very small thing. Carry an emergency foil blanket in your backpack or handbag. It’s cheap, hardly takes up space nor adds weight and is a potential life saver. And that, by the way, applies for business too which should always stock emergency blankets as part of their business preparedness.


And so I leave you with a couple of lovely winter images and wish you a warm and prepared rest of the week and a cosy and safe weekend #StaySafe #bePrepared.



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It pays to be #winterready and  better prepared. Avoid being stranded! Check out our info page What goes into a Winter Car Emergency Kit .


UK Emergency Preparedness: hygiene and emergency sanitation

So, you have hygiene covered in your emergency grab bag and your shelter-in-place kit.  You know about water purification and can tick all those boxes in your personal emergency preparedness plan. That’s great …. but actually not quite good enough aka not quite right, a familiar ‘Goldilocks’ reference for those that are regular visitors to this blog.

Let’s take a closer look. Hygiene and sanitation during emergencies or disasters have been in the news (again!) lately. Abigail Brown asks the right question:

.. and here is why this is important: flood waters carry and then deposit dangerous bacteria and toxic chemicals

tragically, for some, these problem can seem never ending and, unbelievably, it’s not just a developing world problem

Contamination raises very serious concerns:

Now you may think these things don’t happen ‘at home’ here in the UK. Cholera (and typhoid, dysentery, diarrhea…illnesses from molds)  is a threat of the past in the UK you may say. In that case I recommend you take a closer look at Cholera and the Thames so brilliantly put together by Westminster Archives with the help of interns and volunteers.  Back when and I quote “Bazalgette’s foresight provided a sewage system that has served London well up to now. Today, however, the system is struggling to cope with the demands of 21st century London.” And that’s in good times, not during an emergency or disaster such as security threats, serious storms and flooding.

Listen to Mary Dhonau, she has been there, she knows:

When I was #flooded I couldn’t believe what came out of the drains Surely it’s only the ‘3ps’ down the loo & only water down the plug hole?

UK floods: Buckskin sewage contamination continues

Now, while the best sanitation system does not exist (do explore that link!) it does not mean that household preparedness is powerless. On the contrary. It is crucial that households are better prepared precisely so that there is less of an overall impact when an emergency or disaster occurs.

Household preparedness for emergency sanitation is easy

US Homeland Security News has some of the best advice online while the CDC compares immediate term sanitation solutions. In summary:

  • water flush toilets cannot be used when water service is interrupted
  • do not flush toilets or dig holes; untreated raw sewage is a serious health hazard
  • store a large supply of different size heavy-duty plastic bags (min 1 bag per person per day), disinfectant, toilet paper
  • consider portable camp toilets, small trashcans or sturdy buckets with tight fitting lids lined with heavy duty plastic bags are an alternative
  • safe disposal; wait for collections and/or instructions of the authorities

All the above applies during emergencies and disasters but also in their aftermath. Recovery can take (a lot of!) time depending on the severity. Cleaning up safely is hugely important and will be covered in another blog. For now I wanted to share this tweet from the NYtimes which has a useful summary so check out their article and further resources links:

Why am I writing about all this? Well, because from where I stand I see UK households woefully unprepared and that’s why the topic ‘hygiene’ in this year’s 30days30waysUK campaign #prep2017day20 has been expanded to include emergency sanitation for household preparedness.

September is Preparedness Month is now in full swing. 30days30waysUK is a brilliant FREE campaign on twitter and facebook you can join anytime. Check it out!

Be #prepared – not scared:  #WinterReady

Have a great week!

Be prepared, not scared.

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Emergency Preparedness and Food Safety in the UK

The last thing you need after an emergency such as severe weather and flooding which has knocked out your power supply is food poisoning.  Knowing what to do before, during and after a powercut, brownout or blackout is important to avoid potentially serious health problems.

Food Safety in an Emergency: it’s all about time and temperature control

Know your numbers for safe food:

  • +5C fridge setting or less to keep food cool (40F)
  • -18C freezer setting or less to keep food frozen (0F)
  • 2 days  = max time food stays frozen in a well-stocked , unopened freezer
  • 4 hours = max time food stays cold in a well-stocked, unopened fridge

Importantly, not all spoiled food will look or smell bad. So, after 4 hours of power outage, transfer foods that spoil faster into a cooler with ice and keep under 5C: meat, dairy, cheese.

source USDA |

Food Safety in an Emergency: what to keep and what to throw out

Thankfully, power cuts are usually quickly resolved but when they’re not, your fridge is your week point. Remember to transfer your fridge food after 4 hours of power outage to an ice cooler and keep it under 5C . Your food safety rule of thumb: when in doubt, throw it out.  Food poisoning, while usually not life threatening, is nevertheless seriously unpleasant.

You can keep frozen food that are still icy and uncooked fruit and vegetable. After more than 2 hours at room temperature throw out: meat, soft cheese, opened sauces, leftovers, sliced fruit and vegetables, cooked fruit and vegetables. Remember, not all spoiled food looks or smells bad. When in doubt – throw it out!

WATCH  FDA’s video Food Safety during Power Outages


Another good video is from Canada, with Chef Geremy Capone from  ELLICSR Kitchen


Preparedness, including food safety, are big topics in the US as these two tweets leading up to and during Hurricane Irma show


In the UK, food safety information is somewhat more thin on the ground especially with regards to preparedness. However, the good news is that Food Safety guidance aimed at catering business is easily adaptable to household preparedness. For example, check out the Food Standard Agencys’ page How chilled is your food, safer food better business and their food alerts.

In the US, there is a dedicated number to call in emergencies.

As far as I’m aware, that kind of service is not yet available in the UK. Like with so much about preparedness, there is much that yet needs to be done all around. And this leads me to ask: do you know about #30days30waysUK? It’s a month long campaign each September to boost personal preparedness and resilience. Day 19 (#prep2017day19) is about food safety. Follow @30days30waysUK and take part. And finally, check out the info pages here  on UK Food Security and Emergency and Survival Food.

Be prepared, not scared.

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Heatwave – beyond Heat Health Watch to Personal Preparedness

What an amazingly beautiful HOT weekend we’ve just enjoyed and are promised much more to come the rest of this summer! Yet a heatwave can have quite serious consequences some of which are perhaps well less known. Mostly people talk about health effects and there is a so called Heat Health Watch, for example



With regards to national preparedness, the Heatwave plan for England kicks in every year on the 1st June and runs to mid September. But what about personal preparedness?

Heatwaves affect anyone says the British Red Cross, especially older people, children and babies and people suffering from certain chronic conditions. Yet heatwaves not only affect health.  Our Preparedness for Heatwave page explains like this tweet:

So in addition to health, you need to be better prepared for power cuts such as brownouts and blackouts. Thankfully, power is usually restored pretty quickly. However, if you suffer an extended power cut the numbers to remember for food safety are 2 hours and 5°C. Fresh food left at above 5°C for 2 hours may spoil and in the most severe cases may lead to food poisoning. Also see guidance on refrigerated food and power outages and frozen food and power outages and check out our blog on Modern Emergency Food Storage which is ideal as preparedness measures. But enough about food! In this heat you’ll probably focus less on food but simply on how to cope in hot weather (and hopefully won’t get stuck in elevators or worse!). Dehydration symptoms can quickly sneak up on you so be aware and drink plenty of cool water even if you’re not feeling thirsty. Drinking plenty of water keeps your system going but you may still find you’re feeling uncomfortably hot, especially if like all of us you want to or have to keep active. So here is a quick cheeky fix, a bit of personal preparedness on the fly on how to stay cool

Be cool – stay cool! #prepared  :-)

Monika     .. and heatwave preparedness is for pets too:



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The Guardian 21June2017 UK heatwave brings hottest June day for 40 years

Modern Emergency Food Storage – Household Preparedness for everyone is as easy as 1 – 2 – 3

Sometimes it’s easier to simply show rather than tell and so before I get a bit deeper into what modern emergency food storage looks like and why it makes sense for everybody here are some context images from our twitter feed:

My earlier What Disaster –Why Preparedness post explains that while defining what exactly a ‘disaster’ is not so straight forward, preparedness (see 5Ps and 5Cs) on the other hand is. Naturally, modern emergency food storage is part of preparedness and taps into food security which is not only a topic for developing countries but for anyone faced with increasing natural and man-made emergencies and disasters that impact our supply chains (see see Prepare for a world that’s more than 2° C warmer). Do have a good look at the food security page because it gives a lot of detail information from which to build your own emergency food storage strategy – and what exactly is that? Just like there is a preparedness 1 – 2 – 3 : get a kit, make a plan, be informed, there is  

Modern Emergency Food Storage Strategy is as easy as  1 – 2 – 3

Everyone is different and everyone’s needs and wants are different. Therefore your modern emergency food storage strategy starts with an appraisal and analysis: 

1 Emergency Food Strategy: How many ? That’s people and animals

Covering for just two or an extended family or even neighbourhood makes a difference not only in how much you will have to store but also affects your purchasing power to buy more advantageously in bulk. Preparedness for pets is a whole other story.

2 Emergency Food Strategy : What nutritional needs?

Age and health status affects your choice of how much and what kind of emergency food you want to store. The Food Security page has a United Nations table as a guideline but keep in mind that these are minimum requirements to survive, not necessarily thrive.  Preparedness for the elderly is a separate topic also looked at in the post Preparedness and older people as is caring for the very young.

3 Emergency Food Strategy : How long? Hours, days, months; staying in one place or several locations?


Short-term emergency food storage

…typically means 72 hour self-sufficiency as is typically recommended i.e. for your GoBag or so called emergency grab bag in case of emergency evacuation. For shelter-in-place situations most households can usually cover this without many problems. While you may suffer fridge and freezer food losses due to prolonged power outages,  most households contain dry goods that can be prepared without gas or electric and eaten even if your access to clean water is compromised (see water purification). If you’re interested  to ‘upgrade’ in this area take a look at the self-heating meals.  They are particularly well suited giving you maximum output with minimum effort on top of being relatively lightweight for transport as well as compact for food storage.  

Medium-term emergency food storage

… can be several days to many weeks. Here you need to seriously start looking at energy and nutritional quality requirements. You also need to consider activity levels and climate as well as special dietary requirements, i.e. gluten free survival food. Again, a starting point is the United Nations table on the Food Security page but you must take your analysis further and look at your specific circumstances.


Long-term emergency food storage

… typically covers a number of months, sometimes years. If you bulk buy and stock dry goods for several months this is, in a sense, your long-term supply.   Modern emergency food storage, however is different because of

      • balanced nutrition
      • easy food preparation
      • minimal and compact storage
      • extended shelf life for up to 25 years


  … which means that all these factors together compared to ‘regular’ food makes it so that

modern emergency food storage is highly cost-effective: it makes a lot of sense!


The Storage for Emergency and Survival Food page gives more information but here I just want to highlight the basic math:

a 3 months 100+servings supply of emergenct food costs just £15 per year

that’s pretty awesome so check it out via the Survival Food Rations page. Now, before I go, Emergency Food as described above is not only brilliant for emergency preparedness but equally for outdoor adventures and travel: lightweight, nutritious and delicious. No wonder we have plenty of satisfied customers:

I hope this was useful. Have a great week and have fun choosing the Emergency Foods that work best for your Emergency Food Strategy.   


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Zika Virus Outbreak – Travel Health – what you need to know to be better prepared and minimize exposure

The WHO has just declared an international emergency in response to the emergence of the zika virus

The race to understand Zika link to baby microcepahly is on yet the fear is that for those threatened by Zika, vaccines may not come soon enough. Brazil has warned pregnant women to avoid the Olympics and Public Health England is advising to consider delaying travel to countries with ongoing Zika outbreaks. The list of affected countries is unfortunately expanding fast …

… and climate change may affect the spread; considering trade and travel, this may well extend beyond current projections such as

How can I protect myself from Zika?

Short answer: no mosquito bite – no Zika.

Follow these simple yet effective steps when travelling to minimize exposure

You may also want to read the latest developments with regards to Zika virus being sexually transmitted; i.e. Reuters on WHO calls for further investigation into sexual spread of Zika virus.

With regards to Business Continuity and potential impacts to the economy of regions affected by Zika, read Prof Geraint Johnes’ (Lancaster University) illuminating article The human cost of Zika is clear, but will Brazil’s economy suffer too? drawing comparisons to recent SARS outbreaks affecting Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and China.


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Heatwave – how to stay cool

Wow. It’s 7.45 am and the thermometer in my office is already at 28°C/83°F.
No doubt we will get to live the predicted #HeatWave in a big way today.

Listening to BBC radio two over breakfast earlier made me chuckle at some of the suggestions on how to stay cool. Putting your shoes in the freezer may not be the best way to go about it.

But what do you do, especially if you’re either running around in a scorching city as I’ll have to later or stuck in a hot office as I am now? And no, no air conditioning here in case you’re wondering. Not because our building is old. Rather it’s part of a new and ‘green’ development designed with good insulation and air flow, the balance of which today will not meet my personal sense of comfortable environment.

Well to begin with, ’running’ around is certainly out. So, dropping the usually fast city pace will be the first thing to remember and do …. starting with typing slower ;-) – keeps my sanity and that of others.

Then there are the usual heatwave preparedness tips like

  • stay in the shade
  • drink plenty of water
  • wear light and loose fitting clothes, a sun hat and apply sun protection
  • move to the coolest room and open windows only when the outside temperature is cooler than inside

However, there is one additional tip I’d like to share with you, pinched a couple of years ago from some savvy New Yorkers during one of their severe heatwaves.

Get a watertight ziploc bag and partially fill it with crushed ice

source: fits in your handbag or satchel and can be emptied/refilled as needed without much hassle. For instant cool, put it on your neck or chest, even under your feet and the crooks of your elbows.

Back when in New York that worked pretty well as lots of Deli’s have crushed ice machines. I guess I will find out just how well that method works today in London. I might pack a small rolling pin just case ;-)

Oh, and if you’re at home, frozen peas work great too and you can refreeze them. Just don’t eat them!!

And finally, what am I doing at 07.45h at the office? Lots of very exciting things are in development here for Emergency Preparedness as we have just started a collaboration with the largest county in the United Kingdom.

I can’t wait to tell you more about their pilot project. I hugely look forward to showing you the amazing work they are doing for community resilience which may serve as an excellent model for all of us. But more later, I’ve got to run  – or rather NOT!

Wishing you a COOL day!

Keep an eye on your thermometer and weather app. Enjoy your ice teas and ice creams!


Also of interest: Heatwave – beyond Heat Health Watch to Personal Preparedness

thank you for sharing, raising awareness for Emergency Preparedness!

For more EVAQ8 blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For FREE resources head over to our Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

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Fitness & Resilience – just how physically fit are you and why does it matter?

source: a glorious weekend after the violent thunderstorms on Friday. I wish I could be out there with friends and family rock climbing near Portland. Instead, in support of our daughter sitting A-level exams next week, I am home bound, exercising …. well, this is precisely where I want to begin today’s resilience blog post.
Exerting my imagination, dissolving this grey-white WordPress screen into majestic sea cliffs, my fingers racking up miles typing at speed while trying to come up with a way to bridge the massive gap in my initial post on what is resilience – none of this, of course, counts as fitness. And that is, obviously, not only essential for health but also a core capacity in resilience, one glaringly omitted in my earlier post. Psychology focussed approaches to resilience by their very nature tend to ‘get stuck’ in aspects of mental fitness/health and thus only perpetuate the already pervasive mind-body dualisms. Resilience on the other hand addresses and integrates much wider and diverse topics and, naturally, must include physical fitness. But why exactly and what is the evidence?

Mastering Physical Challenges builds Strength and Resilience

Physical training – exercise –  is good for your health. Yes, that’s nothing new and you’ve heard it all before but there is a crucial qualifier: if done right – but that’s not all. source:’s rather tricky actually and quite a bit of a paradox for you have to challenge and tax yourself yet not overly so, remaining sensitive to personal limits. It’s no easy task to continually hit your personal Goldilocks’ sweet spot of ‘just right’ especailly as it changes over time and with context.

The evidence in favor of exercise is of course pretty strong:  numerous studies have repeatedly shown that physical fitness enhances general health, may prevent or reduce the debilitating effects of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and a plethora of other chronic disorders. In addition, mastering physical challenges can improve mood, cognition and emotional resilience.

To illustrate, let’s go a bit extreme and take a closer look at Philpott’s (2002) study of the Vietnam War veteran Jim Thompson, America’s longest-held prisoner of war.

Resilience + Physical Fitness Case Study: Extreme Survival in Captivity with the ‘Daily Dozen’

The story starts with Lew Meyer, a civilian firefighter working for the military in South Vietnam. He was captured in 1968 along with twelve others and, after a five month long arduous march, imprisoned in solitary confinement in a dark 8-by-4 foot cell. Meyer exercised whenever possible even when feeling tired or weak, jogging in tiny circles around his cell or doing isometric exercises (see Often Forgotten Isometric Excerices). He continued his routines even when shackled in leg locks, substituting sit-ups for squat jumps and jumping jacks. When he was transferred to a larger cell with roommates, Meyer increased his routines and included his cellmates. At the height of his training Meyer could do 64 one-arm push-ups! One year into captivity they received another cellmate: Jim Thompson, a Green Beret, starved and tortured for five years, weighed less than 100 pounds.

“This guy is dead, I thought… I didn’t know how he stood up, how he breathed, how he did anything…. It took him half an hour to stand… talk about a gutsy guy” (Meyer in Philpott, 2002).

On their first morning together, Thompson tried to join Meyer but was too weak. He could not do a single push-up. Meyer adapted his routine and gradually coached Thompson back to health. Initially, Thompson could only tolerate deep breathing exercises. Then some bending and stretching. Within six month, Thompson completed the daily dozen and that was just the beginning. In time, the two men devised an escape plan. They planned and trained for over a year, making their exercise routine more and more challenging. Stacking their beds on top of each another, they ran laps around their tiny cell. As a group, they held ‘Iron Man’ type contests, one cellmate winning with a count of 501 push-ups, another with 1615 sit-ups. Strenuous exercise was not just a hobby or a way to pass time for these POW’s. It was a necessity. They felt better and slept better; it provided structure and purpose to their days which enhanced confidence. It saved their lives. Meyer describes how other prisoners who did not make any physical effort “all ended up dying within a few years after release.”
This story is undoubtedly extraordinary and quite outside normal life.  However….

Physical Exercise builds Resilience in Civilians too

You do not need to be faced with severely stressful circumstances to benefit from exercise. The Mayo Clinic lists 7 benefits of regular physical excercicse  which shows that exercising be fun but it boosts your energy, improves mood, helps manage weight, combats chronic disease, promotes better sleep and it even may improve your sex life.
As if that was not incentive enough, there is even more to consider about…

Exercise, Resilience and Neurogenesis in the Brain

Aerobic exercises can have stress-protective, anti-depressive and anxiety-reducing effects in two ways through neurobiological and hormonal pathways. First, exercise increases the concentrations of neurotransmitters in the brain such as endorphins that improve mood and serotonin and dopamine that lessen depression. It can also enhance neurogenesis, the making of new brain cells by turning on relevant genes. Second, regular exercise can protect against hormonal effects of chronic stress by dampening the HPA axis and lowering cortisol production which means that the brain is less exposed to this this neuron damaging stress hormone. However, not all studies agree and some have reported negative effects which may point towards the complexities of individual differences, flagging up my earlier point about the importance of tailored ‘sensible’ exercise, finding what is ‘just right’ for you and staying sensitive to that this may change over time. So you will be asking at this stage…

How can I use Exercise to increase my Resilience?

I have some tough but also plenty of encouraging news and, importantly, plenty of practical resources for you as is the norm of this blog. Building resilience typically means that you have to go beyond simply ‘routine maintenance’ exercises to fully tap the ‘good stressor’ effect of physical exercise. You have to challenge yourself – but sensibly so. First, I suggest you check out MindTools Stress Management including the Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale as tools to gain a better insight into good/bad and hidden stress you may never have even thought about. Next, have a look at the NHS’s How Fit Are You self-test or another good resource is the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Fitness Calculator.  Of course these are no substitutes for getting professional advice from health care and fitness professionals, but it’s a start. One strategy to tap your optimal physical stress level is known simply as “stress inoculation” – first studied by Lyons&Parker (2007). It involves continually pushing the healthy limits of physical strength and endurance. Don’t confuse this with Stress Innoculation Training (SIT) which is a highly successful psychological method of cognitive restructuring (a form of CBT) to deal with mental stress which I will address in a later post. For the moment I want to stay at the physical level and one way of measuring fitness/stress is via your heart rate.

Your heart rate as indicator and how to calculate ceiling and floor for effective exercise

One commonly used way is to first calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. According to the Center for Disease Control, at 50-70% of your maximum heart rate (MHR) lies what is called the moderate intensity heart zone so you calculate

MHR x 0.50  and MHR x 0.70 = floor/ceiling  moderate intensity heart zone

The resulting number represents your optimal heart rate range for moderate intensity exercise such as a brisk walk, water aerobics, doubles tennis, dancing or gardening.
To reach the vigorous intensity heart zone you will have to exercise at 70-85% MHR; so take

MHR x 0.70  and MHR x 0.85 = floor/ceiling vigorous intensity heart zone

Exceeding 85% MHR will not provide any additional benefits and may place an unhealthy amount of strain on your body.

Also, please note that these calculations are only estimates and may vary considerably from person to person also with ethnicity and especially if you are on certain medication or suffer from heart related conditions. Always seek medical advice before embarking on a rigorous physical training programme.
In addition, keep in mind that the above is rather simplistic. Other methods (i.e. see TopEndSports) not only consider your MHR or HRmax, but also monitor your resting heart rate HRrest which gets lower as a result of your heart becoming a more efficient pump through regular exercise. Also, sport organizations such as British Cycling have more sophisticated measures that do not simply start from a ‘generic’ maximum heart rate calculation but more accurately use an individual’s performance as a baseline to calculate several distinct training zones. Do some research and talk to sports professionals that can advise and find out what makes sense for you.

Pysical Exercise and Resilience – other considerations and useful tips

Naturally, this topic is a lot more complex than can be crammed into a single blog post. You must consider other important questions related to physical fitness such as:  is it best for you to exercise alone or with others (or a bit of both), should you hire a trainer so that you can learn proper exercise technique and what about cross-training, combining exercises of multiple disciplines?

There are many excellent books on these topics and information is also available online from reputable sources. However, don’t get stuck and buried in literature. Much more important is to go and just do –  explore fitness actively. Although building physical fitness and personal resilience takes planning, consistency, perseverance and the willingness to live with discomfort it also based on simple drive and desire.
And so, before I go for a long and brisk walk myself now, enjoying familiar views of Fulham and Putney along the Thames rather than the more spectacular cliffs of Portland which will have to wait for another time, I leave you with some final tips on how to start your new exercise regimen, on how to build and expand your personal resilience:

  • learn as much about your body and physical fitness as you can to improve your understanding and find new ways of well being
  • check and discuss with your health professional before starting an exercise program
  • try as many different exercises as you can and consider the benefits of cross-training
  • set realistic goals and stick to them flexibly. Log your workouts to track your progress and celebrate success
  • if a 150 minute/week workout is too challenging, start small and break it down; i.e. British Heart Foundation “Time to get moving” or see videos like Dr Dave’s Daily Dozen Exercises Isometric Arms you can do while sitting at your desk
  • consider working with an experienced trainer as you build and expand your fitness
  • gradually increase the intensity of your cardiovascular and strength training but sensibly so
  • allow for proper recovery between sessions
  • practise healthy eating and sleeping habits
  • find friends and family to support and join
  • notice and focus on the positive feelings and greater sense of capacity and self-esteem you are building through exercise and try to reach a point where physical fitness simply becomes part of who you are

Have a great weekend.


thank you for sharing, raising awareness for Emergency Preparedness!


Cited resources and additional references:

  • British Army Fitness App / MOD: Get fit for the army (PDF)
  • British Heart Foundation: How your heart works
  • Lyons, D.M. & Parker, K.J. (2007) Stress inoculation-induced indications of resilience in monkeys. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 20, 423-433
  • Philpott, T. (2002) Glory denied: The saga of Vietnman veteran Jim Thompson, America’s longest held prisoner of war. New York, NY: Plume Books
  • Stress Management Toolkit for Employers PDF (+ more from HSE Gov UK)
  • The official British Army fitness programme (Guardian article and links)
    US Army Physical Fitness Manual FM21-20; PDF accessed 5/6/15
  • Whitfield, B.e. (2013) A Historical Review and Analysis of Army Physical Readiness Training and Assessment. Combat Studies Institute Press, US Army Combined Arms Center Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (PDF accessed 5/6/15)


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Resilience – Disaster Preparedness and Ebola

What a head-spinning ‘disaster summer’ this has been!

We’ve been incredibly busy here at EVAQ8, putting together disaster preparedness solutions for people, businesses and, most recently, aid organisations. Only now do I find a moment to sit back and reflect on this summer’s long list of disasters and their unprecedented cost to humanity. Continuity Central provides excellent, sobering and thought provoking monthly summaries on the global impact of natural disasters.

Widespread flooding through Europe affected Bulgaria, Romania, the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland, Slovakia, and Croatia. In Asia, Super Typhoon Rammasun and Typhoon Matmo raged in addition to excessive seasonal rains affecting vast regions.

On the other hand, drought conditions worsened in China and the Washington Carlton Complex Fire became the largest wildfire in state history.


Iceland’s Volcano Bardarbunga stirred. Earthquakes struck around the world, for example 6.0 San Francisco, 6.1 Yunnan Province Chine, 5.1 near Quito Ecuador, 6.9 southern Peru, 5.6 in Algeria and 5.4 in South Africa. Severe weather events and floods submerged the Italian village of Refrontolo and inundated Denmark and southwestern Sweden – comparatively ‘mild’ impacts compared to Africa with widespread flooding across the Niger region and heavy losses throughout Asia. And then there was Super Typhoon Halong in Japan, hurricane Iselle making landfall on Hawaii’s Big Island and multiple tornado touchdowns in the US. In contrast, drought hit Sri Lanka and Guatemala impacting agriculture.

Massive flood damage continued through large areas of Asia especially India and Pakistan while remnants of Hurricane Norbert and Tropical Storm Dolly generated flash floods in Arizona, Nevada and California. Hurricane Odile impacted Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, Typhoon Kalmaegi made separate landfalls in the Philippines, China, and Vietnam and Tropical Storm Fung-Wong brought torrential rains to the Philippines, Taiwan, and China. Wildfires burnt across northern California and in Japan, Mount Ontake erupted.

Disasters do not Respect Borders – no one is immune

… and if all these severe weather events and natural disasters were not enough,
there is also Ebola – according to the WHO

“Ebola – the most severe acute health emergency of modern times”

This is not scare mongering. It won’t be long until we have the first Ebola case(s) here in the UK. The warnings are stern and from reliable sources: “Ebola Crisis – disease will be in Britain by Christmas, warns Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt” writes The Telegraph while New Scientist says that Ebola deaths will peak before there is a vaccine, with a possible 1 million cases projected.

Thankfully, the UK is in a much better position to deal with Ebola than most nations.

There is no reason for panic – but there is
every reason to be aware and informed – every reason to be prepared and equipped


What does it mean to be prepared for Ebola?

be informed – stay up-to-date – and remain critical of your information sources

UNICEF on the importance of being equipped UNICEF on the importance of being equipped

There is a lot of information out there, too much almost and it’s difficult to make sense of it all. Official channels such as the WHO, UK Gov, the NHS and the CDC are a good place to start and come back to as they are updated on a regular basis. To lift your perspective also read up on stories of Ebola survivors, for example British Red Cross Blog What is it like to survive Ebola? While a very serious threat, Ebola does not kill everybody that is infected, especially if caught and treated early.

Emergency and Disaster Planning for Ebola is similar to planning for pandemics. Guidance is readily available and can be adapted to your particular situation. For example see the UK Gov guidance on pandemic flu or US sources ( such as information for Employees and Employers with regards to Pandemic Emergency Planning in the Workplace or in a more wider sense Pandemic Preparedness for Communities, Schools, Transportation and Health Professionals.

Reliable Diagnosis of Ebola

It takes upwards of three weeks for infected patients to begin showing signs of Ebola. Just because someone has a fever and is feeling ill does not mean they are infected with Ebola. There are a lot of misconceptions out there so be aware and help break the cycle of panic. Reliable diagnosis is by blood test. Researchers are working furiously to perfect rapid diagnostic tests for Ebola which may become more widely available. The NHS 111 helpline number now screens for Ebola (Guardian) but there may be problems with accuracy as pointed out by the GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul (GP online). New methods are being trialled everyday, for example today the Guardian reports that Skype is being used to consult with patients in Manchester.

Hygiene and Infection Control – limit the spread of Ebola

UN: Hygiene as a vital Ebola Response Tool

Hand and surface disinfection is crucial.

There are a number of reliable products available to everybody, for example Clinell (also see their Ebola statement).

In addition, there are practical solutions for Infection Control.

Finally, keep your Emergency Go Bag and 72-hour Emergency Kit stocked and up-to-date. For more information on that aspect please visit our Disaster Preparedness Information portal Emergency Plan.

If you also need to consider Business solutions, visit our page for Business Continuity.

Ebola and natural disasters affect us all, indirectly at the very least.

Don’t lose time, be informed and get equipped today. Talk to your friends, collegues and neighbours and help raise awareness for disaster preparedness. Help dispel myths and get the right information and attitude across no matter how young or old you are. Social support is absolutely crucial in Disaster Preparedness and Resilience – something I will address again in my next post.

Have a good week. Stay safe. Be prepared.


thank you for sharing, raising awareness for Emergency & Disaster Preparedness!

For more EVAQ8 blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For FREE resources head over to our Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

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Mosquitoes – Harmless Nuisance or Threat in the UK?

The UK has just experienced one of its wettest and mildest winter on record. An abundance of fresh water and above average temperatures means an ideal environment for mosquitoes. But it’s not just the rural areas that suffer. Mosquitoes are encroaching ever closer and make their home in sub-urban and urban spaces.

Following a number of glorious summer days interest in mosquitoes is once again peaking if some recent articles (Express; BBC, The Guardian) are anything to go by. While I certainly believe that some apprehensions are justified I also believe that scaremongering does not help. Let me share with you what I’ve recently talked about at one of our in-house awareness-raising sessions.

Know your Mosquitoes – why?

Because mosquitoes are insect vectors responsible for the transmission of parasitic and viral infections, some of them potentially serious. There are 33 species of mosquitoes in the United Kingdom. Most of them are rather small and – so far – qualify as a mild to moderate nuisance. But things are changing.

source: common house mosquito Culex pipiens (small, beige/brown 3-7 mm body length) is a biter and well-established. The aptly named subspecies Culex pipiens molestus has adapted to life in the underground – the London Underground and other underground railways. It is known as a vector for meningitis and urticaria and has recently been identified as a potential vector of West Nile Virus (WNV).

Anopheles plumbeus (small, slate grey body, potential WNM and malaria vector) is a tree-hole mosquito but is changing its habitats to now also breed in man-made water containers. It is a persistent biter with peak activity at dusk, entering houses with a preference for mammals including humans but will also bite birds.

One notable exception to the native small mosquitoes is the comparatively large ‘Banded’ Mosquito Culiseta annulata that has a nasty bite but is otherwise considered harmless so far. Problem is, it can easily be confused with the more worrisome Asian Tiger Mosquito Aedes albopictus so here is a quick comparison:

Man versus Mosquito – War?

Some see the brewing crisis as a war between mosquito carrying diseases and man, a war that supposedly can be won by ever more powerful poisons or clever biological engineering. I’m thinking: “would be nice if it were that ‘simple quick’ fixes can be found but people’s behaviour also are inextricably enmeshed in this. Mosquitoes and people, we all share this planet and go about living and surviving. It’s actually more complicated.” I think my views tie in with those of Bill Gates whose work with malaria prevention I admire. He recently tweeted:

Do read his inspiring blog ‘gatesnotes’ but here is a quick summary of why human behaviour matters:

  • mosquitoes transmit disease only for a few days before they die – infected people carry disease (often undiagnosed) much longer, often for many years
  • mosquitoes travel only short distances – people, human activity spans the globe

Mosquitoes and human behaviour are tightly linked

Earlier I mentioned the Asian Tiger Mosquito and here is why I think there is reason to worry (but not panic!): in the mid 1980s, the Asian Tiger spread from Asia via the tyre trade to the US and within 20 years is now firmly entrenched across many states. All efforts at control have failed.

West Nile Virus in the United States 2002




It was introduced and took hold in Italy and Southern France, spread into parts of Switzerland and found it’s northernmost habitat in the greenhouses of Holland (red areas on the map above). Seen in this light you will agree that the Asian Tiger is rightly listed as one of the 100 top invasive species and has to be taken seriously. It was responsible for

  • Chikungunya Fever epidemic, French Island La Reunion in 2005/6, with an estimated 266,000 people infected and 248 fatalities
  • the first and only outbreak of Chikungunya fever on the European continent, 2007 in Ravenna, Italy, over 200 people infected

No reason for Panic – but a real need for Vigilance!

People live longer and travel – much more so than mosquitoes. So, if you’ve just come back from an amazing holiday and don’t feel so well get it checked out quickly and thoroughly. Transmission of disease all starts somewhere and you don’t really want to become known as patient 0.

  • Mosquitoes need warmth and moisture – don’t give it to them!

Avoid having open sources of stagnant water anywhere around your house, terrace, patio or garden. Inspect often. While the Asian Tiger has not yet been officially reported in the UK, it is perhaps just a matter of time especially with our ever warmer and wetter climate.

  • Keep an eye out. Know your mosquitoes.

Catch them and report them to Mosquito Watch by the UK’s Health Protection Agency and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

What else can you do? Stay covered, especially around dusk. Use insect repellents. Sleep under a mosquito net – still one of the best and simplest options. For ideas, check out our popular Travel Supplies Section.

  • Don’t be scared – understand and be better prepared!

Have a great week ~ Monika

thank you for sharing and helping raise awareness.


Resources / References:

  • HPA Mosquitoes Species Profiles;
  • PLOS Online Abstract: British Container Breeding Mosquitoes by Susannah Townroe and Amanda Callaghan, 2014
  • 2010, Sarah E. Randolph and David J. Rogers; “The arrival, establishment and spread of exotic diseases: patterns and predictions
  • 2013, Jolyon M. Medlock et al., “Review of the Invasive Mosquitoes in Europe: Ecology, Public Health Risks, and Control Options”


For more EVAQ8 blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For FREE resources head over to our Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

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