Saturday, February 29, 2020

Protecting Yourself From The New Coronavirus

Most people don't have a background in microbiology or infectious diseases. So, it's understandable why many are either in a state of denial or a state of panic regarding the new (novel) coronavirus outbreak that started in China and now has spread to numerous countries, including the U.S.

This virus tends to lodge in the lungs. It typically presents with fever, coughing and fatigue. Most people may feel like they would when they get a bad flu. But if someone is immunocompromised, is older and not well because of another condition (such as respiratory or cardiac problems), the symptoms may worsen to shortness of breath and require hospitalization.

Here's what you need to know to protect yourself:

Wash your hands thoroughly and often whenever you touch a surface of any sort or if you touch another person, as in shaking hands (which you should avoid).

When washing your hands with soap and water, do so for at least 20 seconds.

When soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Do not use a non-alcohol-based sanitizer.

Don't touch your hands to your face, including your eyes, nose and mouth.

In your home or office, use a disinfectant wipe or spray to clean surfaces.

Though there's no vaccine for coronavirus as yet and probably won't be for at least a year or so, you should make sure that you've gotten a flu vaccine as well as the vaccinations for bacterial pneumonia (pneumococcal pneumonia). Though neither of these vaccines will have anything to do with preventing the new coronavirus infection, getting these vaccinations makes it less likely that you are not otherwise medically compromised and that you'll have the need to visit a hospital or doctor's office where you'd be in close proximity to other sick people.

If you become sick, stay at home so that you don't spread any infection to others.

When you sneeze or cough, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, for example, to prevent droplets with infectious organisms from spreading to others or to surfaces. Throw these tissues in the garbage rather than letting them touch a surface. Otherwise sneeze or cough in the crook of your elbow.

If you know people who are sick -- they have a fever or are coughing and/or sneezing -- don't get closer than six feet or so from them.

There is no need to buy any sort of face mask. The N-95 is what's used by health professionals who are treating sick people. And the Centers for Disease Control does not recommend these masks for the public. And the cotton-type surgical mask won't do much of anything in terms of protecting you should someone who coughs or sneezes near you. That's because it doesn't fit tightly to your face nor does it have small enough pores to prevent droplets from entering.

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Sunday, February 23, 2020

A Well-Stocked Traveler's First-Aid Kit

Most people skimp on first-aid supplies when traveling, thinking they'll find whatever they need once they're at their destination (should anything untoward occur). That's definitely not the case. Imagine if you're a woman in a country where you don't speak the language and, in the middle of the night, you realize you have a vaginal infection. Good luck finding treatment or relief. The same goes for going off the beaten track only to find that you've been stung by a jellyfish or you brushed against poison ivy. Or if you're sitting beside a campfire and an ash flies into your eye. What do you do?

For these and many other reasons, I always carry a well-stocked first-aid kit when I travel. Below are my recommendations. You'll notice that I've grouped the supplies into categories based on symptom or body organ/system, which makes it easier to determine what you need for what ails you.

Bites, Stings, Rashes, Burns

Benadryl cream - for itching
Aloe vera gel - for sunburn relief
IvyBlock - to prevents poison ivy rash
Calamine lotion -- for rash/itching
Antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine -- for allergies or rash/itching
Hydrocortisone cream - for rash/itching
Tecnu - poison ivy skin cleanser
After Bite -- for itching after a "bug" bite

Cuts, Blisters and Bruises

Betadine or other antiseptic wipes
Bacitracin topical antibiotic cream
Blister kit with moleskin
QuikClot - to stop bleeding fast
Spenco 2nd Skin squares/pads - for blister protection
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain and fever
Bandage strips (in a variety of sizes) as well as “butterfly”-type bandages
Nonstick gauze squares and gauze roll
Ace-type, elastic wrap bandages
Adhesive tape
Aquaphor ointment - for blisters 
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat, Teeth

Eye Wash
Lubricating Eye Drops
EarPlanes to unclog ears on the plane
Saline nasal spray

Stomach Issues

Bonine - for motion sickness
MiraLax - for constipation
Pepto Bismol chewable tabs - for diarrhea and to prevent traveler's diarrhea
Electrolyte replacement powder - for diarrhea
Peppermint Tummy drops - for stomach upset

Women's Needs

Diflucan (single oral dose) - prescription pill for vaginal infection
Monistat vaginal cream - for vaginal infection

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Packing With Only A Carry-On

I never check luggage. Even when I’m on the road for six plus weeks, I only travel with a carry-on bag and a small backpack, along with my 7-in-1 wallet. Checking luggage has no upside. It’s expensive and time consuming. I like to jump off the plane and hit the ground running. No waiting at the carousel for luggage. Here’s how I do it:

On the plane, I wear my heaviest items, including my bulkiest outer wear and shoes/boots. Aside from a dress, on the plane I wear black leggings, a merino wool hoodie, and a merino wool or fleece sweater/jacket, and a down vest that doubles as a pillow.

I choose clothing that in neutral or earth tones, often black, tan or grey -- so there's a lot of mix and matching -- with tees, tanks and a scarf providing bright accent colors.

Almost all the clothes I pack do not wrinkle and are made of wickable fabrics, which means they don't absorb moisture easily so you stay dry as you race about town, but they also dry relatively quickly when you wash them. (I hand wash my underwear, pants, shorts, dresses and shirts and they dry in no time.)

When packing my bag, I roll all the clothing. 

Here’s what I pack in my carry-on:
2 dresses
1 pair of pants (that convert to shorts)
2 t-shirts
2 long sleeve shirts
1 tank top
1 buff (that doubles as a scarf/hat)
1 rain jacket
1 pair of Mary Janes or sandals
3 pair of socks (Merino wool)
3 pairs of underwear (Merino wool)

Here’s what I pack in my small backpack:
iPhone plus bluetooth keyboard
First-aid kit
Vitamin supplements
Toiletries in travel sizes that fit in the TSA-recommended bag
Charging cords and international plug
Earplugs and eye mask

My 7-in-1 Wallet contains:
credit cards
drivers license
lip balm
cell phone
business cards

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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Culinary Delights in St. Kitts

Unlike Nevis, its tiny, placid sister island that’s a mere
seven minutes away by water taxi, St. Kitts buzzes with
an overabundance of large cruise ship activity, with
travelers gravitating to casinos, zip lines and ATV vehicles.
However, I sought out and found the serene side of this
island, including chill restaurants that satisfy all tastes,
whether vegan or confirmed meat eater. The photos (below)
reflect some of the scrumptious desserts served at the
MangoLand Cafe, an informal eatery where guests sit in
the placid backyard in the shade of, what else, but
mango trees. This is my latest article for Forbes on St. Kitts. 

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