News roundup for Fri, Dec 02, 2022

In short:
  • US Senate approves bill to enforce railroad labor agreement ahead of strike.
  • Eurozone inflation eased a little to 10% as energy prices are cooling.
  • Water shortages could hit 20% of California’s urban water agencies in the coming months.

December 1 is the first day of meteorological winter. Read here about Winter survival kits, extreme cold weather gear, and winterizing your home and car, and How to survive winter emergencies.

A winter storm left almost 100,000 people across Washington and Oregon without power but the vast majority of customers seem to have had their power restored by now. Here’s the link to PowerOutage.us for the latest nationwide outage data.

During a power outage is important to learn how to use candles, generators, heaters, and cookers safely. Candles and heating are cited as the top causes of house fires by the National Fire Protection Association. As a real-life example, there were over 130 fires in Kiyv in just one day as a result of people trying to keep warm during power outages, and nine people died. And carbon monoxide poisoning kills about 400 Americans each year.

Quick tips on candle safety:

  • If your candles aren’t self-contained, ensure you have a safe flame-proof layer to catch wax drippings. Aluminum foil works in a pinch.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
  • Use your head: Keep candles out of reach of children and pets, make sure it’s on a solid foundation, don’t leave them unattended (eg. falling asleep), and so on.

Quick tips on generator safety:

  • Position your running generator outside, 20 feet from your house with the exhaust directed away from buildings and windows. Do not operate your generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
  • A high-quality, waterproof, handheld carbon monoxide monitor such as the Sensorcon Inspector is a smart investment if you plan to run your generator in a space that might restrict proper ventilation.

Quick safety tips on heaters:

  • Heaters designed for outdoor use should never be used in closed-air spaces because of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Propane and kerosene heaters designed for indoor use are generally safe, but you should have a carbon monoxide sensor in your home just in case.
  • Space heaters should be kept multiple feet away from blankets, furniture, and other items that can catch fire.

Have a fire extinguisher handy.

Below are a bunch of relevant forum posts (Tip: click on the “View discussion in forum” button near the title of any guide or official review to find a list of all related forum and blog posts.)

Here are also some good tips on how to quickly defrost a windshield.

The forecast for the next few days:

Smaller rate hikes coming in December; Senate approves bill to enforce railroad labor agreement ahead of strike; Eurozone inflation eased to 10% due to cooling energy prices

The Fed confirmed that smaller rate hikes are likely due in December, but monetary policies are expected to stay restrictive until there are tangible signs of easing inflation. The US economy grew 2.9% in Q3 — consumer spending increased by 1.7%. Holiday spending set records, but more people have been relying on buy now, pay later services. 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

The US Senate passed legislation to force a tentative rail labor agreement and avert a strike.

Long Covid has affected 23 million Americans and may cost the US economy $3.7 trillion. Getting approved for disability insurance is one of the challenges.

Eurozone inflation eased a little to 10% as energy prices are cooling. Some people in Wales are resorting to eating pet food or to heating food on radiators or a candle due to the high costs of living. Although not made for human consumption, uncontaminated pet food is safe, at least in the short term (beware that dog food can contain vitamin K, which is toxic to humans at high doses).

I usually avoid posting anything from tabloids, but here are some seemingly good tips from a UK gas engineer and others on how to reduce energy bills, from installing a smart thermostat (save up to £164 a year), to putting aluminum foil behind radiators (save £20), and also how to get financial help to help to pay the bills.

Two-thirds of states reporting high or very high levels of flu activity; Pediatric hospitals overwhelmed; Antibiotics and antivirals in short supply

Two-thirds of US states are reporting high or very high levels of flu activity. So far, this flu season, there have been at least 6.2 million illnesses, 53,000 hospitalizations, and 2,900 deaths from flu. Antibiotics and antivirals are in short supply.

Flu and RSV are overwhelming children’s hospitals and many are postponing surgeries to be able to cope with the surge. Check here (or click the image below) to find out how many beds are free in your state (data updated daily):

Via USA Today

26% of American adults have untreated dental cavities, 46% of adults over 30 have signs of gum disease, and 3% of youths ages 5-19 have untreated tooth decay. Good oral hygiene and regular check-up visits and cleaning could prevent more serious and expensive issues in the future. The Home medical supply list has recommendations on what to keep handy in case of a dental emergency away from a dentist, and here’s a relevant forum post.

Fungi in the soil cause serious lung infections in 48 out of 50 states. The three main species have all expanded their ranges due to climate change. The spores become airborne when the ground is disturbed by farming, landscaping, construction, or even just by people walking around in fungi-rich environments such as caves. Most healthy adults and children can fight off fungal infections, but infants, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems may develop fever, cough, fatigue, and other symptoms. Fungal lung infections can be easily mistaken for bacterial or viral lung infections such as Covid, bacterial pneumonia, and tuberculosis and can be missed or incorrectly diagnosed by doctors who rely on outdated maps of disease-causing fungi.

Top map from 1955 data; bottom map from 2007-2016. Via SciTechDaily

Community member Camille wrote about the rise of fungal pathogens, and fungal infections have been covered in a past NR and in a good comment by Eric.

Air pollution is linked to almost a million stillbirths a year.

More than 40 million Americans’ medical records have been stolen or exposed this year. Check here if your provider has been breached.

34 tornadoes have touched down in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama; 20% of California’s urban water agencies could see water shortages in the coming months; Atlantic Hurricane season officially ends

At least 34 tornadoes have touched down in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, fuelled by high temperatures. The tornadoes destroyed a fire station, briefly trapped people in a grocery store, ripped the roof off an apartment complex, and brought power outages and floods. Texas and Kentucky got hail the size of golf balls. A mother and her son died after their trailer got crushed by a tree overnight.

Nearly 20% of California’s urban water agencies reported they could see significant water shortages in the coming months. This is the first year that California water suppliers are required to submit water shortage reports. Most of the agencies are in California’s most populated hydrologic areas, such as Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area. More than 99% of California remains in a drought.

November 30 is the official end of the Atlantic Hurricane season. Here’s a review of this year’s season by NOAA.

Australia’s banks are likely to reduce lending to regions and sectors at risk of climate change impacts.

The rest

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned of a “heightened threat environment” against LGBTQ, Jewish, and migrant communities, cautioning that the US could see several acts of violence in the coming months.

Via NBC News

DHS listed some resources to stay safe, including:

Some self-defense guides:

For dealing with wounds, consider:

Skiers are accidentally setting off Crash Detection on their phones, but dispatchers are urging people to keep the feature on, in case there is a real need. Crash Detection is available on iPhones and Apple Watches, and Android.

Here are eight tips from Ford on how to improve The F-150 Lightning’s winter range.

A 10-year-old girl “fought a shark and won. Jasmine was swimming in Jupiter Island, FL, when she felt something sharp grab her foot, causing it to bleed. She kicked it, ran out of the water, and the lifeguards applied a tourniquet while waiting for first responders. Jasmine is missing part of her foot but she is expected to make full recovery. According to locals, Hobe Sound Beach is “a super sharky beach.” Here’s What to do if you’re attacked by a shark.


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