It’s been almost two months since Japan first experienced the tragic disasters of a massive earthquake, tsunami, and radiation contamination. Much of it has been forgotten by the media circuit, but many people and animals are still struggling to find safety, rebuild their lives, and find peace in the aftermath of these crises. News of radiation contamination creeping into food sources have started to surface, and many are wondering – how can we help keep ourselves and the people and pets of Japan safe?
The Psychology of Disaster
When a crisis occurs anywhere on our planet, we see it on TV or read about it in the news, and our mind tends to “make things up” scarier than the truth – we immediately envision the worst case scenario…for which we are not prepared.
The Japan earthquake, the tsunami, and now the radiation crisis have created a lot of devastation and awakened many fears. Hopefully, we can transform that fearful energy into something positive that supports our well-being, and the survival of our families and pets.
We all have fears. Its part of our natural “fight or flight” reflex that has helped humans survive for thousands of years. But our fearful mind cannot always be trusted. Many of us, like “horses in a barn fire,” run in the wrong direction. Watching TV, listening to the news, or talking with our friends and family about the crisis, we create hysteria and panic, which leads to more panic, and this leads to clouded thoughts motivated by the fear of “what ifs.”
This panic is contagious, like a virus!
Take a deep breath. Now take another. We must remain calm.
I’ve spent the last several weeks combing through over 44 pages/sources of information, and more articles are written daily. Within this post, you’ll find that I’ve included links to various articles which will provide you with the information you need to create a conscious plan of action to handle this recent crisis, and be prepared for the next one. You’ll also find some information on the current situation of pets and people in Japan, and instructions on how you can help.
The Current Situation
As of May 2011, people and their pets, living in the USA and Hawaii are not at risk regarding the radiation dissemination. This, however, is a wake-up call for preparation.
Many people are rushing to buy potassium iodide tablets as a preventative measure. This is only useful if you have knowledge of how the thyroid gland works, how iodine supplements affect the body, how it protects the thyroid, and the side effects of overdose, along with relevant information about the type and quantity of radiation being released.
The uncertainty of it all, coupled with the current state of emergency, and a lack of proper information can “fuel our fears,” resulting in people making poor choices. Don’t be fooled by the hype. Be prepared, but prepare properly.
In the event of a crisis in the future, you should have the proper emergency supplies, medicine, stocks of food, water, batteries, generators, and a solid action plan for evacuation and communication. This is especially important if you live on an island or in the middle of a large city.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive!
Based upon the recent climatic changes of the world, the earth is going through a change, and people are in the middle of it! Natural disasters are increasing, global warming is a real and present threat, and large numbers of animals have been dying off simultaneously in many locations around the world.
The Japan tragedy has awakened many of us to see that this could happen in our own backyard. Radiation contamination is now a real threat, and we had better prepare for it while we can. We have the opportunity to take action, prepare for emergencies, and be proactive rather than just reactive to natural disasters.
Know Where You Live
The first step to planning for an emergency is to be aware of your surroundings. What are potential threats, obstacles, or challenges you’ll face if a disaster occurs? It is important to gather accurate information and knowledge of the environment you live in. What is the historical background of your neighborhood? For example, are there limestone caverns beneath your neighborhood? What is the past history of floods, tsunamis, fires, and earthquakes in the area? What is your geographical and geological situation? Are you near a body of water that could overflow? What is your proximity to a nuclear reactor? Are there earthquake fault lines under your home? People who live near the beach will have different issues to plan for than those living inside a city, or in the mountains.
We are exposed to minute radiation levels all the time in daily life: cell phones, TV sets, microwaves, airline flights, airport security scanners, dental xrays, and natural radiation in the food we eat and the air we breathe.In reality, we should be doing all we can to reduce the amount of radiation exposure we have on a daily basis – no matter how seemingly insignificant the amount. It usually takes a disaster to catch our attention and motivate us to take the precautions that we know we should already be taking.
At this moment in time, radiation is a very serious ongoing crisis in Japan. We in the US and Hawaii are not at risk at this time, but we can start to take precautions now to protect ourselves and our pets.
Our prayers and hearts go out to our Japanese brothers and sisters. Our Japanese friends are currently in the process of mollifying the effects of radiation and the devastation on their population. They are the most in danger. Support teams are in overwhelm. Unfortunately, the process of healing, detoxifying, and rebuilding will require many years of ongoing efforts. I encourage everyone to continue to help support Japan rescue efforts, long after their struggles have disappeared from the radar of popular news networks.
There are many ways that radioactive particles can spread throughout the world: through rain droplets which fall to earth, rivers, and oceans; or transported via wind currents and inhaled by humans and animals. Eventually the particles (iodine, cesium, strontium, plutonium, americium) become embedded in our water and soil, contaminating the grass that cows eat, our fruits and vegetables, wildlife, and our drinking water. In the near future, we may have to abstain from dairy products and vegetables that come from areas of high radiation. Know your cheese!
There are lots of opinions about the current levels of radiation in Japan and other parts of the world. Your chances of radiation exposure will vary dependent on where you live. It’s wise to pay attention and do your homework. Here are some resources to monitor radiation levels:
To get wind direction, rain, and jet stream from Japan see: http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/west/nepac/wv-l.jpg
Being prepared instead of being scared is the best path for survival.
What about Iodine?
High amounts can help block the bonding of radioactive iodine, thus preventing cancer-causing DNA damage to the thyroid gland. Currently, the only people for whom iodine supplements are appropriate are the people of Japan. Perhaps it will be a necessary supplement for the rest of us in the future, but haphazardly taking potassium iodide or giving it to your pets may increase the chances of thyroid disease and thyroid cancer.
OSU Iodine Explanation: How it works with the thyroid gland, recommend doses, foods containing iodine.
The best way to get iodine is from the nutrients of our diet. The following foods contain safe amounts:
- Fresh chicken or duck eggs
- Dairy products: milk, cheese, condensed milk
- Fresh ocean fish, like cod (raw fish has more iodine)
- Fish oil (un-heated)
- Sea salt (crude, unbleached)
- Seaweed: Cold water kelp or kombu, sargassum, hijiki, dulse, wakame, and nori
Young children, adults, and pets who lack selenium or iron foods in their diet may have a deficiency in iodine. Feeding too many vegetables that are called “goitrogens” (i.e. broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, and cabbage) may inhibit iodine absorption. Vegetables grown in depleted soils, and animals raised for food in these areas may also lack adequate iodine levels. Soybean supplements containing isoflavones, gensitein, and daidzein may also inhibit thyroid function if taken in excessive amounts.
Young children and adults under 40 yrs old will be the most susceptible to DNA thyroid damage from radiation.
Which Seaweeds are Ideal?
The brown seaweeds (Icelandic, Norwegian, Atlantic, Pacific), and kelp aka “Kombu” (Laminaria species) contain the highest amounts of iodine, minerals (sodium, potassium, magnesium, copper, and zinc), and vitamins (A, B, C, E, and K).
For pets, 1/8 teaspoon (for a small dog or cat) and up to 1 teaspoon (for large dogs) of dried kelp powder would be sufficient as a daily supplement.
Other seaweeds that make good supplements are:
- Nori (has the most protein)
- Wakame (has the most calcium)
- Dulse (Vit B12 & B6)
- Hijiki (calcium and fiber)
- Chlorella (magnesium and zinc, low in iodine)
For dogs or cats (without hyperthyroidism), I recommend my formula: Sea Blend Combination (from my book: Fresh Food and Ancient Wisdom: Preparing Healthy and Balanced Meals For Your Dogs) which contains kelp, nori, chlorella, wakame, dulse, and barley greens.
- ¼ teaspoon daily for small dogs and cats
- ½ teaspoon daily for medium sized dogs
- 1 teaspoon daily for large dogs
For more information about the nutritional and medicinal value of seaweeds see: http://www.itmonline.org/arts/seaweed.htm
The Take Home Point?
Eat healthy, fresh foods to obtain your iodine. Don’t take potassium iodide unless you are in the radiation zone in Japan, or your physician recommends it. Again, excess iodine could cause problems with thyroid function. You can give yourself, your family, and your pets a sufficient amount of iodine by simply supplementing your diet with seaweeds, and eating iodine rich foods. This should protect the thyroid gland from low level radiation.
For those who want more info, here’s another extended resource for radiation detoxification: http://meditationexpert.com/RadiationDetox/
This is a wake-up call for all of us! We should be aware of what types of natural disasters are possible in the area we live. Know your history, geology, and terrain of where you live, and the location of the nearest nuclear reactor especially, if near the ocean or on an earthquake fault line. Have an emergency preparation plan, and a back-up supply of food. Today is a great day to get started, and prepare a plan!
1.) Emergency preparedness supplies
- Food, water, purification system, batteries, medicine
- Generator, oil, and gasoline
- Blankets, camping gear
- Stay tuned for my free Emergency Prep eGuide (It contains detailed information on how to set-up your emergency preparation plan)
2.) How to protect your pets and family from radiation
- Protect the thyroid gland, the most vulnerable organ in your body from radioactive iodine
- Protect yourself and your pets from the other radioactive particles: cesium, plutonium, americium, and strontium
- Removing radiation exposure from skin and hair (if you live near a nuclear reactor)
3.) Exit strategy for evacuating your house
- Have a emergency kit packed and ready to go with food, water, batteries, flash lights, tarp, blankets, matches and other survival gear
- Know your routes out of the city
- Keep your car serviced, full of gas, and tires in good shape
- If possible, store extra fuel for your car or generator
- Have a plan in place for relocating your pets (have a bag of necessities packed for them: food, collars, leashes, ID tags, water bottles)
4.) Network with friends and neighbors
- Have a plan to stay connected with immediate neighbors, and relatives/friends
- Organize a buddy system and keep each other accountable
- Be mindful that a loss of electricity, and then water is common during a disaster
- A family of four would need a minimum of a gallon of water per day
5.) If radiation is a threat, here are some suggestions to prevent radiation sickness & cancer
- Iodine supplements: Consume seaweed, or potassium iodide (check with your family physician first).
- Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum): Use to help decrease radiation and decrease DNA damage.
- Antioxidants: Take Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, quercetin, or drink green tea.
- Baking Soda: Use to wash off skin and hair.
- Breathing mask: Use if living near a nuclear reactor, or in Japan.
- Avoid exposure and stay indoors
Resources Regarding Rescue Efforts for Animals in Japan
It is still difficult to reach the areas in need due to some government bureaucracy, transportation problems, and safety concerns, but many organizations are working hard daily to rescue pets caught in the aftermath of the tragedies. Here are some links for more information:
How You Can Help:
You can help support rescue efforts through a generous contribution to any of the following organizations:
Direct Relief International – Relief & Recovery Efforts for Japan
Architecture for Humanity – Help Rebuild Japan
World Vets - International Aid for Animals
Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue & Support - Coalition of three no-kill shelter groups: Heart, Animal Friends, & Japan Cat Network
Photo via: merec0