The Destroyer Cometh

I was doing some work on Part III of the EMP series when my wife called my attention to an insidious problem. “Unsorted Bag” of our medical preps had become contaminated. This was a small bag plastic /vinyl bag about 15″ long, 7″ wide with a zipper closure along the top, and two flexible handles. Just an ordinary black bag with four rubber feet along the bottom. In it was an assortment of Celox products, Potassium Iodate and packets of Oral Re-hydration Salts mixture, placed there as a holding spot until one of the many prep projects is completed.

She was very concerned with a small cardboard box in the bag, which contained the Celox. It was heavily encrusted with black mold. This same mold had worked its way along the inner sides of the bag, and transferred to the KiO4 bottles – specifically, the labels. At first I made a snap judgment that the black stuff I was looking at was simply deteriorated bag material. But cleaning off the bottles was near impossible. She made the mold determination before me, but I quickly agreed.

Black mold is a persistent spore that is very hard to kill or remove. I inspected the inside of the box and found none, and the contents were clean and shiny. (Mold will dull a shiny surface.) The ORS packets were in an enclosed compartment in the bag, located along the upper edge of one side of the zipper opening. They were clean, as well.

I tried wiping the mold away with 15-second kill wipes designed to kill bacteria and most viruses. Most of the mold came free, but not all. A lot of the ink came off the labels, too. Right now, each bottle is in its own baggie, and all of them zipped up in a gallon zip lock bag, awaiting a decision as to what we will do with them next. I may use acetone or lacquer thinner to completely sterilize the bottles, label ink and all.

The other items are also in zip lock bags, and will be monitored.

“Unsorted” was stored below the bottom shelf of a wire shelving unit. It wasn’t a damp place, and the outside of the bag appeared to be unaffected. The area of heaviest contamination lie on the outside of the cardboard box and the bottles standing next to it. None of the items in the bag had any moisture content to them, and regardless, they were all still sealed. Moisture must have been introduced at some time, but we can’t be sure how. According to the CDC web site, molds can come in on items brought in from the outside, through windows, on pets or shoes and clothing.

So, we had already been talking about a repack of many items into more manageable containers. This will speed up our work. I actually don’t expect to find another instance of this. Nothing in the area of the bag appeared to be infested, and it has been where it lay for quite some time. Still, we will be watching. Doing a quick inspection of “Bag 2”, my wife decided ti was too much like the last one, and it is now on its way to the garbage can. The contents needed a re-pack anyway.

It also highlights an important point to be made for any prepper that has more than a couple trips worths of shopping completed. Inspection and Inventory. While we have an inventory of bags and containers, it has been a while since most of them were pulled for inspection. Everything needs to have hands laid on it often enough to verify its condition. I am sitting here thinking about the photos of bunkers found or dug up in the last few years. Most have been damaged or destroyed by water ingress. In a couple cases, they appeared to have been well stocked years ago, but forgotten and abandoned. A prepper needs to not let this be the case. Hands on.

Hands on and eyes on.


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