If you listened to our podcast this past week, you were privy to Dale and I bantering back and forth of some different scenarios of past pandemics that have occurred throughout history. And if you have done any research on the subject, you have seen some of the staggering statistics of the death tolls that have occurred because of these illnesses.
Now you may be wondering what is next, and if you should prepare yourself and your family for such an event? And I would like to give you a resounding yes, you should prepare for such an event! In fact I feel it is imperative that everyone should be prepared for a catastrophic pandemic type situation, because if history has taught us anything, it has taught us that it repeats itself.
If you have been paying attention to the news within the last week or so, you have undoubtedly heard about Ebola, and how it is spreading like wildfire throughout Africa and other parts of the world. Just this past week Ebola has landed on U.S. soil.
According to a news program I watched this week, U.S. citizens really should not panic, because Ebola will not harm us here in the U.S., because “Our infrastructure is so advanced, that it won’t cause any problems here.”
Famous last words in my opinion, and if the mass media is telling citizens not to panic, I think the opposite plan is in order, and everyone should be on a heightened sense of alert because of it.
There are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself and your family against the spread of infection, bacteria and virus borne illness. And the first step is knowing the difference between a virus, and bacteria.
Bacteria is a single celled organism that is everywhere. There are good bacteria and bad bacteria (such as those that cause infections). There are bacteria that can live on their own, and others that live off a host (a parasite). The one good thing about bacteria, is that in most cases it can be killed by an antibiotic. There are more bacteria that are becoming resistant to antibiotics because of misuse, but in general terms a bacterial infection can be treated with an antibiotic.
A virus is a microorganism that is even smaller than bacteria. It cannot reproduce on its own, instead, it invades a living cell of a host, and replicates itself there. Being that this organism is so tiny, and made up differently than bacteria, antibiotics are of no use when it comes to treating someone that has a viral infection.
So knowing the difference of these to microscopic organisms will give you a little bit of background knowledge in knowing how to ward off bad bacteria, and viruses.
With this knowledge, now you have to learn what is bad bacteria, and what is a virus so you will know how to hopefully prevent infection, as well as how to treat each accordingly.
Unfortunately when we are talking about Ebola, it is a virus, meaning you cannot treat it with antibiotics. In fact doing so could actually cause more damage than helping the person who you may feel is infected.
So I would advise you to do your own research into different bacteria, and viruses so you will know signs and symptoms, and what to look for.
But onto what this is really about, the things you can do now to prepare for a major pandemic, and what you can do to keep your family safe, and hopefully healthy.
A Home Pandemic Kit
This is a really good first step. You need to have this kit in your home, so in case you need it, you already have it. Do not wait until the CDC reports a wide sweeping pandemic is threatening the U.S. Put your kit together now! This is what I have in my pandemic kit:
- Large plastic tote
- Small, shallow waterproof container, like a kitty litter box.
- 1 gallon bleach
- 1 box of nitrile gloves in your size (not latex)
- Surgical masks, or bandanas
- N-95 respirator masks (make sure they fit you correctly)
- Protective eye wear (like clear sunglasses)
- Multiple hand sanitizers (they disappear quickly, so having a lot is better)
- Sani-Wipes (for porous surfaces)
- Disinfectant spray (like Lysol)
- Disinfectant cleaner
- Large scrub bucket
- Shower caps (or disposable caps-like the lunch lady wears)
- Duct tape
- Sheet plastic
- Throw away towels
- Gallon size plastic bags
- 1 box of large trash bags
Having all of this stuff in a large plastic tote stuck away in a closet close to your front door is ideal. Hopefully you will never need it, but if you have this, it will help. Everything that I have in my kit is ready to go in case there is a widespread pandemic.
The bleach is used as a cleaner, the gloves are self-explanatory I think. If you do not have access to surgical masks, get some bandanas, you can use these like face masks, and many other useful purposes. The shower caps, or lunch lady head dresses are nice to have to keep your hair out of the line of fire in case you are around sick people. You don’t really want the germs all over your hair, do you?
You will need duct tape and sheets of plastic to either seal up your house, or if you are making a contamination room in part of your home. You can find the plastic film at most home improvement stores. And let’s be honest, you can never have enough duct tape!
You may be wondering about the kitty litter pan, but this is something you can stick at your front door. Fill it about half way with water, and add a cup of bleach. If you are worried about stuff being tracked into your home, wash off the bottom of your shoes with this before coming into your house.
*DISCLAIMER*Now, common sense will tell you not to step directly out of the bleach water into your home otherwise you could be bleaching your carpet, or ruining your floors, so use some throw away towels to step onto after you have come out of the bleach water.
Food and Water
In most instances, many household have less than a 3 day supply of food in their homes. If you are anything like me, this would be an awful feeling. And in a pandemic type situation, I feel it is better to have more, so I would be shooting for at least a 3 month supply of food, and hopefully 6 months.
I am generally pretty lazy, and I don’t like wasting my time or money by going to the grocery store on my way home from work. And I certainly do not want to spend a Saturday or Sunday at a large store with everyone else. So I plan my shopping trips in the off hours, and I try to make a list of everything I will need.
These large shopping trips can usually yield at least 3 weeks’ worth of meals for our family, and having extra is always better, so if we can afford it, we buy more. And in some instances, we have bought grocery items online and never even have to leave our home, which is my favorite thing to do. I get to sit on my couch, and but exactly what I want, without going to the store.
If there is a potential for a situation that will keep us locked up at home, and if my gut is telling me to get extra prepared (like it is right now) I will go the store late at night when there are not many shoppers, and get as much as I can, planning on at least 3 months worth of long term food for our pantry.
And once I get it home, it goes into storage tubs, and random places that most people would never think to look for food. It may sound odd to do this, but I want to make sure that my planning id for my family, and not left out to tempt someone who did not have the foresight to plan ahead.
Sorry, but my family comes first, and if I was able to take the time to plan, and store food I have no pity for those who have not prepared. If you are not prepared, your family will be the ones who suffer. So save yourself a lot of heartache and grief, and prepare now, while you can.
If you haven’t watched the movie Contagion, I highly recommend you do. Although a drama, it really gives a good insight of what happens in a pandemic situation. Yes, it is not real, but it kind of gives you an example of how people may act, what happens when there is no one to pick up the garbage, and the mass panic the sweeps through the country.
You need to have security. You need to have multiple ways to keep your family safe. A firearm is awesome, as is pepper spray, bats, and anything else you can think of.
Have a dog or two. Keep your doors locked in your home, as well as your vehicles. Keep your windows locked, and clear away bushes from your windows.
Install a driveway alarm if you have a long driveway. If you have a large piece of land, have a gate at the end of your driveway. Create as much of a barrier between your home, or ‘safe zone’ and others.
Bug In and Blend In
In a pandemic event, the best case scenario is for you to stay home, in the comfort of your own home. I would not recommend bugging out in this type of situation unless you had absolutely no way to stay in your own home.
Think about it, everything you have been planning and prepping for resides in your current home. That is unless you have a bug out location that you have been stockpiling. But, how far away is that location from where you are now? Is it easily accessible by you, how about others? How about the roadways, will you be able to make it there? Is it really worth the risk?
These are all things you need to consider if you feel your best option is to bug out.
Also, think about blending in. Try not to stand out, and definitely do not dry attention to yourself, your family, or your home. You do not want to risk others coming for what you have worked so hard to plan for, and you don’t want them taking your stuff. So keep your supplies out of sight, and lay low as much as you can.
As you can see, preparing for a pandemic is a lot like what we already do by living a more prepared lifestyle. However, there are a few tips we would like to leave you with in case you are presented with a pandemic situation.
Treat Everyone as if They Are Sick
No matter how well people look, they can be in a very infectious stage of a sickness. Assume everyone you come into contact with is sick. This means always washing your hands, wiping down grocery carts before shopping, and assuming everything you have come into contact with is a vector (transmitter)
Refrain from shaking hands with others. Don’t touch others stuff. If you have to use someone else’s desk at work, clean it before you use it. By practicing this, you will not only protect yourself, but others as well. This is just a good habit to get into now, so that if something horrible happens, this is already a habit for you.
By keeping your body healthy, you are helping to keep your immune system functioning at its highest level. If your immune system is fighting, you have a better chance of not getting sick. Eat a well-balanced diet including focusing on proteins, green leafy vegetables and fruits. Try to stay away from the starchy sweets, as this may taste good, but it doesn’t help to keep you healthy. However, don’t deprive yourself, a home baked sweet now and then isn’t a bad thing.
Get in Shape
If you are fit, chances are your body will be able to fight of intruders easier. Get in the habit of getting some type of exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. It’s also important to get enough rest, and try to keep your stress level down. All of these things can make it harder for your body to work at its highest level, and put you and your family at an increased risk.
Keep Your Home Clean
I know, this is easier said than done, but it helps. Keep your home as clean as you can. Use disinfectant wipes in the kitchen, on door knobs, hand rails and light switches. You can also add air scrubbing plants to your home to help keep the air in your home clean and fresh. Pothos is a great plant, and it is extremely hardy, even for those of us who don’t really have a green thumb.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list of what to do in case of a pandemic outbreak, but it will give you a good start on things you can do now in order to help your family stay healthy and safe.