Are You Prepared For A Pandemic?
Many experts agree that we should be preparing to stay home for weeks or months at a time in the event that a severe pandemic swept the globe. Studies suggest most people are not equipped to weather a situation where they had to stay home and weather out a pandemic.
We’ve had pandemics in history for thousands of years, so the idea that another could evolve and devastate our community isn’t farfetched. Microbes evolve about 40 million times faster than humans so one virus could evolve in such a manner that it completely devastates our immune system. Typically, a pandemic sweeps the globe in three distinct waves according to the Harvard Business Review, and due to many factors, we are more likely to get a pandemic now than we even were in the past.
There aren’t many differences between preparing for a pandemic and preparing for a natural disaster, but there are some differences you’ll need to make note of. While keeping your family safe from the pandemic is your number one concern, doing it on a restricted budget is also of importance.
Here are some ideas:
- Be Prepared to Treat at Home
One of the problems facing a crisis like a pandemic are those in the healthcare industry. They have to face the dilemma of showing up to work and possibly catching the virus that is spreading like crazy and possibly taking it home to their families, or not showing up at all. Some (if not most) decide it is too much of a risk to go to work and decide to stay home and weather out the pandemic like the rest of us. Where does that leave us when we need to see a healthcare professional?
A survey conducted by CIDRAP suggests that half of all healthcare workers admit they would not go to work during a pandemic. Another survey published in BMC Public Health found that 28% of healthcare professionals agreed it would be perfectly acceptable to abandon their workplace during a pandemic to protect them and their families.
If 10% of healthcare professionals stay home during a pandemic, and another 10% fall ill themselves, that’s still a conservative 20% reduction in the medical labor force at a time when hospitals and doctor’s offices will be flooded with patients. There’s a chance that some patients won’t be able to get in to see a doctor at all.
In addition to healthcare concerns, medication could be hard to obtain. According to a 2006 study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, 43% of people believe they would have difficulty obtaining medicine should they have to stay home during an epidemic. During the 2017-2018 flu season, which turned out to be only slightly more severe than normal, the LA Times reported that pharmacies in California had medicine shortages.
There is also the chance that supply disruption will occur during a pandemic as well. Not many hospitals and pharmacies carry more than a few days’ worth of medication on hand at any given point. Due to storage space, the same is true for pharmacies, so they will tend to sell out of over the counter medications quite quickly during a pandemic event. Since most medicines are now made in Asia, there is a chance that deliveries will be interrupted or stop completely due to the illness and lack of people to bring items back and forth between countries.
Stocking up on essential medications could be the key in not leaving the house to try to obtain them when there is a chance you could catch a deadly virus. Consider stocking up on things like:
- Cold medication
- Laxatives & anti diarrheal.
- Allergy medication
- Hydrocortisone cream
Make sure you keep up with rotating your stock, and if a family member has any type of illness that requires medication that you have that on hand as well. Diabetics especially require their medicine, and since it is hard to stock up when they only give you what you can get through a month with, having some extra on hand can go a long way in your preparedness plan. Talk to your doctor about getting extra medication in the event that you cannot leave your home for an extended period of time.
In addition to medication, you should also have a well-stocked first aid kit in your home and know the basics of first aid and CPR. Hospitals will be overcrowded, ambulances will be busy, and there may not be help coming when you need it the most, so you need to learn how to take care of your family if something comes up while you are sheltering in place. Learn all you can about basic first aid and have all the items you will need to take care of it on hand. Also make sure you check the dates on everything in the kit so that nothing is expired.
You will need to look up information on face masks as well. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends using a mask with a designation of N95, which means that it blocks 95% of airborne (0.3 micron) particles. You’ll need to keep in mind they are made for adults, not for children, so you’ll need to find something suitable for kids. Everyone should be wearing a mask to cover their faces and their eyes during this outbreak. Make sure you look for something that protects your eyes as well, due to coughing, particles can get into your eyes, and you’ll want to be well to care for your family.
- Plan for a Sick Room
While the CDC recommends you set aside a room designated for those that fall ill, it is also necessary to designate a bathroom for them as well. Planning out which room you are going to utilize and gathering the necessary items into that room is essential. When someone becomes ill, they are quarantined into that room until they are symptom free.
Make sure the room has a door, and if it doesn’t, then putting something up to shield it off from the rest of the house (like a plastic curtain) will have to do. Other recommendations include:
- Prepare a spray bottle with 1:10 bleach to water solution.
- Clean the room daily with the solution, spraying on the bleach solution, allowing it to sit for up to 2 minutes and wiping it off.
- Place a plastic sheet on top of the mattress and clean it daily as well.
- Use your mask and some type of gloves to clean with
It is best to have a room with a bathroom attached for this, as you don’t want them walking through your home to have to use the bathroom.
When they are well again, wash sheets, blankets, pillows and pillowcases in a small amount of bleach to disinfect. You’ll also want to go through the room and disinfect everything, including the bathroom. Make sure it is well ventilated and leave the fan on in the bathroom, so you aren’t overwhelmed by the smell of bleach.
Having a couple of gallons of bleach on hand is essential, as you may go through this process a couple of times, depending on the size of your family and what you are dealing with as far as illnesses go. The elderly and children are typically the most vulnerable, so keeping them as far away from anyone infected as possible will be important.
- Stock Up on Food, Water, & Household Supplies
Experts agree that having 2 weeks of food on hand per person is vital in the event of an emergency. In the case of a pandemic, having at least 1 month of food per person, or more is recommended. In addition to food, every person should have one gallon of water stored per person, per day is essential as well. This will cover drinking and personal hygiene needs. If your food requires water to hydrate, make sure you consider you’ll need that as well.
Not going to the store to purchase foods means you can stay home instead of going out where the illness is occurring and possibly getting sick. We recommend our kits by Ready Hour right here on www.campingsurvival.com. We have everything from single packages to large kits available for one person. Make sure whatever you get, that you account for however many people are in your household, and keep in mind all the kits are designed for one person for the length of time indicated.
Make sure you also stock up on important things for the house:
- Garbage bags – Can use for a variety of things.
- Disposable gloves – Have a few sets on hand just in case.
- Toilet paper & paper towels – You’ll go through these faster than you think.
- Hand sanitizer & hand soap – Use regularly.
- Disposable & cloth diapers – You’ll need rags, and if you have small children, you’ll need the disposable diapers.
- Bleach – Don’t forget, as mentioned above, you’ll need a couple gallons on hand.
- Enough food to last everyone in the house at least 1 month, including pets.
Your pet will need food and water as well, so don’t forget them. Anything that you use for them everyday should be stockpiled, like if you give them a certain snack or mix their food with something, get plenty to have on hand. It is also essential that if they take medication to have some on hand, veterinarians are probably not going to be in their office during a pandemic, so you’ll need to make sure your pet is taken care of during this crisis.
While we are talking about people not showing up to work due to the pandemic, you can also take into account our electric companies employees most likely will either be ill or not going to work, so if electricity goes out for any reason, they may not be as fast to respond, if they do at all. Make sure you have a backup plan for cooking and heat. We have several stoves available at Camping Survival, from small portable ones, to larger ones that can boil water in 3 minutes. Make sure you’ve made a plan of action on how you will cook if you lose electric, water, and/or gas at your home.
- Make an Emergency Plan
Most likely schools will close during a pandemic. If that happens, do you have a way of taking care of your children while they are not in school and you have to work? Can you telecommute? Do you have enough savings to make it a month or so to sit out the pandemic? These are the questions you should have an answer to now, before anything happens.
When you develop a plan of action, you have to take into account worst case scenario. You have to get to work, so a backup plan for the children is essential. Do you have relatives close by? A close friend that could watch them while you work. Come up with something you can do in the event this occurs, so it doesn’t catch you off guard.
Do you have the ability to telecommute for work? What does that look like? Do you have a laptop at home with internet and a place where you can dedicate to work? Think this through to see if that is something that can be done so this situation doesn’t cause you severe financial stress.
- Explore Natural & Herbal Medicines
While it’s important to have over-the-counter medications on hand to treat symptoms, it’s just as important to have an herbal medicine kit in your home to complement commercial medicine. Some herbal remedies are a great frugal flu treatment and can even be more effective than store-bought medicine.
Herbs such as elderberry and oregano oil are very effective in preventing illness, as well as lessening the severity and length of an illness once it starts. They’re also great natural remedies to keep your kids healthy during a prolonged illness.
- Practice Prevention Now
Several simple actions can dramatically reduce your risk of catching (and spreading) an infectious disease. The CDC recommends that you:
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with hot soapy water whenever you come back from any public place or have been around anyone who is sick.
Frequent washing of hands in the hottest water you can tolerate, with lots of soap is the easiest way to stay healthy and prevent the spread of disease. That is why hospitals now have signs telling patients if your doctor or nurse doesn’t wash their hands before examining you then ask them to do so.
When washing your hands start from the wrist and work your way down. Rinse and dry your hands in the same way so that what you are rinsing off isn’t just being moved higher on your hands.
- Keep your hands away from your face, particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, not your hand.
- Stay home when you’re sick, and don’t go out until you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects with either Lysol type wipes of a 1:10 bleach solution.
Start practicing these actions with your family today, especially if you have younger children. If you get into these habits now, they’ll be second nature to you should a pandemic occur, reducing the risk that someone in your family will get sick.
Beier, Ranu S. DhillonDevabhaktuni SrikrishnaDavid. “The World Is Completely Unprepared for a Global Pandemic.” Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Review, 27 July 2017, hbr.org/2017/03/the-world-is-completely-unprepared-for-a-global-pandemic.
“Planning and Preparedness Resources.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Nov. 2016, www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/planning-preparedness/index.html.
Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Masks and N95 Respirators.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/medical-devices/personal-protective-equipment-infection-control/masks-and-n95-respirators.