Don’t Panic! Plan, Prepare and Take Precautions Instead.
Wuhan flu is on all our minds at the moment and, thanks to the lies, cover-ups and denials of the Chinese government, we are only now starting to get real, useful data on how bad it is and how therefore how best to deal with it. One major recommendation for our mutual protection and to slow or prevent its spread is self-quarantine. This article will hopefully provide you with a guide to planning, preparing and dealing with the possibilities we all face.
Wash your hands, often and with soap and water for at least the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice (in other words, for at least 20 seconds). This is especially important immediately after touching any surface that others commonly use (think door handles, counter tops, elevator buttons, checkout pens and touchscreens, etc.) This one single precaution will reduce the chances of infection from coronavirus by a very significant amount.
Don’t panic! The Coronavirus outbreak is a serious threat to all Americans, but it is not nearly as bad as Smallpox, Ebola or many other known, contagious diseases. It can be deadly, so take it seriously, but there is truly no need to panic, bearing in mind a majority will get a mild form and that coronavirus is similar to the flu we have coped with for many decades. Also modern medicine has advanced to an almost incalculable extent since the infamous Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, so many of even the worst afflicted will recover with the excellent supportive care available here in the USA.
Don’t panic buy. As you will see below, panic buying is neither necessary or wise. The extra time the President bought for us by imposing unpopular travel bans is now providing time for manufacturers and suppliers to catch up. Shortages are widespread for some items but it is likely those shortages will be of limited duration and the high prices will come back down again once supply catches up with demand. The manufacturers have considerable financial incentives to increase production to meet this surge in demand and currently few people are using what they have bought, and are instead stocking up for future use (and in some cases to make short-term profits from this high demand).
Also the government has taken numerous steps to deal with coronavirus if it does become an epidemic (or pandemic, by this stage the terms are interchangeable and effectively have the same meaning from our perspective). They have ramped up test kit production and warned all healthcare facilities both to prepare and to take precautions to prevent or reduce infection and spread. They have done much more too, working closely with manufacturers and others to increase production of important items like masks and respirators.
So large scale preparations are well underway and while there will be some disruption to normal life and there may well be significant disruption to many industries and occupations civilization as we know it will not come to an end. Indeed it is a certainty that the US can weather this China-originated storm and emerge from it stronger and better prepared for any future emergency than any other nation on this earth.
Taking sensible precautions will minimize your chances of being infected and of you infecting others (which you might, especially if you contract this virus but have only a few mild symptoms – it may even be possible to have this virus and not show any symptoms at all!). So WASH YOUR HANDS!Often, with soap and for at least 20 seconds. Use wipes or hand sanitizer immediately after touching public surfaces, then wash your hands when the opportunity presents. This matters so much because we touch our faces, often subconsciously, on average about once a minute and the virus is carried from a surface to our hands and thus to our mouth, eyes and nose – its preferred entry points. If possible, be aware and try to stop touching your face, this too will reduce your chances of getting sick.
Stop shaking hands! Shaking hands is one of the most active ways of transmitting diseases such as coronavirus between people. If you do shake hands, immediately use hand sanitizer and then wash your hands as soon as possible. This is not insulting, it is, under the present conditions, sensible and can even create closer bonding if presented with a light touch. Keep separation from others. As far as possible, try and stay at least 6 feet away from others.
Take extra care in keeping your kitchen and bathroom clean. After all, the kitchen is where you use your hands to prepare the food going into your mouth.
Cover your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough. Be considerate of others as you want them to be considerate of you. Preferably use a tissue and immediately throw it into the trash, but if necessary at least use your elbow.
Stay at home if you feel sick. Avoid infecting others in the same way you wouldn’t want them infecting you. If you must go out, to the shops or the pharmacy or for medical help, stay as far away from others as you can, warn them you’re not feeling well, cover your mouth and nose if possible (a surgical mask or respirator is ideal, but even a scarf or similar will help to some minor extent, especially if you have a bad cough). If you really must go to work, take as much extra care as you can and do inform management and your co-workers, both for their protection and so that if your health declines, they can seek medical attention for you.
If you suffer from shortness of breath, run a fever over 100, have a persistent and worsening coughor have an unusually persistent headache then seek medical attention, but if at all possible start by phone or internet so that they can make preparations to receive you without risking infection to themselves or other patients (medical staff and first responders are just as vulnerable to coronavirus as anyone else, and we will be in real trouble if too many of them get sick). This will also reduce your chances of being infected by others if you are not suffering from COVID-19.
The most important preparations you can make are psychological. Panic is avoidable, and if you have a plan for the best and worst cases, then you have probably made the right preparations for anything in between too. So plan for the worst and hope for the best. Then start to prepare for the worst, and you will be prepared for everything else. As the military often say: Prior Planning and Preparation Prevent Poor Performance (PPPPPP).
It often helps to start with lists: a list of what might happen and another of what you will do if each option on your first list occurs, and finally working from those make a list of items you might need. On this final list divide it up into 3 categories: essential items, useful items and luxuries (it is recommended to get at least one luxury item for a boost to morale if you have to fall back on the worst case plan – chocolate is often a favorite).
Finally, shop for the essential items you might need under a range of scenarios. Do not get overly concerned if you cannot get everything on the list, some panic buying has emptied shelves of some items, but they will reappear soon (most industries supplying such goods are unaffected by this coronavirus and may even have increased production to meet increased demand). Just get essential items first, and if necessary check your sources every few days until you can obtain what you need.
Don’t go silly with panic buying – it only drives shortages, which are only temporary, and pushes prices up. Then supply rises as manufacturers increase production, at which point prices come down again (possibly even to a discount level). You should also consider where you will store your supplies and how you will protect them to keep them as fresh as possibly (storage and garbage bags or containers even when the items are still in their original packaging add to the shelf life of food items).
Typically, panic buyers start with bottled water, tinned food and toilet roll.
But tap water is perfectly drinkable in almost the entire country, and if you can’t get bottled water now there is nothing wrong with filling (after washing out thoroughly) empty bottles from the tap (and it is cheaper). A normal person needs to have about 6 pints of drinking water per day (6 of the standard size disposable water bottles) or 40 (16 oz) bottles a week. It is always a good idea to have 3 days supply and not a bad idea to have a week’s worth.
Tinned food is still being produced and will remain available for a very long time as will much fresh produce including some items such as rice (which is also very, very useful for bulking out tinned meals). For an emergency situation, starvation will not occur if you have one (typical 16 or 18 oz) tin per person per day and add a serving of rice to make a large meal from one tin. In the event you get sick you will initially not want to eat much, but if you are quarantined for 2 weeks, you will want to have enough to avoid going shopping if possible. If you can afford it and have the room, having a 3 weeks supply of tinned food and rice is a good idea.
Food also becomes much more palatable if you can add condiments and sauces, so you may also want to add an extra tin, bottle or tub of your favorites (salt, pepper, hot sauce, etc). This is also the time to add a bar (or two, or even three) of chocolate or similar per person – a luxury item that almost everyone enjoys and with the added benefit of calorific value.
And toilet roll, while useful, is not actually essential and is not going to vanish (it also is still being produced and distributed) except locally and for relatively short periods of time. We also know how much we use – in normal households it averages about one roll per person per week. Then there are viable alternatives: many of us know relatives who tell wartime stories of using cut up magazines and newspapers (indeed they are still used in some country outhouses and many hunting cabins). However a warning on this, if you have to use an emergency measure like newspaper, do NOT try and flush it down the toilet. Use 2 trash bags at a time to double bag human waste contaminated paper for disposal.
There has also been a run on surgical masks and respirators, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer. These too will reappear once supply catches up with demand (and the incentive is with the manufacturers to increase supply significantly to make more money, so increased production is already underway). By all means if you see some, buy them and use them, but these are useful rather than essential supplies, so waiting until they are back in stock seems sensible (and will avoid much of the current price inflation driven by the current scarcity).
Bleach is also a powerful virus killer, so do try and ensure you have an adequate supply of Clorox and/or Lysol type sprays for kitchen, bathroom and other surface cleaning. But again supply remains currently good and as demand rises, manufacturers will increase production to meet our needs, so there is no need for bulk panic buying.
If you have children, it is well worth putting some thought into their care and comfort. Children may not understand what is happening, and in any event will need something to keep them occupied. Think about having something educational and something entertaining available beyond the TV and internet.
Perhaps the most significant preparation you can make is to ensure that, should you get sick or be quarantined, you have an adequate supply of any prescription medicines you already take. Talk now to your doctor and explain you want to ensure you have a 2 week supply on hand if possible. The doctor will ensure your needs are met either by writing a prescription or by explaining what system they have developed for dealing with people in your medical situation.
The sky is not falling, life will go on, albeit with some disruption. But PPPPPP and will help you endure through whatever trials lie ahead. Knowing you have a plan provides comfort and reduces stress, so make a plan, and then amend and adapt it as the situation requires. We Americans are not just survivors, we are giants in adversity: unconquerable, innovative, adaptive and exceptional!
1. You feel sick but have to go to work in order to pay rent and to buy basic necessities.
a. Consider whether you can discuss this beforehand with your employer?
b. Ask others at work what they plan to do if it happens to them?
c. Discuss this possibility with your family and friends before deciding the best solution.
2. You feel sick and are diagnosed with COVID-19, and are taken to hospital.
a. What will happen to your family?
b. What might you take to hospital with you?
c. What will you want while in hospital?
d. What plans can you make for when you are discharged?
3. One of your immediate family or room-mates gets sick and is taken to hospital.
a. Are you ready for self-quarantine?
b. Do you know what the requirements of self-quarantine are?
c. How can you help the person in hospital?
4. A neighbor gets sick and your are told by government officials that you must self-quarantine.
a. What must you do?
b. How long will you be in quarantine?
c. Are your supplies adequate for the duration of the quarantine?
d. How will you get essential supplies if you run out?
Knowing the answers to these questions and any others you can think of will enable you to make plans. You will also gather information to enable you to best answer the problems you face before you have to deal with such problems under stress. PPPPPP! Stay safe and stay well!