When it comes to preparing for a pandemic, it’s not something that is high on our preparedness list, although it’s nowhere near the bottom either. I think this is because in the United States we generally take a proactive approach to disease and sanitation, and it doesn’t affect us like it does in other 3rd world countries.
As humans we can go anywhere on the planet within days or hours, traveling through busy airports and flying on airplanes with god knows who. This means that regardless how prepared we are as a country, we still at risk. All it takes is 1 flight, with 1 sick person to start the ball rolling.
Epidemics throughout history have been somewhat localized, and with our advances with medicine and sanitation, most threats have been eradicated or put in check. We have seen a few near misses in recent history though such as the H1N1 virus, the Avian Flu, SARS, and most people don’t think of HIV/AIDS as a pandemic, but it was/is.
Hollywood has almost made pandemics seem like “something that only happens in movies” because when people think about pandemics they think of movies like Contagion, 28 Days Later, and the hundreds of zombie movies out there.
A pandemic doesn’t need to be a large-scale statistic breaking event to affect your life. For a disease to be considered a pandemic, it only needs to affect a small number of people on several continents. Epidemics are localized (Malaria), pandemics are worldwide (H1N1). To be a pandemic, the disease must also be deadly, and contagious.
SPP246 Preparing for a Pandemic and Other Biological Threats
This week in the show we talked about how even a small-scale pandemic or epidemic could affect our lives and our family, and how something large-scale would require extreme precautions. We also covered what supplies you would want, and how to use them.
Staying Safe During a Pandemic
Shelter in Place: The safest place to be in an event like this is away from the danger. We have control of how clean our homes are, and this is where all of our supplies are. In smaller scenarios we may still need to venture out to work or school, but we should take precautions, and remain home whenever possible.
Safe Rooms: This would only be necessary in an extreme pandemic scenario, and safe rooms come in all shapes and sizes. For the purposes of a pandemic or viral outbreak, a safe room should be completely sealed. You will need to get clean air into the room, and that can be done with a HEPA filter and a shop vac.
Quarantine Areas: This is a little different than a safe room, but serves a similar purpose. A quarantine area is used when someone shows up late and you want to make sure they are not contagious before letting them into the home.
Know the Symptoms: In a situation like this we need to get as much information as possible. This means the lifespan of the disease, the severity of the outbreak, and what the signs and symptoms are. This is especially important if someone is in quarantine, and you need to evaluate them daily.
Personal Protective Gear: In the video below Lisa and I showed the proper way to put on and remove PPE (Personal Protective Gear). Further down in the article we have a list of pandemic supplies you may need.
Disinfection and Sanitation: One of the most critical and easy steps we can take to protect our home is to make sure it is clean…REALLY clean. We can’t see these little biological threats, and they could literally be anywhere. It’s also important to make sure we are clean, and paying attention to personal hygiene.
Entertainment Items: Being stuck in the home, or worse, being stuck in a quarantine room will get pretty boring. Board games, books, musical instruments and the like will help pass the time when you can’t leave the home.
Food and Water Storage: You not only want to make sure you have enough food and water to last for a month or more, you want to make sure you have all the other supplies you might need. The most important of these is first aid supplies and medications.
Protect your Home: Protecting you home doesn’t just mean from the environmental threats, it also means from people. How far you need to go with this all depends on the severity of the situation. In a large-scale situation, you never know who might feel the need to get into your home, of feel the need to take your supplies.
Prepare to go Outdoors: Once again, depending on the severity, there may be a need to venture out doors. When and if this happens make sure you are prepared to do so as safely as possible. Staying away from crowded areas, wearing an N95 mask, and having a lot of hand sanitizer on hand could help a lot.
Home Pandemic Supplies
In the show we talked about some of the supplies you may want to have around just in case. It doesn’t need to be a full blown pandemic for these to be useful. It could be a flu outbreak, and something localized you your area.
- 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
The great thing about these supplies is they are multi purpose and not just sitting on a shelf waiting to be used in a pandemic. These can be used in quite a few different areas of preparedness, and you probably have a few of them already around the home.