Gross mismanagement of the Ebola crisis by CDC and health officials around the country has left many Americans wondering what steps they need to take to prevent getting infected.
Some of the key questions facing concerned citizens revolve around the concepts of self quarantine and social distancing.
When do you make the call to bug in or bug out? When do you stop going to work out of concern of being exposed to a virulent disease? When should I put my self and family into full pandemic lockdown mode?
Before you dismiss this article as just another over-sensationalized attempt at fear mongering, understand this: Ebola has a 70% mortality rate and there is no cure.
Let’s be absolutely clear – this is not a common cold or flu. If you get Ebola, odds are you will die.
Despite the CDCs efforts it has missed vital opportunities to contain the virus and we are now facing the potential for a widespread pandemic on U.S. soil. There are no protocols in place for medical professionals to follow, no systematic approaches in place to deal with this type of large scale disaster, and no significant attempts at controlling the spread of this contagion. The American public can and should expect that each week will bring more infections and death.
The time to make preparations for a worst-case scenario is now. The following are six key warning signs you should be looking for. When these events come to pass or you see these signals, you should strongly consider implementing a self quarantine lockdown:
- Emergency officials say they have the situation under control, but more cases continue to pop up.
- Local and state governments officially declare an emergency.
- Cases have been identified at your local hospital or at schools in your general vicinity.
- The general public begins to panic and store shelves start running out of key supplies like food and bottled water.
- Looting and lawlessness occurs within the local community.
- The virus breaches a 50-mile radius surrounding your home or town.
If any of these signs begin to appear around you, it’s time to seriously consider distancing yourself from society, and especially highly dense venues like retail stores, sporting events or schools.
Here’s an important factor to consider: You want to have all supplies and a plan in place before the virus spreads out of control and before government officials force mandatory quarantines. Once the signs start to appear, it may already be too late to start stockpiling supplies because panic-buying will be the order of the day. We’ve already seen this with major internet suppliers of medical gear, who report that their inventories have been nearly cleaned out. The same will happen on a local level.
In this type of disaster, you need to prepare for the likelihood of living in an off grid setting with the supplies in your home for a at least a month. That’s the bare minimum. If you have the means to do it, consider a longer-term preparedness plan like the one we’ve outlined in The Prepper’s Blueprint, which is designed to provide for your family for an emergency lasting in excess of six months or longer.
If you do not have necessary supplies, you will be ill-equipped to survive this disaster. You’ll want to concentrate your efforts on the essentials first. This means emergency foods that can include pre-packaged Meals-Ready-To-Eat (MRE), freeze dried foods, and dry goods, all of which can be incorporated into your meal planning in order to prevent food fatigue over extended periods. It also means access to water, and because utility workers may stop showing up for work you’re going to need a water source or reserve water stores. Other critical yet often overlooked preparedness considerations for a self-quarantine scenario includes alternative lighting, sanitation, alternative cooking and energy needs. Time is of the essence, and preparation is key.
If the Government Won’t Close Their Borders, You Should Close Yours
Because each of our circumstances are different and we live in varying population densities, each of us will have to make choices based on our specific needs. Some people commute to work, some work from home, and some live in the country where the threat of contagious viruses spreading in high volume isn’t as much of a concern as urban areas.
The government has made no attempts at closing its borders or to ban travelers living in Ebola zones even though the majority of Americans have said they want the borders temporarily closed from people originating in these countries. If they won’t close their borders, you can close yours. If Ebola makes its way to your community, shows up in your local hospital or within 50 miles of your home, consider activating a total lockdown procedure for your home and plan to bug in place until the threat has passed.
- Activating social distancing protocols is the best way to avoid Ebola altogether. If you are prepared to live in your home for a month or longer without venturing into public areas, then you stand a better chance of surviving this pandemic. If you are able to work from home and live full-time at your bug out retreat, take any remaining supplies you have and go now before the pandemic escalates. When there is a concern for dangerous communicable diseases spreading, the CDC activates mandatory quarantines which are backed up by laws and executive orders. No one goes in, and no one goes out.
- James Rawles recently suggested that if you have 6 months worth of savings, perhaps it is worthwhile to take a leave of absence from your employment and live at your bug out retreat full time until the crisis passes.
- If you do not have the flexibility of working from home and have to work in an office or warehouse setting, discuss contingency plans with your employer. In addition to educating employees, companies should review their emergency preparedness plans on how to respond if an employee falls sick on the job. The plan should include communicating with other employees, setting up an isolation room, transporting ill employees to the appropriate medical authorities, protecting employees who come into contact with those who are ill, setting up a disinfecting program, and monitoring contact tracing. Organizations could also consider screening employees at the worksite.
Have Supplies In Place
As more cases are confirmed in the United States people will panic. This is a given. We’ve seen it in West Africa already.
In the United States, after just a few confirmed cases, we’re already seeing shortages of pandemic prevention supplies such as respirator masks and full body coveralls. If we see an escalation with Ebola and cases continue to spread to more cities across America, you should fully expect a run on essential supplies like food, gas and bottled water.
Some will continue to believe this is under control. And maybe it will be soon. But what if it isn’t? Are you prepared to take that risk when developing a contingency plan takes very little effort and can be done on a shoestring budget?
Here is a basic starter list compiled from portions of The Prepper’s Blueprint. If you are serious about protecting yourself from a potential pandemic there is a lot to do, but the following guidelines can fast-track your preparedness and contingency plans.
Bug In Supplies
Water – Have a short term water supply. Emergency organizations suggest 1 gallon per person for 30 days. If one goes by this suggestion, to have 1 gallon per person per day, a family of 5 will need 35 gallons of water per week. Further, it would be ideal to have some tools to treat water such as a portable filtration system, chemical treatment tablets, etc., as well as a portable filtration system for your bug out bags. To learn the different methods of purifying water, click here.
Note: As a backup plan, consider investing in manual water pumps, tarps, rain gutters for the home to collect rain water and condensation from the ground, trees and bushes. This could save your life!
Food – Have a 30-day supply of shelf stable foods. You need to assume that electricity could go out, therefore look to foods that do not require refrigeration. To see how much your family would need, click here. Create a menu based around your shelf stable foods to ensure you have enough food to feed your family. Your menu should be realistic in the sense that it will provide your body with the necessary energy needs. This chart can help in researching caloric needs based on gender and ages. At the very least, plan for 1200 calories per meal. Keep healthy whole grains in mind when adding carbohydrates to your larder.
Sanitation – In a pandemic, everyone will fear going to their jobs and all forms of normal life will be on hold. This includes your trash pick ups. Have a basic sanitation kit and prepare for the fact that toilets won’t flush, trash won’t be collected and you will be on your own. When sanitary conditions are not up to par, there is an increase of diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diphtheria. Typically, women and children are the most affected by poor sanitary conditions. Women’s personal hygiene is essential to her health and should be considered a priority in your sanitation preparedness measures. Taking proper precautions and stocking up on sanitary items will help eliminate most issues regarding poor sanitation.
Alternative power – Disasters of any kind cause grid down scenarios. In this case, if a pandemic ensues, people are not going to risk exposing themselves to a deadly contagion just so the public has their electricity. Prepare to live in an off grid environment and invest in alternative means of power and invest in rechargeable batteries, solar battery chargers, generators, ample supplies of fuel and even a siphon for fuel. As well, if cold weather threatens the area where you live, have ample firewood and matches or a way to start a fire.
Communication – You can’t cut yourself off from the world, especially in a disaster. Our normal forms of communication – television, cell phones, land lines may not be available following a disaster. Therefore, you will need alternative forms of communication to communicate with neighbors, loved ones or to learn what is happening in your community. Having police scanners, radios, Ham radios to communicate to the outside world will give you a huge advantage in survival and security.
Security – Never underestimate the desperation of those who are unprepared or ill-equipped to survive. When one’s needs are not met, there is nothing they won’t do. Bugging in will require more planning and security on your part. Although living in an urban center may be the most difficult in terms of survival, those that live on the city’s outskirts and suburban areas will not be without their own set of challenges.
Considering that the majority of the U.S. population is centered in 146 of the country’s 3000 counties, chances are most of us live in urban areas, and special attention must be placed on security. We’ve read enough survival stories to know that drug addicts, released prisoners, those with mental illnesses and the unprepared will be the ones looting and pillaging. Those that live in densely populated areas will be the most vulnerable to this. To curtail this, amp up your security endeavors and preps.
For those with special needs, ensure that you have supplies and necessary medication ready for them (infants, elderly, handicapped, etc.).
- Tychem protective suit and shoe covers
- Protective eye wear
- Plastic sheeting
- Supply of nonprescription drugs
- Pain relievers
- Cold medicines
- Stomach remedies
- Duct tape
- Anti-diarrheal medication
- Essential oils
- Vitamins that have immune boosting enhancers (such as elderberry,
- Fluids with electrolytes (such as sports drinks)
- Bleach or disinfectant
- Garbage bags to collect soiled clothing and bedding before they are washed.
- A thermometer
- Latex gloves
- Disposable cleaning gloves (in quantity)
- Hand wipes
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers or homemade hand sanitizer supplies
- An extra supply of your regular prescription drugs and medical supplies.
- N100 respirator masks (in quantity)
Also, consider these tips for preparing your home and reducing the chances of contamination.
- Prepare a sick room for the home to limit family member’s exposure to the virus. If someone in the house is infected, then the person needs to be segregated to a room of the house and that room needs to be sealed off from the rest of the home either using plastic sheeting or duct taped closed with limited interaction from other family members.
- Consider all items coming in from the outside to be contaminated and should be washed with antibacterial soap or a chlorine mix before handling with bare hands. Therefore, any item you pick up after the emergency starts need to be handled accordingly.
- Seal air leaks in your home. All it takes is one particle of infectious material to doom your whole family. Since you will be indoors with not alot to do, do this.
- Any time you come into near contact with anybody who is infected, you will need a shower. This is not an option.
- All common items in the house should be disinfected after use regardless if anyone is sick. The kitchen and bathrooms should be meticulously cleaned after use.
- If a family member dies in quarantine, seal off the room until professionals can deal with it. Don’t risk it. If you decide to take matters into your own hands, Wear long pants and long sleeves. Tuck your sleeves into your gloves. Dig your grave prior to moving the body. Spray the areas of the body you intend to touch with your bleach solution and wait 10 minutes before touching the body. Avoid touching the torso and head of the deceased person and only touch the disinfected extremities. Disinfect your clothing and shower after the operation is complete.
- Looters and crime waves can occur during this so ensure you have a means to protect yourself and your preps.
With the holiday season almost upon us we can expect large swaths of people at retail outlets and airports. The best advice is to keep your social distance. Unless you absolutely have to, try to avoid highly dense social situations. Why take a chance when you don’t really have to?
As for friends and family showing up at your home, if Ebola has breached your personal borders then you should either send them away or require them to decontaminate in a pre-staged home quarantine area.
What you decide to do with this information is entirely up to you. This may well be the most significant national crisis since 9/11. Stock markets are crashing, city officials are scrambling to maintain order, and the public is second-guessing what officials are telling them.
The time is now for each of us take personal responsibility in preparing for this disaster. It’s real. It will spread. People will get sick and die. There will be panic.
An aggressive prevention plan is our only option.
Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.
Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals.
Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.