There is a lot in the news about the outbreak in China and the increasing number of cases of the Wahun virus that are being seen in the United States.
While there is reason to be concerned and take some precautions as needed, it is important to not totally jump to the worse conclusion. This article is going to be about what you can do to be prepared and how to handle things if the situation progresses to the point where further action is wise.
At the end of this post is a list of links to Backdoor Survival articles from the past that may be helpful to you at this time.
Most of the things that I am going to talk about is pretty basic illness outbreak stuff. Like anything you need to consider what you would do if something got to be a more serious situation. So let’s start out with the bare basics and then proceed to what to do at various levels of severity. I want to first go over why people get so darned scared when there is threat of a major illness becoming pandemic.
Fact: Pandemics and mass illness are scary because there actually have been some major outbreaks over the past 500 years of history that have wiped out a lot of people.
From the Plague to Small Pox among Native Americans to the Spanish Flu of 1918, people have good reason to be afraid of an illness spreading if it seems serious. Easy access to news and a lot of people saying this or that, makes it easy for news to be exaggerated, blown out of proportion, or falsified for sure but there is some historical basis for why people get so worked up.
At the moment there is a lot of uncertainty and plenty of rumors which can make it hard to tell exactly what is going on.
Staying calm and evaluating the situation as it progresses via multiple news sources and then acting accordingly as the situation progresses is the best one can do. Try to stay a step ahead if you can by taking care of some of the basics of preparedness.
Keep in mind that while sometimes things get blow out of proportion, there are times when there is a big effort to suppress information so that others do not know how bad something actually is.
The Chernobyl disaster is an example of this. People were told everything was a lot better than it actually was and that led to people not being able to do what they could have done to reduce exposure.
While a nation can say that they do this to reduce panic, sometimes it is also because they are afraid of the economic impact and how bad it makes them look to the rest of the world. Of course, any disaster or outbreak that reaches a certain point is going to be impossible to hide, especially in today’s age of smartphones. News can be delayed and suppressed but some news is going to make it out.
China is a country with a social credit system and a long history of censorship. There are reports that they are actively taking down videos of people falling down in the streets due to this highly contagious illness. Considering their past actions, I think it is plausible that they are doing this.
Some of us that have elderly people or those with compromised immune systems in our homes can get a bit worked up sooner rather than later because we have to be just so careful to not drag in even a common cold. So far I have pledged to go to the extreme of spraying packages with Lysol before opening. It takes just a minute and it is easy to do. I just don’t want my Dad touching mailorder that has been who knows where.
What We Know So Far and Recognizing Symptoms
The symptoms of Coronavirus can mimic that of the flu or regular pneumonia but additional more serious symptoms develop as the illness progresses. Some sites are saying that some people show no symptoms before becoming contagious to others.
These symptoms can include any or all of the following:
- Shortness of breath and breathing difficulties
- Kidney and liver impairment and failure
I am not a medical professional. For those that want an opinion from a trained doctor and nurse, I advise keeping tabs on the Alton’s site, Doom & Bloom. Here is a link to the most current article they have up about the Wuhan virus.
What is the cause?
There is some debate about the source of the illness. I have read accounts that claim it is the result of eating snakes or bats. What is known is that it can be traced to a seafood market in Wuhan that also sold live animals.
Where have there been confirmed cases?
The list of countries may continue to grow but that is the most up to date info I can get as of January 26, 2020. I will try to update the list if necessary as this situation progresses.
So far the following countries have confirmed at least one case. China still has the most cases.
- South Korea
- United States
Breaking a Pandemic Down Into Stages
I have been thinking about pandemics a lot considering what is going on at the moment and the nature of what I write about. Below is my attempt to create somewhat of a reasonable scale for pandemics and taking action.
To some, this may seem extreme while to others it may not seem serious enough. I think that regardless it is useful so that you can create a scale and resulting actions you are going to take that is right for you and your family.
Stage 1 Beginning of Scattered Case Outbreaks
What you can do:
It is always a good idea to take some care when it comes to reducing the odds of catching colds, stomach bugs, etc. People travel a lot, eat at many different establishments, go to school, work in public places, etc. This means exposure to a lot of people that could be carrying something you don’t want to catch. Here are a few basic things that you can do to reduce the chances of catching something.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or face if you have not just washed your hands.
- Carry hand sanitizer with you and use it after using grocery carts or being in large crowds of people. Use the wipes provided at grocery stores for wiping down the handles. Also, wipe the baby seat in the front. Although plenty of the time this gets used for a handbag or purse, the fact remains that sometimes a butt is on it. Better safe than sorry.
- Consider walking or bicycling more and avoiding public transportation if there is a flu outbreak. If you have a car but try to use public transit, if enough people are getting sick you may want to consider using your personal car or carpooling with co-workers that you are going to be exposed to no matter what. This can help reduce everyone’s odds.
- Shower daily and do not wear clothes for more than one day if you have been in public areas or around someone you know is ill.
Stage 2 More cases appearing, some deaths, and medical professionals are not able to help many people.
This is the point where you need to start thinking about limiting exposure to others a little bit more. Here are a few things you may want to do in addition to those previously mentioned.
- Have enough food and beverages to stay at home for a few days if you don’t already. Many of the people reading my articles have way more than this I know but for those just starting out with preparedness, a potential pandemic is a good time to get started putting back food.
- Consider if it is worth it to attend some very public events. This is a personal choice of course and it is good to consider what the situation is where you plan ongoing. Has there been any major outbreaks in the area where you want to go to a concert or festival?
- Those that provide care for the elderly or that have people in their homes with compromised immune systems need to be especially careful. You may want to discuss with them the idea of limiting their public exposure.
Stage 3 Very alarming numbers of people getting sick.
At this stage, you may want to consider making sure that you have enough food, water, medicine, fuel, and other supplies to make do if you have to stay at home for an extended period of time. If you still want to order supplies through the mail, consider allowing packages to sit in the sun for 15 minutes or under a UV. Many illnesses do not survive long out in the air. Even Ebola has a very short life when exposed to air which is one reason why the spread can be stopped more easily than some conditions.
Stage 4 Full on pandemic reminiscent of Spanish Flu or similar
When you reach this point it is best to do whatever you can to quarantine your family off from the rest of society as much as possible for the duration of the pandemic. If you have a good supply of food, water, medical supplies, entertainment, cooking, and heating fuel, pet food, etc. it will allow you to stay in place in relative comfort and not be tempted to go out.
While people do have to work and make a living, if a pandemic reaches this level, it would not be at all surprising to see some businesses temporarily closed. If you are still expected to go into work, then all I can say is to try as hard as possible to protect yourself. Consider wearing a good respirator mask, goggles, and gloves. There may be a point, like with any SHTF situation, where you need to decide if it is still worth it to go in.
Morale is going to be low and people will be desperate. All things to keep in mind.
The Basics of Pandemic Sick Rooms and Quarantine Zones
During a pandemic, it is a good idea to have what you need on hand to establish a sick room or a quarantine zone.
When someone starts to show any major symptoms of an illness, then it is safest to put them in the sick room to see how the situation progresses. This allows for isolation from the main family group sooner rather than later which could prevent an illness from spreading.
- Small buckets
- Anti-viral masks such as R-95 Respirators
- Plastic sheeting
- Disposable gloves
Sick Room Set Up
For more information on setting up a sick room, please refer to my article that goes into a lot of details and lists items you should have on hand.
Make sure you know how to wear a mask correctly!
Here are a few videos from Joe and Amy Alton explaining masks and how to put a mask on and take it off properly.
Maintaining A Quarantine Zone
People have a really hard time maintaining a quarantine. There are usually those that either go out or are away when the quarantine is in place. It can be hard or impossible to watch every point of possible entry into a city for example. You would have to put a giant fence up and have a ton of guards willing to do whatever it takes to hold people in. That is a tall order.
I have noticed a lot of people including myself, stocking up on some supplies like bleach, gloves, and masks. While these are items that are useful preps for a variety of situations, I think it is important to understand that boredom and lack of social interaction are actually two major factors that lead to quarantine’s being broke. Not being able to get some vices is another common thing that leads to quarantines not working.
For this reason, I want to advise people to revisit my post on finding entertainment during hard times and how to put together a morale box for each person in your family. This is a valuable thing to have in your preps no matter if you are facing a power outage or a longer event such as a pandemic.
You need something that reminds you of more normal times and that can help soothe your mind a little bit or give you something to do. A lot of people mostly just have work and hobbies that are mostly outside the home. Think about what you would do if you had to stay in place and keep yourself and your family entertained. For families, it may be good to have a tote of fun things for everyone and then let each person have their own personal box of things too.
I am going to say that for major pandemic gear, my go-to is MIRA. If you are the type of person that is thinking about the worst-case scenario and going to put together a major biological or nuclear survival kit, then you will like MIRA.
For starters, I actually own one of their masks. Also, I have to say that I have talked to Roman, the head of the company both online and on the phone and he really goes the extra mile to bring people quality gear. They stand behind their products. MIRA is used by many government agencies all over the world.
Respirators and Gas Masks
There are many of these to choose from. I like my MIRA gas mask because it has a filter that will protect me from all biological weapons and diseases and it has a fog-proof face shield so I don’t have to use separate goggles for good protection.
Tyvek suits like you get for industrial spraying can work but there is nothing like an actual HAZMAT suit that is made of thick materials. Tyvek rips really easily so it is not the best for some situations. MIRA makes HAZMAT suits in sizes for kids and adults.
Links That May Be Helpful In Case of Pandemic
Here are some links to posts at Backdoor Survival that I think maybe helpful when going over your preps or specifically planning for a potential pandemic or event where you must stay at home for an extended period of time.