For the past week, I have been giving a lot of consideration to what I would personally do if there was even the slightest hint of an Ebola pandemic in the United States. You would think that the process I engage would be easy since I live on an island that is only accessible by ferry, private vessel, or small aircraft. But, as with all things, preparedness, there are always unique circumstances that come into play in any disaster and a pandemic is no different.
The risk, as I see it, is that I live in a popular tourist destination. By popular I mean that the population swells up to three-fold during the summer months as visitors from around the world come to view the scenic beauty of the waterways as well as the bald eagles and Orca whales. This translates into possible exposure from tourists who are carriers showing no outward sign of sickness.
In the article Seven Facts You Should Know About Ebola, I touched upon some pandemic preparedness basics. From the ten thousand foot level, here were my suggestions:
Preparing to Hunker Down in Place
Be Prepared for a Pandemic!
How to prepare for a pandemic? The usual: plenty of food, water, first aid supplies, face masks, and something to keep your mind occupied in the event you are confined to close quarters. Examples include books, playing cards, and board games. I also recommend essential oils but more about that in a moment.
You should also be prepared to physically isolate yourself. If a pandemic is even rumored, isolate yourself from large crowds, avoid commercial travel, and head out to your bug-out-location if you have one. If you work outside the home, plan to telecommute if you can and if not, take some vacation time. Above all, use common sense and keep a level head about you.
Going beyond those basics, today I am getting up close and personal by sharing my plan. Having never experienced a pandemic, I can not say whether my approach is right or not. Instead, I am applying the best common sense I can muster so that I can be ready to hunker down in place if and when the time comes.
7 Things to Do to Prepare to Hunker Down in Place
1. Plan to Stay Put. This means no travel. Air travel is totally out of the picture as is travel to urban areas or anywhere else more than 20 miles outside the radius of my home. This is pretty easy since travel 20 miles from where I live would land me in the sea.
2. Inventory Sick Room Supplies. My existing sick room supplies include both N95 and N100 masks, disposable gloves, disinfectants (bleach, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide), nitrile gloves, and rubber gloves. I also have a large supply of plastic sheeting material, tarps, duct tape and disposable shower caps to use to cover my feet. This is all in addition to a comprehensive first aid kit with the usual bandages, pain killers, and antibiotics.
3. Purchase Additional Sick Room Supplies: After inventorying what I have on hand, I have ordered protective eyewear (goggles) and disposable clothing. I have also ordered more essential oils to both diffuse and apply topically in an attempt to boost my immune system.
4. Create an Island of Physical Isolation: At the very first inkling that the risk of a pandemic is real, I plan to physically isolate myself from social interaction with anyone outside of my home. This should not be too difficult since my home includes a small outdoor deck on the second floor; large enough for Tucker to do his business and for Shelly and me to get a bit of fresh air.
5. Mobilize Other Preps: I have pulled my “portable potty” out of storage and have also stocked my day-to-day pantry with plenty of canned goods and freeze-dried items from deep storage. I have plenty of food, water, disposable eating utensils, heavy duty garbage bags, toilet paper, soap, pet supplies, personal hygiene items, and prescription meds to get by for a long period of physical isolation.
6. Deep Cleaning: I hate housekeeping as much as the next person but now is not the time to use the good-enough method of housecleaning. We have done a deep cleaning of our home and plan to keep it that way.
7. Avoid Boredom and Cabin Fever: In the unlikely event that we really do need to hunker down in place, I have removed the board games and dance videos from storage so that they are easily accessible. Missing from my collection are some 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles; they are something I need to purchase.
The bottom line? I plan to stay put, socially isolate myself, and use my preps to limit my exposure to anything and anyone outside the four walls of my home. Remember what I said earlier about common sense?
For suggested reading, get yourself a copy of the Survival Medicine Handbook by Joe and Amy Alton. Another good book to have on hand is Emergency Air: for Shelter-in-Place Preppers and Home-Built Bunkers by F.J. Bohan. The article Social Distancing as a Means to Avoid Contagion is a good read as well.
And when it comes to learning from survival fiction, I suggest the Brushfire Plague series by R.P. Ruggiero.
Finally, go back and read the article 16 Items To Help You Hunker Down in Comfort for some additional ideas that will make the process of physical isolation more comfortable for you and your family.
The Final Word
This is my personal plan for hunkering down if and when an Ebola or another type of pandemic becomes imminent. I make no claim to its accuracy or to whether it will keep me safe from illness. That being said, common sense and the ability to think clearly under duress will prevail and I have a high degree of confidence that the steps I am taking will be the right ones.
I would like to end with a call to action. What is your plan? Do you have some ideas that we can learn from? I am all ears and would love to hear from you.
Bargain Bin: Here are some of the items mentioned in this article. Most if not all are basic preps you should have on hand, pandemic or not.
3M N95 Particulate & Respirator Mask: This is an inexpensive mask that can be used in a variety of emergency situations. They come in a box of 20 and are NIOSH-certified. The molded cone design is fluid and splash resistant and will greatly reduce your exposure to airborne particles.
Moldex 2730 N100 Respirator Mask: Do not confuse P100 masks with the N100s. N100 is what you want since the P100’s are used to filter particulate only and not gasses and vapors.
3M TEKK Protection Chemical Splash/Impact Goggle: I read a ton of reviews before settling on these. They have not arrived yet so I can not say whether they are any good or not. That said, for the price, I am sure that I will find some use for them.
Dynarex Black Nitrile Exam Gloves, Heavy-Duty, Box/100: Pick your size; both Shelly and I wear a medium.
Disposable Protective Coveralls: There are plenty to choose from and as with the gloves, better to be too large than too small.
3M Utility Duct Tape: I am also stocking up on Duct tape. After reading Duct Tape 911: The Many Amazing Medical Things You Can Do to Tape Yourself Together, I now know it has tons of medical uses.
The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way: By Joe and Amy Alton, this book will teach you how to deal with all the likely medical issues you will face in a disaster situation, and including strategies to keep your family healthy even in the worse scenarios. It covers skills such as performing a physical exam, transporting the injured patient, and even how to suture a wound. This medical reference belongs in every survival library.
Diffusers: You are definitely going to want to consider a diffuser to mist healing essential oils into the air that you breathe. I keep one in my office next to my desk, one in the bedroom and one in our main living area. The diffuser pictured below is the ZAQ Dew Aromatherapy Diffuser. Note that you will receive an additional 10% off all items from Spark Naturals when using code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.
Bicycle Canasta Games Playing Cards: This timeless classic will keep the entire family occupied when the power it out. Playing cards or board games should be in everyone’s preparedness kit.
Ticket To Ride: This my favorite board game, bar none. Family friendly, you will spend hours in front of the fireplace playing Ticket to Ride with your favorite people. This is worth the splurge.