Information is power…..when it is applied. While we are all concentrating on the newest virus, the Coronavirus (COVID-19), there are common sense steps you can take to prepare and protect yourself and your family during an epidemic, flu pandemic or another major emergency.
Number one safety tip: It is essential not to panic but to prepare. Think rationally and try not to react emotionally. This is a summary of what we know so far:
The Coronavirus as of this writing has reached all countries and continents except Antarctica. China, Italy, South Korea, then Japan and Thailand appear to be the hardest hit by this fast spreading viral flu epidemic that probably could become a flu pandemic. As of this March 7 writing world wide cases are reported at 105,956 with 3569 deaths. America has 402 cases with 19 deaths. New cases are being reported every day. California, Washington and a few in Oregon, basically the West Coast, are hot spots for this epidemic but now it is spreading to the East Coast with New York being another hot spot.
The Coronavirus is spread through the air and by moisture drops from coughs. If you go outside on a cool night and speak, it will give you an idea of how far your breath can travel just by talking…usually, 3 to 6 feet or more, depending on the force behind the breath. The virus also lives on surfaces for varying lengths of times, estimates are up to 9 hours on textiles, days longer on hard surfaces.
This epidemic – Pandemic Coronavirus is approximately 3 times more deadly than the flu virus and is spread much the same way as the flu virus. However, elderly people and people with pre-existing health issues are the most vulnerable. The majority of tragic deaths so far fall into this category. It is helpful to remember that, assuming you are in good health, that your biggest concern is protecting yourself against exposure to the virus, especially if you have an elderly parent or anyone with compromised immune systems that you come into contact with on a regular basis.
The Coronavirus epidemic appears not to target young healthy children and adults. The Coronavirus can be contagious without any apparent symptoms which makes it particularly difficult to contain. The time of the virus being active could be days 3 weeks according to some sources.
So what common sense essentials should we have on hand and what should we do to best protect our family and ourselves during a flu pandemic?
Essential supplies include:
Food and Water
If the Coronavirus moves from epidemic to flu pandemic, there will be voluntary quarantines and possibly federally enforced self-isolation. Panic can empty store shelves of food and water as well as other essential supplies. It is already happening with long lines around bulk purchase stores.
Safety tip: For this virus season and just common sense essential preparation, you should have at least 2 weeks of food for yourself and your immediate family in the house and stored. Nonperishable foods are best. Canned food and juices can be stored for long periods and are common sense purchases that can be used later if not used now. If stores are sold out, find out when they expect more in and be there early.
Prevention is the first line of defense against viral infections. Building your health immunity is a good practice for any flu or virus season. Being natural and organic food enthusiasts, our household drinks a small juice glass of elderberry juice (the good stuff, no watered down versions) every day. Grape juice is supposed to be just as effective. I think the tannins have antiviral properties. It has been very effective for us for years even though being exposed to school children and business clients daily.
Bottled water can be expensive for a large family, but you need at least 2 weeks of water, approximately a gallon a day for each person’s drinking water. Don’t forget your pets too.
A good way is to purchase or use a water filtering system you can pour water through to purify the water. You can use a water filter attached to your faucet, but personally, I think it is best to have a good water filtering system you can pour tap, stored water, or rainwater through just in case tap water is contaminated or not available.
Medical Supplies and Prescriptions
Safety Tip: Prescription medicines and over the counter medical supplies are essentials.
A two week supply is a common sense essential for preparing for a viral epidemic, flu pandemic or major emergency. Ask your medical provider to prescribe at least that amount of essential prescription medicines that you or a loved one will need. This is common sense to always have on hand for prescriptions.
Test kits and masks are in short supply. The United States companies are working night and day to step up massive production of the test kits, masks, and associated supplies. It is my understanding that the original test kits from China were defective giving at least 30% false positives. They were not effective and are being replaced with 98% reliable test kits quickly.
The regular cloth masks are most helpful, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), to protect others if you are contagious with a virus. The CDC, and World Health Organization are asking that the N95 masks be left for the health care professions and other professions like miners that really need them. The supply will catch up with the demand over time.
The medical authorities are saying that the masks are not very effective as protection against infection from others, Prices for masks and similar supplies are skyrocketing, which is shameful. Amazon and eBay are starting to crack down on the offending price gougers, There are sites online that give you information on making your own masks if that becomes a necessity.
Other medical supplies that are common sense essentials to have on hand are:
Cough syrups and throat lozenges, disposable gloves, a good thermometer (screening for the epidemic Coronavirus requires taking your temperature 3 times a day checking for an elevated temperature), antiseptic hand soap and cleaners, Vicks, and nose tissues.
Flu remedies, Vitamin C and related vitamins, soothing teas, aspirin, acetaminophen, ingredients for a honey hot toddy, and other supplies you normally keep on hand for flu and cold season but may be low on should be on your shopping list.
Cleaning supplies are common sense essentials prevention tools for any viral infection and especially important for this new Coronavirus epidemic outbreak. Germ killing cleaning supplies to have on hand include disinfectant cleaners such as Clorox or Purex, strong cleaners such as Pine-Sol, germ-killing sprays, paper towels, antiseptic wipes. Vinegar is a good cleaning agent also. Good article to read regarding preparation: Spring Cleaning.
Safety Tip: Antiseptic hand cleaners should be by your front door and back doors. Leave shoes at the door or spray the bottoms with an antiviral spray. Antiviral sprays are good to spray on cloth surfaces as well as doorknobs and frequently touched surfaces. Have an anti-viral hand cleaner in your vehicles. You can take alcohol with aloe and lavender and make your own hand sanitizer that also keeps your hands from chafing from frequent washing.
- Other common-sense actions and safety tips to mitigate exposure include:
You may want to think about possibly avoiding large crowds in enclosed spaces. Try to keep space between you and other people. Avoid for the time being shaking hands, fist bumps, hugs and kisses when greeting.
- Obvious, but hard to remember to do:
Cough into your elbow or into a tissue. Avoid touching your face especially mouth and eyes. If you feel sick stay home so as not to spread a possible viral infection. Plan some games and activities to have on hand in case the Coronavirus epidemic becomes a flu pandemic which may cause schools and businesses to close temporarily…
- Safety Tip Essential: Stock up on at least 2 weeks of toilet paper! Paper supplies are already flying off the shelves and this one is essential!
In conclusion, try not to worry or panic,….prepare. I hope these common-sense safety tips and essentials to have on hand will help you and your family stay well and comfortable through this viral infection flu and Coronavirus season. The US and other countries are working hard to prepare a vaccine ready for the 2021 season. Take special care and attention to elderly loved ones and any family with preexisting health issues. We got through the Ebola and Swine Flu epidemic and we will get through this new Coronavirus infection too!