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:
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 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 I 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 good read as well.
And when it comes to learning from survival fiction, I suggest the Brushfire Plague seriesby 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 other type of pandemic becomes eminent. 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.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.