When I first wrote this article, Ebola was a distant threat in a few little countries on the other side of the globe. But, now it’s here, in America. Not only are there suspected cases and confirmed cases, there’s a note of hysteria in the news. Many of the supplies I originally recommended have been sold out. So I’ve updated this article with some new information and some new resources so that you can find the supplies you need. I have added multiple sources for as many things as possible. I urge you not to panic, and to prepare calmly and methodically. If you’re new to preparedness, this may feel very overwhelming. Pay special attention to the recommended books in that case, because they’ll guide you through this situation and many others. If you’ve been doing this for a while, realize you probably already have most of what you need. Your focus should be on topping up your supplies, and being watchful. The most important thing you can do is to remain focused and purposeful.
With something that displays itself as gruesomely as Ebola, with seizures and uncontrollable bleeding from every orifice, it’s unrealistic to think that a cover-up can last long. If this continues to spread, there’s no way that the government can keep it under wraps. This is NOT going to be easy to contain. The virus is spreading far more rapidly than it has in the past in West Africa, giving some people reason to believe it has mutated into something more easily transmissible.
This reminds me of that scene in the movie Contagion, where the CDC experts have their quiet, closed-door meetings and discuss preventing a panic. (If you haven’t seen that movie lately, I suggest you watch it, perhaps with your older children, to open the discussion of how pandemics can spread rapidly.) In the movie, the officials seem almost more intent on keeping it quiet than they do on stopping the spread of the illness.
There are a lot of facts that are being kept quiet. The government seems really excited about producing an untested vaccine and jabbing us all with it. Because of this insistence on secrecy and the fact that you just can’t trust the government, you may not have a lot of warning before things get really bad. Consider this your warning. You need to be prepared to go into family lockdown mode for at least six weeks. Incidentally, this begs the question of why our government has not gone into a similar lockdown mode, instead of opening the floodgates for illegal immigrants and tourists from other countries during a global health crisis. (Here’s why I won’t be lining up to get an Ebola vaccine.)
How do you know when it’s time to go into lockdown?
Avoiding contact with people who have the illness is the only way to prevent getting it. Isolating yourselves is the best way to stay safe and healthy.
This is the tricky part: How do you know that the time has come to get the family inside and lock the doors behind you? Lizzie Bennett, a retired medical professional, wrote an incredibly helpful article over on her website Underground Medic. Definitely take the time to read the entire thing HERE, because this is one of the most blunt, honest things you will read from a person who worked in this field. Bennett recommends social distancing as the only effective way to protect yourself and your family from an outbreak of disease.
How long you should remain isolated depends primarily on where you live. For those in towns and cities it will be for much longer than those living in rural retreats where human contact is minimal. Though those fortunate enough to live in such surroundings should remember that if the situation is dire enough, people will leave the cities looking for safety in less populated areas. In large centres of population there will be more people moving around, legally or otherwise, each of these individuals represents a possible uptick in the disease rates, allowing the spread to continue longer than it would have they stayed indoors and/or out of circulation. Even when the initial phase is on the wane, or has passed through an area, people travelling into that area can bring it back with them triggering a second wave of disease as people are now emerging from their isolation…
One hundred miles is my buffer zone for disease, of course it could already be in my city, but practicalities dictate that I will not stay away from people because hundreds in Europe are dropping like flies. Maps of disease spread look like a locust swarm moving across the country and this allows disease spread to be tracked on an hour by hour basis. One of the few instances where mainstream media will be useful. (source)
Once you’ve gone into lockdown, how long you must stay there is dependent on the spread of the illness. Times will vary. Bennett suggests these guidelines:
Once the doors were locked we would stay there for at least two weeks after the last case within 100 miles is reported. A government all clear would be weighed against how long it had been since the last case was reported in the area I have designated as my buffer zone. There is of course still the chance that someone from outside the area will bring the disease in with them causing a second wave of illness. You cannot seal off cities to prevent this. Going out after self-imposed isolation should be kept to a minimum for as long as possible, and if you don’t have to, then don’t do it. Far better to let those that are comfortable being out and about get on with it and see if any new cases emerge before exposing yourself and your family to that possibility. (source)
What does it mean to go into lockdown?
This Ebola thing could go bad in a hurry. And by bad I mean that it has killed well over half of the people who’ve contracted it in West Africa. Not only do we have the possibility of Ebola to contend with, but several varieties of plague are also on the uptick over the past couple of months, something that has been put on the back burner due to the fear of Ebola. A city in China was locked down last week due to the Bubonic Plague and the Black Plague caused one man to die and 3 more people to become ill in Colorado last month.
If the situation hits close enough to home that you decide to go it’s time to isolate yourselves, the rules to this are intractable.
No one goes out. No one comes in.
I know this sounds harsh, but there are to be no exceptions. If you make exceptions, you might as well go wrestle with runny-nosed strangers at the local Wal-Mart and then come home and hug your children, because it’s the same thing.
Once you have gone into lockdown mode, that means that the supplies you have on hand are the supplies you have to see you through. You can’t run out to the store and get something you’ve forgotten.
That means if a family member shows up, they have to go into quarantine for at least 4 weeks, during which time they are not allowed access to the home or family, nor are they allowed to go out in public. Set up an area on your property that is far from your home for them to hang out for their month of quarantine. If at the end of the month they are presenting no symptoms, then they can come in.
It sadly means that you may be forced to turn someone away if they are ill, because to help them means to risk your family.
Now is the time to plan with your preparedness group how you intend to handle the situation. Will you shelter together, in the same location, and reserve a secondary location to retreat to if the situation worsens further or if someone becomes ill? Will you shelter separately because of the nature of the emergency? Decide together on what event and proximity will trigger you to go into lockdown mode. Make your plan and stick to it, regardless of pressure from those who think you are over-reacting, the school that your children have stopped attending, and any other external influences. If you’ve decided that there is a great enough risk that you need to go into lockdown, you must adhere to your plan.
Prepare an isolation area.
In the event that a member of your group becomes ill, they need to immediately be quarantined from the rest of the group. By the time they’re showing symptoms, it could be too late to prevent the spread of illness but effort should still be taken to isolate them.
Here are some tips on isolating a patient.
- The sick room should be sealed off from the rest of the house. Use a heavy tarp over the doorway to the room on the inside and the outside. This will make a small breezeway for the caretaker to go in and out.
- The caretaker should cover up with disposable clothing, gloves, shoe covers, and hair covers.
- The caretaker should wear an N95 mask.
- The sick person should use disposable dishes and cutlery. All garbage from the sick room should be placed in a heavy garbage bag and burned outdoors immediately.
- The sick person should not leave the room. If there is not a bedroom with a connected bathroom, a bathroom setup should be created within the room. Great care must be taken with the disposal of this waste.
You can learn more about preparing a sick room HERE.
Do you have the supplies you need to weather a pandemic?
It’s time to do a last minute check of your preps because by the time a general quarantine is announced in your area or you hear the mainstream suggesting that people should stay home, it will be too late to get the rest of your supplies. As well, at that point, the path of the pandemic will have progressed so much it will be unsafe to do so.
You need to be prepared to go into family lockdown mode for a minimum of 6 weeks should things get bad in your area, and preferably longer than that in the event that this takes a long time to contain. It’s most likely that services such as public water and electricity will remain intact, but you should prepare as though they won’t be, just in case.
Here’s a quick checklist along with some links to resources. Base amounts on the number of family members you’ll be sheltering.
- Drinking water (1 gallon per person per day)
- Food (including items that don’t require fuel for preparation)
- Heavy duty garbage bags
- Sanitation supplies such as toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes, and feminine hygiene supplies)
- Entertainment – you’ll want to be able to keep children and restless family members busy so get craft supplies, books, games, and puzzles
- Basic medical supplies (here’s a list)
- Pandemic kits that contain protective clothing (we have a QuakeKare Deluxe Pandemic Flu Kit for each family member) Our kit is sold out, but this one is similar: Pandemic Virus Kit Module by AXP
- Extra N95 masks (3M 1860 Health Care N95 Particulate Respirator and Surgical Mask, Small Adult, 20/Bx, 3M 8511 Particulate N95 Respirator with Valve, 10-Pack, and 3M 8000 Particle Respirator N95, 30-Pack )
- N100 masks (3M Particulate Respirator 8233, N100, Moldex 2730 N100 Respirator Mask with Handy Strap Bx/5 Each, 3M 8233 N100 Particulate Respirator – Case of 20
- Nitrile gloves (Dynarex Black Nitrile Exam Gloves, Heavy-Duty, Powder Free, Large, Box/100, Liberty T2010W Nitrile Industrial Glove, Powder Free, Disposable, 4 mil Thickness, Large, Blue (Box of 100)
SafeTouch Nitrile Exam Gloves, Non Latex, Powder Free, Large, Box/100
- Safety goggles with an elastic band to ensure a snug fit (Pyramex V2G Safety Eyewear, Clear Anti-Fog Lens With Black Strap/Temples), DEWALT DPG82-11C Concealer Clear Anti-Fog Dual Mold Safety Goggle, DEWALT DPG82-11C Concealer Clear Anti-Fog Dual Mold Safety Goggle, Neiko 53875B ANSI Z87.1 Anti-Fog Approved Wide-Vision Extra-Soft Lab Safety Goggle
- Protective clothing: DuPont TY122S Disposable Elastic Wrist, Bootie & Hood White Tyvek Coverall Suit 1414, Size Large, Sold by the Each, Dupont TY120S L Large Tyvek Coveralls Suit, Sold By Each, DuPont Tyvek TY122S Disposable Coverall with Hood and Boots, Elastic Cuff, White, X-Large (Pack of 25)
- Antibacterial cleaners such as disposable wipes, bleach, and spray cleaners
- Antibacterial hand sanitizer (Purell Pump Bottle, Original, 8 Ounce (Pack of 12))
Note – we do not commonly use anti-bacterial products but in a situation like this, it’s important to have this type of thing on hand, particularly in the event that there are issues with sanitation
Books and Reference Materials:
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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org