By Daisy Luther
It’s true. A case of Ebola has been confirmed in the United States. And this could just be the beginning, because it looks like there may already be a second case in Dallas right now.
Those of us in the preparedness community know exactly how serious this could be. We’ve read about pandemics and civil unrest and all sorts of Armageddon scenarios. With that much unsettling information in our mental reserves, the diagnosis of that man in Texas took on a different meaning to us than it did to the Americans who may have vaguely heard something about it while flipping channels on the television, between MTV and Dancing with the Stars.
We in the preparedness community know that an Ebola pandemic is the stuff of nightmares. It’s a gruesome way to go, with violent bleeding from every orifice. The horror of those images makes quite an impression, particularly when you imagine Americans dying in the streets like that.
We know enough that we realize we need a plan. We need a step-by-step course of action to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
So here it is. Your first step. Here’s the first thing you need to do:
Yeah, I know. Telling a person who’s upset to calm down is like waving a big red cape in front of a charging bull. It often has the completely opposite effect.
But please listen to me, because I’m right about this. Panic may very well ensue, but it’s an indulgence you can’t afford when you have a limited window to acquire the things you may need. So take a deep breath, get a pen and paper, and prepare to be methodical about this. While things could get bad, they aren’t bad right now.
Pandemic storm warning
Consider this to be a warning, like you get when a hurricane is potentially headed to your area. Usually a week or so before the storm makes landfall, newscasters begin mentioning Tropical Storm Murgatroyd in the middle of the ocean. They hint that Murgatroyd may be headed your way. A smart prepper knows that now is the time to replenish any supplies that might be running low, well before the rest of the people in the area go to the store and swipe the entire contents of the shelves into their cart before rushing off to the next display.
The discussion of Ebola when it was safely behind the moat of an ocean in Liberia was the equivalent of this. An alert that a storm was brewing.
Now, with the diagnosis of the person in Texas, the warning has been upgraded. Going back to the tropical storm analogy, we now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this storm will hit. What we don’t know, and can’t yet predict at this point, is the intensity of the storm. That’s okay. We know it’s coming, so if we didn’t go ahead and get things in order back when the storm was just a strong wind in the middle of the ocean, we still have time.
At this point, the first things you should acquire are medical supplies. Here’s a great article on preparing for a possible quarantine. They’re running out fast. Some of the things I recommended in my article yesterday are already sold out on Amazon. Here are the top things you’ll want to stock up on, with several options in case one is out:
If you’re like me, some of these are items you really didn’t foresee needing until Ebola happened along. Go ahead and get these ordered, because if things get bad, this will allow you a measure of protection if for some reason you must leave the safety of your home. These will be the first things that run out in the event of a pandemic event.
As the storm gains power, swirling over the ocean, it gets upgraded. It’s no longer a tropical storm, far from our horizon. Now, it’s a hurricane. Now everyone with half a brain is paying attention. You really want to be a step ahead of those with half a brain. And you want to be leaps and bounds of the ones who are even further behind in comprehension of the situation. The danger past this point is not just exposure to a virus. It’s exposure to a stampede of panicked individuals who don’t have the same grasp on the situation that you do, as a prepper.
When it becomes a full blown hurricane warning, that’s when the panic will ensue. Remember the long lines of vehicles evacuating when Katrina or Ike bore down on coastal areas? Remember the day before Superstorm Sandy hit New York City? You do NOT want to be out in that hysteria. You want to calmly prepare now, while others are still trying to figure out what the heck is going on.
It’s also important at this point to get hard copies of vital information. If for some reason, you can’t access the internet during the crisis, you don’t want to be trying in vain to remember the instructions that you read on some website, that one day, when it told you to do something…but…ummm.
No. That’s the last thing you want.
Here are some books with valuable information. You can buy them, or you can go on an internet scavenger hunt and print off the information. It honestly doesn’t matter how you get your hard copy. Just get the information you need in a format you’re guaranteed to have access to, regardless of the power grid, the state of the internet, or some kind of crazy censorship.
Some items you may wish to stock up on, should the need arise to seal yourself into your home for the duration, are:
- Duct tape
- Plastic sheeting
- Quarantine signs
If you don’t already have them, acquire these things before they are no longer available.
Lockdown in 3, 2, 1…
Now that you have those high-demand items like medical supplies stashed away, you need to take a look at your everyday prepper stockpile. In reality, if you’ve taken precautions to avoid travel, to limit exposure, and to watch for cases in your vicinity, you and you’re family are probably NOT going to get Ebola.
However, to keep yourselves healthy, you may have to practice social isolation. And to practice social isolation, you’ll need to stay home. You’ll need to go into lockdown mode, with no one coming in, and no one going out.
First of all, you need to establish a geographical danger zone. For me, if there is a case within a hundred miles, we’ll strongly consider that it may be time to go into lockdown mode. If you live in a city with an international airport, your personal guidelines may be different. You need to make a decision now based on the factors in your environment. Lockdown isn’t something to be taken lightly: it means you aren’t going to work, you aren’t going to school, and you aren’t going to the store. You are at home for the duration, however long that may be.
To prep for lockdown, you need to do an inventory. Imagine that you had to stay home for 60 days Imagine that you don’t have power or running water. In this situation, you probably WILL have power and water, but just in case things really go sideways, you should prepare for that possibility.
Most likely, you are already prepared for all of this. You’re a prepper, right? You’ve got this handled. So, just run a quick inventory of the following, fill any gaps, and consider yourself as pandemic-ready as person can be.
- Food supply (Learn more from this series or this book)
- Drinking water supply (1 gallon per person per day)
- Sanitation supplies (Learn more here)
- First aid supplies (Learn more here)
- Power outage supplies (Learn more here)
- Entertainment (Learn more here)
- Home defense (Learn more here)
You may find that you have a number of purchases to make, but you may alternatively be pleasantly surprised. Either way, taking stock of your position will provide you with a starting point and, I hope, some peace of mind.
Now, watch and wait.
Okay, you’ve compiled your lists, you’ve performed your inventory, and you have made your last-minute purchases. You have the information you may need at your fingertips, in a hard copy format. There’s nothing left to do but watch and wait.
There are a few things that you should remain particularly alert to:
- Cases or suspected cases within a hundred mile radius
- An uptick in cases overseas
- Changes in the way the disease spreads – for instance, if it becomes airborne, this is a whole new ballgame
- Executive orders related to a pandemic
- Increasing civil unrest
Any of these things indicates that the time to escalate your protocols may be rapidly approaching. But even if these things do occur, you’ve got this handled, because you prepared ahead of time. Although this situation is one of the most alarming to threaten our country in a long time, don’t succumb to panic, because that state clouds your judgement and makes you ineffective.
In cases like this, knowledge can work either way. It can fuel your anxiety and sent you into a loop of panic. But if you get a handle on that, your knowledge can help see you through even the most desperate scenario. Keep calm. Prep on. You’ve got this.