Again (and again and again and again), there are an almost infinite number of possible disasters. If you try to plan for individual disasters, you will not only be overwhelmed, but fail to take good precautions. Instead, focus on the fact that there are only three things that can be hit by a disaster: people, places, and things.
Today, we are going to touch briefly on things. I say briefly simply because this is the introduction to the topic, an overview. The proper term for things is infrastructure; however, that term makes most people think about roads, bridges, and such. While they are a part of preparedness, there is little you can do about truly major items other than plan to avoid or make use of if there is a major disaster. What I want to concentrate on are the parts of infrastructure that are within your control: the things you use every day.
In that context, infrastructure applies to the items that are a major part of your life. That ranges from smart phones to the sump pump in your basement. It is the power and hand tools you own, it is the machinery that keeps your house warm or cool, the water flowing, the water heated, etc. Things also applies to the food and other resources that are the logistics of your life. Yes, there is overlap with places, but that just makes planning easier.
The two major impaces of a disaster on things boil down to damage and/or loss-of-use, or the loss of resources. Recent events in Texas highlight what happens when a rare occurance results in a loss of the things we often take for granted.
For example, the loss of electricity removed the ability for many to heat their home, run appliances, cook, and maintain communications. The loss of water, which was apparently a combination of freezing and the loss of communications had impacts from being unable to have water for drinking to being able to bathe and flush the toilet. The loss of the two had a cascading effect, which was compounded by being unable to access groceries and other necessary logistics.
The number of people who were unprepared for any of this is hardly surprising, though I wish it were surprising. How many of you have spare water for drinking (bottled), spare water for cooking (jugs or larger), or spare water for flushing the toilets? How many of you have an alternate means for cooking, such as a camp stove, propane burner, or a butane chef’s stove? How many of you have an alternate means of heating the home at need? How many of you have lined up a place to go to in the event of such an emergency?
Thankfully, I do know some in Texas who were at least moderately prepared for what happened. One combined resources with a person in a location that maintained power, and they not only helped each other out, they were able to help some fellow members of the military by giving them a place they could hang out, relax, and warm up other than on base. I’m aware of others that used camping gear, such a tents, to set up an emergency shelter in their home that they could keep heated, while using camping and other supplies to get by until water and electricity were restored. Yet another, as did many, used their vehicle to warm up, recharge electronics, and otherwise get by.
The good thing is, preparing for that loss of, or damage to, things is fairly simple and involves some of the resources already discussed. One good thing about doing this series of posts is that I’m going to work on a chapter on tools, that is the things that are needed across the three types of damage. These range from flashlights to weapons, as all are needed and useful tools in an emergency.
A quick question for the reader: if you have flashlights and other tools that require batteries, have you checked them recently to be sure the batteries are still good and that there is no damage to the units in which they reside? Do you/did you have spare batteries that were in date? How about other dated resources? Were they/are they good?
We’ve covered the basics of Preaparedness Pays, now, let’s start getting serious about how to plan and how to prepare.
It’s time to talk about the second thing that can get damaged in a disaster: places. That place can be your home, your business location, your work location, or other structure. Again, the list of disasters is near infinity, and can include fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, etc.
Let’s start with your home. Bad things can happen, but you can take steps to minimize damage fairly easily.
For example, a fire. Smoke detectors properly installed and maintained can and do make a difference as they give early warning of a fire. Fire extinguishers are inexpensive, and can be used to put out stove fires or even house fires if caught early. Otherwise, they can help you and yours make a safe exit. Invest in not just a number of extinguishers over time, but get different sizes and types so that you are prepared for different events. A small extinguisher designed to fight grease fires is a good thing to have in the kitchen.
Falling limbs (or trees), storms, and other delights can damage your home as well. One thing I like to have in almost every room is a small plastic container that has a tarp, tape of different types, tacks and nails, scissors and/or a utility knife, a hammer, and even basic first aid supplies in it. If a window gets busted in that room, the materials to cover it and prevent further damage are right there. If your roof is damaged, you have a tarp you can put up as soon as it is safe.
Which brings up another point: have the tools you need. A ladder is useful around the house for a variety of projects, including emergencies. Shovels of various types, a mattock, and a sledge hammer are also useful for general use as well as in emergencies. Right now, where I am living, there are window issues that would make it hard to use them in an emergency, so I have a sledge hammer tucked away near those windows that would make short work of them if needed for use as an emergency exit.
Also, have things like pry bars and a hand saw in the area where you would take shelter for a storm or other emergency. That way, even if your location takes damage severe enough to potentially trap you, you have the means to begin to extract yourself. That area is also where you should store at least some of your emergency resources such as food, water, and basic first aid supplies. In addition, I have battery-operated lanterns and flashlights, and even some camping gear so that I have the means to get by a while at need.
If your home has more than one story, it’s a good idea to have emergency fire ladders tucked away in each room. That way, in a fire or other emergency that requires you or yours to go out a window, there is a safe way to get down to ground level.
Keep up on your maintenance, and/or ensure your landlord does. Good maintenance tends to help minimize damage from minor disasters. Also, if you have trees or limbs that pose a threat to your home or business, get them cut and removed. There’s a lot more to discuss about landscaping, and using it to improve safety, prevent fire hazards, and other delights but time is limited this morning. Also, winterizing or otherwise insulating your home and sealing openings can save money on utilities as well as making it difficult for insects or other critters to get inside. You may even be able to get a grant or tax rebates for such. Again, much more to discuss later.
Finally this morning, have a plan for fire and plans for other likely emergencies and practice them. Make sure that if it is more than just you, everyone knows where to meet (rally point) so you can ensure all are out safely. Also, especially with children, make sure they know not to go back inside for any reason. Growing up, I remember a child and a parent dying in a house fire because the child ran back inside to try to save a pet, and upon realizing what had happened the parent ran back in to try to save the child. Make the practice as realistic as possible, because how you train/practice is how you will do when and if the plan really is needed.
No, this is not about how to damage people (something far too easy to do, sadly); rather, it is about how there are only three types of damage that can happen to a person. Within each group, you again can get into the almost infinite number of disasters large and small, but you also can begin making practical preparations to counter them all fairly easily.
First up is physical damage. From scraping a knee to traumatic damage, things happen that can harm our bodies. The counters to this range from having basic first aid supplies like bandages and ointment, to keeping a small trauma kit in the car or on you. I actually have one tourniquet in my work vest and the med kit I had in Iraq (updated as needed) in my carry bag that travels with me. Given the amount of travel I currently do, I’m ready to help if I’m one of the first on the scene of an accident.
Again, while we will get into more detail later, it is neither hard nor expensive to plan and prepare for physical damage. Having general first aid kits handy helps you deal easily with the normal day-to-day “ouches” that happen, while having the gear on hand for something more can not only help you or yours, but allow you to help others in the event of an emergency.
The second type of damage is a loss of resources. This could be the loss of power or water, or something more serious like loss of shelter or even the loss of immediate access to food. Look at the resources you use every day, list them out, and you can begin to plan for short- and long-term loss. If you begin to build up spare resources gradually, it is not expensive or time consuming.
Something else to keep in mind is how to make all of this work for you. I bring this up now because some of the things you might not think of immediately can be taken of taxes or earn credits. Thinks like additional insulation or winterization of your house, improving energy efficiency via new appliances, or even alternate power sources may have tax benefits and in some cases there are even programs to help you do this if you meet income requirements.
The final type of damage is financial, and it is the type of damage seldom covered in most works on preparedness. At best, most discuss keeping cash or other means of payment on hand. While I agree on the need to do this, what I would prefer you to look at is how you can prepare for anything from being out of work a week or three to a major recession or even depression. It’s not only about putting a little away, but also how to put some of that into forms that can ride out economic downturns that can come with a large-scale disaster. While it can be argued that financial is a resource, it is a specialized type of resource that deserves it’s own planning.
Today’s is a bit short, but the other major excuse given to avoid taking steps to be prepared is the whine “It takes so much time!” Not really.
As with cost, you can spend as much time on it as you can money. How much time (and money) is up to you, but the way to avoid having to spend large amounts of time is to incorporate preparedness into your everyday life.
Preparedness is in many respects a compounding investment. Five minutes here and there adds up. Those who have to spend hours are usually those who are responding to an impending disaster of some sort for which they are unprepared. The little things that you can do in everyday life keep any such expenditure of time down to the minimum possible.
Some of it are things you should be doing already: basic house, vehicle, and other maintenance; computer backups; rotating the stock in your pantry as you buy new; and, improvements to your home, vehicle, equipment, etc. It’s putting expiration dates into the calendar on your phone; reminders to change batteries in smoke and other detectors; and other notes as needed. This also helps if you are, like me, a touch absentminded…
Again, it’s all in the planning and making preparedness a part of your lifestyle, not something you only do when absolutely needed. If you are creatively lazy, and make the most of the things you already have (such as smart phones and other devices), you don’t have to spend huge amounts of time on being prepared.
Far too many people (and companies) put off preparedness on the basis that it costs too much. That idea is 180 degrees off from the way you should be looking at it.
Instead, you need to be asking yourself what is the cost of not being prepared? An acquaintance has joked in the past that it depends on how fancy a casket you want for your funeral. As harsh as it may seem, the cost of not being prepared could literally be your life, and the lives of those you love.
What is the cost to you or your business if your computer/computer systems go down and you have not made backups? What is the cost to you if the power/water/etc. go out, even for a few hours, when you have to get to work and to miss work is to miss a day’s pay or even lose your job? What is the cost to you if you are stranded on the side of the road for hours, and don’t get a choice of where your vehicle is repaired? If a large disaster hits, what is the cost of not being prepared?
The costs of not being prepared are far higher than the cost of being prepared, especially if you make it a part of your day-to-day life. If you wait until a disaster looms, you will find critical items in short supply, or gone, and prices going up. That is truly expensive, and sadly what most people mistakenly use as the cost of preparedness.
Keep in mind that being prepared not only protects from the large disasters, but the small as well. If an ice storm or other event takes out the power, you may be mildly inconvenienced, but can press on with life. Water goes out, the same. Can’t get out of the house or neighborhood? You already have plenty of food, water, and the necessities of life on hand. Being prepared has a price, but it is also an investment that can pay huge dividends with events large and small.
Building up stocks of the things you use day-to-day can be done gradually. You don’t have to go out and buy everything at once. Buy one or two stock items each paycheck, and take full advantage of two-for-one and other offers. It literally is as simple as buying two bars of soap instead of one.
Also, know when to buy larger items. For example, heaters usually can be obtained for a better price in the summer. A generator (one of the few big-ticket items on my list) seem to have better prices in the spring/summer, and when the weather is good. Winter and/or when storms are coming the prices tend to go up. While not an item on my list, it is far cheaper to buy a snowblower in the summer, though your best bet is the spring when people who panic-bought one the fall before often sell them off for ridiculously low prices. If you buy used via local want ads and such, you can get new/almost new items for a fraction of the cost of the actual new item.
The real key to keeping the expense down is to plan. Your plan should analyze what you need for each of the three major categories (people, places, things), then look into the details for each of the three sub-categories for each. If you have a family, make it a family affair. In all your planning, don’t forget any pets!
One part of planning is to look at the longest possible duration of a major disaster. For example, if you live in an area subject to hurricanes, look at the longest time people in the area have gone without power, water, etc. Add a few days to it to be safe, and you have a good idea of the reserves you will need.
Personally, I plan for a month. If that’s too much for you, plan for two weeks. If that’s still too much, plan for one. Once you start building up your supplies, you can then expand them as finances and space permit. Yes, I do have plans for longer than a month, but those are advanced plans for later discussion. For most day-to-day preparation, I use a month.
Once you have a plan, work up a priorities list for what you need. This allows you to save up what you need for any major expenses, and to start buying those extra things each week so you can build up your reserves for critical items and then move to the nice-to-haves. You do want to have those nice-to-haves: survival is great; but, surviving disaster large and small with comfort and ease is the way to go.
Keep in mind that many items may be able to do double or even triple duty. For example, if you camp, you already have an emergency shelter that can be set up inside or outside. Backpacks can be kept ready as bug-out bags. Camp stoves provide a means to heat water and cook food. Your grill also is a back-up stove at need. You just need to be sure to have sufficient fuel to meet the needs of the situation. Depending on your hobbies and where you live, you may already have a good bit of preparation already in place.
To wrap up for today: the cost of not preparing is high, potentially astronomically high; the cost of waiting until the last minute is also extremely high and likely to leave you without critical items; and, the cost of preparing and buying things along can be done within almost any budget. Do not let cost keep you from getting started.
Here we go again. The Panic Porn Media (aka the MSM) is at it again, and once again, people are rushing to the store and buying up all the toilet paper they can get. With all that was bought in the previous panic, people should have a two-year (or more) supply at this point.
There are several problems with such panic buying. First, you are more than likely to be hoarding the wrong thing for the situation. Second, you are wasting your money, which impacts your financial preparedness. Third, you are taking up space that could be better used for stocking up on the things you really are going to need. There are more, but those get the ball rolling.
If you practice practical preparedness, you probably already have a weeks/months supply on hand. Buying ahead allows you to take full advantage of sales or buying bulk to get the best price (on TP or any other item). It means you don’t have to race to the store to get more in response to storms or panic porn.
This really is in a chapter further into the book, but part of what you should be doing is taking a look at the things you use every day, evaluating how much of each you go through in a week/month, and deciding what time period works best for you and buying enough to get through that. Then, as you use those items, you buy more and rotate your stock like grocery stores used to do (sadly, many don’t and if you’re buying yoghurt from the back of the shelf, check the expiration date then and not later).
The time period you choose may vary by product. For example, I am working on building up my supply of supplements and OTC meds so that I have a year’s worth on hand. That way, if there is a natural disaster, a financial disaster, or other impact, I’m good no matter what. Coffee, I have at least three months on hand at any given time. Again, more on this later.
Meantime, if you are one of those panicking, please stop. If you truly are using that much TP, call your doctor.
This does remind me of the time a friend of mine looked at joining a preparedness group. There are good reasons to do so, be it a group of friends you create or one that already exists. Again, more on this later. One of the groups he talked to sort of went off as he didn’t have the amounts of ammunition in different calibers that they wanted. My friend let them rant a bit, then responded (as close as I can remember):
‘You’re right. I don’t have all the ammunition and weapons that you do. However, I’ve got a year’s supply of toilet paper, and more than enough weapons and ammunition to deal with anyone who tries to take that and the other supplies I’ve got. And you’re going to have an awful hard time wiping your asses with those bullets.’
A few days later they called up, said he had a point, and would he like to join them? He declined. Wisely IMO.
Practical preparedness: saving you money, time, and being able to ride out the idiocy of lemmings without stress or discomfort.
Diets don’t work. At least, as practiced by most, studies have shown they don’t have a lasting impact. Most people start a diet, or join a gym, for a specific near-term goal. If you’ve ever been a gym regular, you know the cycle and see all the new people coming in at specific times of the year to get in shape for spring break, summer vacations, swimsuit season, etc. Even those starting a diet with the idea of “getting healthy” don’t stay with it.
Well, a diet is not a part of the normal lifestyle for most people. It usually involves foods, times, and other delights that are not normal for them.
What makes a diet successful? When it becomes a part of normal life, not something extreme for a particular goal. In my own case, I went ketogenic a few years back, not as a diet, but as part of a conscious change of my entire lifestyle. It was not something just to meet a short term goal, but a decision to change what I ate, how I exercised, and other factors to both get in shape and to promote long-term health. As such, it has left me in far better shape than I was.
For most people, preparedness is a “diet” in that it is usually for a near-term, short time-frame event. As such, it is expensive, time consuming, and in many cases not terribly effective because there was no real planning. Think about all the people you see in the stores when a snowstorm (or similar) is predicted (especially in the South): people who normally don’t buy bread or milk are in there stocking up. My thought is that instead you should be buying meat, bourbon (or alcohol of your choice), and whatever you need to fire up your grill when the snow stops. Also, buy propane or whatever you need to cook inside if the power goes out.
It also doesn’t help that mainstream media portrays those who have preparedness as a lifestyle as illiterate rednecks preparing to stand off the government. Do such people exist? Yes. Are they representative of the larger preparedness community? No. Hell No. For all that I love the characters of Burt and Heather Gummer (portrayed by Michael Gross and Reba McEntire) in Tremors, and laugh my rear end off at them, it may be the kindest portrayal of “Preppers” out there. There are many others not so kind. This ignorant and bigoted portrayal is used to manipulate people into not preparing via social pressure.
So, you have two factors that keep most people from recognizing that making preparedness a part of your lifestyle saves you time, money, and more in dealing with everyday life, much less disasters. Want some quick examples?
Someone I know related the tale of being in a fair-sized building when the power went out and everyone was ordered to evacuate the building. The emergency lights apparently were not working, so people were having to go down the stairs in the dark. That is, they were until he pulled a bright tac light he routinely carried in a pocket and used it to illuminate a good bit of the stairwell.
Another person I knew suffered a blown coolant hose on the interstate. In the trunk, he had tape, hose clamps, and a collapsable water jug. A temporary patch of the hose was made using tape and clamps, and the water jug went down to a nearby creek and supplied the water to refill the system so that they could limp to the nearest exit where they could replace the hose and coolant.
I know at least two people who keep a trauma kit in their car, and have used it at wrecks they’ve either witnessed or come upon while traveling. One or both have literally saved lives as it takes time for medics to arrive, and if someone is bleeding out, time is one thing they don’t have to spare. Even if not saving lives, it improved the outcomes for those injured in the wreck.
A few months ago, the power went out to our neighborhood. Lights out, electric stove useless, water limited because the house was on a well. One very bright flashlight, a butane chef’s stove, and both bottled and jugged water allowed me to make coffee, cook breakfast, and bathe so that I stayed on my normal schedule.
What do all these things have in common? Lives, potentially expensive events, and even day-to-day problems were solved by people who have made preparedness a part of their lifestyle, not just something they do when disaster looms or is hitting. In the case of the person on the interstate, being prepared prevented damage to their vehicle, and the expense of being towed and having to have the repair made at a place not of their choice. It allowed me to have my coffee (top priority), eat, and not be late for or miss work.
Making preparedness a part of your lifestyle not only prepares you from disasters, it also insulates you from any number of annoyances and potentially expensive events in day-to-day life. Water leak? You have the tools and means to stop or slow, and to prevent water damage to your home. Electricity goes out? You have lights, means to cook and wash, and otherwise go about your business.
Most of the truly essential items for preparedness can and do double or even triple duty as they have day-to-day uses. For example, the chef’s stove I used provides an extra burner for holiday cooking, and I’ve used it to cook at special events and even for some of the wolves at Wolf Park. It is not something that just sits taking up space, it is used as a part of my normal life. Same for the flashlight, my pocket knife, and a number of other items. I’ve even converted my first aid/trauma pouch from Iraq into something I carry with me on the job given the amount of travel and the likelihood of coming upon a wreck. I’ll have more on this concept later, as it is important.
The more you integrate preparedness into your lifestyle, the more you are insulated from, or able to deal promptly, with the “downs” and emergencies of everyday life. It can reduce or eliminate the expenses associated with them, as well as saving you time, hassle, and stress.
Got a story about how being prepared worked for you in a non-disaster situation? Please share it in the comments, as the more the merrier. In fact, I may ask you for permission to use it in the book. The more such stories that can be shared, the better for fighting back against media stereotypes and showing people how preparedness can help them.
The title to this post is the working title of a book in progress. It was started many years ago, and sadly got put aside for longer than it should have been. Yet, some of that time has been to the good as I’ve been through FEMA and other courses and earned my Basic Military Emergency Management System badge during my time in the Indiana Guard Reserve (state guard). That, and a lot more practical experience, should allow it to be an even better book.
This post is the start of a series of posts on preparedness that I hope will share good information for you, as well as invite feedback and otherwise allow me to refine elements of the book. Just as courses and experience have refined and changed the original outline of the book, feedback and even discussions here or on social media will allow me to improve sections and ideas and ensure that the key points are as well presented as possible.
The original outline was based in part on an article I wrote for a major publication (the first and last time I ever signed an all-rights contract, and a lesson on reading the contract very carefully and fully). In that article, I pointed out that there were indeed an almost infinite number of disasters that can occur. Many individuals and companies use that as an excuse not to comprehensively plan for disasters and other emergencies including economic and other problems.
In the article, I pointed out the cost/benefit analysis needed for such planning, and that one did NOT try to plan for the infinite number of disasters, but rather the five types of damage that could occur from any given disaster. Preparing for five types of damage is much easier, and less expensive.
Since that time, I’ve refined that down even further. Technically, there are only three things that can be impacted by any disaster, from a hurricane to an economic depression: People, Infrastructure, and Resources. Each of these further breaks down into three main areas.
People involved in a disaster face financial, physical, and resource impacts. Financial can be anything from loss of investments to loss of income, or even in extreme cases having currency devalued or worthless. Physical means some degree of damage to the body. Resources means a loss of non-financial resources, such as food, water, electricity, etc.
Infrastructure damage breaks down into structures, equipment, and logistics. A couple of these have some overlap, as having a flood or other disaster taking out a highway could be viewed as both structural and logistics. For now, I’m putting it as a logistical problem, but good arguments can be made for either keeping it both or putting it in structures. Currently, I’m treating structures primarily as buildings and related, though bridges and other structures could go either way. Equipment is just that, the machines that we use every day from computers to manufacturing equipment. Logistics is the warehousing, transportation, and distribution of the products we use every day. I will note here that maintenance of structures, equipment, and the means of logistics must be a part of planning.
Resources is broken down into consumables, energy, and financial. Consumables are the products we need and use every day, from food to cleaning products. Water is in the consumable category for now. Energy is not just the electricity that powers our life, but also gasoline and other products that allow us to live, work, and be mobile. Financial is the ability to buy, barter, save, and even property value.
To close for today, consider that planning for Infrastructure and Resources reduces the chance of damage to People in every area. Investment there can and will pay dividends in the event of any emergency.
Tomorrow I want to go into why preparedness should be a lifestyle, rather than a thing one does only when disaster looms.
We now have our first confirmed case of COVID-19 here in Indiana. It is a case study in how to do things right if you think you have, or have been exposed to, COVID-19.
The basic story is here. Whatever I may think of the person for having gone to an event at this time, they did things right in a way that should become the text book example of what to do if you have/have been exposed to COVID-19.
Note that they contacted the state health department as soon as they suspected. Working with them, they went to a hospital and parked away from everyone else. They contacted the hospital by phone, who had already been contacted by the state. This allowed them to have those responding take all appropriate precautions. They then took the person in via an entrance not normally used by the public, after putting them in clothing/gear to prevent spread. They was taken to an area of negative pressure for testing. Given that the case is mild at this time, they was taken out the same way and put in quarantine at home.
All of this allowed for: protection of the medical team/first responders involved; it allowed easy decontamination of the areas where this person went; it ensured that the chance of spread to anyone — especially other patients — was minimized.
Note that they did not go to a doc-in-the-box; they did not go to the ER directly; and, they minimized exposure to the public. This is how you do it.
Doing my normal bi-weekly shopping yesterday, I saw panic. People were wearing masks, which is in many respects idiotic. The one person I saw doing it right was from our SE Asian population and they were wearing a mask because they clearly were ill. I steered well clear of them. The others, well, not so much and not so well. Good luck finding disinfectants, hand sanitizer, etc. If you waited until now to begin preparing, well, sucks to be you. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
Again, wearing a mask if you are sick is a good idea. If not, you are mostly asking to be sick as few know how to put them on, how to wear them, and — most importantly — how to take them off without increasing your risk of infection. Masks, gloves, and other precautions require you to treat them as hazmat, not just throw them in the trash.
Again (and again) the best way to protect yourself here in the U.S. is to stay away from anyone obviously ill, and to wash your hands well and frequently, particularly after using the bathroom. In between washings, use hand sanitizer on a regular basis. Keep your booger hooks away from your face as much as possible. Don’t shake hands. For me, I like the idea of using the Vulcan salute instead.
Given that most people, especially those falling for politico-media fear mongering, have less sense than God gave a cherrystone clam, I would avoid crowds and as much as possible and avoid medical triage areas such as doc-in-the-boxes and ERs. Most people are not, unless educated by posts such as this one and actual medical statements, are going to flock to such places en masse which will increase the rate of exposure and the rate of infection.
If you think you have been exposed, or that you have COVID-19, do like this person. Call your state or local health agency and work with them so as to minimize the chance of exposing anyone, especially medical or other first responders.
Per my previous posts, if you are a first responder of any type, go to the highest level of precaution your department will allow — especially if responding to a report of someone ill. We can’t afford to have a dozen or more first responders quarantined for each incident as happened in Washington state (see previous posts).
With luck, planning, and people taking sensible precautions, the spread of COVID-19 can continue to be slowed until the weather gets better. There is a reason winter is worse for the flu, and the longer we can put off major spread the better. Also, keep in mind that the majority of cases are going to be mild, in keeping with a flu epidemic (which we have every year). There are a number of reasons it will not be as nasty and deadly here as in China (again, see previous posts). Panic will not help, and in fact will hurt. If you are older (60+) and have underlying health conditions, go to full, stringent, flu precautions as you are the most likely to have real problems with COVID-19. Right now, based on data from here in the U.S., 70+ with underlying health conditions is where we have the highest mortality.
It will be at least another 4- to 6-weeks before we have good data on COVID-19 here in the U.S. Data from China, Iran, etc., is both highly suspect (hint, the Chinese government and other governments have and are lying) and not directly applicable. Don’t panic.
Best thing you can do, other than washing your hands frequently, is to prepare for a possible quarantine. Make sure you have food, medicines, and other supplies to stay at home without leaving for at lest two weeks. This includes financial preparations where possible. Stock up prudently, in that what you buy should be what you normally would eat, drink, need. That way, if not needed, you simply fold it into your normal operations and move on while saving some money on food and such on the far end.
This is NOT Capt. Tripps, and while it will be a pain in the end, it is not something over which to panic. Unless you are in that specific demographic for it to be bad or fatal, you will get by. The major impact will be economic, though I suspect/hope it will change how we do business on several levels. We’ve slowly been trending towards remote work, and I expect that to become more the norm. I won’t object if handshaking becomes a thing of the past. For those smart and fast, there are some potentially fantastic business opportunities as we rightly move away from single-point failures in the supply chain.
Again, and again, and again: it is not a cause for panic. Be smart, be informed, and take media/politico reports with a tun of salt. Instead of a tun, maybe even a ton or two of salt.
Use the interactive graphic to keep track of things. Is COVID19 an epidemic? Yes. Is it a Pandemic? Not according to WHO, but most everyone else is saying yes, it is. Is there need for panic? No. Should you be paying attention? Yes. Hell yes. Should you be preparing? Yes, better late than never.
Want to avoid catching COVID19 here in the U.S.? Wash your flippin hands frequently, wash them thoroughly every time you use the bathroom, then follow with hand sanitizer after every washing, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash on a regular basis. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and stay away from those who don’t. Also, keep your bugger hooks out of/away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Do NOT shake hands with anyone, and avoid touching or being touched by strangers. Or your strange friends.
Avoid travel if at all possible. Right now, there is no way I’m going to a trade show, major convention, etc. If you can telecommute, get that set up now. If you have to travel, use lots of hand sanitizer and go to full flu protocols. If you have to use a public restroom, take full precautions including using paper towels and such to handle faucets, doors,etc. Believe it or not, this was highly recommended before now, and major grocery chains have long told employees to use those practices to avoid getting or spreading colds, flu, etc. Not many actually do it, but…
If you own a business, make sure your employees know the above protocols. Have someone who refuses to wash their hands or otherwise follow the protocols? Talk to them, write them up, and if necessary fire them as they now pose a risk of infection to you and your customers. Extreme? Yes, but while the CDC and others are working to slow it down, odds are it is already here and could hit hard and fast. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
I want to reiterate that there is no need for panic, but there is a strong need to be alert, be informed, and be prepared.
It’s a fair question. What am I doing? Am I following the guidelines I’m giving you?
Short answer is yes, I am following those guidelines for the most part. Some minor tweeks for my particular circumstances, but yes.
First up, I travel for work on a daily basis. Some is in state, other involves out-of-state travel. No, I’m not wearing a mask or suit. Sadly, telecommuting is not an option. Also, no work no pay, so…
What I am doing is what I recommend. I wash my hands as often as I can, particularly if I’ve had to handle things touched by others, used the bathroom (every time! everyone should), or had contact with others. I’ve stopped shaking hands, citing the flu season. I also have two travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer that I use frequently since they can be refilled from larger containers, and use it frequently. I avoid getting near anyone that appears sick. I am washing my coat, vest, other winter gear at least once a week and may step up to twice a week. I have rinsed my toothbrush in alcohol for years, and am cleaning as I can.
You never will get things perfectly sterile. It’s not about killing every last flu/other bug: it’s about killing enough of them that enough of them to make you sick make it into your system. Some get in, but not enough. It’s breaking the chain of the infection by keeping the numbers low.
I’m doing what I can on the financial front. On the food and water front, I have increased my normal reserves of water, coffee, and food. I believe strongly in survival with style, so am working to cook and freeze as many tasty complete meals as circumstances allow. I’m stocking in some not-quite-as-tasty things (canned meats/meals) as well, since freezer space is limited. Upping the coffee, spice, and booze reserves as I can as well. I also need to do more on the tobacco front, but food (obviously) comes first (followed by coffee).
Yes, I may buy a half-face respirator again soon. Not so much for this, but because the one I bought about 15 years ago for wood/metal/not-nice-materials projects is no longer supported. As in you can’t get new cartridges anywhere. Annoying, but it did have a good run. Grumble. There are a few projects I might like to do if I have to be home that would need one.
Yes, I do have a few R95 (and a well put up pack of N95) masks around. Again, projects and yard work. the R95 is a good one to keep around for projects, yard work, allergies, and potential emergency use. I do recommend them over the N95. If I absolutely need them, I do have them but don’t anticipate using them at this time.
That’s the short and sweet of it for now. We will see if it is enough.