Ebola and Other Considerations

This frightening little creature could easily be found on the television show "Monsters Inside Me".
This frightening little creature could easily be found on the television show “Monsters Inside Me”.

We have been quiet until now about the Ebola cases in the United States.  Let’s face it.  None of us are surprised it found it’s way here.  Most of us wonder what took it so long.  We have been expecting the appearance of the dreaded virus since the 1970’s.  The wonder isn’t how it got here, but what took it so long to get here.

We didn’t jump on the bandwagon to post about it for this amount of time because we wanted to see exactly how it would effect our society from government response to citizen reaction and action.

It’s been six months, and as with all things, the outbreak came and went.  During that time, mass news media enjoyed the flurry of actually being watched for the latest news and bloggers went wild posting their two cents worth of commentary and second guessing.

For the most part, we saw exactly what the government feared would happen.  People who were sick or knew they had been exposed chose to travel regardless of the risk to others.  The needs of the one outweighed the needs of the society, and indeed, the globe.  Fortunately, the number of people who were infected in the U.S. was very small.  Nevertheless, some of those citizens still chose to do whatever they wanted to do regardless of the cost.  Armed guards had to be placed at doors where people had been quarantined.  The occupants refused to remain inside because they felt like they were “prisoners” and were worried about “losing their jobs” and other financial considerations.  The rest of society continued to live their daily lives, waiting to find out if their city was going to be next.

Those people were receiving assistance both financially and fresh food was delivered to their homes every day.  They were getting free medical care.  They had internet, cable TV, and all the other amenities living in the U.S. provides.  Still, they behaved exactly the way Sci-Fi novels and movies said they would.  These are the reasons FEMA has so much power when it comes to such incidences.

The CDC and the WHO had been keeping Ebola under wraps for decades.  Not really secret, but not something they wanted to alarm the American public about.  They’ve been hunting, battling and studying Ebola since it first poked it’s head out of the caves of Africa.  Those are not the only organizations that have worked relentlessly to keep the disease from becoming a pandemic.  Various Christian ministries and charitable organizations have been in Africa taking great risks every time an outbreak occurred.  Through it all, they created a battle plan should such outbreaks come to the United States.  When the day came, they followed through with their plan and it worked.  Imagine how much worse it would have been had no plan been made and people wandered around the country sick and continued to spread the virus without notice.  Those who had been exposed, or gotten sick would have spread the disease, and the cycle we see in Africa would be present here.

In the meantime, as the prepared, we keep vigilant and prepare for these events.  This won’t be the last time we have to be ready for such instances.

Here’s what we do know:

  • It’s transmitted by touching body fluids.
  • Body fluids can become airborne, such as coughing and sneezing.
  • The exact moment when a person becomes contagious is not known.
  • Fever indicates viral load.
  • In Africa, it has been statistically shown that each person who has the disease will infect two more.
  • About half the people who get the disease in Africa die.
  • Dead bodies spread the disease.
  • The viability of the virus outside a living host is not determined.  There is debate ranging from a few hours up to a week.
  • There has been no public discussion about how long a dead body may harbor live virus.
  • United States and Canadian residents likely will fare better because health care and food supplies are more accessible.
  • We quarantine in patients’ homes, whereas in Africa both the infected and undetermined status persons are quarantined in camps.  Home quarantines are most comfortable for patients and reduces the spread of the virus to healthy persons.
  • In the United States, food and necessary supplies are now delivered free of charge to those in quarantine.
  • In America, we have the ability to use special ambulances equipped for safe transport of patients with level four contagions.
  • Americans avoid locations where an infected person is reported to have been.  So much so that one hospital became a ghost town and the mayor of New York City had to ride the subway just to prove it was safe.

We know all of this and still we took a look at our pantry and said to ourselves, “Are we really ready if something were to happen?”.  At first, when the news broke about an Ebola case, then possibly two more, were in Dallas concerned us.  We looked in the cabinets and the freezer and was satisfied that we would be fine if the disease were to make the long drive to our town.  If we were to remain in our homes because other people in our town were passing around a disease, we could do it.

At least, we thought we could.  Therein lies the difficulty.  Can you really afford to quit your job?  Taxes and health insurance don’t pay for themselves.  The only way to fully guarantee that no one will bring the contagion into a home is that no one ever comes inside the home.  Consider how many hundreds of people were being monitored or quarantined as the result of one person coming into our country with the disease.  Are you financially prepared should such an event happen?  This incident lasted a few weeks because of the swift and sure actions of all health care providers involved.  You’ll need the amount of money saved that you would need every day, but you will also need additional funds for the things you don’t expect.  Emergency situations, no matter how well prepared you are, need contingency funds and contingency plans.

For us, it’s time to reconsider how we do things.  Not because we are fearful, but because it is the right thing to do.  All households should be prepared to shelter in place should it come to your neighborhood.  The less you need, the more help medical and relief workers will be able to provide those who are in real distress.

Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners Series, part 11

 

Emergency medical supplies and prescription drugs of are the utmost importance, right up there with food, water and shelter.

One of the predictions made about when SHTF is what can be called the circles of death.  The first round of deaths will be due to the event itself.  These people will die of injuries sustained during the event immediately or some time shortly after due to infections or other contracted diseases.  Included in this group are also people in nursing homes and hospitals who may be left to fend for themselves.

Getting Prepared and MedicineThe second circle will be old and infirm people who need more medicines, care and support than a normal healthy person.  This circle includes older persons who rely on heart medications, statin drugs, diabetic medications and other life prolonging medications.  Second circle members will die in their homes because their oxygen bottles ran out.   This group will also consist of people who could not find enough food and water.

The third circle will include people who have found themselves exposed to the environment rather than living in their comfy prepper homes.  This exposure will allow extra risks of infections for even the slightest cuts.  They will be prey to any and all manner of parasites that find people inhabitable.  In many regions of the country, wild animals will also find humans to be tasty.

If you make it through the first three circles, you should be congratulated.

You were prepared, or someone took pity on you.  However you made it to this point, you will agree that being prepared with as many prescription OTC drugs and meditations as possible has made it possible for you to survive the event.

Most people can stock OTC drugs because they are relatively cheap and easy to get.  Simply buy a bottle of this or that pain killer, a tube of antibiotic ointment, and assorted bandages.  The prescription meds are a different story.  They run in price any where from $50.00 to $500.00.

You can buy a year’s supply, or pretty much any quantity of non-narcotic drugs as long as you have a prescription that says how many to dispense and the money to pay for it.  Insurance companies now require prescriptions to be refilled on a monthly basis and no sooner.  They don’t care if you have to come home from Europe to get your medications before you run out and die.

With all this information in hand, you should of course fill your prescriptions according to the monthly plan of your insurance company.

But, you should also grab your list of most commonly prescribed medications and make notes as you ask for a price list from your pharmacy, and the other three down the street.

The cash price is usually higher than the price pharmacies charge the insurance company.  Compare the price lists and list which products you will purchase from which pharmacies.  To hep save money on medicines join the pharmacy’s loyalty programs if available and apply those points to the price of prescription and OTC medicines.  Look on manufacturer websites for coupons for the drugs you need.  They can be as much as $50 off per month.  Lastly, talk to the pharmacist.  They may give you discounts for bulk cash purchases.  This should be enough information to begin planning and budgeting to acquire the medications your family will need for the duration of the event.

Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners Series, part 10

 

Assessing your utility usage is easier than you might think.

Being prepared means having alternate sources of energy.When you start to get prepared you grab your last twelve electric bills, and if you use fuel oil, natural gas or propane, grab those bills too.  What’s important is to figure out how much energy you use for heating, cooling and everyday use. For some climates, it might be difficult to figure out since you go right from heating to cooling and no real break in between.  Or like here, back and forth between heating and cooling several times even in the same month.  It is important to to understand your power usage, no matter which climate.

The information you need is:

  • Highest usage in winter
  • Lowest usage in winter
  • Average usage in winter
  • Highest usage in summer
  • Lowest usage in summer
  • Average usage in summer
  • Annual average usage

The four forms of home energy have advantages and disadvantages.  Fuel oil and propane require someone to deliver the product to your storage tanks.  Electricity comes down the lines and natural gas is pumped down the pipes to your home and hooks up directly to your home.  That’s why we love them so much.  No work involved!

After TSHTF, if you want to continue to use the other forms of energy, you will need to store it in tanks.  Tanks are expensive.  Tanks will eventually rust away.  Filling the tanks are expensive.  And, if the situation remains for a long duration, the tanks will eventually be empty.

Only one energy source is renewable for free.

Electricity.  You can store it indefinitely with little risk of explosion.  You can use wind or solar energy to gather electricity and store in battery banks.  Granted, getting set up is not free.  But, once you get your system set up, you never have to pay for electricity again, and you can sell it to the power companies and they must buy it.  Use all the energy you want, sell the rest.  If you run short one month, you can still use theirs.

Some people elect to use their “normal” supply of energy now while stocking up on wood or other sources of energy to have on hand when TSHTF.  This is certainly commendable and encouraged.

Now that you know what options are available to you, how much energy you need at peak times, and under which conditions you will want to use gas, fuel oil, or electricity, you can begin to plan accordingly.  We will talk about how to set up energy systems and use less energy in another series.

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Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners Series, part 3

Today’s skills to discuss are mechanics, emergency medical and security.  If you are not mechanically inclined, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.  It just means that it will take you longer than someone else and that you might fail a few times.  There isn’t anything about engines and motors for our applications that you can’t learn from a repair manual.  If you plan to re-purpose engines and motors for a preparedness purpose, then you need to be able to repair them should they break.  Repairmen won’t be around.  You need someone in your group to repair everything from vehicles and small engines to a bicycle.

Once you know who your repairman and plumbers are, that is only half of it. Your next step is to fully assess the tools and parts available to determine where you stand should you need to make repairs, but we will discuss how to go about it in a later post.

Emergency medical is one of the most important things to consider.  Anything can happen during an event.  People can be injured by the event itself.  They could be injured defending the home.  Children can be injured just doing what children do.  Even if you are not into preparing for a major event, the responsible person should have an emergency medical kit.  A basic kit only contains a few items and the list can be found on the Red Cross website.  But for a sustained amount of time, the list is longer and depends on your individual needs.  Don’t forget to include prescription medications.

There can’t be too much security if an event rocks your world.  Security is one thing you can’t make up on the fly.  You, and everyone in your group, must prepare in advance, refine your procedures and practice your methods.  Practice is important so that everything becomes automatic.  You don’t have to stop to think about what to do next.  You just do it.  You need to have that muscle memory fully developed before you need it.

How’s your notebook look now?  You should have a list of things to inventory, assess and evaluate in your home, garage and your perimeter.  By now, you should also have the information gathered from part one and part two of this series.  Tomorrow we will discuss the gathered information and what to do with it.  Tune in!

 

 

Getting Prepared: A Primer for Beginners Series, part 1

I’m not talking to the ones who have stockpiled enough food and water to last decades.  This is for the individuals and families out there who are working with what they have to prepare for the emergency they might be facing next week or next month or even next year.  That’s the thing about emergencies.  You don’t know when they will come or how bad off it will leave you.  It is comforting to you and your family to know if things go bad, you have a plan.

Being prepared is difficult because it requires planning, action, prioritizing, and dedication.  Everyone would like to have cash on hand, a secure source of food and water, and a safe shelter.  Unfortunately, as with anything else, available resources matter when it comes to preparing for an emergency.  For these reasons, many people don’t try to prepare.  They succumb to the fatalistic view that if it happens it happens and they accept a dismal fate in the face of an emergency.  You are not like that or you would not be reading this right now.  For you, regardless of your monetary resources, there is a way.

So, lets talk about how you can acquire needed items for your preparedness plan if you don’t have the money to buy it.

Start with taking inventory of these things:

  • banking and savings accounts
  • hand tools
  • power tools
  • take inventory of the garage for wood, hardware, and the like
  • everything with an engine or motor
  • all fuel types on hand
  • assess how long your existing food supply will last
  • assess your utility usage
  • emergency medical supplies
  • reliability of available transportation in an emergency

All of this is just part one of getting prepared.  You can’t know where you are going unless you know where you are.  Tune in for part two of this series tomorrow.   Have your inventory notebook handy.  You’re going to need it.