I will be honest -- When I first created this blog I did not think this would be an important topic, and my impression was that my blog already had a mildly paranoid vibe. I am ashamed to say that I, a family doctor (by training and in practice) AND an epidemiologist (by training), therefore did not include a single mention of epidemics or pandemics. In the winter of 2020, however, my belief that we’d “never have to worry about this” was proven terribly wrong with the arrival of SARS-CoV-19, AKA Covid-19, AKA “the” Coronavirus AKA the first pandemic many of us have ever had the joy through which to live.
SO, y’all, my apologies. Live and learn! And, without further ado, here in no particular order are Lefty Prepper Mom’s 11 Tips for Surviving a Pandemic:
(1) Stock up on cleaning supplies
We need to keep our environments and our bodies clean and healthy. Waiting until your town declares a state of emergency like MINE just did is NOT the time to rush to the store and buy a bunch of Clorox wipes, soap, bleach and hand sanitizer. They will be SOLD OUT and it will FREAK you out. So, everyone, do it now! Unless you live here in my town. In which case you’re SOL and you’re going to have to get it on Amazon. Or, Ebay. Good luck to you. They’ll really get you with those shipping charges…
I recommend you have enough of the following cleaning supplies to last you 3+ months:
(2) Be able to last on your own for 4 weeks
Maybe you’ll still have electricity and running water, but what if you’re quarantined at home for 4 weeks! As mentioned previously on this site, we should all have at least 4 weeks of food, water and, yes, TOILET paper stored at our homes for emergencies. And of course, wine. Lots of wine.
(3) Stock up on medical supplies
We should all have a thermometer, a fever reducer (ibuprofen, acetaminophen or aspirin), cold medicine (DayQuil/Nyquil, Robitissuin, Sudafed), and Kleenex (or toilet paper) stored up at home. You should ALSO have at least an extra 30 day supply of your prescription medications (above and beyond what you’re taking right now). Ask your doctor for this — your insurance may not cover that extra month, but even if they don’t it is really smart to have that extra month’s worth unless the earthquake, tsunami or pandemic keep you from getting to the pharmacy to pick up your refills.
To recap, you need these items:
(4) Stay home if you’re sick
Some of us are more able/willing to do this than others, and I totally get the quandary hourly workers without much sick time find themselves in when they come down with a bug. But for GOD’S SAKE, people, this is how illness spreads! My favorite Epidemiology professor always said: “If you have a fever or your cannot control your (cough or cold) secretions, you need to STAY HOME.”
(5) Wash your hands. A LOT.
As a medical provider this is standard practice, but apparently a large portion of the population has not been doing this correctly. Or at ALL. Ick. I read an article that said that men are actually washing their hands in public restrooms recently since the Coronavirus outbreak started. Yay?
But seriously — use soap, lots of water, and scrub those hands for 20 seconds (sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to yourself once. I just timed it — it’s perfect). Then dry off and apply some moisturizer so that your hands don’t get dry and unhappy from all that washing.
(6) Stop touching your face so much
Apparently we humans touch our faces (eyes, nose, mouth) a LOT. And I’m not just talking about nose picking (you know who you are!) If you sit still for 15 minutes and consciously focus on not touching your face - no eye rubbing, no nose scratching, no NOTHING - it’s really quite difficult. But, really, to avoid giving ourselves yucky germs we should wash our hands (see above) before touching our faces. Try it. You’ll get better at it quickly.
7) It would be nice to have some face masks
What sucks about a world-wide pandemic is that what YOU suddenly want to have in your go-bag and in your home is also something that literally EVERYONE in the WORLD also suddenly would like to have. Case in point - medical grade face masks. I’m talking about regular ear-loop medical procedure masks (below left) and the even more effective (but way more uncomfortable) N95 respirator masks (below right). At this point it appears that the Covid-19 virus is NOT an airborne virus (it’s spread by droplets when people cough or sneeze, but it doesn’t just get transmitted by people breathing near you, which is good news because some illnesses ARE transmitted this way). And thank god for that because there are NO face masks left to be had. Anywhere. Not in Washington State or Las Vegas or Paris or Dubai. Whichever companies make this things have made a LOT of money in 2020.
When face masks ARE available again, then, I recommend that you purchase 10-20 to keep in your go-bags and first aid kits. Not for this current pandemic, but for the NEXT one. Because that next one MAY be passed by people just breathing near you. And THAT, my friends, will suck.
(8) Follow the News
I don’t just mean Facebook and Instagram, here, although I’m sure they’ve got lots of good links to “real” news. I recommend that we all sign up for updates from our local and state health departments, if that is available. Subscribing to a reputable news source’s online newspaper is also a very wise decision. I subscribe to the New York Times and the Washington Post because, well, I’m a liberal prepper and those are my peeps. You do YOU, though. Just please, PLEASE, get better news than what’s on social media. When stuff in your neck of the woods starts HAPPENING, health-wise, it’s always best to get the accurate details on what’s going on.
(9) Look out for your Friends and Neighbors
Say there’s a killer pandemic flu going around and you have some neighbors down the street who are elderly, or who have a newborn baby, or whom you know have a rather serious chronic health issue. If anyone is making a quick Costco run for milk, bread and toilet paper it would be SUPER COOL to check in with those folks to see if they need anything. This is obviously BEFORE your neighborhood is locked down due to a quarantine. Afterwards — shouldn’t we check in with them every few days to make sure that all is well? You don’t have to physically go to the door (they probably won’t want you to — since you’re a potential germ factory) but a text or phone call would be nice. Just saying. Love thy neighbor, right? If it were your (elderly) mom you’d want people to do the same for her.
(10) Plan your “Rainy Day” Activities
Depending on the pandemic variety and your town’s degree of quarantine, you may or may not be able to leave your house for some length of time. In China in winter of 2020 people were put on forced lockdown for a month and drones would scold them and take pictures of them if they left their homes. In most democratic countries quarantines are voluntary things, but nonetheless most people see the wisdom of them, and comply with the. How, therefor, do you plan to keep your sanity and good humor if you’re not allowed to leave your domicile for weeks on end??? Myself, I have been planning to clean and organize my garage for years, and this would be a great opportunity. I have stacks of books by the bed that I’ve been meaning to read, Netflix series people have recommended, and I’m lucky enough to have some exercise equipment at home so I won’t be leaving quarantine all skinny and pathetic after a month of eating canned black beans with rice.
(11) Keep Your Cool (and your sense of Humor)
Chances are very good that whatever pestilence is besieging the land you WILL get through this pandemic and you will be A-OK, hopefully with some new antibodies to show for it. This will be a story you tell your grandkids, someday, and you are STRONG and RESILIENT, so your story will end well. In the meantime — keep a journal. Start a blog! Write the first chapter of your novel! Email those friends you haven’t been in touch with since grad school. Whatever you’ve been meaning to put off — now’s the time!
Alrighty, everyone. Elbow bump to you all!