Community Emergency Response Team
What is a pandemic?
A pandemic is basically a global epidemic — an infectious disease that spreads rapidly to a large population in more than one continent.1 For example, influenza or ebola are highly contagious viruses. Two main features of any pandemic are:
- The virus is a new strain that has never infected people before, like the swine or avian flu in recent years, infecting a population which has no immunity to it.
- The infections spread on a global scale with a high mortality rate.2
Viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to eight (8) hours. Your exposure to sick people can increase the possibility of catching the disease. During the winter season, viral infection increases due to the low humidity in the air. This allows the germs to remain airborne longer.3 The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends keeping a 6 foot buffer from sick people to cut down on the spread of disease.
Research shows anxiety and stress can weaken your immune system leaving you more vulnerable to infections. Smoking cigarettes weakens the tiny disease-fighting hairs tucked inside the nasal passages and the lungs, which trap and dispose of germs. Drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short period of time weakens the immune system as well as dehydrating a person reducing the nose and throat’s ability to trap germs in mucus.4
Seasonal flu symptoms include:
- Coughing and/or sore throat
- Runny of stuffy nose
- Headaches and/or body aches
Swine or Avian Flu Symptoms include:
- All the seasonal symptoms PLUS
- Diarrhea (exception – children)
- Can be fatal
What to do when a pandemic is predicted?
Build a pandemic kit: to minimize germ/virus spread, care-givers should limit physical exposure to the contagious elements like body fluids.
- Disposable hooded Tyvek suits with elastic wrists ankles and non-skid socks
- Safety Goggles
- N95-100 particulate respirator
- Nitrile gloves
- Liquid bandage spray protects against infection and helps wounds heal quicker
- Anti microbial wipes to prevent the spread of germs and maintain sanitary conditions
- Tissue packs to contain mucus and sneezing and coughing spray
- Trash bags for sanitary disposal of waste and used protective clothing
- Antiseptic hand sanitizer gel can be used if access to good old soap and water isn’t available
- Plastic sheeting is suggested to provide a separation between the sick and the not sick
- Duct tape to use with the plastic sheeting
Acquire medication: to provide some comfort for fevers and congestion
- Elderberry juice is a natural flu med, clinically proven to reduce the length of flu sickness – for a sick person: 1-3 Tbs every 4-6 hours; as an immune boost: 1-2 Tbs daily
- Tylenol/ibuprofen for fever and aches and pain reduction
- Decongestants to provide comfort from coughs and colds; saline nasal spray
Food and supplies: to feed your family for the 90 days that it takes a pandemic to circle the globe, infect, kill, and then burn itself out from lack of susceptible hosts
- In addition to a variety of food for healthy people, include items that are easy to swallow and nutritious for the sick, like broths and jello.
- Soap, disinfectants, rubbing alcohol, cleaning supplies
- Extra bed linens, water proof mattress and pillow covers
When to hunker down?
Pay attention to the news and other lines of communication in your community. When you learn that sickness is within 100 miles of your home, it is time to go into social isolation. Did you know that it takes less than 10% of key infrastructure workers calling in sick to disrupt delivery of utilities? That means no electricity. Are you prepared for that?
- Isolation means no outside contact
- Do not come within 20 feet of other people; be aware of any coughing or sneezing
- Do not accept anything from anyone without 10 days of isolation; then sterilize
- No grocery store for 90 days
- No work – check on possibility of working from home
- No school – get school work assignments for children to do at home
- Don’t go to hospital except in case of immediate life threatening emergency
- Be prepared for power grid to fail
- Set up an isolation area for anyone who may become sick
What should be in an isolation room?
This should be in a separate building or outside in an RV, trailer, or tent. Remove all unnecessary items from the room. If someone exhibits symptoms, isolate them immediately. One person should be designated as the care giver. If there are two or more sick people, have them share a room and bathroom. Document the disease progress. If you have to keep the sick in the same dwelling, use the plastic sheeting and duct tape to create a barrier, floor t0 ceiling.
Isolation room contents: put these things in the isolation room and leave them there
- Trashcan with a lid and plastic liners
- Plenty of water for the sick
- Humidifier – extra moisture aids breathing
- Face masks for the sick to protect care giver
- Window fan for negative pressure and air circulation
- Waste bucket
Wash all bedding and other clothing on the hottest setting. Wear gloves when handling contaminated items. Use disposable dishes and utensils. Use rubbing alcohol for sterilizing the sick room. Once infected with a flu virus a person is contagious for up to 10 days. Protect yourself while caring for the sick by using protective clothing, masks and gloves. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and increase your vitamins to boost immune system.
Billie Nicholson, Editor
- During our conversations with Pearl Harbor Survivors, they continued to warn us of the importance of being prepared – on every level, from our national military down to each individual. During World War II, everyone sacrificed to insure that world peace would be restored.
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- Generosity during the holidays often includes contributions to food banks. Think about adding healthy items in your Food Bank Contribution.