Preparing for a Pandemic: 5 Tips to Keep You and Your Family Safe

We’re not all about the scary alarmist prepping tactics that so often give preparedness a bad name here on the TreadlingHome-stead. What we are about is teaching people how to take care of themselves and their families so when, not if, something should go wrong in their immediate environment, they will be able to fend for themselves and not render their surroundings barren in the process.

Fair warning, this article is going to be a little heaver than most. Stick with me and get some amazing tips on how to keep your family safe in all types of situations, not just a pandemic.

As of today, 3/11/2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the Novel Corona virus (COVID-19) a pandemic. What does this mean for you? Well today we are going to talk about 5 common sense tips to keep you and your family safe during any medical outbreak.

What is a “Pandemic” and why does it sound so scary?

A “pandemic” is defined by the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) as, “…an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.” Source

We know that a pandemic is an outbreak of an illness that effects a large number of people around the world. If we look at the word itself, it’s just a description of what is happening. So why does it sound so scary? Why is it that when this particular word is used the public looses their minds?

Most of it is due to a general lack of education on proper procedures and wellness practices for the general population. Ever seen the movie Patient Zero or Contagion? Why do these movies scare us so bad? Because they COULD be real. They show how the modern globalized systems that we have could lead to the spreading of diseases that take us longer than anticipated to identify, and then the issue of coming up with a cure or vaccine for it. These movies have been touted as pure fiction and that they couldn’t happen because of modern medicine and technologies. Well, I hate to break it to you, but here we are! It seems like the move Contagion, specifically, was more of a prediction than a work of fiction.

So what do we do now? We know COVID-19 is spreading very fast and is easily transmitted. What can we do!?! DON’T PANIC! Panicking is the worst thing you can do for yourself and everyone around you.

I understand that growing up with a nurse and self-sufficient parents makes me a unique individual when it comes to any medical topic. It is my goal in this article, and several others I have written and am currently working on, to share this information with you to make words like “pandemic” just another word. To take the fear away and turn it into something you can prepare for instead of panic over.

1: Understand how it spreads

Any viral infections, including the yearly flu (influenza), has a modus operandi; a specific way it moves from person to person and then progresses once it takes hold. We know that the flu is spread by contact with other infected persons through means of droplet contact. This means that if someone with the flu coughs or sneezes on you, you have an high likelihood on contracting the virus. This COVID-19 is spread the same way.

This first step when looking at the prevention of any infectious disease is finding out how it is spreads. If you are wondering how I know about the current COVID-19 info, it can be found on the CDC’s webside *HERE* for public consumption.

The COVID-19 virus spreads very similar to the yearly influenza; however, what makes this virus so much worse is its ability to live on surfaces and its incubation time (the time it takes from when you are first infected to when you have symptoms).

In this case, the incubation period is roughly 14-21 days and the virus can live on surfaces for up to 9 DAYS. This is a crazy long period of time for a virus to live on surfaces, especially when you consider the flu virus only lives for about 24 hours on surfaces. What does this mean? It means if you are using a public restroom and someone touched the door handle 8 days ago who was infected with COVID-19 and wasn’t expressing symptoms yet, you could potentially get infected.

Yes, this is scary, but what do we do about it? Well, let’s talk about that.

2: Limit your exposure to crowds

First, let me define what I mean by “crowds”. I mean any place you are going where there are more than 10 people who aren’t in your immediate family. For me, this is pretty much anywhere including the grocery store, the gym and restaurants.

As shown in recent cases in California, you can’t be sure that the people prepping your food or stocking the shelves are virus free. I’m not saying develop a case of agoraphobia here, but I am saying use some common sense. This is a community spread virus that can be spread when people are asymptomatic (not showing any signs of having the virus) and we don’t have any immunity built up to it yet.

What I am suggesting is that you avoid Wal-Mart and other big box stores, and even your small local grocery store, when you know it is peak hours. So if you know food stamps get put out on the 2nd and 15th of every month, avoid going to the store for at least 2 days after that date to give those people the time to get their supplies. Don’t go to the store on payday Friday right after work. Weight until Sunday evening to go.

If you have concert or event tickets, maybe reconsider weather or not it is worth the risk. I know it is not reasonable to ask people in today’s society to stay home, but use caution when you are out. observe the people around you and make sure to follow proper hygiene protocols.

3: Use proper hygiene protocols at all times

What do I mean by “proper hygiene protocols”? I mean act like the medical professionals do. Wash your hands often. Cough and/or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand. Keep your fingers out of your nose. Shower/wash every day. Take your shoes off and drop your purse at the door. Clean high traffic areas every evening, or more if you have a lot of people through your house. Don’t share food and/or drinks with others. Yes, this even includes your significant others.

The right way to wash your hands. Don’t forget those wrists too!

These are the most simple and historically proven ways to prevent the spread of any disease, going back to the Black Death. We as humans tend to take the path of least resistance. If we are cooking and we want to taste it, we often use the same spoon we are mixing with. You all know I’m certainly guilty of that one. However, during cold and flu season every year, I tend to throttle my use of this technique because I don’t want anyone I’m cooking for to get sick.

Josh and I have gone over our own household hygiene protocol over the past couple of weeks, making sure that we are on the same page, and informing others who are coming over of what we are doing so they will know what to do when they get here. For example, I tell people who are coming over to please do the following upon entering the house:

  1. Take off shoes and drop all bags by the door.
  2. Wash hands properly at kitchen sink upon entry.
  3. Give hugs and greetings.

Now, Josh and I are both aware that we will not have a totally sterile environment within our home, that’s not the point of this. The point is to control the flow of germs and bacteria coming into our home.

After people leave the house, I immediately wipe down all of the high traffic areas. These include the refrigerator and freezer handles, faucet handles, door knobs and the toilet seat and handle. This isn’t because I think my friends and family are gross, it’s because these are the places viruses and other things like to stay because we don’t think about cleaning them everyday.

4: Be Prepared for supply chain interruptions

What is a “supply chain interruption”? It is when you can’t get everything you are used to having, including things you need. This can include everything form your basic popcorn and snacks to important things like nutritious foods and needed medications.

One of the scariest things about the modern globalized world is that everything is interconnected. If we have a car made in the United States, it is made of parts manufactured from all around the world. Parts to the power plants that keep our lights and computers running take up to 2 years to manufacture in China and Japan; yes that is for only 1 integral part of 1 plant. Scary right?

So what can we as individuals do about this? Well, at this point, not much if I’m being honest. That is trade policy established by the states and national governments of the world. What we can do is start getting ourselves set up so that we will be able to survive for a minimum of 2-3 months without having to leave our houses.

Here on the TreadlingHome-stead, we try to keep about 2-3 months supply of food on hand at all times. This serves a duel purpose. 1: I hate going to the store because it is a minimum of 30 minutes away and 2: you never know what life is going to throw at you or when a disaster of some type is going to strike. This includes basic preparedness for natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. Being prepared is just a smart move in general, for those “just in case” times.

Now, I’m not perfect here. I let my pantry get way low recently trying to cycle out some old stuff that needed to be used. But I realized this and Josh and I have been stocking up again, nothing big, for about a month. We don’t go crazy, we just grab a few extra things when we are at the store and our pantry slowly gets restocked overtime. The thing we don’t want to do is go out and buy 3 months worth of food all at once because today’s on demand economy can’t handle it. The stores will run out of product, which will create more panic and the fear cycle will speed up for most people.

How to prep for a supply chain breakdown:

  1. Call your doctor and ask for them to prescribe you 3 months of all medications.
    1. This is especially important for those with compromised immune systems right now. I personally got 1 year’s worth of my allergy medication last time we were in Cleveland for Josh’s VA appointment because it is super cheap at the hospital store there and I know I will need it.
  2. Get all other supplements in a minimum of 90 day supplies.
    1. I take magnesium to help with muscles cramps and other things, and I recently ran out. I just got my 90 supply of it from Amazon today.
  3. Take inventory of your pantry and freezer and make a list of items you need.
    1. These items should NOT include things like canned raviolis and the like.
    2. These items SHOULD include things like canned veggies, rices, beans, tuna and the like.
  4. Look at what your budget will allow and stock up as your budget allows.
    1. Don’t use credit cards to panic buy. No need to go into debt for emergency supplies here.
  5. Get vinegar and high quality essential oils. These can be combined to create several disinfectants without harming the environment like bleach and Clorox.
    1. I recommend getting the cheapest vinegar, any variety is fine.
    2. I also recommend getting tea tree, patchouli and oregano essential oils. Make sure the label lists the plant genus, not just the colloquial names, i.e. patchouli=Pogostemon cablin, tea tree=Melaleuca alternifolia…
  6. Stock up on cleaning products.
    1. i.e. dish soap, laundry detergent, toilet bowl cleaner, cleaning rags…
  7. Keep gas (petrol) in your vehicle at all times. Don’t let it go empty so you run out on the road and block the way for others in an emergency.
    1. No less than 1/4 of a tank at all times.

5: Setup an emergency family plan

One of the things that is most dangerous during any form of emergency is the reaction of the people around you. Will the people around you know what to do if they get sick or if something happens to you? Make sure that you have an emergency plan for your family.

We have emergency plans for all kinds of things that we publicly practice. Fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and so on. So why is there a stigma against those of us who prepare for a health crisis? Yeah, I don’t know either.

An emergency plan is something you make with your family so that everyone knows what to do. In this case, proper hygiene protocols, getting stocked up on supplies and the proper time to use them, how to talk with people outside your family unit when they ask about how you are preparing, when and where to meet if you get separated and so on.

These might seem like silly things to go over with your family, especially if you live in a modern Western country, but the fact is that we have gotten far to comfortable and overconfident with ourselves, and it has put us at risk. Most households in the US today couldn’t survive without going to a store for more than 3 days. WHAT!?! That is craziness and you all know it!

You never know when disaster is going to strike and you should have at a bare minimum 2 weeks of food and other provisions at your residence. If you have medical needs, you should have those stocked up as best as you can for a minimum of 60-90 days. If you are a woman, what will you do about feminine hygiene if the supply chains go down? Do you have a plan?

So what should an emergency plan look like?

  1. Know who is in your preparedness circle.
    1. We all have those people in our lives that say, “we’re just gonna come to your house…” when you talk about getting ready for something but don’t ever offer to contribute. Make sure everyone knows who is and who is not allowed over.
    2. Harsh, I know. But realistic and practical.
  2. What supplies are you responsible for?
    1. Get together with your family and make sure everyone has a job so the burden of preparedness is spread out a bit more equally.
    2. If you are preparing with a group, meet with them separately from your family and have the same discussion.
  3. If you are separated, where and when will you meet?
    1. If you are in a house fire, have a location for everyone to meet so you know who is accounted for and if anyone is left inside. Same idea here, just on a slightly bigger scale.
    2. When Josh was trucking, he had what we called a “Home Bag”. A backpack he left stuffed with survival gear for him to get home in case of a national emergency or natural disaster.
  4. How will you identify each other, if you are in a group especially?
    1. Yes, those secret passwords to our childhood forts weren’t just playing to keep your little sister out. They were practice for real life situations.
  5. Have emergency numbers posted with names and addresses of places in case individual family members need help.
    1. I have a short list posted on the side of my refrigerator no one notices.
    2. This is especially important if you have children and something happens to you.

In the end, being prepared is all about keeping those we love safe. If you have any questions on anything I’ve written here, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below. For more comprehensive information on the COVID-19 virus specifically and preparedness for it, please visit the CDC website linked *here* for you.


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