“To be honest, a virus is more powerful in creating political, economic and social upheaval than any terrorist attack,” Dr Ghebreyesus – Director-General of World Health Organisation
It’s hard to miss what’s happening with the Covid-19 coronavirus in China at the moment, it’s on the news every day and although it may feel like it’s far away – lots of academics and experts have said we could be in the early stages of a pandemic here in the UK. While we all hope that’s not true, it’s better to prepare for the worst than to be left unprepared in the event of a global emergency.
2. Whats happening in China.
What’s happening currently in China is unprecedented. While we continue our day to day lives, 780 million people in China have some form of travel restrictions in place to prevent the virus from spreading. The most restricted areas are on complete lockdown and no one is allowed outside their home – basic rations are delivered to the door by the Chinese government. I wouldn’t like to guess what these rations contain. There have been reports & videos of people being welded into buildings to prevent them from leaving. Schools and workplaces are closed. Its almost universally accepted that the figures provided by the Chinese government are false – and a short delve down the internet rabbit home, reveals that this could be much more serious than the Chinese are letting on.
2.1 What’s the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic?
2.2 Why arent the government saying anything?
Its not in the governments interest to panic the general public, even they think we are in the early stages of a pandemic. Infomation from the center for health security practically advises to soilder on regardless.
International organizations should prioritize reducing economic impacts of epidemics and pandemics. Much of the economic harm resulting from a pandemic is likely to be due to counterproductive behavior of individuals, companies, and countries. For example, actions that lead to disruption of travel and trade or that change consumer behavior can greatly damage economies. – Center For Health Security
A global economic crisis may well be as much of a risk to society as the pandemic itself. The government will do whatever it can to keep things stable and avoid panic. This will involve anti-panic vocabulary. ‘Self-isolation’ sounds a lot less threatening than ‘quarantine’. They will try to keep trades, events and business running as smoothly as possible.
As soon as we start cancelling events or closing schools and workplaces it has a knock-on effect on the rest of the world. We are already seeing some of this happening in China. Factories in non-infected areas of the world have closed due to lack of parts from china since production there has all but stopped due to the quarantine measures.
If actions speak louder than words, the fact that the chinese goverment have imposed such strict quarentine measures to contain the virus speaks volumes.
3. Why prepare for a pandemic?
Given that our supermarkets operate on a just-in-time delivery system, as soon as the public start to panic the supermarket shelves will empty, possibly in less than a few hours. We can’t even cope when the store closes over Christmas! And that’s before the physical effects of the pandemic are felt.
In Hong Kong recently, a delivery driver was held at knifepoint, while his cargo was stolen: he was transporting toilet roll. Toilet roll has been in short supply in Hong Kong recently due to the virus. If you are prepared to hold a delivery driver at knifepoint for toilet roll, what would you do for food to feed your family?
4. What to consider?
4.1 Food & Drink
The average household only has enough food to last a few days at home. If we are asked to self-isolate, we could be stuck indoors for two weeks or longer. If panic ensues, there will also be shortages at the shops. Goods from around the world could also be in short supply.
It’s advisable to have at least a two week supply of foods and other essentials, some are suggesting its better to have a 3-6 months supply. This is just a few things to consider, Jack Monroe wrote a brilliant and thorough list of household staples as part of her Brexit plan – her list is also very relevant for stockpiling for a pandemic.
Tea coffee & hot chocolate
Powdered milk or UHT milk
Dilute juice & fruit juices
Pasta, rice, grains, pulses
Tinned fruit, veg & meat. (tinned tomatoes, beans, soups, tuna, sweetcorn, spaghetti ect)
Butter (can be frozen) / Cheese (Usually has few months on BBE date)
Treats (Biscuits, Chocolate)
Eggs (We want to keep chickens, but that’s a whole other story!)
Sanitary products (or a menstrual cup)
4.2 Medical equipment.
If you look at the figures for Covid-19, although the death rate is thankfully low the percentage of serious cases requiring hospitalisation is between 15-20%. Although our NHS is fantastic, its just not prepared to care for that percentage of seriously ill people – in the case of this family in China, they were unable to find a space at a hospital and their deaths may have been preventable if they had medical help. The article suggests this was a relatively wealthy family too – if they couldn’t find help, it doesn’t bode well for others. Our best form of defence is preparation and knowing a little more about how we can help anyone infected. Here are some things to consider:
- A thermometer. We have just ordered this oral basal thermometer although given how contagious this virus is, an infrared one like this one may have been a better choice to monitor the temperature of the infected. Keeping a check on temperature is really important, although if the person isn’t too uncomfortable, running a temperature is actually a good thing
A fever is one way your body fights illness—your body temperature goes up to kill bacteria that cannot live at the higher temperatures. Although it may not be comfortable, a temperature of up to 102°F is generally good for you. healthpages.org
- A Saline nebuliser and saline or salt for saltwater steam. Done every 4 hours it will help coat your lungs with antimicrobial properties, which can kill some types of bacteria.
- Deep breathing exercises ever 2 hours. Deep breathing exercises the lungs and can also clear mucus. It’s important to air the house too, keep windows open if possible, and take regular breaks outside. This little gadget is a lung exerciser – We don’t have one yet, but it would definitely encourage my children to do deep breathing – I have trouble getting them to do this even as an exercise to relax!
- Warm herbal teas will help soothe the throat (Ones like peppermint, ginger, liquorice are ideal)
- The caffeine in coffee and green tea may help open airways. If you drink coffee regularly it might be an idea to stock up anyway!
- Supplements such as vitamin C and elderberry Syrup can help support your immune system. A clove of raw garlic a day is also good for your immune system (not your breath though!)
- Its really important to stay hydrated, especially when you are ill. Water is the without a doubt the best thing you can drink, but anything that can help to keep you hydrated is good. Hot lemons, soup/broth and electrolyte solution drinks are good options.
- Cleaning supplies. A good supply of disinfectant for surfaces, antibacterial handwash, and washing powder for washing bedding/clothes.
In the event of a pandemic, the strain will also hit other industries and services. There may well be disruption to utilities such as electric, gas, internet/phone and water. If your boiler breaks, for example, during a pandemic you will probably face a much longer wait for a repair. Disruption could well be global. As well as your local engineer being ill, or reluctant to work and risk infection to himself and his/her family – he/she may also struggle to source parts or get them delivered.
It’s a good idea to store at least some bottled water in empty containers if possible. Consider storing tap water in plastic bottles, somewhere cool and dark. We can survive up to three weeks without food but only 3 days without water. Yet water is something we take for granted here in the UK. You can also purchase water purification tablets and water purification straws (we have both!)
It’s a good idea to have a backup heat source, whether that be an electric heater if your main heat source is gas or additional wood for a wood-burning stove. Consider covering windows with plastic for an extra layer of insulation and having draft excluders or old blankets on hand to stop drafts – as well as keeping lots of clothing layers and blankets handy. Keeping warm is really important when you are fighting an infection. It might feel like moving back a century, our great-grandparents probably had lots of tips they could share if they were here today.
Its a good idea to have an alternate way of cooking food. Because hot tin of beans on toasted bread is significantly more appetising than cold beans on bread. A camping stove and supply of fuel would work well.
If we lose power, we lose our main source of light. It’s a good idea to have torches or candles to hand. You can also get solar charging torches, or a solar charging mat which can charge USB devices (we have a smaller version but this is on my wish list), which would be ideal to charge devices.
We rely on electricity for communication through web-based news outlets and social media. If we have disruption to our internet or electricity, having a solar/wind up radio would be a good source of entertainment and and news if other news outlets were affected.
In the event of having to self-isolate for a period of time, cabin fever is a very real concern. If you have a supply of activities to keep the whole family engaged, this will definitely help! What you choose will depend on your family and your interests, but try to have a good range of different things. Include physical activities to keep your body moving & something to stimulate the brain.
Books / Films
Physical books are free to borrow from the library, or as little as 10/20p at charity shops. An e-reader is a fantastic piece of kit because one charge can last weeks and it enables backlit reading into the darker evenings should we have power shortages.
Boardgames, outdoor games & computer games are a fantastic way to occupy the brain, pass time and have fun.
Cratfs / Hobbies
Its a good idea to stock up of a few crafts supplies / puzzles / word searches to pass the time. Maybe buy a few different types of salad seeds, these are fast growing, would give you something to do and eat!
Decorating / DIY
As long as it’s well ventilated and no one has breathing problems, decorating or DIY may help fight the bordom. Just make sure you don’t attempt anything that might need extra parts!
Start a blog
Writing a blog can be really rewarding, and it’s a nice be part of an online community. We host our website with siteground, its easier than you think to set up & get started.
5. Additional Resources
This post isn’t intended to provoke panic, just to help others prepare. Having a little extra food, medication and supplies is never a bad thing as long as you choose carefully and only buy things you will use up anyway – and your local foodbank will be more than grateful for anything thats surplus.
Keep an eye on the news and stay safe.