Prepping for COVID-19

I read the news, I hear what people all over the world are saying, and yes, I’ve read a few books on the end of the world. Written a few, too. So I’m going to give my thoughts on this whole epidemic.

It’s probably not as bad, or going to get as bad, as some people think, but it’s also not just “a bad flu” or something that washing your hands more than usual is going to fix. You can “what if” yourself into a high(er) blood pressure bracket, or you can prep, or you can blow it off and be caught unprepared. Your choice, of course, but I’d rather be ready and wrong than not.

We’ve been ready for the “whatevers” for eight years now, and in different ways depending on where we’ve lived. For the first three years, we lived in St. Louis County; since then, we’ve been out here in the middle of the woods. It’s a lot harder to avoid people when you’re surrounded by them, and often you don’t think about all those with whom you come into contact on a daily basis.

For instance, early on in our prepping, we saw people at the bookstore, we got food delivery, my husband worked in retail, we ran errands and shopped, and our son went to school. In one day, all of us were exposed to several hundred people who in turn had been exposed to several hundred more and so on…so if you live in an urban or suburban area, this is you, now, with COVID-19 running loose.

Oh, you’re washing your hands more often? Good for you. Too bad everyone isn’t, especially those who think COVID-19 is no big deal. Think long and hard about how many people you come into contact with, and how many those in your household also run into in the course of a day or a week.

Out here, we rarely see anyone unless we go to town for something. But when the nearby Army fort is closing to the public and guard gates are manned by soldiers wearing protective gear, you get a little antsy. Just a little. My neighbors have been sick lately—not COVID-19, but other respiratory issues, which can weaken one’s immune system if they happen to be exposed to something else. And this could be you, too, whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness.

Some people talk about a worst-case scenario with a lot of what-ifs and, sure, it could happen. Probably won’t, but my personal opinion is that we’ll know more in the next few weeks. Some people deal with this by assuming they can get things delivered so won’t have to go out and be exposed; that’s great, unless the delivery person is sick or the restaurant worker who handled your food is sick. And even if you don’t get exposed then and there, will there be enough people coming to work to keep the restaurant functioning?

And it’s not just food. Make a list of EVERYTHING you use or eat or drink on a daily basis for two weeks—that’s the minimum, that’s the time you’d be quarantined if you were exposed. Now add things to that list that you might need if you got sick. There’s a lot more than people tend to think about.

Everyone talks about having enough of your prescriptions, but what about OTC meds? Do you have enough Advil (especially if you get sick), antibiotic cream, cortisone cream, lotion, Bandaids, allergy meds, etc.? Toothpaste, shampoo, soap? The ever-memed toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, trash bags? What do you normally eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts? Too many people, especially in urban areas, still have the mindset that they can “run to the store” and pick up something. Maybe you can’t, either because of illness or quarantine or maybe the store ran out. Plan ahead. That’s all this is.

On Facebook this morning, I mentioned that the media refers to preppers as “panicked.” I don’t know any preppers who are panicking—it’s non-preppers who seem to be either worrying, panicking, or blowing off the whole thing. When you’re a prepper, you analyze what you know, determine the worst-case scenario, and plan accordingly. Then you don’t have to worry, and certainly don’t have to panic. And if that worst-case doesn’t happen, well, at the very least you won’t have to buy groceries for a while.

However, as I finished up this blog post, WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. There’s a case being tested in the county next door to me. Many events in large cities are being canceled through April—although others are not. Many colleges are closing campuses and switching to online classes.

At this point, all I can do is double-check my supplies and prepare to hunker down; I have plenty to do on the farm, after all. I’m not particularly afraid of contracting the illness, although I don’t want to share it with my husband. I’m not afraid of running out of food or other things I need, or even some that I want. I’m not afraid of being bored when isolated or quarantined, if it comes to that. But here’s the thing, if everyone limits contact, there’s a lower chance of COVID-19 spreading. Sure, most people have no to mild symptoms, but for others it’s much more serious, and if the hospitals are full of people who need treatment, what happens to those who need treatment or surgery for other random issues that everyone experiences from time-to-time? That’s the big question, really, as to whether this outbreak is serious enough to prepare for almost anything.

The media keeps saying “our lives will change in many ways” but they don’t say how or what:

Imagine being inside, or on your patio even, and going NOWHERE ELSE for at least two weeks, or maybe even two months or more. Do you read? Do you watch movies? How will you keep busy?

Imagine deciding to call for a pizza, and there’s no one open, no pizza, and no delivery drivers available—and any one of the people involved could be infected.

Imagine then deciding to make your own pizza—do you have flour, yeast, salt? Pizza or tomato sauce and a few herbs? Cheese or vegetables or meat to top that pizza?

Imagine that you can rely on no one but yourself. Are you ready for that?

No more going to the movies, or stopping by the library to pick up a book; no more grabbing a beer with friends after work; no more work, perhaps, at least not in the office. So many things we do without thinking.


Is War Coming?

I’m sure you’ve all heard or read the news lately, and there’s a lot of talk going around. Are we going to be “at war” as we probably think of it? Our troops have been fighting here, there, and everywhere for years, decades even, in one skirmish or another, but it could come to our country itself?

Of course. And even if battles didn’t actually erupt on American soil, there’s always the threat of terrorist actions and a credible one of cyber-attacks. But what exactly does that mean?

A wide-scale attack could interrupt gas and oil delivery, banking, food supplies, and utilities. It could happen in weeks, as has been suggested by Homeland, sooner, later, or of course, never. Do you really want to be caught unprepared by brushing this off and ignoring the possibilities? Here’s what to do:

First, when possible, avoid places where a lot of people congregate and involve either government facilities or symbols of capitalism, such as malls, theaters, and concert venues. If you can’t avoid these places, or aren’t yet convinced it could be an issue, practice situational awareness. It’s better to cancel plans or leave if you’re nervous about something and risk looking stupid than to be blown to smithereens.

Second, make sure you’re as healthy as you can be and if you’re taking prescription meds, get them filled if you can. Insurance companies often don’t do early refills, but you might be close enough to empty that it’ll work. Drink lots of water and exercise as you’re able.

Third, stock up on any items that A) you can’t live without and B) you can’t make yourself. Include seed packets too, just in case. A lot of vegetables can be grown inside or in a small pot on the deck or patio. For instance, our grocery list this week included alcohol and cigarettes because I don’t want to face whatever happens without either of these and because I don’t know how or have the capabilities to make them.

We always have six months, minimum, worth of supplies on hand, such as food, OTC meds and first aid supplies, household needs like toilet paper and trash bags, and so forth. In spite of having a well and a pond—and a pool, in a pinch—we also keep some gallon containers of water to be used in the interim if the well or pipes should have problems, until we can fix it.

Make a list of what you use every day and start shopping. Go heavy on shelf-staple and lighter on perishables. Don’t forget snacks, and make sure the stuff you buy is what you actually like. And yes, fill up water containers or buy gallons, again, just in case.

Fourth, stop by the bank and withdraw some cash in smaller bills. It doesn’t have to be much, it’s an emergency stash and you can always put it back once the threat has passed. Why do this? Well, if the internet goes down, or the power grid, both businesses and individuals will only be accepting cash; you might have hundreds of dollars, or thousands, in the bank, but you won’t be able to use your debit or credit cards. Sock it away somewhere safe and know that it’s there if you need it.

And finally, self-defense. No, you don’t need an arsenal and you don’t even have to carry if you don’t want to, but check your home for escape routes, hiding places, and weapons. Keep your cell phone charged as well as your laptop. Make a plan for your family’s safety.

Preppers have been doing all these things for a long time and are more ready for whatever may happen. You might think this is all overkill, and maybe you’re right. Or maybe not. My motto is to be ready for anything, because then you’re set and you don’t have to worry.