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Pandemics and Plagues have been ravaging the human species for our entire existence. Until modern times, your were more likely to die from an illness or starvation than anything else.
We've come a long way in the past hundred years towards combating this scourge.
But what that doesn't mean is that you ignore the possibility that one day we could be faced with a very real pandemic situation, be it man-made or natural. The 1918 flu pandemic infected 500 million people while the Black Death is estimated to have killed 30-60% of the population in Europe. And scientists have created super viruses that are down-right terrifying.
Sadly, third-world countries are still greatly exposed, and it is in these places where the worst damage is usually done. It's also where viruses can infect greater numbers of people, mutate, and become truly dangerous.
Implications and How to Prepare for Quarantine
Protection is available and we know how to prevent exposure with proper protective equipment (which we will get to soon.)
But think for a minute about what happens to someone who is thought exposed to a disease like Ebola or Cornoavirus (Covid-19) in the US.
All their freedoms and those they were in contact with are immediately taken away from them as they are placed in quarantine.
You cannot opt-out of this, you are trapped by law and not allowed to do as you will and for good reason if you actually are infected.
But what's the difference between quarantine and imprisonment? What if you are lumped in with a greater group because of your geographic area, not because of your actual exposure?
The current situation with the Coronavirus in China, over 35 million people have been quarantined. They cannot travel outside of their cities, or on planes, or on pubic transportation. Nearly all flight in and out have been suspended.
You can see an up-to-date heat map of where the virus is impacting from John Hopkins CSSE here.
Let that settle in for a minute. Consider what situations you would face if your entire town, or city, was placed on lock-down - surrounded by the National Guard, no way to get in or out. Do you have food? Water? Can you keep you and your family from being exposed during that time?
This is heavy stuff. It's also a real bummer to think about too much so try not to get carried away by it. We find the best way to put our worries to rest is to be prepared. So lets talk about what you can do today to get yourself ready.
For specific ideas on items you will need around the house during a quarantine, especially during the SARS-CoV-19 COVID-19 Coronavirus, please read this article: How to Prepare for Coronavirus
Personal Protective Equipment List
Personal Protective Equipment (otherwise known as PPE) is your first line of defense against microscopic baddies. There are certain criteria which must be met to make your PPE effective. You must have adequate protection from liquid exposure around your eyes, mouth, nose, ears, and skin.
You will have to be covered up from head-to-toe with material which will not absorb liquids. The areas around your head, wrists, and ankles should have elastic to keep a tight seal.
Before we get into the specific items which will meet these criteria, it's critical to understand that the proper putting-on (donning) and removal (doffing) of PPE is how you prevent exposure. If you don't do it right, you can contaminate and infect yourself and others.
Save it somewhere safe like an emergency iPad or Kindle. Print it out and keep a paper copy with the PPE
I am not a doctor or a trained medical professional. Use this article for informational or entertainment purposes ONLY. If you are ill or in an area being affected by disease seek medical treatment and advice from a trained professional or from your local government officials immediately.
Each one of these items listed below is a requirement for proper protection against infectious disease exposure. Google "ebola doctor protective gear" to see for yourself what the doctors on the front lines are wearing. It's really heavy duty stuff - not the usual scrubs you see in the ER.
3M has a fantastic and much-greater list of items and explanations in their FAQ about Ebola here but you can start off easy with the affordable items listed below.
You should be able to build each PPE kit for roughly $40 each. Keep in mind though, you may need more than one! If you get exposed while wearing your PPE it will need to be disinfected and some of it may not be able to be reused.
- N95 or KN95 Mask
- Splash Goggles and or Face Shield
- Gloves (if being changed after each exposure, otherwise hand washing better)
- Dupont Coveralls
- Disposable Aprons
- Head Covering
- Disposable Foot Coverings
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Price: $10 for 20
Learn about N95 Filters and how the CDC classifies them here (these are technically filters, not respirators.) These offer you good protection against virus and bacteria exposure. Note that they have a 3 year shelf life, so don't stockpile too many of them unless necessary.
Price: Prices Vary
Gas masks offer a huge variety of benefits above and beyond biological contaminants. Read our Ultimate Gas Mask Guide to learn all about them.
Dupont Tychem QC Coveralls
Don't be mislead by the cheap Tyvek kits online. TYCHEM is liquid repellent and rated for protection against blood and other fluids. 3M's Technical paper on Protective Clothing for the Ebola Virus Disease here.
You need to put them on and take them off properly: CDC guidelines for proper technique here.
Liberty Nitrile Gloves
Price: $16 for 12
It's pretty easy to think of all the reasons you might need these gloves, and none of them are really that pleasant. Best case scenario, you can inflate them and put it on your head. These longer gloves are preferred when planning for pandemic type situations or for funky chemical exposures.
To keep the heaviest contamination off of you in an exceptionally messy environment, it is proper to equip an apron in addition to the coveralls. This gives you extra protection by increasing your allowable exposure time as well as allowing you to see the contaminants more easily which have accumulated on you.
3M TEKK Professional Chemical Splash Goggle
Pretty great goggles for the price. You can fit a pair of glasses under them also. Good protection from debris along with liquids. Don't go cheap with the goggles, the strap is usually the first thing that goes on them, and these have a sturdy one. The eyes are a very vulnerable to contamination because they are moist and exposed.
Tyvek IsoClean hood
The Tychem coveralls have hoods on them, which is great, but you will need something a little more protective to keep liquids from entering around the facial area. A hood like this should do the trick by adding an important second layer of protection and reducing points of entry.
Tyvek Boot Covers
Gravity dictates that all liquids want to head to the floor. Ergo, that will likely be the messiest place around. The folks who work in pandemic areas have rubber boots to wear while treating patients but for our concerns we need to cover up the shoes we have on so we don't spread contamination all over the place.