The news has been almost completely focused on Ebola for the last couple of weeks and information outlets are pouring out details by the minute. This type of event is what the 24-Hour news cycle was created for and pundits on every side are breathlessly announcing news, interviewing witnesses and experts and showing hour after hour of footage of hospitals, people in yellow gowns, nitrile gloves and face-masks. It is enough to make a sane person crazy and it is a sober reminder to preppers everywhere that precautions for events like this are valid, prudent and perhaps in some of our cases, just in the nick of time.
Well, the Prepper Journal audience is full of sane people. I believe that most people who call themselves preppers are focused on taking simple logical steps to ensure the safety of their closest loved ones. It makes sense to pay attention to the news and shore up any supply needs that you might have. I believe it is very wise to keep an eye on the events in Dallas and elsewhere in the world in the event that this virus does grow outside of the limited scope that we have seen so far in the US at least.
When it is all said and done, this “outbreak” which isn’t really an outbreak at all here thankfully could end up disappearing from the news just as quickly as it came. Of course, it could also grow more serious. We aren’t clear exactly how Ebola is transmitted although very smart people are saying that it is hard to catch. So far, I am inclined to believe them only for the primary reason that we only have 3 cases at this time. Should that change I will be prepared to act and I am not going to relax simply because experts tell me not to be alarmed. I am not alarmed, but I am watching events closely as I am sure the rest of you are as well.
Self-Quarantine to reduce exposure risk
If Ebola does start to become a larger problem; if we begin to see a spike in cases, one possible option for limiting your exposure could be as simple as staying home. Self-Quarantine is the practice of taking yourself out of the world so to speak to avoid contact with others completely. This is pretty much bugging in by definition. The NBC News crew that returned from reporting on Ebola had their cameraman test positive for Ebola so they agreed to Self Quarantine themselves to eliminate exposure to the public for the recommended incubation period of up to 21 days. In the case of Dr. Nancy Snyderman, this proved too long and soon they were caught out at a local restaurant which led to a huge public outcry and a weak apology from the doctor.
I won’t argue that staying in quarantine for up to 21 days would be very difficult, especially if you were alone, but if things do turn worse we might all be better off staying indoors. If Ebola cases increase substantially, we might not have a choice if Executive Order 13295 is put into action. 13295 allows for the “apprehension, detention, or conditional release of individuals to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of suspected communicable diseases.” Would you rather stay in your home and ride out the Ebola event or wherever the government wants to stick you? If you were faced with voluntary or involuntary quarantine to protect your family from Ebola, what would you need to consider?
Infrastructure for Self Quarantine
Not surprisingly, the CDC website has a lot of information about quarantine mostly from the viewpoint of the SARS epidemic back in 2003, but I believe the concepts and topics are still just as relevant if your goal is to reduce or eliminate possible exposure to infected individuals. Major infrastructure considerations for self-quarantine are:
- Communication Options – Telephone, cell phones, Ham Radio to keep in touch with others outside of your home. Shortwave radio is another good option assuming the regular lines of communication are down.
- Electricity – In a grid up scenario this should be fine, but if the grid goes down, do you have enough electricity for up to 21 days of isolation?
- Heat Source – Winter is approaching so a plan to keep warm is important. I have Kerosene Heaters and plenty of stored fuel but I would personally need to augment my supply for very cold conditions. Right now, cold isn’t a factor, but 21 days without power in January would be tougher.
- Potable Water – A core element of any prepper supply list is to have water on hand. Enough water for one gallon per person per day. If you have a family of 4 and are forced into quarantine from Ebola for 21 days that would be 84 gallons of water at a minimum.
- Waste and Sanitation – As long as the utilities are functioning this shouldn’t be a problem, but if the crisis explodes (no pun intended) you may not have city water to fill the toilets so alternate accommodations would need to be made. Grid down sanitation options are one possibility but would require you to go outside if the water and sewer lines were out of commission.
- Food – Do you have enough food to last for 21 days for your entire family? Again, with society still functioning I guess you could have neighbors bring food over but you wouldn’t want to be going to the grocery store.
- Entertainment – 21 days in your home is a long time. 21 days cooped up with your family is an eternity in the most easy going and loving homes. You should have a plan to counter boredom if you want to preserve your sanity along with your health.
Accommodations for Self Quarantine
If you are limiting your exposure as a family unit and by that I mean if everyone in your family is together in this then you can go on living (with certain exceptions) as you were although you wouldn’t be going outside. Would you stop your mail or risk exposure by touching something that another individual had contacted?
I am sure that it depends somewhat on the nature of any potential Ebola outbreak. It could be that the current convention that you must come in contact with bodily fluids from infected people in order to contract the disease holds. If that were the case, you could probably safely move about your yard, but quarantine does mean your trips to the malls, movie theaters, school events, plays, sporting events, hospital visits to sick friends would all be out of the question.
- Could you work from home? – In today’s environment there are many of us who could work from home full time. As long as I had internet, power and a cell phone I could work anywhere in the world. Online meetings will probably be more common if travel is restricted during any outbreak. Actually, that would be fine with me too as the last place I would want to be during any kind of disease outbreak is at an airport or any place away from home really.
- Could your children do schoolwork at home? – This would be tough for some but I imagine that a lot of schools would have to offer concessions in the case of quarantine. Certainly if the government locked everything down schools would either forgive homework or lean on online systems that are largely in place already. We still have one child that is home-schooled so she wouldn’t get out of anything, but another already gets her assignments online so staying out wouldn’t be a huge burden.
- How would you pay your bills? – As long as we have money in the accounts, almost all of our bills except my weekly tithe are done electronically. If that goes down we have bigger problems.
Provided you had running water, power and a job that would allow you to stay home you should only need food to survive outside of climatic extremes. Take all of that away though and your self-imposed quarantine could still save your life, but it would be much harder. Again this assumes that Ebola will always and only be passed from bodily fluids. In this case self-quarantine to reduce exposure should be doable for most people with even basic preparations. Let’s hope we don’t see anything worse.