The world is full of infectious diseases that have made the news in recent weeks. From the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the diseases crossing the U.S. in the recent immigrant crisis, there are all sorts of reasons to be concerned about your family’s safety. The response, however, should not be panic. Some planning and a little common sense will ensure that you will stay healthy even in the face of contagious illness.
Your plan should start with a strategy to isolate infected individuals from the healthy people in your group. The key to success here is to have a designated sick room at one end of your retreat or camp. The sick room should be stocked with bedding, utensils, and other items reserved for the sick. For more information on this topic, check out our article on “The Survival Sick Room”.
Once you have your sick room in order, you’ll need supplies. There’s a lot of bad news about Ebola and other contagious diseases, but there’s good news as well. One is that Ebola and many other germs can be killed with simple soap and water. Chlorine bleach also does the job and is a great option for decontaminating surfaces like countertops, doorknobs, and items used by the infected. Put a 1-1 1/2 cups in a gallon of water for a powerful disinfectant.
For many infectious diseases, masks, gloves, and aprons may be all you need as wearable items, but more prudent folk include googles or other eye protection and coverall gowns that cover the head and feet as well. N95 masks are considered the safe bet here, although there are some articles I’ve seen that call this into question with the more contagious diseases. You could consider N100 masks, but these are more expensive and difficult to stockpile. For more, see our article about “Pandemic Masks”. Gloves should be made of nitrile, as we are seeing more and more people that are allergic to latex.
Miscellaneous items would include a thermometer to keep track of a patient’s fever, hazardous waste bags to safely dispose of contaminated materials, and a noisemaker. A noisemaker? Yes, it’s comforting to the sick to have a way to let you know they need help; they may be too exhausted to call out.
Here’s a list of what you should have:
Coveralls (with head and shoe covers)
Masks (N95 or N100)
Alcohol, BZK wipes
Hazardous Waste Bags
Soap and Water
I’m sure you can think of other items that will help you care for the sick, but it’s a good start. With these mostly inexpensive items, you’ll have a good chance to succeed, even when everything else fails.