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6 Steps to You Should Take for Quarantine Preparedness

March 17, 2020 0 comments

With US cases rising daily, the time to protect yourself and the people you love from the coronavirus (COVID-19) is now. But you don’t need to wait on the government or healthcare system to help. Here are the six most fundamental steps every household should take to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak. 

STEP 1: MAKE SPACE FOR 14 TO 30 DAYS OF ISOLATION

Let’s start with the worst-case scenario. If someone in your family were to test positive for COVID-19—even if they had only mild symptoms—you’d all be asked to quarantine in your own home for anywhere from 14 to 30 days. In fact, some people are choosing to self-quarantine even with a negative test.

Regardless the reason, you need to be sure your home and family are prepared for the possibility. The most important step you can take to achieve that is to stock up so you’re ready to shelter in place for the long haul.

To start, you’ll want to make room for the supplies you need. This won’t necessarily require a massive garage or pantry. Get creative with your empty space in places like closets and under beds. A stack of cans covered with a table cloth makes a great impromptu coffee table. You’ll be surprised how much extra space you can make without feeling crammed in.

 

STEP 2: PUT FOOD AND WATER FIRST

Preparing for a quarantine isn’t cause for panic. Remember, the steps you’re taking will help prevent a serious emergency. There’s no need to rush out to the store and hoard more toilet paper than you could possibly use in next decade.

What it does mean is starting to meal plan. Begin with a roster of recipes to last two weeks. Once that’s in place, double your plan and you’ll be set for an entire month.

It’s also important to remember that during a quarantine you’ll most likely still have access to power, meaning your refrigerator, freezer, microwave, and stove should all do their jobs without interruption.

If your cooking or baking skills leave something be desired, there are plenty of YouTube how-to videos you can learn from. Who knows, you could come out of quarantine with some new and improved skills!

Here is a checklist of must-have quarantine foods for your family:

  • Canned Foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables will likely spoil after the first week so canned foods that have a long storage life and need little or no cooking are recommended. Soups, broths and stews, fruits and fruit juices, and vegetables are some great options. Freeze-dried fruits and veggies are also good to have on hand, as many have a shelf life of up to 25 years.
  • Proteins. Meat products, tuna, and rice and beans are great sources of complete protein. Also consider sprouting with protein-rich seeds.
  • Dairy. Just because you’re stuck indoors doesn’t mean you have to go without dairy. Canned or powdered whey milk are delicious and last a long time.
  • Frozen Foods. Since the power will likely be on and reliable, frozen foods are an option, too. We suggest pre-prepped meals you can toss in the microwave.
  • Anything with Decent Shelf Life, Really. Other recommended foods are peanut butter, jelly, crackers, nuts, trail mix, dried fruits, granola bars, bouillon cubes, and staples like sugar, salt, pepper.
  • Special Diets. Keep in mind you may need to include some special foods for babies and family members on special diets (gluten free), as well as pet foods.
  • Water and Liquids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests you have plenty of fluids on hand, such as bottled water and supply of fluids with electrolytes, Pedialyte or Gatorade. You will still have water from the tap, but it is always a good practice to keep at least a gallon per person on hand at any given time just in case the flow should stop or become contaminated.

 

In addition to canned or frozen foods there is also the option of freeze- dried or dehydrated foods. These are shelf stable and as long as they are stored properly will remain good for many years. So you don’t have to worry about losing power, and having your food insurance spoil like you do with a freezer, and their expiration dates are well beyond any canned goods – some up to 30 years. All they need is a bit of boiling water to rehydrate. And many people have found that the fruits and veggies in particular are perfectly delicious straight from the container.

Dehydrated or freeze-dried items are also great substitutes for things that you would typically purchase fresh when planning for a month’s-worth of meals. Milk, butter, eggs etc. can all be purchased in shelf-stable forms.

 

STEP 3: MEDICATIONS AND HYGIENE ARE A MUST

If you’re among those of us who needs medication to maintain health (or to live), then this next step is critical.

30 Days of Medication. This means prescriptions as well as over-the-counter pain relievers, antacids, cough and cold medicines, and vitamins. As your doctor or pharmacy if obtaining a 90 day supply of any required prescriptions is possible.

Hygiene Supplies. Many homes already have a 14-day supply of most daily items on hand. But make sure you have toothpaste, toilet paper, feminine supplies, diapers, laundry detergent, rubber gloves and disinfectant.

 

STEP 4: BUILD AN ISOLATION ROOM IN OR AROUND YOUR HOME

If someone living in your home is diagnosed with the Coronavirus, there are two words to get familiar with quickly: quarantine and isolation.

  • Quarantine – To separate non-infected people who may have been exposed from the general populace. Most likely, you and the people in your home will be quarantined if someone living there is diagnosed with novel coronavirus.
  • Isolation – To separate infected people from those who are healthy. Till now, hospitals have been doing this with novel-coronavirus-positive patients. As the virus spreads more widely, it will be up to everyday people like us to isolate members of our households and protect against the spread of infection.

We recommend prepping your home for both quarantine and isolation—but don’t worry, you don’t need a medical degree to do it. You just need the know-how and the right materials, all of which you can get at a hardware or grocery store. Here’s the breakdown:

Room Prep

Start with picking the right room. There are three things to look for.

  1. Isolated. The room ought to be set away from the most trafficked parts of your home—the more isolated the better. A garage, RV, or tent (weather permitting) can be great out-of-the-way options, but for most people a bedroom is best.
  2. Attached bathroom. A room with an attached bathroom is ideal. Even with dedicated and frequent cleanings, sharing a bathroom with an infected person is risky.
  3. Window access. A good isolation room will also have a window for ventilation, as it’s recommended you cut the room off from your forced-air ventilation system.

Once you’ve selected your room, it’s time to prep it. Hang two layers of drop cloth at the entrance: one to enter the room and another about two to three feet away to contain the virus. If you have the time and resources, you can use a containment zipper to help seal the entrance as well.

We also recommend you cover walls with plastic drop cloth, using duct tape as adhesive. It’s very important to cover vents as well. Hospitals will keep isolated patients on a different air system altogether. For most of our homes, that’s not an option, so covering vents and leaving windows open will do.

Materials Needed

  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Duct tape

 

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Once the room is prepared and the infected person safely isolated inside, the main objective is to keep the virus contained. To do that you’ll need a system for disinfecting the area and anything that comes into contact with it.

First things first, get yourself some effective disinfecting agents. Here’s a complete list of EPA-approved disinfectants that work against COVID-10.

Of course, if you’ve stepped foot inside a grocery store lately, you’ll know that the cleaning aisle is probably emptied out. Fortunately, with just bleach and water, you can whip up a very effective cleaning solution.

To prepare a bleach solution, mix:

  • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
  • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

It’s best to prepare your solutions in batches and re-mix new ones as needed. Bleach solution will only remain potent for 2 to 3 weeks.

Prepare a cleaning station outside the door of the room with a biohazard bag to discard anything you’ve carried out. Have disinfectant wipes or a solution handy too, just in case anything leaving the room came into contact with a potentially infected object.

Once the isolation period is over, carefully remove and discard your drop cloths and dispose of them in biohazard bags. Launder all bedding and clothing separate from your regular wash. Make sure to wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt as you do so (wash the shirt separately once you’ve finished). Then disinfect the entire room: walls, floors, dressers, bed stands, etc.

Materials Needed

  • Disinfecting wipes or disinfecting liquid cleaners. (Here’s a complete list of EPA-approved disinfectants for use against COVID-19).
  • At least one gallon of bleach
  • Water
  • 5-quart to 5-gallon pail or buckets
  • Bundles of fresh rags
  • Biohazard bags

 

Meals

Unless otherwise directed by a doctor, your isolated loved one should be OK to eat what the rest of the family eats. The biggest precaution to take here regards dishes: opt for disposable plates, utensils, and cups rather than risk cross contamination in your kitchen sink. Immediately throw these out after every meal.

Materials Needed

  • Disposable plates
  • Disposable utensils
  • Disposable cups

 

Everyday living

As involved as this may all seem, the hardest part of isolation is just everyday living. Things you take for granted, like occupying the same room or touching anything, become tricky.

Having the right equipment makes this a bit easier. Aside from what we’ve already covered, commit yourself to gearing up with the following equipment every time you enter the isolation room:

  • N95 respirator (if you can find them—please don’t over-stock, as hospitals and medical professionals need these)
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt and pants
  • Disposable shoe covers

Whenever you exit the room, discard of shoe covers in your cleaning station. Respirators are for your infected loved one to put on when someone comes in. By the way, there’s a right and a wrong way to wear these—learn more about that here.

Never forget, as hard as it is to care for an infected person, suffering infection is far more difficult. Especially if your loved one doesn’t have easy access to a bathroom, make sure to provide the following{

  • Buckets or pails open head with lid or locking cover for waste
  • Bar liquid hand soap (antibacterial preferably)
  • Water (you’ll need an ongoing, fresh source)

 

STEP 5: PREPARE TO KEEP YOUR SPIRITS UP!

Unless someone is actually ill you don’t have to stay indoors. You can go out in your yard, go for walks in the neighborhood—just stay away from other people. BBQ. You may want to have some board games, cards, toys, books, magazines, coloring books and other fun items to keep the family occupied.

Take advantage of the down time to get reacquainted with an old hobby. Don’t forget you can use the Internet to video conference with family and friends to limit the feeling of isolation. 

STEP 6: LEARN THIS HAND SANITIZER HACK

Of all the things COVID-19 will be remembered for, who would have thought that hand sanitizer hoarding would be one of them? 

But sure enough, the moment news started to break on the virus, lines of shoppers gathered, filling their carts to the point that manufacturers couldn’t keep up. One man in Chattanooga Tennessee squirreled away 18,000 bottles, planning to jack up the price to desperate people online. He was cited for price gouging and ended up giving those bottles to charity. 

The good news is even if you can’t find hand sanitizer in stores, you can actually make your own—though it does take a bit of care. So use extreme caution. You need to be very precise in your measurements or you run the risk of doing yourself harm. 

Here’s a simple recipe with ingredients you may well have lying around the house. 

Ingredients

  • 2/3 Cup 90 percent rubbing alcohol (drinking alcohols can work too, but have to be at minimum 180 proof)
  • 1/3 Cup aloe vera gel

Materials for Prep

  • 1 funnel
  • 1 bowl
  • 1 dispenser bottle (preferably with a pump lid, but any re-sealable container is fine)
  • 1 stirring rod (a fork, spoon, or knife will work)

Instructions

Mix the alcohol and aloe vera gel with stirring rod in a bowl till completely combined. Pour mixture through funnel into dispenser bottle. 

Warning

Be careful that your batch contains at least 60 percent or more isopropyl alcohol. Any less will be ineffective killing viruses and can put you in danger of infection. Discard if not used after 30 days.

Also, it’s important to remember that hand sanitizer is no replacement for thorough hand washing. While it can be effective, nothing rids your hands of germs like good old-fashioned soap and water.

You are going to want to start with a two-week meal planner such as the free one found here.  Once you have a planner simply plug in what you are going to prepare for a particular day’s meals. You can simply repeat it if you are planning on stocking up for 4 weeks. On a separate sheet of paper write down anything that you don’t already have on hand that you need to make that meal a reality for your household. 

Once you have completed that list, go through and combine things until you have a set number.  

For example, if you intend to make eggs for breakfast and you will be using them in a casserole for dinner another night, calculate how many dozen you need for everything (always round up in case some break). Same goes with bread—how many slices per meal do you calculate using, and how many loaves does that add up to?  You can freeze bread if you have the space. These revised totals become your shopping list. 

Breakfast Ideas:

  • Dry Cereal and milk (assuming you normally keep milk on hand)
  • Waffles – from scratch, a mix or frozen
  • Eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns and toast or English muffin
  • Pancakes
  • French toast
  • Oatmeal (you can add dry or fresh fruit)
  • Cream of Wheat or Cream of Rice
  • Muffins
  • Breakfast sandwich or burrito
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Coffee, tea, milk and orange or other juices

Lunch Ideas:

  • Soup – from scratch or canned
  • Sandwiches – what are your family’s favorite fillings
  • Pizza – frozen or home made
  • Cornbread and chili
  • Mac and cheese
  • Hot dogs or brats
  • Fruit and veggies
  • Cookies, brownies, pudding etc.

Dinner Ideas:

  • Lasagna – frozen or from scratch
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Casserole – your family’s favorite recipes
  • Meatloaf
  • Pork chops
  • Steak
  • Burger and fries
  • Baked Ziti
  • Frozen or boxed meal helpers
  • Desert – cookies, brownies, cakes, pie, no-bake goodies from scratch or frozen

 

Don’t forget to plan for the sides. Many sides can be either purchased already frozen or safely placed in the freezer. Things like garlic bread, fruit and veggies, hamburger, buns, fries, tater tots, etc., can all be frozen if you have the room for them.

Double-check that you have all the ingredients you need for the recipes you intend to use. Check your stock of salt and pepper, make sure you have yeast, cooking oils, bread crumbs, condiments, etc.

MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: STAY CALM

Remember friends, the most dangerous thing you can be in an emergency is panicked. You need a clear, sharp mind to make good decisions in what could be some of the most important moments of your life.

We know keeping cool may not always be easy—we’re right there with you. When the stress becomes too much, try to remove yourself from the situation for a moment, take some deep breaths, speak to your higher power (if it suits you), meditate, stretch, and keep on keeping on.

These hard times won’t last forever—they never do. If you’re prepared, the chances are very good that you and the people you love will come through this stronger than ever.

Good luck, God Bless, and stay alert, friends!

In liberty,

Grant Miller Preparedness Advisor,

My Patriot Supply


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