A death rate of 3.5% from Covid-19 doesn’t seem like much. To compare, the flu has a death rate of only .05%. The CDC says over 31 million people in the USA got the flu this year. There are only thousands of Covid-19 victims in the world. If it spreads to millions, the cost to our lives will be far worse than the flu.
As preppers, we always try to keep our options open. Where you will actually live during a crisis is critical. In this case, there is no benefit to “bugging out”, unless:
- You live in a city.
- You can stay in a rural area for a few weeks.
- People there do not have the disease.
Sheltering in place, or “bugging in” during an epidemic is harder than it looks. When you are home, you feel safe. If you can’t go to the store or travel, it will still be a problem. Here are 10 areas where you may need to do some work so that you can shelter in place for 2 weeks to several months.
Clean Water for Cooking and Cleaning
In Washington, dozens of firefighters are in quarantine. They went to a nursing home where people that have Covid-19 live. Imagine if water quality workers are also exposed. It might create water shortages because no one can take care of the water.
We often take the power grid, road crew, and others for granted. Yet, our water quality depends on them. If a lot of these people can’t work, you will have to get and purify water.
To get water, you can use tarps over a hole in the ground and gather water as it evaporates. Use buckets and tarp to capture rainwater. Make sure stored water is kept moving. This will reduce the risk of disease. You can use an aquarium pump and tubing to put air in the water. Or, use a pond pump or any other that will circulate water. Even with this, you still need to filter the water to remove:
- Sediment, dust, and dirt.
You can use sand. Put coarse sand at the top of the filter where the water goes in. Use fine sand at the bottom where the water comes out.
- Heavy metals. Use bone char or resins made for this purpose. Do this second.
- Third step, remove dangerous chemicals. Most can be taken out with activated carbon.
- Bacteria, mold, fungi, etc.
The easiest way is to boil the water. You can also use UV from the sun. Put the water in a clear plastic bottle. Let it set in the sun for several hours. Small amounts of bleach or Iodine tablets will also work.
Do this step last because when you boil water, steam is the cleanest water. It leaves behind chemicals and heavy metals in a more concentrated form.
In case you have tap water, make sure all faucets (including shower or tub) have filters. At the very least, make sure you have a filtered water pitcher available. Keep enough cartridges on hand to last one year.
You might also find interesting our article about what foods to pack in your bug-out bag.
Choose the Right Foods
When you have to stay home for several weeks, perishable foods will be used up very fast. Here are some alternatives that you should buy instead:
For Dairy Milk:
- Cans of evaporated milk.
- Powdered Milk.
- Any milk that isn’t kept in a cold case in the store.
- Almonds, Cashews, or other raw nuts. You can make these into non-dairy milk.
- Dry Soybeans. They can be used to make milk. Soybeans also have all 9 essential amino acids. This means they can take the place of meat. Most stores do not carry them. You can get them online easily.
- Spinach because it has more calcium in it than dairy milk. It is also very fast and easy to grow indoors. If you are in a hurry, buy frozen spinach.
- One teaspoon of baking powder leavens the same as one egg.
- Use apple sauce, peanut butter, or vegetable oil for binders.
- If you want a scrambled egg texture, use cornmeal.
- Brine from chickpeas can be whipped into a foam.
- Quinoa is the best because it also has all 9 essential amino acids. One pound makes 10 servings. Be careful with how you cook it if you are prone to kidney stones.
- Make seitan from whole wheat flour. This makes a meat texture. Mix with chickpeas or other beans to get more protein.
- Dry 16 bean soup mixes. Get plenty of black beans, pinto, and chickpeas.
- Lentils and split peas are also very good.
- Unbleached flour
- Sourdough starter. Use rapid rise yeast until you get the sourdough established.
- Vegetable oil
- margarine or butter. Put margarine in the freezer.
- baking powder
- baking soda
- white vinegar
- corn starch
- Flavoring agents such as cocoa and vanilla. Buy what you like the taste of.
- Buy a lot of extra salt in case you need it to make ice last longer.
- Canned fruit and vegetables. Choose what you will be happy eating.
Prescription Drugs and Herbs
Make sure you have at least 90 days worth of medication on hand. You may be told you can’t get more because the insurance company will not pay until the next expected buy date. Here’s how to solve this:
- Do a web search on discount prescription cards.
- You can also look for programs offered by the drugmaker.
- After you find one cheaper than your current plan, call other pharmacies to make sure the drug is in stock. Confirm the price listed on the discount program.
- Ask your doctor to cancel your current prescription. Have the replacement sent to the other pharmacy. Tell the doctor you found a cheaper way to buy the drug. Be sure to ask for the number of days you want to buy for in a single purchase.
- When you get to the pharmacy, use the discount you found, and pay in cash. This will save you money now and in the long run.
Right now the experts say there are no herbs that can treat Covid-19. There are herbs that can boost your immune system. Others may work against different infections. Here are some herbs that are wide range in their usefulness:
- Garlic. It is one of the most powerful antibiotics. It can help with other diseases, and leave your body more resources to fight Covid-19.
- Turmeric. Reduces swelling, and also fights diseases.
- Ginger. It is also a strong disease fighter.
- Aloe. This is good for healing scrapes and skin cuts. You need to keep cuts covered as they can allow diseases to get in easily.
- Echinacea is an immune booster and antiviral.
- Marshmallow Root: Useful for relieving coughs.
You might want to also learn how to create an emergency communications plan.
Home Safety and Security
In a crisis, riots, theft, and crime increase. People may look for things to help sick family members, or they may look for useful things to sell or barter. They may also look for things of value to sell later on.
Here are some things you can do:
- Use nanny cams or other cameras in the windows. Keep them well hidden. Make sure you can access them through your phone or tablet.
Even if they can take clear pictures in the dark, that does not mean they can see through glass. You may need to install cameras outside.
- If you have a car, park it out of sight.
- Make sure one camera is trained on it.
- Set up fields of fire in your home in case someone breaks in.
- Choose weapon placement carefully. Do not put guns or more powerful weapons near doors or windows. Keep a weak baseball bat or something else an intruder may spot and pick up because they think it will help them. Only keep your knives, guns, or other weapons in a place where only you can get to them.
- Make sure all windows and doors are sound and have good locks on them. If you aren’t going in or out, barricade the doors. Make sure you can undo this easily in case of fire or another emergency.
Hygiene and Laundry
You already know to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water. If you have to go out, handle mail, or other items that were touched by others, wear disposable gloves. They are not 100% effective, but they will remind you not to touch your face. Wash your hands after using them.
Wear a shower cap to keep the virus from landing on your hair. Do not try to disinfect your hair with bleach or other toxins. They can get through the scalp and skin. These toxins can hurt your kidneys and liver.
Right now we do not know how long Covid-19 stays alive outside of a host. To be safe, thoroughly clean the surfaces since the virus can live at least 3 to 21 days before touching anything with bare hands that must come into your home. If possible, wash everything down with bleach or another disinfectant.
Most masks for sale do not work because they are not woven tight enough to block viruses. Even N95 masks may not give you complete protection. A lot depends on the manufacturer and how you wear the mask.
Masks also do not protect your eyes, which have mucus membranes that viruses can latch onto. You can try goggles or shields, but they must fit very tightly and not allow any vapor through.
Do not let laundry hang around. Wash clothes in boiling water as soon as you get home. Use a hand (bucket) washer in your garage or outdoors. Avoid laundromats and other public wash places. There are many areas of hygiene to think about. A lot of people are stocking up on toilet paper. As an emergency measure, be ready to use “family clothes”. Make sure you have a bin for each person to wash their own clothes, plenty of bleach, and sturdy rubber gloves.
Leisure, Social, and Communication
No matter how much you wish for peace and quiet, you need to be around people. When you are in quarantine, you will be very lonely. Boredom will also set in very fast. The internet will still let you keep in contact with a lot of people. Here are some things to have in place:
- Have a tablet, laptop, or phone that can make use of video chat. Make sure friends and family you want to stay in contact with are able to connect via video chat as well.
- Join online groups and forums on topics of interest. Pick topics of interest that you won’t get into fights with others over.
- If you are interested in debates, pick groups that allow for diverse viewpoints.
- If you don’t have reliable email or texting services, update your mailer or phone apps. Texting is free through services like Talkatone. This app will also let you make phone calls to cell phone and landline numbers for free.
Now is also a good time to think about hobbies. Is there a project you have been meaning to get around to? Is there something new you would like to learn? You can do just about anything, as long as you don’t have to go near other people. Choose a variety of long- and short-term projects.
Work and School
If you can work or attend classes from home, this is the time to do so. Right now Covid-19 may not be officially in your area. It is only a matter of time before that changes. The sooner you make arrangements to work or study from home, the easier it will be to stay away from other people. In a situation where you cannot avoid leaving home, there are a few options. First, look at other things in your life.
- Is there something that could be used to qualify for a sabbatical? Both schools and employers have guidelines for these types of paid leave.
- Are you eligible to use the Family Leave Act?
- Think about starting an online business.
- If your current college doesn’t allow for distance study, look for one that does.
Manage Money, Pay Bills and Invest
Setting up all your bills to pay online is very easy to do. If your bank charges you for this service, look at the website for the business you are paying. They may allow you to make payments for free if you register on their site. It is also very important to limit the amount of paper mail that you receive. Set all to bills and notices to email only. You should also make sure that you can track and adjust the following via the web:
- Anything to do with your taxes. If you haven’t filed yet, use a site like freetaxusa.com.
- Monitor your credit report. Creditkarma.com will also file your tax returns.
- Watch your bank and credit card accounts.
- Medical claims and coverage through the carrier’s site.
- Retirement accounts and investment pieces.
The stock market roller coaster makes it look like every stock is crashing. You have to look more closely at the sectors you have investments in. Avoid panic selling. A business that offers stocks must always have a plan to keep the company going. They may suffer a short term drop when changes are made. Watch the demand for their product or service instead. If that is strong, you can try to ride out the slump. Now, if the long-term demand is weak, then you should sell.
It is just as important to avoid panic buying. Let’s say you sold off stock related to China. Buying stock from companies doing business in India isn’t going to be of much use. Covid-19 is spreading through the world. As a result, you will lose money all over again when production fails there. There are two places you might want to consider investing:
- Forex trading. Here you invest in currencies based on how they do in relation to each other.
- Bitcoin is the most popular. It is also very volatile. Watch the currencies carefully and make sure you know how to sell and buy quickly.
Travel and Quarantine
As far as we know, it takes contact with an infected human or animal to spread Covid-19. You need at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. Even if people are not sick, try to have as much space around you as possible when you are away from home.
At first, this may seem very uncomfortable. If you have to talk to someone, you may be tempted to try and move closer to them. In the United States, most people only consider 2 feet to be their personal boundary space. It is best to keep a 6-foot distance.
As Covid-19 spreads, town and city leaders may not act the same as each other. Some may tell only sick people to stay home. Others may ask everyone to shelter in place. You may see a town that says stay home for two weeks. Another may say wait a month or more.
Once a mass quarantine order is given, you will not be able to go out. In a similar way, you may not be able to visit people who are restricted. For example, people in nursing homes right now are at very high risk. If you have a family member in one of these places, try to have them live with you.
Most states have funding for family members that take care of a person that would be in a facility. They will also pay for home health aides, visiting nurses, and other support. If you planning to leave home for vacation, this is not a good time. Once your home town or city is on lockdown, you may not be able to get back in. By the same token, if you are in an area that goes under quarantine, you will be forced to stay there.
Dirty air puts a toll on your lungs. This includes air fresheners right along with smog and other chemicals. Dirty air is not like exercise for your lungs. Chemicals can cause damage to the lungs. That forces them to make scars and other adaptions that are not good. When you get a cold or an infection like Covid-19, dirty air just makes it worse. Here are some things you can do to improve the air quality in your home:
- Stop using air fresheners. If you have odors in your home, try to get rid of the causes.
- Let’s say you have pets or cooking odors linger. You can get rid of those and other odors with an activated carbon filter on your central air vent. If you still have odors, use box fans with filters in the odor’s source area.
- Stop smoking indoors. Better yet, stop smoking. Now is not the time to have this extra burden on your lungs.
- Good air circulation is essential because chemicals build up fast when airflow is poor. Use box fans set on the highest setting to move the air in every room.
You can also put filters on them to reduce dust, chemicals, and bacteria. Some filters will also capture viruses. Remember, though, high capacity filters will clog faster. You will need lower capacity pre-filters in front of them. The lower capacity filter will trap big particles so they do not reach the high capacity filter.
It is worth noting that some people believe Covid-19 will simply disappear. Some say the change from cold to warm weather is in our favor. Anything is possible, and you may not need to worry about a quarantine. This is still a perfect time to polish your prepping skills. There many other diseases that can come up, plus other situations.
At a least, make one change as suggested in this article. Make that change a permanent part of your life. This way, each time a crisis looms, you will have one less thing to take care of.