Note: This article is aimed at responsible citizens who are not trained professionals like First Responders, Medical Care Providers (RN, PA, MD) or Military. If you are a trained professional and are looking for tips to work in hot zones under full CBRNE/HAZMAT PPE, then click here to check out our article by Guest Writer and Customer Jeff Johnson called "How to Stay Cool in PPE, HAZMAT, CBRNE Suits."
Coronavirus is the hot topic in the news right now for good reason. With nearly 100,000 cases, almost 3,000 deaths worldwide, and new cases popping up in significant numbers outside of China, there is increasing concern about medical quarantines here in the United States. This article will help you take some basic precautions in anticipation of an American medical quarantine for Coronavirus. Lord willing, you will never need to use any of this information, but as my FTO (Field Training Officer) used to say: "Better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it."
Food and Water - far and away the most important supplies you will need in the event of a medical quarantine are food and water. We have a detailed article on Water Storage Basics for Disaster Preparation here that reviews the different emergency water storage options on the market today. If you live in high-density or multifamily housing, click here to check out our article on How to Store Water if you live in an apartment or condo. These tips are especially useful if you live in a city or densely populated urban area where storage space is an issue for you. IcePlate® Classic and IcePlate® Curve deliver a storage density/cube space advantage over bottled water that can be as great as 30%, allowing you to store more water in the same space. In addition to their storage density advantage, IcePlate® Classic and IcePlate® Curve are also man-portable. This combination of storage density and portability make IcePlate® Classic and IcePlate® Curve extremely useful emergency water storage solutions because they are fully optimized for sheltering in place and bugging out.
Working a number of wild fires during my time in Law Enforcement, our team had a general rule of thumb for Earthquake and Wild Fire Preparations: have two weeks worth of food and water on hand for each member of your family/household. This is good guidance for a medical quarantine too. MREs (Meal Ready to Eat) are an excellent option and my personal favorite when it comes to emergency food stores. They are durable, calorically dense, have a long shelf life and are portable (especially when field stripped). We get our MREs at the PX (living in the Washington D.C. Metro Area isn't all doom and gloom), but if you don't have the ability to get on a U.S. Military Base to access a PX or a Commissary, there are a number of options online. At the time of writing this article, MREs are going for $110/12-pack at our local PX. Your emergency food stores, especially if MREs, should be depleted last, no matter what type you have selected.
Food stores should be consumed from most perishable to least perishable. The rule of thumb in our house is "Fridge, Freezer, Pantry." We prioritize consuming the food that is most perishable and requires power first, then we go down the list from there.
If your power goes out during your emergency or medical quarantine, remember to plan what you are going to grab from the fridge before you open the door.
Your refrigerator will actually stay cold for a long time if you can keep the door closed (same goes for the freezer). To help you do this, take a picture of the contents of your freezer and your refrigerator daily, while you have power. The pictures will allow you to plan your food consumption efficiently before you open the doors. This simple step could help you preserve your existing food supplies for days more than you would have otherwise.
Power, Fuel - by definition, a medical quarantine will most likely force you and your family to shelter in place. This means you need fuel to power a backup power source in the event power is lost for some part of the medical quarantine. If you have a generator, make sure you have plenty of fuel and know how to operate it. A medical quarantine or natural disaster is not the time to learn how to use your generator. If you are using a battery bank as your backup power, make sure it is fully charged and well maintained.
You should be sure to keep your vehicles fully fueled (and/or charged if you have an electric vehicle). While it is extremely unlikely a medical quarantine will turn into an evacuation, the smart money is always on preserving your mobility and you don't want to take the chance that gas becomes scarce. My wife and I have the ability to link up with our friends and family should the need arise. When planning your fuel stores, make sure you calculate the range of your vehicle under load. Don't use the MPG numbers from your everyday driving and commuting. A good guide for this is to use your EPA City rating as your MPG guide for highway driving.
Auxiliary/external batteries for your smartphone are the only additional power requirements you'll need in the event of a medical quarantine. Make sure you have enough battery capacity to recharge your smartphone from 0-100% charged two times.
Transportation - Once you have your fuel stores planned, it is time to check your vehicle. Make sure your tires are all properly inflated (especially that spare if you have one) and all of your fluids are topped off. While the very nature of a medical quarantine means you likely will be confined to your home or a small geographic area in your municipality, you never know when circumstances might change and require independent transportation. If that happens, you need to be ready.
While a medical quarantine is not likely here in the United States, these are easy, low cost measures that could go a long way in helping you and your family deal with such an event more easily and with less stress. As my Dad so often reminded me: "Son, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
What preparations have you put in place for your family in the event of an emergency? Let us know in the comments below!