At all times observe good sanitation. Wash your hands and don’t touch your face. This means your eyes as well as your nose and mouth. Learn to cough into the crook of your arm rather than your hands. Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. A good immune system could very well mean the difference between sick and well.
Make sure that all interactions with non-family members take place outdoors in full sunlight. Ultra-violet light kills viruses. Also maintain a distance of several feet as people coughing on you could spread the disease. Do not shake hands with people - bow, nod, or wave instead.
Many people feel the need to commune with God at a time of emergency. If you must do so, then ask your pastor/priest to administer services outdoors under full sunlight. A priest/minister taking great pains to prevent possible contamination both by himself, and others who may help her/him, would be the only advised way of sharing the Host. Scenarios where everyone shares a single cup of wine, or passes the Host from hand to hand, should be avoided at all costs. Some Catholic priests will allow you to have the Host pre-blessed to take home and share with your family; if you have any warning of the approach of an outbreak to your area, you may wish to request this in adequate supply for your expected isolation, along with suggested readings for Sunday mornings in lieu of services. (When I was a child my parents were able to take communion on a camping trip over Easter this way.) I expect that other Christian denominations may have similar flexibility.
Telecommute if at all possible. Stay home if you are sick! Stay home if you have a sick family member if possible, as the virus is contagious for at least 24 hours prior to your feeling ill. If your work is one that must be staffed, then wear a surgical mask, and insist on others wearing one as well. Replace the mask if it gets wet. Do not touch anyone. Do not share food, drinks, cigarettes, etc,…. Use a spray mist bottle of diluted bleach and water (use trgger sprays, aerosol sprays are discouraged because they can spread the virus) several times a day, on all surfaces used by you and others. This includes the phone, doorknobs, keyboards, doorjams, desktops, etc…. Make use of alcohol based hand sanitizers multiple times a day. Wear non-latex surgical gloves if you must come into contact with things touched by others (latex is okay if you are not allergic to it). After leaving work, you should strip, and shower, before touching anyone. Leave your clothes outside exposed to sunlight to sterilize. (You might also consider stripping and and showering outdoors if possible, before touching any loved ones.) Wash clothes and allow to air dry outside if at all possible. Bleach is your friend.
Surgical masks were found capable of stopping the SARS virus; in all liklihood they will be effective against the H5N1 virus as well. The biggest danger is a virus using a water droplet as a means of transportation from a sick person to a healthy person. They would certainly be effective if used outdoors. Droplets into the eyes can also transmit virus; ordinary glasses or sunglasses can reduce this risk; safety goggles can reduce it even more.
Insist that your groceries and other essential purchases be sent by delivery person. Better yet, have a cache of supplies not requiring refrigeration stored at home so that you need not shop. Keep the transaction in sunlight and/or spray or dip the contents with dilute bleach solution to disinfect. This includes fruits and vegetables. You can always rinse the solution off before eating them.
Keep a spray bottle of dilute bleach solution next to all sinks. Use it to disinfect the handles of the water spigots and the sink area each and every time you use the sink. If you have more than one bathroom, designate the most convenient as the ‘sick’ bathroom for those who are ill, and the most isolated as the ‘well’ bathroom for those who are not.
To make a bleach solution for disinfecting Gloved hands, Bare hands and skin, Floors, Clothing, Equipment, Bedding. A 1 to 100 bleach solution is recommended. When using household bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) 100 ml per 10 litres of water or 1 litre 1:10 bleach solution per 9 litres of water, or three tablespoons bleach solution per gallon of water. When using Calcium hypochlorite powder or granules 70% (HTH) 7 grams or ½ tablespoon per 10 litres of water.
To make a bleach solution for disinfecting for cadavers, excreta, spills. 1 to 10 bleach solution is recommened. When using household bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) mix 1 litre bleach per 10 litres of water. When using Calcium hypochlorite powder or granules 70% (HTH) 7 grams or ½ tablespoon per 1 litre of water.
I also recommend you purchase a home air filter. Buy one that uses UV light to kill viruses. These are available in both room-sized and whole house sizes. If you have a business, commercial sizes are also available.
You should always have at least $100.00 of ready cash on hand.
An alternate source of heat is desirable as power may be interupted for short periods of time. Small portable propane heaters are a good option. They may be found at some big box stores as well as large sporting goods and hardware stores. Make sure you include a supply of fuel as well. Read the instructions and be certain to provide adequate ventilation to reduce carbon monoxide risks. Keep extra blankets and warm clothing available. Get a carbon monoxide monitor well before the pandemic.
Enough bottled water to supply the needs of your family members for at least 5 days, for drinking and washing. You can bottle your own and it will keep for 6 months. Keeping bleach on hand, as well as coffee filters is also a very good idea. Dirty water is far harder to disinfect than is filtered water. Alternatively, you can use a commercial water filter commonly sold at outdoor supply stores. Most of these are rated to remove chemicals and bacteria, not viruses. Then either a few drops of bleach followed by airation*, or boil water to kill any surviving pathogens. Virus-rated filters, if properly used and maintained, may skip the bleach step. At sea level, 5 minutes of boiling is considered adequate to kill pathogenic bacteria and viruses. In the absence of a filter, you can allow sediment to settle and then decant off the water above it.
Keep food staples on hand. You are expected by the government, to be able to survive on your own for 5 days following a natural disaster. (Given that this scenario will last longer than 5 days, I would personally make sure I had at least a month, to two months, food on hand.) Make sure you have plenty of tissues, toilet paper, paper diapers if you have an infant, feminine protection products, and paper towels on hand. Have at least TWO can-openers. (While I’ve never broken a can-opener, I’m sure the first time will be in a situation where I can’t just go out to buy another.--Lisa the GP)
Make sure you have enough over the counter flu medications to last for 2–3 weeks of illness—ibuprofen, cough supressant, etc.
Keep your vehicles always above half full. Keep your lawn-mower gas can full too.
An emergency medical kit is important. Keep it well-stocked and make sure the expiration dates are checked bi-yearly. If you can take Red Cross first aid classes before the pandemic hits, do so.
If someone in your family is dependent on prescription medicines, then keep an extra 10-day suppy on hand (I disagree, I say a month. If you require opiates and are on an ‘opiate contract’ you may need to work out a weekly delivery plan with your pharmacy. Don’t forget birth control pills; if you are regionally quarantined and not ill you and your partner may get very bored, and you do not want to get flu while pregnant (links at bottom of page). We don’t know about H5N1, but Spanish Flu was particularly deadly to pregnant women—Lisa the GP)
A hand-cranked radio or television should be added.
Briquets are always useful, should the power go out, but remember, that they will kill if used indoors. Camp stoves are more controllable for general cooking. Also of value is a spare, filled, propane tank for outdoor bar-b-ques. Lanterns, are also important. Make sure you have extra fuel, and mantles. Battery operated lanterns are less fire hazard and without carbon monoxide risk, but will probably require several sets of spare batteries.
Stay positive in your outlook. Studies have proved time and time again, that survival is enhanced with a pro-active and positive attitude. (In the period from January to July of this year the survival rate from H5N1 has been about 67%, as opposed to a death rate of about 33%. The definition of ‘positive attitude’ isn’t well defined, but usually means something more akin to ‘things are under control and I have a plan’ than ‘the world is bright and all is right and life is merry and gay’..--Lisa the GP, which usually means ‘general practitioner’ but in this context might mean ‘grouchy person’--I find unrealistic optimism irritating.)
Help your neighbors prepare before there is a local outbreak, but don’t boast of your own preparedness, lest sometime during the emergency your neighborhood sociopath decides that your preparations are rightfully his. If you live in a dangerous place or if your neighborhood contains an unstable person/druggie/alcoholic/wild teen, consider having a properly secured weapon and any associated ammunition, but *only* if you can take classes in its safe, proper use. Stressful situations will tend to make unstable people act out and you should be mentally prepared to talk such a person down, or to defend yourself if needed. Okay, this isn’t hygiene, but it seemed to follow from the discussion of not boasting of preparedness.