Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

Prepping for a Pandemic
Originally published November 10, 2014

A month ago we were all smugly watching the news regarding the Ebola outbreak in East Africa thinking, “those poor folks, sure glad it’s half a world away!” Then one thing led to another and now this disease has come ashore. I never craft this column to cause fear, but this may be the exception. A word of caution here, many folks hold irrational fears that are likely more contagious than the disease itself. However in this case, we may do well to err on the side of cautious preparedness!

Ebola is defined as viral hemorrhagic fever disease. Symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, and abnormal bleeding. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to the Ebola virus, though 8-10 days is most common.

Our generation has never faced a runaway pandemic although every few years we watch various strains of flu have a bit of a run before they fizzle out. Now a Liberian man has been diagnosed with Ebola and quarantined in his home in Dallas. It seems the system has broken down on several levels when it came to managing this incident. From the highest office in the land to the local health officials in Texas, mistakes, missteps and downright malfeasance has characterized the handling of the matter. If this is an example of what we can expect from our public health officials, then we certainly haven’t seen the worst of it yet.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) offers the following: You can only get Ebola from touching the blood or body fluids of a person either infected or already dead from the virus. Contamination can also be from contacting objects like contaminated needles or the blood, meat or body fluids of infected animals. This being the official government position on the matter. They also say that “Ebola poses no significant risk to the United States.”

In my opinion, the government will carefully word their press releases in such a way to avoid panic, sometimes compromising the accuracy of information. The last thing anyone in government wants is a pandemic coupled with a panic.

Here’s what you can do: Make preparations as you would for any other disaster. Stock up on the basics. Be prepared for a total breakdown in services as utility workers or first responders may be affected. In addition, make a plan to self-quarantine. That means staying home from work, keeping the kids home from school (or daycare) and simply holeing up in what you know is a safe environment. In other words cutting off any contact with any potentially infected person. Drastic measures, I know, but they may just be what keeps you and your loved ones alive. If you can’t avoid venturing out in public, do so with the benefit of protective gear, gloves, facemask and plenty of sanitizer.

As always, send your comments and questions to disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.

Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.

additional columns by Dave Robinson