I would like to begin by mentioning this is in no way meant to scare anyone. I personally find the fear mongering about the latest bird flu incredulous. Crying wolf has the potential for danger if something serious was to arise, not to mention the apathetic feelings created. I would instead like to present to my readers with rational information that you can use to make your own informed judgments and preparations. I hope to give you the tools to get started or advance your preparations so you can recognize the risk, assess the situation, and take action to reduce the risk.
Many viruses and biological hazards exist that may harm us. Whether it be through an intentional attack such as weaponized small pox or the latest bird flu. Many of the precautions for a biological agent and a pandemic overlap, though some differences do exist such as a fungus like anthrax used as a weapon generally will not pass from person to person unlike a virus.
A biological agent is a bacterium, virus, prion, or fungus which may cause infection, allergic reaction, toxicity or otherwise create a hazard to human health. They can be used as biological weapons in bio-terrorism or biological warfare. More than 1,200 different kinds of potentially weaponized bio-agents have been described and studied to date. Biological agents can enter your body through your nose, mouth, and skin depending on the agent.
A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region.
What can we do about it?
The first and foremost that anyone should do to prevent the threat is to maintain optimal health by eating healthy and exercising. By keeping the body in top physical shape we stand a better chance of developing strong antibodies and possibly reduce the effects if one was to become infected. I also advocate using herbal techniques to increase the bodies ability to ward off biological problems. Some of these include Echinacea, garlic, medicinal mushrooms, and ginseng. Some are better for viruses and some make better antibiotics. Antibiotics attack bacteria; they are of no use against a virus, though while preparing for all contingencies it is important to have a well diversified medicinal cabinet.
Another important consideration is self cleanliness to include your personal environment. I won’t go to much into it. I don’t want to insult your intelligence. Cough in your sleeve, wash your hands, we understand these things. A big one, especially for children, is to stop touching your face! This is something the Marine Corps pounded into my head, with good reason. Viruses will enter through the mouth, eyes, and nose.
An important thought to consider is to be aware of your livestock. For example, having chickens, we pay close attention to who comes in contact with our flock and where they have been. For instance I would be hesitant to allow someone who may have been around a commercial confinement house to walk the land our flock free ranges with the same shoes. Also of course, we need to keep housing and runs clean. Waterers and feeders need to be cleaned often. These are just good chicken keeping practices. For information on dealing with bird flu threats amongst you flock see here.
Prepare for self imposed quarantine.
Should the situation arise where a pandemic or biological hazard has reached a level that may be threatening to myself or my family, I will not be waiting for an “official” to mandate that I must quarantine. Having enough food and supplies on hand for any disaster will allow us to self quarantine before the threat has risen to a level of widespread panic.
The items to have on hand do not differ much from any other disaster. We plan to lose any system that provides our daily lives support. This includes food, water, medicine, security, shelter, and energy. This may mean something different to you than it does for me. Water may need to be drawn from a well. Generators may need fuel. (if people are quarantined, grid power may be less than reliable) Chickens may need to be culled and tools may be needed to repair our home. Security needs will be similar to many other disasters. Law enforcement may be tied up leaving you to defend yourself. Just as well multiple forms of communication may be needed to call for help, gather information, or even alert others. I.e. cell phones, radios, ham radios, etc.
Prepare to quarantine for 2 weeks minimum and a better estimate would be to plan to quarantine for 3 months dependent on the severity of the situation. A sick room should be designated to isolate individuals who show signs of the virus (if transmittable). The room should be predetermined with supplies set in place. This should include the essentials food, water, medical supplies, heat source, cot, etc. A sun room, garage, or spare bedroom will all work for this purpose. Plastic sheeting may be needed to further isolate any contagion or even to insulate from extreme temperatures. Keep in mind ventilation. Isolation time depends on the threat, but generally for the flu 2 weeks is a good place to start.
- N-95 or better masks. N-95 masks block at least 95% of particles. Commercial grade masks and gas masks also work well. (be prepared to don and clear mask within 9 seconds)
- Medical Grade Gloves.
- Goggles. Even if you have a mask on hand a good set of goggles are cheap. 2 is 1, 1 is none.
- Bleach, peroxide, disinfectant, etc. Spray bottles with 3% hydrogen peroxide.
- Lime or quicklime. (Culled livestock disposal.)
- Roles of plastic sheeting. The thicker, the better. Used to cover drafts, broken windows, construct isolation room, etc.
- Hand Sanitizer. Will not kill viruses, but makes hands inhospitable to viruses until hands can be washed again.
- OTC Medicine. Analgesics (pain killers), decongestants, antihistamines, and cough suppressants.
Vaccinations against Viruses
Vaccinations are a touchy issue with some, but generally my feeling is to avoid them in 99% of cases and here is why. Many times when a vaccine is generated for things like the newest swine flu, H1N1, H5N2, etc, the vaccines are rushed. Rushing vaccines reduces the amount of time for studies on side effects. The vaccines need to be tested and upon receiving the results, re-engineered to reduce side effects. Then even after a reliable vaccine has been created you face the chance of the virus mutating making the vaccine less effective. Then the process must start over again. Year to year you pump yourself up with more vaccines containing mercury and aluminum poisoning your body even further. On the other hand we can take care of our bodies, eat healthy, stay off the drugs, and build our immune systems the way nature intended.
Pictured above is an example of the typical NBC contaminated area marking symbol specific to biological contamination.
Detection of a Biological Attack
per USMC Guidebook for Marines
- Enemy aircraft dropping unidentified material or spraying unidentified substance.
- New and unusual types of shells and bombs, particularly those which burst with little or no blast.
- Smoke from an unknown source or of an unknown nature.
- An increased occurrence of sick or dead animals.
- Unusual or unexplained increase in the number of insects, such as mosquitoes, ticks, or fleas.
- Any weapon not seeming to have an immediate casualty effect.
The threat of pandemics and biological attacks should not create fear. Yes the potential risk exist but the probability is low. Preparing for such a situation is not much different than preparing for any disaster. If we are prepared to lose systems of support then we are already 90% of the way there. If you are prepared for it to happen when it does then you will be one less person drawn into the hysteria. Stay educated. Stay Prepared. Strive to thrive.
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