COVID-19, without a doubt, was the most life-altering event of recent times. Although it is not the first pandemic to target mankind, it is the first large-scale outbreak since the dawn of the 21st century. The last pandemic before COVID was the Spanish flu, which took place in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, hardly anyone who witnessed the full impact of Spanish flu was left alive to pass on their sage wisdom on how to survive the outbreak.
We were left unprepared and forced to grasp at straws to stay afloat; and yet, like every situation mankind has faced until now, we are persevering, but not without much loss. It’s at this moment that it’s important to reflect on what the pandemic has taught us so far (aside from the Tik Tok dance trends of course), and how we can use our newfound knowledge of survival to be better prepared for any other calamity and for waves of new variants.
COVID-19: History and Symptoms
At the onset of the outbreak, the coronavirus strain – COVID-19 – seemed like China’s problem; but in no time, the virus spread across the globe. It became a pandemic about four months after its first reported case.
COVID-19 and its variants have been ravishing the world since early 2020, with the deadliest months occurring this year. The virus is said to have two strains; one which affects animals and the other that was most likely transmitted to humans through an intermediary host.
The first recorded case of COVID-19 in humans was documented in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. By March of 2020, the outbreak had spread across every continent, and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a state of global emergency to fight the pandemic.
COVID-19 is very contagious and is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). So, it targets mostly the respiratory system, meaning its symptoms can be observed by how it affects the airways (nose, mouth, trachea, etc.), lungs and blood vessels. The symptoms of the virus vary from mild to severe illnesses. These include:
- Runny Nose
- Nasal Congestion
- Loss of Smell
- Loss of Taste
- Muscle Pain/Soreness
- Sore Throat
- Difficulty Breathing
The symptoms exhibited by patients vary in individuals and have evolved over time. In the more severe cases, patients experienced hypoxia, pneumonia, organ failure and dyspnea. Like most infections, these symptoms don’t present themselves in affected persons until anywhere from 4-12 days after being exposed.
Preparedness is Key
If we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, it’s to be prepared for the unexpected. Many people across the world faced challenges as a result of the pandemic. These challenges weren’t directly related to the illness, but rather side effects of the lockdown which induced a SHTF (shit hit the fan) scenario. Hospitals quickly reach capacity, unemployment rates spiked and a run on supplies left many households woefully unequipped.
So, what have we learned? What can you, as a prepper, do with your experience of living through a pandemic to better your chances of survival for the next SHTF situation?
Stocking Up on Non-Perishables and Water
Coronavirus is a very contagious disease that incited a lockdown because remaining indoors was thought to be the best way to flatten the curve. Meaning, for a while, random unplanned trips to the store were not advisable. Stocking your home with non-perishable food and water helped to reduce the need to leave your house.
Non-perishables have longer shelf lives than other kinds of groceries. Some examples include canned food, powdered milk, tuna pouches, chips and granola bars. They come in pretty handy in chaotic periods and you should stock your house with them to prepare for almost any situation. Take care to ensure that food supplies are nutritious and will last long enough to feed yourself and your family for a decent amount of time (don’t forget your pets – they will need plenty of food too).
You also have to make provisions to store a sufficient volume of drinking water; especially if you live in areas that are prone to water shortage catastrophes. Having a reservoir of safe drinking water makes a huge difference in a crisis.
Keeping Sanitary and Cleaning Supplies on Hand
Remember when the world ran out of toilet paper? I don’t know if any of us really know what that was about, but maybe this next section will provide a little insight.
Sanitation and good hygiene have been major pillars of safety during this pandemic. Before the vaccine was approved and ready to be used by the masses, sanitation was one of our surest weapons in combating the virus. Keeping a stock of sanitary and cleaning supplies became an essential part of being prepared.
This can also apply to most other situations for which you should be prepared. COVID aside, it’s not beneficial to your health or that of your family to be living in unsanitary conditions. To avoid illnesses that can arise because of germs, you need to keep your environment clean at all times.
Your kitchen or other places where you keep your food should be disinfected regularly, as well as your sleeping quarters. Sanitary and cleaning supplies include detergent, sanitizers and disinfectants, bleach, bars of soap, borax, white vinegar, brooms, mops, etc. A good tip for buying cleaning supplies is to make sure you purchase industrial grade, i.e. janitorial cleaning supplies for your preparedness stock. These will last longer than regular supplies.
An item many of us probably hadn’t considered keeping in our emergency kits prior to our current situation are masks. We have learned that masks help to effectively prevent the spread of viruses. Masks, whether they are standard doctor’s office ones or super duty N-95s, could be useful against many occurrences, not just viruses. Most of us have mask collections now that we should store in our preparedness bags, once we are no longer using them, of course.
Always Having a Safety Net
Coronavirus altered the labor force in a big way, as roughly 9.6 million Americans lost their jobs during the pandemic. This was especially tragic for individuals who didn’t have a backup plan or savings and were forced to live hand to mouth during the lockdown. Having a safety net cannot be overemphasized.
You need a backup plan for the worst-case scenario. A contingency plan requires deliberate preparation. It means that you set out a portion of your income, strictly for emergency and SHTF situations. A reasonable percentage to keep aside is around 10%.
Another tip is to try to have a cash reserve. In times of crisis, cash is more important than money in the bank. Hence, you should ensure a portion of your Disaster Relief Fund is liquidated. Find a safe space to hide this cash away from prying eyes (we recommend a water- and fire-proof safe).
Having a Shelter-in-Place Strategy
We all became intimately aware with sheltering-in-place and are even considering doing so again with the current Delta variant statistics. Luckily, sheltering in place (hunkering down) was more for our well-being and safety, not because danger was so severe that we were being shut in, even though it did feel that way.
Having a proper strategy for sheltering-in-place is especially important if you’re living in a natural disaster-prone area. Getting to a safe house in case of any threats could save your life; however, it’s one thing to know about your safe place and another to have your family instinctively go there in the case of an emergency. This is where a strategy comes into play.
Regularly performing emergency drills with your family can teach them what to do and how to access the shelter. These drills and strategies can increase their survival skills and greatly improve their chances of getting through the disaster unscathed.
Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Above all else, you should take care of yourself and your general well-being. Getting regular exercise, enough rest, and eating healthy is the ultimate form of preparation. When your body is working at full capacity and you are treating it right, it will be able to resist and survive many threats and your immune system will thank you. Proof of this is that the healthiest population has been less affected by COVID.
Surviving Means Listening and Taking Action
When we hear news of any threat or an imminent disaster, it’s only natural that we panic. Unfortunately, panic can affect your chances of survival negatively. Although panicking is a very human response, you should try as much as possible to remain calm.
As a prepper, you probably already have strategies in place to help you survive various threats. Now would be the time to think things through and take some simple steps. Here are a few things you can do:
Use Technology to Your Advantage
The modern era isn’t like it was a hundred years ago, where it could take days before an emergency broadcast was delivered to the masses. With the internet, smart devices and all they encompass, you can weigh the gravity of the threat and collect enough information before taking action. Just make sure to get your news report from a reputable source. You can also update emergency settings on all your devices that could just save your life one day.
Listen to the Professionals
They’re the experts for a reason. Follow their instructions wisely and implement them into the survival strategy you already have in place, especially if the instructions concern your health and general safety.
It’s better to be prepared and have the threat be a hoax than to disregard expert information and suffer the consequences.
Practice Your Shelter-in-Place Strategy
This is the part where you launch into action, prepare your supplies, and hunker down to wait out the (pretend) crisis. Ensure you’re not forgetting any essential item and your ‘shelter’ is up to standard.