Preppers, or survivalists, prepare for a broad spectrum of emergencies: disruptions in the food supply, civil unrest, tainting of the supply of potable water, cataclysmic weather events…and on and on. Lately, talk of the novel (new) coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been high on the list of topics. The virus that causes the disease is called “SARS-CoV-2.” While all the other prospective emergencies exist, though perhaps somewhat unlikely in most circumstances, COVID-19 appears to be far from a remote possibility. It seems to be spreading like wildfire. I think it might behoove us to become preppers, at least for the short term.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) anticipates that the spread of COVID-19 will eventually (and probably soon) become a pandemic. The results of a pandemic affecting the U.S. population suggests the following may happen (and I quote a page from the CDC website):
Widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, workplaces, and other places for mass gatherings may experience more absenteeism. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and transportation industry may also be affected. Health care providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. Non-pharmaceutical interventions would be the most important response strategy.
Among the approaches the CDC recommends to address the spread of COVID-19 and to protect individuals against the possibility of contracting the disease are:
- getting a flu vaccine;
- taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs;
- taking flu antivirals if prescribed;
- getting OUT of the habit of touching one’s hands to the face;
- frequently and thoroughly washing one’s hands;
- staying home if exposed to a family or household member who is sick;
- covering the nose and mouth with a mask or cloth if one is sick or is around sick people or at mass gatherings where the pandemic is already occurring; and
- increasing distance between individuals in social settings.
In addition, with the idea of “prepping” in mind, I have read that supplies of prescription medications may be impacted in the event of a pandemic. To combat that potentiality, some recommend stockpiling, to the extent possible, prescription medications, especially those that may be required for survival, such as diabetes medications, blood thinners, etc.
Recommendations to avoid social settings likely would come in the event of a true, localized, pandemic. So, for example, people would be advised to stay home and not go out for groceries, dining, meeting with friends, attend school, etc., etc. That possibility suggests it would behoove us all to stockpile: foods that store well for the long-term and significant stores of fresh water.
Heretofore, I have considered preppers to be dwellers on the fringes of sanity; people absorbed by the idea that monstrous things might occur at any moment that could disrupt society. Since watching news that the streets of Wuhan, China, a city of more than 11 million people, looks like a ghost town because almost no one ventures outdoors is enough to convince me that we need to take COVID-19 seriously. To date, more than 2,800 people have died from the disease and almost 83,000 cases have been reported.
Even with all the data flooding our news feeds and circulating in conversation, I have seen little evidence at the local level, including in my own house, of taking the situation seriously enough to begin taking actions toward preparedness. I hope we—all of us—don’t wait until it’s simply too late to begin preparing. More than that, I hope the CDC’s fears that we’re about to experience an awful pandemic in the U.S. are proven unfounded. Let’s hope a vaccine is miraculously discovered that addresses COVID-19. In the meantime, though, let’s pay attention to and learn from the preppers.
Agree about water. It’s good to keep some on hand – it’s not like it goes bad. I get my drinking water from a spring near here. A friend saves water jugs for me — she buys water as her well isn’t much good. I keep plenty of water on hand at my place – even just a couple of those food grade 5 gallon buckets are good for keeping water – sometimes available from health food stores or ice cream parlours for almost nothing. I think that living on a farm and/or a bit off the beaten track, you tend to assess vulnerabilities that could happen when your power supply goes down, road it blocked, and you plan accordingly.
Good points, Bev. I sometimes think about “what if” scenarios, even the more mundane things like trucker strikes that could have an enormous impact on delivery of things we take for granted every day. The idea of having on hand enough food and water to last for a few weeks is, as you say, just practical. We always have enough food to last that long, but water is another story. If the water supply were to be tainted, we’d be in trouble. Maybe it’s time to fill up a bunch of 5 gallon jugs; but first, I need the jugs. 😉
I don’t really consider myself to be a prepper, but maybe I am! I’ve seen how things can really shut down during storms and power outages. I saw how things got pretty squirrelly during the SARS epidemic when it hit Toronto. Store shelves can get cleaned out in hours when people get a bit panicky. I always keep a couple of months’ supply of food in my house – and keep whatever other things I might need for a normal few weeks. That just seems practical. I don’t like having to run around getting things when everyone is descending on stores like locusts. I sometimes think of my father in law who was a farmer his whole life – farmed right up until he died at 82. He said he never felt comfortable until he had a 2 year supply of hay in his barn as you never knew when you would have a bad year. He saw that happen a couple of times in his life and it obviously made quite an impression. For myself, I do feel a lot more comfortable when I know I have enough good around the place to go for several weeks. It’s not some terrified, panicky action. It’s just sort of practical — we never know when something might happen. Look at right now in Canada with the train system shut down by aboriginal blockades. The local propane gas company is saying only a day or two until they are right out of propane. Who, in their wildest dreams, would have imagined something like that happening?