Whether you’re concerned about Ebola or some pathogen yet unknown, you’ll need the right supplies to protect the healthy from the sick. Here’s a list of items that would be very useful, should the horseman of pestilence come riding through your town. (Last week, in Part One, we covered how to go about setting up a pandemic isolation room.)
Tyvek coveralls: These are tough, tear-proof, and almost waterproof. They’re available at most hardware stores, and can be purchased with head and shoe covers.
Masks: A variety of standard medical masks, N95 masks, or even a few N100’s could be invaluable. Buy a giant box of them at one of those warehouse stores, and you’ll have plenty extra for bartering. The basic surgical mask is the cheapest and most common type of disease preventing mask. The next level up is the N95. It protects against 95% of the particulates larger than 0.3 microns in size. N99 masks are 99% effective and N100 masks are 99.7% effective. The average N100 mask is five times more expensive than the common N95 mask, though none of these can guarantee the filtering of viruses (which are smaller than 0.3 microns).
Goggles and gloves: Lab goggles or work goggles are the best choices, especially with an anti-fog coating and vents. A case of Nitrile gloves will protect your hands, without causing allergic reactions associated with latex.
Plastic sheeting and duct tape: Use these to seal off doors, windows, vents, and more. They’re also handy for covering mattresses and dead bodies.
Large trash bags: Use them for trash, wear them as aprons, or use them as barriers. There are probably hundreds more uses.
Lysol or similar disinfecting spray: A few cans of disinfecting spray could mean the difference between health and illness for your family. Use them liberally.
Hand sanitizer: Everyone should be using this—and often—during any infectious event. Get as large of a container of it as you can find.
Chlorine bleach: Bleach can be a great disinfectant for laundry and to make a sanitizing solution.
Thermometer: Get several inexpensive thermometers. Check each patient’s temperature with their own unit. Don’t share. Disposable forehead thermometers are an option, though not as easy to read.
Make Your Own Disinfecting Spray
When the Lysol runs out, you’ll have to make your own disinfectant. A disinfectant, by definition, is a substance that is used to kill microorganisms. You probably already have disinfecting cleaners in your kitchen and bathroom, but in the event of an infectious outbreak, you’ll probably need something stronger. Ordinary household bleach can be diluted with water and turned into a very effective disinfectant, by following the Center for Disease Control’s recommended 1:10 solution. To make this, you’ll need:
• Household bleach
• A clean plastic spray bottle or similar container
• A measuring cup
The 1:10 mixture means that for each part of bleach, you’ll add 9 parts of water. For a small volume of disinfectant, you can blend ¼ cup of bleach with 2 ¼ cups of water. For larger batches, measure the amount of water and bleach solution accordingly. Pour the bleach in first, then add the water to avoid being splashed by the bleach. Use cool or cold water, as hot water can degrade the mixture. Do not add other ingredients into the mixture. Ammonia is particularly dangerous when mixed with chlorine bleach, as it creates a gas that is potentially deadly.
What would you want to have on hand if a disease ran rampant through your community? Let us know by leaving a comment.