Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2 Epidemic Disaster Preparedness Shelter In Place - Home

This blog post is to help you know what to do during an epidemic where you are told to "shelter in place". The first place I will tell you about to shelter in place is your home. Most of these shelter in place instructions will apply to most disasters, besides epidemics.

During an epidemic emergency as with any other emergency, you need to know about it. In the United States there are emergency broadcast system tests that annoy radio and television listeners and viewers periodically. They will tell you during a real use of the emergency broadcast system where to tune in to find out what to do next.

One of the things you may be told to do when you tune in to an official emergency broadcast is that you need to shelter in place. I will tell you later about sheltering in place in a vehicle, a workplace, or school. 

Learn How to Shelter in Place
At Home (This came from the CDC site, but they were apparently quoting the Red Cross here.)
American Red Cross logo The appropriate steps depend on the emergency situation. If you hear a warning signal, listen to local radio or television stations for further information. You will be told what to do, including where to find the nearest shelter if you are away from your "shelter-in-place" location.
If you are told to "shelter-in-place," act quickly. Follow the instructions of local authorities. In general:
  1. Bring children and pets indoors immediately. If your children are at school, do not try to bring them home unless told to. The school will shelter them.
  2. Close and lock all outside doors and windows. Locking may provide a tighter seal.
  3. If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.
  4. Turn off the heating, ventilation, or air conditioning system. Turn off all fans, including bathroom fans operated by the light switch.
  5. Close the fireplace or woodstove damper. Become familiar with proper operation of flues and dampers ahead of time.
  6. Get your disaster supplies , and make sure the radio is working.
  7. The room should have 10 square feet of floor space per person in order to provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide buildup for 5 hours. In this room, you should store scissors, plastic sheeting pre-cut to fit over any windows or vents and rolls of duct tape to secure the plastic. Access to a water supply is desirable, as is a working hard-wired telephone. Don't rely on cell phones because cellular telephone circuits may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency. Also, a power failure will render most cordless phones inoperable.
  8. Take everyone, including pets, into an interior room with no or few windows and shut the door.
  9. If you have pets, prepare a place for them to relieve themselves where you are taking shelter. Pets should not go outside during a chemical or radiation emergency because it is harmful to them and they may track contaminants into your shelter. The Humane Society of the United States suggests that you have plenty of plastic bags and newspapers, as well as containers and cleaning supplies, to help deal with pet waste.
  10. If you are instructed to seal the room, use duct tape and plastic sheeting, such as heavy-duty plastic garbage bags, to seal all cracks around the door into the room. Tape plastic over any windows. Tape over any vents and seal electrical outlets and other openings. As much as possible, reduce the flow of air into the room.
  11. Make sure all family members know what to do in an emergency whether they are at home, school, work, or outdoors. This includes knowing the number of an out-of-town friend or relative who has agreed to serve as an emergency contact. It can be easier to reach someone out of town during an emergency than to reach someone locally, including family members. The contact can collect the information on where and how everybody is and help reassure and reunite families.
  12. Call your emergency contact and keep the phone handy in case you need to report a life-threatening condition. Otherwise stay off the phone, so that the lines will be available for use by emergency responders.
  13. Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Do not evacuate unless instructed to do so.
  14. When you are told that the emergency is over, open windows and doors, turn on ventilation systems, and go outside until the building's air has been exchanged with the now clean outdoor air. Follow any special instructions given by emergency authorities to avoid chemical or radiological contaminants outdoors.

ABC News:
Pick up the Habits of Healthy Behavior (Slightly paraphrased)

The habits that can help keep you healthy in an outbreak are the same good health habits that can keep you from catching the common cold: maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly and get enough rest. Especially in a flu outbreak situation, it will be important to wash your hands thoroughly and often, reminding loved ones -- especially children -- to do the same. Always be careful about covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, teaching any children in your family to do the same. Also teach children to stay away from others as much as possible if they are sick and stay home from work or school if you are sick. 

(Me, winging it:)
Train yourself and your family members not to touch your face unconsciously. This is particularly so for your eyes, nose and mouth. Your body is especially vulnerable to catching disease in these areas.  Wash your hands as soon as you get home from a public place or public transportation. 

I believe a steamer is a good tool for everyday use, but is especially so in the event of an epidemic. For everyday, you and household members will catch and transmit less disease by using a steamer. Use it to clean frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches and plates, cabinet knobs and appliance and entertainment system knobs. 

It is a good idea to find out whether your electronics can be harmed by steam cleaning their knobs before you do it. Removing the knobs and cleaning them may work better. 

Since some kinds of bacteria have become immune to alcohol, alcohol wipes and that sort of thing, are no longer useful for cleaning. Steam cleaning gives us a way to stop the diseases we can not combat with alcohol cleaners.

The CDC goes into great detail on specific diseases and how to deal with each one, including recognition of symptoms. Anthrax is one of these.
I found that especially interesting because I worked for the Post Office during the Anthrax poisonings in Post Offices. 

I heard more than I ever wanted to know, during that time, about Anthrax. This threat has not gone away. We could be dealing with this one at any time again. Bioterrorism weapons are being researched by governments all over the world, including the USA. Some of the anthrax used in the United States was said to have come from the USA weapons research programs. Since this is such a serious threat, I will cover Anthrax and what you need to know and do about it in a separate post.

I have been studying how to filter air and clean it so you can have fresh air in your home during an long shelter in place emergency without directly breathing outside air. I am not ready to write a post about it, but if you are impatient, you can research it yourself.

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