If you think the potential for an Ebola outbreak in your neighborhood is frightening, consider the fact that although it has only seven genes, scientists have discovered over 250 mutations brewing within them. This means Ebola could suddenly become a complete guessing game to the CDC and other officials in charge of protecting you. Stop your initial reflex to panic, and instead, be prepared for this and other major emergencies life may throw at you.
While Ebola easily scores major headlines, it's hardly the only contagious disease around. Knowledge is most certainly power when it comes to medical disasters, so brief yourself on whatever may be going around, learning what the symptoms are and how it's passed around.
If someone in your house is sick, but doesn't actually have Ebola or the current contagion, a trip to the ER could actually give it to you via waiting room transmission, thus your thinking cap is the best defense in such emergencies.
- Stock your home with disinfectants and sanitizing lotions (and use them frequently).
- Keep gloves and masks handy if an outbreak occurs in your vicinity.
- Avoid casual contact with people, including handshakes, hugs and anything that brings you too close.
The threat of an individual or group of terrorists attacking the United States may never go away, but people can't hibernate every time an alert is issued. Being aware of your immediate surroundings makes you able to report anything unusual, as well as react to it.
While it's important to heed warnings from officials, it's also crucial that your home be equipped with things your family would need if the country virtually shut down temporarily. Have shelf stable food, plenty of water and first-aid at your fingertips.
- Know the dangers of utilities and collapse if the structure you're in is threatened or compromised.
- Keep your phone charged and a battery-powered radio handy.
- Have a plan for school and essential businesses being closed.
Mother nature is perhaps the least predictable threat to people, and by far the most deadly. Again: Knowledge should be your guiding light through an emergency. Knowing local weather patterns and forecasts can save your life, and based on typical meteorological events in your area, stock your home and vehicle accordingly.
No matter where you live, NOAA can keep you informed during seasonal disturbances, such as heavy rain and hurricane seasons, and local alerts for any kind of problem can be sent right to your phone. Even a heat wave can kill you, so consider investing in your family's education and preparedness regarding natural disasters likely to hit your home.
- Plan an evacuation route, but have at least one back-up if major roads are inaccessible.
- Know basic first aid and keep a stocked kit at home and in your car.
- Keep no less than a three day supply of water on hand, including for drinking, washing and flushing.
A sudden stoppage or even shortage of cash can devastate any household. The problem is that most people don't have enough of a surplus of income to pad their bank accounts in the event of unemployment. You should, however, be able to store a little bit away each week, but not just pennies. Stash food that you can safely store for months, like canned goods and dry pasta, being sure to use and replace them prior to the stamped expiration date.
Go ahead and buy extra packages of toilet paper and bottles of shampoo and dish detergent when they're on sale too, just letting them stack up in a closet. Sudden unemployment may take away your ability to do anything but pay the rent for a few months, thus storing necessities now will come in very handy then. If you literally live paycheck to paycheck like 25 million other American families do these days, know who you could get an emergency loan from if you were laid off or fired. It's important to know how you will carry your household through the financial scarcity.
- Buy two or three extra non-perishable food items when you grocery shop, and stash them.
- Keep browsing the employment classifieds even if your current job is secure.
- Pre-qualify for an emergency loan at a local payday or other lender, and get to know key personnel.
The world is much less frightening when you are prepared for bad things that may happen. Ebola has taught the world to pay attention and be prepared, and that's basically what you should do as well. Just don't go around living in fear, because that's the worst and most preventable consequence of living in a scary world.