In this episode of the Managing Uncertainty Podcast, Bryghtpath Principal & Chief Executive Bryan Strawser tackles the topic of Personal and Family Preparedness for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
Topics discussed include the Ready Campaign and their themes of: have a plan, make a kit, be informed – and specific steps that you and your family can take to prepare for a potential epidemic of Coronavirus Disease in your state or local community.
Related Episodes & Blog Posts
- Episode #6: Personal Preparedness
- Episode #69: National Preparedness Month 2019
- Episode #92: Novel Coronavirus
Bryan Strawser: Hi folks. Bryan Strawser, principal and chief executive here at Bryghtpath and welcome to the Managing Uncertainty Podcast for this week. We’re going to be talking about personal and family preparedness as it relates to the current Coronavirus outbreak. We’ve talked about personal and family preparedness before here on the podcast, usually in conjunction with National Preparedness Month, which here in the United States is in September. Although there are other countries that do it, do something similar at different times of the year. But today I want to talk specifically about a personal and family preparedness when it comes to looking at the potential pandemic with Coronavirus around the world. But I’m going to also give maybe a little bit of a US-North America-centric point of view.
Bryan Strawser: So let’s start with some basics about personal and family preparedness. No matter where you’re at in the world, I think one of the best resources to start with is to look at the Ready Campaign, which is a product of the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA. You can find this website at ready.gov and it is full of all kinds of preparedness information as it relates to personal and family and business preparedness and it also has some resources right now available for Coronavirus. So what the Ready Campaign advocates strongly for individuals and families is a three-step process.
Bryan Strawser: First is to make a plan. What we want to think about here is having an emergency plan for yourself and your family members so that whether you’re together or not at the time the disaster strikes you know how you will contact one another, reconnect if separated and then how you will kind of communicate and move through that disaster together. The plan starts by getting together with your family and answering four questions together and there is, I should point out, there is a plan template at ready.gov/plan. But there are four steps that the Ready Campaign talks about when it comes to make a plan.
Bryan Strawser: The first is to talk through these four questions with your family, your friends, or your household. The first is how will you receive emergency alerts and warnings? So how can you use your technology to be informed to get alerts? That could be a weather radio, that could be an app on your phone, it could be monitoring television and radio, but how do you get emergency alerts when that happens?
Bryan Strawser: The second step is what is your shelter plan as a family? So if you’re there in your residence and the disaster strikes and you need to take shelter, what is that shelter? Do you have a basement? Do you have an interior bathroom? Do you have an interior closet? What’s the shelter place that you’re going to go to?
Bryan Strawser: The third question is, what is your evacuation route? If you have to leave and go to an alternate location, another family member, a friend’s 25 miles away, but you need to leave because your home or the place that you’re at is no longer safe. Where are you going and what is your evacuation route? And do you have alternates in case there are challenges with that?
Bryan Strawser: And then lastly, what’s your family household communication plan? If you’re not together, how will you communicate and where will you meet? Where will you connect? What’s your family meeting place that is familiar and easy to find.
Bryan Strawser: So again, for making a plan, step one is to answer four questions. How will you get emergency alerts and warnings? What is your shelter plan? What is my evacuation route and what is my family household communication plan?
Bryan Strawser: Step two is to then think about are there specific needs in your household that you need to plan for? You may have a multi-generational family living in the same home. You may have a parent in your home or not that you have a responsibility for. That needs to be a part of your plan. You have medical needs, prescriptions, equipment, dietary needs, language differences. You may have pets that you need to plan for and make sure that you’re going to bring with you. You may have a household with a school-aged children like mine. I have six and eight-year-old daughters right now, so I have to accommodate and think about how I plan for them. So you’re thinking about the specific needs in your household.
Bryan Strawser: Step three is to fill out an emergency plan. And again, there is a family emergency plan at ready.gov/plan or you can create your own kind of using that as a guide or template.
Bryan Strawser: Then lastly, step four is to practice that plan. Do your evacuation route, make it a game. Do your evacuation routes, decide to assemble as a family after work today rather than go home, go to your family meeting place and communicate with others and test that plan and see how it works.
Bryan Strawser: So again, your first big action is to make a plan and then follow these four steps here to accomplish doing so.
Bryan Strawser: The second big step is to build a kit. Okay, we’re building an emergency kit here and generally, these are going to be things that are relatively inexpensive and easy to find, but they’ll be important things that you and your family need in the event of an emergency. After an emergency, you need to think about the fact that you might have to survive on your own for several days. So this means having enough food, water, and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. This disaster kit. Your kit is a collection of things your household might need in the event of an emergency. There’s a list of ready.gov/kit in terms of a basic kit and then additional emergency supplies that you should have on top of that.
Bryan Strawser: It includes things like water, a gallon per day per person for three days, a three day supply of nonperishable food, a battery or hand-crank radio, a flashlight, a first aid kit, extra batteries, a whistle, a dust mask, moist towelettes, utility kit to turn on or off your utilities, a can opener for food, local maps, a cell phone. And then there’s a list of other recommended supplies. And then there’s a list of the emergency supplies, additional emergency supplies like prescription medications and nonprescription medications, cash, pet food, baby formula, things that you should review and consider whether or not you need to have those.
Bryan Strawser: After you put your kit together, you need to maintain it so that it’s ready when needed. Canned foods should be in a cool dry place for example. Boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers. Things need to be reviewed for expiration dates. And then since you don’t know where you’re going to be in an emergency, you should prepare supplies for home, work and your vehicles. There might be a home kit that has the bulk of your supplies kept in a designated area, perhaps in a storage room or in your basement at work. You need to think about the fact you might have to shelter at work for 24 hours. So do you have food, water, and other necessities available at work? Maybe a grab and go bag that’s in your vehicle. And then lastly in your vehicle, you also want to keep some emergency supplies in your car. And there’s a recommended list again here at ready.gov/kit.
Bryan Strawser: So that takes us through, have a plan or make a plan, build or buy a kit. The last step is about being informed or is what they’re now calling be tech-ready. But here in the United States, you can download the FEMA app and through that, you can get weather alerts and other information fed to your phone. You can get text messages from FEMA for emergencies and then they have a long list of other services you can sign up for from the Red Cross, the Red Cross, and Facebook safety check process and other things that can be helpful to you so that you’re getting these emergency alerts for things that happen.
Bryan Strawser: So those are some basics about personal family preparedness. Have a plan, make a kit, be informed, make sure you practice and review these things with your broader family. Now let’s, let’s put this in the context of Coronavirus and what this means for the potential epidemic that we’re seeing right now around novel Coronavirus here in the United States and around the world. When it comes to a pandemic, there’s a handful of steps that you’re going to want to take before that pandemic really begins to impact you and the area that you’re in. So there are five things here to think about.
Bryan Strawser: The first, instead of a three day supply of food and water, you’re going to want, have a two week supply of food and water. This is what’s recommended in the event of a potential epidemic or pandemic is this longer food and water supply. So two weeks’ supply of food and water. Make sure that you’re reviewing your prescription drugs and you have a continuous supply of these available in your home. Have any nonprescription drugs and other required health supplies on hand such as pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold, electrolyte based fluids. Think about Gatorade and Pedialyte and vitamins.
Bryan Strawser: Get copies and maintain physical and electronic copies of your health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies or other sources and store those for personal reference. And then lastly, talk with other family members and loved ones about how they would like to be cared for if they got sick and then consider what might be needed to care for them in your home. Because in an epidemic or pandemic you may not be able to leave. So you want to think about what do I need to have on hand to be able to do this in my home.
Bryan Strawser: During a pandemic such as we’re starting to see with Coronavirus, you want to avoid close contact or really any contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from other people so that you’re not endangering them with your illness. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you’re coughing or sneezing. It might prevent others from being exposed. Washing your hands often to help protect you from germs and help protect spreading germs. Avoid touching as much as possible your eyes, nose or mouth, and then practice other good health habits. Get a lot of sleep. Be active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food. These are some recommended, these probably sound really simple, but these are some very basic steps that you can take as we watch the spread of Coronavirus disease, COVID-19 as it moves into this epidemic stage that is being predicted here in the United States.
Bryan Strawser: As I’m recording this on Saturday, February 29th on Leap Day, we just had the first death from Coronavirus announced here in the United States. I believe this was in Washington State and I expect that we’re going to see any more of that in the coming days.
Bryan Strawser: Let’s just talk briefly about Coronavirus to make sure we’re sharing some factual information and again, this is coming from the Centers for Disease Control or CDC. So the COVID-19 is the official name of the virus. It appears to have emerged from an animal source, but it’s now spreading from person to person. It’s important to note that person to person spread can happen on a continuum, that some diseases are highly contagious, think measles for example. Other diseases are less contagious. At this time, we’re not sure how easily this virus moves from people to people, so that’s still an unknown factor, but there are three symptoms with Coronavirus, with COVID-19 is a mild to severe respiratory illness that has symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. The severe complications from COVID-19 are pneumonia and that’s generally been the cause of death, has been a severe case of pneumonia in both lungs.
Bryan Strawser: The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. So again, avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, and then wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you are sick, to keep spreading this to others, you should stay home and not go to work. You should not go anywhere, you should stay at home. You should cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash and you should clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in your home or place of work. There’s no vaccine right now. Again, the best way to prevent getting Coronavirus disease is to avoid being exposed in the first place.
Bryan Strawser: There is no specific antiviral treatment. You can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms. If you believe you have Coronavirus disease, but you should call the clinic or hospital and tell them your symptoms before you go in order to avoid any accidental exposure to others.
Bryan Strawser: So that’s a little bit about personal preparedness as we head into the coming weeks and see where Coronavirus disease goes and spreads here in the United States and around the world, and a little bit about the disease. Again, it’s important that as you are seeking information about Coronavirus disease, make sure you’re going to a credible medical source. Okay, look at the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov. Look for US government sources and information. Look at the World Health Organization. These are credible places you can go for information. The Facebook video that your friend posted this morning about how Coronavirus is really not that bad, that’s not a real credible source of information. Let’s focus on what is factual and make sure it contains scientific-based steps that will help protect you and your family.
Bryan Strawser: That’s it for this edition of the Managing Uncertainty Podcast. We’ll be back next week with another new episode.