Several Ebola scares in the UK has made people nervous. I have had several emails from concerned parents worrying about their children returning to school, especially with the ‘flu season’ approaching and the early symptoms of Ebola bearing such a striking resemblance to influenza.
With children there is little you can do when they are away from you. Continue to impress upon them the importance of hand washing, and stress how as there are a lot of ‘nasty bugs’ around that can make them feel very poorly, they should not share drinking bottles and straws etc.
It’s unlikely, unless a new child in school is a JOB (Just Off The Boat) that they would be the first case of uncontrolled Ebola seen in the UK or any other Western country.
- Get your kids into ‘bug destruction’ in a big way. Make sure they have alcohol hand wipes with them at school and they know how to use them properly. There’s a good choice of such wipes here.
- Talk to your children about germs in general and how touching your mouth and nose with unwashed hands can make them sick.
- Explain about bathroom hygiene, and explain that if a toilet is ‘dirty’ they should move to another stall and tell someone the bathroom needs cleaning.
- Speak to your childrens school to see what precautions are in place to highlight children who may be carrying infectious diseases. All establishments that have members of the public on-site have infection control policies.
Ebola has been a wake up call for many people. Their fear of the disease has alerted them to just how quickly infectious diseases can spread. It should be said however that this year, based on the Ebola figures we have right now, that flu will kill over 1000% more people around the globe than Ebola will.
Ebola is a horrible death, but death is death and by taking universal precautions to prevent all infectious diseases we minimise the chances of falling victim to any of them.
There will at some point, be another global pandemic, that’s something we can be certain of. What disease will be involved remains to be seen but building yourself a kit to deal with any disease outbreak is a wise thing to do. It doesn’t have to be fancy and expensive, just fit for purpose, and personally I prefer the very cheap disposable stuff over the more expensive re-usable items.
You should aim to have, at a minimum in my opinion:
- Disposable coveralls such as these.
- Facemasks. Surgical style at a minimum but preferably N95 type.
- Disposable gloves
- Disposable overshoes
- Alcohol wipes or gels
For those who want to set up a pandemic sick room you will need all of the above plus:
- Heavy duty clear plastic sheeting. This is often cheaper (in the UK) at DIY stores rather than online due to the postal charges, it’s heavy.
- Heavy duty rubbish bags (ditto above)
- Disposable cups, plates and cutlery
- Sundries such as tissues, bedpan and liners if en-suite facilities are unavailable, cat litter to dry out bodily waste, plastic bowls for personal hygiene etc
- Disposable sheets and/or under pads to prevent soiling of the bed. These are the cheapest I have found.
- Garden incinerator bin to dispose of infected waste
The list of what you could put in a sick room is a very long one, but much of the equipment, such as intravenous giving sets and fluids has been omitted because they rely heavily on having the medical knowledge to use the kit. Obviously if you or someone in your family/group is capable of using such equipment it’s advisable to have it.
Prepping for Ebola should be no different than prepping for any other infectious disease. Yes the mode of infection is different, but if you are not exposed to other peoples body fluids, including sweat, you are far more likely to succumb to a much less exotic infection than Ebola.
If however, Ebola goes, or has gone airborne, and then with a death rate of up to 90% we really are in trouble, as we will be if any other kind of airborne disease or condition hits us.
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Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.
Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.