Thursday, October 16, 2014

I Don't Know About You Guys And Your Level of Disaster Preparedness...

...but I am doing some preparation for a possible outbreak of Ebola. I really am not all that worried about it but am taking precautions nonetheless especially in light of the cavalier attitude of some health care officials and some politicians (like our president Barry the bumbler) in regard to Ebola, its potential to spread and their already apparent failure to contain it.

We already are somewhat prepared for an emergency here at our house. We probably have enough extra food to last us at least a few weeks. If you wonder why just think of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. We also have other emergency supplies like some first aid stuff, batteries, candles, (don't forget waterproof matches), a camping stove and fuel. I also have gas masks for everyone in the immediate family. Just lately, I have made a few more purchases and plan to make additional ones of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other survival necessities for SHTF (shit hits the fan)situations or heaven forbid for TEOTWAWKI. Mostly though it is all just precautionary I am not really worried that any of it will ever be needed. Still, it is a comforting feeling to know we are somewhat ready - just in case. Oh yeah, don't let me forget, we have guns and ammo too, they are to protect us while we protect our supplies (because having our supplies for us, and not stolen from us, could mean whether we live or die).

Like I said, I have made some recent purchases of PPE. Yesterday, I ordered half a dozen hazmat suits. They can be used as disposable or reused as you want. They are fairly inexpensive if you buy them at the right place. I have seen the same suits that I just ordered going for as high as almost $25 each (and you had to buy a case of a dozen for that price) but I ordered them from a reputable dealer for about $11 each and did not have to buy a whole case of them. The places offering them at the higher prices seem like fly by night websites or maybe just are run by unscrupulous dealers trying to make more during a potential pending crisis that may promote panic buying. In fact, the suits can be had at even less than what I paid but they were not in stock for immediate shipment and or I had never heard of the dealer before so I avoided buying those. Also, many places only sell them in bulk (12 to 25 to a carton), I was able to purchase individual suits.

As for the suits themselves, the ones I ordered are level B/C. They are good for use against infectious diseases, light chemical spills and so forth. They each have elasticized wrists and hood, integral boots/socks and taped seams (very important when considering use to defeat spread of infection). They are bright yellow and while I dislike them being bright yellow all I can say is 'oh well, we will look like rays of sunshine if the SHTF'. I also ordered several pairs of nitrile gloves that are 15 mil thick, they were one of the thicker general use gloves out there. There are much heavier/thicker ones but I wanted gloves I can feel through and with which I can operate a certain type of machine that requires my index finger fitting inside of a certain type of guard and onto a slightly curved lever of sorts. We already have a full box of nitrile exam gloves and they are okay for common everyday contact with other people and objects (or as I usually use them for cleaning my reptile tanks and firearms cleaning).

Finally, I ordered some gas mask filters from another source than the gloves and coveralls. Man oh man - they are expensive for brand new ones and very hard to find. Luckily, I found a reputable (as far as I know from past dealings) dealer who has Swedish milsurp filters that were made in 2002 and have a 20 year shelf life and are said to still be inside of vacuum sealed packages. If the vacuum seal has not failed that is good enough for me and they were affordable. I will try to order current manufacture US made (and more expensive) filters when I can but for right now these will have to do. I ordered everything but the filters from the same source and did that yesterday. This morning, I received an email saying my order has shipped for the gloves and hazmat suits. I am still waiting for a shipping confirmation on the filters.

I plan to get some other things too. One of those things is something I use with some frequency and that I expect others who are more handy around the house use frequently. I am talking about what are usually referred to as dust masks. Normally I prefer to use a 3M brand model 8210 which has an N95 rating (in essence stops 95% of particulates, of a certain size, from penetrating the mask). They are recommended for typical household jobs like sanding but are also recommended for use in pandemics. Even though they receive that recommendation from the manufacturer, 3M, I am considering another model mask from them, one that is effective against oils and also contains a layer of carbon. The 3M mask models I am considering, model 8577 and model 8576 are more expensive by far than the ones I normally use but I figure the added expense may be worth it considering the potential for a pandemic in our near future. They offer the P95 particulate rating instead of N95 as does model 8210. The main difference between the N95 and P95 rated masks is that the N95 does not offer resistance to oils and the P95 is supposedly strongly oil resistant - source CDC web pages reference then NIOSH N95 and the NIOSH P95 particulate filtering respirators. In addition the models 8576 and 8577 offer resistance to either organic or acid vapors depending on which model. I like the idea of a layer of carbon because I know it has purification properties that can remove toxins from the air you are breathing.

The tripping (over his own twisted tongue) CDC chief and bumbling Barry Obama may both be promising that Ebola will be completely contained and that they can handle any spread of it (note if it has spread it already means they are not handling it effectively); yet, the truth is that the Enterovirus D68 is rapidly spreading. The further truth is they have also screwed up with Ebola and they most certainly have not, as per their arrogant former claims, been able to either completely contain or control it within our borders. So why exactly again is it that we should not be precautionary in that regard? I choose caution and if it turns out I did not need this stuff, well then it means nothing in the greater scheme of things. If though, the time comes that we need it and don't have it - then what?
Now mind you, as I have tried to already get across, I am not doing this out of an abundance of fear that Ebola will spread like wildfire. I am though being very cautious. I hope it will be found that I was overly cautious but if not I at least am somewhat prepared to protect my family and we will stand a better chance of making it out okay. That is something, I think, you should be considering for yourself and your loved ones. When and if you do give it some thought, bear in mind that everything I have done to date to prepare for possible disasters can be used in various different situations. For example the gas masks and hazmat suits can be used in the event of something as terrible as a terrorist attack involving nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. They also could be used for something of a less dastardly nature such as an accidental explosion at a chemical plant, and heaven knows we have had our share of those in the US in recent years. People have had to have been evacuated from wide areas because of toxic fumes spread during such events. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to don your PPE and flee in relative safety. Even one of the 3M masks I mentioned might be of help during such a calamity. Of course, there are more everyday uses for some of that PPE. The 3M masks can be used for such chores as sanding, grinding, scraping paint, rust removal, cleaning out a sewer line, or cleaning out the garage.

For example: I used my last two 3M model 8210 masks just a couple of days ago cleaning out the shed in my backyard. Normally, I would not do so (that is both not clean the shed or wear a mask if I were to do so) but my wife told me she saw that a bag of grass seed had been torn open and the seeds were all over the place. She suspected mice, she was right. I took one look and saw about 500 (or more) mouse turds mixed in with the seeds in about 1/2 the shed. I decided to go in and take everything out, and I mean everything, and give it a decent cleaning and hosing off and also to get rid of the mice. The only clue I had as to the type of mice was that it could have been any of the indigenous species here in NY. I figured house mice or maybe field mice.

Since it is a known fact that certain species of mice on Long Island carry and spread the hantavirus, and that it has been transmitted to humans on LI who probably got it sweeping out their garages (that variety is called the New York Hantavirus), I decided to take precautions. After all, it is pretty easy to catch hantavirus through airborne transmission when particles of it in rodent urine or droppings are stirred up into the air while sweeping/cleaning. So, I donned nitrile gloves and a 3M model 8210 mask and equipped myself with a spray bottle of chlorine bleach based cleaner (I sprayed everything almost before touching it or sweeping it), a broom, a dust pan and some trash bags. I am guessing that there had to have been at least a quarter pound of mouse crap in there or in other words an awful lot of mouse droppings and that means more than the 500 I first estimated. After I was done, I took off the PPE and disposed of it. Then, I scrubbed myself off as good as I could and washed all the clothing I had been wearing. I hope I did not wind up breathing in anything from their crap.

It wound up that the mice were of the species Mus musculus otherwise known as the House Mouse and I probably did not need to worry about hantavirus because I am pretty sure that house mice are not vectors for the hantavirus. Do you think though that I went overboard and should not have taken precautions just in case! Even though they may not carry the hantavirus, I figure why take chances, after all - who knows with what else they might have been infected. Regardless, the last person whom I remember to have died on Long Island due to hantavirus took no precautions, such as wearing a respirator mask while doing something seemingly benign as cleaning his garage; too bad for him and I really mean it. I don't want to be the next to catch it or something else that is carried in mouse shit and then having someone say too bad for me that I did not take precautions. Think about it. 

As for the mice, there were two of them. I got one of them - as in killed it. I went into the shed, turned on a lantern, closed the doors, moved one of the two remaining sets of then empty shelves and it came scrambling out. I whacked it with the blade of a garden hoe and luckily that one was the fatter one, the one I suspected of being female. After a few hits with the hoe, I confirmed it was a female and saw she had been pregnant. She had been carrying at least six babies. Had she escaped to wherever, like maybe into my house, she would have popped them out and they would have been eating and ruining our stored food and shitting all over our home. As for the other one of the pair, he escaped, I guess he took off for safer climes while I was cleaning and had the doors of the shed open.

Anyway, it winds up that I need to replace my dust mask supply since I have run out after the mousecapade. The only question about it is which masks do I want to use to resupply my now zero stock of them. Should I go with the tried and trusted model 8210 or the more expensive models with the carbon layer. Right now I am edging toward the 8210. After all, if a manufacturing plant near my home goes up in an explosion and spews toxic fumes or vapors, we already have gas masks for something like that.

As for all the other precautions, think about the times in which we find ourselves. There are constant threats of terrorist attacks and have been several failed attempts in our country in recent years and some successful ones not too long ago. There have been numerous natural and man made disasters and even police action induced situations (whether justified or not - I am not finding fault with the police at this moment) that have led to rioting, looting and curfews. I don't want to find myself suddenly realizing that we need food for supper the same night that there is rioting going on near our home or when the local supermarket is being looted by opportunistic savages. I certainly do not want or need too fight my way into a supermarket and then back out and toward home only to wind up maybe being arrested by the police for suspected looting or worse yet because I had to shoot someone in self defense while out trying to buy dinner. I would rather stay at home and open some cans of green beans, corn and spam.

Again, my advice to you - think about it. Which do you think is better, being fairly well prepared or being unprepared. I think it is a whole lot better to prepare for the worst now and never need to utilize any of my preparations than to not prepare and then suddenly find myself lacking in all regards. As for you, you need to figure that out for yourself cause you sure aren't going to be allowed to come to my house to freeload!

All the best,
Glenn B