As the CDC and our government continues to ‘slow-roll’ their cards (not providing timely, accurate and complete info to the public), Americans need to get educated and take effective action to protect themselves. Some people may ask; ‘why would they be ‘slow rolling’ the info? One reason is they want to have the political damage control in place if possible before making any disclosure. Another possible reason generally involves incompetence on multiple levels of government (poor planning and tactics combined with overconfidence).
If you are one of the people who believes that the government ‘has it all under control’ and ‘will take care of you and your family’, I wish you luck. Generally, I have learned over the years that; the best person adults can trust and rely-on for personal safety is yourself. Too many people these days put corporate profits and politics ahead of your personal safety.
Here are some tactics that you can employ that will help protect you and your family for any virus, including Ebola.
1. This may seem shockingly elementary but many people actually don’t know how to properly wash their hands. In medical school they have a special ultraviolet dye they use to teach doctors how to wash their hands. They put the dye on your hands and then tell you to wash your hands. When you’re done, they shine the ultraviolet (black light) on your hands and amazingly many people miss washing many spots on their hands, and these spots could represent bacteria or a virus that is remaining on the hands. What is learned from this exercise is that it takes some real effort and the right methodology to get your hands truly clean.
TACTIC: Learn how to wash your hands properly, and teach your family as well. And wash your hands often.
2. Avoid direct contact with anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of a virus; this includes fever, sweating for no apparent reason, coughing, sneezing, etc. If someone you feel is sick has come to work, it may be wise to speak with a supervisor about the potential for lost productivity should the illness spread to other workers. These days with money being so tight, many people go to work, even when they know they are ill. If you are a supervisor, it may be wise to send a memo out to all employees encouraging them to stay home if they are truly ill. Another possible tactic for employers is to offer an incentive to employees who are proactive with preventative measures. An example of this might be: If an employee shows a receipt for having had an immunization against a contagious virus, such as the Flu, the employer might consider providing that employee with an hour of free-time, which could be used during a lunch break or to leave work a little early.
TACTIC: Maintain a heightened situational awareness in regard to anyone around you who may be sick and is in a position to aerosolize (cough or sneeze) into your airspace.
TACTIC: Be particularly careful about surfaces in common areas: coffee pots, water coolers, coffee cups, telephones, etc. Maybe ask the supervisor about having some kitchen disinfecting handi-wipes to keep common areas cleaned-up in between uses.
3. Avoid confined spaces that are heavily congested with people. Theaters are not ideal places to spend time during Flu season, or during any viral epidemics. The cleanliness of many theaters is poor at best (DVD movies may be the safest solution for movie entertainment). Hand and arm rests in many theater seats are not completely disinfected in-between showings, and when someone who is ill with a contagious virus or bacterial infection sits in a seat for two hours with their hands and arms on the hand/arm rests, you can bet there are residual viral and bacterial deposits on those surfaces.
Many gyms and health clubs are loaded with viruses and bacteria… part of that is caused by people who believe they can kill a Flu or Cold by ‘working it out’. So they end up in the gym sweating all over the same equipment that dozens of other people are using within a span of an hour or two; not an idea situation.
Additionally, if an ill person aerosolizes by sneezing or coughing in a confined area, the odds of inhaling the micro-droplets of bodily fluids are significant. Also, any virus (bodily fluids that are spilled or deposited on the ground/floor; feces, vomit, etc.) that is combined with dust particles as a substrate can, when dry, potentially carry the virus as dust into a person’s respiratory system if dust is raised.
Toilets are also able to aerosolize some of the human waste materials that may be mixed with the toilet water during flushing. So if a seriously ill person uses the toilet and flushes while other people are in that air space, there is a potential to inhale aerosolized droplets of the bodily fluids from that sick person. This video originally from the Discovery Channel demonstrates the idea with a simple experiment:
TACTIC: If you must use a public restroom, especially during an epidemic, use your face mask the entire time you are in the restroom, and use proper hand-washing methodology as seen in the video above, which will significantly lessen your odds of being contaminated by a bathroom surface (sink, door, etc.).
TACTIC: Avoid touching your face (nose, eyes, mouth) anytime unless you have carefully cleaned your hands.
TACTIC: Carry hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes on your person at all times and use it whenever you enter your car from any public area, before touching the steering wheel, etc. It’s is wise to disinfect your vehicle (steering wheel, handles, knobs, buttons, etc.) on a daily basis during times of epidemic. Also, disinfect the keyboard on your computer often, as well as your phone, etc.
4. Grocery stores and other outlets have chilled foods (meats, vegetables, etc.) and if an ill person (could be an employee or a customer) handles a product, that product can become contaminated with bodily fluids. Some viruses and bacteria can live much longer on chilled surfaces as opposed to locations in direct sunlight (UV) or at room temperature, especially if there is relatively high humidity. However as we have seen with viruses borne from mouse droppings (Hantavirus), merely sweeping the dried feces and dust from mice that have passed Hantavirus in their feces is capable of producing that deadly virus in humans.
TACTIC: When you are shopping in a crowded store, consider carrying and possibly using a paper face mask with at least an N95 rating or better.
TACTIC: When you bring packaged foods into your home (such as meats, fruits, refrigerated goods, you can safely disinfect the exterior of the packaging or surface of fruits and vegetables using full-strength household white vinegar (never unpack food from the store in food preparation area). While not nearly as effective as a 5-10% bleach solution (Clorox, etc.), it does hammer many bacteria and viruses without the overpowering smell of bleach. The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid, and most white vinegar contains about 5% acetic acid. Acetic acid is great for killing viruses and bacteria; the acid tears the cell walls apart on most bacteria and viruses (denatures the cells). If you are concerned about fruits and vegetables, you can soak fruits in the vinegar for a few minutes, then peel the fruit before eating, and in the case of vegetables, cooking at 180-degrees for at least 20 minutes kills most everything. If you need to do some heavy duty disinfection, and smell isn’t an issue, then bleach is your economical and effective choice.
Here is what the CDC recommends in the way of disinfectants in various situations (a PDF): http://www.cdc.gov/biosafety/publications/bmbl5/bmbl5_appendixb.pdf
Personally, I like to use an 8% solution of bleach and water; so I mix 11 cups of water with one cup of plain Clorox. It can be used with a mop, sponge or in a spray bottle. You don’t want to inhale this spray/mist as you use it or get it on your skin or in your eyes so care is required, as are rubber gloves on your hands.
As I have previously written, isolating yourself and your family during an epidemic is the most effective way to avoid becoming infected with any dangerous virus. And in order to do that you must be fully provisioned for weeks of isolation prior to any such event. But if you must go out into public areas, the foregoing tactics will help you from becoming infected.
Just remember that in the case of Ebola, an ounce of prevention of worth 100 pounds of cure!
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