Unless you live under a rock, you probably have heard of a little virus going around. Depending on where you gather your news you might find that we are all going to die from it or that there is really nothing to worry about.
Every time a new, unknown virus rears its head there is concern. What we don’t know is really what spurs panic. Was it manufactured in a lab for nefarious purposes? Is it naturally occurring? At this time, no one has been able to provide definitive answers. Considering that the virus originated in China we may never know exactly the who, what, when, and where.
“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns- the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”― Donald Rumsfeld
This brings us to the question: Exactly how should I respond to the situation?
Since I wrote books on preparedness and what the Bible says regarding preparedness (shameless plug: links below for the books), I thought I should weigh in on the situation.
First, DON’T PANIC! Right now in the United States there is growing concern that community spread may become widespread. At the time of writing, there are areas in Washington state and California where community spread is occurring. However, for the majority of the country, that is not the case. Yes, more states are beginning to report cases, but for now they are isolated situations, many can be traced to travel exposure. Could it become widespread throughout the country? That remains to be seen. Which brings us to the next question: What if?
Second, ASSESS YOUR SITUATION! IF there is an outbreak in your area or a disruption occurs, how would it affect you and your family? Determine your options for work and childcare. If you care for elderly parents or other family members, ask what you can do to protect them. You may need to gather supplies for them to help limit their exposure. Do you have family members with other at risk medical conditions? Plan how to mitigate their exposure. Must you travel for work or ministry? How can you minimize your risk? Once you have assessed these areas then you can move to step three.
Third, PRUDENTLY PREPARE! In an effort to minimize exposure to the masses, officials (local more likely) may decide to implement social distancing measures. Employers are already being asked to make plans for employees to work from home. Schools may be asked to close (and possibly go to online teaching) to prevent spreading the virus. Church services, concerts, sporting events, and other large gatherings may be halted until the virus has run its course. We are already seeing supply chain issues through panic buying of masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and isopropyl alcohol. We may expect this to continue in other areas, especially for items that are shipped from China until the risk has diminished. If social distancing does occur, there could be a short period when businesses are closed to either deep clean or to prevent spread of the disease.
So, what can you do? The CDC and FEMA websites suggest stocking food and water for up to two weeks. However, if you have been through a disaster, you know that may not be enough. Decide what would be best for your family and plan accordingly. Emergency food suppliers are already out of stock on many items. Some have shipping dates of 20-45 days out and that is if they can resupply their stock. No need to worry about this though as there are many other items on the grocery shelves that will be more than sufficient for your pantry. Think about how you cook for your family and simply purchase extra to make those things. Fresh items may need to have more shelf-stable options available. If you don’t normally cook from scratch, dust off the cookbooks (or find a great recipe site) to be able to make what you need as an alternative. Look for online grocery suppliers you could rely on for fresh items (produce, meat, eggs, etc.). Not all suppliers deliver to every area so you will need to research for yourself.
Plan in the event someone in your home does become ill. Know who to call for assistance. Stock your over the counter medicines. Make sure your prescriptions are up to date and that you have plenty on hand. While grocery shopping be sure to pick up items you normally use when someone in the family becomes ill. Keep a good stock of cleaning supplies on hand to help prevent germs from spreading in your home.
Fourth, WORK TO MAINTAIN YOUR IMMUNITY. I’m not a doctor so don’t take any of this as absolute fact, but there are many out there who also recommend these ideas.
- Practice proper hand washing. Use hand sanitizer if out and about but the best thing is to wash your hands with hot or warm water and soap for 20 seconds. (Singing the “birthday” song is a good way to time it.)
- Avoid touching your face. This is something that one would think is easy. However, when shopping recently, I realized I reached to move hair out of my eyes or scratch an itch more than I ever thought. Be conscious of this and try not to do it.
- Stay hydrated. I have been told by many doctors and friends in the medical field that staying hydrated is extremely important during cold and flu season as this helps to flush the system of germs.
- Vitamin supplements. There are a number of vitamins and supplements that aid in boosting immunity: Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and Zinc are just a few. Speak with your medical professional to determine what is best for you and your family members. Some supplements may interfere with medical conditions or medications; investigate these thoroughly.
- Get plenty of rest. Sleep is one of the best things for our health. While we sleep it allows our bodies to reset in a way. Lack of sleep may lower your immunity.
- Reduce stress. Stress taxes our adrenal glands and hormones. This can also lower our immunity as the body is not functioning at its best. Do what you can to reduce stress and to implement stress management methods for yourself and your family.
- Essential oils. Personally, our family does use essential oils. We have found them to be a great asset for our health. Research what may work for your family. Oils our family uses regularly include thieves (immunity boost), oregano (natural antibiotic, antiviral, anti-fungal), clove (as a mouthwash), lavender (stress relief, burns), peppermint (stomach ailments), and eucalyptus oils (aids with congestion). The safest way to use oils is through inhalation, diffusing, or topical. Essential oils are potent and need to be diluted with a carrier oil typically a 1:1 drop ratio. “Hot” oils like thieves, oregano, clove, and peppermint will need a ratio of 1:4 drops (1 essential to 4 carrier).
- If ill, STAY HOME! There is nothing worse than being in line in a store or sitting at a table at a restaurant only to have someone behind you or beside you cough or sneeze without covering their mouth or nose. This also means that everything they touched becomes contaminated with their germs. For the sake of your neighbor, STAY HOME IF SICK!
Christians need to remember that this is a prime time to display the love of Christ. Check in on your family and neighbors. Make sure that those who are most vulnerable have what they need. You can limit exposure but still demonstrate the love of Christ. Christians who panic are not a very good testimony for the cause of Christ. Scripture does teach principles for preparedness (Noah, Joseph to name a few). Study to see how we are to respond and then implement those principles in a practical (and CALM) way.
Remember, this is not the first new virus or disease to appear in the last 10 years. Any decisions the government has made has been a very proactive approach to protect the country until they knew exactly what they were dealing with. Any decisions made in the future will be to protect the country and its people from harm. However, as individuals, we have a responsibility to not rely on the government but to rely on God. Take prudent measures and help those you can.
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