"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
October 22, 2014
Twenty-One Days Trapped
by Carolyn Nicolaysen

To date, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has sickened more than 8,000 people, killed more than 3,000. Experts believe there could be as many as 1 million cases by January. Ebola has already come to the United States. One patient has died and two nurses who treated him have contracted the disease. Two families and possibly friends are now quarantined.

On October 6th, a nurse in Spain contracted Ebola from a patient who had returned from Liberia. She was the first person to have contracted the disease outside of Africa. Who did she have contact with before she was diagnosed? Now, her family and friends are quarantined for 21 days.

How would you deal with a 21-day quarantine?

Imagine no one in and no one out for 21 days — no exceptions. Making exceptions is the same as going out in public and being exposed. Remember — a friend may not know they are contagious when they drop by.

Once you have gone into lockdown mode, what you have is what you’ve got. Your personal preparedness will be what you and your family have to survive on.

This is the time to answer some serious questions.

Who will quarantine with you?

This is an important question because you will want to think now about the personal needs of all of those individuals. Is there someone who uses over-the-counter medications, such as allergy meds, on a regular basis? Is there a baby who will need diapers, or a senior who may have a similar need?

What will you eat?

If you have your three-month supply and especially if you have been following our plan at Totally Ready, you will have what you need. If you have used another plan or if you don’t really have a plan, it’s time to check out the Totally Ready Facebook page and start today.

You will need all four food groups stored and also condiments, baking supplies and treats or the ingredients to make them. Three weeks of rice and beans with no brownies will be absolutely miserable!

Don’t forget fluids with electrolytes and specialty foods for those with medical conditions or allergies.

Don’t forget about those foods you purchase every few days. Do you have powdered or frozen eggs? Can you bake bread? How about milk?

Got food but what about all the non-food items you use each day?

Prescription drugs will be essential to insure a happy, healthy home. Talk to your pharmacy or doctor about building an extra month’s supply. You may ask your doctor if he has samples or can help you to lawfully prepare.

First aid supplies. Nonprescription drugs including pain and fever relievers, stomach remedies, anti diarrhea medications, and cough and cold medicines and preventive medications.

Remember — never give young children aspirin. Purchase medications specifically designed for children.

Vitamins, toilet paper, toothpaste, laundry detergent, shampoo, make a list for a week of all the non-food items you reach for every day.

Paper plates, cups, bowls, and utensils will cut down on the possibility that germs will be passed as meals are cleared. They will also save precious time for those who are the caregivers and a must-have should the power fail.

Do I need protective suits and face masks?

These are always good things to have on hand for a pandemic. Learn the specifics of which masks and other protective items are best. If you have a copy of my eBook Prep Not Panic all the answers are in there.

I have been a little, okay a lot frustrated lately as I have worked on how to best help prepare readers and friends for Ebola. I have found lots of information and all of it has included protective gear.

Ebola is highly contagious in a family setting where we are kissing and wiping runny noses and crying and exposing ourselves to the family’s bodily fluids. For this reason when a family member is thought to have Ebola they should be in the hospital and you should be quarantined at home.

You should not attempt to care for an Ebola patient yourself. If this were a flu pandemic the advice would be to care for the patient at home, but this is Ebola and there is nothing a doctor can prescribe or that you can purchase over the counter to help.

What will your new daily schedule be?

Imagine 21 days all cooped up together 24/7. Yikes! There will either be a schedule to follow or there will be lots of frustrated people and lots of raised voices.

Establish a time to get up each day. When will breakfast be served? Who will make breakfast and who will clean up? How long will you allow for showers and dressing after breakfast? It’s only 10:00 a.m. with lots of the day left.

Consider a time for homework, communication with friends and family (phone or text), scripture study, meal preparation, projects and crafts, television or movie watching, computer time, and the necessary but dreaded cleaning responsibilities.

What happens when you hear the inevitable I’m bored, even from the adults?

Just think about 21 days, or more, in the case of a pandemic, at home with no place to go. Talk about cabin fever! Consider purchasing DVDs that you know your children or spouse would like to have. Keep them put away until they are needed or until the next major gift-giving occasion. Then replace the old with new titles.

You can also establish a stash of age appropriate books, magazines, puzzles and games. Reading a few classic books as a family would also be a great way to pass the time.

Stock up on craft supplies or supplies for a new hobby to start with the kids. Cooking can be lots of fun together so make sure your three-month supply includes ingredients to make some fun snacks and meals. Why not purchase some crazy colors of nail polish?

A sense of humor is key to survival, so be sure to choose entertainment that is funny and/or uplifting.

What about homework?

Not only do you need to plan a time each day for homework but also a method for contacting teachers. During a pandemic everyone will be home, but an Ebola quarantine may only affect a few families.

Know the contact info for all your children’s teachers. If you are a grandparent but know a quarantine will likely mean family coming to your home, ask your children to get that information now.

What happens if you can’t go to work?

Think now about ways you can continue working from home. No income for 21 days is not good for any budget.

What about Church?

Remembering your spiritual source of strength will be important during this time. Be sure to include worship in your schedule. Determine what a service will look like. Who will choose hymns? Who will speak or teach lessons?

How do you handle mail and bills?

Even if you have no intention of paying your bills online, learn how now. During a quarantine, you will probably be able to call those you owe and get them to accept a late payment. They don’t want Ebola either. Those you cannot contact by phone can be paid online, but this may require you to have a service such as PayPal.

Mail may be more difficult. If the quarantine is widespread there may not be mail. If you do receive mail you will want to disinfect it before opening. Disinfecting wipes will work for this purpose. Be sure to wear gloves before disinfecting.

When will be the time to quarantine?

Be prepared to quarantine before officials have issued the order. Officials often wait too long, hoping to avoid panic. You are the best judge for your family. Trust the prompting you receive and err on the side of caution.

How will I know when it is safe to go out again?

During any disaster, communication is the key. Never trust only one source for information. Stay connected to news on the Internet and TV, with friends and family to determine what they are experiencing and with medical professionals you know in your immediate area.

Again I need to pout in a plug for HAM radio. It is an amazing source of information form those in other areas and HAMs are always involved in the day-to-day communications with first responders. Because of this they almost always have more insight to the problems than the media.

What do you do if the power fails?

You may be asking why I ask this question, but the answer is simple. There can be power outages at any time. An outage may occur do to an accident, a storm or because workers are home with their own families, quarantined, and there is no one to repair problems.

Do you have a portable propane cook stove and propane, barbecue grill and fuel, or other ways to cook? How about lighting? How about laundry, large tub for washing, rope for a clothesline and clothes pins? Even simple things like a manual can opener must be considered.

For those of you who have faithfully prepared you have most of this well taken care of. Now is the time to fill in any gaps. Ebola will probably not amount to much here, but if you prepare as though it will you will not be caught without and you will have peace when others are panicking if it should.

Like Carolyn’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/TotallyReady for tips on building your own General Store and preparing for disasters making you Totally Ready for whatever may come. Contact Carolyn directly at Carolyn@TotallyReady.com

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About Carolyn Nicolaysen

Carolyn Nicolaysen grew up in New Jersey and joined the Church while attending Central College in Pella, Iowa. With a degree in Home Economics, she later worked as a high school teacher, and served as an elected trustee of her local school board. Carolyn has taught personal and family preparedness to all who will listen. Having lived in areas that were threatened by winter storms, hurricanes and tornadoes, and now living in an earthquake prone area, she has developed a passion for preparedness. Carolyn started her own business, TotallyReady, when she saw the need for higher quality emergency information that could truly sustain families in a disaster.

Carolyn is FEMA trained and is an Amateur Radio first responder. She serves as Relief Society president of her California ward.

Carolyn is the author of three ebooks, Mother Hubbard, What She's Doing Now (food storage for the 21st century), Prep Not Panic (preparing for a pandemic of medical emergency) and That Won't Happen to Me (a discussion of disaster preparations). She has also authored a glove box book, Totally Ready for the Road and writes a monthly newsletter and the Totally Ready facebook page.

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