Common-Sense Guide to Pandemics & Viruses

I recently spent a long day interviewing medical experts about the current global pandemic and what it could mean for us all individually and societally. When Hurricane Michael caused massive devastation several years ago, I wrote a post about emergency preparedness, but after my research and interviews today, I felt that this current situation deserves its own type of approach.

I’m going to share tips from experts and what my family is doing to stay healthy and prepare for potential social distancing scenarios or shortages of supplies. Nothing in this post is meant to be medical or health advice, and I’m not commenting on the severity of the virus. I am not a doctor or immunologist and I recommend reading articles like this one from Dr. Elisa Song for the medical implications.

My Personal Take on Pandemics

On a personal level, I’m not too worried about anyone in my immediate family if any of us get the virus. There are no reported deaths in children under 9 and it exhibits with mild symptoms even in most adults (except elderly populations). That said, the biggest concern I heard today from researchers and doctors is that a quick spike in cases could overwhelm the medical system and lead to major healthcare and economic problems down the road. For this reason, they are strongly encouraging us all to take steps to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread if possible.

I’ve detailed many of these measures below but common recommendations from experts include:

  • Thorough and frequent hand washing (this is a great video on how to wash hands properly, for kids and maybe some adults too!)
  • Minimizing unnecessary social contact and avoiding large groups
  • Postponing non-essential travel (for now)
  • Monitoring for symptoms and avoiding going out in public if symptomatic

Keep an ear out for a detailed podcast on Monday with recommendations from Dr. Elisa Song.

This post is simply to share what I’m doing and would love to hear your opinion in the comments. Please join the conversation in a respectful and helpful way.

Prepare for More Time at Home

The most recent reports indicate that many of us might be spending more time at home over the next few weeks and months. Schools and universities are closing. Offices are adjusting policies. Grocery stores are selling out of food and household supplies. Experts are recommending voluntary social distancing as much as possible. For now, these measures are voluntary, but it’s a great idea to be prepared with what we need at home either way.

Their reasoning? The more we can slow the spread of the virus and flatten the curve, the less serious it should be nationwide and the more of a chance our healthcare system has of being able to handle it.

While the Instagram world is filled with jokes about people being more worried about being stuck at home with their kids for two weeks than the virus itself… being in our homes for long periods of time is a possibility at this point and one that we should all rationally prepare for.

We already homeschool, but since travel and activities may be canceled, we’ll be focusing on things we want to do but can’t always make time for, like:

I also have the Bored Jar ready and waiting if needed!

Stock Up on Essentials (Without Stockpiling)

If you’ve been to any store, you’ve likely already noticed that a lot of common items are selling out. Hand sanitizer is not available anywhere and even the ingredients to make it are in limited supply. I’m sharing links to items I’ve ordered and also substitutes for times when basic items are not available.

What I’m Stocking:

  • A 60-day supply of any essential medicines or supplements
  • Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap – for making hand soap, cleaning, etc.
  • Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds – stronger cleaner and also works as laundry detergent
  • Branch Basics – all-purpose cleaner that can be used for laundry and even as soap
  • Toilet paper and baby wipes
  • Tampons and pads (or I recommend getting a reusable menstrual cup which is also much more effective and comfortable!)
  • Food in bulk from Thrive Market: canned goods (beans, vegetables, etc.), tuna, sardines, nuts, rice, hemp hearts, peanut butter, oils: olive, coconut, etc., chia seeds
  • Pet food
  • Laundry detergent

Protect Our Home Environment

My house is still the hangout spot for all the neighborhood kids (who are all now home from school) so I’ve stocked up on healthy foods, but am also taking these measures to help slow or minimize potential spread:

  • Using Air Filters: I’ve been keeping our Air Doctor and Air Oasis machines running non-stop. Here’s my review of all air filters.
  • Diffusing Essential Oils: I grabbed a couple extra diffusers and stocked up on Plant Therapy Essential Oils (Germ Fighter, Defender, ImmuneAid, RespirAid, Calming the Child, and others).
  • Extra Hand Washing: Experts agree that hand washing is one of the best steps we can take to stop the spread and minimize our chances of getting it. I stocked up on liquid castile soap and am making big batches of my homemade foaming hand soap with added Plant Therapy Germ Destroyer essential oil. I’m reminding everyone to wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 30 seconds especially after being out in public places.
  • Hand Sanitizer: I’ve also made big batches of my homemade hand sanitizer recipe to keep on hand when we are out of the house. I don’t normally use hand sanitizer but do at times like this and just added a recipe to that post for an alcohol-based version that meets current recommendations.
  • Saline Nasal Irrigation: Another step I always take this time of year. We’ve been using Genexa Saline (save 20% with code WELLNESS) after travel or potential exposure.

Focus on Our Immune Systems

Even when there isn’t a global pandemic, it’s a good idea to bolster our immune systems this time of year. These are good things to do during cold and flu season anyway.

  • Vitamin C: I stocked up on bulk ascorbic acid and food-based vitamin C capsules.
  • Vitamin D: In our podcast episode, Dr. Elisa Song explained that having good vitamin D levels is important for avoiding respiratory complications. It won’t keep us from getting sick but it has been shown to shorten duration and lessen severity. I keep these high-dose drops on hand and test our levels to make sure we are in safe range.
  • Genexa Remedies for Comfort: In case any of us get any of the things going around, I keep Genexa Cold Crush and Flu Fix on hand to lessen symptoms. Use code WELLNESS to save 20% on all products at this link.
  • Bone Broth: Contains amino acids that are immune-supporting. I just stocked up on Kettle and Fire Broth since it is also non-perishable and great to have on hand.
  • Get More Sleep: Sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system. This time of year, it’s important to get enough high quality sleep. This post has some tips.

It’s important to remember that although concern is high, our bodies are equipped with an incredible system of defense, which we should support in any way we can.

Useful DIY Recipes as Items Become Unavailable

We’ve all read the stories about store shelves emptying out. If you’re looking for the following items, consider making them yourself as in most cases you can still get the ingredients.

Here are the recipes:

I’ll keep updating this post as other ideas come to me. Solidarity to all of the moms wondering and researching out there right now… and tune in on Monday to my podcast with Dr. Elisa Song for more.